On February 10th, 2017, 220 people, including 20 internationals, participated in a Right to Movement hike along the Masar Ibrahim Al-Khalil. Right to Movement is a global running community running for the basic human right of freedom of movement.
The hike took them through Wadi Qelt toward the Sea Level Bedouin Community, (Al-Jahalin Tribe) Tent, located between Jerusalem and Jericho. The community, facing a threat of eviction from its current location, is originally from Tel Arad region of the Naqab. Today, Al-Jahalin Tribe is the largest refugee tribe in Palestine.
Both men and women of various ages participated in the event; some already physically active and some interested in becoming more active.
The 220 participants were divided into smaller groups. Each group was led by an experienced trekking guide to insure that all safety precautions were taken.
“The route was very interesting, the plan of the trip was well prepared, and I want to emphasize on the great job done by the guides,” said - George Zeidan, Co-Founder of Right to Movement.
With the support of Masar Ibrahim Al-Khalil, Right to Movement organized the event to enable the participants to explore their country on foot, create for them an entertaining and relaxing sport activity in a natural setting, and provide an opportunity to meet with local communities.
The Right to Movement hikers ended their walk at the Sea Level Bedouin Community, where they had a chance to learn about Al-Jahalin tribe Bedouins as they enjoyed a meal together.
“The Bedouin experience was a great conclusion for the trip, it was such a nice way to socialize together after the hike and talk about the different experiences. We learned about challenges facing Bedouins and we are happy to contribute towards their sustainability,” said - George Zeidan, Co-Founder of Right to Movement.
Let this unique photo exhibition lead you along the path of history and be a window into to the Palestinian rural culture and traditions!
On Tuesday, 23rd of January 2017, Masar Ibrahim Al-Khalil Touring Photo Exhibition was launched at its first location - Hebron University, Yasser Arafat Building. Within three months, between February and April 2017, the photographs are planned to be exhibited in various universities and colleges in Bethlehem, Nablus, Birzeit, Jenin and return to Hebron.
The images captured on Masar Ibrahim Al-Khalil celebrate history, cultural heritage, and collective memory of Palestinian people. The exhibit documents, through captivating imagery, groups’ hikes along the cultural route that is rich in various Palestinian historical landmarks and iconic cultural sites. The photographs and informative panels give a lot of information about Palestine; its nature, landscapes, history, archeological, historical and religious sites. The photographs also show Palestinian hospitality and cultural exchange.
Through the exhibition Masar Ibrahim Al-Khalil organization (MIAK) would like to encourage its audience, with a focus on Palestinian youth, to experience their country on foot and spend their time in nature. On the opening days at each university or college, representatives of MIAK team will provide students and journalist with a detailed presentation and will be there for any questions.
In coordination with the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism, the Masar Ibrahim Al-Khalil organized a two-day workshop entitled “Cultural Heritage in Hebron”. Beginning on December 21st, the workshop explored ways to develop and increase information and experiences about the cultural heritage of Hebron. Many people are only familiar with the Ibrahimi Mosque, so the workshop aimed at increasing information and expanding the larger Palestinian narration for the local people and the guides. The workshop was attended by Dr. Ahmed Al Rajoub of the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, representatives from the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee (HRC), the minestry of Awqaf, tour guides and Masar Ibrahim staff.
The first day of the workshop includes lectures about tourism, the old city, the heritage and the important sites such as presses (sesame and olive), Ibrahimi Mosque and other tourist sites. Dr. Ahmad of the Ministry talked about tourist sites such as the olive and sesame press, shrines and also about the city’s heritage and current political situation. Sheikh Abu Halawa, Director of Ibrahimi Mosque, talked about the mosque and commented that “it is the core of the city and without it, the town wouldn’t have any value. Amira Jaber, Women and Community Development Coordinator of the Masar Ibrahim, talked about its projects, their goals and achievements. Mrs. Sarah al Shammas also made a presentation about the Sesame Press.
On the second day of the workshop participants had a tour of the city, visiting the olive presses, the town's market, sesame press, and the Ibrahimi Mosque, Sultan’s Pool,Tal al Rumeida, Hammam Ibrahim al Khalil (bath), Khan al Wikala, Harat Al Masharqa (neighborhood), Ibrahim Hospice, Natsheh olive press, Khan Shaheen , Bani dar neighborhood and Hebron rehabilitation committee (HRC).
