The UAE will allocate $10 billion to an investment fund linked to Egypt and Jordan, it was unveiled on Sunday. Khaleej Times reported that the fund will be called the Industrial Partnership for Sustainable Economic Growth.
Regional investment linking these countries together also relates to the larger context of peace and security in the region. This is because Egypt, the UAE and Jordan all have made peace with Israel. Insofar as those countries work together, it matters because they share interests in the region.
According to reports at The National, "a $10 billion investment fund has been allocated and managed by holding company ADQ to accelerate work on the partnership across five priority sectors, Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, said in a joint [press] conference on Sunday in Abu Dhabi."
Further, the report says that "the partnership identified five sectors of mutual interest to the three countries including petrochemicals; metals, minerals and downstream products; textiles; pharmaceuticals and agriculture, food and fertilizers." This will mean the possibility of joint large industrial projects, job opportunities and a view of diversifying the economies of those countries.
The decisions are based on the directives of UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan; there are a lot of potential game-changers here. This is because the discussion regarding the investments link to security, safety and prosperity in the region and is pegged to building capabilities and growth.
The reports noted that the three nations signed the partnership agreement in Abu Dhabi in the presence of UAE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs Sheikh Mansouri bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Prime Minister of Jordan Dr. Bisher Al-Khasawneh and Egyptian Prime Minister Dr. Mostafa Madbouly.
There is a lot of partnership potential here, not just for the three countries involved, but also linking them to other countries in the region and abroad. The UAE is already a huge business hub that links Asia with the Middle East and Europe.
Jordan's economy is in need of major investment, as well as new industrial production. Jordan not only must care for Syrian refugees but it also needs to keep Jordanians employed and successful.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the supply chain chaos unfolding in the world could have ramifications for countries like Jordan and Egypt. Both need the kind of innovation, ideas and investment that can come from the UAE. The Emirates is a hi-tech modern economy, whereas Egypt and Jordan have large swaths of their country that are in need of new technology, investment and employment.
The initial reports about the investment read like a prospectus of hopeful keywords, such as "sustainability-led growth" and "supply-chain security." But these are real issues amid the pandemic. Other economies are facing hurdles in the region. Iran's economy is faltering and protests are common. It is trying to link itself to China with slow and limited success.
Supply chains issues
Meanwhile, the issue of supply chains and potential food shortages matter. With the Ukraine war continuing there are questions about wheat and other exports. There is also the always important issue of employment. The Arab Spring and subsequent chaos and civil conflict in places like Syria were in part driven by economic issues.
The reports about the investment fund appear to hint at linking the ports of the UAE with Aqaba and also via the Red Sea to Suez. It's important that US Navcent – the naval portion of Central Command – has put in place a new force for the Red Sea and that unmanned systems are being deployed to secure these areas from threats.
According to reports over the weekend, the Iranian IRGC seized two tankers in the Persian Gulf. This illustrates that Iran can try to destabilize the high seas when it wants to. The need to knit together ports and investment is clear and can be bolstered by existing security support from US Central Command and others.
This matters in the broader context of the Abraham Accords as well. There are high hopes for Israel-UAE trade and investment. In addition, Jerusalem seeks better ties with Greece and India – countries that are close to the UAE. Reports in the last several days – according to Al-Monitor – have said that Israel wants to double trade with Egypt. In addition, Axios reported that the US has been mediating between Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Trade is also important for Israel-Bahrain ties.
All of this shows that the building blocks already exist. New investment from the UAE in Jordan and Egypt is of importance in the wider view of the region – and also shows that trade can underpin stability.
Seth Frantzman is a Ginsburg-Milstein Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum and senior Middle East correspondent at The Jerusalem Post.