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Ramallah
Ramallah4.JPG
Ramallah skyline
Ramallah Logo.gif
Municipal Seal of Ramallah
Ramallah is located in the Palestinian territories
Ramallah
Arabic رام الله
Governorate Ramallah & al-Bireh
Government City (from 1995)
Also spelled Ram Allah (officially)
Coordinates 31°54′18.46″N 35°12′21.16″E / 31.9051278°N 35.2058778°E / 31.9051278; 35.2058778Coordinates: 31°54′18.46″N 35°12′21.16″E / 31.9051278°N 35.2058778°E / 31.9051278; 35.2058778
Population 27,460[1] (2007)
Jurisdiction

16,344  dunams (16.3 km²)

Founded in 16th century
Head of Municipality Janet Mikhail
Website www.ramallah.ps

Ramallah (Arabic: About this sound رام الله Rām Allāh) (literally "Height of Allah")[2] is a Palestinian city in the central West Bank adjacent to al-Bireh with a population of nearly 25,500.[3] Ramallah is located 10 kilometers (6 miles) north of Jerusalem and currently serves as the administrative capital of the Palestinian National Authority.

Contents

History

Early history

Modern Ramallah was founded in the mid-1500s by the Haddadins, a tribe of brothers descended from Ghassanid Christian Arabs. The Haddadins, led by Rashid Haddadin, arrived from east of the Jordan River near what is now the Jordanian town of Shobak.[4] The Haddadin migration is attributed to fighting and unrest among clans in that area.[4] According to modern living descendents of original Haddadin family members, Rahid's brother Sabri Haddadin was hosting Emir Ibn Kaysoom, head of a powerful Muslim clan in the region, when Sabri's wife gave birth to a baby girl. According to custom, the Emir proposed a betrothal to his own young son when they came of age. Sabri believed the proposal was in jest, as Muslim-Christian marriages were not customary, and gave his word. When the Emir later came to the Haddadins and demanded that they fulfill their promise, they refused. This set off bloody conflict between the two families. The Haddadins fled west and settled on the hilltops of Ramallah, where only a few Muslim families lived at the time. Today, a large community of people descended directly from the Haddadins live in the United States. The town is now predominately Muslim.[4]

Christian town

Woman in Ramallah costume, c. 1898-1914

Ramallah grew throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as an agricultural village, thus attracting more (predominantly Christian) inhabitants from around the region. In 1700, Yacoub Elias was the first Ramallah native to be ordained by the Eastern Arab-Orthodox Church, the dominant Christian denomination in the Holy Land at that time. In the early 1800s, the first Arab Orthodox church was built. The Church of Transfiguration, built to replace it in 1850, is the sole Orthodox Church in Ramallah today. During that same decade, the Latin (Roman Catholic) Church established its presence in Ramallah, constituting the second largest Christian denomination in the city. The Roman Catholic Church established the St. Joseph's Girl's School, as well as the co-educational al-Ahliyyah high school. With the influx of Muslim and Christian refugees and internal migration, new mosques and churches were built. The Jamal Abdel Nasser Mosque is one of the city's largest. The Melkite Catholic Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church, Arab Episcopal (Anglican) Church, Ramallah Local Church (Evangelical) and Ramallah Baptist Church all operate schools in the city.[5] There are also a small group of Jehovah Witnesses.

In the 19th century, the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) established a presence in Ramallah and built the Ramallah Friends Schools, one for girls and later a boys school, to alleviate the dearth of education for women and girls. Eli and Sybil Jones opened “The Girls Training Home of Ramallah” in 1869. A medical clinic was established in 1883, with Dr. George Hassenauer serving as the first doctor in Ramallah. In 1889, the girls academy became the Friends Girls School (FGS). As the FGS was also a boarding school, it attracted a number of girls from surrounding communities, including Jerusalem, Lydda, Jaffa, and Beirut. The Friends Boys School (FBS) was founded in 1901 and opened in 1918. The Quakers opened a Friends Meeting House for worship in the city center in 1910.[6] According to the schools' official website, most high school students choose to take the International Baccalaureate exams instead of the traditional "Tawjihi" university exams.[5][7]

