Utah governor wraps up trade, diplomatic mission to Israel

Sep 16, 2022, 8:41 PM

Friday wraps up a week-long trip to Israel and the United Arab Emirates for Gov. Spencer Cox and other state leaders.

For Rabbi Sam Spector of Congregation Kol Ami, it has been a week to remember as he got to show off the place he once called home — Jerusalem.

“To show a place so special to me, maybe because it reminds me a lot of Utah or Utah reminds me a lot of Israel, was a wonderful privilege and something I will cherish for the rest of my life,” Spector said.

Spector joined Gov. Spencer Cox and a group of 60 leaders in visiting religious sites and other religious leaders.

“I was telling the Israelis about the different things we do as a community, how tight knit we are as a community, and how active and vibrant we are as a community,” Spector said. “You just saw their eyes getting huge and saying, ‘That sounds like the type of community I’d like to be in, too.'”

Connecting communities is what the trip was all about.

“It’s 1:30 in the morning here in Dubai,” said Aaron Starks, chief revenue officer of Global Business Services. “We’re about to fly to Salt Lake City.”

Starks led the business track for this trip.

“We had a company receive a verbal commitment from one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in this region of the world for $4 million capital commitment, so that’s huge,” Starks said.

Starks said they also networked with the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, the world’s 12th largest oil production company. They started conversations on how to help sulfur and mining operations in Utah.

They also met with Aerospace and defense organizations.

“The purpose of these trips is to accelerate growth for these companies. So we connect them to buyers, partners, investors in both Israel and the UAE,” Starks said. “It’s been a phenomenal trip and phenomenal experience for these companies very fruitful for them.”

An impactful visit meant to strengthen a community across the world and here in Utah.

“I think it’s important for us to go in, get examples from other places, but also to be an example,” Spector said. “I truly think that we are a small but mighty community, and that we’re going to be a light unto the other Jewish communities of the world.”

All 60 leaders are on two flights headed home. They’ve got 17 hours of flying time ahead of them, but say it was worth it.

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Utah governor wraps up trade, diplomatic mission to Israel