Roll with it: Gazans make own limo from five different cars

GAZA CITY: A Gazan firm has found a way to add style to weddings in the Palestinian enclave despite being unable to import a limousine: make one with parts from five cars. Wedding planner Salama al Odi sought to import a limousine as part of the various offerings to young Gazans by the firm he heads, Farha, but said he was unable to. The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli blockade for 10 years, with the entry and exit of goods and people tightly controlled by Israel. Its sole crossing with Egypt has also remained largely closed in recent years. Israel and Palestinians in Gaza, run by Hamas, have fought three wars since 2008.
Israeli officials say the blockade is necessary to prevent the importation of weapons and materials that could be used to make them, but UN officials have called for it to be lifted, citing deteriorating conditions in the enclave of two million people. With poverty widespread and unemployment at nearly 45 per cent, Gazans have had to show creativity — and Odi has responded to the challenge.
In his small mechanic shop, a group of men were busy taking parts from five different cars and adding them to a white Mercedes.
Some 30 people weighed in on the design and drew up plans for the improvised limousine.
“It took us three months and $21,000” to build the vehicle, whose interior with curtains was “completely conceived in Gaza,” Odi said.
The result looks something like a cross between a car and a spaceship, with a rounded roof extending upward from what would have been the original top.
Hand-painted designs adorn the sides of the vehicle.
Final touches are being put on the “limo” and the first bride and groom should be able to climb aboard soon.
Odi says he will offer it at an affordable rate for young people in Gaza, where marriages have been delayed due to a lack of financial resources.
For him, seeing the homemade vehicle roll through the streets of the Gaza Strip will also be a message to Gazans to “not give in to the restrictions” imposed by Israel. “You have to answer by inventing and embarking on an adventure,” he said. — AFP