An Interview With Bashar Masri- The Man Behind Palestine’s Green City

Since announcing plans to build Palestine’s first planned and green city back in 2008, the Rawabi project has faced its fair share of criticism. From political complications over using Jewish National Fund trees, concerns by environmentalists over the lack of water and waste-water management plans to threats by Israel to shut down access roads and boycotts– the project really has seen it all.

Rawabi (which means hills in Arabic) is an ambitious $800 million USD project which aims to build houses for up to 25,000 people in a location between Jerusalem and Nablus whilst respecting the environment. Despite these good intentions the Rawabi project does seems to pose more questions then it answer.

For example, how does it plan to navigate the political conflict between Israel and Palestine during construction? Does the Rawabi project really live up to its green credentials? And what do Palestinians think of the project? In a bid to get to the bottom of these questions we caught up with Bashar Masri, the man behind the Rawabi project (who is also rumoured to be one of the richest men in the Middle East) to find out more.

For the full article go to Green Prophet– Here are some standout quotes from Mr. Masri:

[T]he unpredictable nature of the political situation does not change the importance of preserving the environment: Rawabi will prove that Palestinians are capable of protecting the environment, and will do so better than the residents of the settlements…

…building under occupation is the most difficult part of constructing Rawabi. We face a lot of circular, time-and resource-wasting political arguments. On a practical level, right now we are forced to use trucks – and therefore increase CO2 emissions – to bring in water, because both our road and water access are blocked at the political level by Israel.

We had dozens of focus work groups where actually the same concerns about Rawabi looking like an Israeli settlement was brought up, and our clients vehemently declared that they did not want red roofs, for example, which are thought of as the strongest aesthetic indicators of a settlement. Rawabi also won’t be hidden behind a wall and surrounded by guard towers…

All of us who live in Palestine realize that as much as we revere the past, and cherish it, it is equally important to take advantage of technological advances and international best practices in community development, housing construction. These debates are taking place all over the world, not just in Rawabi – how do you preserve a way of life, while at the same time, ensuring quality of life for future generations?

For the full article go to Green Prophet.

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