THE STATE OF PALESTINE : Old as the Olive Tree; Young as the Olive Fruit
Theme of Participation
Palestine has a rich history and culture that has intertwined over the years with its abundant agricultural base that is represented by the relationship between Palestinians and the olive tree. Palestinian olive trees go back to thousands of years in Palestine, and there are still olive trees that have aged from thousands of years. These ancient olive trees, however, rejuvenate and become young again every year at the time of the olive harvest, with their young olive fruit.
Concept and Educational Plan
The State of Palestine will participate in the exhibition with the intent of showing its beautiful capital Al-
Quds - the holy city of Jerusalem - one of holiest locations for Christianity, Islam and Judaism; and the richness of its culture with places such as Jericho, the oldest continually inhabited city in the world, Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, where the culture, history and society combined to produce a local cuisine that projects the goodness and productivity of the land, which can be detected in the redness of Palestinian cheeks and Palestinian soil.
The history of Palestine encompasses being the cradle of religions where forgiveness, understanding and tolerance are a daily ritual. Since the beginning of history, the olive branch has been a symbol of peace and of Palestine. The human ties to the holy land, the holy olive tree as it is referred to in Arabic, and the Jordan River are pivotal parts of Palestinian history and have shaped its present and are shaping its future.
As one of the main origins of civilization, and the cradle of the three monotheistic religions, Palestine was always a symbol of peace. The name Jerusalem, the capital of Palestine, comes from the Canaanite language, where it was called “Ur-Salem”, which means City of Peace. The concept is further developed in the birth of the “Prince of Peace”, Jesus Christ in Bethlehem, thereby re-enforcing its stature as the origin of peace. The Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), ascended from Jerusalem to heaven to meet with his creator. Throughout the history of Palestine, Jews, Christians and Moslems lived together in peace, acceptance and harmony.
Now, with the re-emergence of Palestine as a state in the making, Palestine wants to focus the attention of the world to the history, culture and heritage, and invite Expo visitors to visit the Palestinian pavilion and possibly to visit Palestine where the hospitality is world class and where it goes back 2000 years. The Palestinian Pavilion will focus on the “Holy Olive Tree”, which exemplifies the steadfastness and resilience of Palestine and the Palestinian people and represents the symbiotic relationship between, the land and the people.
Historically, the Olive branch symbolized peace the world over. The olive branch appears with a dove in early Christian art. The dove derives from the simile of the Holy Spirit in the Gospels and the olive branch from classical symbolism. The early Christians, according to Winckelmann, often allegorized peace on their sepulchers by the figure of a dove bearing an olive branch in its beak. The olive tree is an integral part of Palestinian life, whereby it symbolizes the serenity of co-existence that people have with their natural environment.
Olive trees carry more than an economic significance in the lives of Palestinians. They are not just like any another trees, they are symbolic of Palestinians’ attachment to their land. The Olive Tree now represents the history of the Palestinian nation and the re-birth of the Palestinian State symbolized by the old tree and the young fruit. Because the trees are draught-resistant and grow under poor soil conditions, they represent Palestinian resistance and resilience. The fact that olive trees live and bear fruit for thousands of years is parallel to Palestinian history and continuity on the land. Palestinians are proud of their olive trees; they take care of them with care and appreciation. Palestine has some of the world’s oldest olive trees, dating back to 4,000 years. Some families have trees that have been passed down to them for generations and the olive harvest season in October bears a socio-cultural meaning where families come together to harvest olive trees bearing in mind that their forefathers and mothers had tended to the same trees many generations ago.
Palestine is open for business, it is ready to receive tourists and to interact fully with other peoples and nations. As Palestinians; we have a good story to tell; The story that is represented to visitors of Expo 2015 by the Olive tree which forms significant part of Palestinian’s food, heritage and economy. Olive trees are very important gift that the land has given to its people in Palestine. It formulates an important part of the daily diet, nutrition and economy, but it also makes up a great deal more… It is part of the history, literature, mentality and physical and emotional structure and formulation of the Palestinian man, woman and child. The oil which comes from Palestinian olive trees that date back several thousands of years, and that age due to the symbiotic and harmonious relationship between them and their environment and the local inhabitants is a witness to these rich and harmonious ties. Palestine would like to inform the world, a major cross-section of which is represented at Expo Milano that they can come to Palestine and partake in the celebration of all that the Olive Tree represents in Palestinian life, where the old tree produces, every year young, tasty, beneficial, vibrant and entrepreneurial fruit.
