Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Gaza is a disaster etc. Just don't ignore the bargains.

Gaza's first shopping mall opens
its doors: July 2010 [Source]
Frimet/Arnold Roth
This Ongoing War
25 May '11

Memo to the 'humanitarian' heroes and 'activists' from Malaysia, Switzerland, France, New Zealand and 'forty other countries', making their way to rescue the struggling, starving Gazans. Hurry up, guys. The opening specials may all be gone before you reach Gaza's shores.

We have little desire to interfere with the self-delusion of those who view the events unfolding day after day in Gaza as a humanitarian catastrophe. Maybe it is, maybe it's not. We simply point out that the picture is not black and white. And the reportage that sustains the 'catastrophe' narrative is strikingly irresponsible, to understate the case.

By contrast, here are some facts. The largest-ever Palestinian Arab shopping mall is going to open its doors in mid-June. We're speaking of the Al-Hayat Tureed shopping center located in the Gaza Strip. It's the second multi-level mall to open in Gaza in the past year. A simpler version, including a supermarket, international-grade clothing stores, a food court, beauty supplies, fast food restaurant and children's playground opened its doors in July 2010. That initiative evidently tapped into a ready market, because the second Gazan mall will be considerably larger and fancier.

Ehab al-Issawi, senior manager in charge of development, is quoted by the Jerusalem Post's Khaled Abu Toameh as saying the triple-level complex covering some 3,000 square meters on Haidar Abdel Shafi Square is just about ready to go. Construction began in August 2010, a month after the first mall. Investors clearly believe that first commercial success is capable of being reproduced.

Yes, we know about the endless reports of a "desperate" shortage of building materials because of those rascally Israelis. (Did anyone expect any news to emanate from Gaza without there being some catastrophic central problem caused entirely by the Zionists?)

But not really. Construction has gone off without any delays. From experience, no similar sized project in Israel could ever be completed in anything close to the time this one has taken.

What's on offer? First floor: "A huge supermarket" with departments offering food, household items and stationery. Floor 2: An array of clothing and gift stores. Third floor: the food hall including a restaurant and a coffee shop, plus cinema and entertainment facilities for the children. Not so shabby.

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