Product: Olive Oil Soap
Producer: Adnan Tbeleh, the Nablus Soap Company
Location: Beit Furik Industrial Zone (West Bank, PA Territory)
Adnan Tbeleh is a fair trade olive oil soap maker from Nablus in the Palestinian Authority Territory. His traditional, world renowned, quality olive oil soaps are sold by Sindyanna of Galilee.
Nablus’ famous soap industry began in the 10th century, boosted by the excellent quality of olive oil produced in the region. Till this day, several soap producers operate in this region, the most well-known being the Nablus Soap Company, founded in 1971 by Mojtaba Tbeleh Adnan. Adnan comes from a 400-year-old line of soap makers, so renowned and linked to this occupation, that the person who cuts the soap into blocks is called “Tubeili” after their name.
Over the centuries, the family’s soap has gained an excellent reputation extending beyond the Middle East. In the 19th century, the soap arrived to the Mediterranean islands by salesmen, whence it made its way to the Queen of England. It did not take long before European women learned about the nourishing and healing benefits of Nablus soap.
The olive-oil soap by Nablus Soap Company is made by hand, from a mixture of olive oil and salt as the basis, to which several other natural ingredients can be added. The making of these soaps involves a very delicate process, orchestrated by Mojtaba Tbeleh, a soap master who applies his family’s extensive experience. The mixture is cooked and left to dry. Afterwards, the blocks are carved by the Tubeili and piled into characteristic geometric towers. Smaller blocks are labeled with the brand name of Sindyanna of Galilee. The soap bars must then be left to dry for a few more months.
Current-day soaps are not real soaps since they are mostly made from detergents. Consisting synthetic components, detergents are often harmful to the natural balance of the skin. They can lead to dehydration, irritation and blockage of the pores, making it difficult for the skin “to breathe”. Eventually, the skin becomes dependent on these products because its natural moisture and fat regulation has been disturbed. Made from 100% natural ingredients, making it 100% biodegradable, Nablus olive oil soap is not only good for your skin, it is also great for the environment.
The multiple-generation family business of olive oil soap production of Adnan Tbeleh is located east of Beit Furik, in an area that was designated by the Palestinian Authority to be the crown jewel of its new economy. De facto, Adnan’s soap production workshop is among the few businesses in an industrial area devoid of paved roads, telephone lines, or connection to the water grid. Ten large water containers located on the factory roof provide the necessary, yet costly water, to this operation together with a telephone line connected at Adnan’s initiative and at his own expanse. Employees and goods must travel in arduous routes with military checkpoints to reach their final destination. Thus, the drive from the workshop to Sindyanna of Galilee’s plant in the village of Cana near Nazareth takes more than double the time it used to, leading to a surge in transportation and delivery costs.
The marvelous soaps produced under these circumstances by Adnan, his elderly father, and only a handful of employees, are tangible proof of the triumph of determination and will power.