VNG - The Local Governance Capacity Programme in Palestine has been bearing the fruit of its work: local municipalities, on their own design and initiative and with the aid of VNG International, have been building the infrastructure for the development of local tourism and healthy business environments. Now it is time to get that message out to the world. But what message should that be, exactly?

Over thirty representatives explored this question during a two days City Marketing workshop in Ramallah. They did so under the guidance of Eline Faber, city marketeer of the municipality of Emmen in the Netherlands and Saro Nakashian, Lecturer Marketing at Birzeit University.

City Marketing is much more than just marketing and branding. It is about telling their stories.  All towns and villages on the West Bank have shared diversity in their long history. Underlying local beliefs, customs, and social and economic structures were shaped by it. It makes each town and each story unique. At the same time, it makes each approach to a City Marketing strategy unique as well.

To create an effective marketing strategy for their own municipality, ms Faber and mr Nakashian helped participants do a force field analysis of the most influential people in their municipality. How to get them onboard with the message and even create city ambassadors out of them?

Participants profiled target groups with the help of mood boards and listed the unique selling points of their municipalities, and those of their ‘competitor’ municipalities.

The participants were enthusiastic about the training. Through case studies, visual materials, exercises and discussions they experienced the basics of city marketing and received tools to start with the process in their own municipality. Being the first step in a long term process.

Dreaming about individual treatment for citizens

Rawabi is going forward, fast. The first people are moving in and with, the demand for services is on the rise. One of the unique characteristics of this new city is the opportunity to plan it right from the start. That is why VNG International organized a mission with working title One Stop Shop.

Ms Jolanda Zaagman, Hospitality Manager at Groningen Municipality and Mr Safwan Nazer, an IT-specialist with a long history in the Palestinian development sector, together with the municipality of Rawabi held brainstorming sessions to map out what services the brand new city will provide to her citizens and businesses. Ms Zaagman’s experiences with customer service, combined with mr Nazer experiences with One Stop Shops in other towns on the West Bank will offer Rawabi a broad range of best practises from which to build a modern One Stop Shop, especially designed to offer each citizen a tailor-made treatment.

In addition  Mr Mart Grisel, Director of the European Urban Knowledge Network, visited Palestine  to prepare for a Policy Lab (expert meeting) on the concept of Rawabi as a ‘Smart City’. The Policy Lab will share knowledge and experiences from the network with the municipality of Rawabi. The Policy Lab is supposed to take place in a few months.

The Policy Lab, the One Stop Shops, are just two of the initiatives that should help fulfil Rawabi’s promise as a city of tomorrow, today.


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