After over four months as President of iConnect Tech, an IT outsourcing company located in Ramallah, Palestine, I’m starting to see the challenges of signing outsourcing contracts. While there are many reasons why outsourcing works or doesn’t work, in our case, I feel that the most significant factor is perception. For someone who’s never visited Ramallah, it’s almost impossible to think of it as a safe and civilized city. A client of ours, who is originally Palestinian and has relatives in Jerusalem and Nablus, visited Palestine for the first time last December. Not knowing what to expect, he was happily surprised by what he saw here. Coffee shops, restaurants, bowling alleys, 5 star hotels, gyms, businesses and a ton or real estate projects, pretty much like any other city in the world. Even with occupation, Ramallah is comparable to most other cities in the world.
In my view, people’s perception of what they should expect from a Palestinian city under occupation, is the biggest challenge we need to overcome as IT outsourcing providers. We have a stable telecommunications and power infrastructure, 13 universities with over 2000 IT graduates each year, a large number of Western-educated professionals and a very loyal and proud workforce. What we need is for others to see Palestine the way we see it, as a destination for business and outsourcing. One way to change people’s perceptions and that has really made an impact is bringing people here to visit. Although I’m sure that visitors would enjoy seeing Palestine, coming over can be a bit expensive and time consuming. The other option, which is a lot more doable is seeing a promotional video about Palestine. I saw a video promoting Bangladesh as the undiscovered Gem of Asia. Seeing the video completely changed my perception of Bangladesh, a country I’ve never seen and may never see. I think that Palestine deserves at least one video to show its positive side, and this will be my next project, creating a short video profile of Palestine. I definitely hope to get comments, suggestions and support.