Israeli defence contractors partner with UAE tech firm to fight coronavirus

FILE PHOTO: A view of the IAI (Israel Aerospace Industries) booth at the Singapore Airshow in Singapore February 11, 2020. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Two Israeli defence contractors will partner with Abu Dhabi-based technology company Group 42 to develop technologies to help fight the new coronavirus, the companies said.

Israel has no diplomatic relations with Gulf Arab countries, but common concerns over Iran’s regional influence have led to a limited thaw in ties.

Last month, a senior United Arab Emirates (UAE) official said the countries could possibly cooperate in the fight against COVID-19 and on technology.

State-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) [ISRAI.UL], which has civilian as well as defence operations, said on Friday the agreement was reached in a video call with Group 42, which deals in artificial intelligence and cloud computing.

The partnership focuses on artificial intelligence, sensors and lasers, IAI said in a statement.

“COVID-19 does not distinguish between continents, peoples, and religions,” said Yoav Turgeman, CEO of IAI subsidiary Elta, calling it “the first step in what may become future joint work by the two countries”.

Israel’s state-owned Rafael, which has been developing technologies to combat the pandemic, will also partner with Group 42, a company spokesman said.

Group 42 CEO Peng Xiao said his company was “privileged to follow the lead and share resources and expertise with Rafael and IAI for such a significant cause,” according to a statement published late on Thursday by the UAE’s state-run news agency WAM.

Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch with additional reporting by Rami Ayyub; Editing by Tova Cohen and Mark Potter