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Barriers to Business in Gaza

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Barriers to Business in Gaza

Barriers to Business in Gaza

Barriers to Business in Gaza

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Abdelhadi 'Hadi' Abushahla holds his Israeli-issued ID card. i

Abdelhadi "Hadi" Abushahla holds a card issued by Israel that means he's been checked for security risks. But he has not been allowed to enter Israel on business. Israel has rejected his request for a permit four times. Nancy Updike hide caption

toggle caption Nancy Updike
Abdelhadi 'Hadi' Abushahla holds his Israeli-issued ID card.

Abdelhadi "Hadi" Abushahla holds a card issued by Israel that means he's been checked for security risks. But he has not been allowed to enter Israel on business. Israel has rejected his request for a permit four times.

Nancy Updike

There are plenty of challenges to doing business in the Gaza Strip. Just navigating Gaza City's roads — which are cluttered with cars, bicycles, pedestrians, and slow-moving donkey carts — is an ordeal. The phones often don't work, and sometimes there's no running water. This is the world in which Gaza computer entrepreneur Abdelhadi "Hadi" Abushahla lives.

Part 1 in the Series

In the second part of our series on the Palestinian businessman, Abushahla confronts the logistical barriers of operating in a developing-world economy that's dependent on a much stronger one — Israel's.

On a recent day, not much was going right. A West Bank supplier messed up a simple order for a very big customer of Abushahla's, the Palestinian phone company. Abushahla waited three weeks for two laptops, while Israel kept the borders closed. When the borders opened, only one laptop arrived — and it had the wrong size hard drive.

About Hadi Abushahla

Abdelhadi Abushahla, who shortens his first name to Hadi with English-speakers, is the oldest of four children: two boys and two girls. Abushahla was born in 1974 in Tripoli, Libya, where his father had settled and married. His father, a native of Gaza, had been outside Gaza on a trip in 1967, when the Six Day War broke out. After the war, Israel began its occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, and did not allow many Palestinians who'd been outside the country during the war to return.

 

In the summer of 1982, the Abushahla family moved to England after being refused residency in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon because they are Palestinians. Later, when Hadi Abushahla was 16 years old, the Jordanian consulate in London crossed his name, and his two sisters' names, off his mother's passport; under Jordanian law, they were not entitled to Jordanian citizenship because their father is Palestinian. In England, the Abushahla family was initially refused long-term residency visas; they took the matter to court and won. Abushahla became a full British national in 1993. He now has British and Palestinian passports.

 

Abushahla attended school in London from the age of 8 onward. At University College London, he got master's degrees in engineering and business finance (he took the finance courses at the London School of Economics). Abushahla grew up learning the family business, a company called Cengreen International, which sold navigational and landing systems to airports throughout the Middle East. He started working at the company full time, as export manager, while finishing his master's degrees. In July 2001, Abushahla moved to Gaza; he started his computer company, Information Technology Partners, in the spring of 2002.

 

—Nancy Updike

Abushahla has been buying some of his goods from the same Israeli man at the same Israeli company for the last four years. But the two men have never met. They communicate by e-mail, phone and fax. Abushahla wanted to enter Israel for business but has been denied a permit four times, with no reason given.

Now Abushahla's planning a new strategy. He wants to try and change his business model to specialize in computer products from a different country: the United States.

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