Siraj Center has been doing more than a little of its own travels.
In early January, we took part in the Vakantiebeurs Utrecht Tourism and Leisure Fair in Utrecht, Netherlands, and then a few days later it was on to the Germany for another experiential travel show.
In mid-February, it was the Prague Travel Fair, followed by the world’s largest travel and tourism exhibition in the mid-March, the annual ITB show in Berlin, Germany. In late April, our exhibition team split into two groups to attend the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai as well as a meeting with tour operators in Hong Kong.
We’re hoping to be back to all of these fair shows in the coming year; but we’ll also be attending the World Travel Market in London, set this year for November 5th-7th. Visit us at our booth if you are there!
Providing tour participants an opportunity to invest in the Palestinian economy through purchasing fair trade products is a top priority for the ethical tourism & travel sector, and Siraj has done its part in the promotion of fair trade products through its tours. This May, the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO)
Siraj center in a cooperation with Holy Land Handicraft Cooperative Society (HLHCS) organized its first Fair Trade delegation to visit centers of fair trade, and taking the opportunity to visit some of the many fair trade organizations in Palestine that are producing handicrafts and produce items such as olive wood, embroidery and looming, glass and ceramic, non-perishable foods, olive oil and soap, and much more.
On May 9th, the WFTO delegation celebrated Fair Trade Day in Bethlehem with many of its local WFTO members as well as the Institute for Community Partnership of Bethlehem University. Siraj Director Michel Awad was pleased to give some opening remarks to the delegation and attendees, and to encourage the growth of Palestinian fair trade development in partnership with the Palestinian tourism sector.
Siraj Center is pleased to support the WFTO 10 Principles of Fair Trade in its programs:
In early May 2018, Siraj was pleased to host a familiarization tour for AdventureNEXT, a leader in the adventure travel and tourism sector. AdventureNEXT specializes in developing up and coming destinations, and with Palestine being noted as the fastest emerging tourist destination in 2017, Adventure Next is doing its part to help develop our market. Siraj worked with the AdventureNEXT team to provide a compact four-day familiarization tour of Palestine; showing some of the best and most unique components of our experiential tours. We are looking forward to our friends with AdventureNEXT returning back to Palestine and providing a whole new network of tourists with an opportunity to truly experience Palestine as few are able to!
In the month of April 2018, Siraj hosted the Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) Cycling Tour. MAP is a London-based charity and awareness-raising organization that works all across the Holy Land, Lebanon and elsewhere, working to alleviate some of the worse medical difficulties within Palestinian communities. Nearly 30 MAP staff members, volunteers and supporters came for a fundraising cycling tour of Palestine, traveling from Jenin to Jerusalem, as well as Bethlehem and Hebron. Besides being a worthy endeavor, the program offered its participants a chance to better acquaint themselves with the West Bank and Jerusalem in a way that would not be possible through a tour bus.
On a post on their Facebook page, MAP had this to say about their experience: “Congratulations to all and a huge THANK YOU to everyone who took part in the ride and to those who have supported them along the way. The money raised comes at a critical time and will help MAP continue our work for the health and dignity of those Palestinians living under occupation and as refugees.”
Siraj was honored to have organized the charity cycle, and encourages our UK friends to keep supporting the good work of MAP.
The Holy Land Handcraft Society and Siraj Center for Holy Land Studies
Are planning the Third Fair- Trade Tour 2023
Day 01: 03 May 2023
Arrival to Tel Aviv Airport, take a shared taxi to Jerusalem. Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem.
Day 02: 04 May 2023
After breakfast, tour in the old city of Jerusalem followed by lunch. Visit Sunbula, a member of WFTO.
Proceed to Jenin, visit Canaan, member of WFTO.
Dinner and overnight in Zababdeh village or in Jenin, Jenin district.
Day 03: 05 May 2023
After breakfast, proceed to Nablus. Lunch at Yafa cultural center at Balata refugee camp, followed by a visit to Jacobs well, have a tour in the old city of Nablus. Dinner and overnight in Jericho.
Day 04: 06 May 2023
After breakfast, visit Jericho city followed by a visit to Bedouin community in the Jorden valley. Proceed to Ramallah; visit the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee (PARC), member of WFTO followed by lunch; visit the National Fair Trade Cooperation (Adel) in Ramallah. Proceed to Bethlehem .Dinner and overnight in Bethlehem.
Day 05: 07 May 2023
After breakfast, visit the Holy Land Cooperative Society member of WFTO and a visit to Bethlehem Fair Trade Artisans member of WTFO. Lunch in Hebron followed by a visit to Hebron glass factory. Tour of the old city of Hebron including Patriarchs Tombs -Ibrahimi mosque. Dinner and overnight in Bethlehem.
Day 06: 08 May 2023
Visit two of the Holy Land Handcraft Society Artisans workshop. Visit the Institute of community partnership/Bethlehem university member of WFTO. World Fair Trade celebration, lunch followed by a visit to the Nativity church and a tour of the old city of Bethlehem.
Day 07: 09 May 2023
Departure to the Airport.
Who is the camp for?
The program is for young men and women in the Palestinian diaspora aged 16-25.
How much does it cost?
The total program costs $590.
What does it include?
The cost includes overnights (1 in Jerusalem, 3 in Bethlehem and 5 in a scout camp). It also includes all tours, and all meals except for on free days.
What do I need to bring?
