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Muslala merges sustainability, architecture, bees in east Jerusalem

July 29, 2023
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The center’s overarching mission is twofold: to economically empower local women and young adults and to champion urban initiatives centered around sustainability and ecology.

Nestled in a nook of eastern Jerusalem, the Central Library embraces its role as a haven of knowledge. But beyond the shelves replete with literary treasures, the Muslala Sinsila Center graces the space above them. Stepping onto the upper terrace, a delicate infusion of honeyed fragrance greets the visitor, while the gentle buzz of bees casts a hypnotic spell.

The Muslala Sinsila Center is the brainchild of architect and planner Tareq Massar, who grew up in the Old City of Jerusalem. After graduating with a BA in architecture and working for the UN in the United States, Massar considers that “architecture doesn’t help communities that much.”

His journey took an inspiring turn when he received a scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in urban planning with a focus on sustainability in Stuttgart, Germany. Armed with this new knowledge, he returned to Jerusalem with a vision to give back to his community by merging architecture and sustainability. Upon his return, Massar became aware of the frustration that the younger generation of Palestinians in Jerusalem felt – and the limited employment opportunities for Arab women.