Hungry for work, West Bank programmers score tech investment

Hungry for work, West Bank programmers score tech investment

Traveling to the Middle East? Use Yamsafer, the Orbitz of the region, created by talented youth and funded by enthusiastic investors. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pal_pics/5580956082/sizes/m/in/photostream/"> Ridvan Schiessl (flickr)</a>
Traveling to the Middle East? Use Yamsafer, the Orbitz of the region, created by talented youth and funded by enthusiastic investors. Photo: Ridvan Schiessl (flickr)

The small but burgeoning Palestinian IT sector cannot keep up with the annual number of graduates in the field, but new developments within the wireless industry may give their hiring capacity a boost.

A collaboration between the Google Foundation, Cisco, the George Soros Economic Development Fund, the Skoll Foundation and the European Investment Bank has created a 30 million dollar fund aimed directly at supporting Palestinian tech startups.

The first company to secure support from the fund is Yamsafer, a Ramallah-based holiday booking website (think Orbitz but based in the West Bank). Founded last September, the website is seeking to become the premier booking agency for both intra regional and international travelers. Its sleek design and offers in both Arabic and English illustrate the technology literate generation its founders belong to.

Yamsafer is one of several investments that the collaborative fund hopes to make in the next year. The allure? Palestine’s young and educated workforce makes a strong case for investment, particularly in light of the relatively inexpensive cost of labor (Palestinian engineers cost one-fifth of their counterparts in Silicon Valley). Though the wireless sector is still developing, it's clear from the high-profile investments being made that there is confidence it will continue to boom.

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