In addition to their symbolic meaning, olives are a main source of income for around 91,300 Palestinian families (according to Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics July-September survey in 2013). According to the same source of figures of PCBS, around 42% of the agricultural land in the West Bank and Gaza is planted with olive trees. Olive trees account for 70% of fruit production in Palestine and contribute around 14% to the Palestinian economy. 93% of the olive harvest is used for olive oil production while the rest is used for olive soap, table olives and pickles. Much of the olive production is for local consumption with a small amount of olives being exported primarily to Jordan. With the growing interest in organic food and fair trade, Palestinian olives are now also reaching European, North American and other markets. The seed of the olive tree as well as the wood resulting from the pruning of the trees to make sure that they are continuously productive are also used for furniture, carving and to make fire logs for heating.
Olive oil has recently gained prominence in the world as an important part of a healthy diet. This re-enforced the status of Palestinian Olive oil internationally, as it is considered one of the most prominent in the world both in nutritional value and in taste. Palestine therefore is interested in showcasing its olive oil as an indicator of its culture, heritage and society.
Palestine is interested in highlighting the cultural and nutritional value of the healthy and delicious Palestinian / Mediterranean diet, represented by olives and olive oil from Palestine to the participants of Expo 2015. For this purpose, Palestine is interested in participating in the following thematic itineraries:
This History of Humanity
Its fruits [olives] gloss under the warm sunshine of April, hiding beneath the evergreen leaves, its fragrant cream-colored flowers and graceful appearance is a symbol of peace, prosperity, dignity and love. A symbol of life, tradition and legacy ...a symbol of Palestine. With each of its sturdy stems and fresh green leaves that burst their way towards the bright blue sky, comes a story of life ...a story of Palestine.
For thousands of years our ancestors have been passing on this sacred tree, the Palestinian olive tree, with all that it symbolizes, to their children and grandchildren. Many stories were told under its shade, and perhaps one can indulge in its old greyish branching pattern to look for truths about life. Palestinians therefore grant special attention and admiration to their beloved olive tree, for it lives within their psyche and represents that sacred figure that was mentioned in all religious books, extolled by poets, and represented by artists in various ways throughout history.
All of this attention within its symbolic context pushed Palestinians to widely plant it. Palestinians plant this tree in all areas. It is planted from heights that reach up to 900m above sea level all the way down to the Jordan Valley at 250m below sea level. In the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Palestinians have planted ten million trees over 659,894 dunums. This area represents 42.6% of the total planted agricultural land and the trees constitute about 71% of the total rain-fed productive trees in Palestine As for the Gaza Strip, about 22,452 dunums have been planted with olive trees. Palestinians continue to plant around 10,000 new olive trees each year in the West Bank where most of the new plants are from the oil-producing variety and most of their output ends up as olive oil.
The olive tree is known to have important social and economic impacts during its harvest season, with its ability to gather a large number of working hands, especially among women, when Palestinian families including children, women, men, students and the elderly all gather in their olive groves to harvest their trees while bringing alive Palestinian traditions and folklore with cultural evenings and activities.
Olive oil is a basic component of the daily meals of Palestinians. Every morning most families gather around the traditional breakfast of zait and zaatar - olive oil and ground thyme - that are mopped up with fresh kmaj – pita bread. Olive oil is also a strategic Palestinian product of the national economy. It is of high standards in terms of taste, smell and color. Olive production is the number one product in terms of overall agricultural production, taking up 25% of total agricultural production in the West Bank.
Olive wood is known to be the best kind of wood for creating simple sculptures and shapes, such as gifts and souvenirs, which are appreciated by tourists and foreigners visiting the Holy Land. Its pits (the olive pit is) is also widely used as a main heat source in homes throughout Palestine. The glory of this sacred Palestinian plant shines in the darkness of the Israeli occupation.
