With the success of the inauguration behind us, we now embark on a journey. Amongst the many achievements we hope to fulfil within the twinning are cultural awareness, knowledge and education, and community developments, bringing together two communities from different continents which can equally benefit each other. There is so much to learn from these two distinct places which although diverse in their traditions and backgrounds, share a collective vision for the future.

Hounslow has much to offer its residents and tourists who come to visit. Home to many historical sites including Kew Bridge Museum, Gunnersbury Park Estate, Kew Gardens and Hounslow Heath. Hounslow Heath was at a time very popular with the royals including Henry VIII, Elizabeth I and William III who used the grounds for hunting.

Hounslow has a rich and vibrant history of talented greatly varied artists and performers, who either lived in the area at one time or another or were born there. Vincent Van Gogh, William Hogarth, Hugh Grant, Phil Collins, Patsy Kensit, Charles Hawtrey, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Dave Lambert, Ian Gillan, Freddie Mercury, Jimmy Page and Dave Cousins have all resided in the town at some point in history. You may only know one or two of these names. It has also showcased many of these artists work whether they be paintings, musical performances or films at one point or another. “Jimi Hendrix first UK gig was at the Duke of Cambridge Pub in Hounslow”. The Isleworth Film Studios saw the likes of Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, Buster Keaton and Paul Robeson. The Paul Robeson theatre in Hounslow named after Robeson is situated in the Treaty Centre. Robeson was the first black actor of the 20th Century to portray Shakespeare’s Othello on Broadway and paved the way for black actors who came after him like Sidney Poitier to be cast in equal roles to their White counterparts. Robeson held many other attributes and achievements. He was an internationally acclaimed concert artist, actor, scholar, writer, multi-lingual orator, lawyer and long standing advocate for cultural diversity and anti-discrimination. It was his determination for peace, equal rights and a multi cultural successful community that he strived so hard for along with his starring role in ‘Sanders of the River’ shot at Isleworth Film Studios that were the deciding factors when naming the theatre after him. The theatre showcases wonderful staged productions, plays, musicians and an array of performers in arts and culture, and is one of London’s great theatres.

Hounslow provides a wealth of arts and culture, and its residents are lucky enough to be able to enjoy this part of its preserved heritage to this day. Hogarth’s House, Boston Manor House, Gunnersbury Park Museum, Gunnersbury Park Estate, and Chiswick House Grounds are full of paintings, furniture and photographs which not only showcase individual talent like Hogarth’s artwork, but also reflect Hounslow’s history and some of which continue to document its development through to the present day. As well as beautiful gardens, lakes and greenery these sites are also known to contain the most important historical landscapes in England and Wales.

Hounslow has a history of providing economic stability and employment for its inhabitants thought its travel industries and major businesses. Factories which used to line the golden mile in the 1920s, (currently the A4) provided jobs and prosperity for the locals. Maintaining this opportunity and prosperity the Great West Road is now lined with corporations such as Sky TV, Glaxo-Smith-Kline and the Gillette Building. Travel industries have also been a major income for the town and its inhabitants from the 14th Century to the present. Back in the middle ages it was used as a resting stop for travellers making their way to and from London. Now home to one of the Largest International Airports, Heathrow also provides thousands of jobs for its local residents.

Similarly Ramallah has much to offer its residents and tourists in terms of arts, culture and a rich heritage. Ramallah was founded and began to develop from the middle ages by the Hadadeen Brothers who descended from Yemenite Christian Arabs. The first Arab Orthodox church to be built in the 1800s, still stands in Ramallah today along with many other beautiful places of worship such as the Latin Roman Catholic Church built in the same decade, The Jamal Abdel Nasser Mosque, the Arab Episcopal Anglican Church as well as a number of schools, academies and clinics built by the Religious Society of Quakers. A variety of mosques, churches and places of various denominations decorate the skyline of Ramallah.

Ramallah held various links to Britain in the past. In 1946, the British authorities introduced the ‘Palestinian Broadcasting Service’, a bilingual TV channel broadcasting in English, Arabic and Hebrew, whose staff were trained by the BBC. Economically Ramallah and its residents prospered in international trade at the beginning of the 20th century. Merchants made the most of their exotic furnishings and art works by travelling to the West and establishing import-export businesses.

The Palestinian Heritage centre houses exhibitions, lectures, seminars and events on Palestinian heritage and traditional costume, in the aim of reviving and promoting Palestinian heritage and culture. One of Palestine’s renowned museums, the Al Usra Society Museum of Palestinian Popular Heritage is also famous for its Art collections, array of Palestinian costumes, traditional pottery and souvenirs with historical and cultural significance.

Ramallah has been described as the most affluent and forward thinking of all Palestinian Cities renowned for its rich culture and referenced as the Pride of Palestine. Home to a number of famous poets, artists, writers and musicians including the late Mahmoud Darwish, Fedwa Touqan, Ghada Karmi and Edward Said, Ramallah is a cultural hub of talents and artistic creativity.

The Khalil Sakakini Cultural Centre works in the visual arts, Palestinian Identity and narrative. It regularly holds art exhibitions, concerts, literary events, youth groups, children activities, lectures and seminars.

Given the rich backgrounds of both Ramallah and Hounslow it is apparent that they have a lot to offer. The diverse range of rich culture and artistic influences of both communities provides enormous scope for mutual beneficial enhancement and enrichment. We look forward to developing and strengthening this bond for the residents of these communities across the generations and from all walks of life.

References:
www.sakakini.org
www.ramallah.ps
www.virtualgallery.birzeit.edu
www.hounslow.info/arts
www.wikipedia.org
homepage.mac.com/davidclifford
www.visitramallah.com