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Barriers to Business in Gaza

There are plenty of challenges to doing business in the Gaza Strip. Just navigating Gaza City's roads -- which are cluttered with cars, bicycles, pedestrians, and slow-moving donkey carts -- is an ordeal. The phones often don't work, and sometimes there's no running water. This is the world in which Gaza computer entrepreneur Abdelhadi "Hadi" Abushahla lives.

In the second part of our series on the Palestinian businessman, Abushahla confronts the logistical barriers of operating in a developing-world economy that's dependent on a much stronger one -- Israel's.

On a recent day, not much was going right. A West Bank supplier messed up a simple order for a very big customer of Abushahla's, the Palestinian phone company. Abushahla waited three weeks for two laptops, while Israel kept the borders closed. When the borders opened, only one laptop arrived -- and it had the wrong size hard drive.

Abushahla has been buying some of his goods from the same Israeli man at the same Israeli company for the last four years. But the two men have never met. They communicate by e-mail, phone and fax. Abushahla wanted to enter Israel for business but has been denied a permit four times, with no reason given.

Now Abushahla's planning a new strategy. He wants to try and change his business model to specialize in computer products from a different country: the United States.

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Nancy Updike
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