An Israeli software startup and one of the world’s biggest shipping lines are among companies that for the first time are opening up commercial trade routes running through the heart of the Middle East to bypass the Houthi-menaced Red Sea.
Trucknet Enterprise Ltd. is sending goods including food, plastics, chemicals and electricals from ports in the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, through Saudi Arabia and Jordan, on to Israel and further to Europe, Chief Executive Officer Hanan Fridman said.
Hapag-Lloyd AG, the world’s No. 5 container carrier, is looking to link Dubai’s Jebel Ali and two eastern Saudi ports with Jeddah on the west coast. Another of its options connects Jebel Ali with Jordan.
The routes offer an immediate solution to shipments trying to avoid the Houthi hot zone around the Bab el-Mandeb strait in the southern Red Sea, where months of missile and drone attacks have forced many commercial vessels to divert to a longer route around Africa. It’s disrupted crucial trade flows, raised freight costs and the impact is starting to filter through the global economy.
Companies have been forced to look for ambitious alternatives. Trucknet’s route has not previously been attempted on a commercial scale due to strained relations between Israel and Arab nations. While the UAE-Bahrain-Israel Abraham Accords three years ago eased their ties, attempts to normalize relations between Saudi Arabia and Tel Aviv stalled with the war in Gaza.