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Israeli investor glee met with Emirati caution after deal on ties

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TEL AVIV/DUBAI (Reuters) – From a proposed rail link to the Gulf from the Israeli port of Haifa, to quick-hop direct flights from Tel Aviv, the prospect of formal relations with the United Arab Emirates is stirring excitement in Israel.

In the UAE, which Israeli business executives with foreign passports have visited for years, companies that are likely candidates for above-board deal-making with Israel are taking a more cautious line, apparently awaiting government guidance on future policy.

Israel and the Gulf State announced on Thursday they would normalise relations under a U.S.-sponsored deal that still awaits negotiations on details such as opening embassies and travel links before it is officially signed.

Israeli officials have been quick to play up the economic benefits of the accord, which once formalised would also include agreements on tourism, technology, energy, healthcare and security, among other areas.

Some Israeli and Emirati businesses have already signed deals since Thursday, and several small-scale medical and defence collaborations were announced in the weeks preceding the normalisation agreement.

But Emirati state entities and private businesses have been circumspect in discussing investment opportunities before ties are official, with many declining to comment.

Conglomerate Al Habtoor Group, which has several hotels in Dubai, is in talks to partner with Israeli carrier Israir, a spokeswoman said, declining to provide further details. It was too early to discuss expanding the group’s business into Israel, she said.

Abu Dhabi state fund Mubadala declined to comment about potential business opportunities emerging from the deal, and some government departments deferred requests for comment to the foreign ministry.

‘Significant upgrade’

Israeli Finance Minister Israel Katz said official ties with the UAE “could be a basis for a very significant upgrade of Israel’s economy, alongside, of course, the things they need from us – in water technology, agriculture, hi-tech”.

On Israel’s Kan Radio, Katz highlighted the potential for grand, regional transportation projects – “a rail connection between Gulf countries and Haifa port” – that he said would make Israel the UAE’s “gateway to the Mediterranean”.

Such a rail network would have to cross Saudi Arabia, which has no relations with Israel and has so far been silent on its deal with the UAE.

An Israeli delegation is expected to travel to UAE within weeks to work out the modalities of normalisation, a historic shift that could reshape Middle East politics from the Palestinian issue to the fight against Iran.

The UAE would only be third Arab state in more than 70 years to establish relations with Israel, after Egypt and Jordan.

‘Not going to bet their shirts’

But there are sensitivities for businesses in openly welcoming Israeli investment in the Arab world’s second-largest economy when public opinion in the Middle East is largely pro-Palestinian.

Some in the UAE have called for boycotting Israel over its treatment of Palestinians in occupied territories.

Robert Mogielnicki of the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington said UAE businesses would carefully gauge regional reactions to the deal to avoid tensions in existing relationships.

“Established UAE companies and family-owned businesses are not going to bet their shirts just to enter Israeli markets,” he said.

Israeli investors acknowledge that new trade agreements would likely take time to strike, but say Israel’s booming high-tech scene and innovations in agriculture would be tough for the UAE to pass up.

Jon Medved, CEO of Israeli crowdfunding firm OurCrowd, said “co-investment talks are ongoing (with Israelis) throughout the Arab world, not just with the UAE” – alluding to Israeli expectations that Bahrain and Oman would follow in normalising ties.

Tourism could also stand to benefit, some analysts say, though it would take time to kick off given the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on global travel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday Israel is preparing for direct flights, over Saudi Arabia, to the United Arab Emirates, but gave no timeframe for their start.

Saudi Arabia does not recognise Israel and its air space is closed to Israeli airliners.

Asked about flying to Israel, Dubai’s Emirates said it had nothing to announce. Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways had no immediate comment when contacted by Reuters.

Reporting and photo: Reuters

Events

Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) holds its 34th Annual General Meeting

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The Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) held its 34th Annual General Meeting at Kurumba Maldives today, with a total of 100 members in attendance. 

The day’s events began with a welcome address from the Chairman of MATI, Mr. Mohamed Umar, who also presided over the session. The agenda included an address from the Secretary General, Mr. Ahmed Nazeer, the review and approval of the minutes of the 33rd AGM, the review and adoption of the Annual Report and Financial Reports for 2023, the approval of the 2024 budget, the appointment of auditors for 2024, the welcoming of new members and election of executive board members to the two vacant positions (by-election).

In the member discussion session, the following topics were covered: the Government’s aim to reach net-zero emissions by 2023 and renewable energy generation in the Tourism Industry, new terminal of Velana International Airport and developments, employment challenges, the Industrial Relations Act and trade unions, environmental conservation and the significance of creating and executing efficient management plans for protected areas like the South Ari Marine Protected Area (SAMPA).

