Nir Barkat

Jerusalem 2020

A 5-year vision to transform the capital into an innovative academic, scientific and technological powerhouse

Imagine that you have arrived in Jerusalem in 2020. You step out of the station from the fast train that has brought you to Jerusalem in 28 minutes from the center of Israel. You find yourself in the middle of the new business district at the entrance to the city, a district five times the size of the Azrieli Towers with places of employment for thousands of workers. You alight on the newest light rail line which passes through Jerusalem’s new business complexes and hotels.

This light rail line is part of an entire network, the most advanced of its kind in Israel, that spreads throughout the whole city. You pass by the international sports complex at Malha, the upgraded Teddy Stadium, the Jerusalem Pais Arena, a huge Olympic-sized swimming pool and the Tennis Center that hosts competitions from all over the world. The ride continues through Jerusalem’s renewed city center, which has become the most accessible city center in the country. The city is bustling with thousands of young people and students who are walking through the new Bezalel campus in the Russian Compound, Beit Mazya which is home to Jerusalem theater groups and the new Jerusalem Arts Campus next to Gerard Behar.

Ready to take a break? You can relax at any of the beautiful spots alongside the lake in Gazelle Valley, a nature reserve in the heart of Jerusalem, or at any of the huge parks we have built around the city. The net area of Jerusalem’s green spaces in larger than all of Tel Aviv. These parks are accessible through bike paths, including Park HaMesila- a path that begins at the Old Train Station and winds through seven Jerusalem neighborhoods. If it is an especially hot day and you want to escape the heat, visit the “Sea of Jerusalem,” the largest aquarium in the Middle East at Jerusalem’s Biblical Zoo where you can walk between sea turtles and sharks.

And in the evening? Go out to the movies in one of Jerusalem’s successful theater complexes. Perhaps the movie will have been filmed in one of Jerusalem’s very own studios. Experience Jerusalem’s world-renowned culinary scene a local restaurant. Check out the international cultural festival taking place in the Jerusalem’s Old City that has attracted millions of tourists from around the world or go to a performance by Jerusalem artists who the city supports through a special fund.

At the end of the day, after you have experienced all that Jerusalem has to offer, we hope that you will want to move here, and educate your children in one of the best education systems in the country, with the broadest diversity. We have reversed the trend of a decreasing number of students in first through twelfth grade in national and national religious schools in Jerusalem (12 percent decrease between 2001-2008) and are opening up dozens of new kindergartens and classrooms every year (6 percent increase between 2009-2014). Join the increasing numbers of young people – young families, people from advanced industries, the arts, academia and government – who are coming and making their homes in Jerusalem. Many high-tech and biomed companies have set up shop in the capital city and the number of companies is expected to rise even further. Hundreds of entrepreneurial start-ups are being built in the city every year, adding hundreds of high quality jobs in the city. It’s not a dream, this is reality!

To realize this vision, we have brought together some of the world’s leading experts in the fields of urban planning and development: Professor Michael Porter of Harvard Business School and Professor Richard Florida of the University of Toronto. Together, we formulated a strategic plan for the city entitled Jerusalem 2020. In this plan, we defined the direction in which Jerusalem will evolve over the next five years.

In five years, Jerusalem will be a magnet for the world’s greatest minds, the most productive intellectuals, and a site of pilgrimage for millions in Israel and around the world. Jerusalem’s academic institutions, which are already leaders in Israel and around the world, will produce the next generation of engineers, researchers, developers and entrepreneurs, who will lead the technological world in the coming years. This winning combination of industry and academia will transform Jerusalem into an academic, scientific and technological center within the next five years.

Jerusalem, more than any other city, with its diverse human capital, is fertile ground for creativity and entrepreneurship. In the coming years, we will strengthen the foundation for developing the city’s creative economy and enable innovation to sprout everywhere. Billions of people from around the globe yearn to come and experience 3000 years of history combined with innovation in a city that has succeeded in reinventing itself. Because Jerusalem is not just any city; Jerusalem is the heart, soul and eternal capital of the Jewish people. The success of Jerusalem is a source of intense pride for all of us around the world who call Jerusalem home.

About the Author
Nir Barkat is the Mayor of the city of Jerusalem.
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