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From Wikimania 2011 • Haifa, Israel

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destination: FAQ
source update: 2010-08-24

Welcome to the FAQ for Wikimania 2011! If you have any more questions not listed here, please feel free to e-mail us or ask on the information desk.

General Information

What is Wikimania?
A conference for people working on Wikimedia Foundation projects (primarily the world-famous Wikipedia) and other people who are interested in wikis, free and open content/software, and global development/education. See meta and Wikipedia for more information.
Where will this year's Wikimania conference be held?
Wikimania 2011 will be held at the Haifa Auditorium, in Haifa, Israel.
When will this year's Wikimania conference be held?
  • Developer meetings (hacking days) will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday, August 2nd - 3rd, 2011.
  • Chapter's conference and other meetups will take place on Wednesday, 3rd August, 2011.
  • The conference will take place on Thursday - Sunday, August 4th - 7th, 2011. Please note that the last day is for guided, organized, all expense paid tours around the country.

Local Information

The main article for this section is Local information.
What and where is Haifa?
Haifa, its district and metropolitan area's location within Israel
Haifa (חֵיפָה; حَيْفَا) is the largest city in northern Israel, and the third-largest city in the country, with a population of over 264,900. The city is built on the slopes of the majestic Mount Carmel and along the beautiful Mediterranean beaches of the Haifa Bay.
What languages are spoken in Haifa (and in Israel)?
The main languages spoken in Haifa (and in Israel) are Hebrew, English (about 90% of the population, mostly as second language), Arabic (about 20%), and Russian (about 20%). All street signs are in Hebrew, Arabic and English. Automated services are usually offered in Hebrew, Arabic, English and Russian.
See also Getting along in Hebrew and Getting along in Arabic.
Do people speak French in Haifa (and in Israel)?
Some French is spoken. Haifa has a French cultural institute. However, it is more common in other cities in Israel (Netanya and Tel Aviv).
How's the weather during the summer?
See here. Note that all buildings and public transportation vehicles are air conditioned.
What types of clothing do you suggest?
T-shirts and sun glasses. Also bring swimwear.
What electricity and telecommunications are utilized?
Electricity voltage in Israel is 220 volts at 50 Hertz, power plugs type H.
See some tips here.
What's the currency in Israel?
The Israeli currency is the New Israeli Shekel, abbreviated as ILS or NIS.
See Currency in Israel, and local shopping information.
Can I use my credit card in Haifa (and in Israel)?
Yes, international credit cards are accepted by most (almost all) shops, restaurants, hotels, etc. The two most popular card types are Visa and MasterCard.
American Express and Diners Club are also widely accepted.
If you need some cash from your credit card, ATM issuing cash from a credit card exists at the venue, and six other ATMs are located in the Carmel Center (within 5 - 10 minutes walk from the venue).
What is the Israeli time zone?
Since the conference is held on summer, it is UTC+03. During most of the year, the Israeli time zone is equivalent to Eastern European Time (EET/EEST – Helsinki, Riga, Kaliningrad, Bucharest, Sofia, Athens, Ankara, Nicosia etc.) Note that there might be one hour difference between Israel's time and the time in its neighboring countries (including the Palestinian Territories) due to different daylight saving time regulations (especially when Ramadan occurs during summer, which is the case in 2011).
What are the working hours in Israel?
The working week is Sunday to Thursday. The main weekly holiday is Saturday, or more accurately from Friday afternoon to Saturday night, according to the Jewish tradition. Businesses are usually open from 9am to 7pm, and offices usually operate between 8am to 4pm or between 9am to 5pm. Most offices are closed all day on Friday, but shops are open on Friday continuously until 3 or 4pm. Public transportation is halted for about 24 hours between Friday and Saturday, but many internal bus lines in Haifa operate according to a special local arrangement. Taxis work normally, but charge the night fare all day long on Saturday. In non-Jewish communities, local arrangements are sometimes observed. In Muslim towns and neighborhoods Friday is sometimes observed as the main weekly holiday, while Saturday is the additional "office holiday". In Christian communities Sunday is often observed as the local weekly holiday in addition to either Friday or Saturday.
How are gay and lesbian tourists treated in Haifa (and in Israel)?
Haifa 2009 gay pride rally took place in the Central Carmel, next to the venue.
Unlike many parts of the Middle East, Israel is one of the most "gay friendly" countries in the world. In fact, compared to the United States, Israel is quite progressive regarding homosexual rights. Though no gay and lesbian marriages take place in Israel, the state recognizes marriages that take place in other countries, and common-law marriage arrangements apply to homosexual and heterosexual couples alike. Tel Aviv is the most gay-friendly of cities in Israel; there are many gay and lesbian clubs, pubs and restaurants or gay friendly places.
Haifa is an open-minded city and there should be no problem whatsoever for same-sex couples to walk together in public, stay at the same hotel room, and display affection publicly. Though Haifa doesn't have a very active LGBT community, rather a small one, it has had gay parades since 2003 (link).
Whom do I call in case of an emergency while I'm in Israel?
There are 3 emergency phone numbers in Israel, which can be dialed from any phone, including cellphones and the numerous pay phones on the streets. The numbers are:
100 - Police
101 - First Aid (MDA/"Red Star of David")
102 - Fire Department
See also: Address book

