Dubai, VAE At the Expo 2020 Dubai, the organizers of the Palestinian pavilion call the state “a deeply historic land with ancient buildings”, adding that “along with its burgeoning tourism, it has a busy manufacturing sector and there are many opportunities for investment. “.
Given the queues seen outside the pavilion, the organizers hope that that interest in tourism and economic opportunities will be transformed despite the hardships and constraints facing Palestinians due to the Israeli occupation lacking much space or mention at the pavilion did not get.
The state of Israel was established in 1948 in a violent process that involved the ethnic cleansing of Palestine where more than 750,000 people were forcibly expelled.
As the war ended, Israeli forces about 78 percent control of historic Palestine with the remaining land falling under the administration of Egypt and Jordan.
In the 1967 war, known as the “Naksa”, Israel has occupied the remaining Palestinian territories of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and continues to occupy it to this day. It also absorbed the additional territory of Egypt and Syria.
By that time, Israel had driven an additional 430,000 Palestinians from their homes and taken over territory more than three times its size.
“Our slogan at this pavilion is ‘past, present and future’,” Raseel Amr, the Palestinian pavilion’s media liaison officer, told Al Jazeera.
“The profession does not stop us from being successful and achieving a lot. We have many success stories, despite the occupation, and it shows that this has not stopped us from surpassing and moving on.
“Through this pavilion we try to highlight civilization in Palestine. It is very important for us to promote the economic side, to see if we can get new opportunities through the Expo and to emphasize that Palestine is also a place for tourism because people do not know it.
“We want to show that we have tourist sites, archeological sites and this is a place where people come for religious tourism. We want to show the positive side of Palestine that many people may not be aware of. “
In a report released in November, warned the United Nations that “the ‘dire’ economic and fiscal situation in Palestine requires an integrated response” and that “years of economic stagnation in the West Bank have been followed by a sharp per capita GDP decline in 2020”.
“The economy continues with its multi-decade decline in the Gaza Strip, with persistently high unemployment – especially among women,” the report added.
“It is becoming increasingly difficult for the PA (Palestinian Authority) to cover its minimum expenditures, let alone critical investments in the economy and the Palestinian people,” said Tor Wennesland, the UN’s special coordinator for the Middle East. Peace process.
The report also cited years of shortages of public funds as a contributor to the crisis, adding that Israel “continues to deduct and withhold a portion of so-called clearance revenues, which unilaterally equates the government with the amount the Palestinians his prisoners, their families, or the families of those killed or injured in attacks ”.
A Human Rights Watch report has grouped at least five categories of “major violations of international human rights law and humanitarian law” that characterize Israel’s occupation of Palestine – illegal killings, insulting detention, blockade of the Gaza Strip and restrictions on Palestinian movement, the development of settlements, and discriminatory policies that harm Palestinians.
The pavilion itself depicts Palestine through the five senses, taking visitors on a journey through the country to see, hear, touch, smell and taste what the state has to offer: videos of the historic sites, a call to prayer of ‘ a mosque, a church bell, a piece of rock from the Dome of the Rock, the scent of olives, a virtual reality (VR) tour of religious sites and a dining table with virtual authentic cuisine and menus to browse.
“Visitors here are surprised to see that these parts of Palestine exist. We’re trying to break the stereotype. We have a shop here that contains items that are all made in Palestine. The staff who work there have a shop in Bethlehem and they came here to promote Palestinian products and goods. ”
Amr added that although there are references to the occupation on the site, the aim was to promote the state’s success and opportunities “through a positive image, one that focuses on daily life and how people work”.
“In Touch Palestine there is the Key of Return, an original key from 1948 when many Palestinian families were forced out of their homes by the occupation and they used these keys to lock their homes. We call it the Key of Return because we hope that one day we will go back and use those keys.
“In the Smell Palestine area we call the martyrs. We do recognize that Palestine is it, but it is also more than that and that is what we are trying to promote, ”Amr added.