Two cousins from Jenin are bringing the “best quality Palestinian products” to a grocery store near you.
Every day, early in the morning, cousins Musa’ab Nazzal, 31, and Najeeb Nazzal, 28, leave their houses in the Palestinian city of Jenin and travel to the countryside to collect fresh vegetables. They are the founders of Pure Palestine, a year-old company that produces olive oil, tehina, za’atar, labneh and many other Middle East delicacies.
They work closely with Palestinian farmers, including women workers, to choose the highest quality organic ingredients in order to produce products which are then exported throughout the world.
Musa’ab and Najeeb are trying to break the stereotypes about Palestinians by providing high-end goods “Made in Palestine.”
Speaking to The Media Line, Najeeb, Chief Executive Officer of Pure Palestine, explained that the idea for the business was conceived last year in the Jordanian capital of Amman while he was attending a food conference. “I met our third partner Karla there, she’s from Chile but has Palestinian roots. We share the same educational background—agricultural engineering,” he recounted. “We had a long discussion about the importance of providing premium Palestinian products abroad, and that’s how we started!”
Najeeb is seeking to change the image of Palestinians to the outside world—that not only do they take in, but also give back; to show, in his words, that “Palestinians live not only to eat, but also to produce.”
Pure Palestine is working with farmers in marginalized areas of the West Bank cities of Nablus, Jenin, Qabatiya, Hebron and Ramallah, with the aim of empowering the locals. In addition to supporting under-developed communities, the company is also trying to maximize the territory’s agricultural potential, while providing people with the tools, training and know-how to compete in bigger markets.
Speaking to The Media Line, Musa’ab, Chief Operating Officer of Pure Palestine, commended the talented women he employs, but said that work still needed to be done to enhance their business and management skills, including the development of a better operational framework. “We work with six women associations at the moment,” he revealed, “each comprising four to six workers. We provide a supervisor to oversee the women to ensure the quality of the products.”
Pure Palestine is growing leaps and bounds, according to Musa’ab, “already exporting to Chile, the United States, Russia and other countries throughout the Middle East and Africa.” But it is no easy task. “Some countries are not familiar with Palestinian foods, so we have to work on marketing the products to create demand.
“For instance,” he continued, “in Chile people didn’t know what za’atar or tehina were, but once we organized an exhibition they tried it and liked it. Months later they started demanding more of these products.”
Pure Palestine has a website and a Facebook page, but the two partners do not rely on social media platforms to expand their business; rather, the owners take part in as many conferences as they can. They also cooperate with related companies to organize tasting events.
One of Pure Palestine’s local clients, Karma Abu-Ayyash, expressed to The Media Line her appreciation of the products. “Great quality and handpicked. No chemicals. The honey and olive oil are produced by Palestinian women.” In fact, she praises the fact that Pure Palestine is supporting women, and claims that the business contributes 20% of its profits to women’s organizations.
Next month, Pure Palestine will open a new factory in the West Bank to provide its female workers with a more professional environment, where they can achieve even higher standards. The company is also hoping to expand into additional markets, while doubling or tripling its output within a year.
As Musa’ab and Najeeb say, theirs are “the best Palestinian products around.”