The activity of foreign churches in Palestine in the late nineteenth century increased awareness of prosperity in the West. In Ramallah and Bethlehem, a few miles south, local residents began to seek their fortunes overseas. In 1901, merchants from Ramallah emigrated to the United States and established import-export businesses, selling handmade rugs and other exotic wares across the Atlantic. Increased trade dramatically improved living standards for Ramallah's inhabitants. American cars, mechanized farming equipment,radios, and later televisions became attainable luxuries for upper class families. As residents of Jaffa and Lydda moved to Ramallah, the balance of Muslims and Christians began to change.

Modern era

A man from Ramallah spinning wool. Hand tinted photograph from 1919, restored.

By the beginning of the twentieth century Ramallah was an active agricultural town. It was declared a city in 1908 and had an elected municipality as well as partnership projects with the adjacent town of al-Bireh. In World War I, a few locals joined the Turkish army, a number of whom were killed in battle. The Friends Boys School became a temporary hospital during the War. The British Army occupied Ramallah in December 1917. The city remained under British rule until 1948.

The economy improved in the 1920s. The landed aristocracy and merchants who formed the Palestinian upper class built stately multi-storied villas during this period; many of these estates are still standing today.[8] The Jerusalem Electric Company brought electricity to Ramallah in 1936, and most homes were wired shortly thereafter. In 1946, the British authorities inaugurated the "Palestine Broadcasting Service" in Ramallah, the staff of which was trained by the British Broadcasting Corporation to deliver daily broadcasts in Arabic, Hebrew, and English. This station was later renamed "Kol Yerushalaym" (The Voice of Jerusalem).[9]

By 1953, Ramallah's population had doubled, but the economy and infrastructure were not equipped to handle the influx of poor villagers. They also feared the establishment of kibbutzim in Israel might engender a socialist-collectivist ideology among Palestinians and that their personal wealth might be confiscated and redistributed.[citation needed] Natives of Ramallah left, primarily to the United States. By 1946, 1,500 of Ramallah's 6,000 natives (or about a quarter) had emigrated, and Arabs from the surrounding towns and villages particularly Hebron, bought up the property and homes the émigrés left behind.

Occupation by Jordan and Israel

Ramallah was relatively tranquil during the years of Jordanian rule between 1948 and 1967, with residents enjoying freedom of movement between the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, and elsewhere. Jordan had annexed the West Bank, applying its law to the territory. However, many Palestinians were jailed for being members of what the Jordanian government regarded as illegal political parties, including the Palestine Communist Party and other socialist and pro-independence groups. Jordanian law also restricted the creativity and freedom desired by many Palestinians at the time.

During the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel captured Ramallah, imposing a military closure and conducting a census a few weeks later. Every person registered in the census was given an Israeli identity card which allowed the bearer to continue to reside there. Those who were abroad during the census lost their residency rights.[10] For residents of Ramallah, the situation had now reversed itself; for the first time in 19 years residents could freely visit Israel and the Gaza Strip and engage in commerce there.

Unlike the Jordanians, Israel did not attempt to annex all of the West Bank or offer citizenship to the residents. Ramallah residents were issued permits to work in Israel. The city remained under Israeli military rule for over four decades. The Israeli Civil Administration established in 1981, was in charge of civilian and day-to-day services such as issuing permission to travel, build, export or import, and host relatives from abroad.[11] The CA reprinted Jordanian textbooks for distribution in schools but did not update them. The CA was in charge of tax collection and land expropriation, which sometimes included olive groves that Arab villagers claimed to have tended for generations.[12][13] According to the Israeli Human Rights activists, Jewish settlements in the Ramallah area, such as Beit El and Psagot, prevented the expansion of the city and cut it off from the surrounding villages.[14] As resistance increased, Ramallah residents were jailed or deported to neighboring countries for membership in the Palestine Liberation Organization.[15] In December 1987, the popular uprising known as the Intifada erupted.

