— From all of us at InvestPalestine.com
While the focus of the international community’s aid to Palestine in the past few years has been concentrated on increasing the sustainability of its political institutions, the economic needs of Palestinians have often taken second place, not least because of the Israeli restrictions on movement and trade and the lack of a coherent economic development policy. The people of East Jerusalem are among those who have been affected the most, having been cut off by Israel’s ‘separation barrier’ from their natural hinterland in the West Bank and squeezed in by Israeli checkpoints such as the one at Qalandiya, which divides Ramallah from Jerusalem.(Click on the image to see an impressive overview of the ‘Old City’.)
Now a group of Palestinian companies are organising a “Jerusalem Business Forum” to address the growing economic stagnation and rising poverty in the Arab section of the city which has been annexed by Israel against international law and which Palestinians see as the future capital of an independent state. Due to take place in mid-December, it aims to encourage private and foreign investment in the local economy by concentrating on East Jerusalem’s untapped potential, as well as the city’s unique social and cultural heritage which continues to attract some 1.5 million tourists a year. Continue reading
Back in 2010, when the Palestinian economy was growing at more than 9 per cent a year, the country’s construction industry began to boom, and while it has fallen off dramatically in the West Bank since then, it is still growing in Gaza. New real estate developments, especially in and around the administrative capital of Ramallah in the West Bank, as well as projects to build modern shopping malls, office buildings and housing in Gaza have taken off.
The planned new city of Rawabi, launched by the Bayti Real Estate Investment Company —- a joint venture between Qatari Diar and Ramallah-based Massar International —- was a model that caught the attention of the international press. Costing some $850 million, it will feature gleaming high-rise buildings set on a scenic wooded hilltop. More than 5,000 affordable housing units will be included, spread across 23 neighourhoods, along with green parks, a hotel and convention centre, a business district and shopping areas.
Alas, the project, like so many others in the Occupied Territories is way behind schedule, due to Israeli restrictions that have hindered the construction of a permanent new access road needed to carry tons of building materials to the site.Continue reading
Whatever the state of ‘peace talks’ to end the Israeli occupation and create an independent Palestinian state, or of protests in the West Bank, the coming months and years are likely to see a renewed focus on the private sector economy in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. Investment —- from Palestinians in the diaspora, private Arab funds and foreign corporations, as well as from important ‘donors,’ such as the World Bank, the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the UK, the European Union, Japan and Canada — is increasing, reflecting the sector’s remarkable resilience in the past few years, and its huge potential in the medium-term.
Expanding and developing it further is now also seen as crucial to stemming unemployment and rising prices, particularly among the youth in Palestine. This would also help to make the economy less dependent on Israel and foreign aid. Continue reading
One of the main aims of InvestPalestine.com is to promote the bright prospects for the Palestinian economy—and the advantages of investing in it – in the international media, both print and digital. Here’s one example, a 10-page Special Report on Palestine: Building Bridges to the Future, that appeared in the October issue of the London-based, pan-Arab, English-language monthly, The Middle East, which is due to be available online in the coming week. Alternatively, you can pick up the magazine at your local newsstand, or subscribe.