Registration and Lodging

Dan Panorama Hotel
The gym at Mount Carmel Hotel
What types of accommodation are available?
See Accommodation.
Are meals included?
When booking a hotel room - an Israeli breakfast is included. For conference attendees staying at dorms breakfast will be provided at the venue. All lunches will be included, and two dinners (as part of the opening cocktail on Thursday and the party on Saturday night). The early comers party will also include a light dinner. Options for a Friday night dinner will be suggested by the organizers (see Where to Eat?).
When is check-out time for the accommodations?
Usually check out time for hotels in 12:00 PM (noon), but this may vary from one hotel to another.
Is there a gym or exercise facilities at/near the accommodations?
Most hotels have gyms and swimming pools. There is a public gym 5 minutes walk from the venue.
Will conference accommodation rates be available the week before or the week after the conference, so that a visitor might extend their stay?
Yes - if organized in advance through the Wikimania team. The team will also assist in suggestions for accommodation in other parts of the country for attendees who wish to extend their stay.
I arrive late at night - what should I do?
There are trains from the airport to Haifa all night long, of course with lower frequency during night. There are also shuttle van taxis going from the airport to Haifa which cost about the same as the trains.
The hotels have 24 hour reception, but make sure you mark that night as a night you need accommodation on the registration form. The dorms will be able to receive you during the night too. We'll provide details on how to get the dorm key room for people staying at the dorms who will need to pick it up from the venue (The Shuttle taxi may stop near the venue if requested).


How do I get a scholarship?
See Scholarships for more information.
I applied for a scholarship, when will I find out if my application is approved?
The Scholarships committee will review the applications and get back to you after they have reviewed the hundreds of applications.
I got a scholarship. How do I get reimbursed?
We expect travel to be done in advance, so there should be no outlay by scholarship recipients, and therefore no need for reimbursement.

Transportation and Visas

Are there any additional documents I need to enter Israel other than a passport?
See Visas. All visitors to Israel must possess a passport valid for at least 6 months ahead. Visa-free or regular tourist-visa visitors are usually allowed to stay in Israel for up to 90 days.
How are the international flights?
See Flights.
Does my passport need to be stamped at the border?
NO. See Passport stamping.
Help! I'm at the airport. How do I get to the city?
See In Airport - getting to Haifa
Help! I'm in Haifa. How do I get to the venue?
See In Haifa - getting to the Venue
See In Haifa - getting to the Hotels
See In Haifa - getting to the Dorms
Help! I need to get to the venue in a cab.
See Taxis

Conference and Schedule

I want to submit a lecture, where do I apply?
see Call for Participation

Bilingual approach

I've read that Wikimania 2011 will take place both in English and Hebrew. Does that mean that I, who don't speak Hebrew, will just miss half of the conference?
Only one track (of six planned) will take place in Hebrew. The Hebrew track will have simultaneous translation to English, as was done at the Wikimania in Buenos Aires. Some of the main tracks will have simultaneous translation to Hebrew.
Does this bilingual approach imply removing contents in one language in order to make space for the other?


