In Israel Morocco and other ‘Abraham Accords’ countries are looking to take advantage of their status to clean up on new deals. But can Morocco follow the UAE model and net a cool billion?
Morocco took the spotlight at an investment rally held in Jerusalem, which is seen as an opportunity for Rabat to ramp up its investment and trade from Israel, just as the UAE has done in the last year since ‘normalizing’ relations with Israel.
A host of companies from across the Middle East were in Jerusalem on February 15th showcase the economic potential in the region two years after the signing of the Abraham Accords.
The pavilions of Abu Dhabi and Morocco were centre stage as thousands of potential investors from more than 80 nations came to learn more about business in the Arab world.
The Abraham Accords, which were signed in 2020, normalised relations between Israel, the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco, with Sudan making a significant start to the process.
As well as being a historic geopolitical and strategic shift, the deal opened up new trade corridors between some of the region’s most successful economies.
Rabat will be keen to follow the UAE’s success with Israel, as just one year after the move, the value of trade between the Emirates and Israel reached more than $1.1 billion.
Ahead of the conference, Jon Medved, one of Israel’s leading venture capitalists, described how the Accords which Morocco signed provided the private sector “political air cover” for business and investment to further implement the spirit of the deal, “to promote inter-faith and inter-cultural dialogue to advance a culture of peace among the three Abrahamic religions and all humanity”.
Abdulla Abdul Aziz Al Shamsi, Director General of Abu Dhabi Investment Office, told a crowd of hundreds that “we have really started to see the fruits of this work”. It was his first time in Jerusalem.
Keen to stress that the Accords mean more than relations between its signatories, Sabah Al Binali, the first Emirati partner at an Israeli company, spoke to The National of his personal experience bridging these two worlds.
“It’s overwhelmingly positive … I think after the initial excitement, people are settling down and putting their business hats on,” he said.
The summit was a hopeful event for Israel as it goes through one of its most divisive eras in decades, in which the country’s new government, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, attempts to push through deeply controversial judicial reforms.
For Morocco, huge hopes are placed on the summit as Rabat needs a radical re-think of how it approaches the subject of attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Morocco’s regional investment offices called CRIs are failing to reach out to the countries who could bring billions to the country, due to poorly managed PR campaigns. Recent initiatives by Rabat’s foreign investment bureau AMDIE, such as placing advertisements on the sides of London buses, were not fruitful.
The global investors’ forum takes place barely days after a study in Morocco revealed that 25% of young men in the country were out of work.