The photographs of Arab al-Sbaih were taken in 2007 in the following places in Jordan: Irbid Refugee Camp, Irbid, Baq’a Refugee Camp and Amman. Three generations of Palestinian refugees have been living there since the 1948 war.
The title of the series references the original name of Ahlam Shibli’s home village in Lower Galilee, Palestine (currently Israel). A part of her extended family that fought for their lands in 1948 against the Jews was expelled to Jordan; the other part took shelter at the Mount Tabor Monastery. After several months of hiding in the caves on the land of the monastery, at the end of the war, the families from Sbaih who managed to return to their homes had to change the name of the village to Arab al-Shibli in order to protect themselves from the Israeli authorities’ revenge.
At Baq’a Refugee Camp in Amman, a neighbourhood constructed by people who left the original area of the camp and built their own houses on land adjacent to it. Baq’a Refugee Camp is known as the scene of some of the fiercest fighting between Palestinian revolutionaries and the Jordanian regular forces during the Black September.
A ceremony for a long-distance runner in 1946 in Nazareth, with a member of the British administration, presenting a cup to the young man from Arab al-Sbaih. A Palestinian fighter, a nephew of Arab al-Sbaih’s Sheikh, in his uniform of an officer. A couple of cousins and their children from a family album; she is a Palestinian refugee from Jordan, he is a Palestinian refugee from Syria who was seen for the last time at the Faculty of Sciences at the University of Aleppo in March 1980. He was then “disappeared” by the Syrian General Security Services and the family never heard of him again.
A wall with a graffiti of Hanthala, the iconic image of Palestinian exile and resistance; a road leading to the Irbid Refugee Camp UNRWA offices; a shelter built by the exiled Sheikh of Arab al-Sbaih in Irbid during the Israeli-Arab war of 1967 for the people of the neighbourhood.
The Irbid Refugee Camp cemetery and the Cemetery of the Martyrs in Irbid which was constructed by the PLO to hold the graves of Palestinian martyrs from different wars.
At Irbid Refugee Camp the word “Italy” both in Arabic and English; the entrance to a family residence; the interior of a Falafel shop adorned with Palestinian and Iraqi posters and stickers.
The path close to the Syrian border, which the people from Arab al-Sbaih took in 1948 to reach Irbid and the UN shelters. The refugees’ flight took them through Lebanon and Syria before they chose to turn to Jordan.
The living room of the Sheikh of Arab al-Sbaih in Irbid with a large drawing of the previous Sheikh who died in 1998 and is buried at the Cemetery of the Martyrs in Irbid. An old refugee from Arab al-Sbaih packing his suitcase before catching a flight to Denmark where his son lives. The bedroom of the late Sheikh of Arab al-Sbaih. Since his death his widow has maintained the room in the state he left it.
A UNRWA operations map of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon in a refugee family’s living room in Amman.
Night-time in the central shopping area of Baq’a Refugee Camp. An al-Khalil grocery – al-Khalil is the Arabic name for Hebron; a Narghila coffee shop decorated with a Palestinian flag, a portrait of Saddam Hussein and a map of Palestine; the Bisan supermarket – Bisan is a town in eastern Palestine which is today an Israeli town called Bet She’an; the al-Khalil jewellery store.
The Abdullah II School for Excellent Students in Irbid – a large percentage of the students enrolled belong to the third generation of Palestinian refugees.