The inaugural I2U2 Business Forum began on Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, jointly organized by the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development.
The Forum brought together senior private and public sector representatives from India, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States (I2U2) to discuss opportunities for cooperation between the business communities of the four countries. It was the first event of this kind to take place since the official launch of the I2U2 Group during the I2U2 Leaders’ Summit in July 2022.
The I2U2 partnership, comprised of India, Israel, the UAE, and US, is a grouping focused on driving tangible economic cooperation between its members across a range of sectors, including food security, water, energy, space, transportation, health, and technology. It aims to mobilize private sector capital and expertise to, among other objectives, help modernize infrastructure, decarbonize industries, improve public heath, and promote development of green technologies.
The I2U2 Business Forum began with opening remarks by His Excellency Ahmed Al Sayegh, UAE Minister of State; Jose W. Fernandez, US Under Secretary of State; Shri Dammu Ravi, Secretary (Economic Relations) at the Indian Ministry of External Affairs; Ronen Levi, Director General at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Brett McGurk, Deputy Assistant to the US President and White House Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa.
In their remarks, officials reaffirmed their commitment to enhancing economic cooperation under the I2U2 framework, noting the significance of direct engagement between decisionmakers from I2U2 countries and private sector stakeholders interested in forming future partnerships.
For his part, Shri Dammu Ravi, Secretary (Economic Relations) at the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, reiterated India’s commitment to the I2U2 partnership and made a strong pitch for all stakeholders to work towards achieving tangible progress in all I2U2 initiatives, including setting up an I2U2 Innovation Centre in Gurugram, Haryana, India. In line with Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s clarion call for LiFE-Lifestyle for Environment, he urged I2U2 partners to work towards a sustainable and environment-friendly lifestyle for all.
Ronen Levi, Director General at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, remarked: “This is an exciting moment here in Abu Dhabi, when, for the first time, the governments of all four countries and their private sectors are gathering for the I2U2 Business Forum. We are proud to introduce here today some of the very best Israeli technologies and know-how in order to integrate the private sector in projects for the benefit of the peoples of our region. We also wish to bring up new ideas for initiatives between the four countries. In this regard, Israel has submitted to the Forum a proposal for a joint space venture that was discussed here today. This Forum is evidence that the fruits of the Abraham Accords and new connections between peoples and countries sharing their capabilities and know-how can contribute to prosperity in the Middle East and beyond.”
His Excellency Ahmed Al Sayegh underscored the UAE’s high-level commitment to the I2U2 initiative and expressed that it is only the first step in a long-term partnership that will explore ways to promote investments that improve the quality, sustainability, and resilience of infrastructure, address climate change, and drive the transition to a net zero world. In this regard, His Excellency Al Sayegh underscored the importance of driving tangible progress in climate change mitigation in the run-up to the UAE’s hosting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) in November. Through joint cooperation on fostering a just and inclusive energy transition, His Excellency noted, the UAE is determined to work with its international partners—including I2U2 countries—to curb the worsening impact of climate change while moving economic growth forward.
US Undersecretary of State Jose W. Fernandez commented: “I am very pleased to represent the United States at this inaugural I2U2 Business Forum to leverage the private sector to build on the Abraham Accords and other agreements to advance economic integration into the broader region and set a standard for working together to deliver solutions to the broader region’s most pressing challenges.”
This was followed by an official signing ceremony that welcomed the Republic of India as the latest country to join the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate, which was launched by the UAE and the United States at COP26 and includes Israel as a partner among 140 other governmental and non-governmental entities. Officials expressed their belief that such a move represents a stepping stone for greater cooperation in climate-change agriculture and food systems innovation.
The morning concluded with presentations on two major initiatives currently explored under I2U2, including a possible USD 2 billion investment in a project to build a series of integrated agricultural facilities across India and the potential development of a 300-megawatt wind and solar hybrid power plant in the Indian state of Gujarat.
Companies and private sector representatives then exchanged insights and discussed potential partnerships during seven parallel sessions focused on the food security, energy, water, space, transport, health, and technology fields.
The I2U2 Business Forum aims to become a regular platform for private and public entities from India, Israel, the UAE, and the US to convene and establish tangible joint business ventures in I2U2’s core economic and technological fields.
Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation