Bus 47: A Lost Journey Through The Middle East

Imagine a time when there were no boundaries between Palestine, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, and Kuwait.  You could board a bus without any form of documentation and travel to some of the major cities in the Middle East, including Jerusalem, Amman, and Baghdad, no questions asked.

It seems far from the today’s reality, but at one point in the history of the MENA, this was the reality. Bus 47 is a show produced by Moriyya Productions that aims to take its viewers back to a time where all you needed was a bus ticket, and on your way you went!

Barakabits had the chance to interview Reem Shooman, the production and public relations manager for Bus 47. Shooman is a graduate of media and sociology from Birzeit University. Here are some takeaway points from that interview:

On Bus 47

Shooman: Bus 47 combines elements of a documentary and a reality show that reminds us of Palestine’s glory before the year of 1948, the connection of Palestine with the Arab countries, the centralization and lead of Palestine in economical, educational, social, and transportation sectors. It takes us back were borders didn’t matter, and you didn’t need much regulation to travel as Palestinians, in particular, and Arabs in general.

On Who Came Up With The Idea

Muhammad Nassar, a Palestinian journalist, used to host a morning show and evening radio talk show. What triggered the idea for Bus 47 to him was when he saw a picture featuring the bus by Bab El-Amoud (Damasucs Gate) in Jerusalem. Two years ago,  a participant, Hajj Dheeb, (who you see in episode one), was on the radio talk show and mentioned he was a bus driver between Jerusalem and Kuwait. Muhammad wanted to “make the bus again.”

Muhammad Nassar speaking with Hajj Dheeb in his home.
Muhammad Nassar speaking with Hajj Dheeb in his home.

On The Public’s Opinion of Bus 47

There’s a mix of grief and longing. Shooman said, “For the most part, there was a feeling of “we wish we could do more” and “we want to visit Palestine”. We should note that most of them do not visit often due to rejections of Visa applications by Israel. There was nostalgia for the unity of old times, when Palestine and Jordan were considered as one.”

On The Message Bus 47 Sends

Shooman tells BB that “Bus 47 is to remind everyone what Palestine once offered. The broader message is to portray the freedom of movement, and how its missing for Palestinians. We want others to see the difficulties we face moving through cities alone, not to mention countries.”

Shooman ends the interview explaining the difficulty in traveling around in the bus today as opposed to decades ago. There are high restrictions imposed on movement by Israel. The bus was not allowed to move between cities in Palestine, and the way to move it around was for it to be covered and carried on a truck. Transporting the bus to Jordan took 5 months of working out logistics. In the end, Bus 47 received a total of 10 days permission to go to Jordan.


Bus 47 reaches Amman, Jordan.
Bus 47 reaches Amman, Jordan. 

You can catch Bus 47 and go on a journey of nostalgia and history of the Middle East on Palestine TV, every Wednesday and Thursday. Also, every episode is available on their YouTube channel after its aired!


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