Jerusalem Office Event
Gateway to the World - Jerusalem Airport 1948-1967

Jerusalem Airport
Gateway to the World Jerusalem Airport 1948-1967 Exhibition Poster © FNF Jerusalem

October 28th - November 28th (Extended until December 6th)

Sunday - Thursday: 14:00 - 19:00
Friday - Saturday: 10:00 - 15:00
(except Tuesday, November 9th)

While our exhibition is officially closed, individual visits can still be arranged via prior registration with the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research until December 14th.


The Corridor Gallery, W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research
26 Salah ed-Din Street, Jerusalem

Friedrich Naumann Foundation in partnership with W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research.

About the Exhibition

Curator: Natalia Kopelyanskaya

The exhibition “Gateway to the World: Jerusalem Airport 1948-1967" is dedicated to the golden age of the now-defunct Jerusalem Airport and sheds light on its pivotal role in the economic and social life of Jordanian Jerusalem. The juxtaposing of historic and contemporary images, “then" vs. "now”, featuring photos taken from various sources - including the family archive of Dr. Mohammad Al-Qutob and the images by photographer Arik Shraga - reveals the history of the place, its physical details and its significance to the life of the city.

Visitors are welcome to "check in" at the exhibition to enjoy a glimpse of a specific point in time in Jerusalem's history and its manifestation in periodical aircraft, architecture and fashion. Vestiges of these bygone styles echo in what is now but an
empty shell, a pathetic ruin.

Scientific Advisor: Dr. Eldad Brin

The Qalandiya airstrip, built by the British in 1925 just to the north of Jerusalem, came under Jordanian rule after the 1948 war. Its proximity to Jerusalem and Bethlehem, both major draws for Christian and Muslim pilgrims and tourists, stimulated the Jordanian authorities to upgrade it from a short and dusty track to a proper runway and complement it with a terminal building. Thus Jerusalem Airport was born, and it was about to become the city's gateway to the world. 

Starting as early as 1949, short, irregular flights from Jerusalem to Amman were soon joined by longer flights to Damascus. Over time, more than twenty weekly flights left Jerusalem Airport to Beirut and Cairo. Other regular services connected Jerusalem to various cities in the Middle East and by the Persian Gulf. Further afield, direct flights connected Jerusalem to Rome in mainland Europe, and possibly to Kabul in central Asia. No less than seventeen separate airlines – mostly born through the constant merging and splitting of a handful of Arab flag carriers – served Jerusalem Airport, which, despite its modest size and humble facilities, established itself as a busy node. This was helped by the fact that the overland route to Jerusalem entailed circumnavigating the closed borders of Israel through long and tedious car or bus rides.

The Golden Age of Jerusalem Airport coincided with the global boom in commercial aviation after World War II, made possible through affordable flights in ever-improving aircraft. Far busier than its counterpart in Amman, Jerusalem Airport facilitated the arrival of hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city, including countless dignitaries, spurring the construction of dozens of hotels and related businesses in it, making it a major component in Jerusalem's tourism industry and greatly adding to its cosmopolitan air. The city's small elite used the airport regularly when travelling to major Middle Eastern hubs for work, study and recreation.

The 1967 war put an end to this short but exciting chapter in Jerusalem's history. In 2001, after 34 years of limited Israeli domestic use, the airport ceased operation and has been lying derelict ever since. All that remain are the countless photos of it in its heyday, which serve as a vivid and nostalgic reminder to a bygone era. Given the bleak, present-day realities in the city, we sincerely hope that through this modest exhibition we can foster a shared pride in Jerusalem's past, which will hopefully contribute to its better future.

The story behind the exhibition:

The idea for this project came about when Anne Cohen-Koehler, the project coordinator of Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) in Jerusalem, attended a lecture on Jordanian Jerusalem by historical geographer Dr. Eldad Brin and is based on Dr. Brin's article in the Jerusalem Quarterly, "Gateway to the World: The Golden Age of Jerusalem Airport, 1948-1967". Having learnt that this specific historical period in general, and the Airport in particular, have almost never before been celebrated by formal exhibitions in Jerusalem, the German foundation decided to accept the challenge. Eventually, this exhibition is a co-production of the FNF, which headed the exhibition’s organization; the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research, which hosted the exhibition in their historic premises with is beautiful courtyard; Dr. Brin, who helped collate photos and offered historical consultancy; and Natalia Kopelyanskaya, curator and expert in museum development and history representation in divided cities.

With this exhibition FNF is seeking to enable more people to get a glimpse of these rare photos, bridge knowledge gaps regarding Jerusalem’s rich and diverse history and revive the heyday of the airport, which also stands as a symbol of freedom and cosmopolitanism. The organizers of the exhibition nourish the hope that through this modest exhibition, they can foster a shared pride in Jerusalem's past, since understanding the past is a prerequisite for creating a better future.

Since 1994 the Jerusalem Office of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom is hosting a unique Israeli-Palestinian team, and seeks to promote and innovate liberal thinking and liberal policies in cooperation with its partners in Germany and around the globe.


* The story of the Jerusalem Airport was previously told and uncovered by the Palestinian filmmaker and Artist Nahed Awwad in 2008. Both through a film titled: "5 minutes from home" and her article titled "In Search of Jerusalem Airport".