Kuwaiti citizens have begun to vote in their seventh legislative election in just over a decade, as a result of ongoing political crises that have hampered parliamentary proceedings and hindered reform initiatives.
Polling commenced at 8am (05:00 GMT) on Tuesday and will carry on until 8pm (17:00 GMT). The official Kuwait News Agency confirmed that the results are set to be announced on Wednesday. Over 793,000 eligible voters are anticipated to contribute to the shaping of the 50-seat legislature. Notably, Kuwait is the only Gulf Arab state to have an elected parliament with the power to hold the government accountable.
A total of 207 candidates are vying for a four-year term as lawmakers, marking the smallest number in a general election since 1996. The roster includes members of the opposition and 13 women.
Kuwait’s emir, Nawaf al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, called the election last month after yet another dissolution of parliament amid a persisting political deadlock.
Frequent conflicts between different branches of the government have obstructed lawmakers from passing crucial economic reforms. Recurrent budget deficits, low foreign investment, and disputes over a contentious bill regarding government takeover of Kuwaiti citizens’ consumer and personal loans have further fuelled a sense of despondency.
The consistent discord between elected lawmakers and an appointed cabinet has led to a deterioration of social services, including healthcare and education. This lack of stability has also deterred investors from Kuwait’s petroleum industry, which holds seven percent of the world’s crude reserves.
In spite of widespread disillusionment with the political elite, human rights activist Hadeel Buqrais highlighted the importance of participating in the election. Although Kuwait’s cabinet members are appointed by the ruling Al-Sabah family, which maintains a firm control over political affairs, lawmakers are elected by the people.
In an interesting turn of events, the constitutional court in March nullified the results of last year’s elections, where the opposition had made considerable strides. The court ruled that the previous parliament elected in 2020 should be reinstated instead.
Since the implementation of a parliamentary system in Kuwait in 1962, the legislature has been dissolved approximately a dozen times.
Image Credit: AP Photo/Jaber Abdulkhaleg
In a significant development towards mending a seven-year-old diplomatic rift, Iran has announced its decision to reopen its embassy in Saudi Arabia this week.
In a brief statement issued on Monday, Nasser Kanani, the spokesperson for the Iranian foreign ministry, confirmed that Iran’s embassy in Riyadh would reopen on Tuesday, followed by the reopening of its consulate in Jeddah and its representative office with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation a day later.
According to Kanani, the embassy and consulate have already begun operations to facilitate Hajj pilgrimages. The official reopening will take place in the presence of foreign ministry officials from both nations.
This move follows a China-brokered agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia, signed in Beijing on March 10th, which stipulated a two-month deadline for the embassies’ reopening.
Although Iranian authorities noted that the embassies had started conducting some practical work, they required additional time for an official reopening, given that the buildings had remained closed for years.
As of yet, there’s no official confirmation regarding when the Saudi embassy in Tehran or the kingdom’s consulate in Mashhad will officially reopen or who will be appointed as its ambassador.
Iranian state-linked media reported last month that Tehran had chosen Alireza Enayati, a former envoy to Kuwait and a foreign ministry deputy for regional affairs, as its envoy to Riyadh.
In 2016, Riyadh severed diplomatic ties with Tehran after its representative offices were stormed during protests against the execution of a Shia religious leader by the Sunni-majority kingdom.
Recent months have seen these two regional powerhouses steadily easing tensions, a step they claim will help enhance security across the region.
Post the agreement in March, other countries in the region have also begun following Saudi Arabia’s lead towards normalising relations with Syria and its president, Bashar al-Assad. This follows his ostracisation post his brutal repression of protests in 2011, which sparked a decade-long civil war. Saudi Arabia has also been increasingly engaging with the Iran-aligned Houthis in Yemen, where Riyadh and Tehran have supported opposing sides in the country’s civil war since 2015.
Image Credit: Fayez Nureldine / AFP
As the calendar flips to May 25th, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan erupts into a vibrant celebration of their national pride and heritage. The streets teem with joyous citizens, resplendent in their nation’s colours, commemorating the day Jordan gained its independence in 1946. Yet, amidst the national merriment and jubilation, many hidden facets of this monumental day remain largely unexplored. In this article, we journey beyond the surface-level celebrations, unearthing five riveting facts about Jordan’s Independence Day that will leave you astounded.
On May 25, 1946, Jordan was no longer a British mandate. However, did you know that it was also the day King Abdullah I was proclaimed the first King of Jordan? The Independence Day symbolises not only liberation from colonial rule but also a pivotal power transfer to a sovereign monarchy, forging the path for Jordan’s modern-day nationhood.
While the Jordanian flag flies high on Independence Day, there’s more to its colours than meets the eye. Each colour represents an important aspect of the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire – black for the Abbasid Caliphate, white for the Umayyad Caliphate, green for the Fatimid Caliphate, and red for the Hashemite dynasty. As the flag flutters, it tells an intriguing tale of historical defiance and unity.
An anthem named ‘Salt of the Earth’ is traditionally sung on Independence Day. This unique anthem, unlike the national anthem, pays homage to the Jordanian spirit, recounting the rich tapestry of their struggle for independence and celebrating the inherent resilience of the Jordanian people. A heart-stirring rendition of the country’s unique journey, it indeed encapsulates the essence of Jordan’s Independence Day.
The Royal Cavalry’s 21-gun salute, a stirring spectacle that marks Independence Day, is a tribute to the monarchy’s role in leading Jordan towards freedom. This symbolic salute honours the monarchy’s lineage and their continued contribution towards the progress of Jordan as a modern, thriving nation.
Finally, let’s talk about Sir Alec Kirkbride, the last British High Commissioner in Transjordan. While his name might not ring a bell, his decision to recommend Jordan’s independence to the British Government played a significant role in the country’s path to self-rule. Although often overlooked in history’s vast narrative, his influence on Jordan’s independence story remains indisputable.
As Jordan’s Independence Day dawns and the jubilant celebrations ensue, it’s worth taking a moment to ponder these fascinating snippets of history. After all, in the intriguing narratives of the past, we often find the profoundest reasons to celebrate the present. So, the next time you find yourself amidst Jordan’s Independence Day celebrations, remember—you’re not merely witnessing a national holiday, but a riveting historical saga unfolding right before your eyes.
Image Credit: Hassan Bushnaq/Wikimedia Commons
Lebanon’s political landscape, characterised by an array of political parties and alliances, can often appear as a labyrinth to the uninitiated observer. This complexity is not merely a matter of diversity but an embodiment of Lebanon’s rich and multifaceted cultural, religious, and historical layers.
In the turbulent world of Lebanese politics, the Future Movement, led by Saad al-Hariri, a prominent Sunni figure and incumbent Prime Minister since 2016, carves out a distinctive place. Al-Hariri found himself thrust into the political arena following the assassination of his father, Rafik al-Hariri, in 2005. Following the Beirut port explosion in August 2020, Hariri was tasked with forming a government in October, but unable to form a government, he resigned as prime minister-delegate in July 2021 marking the suspension of his political career in January 2022.
As a key player in Lebanon’s political field, Hezbollah, a creation of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in 1982, boasts significant influence. Its power has only magnified since 2012, owing to its active involvement in the Syrian war, where it fights in support of President Bashar al-Assad.
The Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) offers another intriguing dimension to the Lebanese political scene. Michel Aoun, a Maronite Christian politician and former army commander, founded the FPM. Interestingly, Aoun was also at the helm of one of two contending governments during the 1975-90 civil war climax.
In a testament to Lebanon’s convoluted political dynamics, Aoun became president in 2016, while Hariri assumed the prime ministerial role. Aoun’s son-in-law, Gebran Bassil, currently leads the FPM, which also happens to be an ally of Hezbollah. Aoun was elected president in 2016 until October 2022 as Parliament failed to agree on his successor leaving Lebanon with a highly polarised political environment.
The Shiite Amal Movement, previously a civil war rival of Hezbollah, is the largest Shia party in Parliament currently boasting 14 representatives compared to Hezbollah’s 13. Led by Nabih Berri, Speaker of the Parliament since 1992, the Amal Movement also has close ties to Assad.
The Progressive Socialist Party (PSP), under the leadership of Walid Jumblatt, represents the Lebanese Druze minority. Inheriting his position from his assassinated father, Kamal, Jumblatt was a prominent figure during the civil war. Currently, he is gradually transferring his authority to his son, Taymour.
The Lebanese Forces (LF), led by Maronite Christian politician Samir Geagea, evolved from a powerful civil war militia. Geagea, the only Lebanese militia leader to have served prison time for civil war atrocities, remains a formidable Christian adversary of Hezbollah.
The Kataeb Party, or Phalange Party, helmed by Maronite Christian politician Sami Gemayel, adds another layer to the intricate web of Lebanese politics. Sami Gemayel assumed leadership following the assassination of his brother, Pierre, in 2006, during a spate of murders targeting opponents of Syrian influence in Lebanon.
Lastly, the Marada party, under Maronite Christian politician Suleiman Franjieh, a staunch ally of Hezbollah and a friend of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, completes the diverse Lebanese political spectrum.
Image Credit: AP Photo/Bilal Hussein
Turkey’s newly appointed Finance Minister, Mehmet Şimşek, announced that significant shifts in economic policy are urgently needed to control the country’s spiralling inflation. In his first press conference following his appointment, Şimşek warned on Sunday that Turkey must “return to rational ground” regarding its economic strategies.
“Price stability will be our main target,” stated Şimşek. He underscored the urgency of reining in inflation to single digits over the medium term, describing it as “of vital importance for our country”.
Over the past two years, Turkey has been grappling with soaring consumer prices. In October, inflation hit an official 24-year peak of 85.5 percent. However, independent analysts maintain that the actual figures exceed these official statistics significantly. The escalating cost of basic commodities became a hot-button issue in the recent presidential run-off election.
Following his unprecedented third-term victory, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan designated Şimşek as Treasury and Finance Minister as part of a comprehensive cabinet reshuffle. The appointment of Şimşek, a former economist at Merrill Lynch who played a key role in Turkey’s recovery from the 2008 global financial crisis, signals a potential shift towards more traditional economic policies.
Erdoğan has been staunchly resistant to increasing interest rates to counteract inflation in the past, deeming such a measure un-Islamic.
“Şimşek will be treading a very fine line,” commented Aura Sabadus, a researcher at the Centre for European Policy Analysis.
“While Şimşek’s appointment is a positive development for the markets, it’s worth remembering that Erdoğan has previously dismissed two deputy central bank governors who opposed his unconventional economic views,” Sabadus added.
However, this clash in economic perspectives could presage further complications, according to Karabekir Akkoyunlu, a lecturer at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).
“Şimşek claims Turkey has no choice but to return to rational economic policies, which prompts the question – why were the previous policies irrational?” Akkoyunlu queried. Akkoyunlu suggested that Erdoğan’s previous policy of generous spending, including measures like providing households with free gas and augmenting public sector salaries, may be succeeded by efforts towards fiscal balancing. “With the election concluded, the ‘campaign economy’ is now a thing of the past. It’s likely Şimşek will pivot towards austerity measures,” he added.
Image Credit: Reuters
On Sunday, Lebanon’s parliamentary opposition officially endorsed former finance minister, Jihad Azour, as their candidate for the nation’s presidency. This announcement came hot on the heels of Michel Moawad’s withdrawal from the race, significantly reshaping the presidential contest.
Legislator Mark Daou announced Mr Azour’s candidacy on behalf of 32 opposition-aligned MPs, following weeks of negotiations to find an alternative candidate to Suleiman Frangieh, who enjoys the backing of the pro-Hezbollah bloc.
Describing Mr Azour, Mr Daou stated, “He is the candidate capable of protecting Lebanon from collapse and domination”. Azour’s nomination arrives subsequent to his endorsement by the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) on Saturday.
The FPM, which currently maintains a strained alliance with Iran-backed Hezbollah, has seen its relations cool in recent months due to Hezbollah’s unyielding support of Mr Frangieh’s presidential bid.
Upon the announcement of Mr Azour’s nomination, the opposition bloc immediately called for an electoral session in parliament.
Notably, the previously favoured candidate for the parliamentary opposition, Mr Moawad, endorsed Mr Azour after withdrawing from the race, stating the issue has “always been the project, not the person”.
Mr Moawad’s withdrawal came on the back of several weeks of talks between the opposition, spearheaded by the Lebanese Forces, aimed at finding a robust alternative to Mr Frangieh. It had become clear that Mr Moawad struggled to secure sufficient votes for the presidency, with blank ballots frequently outnumbering the votes cast in his favour across eleven different electoral sessions.
The country has been embroiled in a presidential vacuum since the departure of former President Michel Aoun from office in October. Since then, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri has convened 11 sessions to pick a successor, but MPs have so far failed to reach a consensus.
Jihad Azour, 57, comes with an impressive track record. He is a former finance minister and currently heads the Middle East and Central Asia Department at the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Widely seen as a technocrat, Azour could be a beacon of hope to usher in economic stability as Lebanon navigates the worst financial crisis in its history.
Having previously served as Lebanon’s Finance Minister from 2005 to 2008, Azour coordinated key reforms, including modernising the country’s tax and customs systems. In addition to his public service, Azour’s private sector experience is noteworthy. He has held senior positions at McKinsey and Booz & Co., as a Vice-President and Senior Executive Advisor, and was a Managing Partner at investment firm Inventis Partners.
Educated at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris, Mr Azour holds a PhD in International Finance and a post-graduate degree in International Economics and Finance. His research at Harvard on emerging economies and their integration into the global economy and a wide range of publications and teachings on economic and financial issues, underscore his credentials as a leading expert in the field.
Saturday bore witness to a tragic encounter along the southern border shared by Egypt and Israel, where shootings claimed the lives of three Israeli soldiers and an Egyptian policeman, according to military sources from both countries.
The Israeli military confirmed the loss of two soldiers – one male and one female – near the Egyptian border. A third soldier was killed during an armed confrontation with an assailant in the vicinity of the Paran Regional Brigade.
The Israeli army identified the perpetrator as an Egyptian policeman. “An investigation is being conducted in full co-operation with the Egyptian army,” stated the military spokesperson.
The immediate vicinity was subsequently swept by soldiers to eliminate the possibility of remaining assailants. The female soldier who was killed was later identified as 19-year-old Lia Ben Nun. In addition to the fatalities, a non-commissioned officer sustained minor injuries.
An Egyptian armed forces spokesperson divulged that “a member of the security forces breached the border security barrier” during a pursuit of drug traffickers, which resulted in the deaths of three Israeli soldiers and injuries to two others.
According to the Egyptian spokesman’s statement, the Egyptian security officer was also killed during the exchange of fire.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the incident, stating, “The fatal incident at the Egyptian border during the Sabbath is serious and unusual and will be thoroughly investigated.”
Senior members of the Israeli army, including Chief of General Staff Maj Gen Herzi Halevi and the commander of the Southern Command, arrived at the scene to assess the situation and oversee the investigation.
In an unrelated incident hours before the fatal encounter, Israeli forces successfully intercepted an attempted drug-smuggling operation at the border. They seized contraband estimated to be worth 1.5 million shekels ($400,000), a military spokesman revealed.
At present, the Israeli military has found no connection between the drug seizure and the subsequent violent episode on the border.
Despite the peace forged between Israel and Egypt following the 1978 Camp David accords – with Egypt being the first Arab nation to formalise such relations – the border region is occasionally disturbed by drug smugglers who engage in skirmishes with Israeli troops.
This incident follows several violent encounters along the border in recent years. In 2011, a triple ambush by assailants originating from Sinai resulted in eight Israeli fatalities. Subsequent pursuits by Israeli forces led to the deaths of seven attackers and five Egyptian police.
In 2012, three militants who infiltrated from Sinai and an Israeli soldier lost their lives in a border clash. Two years later, unidentified men from the Sinai attacked two Israeli soldiers with an anti-tank weapon during a failed drug-smuggling operation.
In a 2015 incident, rockets launched from Sinai struck southern Israel, although no casualties were reported. ISIS subsequently claimed responsibility for the attack.
Image Credit: AFP
An embodiment of royalty and grace, Queen Rania is renowned for her understated yet sophisticated style. Her engagement ring is a quintessential reflection of this elegance. Unlike the often grandiose and ostentatious rings typically associated with royal families, Queen Rania’s engagement ring espouses the essence of minimalism, showcasing an exquisite round diamond set on a simple band of yellow gold.
The concept of wearing engagement rings constantly is a Western tradition and not something usually practised in Islam, the religion followed by Queen Rania. It is therefore not surprising that Queen Rania’s engagement ring is not always worn.
The solitaire diamond, known for its classic and timeless appeal, is particularly befitting of Queen Rania, renowned for her humanitarian efforts and advocacy for education and health. The simplicity of the design, far from being a sign of austerity, resonates with her well-known mantra of leading a life defined by substance rather than extravagance.
Queen Rania’s engagement ring first captured the public’s attention during her engagement to King Abdullah II in 1993. The ring’s understated elegance juxtaposed the pomp and splendour usually associated with royal engagements, highlighting the couple’s shared preference for simplicity and authenticity.
Despite the straightforward design, the ring carries profound symbolism. The round diamond, a shape known for its brilliance and fire, reflects Queen Rania’s luminous presence and her burning passion for her philanthropic endeavours. The yellow gold band is a nod to enduring love and fidelity, symbolising the royal couple’s strong bond and commitment to each other and their country.
The choice of a diamond for the ring’s centrepiece also carries a depth of meaning. Diamonds, renowned for their hardness and durability, are often used in engagement rings to symbolise an unbreakable bond, reflecting the enduring strength of the royal couple’s relationship.
Through the years, Queen Rania’s engagement ring has become an iconic piece, representing a unique blend of royal tradition, personal style, and symbolic resonance. It stands as a testament to the Queen’s grace and elegance and continues to inspire a preference for understated luxury and meaningful symbolism in engagement ring trends.
Queen Rania’s engagement ring, while devoid of the opulence typically associated with royal jewels, stands as a remarkable symbol of timeless elegance, love, and commitment. It serves as a glowing beacon of royal romance, reminding us that true luxury resides in authenticity and meaning rather than mere display of wealth.
Image Credit: Pintrest
In an unprecedented turn of events, Hannibal Gadhafi, son of Libya’s deceased leader, Moammar Gadhafi, has begun a hunger strike, protesting against his detention without trial for over seven years in Lebanon, according to his legal counsel.
Hannibal Gadhafi has been held captive in Lebanon since 2015 after he was abducted from Syria, where he had sought refuge as a political outcast. His kidnapping by Lebanese insurgents was reportedly prompted by a quest for information on the whereabouts of a long-lost Shiite cleric, who mysteriously disappeared in Libya over four decades ago.
Following his abduction, Gadhafi was apprehended by Lebanese law enforcement and has since been held in a Beirut prison, yet to be brought to trial.
Hannibal Gadhafi’s solicitor, Paul Romanos, informed The Associated Press that his client began his hunger strike on Saturday morning, steadfastly asserting that “he is serious and will continue with it until the end.” Romanos did not delve into case specifics, citing his lack of authorisation to discuss the matter publicly.
The detained Libyan has since released a statement describing his conditions. He questioned, “How can a political prisoner be held without a fair trial all these years?” Married to a Lebanese woman, Gadhafi highlighted his hunger strike as a potent symbol of protest against his unjust treatment and asserted that the individuals responsible would bear the consequences.