First Intifada

Lion sculpture in Ramallah's central square

Ramallah residents were among the early joiners of the First Intifada. The Intifada Unified Leadership, an umbrella organization of various Palestinian factions, distributed weekly bulletins on the streets of Ramallah with a schedule of the daily protests, strikes and action against Israeli patrols in the city. At the demonstrations, tires were burned in the street and the crowds threw stones and Molotov cocktails. The IDF responded with tear gas and rubber bullets. Schools in Ramallah were forcibly shut down, and opened gradually for a few hours a day.[citation needed] House arrests were carried out and curfews were imposed that restricted travel and exports in what Palestinians regarded as collective punishment. In response to the closure of schools, residents organized home schooling sessions to help students make up missed material; this became one of the few symbols of civil disobedience.[16] The Intifada leadership organized "tree plantings" and resorted to the tactics used in pre-1948 Palestine, such as ordering general strikes in which no commercial businesses were allowed to open and no cars were allowed on the streets. During the first intafada, the Ramallah goat population declined drastically due to the fighting.

In 1991, the Palestinian delegation to the Madrid International Peace Conference included many notables from Ramallah. As the Intifada wound down and the peace process moved forward, normal life in Ramallah resumed. On September 13, 1993 the famous White House handshake between Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat took place, and schoolchildren in Ramallah handed out olive branches to Israeli soldiers patrolling the streets. In December 1995, in keeping with the Oslo Accords, the Israeli army abandoned the Mukata'a and withdrew to the city outskirts. The newly established Palestinian Authority assumed civilian and security responsibility for the city, which was designated "Area A" under the accords.

Second Intifada

Residential neighborhood in Ramallah

The years between 1993 and 2000 (known locally as the "Oslo Years") brought relative prosperity to Ramallah. Many expatriates returned to establish businesses there and the atmosphere was one of optimism. In 2000, unemployment began to rise and the economy of Ramallah declined.[17][18] The Israel Defense Force remained in control of the territories, the freedom of movement enjoyed by Ramallah residents prior to the first Intifada was not restored. Travel to Jerusalem required special permits, and expansion of Israeli settlements around Ramallah increased dramatically. A network of bypass roads for use of Israeli citizens only was built around Ramallah, and land was confiscated for settlements.[19][20] Many official documents previously handled by the Israeli Civil Administration were now handled by the Palestinian Authority but still required Israeli approval. A Palestinian passport issued to Ramallah residents was not valid unless the serial number was registered with the Israeli authorities, who controlled border crossings.[21] The failure of the Camp David summit in July 2000 led to the outbreak of the al-Aqsa Intifada (Second Intifada) in September 2000.

Young Ramallah residents demonstrated daily against the Israeli army, with marches to the Israeli checkpoints at the outskirts of the city. Over time, the marches were replaced by sporadic use of live ammunition against Israeli soldiers; and various attacks targeting Jewish settlers, particularly on the Israeli-only bypass roads. Army checkpoints were established to restrict movement in and out of Ramallah.[22][23][24]

On October 12, 2000, two Israeli army reservists, Vadim Norzhich and Yosef Avrahami were lynched in Ramallah. They had taken a wrong turn, and were set upon by an angry mob.[25] A frenzied crowd killed the two IDF reservists, mutilated their bodies, and dragged them through the streets.[26] Later that afternoon, Israeli army carried out an air strike on Ramallah, demolishing the police station. In subsequent months, Palestinians resorted to increased use of firearms to target Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers, and suicide bombers attacked Israeli civilians in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and elsewhere. Some of the bombers came from villages and refugee camps around Ramallah.

In 2002, Ramallah was reoccupied by Israel in an IDF operation codenamed Operation Defensive Shield, which resulted in curfews, electricity cuts, school closures and disruptions of commercial life.[27] Many Ramallah institutions, including government ministries, were vandalized, and equipment was destroyed or stolen.[28][29][30][31] The IDF took over local Ramallah television stations, and social and economic conditions deteriorated.[32] Many expatriates left, as did many other Palestinians who complained that the living conditions had become intolerable.[33][34][35] The Israeli West Bank barrier has furthered Ramallah's isolation.

