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UAE expected to join Israel in global communications project

A fiber-optic cable is to connect Asia to the West via the Jewish state.

The Israel leg of the fiber-optic cable is to follow the route of the Eilat-Ashkelon oil pipeline (pictured). Credit: EAPC.
The Israel leg of the fiber-optic cable is to follow the route of the Eilat-Ashkelon oil pipeline (pictured). Credit: EAPC.

A communications corridor that will transmit digital data between Asian and Arab countries and with Europe and the West through Israel is expected to be constructed in cooperation with the United Arab Emirates and an additional Arab country that has not yet made peace with Israel, Israeli officials said Monday.

The agreement of the project, which is slated to be signed in the coming months, is the latest sign of the growing economic ties between Israel and the UAE.

The proposal will see the laying of fiber-optic cables along the 250-kilometer-long Europe Asia Pipeline Co. (EAPC) pipeline between Eilat and Ashkelon, while two-way underwater cables will be affixed between foreign countries and Israel, said Elad Malka, deputy director general of the Israeli Communications Ministry.  

Malka, speaking to JNS, declined to name the additional Arab country that is expected to join the project.

Foreign companies will be tasked with the work on the cable from their countries to Israel, he said, while Israeli companies will be in charge of the intra-Israel section.

“The Abraham Accords made this possible,” Malka said. “Before this, there was no one to connect to.”

The U.S.-brokered Abraham Accords reached under the Trump administration saw Israel normalize relations with four Arab countries: the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco.

Previously, foreign countries ran such cables through Egypt and the Suez Canal, but they had many problems with the line, including high expenses.

“Israel’s geographic location is strategic looking eastwards and also westwards,” Malka said.

The project, which has been in the planning stages for two years, is expected to be completed within four years and will be economically self-sufficient, he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the initiative will turn Israel into a global communications superpower and jump-start the Israeli economy.

“Today we are reaping more fruit of the historic Abraham Accords that we brought,” Netanyahu said in a statement Sunday. “We will connect fiber-optic cables from Asia, Arab nations, from Eilat to Ashkelon and the rest of the world. This will attract investors and turn Israel into a global communications center.”

Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi added, “This is certainly major news, especially for [Israel’s] South and the cities of the periphery.”

The Prime Minister’s Office referenced the Spice Route, one of the most well-known and important trade corridors of antiquity, which passed from the south of the Arabian Peninsula to the Mediterranean coast. It was part of a network of trade routes between Europe and the East, along which were transported goods such as spices, silk, precious stones, dyes and exotic animals.

“Today, in the modern digital world, the products are information, knowledge and technology,” the PMO said in a statement. “We are again turning the State of Israel into the vital route of the world through which will pass knowledge and bits along fiber-optic cables that will link Asia and Europe.”

The communications project comes as construction is underway on a separate “electricity highway” that will connect the national grids of Israel, Cyprus and Greece via the world’s longest and deepest underwater power cable.

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