In one of the winters, when I was a child, my father pointed from our window to a top of a mountain, covered with snow, at the east horizon, “this is Nablus” he said. He took us there sometime after 1967. I remember a beautiful city, big trees in the center of town, large mountains surrounding the city, and peddlers selling dates to passersby. My next visit was a few years later with a friend to mount Gerizim to see the Samaritans’ Passover pilgrimage.
Fast forward, my next visit was in 2016, after many visits to Ramallah and other Palestinian cities in course of my work.
This time I came to visit my business partner and his software company located in the city. Their office is at the old center of town, exactly the place with the big trees I remembered from my childhood, the road and the trees remain exactly as I remembered, but the city grew, a new mall replace the peddlers and many new tall buildings all around.
The city of Nablus is only few kilometres away from my own town yet located in the Palestinian Zone-A territory so it is out of reach for many of my Israeli friends. Its a shame really, because it is an amazing place to visit, the colorful market, the amazing Kanafe, great restaurants and emerging business center. Thanks to my good fortune, my dear partner took me to visit the old city and the market before lunch. For a short while it felt like being a tourist in a different county.
On the business side, Nablus has advantages and challenges. Ramallah is the Palestinian economy center, Nablus is a periphery.
There are roughly 2,000 engineers from Nablus, about 1,000 are working in the city, with something between 50 to 70 software companies, (only 2-3 have 10+ employees). The regional university is Al Najah with about 23,000 students.
People live in Nablus and its surroundings would prefer working in Nablus and save about 60 to 150 minutes commuting to and from Ramallah, yet there are less professionals to find in Nablus area, Ramallah also have a lot of East Jerusalemites coming to work in. The cost of fresh to intermediate engineers in Nablus is, as in most periphery cities in the world, lower than the cost in Ramallah. Coming to Israel from Nablus is usually faster, because Kalandia checkpoint that is used to come from Ramallah is the most busy checkpoint. The Beit El checkpoint from Ramallah is for VIP only so it won’t help.