Palestinian twins open cafe in converted jet in West Bank

Palestinian twins open cafe in converted jet in West Bank
After a quarter century of effort, twin brothers, Khamis Al-Sairafi and Ata, opened the Palestinian-Jordanian Airline Restaurant and Coffee Shop Al-Sairafi offering people an old airplane for customers to board. (AP)
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Updated 26 August 2021

Palestinian twins open cafe in converted jet in West Bank

Palestinian twins open cafe in converted jet in West Bank
  • Just outside Nablus, a pair of twins is offering people the next best thing
  • Khamis al-Sairafi and brother Ata have converted an old Boeing 707 into a cafe and restaurant for customers to board

RAMALLAH, West Bank: Few Palestinians in the occupied West Bank get to board an airplane these days. The territory has no civilian airport and those who can afford a plane ticket must catch their flights in neighboring Jordan. But just outside the northern city of Nablus, a pair of twins is offering people the next best thing.
Khamis al-Sairafi and brother Ata have converted an old Boeing 707 into a cafe and restaurant for customers to board.
‘‘Ninety-nine percent of Palestinians have never used an airplane. Only our ambassadors, diplomats, ministers and mayors use them. Now they see an airplane and it is something for them,’' said Khamis al-Sairafi.
After a quarter century of effort, the brothers opened “The Palestinian-Jordanian Airline Restaurant and Coffee Shop al-Sairafi” on July 21.
Families, friends and couples turned up for drinks in the cafe situated below the body of the plane. Many others came to take photos inside at a price of five shekels (about $1.50) per person.
Customers said they were motivated to visit after seeing pictures of the renovated plane circulating online. ‘‘For a long time, I have wanted to see this place. I wish I had seen this place before it was turned into a café,’’ said customer Majdi Khalid.
For years, the jetliner sat along the side of a major highway in the northern West Bank, providing endless fodder for conversation for passersby baffled by its hulking presence.
The 60-year-old identically dressed twins' dream of transforming the airplane into a cafe and restaurant was born in the late 1990s when Khamis saw the derelict Boeing aircraft near the northern Israeli city of Safed.
At the time, the plane already had an illustrious history. The aircraft was used by the Israeli government from 1961 to 1993 and flew then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin to the United States in 1978 to sign Israel's historic peace agreement with Egypt, according to Channel 12 TV.
It was later bought by three Israeli business partners who dreamed of turning it into a restaurant, but the project was abandoned following disagreements with local authorities, the station said.
After tracking down one of the owners, the brothers agreed to buy it for $100,000 in 1999. They spent an additional $50,000 for licenses, permits and to transport it to the West Bank.
Khamis said the then-mayor of Nablus, Ghassan Shakaa, quickly approved the transportation and renovation of the airplane.
Moving the plane to Nablus was a 13-hour operation, requiring the wings to be dismantled and the temporary closure of roads in Israel and the West Bank. At the time, Israel and the Palestinians were engaged in peace talks and movement back and forth was relatively easy.
The al-Sairafi brothers were successful traders and scrap metal merchants. They regularly traveled to and from Israel buying pieces of metal that they then sold and smelted in the West Bank. They also owned a successful waste disposal business and used their earnings to build an amusement park — including a swimming pool and concert venue — on the same patch of land where the plane was placed.
But they said their project was put on hold after the outbreak of the second Palestinian uprising in late 2000.
An Israeli military checkpoint was built nearby, they said, preventing customers from the nearby city of Nablus from reaching the site. The checkpoint remained for three years and the Israeli military took over the site. The project collapsed.
‘‘They even built tents under the wings of the plane,’’ Ata al-Sairafi said.
The Israeli military did not respond to a request for comment.
For nearly 20 years, the airplane and the site were abandoned. After the uprising faded out in the mid-2000s, the brothers scraped by with their waste disposal business and the small amusement park in Nablus they opened in 2007.
After more than a decade of saving, they decided in 2020 to begin rebuilding what they lost, this time starting with the renovation of the airplane. The coronavirus crisis, which included multiple lockdowns, hit the Palestinian economy hard and caused further delays.
Following months of work, the aircraft is almost ready for full service. The interior is freshly painted, fitted with electricity and nine tables and the doors are connected to two old sets of airstairs allowing customers to board safely. The nose of the plane has been painted with colors of the Palestinian flag and the tail with Jordanian colors.
The cafe is already open and the brothers hope to open the restaurant next month. They plan to install a kitchen below the body of the plane to serve food to customers on board.
However, their long-term goal of re-building the amusement park and swimming pool remains a long way off. The pair said they were disappointed they had not received financial support from the municipality and are looking for investors.
‘‘God willing, I hope the project works and that it becomes the best it can be,’’ said Ata al-Sairafi.


