Hutchison Whampoa

Tiny nation hits big

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 April, 2012, 12:00am


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Dynamic Israel is a world leader in making the best of limited natural resources. The small Middle Eastern nation has revolutionised its agricultural and industrial sectors in recent years. It has also made rapid progress in technology and set global trends in the development of software, telecommunications and semiconductors.

With a population of nearly 8 million spread over roughly 20,000 square kilometres at the eastern end of the Mediterranean, Israel makes a pretty good fit for trade with Hong Kong.

For the past 40 years, Israeli-managed Dehres has been importing and cutting diamonds in Hong Kong and selling them to wholesalers around the region.

'Hong Kong is perfect for our business,' says managing director Ephraim Zion. 'We have a highly skilled workforce of about 35; it's easy to do business here; it's highly productive, business-minded and getting around is easy. Really, there is nowhere to rival Hong Kong.'

Israel is able to compete with larger and more established firms because it is the source of so many technological innovations.

Hong Kong's Commissioner for Innovation and Technology is working to establish a research and development centre in the city with the Weizmann Institute of Science, one of the world's leading multidisciplinary research institutions and the body behind the emergence of many groundbreaking medical and technological applications.

Israel also has productive financial ties with this city. A Hong Kong venture capital investment fund has invested in four Israeli start-up companies - video editor Magisto, navigation technology firm Waze and apps specialists Onavo and Tripboard. Magisto offers a cloud-based video editing service. Its technology takes unedited video footage and, automatically using all major video formats, turns it into short films ready to be shared on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or via e-mail.

Waze's free mobile application, 'social navigation', guides drivers to their destinations by voice and offers data on traffic conditions, as supplied by users. The company has formed a social network where drivers can interact and report on road conditions. Founded in 2008, Waze has more than 1 million users in Israel.

Onavo, the mobile data-saving expert, offers free apps to stretch data plans and save on mobile data costs.

Onavo's range of simple apps, insights and advice put smartphone and tablet users in control of their mobile data usage, using advanced compression and analytics technology.

Tripboard's cellular application offers an automatic trip planner that allows users to choose optimal travel plans using voice activation and feedback.

Away from the tech scene, oenophiles around the globe are starting to appreciate wines, not just from the New World or Old World but one in between.

Israel's wine industry has bloomed over the past decade and the impressive results speak for themselves. The quality of Israeli wines is now recognised by the world's major experts and appreciated anew by wine lovers and connoisseurs.

Internationally renowned wine publications such as Decanter, The Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator have all praised the New World of Israeli wines. Wine critics and writers of the calibre of Robert Parker and Hugh Johnson have also gone on record to highlight the virtues of Israeli wines.