The importance of the olive tree for Palestinian has resulted in its incorporation in Palestinian literature, poetry and song. Mahmoud Darwish, the prominent Palestinian poet has mentioned or centered an important part of his poetry on olive trees and their importance in Palestinian life. In one of his poems indicating the difficulties that Palestinian face in maintaining their olive groves under occupation said, “If the olive trees knew the hands that planted them, their oil would have become tears …” Tawfiq Zayyad, another prominent Palestinian poet wrote in a poem titled – The Olive Tree – “For the sake of remembrance, I shall continue to carve All the chapters of my tragedy And all the stages of Al- Nakbah On the home yard olive tree!
In his poem – Identity Card, Mahmoud Darwish also writes:
I am an Arab
I am a name without a title
Patient, in a country
Where every body else is very angry
My roots sink deep before the birth of time
And before the beginning of the ages,
Before the time of Cypress and olives
Before the beginnings of grass,
My father belonged to the family of the plough
Was not of grand stock
My grand father was a farmer, without a pedigree
He taught me the grandeur of the sun
Before reading books
My house is a hut
Made of reed and stalk
Are you satisfied with my rank?
I am a name without a title!
Palestinian agriculture has been traditionally based on the concept of organic plantation and production. Many traditions are relevant how food is produced, including the planting, harvesting and utilization, which have historical backgrounds that need to be told. Palestinian cheese and dairy products are also a prominent part of the diet, and also have a story to tell. Most importantly, Palestinian traditions include a large variety of herbs that are still being used to cure some of the ailments in a natural way.
These stories will be told through audio-visual displays and actual displays of products that are being highlighted and the process through which they are produced.
Abundance and Shortage: The Contemporary Paradox
Palestinian land has a great deal of good foods to offer, but Palestinians are living a difficult situation with impediments to access to their land and to the water resources that are the major life line for agricultural production and simple daily sustenance. In a world filled with contradictions, where some people have no access to drinking water or food, and where malnutrition has manifested its hold on a large percentage of the population, The Palestinian pavilion is interested in highlighting the potential for going back to the spirit of traditional ways to conserve water resources, and utilize proper agricultural mechanisms as a way of balancing the equation of the “haves and the have-nots”, and reducing the impact of the paradox, one life at a time. The Palestinian society was able through years of trial and error, and innovation to enhance the production typology and capacity of agriculture while rationalizing the utilization of the ever needed and scarce water resource through public education, building awareness and a political will to survive under the most inclement circumstances.
The Palestinian use for example a traditional way to build their houses in order to utilize the rain water, where they use metal pipes form the house ceiling extended down to a well built under the house itself where they collect and save the rain water in the well to use this natural source to irrigate their crops.
If you are having a pilot view over Palestine, you will significantly notice the solar panels stacked on all houses ceilings which used to utilize the solar energy, solar panel can be used as a component of a larger photovoltaic system to generate and supply electricity in commercial and residential applications.
The Palestinian participation in this thematic will highlight how Palestinians are dealing with these shortages and how they are affecting the daily life and socio economy of Palestinians. The rational utilization of resources by the Palestinian people in their agricultural and food production is an excellent example of how these resources can be utilized to the fullest, while conserving the environment and ensuring the renewability of nature.
The Future of Food
Palestinian agriculture is traditional in its ways, but also has developed with modern science and technology in order to ensure that sufficient amounts are being produced. One of the advantages to Palestinian agriculture is the variety in climatic areas, which provide for varied production seasons. The Jordan Valley, for example provides for agricultural production in the winter “off” season, while the mountainous areas provide agricultural production in the summer and coastal areas provide for spring and fall production. Even though all these areas can produce the necessary requirements for Palestinian basic staples, each area specializes in some type of production.
The mountains of Hebron, for example specialize in the production of exceptional table grapes, which are eaten fresh in season. In order to benefit from the nutritional value of grapes in the off season, the people from Hebron make an exceptionally delicious type of molasses from grapes that is then stored and used throughout the year. This molasses is used for cooking, making confectionary and is even eaten for breakfast, mixed with Tahini (sesame seed paste) and bread. Grape Jam and raisins are also produced from Hebron grapes.
