Photo Credit: GPO / screenshot
Alibaba founder and CEO Jack Ma and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem

Alibaba founder and CEO Jack Ma – who arrived Monday – says Israel is much more “peaceful” than he anticipated.

The Chinese billionaire also told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their meeting Wednesday in Jerusalem that he is impressed with the scope of business opportunities in Israel. He called his first two days in the country “very inspirational” and said, “We will do more things here.”

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Ma brought 28 young presidents of Alibaba Group with him on this trip.

“We think there is a marriage here of your great business acumen and your technology with our technology,” Netanyahu said. “Innovation. Innovation is the key.”

Prior to their meeting, Netanyahu – a kibbitzer – asked Ma if there’s something “we can’t buy?” And then showed him something, he said, that he “can’t buy” – an ancient arrow from the Romans who conquered our land 2,000 years ago… That’s the original arrow there, and this is our Arrow, the Arrow-3 (a miniature model of the Arrow-3 anti-missile defense system’s interceptor used to intercept intercontinental ballistic missiles outside the atmosphere.

“I cannot buy an Arrow-3 interceptor through Alibaba, right?”

Ma shook his head, chuckling.

Said Netanyahu, “Not yet.” The prime minister also congratulated him on the honorary doctorate he is to receive Thursday from Tel Aviv University. The two men have already met, the first time in Davos, Switzerland in 2016, and last year in China.

Alibaba Group completed a deal in late 2017 to buy the assets of Israel-based QR codes startup, Visualead Ltd. The group has also invested in Israel-based startups Infinity Augmented Reality Israel Ltd., e-commerce search engine Twiggle Ltd., auto computer vision startup Nexar Ltd., and augmented reality hardware firm Lumus Ltd.

Known professionally as Jack Ma, Ma Yun is a philanthropist as well as a business magnate and investor. Ma is listed by Forbes as one of the world’s most powerful people and in 2017 he was ranked second by Fortune in its annual “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders.”

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