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Dubai's DP World and Israeli group to jointly bid for Haifa port privatisation

UAE and Israeli companies sign agreements to potentially open direct shipping line between two countries
Haifa Port will need to be upgraded to compete with port being built in the area by China's Shanghai International Port Group.
Haifa Port will need to be upgraded to compete with port being built in area by China's Shanghai International Port Group (AFP/File photo)

Dubai Ports (DP) World announced on Wednesday that it is partnering with an Israeli company to bid for one of Israel's two main ports and will also explore opening a direct shipping line between the United Arab Emirates and Israel.

The announcement came a day after Israel and the UAE signed an agreement to normalise relations and marks a big development in trade and economic collaboration.

The Emirati logistics company, which operates ports from Hong Kong to Buenos Aires, signed a series of agreements with Israel's DoverTower, including a joint bid for the privatisation of Haifa Port on the Mediterranean, one of Israel's two main sea terminals.

"Israel has two ports, the port of Ashdod and the port of Haifa. They are strong ports in excellent locations," DP World Chairman Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem told Arabiya TV.

"If there is an opportunity, there is nothing to prevent us from having a presence there."

DoverTower is owned by Israeli businessman Shlomi Fogel, a shareholder in Israel Shipyards and a partner in the Eilat Port located on the Red Sea.

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Fogel said as a result of the deal, DP World will collaborate with Israel Shipyards on the joint venture that will participate in the bid for the privatisation of the Haifa port.

The two companies also said they will examine opening a direct shipping line between the Red Sea port of Eilat and Dubai's Jebel Ali, the Middle East's largest transhipment hub.

"Our work to build trade routes between the UAE, Israel and beyond will help our customers to do business in the region more easily and efficiently," bin Sulayem said.

Israel is selling its state-owned ports and building new private docks in an effort to encourage competition and bring down costs.

Haifa Port will require upgrading to compete with a modern one being built in the area by China's Shanghai International Port Group.

Israel Shipyards and Dubai's Drydocks World will also examine partnering in producing and marketing products in Dubai.

Israel and the UAE have talked up the economic opportunities that formal relations would bring and several business cooperation agreements have already been signed.

On Monday, the National Bank of Dubai (NBD), the largest banking group in the UAE, signed a memorandum of understanding with Israel's Bank Hapoalim, marking the first banking agreement between lenders in the two countries.

An anonymous Emirati business person has also said he will invest in Israeli football club Beitar Jerusalem, which has a fan base known for its hardcore opposition to Palestinian players.