After spending an amazing five years in Toronto, Canada, last summer, my wife and I decided it was time to move back to Ramallah, Palestine. While it was one of the most difficult decisions we had ever taken, we realized that if we waited any longer, it would be much harder to move back. Last July, my wife and kids left to Ramallah, while I stayed in Toronto for another month, packing, shipping and selling.
During the process of moving back and during my first few weeks here, three things caught my attention. First, so many Palestinian expatriates want to move back, or at least it seemed that way. I got so many comments on how lucky and brave we were to move back. It was definitely a big step, and I can see how it can be difficult to move back, especially for someone who hasn’t been here in a while.
Second, Ramallah has changed quite a bit. I’ve only been gone for five years and during that time, I’ve visited twice, but still so much has changed. There are a lot of new restaurants, coffee shops, companies (especially IT related companies) and even some things I’ve never seen before in Ramallah, like bowling alleys and pubs. Visitors that come to Palestine, and especially those that come here for the first time, are usually amazed with what they see here. Their expectations are that there’s fighting and bombs and tanks everywhere, and then they visit and find that everything is absolutely normal.
Third, the number of businesses has really grown in Ramallah. The number of IT related companies seems to have doubled in the past few years. Many are in startup mode, and there is definitely a much bigger push towards encouraging entrepreneurship, especially within the Palestinian IT community. We’re seeing VCs and other investors, which is a really positive sign that people are willing to invest in Palestinian talent. I’m hoping this trend will continue and we’ll hear some success stories soon.