ARRABAAND THE POINTS OF INTEREST


Arraba is one of the nicest Palestinian villages, which dates back to the Canaanite period (2nd millennium BC) and preserves an archaeological site (Tal Dothan) of that period.

The town maintained its richness of the 17 th , 18 th , and 19 th centuries. During that time, the Ottoman occupiers had included it among the 24 villages defined as “Throne Villages,” as their aim was to rule out the territory, collect taxes, enforce the law, and administer justice on their behalf. The influential family of Abd al-Hadi, which was both powerful and rich, led the throne village of Arraba and joined other villages within the districts of Jenin and Nablus. With a surprising architectural homogeneity, they built the 21 elegant buildings of the palace, as well as a mosque in the middle of the town. The style was replicated by other rich families.


How to reach it

Arraba can be reached by car or with a reserved taxi, as well as by the buses or multiple taxis from the bus station of Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah, and Jerusalem.


The Main Points of Interest


ABD AL-HADI PALACE

CLAN HEAD OF THE “THRONE VILLAGE”

The large elegant palace of Abd al-Hadi is at the center of Arraba. It consists of 13 buildings built in different stages. The first half was established in the 19 th century as a residence for the influential Abd al-Hadi family.

The palace symbolizes the domination preserved by Abd al-Hadi’s clan throughout the years: during the 18th and 19th centuries, the Ottoman domination (1516-1918), and the interval of the occupation by the Egyptians (1831-1840).

The Ottomans, after capturing Palestine from the Mamluks, organized the rural subdistricts into 24 “throne villages” that served as seats for the local leaders. At the head of these villages, they delegated the most powerful families of the territory (such as Abd al-Hadi in Arraba, Jarrar in Sanur, and Tuqan in Hebron) – which in due time became hereditary. Among the roles of these clans was to collect taxes and maintain law and order on behalf of the government.

As such, the Abd al-Hadi family had the opportunity to further increase its power and extend their cultivated land and livestock. Among other things, they had mills producing oil and soap, and they favoured the crucial location of Arraba for their commerce.

THE EVOLUTION OF THE ABD AL-HADI FAMILY AND THE PALACE

The Abd al-Hadi clan managed to remain on good terms with the rules and stayed away from the defeated insurrection during the Ottoman era. They also avoided conflicts of power among the other clans (the Jarrars of Sanur, the Tuqans of Nablus, and the Nimers of Jenin). They preferred to diversify their activities in agriculture, industrial transformation (mostly of oil, grains, and soap), commerce with Europe, and money loaning. Although their management was utterly authoritarian, yet the economic development was favorable to the wellbeing of the people.

The clan’s power increased so much with the Egyptian occupation (1831-1840), to the point that Hussein Abd al-Hadi, who proved to be a loyal and effective servant, was promoted to the governorship of Sidon province which then included almost all of Palestine.

Eventually, the restoration of Ottoman control and their alliance with the hostile clans defeated the Abd al-Hadis and destroyed their palace. But by that time, their presence in Nablus (the economic centre of Palestine) and their economic power was sound and settled enough for them to have a fast recovery of their wealth.

During the visit of the palace, make sure to look beyond the rooms, the two imposing doors of entrance, and the Musa and Assaf gates. Check out the seat of the Women Organization (with its display of handicrafts), the Turkish bath, the garden of the oranges, the antique mosque, the rooms for children training, and the permanent exposition of the local artist Kaujhan.

ARRABA SOCIETY FOR WOMEN DEVELOPMENT

EXPERIENCE AND SHOPPING

The Municipality assigned one of the Abd al-Hadi palaces as the headquarters for the local Women Organization of Arraba. This association, run by Temam Quinawi today, was founded in 2004 to empower women and protect them from violence. It also provides training and entertainment for members and their children and offers rewarded activities as contribution to families. It also has joint voluntary activities with the Municipality for the benefit of the community. Initially, the association had 52 members. Today, there are more than 700 members distributed around Arraba and the Jenin branches of Qabatiya, Ya’bad, and Kufayrit.

The women create and sell different handmade products (displayed at the palace and in fairs), such as embroidery, bijouterie, necklaces, baskets, handbags, olive paste, and jams. They recognize the value of handicrafts and are happy to provide (upon prior notice) training for the visitors to create their own handicrafts and make Palestinian dishes. In fact, their most original specialty is the dukkah, often cooked during the events, ceremonies, festivals, and expositions.

