Arraba – Center of Local Culture 

Thirteen kilometers southwest of Jenin lies the town of Arraba, locus for the  CLC for this town and the six neighboring villages of  Burqin, Sanour, Ya’bad, Kfiret, Jaba,’ and Toura.  Arraba’s history goes back many millennia, to the stone and bronze ages.  It has traditionally been associated with the ancient Canaanite city of Arubboth mentioned in the Bible in 1 Kings. 

Under the Ottomans the town was the seat of the Abd al-Hadi family famous for its rivalry with the Touquan family of Nablus.  When the rivals clashed during the mid-19th century, sacking many local villages, the Ottomans destroyed their fortifications and plundered their palaces, ending the last vestige of independent rule in the region.  The CLC arranges guided visits to the Abd al-Hadi palaces, two of them now beautifully restored with UNDP funds. 

The region is dotted with a variety of archeological sites, natural beauty and ecological microsystems  – Roman wells and springs, castles which protected the area from intruders, Byzantine churches (one of which smells of incense from its present-day religious services),and  Sufi shrines on hills overlooking agricultural fields, forests and terraces below.  

Sights, treks and activities: 

  • The St. George Church in the village of Burqin, built in Byzantine times on the site where Jesus healed the ten lepers and considered the 5th oldest Christian holy place and third oldest Christian church in the world (pictured above).
  • The Tal Dothan in the fertile Dothan Valley where excavations have uncovered settlements from nineteen eras dating back to Chalcolithic era, and notably the Early Bronze Age when it was an important Canaanite  city. The Bible marks Dothan as the place where Joseph’s brothers threw him into a deep cistern with intent to sell him to traders bound for Egypt.
  • The formidable fortified “throne village” of Sanour from which the Jarrar family ruled nearby regions through the mid-19th century.  Sanour overlooks an agriculturally rich plain (“el marj”) and is the site where the Canaan Fair Trade Company had its beginnings.
  • Paths lead to remote shrines dedicated to Sufi holy men on mountaintops which offer breathtaking views. 
  • An environmental trail leads through gardens and forests past sites often used in weddings and a tree (“banat al-eid”) reputed to hold the wishes of young girls.

Meals and accommodations: 

Guests will be hosted in home-stays in partner villages: Arraba, Burqin and Toura.  Restaurants and womens’ associations will provide three daily meals and snacks and will feature traditional dishes such as Mousakhan, Maqlooba, Felafel, and Hommus.

Workshops and cultural activities: 

Guests may be offered activities such as olive oil soap-making or cooking workshops, story-telling sessions, film nights, a meeting with a local herb healer, or participatory evening folkloric performances and dances such as the Palestinian wedding Zajal, or the Dabka or Dalona.   Other workshops and activities can be arranged.

Local guides: 

youth of the Arraba CLC have been trained in guiding tours.  They have good language skills and they know their area.

Socializing and discussion with residents:  

a CLC requirement is that it provide multiple opportunities for visitors to interact with the people of the villages.  The activities, workshops, home-stays, use of local guides – all are designed to give tourists time and space to talk with their hosts and the residents of the villages.  In fact, the youth have been encouraged to give visitors a “cultural-political touristic experience.”   

Role of the local community:  

an important component in any CLC is the involvement of the people who live there – women, men, youth, the elderly.  Men and women of the villages serve together in equal numbers on the Center’s Committee.  The older residents are the story-tellers who pass on the old stories and myths they inherited from their ancestors.  Arraba’s CLC encompasses several women’s organizations and youth groups who play various parts in providing services.  

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