European Union Representative Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) Head of Country Programme Dr. Zeyad Elshakra Friar Francesco Patton, Custodian of The Holy Land and Dr. Imad Al-Khatib, Al-Quds University vice-president for Jerusalem Affairs inaugurated, on November 9th, the newly rehabilitated Dar Al-Consul Complex in the heart of the Old City of Jerusalem.
The European Union has supported the rehabilitation of Dar Al-Consul Complex, which belongs to the Custody of the Holy Land, throughout an eight-year process with EUR 4.23 million. Through this support, 36 residential units, 5 community courtyards, and a ground floor area of more than 1,200 square meters were rehabilitated. The rehabilitated area that was inaugurated will serve as a community space in the Old City of Jerusalem.
This second phase of the renovation of the Dar Al-Consul brings a new life to ruins from the Roman, Byzantine, Late Islamic and Mamluk times. They are now ready to host activities of the 21st Century. This concerns notably the tourism IT and media center (TIMe), an education and professional innovation space (EPIC), and a Culinary and Food Experience (CAFÉ). In the first few months of operation, more than 1,000 beneficiaries have benefited from the online services provided under those three programs.
Opportunities were also provided to over 40 undergraduate and graduate students from Al-Quds University to engage them in the rehabilitation works and operational components in the form of on-the-job training and capacity development.
“The historic sites in Palestine are not only important for their cultural and heritage values – some of which already designated as World Heritage – but also for their promising social and economic potential. Therefore, the EU invested in the rehabilitation of the Dar Al-Consul Complex to become an educational, technological, and community hub. Here we see a space developed with the engagement of students that benefits not only young people but also the Old City community as a whole. It will allow them to build up their professional skills, exchange ideas, and share aspirations. Such projects are key to preserving the Palestinian identity of the city,” said EU Representative Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff.
“UN-Habitat’s engagement is aligned with Sustainable Development Goal 11, “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”. We focused on enhancing the living conditions and improving livelihood opportunities for local Palestinians. Our aim was to preserve, rehabilitate and renovate a local heritage site to maximize sustainable urban management through community engagement – especially the youth.
It was accomplished by leveraging Dar Al-Consul’s unique historical, architectural, and archaeological features to meet modern, eco-friendly, and greenery approaches in support of sustainable development in the Old City of Jerusalem.
We look forward to deepening our collaboration with the EU to further support similar interventions in East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” said the UN-Habitat Head of Country Programme Zeyad Elshakra.
Greatly influenced by Dar Al-Consul’s role as a historic, civic, and commercial hub, the long-term vision for Dar Al-Consul incorporates a sustainable model that combines economic and urban development with the aim of empowering Jerusalemites, as well as enhancing mobility and investment in the old city of Jerusalem.