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Palestinian entrepreneur returns to build new city in West Bank

Palestinian entrepreneur Bashar al-Masri explains his vision for the West Bank town of Rawabi.
RAWABI, WEST BANK - FEBRUARY 08:  Bashar Masri, the Palestinian-American developer of Rawabi, visits the site on February 8, 2012 in Rawabi, West Bank. The planned Palestinian city, with the first stage expected to be finished in two years, will have six neighborhoods and a population of 40,000.  (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)
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RABAWI, West Bank — “I have two daughters, and Rawabi is the third,” says Palestinian entrepreneur Bashar al-Masri as he climbs the stairs to a sample apartment in a residential project in the city of Rawabi. Located on the second floor, it is a 182-square-meter (1,959-square-foot) unit that costs $110,000. Apartments in nearby Ramallah cost 20-30% more. In East Jerusalem, they are twice as expensive. In Tel Aviv, an apartment like this would cost 10 times as much or more. Still, Masri is building at the same rapid pace that he uses to skip from floor to floor. As of today, 650 units have been sold, and there are still plenty of opportunities.

Masri looks out at the landscape from the balcony. There, on the horizon, to the northwest of the apartment, he points out to the Hadera power station. To the southwest, he can see the port in Ashdod. On a clear day, the skyscrapers of Tel Aviv are visible. “We’re right in the middle,” Masri exclaims proudly. ''Nablus is just 25 km (15.5 miles) away. So is Jerusalem. Tel Aviv is 40 km; Amman is 70 km.''

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