Ground has been broken at the site of Rawabi, the first planned city to be constructed in Occupied Palestinian Territories by Palestinians.The project, funded jointly by the Palestinian Authority and Bayti Real Estate Investment Company, will provide more than 5,000 housing units, hoping to attract a population of approximately 40,000 people. Bayti Real Estate Investment Company, is a joint venture between Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company and Massar International,
The city will be located 9km outside of the city of Ramallah, central West Bank, but is not intended to be a mere commuter town. Hopes for the city include the establishment of jobs in the knowledge economy sector, including information technology and pharmaceuticals.
For the time being, the project will create 750 skilled, and approximately 2,000 unskilled jobs, which will help reduce the unemployment levels in the Occupied Territories, currently standing at 21.3%
The $500 million project is not with out its problems, the foremost of which is the subject of access to the city in the making.
Although the site of the project is on territory designated area A, under the zoning categories established by the Oslo Accords, the main access road to the city will need to be built over territory designated area C.
The West bank is split into three categories; areas A, B, & C. Area A is under full control of the Palestinian Authority, whilst Area C is under full control of the Israeli military. This leaves the town planners needing permission from Israel to construct this road. Without it, the project will be redundant.
Speaking to the Washington Post, Bashar Masri, managing director of Massar International, said,
“We could build the whole city, but the question is, would people live in a city that doesn’t have an access road? Obviously, the answer is no.’