“We’re small country with very limited natural resources so our most important resource is our people” Sounds familiar to the Israeli ears ? This “mantra” is repeatedly said by Palestinians too.
In the Palestinian Teritory, as well as in the rest of the world, the economical leadership understands that the High Tech is a powerful engine for the local economy, there is ever growing demand for professionals and Software development in the world, and in different from traditional industry, it has no boundaries. With this said, there is no limitation to do software development anywhere in the world, as long as you have connectivity. And connectivity exists in the Palestinian Territory so the basic infrastructure lays to their feet.
For a full High Tech scene you need more than that, you need the whole ecosystem, from good professional schools, through infrastructure to monetary support system, know how and much more.
The High Tech Echo System in the Palestinian Territory is evolving in the past decade and beyond, from software companies here and there through an establishment of an association of Software companies to enhance the power of the sector: PITA (Palestinian IT Association of companies), National Incubator: PICTI (Palestinian ICT Incubator), to Venture Capital funds, Startups, Hubs, activities such as Startup Weekends and more.
The education system is evolving too although it struggles being open to the western world (not many American or European professors would come to do a Sabbatical in a Palestinian university (yet there are some)).
More than 250 companies are registered to the association to date. Articles about the Palestinian High Tech are published from time to time, such as Palestinian tech startups offer hope to struggling economy, or Palestinian High-tech Workers Plugging Shortage of Israeli Tech Staff/Haaretz. It provide a glimpse to what is going on in this “unexpected” place.
The geographic distribution of the High Tech in the Palestinian Territory looks like this: the majority of the companies are located in Ramallah (e.g., Exalt, Progineer), fewer can be found in Hebron area (e.g., Orcas), Nablus (e.g., Radix Technologies) and now there are few in Rawabi (e.g., Asal Technologies), the new City north to Ramallah, and, surprise surprise, there are also software companies in Gaza (e.g., UnitOne).
Some of the companies are doing outsourcing, the larger ones are working with Israeli companies or Israeli branches of international companies, some are working with companies in the EU (e.g., Siemens) or USA (e.g., PDF Solutions, Cisco). Others have local clients or clients in the Gulf area. There is also a new trend of US companies that open branches in the West Bank, companies like Xngage, Harri, and Founder Therapy.
As for Startups that develops products and technologies, AngelList have 43 registered Palestinian startups, Calcalist newspaper mention 241 startups in an article from July 2018, Beside of PICTI you’ll find other incubators, here is a list from September 2015. As for funding, there are some niche VC funds focusing on early stage technology Startups, Sadara, Ibtikar and few others.
So yes, in case you wonder, there is a live and kicking High Tech scene in the Palestinian Territory. It has yet where to evolve to but it is in quite an advance stage, exactly the stage where it can provide benefit to their economy as well as to others.