- by Haneen Nofal
in Latest News
AMMAN — Sitting in a dimly-lit east Amman café is Palestinian native Alaa Al Juneidi; world traveller and creator of “Rahhal” (which means “traveller” in Arabic), a project whose goal is to document the world’s 194 countries and mount the seven summits while inspiring others and creating a shared community of travellers.
Leaning forward in his chair, Juneidi’s eyes spark with enthusiasm as he begins to tell his tale of how the Rahhal project came to be.
“I remember crossing five borders just to get to school every day… I grew up in a cage,” Juneidi recalls about his childhood in Hebron and the difficulties he faced as a child in Israeli-occupied Palestine.
“I would always watch this cartoon, ‘Around the World in 80 days’ and that’s what inspired me, I wanted the freedom to see the world.”
He found his freedom when he came to the Kingdom to study at the University of Jordan and obtained a temporary Jordanian passport, which allowed Jneidi to travel as a research and development manager for his family’s business.
After six years at the family business, Juneidi’s love for travel grew into a desire to create something uniquely his own.
The beginning of Rahhal, however, was a gradual one. Jneidi recalled the resistance he met from friends and family who were concerned for his well-being and ability to make a living.
“It was hard just to convince people that I was doing something [important], it’s my passion, it’s what I love and it’s worth doing it.”
He wanted his followers to feel as if they were right there with him, going through the same adventures, by showing them through his own lens on outlets like his Facebook and Instagram pages.
Rahhal’s goal is to manifest the importance of travel around the world and to set the benchmark for Palestinian travellers, with a special focus on the region’s youth.
“I think the youth today do not know much about the world and it’s important to inspire them to learn more and show them that they can travel,” he explained.
Recently, Juneidi has received a letter of gratitude and an invitation to speak on behalf of the Rahhal project from the United Nations Volunteers in Jordan, in recognition of the project as a sustainable development goal (goal number 16 — Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions).
Though Rahhal is a project for travelling the globe, Juneidi has kept a special focus on Jordan, working with the Jordan Tourism Board to help highlight the features this country has to offer such, as Petra, one of the 7 wonders of the world, as well as Wadi Rum and others.
Despite feeling like he doesn’t really have a “home base”, Juneidi said Jordan is in many ways, his true home.
“Home is where your family is and I have family in many places, in Palestine, in Jordan… but when I am here, sleeping in my room in Amman, that’s where I truly feel at home,” he said in a recent interview with The Jordan Times.