Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 27 September 2020

'Dream destination' cafes offer Palestinians a taste of paradise in Gaza

The cafes are named after popular travel destinations, including Dubai and Sharm El Sheikh

Mediterranean waves crash below patrons snacking on freshly-caught fish at the Maldive Gaza Restaurant & Cafe, offering a glimpse of paradise to Palestinians confined to the blockaded strip.

The new three-storey restaurant, protruding 15 metres over the rocky shoreline, also features the tropical juice drinks typical of the distant Indian ocean island after which it is named.

Palestinians leave Maldive Gaza cafe, on a beach in Gaza City, on Wednesday, August 5, 2020. Reuters 
Palestinians leave Maldive Gaza cafe, on a beach in Gaza City, on Wednesday, August 5, 2020. Reuters

Many of Gaza's two million Palestinians have never left the city, which is blockaded by Israel.

The people of Gaza can't go to the Maldives, so we said to ourselves, 'Why don't we bring the Maldives to them?'

Emad Al-Bayya, Maldive Gaza cafe

"The people of Gaza can't go to the Maldives, so we said to ourselves, 'Why don't we bring the Maldives to them?'" says Emad Al-Bayya, co-owner of the cafe, which seats 1,200 and which he hopes to expand.

It is one of several new seaside cafes bearing the names of dream travel destinations, Marbella, Dubai and Sharm El Sheikh among them.

They offer a brief window into a more exotic life to people "who have been subject to wars, pressures and blockades", says Rola Al-Agha, one of hundreds of patrons packed into Maldive Gaza on a pleasantly breezy evening last week.

Gaza has had no Covid-19 cases among the general public, and there are few curbs on social interactions.

The three-storey cafe comes out over the Mediterranean Sea. Reuters 
The three-storey cafe comes out over the Mediterranean Sea. Reuters 

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Read more:

Banksy in Palestine: A look at the street artist's work in Gaza and the West Bank

‘Hope and wonder’: meet the man bringing magic into the lives of refugee children amid the coronavirus pandemic

Palestine, Today: A new virtual map allows visitors to discover the legacy of the Nakba

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Updated: August 11, 2020 06:29 PM

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