On December 16, 2016 - Masar Ibrahim Al-Khalil and The Holy Land Tour Operators Association sign Memorandum of Understanding: Board Directors Mr. Ra’ed Sa’adeh of Masar Ibrahim and Mr. Sami Khoury of the Tour Operators Association met at the gala dinner at the Orient Palace Hotel in Bethlehem and agreed to collaborate to promote and market Palestinian tourism through planned activities, sharing experiences, workshops, courses, and familiarization trips so as to expand and spread knowledge that contributes to enhancing and developing community-based tourism as well as finding sustainable ways to expand the circle of tourism’s beneficiaries in Palestine.
Sami Hostel - A visitor to Palestine is sure to encounter a variety of new experiences and one must be ready to be surprised and willing to expand your world view. But one thing is certain: wherever you go or stay in Palestine you will soon be made to feel at home. This is certainly true when you stay at the Sami Hostel, one of three guesthouses along the Masar Ibrahim in Jericho.
The Sami Hostel presents you with the atmosphere the word “hostel” conveys: a budget oriented sociable accommodation where guests rent a bed, often in a dormitory, and share a bathroom, lounge and sometimes a kitchen. This is what you will find at the Sami Hostel in Jericho.
But that is not all you will find. Located on the outskirts of the city center, just inside the Aqbat Jaber Refugee Camp, a new guest will be warmly greeted by not only the hostel’s owner, but by the other guests. You may be invited right away to join others in their taxi ride to one of the local historical sites, such as the Mosque at Nabi Mosa—the desert stopping place for caravans, and, according to tradition, the burial place of Moses. On your way back to Jericho you will watch the moon rise over the Dead Sea and the mountains of Jordan.
Back at the Sami you can continue your conversations and get a bite to eat at the market across the street. You will have seen a large key as you turn onto the street toward the hostel, and outside a painting of the “Nabka”. In addition to the rich archeological and historical sites in Jericho — the oldest inhabited city in the world — there is a complex and difficult modern history in Palestine. It is easy to enjoy your stay and continue on your personal travel plans. But you are staying in a Palestinian Refugee Camp: Explore these streets and greet these friendly people; learn a history not displayed in the ruins. Discover what is happening in Palestine today.
Lamar Guesthouse - On November 17th I visited the Lamar Guesthouse in the northern section of Hebron. I was driven through the Palestinian countryside from Beit Sahour to Hebron. After about a thirty minute drive, the taxi driver stopped by the entrance gate to the Lamar guesthouse.
I climbed the flights of steps which lead to a wide pavilion at the side of a large stone building. There were several doors and I wished there were a sign that said “Office” or “Main Entrance” or something to indicate where I should enter and announce my presence. I am accustomed to finding an office entrance where I can register as a guest. I finally noticed an open door and hesitantly enter, finally relieved to see someone about the place. A young Palestinian woman, who I later learned was a long-term guest, greeted me. She rose from working on her laptop to find and bring a woman who she referred to as “Auntie”, who brought me a key to my room. “Auntie” left the common room but soon returned with cups of Arabic coffee for me and the other guest, and said she would make me a bit of supper. I later learned the woman’s name is Amira. I wished she had a name tag, as I would have felt very disrespectful not to call her by her proper name!
Refreshed by the coffee, I was able to look around a bit. The rooms were spacious, clean and very welcoming; the common room was comfortable and had a doorway leading to a small balcony which overlooked the city. Later I discovered a similar balcony in the room assigned to me for the night. I had learned prior to coming that the building had been renovated for use as a guesthouse by the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee. The atmosphere of the place gave me a sense of the history, not only of the building, but also of the area of the town where I was visiting.
I was then invited by my hostess, Amira, to come to the kitchen for supper. She set before me cucumbers and tomatoes, humus and bread, and hot tea. As she stepped back from the table, her sense of hospitality, generosity, and graciousness were strongly evident. When I invited her to sit and eat with me—there were only the two of us in the small kitchen and it seemed obvious to me that she should partake as well—she seemed hesitant, as if it were not her place to eat with the guests. I encouragingly invited her again, and I was glad she joined me at the table! By eating together we were able to visit and get to know each other a bit and share stories about our families, our interests, and jobs we had done.
After supper we stood together on the wide veranda overlooking the city by night. Areas and neighborhoods were pointed out to me as well as some of the current history of the city. I was very eager to hear the stories from a woman who had lived there all her life. The sleeping room was very lovely and comfortable and I enjoyed the view from the balcony as I mused over my experiences before going to sleep that night.