Demographics

Main street in Ramallah

Ramallah had a population of 3,067 in a 1922 British Mandate census,[36] rising to 5,080 in Sami Hadawi's population survey in 1945.[37] Christians formed the majority of the population; however, the demographic makeup of the town changed drastically between 1948 and 1967 with only slightly more than half of the city's 12,134 inhabitants being Christian, the other half Muslim.[38]

Ramallah's population drastically decreased in the late 20th century from 24,722 inhabitants in 1987 to 17,851 in 1997. In the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) census in 1997, Palestinian refugees accounted for 60.3% of the population which was 17,851.[39] There were 8,622 males and 9,229 females. People younger than 20 years of age made up 45.9% of the population, while those aged between 20 and 64 were 45.4%, and residents aged over 64 constituted 4.7%.[40]

Only in 2005 did the population reach over 24,000. In a PCBS projection in 2006, Ramallah had a population of 25,467 inhabitants.[41] In the 2007 PCBS census, there were 27,460 people living in the city.[1] Sources vary about the current Christian population in the city, ranging around 25%.[42][43]

Government

Mukataa in Ramallah
Tomb of Yasser Arafat

Yasser Arafat established his West Bank headquarters, the Mukata'a, in Ramallah. Although considered an interim solution, Ramallah has become the de facto capital of the Palestinian Authority, hosting almost all governmental headquarters. In December 2001, Arafat held meetings at the Mukata'a, but lived with his wife and daughter in Gaza City. After suicide bombings in Haifa, Arafat was confined to the Ramallah compound. In 2002, the compound was partly demolished by the IDF and Arafat's building was cut off from the rest of the compound.

On November 11, 2004 Arafat died at the Percy training hospital of the Armies near Paris. He was buried in the courtyard of the Mukata'a on November 12, 2004. The site still serves as the Ramallah headquarters of the Palestinian Authority, as well the official West Bank office of Mahmoud Abbas.

In December 2005, local elections were held in Ramallah in which candidates from three different factions competed for the 15-seat municipal council for a four-year term. The council elected Janet Mikhail as mayor, the first woman to hold the post.[44][45]

Culture

Ramallah is generally considered the most affluent and cultural, as well as the most liberal, of all Palestinian cities,[46][47] and is home to a number of popular Palestinian activists, poets, artists, and musicians.

One hallmark of Ramallah is Rukab's Ice Cream, which is based on the resin of chewing gum and thus has a distinctive taste. Another is the First Ramallah Group, a boy- and girl-scout club that also holds a number of traditional dance (Dabka) performances and is also home to men's and women's basketball teams that compete regionally. During the annual "Saturday of Light" religious festival (which occurs on the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday to commemorate the light that tradition holds shone from the tomb of Jesus), the scouts hold a parade through the city streets to receive the flame from Jerusalem. (The flame is ignited in Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre and is passed on through candles and lanterns to regional churches.) A variety of mosques and churches of different denominations dot the landscape. International music and dance troupes occasionally make a stop in Ramallah, and renowned Israeli pianist Daniel Barenboim performs there often. The Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center, founded in 1996, is a popular venue for such events. The Al-Kasaba Theatre is a venue for plays and movies. In 2004, the state-of-the art Ramallah Cultural Palace opened in the city. The only cultural center of its kind in the Palestinian territories, it houses a 736-seat auditorium, as well as conference rooms, exhibit halls, and movie-screening rooms. It was a joint venture of the Palestinian Authority, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the Japanese government.[48] Ramallah hosted its first annual international film festival in 2004.

Palestinian costume

Woman in Ramallah costume, c. 1920

Due to the difficulty of travel in the 19th century, villages in Palestine remained isolated. As a result, clothing and accessories became a statement of region. In Ramallah, the back panels of dresses often incorporated a palm tree motif embroidered in cross-stitch.[49] Ramallah women were famous for their distinctive dress of white linen fabric embroidered with red silk thread. The headdress or smadeh worn in Ramallah was common throughout northern Palestine: a small roundish cap, padded and stiffened, with gold and silver coins set in a fringe with a long veil pinned to the back, sometimes of silk and sometimes embroidered.

