Skip to main content

Israeli entrepreneur sees 'incredible potential' for business with Saudi Arabia after visit

Eyal Waldman says Saudis want to 'rub shoulders' with Israelis after returning from a four-day business trip in the kingdom
Saudi staff receive visitors at the Future Aviation Forum in Riyadh, on 9 May 2022 (AFP)

An Israeli entrepreneur who was recently in Saudi Arabia said there is "incredible potential" for business between the two countries, Israeli newspaper Ynet reported on Sunday.

Eyal Waldman said Saudis want to "rub shoulders" with Israelis after returning from a four-day business trip last week to Riyadh and Jeddah.

Waldman was the CEO and founder of Mellanox, a computer networking company, acquired by Nvidia in 2020.

"Saudis want to meet us, talk and rub shoulders with us. They want to learn. I kept getting inquiries," Waldman said.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


"There is incredible potential for cooperation between the Saudi people and Saudi companies and Israel." 

Biden Middle East visit: Why an Israel-led security pact is a paper tiger
Read More »

Israeli media had abided by a government gag order to keep meetings between Saudi and Israeli officials unreported. However, Waldman's visit to Saudi Arabia was public, as he doesn't hold any official position in Israel.

Waldman added that the Saudis are thinking about the era when crude oil will take the backstage as a driver of the economy and they are attempting to seek cooperation and understands "that Israel has a lot to give in the field".

"Both sides [Israelis and Saudis] hope that Biden's trip to the area will yield significant progress, and maybe we will reach the normalisation we all expect," he said.

Waldman said he travelled to Saudi Arabia on a foreign passport as it was not "possible to enter Saudi Arabia with Israeli passports," but he did not hide his identity as an Israeli when meeting entrepreneurs and government officials, he added. 

"The meetings were very good; you see that both sides are quite waiting for normalisation. Both sides are waiting for the opportunity to start cooperating, there is great interest in the technological capabilities in Israel," he said.

US regional tour 

US President Joe Biden's visit is slated for mid-July when he will visit Israel, the occupied West Bank and Saudi Arabia.

"The visit could advance peace or an agreement with the Palestinians," Waldman said about Biden's visit.

Mohammed bin Salman, the 36-year-old crown prince, is the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia and its future king. He was reported to have secretly met with former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo in November 2020.

Biden had dismissed meeting Mohammed bin Salman on Friday but the US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said two days later that she thinks the two will meet during the visit.

Biden's visit will culminate with a major gathering of regional leaders in Jeddah, the Saudi port city, where Biden is expected to engage in some capacity with the crown prince.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.