Hanadi Abu Zahra turns on the tap in her kitchen and is elated to see the water flowing — something most new residents would take for granted even if they had not just moved into a brand new state-of-the-art apartment in a luxury building located in a development that has been the recipient of massive world-wide attention.

But whether or not water would be there when the tap was turned on became symbolic of the challenges that had to be overcome in order for Rawabi, the first Palestinian planned city, to transform from one man’s vision to the fulfillment of 40,000 aspirations.

Whilst Hanadi Abu Zahra turns on the tap in the kitchen of her new home in Rawabi, her daughter is elated to see the water flowing.

In August, Abu Zahra became one of the first Rawabians – residents of the long and anxiously awaited city located about 5.6 miles north of Ramallah, the Palestinian administrative capital, and 15 miles north of Jerusalem.

The first planned Palestinian city of Rawabi, Sloping down a hill 9 kilometers north of Ramallah, does not resemble any other Palestinian city in its architectural design.

Rawabi is a project of Bayti Investments which was developed through Massar International and Qatar Diyar. Bashar Al-Masri, founder and chairman of Massar International, a chemical engineer-turned- builder/real estate mogul, is the man behind the vision.

Rawabi uses only stone excavated in their quarry which are cut at a stone cutting factory on site.

Asked by The Media Line whether the city now receiving its first residents compares favorably with the dream, he answers that, 'It’s surprisingly very close. I would say by mid-next year we will be right on because some components of the project lag behind for different reasons, but they’re on track.'

Hana and Tuka Kamal, one of the first family to take up residency in the first neighborhood of Rawabi.

The track will, in about six years’ time, run into a formidable city which continues the Rawabi commitment to clean living where rooftop eyesores such as water tanks and satellite dishes are absent and cables, including fiber optics and Internet, are buried beneath the ground.'

Construction workers work in one of the unachieved neighborhoods of Rawabi.

The Middle East’s largest amphitheater (15,000 seats) will be the venue for world-renowned artists while visitors to a business hub will stay in a five-star hotel adjoining a mall adorned with the world’s leading logos. Green, clean and dynamic, Rawabi holds out the promise of a lifestyle Palestinians are familiar with only through Western cinema.

The outdoor amphitheater of Rawabi is the largest in the Middle East

Nihad Kamal, an investment manager for Siraj, a private fund, moved his family into the sixth floor of the sixth building – one of the first to take up residency. Asked why, he told The Media Line that, 'First of all, it’s a brand new city. There’s a big difference between a new car and used car. This makes a big difference in the future and in infrastructure.'

Hana and Tuka Kamal, one of the first family to take up residency in the first neighborhood of Rawabi, discuss in their kitchen.

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Also published on the Jerusalem Post Magazine printed Friday, September 9 2015

Also published on Israel and Stuff

The Media Line

The Media Line
August 31, 2015