Israel possesses a diverse culture that consists of the traditions and customs of Jews from all over the world. In part, Israel’s society is very westernized and there are a large number of expats living in Israel, however, expats should always remain aware that there is strong underlying Jewish religion that requires respect and sensitivity at all times.
Israel currently has a population in the region of 7 million people with this largely consisting of Jewish people from all over the world (80%). The remainder of people living in Israel consist of non-Jewish people, the majority of which are Arab.
The state of Israel that we know today was first established in the 18th century when a large group of Jewish immigrants decided that they would settle and reclaim their historical homeland. This, however, was the beginning of major strife for the country which was further aggravated when the country was given to the British to control after WWI. The extreme nationalist movement grew and more and more Jews arrived to escape persecution in Europe. In 1948, Israel declared independence, but this also meant that it was no longer under the protection of the British and, as a result, there was an immediate clash with the Palestinians who had lived there before the Jews claimed it back. The neighbouring Middle Eastern countries sided with Palestine, and the rest (including countless wars and terrorist attacks) is history.
Despite the constant conflict, Israel is one of the leaders in the Middle East in terms of economics, industry, trade and science. The number of international companies moving to Israel is growing very year and tourism is also on the rise. People who visit the country are usually attracted to the wealth of sacred attractions. It is the birthplace of Judaism and Christianity and believed to be where Muhammad rose to heaven, and therefore is important to people from all these faiths around the world.
There is no doubting that despite its small size, Israel has played a significant role in world history. It lies at the heart of many religions and it is this which has seen it involved in many wars and issues. Even today, the country continues to be a source of conflict for many other nations in the Middle East.
Isreal’s economy is very strong and the country itself is very wealthy. This is very appealing to many expats who move here to enjoy the high standards of living. Such standards, however, are only accessible to those with significant financial resources. Everyday events such as eating out, going to the cinema and going shopping have high costs in order to supplement the heafty security investment required by business owners in order to protect their customers.
The majority of expats living in Isreal have relocated here for religious purposes. This is easy to do if you are Jewish, as Isaeli law states that all Jews can settle in isreal freely.
In the 2012 Mercer cost of living survey Tel Aviv was named as the most expensive city in the Middle East and the 24th most expensive city in the world in which to live, which represented a decrease in 7 positions from the previous year's standing at position 19. Real estate prices are high, especially in the larger cities such as Tel Aviv but food, clothes and groceries are fairly reasonable.
Expatriates should be aware of the fact that the cost of living index in Israel is gradually on the rise as a result of a fall in the value of the Israel shekel against other major currencies such as the US Dollar. For someone earning euros, pounds or US dollars this will mean that Israel is a little cheaper for them. However, if you are offered a job here on a local contract and local wage you will need to take this into consideration when you negotiate your salary.
Israel’s official languages are Hebrew and Arabic. English is widely spoken.
Israel has a Mediterranean climate with long, hot, dry summers and relatively short, cool, wet winters.
Israel’s strong and sophisticated economy entails that jobs are available for the right candidates. A strong academic background or professional training is often a prerequisite, as too are good language skills.
Recruiters in Israel do tend to expect a working knowledge of Hebrew, although a small number of jobs may exist for English speakers. The Maariv and Tediot newspapers issue job advertisements every Friday, these are particularly useful for people who are searching for work in the Information Technology sector.
There are some detailed rules and regulations governing employment in Israel and full details of such conditions can be found on Israel’s Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor (Israel) website.
The Expat Info Desk Desk relocation guide to living in Jerusalem is coming soon.
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