Innovation · Tel Aviv · Tourism

TEL AVIV WINS WORLD SMART CITY AWARD

PRESS RELEASE

Tel Aviv wins first place in the World Smart Cities Award at the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona, beating the 250 other cities who competed in the competition.

The Smart City Expo World Congress is considered the leading conference in the world for smart city innovation. Tel Aviv hosted a booth at the congress displaying the city’s smart technologies with companies such as Motorola Solutions Israel, TSG (Ness) and Microsoft.

Tel Aviv, the startup city, ranked one of the most innovative cities in the world by Citibank and the Wall Street Journal, has leveraged its high-tech ecosystem to facilitate its transformation into a smart city.  In the last 2 years, the city has undergone a digital revolution, including the launching of the city residents’ membership club Digi-Tel, free Wi-fi across the city and more.

These initiatives improve municipal services, enhance residents’ quality of life and create the conditions for sustainable urban development.  Above all, they exemplify the city’s active, intelligent role in employing technology to heighten civic engagement and ensure a city which is accessible and responsive to all.

Check out a video clip about DigiTel here and read about Tel Aviv’s smart city policies here

Antwerp · Photography · Tel Aviv

Best of both worlds

One of my favorite things about morning errands in Tel Aviv is what one sees along the way. With my music* and my camera** I walk around town and I observe, think, compare and analyze. I often look in contrasts. Antwerp vs Tel Aviv. Europe vs the Middle East. But, what is the Middle East and what defines it? I could write a full post about Israel’s geography: which continent are we? Asia. Then why do we participate in the Eurovision? Oh here I’m deviating from my subject, let’s just call it Mediterranean for now and let’s go back to comparing the two cities I know best.

Israel has always been technologically advanced – they had cellphones here before we even knew about them, remember those dinosaurs – and was already a free-WiFi-friendly place. The Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality Finance Committee has recently approved a 1,5 million $ budget for a city WiFi Network that will be spread in parks, city shores, main streets and commercial centers (on top of cafes, restaurants and bars and my favorite: the airport).

Another great thing is the 75% discount the city’s residents get on various well-located parking lots. The city also makes sure to keep the city green and often involves citizens in their opinion about the design for certain parks, sidewalks and fountains. And how about getting around town in the monit Sherut? And all those 24/7 restaurants, going from breakfast at Benedict till burgers at Moses at any given time of the day. And the delicious cappuccino (hafuch). And if you like dogs, it’s a dog friendly city too. Between gay beach and the orthodox beach there is a dog beach. Also, besides having the ugly usual graffiti, there are some incredibly talented anonymous artists doing street art.

So let’s teach and learn from each other. Tel Aviv should urgently start separating trash, fining honking vehicles, french shower the smelly street cats, improve the supermarkets, get decent bike lanes and what not. Bekitsur, (in short) best of both worlds (and one of Robert Palmer’s best songs)

*currently listening to an Israeli band called theAngelcy –photo remember their name, it will live forever **yes I have just replaced my broken iPod touch with a Canon EOS M, Generation M(arilyn). Yes it was named after me. Aren’t you wondering how I took this picture then ->

 IMG_0056IMG_0039IMG_0091IMG_0030IMG_0107  IMG_0041    IMG_0034  IMG_0026IMG_0068IMG_0073 IMG_0077IMG_0037  IMG_0080 IMG_0084

General · History · Lifestyle · Tel Aviv · Uncategorized

Tel Aviv Alive & Kickin’

Let’s start this post with a little note to my fellow Belgians or should I say Europeans. I wouldn’t be discussing the recent tensions in the Middle East as this is certainly not a political blog. But as apparently everyone seems to own the conflict, I guess I do have a say. Maybe the media are the first to blame as they should stand for “impartial” and “objective” reporting? At university they taught us the media is the watchdog of democracy. Not what I see when I watch Belgian news about Israel. And as for the people’s opinion: maybe I wouldn’t know better either if I’d just watch your news and read your newspapers. But at least I won’t feel I have the right to preach, convince nor judge. I live in Tel Aviv since six years and I still feel I have no right to judge. Because I do not know war. I did not grow up with terror. I did not go to the army. So why do Europeans feel they have the right to? Most of them have probably never even been in Israel. Yes I’m bothered with that hypocritical solidarity. That being said; my blog is about my life, my life in Tel Aviv, both as a stranger and an insider. And I decide to focus on the bright side of it, the creative, the stimulating, the talent; what makes us wake up in the morning and smile. And I can tell you this: Tel Aviv is alive and kickin’. Towers still grow like mushrooms, people going to the beach, party in clubs, eat and drink 24/7, real estate is still unaffordable, there is still no parking and too much traffic, three new boutique hotels just opened around my corner, and the sun still shines…

