Microsoft opens R&D center in Nazareth to reach Arab engineers

Software behemoth aims for proportion of Arab employees to reflect share of general population, says general manager

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

The  Microsoft corporate building in Mountain View, CA. (image via Shutterstock)
The Microsoft corporate building in Mountain View, CA. (image via Shutterstock)

Microsoft launched its first R&D center in Nazareth, its third in Israel, last week in an effort to extend its outreach to include Arab engineers in its local workforce, the company said in an emailed statement.

The potential to enroll engineers from this sector “is far from being realized,” Yoram Yaacovi, the general manager at Microsoft Israel R&D Center said in the statement.

“Twenty-five percent of computer graduates from the Technion are Arabs, but just one-tenth of them join the industry. We aim to ensure that our number of Arab engineers reflects their relative share of the population.”

Microsoft has two other R&D centers in Israel, in Herzliya and Haifa, and employs over 1,000 workers. The developers who will be employed in Nazareth will join Microsoft’s key research activities, including in cyber-technology, big data, cloud computing, business intelligence, the company said.

The Microsoft center in Nazareth. (Courtesy)
The Microsoft center in Nazareth. (Courtesy)

Israel’s Arab sector, together with its ultra-Orthodox population, has been left on the sidelines of Israel’s high-tech scene and Microsoft’s initiative is one of many to reach out to these untapped resources, which could help make up for a looming shortage of engineers in Israel.

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