In a largely unexpected consequence of the COVID pandemic, it appears today uncertain whether Israeli companies will be able to get their people to IDEX 2021 in Abu Dhabi – which opens tomorrow, Sunday 21 February.
Over the last two weeks, MON has reported on a dozen or more companies taking full advantage of the Abraham Accords to exhibit at IDEX for the first time, ranging from the state-owned behemoths (Israeli Aerospace Industries, Elbit, Rafael) to privately-owned concerns – smaller, but infinitely agile and innovative – such as Smart Shooter, UVision Air and Israel Shipyards. The plans have been laid, the expectations run high – and considerable investment made. As the pictures (taken by Mönch staff on site earlier today) show, the stands have been built: but people there are none…..
At the time this is written on Saturday morning, it is still unclear whether the Israeli government will override the decision made by the special committee established to grant exceptions to the travel ban imposed by the recent decision to close Ben Gurion International Airport to all travel. That decision, handed down last week, was in the negative: no exception would be made to the ban for companies intending to exhibit at IDEX.
With well over 40 companies involved and all facing the prospect of losing money already invested as well as the opportunities presented by future business potential, representations were made to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, seeking his intervention in overturning the committee’s decision. An early morning check with MON sources in Tel Aviv reveals…. Nothing. At this particular moment, nobody knows definitively (or nobody is acknowledging such knowledge publicly, anyway) whether Israeli personnel will manage to make it to Abu Dhabi.
Thus might a historical opportunity be lost. The efforts made by Israeli exhibitors and Emirati organisers alike have been admirable, and it would have been fascinating to see how the delicate balance of former relationships, current rapprochements and the always slightly controversial issue of the arms trade might have played out on this occasion. Such, however, appears not to be the case, unless anything dramatic is happening as these words appear. And this time it is Mother Nature who has prompted the problem, not solely Man.