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October 23, 2013October 23, 2013  0 comments  Music

Dabke is a popular folkloric dance that is common to the Levantine Eastern Mediterranean region. The synchronized “stamping of the feet” (Arabic. dabke) is the basic movement for the dance, which can be danced either in a straight line, in an arch or in a circle.


One of the folk traditions states that dabke originated from the common work at house building. In the past, the houses of the Levant were made from stone with its roofs made of wood, straw and dirt. The parts of the roof had to be assembled, and that required stomping it hard in a uniform way.



There are a couple of Middle Eastern instruments commonly used to play the background music for dabke. Mijwiz – kind of a reed clarinet, tablah - a small hand-drum and a tambourine (riq) are the main ones. Oud (lute), a pear-shaped stringed instrument with the characteristic deep and mellow sound, can be used as well.

Traditional Palestinian Dance Dabke

For a better understanding and imagination, have a look at this video with a great collection of pictures and music: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwx5cgkFNr0

Dabke in the Palestinian tradition

Dabke is deeply rooted in the Palestinian culture and is often performed at joyful celebrations, especially at weddings. Sometimes it is danced spontaneously by the gathered guests (since most Palestinians know the basic steps), but it is also very common that a wedding couple would invite a group of professional performers to give a show.

Often during the performances the dancers wear costumes based on the traditional clothes. Women wear embroidered long dresses and men wear baggy trousers with wide belts and long leather shoes. Both genders might cover their heads with a plain white or white with a black pattern kofiyeeh (a scarf).

Traditional Palestinian Dance Dabke

The dance has become a way of preserving Palestinian culture as well, thus learning dabke is a common after-school-activity for youth. The young performers have an opportunity to demonstrate their skills during various folkloric festivals, e.g. Olive Harvest Festival celebrated in October – November.

Dabke in Contemporary Performances

Within the Palestinian contemporary art scene dabke evolved from a simple dance consisting of only 10 to 15 steps into a complex musical and theatrical performances with a plot. Actors often captivate the audience with complex choreographies inspired by “stamping of the feet.”

Traditional Palestinian Dance Dabke

El-Funoun from Ramallah and Diyar Dance Theatre from Bethlehem are considered the most outstanding and distinguished dance troupes that aim to express the spirit of Arab-Palestinian folklore and contemporary culture. Their unique combinations of traditional and stylized dance and music have made them the leading dance organizations within  Palestinian society and they play an important role in reviving and fostering Palestinian  identity.

Where to go to see Dabke?

Dabke shows are an inseparable part of various annual Palestinian folklore festivals.

There are also many nice restaurants in Bethlehem and Beit Sahour that besieds delicious traditional meals and oriental atmosphere offer a possibility of organizing Dabke shows and musical performances for groups at any time of the year. Please contact the following places in advance:


  • Al-Areeshah Palace at Jasir Intercontinental Hotel (00 972 (0) 2 276 6777)

Beit Sahour:

  • Citadel Restaurant (00972 (0) 2 277 7771)
  • Dar al-Balad (00972 (0) 2 274 9073)
  • Grotto Restaurant (00972 (0) 2 274 8844) tried and highly recommended by Travelujah
  • The Tent Restaurant (00972 (0) 2 277 3875)


Beata Andonia blogs regularly for Travelujah. She is originally from Poland and moved to Bethlehem in 2010.

January 9, 2014January 9, 2014  0 comments  Historical Sites

Despite its small size, Palestinian village of Aboud has a lot of interesting sights to offer. From its beautiful natural countryside views full of olive and citrus trees, through various archaeological findings of great importance to the local legends and traditions.


People from Aboud state that the name of their village is given after the Biblical Prophet Obadiah (who is also said to be buried in Sebastiya). Aboud is also often called “city of flowers” for its rich nature. A document written by L.E.P. Lombarti in 1959 states that a priest Elias Al-Aboudi initiated this nickname.


Lemon Valley in Aboud Travelujah


How to get there?


