Ramallah, in the heart of the West Bank, is the symbol of a future Palestinian state under construction. In a context of continued tensions with Israel, the city has managed to grow. Ramallah is undergoing a dazzling economic boom.
The stronghold of the Palestinian Authority offers the image of a peaceful city, even bourgeois if one focuses on certain areas. Housing prices were multiplied by four.
Ramallah has become a de facto capital, hosting all political institutions: residence of President Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority headquarters, ministries… Of course, as soon as you ask them the question, Palestinians protest: “our capital, is Jerusalem”. In late September 2011, when recognition of the Palestinian state was discussed at the UN General Assembly, Jerusalem was still being claimed. But meanwhile, Ramallah is emerging as an acceptable alternative …
The city owes much if not entirely to Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister, the architect of this dazzling rise. Prime minister since June 2007, this proactive politician has made economic development and modernization of the West Bank’s his priorities. The “Fayyad Plan” is a good bet, at least in appearance, since the growth of the region reached 9.3% in 2010. Prime minister managed to attract international investors in Ramallah such as Qatari, Americans, Lebanese … and the Palestinians from the diaspora coming back to try their luck. His goal: to lay the foundations for a future Palestinian state, that is presentable in the eyes of the international community.
However, Ramallah is not Palestine. This is a bubble, an oasis. And despite its growth, the city suffers from the Israeli occupation. A report by the International Monetary Fund highlight that the Israeli restrictions still hamper the economic activity and the foreign trade. The unemployment rate in the West Bank is 18%. Sam Bahour, a businessman and Palestinian-American figure of the economic scene in Ramallah, is pessimistic. “What you see: cafes, shopping centers, hotels, this is not very serious. Our economic development does not exist, it is only an economic activity, he analysis. The West Bank is a big prison. And Ramallah is the VIP cell of the prison. This is a five stars Israeli occupation! “