Gaza Mall

Gaza Mall

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The Gaza Mall is a shopping mall
Shopping mall
A shopping mall, shopping centre, shopping arcade, shopping precinct or simply mall is one or more buildings forming a complex of shops representing merchandisers, with interconnecting walkways enabling visitors to easily walk from unit to unit, along with a parking area — a modern, indoor version...

 that opened in Gaza
Gaza
Gaza , also referred to as Gaza City, is a Palestinian city in the Gaza Strip, with a population of about 450,000, making it the largest city in the Palestinian territories.Inhabited since at least the 15th century BC,...

 in July of 2010.

The fully air-conditioned, modern, indoor shopping venue in the upscale Rimal
Rimal
Rimal or Remal is a district in Gaza located from the city center. Situated along the coastline, it has been considered the most prosperous neighborhood in Gaza. The main street that runs through Gaza, Omar Mukhtar Street runs northwest-southeast in the district and the main coastal road, Ahmad...

 neighborhood of Gaza extends over 19,000 sq. ft. on two floors, the second floor forms a balcony around a spacious atrium. It was built at a cost of $1.5 million.

Shopping experience


Salah a-Din Abu Abdo, chair of the mall's board of directors, promised "attractive and competitive prices" in an effort to replace Gaza's traditional open air markets with a comfortable, air-conditioned shopping experience.His goal is to "develop a marketing and leisure culture" among Gazans. According to The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

, the Mall is part of an entertainment "circuit" for wealthy Gazans, which includes seaside cafes, swimming at the Crazy Water Park
Crazy Water Park
The Crazy Water Aqua Fun Park was a water park in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian territories, that served the territory's small wealthy class. The park opened in May 2010 and was burned down by masked men in September 2010, after being closed by the Palestinian Hamas de facto government for allowing...

 and riding at the Faisal Equestrian Club
Faisal Equestrian Club
The Faisal Equestrian Club is an equestrian club and upscale restaurant in Gaza.The track is the site of horse races, a "popular sport" in Gaza according a 1994 article in the Rocky Mountain News. As of July 2010, the club was the sole equestrian club in the Gaza strip...

.

The mall features a pharmacy, separate prayer rooms for men and women and stores selling shoes, toys, clothing, and office supplies. A supermarket, children's play area, and restaurant are planned but were not operating in time for the grand opening.

According to CBS News, construction materials and concrete were brought in via the Gaza Strip smuggling tunnels.

Business model


The stores are locally owned and the mall is a private venture, but the grand opening was televised and attended by Abu Osama al-Kurd, the Hamas government Minister of Labor. All of the sales clerks are employed directly by the mall, and all of the shops use the same shopping bags imprinted with the mall's logo. 90% of the goods on sale are imported from Israel.

According to The Independent
The Independent
The Independent is a British national morning newspaper published in London by Independent Print Limited, owned by Alexander Lebedev since 2010. It is nicknamed the Indy, while the Sunday edition, The Independent on Sunday, is the Sindy. Launched in 1986, it is one of the youngest UK national daily...

, "There is a widespread assumption in Gaza that Hamas
Hamas
Hamas is the Palestinian Sunni Islamic or Islamist political party that governs the Gaza Strip. Hamas also has a military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades...

... or at least businessmen close to the Islamic faction, are behind the venture." Hamas denied this and one of the mall's investors, Sarraj Abu Sleem, stated that "The government supports this economic project but the only help it has given us has been to grant us a licence." Some think that the mall is part of a wave of Hamas business ventures that include the Asdar Media Centre, a Hamas-owned business that combines a livestock farm with a film production company, the Al Bustan Restaurant and Leisure Park
Al-Bustan resort
Al-Bustan is a beach resort in Gaza with restaurants, cafes and swimming pools. It is located on the beach north of Gaza City....

, and Gaza's waterpark, the child-oriented Crazy Water Park
Crazy Water Park
The Crazy Water Aqua Fun Park was a water park in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian territories, that served the territory's small wealthy class. The park opened in May 2010 and was burned down by masked men in September 2010, after being closed by the Palestinian Hamas de facto government for allowing...

. Mohammed al-Araj, Minister of Economics in the 2006 Hamas cabinet, is believed to be the director of the water park. Some sources regard the park as one of a group of recent Hamas business ventures.

According to The Independent
The Independent
The Independent is a British national morning newspaper published in London by Independent Print Limited, owned by Alexander Lebedev since 2010. It is nicknamed the Indy, while the Sunday edition, The Independent on Sunday, is the Sindy. Launched in 1986, it is one of the youngest UK national daily...

some observers believe that Hamas is investing in leisure and retail businesses because these will yield a faster return of cash the organization needs to fund its political and military activities. According to Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse is a French news agency, the oldest one in the world, and one of the three largest with Associated Press and Reuters. It is also the largest French news agency. Currently, its CEO is Emmanuel Hoog and its news director Philippe Massonnet...

, "Hamas is also widely believed to be behind (the Gaza Mall)...that opened this week in Gaza City with a ceremony attended by several Hamas ministers and professors at the Hamas-linked Islamic University. The mall’s manager, Siraj Abu Selim, denied Hamas was involved in the $3 million project, but refused to give the names of any of the mall’s owners or chief investors."

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