Emirati tech firm to set up subsidiary in Israel for first time

Group 42 will be the first company from the UAE to establish an office in the Jewish state since the normalization agreement. The office will focus on fields such as COVID-19 diagnostics, AI, smart cities and renewable energy

After joining forces recently with Israeli companies to pursue coronavirus-related research, Group 42 (G42), a leading artificial intelligence and cloud computing company based in Abu Dhabi, announced Thursday it is establishing a wholly-owned subsidiary in Israel, marking the first time for a company from the UAE to do so.

Operations will focus on various areas such as healthcare and COVID-19 diagnostic solutions, AI research, agritech and water supply solutions, smart cities and renewable energies, with experts from both countries working together, G42 said. 

It added that the office will also serve as a gateway for Israeli companies seeking to expand their operations in the UAE and elsewhere in the Middle East.

“The establishment of the new Israeli office will strengthen G42’s presence in the region and give us access to one of the most vibrant and mature tech ecosystems in the world," the company's CEO Peng Xiao said. "It also reaffirms our ideals of openness and inclusiveness as we engage with international partners to harness best ideas and capabilities and solve problems in every sector for the benefit of society.”

The office is seen as a testimony to the intensification of collaboration between the two countries in the wake of last month's Abraham Accord to normalize relations. Israel and the UAE are to sign a peace agreement on Tuesday in Washington.  

Israel is home to more than 6,000 high-tech companies and startups, has the highest concentration of hi-tech companies in the world apart from the Silicon Valley, and leads the world in the number of scientists and technicians in the workforce, with 145 per 10,000, as opposed to 85 in the U.S., over 70 in Japan, and less than 60 in Germany, G42 said. 

In July, G42 signed deals with two Israeli defense companies, IAI and Rafael, to develop solutions to combat the COVID-19 virus. It also announced a similar partnership with Israeli startup Nanoscent. G42 says it is currently working on the world’s first Phase III clinical trials for the COVID-19 inactivated vaccine.