Top urban news, trends and reports curated for the world’s city leaders. Edited by David Hatch

Beersheba mayor positions desert city as next Silicon Valley

A desert town in Israel's south has attracted Fortune 500 companies such as IBM and Oracle. (Leonard Zhukovsky/

There was a time when people scoffed at Beersheba Mayor Rubik Danilovich’s audacious dream to transform this dusty city into the Middle East’s Silicon Valley.

But Gil Karie writes for Forbes that under Danilovich’s leadership, an Israeli desert outpost long associated with dirt, poverty and camels is becoming a technology magnet.

“A lot of people didn’t believe in us, laughed at us — they didn’t believe the big companies would want to come to the Negev,” the mayor tells Forbes. Located in Israel’s desert, Beersheba long played second fiddle to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. When tour buses stopped, it was usually for bathroom breaks.

Today, a sprawling technology park is open and will include 20 buildings when complete. IBM, Oracle and Lockheed Martin are among the Fortune 500 companies signed on as tenants. The Israeli government and military plan to locate cyber-security facilities in the city.

A steady stream of mayors and executives now make a pilgrimage to the 37-year-old mayor’s office, Karie writes. They come to express interest in business partnerships, and to ask how they can replicate Beersheba’s miracle. “We’re thinking big,” the mayor adds. “We’re one of the few cities in the world that are creating their own future.”


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