A small handful of Bedouin families living in the Gaza Strip ran thousands of smuggling tunnels beneath the Egypt-Gaza Strip separation barrier. In part to transport weapons between Rafah in Egypt and the Rafah Palestinian refugee camp and in part to import every day goods, some of the tunnels are well built and include decent infrastructure, while others are at risk of deadly sewage leaks. The inspired work of Palestinian artist Mohamed Abusal, a photo exhibit at the French Cultural Center depicts what Gaza City would look like if these subterranean spaces were converted into an underground metro facility .
Going Green dreams in Gaza
Dubai has a fairly sophisticated metro system and Jordan is on track with its planned rail system, but public transportation of this variety is a still a distant dream in Gaza. Yet for Abusal, it’s a dream that Palestinians really need.
While visiting France and using the metro system there last year, the 35 year old visionary got the idea that Gaza could also have an underground public transportation system. By converting the existing tunnel system into a portal for new subway trains, Abusal is convinced that the densely-populated city’s crowded roads and polluted skies would clear.
But Abusal is not an engineer, so he has turned to his art to create a “visual solution” by mapping out what a real metro system might look like. He also designed a giant Metro sign, which he then photographed in 70 different locations throughout the city, according to Mashallah News.
Gaza’s power of possibility
Although the signs are not real, Abusal told Mashallah’s partner organization Babelmed that his project at least allowed residents to consider the possibility that they were. But possibility can be a double-edged sword.
“What was most interesting was people’s reactions. It was very positive. A lot of people were positively surprised; they started thinking about the idea and discussing it… Some told me that, with the current security situation and daily Israeli attacks, maybe this would not be a safe option. It was fascinating to get people’s feedback. I wanted people to feel that, temporarily, they had a solution in front of them, that there was a train station.”
It’s not clear that Gaza City is actually ready for such a sophisticated public transportation. First it seems necessary to confront the basic necessities lacking, chief of which is a terrible water shortage and salinity that is effecting the region’s agriculture and worse. But there’s absolutely nothing wrong with dreaming, especially, as far as we are concerned, if those dreams are green.
all images via Mohamed Abusal