DAVOS, Switzerland - "The big money is in the Gulf states," The Israel Corporation Chairman Idan Ofer said to TheMarker. "They are taking over Western companies. If we do not work with them, in the future it will be difficult even for us to do business in Western countries," he added.
Ofer was discussing the state-controlled investment funds of the Gulf states, known as sovereign wealth funds (SWF), which control trillions of dollars. The Gulf states' funds are overflowing with oil receipts from the sky-high oil prices and have been accumulating dollars for years, and now are valued at a few trillion.
Ofer has done business with the fund in Dubai, and The Israel Corp.'s Zim shipping subsidiary docks in Gulf ports.
Ofer has revealed such contacts in the past and even testified on behalf of the Dubai fund in the U.S. when its attempt to purchase a port company there resulted in a huge uproar over the proposal to sell to an Arab institution. Ofer testified on behalf of Zim's fair treatment in Gulf ports. The deal fell through, however, and Dubai sold off its share of the U.S. ports.
Idan explained that the way to work with the Gulf states is through a Palestinian or Israeli Arab partner.
"Not everyone in the Gulf feels comfortable doing business with an Israeli. But when an Israeli arrives with a Palestinian as a partner that makes the matter much more comfortable for them." He added that he personally does business with Palestinian investors, but refused to provide details. In addition, Idan said, the time has come for Israel to sign a peace agreement with the Palestinians and the Arab world, for business reasons as well. "The power of the Arab countries is on the rise in the world because of their money," he explained.
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