The Role of the UAE and Bahrain Normalization with Israel in Reducing Their Water and Agriculture Crises

Document Type : Original Article from Result of Thesis


1 Associate Prof. at Political Science, Faculty of Law, Political Science and History, Yazd University, Yazd, Iran

2 Political Science, Faculty of Law, Political Science and History, Yazd University, Yazd, Iran


As one of the largest dry regions in the world, the Middle East faces the consequences of climate change. These circumstances have elevated the region's limited freshwater resources and the unfavorable agricultural situation to major challenges. Although the Middle East lacks a long history of cooperation among its countries, environmental crises can turn the threats posed by climate change into an opportunity for greater cooperation among them. In this new situation, "The Abraham Accords" in 2020 signal that the Middle East has entered a new stage. This article aimed to investigate the role of the UAE and Bahrain normalization with Israel in reducing their environmental crises, especially in the water and agriculture sectors. This article examined the environmental status of the UAE and Bahrain at the time “the Abraham Accords” were signed and also discussed the opportunities and advantages the Abraham Accords brought for them. The findings indicated that these agreements provided an opportunity for the Israeli regime to attract more capital in environmental domains such as water and agriculture, as well as achieve higher levels of innovation. They also provided an opportunity for the UAE and Bahrain to reduce the scope of water and security crises while achieving long-term development.     



The Middle East has a primarily dry climate, receiving one-third of the world's average annual precipitation. Evidence suggests that environmental crises in this region have worsened in recent decades. Because the UAE and Bahrain are both located in the dry belt and the Tropic of Cancer runs through their centers, all of the characteristics associated with this type of climate, such as constant high relative humidity and a dry climate, are observed in these countries. Israel has faced similar issues in the past and continues to do so to some extent today. As a result, it has established some of the world's largest companies that manufacture and supply water desalination equipment and facilities. In the past, intraregional treaties in the Middle East were primarily concerned with political and security issues, but the region's increasing environmental crises have caused their political interactions to have more environmental dimensions than in the past. This means that Middle Eastern countries are gradually moving toward managing water and food crises through intraregional political interactions. As a result, while the Abraham Accords are viewed as political treaties (the normalization of political relations), they have great environmental impacts.



This article employed the descriptive-analytical method and desk studies to examine the opportunities provided by the UAE and Bahrain normalization with Israel for reducing their environmental crises, especially in the water and agriculture sectors.



The Abraham Accords, signed in 2020 by the UAE, Bahrain, and Israel, laid the groundwork for future collaboration in health, technology, cyber security, the environment, agriculture, water and food security, non-military aviation, tourism, and energy. The three countries agreed to collaborate on water security projects and decided to have government ministries and officials work on areas of joint cooperation to achieve it. Israel is a developed country in water technologies. This leadership in these technologies has enabled Israel to consider water-related issues a means of promoting peace with neighboring countries. After 50 years of hard work, the Israeli regime has established itself as a global leader in water technologies, with annual exports of water-related technologies worth $2.2 billion. The content analysis of the speeches delivered by the authorities of the UAE and Bahrain clearly indicates that they regard the Abraham Accords as a vehicle for gaining access to Israel's knowledge in water management systems, wastewater management and reuse, desalination technology, water quality control, reduction in water loss and leakage, and, in general, a treaty for better management of the water crisis in their respective countries. In a similar vein, Mekorot (Israel's national water company) announced that Israel and Bahrain signed a $ 3 million contract to share water knowledge and technologies only a few months after the Abraham Accords were signed. Given the UAE's scarcity of freshwater, the country must find a long-term desalination solution to meet its water needs. Israel is the undisputed leader in this field. In this regard, the UAE and Israel established a $10 billion fund to make strategic investments in sectors such as water desalination, modern water technologies, agriculture, and others. Thus, Arab countries such as the UAE and Bahrain provide the capital required by Israeli companies in exchange for the use of Israel's knowledge and technology by these Arab countries.          

The agricultural crisis and food security issues are major concerns for many countries around the world, including the UAE and Bahrain, because these two countries, in particular, lack surface water resources such as rivers and lakes and thus rely on foreign suppliers for many basic and vital food materials. In contrast, despite its small size, Israel has made significant advances in agriculture in arid regions with limited water resources. The close cooperation between agricultural research institutes and Israeli farmers is one of the secrets to the Israeli regime's success in agriculture. This close collaboration extends to organizations in charge of developing new techniques and technologies. Israelis also use a variety of seed improvement techniques to create seeds that require less water and produce more food materials. The UAE and Bahrain, which have the least agricultural land area in the region, are expected to achieve high levels of agricultural growth with the help of Israeli technology under the Abraham Accords and signed agreements. While Israel sells its expertise to farmers in these two desert countries, which record a mean temperature of 43°C in warm seasons and a mean annual temperature of 30°C, the UAE and Bahrain also invest in Israel's agricultural innovation domains. As a result, the Abraham Accords signatories have emphasized the importance of environmental protection and improvement, as well as the promotion of environmental innovations, for long-term development in the region and beyond. Israel and the United Arab Emirates are both leaders in clean technology. Israel was ranked second in the global innovation index 2021, and the UAE is one of the world's most environmentally friendly countries. In this regard, Masdar (one of the world's leading renewable energy companies and a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi's Mubadala Investment Company) announced on January 19, 2020, that it had made the first significant UAE investment in renewable energy in Israel. Bahrain has also agreed to participate in these interactions as an investor in collaboration with the UAE.       



The UAE, Bahrain, and Israel are confronted with new and complex challenges, prompting them to increase cooperation with other countries and sign the Abraham Accords. In fact, the normalization of relations with the Israeli regime is not a merely political issue for the UAE, Bahrain, and some other Middle Eastern countries, but it is related to other issues, particularly water and agriculture crises. This article demonstrated that the Abraham Accords provided an opportunity for the Israeli regime to attract more foreign capital and achieve higher levels of innovation in environmental domains such as water and agriculture. It is also a chance for the UAE and Bahrain to reduce the scope of the water and food security crises and ensure a more sustainable future.   


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