In a country where retail shopping is still in vogue, the grand opening of Israel’s most luxurious mall is a big deal! However, what really makes this newsworthy is where it was built. No, it is not in Tel Aviv or in the center of a large city, but in the middle of the Judean desert located in Judea and Samaria!
Spread over 150,000 square meters (1,614,587 square feet), the NIS 750,000 million ($230,000,000) complex called Dcity includes over 200 brand name stores, a luxury hotel, a food court with top restaurants, entertainment complexes and an international convention center. Soon, there will also be an amusement park with 40 rides! Designed by celebrity architect Gadi Halperin to resemble the deluxe Venetian Resort in Las Vegas, it was built with an artificial indoor sky.
The mall was built in the industrial zone of Maale Adumim, the third largest Jewish city in the West Bank with a population of 41,000. It was founded in 1977 by then Prime Minister Menachem Begin (in land liberated by Israel from Jordan during the 6-day war). Although many anti-Israel (and anti-Semitic) activists refute Israel’s connection to this land (calling them “illegal occupiers”) their denial is contradicted by historical fact. During Biblical times, G-d gave this tract of land to the Jewish tribe of Benjamin (see Joshua 18:17). In modern times, every Prime Minister (including left-leaning ones such as Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin, and Ehud Barak) have considered this area to be integral part of Israel which shall always remain a part of the Jewish State in any future peace agreement!
Dcity was developed by Hanoch Kass, an Orthodox Jewish real estate tycoon who immigrated to Israel from South Africa. While many question the wisdom of building such a colossal structure in the desert periphery, he believes that the mall will attract 20 million visitors a year (both Israeli citizens and tourists). He points out that 1.5 million people live within a 35-minute drive (including the residents of Jerusalem). Since Jerusalem’s shopping scene is not as developed as in other parts of the country, Jerusalemites have increasingly become accustomed to leaving the city for shopping, particularly for their furniture and home design needs (Israel’s capital currently lacks a proper one stop shop for housewares). Instead of having to travel to the center of the country (which is far and congested with traffic) locals can now drive 20 minutes on a new road to the beautiful new complex where there is ample parking. Many popular foreign brands are opening their first Israel branches here, making it a potential shopping mecca to customers from all over the country!
In addition to shopping, this location is expected to become a major rest stop for tourists. Maale Adumim is on a major route used by travelers heading to popular vacation spots such as the Dead Sea and Eilat (on this route, there are long stretches of roads without any place to stop aside from gas stations). It is also expected to become a major tourist destination (aside from the plethora of leisure activities, amusement park and hotel on the mall’s grounds, there is no shortage of family friendly attractions in the region) and a leading nightlife mecca for Israelis from all over the country. According to Pnina Revach, CEO of Dcity, the complex is to offer live performances, concerts, and events almost every day of the year, giving Israelis an incentive to come to the region (this will create economic opportunities to the surrounding desert communities, who will open businesses that will cater to this increased traffic).
The economic opportunities will not only be limited to Israelis, but will also be a major boon to
Palestinian Arabs. Already, Maale Adumim’s industrial zone is a major employer of local Arabs who
make 3-6 times the average salary of their counterparts working for Palestinian employers (in
addition to the benefits mandated by Israeli law such as paid vacation days, religious holidays, sick days, healthcare, pension, and transportation costs, all of which are unheard of in the territories). The addition of this complex is sure to produce a major hiring spree, greatly benefitting both Arabs and Jews.