Apple CEO Tim Cook arrived in Israel Wednesday to open a new research and development center in Israel – meeting with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who praised Cook’s “unprecedented contribution to humanity.”
“It is a great privilege to host you and your team here in Israel,” Rivlin told Cook. “Even for me, as one who prefers to write with a pen and paper, it is clear what a great miracle you have created when I look at my staff, and my grandchildren.”
Cook thanked Rivlin for his kind words, saying that he and his staff “have an enormous admiration for Israel, not just as an important ally for the US, but as a place to do business.”
The surprise visit came after a week of speculation following rumors that Cook could be Israel-bound.
Apple’s R&D relationship with Israel goes back to 2012, when the US tech giant bought out Haifa-based Anobit, a maker of the flash memory controllers used in many Apple products.
With the Anobit acquisition, the company’s 200 employees – three quarters of whom are engineers – became Apple employees, and since then the Apple R&D center – Anobit’s new incarnation – has hired dozens more.
Apple’s new R&D center is in Herzliya, where dozens more engineers have been hired in recent months to fill positions there, according to Israeli media reports.
According to sources in Apple’s Israeli operation, the tech behemoth has hired dozens of engineers who are “bringing with them knowledge that Apple does not currently possess, and they will get a finished product almost specifically made for them. It’s part of Apple’s new strategy of developing the technology it needs in-house, instead of relying on outside companies and contractors.”
Among the topics discussed by Rivlin and Cook was the role of education in the advancement of poorer populations, and and how Apple could help ensure that peripheral groups, like ultra-Orthodox Jews and Arabs, could become more integrated in Israel’s high-tech economy.