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: 17 October 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 109 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 Qatar – The Pearl

27 August 2016 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General

Dusk at the Pearl Qatar © flickr.com - Steven Byles/cc-by-sa-2.0

Dusk at the Pearl Qatar © flickr.com – Steven Byles/cc-by-sa-2.0

The Pearl-Qatar in Doha is an artificial island spanning nearly four million square metres. It is the first land in Qatar to be available for freehold ownership by foreign nationals. As of January 2015, there are 12,000 residents. Once fully completed, The Pearl will create over 32 kilometres of new coastline, for use as a residential estate with an expected 18,831 dwellings and 45,000 residents by 2018. Developed by United Development Company and planned by architecture and design firm Callison, the island is located 350 metres offshore of Doha’s West Bay Lagoon area. In 2004, when the project was first revealed, the initial cost of constructing the island stood at $2.5 billion. It is now believed the project will cost $15 billion upon completion.   read more…

Theme Week Qatar – Al Wakrah

26 August 2016 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General

Al Wakrah Souq © flickr.com - Mohamod Fasil/cc-by-2.0

Al Wakrah Souq © flickr.com – Mohamod Fasil/cc-by-2.0

Al-Wakrah is the capital city of the Al Wakrah Municipality. Al Wakrah’s eastern edge is the shores of the Persian Gulf. Governed by Sheikh Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, it was originally a small fishing and pearling village. Over the years, it evolved into a big town with a population of more than 90,000 and it is considered to be one of the major cities in Qatar. Historic architecture is abundant in Al Wakrah, particularly in its coastal areas, and it is captured in mosques, old homes and harbour. The house of Sheikh Ghanim Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, located on the beach, is considered to be an important historic landmark. This building has two storeys and its windows were designed to represent ornamental shapes. It was refurbished in 2004 under the supervision of the Restoration Departments of Qatar Museums Authority (QMA). Abdullah bin Saad House, formerly owned by Abdullah bin Saad Al Mutallaq, is located in a remote section on the south-east coast of the city and is considered to be a historic landmark. The house was constructed in the early 20th century; most likely around 1920. After the municipality assumed ownership of the house in 1984, it was renovated two years later and eventually re-opened as a museum.   read more…

Theme Week Qatar – Education City

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

Texas A&M University at Qatar © Arwcheek

Texas A&M University at Qatar © Arwcheek

Education City is an initiative of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development. Located on the outskirts of Doha, the capital of Qatar. Education City covers 14 square kilometers and houses educational facilities from school age to research level and branch campuses of some of the world’s universities. From 2016 Education City will be served by an 11.5 km tram network to be operated with Siemens Avenio trams equipped with supercapacitor energy storage for wireless operation. Education City aims to be instructing students in fields of importance to the Gulf Cooperation Council region. It is also conceived of as a forum where universities share research and forge relationships with businesses and institutions in public and private sectors. Moza bint Nasser was a driving force behind the foundation and construction of Education City. Education City was launched by Qatar Foundation in 1997. The same year, Virginia Commonwealth University became the first institute to establish itself on its campus. The city was officially inaugurated in 2003. Six American universities, one British university and one French university have branch campuses at Education City.   read more…

Theme Week Qatar – Al-Khor

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

Al Khor Harbour with mosque © Vincent van Zeijst/cc-by-sa-3.0

Al Khor Harbour with mosque © Vincent van Zeijst/cc-by-sa-3.0

Al Khor is a coastal city in northern Qatar, located 50 kilometres north of the capital, Doha. It is the capital city of the municipality of Al Khor. The name of the city means creek in Arabic as the town is located on a creek. Al Khor is home to many employees of the oil industry due to its proximity to Qatar’s northern oil and natural gas fields, and due to its proximity to the Ras Laffan Industrial City. Due to the continuous expansion at Ras Laffan Industrial City, the number of facilities and services available in the town is rapidly increasing. In October 2015, Ashghal (Public Works Authority) revealed that it would be investing billions of Qatari riyals into developing infrastructure in Al Khor. Its plan includes the creation of additional hospitals and schools, and the refurbishment of the road system. Families of RasGas and Qatargas are provided with accommodation in Al Khor Housing Community, one of the most sizable residential complexes in the country. An investment of over Qatari riyal 2 billion has been afforded on the complex over the years by Alaqaria, a subsidiary of Barwa Group.   read more…

Theme Week Qatar – Lusail

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

© lusail.com

© lusail.com

Lusail is the newest planned city in Qatar, located on the coast, in the northern part of the municipality of Al Daayen. Lusail is located about 23 km north of the city centre of Doha, just north of the West Bay Lagoon, on over 35 km² and will eventually have a population of up to 260,000 people. It is planned to have marinas, residential areas, island resorts, commercial districts, luxury shopping and leisure facilities, and a golf course community, man made islands and several entertainment districts. Construction is still ongoing. It is being developed by the state-controlled developer Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company as well as Parsons Corporation.   read more…

Theme Week Qatar

22 August 2016 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Theme Weeks

Museum of Islamic Arts Park © flickr.com - Mohamod Fasil/cc-by-2.0

Museum of Islamic Arts Park © flickr.com – Mohamod Fasil/cc-by-2.0

Qatar is a sovereign country located in Southwest Asia, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. Its sole land border is with Saudi Arabia to the south, with the rest of its territory surrounded by the Persian Gulf. A strait in the Persian Gulf separates Qatar from the nearby island of Bahrain, as well as sharing sea borders with the United Arab Emirates and Iran. The capital and largest city is Doha. Following Ottoman rule, Qatar became a British protectorate in the early 20th century until gaining independence in 1971. Qatar has been ruled by the House of Thani since the early 19th century. Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani was the founder of the State of Qatar. Qatar is a hereditary monarchy and its head of state is Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. Whether it should be regarded as a constitutional or an absolute monarchy is a matter of opinion. In 2003, the constitution was overwhelmingly approved in a referendum, with almost 98% in favour. In 2013, Qatar’s total population was 1.8 million: 278,000 Qatari citizens and 1.5 million expatriates.   read more…

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