Nearshore in Israel

Nearshore in Israel ? How come ? We know very well that the surrounding countries that Israel have some kind of normal relationship with are not outsourcing locations, the closest countries for outsourcing are located in Eastern Europe.

But under the radar there is an untapped area: the West Bank. Nearshore it is, 45 minutes away from Tel Aviv. The cost of professionals in the WB is not near their cost in Israel, it competes well with the prices of Eastern Europe, as well as SE Asia.

Cisco Israel’s R&D started outsourcing Software to the West Bank bank in 2009 (I was fortunate to be chosen to manage this operation) and other international companies follow suit, including Microsoft, Intel, Mellanox, Nokia and more. However, this is not yet common knowledge.

Outsourcing software development to the Palestinian Authority? you ask, it brings a lot of questions in mind, isn’t this problematic due to the political instability? the violence in this region ? Is the WB infrastructure developed enough to accommodate outsourcing ? Are they good ? 

All are legitimate questions, and there are many more…

So ten years of experience working with Palestinians taught me many things, I am happy to share some with you. 

Lets start with the stability and political climate issues, how do they effect the work. Since starting to work with the West Bank, there were several armed activities in Gaza, terror attacks, diplomat and political issues. None of which had ever effect the work together. No one brings political talks into the work as people understand how much they can loose if these things will seep in. Those turbulences makes the need for stability at work much clearer.

As for infrastructure, Broadband internet is available throughout the West Bank, offices in the main cities are well connected and so are the homes of the sophisticated young people.  60.6% of the homes are connected to the internet in the West Bank, 31.6% have laptops, 89.8% hold smart phones (The Palestinian Bureau of Statistics, 2017 report). So software developers can take their job home and continue where they drop the pen at work.

The High Tech in the Palestinian Authority is growing, more and more young people see how well it works for Israel economy and they want to bring it home, so more and more young people choose to study related studies, if we knew about roughly 2,000 graduates every year in those subjects in the early 2010th, there are talks about 3,000 or even 3,500 graduates these days.

Here are some figures by the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics for 2017, these numbers are for the entire Palestinian Authority, West Bank and Gaza:

  • Number of R&D Personnel: 8,715
  • Number of R&D Personnel with Full Time Equivalent (FTE): 5,162
  • Total Expenditure on R&D: $61.4 M (USD)
  • ICT contribution to the Palestinian GDP (2016) $542.1 M (USD) (4% of the total GDP)

Are they good? you ask, well, like everywhere else, you can find the whole range there, good and bad and everything in between. Some have studied in local universities, some overseas (US, EU, Jordan, Lebanon). There English varies from good to decent. As time goes by you find more and more people with experience working for international companies so they get more familiar with the High Tech culture.

How about traveling to Israel, can they come to my office to Tel Aviv ? The answer to this is yes, they can come to Israel. They need permits which they get from the Israeli Defence Ministry, there are permits for the High Tech Sector employees (as well as for other professions) those permits usually allow them to enter Israel from 5am to 10pm on a daily basis. Permits are provided for multiple entries for a period of time, usually 6 months.

Would you like to visit their office in the West Bank ? their offices are in what we call Area-A (total autonomy of the Palestinian Authority), for that, if you’re a Jewish Israeli citizen you’ll need an approval from the Defence Ministry (Arabs are exempt), If you’re not an Israeli citizen check your country policy.

Working culture, they try harder… truly, they are underdog at this time, and feel like needed to prove themselves. They are not fast to leave their job, especially if they feel well compensated and challenged in their work. They will work late at night and will hold phone/video conferences when needed.

Wrap up, I have experience working with many engineers around the world, I found it very convenient to work with Palestinians. As an Israeli I also found that Palestinians are, in many aspects similar to me, body language, gestures, and some other similar things.  I also find it very convenient that their working week is Sunday to Thursday, so there is no one day shift as with the rest of the world.