Growth, Aspiration, and Consolidation in Ramallah

Authored by: Kareem Rabie

Routledge Handbook on Middle East Cities

Print publication date:  June  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138650749
eBook ISBN: 9781315625164
Adobe ISBN:


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A politico-economic perspective is key to understanding urban processes, planning, and development, as demonstrated in this chapter, which suggests that Ramallah emerged as the de facto capital of the Palestinian Authority (PA) after the Oslo Accords and as the site for new and emergent forms of politics, class, and urbanism in the West Bank. The author outlines the changes that occurred, touching on arguments about the role of returnee capital, remittances, and development aid, and also discusses the social and cultural aspects of these politico-economic shifts, and their relationship to national politics. He suggests that Ramallah has been variously described as a cultural bubble or enclave or as a site for distance and depoliticization. The study also discusses these shifts in relation to the broader political and economic contexts vis-à-vis Israel, the permanently ongoing peace process, and its most recent incarnation as the PA state-building project. Focusing on how new property developers create new environments for new forms of aspiration and how they work in parallel with the PA and aid organizations to open up land in and around Ramallah to increased rent, he expands on the idea of the bubble, suggesting that rather than indicating instability, it is part of the process of political stabilization through political economic mechanisms.

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