Could you imagine that a city tour in Israel could become a catalyst for social change? Could you believe that touring could lead to new relationships amongst strangers? Could you expect that meeting locals and listening to their life stories could promote closeness, empathy and even the value of a shared life? The answer is yes! Local tourism can cause unexpected social change.
It all started when Maoz Inon and his partner traveled in South America years ago. Their travels, so distant from Israel, led them to connect with locals, and then they came to realize that international tourism can promote employment for locals and consequently economic growth. Maoz returned to Israel with the dream to promote local tourism in Israel as a tool for social change and shared life. In the meantime, as part of the realization of his dream, he partnered with Suraida Shomar, and opened the “Fauzi Azar” guesthouse in Nazareth in 2005 (since its opening in Nazareth, other guest houses and businesses began to flourish around them) and in 2010, he founded, together with four partners, the Abraham Hostels chain in Israel. However, his dream of leading tours that include meeting locals did not fade and waited for the right moment to ripen.
In this age of advanced technology, the need to experience places directly, to walk around and meet residents, to taste local traditional food, to communicate with locals and listen to their stories – has become a very significant phenomenon that is used both as an experiential tool and as a tool for education through place-based learning.
The experience remains with you for a time and can potentially open your mind and change your perceptions and attitudes. So, what exactly is local tourism? We’re talking about tourism that identifies a destination with history and tradition, and then identifies unique activities that could provide visitors with an authentic experience. Local tourism, which also enables encounters with locals, allows travelers to experience the tourist destination in a personal and authentic way, thus enabling improved relations and social awareness among different communities in the country.
Starting a project of tours for social change, began when Maoz Inon first met Khulud Abu Ahmed the social activist, just prior to Ramadan 2021, at which time of course they didn’t yet know that after two years their new and groundbreaking social initiative would become a reality and quickly turn attractive.
During those two years, they formed an ideological partnership around the the idea of social tourism as a tool for social change, able to support the local economy and encourage social involvement. During the dozens of tours that they led together in Nazareth, Khalud and Maoz came to the realization that the first step to shared living is to get to know the story of the other, and this is the basis for the name of the project: Abraham AlterNarrative.
The idea of AlterNarrative is to hear about the difficulties, challenges, fears, hopes, dreams and inspiration of the locals candidly and with no buffer. Khalud and Maoz saw how their tours create meaning and optimism both for the entrepreneurs they meet along the way and for the tour participants, for those visiting Nazareth for the first time and for those who’ve always lived there and see it from a new perspective through the tour. From here, the path to establishing a social enterprise was the obvious next step.
In fact, Khulud Abu Ahmed became Abraham AlterNarrative’s leader and CEO. The venture was launched a few weeks ago as a social venture of tours that inspire, hope and optimism. Tours that are based on sustainable tourism and a sustaining local economy.
Khulud, the project’s CEO, was born into activism in the eastern neighborhood of Nazareth. She completed her academic studies at Safed College, where she led a fight against racism and for the right of Arab students to rent apartments in the city. She dedicated her professional career to the advancement of the community and young people, she’s worked in the fields of culture and employment.
During the first weeks of activity for the Abraham AlterNarrative, dozens of groups from the Arab community, Jewish community and joint groups participated in the inspiring and hopeful tours through the alleys of old Nazareth. The city, who’s known many years of decline, is slowly and cautiously coming back to life thanks to dozens of ventures (most owned by women) who are bringing both locals and tourists back to the city.
Abraham AlterNarrative has 3 goals:
- Promoting a shared life
- Supportqing the local economy and small businesses
- Encouraging social involvement
Currently Abraham AlterNarrative operates day tours in Nazareth with the intention to expand to other communities in the coming months.
The connection between Khulud and Maoz and the entire Abraham group is based on values and belief in the ability of each and every one of us to bring about change and make the world a better place.
For more details, you should go to the website of Abraham AlterNarrative – https://abrahamtours.com/alter/alternarrative-tours/
Pictures taken by: Ran Pergamin, Merav Cohen, Irus Hayun, and Rani Graff