Booze In The Middle East?

You can study a region for the years, think that you know something about it and then be very surprised.

I hadn’t realised that there was an Oktoberfest in the West Bank, but DW Akademie has more:

“Lederhosen and dirndls are rare, but everything else Oktoberfest is found in Taybeh, near Ramallah, in the West Bank. The German festival, celebrated here with home-brewed beer, is a little protest against Israel.

In the unlikely place of Palestinian West Bank, the Schuhplattler dance by the Bavarian brass band dressed in traditional Lederhosen appears rather exotic.

Those singing along to the song “Ein Prosit auf die Gemütlichkeit” (“A toast to coziness”) also stumble across the words at times. But that doesn’t put a damper on the great atmosphere at the “Palestinian Wiesn” in the village of Taybeh, where many visitors – Palestinians and foreigners alike – have traveled to the annual Oktoberfest. “

The Guardian covered this some two years ago:

“There was meat grilling on barbecues, children with painted faces, stalls selling crafts and cakes, a stage for live music and even the odd priest wandering about. And everywhere people were clutching glasses of beer in the afternoon sun.

Welcome to the annual beer festival in the rocky landscape of the West Bank, specifically the village of Taybeh, home to the only brewery in the Palestinian territories.

Around 10,000 people were expected to attend the weekend’s Oktoberfest, which would make it the biggest since the event began in the Christian-dominated village. It is a mark of the festival’s success that the small area around the municipality building was crammed with food stalls doing a lively trade to Palestinian families (both Muslim and Christian), diplomats, aid workers and tourists.

But it was the Taybeh beer itself, briskly selling at 10 shekels (£1.74) for a half-litre glass, that was the star of the show. Made without additives or preservatives and using water from the nearby spring of Ein Samia, Taybeh – which means “delicious” in Arabic – was slipping easily down the throats of thirsty visitors.

Business, according to the brewery’s owner, Nadim Khoury, is booming despite the obvious difficulties of operating in an overwhelmingly abstinent Muslim environment. The brewery faces “many obstacles – religion, culture, occupation, closures” plus a prohibition on advertising alcohol, said Khoury. “I’m on my feet 16 hours a day to promote the beer, going door-to-door, bar-to-bar, hotel-to-hotel. It’s not easy in this part of the world.”

(H/T: Glyn)

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