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Monday, July 30, 2012

Silicon Ali?

It seems that the poor, oppressed 'Palestinians' are becoming quite a high tech success - when they put their minds to it.
With 120 employees, ASAL is one of the largest companies in the small but burgeoning Palestinian tech sector, which many of those involved say is on the verge of big things. “We are in the right position to have exponential growth,” said Mr. Tahboub, looking every bit the part with his slicked-back hair and black-rimmed Lacoste eyeglasses.

Compared with other industries that the anemic West Bank economy might look to develop, the information and communications technology sector has an advantage: it is much less affected by impediments to movement, like the barriers, checkpoints and permit requirements that Israel imposes on the territory in the name of security.

“This is a sector that has no borders,” Mr. Tahboub observed. “You just need electricity and a telephone line.”

In the four years since Cisco Systems made an initial strategic investment of about $10 million here, financing the beginnings of business-service outsourcing to Palestinian companies, supporting training programs and drawing in other international partners, the sector is said to have grown from less than 1 percent of the Palestinian economy to more than 5 percent today — albeit of an economy whose total output is estimated at a modest $5 billion to $6 billion.
If I were thinking of investing there, my biggest concern would be an Iran-style cutoff of the internet. Of course, the Times doesn't even mention that possibility.

Read the whole thing.

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