A simulation by Wikistrat explored opportunities for Israel-Gulf relations in 2025 following the signing of a peace treaty between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
https://www.jpost.com-By ADAM HOFFMAN
ISRAELIS WHO took part in the 2021 Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia pose in front of one of their two vehicles in Hail, Saudi Arabia last month.
(photo credit: HAMAD I MOHAMMED/REUTERS)
The signing of the Abraham Accords at the White House on August 13, 2020 marked a watershed moment in the history of the Middle East and the Israeli-Arab conflict.
The signing of normalization agreements between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain shortly afterward demonstrated the transformation in the region, as a centuries-old conflict that had defined the Middle East began to fade away. While the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and other regional hotspots such as Libya and Yemen have not magically disappeared, the normalization agreements signed with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain marked the beginning of a new and optimistic era in the region.
Despite this important development, challenges to regional security and stability persist. Policymakers in the region and a new administration at the White House now need to assess and prepare for how dynamics in the Middle East will play out in 2021, capitalizing on the new dynamics created by the Accords and the normalization agreements. A recent simulation conducted by the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) explored under what circumstances war might break out in the Middle East in the year ahead. While war is a constant possibility in the region, an equally interesting and important scenario to explore is how a peace agreement between Israel and another Gulf state in the coming year could create new opportunities for regional stakeholders.
IN A recent simulation, Wikistrat, a crowdsourced consultancy, focused on exactly that. The simulation, which included 50 participants from different sectors and countries, explored opportunities for Israel-Gulf relations in 2025 following the signing of a peace treaty between Israel and Saudi Arabia. The collaborative discussion of the participants in the simulation highlighted potential opportunities between Israel and the Gulf States in various domains, giving a sense of the enormous potential for joint ventures and opportunities for the private sector in Israel and the Gulf States.
Areas of potential cooperation proposed in the simulation included the Internet of Things (IoT), FinTech and agro-tech, as well as educational partnerships between Riyadh and Tel Aviv, academic exchange programs between Israeli universities and academic institutions in the Gulf, and religious tourism initiatives between Mecca and Jerusalem. Other proposals included an innovation hub that would bring together start-ups and tech entrepreneurs from Israel and the Gulf.
Many of the proposed initiatives in the simulation align with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, which includes the goals of economic diversification, an increase in renewable energy production, and encouragement of innovation in advanced technologies and entrepreneurship. Given Israel’s well-known local start-up scene, a collaboration between Israeli and Gulf-based entrepreneurs and engineers is an obvious next step.
Many of these ideas might seem far-fetched at the moment, given the lack of open relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia and the kingdom’s commitment to the Arab Peace Initiative. However, until a few months ago, the same could have been said about Israel’s relations with the UAE and Bahrain. What seemed impossible only yesterday has become today’s reality. In this reality, in the last two months of 2020 alone, $1 billion in investments were made between Israel and the UAE and advertisements for the Abu Dhabi Investment Office are posted over the main roads in Jerusalem. The deepening relations between Israel and the Gulf States promise even greater potential.
With Saudi Arabia possibly joining the growing trend of normalization with Israel in the next few years, the potential opportunities for the private sector in Israel and the Gulf are almost limitless.
The writer is the head of the Middle East Desk at Wikistrat, a crowdsourced consultancy.