Ikea, the ubiquitous furniture retailer with locations throughout the world including the Middle East, is considering a Palestinian expansion. A series of meetings took place between Ikea executives and Palestinian Authority Economic Minister Jawad al-Naji to discuss opening a branch in the capital of Ramallah. The retailer already has locations in Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, along with two stores in neighboring Israel.
If Ikea decides to open in the Palestinian Authority, it will be one of the first international retailers to open in the territory–and will have to cope with the formidable obstacle of Israeli military checkpoints on all major highways.
Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports Ikea company director Henrik Ekman and international sales manager Ehsan Turabaz met with al-Naji, who also briefed them on the local economy. A guestbook photo from the Palestinian planned community Rawabi indicates Swedish consultancy Concilio international also participated in the talks. According to the Haaretz reports, talks between Ikea and the Palestinian Authority are still in the exploratory stage and Ikea is still performing their initial analysis of a store opening.
Ramallah is home to a large middle-class population, including a strong contingent of Western aid workers and diplomats. A Facebook fan page for Ikea Palestine already has more than 1,000 likes.
[Image: Ikea Saudi Arabia via Flickr user docguy]