UAE, Israeli companies sign ‘strategic commercial agreement’ on coronavirus R&D

The deal is considered the first business to inaugurate trade, economy and effective partnerships between the Emirati and Israeli business sectors

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DUBAI: 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.

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.

US 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.

“TeraGroup’s BioSafety testing is conducted in selected countries around the world, including the Emirates Field Hospital in Abu Dhabi, with plans to expand the testing to cover the entire UAE,” WAM 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.

Two state-owned Israeli defense contractors in July announced partnerships with Abu Dhabi-based technology company Group 42 to develop technologies to help fight the new coronavirus.

Meanwhile, Telephone lines between the United Arab Emirates and Israel were open on Sunday in a development the Israeli communications minister hailed as important for normalising ties between the countries.

The foreign ministers of both countries held a telephone call with each other to inaugurate the opening of the phone lines, Israeli officials said and UAE foreign ministry spokeswoman Hend al-Otaiba wrote on Twitter.

The UAE’s Telecoms Regulatory Authority did not immediately respond to a request to comment.

Reuters made several calls from the UAE to Israel on Sunday and more Israeli news websites that were previously blocked in the UAE were also able to be viewed on UAE internet connections.

“I congratulate the United Arab Emirates on the unblocking,” Israeli Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel said on Twitter.

“Many economic opportunities will now open up, and these trust-building steps are important for advancing the countries’ interests.”

The UAE’s two main telecoms operators Du and Etisalat did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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