June 05, 2018

Working together: Israeli and Palestinian coexistence in tech

While many streets are still under construction and the city is relatively quiet, Rawabithe first planned Palestinian cityis home to a unique venture in the business district. The Rawabi Tech Hub, which opened last year, functions on the cooperation and coexistence of Palestinian software engineers from Gaza City, Ramallah and Rawabi in the West Bank and Israeli high-tech companies.

The Rawabi Tech Hub acts as an example of connection through industry between Israelis and Palestinians. While many Israeli companies in the tech industry employee people from Ukraine, India, and other places in the region, the Rawabi Tech Hub is tapping into a workforce much closer to home.

Not only is such cooperation vital to bridging barriers between the peoples, it can act as a massive influencer for positive change in the local economies. According to an article in Haaretz on the high-tech industry’s coexistence efforts, the unemployment rate in the West Bank is 18 percent and 44 percent in the Gaza Strip. Many of the unemployed Palestinians in the region have degrees in information and communications technology, yet, high-tech accounts for only 2 percent of employees in the Palestinian Authority. Such numbers illustrate a perfect workforce for Israeli companies to utilize, which in turn would build up individual salaries and the overall economy for the Palestinian Authority.

Like the Rawabi Tech Hub, Mellanox Technologies is another company that has tapped into this workforce. The company’s founder and CEO Eyal Waldman stated, “A number of years ago I said we have to do something with the Palestinian community…I saw the potential in smart people with a relatively low employment cost – here, just around the corner.”

On a broad scale, such cooperation positively impacts the local economies, but it also offers a unique opportunity for connection and dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. When working together, people have the possibility to look beyond religious and political difference and focus instead on their industry.

These companies, however, are pioneers in a time where many other Israeli companies are still outsourcing for employment. Because of the political situation, there is a lack of awareness of the possibility of cooperation and the success that can come from partnership.

But these companies are just the beginning and they offer an example of the multifaceted positive impact that comes from cooperation in the tech-industry and the power of working together.

In an article for Haaretz, the director of Rawabi Tech Hub Sari Taha said:

It’s a joy to see the Israeli and palestinian employees working together…even if at first there’s a little wariness on both sides, after a few hours of working together they forget the conflict.

Photo Credit: Nocamels.com