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Meet the Beehive!

Dar al-Kalima University’s Entrepreneurship Hub

By Inas Salem Deeb

Now more than ever, young Palestinians can be a vibrant part of world shapers in the arts and culture fields if given the supportive track to success. This is the goal of the newly established entrepreneurship hub.

Dar al-Kalima University is a renowned Palestinian institution that proudly earned its entrepreneurial reputation for being the first and only specialized university in the arts and culture in Palestine. Dedicated to empowering and investing in its students while sharing Palestine with the world through arts and culture, Dar al-Kalima has partnered with Zahi Khouri* to create an entrepreneurial center for faculty members, students, and graduates. The Rami Zahi Khouri Incubator aims mainly to improve the ecosystem in the arts and culture fields. Through incubator programs, we provide participants the opportunity to become self-reliant, create jobs, and generate income from their entrepreneurial skills. This is done through a cultural transformation by accompanying Palestinian artists, especially students and young graduates, in their professional and entrepreneurial careers. We strengthen our relationships with other pioneering institutions and accelerators as well as with local entrepreneurs who are interested in providing youth with the best opportunities to create and develop their own entrepreneurial initiatives that will have a memorable impact on arts and culture in Palestine.

The incubator was established in late 2021 with a group of students and graduates from Dar al-Kalima University and other local artists from various Palestinian regions, including Jerusalem, the 1948 Palestinian regions, and Gaza, by providing them with a variety of training sessions and activities. Many young adults are attracted to the incubator because it is like a beehive that is always working and dynamically building their skills and competencies. The incubator thus builds its programs according to the needs of the participants and plans priorities based on the challenges in the labor market. It always seeks to motivate young adults to persist in their goals by conducting action research, offering continuous learning, promoting self-reliance, and proposing problems for which solutions must be found.

Entrepreneurial Presentation Day at Dar al-Kalima University, September 2023.

Students involved in the early stages of the incubator include women who were fully engaged in intensive workshops that totaled more than 50 hours of training and challenged them at all levels. From the idea to the research, the design, the product, and then telling the story, students were empowered and presented their projects with high motivation and pride – proving that the incubator offers a great opportunity to explore and make dreams and hopes a reality. One participant shared, “I never believed that my work would be valuable to others. I created art only because I enjoy it, but now I can do it not just because I love it but because I can sell my work.” Another participant said, “I never imagined myself standing on stage at Dar al-Kalima to share my dreams. It is great to receive support and mentoring from the incubator. We encourage each other, and it’s amazing to see how we change along the way. It’s a journey that we can’t make alone. The hub provides the support we need.”

Ultimately, it is very inspiring to see how young artists who have been part of the hub from 2021 until today can think creatively of their artwork and use art to impact society. Participants, students, and graduates experience real life challenges that invite them to do intensive work, discover their passion, challenge their abilities by putting themselves under pressure to excel, and show the best of their work. Our pride becomes real when we can see the ripple effect of their successful stories in society, especially when they come from lower-income areas and marginalized neighborhoods.

Though arts would be the best means toward creativity and the liberation of society that contributes to cultural evolution, we are also aware of the great challenges that young adults face in achieving their dreams and paving their first path to success. The incubator sees the need to invest in the capabilities and talents of young adults and accompany them from the beginning of the idea through its development and on to the implementation stage. Financial grants are given once a year, and the three best projects are selected to be supported and moved to the implementation stage.

Mr. Zahi Khouri speaking at Entrepreneurial Presentation Day.

In addition, the incubator aims to become a pioneer in three interconnected foundational areas. First, in knowledge and skills, including curricula and practical applications that are implemented during intensive workshops and competitions throughout the year. Second, by utilizing twenty-first-century skills to develop young adults’ capabilities and competencies in navigating challenges, managing time, and dealing with failure. And third, by providing supportive resources that cultivate sustainability and growth for student projects, so that they can succeed in the local and international markets.

Dar al-Kalima University is dedicated to cultivating the future generation of creative leaders, thus becoming the premier in the field of the “creative industries” through arts and high-quality academic programs while fostering creative entrepreneurial opportunities to all young artists. As Dar al-Kalima celebrates its 25th anniversary, it remains steadfast in its commitment to provide opportunities for quality education and create spaces for entrepreneurship and civic engagement.

Participant Fatima Al Lawzi from Jericho giving her presentation.

The Rami Zahi Khouri Entrepreneurship Incubator Center will be inaugurated at the end of this year and will be equipped with all the required technologies and collaborative spaces to create a wonderful atmosphere of cooperation, creativity, and leadership. Here, we aspire not only to be distinguished in the programs and the available opportunities for young adults, but also to be the effective engine that attracts young artists and fosters a supportive home for every male and female artist in Palestine who seeks to break through obstacles and achieve great success.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com\RZKHub or www.daralkalima.edu.ps.

* Zahi W. Khouri is a Palestinian-American born in Jaffa, the founder and former chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola Co. Palestine, and a cofounder of key publicly held companies in Palestine. He is also the chairman of the board of trustees at Dar al-Kalima University. His generous contribution to establish the hub at Dar al-Kalima, dedicated to all young inspiring Palestinians, was made in remembrance of his son Rami who sadly passed away in August 2021. “You will be always remembered by the young entrepreneurs who will share the hub created at Dar al-Kalima as a true inspiration to many Palestinians.” (Zahi in a post on August 18, 2023.)

  • Dr. Inas Salem Deeb is the director of the Rami Zahi Khouri Innovation and Entrepreneurship Hub at Dar al-Kalima University in Bethlehem.

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