Experts Hail Abraham Accords and the UAE’s Handling of Pandemic in Davos During WEF
An expert panel discussed the importance of the Abraham Accords in driving healthcare innovation.
Davos/Dubai: A panel of experts hailed the UAE’s handling of Covid-19 on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos on Wednesday. The panel also opined that the Abraham Accords signed between the UAE and Israel in 2020 presented a huge opportunity for increased medical technological advancement through collaboration between healthcare actors in the region.
His Excellency Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, felt that the knowledge exchange between the two countries during the pandemic was an excellent example of bilateral cooperation. He was a part of the panel discussion on ‘Abraham Accords: An Unexplored Vehicle for Health Innovation’, organized by the UAE-based VPS Healthcare at Burjeel House in Davos.
The session, moderated by Suzanne Kianpour, Foreign Affairs & Political Journalist, BBC, also featured Dr. Shamsheer Vayalil, Chairman and Managing Director, VPS Healthcare, and Itamar Rabinovich, former Ambassador of Israel to the U.S. and former President of Tel Aviv University.
“There was a medical exchange between both the countries during the pandemic and work was done on research on the virus, the vaccine, etc. It expedited many things and we saw some of the concrete outcomes impacting the control of the Covid-19 within the UAE,” Dr. Thani said.
According to Dr. Thani, after the signing of the Abraham Accords, bilateral trade between the UAE and Israel has increased to more than 2.5 billion dollars in less than two years.
“In the first quarter of this year, we exceeded 1 billion dollars. We announced two years ago, 3 billion dollars of R&D funds for more engagement in the region. We are about to sign the free trade agreements, sending a strong message that the potential is high and concrete projects are happening,” said Dr. Thani, adding that the UAE is keen to engage with and capitalize on Israel’s strong healthcare sector.
Praising the cooperation between Israel and the UAE on different areas, Mr. Rabinovich said that tangible action should be taken to keep up the momentum.
“The UAE participated in a very important project where we are producing both water and electricity in Jordan. The UAE plays a crucial role in this project. The relationship has begun well and is proceeding well. But it is not going to develop well if unattended. The leadership of both countries need to mend, monitor, and develop it further,” he added.
‘Accords Beneficial to Health Sector’
Dr. Shamsheer said that the healthcare sector is one of the biggest beneficiaries of the Abraham Accords and that this agreement is a fertile ground that has the potential to impact the entire region.
“Health is one of the biggest bridges that can bind nations and people. We have seen a lot of bilateral movements between Israeli research companies and research organizations. The next big disruption can come through some of these research collaborations. The opportunities are getting bigger because of the capital pool in Abu Dhabi and the research talent from Israel. As a healthcare company, we are very excited to be a part of this time in the relationship,” he said.
Dr. Shamsheer also explained how the UAE set a new model through proactive initiatives and interventions during the pandemic.
“I remember a speech by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, ensuring no person living in the country would be left short of medicine or food. I think that was a good start. We were all enthused by the commitment, we were all part of that fight against Covid-19. The UAE set a new model of public-private partnership during the pandemic, and it has the potential to go around the world,” he said.
According to Dr. Shamsheer, the Abraham Accords can culminate in the next Nobel Prize coming from the region with a close relationship between two great nations. “I am very optimistic,” he concluded.