News / Middle East

Palestinian Billionaire Sees Hope After Arab Spring

Palestinian billionaire Munib Al Masri at his villa in Nablus, West Bank
Palestinian billionaire Munib Al Masri at his villa in Nablus, West Bank

Multimedia

It is a sight one would not expect in the Israeli-occupied West Bank:  An Italian villa complete with ancient Greek statues, Picassos, and manicured gardens reminiscent of Versailles.  Palestinian billionaire Munib Al Masri, whose personal wealth represents about a third of the Palestinian economy, has turned his extravagant dream into reality.  Al Masri invited correspondent Luis Ramirez to his lavish home near Nablus to talk about his vision for a Palestinian state.   

A palace on a hill overlooking Nablus, complete with authentic works of art from Europe.  

"When I was 19, I was in Chicago and I saw a Palladian style house and I said to myself at that time when I go back to my home, Palestine, I would like to build a similar house," said Palestinian billionaire Munib Al Masri.

Palestinian billionaire Munib Al Masri's villa in Nablus, West Bank
Palestinian billionaire Munib Al Masri's villa in Nablus, West Bank

Munib Al Masri calls it "Palestine House," and it represents a dream. "My dream is to have a state, to have a Palestinian independent state living in peace with the region, and especially living in peace with Israel," he said.

Al Masri just led an independent delegation to Egypt, where he says recent changes raise his hopes that the new Egyptian leaders might do more for the Palestinians than before.

"Before we went there, we were in doubt.  Maybe they will be busy or something, but on the contrary.  We found a lot of determination from the parties we met," he said.

Al Masri is also working for reconciliation between the West Bank leadership and the rival Hamas group in Gaza. "With the country divided so much, we will never have a country," said the billionaire. "They always say, 'What is your address, is it Gaza, or Ramallah?"

Al Masri worked his way through college in the United States, partly as a bartender to Hollywood stars, before making a fortune in oil and gas.  

Now, he is the largest private sector employer in the West Bank. He could afford to live anywhere. "I feel I have a lot of responsibility to be here, to do things and I feel satisfied.  Sometimes I hate myself, as if I didn't accomplish anything and sometimes when I see so many jobs being offered to people, so many things going, I feel satisfied," he said.

For Munib Al Masri, the job now is to turn yet another fantasy into reality.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Video British Fighters On Frontline of ISIS Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Multimedia Hit Song Delivers Ebola Message in Liberia

'Ebola in Town' has danceable beat, while also delivering serious message about avoiding infection More

Video New Technology Gives Surgeons Unprecedented Views of Patients’ Bodies

Technology offers real-time, interactive, medical visualization and is multi-dimensional More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid