Know More About Palestine

Sunday June 6, 2010 5:48 PM (EST+7)
Ramallah attracts a cosmopolitan crowd

Read more: Ramallah, nightlife, Palestinian culture

RAMALLAH, June 6 (JMCC) - A period of fragile calm and a growing economy has once again spawned a burgeoning night life in the de facto Palestinian capital of Ramallah. A number of new clubs and bars of surprising sophistication have now become part of the Ramallah scene, drawing crowds of Palestinian and international youth nightly.

Part of the appeal for these young travelers is the sophisticated culture embodied by night spots like Orjuwan, an Italian-Palestinian fusion restaurant and bar opened in November by three young members of a prominent West Bank family: Sari Sakakini; his brother, Salim; and sister, Katia. The restaurant has a couch-strewn patio, a wine bar under a vaulted Ottoman ceiling and a dining room with a view of the Old City.

“We wanted to make five-star gourmet Palestinian food,” Sari Sakakini said. “We wanted to tell people that, even occupied, we can make something above standard.” His Italian-trained chefs, Samer Jadoun and Iad Abu Khlaf, are particularly proud of their fusion risottos, like risotto al maklouba, made with eggplant, cauliflower and spices. Still, Mr. Sakakini is concerned about the fragility of a business where tensions with Israel can flare at any moment. “It’s not easy,” he said. “Something could happen tomorrow.”

That’s what worried the parents of Molly Toomey, a 23-year old Chicagoan who has lived in Ramallah for a year, working for a non-governmental organization. Ms. Toomey said her father was concerned because “his idea of this place was it was somewhere he would never willingly let his daughter go.” This changed, she said, when her mother visited, “and didn’t want to leave.”

Olivia Magnan, 25, from France, has lived in Ramallah off and on since 2002; she now works as a project manager for a local theater. At the bar at Café La Vie, where there’s dancing and live music on Thursday nights, she described Ramallah as “a mirror city of Tel Aviv,” considered the most secular of Israeli cities, adding, “it also became a bubble — the only place where most of the people are not from here.”

Read more at the New York Times...






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