You should bring a sleeping bag to use at the scout camp. Be sure to bring a hat and clothes suitable for very hot weather. Also bring mosquito repellent and all of your required medication.
What is the scout camp like?
The scout camp is in Beit Sahour, near Bethlehem. You will sleep in tents so be sure to bring your own sleeping bags. There will be shower facilities made available.
How will we meet?
On the day of your arrival (June 13th) you should transfer to Jerusalem via shared taxi for our meeting. In all cities there are plenty of ATMs with which you can change money.
What will the weather be like?
The weather in June will be hot and dry - likely between 25 and 35 degrees Celsius. You should be drinking a minimum of 3 liters of water a day, especially when we are outside hiking.
Which cities will we visit?
You will visit Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Hebron, Jenin, Nablus and Jericho. You will also visit some villages, like Battir, and historical areas like Mar Saba.
You should be sure you have health insurance that will cover you in Palestine. You should have a passport valid for at least six months. Be sure to alert your credit card company that you will be in the Palestinian Territories.
Located in the northern West Bank, Zababdeh is a majority Christian town - the only one of its kind in the West Bank - with about 4,000 residents. The mayor, by law, must be Christian. Manuel Musallem, a Fatah supporter and native of Birzeit, was the village priest of Zababdeh from 1974 until 1995, when he was posted as a parish priest in Gaza. During his tenure high quality educational facilities were developed that drew in young Muslim students from Jenin, 15 kilometers away.
Nazareth is the largest city in Israel’s northern district, home to about 76,000 inhabitants. Known as the “Arab Capital of Israel”, the city’s name in Arabic, An Nasira, means ‘Christians’, or, more literally, ‘those who follow Jesus of Nazareth’. Nazareth is a religiously diverse city, home to large numbers of Christians, Muslims and Jews.
Nazareth is known as the city where Jesus lived as a child, and accordingly there are many attractions that draw pilgrims from around the world. The Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth is built on the site where it is said that the angel Gabriel came to Mary to inform her of her pregnancy, and Joseph’s Church is said to have been constructed on the site where Joseph’s carpentry shop once stood. Visitors can also enjoy Al Babour, a massive spice market, and a bustling bazaar in the middle of the city.
Type of Accommodation
Villa Nazareth, Rosary Guest House, Galilee Hotel
In villages it is important that you are dressed modestly at all times: this means wearing loose, opaque clothing that covers the shoulders and knees. Women should carry a lightweight scarf with which they can cover themselves when entering mosques or other holy sites.
Due to its diverse religious population and urban environment, you will be able to find alcohol in Nazareth.
While well-stocked pharmacies are easily accessible in much of the West Bank, you might not be able to find some desired medicines in small villages. For this reason, we recommend that you bring with you high SPF sunscreen, aspirin or other pain relievers, antihistamine, disinfectant, insect repellent, antibiotics and intestinal antiseptics. You should also have a hat, water bottle, backpack and comfortable shoes with you at all times to ensure your health and comfort while walking.
Nablus, located between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim in the northern West Bank, is a Palestinian city home to about 150,000 inhabitants, most of whom are Muslim. Nablus is a commercial and cultural hub in the West Bank, home to one of Palestine’s largest universities, An Najah National University, and the Palestinian stock exchange.
Located 11 kilometers south of Jericho and 20 kilometers east of Jerusalem, Nabi Musa is a site in the eastern West Bank where Moses is said to be buried. In fact, Nabi Musa literally means ‘prophet Moses’. The first shrine marking Moses’ tomb was built by the Mamluk sultan Baibars al Bunduqdari in 1269, with with significant additions taking place between 1470 and 1480. In the early 19th century the Ottomans restored the buildings in Nabi Musa and promoted an annual pilgrimage and festival, wherein people walk from Jerusalem to Nabi Musa and enjoy three days of feasting, games, prayer and visits to the holy site before returning by foot to Jerusalem. The timing of the festivities corresponds with the Christian holiday of Easter: the Ottoman Turks wanted to give a reason for the Muslim population to celebrate at the same time as their Christian neighbors. The pilgrimage continued after the Ottoman collapse, taking place under the watchful eye of the British army. After taking control of the area in 1948, the Jordanian government suppressed the festivities out of fear that the procession would turn political. Nabi Musa has been under the control of the Palestinian National Authority since 1995. The area is home to a majority Muslim population.
Mount Tabor is a monadnock, or isolated hill, located 18 kilometers west of the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel. According to tradition it is the site of Jesus’ transfiguration. In 1919 a Roman Catholic church was built at the top of Mount Tabor on the ruins of a Byzantine church dating back to the 5th century. The church, known as the Church of the Transfiguration, sits next to a monastery constructed in 1873.
Mar Saba, known in English as The Holy Lavra of Saint Sabbas the Sanctified, is an Eastern Orthodox monastery located in the Bethlehem Governorate, halfway between the Dead Sea and the old city of Jerusalem. Founded in 483 by Sabbas the Sanctified of Cappadocia, the monastery is believed to be one of the oldest inhabited monasteries the world, with around 20 monks living there today and over 300 at its peak. Mar Saba houses the relics of Saint Sabbas, which were stolen by Latin crusaders in the 12th century and returned in 1965 by Pope Paul VI as a goodwill gesture towards the Eastern Orthodox church. It has continued many of its ancient traditions, including one that bars women from entrance to the main compound: women are only allowed to visit the Women’s Tower, located near the main entrance.