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Entertaining and compelling real-life stories. The author is successful business, real estate, and media entrepreneur Dick Kazan.
Published on April 14th 2020
Bashar Masri: A Palestinian building Rawabi, a magnificent new Palestinian community

Bashar Masri
Bashar Masri
Photo: timesofisrael.com

Raising money to build anything major in the Palestinian territories is nearly impossible. Because of the unending war with Israel, it is just too risky for investors.

But despite the risks, 58-year-old Bashar Masri who over the years built a global business empire starting with just a few modest investments, proposed a grand plan:

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To build Rawabi atop Ramallah, a city of 57,000 people in the Palestinian West Bank.

Bashar put $150-million at risk, and convinced the Arab nation of Qatar to invest nearly $1-billion.

The result? A magnificent U.S. style master planned community.

Rawabi conceptual plan
Rawabi conceptual planning
Photo: arabamerica.com

It's the largest construction project in modern Palestinian history.

Rawabi opened in 2015 and now has 5,000 residents and a projected population of 40,000 when it is completed.

It already has a school, a civic center, cafes, upscale shopping and an indoor amusement center, along with a 20,000-seat arena.

Yet creating Rawabi has been hard. Israel initially restricted water and road approvals potentially killing this grand project.

But Bashar, who is also a U.S. citizen, appealed to U.S. and European officials and the UN to put pressure on Israel, which eventually provided the approvals.

In addition to resolving problems with Israel, Bashar came under fire from Palestinians who object to his working with the Israel government and Israeli companies.

And yet this seemingly impossible dream is becoming a reality.

Photo: cbsnews.com

Bashar told "60 Minutes" correspondent Bill Whitaker, "The way I see it, Israel is here to stay. And we are here to stay."

"We can continue the atrocities for the next 1,000 years or we can take a shortcut and start working together and end this misery."

Editor's Note: To learn more, click here and here.

Ramallah is just six miles north of Jerusalem.

In the next KazanToday: The dramatic rescue of a baby seal.

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