• Middle East Center for Reporting an Analysis

Banking milestone: Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC) and Israel's Bank Hapoalim agreement

Updated: Nov 22, 2020


November 21 - Reports say that the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC) and Bank Hapoalim in Israel have moved forward with an agreement. "Bank Hapoalim will become part of DIFC's global network of banks, financial centers, regulators and companies," a statement by DIFC said. The news follows numerous new "firsts" with Israel and the UAE, including Israeli produce on the shelves at Fresh Market and a Dubai Chamber of commerce meeting hosting Israelis from the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce.


Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) describes itself as the leading international financial hub in the MEASA region "and home to the largest, most developed financial and FinTech ecosystems in the region," according to a statement in Dubai. "The agreement creates a framework for both organizations to forge cooperation across financial services activities."


This potential involves "disrupting the financial and technology sectors" with these new possibilities. "The alliance will enable Bank Hapoalim to access banking and innovation opportunities in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia through the DIFC platform."


The Dubai statement included a quote from Dov Kotler, CEO of Bank Hapoalim said: “The agreement signed with Dubai International Financial Centre is an important milestone. We hope to serve, extend and strengthen the financial relationship between our two countries. It will provide Israeli FinTech entrepreneurs with a gateway to the dynamic and vibrant Dubai ecosystem, and help foster cross-border innovation. It is an honour to be the first Israeli bank to construct this important bridge for innovation.”


FinTech at the forefront


Bank Hapoalim will be invited to take part in the DIFC FinTech Hive Investor Day (see past reports on this). “DIFC, the Middle East, Africa and South Asia’s leading financial centre, is pleased to welcome Bank Hapoalim as a global partner," said Arif Amiri, Chief Executive Officer of DIFC Authority. This will allow the Israeli bank to capitalize on lucrative banking and capital markets.


FinTech is expected to be a key part of new UAE-Israel relations and the excitement already generated by new opportunities. An Israeli delegation will attend GITEX in December. Fenix received its first seed investment from Israel's Maniv recently. Etihad airways will begin flights in 2021. On November 18 Ibrahim Ahli of Dubai FDI spoke to Israelis and others about business opportunities in Dubai. FinTech Ripple recently chose Dubai for operations. The innovation hub here is part of Dubai's future plans.


Kotler previously expected hope for deals in the UAE in September after delegations in the early part of September from Israeli banks and a cooperation agreement Hapoalim announced in mid-September.

Read the report. And this report. Read the statement. Background here.


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