They are also oases, where Jews and Arabs of all kinds interact as equals.
But like American speakeasies during prohibition in the USA, these places are oases in a desert of official prudery.
1610s, from French oasis (18c.) and directly from Late Latin oasis, from Greek oasis, probably from Hamitic (cf. Coptic wahe, ouahe "oasis," properly "dwelling place," from ouih "dwell"). The same Egyptian source produced Arabic wahah.