First Published: 2006-02-22

 
Palestinian brewery to launch 'Hamas' near beer
 

Beermaker decides to develop non-alcoholic beer brandished with label that matches Hamas's trademark color.

 

Middle East Online

By Kerry Sheridan - TAYBEH, West Bank

Satisfying non-alcoholic needs in the Palestinian market

Like any good entrepreneur, Palestinian beermaker Nadim Khoury knew that adaptation would be key to his brewery's survival under a government led by the Islamists of Hamas.

So anticipating the hardliners' rise to power in January's general election, Khoury decided to develop a new product - a non-alcoholic microbrew brandished with a label that coordinates perfectly with Hamas's trademark color.

"I figured why not have a green label so it will match?" said Khoury, who runs the Taybeh Brewing Company, the only brewery in the Palestinian territories. "All customers will notice the green for the Hamas flag."

The alcohol-free version of Taybeh beer, with a label inscribed only in Arabic and whose name means "delicious," is to be released this summer and will target the "local market," he said.

Non-alcoholic beer is already popular in a number of conservative Gulf Arab countries which officially ban booze sales.

The lucrative market potential was highlighted by a deal four years ago which saw Egypt's largest brewer of "near-beer," Al-Ahram Beverages, bought by Heineken for 280 million dollars.

Khoury says he will start small with his new beer, maybe only a few hundred bottles at first, but he has big dreams for his brewing factory in the hilltop village of Taybeh, a historically Christian town of about 1,300 people near Ramallah in the West Bank.

A sense of homeland pride and the family's ability to invest more than one million dollars spurred Nadim, who was born in Taybeh, to return after two decades in the United States in order to build the brewery shortly after the signing of the Oslo peace accords in 1993.

Now in its 11th year of business, Khoury said the brewery sells the equivalent of about 1.2 million pints per year, though its peak output was more than twice that in 2000 prior to the outbreak of the second intifada against Israeli occupation.

Violence was bad for business, and the intifada brought a wave of harsher regulations in many Palestinian cities.

Khoury hasn't been able to sell his beer in the Gaza Strip for years, since militants torched the home of one of his distribution outlets and radical Islamists effectively made selling alcohol impossible throughout the crowded territory.

But Khoury hopes attitudes will change with his new non-alcoholic beer.

"I don't want to smuggle my beer in Palestine. I believe I have a right to sell mine (in the Gaza Strip)," said Khoury, an unabashed nationalist who touts his beer factory as a boon to the Palestinian people and their economy.

"Every time we sell a bottle of beer it goes toward building the state of Palestine," said Khoury.

Khoury says his first name Nadim means "your friend who sits at the bar with you, your drinking buddy," and his chief product is Taybeh Golden beer, though he also makes a light version and a dark beer.

The Taybeh brews are concocted from four natural ingredients -- malted barley, hops, yeast and pure spring water. Each bottle sells for around one dollar.

The gentle, amber-colored Taybeh Golden is sold in parts of Israel, the West Bank, Britain and Germany.

However, among secular Muslims in the area who do drink alcohol, not all are devoted fans of its mellow taste.

"It's okay. It's good," shrugged one Arab-Israeli taxi driver in Jerusalem, who admitted he hadn't drunk any Taybeh in at least two years.

A waiter at a bar in occupied East Jerusalem said: "I prefer Irish whiskey. Jameson."

Hamas leaders, who now dominate parliament, have not made clear whether or not they will seek to impose conservative sharia law which would impose a wider ban on alcohol.

Khoury remains optimistic.

"I think they (Hamas) are very smart, very educated. I believe they will think twice before they do anything to hurt our business."

 

US criticizes 1915 massacres in Armenia

Iran, major powers were set to review adherence to nuclear deal

Syria ‘ready’ to halt fire for chemical attack probe

Netanyahu threatens to cancel talks with German FM over NGO meetings

LafargeHolcim CEO stepping down over Syria probe

Jailed British-Iranian sees final appeal rejected in Tehran

Turkish warplanes pound Kurdish forces in northeast Syria

Iran election may be pointer to race for supreme leader

US-backed forces enter key IS-held Syria town Tabqa

Israel probe clears officer who shot teen attackers

Israel charges teenager for bomb threats against Jewish institutions

Egypt sentences 20 to death over 2013 police killings

Erdogan accuses researcher of 'inciting assassination'

Qatar Airways CEO accuses US carriers of ‘bullying’

At least 15 migrants drown near Lesbos

Former employees work to salvage Mosul University

Jordan wary about jihadists wishing to return home

US fires opening shots in confrontation with Iran

Mattis sees Saudi Arabia ‘helping across the region’

Sirens, silence as Israel remembers Holocaust

Houthis intensify crackdown on dissent in Yemen

Italian reporter released in Turkey

Algiers summons Morocco envoy over Syrian migrant row

Macron, Le Pen gird for final French election duel

Iran reverses decision to ban live presidential debates

Six Israelis including two soldiers held for anti-Arab attacks

Economists, rights advocates concerned over Egypt’s state of emergency

US Defense Secretary Mattis visits strategic Djibouti

Qatari hunters ecstatic at release from Iraqi kidnappers

Prosecutor says charities colluding with migrant traffickers

France votes under heavy security

Iran's historically unpredictable elections

Israel kills three in attack on pro-regime Syria camp

Iran's Ahmadinejad won't endorse other candidates

Rocky days ahead after Turkey referendum

Huge Shiite crowd throngs Baghdad shrine

Rabat accuses Algiers of expelling 55 migrants across border

Morocco, US take part in joint military exercise

US defence secretary visits key ally Qatar

Lebanese activists ramp up campaign against rape law

Saudis among kidnapped hunters freed in Iraq

Trial in Tunisia beach massacre set to begin April 26

Tunisia hotel attacked by jihadists sees hope in 'rebirth'

IS claims deadly attack on FSB office in Russia

Spate of attacks shows weakening of Islamic State