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West Bank development to reconnect Palestinians to their land

A West Bank development to house 30,000 people is being hailed as the first Palestinian planned community.

Rawabi, which means 'hills' in Arabic, is to be built on a hill lying north of Bir Zeit, a 20-minute drive from Ramallah.

The town will be built mostly in Area A (Palestinian security and civil control). A large part of the investment will be undertaken by Bayti Real Estate Investment Company, a subsidiary of Ramallah-based Massar International, which has built similar affordable income projects for communities in Morocco.

"What we are doing is re-tying the Palestinians to their land," said Bashar Masri, owner of Massar International.

Masri said he hoped that constructing new Palestinian towns in the occupied West Bank would also create jobs for thousands of Palestinians.

The development site is on north-facing hillside east of Ain Atara and approximately 13km north of Ramallah and has no existing infrastructure or utilities.

The project scope called for a master plan that integrates sustainable planning principles, 'appropriate' architectural expressions, and delivery flexibility.

There is a shortfall of about 200,000 homes for Palestinians. The Rawabi development incorporates around 5000 residential units.

Aecom is producing the conceptual masterplan, architecture prototypes, conceptual civil engineering studies as well as utility and sustainability strategies for Rawabi.

Faber Maunsell advised on engineering and sustainability and has prepared an integrated sustainability strategy outlining proposals for water conservation and recycling, reduced energy use and generation from renewable technologies and sustainable waste management.

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