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Ramallah is twinned with:

References

Bibliography

  • Azeez Shaheen "Ramallah: Its history and genealogies", Birzeit University Press, 1982

References

  1. ^ a b 2007 PCBS Census. Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. p.114.
  2. ^ http://www.ramallah.ps/etemplate.aspx?id=81
  3. ^ "Projected Mid -Year Population for Ramallah & Al Bireh Governorate by Locality 2004 - 2006". Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. http://www.pcbs.gov.ps/Portals/_pcbs/populati/pop07.aspx. Retrieved 2008-02-22. 
  4. ^ a b c American Federation of Ramallah Palestine
  5. ^ a b "Religion in Ramallah City". Ramallah Municipality. http://www.ramallah.ps/etemplate.aspx?id=3. Retrieved 2008-02-22.  Information in text is gathered by several links in the "Religion in Ramallah" page.
  6. ^ Religious Society of Friends (Palestine)
  7. ^ "History of Friends School". Palestine Friends Boys School. Visuals Active Media. http://www.palfriends.org/fbs/history.asp. Retrieved 2008-02-22.  palfriends.org]
  8. ^ "From a Village to a Town". http://www.koolpages.com/wael2003/history.htm. Retrieved 2008-02-22. 
  9. ^ "The History of Radio in Israel". Jewish Virtual Library. American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/radio.html. Retrieved 2008-02-22. 
  10. ^ Creation of the problem of family separation in the Occupied Territories Btselem
  11. ^ Israeli Military Orders in the Occupied Palestinian West Bank Jerusalem Media and Communications Centre (JMCC), 2nd edition, pp.241. 1995
  12. ^ A/38/257-S/15810 of 2 June 1983
  13. ^ palestine-encyclopedia.com
  14. ^ brightonpalestinecampaign.org
  15. ^ web.amnesty.org
  16. ^ jmcc.org/research/reports/educate.htm
  17. ^ wider.unu.edu/publications
  18. ^ nytimes.com/books/first/s/said-end
  19. ^ ariga.com/5759/law001
  20. ^ un.org/documents/ga/docs/50/plenary/a50-262
  21. ^ badil.org/e-library/Resident_PA
  22. ^ zmag.org
  23. ^ miftah.org
  24. ^ machsomwatch.org/media/tahseenYaqeen
  25. ^ http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/lynchwit.html
  26. ^ news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle east/969778.stm
  27. ^ icph.birzeit.edu/Emergencey Publications
  28. ^ ajpme.org/articles/operationd
  29. ^ palestinemonitor.org/updates/devastating damage and vandalism
  30. ^ haaretzdaily.com/hasen/pages/ShArt
  31. ^ palestinemonitor.org/Special%20Section/operation destroy the data
  32. ^ siteresources.worldbank.org/INTWESTBANKGAZA/Resources/wbgaza-4yrassessment
  33. ^ palestinercs.org/checkpoints
  34. ^ btselem.org/English/Freedom of Movement/Siege
  35. ^ news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle east/1761785.stm
  36. ^ Welcome to Ramallah. British Mandate Survey cited in Palestine Remembered.
  37. ^ Hadawi, 1970, p.65
  38. ^ Ramallah. Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 27 Dec. 2008.
  39. ^ Palestinian Population by Locality, Sex and Age Groups in Years Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS).
  40. ^ Palestinian Population by Locality, Sex and Age Groups in Years. Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS).
  41. ^ Projected Mid -Year Population for Ramallah & Al Bireh Governorate by Locality 2004- 2006 Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. (PCBS).
  42. ^ Hall, Andy. Quaker Meeting in Ramallah Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel.
  43. ^ Keulemans, Chris. Imagination Behind the Wall: Cultural Life in Ramallah p.2. April 2005.
  44. ^ khaleejtimes.com
  45. ^ ocala.com
  46. ^ Emails from the edge The Observer, January 16, 2005
  47. ^ Hamas says it will use Islamic law as guide MSNBC, January 29, 2006
  48. ^ jerusalemites.org/jerusalem/cultural dimensions
  49. ^ HERITAGE Newsletter of the Palestinian Heritage Foundation Volume 6
  50. ^ Trondheims offisielle nettsted - Vennskapsbyer

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Ramallah (Arabic رام الله) is a small city (population, approximately 57,000) in the Palestinian Territories, located within the West Bank region, some 15 km (10 miles) north of Jerusalem. Since the inception of the Palestinian National Authority, Ramallah has acted as the de facto capital city of the Palestinian administration.

