Israel's Trade with the Muslim World

(Ha'aretz) Shuki Sadeh - Israeli business quietly thrives in Saudi Arabia and Iraq, and in far-off countries like Indonesia and Malaysia. Company owners on both sides do all they can to avoid harmful publicity. Contacts are made at international conferences overseas, through European and U.S. companies familiar with both sides, and directly over the Internet. "Technology, particularly the Internet, is making the world smaller," explains Eliran Malul at Arab Markets, which brokers deals in Arab countries. Quite a number of Israeli companies export products to Saudi Arabia. This is sometimes done through their U.S.-registered subsidiaries. Israeli companies have also provided equipment such as body armor to U.S. forces stationed in Saudi Arabia. Israel receives raw materials for its plastics industry - polyethylene and polypropylene - from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. Israel's plastics industry, in turn, exports greenhouse sheeting, irrigation drippers, house and garden products, disposable utensils and food packaging to Saudi Arabia. Some of these products are made by Turkish factories established by Israeli companies. Alon Liel, who served as Israel's ambassador to Turkey, said this inflates Israel's trade statistics with Turkey. "I assume the high trade figures with Turkey...include shipments to countries with which Israel has no relations." As Dubai was building the Palm Islands - a megalomaniac real estate project delayed by the global economic crisis - Israelis had a hand in providing some of the shingles through an Italian roofing tile company. Quite a few companies in the Gulf states rely on sophisticated Israeli technology for security purposes. Israel also exports medical, agricultural and water technologies to the Gulf states.

2012-01-20 00:00:00

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