Gaza Joins Electric Car Race

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The first hand built electric car from Gaza came into being through the vision of Munther al Qassas. The 32 year old taxi driver built the blue and white vehicle in order to be able to get around Palestine during its most pernicious fuel shortage in history.

According to al-Qassas, “I thought about making a car which would suit our circumstances in Gaza, especially with the fuel crisis that forces people to stand in line for hours outside petrol stations or pay a huge amount of money on the black market.”

Another hallmark of the vehicle is the absence of doors and the purest sign of its environmental awareness is the two seater’s use of recycled materials. The inventor said it took him some time, about several months, to build the car in a shop on the roof of his home. This is where he houses old electronic gadgets collected over time. The frame is made out of wood and uses old wheelbarrow tires as wheels. The vehicle is able to reach a top speed of twenty kilometers per hour or twelve miles per hour. The exterior is all white, a pale blue interiors and roof color. The steering wheel is an old piece of gym equipment.

All in all, the car cost about U.S. $1,000 or a little below 800 euros to build. This is considered a small fortune in the poverty stricken Gaza strip. It is also a big investment for a taxi driver who has a political science degree. Qassan relates, “My financial situation is a real obstacle to my dreams. I dream about improving this car and adding things to it – and making it work on solar energy. I could do it, but I don’t have the money.”

The car requires to be charged for five hours using an electric cable and this in turn would allow the car to run for four hours. One of his goals is to make Gaza self-sufficient with this electric car or even with a solar car.

Qassan has long been interested in electronics and technology. During his teen years, Qassas used to take electronic devices apart to learn how they work and if any of the home appliances break down, he would fix it himself. After some time, he would also fix friends’ and neighbors’ broken appliances. Soon enough, he would regularly participate in science fairs at Gaza.

He admits, “I’m sure if I was in a different country, I would have received more attention and I would have won some awards for what I do.” He also identifies the lack of opportunities in the field of sciences within the Gaza Strip because of the policies instituted by the fundamentalist Islamic group Hamas. He adds, “We need guidance and encouragement here. No one here cares about encouraging people to study science or to be innovative and develop their abilities.”