Gadhafi also lamented about the detiorating state of his physical health. His lawyer, Romanos, commented that his client is suffering from back pain due to confinement in a compact cell for years, restricting his mobility and physical activity.
The sudden disappearance of Moussa al-Sadr, a prominent Lebanese Shiite cleric, in 1978, continues to be a contentious issue in Lebanon. Al-Sadr, originally from the Iranian holy city of Qom, moved to Lebanon in 1959 and was an ardent advocate for the rights of Shiites in Tyre, a southern port town.
Al-Sadr’s whereabouts remain a mystery, with many suspecting foul play at the hands of Moammar Gadhafi during a disagreement over Libyan payments to Lebanese militias. However, Libya has consistently asserted that the cleric left Tripoli for Rome in 1978, possibly falling victim to a power struggle within the Shiite community.
Hannibal Gadhafi, born just two years before al-Sadr’s disappearance, fled to Algeria following the fall of Tripoli, along with his mother and several other family members. His subsequent journey led him to Syria, where he was granted political asylum, only to be later abducted and transported to Lebanon. As the hunger strike continues, the fate of this political prisoner remains precariously balanced, underscoring the enduring legacy of the Gadhafi dynasty’s tumultuous history.
Image Credit: AP Photo/Abdel Magid al-Fergany, File
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, better known as MbZ, is the Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, the Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates. A charismatic leader known for his military acumen and forward-thinking initiatives, the Prince’s influence extends far beyond the boundaries of his homeland.
Born on 11th March 1961, Sheikh Mohammed is the third son of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder of the UAE. Educated at the prestigious Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in the United Kingdom, the Prince has a strong military background. His leadership journey commenced in 1979 when he was appointed as an officer in the UAE Armed Forces.
Sheikh Mohammed assumed the role of Crown Prince in 2004, following the death of his father. Since then, his leadership has been marked by a visionary approach to transforming the UAE into a knowledge-based economy, reducing reliance on oil revenues. His economic diversification strategies have led to substantial growth in sectors like tourism, aviation, real estate, and renewable energy.
As the de facto ruler of the UAE, Sheikh Mohammed plays a crucial role in shaping the nation’s foreign policy. His diplomatic strategies have strengthened the UAE’s international alliances while maintaining a strong stance on regional security issues. The Prince is known for his pragmatic approach to tackling geopolitical challenges, showcasing the UAE’s commitment to peace and stability in the Middle East.
Sheikh Mohammed is also a strong proponent of social reforms. He has driven significant progress in areas like women’s empowerment, with women now holding key roles in the UAE’s government and business sectors. His commitment to developing the nation’s human capital is evident in his robust support for education and innovation initiatives.
Philanthropy forms an integral part of Sheikh Mohammed’s leadership. He is instrumental in driving numerous charitable initiatives, both within the UAE and internationally, focusing on areas like healthcare, education, and humanitarian aid. His generous contributions to global relief efforts, particularly in war-torn regions, underscore his commitment to humanitarian values.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan is more than just the Crown Prince of the UAE; he is a visionary leader, a catalyst for change, and a beacon of modern Arab leadership. Under his stewardship, the UAE continues its journey towards a future marked by innovation, inclusivity, and prosperity. His leadership serves as a testament to the enduring legacy of his father, Sheikh Zayed, and the dynamic future that lies ahead for the UAE.
Image Credit: WAM
As the country’s economic heart, Doha is a thriving metropolis that offers a rich cultural tapestry for visitors and residents alike. Here, we’re unveiling the top five attractions you simply cannot afford to miss while exploring Qatar’s capital. As the country’s economic heart, Doha is a thriving metropolis that offers a rich cultural tapestry for visitors and residents alike.
Museum of Islamic Art (MIA): A Crown Jewel of Doha
An architectural masterpiece designed by world-renowned architect I.M. Pei, the Museum of Islamic Art is a homage to Islamic artistry and craftsmanship spanning over 1,400 years. This striking museum houses a vast collection of ceramics, manuscripts, textiles, and precious stones from across the Islamic world, all displayed within the elegance of the museum’s geometrically inspired architecture.
Souq Waqif: A Walk Through History
Step into a bygone era at Souq Waqif, a century-old marketplace exuding traditional charm. With its labyrinthine alleyways, aromatic spices, handcrafted wares, and bustling cafés, the Souq presents an authentic slice of Qatari life. Be sure to visit the Falcon Souq, a testament to Qatar’s longstanding falconry tradition.
The Pearl-Qatar: The Shimmering Island
The Pearl-Qatar, a man-made island spanning nearly four million square meters, is Doha’s most glamorous address. Luxurious residential towers, high-end retail boutiques, and gourmet restaurants line its picturesque marinas. The Venetian-inspired Qanat Quartier, with its pastel-coloured buildings and charming canals, is an unmissable highlight.
Katara Cultural Village: The Epicentre of Art and Culture
Immerse yourself in Qatar’s rich cultural heritage at Katara Cultural Village. As the hub of Doha’s arts scene, Katara hosts international art exhibitions, film screenings, and theatrical performances within its amphitheatre, art studios, and galleries. Don’t forget to check out the stunning Golden Mosque, an architectural marvel in its own right.
The National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ): A Journey Through Time
Symbolizing the Qatari national identity, the NMoQ narrates the story of Qatar from prehistoric times to the present day. Designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, its unique desert rose-inspired design sets it apart as an architectural landmark. With immersive displays and cutting-edge technology, a visit to NMoQ is a journey through the nation’s history and evolution.
Visiting Qatar’s capital, with its intriguing blend of traditional charm and futuristic ambition, is a journey into the heart of the Middle East that leaves you with memories for a lifetime.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has announced its withdrawal from a US-led maritime coalition, indicating a re-evaluation of its security requirements, according to its Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In a statement quoted by the state news agency WAM on Wednesday, the ministry said, “Following our ongoing assessment of productive security cooperation with all partners, two months ago, the UAE withdrew its participation in the Combined Maritime Forces.” The UAE further asserted its commitment to dialogue and diplomatic engagement in advancing regional security and stability, and ensuring navigational safety near its shores in line with international law.
This decision marks a significant turning point in the region’s geopolitical framework, modifying the dynamics of international maritime security cooperation.
The 34-nation task force, based at the US naval headquarters in Bahrain, was established to counter terrorism and piracy in the Red Sea and Gulf areas.
These regions encompass some of the world’s most critical shipping routes. Since 2019, the escalation in tensions between the US and Iran has seen a spate of attacks on vessels.
The UAE, given its strategic location along vital maritime trade routes, had been a proactive participant in the US-led coalition. Earlier in May, the US announced a bolstering of its “defensive stance” in the Gulf, attributing an increase in commercial shipping attacks to Tehran.
Late April and early May saw Iran seizing two international oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, including the Niovi, en route from Dubai towards the UAE port of Fujairah. Iranian officials stated that one of the tankers had collided with an Iranian vessel and attempted to escape, while the other was drawn into Iranian territorial waters by judicial order following a legal complaint.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the UAE’s decision to withdraw was rooted in disappointment at the perceived lack of US response to Iranian threats.
US and Gulf officials told the US newspaper that the UAE was disheartened and had sought stronger US action to deter Iran following these recent incidents.
However, the UAE dismissed these reports as “mischaracterisations” of the dialogues between the two nations.
Kristian Ulrichsen, Fellow for the Middle East at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, suggested that the UAE’s action was indicative of Abu Dhabi’s dissatisfaction with Washington. He told Al Jazeera that the move echoed frustrations in Abu Dhabi over the perceived reluctance of the US to actively safeguard its partners and reestablish credible deterrence in the Gulf.
Andreas Krieg, an associate professor at the Defence Studies Department of King’s College London, said the UAE-US relations were experiencing “a bit of a rough patch,” with Abu Dhabi perceiving the US as consistently failing to fulfil its role as a regional security guarantor. Krieg suggested that this perception had prompted regional players to diversify their security partnerships and independently address security gaps wherever possible.
Krieg elaborated that the UAE was utilising the tanker incidents symbolically to highlight the perceived failure of the US security partnership, demonstrating to the US their sovereignty in choosing their alliances.
“The UAE is also resisting US demands to sever relations with Russia and China … they need to diversify their partnerships from the US, including with Russia and China, to serve its security interests,” he added.
“The UAE is signalling to Washington in the context of the maritime partnership that the US requires Emirati support as well and that the UAE have leverage in this bilateral relationship too,” Krieg explained.
Image Credit: Saj Shafique on Unsplash
A young female activist named Manahel al-Otaibi has been arrested and currently languishes in jail due to her social media activities that endorsed recent social reforms and appealed for more substantial rights within Saudi Arabia.
Manahel al-Otaibi, a 29-year-old certified fitness instructor and artist, known for her regular posts advocating female empowerment on her social media accounts, was apprehended in November 2022. Saudi authorities have accused Otaibi, among other charges, of using a hashtag that translates to #societyisready to campaign for the abolishment of male guardianship rules.
Yet to be convicted or sentenced, Otaibi remains in detention. Previous similar cases indicate that public demands for basic women’s rights, encompassing inheritance rights and the ability to end an abusive marriage, have been construed as seditious.
This instance is the latest of several where Saudis have been arrested and incarcerated for utilising social media to encourage reform or question Saudi authorities. Salma al-Shehab, another Saudi woman and former PhD student at Leeds University, received a sentence exceeding three decades from a terrorism court for her Twitter activity, which included following and retweeting dissidents and activists.
Otaibi’s social media profiles depict her as a modern, progressive woman passionate about fitness, art, yoga, travel, and women’s rights advocacy.
Despite its effort to project an image of a country liberalising strict regulations concerning women, including dress codes and work opportunities outside home, the government continues to crack down on women who seek fundamental reforms.
Lina al-Hathloul, a Saudi activist and ALQST’s Head of Monitoring and Advocacy, opined, “Al-Otaibi’s cases exemplify the hollow promises of Saudi Arabia when it comes to reforms. Saudi women still end up in prison and face bogus trials merely for demanding their rights, or believing they are now free to dress as they please.”
Court documents reveal that Otaibi’s use of social media, reported to authorities by religious police, and accusations of indecent attire led to her arrest. Fouz al-Otaibi, her sister, escaped the same charges and fled Saudi Arabia before her arrest. Another sister, Maryam, a renowned women’s rights advocate, was detained, held, and ultimately released in 2017 for protesting guardianship rules.
Khalid Aljabri, a Saudi specialist and regular commentator on US-Saudi relations, observed, “Manahel’s case is an example of the hypocrisy and selective application of severe laws by the Saudi government, which invites foreign Instagram models to promote tourism by posting swimsuit pictures but jails Saudi women for posting photos without Abayas.”
The Saudi crown prince’s government has targeted Twitter users in its wide-ranging domestic and international suppression campaign, which included infiltrating the company to extract confidential user data about anonymous Twitter accounts considered threatening to the royal family.
Meanwhile, the prince indirectly owns a significant stake in Twitter through the kingdom’s Public Investment Fund (PIF).
Saudi’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, one of the world’s wealthiest investors, holds the second-largest investment in Twitter after Elon Musk, and a £200 million stake in Snapchat.
Snapchat promotes itself as a platform where users in Saudi Arabia can “live in the moment and be themselves”, indicating a discrepancy between the platform’s philosophy and the country’s harsh reality.
Image Credit: Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash
Christian parliamentary blocs in Lebanon announced on Tuesday that they have agreed upon a presidential candidate. The nation has been devoid of a president since last October, following the exit of Michel Aoun from the office. Polarisation within the parliament has caused a protracted stalemate, preventing consensus on a successor.
“An accord around a contender between the FPM and the opposition is in place,” stated Gebran Bassil, Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) leader, during a Tuesday interview with Kuwaiti press. The opposition encompasses the Lebanese Forces, the Kataeb party, and a group of independent MPs identified for their resistance to Hezbollah.
While Bassil did not disclose the candidate’s identity, rumours suggest that Jihad Azour, an ex-Finance Minister and current Director of the Middle East and Central Asia Department at the International Monetary Fund, has risen to the fore.
The FPM, known for its historical alliance with Hezbollah, has traditionally rivalled the Lebanese Forces. Recent moves, however, indicate a growing distance from the Iran-backed party and its associate, the Amal Movement, which backs a different presidential nominee, Sleiman Frangieh.
Frangieh’s Marada Party is reportedly a close ally of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad. Bassil commented that, while communication with Hezbollah continues, there is no immediate meeting planned. In Lebanon’s sectarian political landscape, such negotiations are crucial for presidential elections, with intricate bargaining between allies and rivals dictating candidate selection.
Significant progress appeared uncertain after Bassil dismissed the prior opposition candidate, Michel Moawad, with no clear consensus on an appropriate nominee. This recent announcement marks an essential milestone, hinting at potential cooperation between the rival parties.
Nonetheless, the schedule for the subsequent parliamentary session to elect a president remains undetermined. Parliament Speaker and Amal leader Nabih Berri has opted against convening a session, citing a likely continuation of the futile election attempts – a pattern seen 12 times in a row.
Lebanon’s most substantial Christian parliamentary parties appear to have united behind Jihad Azour as a potential candidate to end the eight-month impasse on choosing a new president. With a June 15 deadline set by Speaker Nabih Berri for parliament to select the next president, Azour is considered a capable candidate to usher in Lebanon’s much-needed economic stability.
However, as Azour’s name emerged as a potential candidate, the Hezbollah, Amal, and their political coalition, the “Loyal to the Resistance” bloc, who prefer Sleiman Frangieh of the Marada Movement as president, have promptly denounced the proposition.
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This week, Jordan buzzes with anticipation for the royal wedding of Crown Prince Hussein, a Sandhurst-educated 28-year-old, and Rajwa Alseif, a 29-year-old US-educated architect. The impending nuptials at Zahran Palace – the historical venue for the weddings of King Abdullah II and the late King Hussein – hold immense significance for the Kingdom.
Prince Hussein’s wedding to Alseif is slated for Thursday and expected to uphold grand traditions of past ceremonies. Notably, this includes a royal motorcade of red Land Rovers that will escort the newlyweds through the heart of Amman, the capital city, post-ceremony.
High-profile attendees from around the globe are expected, with US First Lady Jill Biden and the King and Queen of the Netherlands already confirmed to be in attendance. Other aspects of the wedding, such as the comprehensive guest list and the details of the bride’s dress, remain under wraps, fuelling widespread anticipation.
The festivities began last week with a henna party in honour of Alseif, hosted by Queen Rania of Jordan and attended by hundreds of women. Moreover, thousands of Jordanians enjoyed a free concert featuring acclaimed Arab singers, including Egypt’s Tamer Hosny, adding to the nationwide jubilation.
Rajwa Alseif, the soon-to-be princess, hails from Saudi Arabia and holds an architecture degree from Syracuse University. Having lived and worked in Los Angeles, she is also the daughter of a founder of one of Saudi Arabia’s largest engineering firms, and her mother is a relative of King Salman of Saudi Arabia.
The groom, Crown Prince Hussein, has been the designated heir to the throne since 2009. A Georgetown University graduate with an international history degree, he later graduated from the British Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst. As a captain in the Jordanian military, Prince Hussein boasts a following of over four million on Instagram.
Details about their relationship and initial meeting are yet to be revealed by palace officials, though their engagement was formally celebrated in a traditional Muslim ceremony in Riyadh in August 2022.
The royal wedding, amidst persistent economic difficulties, is viewed as a morale booster and a means of strengthening public support. As a prospective power couple in the Middle East, the union of Alseif and Hussein is expected to solidify ties between Jordan and Saudi Arabia, further establishing the latter as a regional power broker.
The impending wedding has triggered a wave of enthusiasm in Jordan, not seen since King Abdullah’s marriage to Queen Rania in 1993. This royal event offers a fresh chapter in the country’s history, amid the public rift between the King and his half-brother.
Born to a Palestinian family in Kuwait, Queen Rania previously worked in marketing before marrying Abdullah, who ascended the throne in 1999 following his father’s death. This historical context amplifies the significance of the upcoming royal wedding, as Jordan and its monarchy brace for a new era.
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In a move that may signal the end of decades-long tensions, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has granted his approval for the complete restoration of diplomatic ties with Egypt. This move is a possible sign of warming relations between the two prominent regional forces.
Khamenei’s endorsement came during a meeting with the visiting Omani Sultan, Haitham bin Tariq, who is believed to be playing a mediating role between Tehran and Cairo.
Earlier this month, Sultan Haitham visited Egypt where he engaged in discussions with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi on issues including the normalisation of relations between Iran and Egypt. His visits to Iran and Egypt are his first since his ascension to the throne of the Gulf Arab nation in 2020.
Khamenei’s endorsement of restored ties has significant implications as the Supreme Leader holds final say on major foreign policy matters in Iran. This lends further gravity to his commentary on relations with Egypt.
Oman has traditionally acted as a mediator in regional disputes and conflicts, between Arab and western nations and boasts close ties with Iran.
Official sources from Egypt reveal that Cairo and Tehran are anticipated to exchange ambassadors before 2023 concludes, and a meeting between President El Sisi and his Iranian counterpart, Ebrahim Raisi, is on the cards for later this year.
During March and April, clandestine discussions were held in Baghdad by mid-level diplomats and intelligence officials from both Iran and Egypt focusing on normalisation of relations. Senior officials from the two nations are expected to reconvene next month in the Iraqi capital.
Further dialogues are projected to take place in Oman at a future date.
Historically, relations between Egypt and Iran soured after Egypt offered refuge to the deposed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi following the 1979 Islamic revolution. However, there was a brief period of improved relations following the removal of Hosni Mubarak and the election of Mohammed Morsi in 2012.
Relations deteriorated after the rise to power of Mr Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in 2014 and due to Egyptian concerns over Iran’s involvement in the affairs of Arab nations like Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen.
Egyptian officials believe that normalised relations with Iran will help secure Tehran’s support in its effort to enhance economic and commercial ties with countries under significant Iranian influence, such as Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. They also hope to persuade Iran to cease its support for Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the two main Palestinian militant groups in the Gaza Strip, which Egypt borders.
This proposed diplomatic thaw between Cairo and Tehran would add another layer to the ongoing regional realignment. Saudi Arabia has agreed to restore diplomatic ties with Iran, severed since 2016, and Egypt and Turkey are working to normalise relations after a decade of disputes.
Recently, President El Sisi offered congratulations to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan upon his re-election, signaling a possible easing of tensions between Cairo and Ankara.
The situation in Yemen, where Iran has backed the Houthis against the internationally recognised government supported by a Saudi-led military coalition, has quietened significantly amid diplomatic efforts to end the conflict.
The recent readmission of Syria to the Arab League after a suspension of over a decade following anti-government protests, and the attendance of Bashar Al Assad at the Arab League summit in Jeddah – his first in 12 years – has been heartily welcomed by Iran.
In the realm of global politics, it is not uncommon for the spouses of world leaders to play significant roles. Turkey’s First Lady, Emine Erdogan has had an interesting role as Turkey’s First Lady.
Emine Erdogan was born on February 21, 1955, in Istanbul, Turkey. She hails from a conservative background and was raised in the Kasımpaşa neighbourhood. Her upbringing instilled in her a strong sense of traditional values and community.
She pursued her education at Mithatpasa Primary School and Istanbul Vocational School. Despite being a private person, Emine Erdogan’s devotion to learning and continuous personal growth have been recognized throughout her life.
As Turkey’s First Lady, Emine Erdogan has taken an active role in various philanthropic endeavors, focusing particularly on women’s rights, education, and social welfare. She has initiated and supported numerous projects to empower women, promote education, and improve healthcare across Turkey.
