The Al Badawi tree is one of a handful of olive trees in the eastern Mediterranean that are more than 2,000 years old. The tree holds religious, historical, and cultural significance. It is named after the famous Islamic wali, or holy man Ahmad al-Badawi, who lived in the 13th century.
Abu Ali’s job as the Servant of the Tree is to spend his days nearby the tree, letting people in to sit beneath its branches. He tends to the tree as well as the nearby olive trees in the orchard. Over the years, he has formed a connection to the tree that even he does not understand: it provides him solace and relief from stress. When he is gone from the village, the first thing he wants to do upon his return is see the tree. He insists that it is not enough to merely water and prune such a tree. “The most important thing is to love her,” he insists. “You must sometimes even hug her.”