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August 5, 2019 10:36 am

Palestinian App Helps Drivers Avoid West Bank Bottlenecks

avatar by Reuters and Algemeiner Staff

Mohammad Abdel Haleem, chief executive Officer of Doroob Technologies, uses Doroob Navigator application as he drives his car through an Israeli checkpoint in Ramallah, in the West Bank, July 31, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Mohamad Torokman.

 

A new locally-developed app helps Palestinian drivers in the West Bank negotiate traffic at Israel’s security checkpoints and uncover routes to towns mainstream providers often miss.

Launched in June and designed by Palestinians, Doroob Navigator crowd-sources road closures and traffic data from users. It aims to supplant apps like Google Maps and Waze.

Mohammad Abdel Haleem, CEO of Doroob Technologies, said he knew Palestinians needed a new way to get around after a drive with Google Maps between the West Bank cities of Bethlehem and Ramallah left him lost in a remote valley.

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“We had to design our maps completely from scratch. … existing mapping software could never account for the complexity here,” Abdel Haleem, 39, said.

The app, which has garnered 22,000 users in two months, is funded by Ideal, a Ramallah-based transportation and automation software company also led by Abdel Haleem. He says he hopes to monetize the app in the future in part via a delivery feature.

The app is also available in the Palestinian coastal enclave of Gaza, though most active users are in the West Bank, Abdeel Haleem said.

Palestinians in the past have relied on Facebook groups and word-of-mouth to anticipate West Bank traffic and closures. Waze is popular with Israelis, but many Palestinians say it directs them to routes they are restricted from driving due to security concerns.

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