28 Nov 2017
Bethlehem, Palestine
Organic cleaning products and cosmetics

The healing properties of the Dead Sea are recognized far beyond the Middle East. The lowest point on Earth is said to be the place where Cleopatra and other ancient royalty sourced their beauty products; bathing, exfoliating, and basking in the sea’s salt and mud.

Today, beauty companies around the region and the world have cropped up, all hoping to cash in on the economic value of the sea. For the first time in history, a Palestinian company has gotten into the mix — only, it is hoping to tap the region’s resources in a more sustainable way.

The economic benefits of the Dead Sea:

Dead Sea Pearls was established in 2016 by Nasser Al Khatib and his father, Nader. The company produces a line of all-natural organic beauty and cosmetic products, from bath salts to mud masks, anti-aging creams to salt and mud soaps.

The beauty and skin care industry was a new one for Nasser, a civil engineering graduate from the European University of Cyprus. Following his degree, he worked for several years as a project manager with the Water and Environmental Development Organization, a Palestinian NGO that focuses on water, sanitation, and environmental issues.

“After many years spent rehabilitating the Jordan River and saving the Dead Sea, I thought it was time to focus on the economics of the area,” says Al Khatib. “Since we, Palestinians, have no direct control of the shore, I thought it would be good to focus on the healing power of the Dead Sea in terms of the health perspective. Our objective is to provide customers with high quality, natural, and organic products made in Palestine.”

Protecting the Dead Sea:

Looking at the Dead Sea through a more sustainable lens has never been so important.

The sea —technically a lake fed by the Jordan River — has been under environmental siege for years, with canal diversion, overpopulation along the river, and natural resource extraction taking its toll on the world’s saltiest body of water. Scientists estimate the sea level is dropping at a rate of more than a meter each year, creating a series of hazardous sinkholes — an ironic contradiction in a body of water famous for its flotation properties.

“Between 90 to 95% of the historic flow of the Jordan River does not reach the Dead Sea,” explains Nader Al Khatib, the co-founder of Dead Sea Pearls and an environmental engineer. “The environmental efforts are calling for the governments in the region to allow more freshwater to flow to the sea and asking mineral industries to use membrane technologies to extract the salts without evaporating the water.”

To ensure it is not part of the problem, Dead Sea Pearls sustainably sources the salt and mud used in its products. It is also trying to lead a mindset shift in Palestine, where customers understand the importance of responsible consumption, especially as it relates to Dead Sea resources.

“People don’t know the water in the Jordan River is polluted, and they don’t know the benefit of these kinds of resources,” Al Khatib says, referencing the value to be found in the Dead Sea mud and salt. “We want people to think about the Dead Sea in a different way by showing them how you can benefit from the environment, but also how necessary the environment is.”

Something different for Palestine:

In addition to shifting values around the Dead Sea, Al Khatib and his father saw the company as an opportunity to do something different than the local NGOs pumping money into Palestine.

The company is a source of independence and pride for Al Khatib and Palestine in general — after four years of pursuing the proper licensing from the relevant authorities to open their small factory in Bethlehem, Dead Sea Pearls became one of the first approved to operate in the country. Palestinians do not have direct access to the Dead Sea, and extracting the mud and salt requires specific permission from an Israeli authority. “We bring the sea to you,” says Al Khatib about their ability to connect Palestinians with the Dead Sea’s resources.

Al Khatib has recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Nexus, a Palestinian-based company, to distribute its products in the country. As a result of that partnership, Al Khatib, and Nexus founder Mohammed Obaidallah have been attending a number of public exhibitions and markets to sell the Dead Sea Pearls products.

Dead Sea Pearls’ products are stocked in more than 100 shops in Palestine, including pharmacies, specialty cosmetics stores, and hotels. “We are also trying to market our products to show that Palestinian items can be sold elsewhere and that the quality can be just as good, if not better,” Al Khatib says. While primarily sold nationally, Dead Sea Pearls sent their first international order to Russia, earlier this year.

Production of Dead Sea Pearls cosmetics has also created jobs for eight women at the Bethlehem factory. In addition to their monthly salary, the women also get a small percentage of the sales. “People were telling me this payment model was a crazy idea, but I believe it’s important to work as one team,” Al Khatib explains.

For him, he says starting Dead Sea Pearls was already a dream come true — now, the next step is to ensure Dead Sea Pearls’ Made-in-Palestine products remain an example of innovation, quality, and sustainability for years to come.

 

 

Website: www.deadseapearls.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/DSP.Palestine

Photos: Courtesy of Dead Sea Pearls.

Hilary is a journalist, photographer, and maker of things. She loves working with entrepreneurs to share their stories and has done so around the world.Hilary Duff
Palestine’s first all-natural cosmetics company sources from the Dead Sea | The Switchers
Dead Sea Pearls Organic Cleaning Products & Cosmetics
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