Following the official proceedings, the Minister of Tourism Hon. Ibrahim Faisal and the Minister of Economic Development and Trade Hon. Mohamed Saeed joined the forum. The Ministers provided remarks and engaged in a Member Q&A session. This session provided members with the chance to directly engage with the Ministers and delve into crucial industry topics. The queries focused on the Economic Outlook, forthcoming development plans and  immediate challenges and issues affecting the Tourism Industry.

A video presentation was also showcased that delved into the extensive work undertaken by MATI in 2023. The video also touched upon the Tourism Industry’s performance over the past 5 years, as well as the current and projected human resource capacity of the sector.

In his closing remarks, the Secretary General highlighted the importance of collaborative efforts in addressing industry challenges and called for greater unison amongst industry stakeholders, ending with an acknowledgement of the promising start to the year in terms of arrivals.

Executive Board Members elected to the 2 vacant positions (by-election):

  1. Ibrahim Shareef, CEO and Managing Director of Maldives Airports Company Limited
  2. Renato De Olivera, General Manager of The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands and representative of Marriott International
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Business

Unlocking power of travel storytelling at Travel Creators Exchange 2024

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Join us for the Travel Creators Exchange 2024, taking place on February 1, 2024, at the Hotel Jen in Male’, Maldives.

This dynamic event provides a platform for networking and collaboration among Maldives-based travel creators, fostering connections, idea-sharing, and the establishment of lasting partnerships to expand opportunities and monetise content.

Our lineup of distinguished speakers includes:

  • Zihuny Rasheed, Deputy Managing Director of MMPRC, will present on “Power of Digital Storytelling: Collaborative Strategies for Destination Promotion.” MMPRC actively markets the Maldives globally, utilising a comprehensive approach that includes travel trade shows, roadshows, digital marketing, and more.
  • Amjad Thaufeeg, Commercial Director of Kuda Villingili Maldives Resort, brings over 23 years of hospitality industry experience. He will discuss “The Role of Content in Tourism Marketing,” drawing on expertise in revenue, customer service, sales & marketing, and human capital development.
  • Suresh Dissanayake, Assistant Vice President of Sales & Marketing of Heritance Aarah & Adaaran Resorts, with nearly two decades of experience, will shed light on “What does a Sales and Marketing Director Do?” He brings extensive luxury hospitality experience and a proven track record in sales, distribution, and marketing.
  • Vishal Amir Ahmed, a versatile cinematographer and content creator, will explore “Who is a Content Creator.” Currently associated with Various Arts Studio, he specialises in providing multimedia solutions to various clients.

Organised by Maldives Insider, Maldives Virtual Tour, Travel Trade Maldives, and Hotelier Maldives, this collaborative effort aims to empower Maldives-based travel content creators and elevate the Maldives as a premier destination for captivating travel storytelling.

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Acclaimed contemporary artist Ana Pušica explores perpetuality and community at Patina Maldives

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Ana Pušica Kramer, an internationally  acclaimed contemporary artist, joins Patina Maldives for an exclusive  art residency in the now infamous Fari Art Atelier. From January 22 to  February 22, 2024, Ana Pušica will grace the shores of the Fari Islands,  weaving a vibrant narrative of colour and emotion across her larger  than-life canvases. 

Her artistry transcends boundaries, melding abstraction and figuration into awe-inspiring masterpieces. Having exhibited globally, from New York to Beijing, Ana’s paintings are a physical, intuitive act rooted in movement.  Described as a “beautiful fluorescent thunderstorm,” Ana’s art explores light and colour, capturing the energy of life itself. 

The Fari Art Atelier which has previously hosted the likes of Daniel Arsham, Chris Stamp and David Nott, will be transformed into Ana’s studio and gallery showcasing her enthralling artworks—a mesmerising journey through poetry, memory, and the vibrant interplay of colour. Guests at Patina are invited to delve into Ana’s world, where each stroke reveals layers of meaning, evoking sensations of intense lightness and boundless interpretation. 

At Patina Maldives, Ana will immerse herself in a month-long residency, inviting the Patina Malidves community or guests and team to witness her artistic fervour firsthand. Guests will have the rare opportunity not only to observe her creative process but also to engage with and create art alongside this luminary.

Experience artistry at its most exclusive

Art Exhibition
Experience Ana’s captivating exploration of colour and emotion in her spellbinding artworks displayed at the Fari Atelier.

Art Workshops: Message in a Bottle
As part of a collaborative artwork, Ana invites Patina guests to participate in short workshops, actively contributing to the creation of a permanent installation at Patina Maldives.

Open Studio Session
Join Ana for an exclusive open studio session, offering guests a behind the-scenes look at her creative process.

Ana Pušica residency package
Discover a world where creativity knows no bounds as Ana Pušica, the maestro of contemporary art, transforms Patina Maldives into an immersive canvas of inspiration.

Book now to secure your experience.
For more information and reservations, please visit Patina Maldives or contact
reservations.maldives@patinahotels.com

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