Abraham Path Initiative
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The Abraham Path is a long-distance walking trail that traces the cultural memory of Abraham across the Middle East. The trail crosses fifteen distinct regions of the Middle East and now comprises more than 1,000 kilometers of mapped and walkable routes. The World Bank-funded project Abraham Path/Masar Ibrahim: Economic Development Across Fragile Communities seeks to stimulate job creation and income generation for marginalized rural communities along the Abraham Path in the West Bank. The pilot project, which runs from January 2014 to March 2016, places a particular focus on women and youth groups, and includes an Action Research component aimed at capturing data, insights, and lessons learned from implementing such a project in fragile and conflict-affected settings.

This Action Research component specifically involves qualification and collection of data, monitoring and evaluation of project effectiveness, and publication of 10 research notes on experiential tourism across fragile communities.

These 10 research notes will cover a variety of topics related to the project and will be published here as they become available.

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This paper, the first of a series of Action Research Notes, aims to introduce the project and set out the research questions that subsequent papers will address. As a long-distance walking trail that aims to bring foreign travelers into rural areas across the West Bank, the Abraham Path is uniquely positioned to address imbalances in the Palestinian tourism economy, add diversity to that economy, and bring income to rural communities that rarely benefit from that economy. However, because trekking tourism is relatively new to the West Bank, API and its local partners face a number of challenges in developing the trail. In the framework of the World Bank-funded pilot project, these challenges can be addressed.
This Research Note is based on a larger study undertaken by the authors that breaks new ground in tourism research by examining hiking trails around the world, identifying common denominators among them, and defining the major links in the trail-based hiking tourism supply chain. Details of the study are presented in a separate paper. In the light of that 1 study, this Research Note examines the condition of the supply chain specifically along the Abraham Path/ Masar Ibrahim in the West Bank. Which links are 2 already in place, and which links are missing? Which links are well-developed, and which require further work? Finally, this Research Note makes recommendations for completing and strengthening the supply chain in the short term, with the goal of making the Abraham Path a successful community-based tourism project in the long term.
In recent years, outdoor walking in the Palestinian West Bank has become a more prominent activity for local leisure, tourism and education. This paper discusses the data available and provides an overview of the stakeholders and geographies of walking, the cluster of community tourism, and the role of walking routes in promoting the latter. Finally, it identifies a wide array of knowledge and data gaps that deserve further research attention, and provides suggestions for a methodology to tackle them.
This is a report of the Master ́s thesis project that was carried out as an assignment for the Abraham Path Initiative (API) in spring-autumn of 2015. The aim of the thesis was to examine the potential of an asset-based community development (or ABCD) approach in the context of community-based tourism. The thesis is one of the first empirical case studies globally to apply the ABCD approach into tourism. This has previously been done on a theoretical level by Dolezal & Burns1 and so far only once on an empirical level2. The case study area is the town of Beni Na ́im, one of the 53 localities currently connected with the Abraham Path/Masar Ibrahim al-Khalil, a 321 kilometers long hiking trail in the West Bank, Palestine.
Tourism in Palestine is overwhelmingly driven by religious pilgrimage. In recent years, however, hiking has begun to emerge as an alternative for tourists who want to experience the country in new ways. While reliable data on hiking activities is scarce, reports published by the Abraham Path Initiative (API) show that the number of inbound hikers has increased from a low of several hundred in 2009 to more than a thousand in 2014.1 The small scale of the hiking sector until now can be attributed to a number of factors.
Waymarking is one of the last remaining key steps in the realization of the Abraham Path/Masar Ibrahim as a trail-based hiking tourism project. The placement of blazes – symbols that appear alongside a walking route as navigational aids for hikers – is a common element of well-known and well-traveled hiking trails worldwide.
Underlying the many potential social and economic dimensions of the Abraham Path/Masar Ibrahim is its physical route: the trail on the ground that connects Palestinian communities across the West Bank. In the process of determining that physical route, the Abraham Path Initiative (API) and Masar Ibrahim al- Khalil (MIAK) have conducted enormous amounts of field research. Sites traditionally connected with Abraham have been uncovered; little-known tourism assets in rural communities have been brought to light; and hiker-friendly walking routes have been recorded and mapped.

Coming Soon:

  • The Social Impact of Tourism Step-by-Step
  • Navigating an Inclusive Path to Prosperity
  • Champions of the Path: Role of Youth and Women in Community-Based Tourism
  • The Cultural Heartland: Branding the Perceived Periphery 
  • Walking to Scale: The Potential of Long-Distance Walking in the  Middle East