Areen lives in the city of Akko, and owns the blue hummus shop underneath the lighthouse. It used to be her father’s restaurant and as a girl she remembers helping prepare food, cleaning and doing all the other tasks it takes to run a restaurant. After she graduated high school, she studied sociology and criminology and began working with troubled teenagers. Areen was in this profession for nearly nine years. It helped her develop a theory about people.
"How you treat people, they will be,” Areen says, "If someone expects you to be something good, you will be good. And the opposite."
The work was emotionally demanding and she gradually started burning out. To make matters more complicated, her father had a stroke. It was the first time in her life that she saw her father weak. This was a man who always worked hard and had energy and loved feeding people. Suddenly, he was in a wheelchair and getting dialysis.
"It was hard,” Areen summarizes. “I saw it all. Like we were both one. It was too hard."
Areen felt empty. She left social work and decided she needed to get back to basics. So she reopened the restaurant as a place where visitors could sample authentic traditional Akko cuisine, and also a space where local folks could gather and build community. The shop is called Hummus el Abed Abu Hmid — named after her father, who died before it opened.
“This shop is my present to my father,” Areen says, "It is my present for all the 78 years that he gave to the world, and all his experiences. It's not just cooking. It's everything."