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The New Buzz in Town
By Fatin Farhat
TWIP June 2010
Unsure where to go on a lazy Friday afternoon in Ramallah? Come check out the new buzz in town: Souq al-Haraja! If you are uncertain how to get there, lose yourself in the old city of Ramallah and simply follow the music.
Every Friday, the old city of Ramallah is met with the lively atmosphere of Souq al-Haraja, which fills the streets with curious onlookers and citizens seeking a nice day filled with music, art, fun, and culture. The art, dance, and music parts of Souq al-Haraja are embroidered with a Palestinian and traditional eastern feel. Tens of people do their shopping in the old city of Ramallah at the numerous kiosks that present selections of Palestinian handicrafts and products provided by Palestinian small companies, NGOs, and women’s groups. While parents busily peep inside the shopping kiosks in search of an alternative and unique shopping experience, kids also find a space of art and entertainment. Each Friday afternoon, the souq hosts a series of children’s events that range from storytelling to face painting and drawing while clowns roam the streets of the old city giving away balloons and creating big hearty smiles on the faces of children. The programme also includes open air music and dance performances that appeal to a wide range of audiences.
Souq al-Haraja, a joint venture between the Ramallah Municipality and Palexpo, is part of the strategic plan to revive the old city of Ramallah economically and culturally. It opened in Ramallah on Friday, 19 April, and will convene each Friday until 31 October. A family-oriented event, Souq al-Haraja also aims to create a venue that fosters internal tourism within Palestine and facilitate the exhibition the Palestinian products that are not offered in consumer shops. It thus aims to encourage small businesses and provide a space for young artists to exhibit their work outside a formal setting.
For the Ramallah Municipality, the souq acts as a platform for promoting art in public spaces and unconventional venues and offers an opportunity for emerging artists to perform in friendly and intimate settings. Thus far, the souq has hosted interesting performances by Bylasan Music Group, Alwan Music from Bethlehem, and Wajd Music Group. It has also hosted a number of dabka and folkloric dance troupes from various parts of Palestine. While maintaining the laidback and open setting, the souq is nonetheless keen to maintain high artistic standards. In addition, the souq aims to encourage cultural and artistic organisations working in the city to use the space as a platform for their programmes. In June, both the French and German cultural centres in Ramallah will present amazing music shows at al-Haraja.
And last but not least, Souq al-Haraja is a spontaneous project that can only develop with the participation of the community. Thus, if you are a young and talented artist with bright new ideas or if you are a part of a new performing group then al-Haraja is for you! If you want to voice an opinion or lobby for a cause, al-Haraja is for you. Don’t lose your chance! Be a part of Ramallah’s new buzz!
Fatin Farhat is director of the Cultural and Community Affairs Unit at the Ramallah Municipality. She can be reached at email@example.com.