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UAE seeks closer business cooperation with Israel, including on stock exchanges

Since normalization Israel and the UAE have been exploring business opportunities with new cooperation agreements signed in sectors ranging from banking to mobile services.

Investors speak in front of a screen displaying stock information at the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange June 25, 2014. (Photo: REUTERS/Stringer)

Just a few weeks after the signing of the normalization agreement between the State of Israel and the United Arab Emirates, the Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi stock exchanges began cooperation talks that could include the dual listing on each exchange.

The two exchanges will also study initiatives to encourage businessmen to invest in companies listed on them, develop the technological infrastructure for the financial sector and work on new products, according to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE).

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange said last week that the negotiation is still in its preliminary stages and involves a memorandum of understanding "to establish an agreed framework and to study the possibilities of regional cooperation."

The market value of the exchanges in Abu Dhabi and Dubai combined is $265 billion, compared to $168 billion for the Israeli stock exchange, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Israel and the UAE have been exploring business opportunities since they decided to normalize relations, with new cooperation agreements signed in sectors ranging from banking to mobile services. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia granted air rights to flights between the State of Israel and the Emirates, which makes for a direct three-hour flight.

In the Abu Dhabi Stock Exchange, there are 66 listed financial companies, and trading volumes are mostly concentrated in large capital from the financial sector, such as First Abu Dhabi Bank. The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange owns 1,020 shares, including several technology companies listed on the Joint List with the United States.

In the context of the same normalization, the State of Israel revealed that an Emirati cargo ship will dock at Haifa Port for the first time next Monday.

Mendy Zelsman, director of the Haifa Port Company, said in a meeting on Wednesday with senior officials in the UAE, Indian and Sri Lankan ports sector that the MSC PARIS ship will arrive Monday morning at Haifa Port from the UAE port of Jebel Ali. The Israeli "Portsport" website quoted Zelsman as saying that all ships heading from Southeast Asia towards the port of Haifa can now stop on their way at the port of "Jebel Ali."

Zeltsman indicated that Haifa Port is currently undergoing a privatization process with the aim of ensuring that its activities increase significantly. It is noteworthy that Ahmed Bin Sulayem, director of the "DP World" company, had previously said in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Calcalist that Dubai Ports was interested in acquiring 30 percent of the shares of "Haifa" port, and that it was preparing to participate in the tender to buy the shares.

Bin Sulayem revealed his plan to link Haifa Port with Emirati ports, in addition to linking the port to Iraq, with the aim of reviving the Baghdad Haifa line, which has been in place since the British mandate.

Ofir Akunis, Israel's minister of Regional Cooperation, and the UAE Minister of International Cooperation Reem Al-Hashemi agreed to launch projects related to water, agriculture, advanced technologies, cyber and tourism, in addition to an agreement to exchange visits between businessmen from both sides.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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