Madrid was the setting for the first 'Madrid and The New Middle East' business summit, an unprecedented event organised with the aim of promoting investment and trade relations in various sectors between the United Arab Emirates, Israel and Spain.
The main objective of this meeting was to analyse the current geopolitical environment in order to identify business opportunities and the best business options in areas of great relevance such as investment companies, business environment and development, infrastructure, health sector, agri-food technology sector, cybersecurity, Fintech area, Internet of Things or cryptocurrency sector.
This historic meeting sought to deepen the peace process that began when Madrid hosted the 1991 Peace Conference, one of the most important initiatives of that period to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict through talks between the parties involved, laying the foundations for a future peace.
The recent boost to the Middle East peace process has come from the famous Abraham Accords, thanks to which Arab countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain established diplomatic relations with the Israeli state under US auspices, joining Egypt and Jordan, which had already done so in the past.
Subsequently, other nations such as Morocco also followed this path of diplomatic understanding with the Hebrew country. In the case of the Alawi kingdom, the quid pro quo was for the US to recognise the Alawi kingdom's sovereignty over Western Sahara. The clear challenge of the Abraham Accords of 2020 was to pacify the Middle East and build a strong political and economic base in the region, thereby underpinning future regional stabilisation and development.
In this sense, two renowned businessmen, Borja Gervás, president of Access UAE, and David Hatchwell, president of EXCEM Group, both with extensive business experience in the UAE and Israel, launched this ambitious project that seeks to lay the foundations for future economic and technological cooperation between the United Arab Emirates, Israel and Spain, with the important participation of Madrid as the stage for the meeting point of these nations.
Gerardo Seeliger, president of Madrid Open City, was in charge of welcoming the participants in all the languages of the countries present at the event as one of the organising parties of the event. Madrid Open City is a public-private entity focused on attracting new companies to Madrid to develop their business.
Seeliger highlighted the figure of two preeminent leaders in the field of business and innovation as philanthropist David Hatchwell and Borja Gervás, very important in the business community in the Emirates and the entire Middle East region.
The president of Madrid Open City indicated that this conference comes at the best time to face an economic crisis aggravated by the war in Ukraine and the coronavirus pandemic. Seeliger spoke of the current instability in the energy and food sectors and spoke of "looking for synergies in this divided world" to avoid social and economic instability.
"Our desire is for stability, peace and prosperity in the Middle East and around the world," said Gerardo Seeliger, who highlighted the Free Trade Agreement sealed between the Emirates and Israel as a basis for shared growth. The president of Madrid Open City said that the Emirati nation is carrying out an important strategy in renewable energies, aerospace and the development of the agri-food sector.
Seeliger also highlighted the Emirates' large investment in Israel, especially in the field of research and development. In addition, the president of Madrid Open City remarked that this conference focuses on five areas with great potential for cooperation, such as infrastructure, smart cities and mobility, with great attention to innovation and sustainability; health, with Madrid as a global leader in health care, like the Emirates, and with Israel playing a leading role in investment in biopharmaceuticals; agriculture, with the challenge of improving the safety of food distribution and investing in agri-food technologies, just at an important moment marked by the war in Ukraine; cryptocurrencies and data mining; and, finally, cybersecurity and Fintech, highlighting the fact that Israel is a world leader in the field of cybersecurity.
The president of Madrid Open City encouraged to recognise the business opportunities between the different parties and to create a long-term economic collaboration and partnership between the Emirates, Israel and Spain.
Gerardo Seeliger also highlighted the hospitality of the Community of Madrid and its capacity as a great working environment that promotes competitiveness. He also praised Madrid's great urban infrastructure and its role as a leader in business development.
Finally, he highlighted Spain's important role as a gateway to Latin America, as it is the second largest investor in the region after the United States, which also represents a very important business opportunity for Israel and the Emirates. "Madrid is a perfect place to invest," Seeliger said.
Seeliger gave way to the speeches of the speakers who took part in the kick-off of 'Madrid and The New Middle East', including Isabel Díaz Ayuso, President of the Community of Madrid, Rodica Radian Gordon, Ambassador of Israel in Spain, Majid Hassan Mohamed Hassan al-Suwaidi, Ambassador of the Emirates in Spain, David Hatchwell, President of EXCEM Group, and Borja Gervás, President of Access UAE, the latter two also co-founders of the 'Madrid and the New Middle East' initiative.
Subsequently, Rodica Radian Gordon, the Israeli ambassador to Spain, intervened via a videoconference connection due to COVID-19. The diplomat thanked the organisers and in particular Borja Gervás and David Hatchwell for their work.
