A leading israeli venture capital firm is teaming up with a major dubai merchant family to launch a funding platform to facilitate technology investments between the united arab emirates and the jewish state, in the first such tech alliance since the normalisation of uae-israeli relations.
The tie-up between ourcrowd and abdullah al naboodahs business development unit, dubbed phoenix capital, will aim to create a bilateral venture-funding corridor, with an initial $100m raised from emirati and other gulf investors.
Phoenix will act as a platform to channel gulf investment into ourcrowds 220 portfolio companies, building on the pent-up demand in the uae for opportunities in the thriving israeli start-up scene.
The israeli company, a $1.5bn fund that deploys capital on behalf of small and medium-sized investors, hopes to launch its companies into the uae, capitalising on the diversified nature of the al naboodah group conglomerate, which spans from the automotive and construction industries to travel and real estate.
Founded by israeli-american tech entrepreneur jon medved, ourcrowd will also identify uae-based start-ups seeking to grow in israel by collaborating with its portfolio companies.
This is not the governments that are trying to impose things or get some window dressing, mr medved told the financial times. this is real people who want to get things moving.
Within days of the announcement of the historic normalisation deal in august, talks began between the two sides. a memorandum of understanding is expected to be announced this week.
Despite not having formal relations, the uae and israel had for years been dealing with each other secretly, with contacts especially strong in the tech sector.
Mr naboodah, chairman of al naboodah groups investment arm, said the deal would open the path for a two-way street of investments, with a focus on agritech and robotics.
This will also enhance start-ups in the gulf, and at the same time we will with ourcrowd raise funds to invest between the uae and israel, he said. the partnership would seek to deploy the capital in 25 to 30 opportunity-driven deals within the first year, he added.
Sabah al-binali, an abu dhabi-based private equity investor, has been appointed as ourcrowds head of the gulf region to lead its expansion.
The commodity-fuelled excess financial capital of the uae fits well with israels surplus technology and innovation, he said. this will accelerate investing in opportunities both in israel and the uae.
Mr medved believes the surge of money and ideas between the two nations will extend into billions of dollars of trade and investment.
Opportunities under consideration from desert agriculture and logistics, to smart cities and education will amount to serious investments, he said.
For ourcrowd, were talking about big checks hundreds of millions of dollars, he said. i would be disappointed if over the next several years we didnt see those kinds of numbers.