A record year for Israeli tourism
2019 was a record-breaking year for tourism to Israel.
The year saw the Eurovision Song Contest return to Israel, along with growing visitors for Tel Aviv’s pride festivities and an ever-developing tourism industry.
In all, 4.5 million tourists visited, a more than 10 percent increase compared to 2018.
Half the total number of visitors came from the US, France, Russia, Germany and Britain.
There were also sharp rises in Chinese and Italian tourists to Israel.
Leviathan gas begins to flow
The supply of natural gas from Israel’s massive offshore Leviathan natural gas reservoir successfully began flowing on the final day of 2019.
Noble Energy and its partners met all the necessary conditions to start extracting an estimated 22 trillion cubic feet of gas found in the underground reservoir.
The gas will be supplied to the Israel Electric Corporation, the Jordanian gas network and the Egyptian system.
Negotiations are also underway for a gas pipeline into Europe which, when completed, would have significant geo-political and economic implications for Israel.
New high rises for Ramat Gan planned
A new urban development agreement for Ramat Gan will see major investment in infrastructure, including roads and parks, and new neighbourhoods in the east of the city through demolition and urban renewal projects.
The deal will see the government provide some £300 million to the Ramat Gan Municipality to promote real estate projects and infrastructure in the city, which is on the outskirts of Tel Aviv.
Roman Abramovich bags beachfront building
Russian-Israeli businessman Roman Abramovich has continued to strengthen his connections with Israel by buying a vacant office building on the beachfront next to the Herbert Samuel Promenade in Tel Aviv for around £44 million.
The seller is businessman Dominique Romano, who purchased it in 2016 at an estimated 75 per cent of the current sale value.
The property offers 6,500 square metres of office space and 130 parking spaces and could be converted into a hotel or a residential building.
Mr Abramovich, one of the world’s wealthiest men, became an Israeli citizen in 2018 and already owns a luxury lot in Tel Aviv’s Neve Tzedek area.
Good times for tech
With over £6 billion invested in Israeli start-ups during 2019 — a figure that excludes “stealth” deals — there was an almost 30 per cent jump in the total amount invested in the sector compared to 2018.
Big fundraisers were seen by companies such as Monday.com, Lightricks, Cubereason, WalkMe and Gong.io.
IzBiz is compiled every fortnight for the JC by Jeremy Seeff, partner at ERM, a cross-border law firm based in Tel Aviv for corporate, finance and real estate matters. Read previous editions of IzBiz here.