With open arms

Jerusalem provides a plethora of exciting and mesmerising adventures

By Sharon Gelbach

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Published: Thu 18 Nov 2021, 5:16 PM

Last updated: Thu 18 Nov 2021, 5:18 PM

David Tucker, General Manager of the Ramada and Royal hotels in Jerusalem and Chairman of the Jerusalem Hotel Association, extends the warmest welcome to tourists from the UAE, on behalf of himself as well as well as the people of Jerusalem.

"Now, a little over a year since the historic Abraham Accords, we excitedly await the time when we can finally host guests from the UAE," he said.

Tucker, who is in regular contact with Tourism Ministry officials at the highest level, is very hopeful that Israel will reopen to tourists from abroad very soon. "With Israel's high vaccination rate and the steady drop in seriously ill Covid patients, we expect that Israel will lift many of the restrictions sooner than later, so that we can prepare to receive tourists once again," he remarked.

With close to two decades of experience in the hospitality industry, Tucker is enthusiastic and confident that the UAE residents will find Jerusalem an attractive and fascinating destination that meets all their expectations, and then some. "We're talking about the spiritual hub of the world, a city that is not only one of the most beautiful, but which is also packed with culture and areas of interest," he said. "But let's start from what really defines a city: its people.

"Israelis in general but Jerusalemites in particular are warm, informal and friendly. They welcome tourists and will bend over backwards to help. As a population that is very politically aware, even the youngsters are knowledgeable about the peace treaty with the Emirates, and eagerly look forward to travelling there.

David Tucker (Left) General Manager of the Ramada and Royal hotels in Jerusalem and Chairman of the Jerusalem Hotel Association with Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov (Right)
David Tucker (Left) General Manager of the Ramada and Royal hotels in Jerusalem and Chairman of the Jerusalem Hotel Association with Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov (Right)

"Jerusalemites represent a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds. Strolling on a city street, you're apt to hear a mix of dialects, although the dominant languages are Hebrew, Arabic and English. Aside from the sizable population of native English speakers who live in the capital, the vast majority of Israelis speak English.

"Another major advantage that the Israeli capital has going for it is the safety of its streets. People do not hesitate to walk outside at night, even at late hours. The public transportation infrastructure is well developed, with a light rail that is currently being expanded, and an efficient bus system that makes it easy to get around. Taxis are plentiful and reasonably priced,” he said.

The climate in Jerusalem is temperate most of the year, with a few rainy days in the winter months, and the occasional heat wave in the summer.

Tucker recommends taking walking tours. "There is so much to see and do in Jerusalem, I recommend deciding on what you want to do and staying in that area for the day—just make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes!"

As the spiritual hub of the world and the heart of the holy land, Jerusalem and its sacred sites hold significance for millions. A must-see for those visiting for the first time is Jerusalem's old city, with its plethora of mosques, churches and synagogues. Tourists from across the globe flock here to visit the Western Wall, the Dome of the Rock and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

Surrounding the old city is a wall dating back to the Ottoman period, which was built on ancient foundations. In certain places, the wall has ramparts you can walk on and gain a spectacular view of the surrounding area. The wall famously features eight gates, seven of which lead into the different districts, called quarters. Stroll through the picturesque, winding alleyways and explore the colorful Muslim quarter, with its market, as well as the Armenian, Christian and Jewish quarters, each with its own ambience and character. From Jaffa Gate, there is a magnificent sound and light show with visuals projected onto the city walls.

Another landmark is the Citadel, popularly known as the Tower of David, where there is a museum that tells the story of Jerusalem. A permanent display of archaeological exhibits can be viewed, along with temporary exhibitions that explore facets of Jerusalem's culture and heritage.

At the southern end of the Western Wall Plaza is the Jerusalem Archeological Park, where you can see fascinating remnants of the Biblical city of Jerusalem. Also not to be missed are the Western Wall Tunnels, which take you underground, down to the level of the ancient city of Jerusalem.

Just outside the Old City walls is the upscale Mamilla outdoor mall, with outdoor cafes, jewelry stores, and art galleries alongside elite fashion chains and boutiques. A short train ride away is the Mahane Yehuda open air market, where vendors hawk a cornucopia of produce, spices, baked goods sweets and more alongside eateries with every type of Middle Eastern delicacy imaginable. At night, the market transforms into a hot nightlife spot, with several popular bars alongside the shuttered vegetable stalls.

Jerusalem boasts no lack of luxury accommodations as well as fine restaurants. Jerusalem's five-star hotels, located in the center of town, are in a class of their own, although you can also find some excellent cuisine in the more affordable hotels.

Tucker emphasises that as Israel's capital city, Jerusalem is Israel. "There is so much to see, feel and experience here. I am convinced that visitors who come once will certainly come back again and again. And we are ready to welcome one and all."

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