UAE and Israel join forces on venture capital investments

DUBAI: A well-known Saudi-Emirati entrepreneur has been put in charge of one of the biggest financial initiatives to come out of the renormalization agreement between Israel and the UAE.

Sabah Al Binali, who has been involved in big-ticket transactions in the Kingdom and the Emirates for the past two decades, has been made head of the Arabian Gulf region for a new partnership between the Dubai-based Al Naboodah conglomerate and OurCrowd, a $1.5bn venture capital investment group based in Jerusalem.

OurCrowd, with global activities in equity crowd funding, has teamed up with Al Naboodah, a leading UAE family business with interests in construction, real estate, transport and energy, to channel investment funds between Israel and the Gulf for start-ups in technology and other business areas.

A joint statement said the new venture would “identify and support UAE based start-ups seeking growth and development in Israel, as well as leverage its diverse portfolio of 220 companies to enhance business development for UAE start-ups seeking to collaborate on innovative solutions.”

Al Binali told Arab News: “The UAE and GCC governments have created great infrastructure for foreign firms to expand into the region. The Israeli government created a start-up nation with globally leading-edge tech. It is a natural match.”

Al Binali has advised on investment and transactions in the Gulf region, including the setting up of an investment bank in Saudi Arabia eventually sold to Credit Suisse and the multi-million-dollar takeover of the Zawya information agency by Thomson Reuters.

He said that he saw opportunities for joint Israeli-Gulf investment in such areas as technology innovation in defense, medical, finance and agriculture.

Al Naboodah’s business development unit Phoenix Capital will aim to channel investment funds to start ups in the two countries which last month signed the Abraham Accords, as well as other Gulf destinations.

Phoenix chairman Abdullah Al Naboodah said: “This first-of-its-kind major alliance will pave the way for the rapid expansion of business between our two countries.”

The OurCrowd-Naboodah deal is the latest initiative to come from the accord, following talks between big Israeli and UAE banks, as well as the recent link up between UAE conglomerate Al Habtoor and Israeli tech company Mobileye to develop “robo-taxis” in Dubai.

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