The Jordan Valley, with its high temperatures formulates an excellent place for cultivating date trees, and farmers are producing the very high quality and highly nutritional “Madjoul” dates. This of course is coupled with other agricultural products such as zucchini, egg-plants, cucumbers and tomatoes, as well as herbs of a wide variety. The Jordan Valley, especially the Jericho area is also known for citrus products such as oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes.
The Tulkarem area of the west bank specializes in sweet apricots known as “mistkawi”, which is used for making jams, confectionaries and sweets, as well as dried fruits.
Gaza farmers started cultivating strawberries in 1968 on limited areas and began exporting to foreign markets in the late 1970s. The area under cultivation grew over the years until it reached its peak in 2005, when 2,500 dunums (618 acres) were cultivated.
The existence of such a variety of climatic regions and wide range of agricultural products in such a small country is quite rare, and provides for many stories to tell. Palestine will put these stories on the table in the exhibition by showcasing the advancement in traditional agricultural production that has been achieved to accommodate and fully utilize such variation.
Within such an abundant and hospitable agricultural and productive atmosphere, advanced processes for guaranteeing food safety are being utilized by Palestinian farmers and producers of food stuffs. It is general occasion to find that farms are Global Gap certified, organic certified, and even ISO 22000 certified. An example of this is the Gaza Strawberry fields, 90% of which have Eurepgap certification, or the Saniora processed meats factory being the first in the Arab World and the Middle East North Africa region to get the ISO 22000 certification. This is an important reflection of the value of combining the traditional food production process with the modern techniques for ensuring food safety and quality, which Palestinians hold so deer.
Sustainable Food = Fair World
The success of fair trade in Palestine in transforming the whole concept of acquiring agricultural goods to target exports has been tremendous, and has had a very positive effect of the lives of the farmers, who stand to benefit the most from the whole concept of fair trade. With over 1700 small Palestinian farmers joined in fair trade collectives and cooperatives across the country. Collectively these farmers produce the traditional olive oil and food delicacies from Palestine, and sell them internationally to buyers and markets not available to an individual farmer. Fair trade means social and economic empowerment – a dignified living for farmers who have not had access to the outside world due to being under occupation for over 45 years. Fair Trade has revitalized farming traditions and a culture of sustainability by linking the traditionally organic farming methods of Palestine to modern organic/ecological movements and markets. Palestinian farming communities benefit from the living wages paid to farmers and producers, the fair trade reinvestment in the community through the payment of social premiums to cooperatives above the price, and the cooperatives and collectives that are established along the production process. In the implementation of this concept, it has become apparent that the farmer benefits from the improved and fair income, which he/she gains from exporting their products, as well as in the process of meeting the needs of a world, that is more demanding when it comes to food and availability.
Palestinian agriculture, which is based on modern developed planting and harvesting processes that are tooted in traditional cultivation processes have maintained a long term sustainability through ensuring the protection of the environment and the productivity of the land. The olive tree and the whole agricultural tradition and produce that is built around it is not only an environmentally aware and safe process, but the presence of olive trees in the arid areas of Palestine with its strong roots that dig into the ground, has actually formulated for thousands of years a method of protection from desertification in such a dry and hot environment. The roots of the olive tree actually protect the soil from erosion and keep it rich enough to plant other varieties around it. This cultivation provides for sustainability and longevity of Palestinian agriculture and keeps it fertile.
Taste is Knowledge
The most prominent feature of Palestinian Olive Oil and Palestinian cuisine is its taste. In order to promote Palestinian food, which is a prominent part of the Mediterranean cuisine, tasting of Palestinian food will be provided in the exhibit, including ready foods and an on-going cooking display, where a number of Palestinian chefs will be available to produce Palestinian Saj and Taboun bread, Palestinian pastries and ready Palestinian food for the tasting, all involving cooking with Olive Oil.
Palestinian food is divided into different categories, a portion of which will be provided for tasting in the Palestinian Pavilion. The following is a breakdown of these food categories:
Rice is the basic ingredient in ceremonial dishes, and is a very important element of Palestinian meals. Rice dishes are usually the main dish of Palestinian dinner, because they consist of a variety of ingredients commonly found within the Palestinian land. Rice is usually not served alone or as a side dish, but rather it is incorporated within a larger dish or tabeekh (dish), that would include vegetables, and meat (chicken or lamb). Meat is almost always present in Palestinian dishes, but mostly in small amounts to maintain the delicate mix of the necessary food groups in each meal.
