What You Need To Know
Haifa, the third-largest city in the State of Israel, has a population of over 277,082. Another 300,000 people live in towns directly adjacent to the city including Daliyat al-Karmel, the Krayot, Nesher, Tirat Carmel, and some kibbutzim. Together these areas form a contiguous urban area, home to nearly 600,000 residents, which makes up the inner core of the Haifa metropolitan area, the second- or third-most populous metropolitan area in Israel. It is also home to the Bahá’í World Centre, aUNESCO World Heritage Site and a destination for Baha’i pilgrims. Built on the slopes of Mount Carmel, the settlement has a history spanning more than 3,000 years. The earliest known settlement in the vicinity was Tell Abu Hawam, a small port city established in the Late Bronze Age (14th century BCE). In the 3rd century CE, Haifa was known as a dye-making center. Over the centuries, the city has changed hands: being conquered and ruled by the Phoenicians,Persians, Hasmoneans, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders,Ottomans, British, and the Israelis. Since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the Haifa Municipality has governed the city. As of 2016 the city is a major seaport located on Israel’s Mediterranean coastline in the Bay of Haifa covering 63.7 square kilometres (24.6 sq mi). It lies about 90 kilometres (56 mi) north of Tel Aviv and is the major regional center of northern Israel. Two respected academic institutions, the University of Haifa and the Technion, are located in Haifa, in addition to the largest k-12 school in Israel, the Hebrew Reali School. The city plays an important role in Israel’s economy. It is home to Matam, one of the oldest and largest high-tech parks in the country. Haifa Bay is a center of heavy industry, petroleum refining and chemical processing. Haifa formerly functioned as the western terminus of an oil pipeline from Iraq via Jordan.
Area: 63.67 km²
Population: About 218,000
- The currency in Ashdod is Shekel (₪, ILS, NIS). You can find ATM’s along the city.
The common Israeli saying, “Haifa works, Jerusalem prays, and Tel Aviv plays” attests to Haifa’s reputation as a city of workers and industry. The industrial region of Haifa is in the eastern part of the city, around the Kishon River. It is home to the Haifa oil refinery, one of the two oil refineries in Israel (the other refinery being located in Ashdod). The Haifa refinery processes 9 million tons (66 million barrels) of crude oil a year. Its nowadays unused twin 80-meter high cooling towers, built in the 1930s, were the tallest buildings built in the British Mandate period. Matam (short for Merkaz Ta’asiyot Mada – Scientific Industries Center), the largest and oldest business park in Israel, is at the southern entrance to the city, hosting manufacturing and R&D facilities for a large number of Israeli and international hi-tech companies, such asIntel, IBM, Microsoft, Motorola, Google, Yahoo!, Elbit, CSR, Philips, and Amdocs. The campus of the University of Haifa is also home toIBM Haifa Labs.The Port of Haifa is the leader in passenger traffic among Israeli ports, and is also a major cargo harbor, although deregulation has seen its dominance challenged by the Port of Ashdod. Haifa malls and shopping centers include Hutsot Hamifratz, Horev Center Mall, Panorama Center, Castra Center, Colony Center (Lev HaMoshava), Hanevi’im Tower Mall, Kanyon Haifa, Lev Hamifratz Mall and Grand Kanyon. In 2010, Monocle magazine identified Haifa as the city with the most promising business potential, with the greatest investment opportunities in the world. The magazine noted that “a massive head-to-toe regeneration is starting to have an impact; from scaffolding and cranes around town, to renovated façades and new smart places to eat”. The Haifa municipality had spent more than $350 million on roads and infrastructure, and the number of building permits had risen 83 in the previous two years. In 2014, it was announced that a technology-focused stock exchange would be established to compete with the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. Currently, some 40 hotels, mostly boutique hotels, are planned, have been approved, or are under construction. The Haifa Municipality is seeking to turn the city into Northern Israel’s tourist center, from where travelers can embark on day trips into Acre, Nazareth, Tiberias, and the Galilee. A new life sciences industrial park containing five buildings with 85,000 square meters of space on a 31-duman (7.75 acre) site is being built adjacent to the Matam industrial park.
As an industrial port city, Haifa has traditionally been a Labor party stronghold. The strong presence of dock workers and trade unionsearned it the nickname ‘Red Haifa.’ In addition, many prominent Arabs in the Israeli Communist Party, among them Tawfik Toubi, Emile Habibi, Zahi Karkabi, Bulus Farah and Emile Toma, were from Haifa.
