Gaza's unique geographic position on the crossroads between Africa and Asia has ensured its place in history .It has guaranteed the city an important role in international politics and trade from the earliest times down to the present. Gaza offers a broad range of archaeological evidence, representing the material culture of almost seven thousand years of history .It has a story to go with every era and has been a coveted site for many people throughout history .It has been fought over, invaded, and occupied by nearly all the powers that have marched across the Middle East.
Why Visit the Gaza Strip?
Many people wonder, what pleasures does Gaza hold for the tourist after having been subject to years of political tension and turmoil? This question is somewhat justified. Until recently, there haven't been any serious attempts to cater to outside visitors, and no steps have been taken to cater for tourists or to preserve the many sites and buildings of historic interest; hence, very few tourists used to venture into Gaza. Those who used to make the effort to come to Gaza usually did so out of political curiosity .This situation has changed since the coming of the Palestinian authority, and particularly in the past two years or so. Several new hotels, restaurants as well as museums and tourist resorts have been recently been opened in the Gaza Strip. The different hotels on the Gaza peach, the Palestinian Arts and Crafts Village, near the Islamic University of Gaza and al-Hilal Museum and Guest house in al-Amal Street in Khan Yunis, are good examples of those new developments.
The whole Gaza coast is a continual historical site. Many sites and artifacts, dating back to different periods are constantly being found and reported. Systematic excavations and studies of these finds, and of Gaza as a whole, are long overdue. The Gaza Strip is also known for its moderate climate and delicious sea foods. Its beaches are considered to be the most beautiful and cleanest on the entire Palestinian coastline. In the past, the coast used to attract many vacationers and honeymooners from the surrounding areas, this was not the case during the many years of Israeli occupation, but things have started improving rapidly since the coming of the Palestinian authority in 1994. Many hotels, restaurants, travel agencies and other tourist's facilities have been opened in the past couple of years and are now functional.
Gazans are hospitable and approachable and visiting Gaza can prove to be a unique and memorable experience. As a tourist, you can expect to attract attention in Gaza, most Gazans will be very keen to talk and help. Many speak English, but knowing at least a few words of Arabic is a plus. It is true that Gaza is a conservative city with strong Islamic values, more so than the West Bank, but all that male visitors have to do to receive good reception is avoid shorts and sleeveless vests, and women just need to avoid short skirts and sleeveless tops. Furthennore, prices in Gaza, especially of food, hotels and various local handicrafts, are significantly lower than in Israel and the West Bank. Gaza is famous for its pottery as well as its carpets and camel- hair cloaks or 'Abayas'. The weaving industry was brought to Gaza with the people of Majdal-Asqalan, a large Palestinian village destroyed in the aftermath of the 1948 war. Gaza has a lot to offer towards understanding the Palestinian side of the Middle East conflict, but a visit to it would be incomplete without visiting, at least, one of the refugee camps.
By: Dr. Adel Yahya, Dr. Muin Sadeq, Dr. Hanna Abdel Nour