Haram esh-Sharif or Temple Mount in East Jerusalem

3 September 2021 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, UNESCO World Heritage, Union for the Mediterranean Reading Time:  10 minutes

© Andrew Shiva/cc-by-sa-4.0

© Andrew Shiva/cc-by-sa-4.0

Known to Muslims as the Haram esh-Sharif (“the Noble Sanctuary”, or “the Noble Sanctuary of Jerusalem”) and the Al Aqsa Compound, and to Jews as Temple Mount (“Mount of the House [of God, i.e. the Temple in Jerusalem]”), is a hill in the UNESCO World Heritage Site Old City of Jerusalem that for thousands of years has been venerated as a holy site in Christianity, Islam and Islam, and Judaism alike.   read more…

Portrait: Saladin, the most famous Kurd in history

26 May 2021 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Portrait Reading Time:  14 minutes

Portrait of Saladin © The Trustees of the British Museum/cc-by-nc-sa-4.0

Portrait of Saladin © The Trustees of the British Museum/cc-by-nc-sa-4.0

Al-Nasir Salah al-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub, better known simply as alah ad-Din or Saladin, was a Sunni Muslim Kurd and the first sultan of Egypt and Syria and founder of the Ayyubid dynasty. Saladin led the Muslim military campaign against the Crusader states in the Levant. At the height of his power, his sultanate spanned Egypt, Syria, the Jazira (Upper Mesopotamia), the Hejaz (western Arabia), Yemen, parts of western North Africa, and Nubia.   read more…

Theme Week Brunei

24 May 2021 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Theme Weeks Reading Time:  12 minutes

Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque © flickr.com - sam garza/cc-by-2.0

Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque © flickr.com – sam garza/cc-by-2.0

Brunei, officially the Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace, is a country located on the north coast of the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia. Apart from its coastline with the South China Sea, the country is completely surrounded by the Malaysian state of Sarawak. It is separated into two parts by the Sarawak district of Limbang. Brunei is the only sovereign state completely on the island of Borneo; the remainder of the island’s territory is divided between the nations of Malaysia and Indonesia. Brunei’s population was 428,963 in 2018. The government is an absolute monarchy under the sovereign rule of Sultan and Yang di-Pertuan, which implements a combination of English common law and sharia law, as well as direct general Islamic practices. The population is at 460,000.   read more…

Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca

16 September 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Union for the Mediterranean Reading Time:  8 minutes

© BenSlivka/cc-by-sa-4.0

© BenSlivka/cc-by-sa-4.0

The Hassan II Mosque (Grande Mosquée Hassan II) is a mosque in Casablanca, Morocco. It is the largest functioning mosque in Africa and is the 7th largest in the world. Its minaret is the world’s second tallest minaret at 210 metres (689 ft). Completed in 1993, it was designed by Michel Pinseau under the guidance of King Hassan II and built by Moroccan artisans from all over the kingdom. The minaret is 60 stories high topped by a laser, the light from which is directed towards Mecca. The mosque stands on a promontory looking out to the Atlantic Ocean; worshippers can pray over the sea but there is no glass floor looking into the sea. The walls are of hand-crafted marble and the roof is retractable. A maximum of 105,000 worshippers can gather together for prayer: 25,000 inside the mosque hall and another 80,000 on the mosque’s outside ground.   read more…

Kutubiyya Mosque in Marrakesh

12 August 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Union for the Mediterranean Reading Time:  9 minutes

© Baca12/cc-by-sa-4.0

© Baca12/cc-by-sa-4.0

The Kutubiyya Mosque or Koutoubia Mosque is the largest mosque in Marrakesh in Morocco. The mosque’s name is also variably rendered as Jami’ al-Kutubiyah, Kutubiya Mosque, Kutubiyyin Mosque, and Mosque of the Booksellers. It is located in the southwest medina quarter of Marrakesh, near the famous public place of Jemaa el-Fna, and is flanked by large gardens. All the names and spellings of Kutubiyya Mosque are based on the Arabic word kutubiyyin, which means “booksellers”. The Koutoubia Mosque, or Bookseller’s Mosque, reflects the honorable bookselling trade practiced in the nearby souk. At one time as many as 100 book vendors worked in the streets at the base of the mosque.   read more…

Theme Week Pakistan

22 June 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Theme Weeks, UNESCO World Heritage Reading Time:  24 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.   read more…

Theme Week Afghanistan

25 May 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Theme Weeks, UNESCO World Heritage Reading Time:  21 minutes

Landscapes of Afghanistan © PD-USGov-USAID - PD-USGov-Military-Army - PD-USGov-Military-Army-USACE

Landscapes of Afghanistan © PD-USGov-USAID – PD-USGov-Military-Army – PD-USGov-Military-Army-USACE

Afghanistan, officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country in South and Central Asia. Afghanistan is bordered by Pakistan to the east and south; Iran to the west; Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan to the north; and China to the northeast. Occupying 652,000 square kilometers (252,000 sq mi), it is a mountainous country with plains in the north and southwest. Kabul is the capital and largest city. The population is around 32 million, mostly composed of ethnic Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks. Human habitation in Afghanistan dates back to the Middle Paleolithic Era, and the country’s strategic location along the Silk Road connected it to the cultures of the Middle East and other parts of Asia. The land has historically been home to various peoples and has witnessed numerous military campaigns, including those by Alexander the Great, Mauryas, Muslim Arabs, Mongols, British, Soviets, and by the United States with allied countries. The land also served as the source from which the Kushans, Hephthalites, Samanids, Saffarids, Ghaznavids, Ghorids, Khaljis, Mughals, Hotaks, Durranis, and others have risen to form major empires.   read more…

Theme Week Uzbekistan – Tashkent

25 April 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General Reading Time:  12 minutes

Circus Building © Francisco Anzola/cc-by-3.0

Circus Building © Francisco Anzola/cc-by-3.0

Tashkent, or Toshkent, is the capital and largest city of Uzbekistan, as well as the most populated city in ex-Soviet Central Asia with a population in 2018 of 2,485,900. It is located in the north-east of the country close to the border with Kazakhstan. Today, as the capital of an independent Uzbekistan, Tashkent retains a multi-ethnic population, with ethnic Uzbeks as the majority. In 2009, the city celebrated its 2,200 years of written history.   read more…

Theme Week Uzbekistan – Bukhara

24 April 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, UNESCO World Heritage Reading Time:  19 minutes

Poi Kalon Ensemble © flickr.com - Fulvio Spada/cc-by-sa-2.0

Poi Kalon Ensemble © flickr.com – Fulvio Spada/cc-by-sa-2.0

Bukhara is a city in Uzbekistan. Bukhara is rich in historical sites, with about 140 architectural monuments. The city served as the capital of the Samanid empire and Khanate of Bukhara and was the birthplace of Imam Bukhari. The nation’s fifth-largest city, it had a population of 247,644 as of 31 August 2016. But according to the Statistics of O’zStatQo’m Department the City is the second largest after Tashkent by number of people who migrate. Number of daily migrants is 4,752,000 as of 22nd April 2018. People have inhabited the region around Bukhara for at least five millennia, and the city has existed for half that time. The mother tongue of the majority of people of Bukhara is Tajik. Located on the Silk Road, the city has long served as a center of trade, scholarship, culture, and religion. UNESCO has listed the historic center of Bukhara (which contains numerous mosques and madrasas) as a World Heritage Site.   read more…

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