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With wide boulevards, fashionable shopping and a Roman-style amphitheater, the newly built Palestinian city of Rawabi is the culmination of a decadeslong dream for developer Bashar al-Masri. The Palestinian-American businessman has struggled to overcome Israeli hurdles, critics in his own community and political instability to turn the $1.4 billion project in the occupied West Bank into reality – but now he hopes it can become a beacon in the quest for statehood.So far only some 3,000 people live in the pristine rows of beige tower blocks that have gone up since work began from scratch in the barren hills just north of Ramallah almost a decade ago on the first-ever planned city to be built by Palestinians in the territory.Construction is still rumbling on and some streets can feel eerily quiet, but eventually it is hoped 40,000 people will one day call the city home.Masri insists there is demand and says the Palestinians themselves will determine if his project will succeed.For the Palestinians flocking to catch a glimpse, the city is meant to offer another vision for life in their troubled territories.
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