Buckle up: Palestinian twins turn Boeing 707 into restaurant

Buckle up: Palestinian twins turn Boeing 707 into restaurant
Its enterprising owners, 60-year-old twin brothers Ata and Khamis Al-Sairafi, expect to welcome their first customers within weeks. (AFP)
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Updated 08 July 2021

Buckle up: Palestinian twins turn Boeing 707 into restaurant

Buckle up: Palestinian twins turn Boeing 707 into restaurant
  • Its enterprising owners, 60-year-old twin brothers Ata and Khamis Al-Sairafi, expect to welcome their first customers within weeks
  • The brothers plan to call their aviation-themed eatery — which is decorated with Palestinian and Jordanian flags

AL BADHAN: Palestinian workers in the Israel-occupied West Bank are putting the final touches on a decommissioned Boeing 707 aircraft to ready it for a new kind of takeoff: as a restaurant.
Its enterprising owners, 60-year-old twin brothers Ata and Khamis Al-Sairafi, expect to welcome their first customers within weeks at the site in an isolated mountain area near Nablus.
Inside the old jet’s cabin, the seats have been stripped out and the window panes removed. Tables will soon be fitted in the fuselage, which has been painted white with laminate wooden floors.
The brothers plan to call their aviation-themed eatery — which is decorated with Palestinian and Jordanian flags — “the Palestinian-Jordanian Airline Restaurant and Coffee Shop Al-Sairafi Nablus.”
“We will start by providing hookahs,” said Khamis, for people who enjoy smoking tobacco through water pipes, before later expanding the business into an event space.
“The cockpit will be a suitable place for any newlyweds who come to us for their wedding ceremony.”
The Sairafi brothers — identical twins who were sporting matching yellow shirts, khaki shorts and red sneakers during AFP’s visit — are known for their interest in unusual initiatives.
Ata said he and his brother were working as scrap metal traders two decades ago when he learned about a 1980s-era passenger plane sitting near Kiryat Shmona in northern Israel.
They purchased it in 1999, even though there was — and still is — no airport in the Palestinian Territories, usually forcing residents who want to fly abroad to travel via Jordan.
The brothers negotiated with the Israeli owner, who sold it to them for $100,000, the engines removed.
“After we bought it, we had to move it from Israel ... which is a complicated process,” Ata said.
The twins paid an Israeli company $20,000 to move the jet to the West Bank, which Israel has occupied since it conquered the territory along with east Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967.
The brothers said the 13-hour transport was coordinated between the Israeli and Palestinian sides.
Key roads were closed so the plane could be rolled on a giant tow truck, its wings temporarily separated, to its current location.
“Loads of media outlets covered it, and the Israeli police intervened to organize the transfer,” recalled Khamis.
“We received the plane, which dates back to the 1980s, without any equipment that would enable it to fly,” Ata said.
The twins said they hoped to run a restaurant out of the plane since around 2000, but the launch faltered with the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising.
“The events in the Palestinian territories at that time hindered the completion of our project, and we thought of reviving it two years ago, but the spread of the coronavirus also prevented us from doing so,” Khamis said.
As they returned to their long-delayed passion project, the twins purchased a rickety retired gangway from Ben Gurion Airport, its name still visible in Hebrew and English characters.
The project faces one more, environmental, challenge. The plane sits on property abutting a waste sorting station which the twins are trying to convince local authorities to move elsewhere.
Ultimately, they said they are hopeful their project will finally take wing after being grounded for nearly a quarter-century.
“Having an aircraft in the Palestinian territories,” said Khamis, “is such a strange idea that I’m sure the project will be a success.”


Recently discovered pharaonic coffin arrives at Expo Dubai 2020

Recently discovered pharaonic coffin arrives at Expo Dubai 2020
Updated 24 September 2021

Recently discovered pharaonic coffin arrives at Expo Dubai 2020

Recently discovered pharaonic coffin arrives at Expo Dubai 2020
  • The wooden coffin of ancient Egyptian priest Psamtik was discovered in the country’s Saqqara Antiquities Area
  • Earlier, the pavilion received a collection of replicas of King Tutankhamun

DUBAI: An archeological Egyptian coffin has arrived in Egypt’s Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai and will be displayed for the six-month period of the event, Emirates News Agency WAM reported.

The wooden coffin of ancient Egyptian priest Psamtik was discovered in the country’s Saqqara Antiquities Area, the Ministry of Trade and Industry said.

It is decorated with a floral collar and two falcon heads.

A drawing of sky goddess Nut also appears on the coffin where she spreads her wings and holds a feather in each hand as a symbol of right and justice. 

The coffin is also inscribed with offerings and speeches surrounded by two rows of gods. 

