Madrid and The New Middle East', the first summit between businessmen and representatives of the United Arab Emirates, Israel and Spain held on Monday, was held in building 81 of the Paseo de la Castellana, in Madrid. Following an official opening of the event, which was attended by the President of the Community of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, as well as remarks by the Israeli and Emirati ambassadors to Spain, Rodica Radian Gordon and Majid Hassan Mohamed Hassan respectively, and representatives of EXCEM Group and Access UAE, the Madrid and The New Middle East arena opened for businessmen, experts and representatives of the three nations.
The search for joint investment opportunities in a common business ecosystem - in line with the main purpose of the summit - emerged as one of the central issues in the first of the roundtables held throughout the day: "Joint investment opportunities in Israel, UAE and Madrid". While speaker Omar Mohammed Almuzaki, Secretary General of the UAE's International Investors Council, highlighted Abu Dhabi's regional importance in the logistics (where it ranks first in the Middle East), healthcare and cybersecurity sectors, Israeli Adiv Baruch, CEO of DHI 2048, emphasised the human capital and technological innovation that characterise Tel Aviv.
"Spain is an important gateway to the Latin American market and to all Spanish-speaking markets," said Adiv Baruch, sharing his approach not only with the president of Madrid Open City, Gerardo Seeliger, but also with the rest of the speakers on this first panel. "Madrid is the place to be and also to invest in Europe", added the Minister of Finance of the Community of Madrid, Javier Fernández-Lasquetty, taking the opportunity to highlight the role of the pharmaceutical sector in the Spanish capital and to highlight the value of regulatory freedom and Madrid's promotion of free competition.
And, as concluded the member of the Executive Committee of Madrid Open City, Alfredo Bonnet, moderating a first table that would later serve as an umbrella for all the others, this summit "is not only about collaborating, but about co-creating, about generating an economic and commercial future that the three countries can be part of".
Along these lines, the second panel, "Business environment and development in the New Middle East and Madrid", formed by the head of operations of OurCrowd, Josh Wolff; and by the president of the Spanish Business Council in the United Arab Emirates, Guillermo Cobelo; and co-moderated by Gil Gidron and María Benjumea, stressed the need to invest in start-ups and support entrepreneurial initiative in each of the three countries present. "Innovation without collaboration and support is useless", explained Wolff during his speech, stressing the need to "attract large companies and to cooperate with governments in the creation of new projects or initiatives".
In this way, the following five tables of the day became a space for dialogue and discussion to bring the different Emirati, Israeli and Spanish delegations closer together. From the creation of infrastructures and smart cities, to the opportunities offered by cryptocurrencies, through the health, agri-technology and cybersecurity sectors, 'Madrid and the New Middle East' allowed more than two dozen speakers to explore the potential of what many of them called the "golden triangle" of cooperation.
The panel on Opportunities in infrastructure, Smart Cities and mobility focused on the proposals made by Juan Manuel García Horrillo, Director of Renewable Energies, Gas and Electricity at CEPSA; Gil Laser, CEO of Go To Global, and Jaime Gorbeña, representative of Astara, on the "Madrid Nuevo Norte" project presented by the moderator, José Luis Moreno.
This regional initiative of the community of Madrid, which aims to reform the northern district of the city, aims to create a national centre of development that is environmentally sustainable and generates new jobs, both in the Spanish capital and throughout the national territory. "This project is a perfect solution for the shaping of a new city," said García Horrillo on a panel in which innovation in transport and "confidence in new forms of mobility" took centre stage.
The panel on investment and collaboration opportunities in the health sector concluded: "We have never seen such a great need to invest, innovate and cooperate. The time is now," said Cristina Bescós, moderator of a panel that included the participation of the Israeli Dalia Itzik and the Spaniard Enrique Castellón. All three agreed that the Covid-19 pandemic had highlighted the shortcomings of health systems in the vast majority of countries around the world, as well as the problems that arise when "there is a lack of technology and knowledge transfer between companies and the market", according to Castellón.
"The challenge is to feed the world", the words of CBGP director Antonio Molina, became the central theme of the round table "Opportunities in agri-food tech", on the opportunities of the agri-tech sector. "But we face the problem of doing it at a low cost". The fifth panel allowed Mohammed Jamber, Yusef Zaher and Antonio Molina, moderated by Micha Jesselson, to address the future lack of water as a gateway to cooperation between the three countries, and how to treat land and natural resources as the tools to be used in that process.
In this sense, all the speakers agreed on Spain's capacity to become a "bridge at a global level to provide answers to food problems". In fact, the Emirati Yusef Zaher predicted that the country could become a European leader in the sector in the next 20 or 30 years, and that "it has enormous opportunities in regions such as the United Arab Emirates".
Finally, the round table on cybersecurity, financial technology and the Internet of Things, and the one on cryptocurrencies and mining rounded off the 'Madrid and the New Middle East' day. "No matter how complex or simple the technology being used in any project is, protecting and ensuring that it is secure is fundamental for the initiative to move forward," stressed Miguel Juan, associate director of S2 Grupo, during the first of these panels. An area in which Spain's cooperation with Israel and the United Arab Emirates, world leaders in technological and cybersecurity advances, was considered key by the speakers.
And so, closing the round of sectoral panels, the head of Strategy and Corporate Development of Banco Santander, Joel Rosenbaum; the co-founder of Cryptoproof, Aaron Landy; and the former CEO of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, Gal Landau, addressed the field of cryptocurrencies and cryptocurrency mining, which they concluded to be key in the future development of trade, economic and business relations between the three powers, whether in a more or less regulated way.
In short; cooperation. "Cooperation and innovation" were the maxims of a historic meeting that brought together, for the first time, Emirati, Israeli and Spanish businessmen in the same auditorium, and which is already looking ahead to a second edition in June 2023.