Dukkah is a Gazan condiment made with roasted and milled lentils and chickpeas blended with sumac, caraway and sesame seeds. The recipe for this particular blend was brought from Gaza by one of the women, Manar Khleif, who is willing to teach the guests how to make it in its authentic way.

Address: Abd al-Hadi Palace
Formal Hours: 2 p.m. – 7 p.m. every day (but you can visit anytime by calling Mrs Temam: +970
056-9000848)

THE SHAMI TURKISH BATH

CULTURE AND EXPERIENCE

An elegant Turkish bath will soon be opened in the premises of the Abd al-Hadi palace, near the garden of oranges. The bath has an old long-standing architecture style.

Address: Abd al-Hadi Palace. Open days and hours to be defined. Contact (in the municipality): [email protected]

OM JEHAD PASTRY SHOP

EXPERIENCE AND GASTRONOMY

Om Jehad is a delightful woman who prepares homemade Palestinian pastries. Desserts include kullaj (a special kind of dough prepared for special occasions, similar to baklava but served hot), sweet kubbeh (outer dough-like shell and an inner filling). She also bakes yellow bread (made with corn flour, olive oil and sesame), and ma’amoul (a soft biscuit filled with dates).

The talented Om Jehad started out by making dessert for her relatives who loved her pastries. She then decided to sell sweets by request. She also teaches how to make those special treats to visitors, especially her appetizing kullaj.

Contact: Om Jehad’s pastry shop in Western Street. Om Jehad is willing to show and teach her pastry skills, but it is best to book her at least one day in advance. Mobile: +970 059 5684241

TAL DOTHAN ARCHAEOLOGIC SITE AND JOSEPH’S WELL

Tal (mount) Dothan is an archaeological site inhabited since the Neolithic period (10,000 – 3,500 BC) and later, intermittently, until the Islamic period.

Dothan is mentioned in the Bible as the place where the sons of Jacob, envious that Joseph was the most loved by their father, plotted to kill Joseph by throwing him into the cistern. The site of the pit in Dothan is where that cistern was. But Joseph did not die there. The eldest son convinced the brothers to sell him to merchants on their way to Egypt. There, Joseph, interpreting the Pharaoh’s dreams, was granted a powerful status. Joseph eventually forgave the brothers, welcomed them, and reunified the family with their old father Jacob.

Address: Along the Arraba main street, on the road to Jenin.

THE EXPERIENCE OF CALLIGRAPHY

The experience of learning to write Arabic words in a calligraphic way is quite fascinating. You will get to have this unique opportunity at Mohammed Sharif’s house.

Mohammed Sharif is an artist who worked with the famous calligrapher Hashem al-Baghdadi. He exhibited his projects in various places including in Great Britain, Ukraine, China, and Israel. His works show various elegant Arabic writing styles with compelling motifs and feasts of colors.

During the visit, you will get to see different samples of the artist’s work. He will also teach you how to write in an artistic way starting with six Arabic letters. With a small contribution from your part, you will be able to work with three kinds of brushes, the ink, and the special paper.

Address: Mohammed Sharif’s house, on the road to Arraba park near Hamza Mosque. Available during working days upon prior notice. Mobile: +970 599827389

HANA SALAH HOMESTAY

ACCOMMODATION AND GASTRONOMY

The homestay (Othman’s Residence) by Hana Salah captures a part of an ancient palace in Palestinian-Ottoman style. Hana speaks good English and gives visitors an opportunity to interact and find out about the distinctive features of the real Arraba.

This is quite a luxurious stay at a very low price. It has two large elegant rooms: The first has 3 beds (extendable to 5), with WIFI. The second has 2 beds (extendable to 4), without WIFI.

The main meals are Palestinian specialties. The breakfast is exquisite, with fresh taboon bread with hot cheese or zaa’tar on top, circled by the usual variety of Palestinian hors d’oeuvres.

Address: Near the center of the town, always open.
Mobile: + 970 599 292 972.
Telephone: +970 4 246 8366.
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://palstays.ps/profile.php?homestayID=62.
See also: https://masaribrahim.ps/portfolio/hana-homestay-arraba/

AL MARDAWI GUEST HOUSE

ACCOMMODATION AND GASTRONOMY

Mustafa and Ayat Mardawi offer the 2nd floor of their villa to the guests. The villa has 4 rooms and 14 beds. All with WIFI high speed.