In recent years, there has been a drift toward the center. This was best signified by, in the 2006 legislative elections, the Kadima party receiving about 28.9 of the votes in Haifa, and Labor lagging behind with 16.9. Before 1948, Haifa’s Municipality was fairly unusual as it developed cooperation between the mixed Arab and Jewish community in the city, with representatives of both groups involved in the city’s management. Under mayor al-Haj, between 1920 and 1927, the city council had six Arab and two Jewish representatives, with the city run as a mixed municipality with overall Arab control. Greater cooperation was introduced under Hasan Bey Shukri, who adopted a positive and conciliatory attitude toward the city’s Jews and gave them senior posts in the municipality. In 1940, the first Jewish mayor, Shabtai Levy, was elected. Levy’s two deputies were Arab (one Muslim, the other Christian), with the remainder of the council made up of four Jews and six Arabs. Today, Haifa is governed by its 12th city council, headed by the mayor Yona Yahav. The results of municipal elections decide on the makeup of the council, similarly to the Knesset elections. The city council is the legislative council in the city, and has the authority to pass auxiliary laws. The 12th council, which was elected in 2003, has 31 members, with the liberal Shinui-Greens ticket holding the most seats (6), and Likud coming second with 5. Many of the decisions passed by the city council are results of recommendation made by the various municipal committees, which are committees where non-municipal organs meet with representatives from the city council. Some committees are spontaneous, but some are mandatory, such as the security committee, tender committee and financial committee.
A sign at the Ministry of the Interior/Ministry of Immigrant Absorption at the Government Village, Haifa. From top to bottom: Hebrew, Arabic, English, and Russian. English and Russian are the most popular unofficial languages in Israel.
Recently, residential construction has been concentrated around Kiryat Haim and Kiryat Shmuel, with 75,000 m2 (807,293 sq ft) of new residential construction between 2002–2004, the Carmel, with 70,000 m2 (753,474 sq ft), and Ramot Neve Sha’anan with approximately 70,000 m2 (753,474 sq ft) Non-residential construction was highest in theLower Town, (90,000 sq m), Haifa Bay (72,000 sq m) and Ramot Neve Sha’anan (54,000 sq m). In 2004, 80 of construction in the city was private. Currently, the city has a modest number of skyscrapers and high-rise buildings, and many additional high-rise buildings are planned, have been approved, or are under construction. Though buildings rising up to 20 stories were built on Mount Carmel in the past, the Haifa municipality banned the construction of any new buildings taller than nine stories on Mount Carmel in July 2012. The neighborhood of Wadi Salib, located in the heart of downtown Haifa, is being redeveloped. Most of its Jewish and Arab residents are considered squatters and have been gradually evicted over the years. The Haifa Economic Corporation Ltd is developing two 1,000 square meter lots for office and commercial use. Some historic buildings have been renovated and redeveloped, especially into nightclubs and theaters, such as the Palace of the Pasha, a Turkish bathhouse, and a Middle Eastern music and dance club, which has been converted into theaters and offices. In 2012, a new, massive development plan was announced for Haifa’s waterfront. According to the plan, the western section of the city’s port will be torn down, and all port activity will be moved to the east. The west side of the port will be transformed into a tourism and nightlife center and a point of embarkation and arrival for sea travel through the construction of public spaces, a beach promenade, and the renovation of commercial buildings. The train tracks that currently bisect the city and separate the city’s beach from the rest of Haifa will also be buried. A park will be developed on the border of the Kishon River, the refineries’ cooling towers will be turned into a visitors’ center, and bridges will lead from the port to the rest of the city. Massive renovations are also currently underway in Haifa’s lower town, in the Turkish market and Paris Square, which will become the city’s business center. In addition, the ammonia depository tank in the Haifa bay industrial zone will be dismantled, and a new one built in an alternative location. Another plan seeks to turn the western section of Haifa Port into a major tourism and nightlife center, as well as a functioning point of embarkation and arrival for sea travel. All port activity will be moved to the western side, and the area will be redeveloped. Public spaces and a beach promenade will be developed, and commercial buildings will be renovated. As part of the development plans, the Israeli Navy, which has a large presence in Haifa, will withdraw from the shoreline between Bat Galim and Hof Hashaket. A 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) long esplanade which will encircle the shoreline will be constructed. It will include a bicycle path, and possibly also a small bridge under which navy vessels will pass on their way to the sea. In addition, a 50,000 square-meter entertainment complex that will contain a Disney theme park, cinemas, shops, and a 25-screen Multiplex theater will be built at the Check Post exit from the Carmel Tunnels. In 2014, a new major plan for the city was proposed, under which extensive development of residential, business, and leisure areas will take place with the target of increasing the city’s population by 60,000 by 2025. Under the plan, five new neighborhoods will be built, along with new high-tech parks. In addition, existing employment centers will be renovated, and new leisure areas and a large park will be built.