Earlier, the pavilion received a collection of replicas of King Tutankhamun, including his golden mask, sarcophagus, the special festive chair, and the golden king's throne.


Google flies the flag for Saudi Arabia’s 91st National Day

Google flies the flag for Saudi Arabia’s 91st National Day
Updated 23 September 2021

Google flies the flag for Saudi Arabia’s 91st National Day

Google flies the flag for Saudi Arabia’s 91st National Day

RIYADH: Search giant Google updated its logo with a doodle to mark Saudi Arabia’s 91st National Day on Thursday.
The change featured a fluttering Saudi flag encased in a domed sky.
The mostly green design includes the company name in a slightly italicized font.
Google, the most popular search engine in the world, often changes its distinctive logo to commemorate special occasions.
Last year’s edition of the national day logo was similar in many respects, but there were minor tweaks.
The color of the flagpole went from last year’s gold to black, and the clouds now also have a more clearer outline. The typography was also different a year before, with the site name in a bolder font and without italicization.
This year Arab News is celebrating the Kingdom’s national day with Diriyah Gate Development Authority, and has produced a comprehensive deep dive into one of the most culturally significant landmarks of Saudi Arabia’s past and future.


Did she know? Lebanese diva ignites Twitter storm by posing with Israeli make up artist

A photograph of Lebanese actress Nadine Njeim apparently posing with an Israeli make-up artist in the UAE sparked a social media storm over the weekend. (Screenshot)
Updated 20 September 2021

Did she know? Lebanese diva ignites Twitter storm by posing with Israeli make up artist

A photograph of Lebanese actress Nadine Njeim apparently posing with an Israeli make-up artist in the UAE sparked a social media storm over the weekend. (Screenshot)
  • Some critics predicted the former Miss Lebanon would say she did not know he was from Israel, but others said what difference does it make if he is
  • Lebanon is technically still at war with Israel; the countries have no official ties and Lebanese citizens are forbidden from traveling there

LONDON: A photograph of Lebanese actress Nadine Njeim apparently posing with an Israeli make-up artist in the UAE sparked a social media storm over the weekend.

“Lebanese model and actress Nadine Njeim is pictured with an Israeli make-up artist in UAE. Likely his customer. Is this another case of ‘Oh, I didn’t know’!?” Twitter user Lebanon News and Updates (@LebUpdate) wrote in a message posted on Twitter on Saturday alongside the photograph.

In a subsequent Tweet, he said: “It is confirmed that she was his customer, according to his TikTok video. It is obvious that famous people do not simply choose random makeup artists without some background research on his/her work and experience.”

The messages provoked a number of shocked and angry responses on Twitter.

“Nadine Njeim they are asking for models in Tel Aviv,” a user called Mimo wrote.

Another, called Adam, simply tweeted three puking-face emojis, as others chimed in. Some critics predicted that Njeim, a former beauty queen who was crowned Miss Lebanon in 2004, would say she did not know the makeup artist was from Israel. But other people said so what if he is?

“I am so tired of this backward mentality and these people,” a Twitter user called Romy wrote. “When they’re not destroying Lebanon with their foreign allegiance and ideology they spend their time online on their iPhones stalking people to see if an Israeli breathed near them, and then bully them or get them in trouble.”

Another, 961Iceberg, wrote: “Every time you walk into a hairdresser salon or makeup artist studio, make sure you ask them for a full-blown bio including birth certificate, passports, visas issued and associations with other humans on earth.”

Lebanon is technically still at war with Israel. The countries have no official ties and Lebanese citizens are forbidden from traveling there. In March, a Lebanese social-media activist who had served 10 months of a three-year prison sentence for “collaborating” with Israel was granted bail and released after appealing the verdict.

In 1993, just three years after the end of the Lebanese Civil War, and with Israel still occupying the south of a country, a photograph of Lebanese beauty queen Ghada Turk smiling alongside 17-year-old Tamara Porat, Miss Israel, caused public outrage in Lebanon and much criticism in the local media.

In 2015, a selfie taken during a Miss Universe pageant and posted by Miss Israel that included Miss Lebanon, Miss Japan and Miss Slovenia cause a “you do not represent Lebanon” hashtag to go viral. Two years later, Miss Lebanon Amanda Hanna, a dual citizen of Sweden and Lebanon, was stripped of her title a week after winning when it emerged she had previously visited Israel using her Swedish passport.

However, under President Michel Aoun the Lebanese government has engaged in border talks with the Israelis. And in 2020, Lebanon’s prosecutor general decided not to charge fugitive former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn over a visit to Israel in 2008.

It is unknown whether Njeim, who obtained a UAE 10-year Golden Visa in May, has any another citizenship or passport, or what consequences she might face should she return to Lebanon.

The UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco signed agreements with Israel last year, dubbed the Abraham Accords, to normalize relations with Israel.


California high school celebrates date links to Middle East

California high school celebrates date links to Middle East
Updated 19 September 2021

California high school celebrates date links to Middle East

California high school celebrates date links to Middle East
  • Coachella Valley High School rebranded it’s Arab mascot after concerns it promoted stereotypes

CALIFORNIA: One hundred years ago Coachella Valley High School adopted the “Arab” as its school mascot after a link was established between that area of California and the Middle East.

“The Department of Agriculture sent out plant explorers all over the world and they were trying to find crops that would be successful here in the US and one of the crops they found were the dates,” said Lissette Santiago, community engagement manager for the Coachella Valley Unified School District.

“That’s how we wanted to honor everything that we had gained from the date industry and obviously that Middle Eastern community.”

But in 2013, complaints that the mascot was promoting racial stereotypes prompted a redesign.

“With the onset of 9/11 in 2001 that might have prompted many people to view the Arab community in a negative way,” she told us. “It was appropriate for us to have this discussion and we were happy that the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee approached us and we were able to have those discussions.”

A year later, they debuted the new “Mighty Arab” mascot, designed in collaboration with and approved by the Arab community, strengthening that 100 year connection between the Coachella Valley and the Middle East.

“To celebrate the Arab world and the Arab community and every year we have a date festival,” Santiago said.

The festival has been on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the students and staff are looking forward to next year when they can once again proudly and respectfully wear the symbol of the Mighty Arab and celebrate the date palms they provided.


Bayan Galal: First Arab president of Yale student government, Ivy League

Bayan Galal: First Arab president of Yale student government, Ivy League
Updated 18 September 2021

Bayan Galal: First Arab president of Yale student government, Ivy League

Bayan Galal: First Arab president of Yale student government, Ivy League

Bayan Galal said that she won the election to become the first Arab to serve as president of Yale’s student government by addressing important issues such as health and the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), not by shying away from her Arab and Muslim identity.

The 19-year-old was elected as president of Yale College Council in May while her running mate and fellow female student Zoe Hsu was elected as vice president, the first time an Arab had led the YCC in its 320-year history.

Galal pointed out that her focus on health addressed student concerns about COVID-19 and the manner in which the pandemic had impacted teaching and study procedures at the school.

During an interview on Wednesday on “The Ray Hanania Radio Show” on the US Arab Radio Network and sponsored by Arab News, Galal noted that her campaign slogan, “Building a Healthier Yale,” had resonated with Yale students.

 

 

“It definitely was not an easy task. We basically had one week to campaign. This election took place at the end of the last academic year, so in May of 2021,” Galal added.

“In this campaign, we had a platform of building a healthier Yale, that was our campaign slogan. Within that we had five central pillars of health that we broke our platform down into. And so, it was physical health, mental health, community health, academic health, and financial health.

“So, we broke it down into these different areas of health that we wanted to focus on to show that we would take a holistic approach to health at Yale and really address the wide range of issues that students were facing.”

Election results at Yale show that Galal won 56.4 percent of the vote with Hsu not far behind. The two had previously served on the YCC, Yale’s student government, with Galal previously serving as the health and COVID-19 chair.

Galal, whose parents are Muslim immigrants from Egypt, wears a hijab and believes that the key to success is educating and informing mainstream Americans about Arab culture and concerns.

She said her Arab and Muslim identity did surface in the election but was positive and did not hinder her election, contributing to her being embraced by the majority of student voters.

And she used her Arab identity to also connect with the concerns of students of color at Yale, demonstrating that she would fight for their rights as well as the rights of all students.

 

 

“My identity is something I have not shied away from at all. And I think that because I have been so open about it, and also simultaneously willing to answer the questions that people have; you know, discuss the misconceptions that people will have and things like that.

“I think being willing to consistently have that dialogue and engage with others and just be there as an accessible person to the student body has been an important part of that,” Galal said.

Double majoring in molecular biology and global affairs, and minoring in pre-med, Galal hoped that her tenure would be marked by using her experiences as an Arab Muslim and as a student concerned about the well-being of others to impact other schools that look toward Yale for guidance.

 

 

“I think that in this role, in this institution, Yale is a critical placed institution that has the ability to impact a lot of the decisions that are made, to impact the trajectory of a lot of other schools that look to it as an example.

“I think that when you have a student body president who is now finally Arab, it allows Yale to take this direction where it cannot only impact the trajectory of Yale but also hopefully impact other schools as well,” she added.

Galal said that Yale had a small Arab student population of “a couple of hundred … definitely a small community but also a close-knit one.”

In August last year, she founded the Muslim Affinity Network serving as its director to enhance the representation of Muslims on the YCC.