EU invests NIS 2.5m. to promote hi-tech in Arab society

About 20 top commercial attaches from EU member states headed North to Nazareth to be exposed up-close to the hi-tech scene that has developed there over the past decade.

By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
December 23, 2014 23:26
2 minute read.
Nazareth

MEMBERS OF an EU delegation to promote Arabs in the hi-tech sector gather together in Nazareth. (photo credit: TSOFEN)

 
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Science and trade commissioners from EU countries toured Nazareth in a historic visit this week, where they were exposed to the hi-tech revolution that the city has undergone in recent years.

The organizers of the visit said, “Inclusion of Arab human resources in hi-tech companies in Israel is a top interest of anyone seeking to build a shared society and an established and strong community in and outside of Arab cities.”

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About 20 top commercial attaches from EU member states left their offices and headed North to Nazareth, in order to be exposed up-close to the hi-tech scene that has developed there over the past decade. The tour was the result of a joint initiative between Tsofen, a Jewish-Arab organization that works to integrate between Arab society and the Israeli hi-tech sector, and the Economic Section of the EU Delegation in Israel.

It was attended by senior officials from EU countries including Germany, France, Italy, Austria and the Netherlands.

For nearly two years the EU has been involved with the issue of integrating Arabs with Israeli hi-tech. Through its Partnership for Peace program, the EU has granted approximately NIS 2.5 million for the purpose of training young Arab university graduates for hi-tech positions, a project that Tsofen is leading in the Triangle region.

Several hi-tech companies and start-ups operate in Nazareth today, including multinational companies like Amdocs and Broadcom.

Paz Hirschmann, director of resource development: “Nazareth has truly undergone a revolution, one that can teach us how cities and industrial areas can change face entirely. Six years ago, 30 Arab engineers worked in Nazareth – today there are over 500.”



During their tour the diplomats heard a lecture from Tsofen’s CEO Smadar Nehab, and the chairman of Tsofen’s board, Dr. Ramzi Halabi, about the economy in Arab society in Israel and how hi-tech does and could constitute the engine of economic growth in Arab cities. The guests toured the Nazareth Industrial Park, built by Stef Wertheimer, and met with CEO of Alpha Omega, Reem Younis, Manager of Amdocs’s Nazareth branch, Ihab Atalla, and Manager of Broadcom in Nazareth, Hatem Yazbek, whose companies employ over 200 Arab and Jewish engineers.

“The EU’s recognition of the importance of hi-tech in Arab cities deserves praise. This must be a national priority. Inclusion of Arab human resources in hi-tech companies in Israel is a top interest of anyone seeking to build a shared society and an established and strong community in and outside of Arab cities,” Halabi said.

Mr. Luigiandrea Pratolongo, head of the Economic and Trade section at the EU delegation stated, “[Economic development in the periphery] is of high importance to the European Union and its member states. It is important for us to show today’s participants that Israel is not only Tel Aviv.”

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