One of her most notable initiatives is the “Zero Waste” campaign, which emphasizes environmental awareness and sustainable practices. Her advocacy for green initiatives has garnered widespread acclaim, both within Turkey and on the international stage.
Emine Erdogan is a prominent advocate for women’s rights and has been instrumental in raising awareness about domestic violence and gender inequality. She has actively supported programs and organizations that address these issues, striving to create a more equitable society for women in Turkey.
Her commitment to social causes has extended beyond women’s rights. She has actively participated in initiatives targeting poverty alleviation, healthcare access, and the well-being of disadvantaged communities. Emine Erdogan’s efforts to improve social conditions highlight her dedication to making a positive impact on Turkish society.
As the wife of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Emine Erdogan wields significant influence. While she is known for maintaining a relatively low public profile, she has been regarded as a trusted advisor and confidante to her husband. Her perspectives and insights are valued within political circles, and her support is often sought after for key government initiatives.
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Turkish citizens are participating in a pivotal presidential run-off today to determine the fate of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s prolonged 20-year rule. The outcome of this election will determine whether Erdogan remains in power or steps down.
Kemal Kilicdaroglu, Erdogan’s challenger and the candidate backed by a broad opposition alliance, has positioned this vote as a decisive referendum on the future trajectory of Turkey. As the favourite to win, President Erdogan has pledged to usher in a new era of unity, aiming to rally the country around a vision of a “Turkish century.”
However, a more pressing concern that resonates with the populace is the prevailing issue of skyrocketing inflation and the resulting cost-of-living crisis. The citizens’ struggles with the economy have taken precedence in the run-up to the election.
Polling stations across the country will close at 17:00 local time (14:00 GMT). Turkish expatriates in Europe and the United States have already cast their votes, contributing to the overall electoral process.
The first round of voting witnessed an impressive turnout of 88.8%, with Erdogan enjoying a lead of 2.5 million votes. Consequently, both candidates are now focusing their attention on the eight million eligible voters who did not participate in the initial round, hoping to secure their support this time.
In the run-up to the run-off election, Kilicdaroglu accused his rival of engaging in unfair practices by blocking his text messages to voters, while allowing Erdogan’s messages to be delivered unhindered. To ensure a fair electoral process, opposition parties have mobilised a legion of volunteers to prevent any potential vote-rigging.
Following the first round, international observers remarked on the uneven playing field, but no suggestions were made that any irregularities in the voting process could have altered the result.
On his final day of campaigning, Kilicdaroglu promised a distinctly different style of presidency, stating, “I have no interest in living in palaces. I will live like you, modestly… and solve your problems.” This comment took aim at Erdogan’s extravagant presidential complex on the outskirts of Ankara, which he moved into when transitioning from the position of prime minister to president in 2014. Since surviving a failed coup in 2016, Erdogan has acquired extensive powers, detained tens of thousands of individuals, and assumed control over the media.
Symbolism was rife when Erdogan made a campaign visit to the mausoleum of a former prime minister executed by the military following a coup in 1960. He proclaimed, “The era of coups and juntas is over,” linking Turkey’s current stability to his own authoritarian rule.
Turkey, however, remains deeply divided, with Erdogan relying on the support of religious conservatives and nationalists, while Kilicdaroglu’s supporters largely consist of secularists, although many of them also identify as nationalists.
For days, both candidates exchanged insults, with Kilicdaroglu accusing the president of cowardice and evading a fair election, while Erdogan labelled his opponent as being aligned with “terrorists,” referencing Kurdish militants.
However, after a period of inflammatory rhetoric regarding the repatriation of millions of Syrian refugees, the opposition candidate redirected the narrative back to Turkey’s most pressing issue: the economic crisis, particularly its impact on low-income households.
During a campaign event, a 59-year-old woman and her grandson joined Kilicdaroglu on stage, highlighting how her monthly salary of 5,000 lira (£200; $250) had become untenable due to a sharp increase in rent, amounting to 4,000 lira (£160; $200).
While this instance may have been staged, it reflects the reality faced by many across Turkey, as inflation has surged to nearly 44%, with wages and state assistance failing to keep pace.
Economists argue that Erdogan’s policy of reducing interest rates instead of raising them has exacerbated the situation. The Turkish lira has plummeted to record lows, demand for foreign currency has surged, and the central bank’s net foreign currency reserves have entered negative territory for the first time since 2002.
In Kirikkale, located east of Ankara, gleaming high-rise buildings have emerged, creating an illusion of prosperity in a city governed by Erdogan’s party. However, a significant portion of the population is grappling with financial difficulties.
Irrespective of the victor on Sunday, Turkey’s parliament is already firmly under the control of Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted AK Party and its far-right nationalist ally, the MHP. Additionally, the AKP boasts the youngest member of parliament, who assumed office on the eve of the presidential vote.
This grandiose Erdogan endeavor focuses on Turkey’s economy, which is likely to pose a more immediate challenge for whichever candidate emerges victorious in the run-off.
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Lebanon finds itself in the midst of a deepening economic crisis, and the legal actions against its central bank governor, Riad Salameh, are intensifying both domestically and internationally. Germany has issued a second arrest warrant against Salameh, as reported by Reuters on Thursday. The German public prosecutor verbally informed the Lebanese judiciary of the warrant, adding to the ongoing investigations into Salameh’s alleged involvement in a series of financial crimes.
According to a senior judicial source, the charges against Salameh include corruption, forgery, money laundering, and embezzlement. This development comes a week after France issued a similar arrest warrant when Salameh failed to appear at a hearing in Paris where French prosecutors planned to present fraud and money laundering charges against him.
Salameh is currently being investigated by six European countries, including France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, the United Kingdom, and Luxembourg. The investigations focus on his alleged role in the embezzlement of $330 million from the central bank between 2002 and 2015, involving money transfers to an obscure offshore company.
Last Friday, Lebanon received an Interpol red notice for Salameh, a nonbinding request for global law enforcement agencies to locate and provisionally arrest a fugitive wanted for prosecution. Lebanon’s policy prevents the extradition of its nationals, opting instead to try them in local courts.
Judicial officials have confirmed that Salameh will not be handed over to French authorities. State prosecutor Ghassan Oueidat will request his files from France to oversee the case within Lebanon. Oueidat has summoned Salameh for questioning in a hearing session scheduled for later this week.
Salameh, maintaining his innocence, is expected to file an appeal against the Interpol notice on Tuesday, as stated by his lawyer in an interview with LBCI TV channel.
Meanwhile, the French prosecution has summoned Salameh’s brother, Raja Salameh, and assistant, Marianne Hoayek, for separate hearings in Paris on May 31 and June 13, respectively.
Following the French arrest warrant, calls for Salameh’s resignation have grown, even before his term expires in July. Deputy Prime Minister Saadeh al-Shami and Caretaker Justice Minister Henry Khoury have both called for his resignation, citing the gravity of the crimes he is accused of.
Despite the mounting pressure, the government has refrained from dismissing Salameh. In a statement issued after a Cabinet meeting on Monday, it was announced that Salameh would remain in his position until the end of his term, awaiting a judicial decision.
Once regarded as a symbol of financial stability in Lebanon, Salameh is now seen as a fugitive. Many hold him responsible for the country’s economic collapse in October 2019. The local currency has suffered an over 98% devaluation, with millions of Lebanese unable to access their deposits due to informal capital controls imposed by commercial banks. This situation has led to skyrocketing prices, increased poverty rates, and a lack of progress in implementing necessary reforms to unlock international aid.
Sources have revealed to Reuters that Lebanon is likely to be added to the grey list of a global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog. The Middle East and North Africa section of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has completed its preliminary evaluation of Lebanon’s economy, scoring the country as only partially compliant in several categories. The final report is expected to be submitted during a meeting in Bahrain this week. Being grey-listed would further damage Lebanon’s financial reputation, disrupt capital flows, and impede global finance packages.
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Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi reportedly issued a decree on Monday appointing Ali Akbar Ahmadian as the new Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) of Iran. This decision comes with gratitude expressed by Raeisi towards the outgoing Secretary, Shamkhani, for his commendable 10-year service at the helm of the SNSC.
Shamkhani, who assumed the position in 2013, had previously held significant posts, including Defense Minister and Commander of Iran’s Army and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Navies.
Meanwhile, Ahmadian, the newly appointed Secretary, brings his experience as the Former Chief of the IRGC Joint Staff.
Ahmadian’s career trajectory includes his appointment as Commander of the IRGC Navy in August 1997. He reportedly ascended to the position of Chief of the IRGC Joint Staff in July 2000, before being succeeded by Brigadier General Mohammad Hejazi in September 2007. Notably, he served as the head of Imam Hoseyn University (Imam Hussein University of the Revolutionary Guards) from October 2005 until his departure in July 2007. Subsequently, in September 2007, Ahmadian assumed the role of head of the IRGC Strategic Studies Centre. Born around 1961 in Kerman, Iran, he brings a wealth of knowledge and strategic acumen to his new appointment.
Ahmadian’s past has been marred by various international sanctions. The United Nations Security Council designated him as a person linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on March 24, 2007, through resolution 1737 (2006). This designation was further reinforced by UN Security Council resolution 2231 (2015). Member states are required to freeze assets owned or controlled by Ahmadian, directly or indirectly, and ensure that these assets are not made accessible to him.
Moreover, the European Union listed Ahmadian as a person connected to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on April 21, 2007. EU member states must freeze his assets, with certain exceptions, and prevent any availability of assets to him. Additionally, member states must restrict his entry into or transit through their territories, with exceptions as defined.
Further amplifying the impact of sanctions, the United States Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) added Ahmadian to the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list on October 25, 2007. This action resulted in freezing his assets under US jurisdiction and imposing a prohibition on transactions involving US parties, in accordance with Executive Order 13382. The order specifically targets individuals involved in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their delivery systems. Foreign entities facilitating transactions for Ahmadian or providing assistance to him also face potential US sanctions. Additionally, he falls under the purview of the Iranian Financial Sanctions Regulations. Foreign financial institutions facilitating transactions for Ahmadian may be prohibited from opening or maintaining correspondent or payable-through accounts in the United States.
The governments of Australia, Japan and the United Kingdom have also imposed sanctions, restricting business and financial transactions with Ahmadian and possibly freezing his assets within their respective countries.
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French prosecutors have issued an arrest warrant for Riad Salameh, the Governor of Lebanon’s central bank, after he failed to appear for questioning on corruption charges. Salameh, 72, who vehemently denies all allegations against him, criticized the move and vowed to appeal the warrant, calling it a violation of the law.
Salameh has been the subject of multiple domestic and international investigations, accused of offenses including fraud, money laundering, and illicit enrichment. A European judicial team comprising investigators from France, Germany, and Luxembourg is conducting a corruption probe into various financial crimes, including the alleged laundering of $330 million and illicit enrichment.
During a visit to Lebanon in March, a European delegation interrogated Salameh regarding the Lebanese central bank’s overseas assets and investments, as well as a Paris apartment owned by the governor and the brokerage firm Forry Associates Ltd, belonging to his brother Raja Salameh. Forry, a company registered in the British Virgin Islands, listed Salameh’s brother as its beneficiary and is suspected of facilitating the brokering of Lebanese treasury bonds and eurobonds, with alleged commissions transferred to foreign bank accounts.
Lebanese authorities failed to deliver the official summons to Salameh, as police officers made four unsuccessful attempts to locate him at the central bank. The summons was subsequently returned to Lebanon’s judiciary, which was to notify the French authorities. Salameh’s current whereabouts remain unknown.
In Lebanon, the Beirut Public Prosecutor charged Salameh, his brother, and a close associate with corruption, including embezzlement of public funds, forgery, illicit enrichment, money laundering, and violation of tax laws. Salameh, once regarded as a guardian of Lebanon’s financial stability, is increasingly held responsible for the country’s severe economic crisis, which has pushed three-quarters of the population into poverty.
Salameh’s term as central bank governor concludes in July, and while no apparent successor has been identified, he has expressed his intention to step down. Defence lawyers representing Salameh, his brother, and his former assistant have submitted a formal request to suspend European judicial assistance, arguing that it conflicts with the ongoing Lebanese investigation. They accuse the European investigators of encroaching upon Lebanon’s sovereignty and demand the permanent suspension of the probe into the central bank’s association with Forry Associates Ltd.
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Political crisis between Morocco and Algeria reached its climax in August 2021, when Algeria suspended diplomatic ties with Morocco. The escalation has ended in reciprocal acerbities following a slew of ostensible accusations from both sides, mainly over Western Sahara case.
While the Moroccan Foreign Ministry maintains a politically correct and hostility-free discourse, Algerian regime opines that, according to President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, relations between two countries have superseded “the point of no return.” The crisis dates back to what’s renowned as the Sand War.
The Sand War was a border armed conflict between Morocco and Algeria in September 1963. It ensued from the Moroccan government’s claim to land ownership of Algeria’s Tindouf and Béchar provinces. The war was propelled by a myriad of reasons, mainly The lack of a conterminous border line between Algeria and Morocco, the discovery of abounding mineral resources in the disputed area, and the Moroccan irredentist drive galvanized by the Greater Morocco ideology of the 1960s. The war was short and suffered minor casualties from both sides. However, it marked exogeneous intervention from the Algerian side. Hundreds of Cuban and Egyptian troops were deployed to bolster the Algerian army. As for the Moroccan side, Western allies provided assistance and military equipment.
The Sand War marked the onset of a long and severely acute political contention between Morocco and Algeria. Part of this feuding is fueled by the vicissitudes in political plexus between the Islamic Moroccan monarchy and the socialist, Arab nationalist Algerian military regime.
In January 1969, Algerian President Houari Boumediene made a formal visit to Morocco and signed a treaty of friendship with the Moroccan government in the city of Ifrane. The treaty states that the two governments are to establish a joint commission to demarcate the border and determine future efforts to the utilization of natural resources in the disputed region. With signing the Accord of Ifrane, Morocco finally relinquished all claims to Algerian territory in 1972.
The war also ensconced Algeria’s stance in respect to the conflict in Western Sahara. Since the 1970s, Algeria has supported the Polisario Front, perfunctorily to ward off Moroccan expansionism in the region.
The Sand War exacerbated sheer tensions between the two countries for several decades. Along with the Western Sahara crisis, the relations between the two governments are at loggerheads.
After Morocco gained its independence from France in 1956, the Western Sahara remained under Spanish control. Occupied until 1975, Western Sahara has been on the United Nations list of non-self-governing territories since 1963 after a Moroccan demand of annexing the territory. The Sahrawi people demanded self-determination as a lawful act of decolonization.
In October 1975, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) released an advisory opinion on the subject, which resolved that there were no ties of “territorial sovereignty between the territory of Western Sahara and the Kingdom of Morocco or the Mauritanian entity” that would hinder the process of self -determination of the Sahrawi people. In the meantime, Morocco organized a march of hundreds of thousands of Moroccans into Western Sahara to affirm a “right to national unity.” In November 1975, Spain, Morocco, and Mauritania signed the “Madrid Accords,” which stated that Spain would unburden itself from any administering authority in Western Sahara. The Accords also declared that Morocco, Spain, and Mauritania, along with indigenous Sahrawi representatives, would cooperate together to establish a temporary administration, recognizing Western Sahara as self-governed entity.
A war broke out between the Sahrawi indigenous Polisario Front and Morocco from 1975 to 1991, marking the most crucial chapter of the Western Sahara conflict, with Algerian backing the Sahrawi people with political shielding and military assistance.
After six decades of recurrent political and military escalations, and ongoing media and propaganda firestorm, Morocco and Algeria stand on the edge of a precipitous breakdown. This opposition will only be mitigated by serious commitments from both sides to find peaceful and diplomatic solutions to the continuant quandary.
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Iranian authorities carried out the execution of five individuals on Monday for their involvement in “armed drug smuggling” in the southern region of the country, according to reports from the judiciary.
The convicts, described as “criminals and armed drug smugglers,” had been sentenced to death by hanging, a verdict upheld by Iran’s highest court, stated Mojtaba Ghahramani, the Chief Justice of Hormozgan province. The executions took place in Bandar Abbas and Minab prisons in Hormozgan, as confirmed by Ghahramani.
These recent hangings bring the total number of individuals executed for drug smuggling to eight in less than a week.
Last Wednesday, the judiciary executed three individuals convicted of being members of a drug cartel, prompting concerns from the United Nations about the alarmingly high number of executions in the country.
Human rights groups, including Amnesty International, have reported that Iran carries out more executions per year than any other nation except China.
On Monday, Iran also executed two people who were convicted of desecrating the Quran and insulting the Prophet Mohammad, a rare conviction that drew condemnation from the United States and sparked outrage among human rights organizations.
UN rights chief Volker Turk expressed deep concern about Iran’s “abominable” track record this year, highlighting an average of more than 10 executions per week.
More than 210 individuals have already been executed in Iran this year, with the majority of cases related to drug-related offenses. However, a statement from the United Nations suggests that the actual number is likely much higher.
A joint report by Iran Human Rights (IHR) based in Norway and Together Against the Death Penalty (ECPM) based in Paris revealed that the country witnessed a 75 percent increase in executions in 2022 compared to the previous year. In 2021, at least 582 people were executed in Iran, marking the highest number of executions since 2015 and significantly surpassing the 333 recorded in 2021, as stated by the two rights groups.
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Rached Ghannouchi, the leader of Tunisia’s opposition party Ennahda, has been sentenced to one year in prison by a Tunisian judge on Monday. Ghannouchi, the former house speaker, has been in pre-trial detention for over a month and was absent during the sentencing.
According to his party, the judge at the Tunis Court of First Instance handed down a one-year prison term and a fine of 1,000 Tunisian dinars ($326) for the “glorification of terrorism.” Ennahda expressed disappointment that the judge issued the verdict without hearing the defense presented by Ghannouchi’s lawyer.
The case revolves around a eulogy delivered by Ghannouchi at the funeral of an Ennahda party member in February 2021. In his speech, Ghannouchi referred to the deceased as someone who had fought for freedom, unafraid of poverty, rulers, or dictators. Ennahda has consistently denied the allegations against Ghannouchi and argued that the term “tyrant” was taken out of context, highlighting the late person’s peaceful struggle against the dictatorships of former presidents Bourguiba and Ben Ali.
In recent weeks, Tunisia has witnessed the arrest of numerous opposition figures, including members of the National Salvation Front and Ennahda, its main constituent. These arrests and prosecutions, which also targeted businessmen and journalists, have raised concerns from the United States, the European Parliament, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch.
Tunisian President Kais Saied, who suspended Parliament in July 2021 and unilaterally enacted significant changes to the country’s political system, has repeatedly labeled those detained as terrorists. He has accused them, without providing evidence, of conspiring against Tunisia’s national security. Critics have accused Saied of interfering in the judiciary’s independence and utilizing his authority to influence investigations.
Ghannouchi, a prominent Tunisian opposition leader, has been sentenced in absentia to one year in prison, according to his lawyer Monia Bouali. He was found guilty on charges of incitement on Monday. Ghannouchi, who held the position of speaker of the Tunisian parliament before its suspension, was arrested in late April on suspicion of plotting against state security.
Earlier this month, Ghannouchi refused to appear before the judiciary, dismissing the trials as politically motivated fabrications. Since the suspension of parliament, Saied has conducted a sweeping crackdown on the country’s opposition. Many opposition figures, including numerous members of Ghannouchi’s Ennahda Party, which was previously the largest in parliament, have been detained in recent months.