Rodica Radian Gordon pointed out that the Middle East is the scene of great change in recent years and with "great potential for collaboration to transform the lives of citizens". The Free Trade Agreement between the UAE and Israel has accelerated the changes, as the ambassador explained, and she also highlighted the agreement on tourism between the two nations, which has opened a great path also in the deepening of relations. Rodica Radian Gordon spoke of the important economic, technological and cultural cooperation, which is "proof of how the Middle East is shaping up and moving forward".
The Israeli ambassador in Madrid indicated that this conference serves to "consolidate the strong ties between the three countries". She also wanted to mention the great reference that Latin America represents for its attractiveness, and Spain here is a great gateway to access the Latin American market. Finally, the Israeli diplomat spoke of facing various challenges and problems together, such as the energy crisis, the improvement of the food supply chain, climate change, etc.
In his speech, Majid Hassan Mohamed Hassan al-Suwaidi, the Emirati ambassador to Spain, stressed the importance of this "great economic summit" with the aim of promoting Madrid as a great opportunity for investors.
The Emirati diplomat highlighted the work of Borja Gervás and David Hatchwell as leaders who share his vision and collaboration for economic cooperation. Al-Suwaidi spoke of the relevance of repeating this meeting as a great opportunity for the development of investment in different areas. "I hope to return in a new edition of the conference with new projects," said the Emirati ambassador in Madrid.
The ambassador of the Gulf country stressed that his country is a great reference as it is home to 200 different nationalities, which makes it a "unique country". He also highlighted the "Document of Human Fraternity" sealed in Abu Dhabi by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar as a great milestone in the consolidation of relations between different countries and religions. Majid al-Suwaidi also stressed that the Abraham Accords were possible thanks to the determination of the nations involved.
The Emirati diplomat noted that the Emirates has experienced great economic development in recent years, with a great business environment for companies. He also highlighted the Emirati government's leadership in encouraging the growth of non-fossil fuel based economic sectors and highlighted the country's large investment in renewable energy and artificial intelligence.
"We want to lead the reform of the coming economic world," said Al-Suwaidi, who spoke of his country's initiative to establish a low-tax environment to promote foreign direct investment.
"We hope that entrepreneurs will take advantage of this event and promote economic development in these countries," said the UAE ambassador to Spain.
Afterwards, it was the turn of David Hatchwell. The President of EXCEM Group highlighted the "great friendship" in this triangle of countries and spoke of the great opportunity to combine large areas and bring these economies together. He also noted that "altruism is the source of making the world a better place" and thanked the ambassadors for their support and the Emirates for their hospitality when he was there. Hatchwell also noted that after the Abraham Accords there is now a great opportunity for the region and the whole world.
For his part, Borja Gervás pointed out that "Madrid should play an important role in relations between Israel and the Emirates" and that the Emirate offers great economic opportunities and a great business environment.
At the start of 'Madrid and the New Middle East', Isabel Díaz Ayuso, President of the Community of Madrid, wanted to highlight how more than 30 years ago the Middle East Peace Conference in Madrid opened an important path. She explained that it came after a period of peace and a willingness to negotiate. This led to the subsequent Oslo Accords and the agreement with Jordan. The President of the Community of Madrid spoke of seeking understanding, peace and the well-being of citizens, under a commitment to democracy and freedom.
Díaz Ayuso said that the Community of Madrid wants to promote collaboration, understanding and prosperity, as well as work and incentives for those who want to take risks. "We have built the region with the tightest taxes and bureaucracy at the service of solid institutions. One out of every four companies created in Spain is created in Madrid," said the regional president, who stressed that Madrid transmits "confidence".
"We do not pit citizens against each other, we work for everyone, we do not seek to pit the public sector against the private sector, nor the worker against the employer. The family and the individual are basic to us", explained Díaz Ayuso.
"The Madrid model works", said the regional president, who also highlighted that Madrid is the second region in Europe in technological employment, as well as being the leading region in cultural events, digitalisation and tourism.
The President of the Community of Madrid wanted to highlight Madrid's strong ties with the Emirates and Israel. Isabel Díaz Ayuso, pointed out that the Community accumulates more than 400 million euros in exports to these countries and that it also imported more than 200 million in 2021 from Israel and the Emirates.
She praised the Israeli and Emirati nations as great "digital powers" with which Madrid wants to cooperate in digitisation, cybersecurity and entrepreneurship. "People from all over the world are settling in the Emirates and Israel to improve their lives, as in Madrid," said the president of the Community of Madrid, who spoke of making the most of digitalisation opportunities and consolidating peace and prosperity for all citizens.