All photos by me & my broken Ipod touch – maybe soon I’ll get a real camera…

photo 2 Life is good @ Delicatessen: my Filofax, the blackberry, some sun, a knitting project and a “hafuch” or two or threephoto 3 Old versus New on Mazeh Street

photo 4 Old versus New on Mazeh street

photo 5 New boutique hotel Alma

IMG_1123 Yarn Bombing on Nahlat Binyamin Street

IMG_1477 TLV view from Jaffa

photo 2 Electric art on Pines Street, Neve Tzedek

photo 1 Sunset at Fortuna Del Mar @ Tel Aviv Marina

photo 3 Kalisher Street

photo 1 Sunset at Topsea Beach

IMG_1480 Super Jew is Coming soon – Drawing by Julien Roux

General · History · Lifestyle · Tel Aviv

Lady Godiva in Tel Aviv

Thank you Theodor Herzl for having created Israel in Israel. Did you know that here we have 300 days of blue skies a year?  It’s fall and we reach the 30°. Yes, that is a big deal for a Belgian. And no, I’m not only here for the good weather. What is it that makes this country so special? Why do people leave behind their good lives in far away countries to start over here? It’s loud, it’s chaotic; life can be rough and tough. Welcome to the jungle?  It’ll take more than this post to explain the phenomenon and many have tried. Books have been written about the success story of this tiny little country, like this one: Start-up NationThe book addresses the trillion dollar question: How is it that Israel – a country only 60+ years old, surrounded by enemies, in a constant state of war since its founding, with no natural resources—produces more start-up companies than large, peaceful, and stable nations like Japan, China, India, Korea, Canada, and the UK? How is it that Israel has, per person, attracted over twice as much venture capital investment as the US and thirty times more than Europe?

In Israel there are about 7 million inhabitants of which 76% are Jews, 16% Muslims and about 2% Christians, Druze and other religions. Tel Aviv has around 400,000 residents of which half are under the age of 35. How does such a young country create its identity?  I can only share with you my perspective. Who are we and who do we want to be? We Wonder, We Wander. Tel Aviv has European and American influences yet is it is Middle-Eastern and Meditteranean. The population consists of immigrants from all over. Ashkenazis, Sefardim, so many roots and cultures mixing in. On a sociological level, many try to define that Israeliness. What is typical Israeli? What does “Rak be’Israel” (only in Israel) really mean? By locals is it mostly used for the bad side; I’m all about balancing it up.

Why is it so difficult to just stand in line here? Because we are ‘The Chosen People’? Why do cars need to honk all the time? What’s with the Chutzpe? Israel. The only country with Katiushes coming from Lebanon, Scuds from Irak, bombshells from Syria, Suicide bombers from Gaza but a bedroom apartment in a dump building is more expensive than in Paris, London or NYC. The only country in which we can build computer programs to fly drones and high technology, but to get a technician for the tv we wait a week and he might show up between 11 and 6. Israel Post. Packages I send/receive in the mail hardly ever arrive. Fed Ex Israel does not deliver packages at all. Making aliyah, going to the bank, dealing with bureaucracy definitely confirm the ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ slogan. And why don’t cars let ambulances pass? Some men go to the beach in their underwear; wtf? Politeness, aesthetics, style, finishing are just not always priorities here (yet?).  My daily encounter of having to explain to Israelis I’m not French but Belgian. Why give me an english menu while I just spoke Hebrew with the waitress? Maybe I will always be considered a foreigner here. And in my country of origin. Everywhere. But all by all: I’m in love with Tel Aviv and I do feel at home here!

I used to have a little radio item called Lady be Tel Aviv in a show by two journalist friends Attila Somfalvi and Raz Shechnik on 102fm in which we would discuss these ‘Rak Be’Israel’ items. Every week I’d share some experiences like the above . We’d talk about semantics (and how there is no right translation for certain words like stam, titchadesh, bekarov etslech, baktana) or the advantages of dating an ‘olah chadasha’ (no fighting for family diners) with an accent (quite impossible to have a serious fight). Listen to the Purim item (08-03-2011) or live in the studio (25-03-2011).  

“Fragments of Tel Aviv” photos by our special guest photographer Kara Bieber from London. Backed by the Anglo Israel Association, Kara is in Tel Aviv undertaking a major photographic project highlighting the very best of creative talents in the country. Aimed at showcasing Israel’s image as a hub of creativity and innovation, the completed body of work will form an exhibition and possibly an accompanying book which will be launched in London in 2013 . Visit Kara’s website – Facebook page 
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