Former Moroccan footballer dies after daredevil cliff jump

Former Moroccan footballer dies after daredevil cliff jump
Updated 19 May 2022

Former Moroccan footballer dies after daredevil cliff jump

Former Moroccan footballer dies after daredevil cliff jump
  • Murad Lamrabette, formerly of Dutch club SBV Vitesse, dies during family holiday in Majorca
  • Lamrabette’s wife recorded 31-year-old’s ill-fated stunt on video that went viral

DUBAI: A Moroccan former footballer leapt to his death while performing a daredevil jump whilst on a family holiday in Spain.
Media reports identified the man as 31-year-old Murad Lamrabette, who played for Dutch club SBV Vitesse’s U23 team in the 2010/2011 Eredivisie season, as well as other professional football clubs in Holland.
Lamrabette died in front of his two children and wife, who filmed him as he attempted to perform a “tombstone” stunt from a 30-meter high cliff during the family’s vacation in Majorca.
The 31-year-old miscalculated his jump, and drowned after hitting a rock and falling into the water below unconscious, said reports.
His wife could be heard shouting “oh my god” as she recorded the stunt in a 14-second video that later went viral across social media and news platforms.
Spanish authorities carried out an autopsy, the results of which indicated that Lamrabatte died from drowning, rather than injuries caused by the impact of hitting the rock.
Reports added that authorities had yet to interview his wife as she was too traumatized by the incident.
After retiring from football, Lamrabatte retrained and became a kickboxing coach.
His former club posted an obituary on its website, and tweeted: “Vitesse has received the sad news that Murad Lamrabatte has passed away. The former attacker of Jong Vitesse has just turned 31. We wish family and friends a lot of strength.”


Former US President George W. Bush’s freudian slip sees him confuse ‘wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq’ with Ukraine

Former US President George W. Bush’s freudian slip sees him confuse ‘wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq’ with Ukraine
Updated 19 May 2022

Former US President George W. Bush’s freudian slip sees him confuse ‘wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq’ with Ukraine

Former US President George W. Bush’s freudian slip sees him confuse ‘wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq’ with Ukraine
  • The 75-year-old former president blamed the slip on his age

LONDON: Former US President George W. Bush found himself somewhat embarrassed after he called the invasion of Iraq “wholly unjustified and brutal” while discussing the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

Speaking at his presidential center in Dallas, Texas, on Wednesday, Bush said,:“The decision of one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq … I mean, of Ukraine.” 

The freudian slip joins a long list of Bush’s verbal gaffes delivered over the years.

The US invaded Iraq in 2003, with the Bush administration claiming at the time there were weapons of mass destruction in the country. However, UN inspectors found no evidence of the existence of such weapons before the invasion.

US military operations in Iraq dragged on until 2011, with tens of thousands of civilians killed and displaced and almost 5,000 coalition troops killed.

On Twitter, many quickly pointed out the irony of conflating the invasions of Iraq and Ukraine. Justin Amash, a former congressman from Michigan, tweeted: “Oof. If you were George W. Bush, you think you’d just steer clear of giving any speech about one man launching a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion.”  

Another tweeted: “That’s not a Freudian slip, it’s a Freudian tumble down the stairs.”

“Awww. there goes that ol rascal george, reminding everyone of his war crimes. hahaha! isn’t it cute? please excuse him. he’s 75, so it’s okay to laugh off the millions he killed. we have fun here at the institute. now where was he? oh yeah, Putin’s unprecedented evil” tweeted another.

https://twitter.com/DubJ/status/1527109267228172288?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1527109267228172288%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.huffpost.com%2Fentry%2Ftwitter-reacts-bush-iraq-slip-up_n_6285a57be4b05c3afec484e3 

Writer and entrepreneur Adam Best wrote: “George W. Bush has always been the Michael Jordan of speaking gaffes but never expected a Freudian slip where he admitted to being a war criminal.” 

Some have speculated that the slip-up could be used as evidence in a possible prosecution of Bush for war crimes, with one tweeting: “This should be admissible as evidence at The Hague.” 

In his speech, Bush said that elections in Russia are rigged and political opponents are imprisoned or eliminated from participating in the electoral process. 

