Jerusalem: A field tour for Palestinian tour guides in the Old City

Jerusalem: A field tour for Palestinian tour guides in the Old City
25 August 2022

Jerusalem - The Mahmiyat project, in cooperation with the Arab Tourist Guide Union, organized a field tour for 36 tour guides in the Old City of Jerusalem. This was part of its promotional activities for the concepts of ecotourism in Palestine.

The field tour was led by tour guide Daoud Manarius, and comes with the support of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.  The tour was within the framework of promoting internal, religious, cultural and historical tourism of Palestinian old towns.

The tour included getting familiar with Islamic and Christian historical, cultural and religious landmarks. Visits were made to a community services center for visitors, Bab a-Zahara (Herod's Gate), the Indian and African corners, Via Dolorosa Street, the Jewish Quarter, the Christian Quarter, Ghawanmeh Gate, and the shrine of Mr.Ahmad Alqurmi.

The participants were introduced to societal structures within the walls of Jerusalem. They also reviewed historical documents of several sites, such as the Indian Corner which is run by a Palestinian-Indian family. This is an Islamic charitable waqf (endowment) near Bab a-Zahara (Herod's Gate). Its origins go back to the visit of an Indian Sufi scholar to Jerusalem 800 years ago. He stayed for 40 days in a stone room, which later became a destination for Indian tourists and pilgrims.

Tour guides looked closely around the city that lives behind historical walls. The Old City is a site included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, and per the request of Jordan, it is also on the List of World Heritage in Danger. Its inclusion is because it contains cultural and natural sites, and carries high universal qualities and values. In addition, it possesses unique characteristics that are not found in other places.

The tour focused on the religious, historical, cultural and spiritual significance of the city as a miniature world that embodies the diversity of humanity. An example was the Indian Corner (mentioned above), which represents the emphasis of the Indian government’s aspiration for world peace.

The guides went to the African Corner, which considers itself an integral part of the Palestinian people and has its own customs and traditions. Their origins come from several African countries such as Chad, Sudan, Nigeria and Senegal. Their presence in Jerusalem is due to the religious position of the city that they historically came to visit. These Africans in their original country are known as the Jerusalem pilgrims, and they also served as guards for the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

All of the tours were organized by the Arab Tourist Guide Union, with the participation of the President of the union, Youssef Eideh, the Executive Director, Linda Khoury, and the project manager of Mahmiyat Project at the Hanns Seidel Foundation, Ikram Quttaineh. The goal was to promote concepts of tourism of all kinds, and to emphasize the importance of the historical, cultural, religious and natural dimension of Palestinian tourism in hopes to encourage tourists to visit a variety of sites.