Crimson Tide rolls worldwide
The University of Alabama is No. 1 at this fan store in the heart of Jerusalem.
Anytime the University of Alabama football team wins a game, a Jerusalem shopkeeper shouts: "Roll tide!," invoking the school's famous cheer.
Why would a guy in Israel be up in the middle of the night watching a college football game back in the U.S.? Allow us to explain.
So you’re walking down the street in Jerusalem and you see lots of gift shops with trinkets and knickknacks from Israel. And then – bam! – almost out of nowhere you'll see an entire store dedicated to the University of Alabama, the top college football team in America.
The cognitive dissonance might stop any tourist in their tracks. Walk inside and you'll see Alabama magnets mixed in with more traditional gifts like fragments of Roman glass found in archaeological digs that have now been turned into jewelry.
Manager Dia Abdeen greets visitors with the warmth and southern hospitality that is familiar to those who hail from the heart of Dixie.
"Roll Tide!" he shouts with gusto as visitors stream into his shop.
So why did he decide to open an Alabama-themed outlet in the middle of the Mediterranean? Turns out, his brother was a student at the storied institution. "My brother watches all of the games, and he's really very crazy," Abdeen says with a hearty laugh.
University of Alabama alumni from around the world have flocked here. Coach Nick Saban's photo hangs on the wall near the front door. Southern Living magazine has profiled the shop. Even TV host Conan O'Brien, a Harvard alum, decided to visit during his trip to Israel. From The Grapevine also stopped by for a visit. We walked away with a few T-shirts, a baseball hat and loads of photos.
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