ASAL Technologies is a Palestinian high-tech company based in Ramallah, where the Palestinian high-tech industry is primarily located. The company, which provides outsourcing services to companies in the Arab world and the West, is considered a rather small enterprise compared with high-tech companies in Israel.
According to ASAL Technologies CEO Murad Tahboub, there are 135 software engineers employed in ASAL. About 30 of them are working in collaboration with or provide services to Israeli companies — for the most part, international companies that have development centers in Israel. One of these is the American software company LivePerson, which has 350 employees in Israel and, in addition, hires the services of nine software engineers from Ramallah.
LivePerson, which provides an advanced service for website monitoring and for creating online connection with website visitors, is traded on NASDAQ and since 2011, it has also been included in the Tel Aviv 100 Index. By and large, Israeli companies outsourcing to Ramallah employ three to four Palestinian workers per company, so that on the whole, it is a considerable [Palestinian] workforce, which gives rise to hope for the strengthening of ties between the Israeli high-tech industry and its modest West Bank counterpart.
Matan Barak, who is in charge of LivePerson’s laboratories, says that he sees the nine Ramallah engineers — six men and three women — engaged by LivePerson as company employees for all intents and purposes. Barak adds that once every few weeks the Ramallah engineers attend meetings at the [Israeli] headquarters of LivePerson in Ra'anana, and that they enjoy employment conditions similar to those of their colleagues in Israel.
Barak and Tahboub recount that the Palestinian team was responsible for the development of a new product for LivePerson, which has been successfully marketed in recent months. They are currently developing another product that is designed to provide solutions for the company customers throughout the world.
A business relationship between an established American-Israeli company and a young Palestinian company is, above all, an important step forward for the Palestinians. There are currently some 6,000 employees in the Palestinian high-tech industry. However, most of them provide support services to the local market and the public sector. And although the senior professionals in the Palestinian high-tech industry acquired their education in foreign universities or worked abroad, Palestinian high-tech companies have virtually no significant business relations with markets in the Western world. Israel can assist them in establishing such links.
At the same time, the Israeli high-tech industry can avail itself of the Palestinians to establish business relations with foreign companies. In recent years, the high-tech industry in the Arab world has been growing rapidly, in particular in the rich Gulf states, which at present are among the world's largest consumers of technology. Jordanian high-tech companies are already providing services to the Gulf states. Against this backdrop, even a small company such as ASAL may open a window into new markets for the Israeli [high-tech] industry.