Saied, a former law professor who won the presidential election in 2019 amid public anger towards the political establishment, has granted himself extensive powers to govern and legislate by decree. He has also asserted control over the judiciary, which opponents view as a setback for democracy in the birthplace of the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings.
Critics argue that Saied’s actions have undermined Tunisia’s democratic achievements and pushed the country, which is also grappling with a severe economic crisis, toward a dangerous path of autocracy. Ghannouchi, who returned to Tunisia from exile to a warm reception in January 2011 following the departure of longtime leader President Ben Ali, played a pivotal role in the country’s political landscape. Ennahda emerged as the largest party in Tunisia’s first parliamentary elections after Ben Ali’s removal in October 2011, securing 37 percent of the vote.
It was only in 2019 that Ghannouchi assumed a leadership position within the government as the parliament speaker.
Image Credit: AP Photo/Hassene Dridi, File
In a decisive move aimed at propelling its reform agenda forward, Egypt has effectively divested a 9.5% stake in the state-run telecommunications company, Telecom Egypt, raking in an impressive sum of 3.7 billion Egyptian pounds (equivalent to approximately $121 million). The transaction, which occurred on Sunday, was executed via the Egyptian Stock Exchange, with each share priced at 23.11 Egyptian pounds, as confirmed in a filing submitted by the company.
Moreover, the government has concurrently revealed its intention to extend an additional 0.5% stake in Telecom Egypt to the company’s employees, as specified in a separate filing on Sunday. This move forms part of the government’s broader strategy to foster employee participation and align the workforce’s interests with the company’s growth trajectory.
This groundbreaking deal, which has been under discussion since March, serves as a momentous initial step in Cairo’s comprehensive program designed to ameliorate the nation’s faltering economy through the divestment of state-owned assets. By strategically reducing its stake in various entities, the government aims to attract private investment, boost market confidence, and drive economic growth.
As part of the overarching economic reform agenda, the government has announced plans to partially sell its shareholdings in 32 companies, either through initial public offerings or private placements. Notably, these state-linked enterprises encompass a range of entities operated by the Egyptian military, although the precise number remains undisclosed. Presently, only Wattaneya and Safi have been publicly identified as entities falling within this framework.
The Egyptian economy has endured severe setbacks due to the impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the protracted conflict in Ukraine. As a result, the national currency has suffered significant depreciation, losing over 50% of its value following three successive rounds of devaluation since March of the previous year. Against this backdrop, the divestment of the stake in Telecom Egypt not only bolsters Egypt’s reform initiatives but also underscores the government’s resolute commitment to resuscitating the nation’s economy during these turbulent times.
Looking ahead, with further divestment plans in the pipeline, Cairo seeks to attract substantial investment, stimulate economic growth, and secure a prosperous future for the Egyptian populace. This deliberate approach towards economic restructuring demonstrates the government’s unwavering determination to navigate challenges effectively and forge a path towards sustained progress and prosperity.
Over 12 hours have passed since the polls closed in Turkey, yet the outcome of the presidential election remains deeply uncertain, with over 90% of the vote counted.
Preliminary results indicate that neither President Recep Tayyip Erdogan nor his main rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu have secured the majority of votes required for a decisive victory. Although final results are yet to be released, it appears likely that a run-off vote will be necessary.
Erdogan, who has held power since 2002, is currently leading with 49.49% of the vote. Addressing his supporters from the AK Party, he expressed his belief that he can still achieve an outright win. Meanwhile, Kilicdaroglu, who has garnered 44.79% of the vote so far, has vowed to emerge victorious in the second round.
However, it is anticipated that Erdogan’s AK Party alliance will form a majority in parliament. This election is proving to be Turkey’s most tightly contested in recent years, taking place amidst the country’s struggles with high inflation and ongoing recovery efforts following devastating earthquakes earlier this year.
The Turkish election seems to be heading towards a run-off, as both main candidates are poised to fall short of the 50% threshold required to avoid a second round. With nearly 97% of ballot boxes counted, Recep Tayyip Erdogan leads with 49.39% of the votes, while Kemal Kilicdaroglu holds 44.92%, according to the state-owned news agency Anadolu.
Turkey’s High Election Board reported that Mr. Erdogan received 49.49% of the votes with 91.93% of ballot boxes counted.
Speaking to his supporters in Ankara, Erdogan expressed his confidence in winning but assured that he would respect the nation’s decision if the race necessitates a run-off on 28 May. He stated, “If our nation has chosen a second round for the election, then we welcome that decision. We believe that we will secure over 50% of the vote in this round. I would like to emphasize once again that the fact the election results are not yet finalized does not change the clear preference of our nation in our favor. We strongly believe that we will continue to serve our nation for the next five years.”
His rival, Kilicdaroglu, expressed gratitude to the voters, particularly highlighting the high turnout among young people and women. He stated, “Despite all his slander and insults, Erdogan did not achieve the result he anticipated. No one should consider it a done deal. Elections are not won from balconies. The data is still being compiled. If our nation says ‘a second round,’ we welcome that decision. Our people should be certain that we will absolutely, absolutely emerge victorious and bring democracy to this country.”
At 69 years old, Erdogan, who has been in power for 20 years, is seeking a third consecutive term as president. However, Kilicdaroglu has presented him with his toughest challenge to date.
Opinion polls conducted before the election had given Kilicdaroglu, who leads a six-party alliance, a slight advantage. Two surveys on Friday even placed him above the 50% threshold. However, most polls suggested a narrow margin.
In addition to the presidential race, Turkey’s voters have also been selecting representatives for the 600-seat parliamentary assembly.
Image Credit: AP News
In a significant development, Syria has announced the extension of humanitarian aid access to rebel-held areas affected by the recent earthquake. According to Syria’s UN ambassador, Bassam Sabbagh, the permission for the United Nations to use the Bab Alsalama and Al Ra’i border crossings has been extended for an additional three months until August 13. This decision follows the initial approval granted by Syrian President Bashar Al Assad on February 13, shortly after the earthquake struck both Turkey and Syria, claiming the lives of over 50,000 individuals. The agreement allowing the UN to utilize these crossings was set to expire on Saturday but has been extended in response to a request from the UN.
The original decision to open the Bab Al Salama and Al Ra’i crossings in February was influenced by diplomatic efforts from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This move enabled aid to be delivered to opposition-held areas in the north-west of Syria. Since 2014, the UN has already been granted access to the Bab Al Hawa border crossing by a Security Council mandate, facilitating the delivery of aid to millions of people in the north-west.
The addition of these two crossings has been viewed by aid agencies as a significant step in increasing the scale of humanitarian deliveries. The powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake caused extensive damage and loss of life, particularly impacting individuals sheltered indoors at the time of the tremor. Distressing images of collapsed structures and devastated buildings highlighted the magnitude of the disaster.
The aftermath of the earthquake has underscored the crucial importance of maintaining humanitarian access to Syria’s north-west, where millions of people heavily rely on aid provided through these border crossings amidst the ongoing civil war. Amnesty International has stated that regardless of the extension, the provision of aid through these crossings remains legal under international law. The organization emphasized that the UN’s cross-border relief operations play a critical role in preventing further suffering among the civilian population in north-west Syria.
The response to the earthquake has also highlighted the necessity of continued international cooperation in the face of such disasters. Countries like the UAE, the Netherlands, and Romania have actively provided aid and support, emphasizing the importance of solidarity and collaboration. As the region continues to grapple with the aftermath of the earthquake, the extended access to border crossings for aid distribution will be instrumental in the ongoing recovery process.
A ceasefire agreement has been reached to bring an end to the intense fighting between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) militants in Gaza that has persisted for five days. However, the truce got off to a shaky start, with both sides continuing to fire at each other for two hours after the ceasefire was supposed to commence on Saturday evening. The death toll in Gaza has risen to at least 33 Palestinians since Tuesday, while Palestinian rocket fire into Israel has claimed the lives of one Israeli and one Palestinian.
Efforts to mediate the conflict were led by Egypt, which urged both sides to adhere to the ceasefire agreement. The United States welcomed the announcement of the ceasefire and revealed that US officials had collaborated with regional partners to facilitate the resolution. However, just before the truce was set to take effect at 10:00 PM local time on Saturday, Palestinian rockets were launched towards Israel, triggering renewed airstrikes. The majority of these rockets were intercepted by Israeli air defenses.
Egypt, a longstanding mediator in Gaza, managed to secure the agreement of both Israel and the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad to its latest ceasefire proposal. Israel’s National Security adviser expressed gratitude towards Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for his efforts in bringing about the ceasefire. The Israeli government clarified that their acceptance of the ceasefire signifies that quiet will be met with quiet, but they will continue to defend themselves if attacked or threatened.
Islamic Jihad confirmed their agreement to the ceasefire and expressed gratitude towards Egypt for its mediation efforts. The recent round of violence began after Israeli airstrikes targeted Gaza, resulting in the deaths of three Islamic Jihad leaders and numerous civilians. In retaliation, Islamic Jihad fired barrages of rockets into southern and central Israel. The Israeli military reported that a total of 1,234 rockets and mortars were fired from Gaza, with most either intercepted or landing in open areas. However, some rockets have struck homes and other buildings, resulting in casualties on both sides.
Throughout the conflict, there have been mounting calls for a ceasefire, including from the United States. The US Deputy Secretary of State emphasized the urgency of reaching a ceasefire agreement to prevent further loss of civilian life. Egypt continued its mediation efforts despite setbacks, aiming to broker a cessation of hostilities. The recent exchange of fire also followed an Israeli army raid in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus, where two men were killed.
The current escalation in violence has resulted in significant loss of life and destruction in Gaza, as well as casualties in Israel. The ceasefire agreement brings hope for a temporary respite in the ongoing conflict, allowing civilians in the region to recover and rebuild.
Image Credit: AP Photo/Fatima Shbair
In a momentous event for the Turkish nation, voting for the highly contested presidential election began on Sunday morning. Surveys indicate that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is trailing behind his opposition counterpart, Kemal Kilicdaroglu. Should these polls prove accurate, Turkey may witness a transfer of power after over two decades of Erdogan’s rule.
At 8 am local time, polling stations opened their doors to voters and will remain accessible until 5 pm. Following the closure of voting, results are expected to pour in from across the country, with the first updates anticipated after 9 pm.
To secure victory in the first round, a presidential candidate must attain more than 50 percent of the votes, thereby avoiding a run-off election scheduled for May 28. Several restrictions have been implemented, including a prohibition on the sale of alcohol until midnight.
Media outlets are subjected to a ban on reporting any news, commentary, or predictions concerning the election until 6 pm.
State media has reported the distribution of over 191,000 ballot boxes across Turkey, catering to approximately 61 million eligible voters. Moreover, additional polling stations have been set up to accommodate tens of thousands of individuals displaced by the earthquake in February, allowing them to exercise their voting rights.
In addition to the presidential race, voters will also be electing deputies for Turkey’s 600-seat parliament.
The two presidential candidates made their final pleas for votes on Saturday, addressing supporters in Istanbul and Ankara. Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the People’s Republican Party (CHP), delivered a speech in Ankara and visited the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the party’s founder and the architect of modern Turkey. Speaking fervently amidst the rain, Kilicdaroglu emphasized Ataturk’s openness to innovation and urged supporters to focus on building the new rather than combating the old.
Meanwhile, President Erdogan, the leader of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), embarked on a tour of three Istanbul districts on the eve of the election. His visit to Kasimpasa, his hometown, showcased the steadfast support he enjoys from residents despite the challenging economic circumstances gripping the nation. Speaking at the Hagia Sophia mosque, Erdogan expressed confidence in emerging stronger from the ballot box.
Refuting accusations of refusing to step down in the event of defeat, Erdogan stated in an interview aired by numerous Turkish broadcasters on Friday, “If our nation decides to make such a different decision, we will do exactly what’s required by democracy.”
The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which garners approximately 10 percent of votes and has endorsed Kilicdaroglu, held its final rally in the Istanbul district of Yenekepi. As Kurdish rap reverberated through the loudspeakers, officials took to the stage, proclaiming the famous Kurdish slogan, “Jin, Jiyan, Azadi” or “Woman, Life, Freedom.” This slogan has recently gained prominence during Iran’s anti-government protests. The withdrawal of presidential candidate Muharrem Ince on Thursday is expected to bolster Kilicdaroglu’s chances.
Historically, voter turnout in Turkey has been robust, with more than 81 percent of eligible voters participating in the 2018 election. Additionally, millions of first-time voters are poised to exercise their democratic rights.
The Turkish diaspora has already set records for participation, with over three million votes cast. Notably, Turks will be electing both a president and a parliament for a five-year term. In the presidential race, a candidate must secure more than 50 percent of the cast ballots to claim victory in the first round.
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Sumeyye Erdogan Bayraktar, the daughter of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is a dynamic figure who has emerged as a powerful influence within the country’s political and social spheres. Her multifaceted role within the Erdogan family, her engagement in the political landscape, and her philanthropic work have all contributed to her public profile. This article seeks to shed light on Sumeyye Erdogan Bayraktar’s life, career, and her influence in contemporary Turkish society.
Born as the youngest of President Erdogan’s four children, Sumeyye has always been a prominent figure within her influential family. Educated in the United States and the United Kingdom, she holds a Master’s degree in Sociology and Politics from the London School of Economics. This international exposure has undoubtedly broadened her perspectives and enriched her understanding of global affairs, qualities that are reflected in her subsequent career.
Following her academic endeavours, Sumeyye returned to Turkey and took up a role within the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which her father co-founded and has led for many years. As part of her role in the AKP, she provided strategic input and contributed to policy-making, demonstrating her political acumen and deep understanding of Turkish politics.
In 2015, Sumeyye married Selçuk Bayraktar, the chief technology officer of Baykar, a leading Turkish defence and tech company. The couple’s union marked a significant alliance between two of Turkey’s most powerful families and further elevated Sumeyye’s profile within the country.
Beyond politics, Sumeyye Erdogan Bayraktar has made a significant impact through her philanthropic work. She is the Vice President of the Turkey Youth and Education Service Foundation (TÜRGEV), a non-profit organisation dedicated to providing scholarships and housing for students. Her involvement in TÜRGEV has been instrumental in aiding the organisation’s efforts to support education and nurture the next generation of Turkish leaders.
However, her influence does not stop at the borders of her homeland. Sumeyye’s reach extends to the international stage, where she has consistently represented Turkey at various global forums, promoting dialogue and fostering relationships with international counterparts.
Image Credit: AA Photo
Delving into the world of North African cuisine, one quickly encounters a symphony of flavours, colours, and aromas, central to which is the Tunisian spice blend. Often referred to as Tabil, this aromatic blend forms the backbone of countless traditional Tunisian dishes, bestowing them with a warmth and depth of flavour that is both unique and tantalising.
Tunisian spice blend, or Tabil, is a testament to Tunisia’s rich culinary heritage, its composition reflecting the country’s history as a crossroads of various cultures, traditions, and trade routes. Here, we’ll explore the key ingredients of this enchanting spice blend, and their roles in creating its signature flavour profile.
Coriander Seeds: A cornerstone of the Tunisian spice blend, coriander seeds are renowned for their warm, slightly citrusy flavour that imparts a delightful hint of sweetness. Coriander seeds are often lightly toasted before being ground, which serves to enhance their natural aroma and intensify their flavour.
Garlic: Tunisian cuisine is characterised by its generous use of garlic, and Tabil is no exception. The pungent, spicy tones of garlic add an unmistakable depth and complexity to the spice blend, providing a robust counterpoint to the milder ingredients.
Caraway Seeds: This powerful spice brings an earthy, slightly sweet taste with a hint of citrus, subtly infusing the blend with its characteristic aroma. Caraway seeds are also believed to offer a range of health benefits, including aiding digestion and reducing inflammation.
Cayenne Pepper: For an authentic Tabil, a touch of heat is essential. This is usually provided by cayenne pepper, which contributes a fiery kick that elevates the other flavours without overwhelming them. Depending on personal taste, the amount of cayenne pepper can be adjusted to control the level of heat in the blend.
Turmeric: This golden-hued spice is known for its warm, peppery flavour and numerous health benefits. Turmeric imparts a vibrant colour to the Tunisian spice blend, while its mildly bitter undertones help to balance the sweeter elements.
Creating a Tunisian spice blend involves a delicate balancing act, adjusting quantities of each ingredient until the perfect harmony of flavours is achieved. While the ingredients listed above form the core of traditional Tabil, variations may include other spices such as cumin, fennel seeds, or dried mint, offering endless opportunities for personalisation and experimentation.
If you can’t find Tunisian spice blend in your local market, try making it at home. Begin by taking two tablespoons of coriander seeds and one tablespoon of caraway seeds. Toast these spices lightly in a dry pan over medium heat until they become fragrant. Then, allow them to cool. Once cooled, transfer these toasted seeds into a spice grinder, along with two teaspoons each of dried garlic powder and turmeric, and one teaspoon of cayenne pepper (adjust this quantity to suit your heat preference).
Grind all the ingredients together until they form a fine powder. This homemade Tabil can be stored in an airtight jar, and kept in a cool, dark place for up to six months, ready to add a burst of Tunisian flavour to your dishes at a moment’s notice. Remember, this is just a basic version, and the beauty of making your own spice blend is the ability to tweak and adjust the ingredients to suit your personal taste. Whether you prefer it spicier, sweeter, or milder, the choice is entirely yours.
To experience the full potential of this exotic spice blend, incorporate it into traditional Tunisian recipes, such as couscous, stews, or grilled meats. A spoonful of Tabil can transform a simple dish into a culinary masterpiece, adding a dash of North African magic to your cooking.
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The United Arab Emirates’ aviation sector is now boasting a workforce composed of 42 percent women, equating to nearly 27,000 employees, according to a report by the Emirates News Agency on Wednesday. Mervat Sultan, the president of the Middle East Chapter of Women in Aviation, addressed the Women in Aviation 10th Anniversary Conference, highlighting the increasing female representation within the industry due to active engagement with women interested in pursuing aviation careers.
In her speech, Sultan asserted the importance of nurturing a generation for nation-building, emphasizing the critical role of women’s empowerment, education, and training in achieving societal betterment. She stressed the need to inform parents and children about the plethora of employment opportunities in the aviation sector.
Contrary to traditional notions, women’s roles in aviation are not confined to being pilots, with many women serving as engineers, air traffic controllers, medical, technical, and legal staff, she added.
In conjunction with the Women in Aviation 10th Anniversary Conference, the 22nd edition of the Airport Show opened for a three-day exhibition in Dubai. The focus was on the brighter prospects for complete recovery, growth of passenger demand, and emphasis on future mobility, sustainable infrastructure, and innovation.
First Lieutenant Pilot, Dubai Police Airwing, Sheikha Mozah Bint Marwan Al Maktoum, addressed the considerable gender gap in the aviation field, asserting the need for an effective strategy to tackle this disparity. She shared her initiative, Shehana, a Women in Aviation Association, aimed at empowering women in the aviation industry through local, regional, and international partnerships and collaborations. She reiterated the respect and inclusion women receive in the UAE, urging for greater collaboration from sponsors, government, and organisations supporting women in aviation.
