A group of 20 young entrepreneurs took part in a new initiative by Jewish and Arab entrepreneurs to build new projects for the benefit of Jerusalem.

The first Jewish-Arab-Jerusalem Hackathon took place this month in Margalit Startup City near the First Station Complex, home to dozens of high-tech companies. It was held in accordance with coronavirus restrictions and proved “a dream come true,” according to Adnan Jaber, one of the meeting’s organizers.

“I have been in a lot of peace programs,” but never in Jerusalem, he noted. “Let’s learn together and succeed together. Diversity will win out.”

The meeting opened with one-minute elevator pitches with each entrepreneur presenting their project to hackathon participants.

“We have a vision—to build an innovative, integrated platform of Jerusalemites from all sectors. This is the beginning of building bridges. In the days when virtual reality covers everything, we create reality,” said Yonatan Arnon, another organizer.

Among the presenters was Saida Kurdia, who talked about her project utilizing technology to ensure healthy eating. Yusuf Awada said that as a waiter, he was shocked by the level of food waste, and so spoke of the need for an app that locates and distributes surplus food to the needy. Gilad Sevitt and Michal Rosen presented an idea for an app that will help those who want to learn spoken Arabic; Ohad Stosel explained about an app that will enable the comparison of old pictures of Jerusalem to modern-day views while visiting the city; and Ditza Keren presented her initiative for a joint center for Jewish and Arab musicians.

After presenting their ideas, the developers broke into groups to construct the models and solve technological problems. Judges then offered constructive comments on the work.

“People think of Jerusalem as a city which is just fought over, but we are proving that it is a city of creativity,” said Jerusalem Venture Partners founder and chairman Erel Margalit. “This is a special city with high-tech and innovation, with the ability to turn west to Europe and the United States, and east to the Middle East and Asia. These young entrepreneurs are bringing energy to the city; they are the people making the connections. This meeting proves the power we have in building big things together.”

From left: Jewish-Arab-Jerusalem Hackathon organizer Adnan Jaber, Jerusalem Venture Partners founder and chairman Erel Margalit, and organizer Yonatan Arnon, November 2020. Photo by May Hatib.

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