Be’er Sheva, a city of 200,000 in the middle of Israel’s Nagev Desert is quickly becoming a global technology hub, drawing in several of the world’s largest technology companies. What is causing these global companies to set up shop in the scorching heat of the Arab desert seemingly in the middle of nowhere? The answer to this question comes from Maya Hofman Levy, who is EMC Corporation’s site manager in Be’er Sheva, who stated that “The main reason EMC wants to be in Be’er Sheva is for access to talent.”
Be’er Sheva is indeed home to some of the best and brightest young technological minds of Israel. The city contains the campus of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, which is one of the premier universities in Israel. For the past 11 years, the University has partnered with Deutsche Telkom to build up an expertise in cybersecurity, which has led to an increase in highly qualified graduates with degrees in technology.
The Israeli army is also a major factor in the attractiveness of the Nagev Desert to the world’s high-tech giants. The army recently revealed their long anticipated plans to relocate a significant portion of their offices from the coastal city of Tel Aviv to Be’er Sheva. Among those scheduled to relocate to the Nagev Desert are many of Israel’s key technological units including Unit 8200 (the Israeli equivalent of the United States’ NSA) and the newly formed national Cyber Event Readiness Team. The Israeli government has allocated about 6 billion dollars to the move, of which approximately half will be used for technology and communications infrastructure. The global technology companies that have made the move to Be’er Sheva are eager to get a share of this development. Israel’s national policy of mandatory conscription of two years for women and three years for men means that a majority of the nation’s young technological talent ends up working for these high tech military units, which will now be located in Be’er Sheva.
The appeal of the Nagev Desert to the high tech industry can be summed up by the words of Shelly Gotman, the managing director of Lockheed Martin’s Israeli unit, who stated that, “It was natural for us to pick Be’er Sheva because of the ecosystem being formed there by the army, the industry and the university.”