Theme Week Pakistan

22 June 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Theme Weeks, UNESCO World Heritage Reading Time:  25 minutes

Prime Minister's Secretariat Building in Islamabad © Maqsoodgujjer/cc-by-sa-4.0

Prime Minister’s Secretariat Building in Islamabad © Maqsoodgujjer/cc-by-sa-4.0

Pakistan, officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. It is the world’s fifth-most populous country with a population exceeding 212.2 million. By area, it is the 33rd-largest country, spanning 881,913 square kilometres (340,509 square miles). Pakistan has a 1,046-kilometre (650-mile) coastline along the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by India to the east, Afghanistan to the west, Iran to the southwest, and China to the northeast. It is separated narrowly from Tajikistan by Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor in the northwest, and also shares a maritime border with Oman. Pakistan has made a name for itself in recent years, particularly through attacks by fundamentalist Islamists against the religious minorities and the conversion from secular rule of law to Sharia (Blasphemy Law). This also includes court judgments for contrived or alleged blasphemy (Prophet Muhammad) against members of the Christian minority. Lynching by Islamist mobs against religious minorities is now the order of the day. Antisemitism is “good manners”. Pakistan is a beautiful country with a lot to see. Unfortunately, it allows itself to be deformed.   read more…

Theme Week United Arab Emirates – Emirate of Fujairah

22 February 2018 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General Reading Time:  10 minutes

Al Bithnah Fort © Mike "fasmike" Che/cc-by-sa-3.0

Al Bithnah Fort © Mike “fasmike” Che/cc-by-sa-3.0

Fujairah is one of the seven emirates, and the only one of the seven that has a coastline solely on the Gulf of Oman and none on the Persian Gulf. The emirate of Fujairah covers approximately 1,166 km2, or about 1.5% of the area of the UAE, and is the fifth-largest emirate in the UAE. Its population is around 153,000 inhabitants; only the Emirate of Umm al-Quwain has fewer occupants. Fujairah is the only emirate of the UAE that is almost completely mountainous. All the other emirates, such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi are located on the west coast, and are largely covered by deserts. Consequently, Fujairah boasts a higher than average yearly rainfall of the UAE, allowing farmers in the region to produce crop every year. The emirate has a cove, Ad Dayt. The variability of the east coast climate is partly due to the presence of the Hajjar mountain range. As with other mountainous areas, precipitation is higher, and this allows for a more varied micro-environment in the area. Tourist visitor numbers peak just before the school summer months.   read more…

Theme Week Iran

25 July 2016 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Theme Weeks, UNESCO World Heritage Reading Time:  24 minutes

Tehran skyline © Amir1140/cc-by-sa-3.0

Tehran skyline © Amir1140/cc-by-sa-3.0

Iran is a sovereign state in Western Asia. Comprising a land area of 1,648,195 km2 (636,372 sq mi), it is the second-largest country in the Middle East and the 18th-largest in the world. With 78.4 million inhabitants, Iran is the world’s 17th-most-populous country. It is the only country with both a Caspian Sea and an Indian Ocean coastline. The country’s central location in Eurasia and Western Asia, and its proximity to the Strait of Hormuz, make it of great geostrategic importance. Tehran is the country’s capital and largest city as well as its leading economic center. Iran is heir to one of the world’s oldest civilizations, beginning with the formation of the Proto-Elamite and Elamite kingdoms in 3200–2800 BC. The area was first unified by the Iranian Medes 625 BC, who became the dominant cultural and political power in the region. Iran reached its greatest geographic extent during the Achaemenid Empire founded by Cyrus the Great in 550 BC, which at one time stretched from parts of Eastern Europe in the west, to the Indus Valley in the east, making it the largest empire the world had yet seen. The empire collapsed in 330 BC following the conquests of Alexander the Great, but reemerged shortly after as the Parthian Empire. Under the Sassanid Dynasty, Iran again became one of the leading powers in the world for the next four centuries. Beginning in 633 AD, Rashidun Arabs conquered Iran and largely displaced the indigenous faiths of Manichaeism and Zoroastrianism by Sunni Islam. Iran became a major contributor to the Islamic Golden Age that followed, producing many influential scientists, scholars, artists, and thinkers. The rise of the Safavid Dynasty in 1501 led to the establishment of Twelver Shia Islam as the official religion of Iran, marking one of the most important turning points in Iranian and Muslim history. During the 18th century, Iran reached its greatest territorial extent since the Sassanid Empire, and under Nader Shah briefly possessed what was arguably the most powerful empire at the time. Through the late 18th and 19th centuries, a series of conflicts with Russia led to significant territorial losses and the erosion of sovereignty. Popular unrest culminated in the Persian Constitutional Revolution of 1906, which established a constitutional monarchy and the country’s first legislative body, the Majles. Following a coup d’état instigated by the U.K. and the U.S. in 1953, Iran gradually became closely aligned with the United States and the rest of the West but grew increasingly autocratic. Growing dissent against foreign influence and political repression led to the 1979 Revolution and the establishment of an Islamic republic.   read more…

Theme Week Oman – Sohar

23 June 2016 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General Reading Time:  6 minutes

Sohar Gate © flickr.com - StellarD/cc-by-sa-2.0

Sohar Gate © flickr.com – StellarD/cc-by-sa-2.0

Sohar is the capital and largest city of the Al Batinah North Governorate in Oman. An ancient capital of the country that once served as an important Islamic port town, Sohar has also been credited as the mythical birthplace of Sinbad the Sailor.   read more…

Muscat in Oman

22 July 2015 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General Reading Time:  12 minutes

Al-Khuwair neighborhood © Joe Castleman/cc-by-sa-3.0

Al-Khuwair neighborhood © Joe Castleman/cc-by-sa-3.0

Muscat is the capital of Oman. It is also the seat of government and largest city in the Governorate of Muscat. According to the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI), the total population of Muscat Governorate reached 1.2 million as of April 2014. The metropolitan area spans approximately 3,500 km2 (1,400 sq mi) and includes six provinces called wilayats. Known since the early 1st century CE as an important trading port between the west and the east, Muscat was ruled by various indigenous tribes as well as foreign powers such as the Persians, Portuguese Empire and the Ottoman Empire at various points in its history. A regional military power in the 18th century, Muscat’s influence extended as far as East Africa and Zanzibar. As an important port-town in the Gulf of Oman, Muscat attracted foreign tradesmen and settlers such as the Persians, the Balochis and Gujaratis. Since the ascension of Qaboos bin Said as Sultan of Oman in 1970, Muscat has experienced rapid infrastructural development that has led to the growth of a vibrant economy and a multi-ethnic society.   read more…

Khor Fakkan on the Gulf of Oman

3 February 2014 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General Reading Time:  6 minutes

Sunrise over Oman Bay © Stzeman/cc-by-sa-3.0

Sunrise over Oman Bay © Stzeman/cc-by-sa-3.0

Khor Fakkan is a town located along the Gulf of Oman on the east coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The town, the second largest on the east coast after Fujairah, is set on the picturesque bay of Khor Fakkan, which means “Creek of Two Jaws”. Khor Fakkan belongs to the emirate of Sharjah but is geographically surrounded by the emirate of Fujairah. It is a natural deep water port that is now a major container terminal.   read more…

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