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Is Israel-Gulf business ready to take off?

Agribusiness, retail, housing, and hospitality look like good bets for Israel-Gulf trade.
A security guard, wearing protective masks to combat the spread coronavirus, stands guard outside a store in the Mall of Dubai on April 28, 2020, after the mall was reopened. (Photo by Karim SAHIB / AFP) (Photo by KARIM SAHIB/AFP via Getty Images)

Normalization between Israel and two Gulf Arab states, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, is bound to create some interesting economic opportunities for the broader Middle East. Defense sales will certainly be part of the dynamic, both to the Gulf as in the coveted F-35 program from the United States to the UAE, and in sensitive defense and security technology between the Gulf states and Israel already underway. Other state-to-state co-investments are likely in biotech and even in state financial vehicles. There are already lines of credit and banking ties growing between two partly government-owned banks in the UAE and banks in Israel. And Bahrain will certainly promote its growing financial technology centers for Israeli investment. Israeli investors and entrepreneurs seeking to reach broader markets in the Middle East will be able to base their operations in Dubai or Abu Dhabi.

But for smaller business owners and entrepreneurs, where will the opportunity be? In fact, in many of the sectors in which Israel historically has expertise, the Gulf states have already made significant inroads, so much that the Gulf may be a source of innovation and new business for Israel.

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