Get in

The major challenge to reaching Ramallah exists not at the town's physical entrance, but at the check point one must cross to get into Israel, as one must first travel through Israel proper before entering the Palestinian territories. The Israeli border guards frown upon visitors who choose to enter any city in the West Bank, unless done for pilgramages (which won't work as an excuse for visitors to Ramallah, as there are no nearby religious sites of much significance). Therefore, it is advisable for travelers to not mention planned visits to West Bank cities if Israeli officials ask about their travel itinerary.

Ramallah is in an Area A zone of the West Bank, therefore you must pass through an Israeli checkpoint before entering the city. At the main checkpoint from Jerusalem, it is simple to enter without being stopped. Most foreign passport holders (not of Palestinian origin) should not have trouble exiting through the checkpoint back to Jerusalem. Once through the checkpoint, it is a short drive to downtown Ramallah. Bear in mind that it is illegal for Israelis to enter Ramallah, under Israeli law.

By plane

As the Kalandia airport is not accessbile for civilian passengers anymore, the only nearby passenger airports are Ben Gurion in Tel Aviv and Queen Alia in Amman.

By train

There is no train service or train stations in Ramallah and the rest cities of the west bank.

By car

Heading north from Jerusalem on road 60#, you will arrive to Ramallah very fast. You will have to pass two Israeli checkpoints on the way: A-Ram and Kalandia.

By taxi

From the Damascus gate you can find taxis to Ramallah for approximately 80-100NIS depending on your bargaining skills. You can also take a taxi to Qalandia checkpoint and walk through, picking up another taxi on the other side. It costs about 30 NIS from Qalandia to Ramallah centre.

By bus

The best connection from Jerusalem to Ramallah is the #18 Sherut/service taxi. It departs close to Damascus Gate on Nablus Rd. It is very cheap (6.50 NIS) and will take you all the way to Ramallah's central square of al-Manara.

Get around

It is easy to find a taxi to get around Ramallah (for 10 NIS fixed charge, or the amount specified by the fare-meter). Car rentals are also available, but seldom needed. As the city center is relatively small, it is not hard to walk to most destinations downtown (including the old city.) Service shuttles (shared taxis) are also available from downtown to most suburbs and to the outskirts of the city at relatively low prices (2,5 NIS inside the city and up to 6 NIS to nearby towns and villages).

See

The city is one of the most vibrant ones in the West Bank. In Ramallah, a few historic and religious sites are present. However, the downtown streets are a must see during the day, as the city is often really congested. The 'hisbeh' produce market is also a great place to visit, where fresh fruits and vegetables can be found at reasonable prices.

In the old city, several churches and mosques can be found that may be of interest to visitors. The Friends Schools, which are one of the oldest schools in the region, are also a must visit as there is one near the old city, and another in the entrance of the downtown coming from Jerusalem.

During the night, a good number of shops are still open, especially during the summer. A common habit of the citizens of the city is going out for a drink, dinner, or a 'Argila' (flavoured tobacco waterpipe.) The cities various coffee shops, bars, and restaurants are a must see/visit. The nicer ones are often available closer the older city, and on the road going to Betunia, while some good ones can also be found outside the city center.

There is a turkish bath in the twin-city of El-Bireh, a good destination for foreigners wanting to relax for the day.

The West Bank headquarters of the Palestinian Authority is also worth a visit. The Mukata'a is a two-block compound with a white tower that is lit up at night and visible from most parts of the city. It contains some government offices and conference rooms, as well as Yasser Arafat's mausoleum next to the building where he was held under seige by the Israeli Army in 2002.

