How Do You Say 'Networking' in Arabic? Initative Aims to Connect Arab Engineers in Israel

'Personal ties are important in an industry where 70% of new hires were referred by company employees,' one of the organizers says.

Keif al-Hal meeting at Microsoft offices in Haifa, Jan. 2016.
Gai Hetzroni

A new initiative seeks to foster networking among Arab technology graduates in Israel in order to increase job placements in Israeli tech companies. To this end, Maantech Project, part of the Peres Center for Peace, and ITWorks, a nonprofit organization dedicated to closing Israel’s socioeconomic gaps, in partnership with the Joint Distribution Committee-Israel, launched Keif al-Hal (“how are you?” in Arabic).

The objective is to increase the number of Israeli Arabs who are employed in the country’s tech sector and to encourage their career advancement.

Around 80 engineers and development managers, including a number in senior positions, attended the first meeting of the forum, which took place at Microsoft-Israel offices in Haifa, on Sunday.

They included graduates of ITWorks programs who have gone on to hold key positions in leading companies such as Cisco Systems, Microsoft, RedHat Software, Ness Technologies, FireLayers, Alpha Omega, Webisaba and EMC. They were joined by colleagues at tech companies that seek to hire Arab engineers.

“We’re thrilled to launch the first project in which our organization has taken a leading role in creating a networking arrangement for Arab society,” said Si Avivi, a vice president of ITWorks.

“It’s well-known that the most significant position for any candidate entering high-tech is the first job, which will greatly affect his or her future career,” she said, adding, “Personal connections are an important tool in an industry in which 70% of hiring is on the basis of ‘bring a friend.’ This new forum will over time become very instrumental in improving the current situation,” Avivi said.