Bill Gates, the founder and chairman of Microsoft Corp., arrived in Israel Tuesday night for his first visit - a brief one. He is scheduled to fly on to Jordan late Wednesday. On Wednesday, Gates described Israel as "part of the Silicon Valley" and said it had some "exceptional talents." He praised Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Israel's contributions to the global high-tech market. Gates kicked off his whirlwind tour by meeting with upper management from some of Israel's leading hi-tech companies - including Check Point Software Technologies, Amdocs, Verint Systems, Nice Systems, Alve, and start-ups Actimize, Alive Software and Sapned - to discuss the characteristics of new developments coming out of Israeli hi-tech. This was followed by a meeting with some of the chief executives of Microsoft Israel's business partners and then with some 400 Microsoft Israel employees, including those at MSN Israel and from the company's research and development facility in Haifa. Gates was to spend Wednesday in Tel Aviv, mainly at the David Intercontinental Hotel, where he was scheduled to give the keynote address to approximately 2,500 businessmen participating in a seminar hosted by Microsoft Israel under the theme "The new world at work." The theme encompasses Gates's vision for future generations of software and their impact on the business environment and information technology. The keynote speech was to be preceded by a meeting with the CEOs of a number of leading companies in Israel including Amikam Cohen from Partner Communications, Israel Makov of Teva, the new Bezeq CEO Yaacov Gellbar, Zvi Ziv from Bank Hapoalim and El Al Chief Izzy Borovich. Gates also met with 40 "outstanding" high school students on Wednesday morning, for whom he conducted a workshop on technological development. Gates was scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, together with Acting Finance Minister Ehud Olmert in the early afternoon at the Kirya in Tel Aviv, immediately after which he was scheduled to fly to Jordan, the next stop on his tour. Forbes magazine has estimated that Gates has a net worth of $46.5 billion, placing him at the top of its list of the world's richest people.