Routes of El legado andalusi/Al-Andalus

4 October 2019 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Architecture, European Union, General, Living, Working, Building, Palaces, Castles, Manors, Parks, UNESCO World Heritage

© Morningstar1814/cc-by-sa-3.0

© Morningstar1814/cc-by-sa-3.0

In the 8th century, the Iberian Peninsula saw the arrival of Arabs and Berbers who mixed with the Roman-Visigoth inhabitants, engendering what was known as Al-Andalus. This successful medieval Muslim civilisation extended, at its peak, to most of what is today Spain and Portugal, until its downfall in the late 15th century.   read more…

Union for the Mediterranean: Bon voyage!

12 January 2019 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Editorial, European Union, General, UNESCO World Heritage, Union for the Mediterranean

Union for the Mediterranean © AndrewRT/cc-by-sa-3.0

Union for the Mediterranean © AndrewRT/cc-by-sa-3.0

The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) is an intergovernmental organization of 43 countries from Europe and the Mediterranean Basin: the 28 member states of the European Union and 15 Mediterranean partner countries from North Africa, the Middle East (the western and middle part of the Middle East & North Africa region (MENA)) and Southeast Europe. It was created in July 2008 at the Paris Summit for the Mediterranean, with a view to reinforcing the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (Euromed) that was set up in 1995 and known as the Barcelona Process. The Union has the aim of promoting stability and prosperity throughout the Mediterranean region. It is a forum for discussing regional strategic issues, based on the principles of shared ownership, shared decision-making and shared responsibility between the two shores of the Mediterranean. Its main goal is to increase both North-South and South-South integration in the Mediterranean region, in order to support the countries’ socioeconomic development and ensure stability in the region. The actions of the organization fall under three, interrelated priorities—regional human development, regional integration and regional stability. To this end, it identifies and supports regional projects and initiatives of different sizes, to which it gives its label, following a consensual decision among the forty-three countries. The region has 756 million inhabitants and is scenic, architecturally and culturally very diverse. Cities, lakes, mountains, beaches and national parks offer everything that promises fun, recreation and perfect vacations. The cultural offers are numerous. In addition to many UNESCO World Heritage sites, there are numerous galleries, museums, theaters and opera houses. Of course, there are plenty of shopping and entertainment possibilities. However, holiday pleasure is not untroubled in all countries. At present, Syria and Libya in general, Mauritania (Sahara and Sahel) and Lebanon (North Lebanon and the border regions to Syria and Israel), Palestine (Gaza Strip) should be partly avoided. In all other countries of the Levant and North Africa, increased caution, vigilance and prudence are recommended. At the end of each country portrait is a link to the U.S. Department of State, in order to be able to find out about the current security situation on the ground.   read more…

Transatlantic relations

2 June 2018 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Editorial, European Union

Atlantic Ocean © NOAA - www.ngdc.noaa.gov

Atlantic Ocean © NOAA – www.ngdc.noaa.gov

(Latest update: 16 November 2019) Transatlantic relations refer to the historic, cultural, political, economic and social relations between countries on both side of the Atlantic Ocean. Sometimes specifically those between the United States, Canada and the countries in Europe, although other meanings are possible. There are a number of issues over which the United States and Europe generally disagree. Some of these are cultural, such as the U.S. use of the death penalty, some are international issues such as the Middle East peace process where the United States is often seen as pro-Israel and where Europe is often seen as pro-Arab (Arab–Israeli conflict), and many others are trade related. The current U.S. policies are often described as being unilateral in nature, whereas the European Union and Canada are often said to take a more multilateral approach, relying more on the United Nations and other international institutions to help solve issues. There are many other issues upon which they agree. This article refers to the relations between the EU (Culture of Europe, Economy of the European Union, History of Europe, and Politics of the European Union) and the USA (Culture of the United States, Economy of the United States, History of the United States, and Politics of the United States).   read more…

Arab–Israeli and Israeli-Palestinian conflict

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

© Oncenawhile

© Oncenawhile

(Latest update: 16 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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Union for the Mediterranean: Bon appétit!

7 November 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Editorial, European Union, General, Union for the Mediterranean

Union for the Mediterranean © AndrewRT/cc-by-sa-3.0

Union for the Mediterranean © AndrewRT/cc-by-sa-3.0

The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) is an intergovernmental organization of 43 countries from Europe and the Mediterranean Basin: the 28 member states of the European Union and 15 Mediterranean partner countries from North Africa, the Middle East (the western and middle part of the Middle East & North Africa region (MENA)) and Southeast Europe. It was created in July 2008 at the Paris Summit for the Mediterranean, with a view to reinforcing the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (Euromed) that was set up in 1995 and known as the Barcelona Process. The Union has the aim of promoting stability and prosperity throughout the Mediterranean region. It is a forum for discussing regional strategic issues, based on the principles of shared ownership, shared decision-making and shared responsibility between the two shores of the Mediterranean. Its main goal is to increase both North-South and South-South integration in the Mediterranean region, in order to support the countries’ socioeconomic development and ensure stability in the region. The actions of the organization fall under three, interrelated priorities—regional human development, regional integration and regional stability. To this end, it identifies and supports regional projects and initiatives of different sizes, to which it gives its label, following a consensual decision among the forty-three countries. The region has 756 million inhabitants and is culinary very diverse (European cuisine, Mediterranean cuisine, Maghreb cuisine, Levantine cuisine, Middle-Eastern cuisine and Arab cuisine).   read more…