The villa’s terraces have an exquisite view of Arraba town. The guestroom windows overlook the beautiful and lush olive groves, some of which belong to the Mardawis. The family put much love in building the house, thanks to the olive oil they have sold from pressing the olives. Mustafa is a driving instructor but devotes much of his time working on his land. During olive season, all the families in Arraba harmoniously pick olives together; a tradition learned from the ancestors. Mustafa skillfully combines the traditional cultivation methods he learned from his father with the innovative techniques of modern farming so as to meet the highest international standards for olive sale.

Ayat is a great cook of Palestinian dishes made from their land’s organic products. Her specialty is the Maqlubeh (the “upside down” dish) prepared with rice, vegetables, meat and herbs – all cooked in a single pot and then turned over (in a unique style!) Many prepare this delicious meal, but we find difficult to meet one as tasteful as the one made by Ayat.

Address: Al-Mardawi Guesthouse (Mustafa and Ayat Mardawi), in Kufour Rai Street.
Open upon prior notice.
Mobile: +972 569329554/ +972 599722591/ +972 59972259.
Email: [email protected]
Website: https://masaribrahim.ps/2018/07/04/al-mardawi-guesthouse/

THE "MIRACULOUS" HAND CREAM

Mrs. Basima Arda has a workshop at her home where she produces a hand cream which is said to be ‘miraculous’! It has a special way in making the skin soft and free of wrinkles. Upon request, Basima will be pleased to teach visitors on how to take care of their hands and arms.

Location: Basima’s workshop is at centre of Arraba.
Hours: Every day (except Friday) from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Mobile: +970 42468794

THE NARGILEH SHOP AND OTHER GIFTS

EXPERIENCE AND SHOPPING

If you want to take home a piece of Palestine, the gift shop can give you some original ideas. One example is to get an elegant narghile or some less bulky gifts.

Address: The gift shop is at the center of Arraba. Open from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Mobile: +970 42468794.

THE MUNICIPAL PARK

The Arraba Municipal Park, with nature as orderly groves, is a great place for entertainment. It has games, a café with indoor and outdoor seating, and a swimming pool during summer for children. There is also a swimming pool for adults (which is open in the summer alternatively: women only in the even days, and men only in the odd days).

The park is also a good spot for couples and families to spend the evenings.

Address: At the end of Northern Street.
Hours: 9 a.m. – midnight.

BILAL OBEID’S RESTAURANT

Bilal Obeid’s “Happiness Restaurant” in Arraba offers good Palestinian food. You can grab fast food on-the-go or choose to have a dining experience (on the 1st floor) with a menu full of Palestinian dishes.

Address: On the main street of Arraba (downtown).
Hours: Open daily from 10 a.m. – midnight.
Mobile: +970 592462992, Tel +970 42462922.

AL-NAZAZEH OLIVE OIL AND CHARCOAL EXPERIENCE

Al-Nazazeh is specialized in producing olive oil while benefiting Palestinian farmers.

We highly encourage visitors to look into the olive oil seasons and take part in the olive-making process (our Contact Centre and al-Nazazeh can assist you in this matter). Through this project, you can join the community in olive picking during the last months of the year. You can then see at al-Nazazeh how olives are selected, pressed, and bottled as exquisite Palestinian olive oil.

In parallel to the olive oil, the factory has another fascinating production of charcoal bricks, made out of wasted wood, to be burnt in stoves.

Address: Al-Nazazeh Company. Managed by Abdalaziz Ardah.
Email: [email protected]
Website: https://www.alnazazeh.com/?page_id=908

EXPLORING ARRABA AT NIGHT

Arraba is pleasant at night, although it must be noted that women rarely hang out there and rarely ever walk alone. You will mostly find couples and families enjoying the charming atmosphere. The shops, mainly of street food, are open at night and keep things bright. The shop keepers are well disposed and pleased to share their cooking specialties and expertise with tourists.

Guests are encouraged to taste and learn how to make such delicious treats. These include taboon bread, pita bread (for sandwiches or to dip in sauces), falafels in different compositions and tastes, fried kubbeh with meat or vegetables, and zarb (chicken cooked below the ground!) There are also various sweets to savour and create, such as the delicious knafeh, the mutabbaq with phyllo pastry and orange syrup, and others.