About Us

Ahlan wa sahlan!

Since 2005, Siraj has managed to achieve its vision of becoming one of the most prominent and innovative organizations which has driven the development of responsible tourism, re-branding Palestine as a destination for experiential travel and human connection.

As part of the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement between People (www.pcr.ps), and the sole non-profit organization, licensed by the Ministry of Tourism, our vision continues to be to welcome international visitors to immerse themselves into Palestinian hospitality, our cultural heritage and unspoiled nature, bringing about a life-enriching exchange and understanding between Palestinians and visitors from other cultural, religious and social backgrounds. Through Siraj’s vision, we were instrumental in leading the initiative to create the Network of Experiential Palestinian Tourism (www.nepto.ps), as well as the Palestinian Responsible Tourism initiative (www.pirt.ps).

We are pioneers in Palestine, developing diverse responsible tourism programs, such as local community tourism, home stays, interfaith, pilgrimages, cultural and fact-finding, as well as other special interest programs, such as environmentally friendly tourism packages, including, the Nativity Trail, Sufi Trail, Jerusalem Wilderness and Abraham Path - the first long distance walking route through the West Bank (www.masaribrahim.ps), walking/hiking (www.walkpalestine.com) and cycling tours (www.bikepalestine.com).

We create unique tourism products, which maximize the contribution of the local community. We train locals within rural and Bedouin communities to be empowered, becoming the decision makers and owners of the packages which we offer to visitors, thus increasing local engagement, economic benefits through job creation, and chances for improved social development. We advocate best practices resulting in positive impacts, while minimizing negative effects on our cultural heritage and environment.

In our website, you will discover the unique programs that we offer or that we can happily tailor according to your interests and specific needs.

We look forward to welcoming you to Palestine!

The Siraj Team

MICHEL AWAD, DIRECTOR OF SIRAJ CENTER

Michel Awad, born in the town of Beit Sahour in Palestine, and lives there today.

Michael is a tri lingual, where Arabic is his mother language, he has learned German and English at Talitha Kumi School in Beit Jalla. Michael has studied Travel Management in Bethlehem University. In Year 2004 he became an Instructor for Travel Management in Bethlehem University.

Michael is a cofounder of Siraj Center for Holy Land Studies where he works as the executive director of the Siraj Center. Michael is a board member of the Palestinian Society for Travel and Tourism Agents. Awad has gained various Experiences in organizing different kind of Programs for International visitors to Palestine, which enable them to encounter the Real Palestine Life and Culture. He represented Siraj Center as a member in the Steering Committee for the Palestinian Initiative for Responsible Tourism (PIRT). Through his participation in the (PIRT) he has helped writing and developing the Palestinian Code of Conduct. Michael also is an active member in a variety of Palestinian community organizations.

GEORGE S. RISHMAWI, PROMOTION COORDINATOR, SIRAJ CENTER

George S. Rishmawi is a Palestinian activist from Beit Sahour, who believes in and works for peace using non-violent methods. He holds a Batchelors Degree in English language and a Diploma in Translation from Birzeit University. His wide network of relations of people and organizatins made him the best promotion manager and coordinator for Siraj Center. he is also the Executive Director of Masar Ibrahim Al-Khalil, a programme which bring people from all faiths to walk along the Steps of Abraham Path between Jenin and Hebron and learn about Abrahamic values and traditions

George has undertaken speaking tours throughout Europe and the USA giving talks on various subjects related to the on-going Palestine-Israel situation. He has given training in non-violence to groups all over Palestine. He has been involved in PCR since 1991 He served as member of the Executive Committee for PCR (2001 - 2003). George has been recently elected to the Administration Board of the Arab Orthodox Cultural Club in Beit Sahour.

iliana-awwad

ELIANA AWWAD, PROGRAMS COORDINATOR

Iliana Khair has eight years experience working in the tourism industry. She has worked with groups traveling to Israel and Palestine, as well as in hotels as a reservation coordinator. Iliana graduated from Bethlehem University with a degree in Travel Agency Management, and also holds a degree from the International Air Transport Association and an expert certificate from the Travel and Tourism Ministry.

MICHAEL ABU SA'ADA, DAILY OPERATION, FRONT DESK

Michael manages the guest hosues that Siraj is running. He is responsible to make the needs of the hotels available, daily purchases and financial management of the incoming guests in the two guest-houses. Michael is a 2009 graduate of Bethlehem University with a Diploma in Travel Agency Management. He has been working with PCR since 2011.

Rania-Sababa

RANIA SABABA-AWWAD, DAILY OPERATION

Rania Sababa Awwad, Born in Beit Sahour and graduate of Bethlehem University in 1996 with a High diploma in Hotel Management & Tourism. Rania was involved in PCR since 1992 for some years.

She rejoined PCR after assuming her work with Siraj Center in early 2013 as a daily operation co-ordinator. Rania has a very good background in Folklore Dancing and has been trainer and leader of one of the local folklore dancing groups in the area.

MAYADA SALSA', DAILY OPERATION

Mayada works as the Tour Operator and Social Media Officer at Siraj. Her main job is to design, coordinate and follow up tour programs incorporated in trips, hiking, Biking. She is also involved in preparing the monthly newsletter and updating Siraj's website.

Mayada has a B.A. degree in Geography / Political Science, from Birzeit University which gave her a rich background and experience in organizing and leading the various programs and activities with the different groups and pilgrimages.

In previous years, she worked as Research Assistant in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing Unit at The Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem “ARIJ” in Bethlehem. She also worked as a teacher at the Latin Secondary School and the Greek Orthodox School in Al-Taybeh near Ramallah, where she originally comes from.

NISREEN BARDAWEEL, BOOK-KEEPER

Nisreen is a graduate of Bethlehem University of English Literature with a minor in Business Administration. She has been a PCR staff member since 2008. Currently Nisreen serves as Administrative Assistant to the Exc. Director and a General Book Keeper for PCR. She works closely with the four PCR department staff members.

NERMINE ABU SAADA, SECRETARY

Graduate of Bethlehem University in Travel and Tourism Management of 2012. Nermeen was born in Beit Sahour and has joined PCR in 2012. Nermeen's basic taks is to organize the office appointments and keeps order in all PCR departments. She is instrumental in the Tunes for Peace Project, and keeps contact with the families of the students.

 

 

Suhair Ghanim-Sababa, Quality Control Officer

Suhair, born in Beit Sahour, is a graduate of Bethlehem University in Travel and Tourism Management, 1999.  She also holds a certificate of Travel and Tourism Expert License from the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism & Antiquities.  She enjoys a good experience in tourism.
In 2010 Suhair also received a diploma in Tour Guiding from the Bethlehem Bible College and since then has been working as a tour guide in the Bethlehem District.  
She monitors the programs, the home-stays and weekly walks, and evaluates them in order to develop them for a better Palestine experience.