Mansaf is a very popular dish that is usually served during important events, such as traditional weddings, engagements, funerals and baptisms. It is a dish incorporating all the elements of Palestinian land, such as bread, laban (yogurt) soup, rice, nuts (pine nuts), parsley and lamb, making it an important cultural dish. The meal is often times served the traditional way in a large common plate, a sidr. The meal is usually eaten without the use of tableware, but rather each person sits beside each other eating from the same large plate as an indicator of support, community and celebration.
Maqluba means "upside down" in Arabic, and it is a dish made with meat, fried vegetables and rice. The dish is cooked with the meat at the bottom of a large pot, and then layered with fried vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots, cauliflower and eggplant. Rice is then added to the dish as it completes cooking. When served, Maqluba is flipped upside down with the meat now at the top, hence the name. Maqluba is a popular dish, commonly served with salad and yogurt by Palestinians.
Oozie is a rich rice dish with chopped vegetables and roasted meat served with it. The dish is seen as comparatively simpler in its cooking than other Palestinian dishes, because it is cooked with basic rice (with diced vegetables) and a meat served on top of it. The meal is served in a large tray “sidr”, similar to mansaf, decorated with chopped parsley and pine nuts or chopped almonds.
Ruz ma Lahma is generally the only rice side dish in most Arab and Palestinian cooking, with simply cooked rice, spices, ground beef and nuts. It is usually served with a full lamb, as the main dish.
Stews are basic fare for every day family cooking and are always served with plain rice. They are popular because they provide a wide range of nutrients from the meat, the vegetables and the rice. The extra liquid is also essential in such dry climate. Stews are also economically beneficial, as they provide relatively small amount of meat into feeding large families, especially within the poorer population.
Mloukhiyeh is a stew made from an herb that grows in Mediterranean areas. The Mloukhiyeh is picked during harvest time, and is either frozen or dried. It is widely popular in the middle east, as it is commonly grown in dry climate areas. The stew is cooked with lemon juice and water, and served with cut lemons and rice. The meal can be served with either chicken or lamb.
Adas is a healthy lentil soup, common in the Middle East. Unlike other parts of the Middle East, Palestinians do not incorporate yogurt or other ingredients into this soup. Rather, it is made with lentils and chopped onions and served with sliced onions and bread on the side.
Palestinians bake a variety of different kinds of breads: they include Khubz, pita and Markook and Taboon. Khubz is everyday bread and is very similar to pita. It often takes the place of utensils; It is torn into bite size pieces and used to scoop various dips such as hummus or foul (fava bean dip). Markook bread is a paper-thin unleavened bread and when unfolded it is almost transparent. Taboon receives its name from the ovens used to bake them.
Musakhan is a widely popular Palestinian dish composed of roasted chicken, with fried onions, sumac, allspice, Safron and pine nuts atop one or more Taboon bread. The dish is usually served with cut lemon and Yoghurt on the side. In April 2010, Palestinians were entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for largest Musakhan dish.
Sandwiches usually using markook or khubz, such as Shawarma and Falafel are also common bread meals. Shawarma can be served as a sandwich or meal with shaved meat and bread. Shawarma can be chicken or beef, and is adorned with a variety of garnishes. These can include pickles, hummus, or a garlic yogurt mix. Falafel, fried chickpeas, parsley and onion are fried into small patties and are adorned with similar toppings as Shawarma.
Mahashi (Stuffed Vegetables)
Mahshi (pl. mahshi) dishes are composed of rice stuffed vegetables such as, eggplants, baby pumpkins, potatoes, carrots and marrows as well as a variety of leaf vegetables, primarily grape leaves, cabbage leaves and less often chard. Mahshi requires delicacy and time — the main reason it is prepared before the day it is cooked and served. Many family members participate in the rolling and stuffing of the vegetables, relaxing the amount of individual effort required, with great attention to detail.
Waraq al-'ainib (stuffed grape leaves), is a mahshi meal reserved for large gatherings. The grape leaves are normally wrapped around minced meat, white rice and diced tomatoes. This dish is an excellent representation of the attention to detail commonly found in Palestinian cuisine, with each piece being tightly wrapped to the size of cigarette morsels. It is then cooked and served as dozens of rolls on a large plate usually accompanied by boiled potato slices, carrots and lamb pieces.
