The Abraham Accords between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are bearing fruit. A recent report by the Central Bureau of Statistics tells us that in 2020 and the first six months of 2021, Israel exported $197 million of goods and services to the UAE and imported about $372 million.
Optimists are predicting $1 billion for the whole of 2021, and that trade could exceed $3 billion within three years.
This sounds like a lot of money, but to put this in perspective, the UAE exports some $310 billion including crude oil, natural gas, dried fish, and dates (that’s the ones from a tree, that you eat, not tasty young women). That means, that if the current trend continues, Israel will account for just 1% of the UAE’s trade.
This is all well and good, but there are no details of what we are selling nor what we are getting. This could change the whole picture.
Among Israel’s top exports is, of course, military equipment. From the Jericho handgun to the ill-fated Kfir fighter bomber, Israeli weapons are sold around the world.
As for imports from the UAE, Israel is well on its way to relying on its own natural gas sources. By 2022 it will have no need of external suppliers. After many decades of looking, Israel has found her own oil.
So, the question we must ask is this. Do we really want to sell top quality military equipment, to a country that may pass our secrets to less friendlier countries, in return for gas we don’t need, fish that we can get from the Kinneret and dates that we have in plentiful supply from the Arava? While the hand of friendship from an Arab country is certainly most welcome, do we really have to trade with them?
I am left with the feeling that this is a win-lose situation and Israel is on the wrong side of the equation.
While I have kept this blog short – too many statistics can be confusing – I hope that Israel does not get the short end of the stick!