Cargo from Dubai arrives in Haifa, Israel

A new international trade route began last week when the MSC Paris (IMO 9301483) dropped off eight containers of electronics, cleaning supplies, iron and firefighting equipment were unloaded in the port of Haifa, Israel, having been transported from Jebel Ali in Dubai in the UAE.

Israel and the UAE had announced a normalization deal in August.

The trade route is part of a far larger political game, and potential realignment, in the Middle East, with Sunni Muslim nations perceiving a growing regional threat from Shia-dominated Iran. Israel, in the geopolitical sense, is seen by many Sunni nations as a useful ally, albeit one of geopolitical convenience, bonded by a common enemy.

However, the normalization agreement was also grounded in economics and potential business collaborations in investment and technology.

Dubai-based terminal operator DP World was also reported to be exploring the possibility of investing in the port of Haifa. Staff at Israeli carrier ZIM are now looking at adding UAE calls to its global offering.

Israeli officials have estimated bilateral trade could reach as much as $4bn a year, with nearly all of that trade travelling by sea.

Eshel Armony, chairman of the board at Haifa Port, said that “this is a new era in the Middle East, and I’m sure this will bring more and more trade. We are going to see this line once a week by MSC and, who knows, later on maybe we’ll have even more. I hope that will happen quickly.”

MSC Paris is part of MSC’s Indus Express service, which originates in the UAE and calls at Indian ports, the Mediterranean and the US.

2006-built, Liberia-flagged, 89,941 gt MSC Paris is owned by Parrot Ltd care of manager Hammonia Reederei GmbH of Hamburg, Germany. It is entered with Steamship Mutual (European Syndicate) on behalf of Parrot Ltd.