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Financial Times: UAE Blocks Public Demonstrations in Solidarity with Palestine

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The Financial Times newspaper revealed that the UAE authorities prevented public displays of solidarity with Palestine and adhered to normalization and alliance with Israel despite the bloodiness of the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip.

The newspaper highlighted in its report on Emirati-Israeli relations the absence of widespread demonstrations in the UAE in support of Palestinians, which were witnessed across the region and other parts of the world.

The newspaper’s report was titled (Trade relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates tested due to the anger of the Gaza war).

In the days following the Hamas attack on October 7, Israeli businessman Ron Daniel left Dubai, his home since 2021, for fear that he was “sitting on a volcano.”, the report stated.

But the CEO of asset management and fintech company Liquidity Group returned to the UAE a month later after deciding those concerns were “mainly in my head.”

Daniel is among a small group of Israelis who have been living and working in the UAE since relations with Israel were normalized four years ago.

His decision to return reflects hopes among Israeli businessmen that the US-brokered normalization with the UAE and three other Arab countries — which allows them to openly seek deals in the Middle East — can withstand the anger and pain caused by Israel’s war in Gaza.

Daniel remarked that despite initial discomfort with Emirati friends, the sense of normalcy quickly returned. He noted that “Peace has endured, interest has remained, and friendships have persisted.”

Furthermore, the UAE, along with other Arab nations, condemned the devastation resulting from Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, provoking anger among Emiratis and a significant segment of the expatriate community.

However, anger and resentment were largely contained in private conversations in the authoritarian state, where protests are prohibited. This led to the absence of widespread demonstrations in support of Palestinians, which were seen across the region and other parts of the world. Authorities also warned against publicly displaying solidarity with Palestine.

UAE leaders declared their commitment to the agreement with Israel known as the Abraham Accords, despite their concerns about the Israeli attack on Gaza.

Anwar Gargash, the president’s foreign affairs advisor, said at a conference held in Dubai last month: “The UAE has taken a strategic decision, and strategic decisions are long-term.”

For a considerable time, the UAE has harbored discontent towards the right-wing administration led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. However, it views its choice to become the third Arab nation to normalize ties with Israel as essential for its interests, whether in terms of security concerns or economic aspirations.

Abdul Khaleq Abdullah, an Emirati analyst, said the UAE needs to keep “communications, intelligence and diplomatic” channels open and see if “it can use them.” “We knew there would be ups and downs.”

In contrast to the “cold peace” that Egypt and Jordan agreed to with Israel, the UAE – which has never gone to war with the Israeli state – has embraced the relationship and pushed for greater economic ties, with a particular desire to benefit from Israeli technology.

Given their common adversary in Iran, the agreement between the UAE and Israel also facilitated Abu Dhabi’s establishment of transparent intelligence sharing and security collaboration

The majority of the post-agreement business ventures were undertaken with Emirati state-affiliated entities, particularly those based in Abu Dhabi, the oil-rich capital that spearheaded the normalization agreement.

 Even before the conflict, Israeli entrepreneurs encountered greater difficulty than expected in leveraging private family offices in the United Arab Emirates to utilize the Abraham Accords for regional expansion and access to affluent Gulf investors.

There is an idea that “Israeli entrepreneurs will come and raise a lot of capital and then come back.” But “that’s not how business is done there.” said Eli Wortman, the co-founder of Jerusalem-based PICO Venture Partners.

The war in Gaza initiated by Israel has currently subdued the budding opportunities for Emirati private firms to engage in transactions with Israeli counterparts. This is primarily due to growing resentment among merchant families, a significant number of whom were already cautious about conducting business with Israelis, exacerbated by the destruction in Gaza.

 “Whether it is business or social, everyone here will think twice,” an Emirati executive said. He added: “If I had a job with an Israeli company, I would stop it now.” “Emotions are so high.”

The most important deals included companies affiliated with the Abu Dhabi government. G42, the Abu Dhabi artificial intelligence company headed by Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the powerful UAE national security adviser, was the first Emirati company to open an office in Israel.

The Mubadala Fund of the Abu Dhabi government allocated $1 billion to invest in an Israeli gas field and $100 million in venture capital and Israeli startups. While certain sectors may have experienced a slowdown, there are indications of progress in alternative areas.

The Prominent Israel-based researcher Yoel Marek said last month that she is moving forward with opening the Haifa branch of the Abu Dhabi Institute of Technology Innovation, famous for its large open-source language model Falcon.

The TII said it established its presence in Israel early last year, and that Maarek “has been in the recruitment process with us since the late summer of 2023” — before the start of the war — and has now been “inducted.”

The Gulf state’s airlines continued their services to Tel Aviv even as other airlines canceled their flights, which confirms the interest in maintaining the relationship with Israel.

For many Israelis doing business in the UAE, Israel’s war on Gaza has increased the need for friends in a hostile region.

“Since October 7, the Abrahamic Accords may no longer be in the honeymoon phase – but they are still our future,” said Noa Gastfreund, co-founder of the Israel-UAE Business Forum UAE-IL Tech Zone. The group was renamed simply Tech Zone “in light of the sensitivities and need for broader regional cooperation.”

Arik Shtilman, CEO of Rapid, a financial technology company established in Israel with approximately 100 employees in the UAE, stated that the conflict has had “virtually no impact” on his company.

He said that things are progressing as usual in the United Arab Emirates while observing a more notable shift in Europe where securing new clients has become more challenging.

The bilateral flow of goods between Israel and the UAE, excluding software, exceeded $2 billion from January to August 2023, according to Israel’s ambassador to Abu Dhabi.

The UAE-Israel Partnership Agreement entered into force last year, reducing customs tariffs and aiming to boost bilateral trade to $10 billion within five years.

One crucial aspect is that Israelis still feel welcome in the Gulf state, said Wortman of PICO Venture Partners. “It is one of the safest places in the world today to be Israeli,” he said.