Theme Week Jordan – Wadi Rum

25 March 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, UNESCO World Heritage, Union for the Mediterranean

Wadi Rum Visitor Center © Jean Housen/cc-by-sa-3.0

Wadi Rum Visitor Center © Jean Housen/cc-by-sa-3.0

Wadi Rum, also known as The Valley of the Moon, is a valley cut into the sandstone and granite rock in southern Jordan 60 km (37 mi) to the east of Aqaba; it is the largest wadi in Jordan. The name Rum most likely comes from an Aramaic root meaning ‘high’ or ‘elevated’. To reflect its proper Arabic pronunciation, archaeologists transcribe it as Wadi Ramm. Wadi Rum has been inhabited by many human cultures since prehistoric times, with many cultures–including the Nabateans–leaving their mark in the form of rock paintings, graffiti, and temples. In the West, Wadi Rum may be best known for its connection with British officer T. E. Lawrence, who passed through several times during the Arab Revolt of 1917–18. In the 1980s one of the rock formations in Wadi Rum was named “The Seven Pillars of Wisdom” after Lawrence’s book penned in the aftermath of the war, though the ‘Seven Pillars’ referred to in the book have no connection with Rum.   read more…

Theme Week Jordan – Jerash

24 March 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Union for the Mediterranean

Map of Jerash © Holger Behr

Map of Jerash © Holger Behr

Jerash, the Gerasa of Antiquity, is the capital and largest city of Jerash Governorate, which is situated in the north of Jordan, 48 kilometres (30 mi) north of the capital Amman towards Syria. Jerash Governorate’s geographical features vary from cold mountains to fertile valleys from 250 to 300 metres (820 to 980 ft) above sea level, suitable for growing a wide variety of crops. In the late Ottoman period, the city’s name, Jerash, was abandoned and changed to Sakib, yet this was not a permanent development, as the name Jerash reappeared in Ottoman tax registers by the end of 16th century. A strong earthquake destroyed in 749 AD large parts of Jerash, while subsequent earthquakes along with wars and turmoil contributed to additional destruction. The ruins remained buried in the soil for hundreds of years until they were discovered by German Orientalist Ulrich Jasper Seetzen in 1806. In addition to the role of the people of old villages near Jerash, the process of building the modern city of Jerash was mainly done by the resettlement of Circassian Muslims by the Ottoman authorities; the Circassians came to Transjordan from the Caucasus after the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78. Subsequently, a community of people from Syria came to the area at the beginning of the 20th century.   read more…

Theme Week Jordan – Irbid

23 March 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Union for the Mediterranean

Jordan University of Science and Technology's Library, the largest library in the Middle East © Fawwaz Dawod/cc-by-sa-3.0

Jordan University of Science and Technology’s Library, the largest library in the Middle East
© Fawwaz Dawod/cc-by-sa-3.0

Irbid, known in ancient times as Arabella or Arbela, is the capital and largest city of the Irbid Governorate. It also has the second largest metropolitan population in Jordan after Amman, with a population of around 1,088,100, and is located about 70 km north of Amman on the northern ridge of the Gilead, equidistant from Pella, Beit Ras (Capitolias), and Um Qais. It’s 20 km south of the Syrian border. Irbid is the third largest city in Jordan by population (after Amman and Zarqa). Metropolitan Irbid is the second largest. The province of Irbid Governorate has the second largest population, and the highest population density in the kingdom. The city is a major ground transportation hub between Amman, Syria to the north, and Mafraq to the east. The Irbid region is also home to several colleges and universities.   read more…

Theme Week Jordan – Zarqa

22 March 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Union for the Mediterranean

Zarqa River Valley © defenseimagery.mil - Jim Greenhill

Zarqa River Valley © defenseimagery.mil – Jim Greenhill

Zarqa is situated 15 miles (24 km) from Amman, in a northeastern most direction and is the capital of Zarqa Governorate. Its name means “the blue one”. Russeifa, the second largest city in the governorate and the fourth largest city in Jordan, is located half way between Zarqa and Amman. Zarqa is Jordan’s industrial center. It is home to over 50% of Jordanian factories. The growth of industry in the city is the result of low real estate costs and proximity to the capital Amman. Several facilities that are vital to Jordan’s economy are based in Zarqa, such as Jordan’s only oil refinery plant. According to the Zarqa Chamber of Commerce, 10% of Jordan’s total exports in 2011 came from Zarqa Governorate. Leather and garment products constituted about 52% of Zarqa’a exports, followed by chemical, agricultural and pharmaceutical products.   read more…

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