Photo Credit: Flash 90
Be'er Sheva, home of Israel's latest hi-tech development projects.

The Israeli government has approved a joint proposal by the ministers of Foreign Affairs and Innovation, Science & Technology to create a hi-tech investment fund together with the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The binational industrial research and development (R&D) fund is to support requests for joint activities between Israeli and Emirati companies.

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Like other international funds which exist today, the fund will provide a financial incentive to Israeli companies when it comes to the research & development of new technological products, or a substantial upgrade of existing technologies, as well as assistance in identifying foreign technological partners.

Support from the fund is intended to enable access to international resources, knowledge, technology, and infrastructure which currently do not exist in Israel. It will also enable assistance to Israeli companies through recruitment of local partners, compliance with foreign regulations, and the creation of marketing, economic, or business advantages, a spokesperson said.

Israel will allocate an annual budget of NIS 15 million for a 10-year period and the United Arab Emirates will match this amount. The fund is expected to reach NIS 150 million from the Israeli side over 10 years, and a total investment sum of NIS 300 million.

The initiative to establish the fund on the Israeli side will be led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Science, the Innovation Authority, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Economy.

The concept was discussed last December during Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s visit to Abu Dhabi, and in Bennett’s subsequent joint statement with the Crown Prince.

“Israel and the United Arab Emirates share a passion for the development of advanced technologies which will improve quality of life, the environment, and the economy,” Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said.

“This bilateral R&D fund is the engine for starting this process in the private sector by encouraging companies, with an emphasis on SMEs, to come together to develop, manufacture, and market innovative technological products on a regional and global level.

“I congratulate and thank my colleague, Emirati Foreign Minister His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, for his support of this process from the beginning. I also thank Minister of Innovation, Science, & Technology Orit Farkash-Hacohen for her important work.

“Hi-tech is a strategic asset for our country, and it is crucial to protect and develop it,” Lapid noted.

“I see great importance in the establishment of a mutual investment fund in the fields of hi-tech between the Government of Israel and the UAE,” Farkash-Hacohen said.

“The UAE has traditionally invested in energy, infrastructure, and more, and because of this, this new fund will create a bridge which will facilitate Emirati investments in Israeli technologies in these areas and more. I welcome this important step between Israel and the UAE and thank Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid and Israel’s Ambassador to the UAE, Amir Hayek. I also thank our colleagues, the Emirati ministers who supported this idea from the start.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.