The Orient House Throughout History

1897: Construction of the main building was completed.

1898: A reception was held for the German Emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm II, to celebrate his historic visit to Jerusalem.

1914: During the summer, locusts swarmed Palestine, blocking the sun and damaging all green crops in the city and its outskirts, except for Ismail Al Husseini’s Garden, which he protected with great effort where it was the only green garden in Jerusalem that year. His mansion and garden remained a place to host distinguished local and foreign dignitaries, politicians, and businessmen.

1917:  A meeting was held to discuss the sudden withdrawal of the Ottoman forces from Jerusalem, where the governor requested the Mayor Of Municipality, Hussein Salim Al Husseini, to surrender the city to the British forces. During that time, leading personalities met in the house, including Khalil Baydas, the Arab nationalist who escaped from the Ottoman authorities, and there began the delegation that surrendered the city.

1919: A special meeting was held for Palestinian politicians and intellects to discuss King Faisal’s request to persuade the King-Crane commission to consider Palestine’s position in support of Syria’s unity. A historic declaration was issued concerning the independence of Syria including its southern part, Palestine and the rejection of the Jewish immigration to Palestine, while maintaining rights of the indigenous Jewish dwellers.

1930: Princes Ali, Abdullah, and Zaid accepted condolences for their father’s death, Sharif Al-Hussein Bin Ali (King of the Arabs), who was buried in Al Aqsa Mosque.

1931: A reception for King Faisal took place upon his visit to Jerusalem, where an important meeting was held and attended by local and foreign dignitaries.

1936: The Emperor of Abyssinia, Haile Selassie, took the old house as a haven for him and his family during the Italian occupation of his country.

1945: Ismail Al Husseini passed away and his son Ibrahim inherited the house.

1948: During the war and fall of west Jerusalem, part of the house was used as a hospital, which was affiliated with the Arab Women Association in Jerusalem to treat the injured.           

1949: The house became the headquarters for the UN reconciliation committee.

1950: The house became the headquarters for UNRWA.

1952: Ibrahim Al Husseini transformed the house into a hotel and called it “The New Orient House”, making it one of the leading and most luxurious hotels in east Jerusalem. It also became a venue for local social events.

1987: The hotel was shut down upon the outbreak of the first Intifada.

1990: The Arab Studies Society rented spaces in the house as offices and established an information center and a library. The American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA) rented offices there as well.

1992: The Palestinian Negotiating Delegation left the offices of the Arab Studies Society, which were located in The Orient house, to attend The Middle East Peace Conference in Madrid.

1993: Faisal Al Husseini, a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), responsible for the Jerusalem file, set up offices at the house, which came to be known as Beit Al Sharq. It became the headquarters of the Executive Committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, the office-base for the Palestinian Delegation for Multilateral Peace negotiation, and a venue where Faisal Al Husseini received visitors from various sectors.

2000: Faisal Al Hussein died suddenly in Kuwait and the Israeli authorities closed down The Orient House.