Economy & Business Middle East
empowerME Conversations September 20, 2022

Economies in Transition: Palestine

By Atlantic Council

In Season 3, Episode 1 of empowerME Conversations podcast, host and Atlantic Council empowerME Chairman Amjad Ahmad speaks with Palestine Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and Empowerment H.E. Osama Al Saadawi and guest co-host Ibtikar Fund Managing General Partner Habib Hazzan about the challenges facing Palestine’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, the private sector’s role in promoting economic growth, and strategies to expose local entrepreneurs to global markets.


…Create an ecosystem that will convince the private sector that we have an investment pipeline environment in Palestine that will be of success”

H.E. Osama Al Saadawi, Palestine Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and Empowerment

Key Takeaways

0:00 Intro

1:46 H.E. Osama Al Saadawi gave an overview of entrepreneurs in Palestine’s day-to-day, especially in regard to increasing threats of occupation and the restriction of movement

11:34 H.E. Al Saadawi discussed the processes of integrating markets within Palestine and the Palestinian government’s push to cluster enablers for market efficiency

15:50 H.E. Al Saadawi examined the recently passed Start-up Act Law, because the Palestinian Companies Law did not address entrepreneurship or startup needs.

17:15 Habib Hazzan argued that the severed access of Palestine to other markets and communities is the primary obstacle to economic growth in the West Bank and Gaza.

20:55 Hazzan explained the current funding Palestine has received and will receive from external sources to promote entrepreneurship, highlighting World Bank programs, Intersect Innovation Hub, and Flow Accelerator as well as angel investors. Hazzan also discussed the need to engage more deeply with the Palestinian diaspora.  

25:40 H.E. Al Saadawi emphasized the need for investors to see a very clear enabling environment for business and underscores the Palestinian government’s push to develop regulations and laws that convince businesses to expand in Palestine.

34:30 H.E. Al Saadawi underscored that with an increased level of confidence in regulations and with enough exposure, then startups in Palestine will attract investors. He cited studies that the contribution of money to the success of startups globally does not exceed 24 percent.

37:02 Hazzan explained that recently the Israeli government has been piloting a program where they give permits to Palestinian engineers to work directly in Israel.

40:30 H.E. Al Saadawi discussed the Palestinian Coding Academy as a successful example of improving Palestine’s IT sector.

45:16 H.E. Al Saadawi referenced that many government employees in Palestine are female and emphasized that while the government is committed, the private sector, usually family businesses, often center men, and females cannot benefit in all cases from such businesses.

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The empowerME Conversations podcast features conversations with business and government leaders shaping the Middle East. The podcast sheds light on key opportunities and challenges for companies and governments, and Season 3 will focus on government ministers driving regional economic growth. Season 3 of the empowerME Conversations podcast is powered by UPS.

Related Experts: Amjad Ahmad