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Ramallah cultivates café culture

Ramallah cultivates café culture

Think of Ramallah and a flourishing F&B sector isn’t necessarily the first thing that comes to mind. But Mohammed Assadi finds business is so good some fear it’s become oversaturated.

April 7, 2011 2:11 by



The Palestinians dream of establishing a capital for their longed-desired independent state in nearby Jerusalem. But that city is fully controlled by Israel and with no Middle East peace deal in sight, Ramallah has rapidly risen to the fore.

The Palestinian Authority set up camp here when it was created in 1994 and is determinedly building an array of state institutions in the city in readiness for a wildly expected unilateral push for independence later this year.

Not enough slices to the pie

Not everyone is happy with the accompanying boom in the service sector, and some long-standing businesses say there are not enough clients to go around.

“Ramallah is over-saturated with restaurants,” said Nidal Hassan, who opened his establishment ‘Stones’ in 1999, a year before the outbreak of the second Intifada, or uprising, against the Israeli occupation that nearly destroyed the local economy.

‘Stones’ survived that dark period, only to suffer in the upturn, says Hassan, with his income plunging 40 percent in 2010 because of the “mad increase” in competition.

“There are new restaurants but we have the same number of restaurant goers. People should think twice where to invest their money,” he added.

But other investors are more upbeat and see a rosy future for restaurants in a place which offers little competition when it comes to other forms of entertainment, with only one cinema to boast of and no public parks for picnics.



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