Western-style shopping center targeting middle-class Palestinians is thriving; owners hope it will help change Hamas-run enclave's image
In a welcome sign of normalcy, a new Western-style indoor shopping mall — complete with an international retail chain, three-story bookstore and bustling food court — has opened in the Gaza Strip.
The owners have overcome conflict in the enclave, which is ruled by the Hamas terrorist organization, and an Israeli-Egyptian blockade to build the gleaming 1,800 square meter (19,000 sq. feet) Capital Mall. Now, they just have to find enough free-spending customers to keep the place afloat.
In many ways, the center is a reflection of the fragile local economy, which has been flooded by consumer goods from Israel that few people can afford. Stifled by the blockade, Gaza produces very little on its own, and poverty and unemployment have soared. The mall, like the rest of electricity-starved Gaza, requires a generator to keep the power flowing.
In the short term, the mall appears to be thriving. Thousands of Gazans have visited as it slowly opened in recent weeks, buying shoes and clothes from the Turkish chain “De Facto,” searching for gifts and school supplies in the bookstore and heading up to the fourth-floor food court to enjoy burgers, pizza and ice cream. People can often be seen stumbling and giggling as they ride an escalator for the first time.
The mall has added a beautiful touch to the Gaza Strip. Instead of visiting more than one place, we go to a specific place and select everything we need,” said Hedaya Iqtifan, a university graduate who has been three times.
While Gazans refer to a handful of small shopping centers as “malls,” the Capital Mall is only the second of its kind, after the Gaza Mall, opened in July 2010 in the Rimal neighborhood of Gaza City.
There are stores that sell perfume and makeup, home decor and mobile phones. There are clinics and office space, two parking lots and plans to bring a supermarket. The busiest area of the mall is the food court, where a cheeseburger with potato chips and a drink costs about $5.
We made this according to international standards to relay an image to the world that Gaza has a mall similar to the malls in other countries,” said Mahmoud Haniya, the mall’s executive director.
He noted that several international brands refused to allow franchises in Gaza due to the “stereotype they get about Gaza; a poor country with no economy.” He declined to identify them, but several international brands, including KFC and Domino’s Pizza, operate in the West Bank.
note : Ini di GAZA loh ya,BUKAN WESTBANK