Saudi Arabian investments in Israeli high-tech companies?
It is an unheard-of concept. However, this is exactly what former White House Advisor Jared Kushner is reportedly in the process of doing, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The Saudi investment is “the first known instance that the Saudi Public Investment Fund’s cash will be directed to Israel, a sign of the kingdom’s increasing willingness to do business with the country, even though they have no diplomatic relations,” stated the Journal’s report.
Kushner’s new private-equity fund, Affinity Partners – which has already raised $3 billion – received a $2 billion commitment from the Saudi $600-billion sovereign-wealth fund.
Dubbed “Silicon Wadi” in Arabic, Israeli is widely regarded as having one of the world’s leading high-tech industries outside Silicon Valley.
While Saudi Arabia has been hesitant to officially join the Abraham Accords – the series of normalization agreements between Israel and Muslim nations in 2020 – it has tacitly granted its approval for its allies to do so. Despite the lack of official ties, many events over the past two years have pointed to warming ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel.
The Saudis have even indicated that, under the right circumstances, they would consider formalizing their own diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.
Kushner views his private equity fund as an extension of the Abraham Accords, which he played a prominent role in brokering as a member of the Trump administration.
“If we can get Israelis and Muslims in the region to do business together it will focus people on shared interests and shared values. We kicked off historic regional change which needs to be reinforced and nurtured to achieve its potential,” Kushner told the Journal.
In the meantime, covert Saudi-Israeli ties are growing. Saudi Arabia already opened up its airspace to Israeli commercial flights operating on the route between Israel’s Ben-Gurion International Airport and the United Arab Emirates, as well as Bahrain.
While Saudi Arabia has preferred to take it slow in its complex diplomatic relations with Israel, Kushner and his fund team have warned the Saudis that they could risk losing out on commercial opportunities emanating from the burgeoning Arab-Israeli commercial ties in the region.
During a visit to Israel in October 2021, Kushner told Israeli Knesset members in Jerusalem that the time was ripe to deepen and expand the Abraham Accords throughout the Middle East.
“It’s imperative that all of us set extremely high expectations for what we want to see and achieve from the Abraham Accords for what they have the potential to be, for what they have, the potential to bring to our societies, to our families, to the region and really to the world,” Kushner said.
In March 2022, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman publicly described the Jewish state as a “potential ally” but linked the formalization of ties with Jerusalem to resolving the intractable Israel-Palestinian conflict.
“For us, we hope that the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians is solved,” Bin Salman said in an interview with The Atlantic.
“We don’t look at Israel as an enemy, we look to them as a potential ally, with many interests that we can pursue together… But we have to solve some issues before we get to that,” the crown prince added.
Guided by an ambitious futuristic vision, young MBS plans to dramatically modernize the oil-dominated Saudi economy through business and technology.
In January 2021, MBS unveiled “The Line” project, which aims to invest some $200 billion in NEOM, a new Saudi high-tech smart green city emerging next to the Strait of Tiran, close to the borders of Jordan, Israel and Egypt. Closer ties with the Israeli high-tech industry fit well into the Saudi crown prince’s strong interest in futuristic technologies. In November 2020, ALL ISRAEL NEWS confirmed that former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former Mossad Director Yossi Cohen secretly met with the Saudi crown prince at NEOM.
The merging of technology, diplomacy and business is gradually laying the foundation for a new Middle Eastern regional architecture that emphasizes mutual benefits from Arab-Israeli peace and cooperation.