Dips and side dishes
Bread dips and side dishes such as, hummus, baba ghanoush, mutabbel and labeneh are frequented during breakfast and dinner.
Hummus is a staple in Palestinian side dishes, in which boiled, ground beans are mixed with sesame paste and sometimes lemon juice. Hummus is often slathered in Olive Oil and sometimes sprinkled with paprika , oregano and pine nuts; the latter are especially popular in the West Bank. Chick peas are also mixed with foul (fava beans), resulting in an entirely different dish, with a distinct flavor and brownish color.
Baba ghanouj is an eggplant or aubergine salad or dip with several variants. The root of all the variants is broiled and mashed eggplant and tahini lathered with olive oil, which can then be flavored with either garlic, onions, peppers, ground cumin seeds, mint and parsley.
Palestinian desserts include baklawa, halawa and kanafeh, as well as other semolina and wheat pastries. Baklawa is a pastry made of thin sheets of unleavened flour dough (phillo), filled with pistachios and walnuts sweetened by honey. Burmat il-Katayif, or simply Burma, especially popular in East Jerusalem, has the same filling as baklawa, but is cylndrical in shape and made with kanafeh dough instead of phyllo. Halawa is a block confection of sweetened sesame flour served in sliced pieces. Muhalabiyeh is a rice pudding made with milk and topped with pistachios or almonds.
Given the importance of olive oil in the daily diet of Palestinians, it has become important to project this highly beneficial product to the world, coupled with the healthy diet of Palestinians and to ensure that its rare qualities are told in order to improve the nutritional habits of people all over the world. The olive tree lives and thrives in Arid areas and formulated an important part of the landscape and the process of safeguarding against desertification and land erosion, which are serious issues that are faced by arid zones. The olive tree is also important because it is drought resistant and does not need a great deal of water, and is generally rain-fed. The olive tree not only survives in arid areas, but also helps in keeping the soil fertile through the emissions from its roots into the soil, thereby helping in keeping the land fertile and productive even in arid areas. Palestine is a member of the Arid Zones Cluster due to the fact that it has dry weather and low amounts of rain, and because a large percentage of it is land-locked. Ever since old times, people in Palestine have built artificial wells in their homes in order to harvest water and to ensure that they can survive in droughts. Palestinian law, recently made it a necessity to ensure that each residential home or building has an artificial water well in order to reduce consumption of water in underground aquifers and to keep the balance of fresh water to avoid high levels of salination.
Architecture and Technology
Stemming from the ancient architecture in Palestine, which is highly influenced by the arid climate, Palestinian construction, even up to this point in time, is based on the use of limestone. Due to the heat in the summer and the cold in the winter, limestone was and still is being used to ensure that homes are well insulated and warm in the winter time, and cool in the hot arid summer. Old Palestinian buildings use dome technology to keep homes and other structure strong and well insulated. The Palestinian building structure is mostly made of old stone homes with very thick stone ledges, domes for ceilings, curved walls and very large wood or metal doors and gates. Palestinian homes are mostly known for very large metal windows that are set on stone ledges. These windows allowed for the entry of sunshine, which is abundant in Palestine, to ensure a warm and healthy, and well-lit home environment. Palestinian homes were also aimed at sustainability and accessibility, whereby under the home, one could find a large water well which is used to store water from rain after filtration. One could also find a small well, where the olive oil is stored from season to season for the utilization of the family throughout the year. Some families have small areas where they keep some domestic animals ranging from chicken and sheep to horses, which they used to operate the traditional stone olive crushers which churn olives to make cold pressed olive oil.
Since social and economic life played a role in the traditional architectural styles, The function of the building was to determine the buildings area and style. Climate, environment, and location made different styles in the same materials and techniques, studying the rural and urban areas helped in setting a classification as simple and complicated peasants’ houses, and town houses (courtyard and Liwan)
In Expo Milan we will reflect the interior architecture as a Town house “Courtyard”
(Hadid, 2002)A courtyard house was built usually to give more privacy and easy access to rooms surrounding a court open to sky. In some cases the court is not fully surrounded by the same house but by additional fence walls that separate the building and the court from outside. Courtyard houses especially those with portico (Riwaq) were efficient in saving energy and interplay with local climate; opened to the court weren’t directed to sun in summer and were isolated from the direct rain in winter, in addition to the court itself which is open to the fresh air and shaded most of the time. Jacir Palace in Bethlehem is a good example of a courtyard houses.
