Erel Margalit: “The next chapter in the region is Saudi Arabia. When we are doing such great things in Jerusalem, with such a diverse community of entrepreneurs working together, it reflects the region as a whole.”
US Ambassador Nides: “The Abraham Accords was the beginning of something really important. It’s the essence of bringing people together. The free trade agreement, as an offshoot of the Accords, is brilliant for the region, for the Israelis and Emiratis, and hopefully the benefit will spread to the Palestinians.”
Jerusalem, Israel, 1 June, 2022 – US Ambassador to Israel H.E. Tom Nides was the guest of honor this morning (Wednesday), as young business and tech leaders from around the world gathered in Jerusalem today for the final day of the Forbes Under 30 Summit in Israel. The groups were hosted at the Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP) Margalit Startup City (MSC) in Jerusalem, and were joined by young Israeli and Palestinian entrepreneurs that came from Nablus, Ramala, Est and West Jerusalem and mixed cities.
Under “The Power of Yalla,” we met with more than 150 young Israeli Jews, Arabs and Palestinian entrepreneurs who are working with start-ups addressing key challenges in the climate, social impact, and commerce industries. They engaged in workshops and discussions to help promote each start-up and share best practices and industry insights.
Welcoming Ambassador Nides and the Forbes delegation to the Margalit Startup City, JVP and MSC Founder and Chairman Erel Margalit explained how JVP had developed and led the evolution of some of Jerusalem and Israel’s biggest technological successes. He spoke of the importance of innovation as a way to connect communities and countries, and said, “We are delighted to have an Ambassador of the United States who not only understands diplomacy but understands the power of business to build bridges between peoples and countries. We are doing this in Jerusalem with Israelis and Palestinians, between Jews and Arabs, and across the region.”
He urged the young leaders to engage with the change and connections that were having such a positive impact in the Middle East. He said, “We have ten cities, ten ideas, ten projects that will change the way you think about the Middle East, and it is you, the young leaders, who will make the difference.”
Margalit stressed, “This city is unique in that it is home to Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians, religious, ultra-Orthodox, secular – all living together. It is time we do something for the people of this place together. The people of this place have a commitment to work together, to connect us, because when you do a bad thing in Jerusalem, it affects the whole world, and when you do a good thing in Jerusalem, it affects the whole world.”
He added, “We are also working in Beer Sheva, in Haifa with digital health, in Kiryat Shemona on food technology and we are working in New York on cyber and climate tech. We are also looking to Abu Dhabi to create a hub for foodtech, and we hope to work together with Palestinian entrepreneurs in this too. The next chapter in the region, after Dubai, Bahrain, and Morocco is Saudi Arabia. When we are doing such great things in Jerusalem, with such a diverse community of entrepreneurs working together, it reflects the region as a whole. We know President Biden is coming to the region, and we want to show him what we know to be true, that innovation can change a city, can change a country, and can change the region.”
Ambassador Nides, spoke of his appreciation for the event, “I cannot understate how important such meetings are. If we are going to keep Israel as a democratic and Jewish state, we must not lose sight of a two-state solution, and one way to do this is to be sure that young Palestinians, in the West Bank, in Jerusalem, and in Gaza, have a connection to entrepreneurship and opportunity. If we lose sight of that, we lose everything. To have the Forbes under 30 leadership here is an important opportunity.”
He urged the participants to give back, and contribute to helping others to succeed, and reiterated the opportunity presented by the new regional cooperation. “The Abraham Accords were the beginning of something really important. It’s the essence of bringing people together. The free trade agreement, as an offshoot of the Accords, is brilliant for the region, for the Israelis and Emiratis, and hopefully the benefit will spread to the Palestinians.”
Also attending was Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan Nahoum. She noted, “Jerusalem has a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem, with innovation that is both diverse and impactful. To bring such a high-level network of leaders from the next generation to visit and get to know Jerusalem, and the people of Jerusalem, will greatly contribute to our growing footprint on the global stage – generating so much benefit in issues like the climate, food security, water and more.”
After a day of workshops and discussions, the entrepreneurs from all over Europe, the Middle East and Africa engaged in a final pitch competition. The top three winners were Greeners, a climate tech start-up from East Jerusalem, Quantum Equity, a cryptocurrency start-up from Nabulus and Jerusalem, and Flare Studios, a creative digital production company from Ramallah and Jerusalem. The winners of the pitch competition will receive a mentorship package from JVP, Cunrg.io and Meitar Law Firm and will be invited to the upcoming Forbes Under 30 Summit in the United States.