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Taybeh Oktoberfest: “The flame of peace”

Juicebox Gallery

By Ana Thorne - October 08, 2012
Section: [Main News] [IN PICTURES] [Life under Occupation] [Features]
Tags: [Taybeh october fest] [DAM]

Despite the difficulties of working under occupation, from water shortages, transportation hindered by checkpoints and borders,  and strict Israeli government policies, Taybeh as the only beer brewery in Palestine has continued to successfully manage its business.

The annual Taybeh Oktoberfest is evidence of this. Since 2005 the Oktoberfest has been a recurring annual event that kicks off at the beginning of October, which draws thousands of people both locals and internationals to the little village of Taybeh, northwest of Ramallah, where they enjoy the locally brewed beer and celebrate life despite of the everyday hardships of occupation.

Maria Khoury, the organizer of the Taybeh Oktoberfest underlines in an article written by herself the challenges she faces when seeking sponsors to raise money helping the municipality to host the Oktoberfest.

It is important for her that the sales from the local women’s cooperatives and the small businesses fully goes to them and therefore sufficient funds are needed to allow the profits to go to the providers of the goods. The costs of the festival, including musicians, setup, media etc are covered by the municipality.

“I am truly blessed to be in an environment where more than twenty thousand people of diverse nationalities, religions, and cultures attended the Taybeh Oktoberfest last year to confirm this outlook,” Maria Khoury said. “I hope Taybeh will continue to be 'the flame of peace’, as some people have called it, and keep the Taybeh Oktoberfest as the highlight of Palestine, as all its advertisements claim.”

The story behind the Taybeh beer

Taybeh means 'delicious’ in Arabic. In 1994 when Yasser Arafat signed the Oslo Accords, the Khoury family finally got the chance to move back to Palestine from USA where they had fled to two decades ago.

They gave up their comfortable lives in USA in exchange for helping to rebuild their country.

“It all started as a hobby when I was in Boston,” says Nadim Khoury, the co-founder/master brewer in an interview with the International Middle East Media Center, “and it became a home brewery in Taybeh which I came back to every summer. My family encouraged me and my brother to continue to study brewing and then come back and make the dream come true by opening the first brewery in Palestine,” he continues.

I hope Taybeh will continue to be 'the flame of peace’, as some people have called it

Taybeh beer is the first Palestinian company to sell a franchise, and has been exported to Germany and more recently, China.

“The USA currently does not recognize Palestine as a country and on our bottles it clearly says 'Made in Palestine’” Maria Khoury notes.

One of the local challenges is the fact that most of the Palestinians don’t drink alcohol, so to meet the situation the brewery has started to produce non-alcoholic beers.

Maria Khoury says: “We want to find a way to exist here in Palestine. If alcohol is forbidden or strictly regulated we want to brew a non-alcoholic beer in order to reflect the diversity that exists here – we simply want to have the freedom to exist.”

Oktoberfest 2012

This year’s Oktoberfest was held from October 6th to 7th. The program was packed with a mixture of local and international performances, ranging from Palestinian pop music, hip-hop, and the traditional folklore dance of Dabke to folk music from Bavaria in Germany and Brazil. The atmosphere was already buzzing around noon and was only improving as more beers were consumed.

The festival was full of people from different backgrounds and countries. To the question of what the locals thought of this event, they only exuded positive statements.

“It’s great to see that so many will visit Taybeh,” one man responded while standing in line for food. A woman selling hand knitted scarves expressed that “This festival helps to put focus on the small villages in the West Bank, and then it also benefits the economy of Taybeh.”

“We do not have our own country yet, but we have our own Palestinian beer and that I am very proud of,” Nadim Khoury commented.

It is clear that the Oktoberfest will continue to be a running event every year, and that the Taybeh brewery will continue to brew beer until the time where Palestine becomes a free country and producing and selling beer is as easy as other places in the world. Until then the Oktoberfest also serves as an inspiring factor for the Palestinian people to undertake their own business initiatives, and encourages outsiders to travel to Palestine.


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