The 75-year-old former president blamed the slip on his age, and after an awkward silence, the audience laughed. 


Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram slammed for blackface birthday ‘prank’

Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram slammed for blackface birthday ‘prank’
Updated 19 May 2022

Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram slammed for blackface birthday ‘prank’

Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram slammed for blackface birthday ‘prank’

LONDON: Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram has found herself in hot water after being accused of racism for putting on blackface for a “prank.”

To celebrate her 39th birthday, Ajram filmed a video of herself walking down the streets of Lebanon’s capital Beirut with her skin darkened by makeup and wearing a dark curly wig to see if people would recognize her.

In the clip, she carried out everyday tasks such as shopping, going to a cafe, asking for directions, and eating dinner with a friend. During the meal, she removed her makeup to reveal her identity and took photos with fans.

Throughout the video, curious passers-by could be seen staring at Ajram.

But after posting the video on social media, Ajram faced a deluge of criticism for her prank and was asked to apologize.

In a tweet, Arab disability activist, Abla Abdelhadi, said Ajram’s actions were ill-timed coming so soon after racist shootings in Buffalo, in the US, that left 10 people dead.

Also in a tweet, black-Palestinian activist, Samah Fadil, said that “considering people with my skin tone or darker some kind of joke worthy of a prank,” must have been “very embarrassing” for Ajram.

In 2018, another Lebanese singer Myriam Fares was slammed on social media over a music video scene in which she appeared with a black face.

Blackface is considered a racist and derogatory representation of black people and appropriation of black culture. It has a long history both in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world.

In the West, blackface is now widely rejected but it continues to play a role in popular culture in parts of the Middle East. The makeup and curly or braided wigs have been used on Lebanese and Egyptian television to poke fun at domestic workers and Sudanese people.


Manal Rostom becomes first Egyptian woman to reach Everest summit

Manal Rostom becomes first Egyptian woman to reach Everest summit
Updated 17 May 2022

Manal Rostom becomes first Egyptian woman to reach Everest summit

Manal Rostom becomes first Egyptian woman to reach Everest summit
  • Rostom took two months to complete her journey to the top of the tallest mountain on Earth
  • In 2019, Nike chose Rostom to be the first veiled Egyptian Arab woman to serve as the face of their international women's sportswear brand

LONDON: Extreme climber, marathon-runner and mountaineer Manal Rostom has become the first Egyptian woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest.

Rostom reached the world's highest peak earlier this week, and in the weeks beforehand shared a social media video on her thoughts and fears ahead of the final push to the top. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Manal A Rostom (@manirostom)

 

Rostom took two months to complete her journey to the top of the tallest mountain on Earth, which stands 8,849 meters tall.

Rostom has previous taken part in marathons around the world including in New York City, Berlin, Chicago, Boston and London, as well as the Great Wall of China.

She has also previously climbed some of the world's other highest mountain summits, namely Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya and Elbrus, and made it to the Mount Himalaya base camp in 2016.

In 2019, Nike chose Rostom to be the first veiled Egyptian Arab woman to serve as the face of their international women's sportswear brand.


I need a shot of tequila for my knee pain, pope jokes

I need a shot of tequila for my knee pain, pope jokes
Updated 17 May 2022

I need a shot of tequila for my knee pain, pope jokes

I need a shot of tequila for my knee pain, pope jokes
  • The pope said: "Do you know what I need for my leg? A bit of tequila"
  • One of the seminarians posted the exchange, which took place at the general audience last Wednesday, on TikTok

VATICAN CITY: His doctors probably don’t agree but Pope Francis thinks a shot of tequila just might help his painful knee.
While his popemobile stopped in St. Peter’s Square at his last general audience, a group of Mexican seminarians shouted out to him, asking how his leg was doing.
“It’s being naughty,” the Argentine pope replied in Spanish. A flare up of pain in his knee and existing leg problems have forced the pope to use a wheelchair at times recently.
One of seminarians then thanked the seated pope for continuing to carry out his duties despite the pain, telling the 85-year-old Francis that his persistence was an example for them as future priests.
Noting that they were Mexican because of the flag they were carrying, the pope said: “Do you know what I need for my leg? A bit of tequila.”
After much laughter, one of them shouted back: “If one day we go to Santa Marta, we’ll bring you a bottle,” referring to the guest house where Francis lives in the Vatican.
One of the seminarians, Rodrigo Fernández de Castro, posted the exchange, which took place at the general audience last Wednesday, on TikTok.