As the capital city of Palestine, Ramallah is at the epicenter of one of the most conflicted pieces of land in the world. But life in the city is a lot more peaceful than you might expect. Expats living in Ramallah can hang out on outdoor sofas at the tiki-tiki inspired SnoBar, in the beautiful gardens at Sangria’s, or over a locally-brewed Taybeh beer at Zan. The nightlife in Ramallah is second to none, and you are guaranteed to bump into a fellow expatriate on any given night. During the day, grab a coffee at one of the local branches of ‘Stars and Bucks’, or for more authentic fare, grab some traditional Palestinian hummus and bread or a bowl of shakshuka (eggs baked in a smoky tomato sauce).
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Getting to Ramallah is not easy. The closest international airport is Tel Aviv, and from there it is around one hour by car or bus to get to Jerusalem. Ramallah is just a few miles outside of Jerusalem, but it can take many hours to get from one city to the other. Expats moving to Ramallah must go through one of the many checkpoints. The Qalandia checkpoint is the main port of entrance and exit between Ramallah and Jerusalem. Expatriates (and locals) can traverse it on foot, by car, or via ‘Service’, the local minibus service. Queues can last for hours, so plan to cross the checkpoints pre-dawn or late in the evening to avoid most of the traffic, and always, always carry your passport. Learn more about dealing with Israeli-Palestinian relations by speaking to veteran expats on InterNations, the largest online expat network worldwide, where you can find fellow global minds from all over the world willing to share their experiences.
The majority of expats in Ramallah are working in Ramallah’s voluntary or diplomatic sectors. There is an established community of expatriates living and working in the West Bank and Jerusalem, so you will fit right in. Arabic is the official language of Palestine, so it would be wise to learn a few words and phrases before moving to work in Ramallah. Hebrew is the national language of Israel, so it may not hurt to learn some useful words in this language, too. For tips on picking up a new language quickly, check out the InterNations discussion groups and forums, where you can get in touch with fellow expatriates in order to network, socialize, or share information.