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Domestic Tourism: Mazra’a Qibliyeh Heritage and Tourism Center Offers Rural Hospitality to Seventy-four Palestinians from the Arab Educational Institute/Bethlehem

Contributed by Paltour News on 14.03.2006:

By Leyla Zuaiter

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On Sunday, December 4, the new Heritage and Tourism Center of the village of Mazra’a al Qibliyeh welcomed its first two bus-loads of guests. These consisted of seventy-four Palestinians from the women’s, parents’ and children’s groups of the Arab Educational Institute-Open Windows (AEI) from Bethlehem. Out for a day of spiritual and physical refreshment, they stopped here after a visit at the neighbouring village of Bir Zeit, in one of AEI’s long-standing, signature Moslem-Christian Fieldtrips known as “Situating our Values.”

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Mayor Saeed Shreiteh and members of municipality were living examples of the theme of the trip, which happened to be “hospitality and generosity.” So was the mukhtar who allowed the participants to make the most of the lovely weather by offering his grove for a lunch of mouth-watering, home-made Musakkhen, baked in the taboun.

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The children were kept occupied with games by their program leader in a grassy area, while adults strolled to the nearby spring.

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One of the women guests, expressing her joy, broke out in a zaghreet and others joined her in song.

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Then the participants took the bus to a lane leading to the city core to see the 37 buildings whose exteriors were recently renovated by RIWAQ. Ambling down the narrow streets, they were treated to panoramas of village architecture and the surrounding countryside.

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At the village square, the participants visited the three houses which were renovated inside as well as out, and viewed the collection of artefacts and village documents collected by a young heritage enthusiast.

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The women chatted with members of the village’s women’s group and bought some of the embroidery on display.

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The Sheikh who was to have spoken about hospitality and generosity in Islam was unable to be present, but Mayor and Director of the Heritage and Tourism Center, Sa’eed Shraiteh, cited a Hadith which states that one is not a true believer if he does not honour his guest.

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Some village women, their colourful thobs standing out against the clean white stone, as well as children who had put on their traditional dress for the occasion, drew near as he spoke, forming an exquisite tableau.

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On the way back to the bus, the guests came across a woman entering her taboun with a small pan of rice and meat which she was about to bake, the aroma of which followed them to the bus.

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The group then went to Ne’elam, where those with the energy and right shoes could explore some of the area’s natural beauty.

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As for the olive press, the roman tombs, and the buried Arab village where generations have found treasure, they will have to wait for another day–or many other days. For there is much left to explore. The people of Mazraá al Qiblieyeh are waiting. Who will be next to enjoy their hospitality and discover the charms of their village?

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This article first appeared in Paltournews Newsletter November/December 2005

For more about Mazra’a Qibliyeh see other entries on Palestine-Family.net

For more information about the Arab Educational Institute, see article in This Week in Palestine: Windows to Palestine, Windows to Peace: The Arab Educational Institute, Bethlehem, and see other entries on Palestine-family.net

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