Kuljit S Ghata-Aura, President, Boeing Middle East Türkiye and Africa, praised the UAE’s strides in empowering women in the aviation industry. He pointed out Boeing’s commitment to supporting gender equality in the workplace, referencing a pledge signed by the company in December 2022 along with 15 other UAE private sector companies to increase women’s representation in leadership roles to 30% by 2025. This move aligns with the UAE’s gender balance agenda and has already resulted in an increase in women’s representation in the global Boeing workforce to 24.6%.
Several key stakeholders and leaders were honoured at the event, including Suzanne Al Anani, Chief Executive Officer, Dubai Aviation Engineering Projects, who received the Innovative Leader Award in Women in Aviation. Awards were also presented to other notable companies and individuals in recognition of their contributions to the industry and their support for women in aviation.
Back in February, Oman Air announced that Maha Al Balushi has become the first female Omani Captain in the airline’s history.
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An Egyptian documentary network has pledged to create its own documentary on the life of Queen Cleopatra in response to an upcoming Netflix film that has sparked controversy across the nation. Cairo-based channel Al Wathaeqya announced their intention to collaborate with the documentary production division of Egypt’s United Media Services, an initiative dedicated to providing an accurate portrayal and promotion of Egyptian culture and history.
In a statement to the Egypt Independent, the filmmakers unveiled their plans to present the true story of Queen Cleopatra VII, the daughter of Ptolemy XII and the last ruler of the Ptolemaic dynasty that governed Egypt following the death of Alexander the Great.
The statement elaborated, “In keeping with the usual approach of the Documentary Production Sector and Wathaeqya Channel, work sessions are currently being held with a range of experts in history, archaeology, and anthropology.” Al Wathaeqya is committed to conducting thorough ‘subject research related to the film’ and depicting both the film and Cleopatra in accordance with the ‘highest levels of research and study’.
This decision to produce a documentary on one of Egypt’s most iconic rulers comes in the wake of Netflix’s release of a trailer for their own forthcoming documentary, which has incited widespread disapproval across the Arab nation and has become one of the streaming platform’s most disliked trailers to date.
An Egyptian lawyer has even filed a lawsuit against Netflix for their decision to portray Cleopatra as a Black woman, demanding legal action against the creators of the show and calling for the streaming service to be shut down in Egypt.
In response to the criticism, director Tina Gharavi defended her casting choice, stating that the likelihood of Cleopatra being white was ‘somewhat unlikely’. Gharavi embarked on a search for ‘the right performer’ to play the queen and ultimately cast Adele James, a Black actress.
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In an effort to restore diplomatic ties between Ankara and Damascus, high-ranking officials including the foreign ministers of Russia, Syria, Turkey, and Iran, convened in Moscow for significant talks, years after their relationship was strained amidst the Syrian conflict.
Syria’s Foreign Minister, Faisal Mekdad, expressed optimism about the prospects of cooperation between Damascus and Ankara, as quoted by the Syrian state news agency SANA. However, he emphasised that the primary objective for the Syrian administration was to end the presence of foreign military forces, including those from Turkey. Mekdad asserted, “Without progress in this matter, we will remain stagnant and will not reach any real results.”
Northwestern Syria encompasses territory controlled by opposition factions, including armed groups supported by Turkey. The Russian foreign ministry shared in a statement that the gathering had a “positive and constructive atmosphere”, and that deputy foreign ministers of the participating nations will be assigned the task of formulating a roadmap for improving Syria-Turkey relations.
Sergey Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister, opened the discussions with a hopeful note that the gathering would lay the foundation for the creation of a roadmap for normalising relations between Turkey and Syria. Lavrov envisions Moscow’s role as not only affirming the progress made politically but also outlining general directions for the journey ahead.
Moscow, being Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s primary ally, has been promoting reconciliation with Turkey. Additionally, defence ministers from Syria and Turkey had previously met in Moscow in December.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu emphasised the importance of “cooperation in combating terrorism and working together to establish the foundation for the return of Syrians” during the meeting. Cavusoglu mentioned that the advancement of the political process in Syria and protection of Syria’s territorial integrity were also key topics of discussion.
In parallel developments, al-Assad received a formal invitation to attend the Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia on May 19, marking a significant thaw in the regional isolation of Damascus.
Arab League member states, at a meeting in Cairo, agreed to reinstate Syria’s membership, which was suspended over a decade ago. Arab nations have been striving to normalise relations, emphasising an “Arab-led political path” to solve the crisis and maintaining direct dialogue on common issues, including the refugee crisis, terrorism, and drug trafficking.
The pace of restoring ties with Damascus accelerated after the catastrophic earthquake on February 6 in Turkey and Syria and the re-establishment of relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, mediated by China. The two nations had previously backed opposing sides in the Syrian conflict.
The decision to readmit Syria into the Arab League, however, has been met with significant opposition from residents in opposition-held Syrian territories and members of the country’s political opposition, who perceive it as a validation of the government’s attacks during the prolonged 12-year war.
Image Credit: Russian Foreign Ministry/Reuters
In a meticulously orchestrated strike on Gaza on Thursday, a prominent military leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and two other members were tragically killed. The armed faction of the PIJ confirmed the demise of the head of its missile division, Ali Hassan Ghali, also known as Abu Muhammad, in the assault.
The armed wing of the organisation, Al Quds Brigades, announced, “Ali Ghali … commander of the rocket launch unit … was assassinated in the southern region of the Gaza Strip along with other martyrs.”
The Israeli military acknowledged its targeted strike on Ghali. Smoke was observed billowing from the densely populated coastal enclave as Israel declared it was focusing its attacks on the group’s rocket launch facilities.
The skirmish between Israel and militants in Gaza has been intensifying since Tuesday. More than 20 Palestinians, including civilians, have lost their lives in the strikes, and hundreds of retaliatory rockets have been launched. According to the Israeli military, Ghali had been ensconced in a residential complex in Khan Younis.
In the aerial attack, two other militants from the group were also killed. Ghali had led rocket offensives against Israel in recent months.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented that Israel had delivered a severe blow to the militants and cautioned, “this round is not over”. He warned the terrorists and their backers, “we see you everywhere. You can’t hide, and we choose the place and time to strike you”. He further added that Israel would determine when calm is restored.
Despite Egypt, a mediator between the two factions, claiming to have brokered a ceasefire, the efforts seemed to falter as the fighting escalated on Wednesday, with neither side willing to capitulate. White House National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, underscored the necessity for tension de-escalation during a call with Tzachi Hanegbi, the head of Israel’s National Security Council.
A White House statement affirmed that Mr Sullivan had “reaffirmed the administration’s ironclad support for Israel’s security, as well as its right to defend its people from indiscriminate rocket attacks”. It was also noted that Mr Sullivan encouraged “regional efforts to broker a ceasefire, and emphasised the need to de-escalate tensions and prevent further loss of life”.
Earlier on Wednesday, tensions had amplified in the occupied West Bank after Israel executed arrest raids. Israeli forces killed two Palestinians in the town of Qabatiya, claiming they had fired at them. Meanwhile, in Tubas, an Israeli soldier was injured in a separate gunfire exchange with Palestinian gunmen.
Image Credit: AP Photo/Fatima Shbair
In a strategic move aimed at securing votes ahead of Turkey’s closely contested election, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared a significant 45% pay increase for more than 700,000 public workers on Tuesday. This substantial raise will elevate the minimum monthly wage for affected workers to 15,000 Turkish lira (€700).
The timing of this announcement, just days before the election, highlights the importance of economic issues in the minds of the electorate. Just last month, he promised that households would receive up to 25 cubic meters of free natural gas per month for one year, beginning next month. This initiative is part of the government’s effort to showcase large-scale energy and infrastructure projects before the elections. In previous years, Erdoğan’s economic policies were hailed as successful, but they have since become a point of contention due to soaring inflation rates and a plummeting lira.
Addressing the nation in Ankara, Erdoğan stated, “As part of this collective bargaining agreement, we are implementing a 45% wage increase, incorporating the welfare share, effectively raising the minimum wage for public workers to 15,000 lira.” Furthermore, the president indicated that the government has plans to boost wages and pensions for civil servants as well.
The announcement sparked a heated debate on social media platforms such as Twitter, with some users expressing concern that public workers will now earn more than their counterparts in public engineering roles. Skepticism lingers over whether Erdoğan will adopt a more serious approach to tackling the rampant inflation plaguing the nation. The president’s unorthodox monetary policies, which include cutting interest rates amid escalating prices, have resulted in double-digit inflation, currency turmoil, and spiralling living costs that have left Turkish voters feeling disillusioned.
Inflation in Turkey reached a record-breaking 85.5% in October last year, while April’s figures hovered just below 44%. Erdoğan acknowledged the financial strain caused by the recent earthquakes in the southeast, stating, “Despite the burden of over $100 billion that the earthquake disaster placed on our economy, we will continue to take these measures. Thankfully, Turkey has now achieved the strength and capacity to handle such burdens.”
As the country gears up for the pivotal presidential and parliamentary elections, President Erdoğan faces a tight race against his main opposition rival, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.
Saudi Arabia announced on Tuesday that it will resume the work of its diplomatic mission in Syria, according to a statement by the foreign ministry. The move comes two days after the Arab League voted to reinstate Syria, ending a 12-year suspension.
The foreign ministry’s statement highlighted Saudi Arabia’s eagerness to contribute to the development of joint Arab action on Syria and enhance security and stability in the region. The decision also takes into account the resolution made by Arab foreign ministers at an emergency meeting in Cairo, the Arab League’s headquarters, regarding the resumption of Syrian participation in the league’s council meetings and its organisations and bodies.
This development follows a recent meeting between Syrian President Bashar Al Assad and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan in Damascus, marking the first such visit since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011.
The Arab League expressed its intention to reinstate Syria in order to continue working towards alleviating the suffering of the Syrian people and to support them in realising their legitimate future aspirations. The league also called for a prominent Arab role in addressing all aspects of the Syrian crisis, encompassing security, humanitarian, and political issues.
The body emphasised the need to tackle the repercussions of Syria’s civil war on neighbouring countries, the region, and the world, pointing to the strain of refugees, the threat of terrorism, and the smuggling of narcotics.
The resumption of diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Syria is expected to strengthen regional security and stability while fostering cooperation between the two nations.
Image Credit: SANA via AP
Lebanon’s Caretaker Interior Minister, Bassam Mawlawi, has called on the Ministry of Telecommunications to suspend the operation of the Bolt app in the country starting from May 8, 2023. This decision comes in response to a surge in complaints from public transport unions and a series of protests that have taken place across various Lebanese regions. Mawlawi’s request aims to ensure compliance with traffic laws and other regulations in force, addressing concerns raised by the unions.
In a letter addressed to the Ministry of Communications, Mawlawi highlighted the need to confirm that Bolt’s operations do not violate the traffic law and other laws and regulations in force. The move follows a series of sit-ins and complaints by public transport unions last week, demonstrating the growing dissatisfaction with the ride-hailing app’s operations in Lebanon.
Furthermore, Mawlawi has instructed the General Directorate of Internal Security Forces to strictly pursue and penalise drivers who use forged public license plates or operate public transport vehicles with private license plates. This measure is expected to clamp down on illegal practices within the transportation sector and further address the concerns of public transport unions.
It remains to be seen how the suspension of the Bolt app will impact the transportation landscape in Lebanon and whether the company will be able to address the concerns raised by the authorities and public transport unions to resume its operations in the country.
Image Credit: Bolt
A suspected drug smuggler, Marai al-Ramthan, and his family were reportedly killed in an airstrike near the Syria-Jordan border, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). The strike has been attributed to Jordan, which has not yet commented on the matter. Al-Ramthan, believed to be the region’s most prominent drug trafficker, was responsible for smuggling drugs, including the highly addictive amphetamine Captagon, into Jordan.
The attack follows a meeting on May 1 in Amman, during which Syria agreed to cooperate with Jordan and Iraq in identifying and combatting drug production and smuggling across borders. The airstrike also comes shortly after the Arab League welcomed Syria back into the bloc after more than a decade-long suspension. Syria’s Captagon industry, which generates an estimated $10 billion, has become a major concern for its neighbouring countries, particularly Jordan, which has become a transit route for the drug trade.
According to the SOHR, another attack occurred in the southern province of Deraa, targeting a building that housed a drug factory. Opposition activist Ahmad al-Masalmeh confirmed that the pre-dawn attack killed al-Ramthan and his family, while another strike hit a facility used by Iran-backed groups to produce and store drugs for smuggling to Jordan.
Jordan has been increasingly concerned about the flow of drugs from Syria. In February 2022, the Jordanian army reported that it had killed 30 smugglers since the beginning of the year and thwarted attempts to smuggle 16 million Captagon pills into the country from Syria, surpassing the entire volume seized in 2021. Jordan has previously conducted airstrikes targeting drug smugglers in Syria, with some incidents dating back to 2014.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi recently warned that the country would take decisive action if drug trafficking from Syria continued, stating, “If we do not see effective measures to curb that threat, we will do what it takes to counter that threat, including taking military action inside Syria to eliminate this extremely dangerous threat.” The recent airstrikes highlight the ongoing efforts to tackle the Captagon trade and its impact on the region. As the situation develops, it remains crucial for neighbouring countries to cooperate in combating drug trafficking and its associated criminal activities.
Image Credit: AFP
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has successfully evacuated a total of 566 individuals from Sudan, as conflict continues to plague the nation. The fourth evacuation flight, carrying 176 people from seven countries, including journalists, arrived in Abu Dhabi on Saturday afternoon. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (Mofaic) emphasised that the evacuations were part of the UAE’s humanitarian efforts, commitment to global cooperation and solidarity, and focus on providing protection to civilians in times of need.
Evacuees, prioritised by vulnerability, such as the sick, children, elderly and women, will be hosted and provided with necessary support and assistance in the UAE before returning safely to their respective home countries. Mofaic also highlighted the UAE’s dedication to working with international partners to serve Sudanese interests, stressing the importance of securing a ceasefire and returning to political dialogue to achieve stability and security.
Additionally, the UAE sent urgent food and medical supplies to Sudan on Friday. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, ordered the 30-tonne aid shipment, which was flown to the Chad-Sudan border to assist Sudanese refugees affected by the military conflict. This initiative was undertaken in collaboration with the World Health Organisation and the International Humanitarian City in Dubai.
Image Credit: REUTERS/Rula Rouhana
Over a decade after being expelled due to its brutal repression of pro-democracy protests leading to a civil war, Syria has been reinstated into the influential Arab League. The move signals a thaw in relations between Damascus and other Arab governments and precedes a summit in Saudi Arabia later this month, which President Bashar al-Assad may attend.
The US and UK have criticised the decision, with a state department spokesman stating that Syria does not deserve reinstatement but that the US supports the Arab League’s objective of resolving the Syrian crisis. Lord Ahmad, the UK’s Minister of State Foreign Commonwealth & Development Affairs, declared the UK’s continued opposition to engaging with the Assad regime, asserting that Mr Assad persists in detaining, torturing, and killing innocent Syrians.
The decision to readmit Syria was taken during a meeting of foreign ministers from 13 of the 22-nation group’s members in Cairo, who emphasised the need to end Syria’s civil war and address the resulting refugee and drug smuggling crises. A committee involving Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq will be established to aid Syria in achieving these goals. The Arab League’s secretary general, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, emphasised that the decision does not equate to a resumption of relationships between Arab states and Syria and that such decisions will be made by individual countries.
Displaced Syrians in the rebel-held area of Idlib have expressed shock at the Arab League’s decision. Meanwhile, Arab moves to restore ties with Syria have accelerated since the earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria in February, with foreign ministers from Egypt and Saudi Arabia visiting Syria and Tunisia restoring full diplomatic relations.
After Israel arrested Imad al-Adwan, a member of Jordan’s parliament, on suspicion of smuggling weapons and 100kg of gold into the occupied West Bank in April. Al-Adwan was apprehended at the King Hussein Bridge (Allenby) border crossing in the occupied West Bank, where Israeli security reportedly discovered the contraband in his car.
Israel has now reached an understanding with Jordan and Imad al-Adwan has now been released to Amman’s custody on condition that he is prosecuted and treated “harshly”.
Imad Al-Adwan, 35, is a lawyer and a member of the Palestine Committee of the Jordanian Parliament.
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Queen Rania of Jordan showcased her impeccable fashion sense as she attended the coronation of King Charles III at Westminster Abbey. She arrived in a form-fitting pastel yellow pencil dress featuring a wide Bardot neckline and semi-sheer underpinnings, paired with a high neck and long sleeves for modesty. Complementing the ensemble, Queen Rania wore a matching pillbox hat with a short veil, embodying both elegance and modernity.
The Jordanian monarch accessorised with a woven Intrecciato clutch in cream by Italian fashion house Bottega Veneta and a pair of matching pumps by her preferred shoe designer, Gianvito Rossi. King Abdullah II, her husband, sported a navy blue suit with a white shirt, maroon tie, and the pin of the Jordanian flag on his lapel, which he also wore at the coronation reception on Friday evening.
Queen Rania’s sophisticated outfit followed the Schiaparelli dress she donned for the Buckingham Palace event on Friday. She paired the simple, ruched brown dress from the French house with a gold clutch and gold Gianvito Rossi pumps. In contrast, Princess Lalla Meryem of Morocco opted for a striking cream cape over a blush pink dress, reminiscent of the traditional burnoose cape worn by Moroccan Berbers.
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Egypt has announced a significant increase in diesel prices, reflecting the recent surge in global crude oil prices and the decline of the local currency. Starting on Thursday, diesel will cost users 8.25 Egyptian pounds ($0.27) per litre, a near 14% increase of 1 pound.
The decision was made “in light of the increase in international prices for crude oil and petroleum products and the exchange rate of the pound against the dollar”, according to a statement by Egypt’s domestic fuel pricing committee. As a result, public bus fares will also be increased by 10%, as announced by the Egyptian Ministry of Local Development.
However, the price of petrol will remain unchanged. Earlier this year, in March, the committee raised domestic fuel prices for 80-octane petrol to 8.75 pounds per litre and 92-octane fuel to 10.25 pounds per litre. Premium 95-octane petrol prices were also increased to 11.50 pounds per litre.
The price of natural gas for vehicles experienced an increase as well, rising from 3.75 pounds per cubic metre to 4.50 pounds. In order to secure funding from the International Monetary Fund, Egypt has committed to gradually reducing subsidies for its population of 104 million, approximately 30% of whom live below the poverty line.
For the 2023/2024 fiscal year, Egypt’s Finance Ministry has allocated 119.4 billion Egyptian pounds, or around $3.8 billion, to subsidise petroleum products. The committee, which meets quarterly, monitors and implements involuntary pricing for petroleum products.
As of Thursday, May 4, the diesel price will be set at LE8.25 per litre. Meanwhile, Octane products of all three types have fixed prices: LE 8.75 per litre for Octane 80, LE10.25 per litre for Octane 92, and LE 11.5 per litre for Octane 95. The price of Mazut supplied to the electricity and food industries has also been fixed at LE6,000 per ton.
The Egyptian Petroleum Products Automatic Pricing Committee meets every three months to set the prices of gasoline and diesel fuel, taking into account market variables such as the international price of a barrel of Brent crude and the exchange rate of the US dollar against the Egyptian pound.
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Lebanon, a small country nestled along the Mediterranean coast, is known for its rich cultural heritage and religious diversity. Among the various religious groups that contribute to Lebanon’s vibrant social fabric, the Christians of Lebanon hold a prominent position, with their influence reaching far beyond religious matters.
Christianity in Lebanon traces its roots back to the early years of the faith, with the region playing a significant role in the growth and dissemination of Christianity. The Phoenician coastal cities of Tyre and Sidon, now part of modern-day Lebanon, are mentioned in the New Testament as sites visited by Jesus and his disciples.
In the centuries that followed, Lebanon became a focal point for various Christian denominations, including the Maronite, Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic (Melkite), Armenian Orthodox (Apostolic), Armenian Catholic, and several Protestant denominations.
Christians have played a pivotal role in Lebanon’s social, political, and cultural development throughout its history. The establishment of the Lebanese Republic in 1943, for instance, was based on a National Pact that enshrined power-sharing between the different religious communities. This agreement ensured that the President of the Republic would always be a Maronite Christian, while the Prime Minister would be a Sunni Muslim, and the Speaker of Parliament a Shia Muslim.
Lebanon’s Christians have also made significant contributions to the country’s educational and cultural sectors. Institutions such as the American University of Beirut and Saint Joseph University, founded by American Protestant missionaries and French Jesuits respectively, have shaped generations of Lebanese leaders, thinkers, and professionals.
The diversity of Christian denominations in Lebanon has given rise to a rich tapestry of cultural expressions, including art, architecture, music, and literature. Some of the most notable examples of Christian cultural heritage in Lebanon include:
Lebanon boasts an impressive number of historic monasteries and churches, such as the Monastery of Saint Anthony (Qozhaya), the Monastery of Saint Maron (Annaya), and the Cathedral of Saint George (Beirut). These sites, some dating back to the early centuries of Christianity, offer a unique insight into the country’s religious history and architectural styles.
The Christians of Lebanon have a rich musical tradition, encompassing both liturgical chants and secular music. Traditional Maronite and Byzantine chants, for instance, continue to be an essential part of worship services, while the Rahbani Brothers, renowned Lebanese musicians and composers, have left an indelible mark on the country’s musical landscape.
Lebanese Christians celebrate various religious and cultural events throughout the year, such as Christmas, Easter, and the Feast of Saint Maron. These festivities are marked by processions, communal gatherings, and traditional customs that showcase the unique blend of Lebanese Christian culture.
The Christians of Lebanon, with their rich history and diverse cultural heritage, have played a vital role in shaping the nation’s unique identity. As a testament to Lebanon’s religious diversity and tolerance, the Christian communities continue to contribute to the country’s social, political, and cultural landscape.
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The Public Authority for Special Economic Zones and Free Zones (Opaz) in Oman has announced the adoption of an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot, Chat GPT, to improve its services, increase the efficiency of internal operations, and enhance employee performance.
Mohammed bin Abdulmajeed Al Hooti, who is responsible for managing the Opaz digital transformation programme, stated that employees would be able to access Chat GPT on their desktops and mobiles for continuous and immediate support. This will enable them to complete tasks more quickly and efficiently.#
The AI chatbot will also enhance internal processes within departments, particularly for new employees and projects requiring new information from multiple sources that can be instantly compared. Al Hooti explained that the introduction of Chat GPT aims to boost efficiency and productivity, hone communication skills, and optimise employees’ time.
By implementing Chat GPT, the authority can automatically and immediately answer common questions without training a large number of employees to do so. The AI chatbot will also enable more effective data analysis from clients and potential investors, providing valuable insights to improve Opaz’s overall performance and the experience of investors and customers.
This move marks an important addition to Opaz’s smart services, reflecting its aspirations to enhance the quality of services and increase the efficiency of internal operations. Opaz plans to introduce Chat GPT in all its affiliated zones in the future as part of its vision to fully utilise advanced technologies and apply international best practices in managing its zones.
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Three months after a catastrophic earthquake struck Turkey and Syria, the living conditions remain dire in Syria rebel-held northwest according to aid officials who visited the region. The earthquake, which occurred on 6th February, claimed the lives of over 50,000 people, including more than 6,000 in Syria, as reported by the United Nations, and displaced hundreds of thousands more.
Idlib, Syria’s northwestern province, houses around 4 million individuals, many of whom were previously displaced during the nation’s 12-year civil conflict, which has resulted in nearly half a million casualties. David Carden, the UN’s Deputy Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria crisis, stated that since the earthquake, approximately 2,000 lorries have entered from Turkey, offering aid such as shelter, food, medical supplies, and other services.
Carden acknowledged progress since the initial aftermath of the earthquake but emphasised that more work is needed, citing funding as one of the primary concerns. Despite a fully-funded flash appeal that raised $400 million, the pre-existing humanitarian response plan for Syria, which necessitates billions of dollars in support, is only 7% funded. Carden called for the continuation of the two border crossings between Turkey and Syria, opened for three months following the earthquake to permit aid deliveries.
He expressed a desire to “keep using these crossings as long as possible.” The three-month timeframe expires in mid-May, and it remains uncertain whether the Syrian government will allow future aid deliveries. The February earthquake resulted in over 4,500 fatalities in northwestern Syria, with approximately 855,000 people having their homes damaged or destroyed, according to Carden.
Patrick Mutai, a shelter coordinator at the UN refugee agency, revealed that prior to the earthquake, roughly 2 million individuals in Syria required assistance, including 1.8 million people residing in camps. Among these, around 800,000 live in tents that need replacement. Mutai stated that the earthquake has exposed the population to increased vulnerabilities, with 1.1 million Syrians now in need of shelter. Immediate plans involve assisting the most severely affected with “dignified shelters” that offer better privacy, security, and structural stability.
Idris Elrasheed, who leads northwestern Syria operations from the World Health Organization’s office in Gaziantep, southern Turkey, announced that more medical equipment would be transported to Syria. This move would reduce the need to transfer critically ill patients to Turkey for treatment via obstructed roads and across a border that has been closed since the earthquake. The Swiss Secretariat for Migration has also decided to discontinue priority treatment for Turkish and Syrian nationals applying for a Switzerland Schengen visa due to a steady decrease in the number of applications in recent weeks.
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UAE Flag Day is a national event that embodies the spirit of unity, pride, and national identity in the United Arab Emirates. As a day to cherish the national flag and reflect on the journey of this rapidly developing nation, Flag Day holds a special place in the hearts of Emiratis and expatriates alike. In this article, we explore the origins of UAE Flag Day, its importance, and the various ways in which the event is celebrated across the country.
UAE Flag Day is celebrated on the 3rd of November each year, marking the anniversary of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s accession as the President of the United Arab Emirates. The first Flag Day took place in 2013, initiated by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai.
The event is more than just a celebration of the national flag. It symbolises the unity and aspirations of the seven emirates that make up the UAE. The flag, designed by Emirati artist Abdullah Mohammed Al Maainah, features four colours – red, green, white, and black – representing bravery, prosperity, peace, and strength, respectively.
UAE Flag Day is commemorated with various events, activities, and ceremonies held throughout the country, with the following being the most notable. On Flag Day, UAE citizens, residents, and government institutions participate in flag-hoisting ceremonies held across the country. The ceremonies are often led by prominent figures, such as members of the ruling families, and are attended by enthusiastic crowds.
Schools and universities play an active role in UAE Flag Day celebrations, organising educational events, workshops, and competitions that aim to foster a sense of national pride and educate students about the UAE’s history, culture, and values.
Various public gatherings take place across the country, with residents coming together to celebrate the day in parks, malls, and community centres. These gatherings often include cultural performances, art exhibitions, and traditional Emirati music and dance.
In the digital age, social media campaigns are an integral part of UAE Flag Day celebrations. Citizens and residents share photographs, videos, and messages expressing their love and admiration for the UAE, using hashtags such as #UAEFlagDay.
People across the UAE dress in the national colours, adorning their clothing, homes, and workplaces with the colours of the flag. This vibrant display serves as a visual reminder of the unity, pride, and national identity that UAE Flag Day represents.
UAE Flag Day is a significant event that unites the nation in celebration of its national identity, history, and achievements. The day is marked by a variety of events, ceremonies, and public gatherings that express the nation’s unity, pride, and aspirations. As a testament to the UAE’s rapid growth and development, Flag Day serves as an opportunity for citizens and residents to come together and celebrate the nation’s remarkable journey.
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Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a leading figure in the United Arab Emirates and an influential member of the Abu Dhabi royal family, is best known for his immense wealth, business acumen, and investment prowess. In March he was appointed as Vice President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by President Sheikh Mohamed.
Born on 20 November 1970, Sheikh Mansour is the son of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder and first president of the United Arab Emirates. He is the half-brother of the current UAE president, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and the deputy prime minister of the UAE. Educated at Santa Barbara Community College in California, USA, Sheikh Mansour has displayed an impressive aptitude for business and investment throughout his life.
As of 2023, Sheikh Mansour’s net worth is estimated to be around $30 billion, placing him among the wealthiest royals globally. The majority of his wealth can be attributed to his role in the Abu Dhabi government and his vast portfolio of investments, including holdings in various sectors such as real estate, energy, and technology.
Sheikh Mansour’s investment strategy is characterised by a balanced mix of local and international assets. His investment vehicle, the Abu Dhabi United Group (ADUG), has played a significant role in his wealth accumulation.
In 2008, Sheikh Mansour acquired the English Premier League football club, Manchester City, for £210 million. Since then, the club has risen to prominence, winning several domestic and international titles. The acquisition has not only bolstered Sheikh Mansour’s net worth but also significantly raised his profile on the global stage.
Sheikh Mansour has held various positions in the oil and gas sector, including the chairmanship of the International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC). IPIC has invested in several energy-related projects worldwide, which has significantly contributed to his net worth.
In addition to his involvement in the oil and gas industry, Sheikh Mansour has diversified his investment portfolio through holdings in international companies such as Virgin Galactic, Daimler AG, and Barclays Bank. These investments have further solidified his position as a leading global investor.
Sheikh Mansour’s real estate holdings include prestigious properties in London, such as the One Hyde Park apartment complex and the Berkeley Square Estate. These prime assets have contributed to his immense wealth and are a testament to his investment acumen.
Sheikh Mansour’s wealth extends beyond his business interests, as he is also an active philanthropist. Through his foundation, the Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation, he has donated millions to various causes, including healthcare, education, and disaster relief.
Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s extraordinary net worth is a testament to his business acumen, strategic investments, and keen insight into global markets. As a leading figure in the United Arab Emirates and a prominent international investor, his influence continues to shape the global economy.
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Kuwait has announced that its national election will take place on June 6, according to state news agency Kuna. This announcement comes two days after the Gulf state’s parliament was dissolved by royal decree forcing Kuwait sets election day. The parliament had only been reinstated in March, based on a Constitutional Court ruling, after a previous dissolution.
Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal Al Sabah stated last month that the legislature would be dissolved and elections held in the coming months. Prolonged disputes between the government and the elected parliament have hindered fiscal reforms in the country. This will be the third election in three years for Kuwait, with the most recent parliament being first elected in 2020.
The Constitutional Court annulled the results of the last vote, held in September, in which the opposition made gains, and restored the previous assembly. Kuwait’s constitution stipulates that elections for a new parliament must be held within two months from the date of dissolution.
Political stability in the OPEC member state has traditionally depended on cooperation between the government and parliament. However, prolonged bickering between the two has hampered investment and reforms aimed at reducing the country’s heavy reliance on oil revenues.
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As Turkey gears up for its highly anticipated 2023 general election, the stakes have never been higher for the nation’s political future. With a diverse array of parties vying for power and an electorate increasingly engaged in the political process, the outcome of the election is set to have a profound impact on Turkey’s governance and international standing. In this article, we will explore the key players, significant issues, and potential ramifications of Turkey’s 2023 election, offering insight into this pivotal moment in the nation’s political landscape.
Turkey’s 2023 general election will see a host of political parties competing for the hearts and minds of the electorate. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), led by incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is seeking to maintain its hold on power amidst growing opposition from rival parties.
The main opposition, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), led by Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, is keen to offer an alternative vision for Turkey, with a focus on strengthening democratic institutions, promoting social justice, and fostering economic growth.
Other significant players include the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), and the İYİ Party, each presenting their unique policy platforms and seeking to gain representation in Turkey’s Grand National Assembly.
The latest polls released in Turkey last weekend give the opposition’s presidential candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu a slight edge over incumbent Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, as they held with only 11 days to go till elections.
Turkey’s 2023 general election is expected to be shaped by a range of pressing issues, with the economy, democracy, and foreign policy taking centre stage.
Economic concerns, including high inflation, unemployment, and currency volatility, are top of mind for many voters. Parties will be keen to outline their strategies for stabilising the economy, boosting growth, and improving living standards for the Turkish people.
The state of democracy in Turkey has also been a point of contention in recent years, with critics citing concerns over press freedom, human rights, and the independence of the judiciary. The 2023 election will serve as a critical juncture for parties to address these concerns and chart a course for a more democratic and inclusive Turkey.
Lastly, Turkey’s foreign policy, particularly its relationship with the European Union, the United States, and its neighbours in the Middle East, will play a significant role in shaping the election’s outcome. Voters will be looking to the various parties for their stance on key international issues and how they plan to navigate Turkey’s position on the world stage.
The outcome of Turkey’s 2023 general election will have far-reaching implications for the nation’s political trajectory, with potential shifts in power dynamics, policy priorities, and the nation’s international standing.
Should the ruling AKP maintain its grip on power, we can expect a continuation of President Erdoğan’s policies, with a focus on asserting Turkey’s regional influence and maintaining a firm grip on the nation’s institutions.
Alternatively, a victory for the opposition could signal a shift towards a more inclusive and democratic Turkey, with renewed efforts to strengthen the economy and foster closer ties with international partners.
Turkey’s 2023 general election is set to be a defining moment in the nation’s political history, with the outcome having the potential to shape the country’s future for years to come. As the major parties and their leaders campaign tirelessly to win over the electorate, the world will be watching closely.
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Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is set to visit Damascus on Wednesday, marking the first visit by an Iranian president to Syria since the civil war erupted twelve years ago. The upcoming trip which will see Raisi to visit Damascus follows increased regional engagement between Iran and Syria, and Tehran’s recent landmark agreement to restore ties with regional rival Saudi Arabia.
According to Syria’s state news agency SANA, Raisi and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will discuss bilateral ties, shared economic and political issues, and recent positive developments in the region. Preparations for Raisi’s visit, which includes an Iranian “economic-political delegation,” have been underway for several days in Damascus.
The last Iranian president to visit Damascus was Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in September 2010. Analyst Osama Danura has said that Raisi’s visit will “open a new page in the close relationship between the two countries” and may focus on long-term economic strategies, with Iran poised to play a significant role in Syria’s reconstruction phase.
During Raisi’s visit, a “large number of agreements and memoranda of understanding” will be signed, including those concerning energy and electricity. Discussions regarding a new Iranian credit line for Syria to invest in the power sector will also be held.
Iran has provided crucial economic, political, and military support to Syria during the conflict, helping Damascus regain lost territory and placing Iran in a leading role as al-Assad seeks to prioritise reconstruction. Both countries continue to face heavy Western sanctions.
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The United States has urged Lebanon to swiftly elect a president who is “free of corruption” and capable of uniting the nation, which is currently facing one of the worst economic crises in modern history. The US State Department emphasised that Lebanon’s problems can only be resolved internally and not by the international community.
Six months after President Michel Aoun’s departure, Lebanon remains without a head of state as Parliament has failed to elect a president during 12 sessions, with no candidate achieving the necessary threshold. Speaker Nabih Berri has not reconvened MPs to vote on the matter for months, highlighting the extent of the deadlock.
In a statement, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller urged Lebanon’s political leadership to “move expeditiously to elect a president” and enact the essential reforms to rescue the country’s economy. The US has remained uninvolved in the selection process but stresses the need for a corruption-free candidate who can advocate for transparency and accountability, put the interests of the Lebanese people first, and implement critical economic reforms, including those required to secure an International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme.
Lebanon has been grappling with political and economic crises, exacerbated by widespread corruption amongst its political elite. Despite adopting the National Anti-Corruption Strategy in 2020, implementation has stalled due to the ongoing political deadlock.
In April, Lebanon secured a draft staff-level agreement from the IMF for approximately $3 billion in aid. However, the IMF has emphasised the need for urgent reforms, including restructuring the financial sector, introducing fiscal reforms, and combating corruption and money laundering.
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Newly released data from DataReportal, a leading online reference library, reveals that Qatar is experiencing a digital renaissance. With an internet penetration rate of 99% in Qatar, only 1% of the population remained offline at the start of 2023. Out of the total population, 2.62 million people (96.8%) were active social media users, making Qatar one of the countries with the highest social media usage rates in the world.
As of early 2023, there were 4.89 million active mobile connections in Qatar, surpassing the country’s total population at a rate of 180.9%. The report also revealed that 97.8% of the country’s internet users accessed at least one social media platform in January 2023. Meanwhile, the number of internet users increased by 0.8%, or 21,000 individuals, between 2022 and 2023, as reported by Kepios analysis.
It is essential to consider that collecting and analysing data on internet users is complex, often resulting in delayed publication and under-representation of actual internet use and growth rates. Consequently, adoption rates and progress may be higher than reported figures.
The most popular platforms among Qatar residents were YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Snapchat. Although the advertisement reach of some platforms has grown, user growth for Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and YouTube has declined, with Facebook and Instagram losing around 150,000 and 100,000 users, respectively.
In contrast, LinkedIn, Twitter, and TikTok saw an increase in their user base between the start of 2022 and early 2023. ByteDance, the owner of TikTok, reported that the platform’s ads reached 96.5% of all adults aged 18 and above in Qatar at the start of 2023.
A recent report by the University of Oregon indicated that the top 5 countries in the world for YouTube reach are all located in the MENA region. In terms of TikTok reach, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and Iraq hold the top five positions.
Qatar has also seen improvements in internet speeds. Mobile internet connection speeds increased by 78.08 Mbps (over 79.6%) and fixed internet connection speeds increased by 26.70 Mbps (over 41.6%) in the twelve months leading up to January 2023. Qatar’s high social media adoption rates and fast internet speeds demonstrate the country’s growing reliance on technology and digital connectivity. As the world becomes more interconnected, Qatar is at the forefront of this digital revolution, embracing social media and technological advancements as it continues to grow.
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Water rationing in Tunisia has been implemented since early April due to severely dry conditions, with little warning to its citizens. From April to September, water supply will be cut off for seven hours a day, between 9 pm and 4 am, across most areas of the country, including the capital, Tunis. Those who do not adhere to the rationing order risk fines or even imprisonment.
Households now require bottled water for late-night washing, toilet use, and meal preparation. Drinking water usage on farms, in city green spaces, and for cleaning streets and cars has also been banned. Raoudha Dridi, spokesperson for the Agriculture Ministry, said the order applies to all areas connected to the state-owned water system, but excludes rural areas that do not rely on this system.
Water levels in Tunisia’s dams have significantly decreased, with some dams holding as little as 17% of possible storage capacity. Tunisia, predominantly desert, is also facing an economic crisis, with political tensions last year delaying talks with the International Monetary Fund for a $1.8 billion loan agreement to support the government.
The water rationing coincides with Ramadan, when water consumption usually increases, and the start of the tourist season, putting further strain on the country’s water supply. Tunisia relies on tourism for income, with approximately 850 hotels, many of which are near the Mediterranean Sea coast. Hotels and hospitals maintain water reserves that are replenished during the day and used when water is not running.
Amnesty International called on Lebanon on Monday to “immediately stop forcibly deporting refugees back to Syria,” after dozens were returned to the war-torn country amidst increasing anti-Syrian sentiment. Lebanese authorities reportedly sent dozens of Syrian refugees back on Friday, despite warnings of grave danger in their home country. The human rights organisation warned that these refugees face the risk of torture or persecution by the Syrian government upon their return.
The London-based rights group revealed that the Syrians were expelled following raids on their homes in different areas of Lebanon, with those who had “entered the country irregularly or held expired residency cards” being deported. It cited one refugee’s brother, who claimed that the Lebanese armed forces drove them “directly to the border and handed them over to the Syrian army.”
Since Syria’s civil war began in 2011, hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled to neighbouring Lebanon. The country, which is grappling with its own ongoing political and economic crises, hosts around two million Syrian refugees, with nearly 830,000 registered with the United Nations.
Lebanese authorities have long advocated for the return of Syrian refugees and have initiated several repatriation efforts, which they describe as voluntary. However, rights groups argue that these are forced deportations. Aya Majzoub, Amnesty’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, emphasised that no refugee should be sent back to a place where their life would be at risk and warned that the deportation constituted a violation of the principle of non-refoulement.
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Iranian cinema has been captivating audiences worldwide for decades with it’s actors showcasing the country’s rich culture and storytelling prowess. At the heart of Iran’s thriving film industry lies a group of exceptionally famous Iranian actors who have not only captured the hearts of audiences at home but have also made their mark on the international stage.
Shahab Hosseini is an award-winning Iranian actor whose impressive range and captivating screen presence have earned him critical acclaim both in Iran and internationally. Born in Tehran, Hosseini’s acting career began in the early 2000s with roles in popular Iranian TV series. He soon transitioned to film, delivering powerful performances in movies like “About Elly” (2009) and “A Separation” (2011). His collaboration with renowned director Asghar Farhadi earned him the Best Actor award at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival for his role in “The Salesman” (2016), further solidifying his status as a true powerhouse of Iranian cinema.
Leila Hatami is a beloved Iranian actress who has garnered international recognition for her captivating performances and undeniable charm. Born into a family of celebrated filmmakers, Hatami’s foray into acting began at a young age. Over the years, she has starred in numerous critically acclaimed films, such as “Leila” (1997) and “A Separation” (2011), which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Hatami’s mesmerizing screen presence and undeniable talent have made her a household name in Iran and a respected figure in world cinema.
Payman Maadi is an Iranian actor and director known for his emotionally charged performances and ability to convey complex characters with depth and sensitivity. Maadi rose to international prominence with his stunning portrayal of Nader in Asghar Farhadi’s “A Separation” (2011), a role that earned him the Silver Bear for Best Actor at the Berlin International Film Festival. Maadi has continued to captivate audiences with his roles in films like “The Night” (2020) and the American production “Camp X-Ray” (2014), showcasing his versatility and commitment to his craft.
Golshifteh Farahani is a trailblazing Iranian actress who has successfully carved out a niche for herself in both Iranian and international cinema. With her striking looks and undeniable talent, Farahani has captivated audiences in a variety of roles, from her early work in Iranian films like “The Pear Tree” (1998) and “M for Mother” (2006) to her more recent ventures in Hollywood productions such as “Exodus: Gods and Kings” (2014) and “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” (2017). Farahani’s boundary-breaking career has made her an inspiration to many aspiring actors in Iran and around the world.
Iran’s film industry has been a breeding ground for exceptional talent, giving rise to a generation of accomplished actors who have made their mark on the global stage. Shahab Hosseini, Leila Hatami, Payman Maadi, and Golshifteh Farahani are just a few examples of the many Iranian actors who have captivated audiences.
The assistant administrative attaché at Egypt’s embassy in Khartoum, Mohamed al-Gharawy, was killed on Monday amid fighting between rival military factions in the Sudanese capital. Egypt’s Ambassador to Khartoum, Hani Salah, confirmed the incident involving an Egyptian diplomat killed in Sudan while emphasising that the diplomatic mission continues to fulfil its duties under challenging circumstances.
Ahmed Abou Zeid, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, explained that caution must be exercised during evacuations to ensure the safety of expatriates and diplomatic mission members. He emphasised the need for particular care in countries with large expatriate communities, such as Sudan, which has over 10,000 Egyptian expats.
Egypt’s foreign ministry stated that al-Gharawy was killed while driving to the embassy to oversee the evacuation procedures for stranded Egyptians in Sudan. The Sudanese army initially reported that Egypt’s assistant military attaché had been killed but later corrected the statement, attributing al-Gharawy’s death to fire from the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
A ceasefire in Sudan, which began at midnight (22:00 GMT) on Monday, is currently holding after several previous attempts failed. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed that the 72-hour truce had been agreed upon between the army and the RSF after 48 hours of negotiations. The violence, which started on April 15, has claimed at least 400 lives, with both sides in the conflict independently announcing their participation in the ceasefire.
UN Secretary General António Guterres warned that the violence in Sudan could lead to a “catastrophic conflagration” affecting the entire region and beyond. As the conflict continues, residents in Khartoum have been advised to stay indoors, with food and water supplies running low. It is hoped that the ceasefire will allow civilians to leave the city and enable the evacuation of foreign diplomats and civilians from the country.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs commenced the evacuation of Egyptian citizens from Sudan, according to a statement released on Sunday, 23 April. The operation in which Egypt begins evacuation of citizens from Sudan is being carried out in coordination with Sudanese authorities, with Egypt’s consulates in Khartoum and Port Sudan assisting in the process.
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On World Malaria Day, April 25, President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) reinforced the nation’s commitment to eradicating malaria and pledged to continue working with international partners to combat the disease. Sheikh Mohamed stated on Twitter that helping those in need is a shared responsibility, and that all possible means must be pursued to accelerate malaria eradication efforts.
The UAE is a key player in the fight against malaria through its participation in the Roll Back Malaria initiative. Sheikh Mohamed has personally donated millions of dollars towards this cause. In January, the UAE contributed $5 million to an international campaign focused on addressing the effects of climate change on malaria eradication efforts.
Launched by Sheikh Mohamed in 2017, with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Reaching the Last Mile initiative is a 10-year, $100 million fund aimed at combating the world’s deadliest diseases. This initiative will provide crucial investment over the next three years, enabling the expansion of the Forecasting Healthy Futures scheme led by the US-based non-profit organisation, Malaria No More.
Malaria is a preventable and treatable disease, but progress in combating it is under threat. Extreme weather events in Malawi and Pakistan have resulted in significant increases in malaria infections and deaths. The World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that in 2021 there were an estimated 247 million cases worldwide, with 619,000 deaths attributed to malaria.
Last year, over a million children in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi received the RTS,S vaccine manufactured by British pharmaceutical giant GSK, following scientific breakthroughs. The UAE was declared malaria-free by the WHO in 2007, and the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) reaffirmed its commitment to reducing global malaria incidence by 90% before 2030.
The UAE continues to combat malaria through preventative measures and collaborations with leading institutions, contributing to global health initiatives such as the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) and the Roll Back Malaria Partnership programme. The nation’s response to malaria is based on a robust strategy, including an efficient epidemiological surveillance programme, which complies with the International Health Regulations and Federal Law No. (14) of 2014 Concerning the Prevention of Communicable Diseases.
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Delve into the rich and colourful history of Iran, and you’ll find a treasure trove of tantalizing Iranian sweets that have been cherished for centuries. From the bustling bazaars of Tehran to the aromatic kitchens of Esfahan, Iranian sweets are an essential part of Persian culture and cuisine. In this article, we’ll take you on a journey through the most delectable Iranian desserts, showcasing their unique flavours, textures, and time-honoured traditions. So, get ready to embark on a mouth-watering adventure through the enchanting world of Iranian sweets.
Originating from the city of Isfahan, Gaz is a beloved nougat infused with the sap of the angebin plant, native to the Zagros Mountains. This soft, chewy confectionery boasts a delightful blend of sugar, rose water, egg whites, and pistachios, making it the perfect treat to enjoy with a cup of fragrant Persian tea. Gaz is often served as a gift during special occasions and represents the warmth and hospitality of Iranian culture.
Sohan is a traditional Iranian sweet hailing from the city of Qom. Made from a combination of wheat sprouts, sugar, butter, saffron, and cardamom, this crunchy, caramelized brittle is a true indulgence. Topped with crushed pistachios, almonds, or walnuts, Sohan is an exquisite confectionery that melts in your mouth and leaves you craving more.
No list of Iranian sweets would be complete without mentioning Baghlava, the decadent pastry that has captivated dessert lovers for centuries. A testament to Persian culinary artistry, Baghlava features delicate layers of filo dough, filled with a sumptuous mixture of finely chopped nuts, sugar, and spices. The entire creation is then drenched in a fragrant rosewater syrup, ensuring each bite is an explosion of flavour. Baghlava is often served during Nowruz, the Persian New Year, symbolizing prosperity and good fortune.
Faloodeh is a delightful frozen dessert that dates back to the ancient Persian Empire. Made from a mixture of thin rice noodles, sugar, rose water, and lime juice, Faloodeh offers a refreshing, tangy taste that perfectly complements Iran’s warm climate. Often topped with sour cherry syrup or crushed pistachios, this icy treat is a summer staple in Iran and can be found in ice cream parlours and street food stalls across the country.
Zoolbia and Bamieh are two classic Iranian sweets that are often served together, making for a delightful duo of fried goodness. Zoolbia is a delicate, funnel cake-like confection, made by drizzling a batter of yogurt, flour, sugar, and saffron into hot oil, creating intricate patterns. Meanwhile, Bamieh is a small, tubular doughnut, made from a simple flour and yogurt batter. Both sweets are then soaked in a rosewater-infused syrup, ensuring each bite is a satisfyingly sweet, crispy, and moist experience.
Iran’s rich culinary heritage is a testament to the country’s vibrant culture and history. The diverse array of Iranian sweets offers an enticing journey through Persia’s delectable desserts, showcasing unique flavours, textures, and traditions that have been passed down through generations.
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Saudi Arabia has reclaimed its position as one of the world’s top five military spenders, increasing purchases for the kingdom’s armed forces by 16 percent in the last year, according to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri). The report reveals that Saudi Arabia ranks fifth globally in military spending, accounting for more than three percent of the worldwide share.
In 2022, Riyadh’s military expenditure reached an estimated $75bn, up from $55.6bn in 2021, representing over seven percent of the country’s gross domestic product. The Middle East as a whole saw military spending rise to $184bn in 2022, an increase of 3.2 percent from the previous year. The surge in Saudi Arabia’s military expenditure coincides with increased revenues from oil sales, enhancing the kingdom’s purchasing power.
The United States remains the largest supplier of weapons to Saudi Arabia, with active government-to-government sales under the foreign military sales (FMS) system amounting to $126bn. Despite concerns over human rights abuses, military sales to the kingdom have continued largely without hindrance.
In an effort to scrutinise Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and potentially halt US security assistance to the kingdom, Democrat Chris Murphy and Republican Mike Lee introduced legislation last month, urging President Biden’s administration to report on the matter. In addition to acquiring hardware and equipment, Saudi Arabia has also sought US military expertise, hiring retired American military officers as contractors or consultants.
Although President Biden initially vowed to treat Saudi Arabia as a “pariah” state for its involvement in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, his administration has adopted a more balanced approach, simultaneously reprimanding and seeking to repair relations with the kingdom. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia appears to be pursuing an independent foreign policy, recently signing a China-brokered deal to re-establish ties with its adversary, Iran – a move some analysts consider a significant moment for the region and China’s geopolitical influence.
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On Tuesday, Turkish police detained 110 individuals across 21 provinces, including politicians, lawyers, and journalists, for their alleged connections to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group. The operation was centred in Diyarbakir, the largest city in predominantly Kurdish southeast Turkey, and came less than three weeks before the country’s presidential and parliamentary elections.
This election represents the most significant challenge President Tayyip Erdogan and his AK Party have faced since they first assumed power in 2002. Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker Tayip Temel accused the ruling party of conducting the arrests out of fear of losing power, stating on Twitter that “on the eve of the election, they have resorted to detention operations again”.
Among those detained were high-ranking members of the HDP, as well as journalists, artists, and lawyers. The prosecutor’s office in Diyarbakir declined to comment on the matter, while a security source revealed that police had carried out simultaneous raids on 186 addresses. Arrest warrants were issued for 216 individuals suspected of providing financial support, recruiting, and spreading propaganda for the PKK, which is considered a terrorist organisation by Turkey and several Western countries.
Emma Sinclair-Webb, Associate Director of Human Rights Watch Europe and Central Asia, criticised the arrests as an “abuse of powers and intimidation tactic before election”. The HDP, the third-largest party in parliament, denies accusations of PKK connections and faces a potential ban in a constitutional court case. The party’s parliamentary candidates are running under the Green Left Party’s umbrella.
Despite not being part of the main opposition alliance, the HDP is staunchly opposed to Erdogan. In recent years, thousands of its members, lawmakers, and mayors have been jailed or stripped of their positions due to alleged PKK ties. The conflict between the PKK and the Turkish state has claimed more than 40,000 lives since 1984, with the focus of the fighting now shifting to northern Iraq.
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Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has officially commenced the evacuation of Egyptian citizens from Sudan, according to a statement released on Sunday, 23 April. The operation in which Egypt begins evacuation of citizens from Sudan is being carried out in coordination with Sudanese authorities, with Egypt’s consulates in Khartoum and Port Sudan assisting in the process.
Egyptian residents in Sudan have been urged to leave the country due to the ongoing armed conflict. The same statement revealed that an Egyptian embassy staff member had been shot amidst the violence. To facilitate the evacuation, designated meeting points have been established at the Egyptian Consulate in Port Sudan and the consular office in Wadi Halfa. The Foreign Ministry has advised Egyptians in Khartoum to remain indoors until the security situation in the capital improves.
Contact details for the Egyptian Consulate in Port Sudan and Wadi Halfa’s consular office have been provided for those requiring further assistance.
The ongoing conflict in Sudan involves the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary group that initially operated as a militia during the height of the Darfur conflict. Hostilities between the two groups began on Saturday, 15 April.
A video shared by the RSF showed Egyptian soldiers who had “surrendered” themselves in Merowe, wearing Egyptian army uniforms. Due to coordination efforts with Sudanese parties and the International Committee of the Red Cross, these troops have since arrived at the Egyptian Embassy in Khartoum.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has called for an immediate ceasefire in Sudan, urging opposing forces to prioritise dialogue and national consensus, keeping the interests of the Sudanese people at the forefront.
Iran’s Minister of Roads and Urban Development, Mehrdad Bazrpash, announced on Sunday that Saudi authorities have requested the establishment of three weekly flights between the two nations, in addition to Hajj pilgrimage airlifts. This follows the recent agreement to reopen embassies and restore diplomatic relations after a seven-year hiatus, as part of a plan brokered by China in early March.
Bazrpash highlighted the restoration of diplomatic ties between Riyadh and Tehran as a foundation for regional diplomacy and good neighbourliness. He confirmed that the Iranian Civil Aviation Organization will contribute to the reinstatement of flights between the countries, with special flights for Hajj pilgrims agreed upon months earlier.
These developments come as part of the Chinese-brokered agreement to restore diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia. In recent weeks, delegations from both nations have visited each other’s capitals to discuss the reopening of diplomatic missions. Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nasser Kanaani expressed optimism that the Saudi embassy and consulate would reopen in Iran before the May 9 deadline.
The recent agreements are expected to have a positive impact on cooperation in terms of peace, stability, and economic and trade relations between the two countries and within the region. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has accepted an invitation from King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to visit Riyadh, with the visit to be scheduled according to the President’s timetable.
The rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia has reportedly caused frustration for US officials, who feel blindsided by Riyadh’s move towards its rivals Iran and Syria, under the guidance of Washington’s global adversaries.
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Israeli authorities have arrested Imad al-Adwan, a member of Jordan’s parliament, on suspicion of smuggling weapons and 100kg of gold into the occupied West Bank, as confirmed by Jordanian officials and media on Sunday. Al-Adwan has apprehended at the King Hussein Bridge (Allenby) border crossing in the occupied West Bank, where Israeli security reportedly discovered the contraband in his car.
Sinan Majali, a spokesperson for the Jordanian Foreign Ministry, announced that the ministry and relevant agencies are actively working to ascertain the details of the incident and resolve it as quickly as possible. However, Israeli authorities have not yet issued an official statement regarding the arrest.
Imad al-Adwan, 35, is a member of the Jordanian parliament’s Palestine Committee, which monitors Israeli actions in occupied Palestinian Territories but does not have a say on foreign policy. Al-Adwan’s brother, Amer Adwan, expressed confidence in the Jordanian authorities’ efforts to secure Imad’s release.
Despite close security ties between Israel and Jordan, their political relationship has been strained in recent years over disagreements on Palestinian statehood and rights. Prominent Jordanian legislator Khalil Atiya, an outspoken critic of Israel, warned that the Jordanian government would be held responsible if it failed to act swiftly in response to the arrest.
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Jordan’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, Ayman Al-Safadi, and his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, held a phone call on Thursday to discuss bilateral relations and regional developments. The two ministers emphasized their desire for good relations based on principles of good neighbourliness, non-interference in internal affairs, and cooperation that benefits both countries and the region.
Safadi welcomed the Saudi-Iranian agreement and expressed support for the initiative as a significant step towards resolving regional tensions and enhancing security and stability. The ministers also discussed the Palestinian issue, with Safadi reiterating Jordan’s unwavering support for the Palestinians and the pursuit of a just and comprehensive peace based on the two-state solution.
The phone call highlighted the importance of practical, transparent, and honest dialogue in addressing various outstanding issues, such as the situation on the Jordanian-Syrian border and the challenges posed by drug smuggling. Both ministers agreed to continue security meetings and maintain political communication to reach understandings that foster cooperation and contribute to regional security and stability.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Abdollahian conveyed greetings from Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi to King Abdullah and congratulated him on the occasion of Eid Al-Fitr. Safadi reciprocated the gesture, extending greetings from King Abdullah to the Iranian President.
The two ministers agreed to meet as soon as possible to further discuss ways to overcome challenges in the relationship and work towards achieving full normal relations that serve both countries’ interests and help resolve regional crises and tensions.
In related news, the Iran national football team is set to participate in Jordan’s upcoming four-team tournament.
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In the run-up to the May 14 elections, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has pledged to provide free natural gas to households, a move that could potentially help him regain power after two decades. The announcement where Erdogan promises free natural gas came during a ceremony inaugurating Turkey’s first onshore natural gas port in Zonguldak, which received its inaugural gas delivery from a Black Sea reserve.
Erdogan stated that households would receive up to 25 cubic meters of free natural gas per month for one year, beginning next month. This initiative is part of the government’s effort to showcase large-scale energy and infrastructure projects before the elections. This comes as Turkey, with limited oil and gas resources, is heavily reliant on imports from Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Qatar, the US, Nigeria, and Algeria.
Turkey’s domestic natural gas production, which only accounted for less than 1% of the country’s consumption in 2021, is sourced primarily from the Thrace region. However, Erdogan claims that the Black Sea gas fields will eventually provide 30% of the nation’s annual consumption. He also announced that the initial production of 10 million cubic meters of gas per day will be increased to 40 million cubic meters in the coming period.
Despite the unveiling of various infrastructure and defence projects, Erdogan’s leadership is under threat due to a cost-of-living crisis and criticism of his handling of February’s massive earthquake. Opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu is currently leading in opinion polls.
