n a welcome sign of normalcy, a new Western-style indoor shopping mall — complete with an international retail chain, three-story bookstore and bustling food court — has opened in the Gaza Strip
The owners have overcome conflict and an Israeli-Egyptian blockade to build the gleaming 1,800 square meter (19,000 sq. feet) Capital Mall. Now, they just have to find enough free-spending customers to keep the place afloat.
In many ways, the center is a reflection of the fragile local economy, which has been flooded by consumer goods from Israel that few people can afford. Stifled by the blockade, Gaza produces very little on its own, and poverty and unemployment have soared. The mall, like the rest of electricity-starved Gaza, requires a generator to keep the power flowing.
In the short term, the mall appears to be thriving. Thousands of Gazans have visited as it slowly opened in recent weeks, buying shoes and clothes from the Turkish chain De Facto, searching for gifts and school supplies in the bookstore and heading up to the fourth-floor food court to enjoy burgers, pizza and ice cream. People can often be seen stumbling and giggling as they ride an escalator for the first time.