Do

Tourism, in the traditional sense, is almost non-existant in Ramallah compared to other cities in the region. If you are visting Ramallah, it is probable that you are doing so for political, business, and/or humanitarian reasons - expect to have lots of staring, curious (but always friendly) eyes looking at you as you walk though town. The city's active nightlife and its relatively liberal culture makes it a hot destination for visitors from other cities including Jersualem during the weeknights and weekends.

While there, it is easy to make small talk with the locals. Unless you are firmly anti-Israeli occupation, it is advisable that you do more listening than actual talking yourself, however. For the most part, Palestinians are glad to share their problems and plight to any western vistitors. However, do not force any topic.

Learn

Ramallah is the home of the Friends School in Palestine. The school has two campuses, one for grades 1-6 and is located near the old city. The other is for grades 7-12 and is located near the old police station destroyed by an Israeli air strike. The schools are famous for their international learning environment, intensive english language focus, and liberal learning atmosphere. The schools are private and have a number of notable Palestinian alumni.

The city also has a number of public and private schools that serve a good number of the West Bank youth population. Private schools with specific religious affiliations can also be found.

In the twin city of El-Bireh, there is also a school for the blind that also serves as a vocational center.

Birzeit University, which is in the neighboring town of Birzeit, is one of Palestine's leading educational institutions. The University offers a large number of study options and at different levels for students. It also has several links with international institutions, and often has a number of international students attending it. The city also has branches for Al-Quds Open University, which offers continuing education opportunities to many Palestinians. The PAS (Palestinian and Arab Studies) program is popular with internationals visiting or working in the West Bank who want to learn Arabic and take classes on the history and politics of Palestine.

There are a number of vocational training centers in the city, neighboring towns, and refugee camps.

Work

jobs in Ramallah http://www.jobs.ps

Ramallah is a vibrant Palestinian business hub, especially as most international agencies and governmental offices are located in the city. However, with the immigration of Palestinians from other cities in the West Bank to Ramallah, there is a highly competitve job market.

Salaries in Ramallah are relatively higher than those in other West Bank cities due to the expensive lifestyle of the city.

Major working opportunities in Ramallah include information technology, pharmaceuticals, development cooperation, and the public sector. Restaurant and coffee shop jobs are also available, mainly during the summer. Agricultural jobs are minimal in the city, but a few can be sought in neighboring villages. one of the best resources for jobs in Ramallah is http://www.jobs.ps ,jobs.ps offers hundreds of jobs available in Ramallah,in addition to the career tools

Buy

The markets are highly penetrated by 'pirated' and 'fake' products. Therefore, it is advised that one is cautious when shopping in Ramallah, if the brand is of importance to shoppers. The city center has diverse markets and centers to shop for cloths, shoes, food, souvenirs, cosmetics, and others. Prices are moderate, but relatively expensive compared to other West Bank cities. More expensive and upscale shops are available in the Plaza shopping center in El-Bireh suburb of Balou'.

Eat

Eating should be no problem in Ramallah, regardless of the budget of visitors. There are a huge number of falafel and shawerma places on all of the main streets.

One good place to visit is the "Nazareth Restaurant" at the end of the main street, which is popular for locals and serves really great (but hummousey) falafel.

The Arabic variety of ice-cream in many places in Ramallah is worth trying - a very different and more gooey and sticky version of what is available in the west. Regular ice cream can be found everywhere also. Try "Rukab's" and "Baladna" ice cream shops on the main street.

You can also have a delicious dish of fresh fish or other seafood dishes at "Fish and Chips" resturanet located in the old city. You can choose your favourite fresh fish from Palestine Fishery and ask the chef to prepare that fish for you in the way you like. They also prepare very delicious fish sandwiches at resonable prices.

For those who want more American/Western food, there is a "Checkers" fast-food joint in the mini-mall and on the main street. There is also "Chicago Cheese Steak" on Manara Square. Try "Tomasso's" pizza for a nice pizza dine-in or take-out.

Ramallah offers a wide variety of coffeeshops ranging from the local low-scale ones serving Arabic Coffee for 2 NIS, to those fancy places serving the same item for 10 - 15 NIS. Try the Arabic drinks (arabic coffee, mint tea, sahleb, etc ), cappucinos and lattes, and fresh juices and cocktails at the numerous cafes around downtown and in the suburbs. Also try "European" and "Karameh" on main street.

