The Gulf States: Bon voyage!

9 February 2019 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Dubai, Editorial, General, UNESCO World Heritage

© Hégésippe Cormier/cc-by-sa-3.0

© Hégésippe Cormier/cc-by-sa-3.0

The Arabian Gulf (the Arab states call the west side of the Persian Gulf Arabian Gulf) is a mediterranean sea in Western Asia. The body of water is an extension of the Indian Ocean (Gulf of Oman) through the Strait of Hormuz and lies between Iran to the northeast and the Arabian Peninsula to the southwest. The Shatt al-Arab river delta forms the northwest shoreline. The gulf has many fishing grounds, extensive reefs (mostly rocky, but also coral), and abundant pearl oysters. The body of water is historically and internationally known as the Persian Gulf. Some Arab governments refer to it as the Arabian Gulf. About 200 million people are living in the Gulf States, with Iran being the most populous country with 80 million inhabitants, followed by Iraq (38.7 million), Saudi Arabia (32 million), Yemen (38 million), United Arab Emirates (9.4 million), Oman (4.4 million), Kuwait (4.1 million), Qatar (2.6 million) and Bahrain (1.5 million). Tourism is an increasingly important factor for the smaller countries of the region, but Iran and Saudi Arabia are developing this sector more and more either. While the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Bahrain are suitable for less experienced travelers, traveling to other countries in the region requires quite a few preparations. Relevant links to the U.S. Department of State can be found at the end of each country portrait. With the exception of Yemen and Iraq because of travel warnings for EU citizens (there are additional travel warnings for other Gulf States for US citizens), all Gulf States can be visited without difficulties, as far as the rules, way of living and habits of the respective host country are respected.   read more…

Arab–Israeli and Israeli-Palestinian conflict

6 January 2018 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Editorial, General, Union for the Mediterranean

© Oncenawhile

© Oncenawhile

(Latest update: 14 November 2019) The Arab–Israeli conflict is the political tension, military conflicts and disputes between a number of Arab countries and Israel. The roots (European colonial period, Ottoman Empire, widespread Antisemitism in Europe, Jews in the Russian Empire, Baron Edmond James de Rothschild (Jewish land purchase in Palestine), Theodor Herzl, Jewish National Fund, timeline of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, World War I, Sykes–Picot Agreement (San Remo conference, Mandate for Palestine, UN Charter, Chapter XII – International Trusteeship System, Article 80 (commonly known as the “Palestine Article” used by both conflict parties, Israel and Palestine, to create the wildest interpretations, speculations and conspiracy theories to assert the respective alleged right to the total land area), McMahon–Hussein Correspondence), Balfour Declaration, World War II, The Holocaust (International Holocaust Remembrance Day), Évian Conference, Mandatory Palestine, Forced displacement, and United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine) of the modern Arab–Israeli conflict (or the history of collective failure) are bound in the rise of Zionism and Arab nationalism towards the end of the 19th century. Territory regarded by the Jewish people as their historical homeland is also regarded by the Pan-Arab movement as historically and currently belonging to the Palestinians, and in the Pan-Islamic context, as Muslim lands. The sectarian conflict between Palestinian Jews and Arabs emerged in the early 20th century, peaking into a full-scale civil war in 1947 and transforming into the First Arab–Israeli War in May 1948 following the Israeli Declaration of Independence (Nakba). Large-scale hostilities mostly ended with the cease-fire agreements after the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Ramadan War, or October War. Peace agreements were signed between Israel and Egypt in 1979, resulting in Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula and abolishment of the military governance system in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in favor of Israeli Civil Administration and consequent unilateral, internationally not recognized, annexation of the Syrian Golan Heights and East Jerusalem. Even when the text is about 123 pages long, it is just a summary. The multitude of links point out that there is a lot more to learn in detail. At first, it is a timeline of the major developments in the region and it leads to today’s challenges. The starting point is the view of the international community, especially the European Union and North America, on the conflict, enriched with excursions into the ideas, convictions, believes, and thoughts of the direct and indirect involved parties to the conflict.   read more…

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The Gulf States: Bon appétit!

31 October 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Editorial, General

© Hégésippe Cormier/cc-by-sa-3.0

© Hégésippe Cormier/cc-by-sa-3.0

The Persian Gulf is a mediterranean sea in Western Asia. The body of water is an extension of the Indian Ocean (Gulf of Oman) through the Strait of Hormuz and lies between Iran to the northeast and the Arabian Peninsula to the southwest. The Shatt al-Arab river delta forms the northwest shoreline. The gulf has many fishing grounds, extensive reefs (mostly rocky, but also coral), and abundant pearl oysters. The body of water is historically and internationally known as the Persian Gulf. Some Arab governments refer to it as the Arabian Gulf. Arab cuisine is a cuisine defined as the various regional cuisines spanning the Arab world, from the Maghreb to the Mashriq or Levant and the Persian Gulf. The cuisines are often centuries old and resemble and culture of great trading in spices, herbs, and foods. The three main regions, also known as the Maghreb, the Mashriq, and the Khaleej have many similarities, but also many unique traditions. These kitchens have been influenced by the climate, cultivating possibilities, as well as trading possibilities. The kitchens of the Maghreb and Levant are relatively young kitchens which were developed over the past centuries. The kitchen from the Khaleej region is a very old kitchen. The kitchens can be divided into the urban and rural kitchens. For devout Muslims, there are corresponding dietary rules that are similar to those of the Jewish dietary rules, but not so far-reaching.   read more…