I am Muslim and I've noticed the conference will take place during Ramadan 1432. When are the times of imsak and iftar in Haifa?
Please refer to Muslim Community in Haifa for detailed information.

General questions

Who's speaking when?
See Schedule
When is the big party for attendees?

The plan is subject to changes

  • 20:00 Wednesday, August 3rd - early party.
  • 19:30 Thursday, August 4th - Opening cocktail party.
  • 17:00 Saturday, August 6th - Beach party (closing party).
(The actual party will begin at sunset - around 19:00 - and the time before is for swimming and enjoying the beach).
Beaches in Haifa
What other related events are there?
  • Tuesday and Wednesday, August 2nd and 3rd - Hacking days and other meetups.
  • Sunday, August 7th - Tours around Israel and in the city of Haifa (several tours are offered).
Note that no conference fees are charged for attending the days of the tours, and the conference fees related on to the three days of the main conference.


What is there to do before/after the conference?
First of all, please note the following dates:
  • Tuesday and Wednesday, August 2nd and 3rd - Hacking days and other meetups.
  • Sunday, August 7th - Tours around Israel and in the city of Haifa (several tours are offered).
Note that no conference fees are charged for attending the days of the tours, and the conference fees relate only to the three days of the main conference.
See also Tourism options, Where to Eat?, Where to Drink?
When will other people be there?
Hacking days and other meetups will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday, August 2nd and 3rd - and volunteers will come even earlier. On Wednesday night an early comers party will take place, so come early, to enjoy more days of fun.
Is tipping customary?
Tipping is customary only in restaurants and hotels. Restaurant bills usually do not include payment for service, hence a 10% addition is expected for the waiter. Anything beyond that is considered a gratitude for good service. Tips are usually not expected in self-service restaurants or food stands selling falafel, shawarma, burek etc. Tip the bellhop in the hotel (or carry it yourself − which is also customary). There is no need to tip taxi drivers.


What is food like there? I have special dietary needs, what about me?
The conference will provide all lunches, two dinners, and breakfast for all who do not stay at a B&B hotel. Also refreshments, cakes and coffee will be provided during the breaks.
All food will be kosher.
A vegetarian option will be provided to all who request it.
Organizers will attempt to assist with other special dietary needs.
What is the address of...? The phone number of...?
See: Address book
Will I be able to use my cell phone? Can I rent a cell phone?
Many carriers will allow you to sign up in advance for international roaming, but this may be expensive. In that case, a better option is to rent a cell phone for your stay. Some companies offer the option of a local number to be dialed from your home country. If you do this, you can also ask your cell phone provider about forwarding your number temporarily.
Should I bring my laptop? Will there be wireless Internet access?
WiFi will be provided at the venue, and at the lobby of the hotels. Some, but not all hotel rooms will have WiFi at no additional charge.
And on the beaches?
Haifa has more than 7 km of wonderful beaches, along which are many coffee shops and restaurants. Most of the beaches have free WiFi available. On the afternoon of August 6th (Saturday), following the closing ceremony of the conference, shuttles will bring attendees who wish to enjoy the beach to one of the beaches. Beach time is scheduled between 17:00 and 19:30. At 19:30 dinner and a beach party will take place at the same beach.
I'm a presenter; how should I bring my presentation?
Disk on Key will be available to transfer the presentation. Bring it on a flash drive, a CD or just on your computer - make sure it reaches the organizers a day in advance to make sure it works. Or email it to the organizers. Also whichever option you use we recommend if you are willing to license the presentation please upload it to commons with category tbc.
How do I get announcements about Wikimania?
Before the conference - Watch this site or sign up for wikimania-l, a mailing list for most Wikimania related issues or announcements.
During the conference - an electronic sign at the foyer of Rapaport Hall as well as posted notices at the registration area of the Auditorium will advise the attendees of any changes and notices.
What hash-tag should I use for tweets and photos?
use #wikimania