Our Story

“While many in the world are building walls, API is building paths. They are building pathways of hope.” Stephen Heintz – President & CEO, Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

Abraham Path Initiative

Annual Report 2020



km of Trails

Walkers per Year

In 2006, twenty-five people embarked on a trip from Urfa to Hebron, following Abraham’s legendary walk from what may have been his place of birth, to the place he is believed to be buried. This journey, from womb to tomb, laid the foundation for a visionary and hopeful project: the development of walking trails approximating the travels of Abraham and his family in Mesopotamia, who shared hospitality with people they met along the way. Stories related to this first family of monotheism abound in the region, from today’s Iraq to the Sinai Peninsula. By 2020, nearly 80,000 visitors have walked the network of trails inspired by the Abraham Path project. They’ve told tens of thousands of stories about the people of the region, their families, traditions, art, architecture, languages, recipes, and agricultural practices. Walkers foster friendships across sometimes challenging divides, boost local economic development, and enrich understanding of this region and its peoples for audiences around the globe.

Walking is a tool for deepening understanding of self and other; it allows an experience of culture that is unattainable from the seat of a bus. The simple act of walking has connected people around the world since time immemorial, with the Eastern Medierranean an active crossroad between Africa and Asia. The Abraham Path Initiative (API) has seeded walking trails here in order to reintroduce this storied region as one of irrepressibly hospitable people. By shining light on traditions of hospitality, API evokes the beloved regional origin story that shows up in everyday life: residents welcome strangers in honor of Abraham (Ibrahim, in Arabic), a spiritual ancestor of over half of humanity.

The initiative is an international nonprofit registered in the United States that invests with partners on-the-ground to achieve shared goals for a fruitful future. Together with local colleagues we have built trails and encouraged their ongoing maintenance, improvement and extension. We have trained guides that are now training a new generation of trekking experts from the coast of the Red Sea to the Jordan Valley, and from the plains of southern Turkey to the mountains of northern Iraq. The success of these trails and news about them bolster a growing experiential tourism sector that brings jobs and income to rural families and communities. Stories shared by those that journey here weave a tapestry of appreciation that transcends preconceived notions about the reality of this region. The Abraham Path Initiative hopes that tourism might counter terrorism and that hospitality may temper hostility. API programs — the Abraham Path Experiences, our Fellows, and regional partnerships — are in pursuit of what makes sense for our times, no matter how it may turn out.

Our Mission

Drive economic growth, social development and cultural heritage preservation through community-based tourism.

Our Vision

API envisions a future in which this region may become best known for its spectacular walking trails and its warm, welcoming people.

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