Theme Week Bahrain – Sitra Island

28 January 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General

Bahrain Petroleum Company - First Oil Well plaque © flickr.com - David Brossard/cc-by-sa-2.0

Bahrain Petroleum Company – First Oil Well plaque © flickr.com – David Brossard/cc-by-sa-2.0

Sitra, also known as Sitrah, is an island in Bahrain. It has a distance of 5 km (3.1 mi) south of the capital, Manama, on Bahrain Island. Sitra Island had a mixed Shia and Sunni Arab population. The Sunni inhabitants (including the Al Buainain) tribe which inhabited the now deserted village of Salba, west of Sitra eradicated during the early 1920s when most of them died as a result of smallpox or migrated back to their homelands.   read more…

Theme Week Bahrain – Hawar Islands

27 January 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, UNESCO World Heritage

Hawar Islands Resort © Rudolph Jouber/cc-by-sa-1.0

Hawar Islands Resort © Rudolph Jouber/cc-by-sa-1.0

The Hawar Islands is an archipelago of desert islands owned by Bahrain, situated off the west coast of Qatar in the Gulf of Bahrain of the Persian Gulf. The islands used to be one of the settlements of the Bahraini branch of the Dawasir who settled there in the early 19th century. The islands were first surveyed in 1820, when they were called the Warden’s Islands, and two villages were recorded. They are now uninhabited, other than a police garrison and a hotel on the main island; access to all but Hawar island itself is severely restricted. Local fishermen are allowed to fish in adjacent waters and there is some recreational fishing and tourism on and around the islands. Fresh water has always been scarce; historically it was obtained by surface collection and even today, with the desalinisation plant, additional supplies have to be brought in.   read more…

Theme Week Bahrain – Central Business District Manama

26 January 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General

Bahrain World Trade Center © flickr.com - Allan Donque/cc-by-2.0

Bahrain World Trade Center © flickr.com – Allan Donque/cc-by-2.0

The Central Business District (CBD) is located in central Manama, the capital of Bahrain. Many of the city’s hotels, office buildings, shops and restaurants are located in the CBD. It lies along the northern coast of Manama. The CBD is considered one of the best shopping areas in the city; it has the Manama Souq (market, in Arabic), located near the Bab Al Bahrain (the Gateway of Bahrain). The old souq has a variety of goods, from spices, condiments, textiles, electronics to jewelry.   read more…

Theme Week Bahrain – Umm an Nasan Island

25 January 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General

King Fahd Causeway and Umm an Nasan Island © NASA World Wind

King Fahd Causeway and Umm an Nasan Island © NASA World Wind

Umm an Nasan island is the fifth largest island in Bahrain. It has a distance of 17.5 km (10.9 mi) west of the capital, Manama, on Bahrain Island. Umm an Nasan lies in the Gulf of Bahrain in Persian Gulf to the west of Bahrain Island, and to the east of the Saudi coastal city of Khobar.   read more…

Theme Week Bahrain – Muharraq

24 January 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, UNESCO World Heritage

Muharraq with Manama in the background © Leshonai/cc-by-sa-2.5

Muharraq with Manama in the background © Leshonai/cc-by-sa-2.5

Muharraq is Bahrain’s third largest city and served as its capital until 1932 when it was replaced by Manama. The city is located on Muharraq Island and has long been a centre of religiosity. Bahrain International Airport is also located on the island. Adjacent to Muharraq are the man-made Amwaj Islands, known for their large buildings, hotels and beaches. Muharraq is home to Muharraq Club, which is Bahrain’s most successful football club. The city is also known for its souq (traditional market) and as a home of traditional arts and music; Ali Bahar, a popular and successful Bahraini singer is from Muharraq.   read more…

Theme Week Bahrain

23 January 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Theme Weeks, UNESCO World Heritage

Manama © Wadiia/cc-by-sa-4.0

Manama © Wadiia/cc-by-sa-4.0

Bahrain, officially the Kingdom of Bahrain is a small Arab monarchy in the Persian Gulf. Bahrain consists of a group of islands between the Qatar peninsula and the north eastern coast of Saudi Arabia. It is an island country situated near the western shores of the Persian Gulf in the Middle East. It is a small archipelago centered on Bahrain Island, its largest land mass. It is just 23 km (14 mi) east off Saudi Arabia, connected to it through the King Fahd Causeway. The peninsula of Qatar is also nearby, about 50 km (31 mi) to the southeast across the Gulf of Bahrain. Iran lies 200 km (124 mi) to the north across the Persian Gulf. The population in 2010 stood at 1,200,000, including 666,000 non-nationals. It is 780 km² in size, making it the third smallest nation in Asia after the Maldives and Singapore. Bahrain had the first post-oil economy in the Persian Gulf. Since the late 20th century, Bahrain has invested in the banking and tourism sectors. Many large financial institutions have a presence in Manama, the country’s capital. Bahrain has a high Human Development Index and was recognised by the World Bank as a high income economy.   read more…

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