The following morning I enjoyed a hearty breakfast while visiting with some of the other guests who seemed as comfortable there as I felt, and I glad to have an opportunity to visit with strangers who had become new friends—a true mark of the spirit of hospitality! By staying at the Lamar Guesthouse I not only had a comfortable place to spend the night, but also had the chance to meet new people, experience Palestinian hospitality and learn more about the rich culture and heritage of this county I am visiting. I am glad I had the opportunity to stay at Lamar guesthouse and will certainly recommend it to others who might be visiting Hebron!
Bethlehem, Palestine - On November 4th, 2016 The Community Trekking Tour Guide Program of Bethlehem University held its first graduation of eighteen trekking guides. The Community Trekking Tour Guide Program is the first of its kind in Palestine and the Middle East. Representatives from the Palestine Ministry of Tourism as well as Masar Ibrahim al-Khalil and its partner organizations were present at the ceremony. These organizations work to develop community based tourism in Palestine along the Masar Ibrahim.
Ten years ago, when we started to develop Masar Ibrahim Al-Khalil, the first thing we thought about was to find out how to prepare guides working on the trail. Today, the dream became a reality. Together, we made it happen - we made history,”said George Rishmawi, Executive Director of Masar Ibrahim Al-Khalil.
Trekking guides are vital to a rich experience on Masar Ibrahim – a hiking trail that stretches through the West Bank, and runs from the area west of Jenin to the area south of Hebron – revealing the diversity of the Palestinian landscape along its way. The guides are distributed geographically along the different regions of the trail in order to create a tight-knit network of tourism professionals with the expertise to make sure hikers are fully supported along the way.
Although there are high-quality maps of some sections of the trail which ease independent travel, a guide’s ability to contextualize the experience and often bridge differences of culture and language makes for a far richer experience. It is especially recommended that first-time hikers take a guide along on their trek. The names, brief biographies and contact information of the trekking tour guides can be found on Masar Ibrahim’s website: http://masaribrahim.ps/en/plan-your-trip/local-guides.
The Trekking Guides course was made possible through the generous support of the World Bank and the expertise of Masar Ibrahim Al-Khalil and other local and international organizations: Abraham Path Initiative, AFRAT, Tetraktys, Palestine Wildlife Society, Al-Rozana Association, Siraj Center for Holy Land Studies, and the Institute for Community Partnership of Bethlehem University.
The Palestinian Women Hikers Club has been created by Masar Ibrahim Al-Khalil to encourage women to break out from their daily routines and spend time in a more relaxing way experiencing the nature of Palestine.
The club is designed for women because there are few such activities for them. Many women are busy with daily responsibilities, often including motherhood and work, and rarely have a chance to leave their hometowns, which are usually noisy urban spaces. That is why, we would like to make the natural areas of Masar Ibrahim trail more accessible for women and their families. The togetherness of a group and shared cost aims to motivate the club members to take part in the excursions.
"For a long time, I have seen people joining hikes but I have never hiked. So I really wished to try it and I liked it a lot. Since today, I always want to hike and follow your events," said Diana Hilal, the Palestinian Women Hikers Club member.
Would you like to enjoy a walk in nature with your best girlfriends or meet new people?
In order to develop sustainably, Masar Ibrahim Al-Khalil works closely with the local Palestinian communities.
In October 2016, MIAK team paid visits to village councils of Al Mughayyir, Kafr Malek and Awarta and two women centres in Dura and Adahirya (new segment, south of Hebron) to discuss means of cooperation and ways of joint development.
One of the important topics of the discussion was their role in developing community-based tourism in their communities with Masar Ibrahim's support. The meetings resulted in signing of cooperation agreements between MIAK and the local authorities and women centres.
Follow our news to learn about the mutual involvement in strengthening of the community-based tourism in Palestine.
Masr Ibrahim Al-Khalil has recently held a series of evaluation meetings regarding the French project (Development of Rural Communities in Palestine) in Beit Sahour and Jericho Municipality and in the Governorate of Hebron with the participation of Masar coordinators from different areas and village councils.
The representative of the French partners, Mr Mostafa Ouki, led the evaluation meetings where the audience provided their general and subsidiary recommendations regarding the activities of Masar Ibrahim.
In addition to that, the participants provided different suggestions for new activities that are related to workshops, women sector, accommodations and tour guides.