RAMALLAH, October 4 (JMCC) - Thousands of Palestinians and internationals crowded into the small Christian village of Taybeh
over the weekend in beer-related revelry at the annual Oktoberfest celebration in the occupied West Bank
Old and young, Muslim and Christian alike partook in the colorful festivities that included live music and dance, a wide array of sizzling meats and local cuisine, and copious amounts of the fizzy golden drinks.
The Taybeh Brewery—the only one of its kind in the Palestinian territories—is the brainchild of the Khoury brothers, Palestinian Christians who emigrated back to the village from the United States in the mid-1990s.
Although they face little internal competition, the Taybeh Brewery competes in the doubly hostile environment of an overwhelmingly Muslim country that is under Israeli military occupation.
“We have a lot of challenges,” says Nadim Khoury, cofounder of Taybeh Bewery. “We suffer a lot from occupation, religion, culture, and the lack of advertisement. We have no borders, no airport. All these are obstacles that make it difficult to sell our product.”
Yet, despite trials and tribulations, spanning 15 years of operation, the local company has managed to succeed and is now producing upwards of 600,000 liters of the delicious beer annually.
Taybeh is now sold not only for domestic consumption, but to markets in Israel
, Jordan, Japan, Sweden and Chile. They have even begun producing a non-alcoholic version of the beer for Muslims who observe the religious ban against alcohol, a venture that is starting to take root.
The two-day festival has become a major attraction and meeting destination for tourists and expatriates working in the Palestinian territories, drawing around 14,000 people this year according to Khoury.
“Everyone looks forward to Taybeh Oktoberfest all year,” says Doris Carrion, an American who works with Palestinian children in Nablus
“It’s a time you get to see all the internationals you encounter in Ramallah
and all over the West Bank and Israel.”
Taybeh began the Oktoberfest celebration in 2005 as the second intifada against Israeli occupation was winding down. The festival has been growing in size ever since.
“We are very happy with everything, says Khoury. “It was extraordinary this time. It’s doubled from past years.