Sun, Aug 22, 2010 | Michaelhoresh.wordpress.com | By Michael Horesh
So what’s really going on in the Palestinian economy?
Whether you look at Gaza or the West Bank, it is difficult to get a true picture of economic progress. The story is often heavily clouded by the spin of politicians protecting their own agendas.
Fox News reports of the spanking new shopping mall in Gaza. Erected despite the Hamas claims that there are no materials to build new homes, it remains debatable if local purchasing power is strong enough to provide profits for the retailers of fila shoes and barbie dolls.
Khaled Abu Toameh, a Palestinian journalist writing in the Jerusalem Post, takes another angle:
…the Orjuwan Lounge in the fashionable neighborhood of Al-Masyoun in Ramallah has become a symbol of the dramatic change that has taken place in this city in the past three years.
The improved security has encouraged Palestinians and foreigners to inject money into the city or even move to live there. Luxury apartments are on sale in most parts of the city.
(For example): Sources in the Ramallah Municipality revealed that more than 100 Palestinians from Jerusalem have relocated their businesses to Ramallah in the past few months. “Here they pay less taxes and have more customers,” the sources said.
And that is not all. The Abraaj equity group from Dubai will operate a US$50 million investment fund from Ramallah. Toameh goes on to describe how international hotel chains and “embassies” are moving into Ramallah, effectively converting the city in to a de facto bourgois capital.
It is interesting to note that the July inflation stats revealed a sharp rise in prices in the West Bank region, indicative of the reduced fighting and increased prosperity.
Meanwhile, in Hamas controlled Gaza, prices changes were flat. What has yet to be concluded is whether this deflation is a result of continuous authoritarian rule. On the other hand, the trend could be explained by the continued heavy flow of goods into the region via tunnels and Israel’s relaxing of border restrictions, which have thus combined to increase supply and reduce prices.
Either way, the shouts of deep poverty and “woe is me” in these territories are becoming more exaggerated by the day.