Skip to main content

US, India, UAE, Israel convene I2U2 forum in Abu Dhabi

The meeting builds on the food security initiative spearheaded by President Joe Biden in 2021 in preparation for global climate change.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) shares a light moment with Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on February 11, 2016. The crown prince is on a three-day state visit to India until February 12. AFP PHOTO / Money SHARMA / AFP / MONEY SHARMA (Photo credit should read MONEY SHARMA/AFP via Getty Images)

Senior officials from the United States, India, Israel and the United Arab Emirates convened in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday for the so-called I2U2 Group focused on economic development and food security amid global climate change.

The meetings were led by UAE Minister of State Ahmed Al Sayegh; Jose Fernandez, US undersecretary of state for economic growth, energy and the environment; Dammu Ravi, joint secretary of India's External Affairs Ministry; and Ronen Levy, director-general of Israel’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.

“I2U2 provides a new regional platform to deepen economic integration, and an affirmative agenda within the Middle East, Asia and beyond,” Fernandez said today in Abu Dhabi. “It serves as a model for promoting trusted regional partnerships that can create collaborative commercial opportunities and good-paying jobs.” 

During the meetings on Wednesday, India threw its support behind a US-led food security initiative unveiled by President Joe Biden at the COP26 summit in Glasgow in 2021, according to Indian media. More than 40 countries have already pledged some $8 billion to the Agriculture Innovation Mission (AIM) for Climate.

“We all must do our part and act urgently to respond to the crisis of climate change,” Fernandez said today in Abu Dhabi. “We must ensure that the basic prerequisites for improved agricultural production are in place: good soils and crop varieties adapted to climate change.”

Also on Wednesday, UAE climate envoy Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber praised India’s goal of adding 500 gigawatts of clean energy over the next several years and held out the possibility of UAE partnership.

Background: The I2U2 group was formally established during a call by top US diplomat Antony Blinken to Israeli, Emirati and Indian counterparts in October 2021.

Biden and Mohammed bin Zayed of the UAE, along with prime ministers Narendra Modi of India and Yair Lapid of Israel, convened virtually for the first time under the I2U2 banner last July.

During that meeting, the leaders agreed to establish an Israeli-backed food corridor between the UAE and India amid global wheat shortages due to the war in Ukraine, and agreed on Emirati and Israeli support for $300 million worth of clean energy projects in India.

Strategic imperative: The initiative came as the US seeks to counter China by building strategic blocs of economic and security cooperation across continents.

Within the Middle East, the Biden administration has sought to expand the Abraham Accords, in which the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco have normalized ties with Israel in a US-led effort to foster security in the region.

Analysts say the I2U2 forum further aligns the interests of Middle Eastern economic and defense powers with those of India, which boasts the world’s fifth-largest economy by GDP and a population that is set to eclipse China’s this year.

At the same time, the Biden administration has built upon the Trump administration’s revival of the George W. Bush-era Quadrilateral Security Dialogue — or “Quad” — a strategic forum between Australia, Japan, India and the United States.

Mohammed Soliman, director of the strategic technologies and cybersecurity program at the Middle East Institute in Washington who first called for an “Indo-Abrahamic bloc” in an essay in July 2021, has suggested that the I2U2 Group could be expanded and linked to the Quad to enable the United States to outflank China’s influence in the Middle East and South Asia – a region he refers to as “West Asia.”

“In my view, Washington’s perspectives on trade have shifted: The era of trading access to the US market in return for geopolitical alignments with US foreign policy choices is bygone. The I2U2 Business Forum is no exception to this trend,” Soliman told Al-Monitor on Wednesday.

He said, “This is why I consider the I2U2 to be much closer in nature to the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, which aims to strengthen trade and technology cooperation between the US and some Indo-Pacific economies — and includes India as well — and is neither a formal trade agreement nor does it offer market access.”

“The inclusion of more nations — namely Egypt and Saudi Arabia — into this geo-economic and geopolitical framework will be a crucial element of its capacity to transform West Asia economically,” Soliman added.

What’s next: The Biden administration aims to expand the I2U2’s nascent cooperation on food security and energy to eventually include tech innovation, including cooperation on space programs and semiconductor production, officials have said.

“Our strategy is sustained commitment and coordination. We are already on that path,” Fernandez said today.

On the climate front, the UAE is slated to host this year’s COP28 climate summit, following Egypt last year.

Know more: Read Salim Essaid’s recap of Gulf Cooperation Council countries’ decision to remain neutral amid US-led international pressure on Russia for its war against Ukraine.

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Already a Member? Sign in


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial
What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

Text Alerts - Be the first to get breaking news, exclusives, and PRO content.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

Already a Member? Sign in

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial