Theme Week Egypt – Shadwan Island

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

© Wusel007/cc-by-sa-3.0

© Wusel007/cc-by-sa-3.0

Shadwan is a barren rocky island 30 miles southwest of the Egyptian city of Sharm el-Sheikh on the Sinai Peninsula and 20 miles northeast of el Gouna. It is the largest of a group of islands in the mouth of the Gulf of Suez in the northern Red Sea and measures 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) in length, and between 3–5 kilometres (1.9–3.1 mi) wide. It was formerly also called Shaker Island and features a lighthouse. The island is famous as a touristic site for underwater diving and fishing.   read more…

Theme Week Egypt

May 22nd, 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Theme Weeks, Union for the Mediterranean

Luxor - Winter Palace Hotel © Rowan

Luxor – Winter Palace Hotel © Rowan

Egypt, officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia by a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt is a Mediterranean country bordered by Palestine and Israel to the northeast, the Gulf of Aqaba to the east, the Red Sea to the east and south, Sudan to the south, and Libya to the west. Across the Gulf of Aqaba lies Jordan, and across from the Sinai Peninsula lies Saudi Arabia, although Jordan and Saudi Arabia do not share a land border with Egypt. It is the world’s only contiguous Afrasian nation. Egypt has among the longest histories of any modern country, emerging as one of the world’s first nation states in the tenth millennium BC. Considered a cradle of civilisation, Ancient Egypt experienced some of the earliest developments of writing, agriculture, urbanisation, organised religion and central government. Iconic monuments such as the Giza Necropolis and its Great Sphinx, as well the ruins of Memphis, Thebes, Karnak, and the Valley of the Kings, reflect this legacy and remain a significant focus of archaeological study and popular interest worldwide. Egypt’s rich cultural heritage is an integral part of its national identity, which has endured, and at times assimilated, various foreign influences, including Greek, Persian, Roman, Arab, Ottoman, and European. One of the earliest centres of Christianity, Egypt was Islamised in the seventh century and remains a predominantly Muslim country, albeit with a significant Christian minority.   read more…

Theme Week Saudi Arabia – Jeddah

April 28th, 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General

Jeddah Montage © MrJoker07/cc-by-sa-4.0

Jeddah Montage © MrJoker07/cc-by-sa-4.0

Jeddah is a city in the Hijaz Tihamah region on the coast of the Red Sea and is the major urban center of western Saudi Arabia. It is the largest city in Makkah Province, the largest sea port on the Red Sea, and the second-largest city in Saudi Arabia after the capital city, Riyadh. With a population currently at 4.2 million people, Jeddah is an important commercial hub in Saudi Arabia. Jeddah is the principal gateway to Mecca, Islam‘s holiest city, which able-bodied Muslims are required to visit at least once in their lifetime. It is also a gateway to Medina, the second holiest place in Islam. Historically, Jeddah has been well known for its legendary money changers. The largest of said money changers at the time (the late Sheikh Salem Bin Mahfouz) eventually founded Saudi Arabia’s first bank, the National Commercial Bank (NCB).   read more…

Theme Week Jordan

March 20th, 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Theme Weeks, Union for the Mediterranean

Petra at night © Susanahajer/cc-by-sa-3.0

Petra at night © Susanahajer/cc-by-sa-3.0

Jordan is an Arab kingdom in Western Asia, on the East Bank of the Jordan River. Jordan is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the east and south, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north, Israel, Palestine and the Dead Sea to the west and the Red Sea in its extreme south-west. Jordan is strategically located at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe. The capital, Amman is Jordan’s most populous city as well as the country’s economic, political and cultural centre. Jordan is a founding member of the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and is one of two Arab states to have signed a peace treaty with Israel. Jordan has very close ties to the United States of America and is considered to be a major non-NATO ally. It enjoys “advanced status” with the European Union and is part of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), which aims to increase links between the EU and its neighbours. The country is a constitutional monarchy, but the king holds wide executive and legislative powers. In the midst of surrounding turmoil, it has been greatly hospitable, accepting refugees from almost all surrounding conflicts as early as 1948, with most notably the estimated 2.1 million Palestinians and the 1.4 million Syrian refugees residing in the country. The kingdom is also a refuge to thousands of Iraqi Christians fleeing the Islamic State. While Jordan continues to accept refugees, the recent large influx from Syria placed substantial strain on national resources and infrastructure. The UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) is the second largest employer in the country.   read more…

Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia

January 13th, 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Architecture, Design & Products, General

© kingdom.com.sa

© kingdom.com.sa

Jeddah Tower, previously known as Kingdom Tower and Mile-High Tower, is a skyscraper under construction in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, at a preliminary cost of SR4.6 billion (US$1.23 billion). If completed as planned, the Jeddah Tower will reach unprecedented heights becoming the tallest building in the world, as well as the first structure to reach the one-kilometer-high mark. Initially planned to be 1.6 km (1 mile) high, the geology of the area proved unsuitable for a tower of that height. The design, created by American architect Adrian Smith, who also designed Burj Khalifa in Dubai, incorporates many unique structural and aesthetic features. The large, outdoor sky terrace will overlook the Red Sea from over 610 metres (2,000 ft) height and have an area of over 697 square metres (7,500 sq ft). The creator and leader of the project is Saudi Arabian Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, the wealthiest man in the Middle East, grandson of Ibn Saud, and nephew of the Kings of Saudi Arabia after him. Al-Waleed is the chairman of Kingdom Holding Company (KHC) which is a partner in Jeddah Economic Company (JEC), which was formed in 2009 for the development of Jeddah Tower and City.   read more…

Asmara in Eritrea

October 12th, 2016 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General

St. Joseph's Cathedral © flickr.com - David Stanley/cc-by-2.0

St. Joseph’s Cathedral © flickr.com – David Stanley/cc-by-2.0

Asmara is the capital city and largest settlement in Eritrea. Home to a population of around 804,000 inhabitants, it sits at an elevation of 2,325 metres (7,628 ft). The city is located at the tip of an escarpment that is both the northwestern edge of the Eritrean highlands and the Great Rift Valley in neighbouring Ethiopia. Asmara is situated in Eritrea’s central Maekel Region. It is known for its well-preserved colonial Italian modernist architecture. The city is divided into thirteen districts or administrative areas: Acria, Abbashaul, Edaga Hamus, Arbaete Asmara, Mai Temenai, Paradizo, Sembel, Godaif, Maekel Ketema or Downtown, Tiravolo, Gejeret, Tsetserat and Gheza Banda.   read more…

Dhow, the traditional sailing vessel of the Read Sea, the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean

September 1st, 2016 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Tall ships, Yacht of the Month

Dhows Parade during Qatar National Day © flickr.com - Mohamod Fasil/cc-by-2.0

Dhows Parade during Qatar National Day © flickr.com – Mohamod Fasil/cc-by-2.0

Dhow is the generic name of a number of traditional sailing vessels with one or more masts with lateen sails used in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean region. Historians are divided as to whether the dhow was invented by Arabs or Indians. Typically sporting long thin hulls, dhows are trading vessels primarily used to carry heavy items, like fruit, fresh water or merchandise, along the coasts of Eastern Arabia (Arab states of the Persian Gulf), East Africa, Yemen and some parts of South Asia (Pakistan, India, Bangladesh). Larger dhows have crews of approximately thirty, smaller ones typically around twelve.   read more…

The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST)

April 1st, 2016 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Architecture, Energy, Environment, Building Automation, General, Green Buildings, Green Technologies, House of the Month, Intelligent Buildings, Sustainability, Universities, Colleges, Academies

© Aboluay/cc-by-sa-4.0

© Aboluay/cc-by-sa-4.0

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) is a private research university in Saudi Arabia. The University’s core campus, located on the Red Sea at Thuwal, is sited on more than 36 square kilometres (14 sq mi), encompassing a marine sanctuary and research facility. The university is 20 km away north of the King Abdullah Economic City. KAUST is part of a small number of highly planned, specialized, research and technology-intensive municipalities in the world that incorporate a living environment, similar to Masdar City in the United Arab Emirates or Tsukuba Science City in Japan.   read more…

Theme Week Israel – Eilat on the Gulf of Aqaba

October 8th, 2015 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Union for the Mediterranean

Marina of Eilat © Mickeyh/cc-by-sa-3.0

Marina of Eilat © Mickeyh/cc-by-sa-3.0

Eilat is Israel’s southernmost city, a busy port and popular resort located for domestic tourists at the northern tip of the Red Sea, on the Gulf of Aqaba. The city’s port is Israels only port on the Read Sea, with a coast line of about 12 km. Home to about 47,700 people, Eilat is part of the Southern Negev Desert, at the southern end of the Arabah, adjacent to the Egyptian village of Taba to the south, the Jordanian port city of Aqaba to the east, and within sight of Saudi Arabia to the south-east, across the gulf.   read more…

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