Israel Gulf Report
OurCrowd CEO: Israel-Gulf peace akin to fall of the ‘Iron Curtain’
Updated: Jan 12, 2021
CEO of Israeli Venture Capital firm compares official ties to the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, predicts that peace is now irreversible
By NOA AMOUYAL
Now that Israel has made peace with several Gulf nations, it is unlikely this peace can be reversed, OurCrowd CEO Jon Medved said on Tuesday.
Speaking at a webinar hosted by the Tel Aviv International Salon and Our Crowd, Medved compared the burgeoning ties to the fall of the Iron Curtain.
When asked whether the Biden Administration would continue to encourage ties between Israel and Arab nations, Medved said he was confident that the future relations between Israel and these Gulf countries is bright - regardless of who is in the White House.
“[Relations] are in the interests of the United Arab Emirates, Israel, the United States and the entire world. I think we dropped something akin to the Iron Curtain,” he said. “We were kept apart by this wall in the middle of the desert - let’s call it a ‘sand curtain.’ There is no going back now, the wall is down.”
Joined by Dr. Sabah al-Binali, OurCrowd’s GCC Venture Capitalist Partner and Head of the Gulf Region (and whom Medved warmly called a “brother from another mother”), the two engaged in a lively discussion moderated by political analyst Arsen Ostrovsky.
Both Medved and al-Binali acknowledged that this cementing of ties is not only based on shared strategic interests, but also common values that run deep in both cultures. In addition to sharing similar sized economies, like Israel, the UAE, too, is a young nation that had to create its entire infrastructure out of a desolate desert, they said.
“In business relationships - if they're going to be long term - they are going to be more community and socially based as well. The community based social life of both Israelis and Emiratis is quite similar,” Medved said. “All too many people often view the investment business as transactional - ‘let's get a deal done.’ But it’s also important to gain trust.”
In fact, even though the Abraham Accords were signed a mere four months ago, al-Binali said the foundation for forming these ties existed long before that historic day in Washington.
“The links existed without the Abraham Accords,” he said. “Both countries invest globally. Once this agreement was announced, this was very straightforward.”
That said, the future for cooperation across several sectors is limitless, so much so that even Israelis may not fully comprehend its full potential.
“I don’t think enough of my israeli comrades understand what's going on over there,” he said.
Al-Binali hailed the friendship as the gateway to opposing hemispheres - with Israel now gaining a window in the East and the Gulf now having immediate access to the West.
“From a business point of view, everybody has been looking forward to this. These aren't just destination markets, but gateways into Western/Eastern hemispheres. You'll see very interesting things in the next couple years,” he predicted.
He also suggested that the UAE’s knack of strategic planning coupled with the Israeli tendency to make bold, daring moves is a synergistic match made in heaven.
“I think what we'll see come out of this new relationship are the businesses who can sythinze and balance fast execution with strategic planning and thinking. That synthesis will be quite powerful,” he added. “When you look at certain types of business that require massive infrastructure investment, that's where Emiratis come from. But if you look at sheer innovation and fast time to market, you see an advantage on the Israeli entrepreneurs.”
As for sectors most likely to benefit from this dream alliance, both speculated that the Financial Technology sector has the most to gain. Medved, however, added that many other industries will seize this opportunity including food security and advertising technology sectors.
As for whether more Arab nations will decide to join the peace with Israel bandwagon, both recused themselves from predicting specific countries but Medved said he’s “certain we’re not done” but predicted that Israel would likely “double” its tally of peaceful neighbors in 2021.
In keeping with his confidence in growing peace in the region, Medved commented that what we’re seeing now is “the future. In September it didn't exist. Now it's roaring. The rest of the world wants to be a part of it. I think you will see not just this interesting trilateral relationship, but you'll see Europe and Asia and other continents [getting involved]. Global investors will look at what fits. They see the opportunities we see and they will keep investing.”
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