The Significance of the Nativity Church to Christians and Muslims

Jamal Daniel is a businessman who has lived in Syria, Lebanon, and Switzerland. In 2002, Jamal Daniel founded the Levant Foundation, an organization that announced financial support towards restoring the Church of the Nativity in 2018.

Emperor Constantine originally commissioned the Church of the Nativity. The original basilica was most likely built between 330 and 333, and it was dedicated on the 31st of May, 339. The church is located on the spot believed to be the original birthplace of Jesus. For this reason, the church has a lot of significance in Christianity and other monotheistic religions in the Middle East, such as Islam.

Christians and Muslims lived together peacefully under Caliph Omar during the Arab-Muslim occupation of 638. After occupying Jerusalem the Caliph entered the church to pray, making it a place of significance for both Islam and Christianity. Under subsequent caliphates, there was disharmony between Christians and Muslims, and several Christian landmarks were destroyed. Still, the Church of the Nativity was left standing. Apart from its significance as the birthplace of Jesus, an important Islamic prophet, Muslims also respect the Church of the Nativity because there is a mosque located within the church.

New Levant Initiative Commissions Levantine Symphony

Free Media Pioneer Award Honors Courage in Journalism

An accomplished real estate investment professional, Jamal Daniel serves as chairman of the Levant Foundation, a charitable organization that advances knowledge about the history and culture of the Middle East. Additionally, Jamal Daniel founded news outlet Al-Monitor ( to provide accurate and objective coverage of Middle Eastern current events.

In recognition of its contribution to worldwide journalism, Al-Monitor received the Free Media Pioneer Award from the International Press Institute in 2014. Since 1997, the award has recognized news organizations and journalists who display an unwavering commitment to freedom of the press. Award recipients tell powerful stories to global audiences, upholding the idea that trustworthy, public interest journalism is a vital element in free societies.

In 2019, the Free Media Pioneer award went to Egyptian news site Mada Masr for its investigative coverage of government policies and current events. Published in both English and Arabic, Mada Masr has remained steadfast in its coverage despite Egypt’s highly restrictive media policies.

Levant Foundation Supports Restoration of the Church of the Nativity

The chairman of Crest Investment Company, Jamal Daniel has more than three decades of experience in the areas of real estate, technology, and oil and gas investment. Jamal Daniel is founder of Levantine Films and of the Levant Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes understanding of Middle Eastern Culture.

The Levant Foundation participates in various initiatives to promote understanding among the three great world religions of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. In 2018, for example, the foundation pledged financial support to the restoration of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, a basilica in the West Bank and one of the world’s oldest continually operating sites of worship. Built by the emperor Justinian in the 6th century, the church is believed to mark the birthplace of Jesus Christ.

Currently, the church is home to clerics from the Greek Orthodox and Armenian Orthodox churches and the Franciscan order of the Roman Catholic Church. Because several denominations share ownership of the space, restoration efforts are often slowed by territorial claims and negotiations.