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Gaza's Zayed City development provides solace to Palestinians

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The Zayed City housing project of the UAE in Beit Lahiya, Gaza Strip, has provided homes to hundreds of families in this besieged territory of 1.7 million people that suffers from a chronic housing shortage. The housing project, a US$62 million gift to the Palestinian people from the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founding father of the UAE, was designed to relieve the suffering of people as well as to offer affordable housing to newly married couples.

Since its completion nine years ago, the community's 71 buildings have stood firm amid Israeli artillery barrages and tank incursions, and house more than 6,000 people, double the intended number, which were offered free of charge to Gaza residents whose homes had been destroyed, or who had been bereaved or wounded during the conflict with Israel.

Like the rest of the territory, the city has not been spared the ravages of war with Israel. Because it is located in the far north, in the city of Beit Lahiya, Zayed City is close to the concrete wall that rings Gaza and from where Israeli forces often raid.

Residents recall several Israeli airstrike that struck one of the city's buildings during Israel's three-week war on the territory that began in December 2009 and killed as many as 1,400 Palestinians. Zayed City has helped relieve Gaza's chronic housing crisis, Naji Sarhan, Gaza's Deputy Housing Minister told UAE daily, The National.

"We need more, many more projects like Zayed City, because support from outside is crucial to relieve our housing crisis," the Minister said, adding, in reference to Gaza's housing crisis, "We are short 70,000 apartments and we still need an additional 13,000 every year just to keep up with population growth." – Emirates News Agency, WAM