UAE, Israeli Companies Sign Coronavirus Research Agreement

In the coming weeks, the two states are expected to announce a string of partnerships, as deals on the sidelines of the peace agreement start to take shape

Reuters
Noa Landau
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A coronavirus testing laboratory at Tel Aviv University, April 1, 2020
Reuters
Noa Landau

The Emirati APEX National Investment company signed a "strategic commercial agreement" with Israel's Tera Group to cooperate on research and development related to COVID-19, including a testing device, the UAE's state news agency WAM said late on Saturday.

The deal "is considered the first business to inaugurate trade, economy and effective partnerships between the Emirati and Israeli business sectors, for the benefit of serving humanity by strengthening research and studies on the novel Coronavirus," WAM quoted APEX's chairman Khalifa Yousef Khoury as saying.

This is not the first time companies in the two countries have brokered a deal, however. In early July, WAM itself announced a similar agreement between Group 42, an Abu Dhabi-based company, with Israeli defense companies Rafael and IAI in July. This was also aimed at finding ways to combat coronavirus. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had announced there had been a research deal between the two countries in the last week of June, but Emirati officials had then carefully corrected him. A statement published hours later soberly said that "two private companies in the UAE sign an agreement with two companies in Israel to develop research and technology to fight COVID-19.

The agreement was signed at a press conference in Abu Dhabi, coming soon after Israel and the UAE announced an agreement on Thursday that will lead to a full normalization of diplomatic relations between the two states.

"The United Arab Emirates and Israel will immediately expand and accelerate cooperation regarding the treatment of and the development of a vaccine for the coronavirus," the two countries said on Thursday in a joint statement.

U.S. President Donald Trump helped broker the deal, under which Israel agreed to suspend its planned annexation of areas of the occupied West Bank.

Delegations from Israel and the United Arab Emirates will meet in the coming weeks to sign agreements regarding investment, tourism, direct flights, security, telecommunications and other issues, the joint statement said.

In June, the UAE had said two private companies from the United Arab Emirates and two Israeli companies would work together on medical projects, including ones to combat the new coronavirus.

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