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: 12 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 Oman – Masirah Island

25 June 2016 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General

Kite surfing © flickr.com - StellarD/cc-by-2.0

Kite surfing © flickr.com – StellarD/cc-by-2.0

Masirah or Mazeira Island is an island off the East coast of Oman, 95 km long north-south, between 12 and 14 km wide, with an area of about 649 km², and a population estimated at 12,000 in 12 villages mainly in the north of the island. Administratively, it forms one of the eleven provinces of the Ash Sharqiyah Region. The principal village is Ras-Hilf in the northern part of the island. It contains a Royal Air Force of Oman air base and a fish factory, as well as a few small towns.   read more…

Theme Week Oman – Nizwa

24 June 2016 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General

Nizwa Souq © flickr.com - Francisco Anzola/cc-by-2.0

Nizwa Souq © flickr.com – Francisco Anzola/cc-by-2.0

Nizwa is the largest city in the Ad Dakhiliyah Region in Oman and was the capital of Oman proper. Nizwa is about 140 km (1.5 hours) from Muscat. The population is estimated at around 700,000 people including the two areas of Burkat Al Mooz and Al Jabel Al Akhdar. The city is home to the University of Nizwa. Nizwa is one of the oldest cities in Oman and it was once a center of trade, religion, education and art. Its Jama (grand mosque) was formerly a center for Islamic learning. The city, famous for its handicrafts and agricultural products, has an expansive souq with an array of products. It is one of the most important in the country besides Muttrah. The souq bustles with vendors selling everything from meat, fish, fruits and vegetables to spices, dates, gold and silverware. Nizwa is renowned for its silver jewelry which is considered to be the best in the country. Its people are masters in Khanjar making (curved dagger), recognised for its distinctive style and patterns. They also make copper ware, coffee pots, swords, leather goods and pottery.   read more…

Theme Week Oman – Sohar

23 June 2016 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General

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…

Theme Week Oman – Khasab

22 June 2016 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General

Khasab Castle © StellarD/cc-by-sa-3.0

Khasab Castle © StellarD/cc-by-sa-3.0

Khasab is a city in an exclave of Oman bordering the United Arab Emirates. It is the local capital of the Musandam peninsula and has frequently been dubbed the “Norway of Arabia” because of its extensive fjord-like craggy inlets and desolate mountainscapes. Boats from Khasab take tourists on trips to view the dolphins common in the waters around the Musandam, as well as to visit Telegraph Island, for a short time (between 1865 and 1868) the site of a manned telegraph repeater station on the cable section between Bahrain and Bombay.   read more…

Theme Week Oman – Salalah

21 June 2016 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, UNESCO World Heritage

Downtown Salalah © StellarD/cc-by-sa-3.0

Downtown Salalah © StellarD/cc-by-sa-3.0

Salalah, is the capital and seat of the wali (governor) of the southern Omani province of Dhofar. Its population is at around 200,000.   read more…

Theme Week Oman

20 June 2016 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Theme Weeks

The traditionell Dhow, an enduring symbol of Oman © Pranav21391

The traditionell Dhow, an enduring symbol of Oman © Pranav21391

Oman, is an Arab country in the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. Holding a strategically important position at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, the nation is bordered by the United Arab Emirates to the northwest, Saudi Arabia to the west, and Yemen to the southwest, and shares marine borders with Iran and Pakistan. The coast is formed by the Arabian Sea on the southeast and the Gulf of Oman on the northeast. The Madha and Musandam exclaves are surrounded by the UAE on their land borders, with the Strait of Hormuz (which it shares with Iran) and Gulf of Oman forming Musandam’s coastal boundaries.   read more…

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