Mideast: Rawabi, the new Palestinian city in West Bank
ANSA Med - Michele Monni - It attracts residents with low prices, good quality of life
RAMALLAH - Five years from the start of construction work, Rawabi, ''the first Palestinian city to be built in the modern era'', according to its creator Bashar Al-Masri, continues to attract residents and is gearing up, in the near future, to become an important technological and commercial center.
Located on the hills north of Ramallah, Rawabi ('hills' in Arabic), has attracted as of today investments for a total of 1.2 billion dollars thanks to an investment fund from Qatar and, along with stably employing some 800 people, has boosted the weak Palestinian economy, creating about 5,000 jobs.
''We already have 250 families who have moved over the past few years and we await many more when schools will open in September'', Ibrahim Natur, one of the planners of Rawadi, told ANSA. Over the years, Al-Masri and his project have had to deal with criticism from several Palestinians who perceive the city as an example of the ''normalization of Israeli occupation'', given that the material has been provided by Israel. Al-Masri has slammed the criticism as coming from ''left-wing living rooms''.
It is clear just by walking on its streets that Rawabi is different from the rest of Palestinian cities - which, according to analysts, have over the years expanded in a chaotic way, due to Israeli restrictions and the lack of a serious urban plan that has favored construction speculation. There is order, good quality of life and sustainability. ''All buildings have last-generation solar panels, drain water is reused for irrigation, optic fiber is available in all homes and all stones used for the streets and buildings come from Rawabi'', said Natur, adding that technologies used to build the Smart City professionally trained many workers.
''I was one of the buyers and I am very satisfied with my choice'', said Munter, one of the residents of a city vying to attract 25,000 people in the first phase.
''The atmosphere here is very different from Nablus - he added - there is order, cleanliness and a sense of security never experienced before''.
In order to understand the commercial potential and the new urban-social approach of the city, you just need to visit the mall that is being completed and the splendid amphitheater able to seat 12,000 people.
''We are in contact with international brands like Zara and Mango and several Italian brands that want to open stores and coffee shops in Rawabi'', added Natur. In spite of difficulties due to the Israeli occupation - according to local media only in May 2015 the city started receiving a modest quantity of water (300 cubic meters) from state company Mekorot - Rawabi continues to grow, attracting young couples thanks to housing prices -less expensive than in Ramallah - and the hope of normalcy that seems hard to find in the rest of Palestinian cities.
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