Materials used in all styles of the Palestinian houses: (which will be used as well in the Palestinian pavilion): Building stones: Limestone (used in the central mountains areas), Sandstone (used in the coastal plain), Mudstone (used in Jordan Valley and the Coastal plain).
Interior designs: In the Palestinian pavilion we will highlight the Palestinian architecture that represents the mansions of Palestine during late 1800- early 1900. The Palestinian architecture (houses) are The villa- like mansions reflected the style and social class that was visible at urban and rural areas. Al Jacir palace which is currently the Intercontinental Hotel – Bethlehem is a living evidence of the true Palestinian architecture. It is evident the doom like ceiling and roof, the highly decorated arches, sculptures and drawings on the stone columns, the colored stone tiles that reflects a master piece on the floor.
The pavilion will include paintings on the interior walls that reflect several themes; replicates of wall paintings from real houses will be displayed inside the pavilion. These houses are still standing in all Palestinian cities with several themes, starting with food, angels, religious, political, sea and immigration. The Palestinian pavilion will focus on replicates of fruits such as grapes, plants especially flowers.
In the past, traditionally Palestinians lived in small communities which gathered a number of homes together, with a mosque, a church and some shops where they can buy their needs. This concept later on formulated the old cities in Palestine, such as the old city in Hebron, Nablus and Jerusalem. The Palestinian Pavilion may be designed similar to an old city, with various homes that would house different displays such as photo displays, video displays, restaurants and handicrafts displays. The spaces within these old homes would be for specialized displays, while the walkways and shops between these homes would be used to communicate with visitors and display some examples of what can be found in the homes.
Soft traditional Palestinian music can be played in the background, and an area within the “old city” can be used to represent the central market, which is an open space especially created to hold music and dance shows and other exhibitions.
Exhibits And Active Content
The elements of the Palestinian Pavilion will be the following:
- Handicrafts projecting the Palestinian culture can be displayed and some handcrafters can be available to show how these products are made, and they can be customized to include the name of the visitor.
- Traditional Herbs as medicaments
- Palestinians wearing Local Palestinian tradition dress to show the cultural significance of Palestinian traditional dress
- Palestinian folkloric performances (music, dance and songs)
- Exhibits of Palestinian Jewelry and jewelry making processes
- Display of Palestinian olive oil soap
- Display of Dead Sea cosmetics and soap
- Olive wood carving station and display
- A photo gallery corner in the pavilion will tell the story of the Palestinian old cities in terms of the oriental ancient architecture
- Paintings of Palestinian artists to be displayed.
- Promotional documentaries of Palestine
- Projector screen/ TV screen with videos about Palestine and Palestinian way of living
- A small museum type display where traditional Palestinian dress and agricultural and building tools, as well as facsimiles of artifacts found in archeological sites can be displayed.
- Olive oil harvesting and pressing tools will be displayed, showing/displaying the development in technologies that occurred over decades
Commercial and Food Service Activities
The exhibit will include a variety of commercial and food activities, such as preparing traditional Palestinian food in front of visitors, selling handicrafts and making them customized to visitors and providing a coffee shop that sells Palestinian food and the various herbal drinks that are used as part of traditional Palestinian cuisine. The following are some ideas for food service:
- Restaurants to sell Palestinian food, whereby some of the traditional foods can be made on display and served hot to the visitors.
- Palestinian Olive Oil and other natural foods can be put on display
- Traditional Herbs and spices for food
- Palestinian dates
- Agricultural products (strawberries and flowers) from Gaza
- Souvenirs will be displayed in one of the pavilion corners, so as to enable visitors to buy Souvenirs from Palestine.
The Palestinian Participation in Expo Milan 2015 is sponsored by:
- Bank of Palestine
- Palestine Investment Fund
- PALTEL group
- PADICO Holding
- Islamic Development Bank