Haifa is served by six railway stations and the Carmelit, currently Israel’s only subway system (another is under construction in Tel Aviv). The Nahariya–Tel Aviv Coastal Railway main line of Israel Railways runs along the coast of the Gulf of Haifa and has six stations within the city. From south-west to north-east, these stations are: Haifa Hof HaCarmel, Haifa Bat Galim, Haifa Merkaz HaShmona, Lev HaMifratz,Hutzot HaMifratz and Kiryat Haim. Together with the Kiryat Motzkin Railway Station in the northern suburb Kiryat Motzkin, they form the Haifa – Krayot suburban line (“Parvarit”). There are direct trains from Haifa to Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion International Airport, Nahariya,Akko, Kiryat Motzkin, Binyamina, Lod, Ramla, Beit Shemesh, Jerusalem and other locations, but all trains to Beersheba skips all Haifa stations. Haifa’s intercity bus connections are operated almost exclusively by the Egged bus company, which operates two terminals:
- HaMifratz Central Bus Station, adjacent to the Lev HaMifratz Railway Station
- Haifa Hof HaCarmel Central Bus Station, adjacent to the Hof HaCarmel Railway Station
Lines to the North of the country use HaMifratz Central Bus Station and their coverage includes most towns in the North of Israel. Lines heading south use Haifa Hof HaCarmel Central Bus Station.
Destinations directly reachable from Hof HaCarmel CBS include Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Eilat, Raanana, Netanya, Hadera, Zikhron Ya’akov,Atlit, Tirat Carmel, Ben Gurion International Airport and intermediate communities. There are also three Egged lines that have their terminus in the Ramat Vizhnitz neighborhood and run to Jerusalem, Bnei Brak and Ashdod. These used to be “mehadrin” (i.e. gender segregated) lines.
Air and sea transport
Haifa Airport serves domestic flights to Tel Aviv and Eilat as well as international charters to Cyprus, Greece and Jordan. The airliners that operates flights from Haifa are Arkia and Israir. There are currently plans to expand services from Haifa. Cruise ships operate from Haifa port primarily to destinations in the Eastern Mediterranean, Southern Europe and Black Sea.
Travel between Haifa and the center of the country is possible by road with Highway 2, the main highway along the coastal plain, beginning at Tel Aviv and ending at Haifa. Furthermore, Highway 4 runs along the coast to the north of Haifa, as well as south, inland from Highway 2. In the past, traffic along Highway 2 to the north of Haifa had to pass through the downtown area of the city; the Carmel Tunnels, opened for traffic 1 December 2010, now route this traffic under Mount Carmel, reducing congestion in the downtown area
In 2005, Haifa has 13 hotels with a total of 1,462 rooms. The city has a 17 kilometres (11 mi) shoreline, of which 5 kilometres (3 mi) are beaches. Haifa’s main tourist attraction is the Bahá’í World Centre, with the golden-domed Shrine of the Báb and the surrounding gardens. Between 2005 and 2006, 86,037 visited the shrine. In 2008, the Bahá’í gardens were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The restored German Colony, founded by the Templers, Stella Maris and Elijah’s Cave also draw many tourists. Located in the Haifa district are the Ein Hod artists’ colony, where over 90 artists and craftsmen have studios and exhibitions, and the Mount Carmel national park, with caves where Neanderthal and early Homo Sapiens remains were found. A 2007 report commissioned by the Haifa Municipality calls for the construction of more hotels, a ferry line between Haifa, Acre andCaesarea, development of the western anchorage of the port as a recreation and entertainment area, and an expansion of the local airport and port to accommodate international travel and cruise ships.
Haifa has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and cool, rainy winters (Köppen climate classification Csa). Spring arrives in March when temperatures begin to increase. By late May, the temperature has warmed up considerably to herald warm summer days. The average temperature in summer is 26 °C (79 °F) and in winter, 12 °C (54 °F). Snow is rare in Haifa, but temperatures around 3 °C (37 °F) can sometimes occur, usually in the early morning. Humidity tends to be high all year round, and rain usually occurs between September and May. Annual precipitation is approximately 629 millimeters (25 in).