Data shows trading volumes between the UAE and Israel jumped from $51 million in the first seven months of 2020 to $614 million over the same period in 2021.
Trade between Israel and countries in the Middle East and North Africa has accelerated significantly in 2021, following Tel Aviv’s normalisation of relations with several Arab states last year.
In the first seven months of 2021, trade grew by 234 percent compared to the same period in 2020, according to figures cited by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics.
The largest volume was with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which surged from $50.8 million between January and July 2020 to $613.9 million over the same period in 2021.
Trade with Jordan this year also increased from $136.2 million to $224.2 million. Meanwhile data showed volumes with Egypt rose from $92 million to 122.4 million, and exchange with Morocco went from $14.9 million to $20.8 million.
Bahrain, which didn’t engage in any trade with Israel during the first seven months of 2020, registered $300,000 worth this year.
The data cited did not include trade in tourism and services.
These figures come a year after Israel signed a set of normalisation agreements with Arab and Muslim countries known as the so-called “Abraham Accords” under the auspices of then-US president Donald Trump’s administration.
The UAE was the first Gulf country to sign the agreement, before Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan followed suit. Egypt and Jordan were previously the only Arab nations to have established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1979 and 1994 respectively.
The deals broke with the long-standing idea that Arab nations would not normalise with Israel until it reached a comprehensive peace deal with Palestinians.
The agreements were condemned as treasonous and a “stab in the back” by Palestinians.
Israel-UAE deepening ties
A major global hub for trade and re-export capital, the UAE’s top trading partners are China ($35.5 billion), India ($28.6 billion), the US ($17.1 billion), Saudi Arabia ($11 billion), Germany ($9.72 billion) and the UK ($9.5 billion).
Gold, broadcasting equipment, jewelry, refined petroleum and diamonds account for the top five products imported into the Gulf state.
While Israel accounts for substantially smaller trading volume than its top partners, the Emiratis are set to deepen their commercial relationship with the Jewish state.
On Monday, economy minister Abdulla Bin Touq said that Abu Dhabi was projecting to grow economic ties with Tel Aviv to the tune of $1 trillion over the next decade.
Since normalisation, the UAE has signed over 60 memorandums of understanding with Israel and is expecting an “influx” of trade over the next couple years Bin Touq said, primarily in defence, energy and food security.
“We have $500 to $700 million dollars of bilateral trade happening, we have funds of billions of dollars that have been announced jointly between the two countries,” he said. “We are moving into so many areas of economic opportunities.”
Among those deals include Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Co inking a $1 billion purchase of a 22 percent stake in Delek Drilling’s East Mediterranean Tamar natural gas field earlier this month, marking the biggest deal between the two countries yet.
“This transaction marks a milestone in the alignment between Israel and the UAE,” Yossi Abu, Delek’s CEO said. “It shows how Israel’s natural gas resources can be a source of collaboration between nations.”
Both countries have had high-level trade delegations explore opportunities for investment in technology, aviation, education, telecom and tourism over the past year.
Back in March, the UAE announced a $12 billion investment fund for strategic sectors in Israel, including energy manufacturing, water, space, healthcare, and agri-tech.
Prior to 2020, clandestine relations between Israel and the UAE existed for decades, as Abu Dhabi kept a low profile over its unofficial ties with Tel Aviv through various economic, political and cultural exchanges.
Israel has long assisted the UAE in the security realm through cyber and surveillance technology transfers.
Earlier this year, Emirati and Israeli ministers pledged military and defence cooperation, with the Israeli defence chief envisioning a “special security arrangement” between the two states.