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Planned City “Rawabi” Draws on Palestinian Enterprise and Israeli Experience

December 06, 2009

For many Palestinians, the norm is tight-quartered living with barely a garden in sight, no defined sidewalks and a poor water system. But this is about to change with an ambitious plan for a new way of living.

Just six miles north of Ramallah, Palestinians have begun planting thousands of evergreen tree saplings as part of a major greening project to grow a forest to hug the edges of what will be the first planned Palestinian city.

The city is already named Rawabi, Arabic for “hills”. For Palestinians it presents a new kind of urbanism, which aims to draw middle-class professionals away from smoggy towns and villages towards a better way of life.

Besides being the first planned city, it also marks the first planting of a major forest by Palestinians in the territories since Israel took control 42 years ago. It is also the first time serious arrangements are being made to provide Palestinians with American-style mortgages.

Palestinian entrepreneur Bashar Masri is the force behind Rawabi. A chemical engineer by training, he is the human bulldozer who aims to turn his vision into a reality and modernize the heart of the Palestinian territories.

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