Budget

A filling falafel or hummous pita sandwich with a drink should run you around 6 NIS (1.5 U$D) from any of the common downtown restaurants. At nicer restaurants, such a combination will run you a bit more.

Mid-range

A large Shawerma, Kebab, or Chicken sandwich goes for around 10 (2.5 U$D) in most restaurants. A hamburger, fries, and a drink go for around 15-25 NIS depending on the restaurant.

Splurge

The city has a number of upscale restaurants. A nice steak or seafood dish will cost around 80 NIS (20 U$D). "Darna", "Angelo's", "Chinese House Restaurant", and "Pollo-Loco" are all nice options for upscale dining.

Drink

Although predominately Muslim, Ramallah's large restaurants usually serve alcohol. Expect a selection of imported beers (Heineken, Corona, etc.), spirits, and perhaps red or white wine. Do not display public intoxication, as at best, it is rude and inconsiderate to your Muslim hosts. At worst, it could be dangerous.

Popular local places to get served alcohol are Zan's, Zryiab, Stones, Angelo's, and Sangria's. They all serve food as well and the local Palestinian beer "Taybeh" (which can challenge most european beers).

Most neighborhoods, particularly tradionally Christian ones have a couple of stores that sell beer, wine and spirits.

Smoke

Waterpipes are very common in Ramallah coffe shops and restaurants. The term 'Argila' is often used in Ramallah to describe the waterpipes, while 'Shishah' is also used at some places. Depending on the location and type of restaurant of cafe, the price of smoking a nice and soothing tobacco waterpipe costs anywhere between 8-30 NIS (2-8 U$D.) The cheapest places do have an unwritten men-only rule, however.

Cigarettes can be bought from most grocery shops and supermarkets. Most international brands can be found, in addition to locally produced ones. A pack of imported cigarettes costs around 15 NIS (4 U$D.)

  • Al Wehdeh Hotel, Main Street. Great Hotel, but a little run down but by far the cheapest and nicest owners in town. Nice garden and good hot water. single 100 NIS. (sch,) edit
  • Merryland Hostel, 3rd floor of Al Ramoni building, +972 2 298 7176. inexpensive hotel, with wifi dorm 40 NIS, single 60 NIS, double 80 NIS.  edit
  • Manarah Hotel, A'raj Business Center, Irsal St., Manarah square, +972 2 295 2122, [1]. clean, inexpensive hotel one street over from bus station, with wifi double 150 NIS.  edit

Budget

Some older downtown hotel go for around 100-150 NIS (US$20-35).

  • Al-Hajjal
  • Al-Wehda

Mid-range

Around 50 U$D will get you a nice room.

  • City Inn Palace
  • Best Eastern
  • Grand Park Hotel. The most common destination in the city for businessmen and government officials. Room prices vary according to season, but often exceed the US$80 per night.
  • Royal Court Suites Hotel. An all-suites hotel where every room has a kitchenette and A/C. Daily and monthly rates in a tourist area close to restaurants and bars. Room prices US$50-140, depending on type of suite.

Stay safe

Generally speaking, Ramallah is safe for non-Israeli foreigners. The Palestinian residents are usually quite happy to have foreign nationals visit them. Theft is relatively rare, although do not interpret that statement as an OK to let your guard down.

Bear in mind that Ramallah has been under military occupation since 1967, and thus the city (As well as the rest of the West Bank) should be regarded as a conflict zone. Usually, Ramallah is relatively stable. However, at times the Israeli military enters the city, and there is sometimes trouble. This usually only happens in the dead of night, and they disappear before anyone realizes that they were there. However, the Israeli military occasionally enters Ramallah bluntly, and in large numbers. If this should happen while you are staying in Ramallah, do what the majority of Palestinians do, and stay inside, under cover. STAY OUT OF THE STREETS, and away from any soldiers or military vehicles. Do not assume that just because you are a foreign national that you are safe from being targeted.








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