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Fri 2 Nov 2012 09:59 AM

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Qatar to finance sports city project in Gaza

Gulf state to offer $25m to build Al-Yasin Sports City; to include stadium, pool, sports fields

Qatar to finance sports city project in Gaza
A Qatari flag flutters at the construction site of a residential project in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip. (AFP/Getty Images)

Qatar is set to finance plans to build a sports city in the Gaza Strip, a senior official has announced.

Mohammad Al-Madhoun, Palestinian Minister of Sports, Youth, and Culture, said in comments published by Kuwait News Agency that the first Qatari-financed sports city will be launched soon.

Al-Madhoun made his remarks during the opening of football youth league in Gaza, adding that the new sports city will be built in the southern part of Gaza.

He added that Qatar will finance the $25m project that will include an international stadium, sports fields, hotels, an Olympic-sized swimming pool and offices.

Al-Madhoun said a construction tender will be announced next week, adding that he aimed to see a "speedy process".

The city will be named Al-Yasin Sport city, as a tribute to the late Ahmad Yasin who was assassinated by Israel in 2004, the minister added.

Last month, Qatar launched a $254m plan to rebuild and modernise Gaza, the biggest injection of reconstruction aid for the Palestinian enclave since it was devastated in an Israeli military offensive nearly four years ago.

Projects announced by Qatari ambassador Mohammed Al-Amadi will require the cooperation of Israel and Egypt to admit building materials and heavy machinery to Gaza, which is under a partial blockade.

Last week, the Emir of Qatar entered the Gaza Strip for a visit that broke the isolation of its Islamist rulers, Hamas, but disappointed Israel and mainstream Palestinian leaders in the West Bank.

Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani's visit was the first trip by a head of state to Gaza since 1999 and the emir was given a red-carpet welcome by Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, who declared it a historic day for the enclave, which backs on to the Mediterranean sea.

The Western-backed Palestinian Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas, Hamas's arch-rival, said it hoped the visit would not undermine efforts to rebuild Palestinian unity or signal approval for a separate Palestinian territory.

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