Aboud is placed 30 km northwest from Jerusalem, in the Palestinian Territories. The village is located along the road #465, which can be reached by following the main road #60 towards north.


Significant Archaeological Findings


The remains of Roman, Byzantine, Crusader, Ayyubid, Mameluke and Ottoman occupations are evident in several sites of the village.


Roman Tombs in Aboud Travelujah


Just 2 km from the core of the village is located al-Maqata, which is an impressive site of ancient Roman quarry and burial place. The regular rectangular cuts in the dark stone are clearly visible. Ornaments of flowers and fruits decorate entrances to the tombs, which interiors are covered with (now faded) frescoes.


Ancient Churches of Aboud


There are ruins of nine ancient churches scattered around the area of Aboud.


St. Mary Church al-Abudiyah in Aboud Travelujah


In the middle of the village are located hardly seen ruins of its oldest church called by the locals Messieh, which name derives from the Arabic word meaning Christ. According to the local tradition, Aboud received the Christian faith from Christ himself that preached on that spot. The village lies on the principal Roman road via Gophna (Jifna) to Antipatris (Ras el-Ain) that Jesus and the Holy Family could have used when travelling between the Galilee and Jerusalem.


A colored byzantine mosaic floor of Simon’s Church was found on the site of the modern Roman Catholic Convent built in 1912/3.


St. Mary Church al-Abudiyah in Aboud Travelujah


The Orthodox church of St. Mary, which is also know under the name al-Abudiyah, is located in the center of the village. The first church was built during the 5th century A.D. Byzantine remains are incorporated in the later construction, which according to the inscription in the Aramaic language took place in the middle of the 11th century. Outside the present structure we can also see excavated Byzantine mosaic floor. The entire northern wall, most of the windows and the west door were added in the 18th century.


St. Barbara from Aboud


There were also found ruins of ancient churches dedicated to St. Tadros and St. Barbara. The local tradition keeps that the Saints were from the same village. Thus it is believed that both of them were from Aboud and it is not a coincidence that the churches named after them were found so close to each other.


Acoording to the Palestinian legend, St. Barbara was born in Aboud to a Roman landlord Dioscorus. The woman fell in love with a Christian man and was baptized, what made her pagan father extremely furious. He punished and imprisoned her. The next morning St. Barbara’s body was recovered and she managed to escape. Dioscorus send his soldiers to look for his daughter, but she hid in the fields of grain, which completely covered her. Unfortunately, finally her father found her and sentenced her to death in martyrdom.


St. Barbara Shrine in Aboud Travelujah


The Byzantine ruins of Saint Barbara’s church are located on a hill west of the village. The Saint is venerated by both Christian and Muslim villagers. Palestinians celebrate the feast of St. Barbara (Eid Burbara) on the 17th of December and on that day numerously pilgrimage to the site. Traditionally, probably because it was grain that saved Barbara, a sweet dish burbara made from wheat seasoned with sugar, cinnamon, fennel and anise, is prepared by women allover the country.


Hike in Aboud


It could be a great idea to visit the village on foot and even hike in its environs, especially during the spring time when a walker could enjoy the rich nature and plenty of spring flowers. ‘Walking Palestine’ book by Stefan Szepsi describes tree hiking trails around the village.


Canaan Winery


Canaan Winery in Aboud Travelujah


Canaan is a boutique winery that was established by Ibrahim Hmaid in his home village Aboud in 2005 as “a natural continuation of centuries-old wine making tradition in Palestine”. For production of his dry natural red wine Mr. Ibrahim uses the best quality baladi grapes that are grown in the area of Hebron hills, which is know for its vine abundance since the Biblical times.


If you would like to taste Canaan homemade wine so contact Mr. Ibrahim at 0599728078. He is also a very knowledgable person, who could tour you around Aboud.



Beata Andonia blogs regularly for Travelujah, the leading faith-based social network in the Holy Land. She is originally from Poland and moved to Bethlehem in 2010. 

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