Under the 1993 Oslo Accords, the West Bank was divided into 3 zones of administration. Area A grants municipal and security control to the Palestinian Authority (PA), Area C grants the same to Israel, and Area B grants municipal control to the PA but falls under Israeli security control. Ramallah’s premier youth hostel, Area: D, is beyond the confines of these actors and provides a fun and safe space for budget travelers to use a base for exploring the West Bank.
Area: D was created with a Palestinian partner by a Swiss backpacker-turned-entrepreneur who came to the West Bank to work for a large international organization several years ago. He has deep knowledge of the humanitarian context and wants to give as many outsiders as possible the opportunity to witness it for themselves. Having backpacked extensively himself, he knows what budget travelers are looking for and loves giving people an opportunity to see this little-understood but fascinating part of the world.
The hostel itself is meant to serve two purposes. First, it seeks to provide a neutral space from which tourists can comfortably explore the realities of a confusing environment, without forcing them to adhere to any ideology. Each visitor is presented with ample opportunities to explore the issues, whether independently, through an NGO, or with a local tour guide.
Second, it tries to stimulate the local economy by directly hiring local youths from needy families and by creating jobs indirectly within local tour companies and other businesses that benefit from increased tourism
Area D is in the city of Ramallah, an easy 30-45 minute bus trip from Jerusalem or 1.5 hours from Bethlehem. Ramallah is an interesting city with historical sites, great restaurants and nightlife, and well-situated as a base for trips to the north, center, or south of the West Bank.
Area: D serves as a base for independent backpackers to explore both the cultural and political history of a place that few outsiders understand.
Until now, tourism in the West Bank has been limited to day-trips from Jerusalem or organized tours beyond the reach of budget travelers. Finally, at Area: D, young backpackers can spend the night on the other side of the wall for a good price, meet up with similarly-adventurous tourists, and access the resources they need to make informed decisions about a confusing context usually viewed only through the distorted lens of the nightly news.
A neutral space in the heart of the city, Area: D welcomes all religions, ethnicities, and opinions. We hope that you enjoy what Ramallah and its surroundings have to offer, and that you leave with a better understanding of this amazing part of the world.
Don’t visit Palestine… live it!