$550mn deals for West Bank

Saudi and Qatari companies inked agreements last week with Palestinian partners to invest US $550 million (AED2 billion) in construction projects in an effort to boost the Palestinian economy.

Saudi and Qatari companies inked agreements last week with Palestinian partners to invest US $550 million (AED2 billion) in construction projects in an effort to boost the Palestinian economy.

"We are creating a positive new reality in Palestine," said Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad.

Saudi company Al Ard Al Qabeda, or The Land Holding Company, signed contracts for a $200 million deal with the Palestine Investment Fund to build a hotel, office towers, malls and entertainment centres in the West Bank town of El Bireh, next to Ramallah.

Qatar Diar Real Estate Investment Company, which is owned by the Qatari Government, signed a $350 million agreement with a Palestinian partner, Masar Company, to build a new West Bank town with 5,000 homes near the city of Ramallah.

The company will invest two-thirds of the capital.

The town, to be called Rawabi, will be the first planned community in the West Bank.

The agreements followed a three-day conference in the West Bank in which hundreds of foreign investors and developers attended to meet with Palestinian business representatives who were seeking partners for 109 projects worth nearly $2 billion.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urged foreign companies to spend money in the Palestinian territories and assured them their investments would be safe.

Economic recovery of the Palestinian territories depends largely on an easing of Israeli movement restrictions in the West Bank. Israel has promised Abbas it will ease some restrictions, but insists it needs roadblocks to ensure security.

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