From Dream to Reality!

The International Center of Bethlehem (ICB) was officially launched on September 28th, 1995.
“The work of the ICB is directed towards building a civil society and a sustainable economic development, taking the Palestinian cultural heritage into consideration. Founding a civil society and a sustainable economic development depends primarily on the availability of a highly qualified and engaged people.”

The focus was on youth exchange, women’s programs and reintegration program. The first (5 year) strategic plan was developed in 1997 when a new complex of a school and a college connected to a conference and cultural center were envisioned as the Dar al-Kalima compound. In 2003, most of this plan was made a reality with the exception of the college. This first phase was very much influenced by the Oslo Accords and it was part and parcel of Ibrahim Abu Lughods’ plan for a new Palestinian educational system.

With the beginning of the second Intifada, a new context was emerging in Palestine. The invasion of Ramallah, Bethlehem and most of the Palestinian cities in 2002 and the defeat of Abu Lughods’ plan in the PNC called for a new strategic planning. In 2001-2002 the second (5 year) strategic plan was developed for the ICB under the title: “Creating our future… Imparting new hope: Destruction May Be… Continuity Shall Be”. The revised mission statement read:

“The ICB is committed to continue to build and rebuild, to train and educate, to empower, to create life in the midst of despair, and to continue to call for justice and reconciliation in the midst of conflict and violence”.

In 1995, an abandoned rundown place of 3,767 sq ft was renovated to become the initial building of the ICB.

Since then, the facilities have expanded so that a total of 191,359 sq ft have been constructed so far.

The staff has grown from 4 in 1995 to almost 100, making it the third largest private employer in Bethlehem.

The overall operational budget has also grown, from the initial $88,095 in 1995 to $1.157 million in 2006. In less than 11 years, projects totaling more than $16 million were implemented ($8.5m for construction and $8.1m for operation and programs).

The outreach ministries have expanded tremendously. The number of direct beneficiaries grew from less than 1000 persons in 1995 to almost 60,000 in 2006. Geographically speaking, the ICB started in Bethlehem city, expanded to the whole Bethlehem region, and started working on becoming a national player throughout the West Bank.

International outreach has widened as well. Friendship associations were created in Denmark (2000), Germany (2001), and USA (2004).

  • 1995 Opening of Dar an-Nadwa
  • 1999 Opening of Al-Kahf Arts & Crafts Center
  • 2003 Opening of Ad-Dar Cultural & Conference Center
  • 2003 Opening of Dar al-Kalima Health & Wellness Center
  • 2006 Opening of Dar al-Kalima College