Still, radical action needed to save Palestinian economy, says Gaza-based economist
[Gaza City] The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply shaken the world, including the world’s largest economies, with serious and far-reaching consequences.
However, the effects are particularly devastating for the Palestinian territories, and in particular for the Gaza Strip.
With an economy already on the brink of collapse, declining purchasing power and Israeli restrictions on border crossings, economic activity in Gaza was already fragile, economist Mohammed Abujayyab told The Media Line, noting that “the arrival of COVID-19 has further aggravated the already dire situation.”
“Small businesses and micro-projects, which constitute 90% of the components of economic work in Gaza, are the direct victims of anti-pandemic measures, including strict and long closures, as many of them have collapsed and disappeared from the market,” he said.
Business owners and merchants have been looking for practical solutions and alternatives to overcome the challenges of the pandemic and save their businesses.
For many, digital marketing has proven to be the answer.
“E-commerce and online marketing have increased economic activity by 40%. This is indicated by the volume of imports from external online stores in the Palestinian territories,” said Abujayyab, who is based in Gaza.
“Additionally, digital marketing has activated the process of transformation in Gaza from traditional commerce to online commerce, which has created the opportunity for new businesses such as delivery services to flourish,” he added. .
The increasing use of social media to promote products has eased the burden of operational costs on small entrepreneurs, who are barely keeping their heads above water given the tough economic conditions, Abujayyab said.
Digital marketing has activated the process of transformation in Gaza from traditional commerce to online commerce, which has allowed new businesses such as delivery services to flourish
Hiba al-Nakhala, his father and his brother have had a carpentry business in Gaza City called Antica Home since 2018. By recycling wood scraps, Nakhala and his family produce remarkable artistic pieces, antique style furniture and gifts.
“Our business has grown considerably since we worked on our marketing strategies such as attending exhibitions and developing our online presence on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. I personally worked on my marketing skills and learned what type of ads were suitable for our products and our target audience, which had a positive effect on our sales,” she told The Media Line.
Nakhala thinks Gazans’ mentalities have changed since the pandemic. “They seem to have more confidence now in online commerce and are more willing to start their own business virtually,” she said.
Lubna Alagha, another successful female entrepreneur, is a mother who used her expertise to start a business growing rare ornamental plants and flowers in her small nursery and then marketing them creatively, with artistic packaging and accessories. .
Remarkably, Alagha has succeeded in creating a new type of agricultural soil that contains palm fiber, which is widely available in the coastal enclave, instead of the scarce seaweed and coconut fiber that is usually used. She makes her own compost, designs her plant accessories and actively manages her Instagram and Facebook pages.
” The crown [pandemic] convinced me that without digital marketing, I will never be able to advance and progress, especially since the region where my nursery is located is not dynamic and its inhabitants do not know ornamental plants,” he said. she told The Media Line.
After signing a contract with a well-known company in Gaza City, Alagha is preparing to inaugurate her own plantation corner within the next two months.
“Soon there will be a lot of work to present plants in a beautiful and modern style, new collaborations with wood craftsmen will be considered and more marketing efforts will be made to maintain maximum customer satisfaction”, a- she declared.
“A piecemeal approach to the current political, economic and security challenges in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) only risks perpetuating an ongoing crisis,” according to a UN report released earlier this month, calling for a response coordinated and integrated response to the growing Palestinian crisis. precarious situation.
Social media has undoubtedly increased the number of people who know about my work and sometimes buy into it, but there are still major challenges, mainly financial, that I face in taking my work to the next level.
Walaa Mousa is a talented designer of toys and accessories, as well as a brilliant seamstress who makes embroideries and posts them on her Facebook page in the hope of generating an income.
“Social media has undoubtedly increased the number of people who know about my work and sometimes buy into it, but there are still major challenges, mainly financial, that I face in taking my work to the next level,” he said. she told The Media Line.
“Due to economic difficulties, I am unable to pay for the necessary advertisements or purchase the high-quality materials that I need in my work. It derails my progress and thus reduces my income,” Mousa said.
For nearly 15 years, Gazans have experienced a serious human rights crisis due to the ongoing blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt, which impacts almost every aspect of life, in addition to the division devastating internal conflict between Gaza and the West Bank that has further undermined the Palestinian social and political fabric.
The situation will become more difficult if things do not change, according to Abujayyab. To overcome the crisis, “several measures must be taken”, he said.
“First, restore Palestinian unity at all levels, including the political level. Next comes supporting economic development and improving the living conditions of Palestinian citizens,” he continued.
“This will lead us to the most important decision, which is to demand an end to the Israeli measures imposed on Gaza’s economy, such as the stifling of businesses and industrial factories by preventing them from developing their production lines, stopping the export of their products and banning the import of essential raw materials,” he said.
“Israel’s control of the crossings and its practice of political and financial extortion against the coastal enclave is a gross violation of Palestinian rights that must end,” Abujayyab said.