JERUSALEM (WIAT) — Hani Imam is a true Alabama fan, despite never being able to watch the games until they have already ended. The time difference in Jerusalem makes it difficult–but he keeps tabs on scores, and later, his brother in the states will send him highlights.
“We are just big, big Alabama fans,” he explained to CBS 42 over the phone. “Roll Tide!”
Imam admitted, he says Roll Tide probably 20 times a day. It’s not unusual when you consider his line of work. He owns and operates an Alabama store on David Street in Jerusalem.
“A lot of our American tourists that come here, come from the Southeast region,” he explained. “From the Bible Belt. They come to Jerusalem on pilgrimage. A lot of them are Alabama fans too.”
Imam said he gets a big kick out of seeing the way people’s’ faces light up when they see his store. He carries all sorts of Alabama merchandise in Arabic, Hebrew, and English. He said he always gets a lot of questions about how and why he started up the shop.
Imam is actually a graduate of the University of Alabama. His older brother also went to school at the Capstone. After graduating, Imam moved to Huntsville and worked for a decade. He still has family there.
“Once you become an Alabama fan, there’s no looking back,” he explained. “You remain, and you stay an Alabama fan.”
Imam has also had a lot of fun explaining American football to people from the area–and making fans out of them. He said he has people from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv buying Bama merchandise.
“Obviously when you’re winning, and when you win championship after championship–you become very popular,” Imam said with a laugh. “There are lots of Alabama fans in the Holy Land.”