A Brief History of
the Orient House

Prominent Figures


Faisal Husseini

Articles and Speeches
of Faisal Husseini

The Orient House was first built by the late Ismail Musa Al-Husseini in the year 1897.  The owner of the building applied both taste and grandeur to the design and construction of his home. Due to the prestige of the Husseini Family and the grandeur of the building, many foreign dignitaries were hosted at this Palestinian mansion over the years. 

The building was site to a number of diplomatic functions, including a tea party in honor of the German Emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm, when he visited Jerusalem in 1898.  King Abdallah, King Ali and Prince Zaid accepted condolences at the Orient House when their father, Sharif Hussein Ben Ali (Sharif of Mecca), was buried in the Haram al-Sharif in 1930. Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia and Empress Minan of Abyssinia also found the Husseini house to be a haven for their court when the Italians invaded their country and forced them into exile in 1936-37.

In 1945 the owner Ismail Husseini died and left the property in the hands of his son Ibrahim. After the 1948 War, Ibrahim allowed the building to be used as a temporary headquarters for the UN Conciliation Committee and UNRWA, 1949-1950.

Under the ownership period of Ibrahim Husseini, the House was opened to the public and thus became a hotel, better known as "The New Orient House" Hotel. It was among the first hotels in Jerusalem to be opened after the British Mandate forces withdrew from Palestine in 1948 and hosted many tourists and pilgrims visiting the Holy City.

With the onset of the 1967 War and the quick deterioration of the political and economic conditions, tourist traffic became scarce.  The owners of the New Orient House decided to close the building and reuse it as a private residence once again.  However, the up keep of such a large building in the conditions of that time were difficult and the owners decided to rent the top floor to an international refugee agency.  During this time the vibrant spirit of the Orient House waned and most of the building stood neglected.

However, this period was also only temporary and by the outset of 1983 the Arab Studies Society, initiated by Mr. Faisal Husseini, rented a section of the building in order to set up offices for archives, press data, statistics, etc. The Arab Studies Society revitalized the building. 

Still later during the first Palestinian Intifada, the Arab Studies Society began to gain importance as a political entity and developed a series of other services and departments to promote Palestinain political interests. Herein, the current Orient House was born and efforts were made to renovate the premises to suit diplomatic functions. 

Ismail al-Husseini in front of al-Husseini building

Meeting of Palestinian Notables at the Orient House, 1930s.


<- About... Prominent Fig... ->
page up

Webmaster: info@orienthouse.org
Copyright @ The Orient House. All Rights Reserved.