Palestinians launch US$220 million housing project

RAMALLAH, West Bank: The Palestine Investment Fund (PIF) on Oct 12 announced the establishment of the Palestinian territories' most ambitious real estate project to date, with initial capital of US$220 million (RM745 million).

The goal is to create 30,000 new housing units in the next five to 10 years, PIF chairman Mohammad Mustafa said.

"We want to see projects on the hilltops other than (Jewish) settlements," Mustafa told reporters.

"The aim is to participate in building Palestine in the coming period, to create jobs and economic opportunities."

The newly founded Amaar Real Estate Group, which will be listed on the Palestine stock exchange, will take over existing housing and tourism facility construction projects worth about US$1 billion, Mustafa said.

He said the PIF, which administers public funds, expected to double the investment to US$2 billion over the next five years.

The Israeli-occupied West Bank is home to 2.5 million Palestinians. Some 500,000 Jews live in the territory in settlements and in neighbourhoods in Arab East Jerusalem, deemed illegal under international law.

Large-scale organised housing construction projects are new to the territory. Israel, which has occupied the land since 1967, controls construction in large areas.

Mustafa said the PIF also hoped to attract Arab and foreign investors. He said the company's paid-up capital came from the fund's US$870 million in assets.

The PIF has investments in real estate, tourism, electricity and telecommunications projects but has recently put more focus on real estate. -- Reuters
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