A Very Merry Christmas and Prosperous New Year

…With Peace and Justice for All.

  (A wall painting in Gaza, photographed in 2009.  Credit:  Eva Bartlett www.ingaza.wordpress.com.)


(A wall drawing in Gaza by Ibrahim Abu ‘Awyali, photographed in 2009. Credit: Eva Bartlett http://www.ingaza.wordpress.com.)

(click on the picture to enlarge it.)

From all of us here at PASCOM Associates.

We’ll be back in the New Year, after a long hiatus, to bring you up-to-date on the huge potential of the Palestinian economy and its people…both those living in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, as well as elsewhere in the Middle East, Europe and the Americas.

In January, we’ll be highlighting the forthcoming investment roadshow in London by PalTrade and the Palestine Securities Exchange.

In 2014, the propects for Palestinian trade…imports and exports…as well as for the impressive dividends paid out to those who have invested in the companies listed on its stock exchange, promise to be even brighter, despite all the restrictions. (See the stories below and in the links to the left.)

So, too, does the international interest in realising the critical revenues that could come from exploiting Palestine’s wealth of oil and gas in Gaza and the West Bank.

Fighting back, with fun, in East Jerusalem, December, 2013.  Credit:  (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images) Fighting back, with fun, in East Jerusalem, December, 2013. Credit: Uriel Sinai/Getty Images.

We’ll be reporting on all this, as well as on the growing response of the Palestinian and Arab diaspora to investment opportunities in Palestine, as well as on the other investments…social, cultural, aesthetic and environmental…that so many people of good will have made to Palestinian projects everywhere.

Thanks for reading…and for your patience these past few months, while I have been updating my book, Palestine and the Palestinians 1876 – 1983.

— Pam

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The Nakba, and the Future

Today, as we mark the 65th anniversary of the Nakba (i.e. the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homeland, villages, towns and cities in 1948), it’s important to remember, too, that one of the greatest achievements of Palestinians, wherever they are, is their resilience. It’s an inspiration to us all, especially in these times of austerity, war and oppression, not to mention climate change.
Palestine & the Palestinians, Full A Palestinian refugee in Jordan, after the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, 1967. Photo: UNRWA.

In the case of Palestine’s economic achievements, this involves yet more hundreds of thousands of younger generations of professionals, writers, business entrepreneurs, academics, journalists, artists and filmakers who have thrived in the diaspora these past decades, often despite great disadvantage, i.e. in the US, Europe, Latin America and the Arab world, and who are now giving us the benefit of their talents.

So, too, the indomitable spirit of those who keep steadfast in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, as well as in the Galilee. Which is why, as this website is often pointing out, Palestine is a such a great place to invest…financially, culturally, socially, artistically.

A culinary journal through Gaza's rich heritage.  Photo:  Just World Books

A culinary journal through Palestine’s rich heritage. Photo: Just World Books.

Whether it’s the extremely attractive valuations (and high dividends) many of the 48 companies listed on the Palestine Securities Exchange currently provide; the impressive growth of the Palestinian economy (5.9 per cent in 2012); the arrival of international brands in sparkling new shopping centres; the increasing spread of pro-Palestinian campus dissent in the US (which is objecting to the activities of their institutions and global corporations which support the Israeli occupation as well as encouraging them to invest, instead, in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem); the amazing turnout for the Palestine Film Festival here in London these past two weeks, or the great reception for the new book, The Gaza Kitchen, there’s lots to look forward to.

Thanks for reading,

Pam

Palestine’s Economy: Bright Prospects for the Private Sector

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.

Expotech runs from 6 to 11 October in Ramallah andGaza. Graphic: PITA, in the October issue of The Middle East magazine.

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

Palestine in The Middle East magazine

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.

Reaching international readers: A Special Report from the London-based, pan-Arab monthly, The Middle East and InvestPalestine.com.

http://www.themiddleastmagazine.com
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Palestine’s Agriculture and Agro-Industries: The Basis for a Resurgent Economy?

A series of recent studies from the UN, the World Bank, the UK, France and the European Union, as well as other international organisations, has highlighted the huge potential of agriculture and fishing in the West Bank and Gaza and the extremely important contribution a revived sector could provide to both Palestine’s GDP and the urgent need to create new jobs, especially for the young and in the rural areas.

