"Rawabi," a new town near Ramallah
Ramallah, December 12, 2007 - Bayti Real Estate Development Company today announced that plans for development of a new Palestinian town of 4,000 affordable income housing units on the outskirts of Ramallah are well underway at an estimated total cost of $200 million.
According to Bashar Masri, Bayti"s chairman of the board, the concept for the new Palestinian town of RAWABI has been in development for a long time and that all necessary land purchases were final before Bayti took the news public. "The land on which RAWABI will be built is a 20 to 25 minute drive from the city of Ramallah and is located in an area under the control of the Palestinian Authority", Masri said. He added, "We drew up initial plans and are about to begin the detailed plans for this model modern town in order to hold the groundbreaking ceremony in spring of 2008."
The Palestinian Authority is enthusiastic about the plans for the new city, and views it as a truly valuable and needed project for the Palestinian people. "All PA officials we spoke to about the project encouraged us and expressed willingness to facilitate the project and to provide support for the needed infrastructure for the project." Masri said. "We believe this is a great opportunity for a private-public partnership which will boost the Palestinian economy".
The town of RAWABI is expected to house roughly 25,000 persons in up to 4000 apartment units, ranging in size from 105 to 170 square meters. Selling prices will range between $37,500 and $75,000 per unit. A number of townhouses and single-family homes will also be included in the planned city, although the emphasis will be placed on affordable apartment homes with adequate facilities. It is expected that the first units will be available for occupancy in 2010.
RAWABI is unique in that it is not intended to serve as a bedroom community for residents employed in nearby Ramallah, like many suburbs, but instead will feature its own downtown and commercial center which will provide employment opportunities for RAWABI residents. The city center is expected to attract services sector enterprises such as banks, IT companies, consulting and engineering firms and a variety of retail establishments. Ultimately, the town is expected to generate several thousand employment opportunities for Palestinians.
RAWABI is planned as a construction cluster which will include not only residences, but also primary and secondary schools, a hospital center, a hotel, restaurants, a shopping center or mall, a cinema, gas stations and public areas such as parks and playgrounds. Although the city is intended to be relatively self-contained, it will also be connected to a modern transportation system.
The name of the new town, RAWABI ("hills" in Arabic) was selected based on the results of a public opinion survey in which participants were asked to suggest appealing names that would attract residents to the city. The name also reflects the topography of the land on which the planned town will be built.
Bayti, the town’s private sector development company, plans to enlist the services of renowned local firms as well as international consulting firms in the fields of engineering and architecture. Tenders for the execution of construction work will be published locally. Thousands of badly needed jobs will be created during the construction period.
Preliminary plans for the town took into consideration the surrounding environs and local tastes in building materials and architectural design. The goal is to develop a twenty-first century city which will enable surrounding villages and towns to benefit from its infrastructure. The developer plans to minimize and mitigate air and noise pollution with the inclusion of large tracts of green space within the new town limits, and to fully utilize renewable power sources, such as solar energy. Masri said, "RAWABI is designed to be built as an un-crowded, environment- and family-friendly town."
Bayti represents a consortium of Palestinian investors, lead by Massar International. Bayti has already built similar affordable income communities in Morocco, with thousands of quality apartment homes constructed and sold. Bayti is registered with the Palestinian National Authority as a corporation with $25 million in initial capital. A public offering of Bayti is expected on the Palestine Securities Exchange after the project construction is underway. Discussions are currently being held with additional local and international investors.