Ramallah is the administrative capital for the Palestinian National Authority and the headquarters for many NGOs and embassies. In contrast to many of the places we’ve visited recently, it’s a fast-growing city, although occupation is still tight.

Revd Fadi Diab, rector of the Anglican parish in Ramallah, introduces his city and community.

Distance you've covered: 63.2 miles

Elevation: 872m

Population: 27,500

Christian population: 3,200

Principal churches:

  • Church of the Holy Family (Latin Patriarchate)
  • Church of St Andrew’s (Anglican)

Ramallah also has Baptist, Lutheran, Pentecostal, Quaker and Orthodox churches.

Economy and culture

Ramallah’s economy is boosted by a significant influx of foreign aid, and draws in people from poorer communities around Palestine. As a result, the built-up area has grown fivefold in the last 20 years. However, two years of pandemic and restrictions have hit the local economy hard. (Here’s a video showing the impact of the pandemic in Ramallah).

Ramallah is generally considered the most affluent and cultural, as well as the most liberal, of all Palestinian cities. It’s home to a number of popular Palestinian activists, poets, artists, and musicians, and boasts a lively nightlife. One hallmark of Ramallah is Rukab's Ice Cream, which is based on the resin of chewing gum and has a distinctive taste.

Christian heritage

Local tradition suggests that it was in Ramallah that Mary and Joseph, returning from the feast in Jerusalem to Nazareth, realised that the boy Jesus had stayed behind as reported in Luke 2. It’s also in this region that Jacob, fleeing from his brother Esau, dreamt of a stairway ascending to heaven. The remains of two historic churches mark the inn where Mary and Joseph would have stayed, and the burial site of Stephen the Martyr.

Historically a Christian town, Ramallah has seen mass migration to the West as a result of Israeli occupation. It retains a significant Christian minority, determined to maintain a Christian presence in the land of their ancestors.

Friends of the Holy Land in Ramallah

  •  We’ve helped fund school fees for many children whose families could not afford them, enabling them to stay in their Christian schools during the pandemic.
  •  We support young people with training in IT, hospitality and catering at the local technical college. This enables them to get the skills they need to find work, support their families and contribute to the needs of their community.
  •  In partnership with the Diocese of Norwich, we created an ‘Exemption Fund’ allowing the poorest families to access free medical treatment at the local Anglican-run hospital, which has so far benefited over 900 patients.

You can hear more about the impact of the pandemic in Ramallah from Fr Jamal Khader, Chair of the Holy Land Committee of Friends of the Holy Land:

Next on our Pentecost journey, we're visiting the city where the disciples first received the Holy Spirit: Jerusalem. See you there soon!