Palestine’s Jordan Valley is one of the world’s richest, and most diverse, agricultural areas. Picture: JICA

At present, all the reports emphasize that the escalation of Israeli settlements, particularly in the fertile Jordan Valley; Israeli military control of ‘Area C;’ and the rapidly dwindling amount of water available to Palestinian farmers has led to a sharp decline in both cultivation and output. Fishing and fish processing in Gaza is also stagnating, they add, due to the harsh Israeli restrictions, both onshore and offshore. Continue reading

UK Targets Palestinian ICT & Telecoms

The UK government, along with a growing list of international ICT giants such as Google, Microsoft, Cisco and Intel, is the latest to recognise Palestine’s huge potential in information communications and technology given its highly talented younger generation, which is fluent in English and Arabic, as well as in entrepreneurial and engineering skills.   Britain’s Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, Ed Vaisey, says that his government hopes to get Palestinian and UK businesses “to work together,” and that it will actively seek to encourage British companies to “come and start business in Palestine.”

He was commenting during a visit to Ramallah in March that also included a tour of the headquarters of Palestine’s telecommunications corporation, PalTel, which, with its subsidiaries Jawwal and Hadara, provides the majority of Internet, landline and mobile services in the West Bank and Gaza.  PalTel, which is a favourite of international investors on the Palestine Securities Exchange, reported a 5.1 per cent increase in profits last year, to $128 million, despite the difficulties of the Israeli occupation in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.  Thanks to an intensive expansion programme, it has now extended its services to the Jordan Valley region, and is planning to invest an additional $70 million to $80 million by the end of this year in new fibre optic and mobile phone infrastructure, primarily for the Internet.

PalTel’s CEO, Ammar Aker

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Palestine Stock Exchange Plans New Offerings

PEX, the Palestinian Securities Exchange, plans to offer a total of 25 per cent of its shares to the public this year, the CEO of the Palestine Development and Investment Company (PADICO), Samir Huleileh, confirmed on 4th April. He was speaking on the day the Exchange made its market debut in Nablus, becoming only the second exchange in the Arab world – after the Dubai Financial Market—to be publicly listed. By the close, 140,000 shares had changed hands at a price of $5.07, $0.13 below their offer value, which represented a 420 per cent increase on their par value. The sale raised $680,000, PEX officials reported.

The offer, which consisted of a 1.7 per cent stake, raised the number of companies listed on the Exchange to 47 and its combined market capitalisation to about $2.9 billion. The services sector dominates the listings, followed by banking and finance, investment, industry and insurance. PEX’s paid-up capital amounts to $10 million.

CEO Ahmad Aweidah is "cautiously optimistic."

Trading volume on the Exchange fell to about 15.3 million shares in March, after averaging 16 million in both January and February and about 15.4 million during last year. On 4th April, the Al Quds index closed at 486.14, near its high for the year, which was reached on 8th January. Continue reading

Editor’s Note

Spring has arrived for many of us, not least for Palestine, where the hills of the West Bank are breaking out in ever more patches of green and lavender – as I saw on my trip there last week.

I’ll be writing about that and about some of the projects I visited in Jericho, Ramallah, Jerusalem and Jordan, thanks to JICA, the Japan International Co-operation Agency.

Other stories coming up this April include:

• The Jericho Agro-Industrial Park and its use of solar energy;

• The Palestine Stock Exchange and its IPO;

• The UK’s new ICT initiative;

• PalTrade’s plans to promote exports.

Palestine’s first delegation to the Olympics, Atlanta, 1996; Reuters

Last, but not least, we’ll be highlighting the progress of four world-class athletes from the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem as they prepare to fly the flag for Palestine at the Olympics here in London in July.

Thanks for looking!

— Pam

Palestine’s Growth Attracts New Investment Funds

Confidence in Palestine’s regulatory framework and in the resilience of the Palestine Stock Exchange in the wake of turmoil in the Arab world* is helping to boost both regional and foreign interest in its new investment funds, officials and analysts report. So too is the growing possibility that the Palestine Stock Exchange (PEX) will be added to the MSCI Frontier Markets Index, which currently groups 26 countries including Nigeria, Kenya, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Pakistan and Jordan as well as the Arab oil exporting countries of Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

Munib Al-Masri, Chairman of Padico Holding, outside his home in Nablus. Padico is a favourite of international investors.

Launched in May, 2011, the Luxembourg-based Rasmala Palestine Equity Fund is currently trading almost 5 per cent below its peak, but above the lows reached in November in the aftermath of the Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN and the withdrawal of substantial aid funds from the US, as well as the temporary halt in tax revenue transfers by Israel. Beginning with $15 million, provided in part by the Palestine Authority’s Palestine Investment Fund, it is open-ended and is expected to reach up to $100 million by mid-2014. RPEF is targeting a diversified portfolio of growth and value stocks listed exclusively on PEX, as well as initial public offerings (IPOs) and Palestinian firms which may be considering IPOs. Favoured sectors include telecommunications and pharmaceuticals as well as banking and investment.

Continue reading