Women in Control Hackathon, 2022.
The deep desire among Palestinians to pursue an education and create meaningful businesses and careers is not limited to those living in Palestine but also extends to the diaspora. Success stories of Palestinians in the diaspora are many.*3 In a visit to Riyadh, former US President Bill Clinton praised Palestinian industriousness, saying “I have never met a poor Palestinian in the United States.”*4 Examples include Abdel Majid Shouman, founder of Arab Bank, US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, or Loay Elbasyouni, who started life in Beit Haroun in Gaza near the heavily guarded Israeli frontier and eventually led the NASA engineering team that helped design the Ingenuity helicopter that would end up on Mars in 2021.*5
Expotech gala dinner 2022..
Palestinian software engineers have the knowledge and skills that are in great demand, especially by Israeli companies. In 2021, this resulted in the creation of special permits for Palestinian ICT workers to contract directly with Israeli companies. While this risks a brain drain of Palestinian minds and an inflation of salaries in the Palestinian market, it is proof of the skills and knowledge that they possess and the value that they can provide.
The Palestinian tech ecosystem is growing. Ambitious companies and organizations are dedicated to helping nourish the ecosystem through various initiatives and promotions that aim to create awareness of the Palestinian tech sector. There are many organizations that support the sector. Examples include the Palestinian IT Association of Companies (PITA) that represents over 150 Palestinian tech companies that offer a wide range of technological services and solutions for various industries in Palestine and abroad. Organizations such as Intersect Innovation Hub, Palestine Techno Park, and Flow Accelerator work with Palestinian startup founders to help them develop their ideas and build successful businesses. Despite being a nascent ecosystem, the Palestinian startup scene is beginning to make recognizable accomplishments in securing international customers and raising funds from investors from Palestine and abroad. Other organizations supporting the startup ecosystem include, but are not limited to, uMake, Gaza Sky Geeks, the Higher Council for Innovation and Excellence (HCIE), university innovation hubs, and many more.
Digital Tourism Hackathon at Palestine Industrial Park.
“Made in Palestine” should be a priority for all local organizations and companies seeking to purchase IT services or products. It should not be a catchy slogan but a reality that is supported by associations and backed by government incentives to encourage companies to purchase from local IT companies rather than seek alternatives from international competitors.
The future of Palestine’s IT sector is filled with promise and potential as shown by the impressive accomplishments of this relatively young sector and despite the unique challenges that Palestinians face. With a clear vision and concentrated efforts, Palestinian tech companies and startups can continue to expand around the world and provide a larger contribution to the Palestinian economy.
*1 UNESCO Institute of Statistics, “Literacy rate, adult total (% of people ages 15 and above) – West Bank and Gaza,” World Bank, October 24, 2022, available at . https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SE.ADT.LITR.ZS?locations=PS
*2 “Selected Indicators for Education in Palestine by Level of Education and Region,” Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, 2022, available at . https://www.pcbs.gov.ps/Portals/_Rainbow/Documents/Education2021_E.html
*3 Xavier Abu Eid, “Success in the Diaspora,” This Week in Palestine, March 2023, available at . https://thisweekinpalestine.com/success-in-the-diaspora/
*4 Garance Franke-Ruta, “Bill Clinton on Palestinian Culture,” Atlantic, August 1, 2012, available at . https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/08/bill-clinton-on-palestinian-culture/260596/ *5 Marc Armstrong, “From Gaza to Nasa: The Palestinian engineer working on the Mars project,” Euronews, May 5, 2021, available at . https://www.euronews.com/2021/05/09/from-gaza-to-nasa-the-palestinian-engineer-working-on-the-mars-project