The Palestinian Authority, which in recent years has been facing a severe financial crisis, has decided to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in building a large and magnificent mausoleum for former PA chairman Yasser Arafat
The new stately structure will replace the current burial site, which is located in the Mukata "presidential" compound in Ramallah
. The project is financed by the PA Ministry of Finance, which has refused to reveal the costs. However, sources here estimated the cost of the project at over $1 million.
To be named the Mausoleum of Yasser Arafat, the project is being carried out by the Palestinian construction company Midmac and under the auspices of the PA's
Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction [PECDAR].
PA Minister of Housing Mohammed Shtayyeh said a museum and a mosque will be attached to the mausoleum, adding that the new structure had been designed solely by Palestinian architects.
The museum will include Arafat's personal belongings, such as his keffiyeh and pistol, as well as other items he used during his work. As for the mosque, it will have enough space for 250 people and could also be used as a conference hall.
According to the plan, Arafat's tomb will be turned into a 12-meter high chamber with a 19-meter high monument constructed next to it, both decorated with Jerusalem stone. There will be a garden stretching over a six-dunam plot surrounding the structure.
To allow visitors free access to the site, the PA is planning to open a new gate in the southern part of the Mukata with a tiled path leading to the structure, due to be completed by May 2006.
In a related development, the entire Mukata compound is to be renovated under the terms of an agreement signed Tuesday between the PA and the United Nations Development Program [UNDP]. Japan
will finance the project, estimated at more than $10 million.
Rafik Husseini, director of PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas's
bureau, said the Palestinians were in need of new headquarters where they can meet world leaders "and deal with the world in a civilized and modern manner."
The project, planned to be completed within 12 months, also calls for building several modern four-story buildings and a garden.
Originally published October 26, 2005