Birzeit and its neighboring villages can be to a compared to a work of art drawn on the towns’ valleys and hillsides, coloring the old houses, stones and olive trees with shades of gold, brown and green. Here, much as the shades of color harmonize, so do the people. Muslim and Christian families celebrate both Eid al-Fitr and Christmas with church bells and chants of the Quran from the mosque. Muslim mothers bring their children to the Birzeit Easter Egg Hunt and everyone celebrates Ramadan.
Birzeit and the surrounding villages (Jifna, Atara, Burham, Jibiya, Aboud and Ein Sinia) form an important economic and cultural center in the West Bank. It is where many new factories and centers of learning and culture have developed. Birzeit University, for example, is one of the leading academic institutions in Palestine and the Arab World. Older industries are flourishing — the Taybeh brewery, the Birzeit Pharmaceutical Company, while new ones are being initiated — the winery in Aboud, a wood-working factory in Birzeit.
Sights and treks include:
Guests will be hosted in home-stays and guest houses. Restaurants and women’s associations will serve three daily meals and snacks and will feature traditional dishes such as Mousakhan, Maqlooba and Fattet Hommus.
Guests may be offered activities such as making a mosaic, creating something with straw at a village workshop, or learning the traditional Dabka dance steps and participating in an evening dance performance. Other workshops and activities can be arranged.
Youth of the Sabastiya CLC have been trained in guiding tours. They have good language skills and they know their area.
A CLC requirement is that it provides 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. Lunches served by the Beit Leid Society for Women’s Development and the Nus Jabil Women’s Society will provide occasions to talk with women about their roles and responsibilities in rural Palestine.
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 CLC Committee. The older residents are the story-tellers who pass on the old stories and myths they inherited from their ancestors. Sabastiya CLC encompasses several women’s organizations and youth groups who play various parts in providing services.