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Dear President Obama

Students across the globe have been invited to write to the US leader as part of a project that aims to come up with infrastructure solutions for a viable Palestinian state

The Arc initiative is an urban design project to develop a viable Palestinian state.
Image Credit: Supplied picture
The Arc initiative is an urban design project to develop a viable Palestinian state.

Students around the world have the opportunity to write to US President Barack Obama and put forth the case of an urban design project to develop a viable Palestinian state.

Friends of the Arc (FOA), a group based in the US, are inviting all university students to put forward a 1,000-word essay, in the form of a policy brief to the US President and win $1,000 (Dh3,672).

The essay contest is in support of the Arc project, developed by a US-based research organisation, the RAND Corporation and Suisman Urban Design, at a time when the US has helped resume direct Palestinian-Israeli negotiations.

Youth participation

"The younger generation is interested in seeing material change and in this situation [the potential implementation of the Arc project] they can see it," Dr Christopher Tucker, FOA Board Member, told Gulf News. "We've used the Arc as a paradigm for changing ideas that can break the historic deadlock," he added.

The Arc is a study for a formal structure of a Palestinian State through an innovative transport and urban planning framework, that makes the notion of fostering economic and social development in a Palestinian state plausible.

"We know that we can get the winning essay to President Obama's staff as well as published on our website," said Dr Tucker, who works in the science and technology policy industry in Washington DC.

"This [essay contest] is a way to get good and useful ideas worked up through the chain," he added.

What is the Arc?

The Arc, according to the RAND report, is an innovative transportation system along which people and goods will flow throughout the new state. It would link Palestinian cities like, for instance, Jenin in the northern West Bank to Gaza City and Gaza airport through intermediate stops, corresponding to Palestine's major cities and towns.

The report adds that the transport system will connect to Gaza by the corridor through Israel that, according to the report, is likely to be negotiated as part of an Palestinian-Israeli final status accord.

The concept of the Arc, as stated in the report, treats Palestine as an urban space, with specific areas dedicated to livable, high-density residences capable of supporting the projected increase in population. The transport corridor would also provide the space for a national aqueduct, open park land, telecommunications and electric power lines, and gas and fuel pipelines.

The competition

Students are invited to visit the FOA website and watch an eight- or 30-minute-long video of the Arc project. Website visitors can also view artists' renditions of the proposed project and download the RAND report.

FOA are reaching out to political science, international relations, social science, urban planning and design students. However, all interested students regardless of their disciplinary interests are welcome.

The deadline for entries is Friday, October 8 and entry guidelines and requirements can be found on