A brand new, upscale mall outside Jerusalem is drawing a lot of attention. It’s not just because of the high-quality goods. The shopping destination brings together Jewish and Arab merchants in what the world often calls “the occupied territories.”
Called Design City or D–City, the luxurious, European-style shopping center sits in the Judean desert, about ten miles outside of Jerusalem.
“Our dream is that when people buy [an] apartment or build [an] apartment or house, they will come for some place in D-City and they will find all [that] they need for the house or for the apartment,” said Pnina Revach, CEO of D-City Mall.
And there's more.
D-City is built in what much of the world calls a settlement, although Israelis as well as Palestinians from the West Bank can set up shop here.
“I started looking for a shop here, maybe to open something new – to go along with [the] theme, I decided to open a gadgety luxury gift shop, that gives [an] alternative [to] perfumes and t-shirts and standard regular gifts,” said Luai Ghoul, a Palestinian gift shop owner.
Ghoul, a Palestinian from Jerusalem, owns one shop in the Palestinian Authority city of Ramallah and now is opening one at D-City.
“To be honest, in daily life, we try not to go deep into politics, just come here and do a business together, live together. We share interests. We share businesses. We share life, basically,” Ghoul said about working together with Israelis.
Another store, Nicoletti, opened its 10th store in Israel at D-City several months ago.
“Nicoletti is a design furniture, luxury from Italy – fabric, leather. And we have table[s] with marble, and all Italian style here in Israel, in this shop,” said Tom Ovadia, the son of the owner here in Israel.
Ovadia says while this isn’t a typical location for a mall like this, there are advantages.
“Mishor Adumim is not the best location in Israel,” Ovadia told CBN News. “But this is something different because the Palestinians and Jew [work] together here and we sell [to] a lot of Palestinians. They can come here. They don't need [any permits]. They can come, buy and go.”
Zina Ghoul manages the Nicoletti store.
“They have a good atmosphere. This is the first project in Israel, like, their Design City. It's the first time I see something like that. And this is really special to work here, to come to work here,” Zina Ghoul told CBN News.
“We need to work together, and we need to [make] the step for peace and love. I am [a] Jew. She is an Arabic Muslim, and everything's okay,” Ovadia said.
“We don't feel any differences, like, we are one family here. Arabs, Jews, Muslims, Christians. We are all one. We live here. We live in Israel,” Ghoul said.
About 120 stores are already open and 50 more are planning to do the same. With prices ranging from inexpensive to luxury, they say you can find anything you want for your home at D-City, from furniture to appliances to tiles and decorations.
“Only when people come here, they really understand that it's very special, very different. And then it's not only a place where to come to buy. It's really place that they can come. They can enjoy,” Revach told CBN News.
Situated on the road to the Dead Sea, the mall offers restaurants, a hotel and even a nearby theme park.
“I talk about tourists and I’m sure that when we have some options like we have – very good restaurants and it's on the way [to] the Dead Sea – all of them will stop here, will come to enjoy in this place,” Revach said.
So, from designing and furnishing your home to tourist attraction to Israeli-Palestinian relations, the new Design City Mall is an experiment and an adventure that they hope will succeed.
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