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: 18 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 Kuwait – Kuwait City

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

Kuwait City skyline with the National Bank of Kuwait, Burgan Bank © flickr.com - Jaw101ie/cc-by-2.0

Kuwait City skyline with the National Bank of Kuwait, Burgan Bank © flickr.com – Jaw101ie/cc-by-2.0

Kuwait City is the capital and largest city of Kuwait with a populaton of 2.4 millionen. Kuwait City is the political, cultural and economic center of Kuwait. Kuwait City is considered a global city. Kuwait City’s trade and transportation needs are served by Kuwait International Airport, Mina Al-Shuwaik (Shuwaik Port) and Mina Al Ahmadi (Ahmadi Port). From 1946 to 1982, Kuwait experienced a period of prosperity driven by oil and its liberal atmosphere. In popular discourse, the years between 1946 and 1982 are referred to as the “Golden Era”. In 1950, a major public-work programme began to enable Kuwaitis to enjoy a modern standard of living. By 1952, the country became the largest oil exporter in the Persian Gulf region. This massive growth attracted many foreign workers, especially from Palestine, India, and Egypt – with the latter being particularly political within the context of the Arab Cold War. In June 1961, Kuwait became independent with the end of the British protectorate and the Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salim Al-Sabah became an Emir. Under the terms of the newly drafted constitution, Kuwait held its first parliamentary elections in 1963. Kuwait was the first of the Arab states of the Persian Gulf to establish a constitution and parliament.   read more…

Theme Week Kuwait – Mangaf

27 October 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General

Mangaf © hospitalityonline.com

Mangaf © hospitalityonline.com

Mangaf is a suburb of Kuwait City. It is a mix of old and new. The old is split into two areas; commercial and residential. Government housing from the 1980s formed the area with houses, while the rest was a large collection of residential tower blocks, a limited number of shops and fast-food places. There is a larger concentration of shops in the area locally known as Al Azeeziya. A concentration of mobile phone shops, computers, and more. It also has a branch of the Sultan Center chain. Mangaf now has many fast food chains such as KFC, Hardees along with other famous restaurants such as Minutes, Steek, Bustan Al Turkey Restaurant etc.   read more…

Theme Week Kuwait – Bubiyan Island

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

Bubiyan Island © Vitor - arz

Bubiyan Island © Vitor – arz

Bubiyan Island is the largest island in the Kuwaiti coastal island chain situated in the north-western corner of the Persian Gulf, with an area of 863 km2 (333 sq mi). The island is uninhabited. The island is mostly flat and low, salt marshes cover most of the coast. There are some intermittent wadis in the center of the island.   read more…

Theme Week Kuwait – Kuwait Towers

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

© Paasikivi/cc-by-sa-3.0

© Paasikivi/cc-by-sa-3.0

The Kuwait Towers are a group of three slender towers in Kuwait City, standing on a promontory into the Persian Gulf. They were the sixth, and last, group in the larger Kuwait Water Towers system of 34 towers (33 store water, one stores equipment), and were built in a style considerably different from the other five groups. The Kuwait Towers were officially inaugurated in March 1979 and are regarded as a landmark and symbol of modern Kuwait. The towers were closed for maintenance from March 2012 to 8 March 2016, with a massive fireworks festival commemorating the re-opening. In 1980, the Kuwait Water Towers system, including the Kuwait Towers, was an inaugural recipient of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.   read more…

Theme Week Kuwait – Madinat al-Hareer

24 October 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General

© timeskuwait.com

© timeskuwait.com

Madinat al-Hareer meaning “Silk City”), is a proposed 250 km2 (62,000-acre) planned urban area in Sulaibiya, northern Kuwait. Upon construction, it would include the Burj Mubarak al-Kabir, a nature reservation of 2 square kilometres, a duty-free area which will be beside a new airport, in addition to a large business center, conference areas, environmental areas, athletic areas, and areas that concentrate on media, health, education, and industry. The City of Silk will also include numerous tourist attractions, hotels, spas, and public gardens. The city will be built in individual phases with total completion within twenty-five years. The development will cost an estimated 25 billion Kuwaiti Dinars (94 billion USD). In May 2014, the Silk City project was on hold. In June 2014, the Kuwaiti government approved a decree creating a body in charge of developing Silk City and Boubyan Island. Kuwait also signed a cooperation agreement with China for developing Silk City and its economic belt. On June 3, 2014, Silk City’s final masterplan was approved, the new Silk City masterplan replaces previous proposals. The Jaber Causeway (bridge that links Kuwait City to Silk City) is currently under construction.   read more…

Theme Week Kuwait

23 October 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Theme Weeks

Kuwait City © flickr.com - Mohammad Alatar/cc-by-2.0

Kuwait City © flickr.com – Mohammad Alatar/cc-by-2.0

Kuwait is a country in Western Asia. Situated in the northern edge of Eastern Arabia at the tip of the Persian Gulf, it shares borders with Iraq and Saudi Arabia. As of 2016, Kuwait has a population of 4.2 million people; 1.3 million are Kuwaitis and 2.9 million are expatriates. Expatriates account for 70% of the population. The capital is Kuwait City Oil reserves were discovered in 1938. From 1946 to 1982, the country underwent large-scale modernization. In the 1980s, Kuwait experienced a period of geopolitical instability and an economic crisis following the stock market crash. In 1990, Kuwait was invaded by Iraq. The Iraqi occupation came to an end in 1991 after military intervention by coalition forces. At the end of the war, there were extensive efforts to revive the economy and rebuild national infrastructure. Kuwait is a constitutional state with a semi-democratic political system. It has a high income economy backed by the world’s sixth largest oil reserves. According to the World Bank, the country has the fourth highest per capita income in the world. The Constitution was promulgated in 1962. The Kuwait National Cultural District is a member of the Global Cultural Districts Network.   read more…

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