Israel punches above its weight at Dubai Airshow: opinion

For more than 30 years, the prestigious Dubai Airshow has brought together the leading companies in civil and military aviation. Tens of thousands of people would visit the fair each year in search of the latest technologies and opportunities for their companies. Notably absent was one of the region’s most important players in this field: Israel.

Amidst the pavilions of Russia, China, Germany and Italy at this year’s airshow, Israel was the beauty of the dance. With the latest in drone, defense and aircraft conversion technology, the number of government, military, commercial and private aviation leaders who toured the spaces of Israeli companies was impressive, but not surprising, as many have previously recognized the Israel’s prowess in space.

Since the signing of the Abraham Accords, there have been many rumors about the growing relationships between Israeli companies in a variety of sectors and their counterparts in the Gulf, North Africa, and the wider Arab world. We have seen jumps in travel and tourism, for example, and the signing of many memorandums of understanding between companies. The Dubai Airshow was a more dramatic example of how this region has changed.

While there has been widespread buzz over the decades of collaboration between Israel’s defense industry and Arab countries, many of which increasingly understand the common security threats they face, it had been rare to see this interest and association over the top. from the table before the Abrahamic Accords.

Yet to see the military leaders flowing through Israel’s corporate and even government positions at the air show, was to see a parade of nations that clearly share common goals and values ​​in this dynamically changing region. More executives and leaders from around the world, whether wearing colorful military garb or business attire, including the traditional regional kandura, entered through the front doors of these spaces, not the rear. It was evident throughout the four days of the event.

People walk past the Israeli display during the Dubai Air Show in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Nov. 14, 2021. (Credit: REUTERS / STAFF)

Even heads of state made the visit, adding to the openness and transparency that Israel has experienced since the accords were signed. There was excitement in the room when they passed by, and in many ways it was a symbol of how wonderful this new relationship is, both on a friendship and business level.

MANY PUNDITAS have spoken about the pace of real deals in the commercial sectors, with some commenting that they believe it is moving slower in some than others. In some cases, this has thrown an inaccurate cloak on the business climate between Israel and the Gulf nations in particular.

But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Rather, what those experts must learn is that deals in the Gulf are not completed in a New York minute, but at a slow and steady pace.

While many deals were announced at the airshow, I believe that many more conversations were started that will lead to further collaboration. As we have seen in a variety of sectors, business leaders in the Gulf take the time to build relationships with their counterparts and once those foundations are built, they move to the business collaboration stage.

As we have seen from the many clients we represent, it is just as important for them to learn about their families as it is the characteristics of the products you are selling. The air show was a huge success and shows that the relationship between Israel and the UAE is skyrocketing.

The writer is CEO of the public relations firm Steinreich Communications, with offices in Israel and the Gulf.

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