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Ramallah’s First Hostel Gives Travelers a Break From Politics for a Night

A month ago the first backpackers’ hostel in Ramallah was opened by Chris and Bobo Alami. Chris owns a hostel in East Jerusalem, Bobo left his job in an Arab bank, and they divide their time fixing up the new hostel, which could look like another sign of the economic boom in the West Bank in recent years, after a difficult period.

Named, plainly enough, Hostel in Ramallah, it is on a quiet street in the city center, a minute from Arafat Square, where someone is climbing a pole and hanging a flag, in contrast to times past when hanging the Palestine Liberation Organization flag on electricity poles was to risk one’s life.

When I stayed at the hostel as its first Israeli guest, there were tourists from Germany and Denmark, a Dutch woman whose family name is Aljiri and who was subject to a long debriefing at the entry point from Jordan, and a Swiss man who had converted to Islam and showed me pictures of him flying in a paraglider above Nablus and scaring the Palestinian policemen to death.

The atmosphere is family-like and the prices are cheap and suitable for backpackers: NIS 50 for a bed or NIS 150 for a separate room. The brothers are members of the Alami family, which has produced many public figures and businessmen, headed by Musa Alami, a Palestinian lawyer, philanthropist and founder and president of the Arab Development Society. Chris, who as an East Jerusalem resident has an Israeli ID card that enables him to move around freely in the territories and Israel, is a collector of vintage cars and was educated in Canada. The brothers are very interested in Israeli tourists, if only to show tourists that Ramallah is no longer a dangerous city.


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