Next week, Erdogan is set to inaugurate Turkey’s first nuclear power reactor, built by Russia’s state energy company Rosatom. The project is expected to contribute significantly to Turkey’s energy mix and reduce its dependence on foreign energy sources.
In addition to energy initiatives, the Turkish president has promised to complete Istanbul’s urban transformation within five years, addressing earthquake risks and building 650,000 new homes in affected areas. Erdogan aims to replace all risky structures in Istanbul by transforming 300,000 residences per year. The government has pledged to cover half of the conversion costs, while providing affordable, conditional borrowing for the remainder. He removed a retirement age requirement in December, allowing more than two million workers to retire immediately, just six months before an election in Turkey.
President Erdogan has also emphasized the creation of new living spaces, complete with schools, health centres, markets, green areas, and parks. Moreover, he underlined the importance of establishing small industrial estates to address both housing and employment concerns.
During his tenure, Erdogan has overseen the construction of new homes in the aftermath of numerous disasters, such as earthquakes, floods, and fires. He expressed hope to replicate this success in the regions affected by the recent earthquake.
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Saudi Aramco is set to export more vacuum gasoil (VGO) supplies from its Jizan refinery in May, according to traders and shipping data. This move indicates that the refinery is yet to reach its full output capacity, contrary to initial expectations.
The Jizan refinery, Aramco’s newest facility, was anticipated to increase its output for 10-ppm gasoil and reduce VGO exports this quarter upon achieving full capacity. However, recent shipping records reveal that Aramco has offered three 525,000-barrel VGO cargoes for loading in May, an increase from the two cargoes exported in April. Saudi Aramco was not immediately available for comment.
Scheduled for loading between May 1-3, May 11-13, and May 21-23, the cargoes exceed Aramco’s usual offering of up to two VGO cargoes per month, as per trade sources and past tender records. VGO, a residual oil produced during petroleum distillation, is commonly used as a refinery feedstock to manufacture diesel.
The rise in Aramco’s VGO exports coincides with the weakening of diesel refining margins globally. Refinitiv data indicates a collapse of over 50% in Asian refiners’ diesel margins to $14.46 a barrel on Tuesday, compared to the beginning of the year. Additionally, benchmark Northwest European diesel refining margins dropped below $16 a barrel this week, marking their lowest since February 25, 2022, due to high import levels into the region.
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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has announced stringent penalties for the illegal sale and transportation of fireworks in UAE. According to a statement from the Public Prosecutors, offenders caught trading or transporting fireworks without a license will face significant fines and prison sentences.
The penalties, as outlined in Article 54 of the Federal Decree Law 17 for 2019, include imprisonment for no less than one year and a fine of no less than AED100,000 or either for individuals who, without a license, trade in, import, export, manufacture, or transport fireworks within the UAE. The law is part of broader legislation regulating weapons, ammunition, explosives, military materials, and hazardous substances.
Public Prosecution has taken to social media to raise awareness about the new regulations, urging the public to adhere to the relevant laws and avoid using or dealing in fireworks without a license. The campaign aims to protect public safety and prevent legal action against those who fail to comply.
The Federal Decree Law defines explosives as chemical compounds or mixtures that react when exposed to factors such as pressure, heat, and speed, potentially causing damage to surrounding areas. Fireworks are included in this definition. Article 3 of the Decree Law prohibits the possession, acquisition, obtainment, carrying, import, export, re-export, transit, trans-shipment, trade, manufacturing, repair, transportation, or disposal of any weapon, ammunition, explosives, military materials, or hazardous substances without a relevant license or permit from the Licensing Authority or concerned entity.
The Public Prosecution’s social media campaign is part of its ongoing efforts to promote legal culture and raise awareness about the latest legislation in the UAE.
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Abdelsalam Al-Busaifi, head of the Military Organization and Administration Authority in southern Libya, has warned that ongoing clashes in Sudan could negatively impact the situation in Libya, potentially leading to a long-term war that would destabilize the region, particularly southern Libya. Al-Busaifi has urged Libyan authorities to close the border with Sudan and deploy military forces for protection due to the fact that the Sudan conflict threatens to destabilize Libya.
In a statement, Al-Busaifi called on Chiefs of Staff in eastern and western Libya to take quick and serious steps to contain the situation and prevent the conflict from spilling over into Libya. He cautioned that south-eastern Libya would be most affected if the conflict extended across the border and warned of the risk of Sudanese fighters and military personnel fleeing to southern Libya, which could further destabilize the region.
The escalating conflict in Sudan, which has reached major cities, including the capital Khartoum, poses a significant threat not only to Sudan but also to neighbouring Libya. The two countries share a border of less than 400 kilometres, and policing it is difficult due to the harsh desert environment and poor governance in both nations. Sudanese mercenaries have also been involved in Libya’s internal conflicts, supporting General Khalifa Haftar in the east.
Analysts argue that viewing the conflict in Sudan as a limited power struggle with few repercussions for Libya or Chad is short-sighted, given that internal conflicts in Africa tend to have trans-border effects and can cause sub-conflicts in neighbouring countries. This domino effect is exacerbated by the fact that African borders were drawn without consideration for demographic, ethnic, or religious distribution, based on colonial interests.
Libya, a deeply divided and unstable country, struggles to secure its borders and expel foreign fighters, despite calls from the United Nations for their removal. As the conflict in Sudan continues, its resolution becomes more urgent for Libya’s stability and vice versa.
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Tunisian authorities have arrested Rached Ghannouchi, leader of the opposition party Ennahda and one of President Kais Saied’s most vocal critics. Ghannouchi, 81, a former parliamentary speaker, is among at least 20 individuals detained in a recent crackdown on the president’s opponents.
Counterterrorism prosecutors arrested Ghannouchi on Monday for allegedly making “inflammatory comments.” Following an eight-hour investigation, a judge ordered his imprisonment, according to Monia Bouali, his lawyer. Three other prominent Ennahda officials were also taken into custody.
Ghannouchi, who lived in exile in the 1990s, returned to Tunisia during the 2011 uprising that brought democracy to the nation. As the speaker of the parliament dissolved by Saied in July 2021, Ghannouchi has criticized the president’s moves, including introducing a new constitution that increased the president’s powers, as a coup.
Ennahda has described Ghannouchi’s arrest as a “dangerous development” with the US officials describing it as a “troubling escalation”. Tunisian authorities have banned meetings at all Ennahda offices and police raided the party’s headquarters to conduct a search. Ghannouchi has faced repeated judicial questioning over the past year regarding Ennahda’s finances and allegations that the party aided Islamist extremists traveling to Syria to fight, charges that both Ghannouchi and the party deny.
President Saied’s opponents accuse him of reinstating autocratic rule in Tunisia, the only democracy to emerge from the Arab Spring uprisings more than a decade ago.
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A tragic incident occurred in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, late on Wednesday, as at least 78 people were killed and 73 others injured in a Yemen stampede during a charity distribution event for Ramadan. The incident took place at a school in the Bab al-Yemen area, where hundreds of people, including women and children, had gathered to receive donations amounting to about $9 per person.
Footage shared on social media showed a crowd of people unable to move, with many in distress, as dozens of bodies lay on the ground. Houthi rebels, who have controlled Sanaa since 2015, reportedly fired into the air for crowd control, accidentally striking an electrical wire and causing an explosion, which led to panic and the subsequent crush.
The Houthi-run interior ministry has arrested two local businessmen who organized the event and initiated an investigation. A ministry spokesman blamed the incident on the “random distribution” of funds without proper coordination with local officials. Of the injured, 13 are in a critical condition, according to a health official in Sanaa.
The Houthi rebels have agreed to pay $2,000 in compensation to each family who lost a relative in the tragedy, while the injured would receive around $400. The disaster comes ahead of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan this week. This is the deadliest incident in Yemen in years unrelated to the ongoing conflict, resulting in one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters.
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The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has a rich history that dates back thousands of years. At the helm of this beautiful country lies the Jordan Royal Family Tree that boasts a unique heritage and an unwavering dedication to the welfare of its people. In this article, we will explore the current royals of the Jordan Royal Family tree, offering a comprehensive insight into their lives, accomplishments, and the significance of their roles in modern Jordan.
King Abdullah II, born on January 30, 1962, is the reigning monarch of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. He ascended to the throne in 1999, following the death of his father, King Hussein. Known for his commitment to democratic reforms, King Abdullah II has been instrumental in spearheading efforts to modernize the Jordanian economy and establish the country as a regional hub for technology and innovation. He is married to Queen Rania, and together, they have four children: Crown Prince Hussein, Princess Iman, Princess Salma, and Prince Hashem.
Born on August 31, 1970, Queen Rania Al-Abdullah is the wife of King Abdullah II and the Queen consort of Jordan. A global advocate for education, women’s rights, and community empowerment, Queen Rania has utilized her platform to create lasting change both within Jordan and internationally. She is a powerful voice on social media, using her influence to raise awareness about important global issues and inspire positive action.
Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah, born on June 28, 1994, is the eldest son of King Abdullah II and Queen Rania. As the heir apparent to the throne, Crown Prince Hussein has been groomed for leadership from a young age, with a focus on diplomacy, military training, and public service. He has a strong presence on social media, which he uses to connect with the younger generation and promote various humanitarian causes. He is also an advocate for youth empowerment and has been actively involved in initiatives that support education and entrepreneurship. Jordan’s Crown Prince Hussein, 28, is set to marry his Saudi fiancée Rajwa Al Saif on June 1, 2023
Born on September 27, 1996, Princess Iman bint Abdullah is the second child of King Abdullah II and Queen Rania. While she maintains a relatively low profile compared to her elder brother, Princess Iman has demonstrated a strong interest in sports and humanitarian work. She has participated in various charity events and has also shown a keen interest in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. Jordan’s Princess Iman bint Abdullah II tied the knot with Jameel Alexander Thermiotis on March 12, 2023.
The third child of King Abdullah II and Queen Rania, Princess Salma bint Abdullah, was born on September 26, 2000. In 2020, she made history as the first female member of the Jordan Royal Family to complete her pilot training with the Jordanian Armed Forces. Princess Salma’s accomplishment serves as a testament to the progressive values of the Jordan Royal Family and the country’s commitment to empowering women in all sectors.
Prince Hashem bin Abdullah, born on January 30, 2005, is the youngest child of King Abdullah II and Queen Rania. Despite his young age, Prince Hashem has already demonstrated a passion for philanthropy, participating in events such as tree planting and clean-up campaigns. His enthusiasm for environmental causes showcases the Jordan Royal Family’s dedication to sustainability and preserving the country’s natural beauty.
The Jordan Royal Family tree is an intriguing blend of history, tradition, and modernity.
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Lebanon witnessed hundreds of public sector workers, including teachers, retired army and police officers, and civil servants, protesting in front of the government building on Tuesday. The demonstrators expressed their frustration over the nation’s ongoing currency crisis and demanded better wages, increased medical coverage, and partial dollarisation of their salaries and pensions.
Lebanon’s financial crisis, now in its fourth year, has left over 80% of the population impoverished and severely impacted the country’s public education and services. With the national currency losing more than 95% of its value, public sector salaries have been drastically devalued, forcing some workers to survive on the equivalent of $50 a month.
As the nation’s caretaker cabinet convened to discuss the issue, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati acknowledged the protesters’ demands as mostly justified and promised to spare no effort in addressing their concerns. However, the initially peaceful protest turned confrontational as security forces clashed with demonstrators and deployed tear gas.
Lebanon’s Parliament recently postponed the municipal elections scheduled for May 2023 due to a lack of funds. Last month, retired army soldiers also held protests, demanding better pensions and clashing with police. Prime Minister Mikati had promised to review public sector salaries at the next cabinet meeting in response to these demonstrations.
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Iran has extended an official invitation to Saudi Arabia’s King Salman to visit Tehran, following a reconciliation agreement between the two Middle Eastern powerhouses in March, facilitated by China. The invitation marks a significant step towards easing decades of hostility between the two nations, with both sides expressing hope for increased cooperation and stability in the region.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani confirmed the invitation during a televised news conference and noted that King Salman’s visit to Tehran would be conditional upon a reciprocal invitation for Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi to visit Riyadh. This exchange of invitations demonstrates a mutual willingness to engage in dialogue and rebuild trust between the two countries.
The reconciliation agreement, brokered by Chinese President Xi Jinping, led to the restoration of diplomatic relations and the reopening of embassies between Iran and Saudi Arabia. This development has allowed the United States, traditionally influential in the Gulf region, to take a backseat in the negotiations.
Earlier this month, the foreign ministers of both countries met in Beijing for the first time in seven years. During the meeting, they agreed to reopen their embassies within two months and expand bilateral talks to address important regional issues. Additionally, technical teams from both countries are set to discuss the establishment of embassies for each other within the two-month timeframe.
The recent thaw in relations can be traced back to Saudi Arabia’s 2016 execution of Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr, a critic of the Saudi monarchy, and the subsequent attacks on the Saudi embassy in Tehran, which resulted in severed diplomatic ties. Tensions between the two countries were further exacerbated by the Saudi-led war on the Iran-aligned Houthi movement in Yemen and the deaths of hundreds of Iranian Hajj pilgrims in a stampede in 2015.
As part of the China-brokered agreement, both Iran and Saudi Arabia “emphasized the respect for the sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of each other” and agreed to implement a security cooperation agreement signed in 2001. This development is widely regarded as a diplomatic victory for China in the Gulf region, where the US has traditionally been the dominant power.
The reconciliation between Iran and Saudi Arabia may have wide-ranging implications for regional stability and geopolitics, potentially leading to cooperation in resolving ongoing conflicts such as the war in Yemen. Additionally, the improved relations between the two nations could contribute to a more balanced distribution of power in the Middle East, reducing the risk of further escalation and conflict.
Emir Sheikh Nawaf of Kuwait has dissolved the reinstated 2020 parliament and announced general elections to be held in the coming months. The announcement was made in a speech delivered by Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal Al Ahmad on behalf of Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Nawaf. This decision comes after the Constitutional Court nullified September’s parliamentary elections, which were considered the most inclusive in a decade, and ordered the reinstatement of the 2020 assembly.
Marzouq Al Ghanim, the assembly speaker, had previously called for a parliamentary session this month to address appeals against the court’s ruling. The government had been urged by nearly 30 political figures, former MPs, and activists to challenge the decision. According to Kuwait’s constitution, elections must be held within two months of the parliament’s dissolution.
Prince Meshal emphasized that the decision was based on the “will of the people” and assured that “legal and political reforms” would accompany the elections. Kuwait remains the only Gulf state with a fully elected parliament, having adopted the parliamentary system in 1962. However, it has faced multiple political crises due to disputes between the government and parliament.
Experts have cautioned that the court’s ruling to nullify September elections could result in increased voter apathy. Some have called for a “total political reset” to address the ongoing impasse, which has focused on a draft bill proposing that the government assume the debt of Kuwaiti citizens. While the government estimates this would cost nearly $46 billion in public funds, MPs argue it would cost less than $6.5 billion.
Kuwait, a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), has struggled with extended disputes between its government and elected parliament, hindering fiscal reforms. Though the country enjoys strong fiscal and external balance sheets, internal conflicts and gridlock have impeded investment and efforts to reduce dependence on oil revenues.
Image Credit: REUTERS/Stephanie McGehee
Queen Rania of Jordan, a modern-day royal icon, captured the hearts of millions when she married King Abdullah II on June 10, 1993. Known for her elegance, intelligence, and humanitarian efforts, the queen’s wedding was a lavish affair that celebrated love, tradition, and unity. Here are 10 fascinating facts you probably didn’t know about Queen Rania wedding.
Queen Rania, born Rania Al-Yassin, met her future husband, then Prince Abdullah, at a dinner party in January 1993. Their romance blossomed quickly, leading to their engagement just two months later, in March 1993.
The couple’s engagement period was brief, lasting only three months. They tied the knot in a grand ceremony on June 10, 1993, marking the beginning of their reign as one of the world’s most admired royal couples.
The royal wedding took place at the Zahran Palace in Amman, Jordan. This historical palace has witnessed several royal weddings and remains a symbol of the Jordanian royal family’s enduring legacy.
Queen Rania’s exquisite wedding gown was custom-designed by British designer Bruce Oldfield. The gown, made from exquisite silk, featured intricate embroidery and beadwork, a fitted bodice, and a full skirt with a long train, reflecting both modern and traditional elements.
Queen Rania’s bridal party included her sisters, close friends, and young members of the Jordanian royal family. The bridesmaids wore matching blush-colored dresses, while the page boys donned traditional Jordanian attire.
The wedding ceremony was attended by an impressive list of international royalty and dignitaries, including Queen Noor of Jordan, King Hussein of Jordan, and other notable figures from the Middle East, Europe, and beyond.
To honor the couple’s union, a 21-gun salute was fired during the wedding ceremony, signifying the importance of the occasion and symbolizing the union of two influential families.
The royal wedding reception was an opulent affair, featuring traditional Jordanian music, dance, and cuisine. The newlyweds shared their first dance to the sounds of a live orchestra, surrounded by their loved ones and esteemed guests.
Today, Queen Rania and King Abdullah II continue to captivate the world with their love story, dedication to their country, and unwavering support for humanitarian causes. Their inspiring partnership remains a testament to the power of love, compassion, and unity.
Queen Rania’s royal wedding was a splendid event that showcased the beauty of Jordanian culture, tradition, and love. These lesser-known facts offer a glimpse into the magical day that united two remarkable individuals, whose reign continues to inspire people worldwide.
Image Credit: AFP
Iran’s judiciary announced prison sentences for ten unnamed individuals involved in the downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 in January 2020. The prime suspect, identified only as the commander of the Tor-M1 surface-to-air missile defence system responsible for shooting down the plane, received a maximum 10-year prison sentence and must pay compensation to the victims’ families.
Two personnel operating the missile system each received one-year sentences, while other Tehran air defense controls and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) aerospace division officials received one to three-year sentences. All sentences, issued after 20 court sessions, are preliminary and can be appealed. A military court has also been ordered to continue investigations for other potentially involved individuals.
Flight PS752 was shot down minutes after taking off from Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran on January 8, 2020. Iranian authorities initially denied that the plane was shot down but admitted to the “disastrous mistake” three days later, attributing it to “human error.” The incident occurred shortly after the IRGC fired missiles at two United States bases in Iraq in retaliation for the assassination of top IRGC commander General Qassem Soleimani by a US drone.
Families of the victims, along with officials in Ukraine and Canada, have criticized Iran for a lack of transparency and cooperation. A Canadian court ruled in 2021 that the downing was an “act of terrorism” and granted tens of millions of dollars to some of the victims’ families, which could be taken from Iranian assets in Canada. Iran’s government had previously set compensation of $150,000 for each of the victims’ families, though it is unclear how much has been paid.
Victims’ families have dismissed the recent sentencing as a “sham ruling,” claiming that Iranian authorities have not prosecuted those ultimately responsible for the disaster. The Association of Families of Flight PS752 Victims demands the dispute be considered by the International Court of Justice.
Image Credit: Nazanin Tabatabaee/WANA via Reuters
Exiled Iranian Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi, son of last Iranian Shah announced on Sunday that he will visit Israel this week to attend the annual Holocaust memorial ceremony on Monday. Amid tense relations between Iran and Israel, Pahlavi’s trip highlights the warmth that existed between the countries under his father’s rule and emphasizes the stark contrast with the current animosity.
Pahlavi, son of the last shah before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, plans to deliver “a message of friendship from the Iranian people.” Israeli Intelligence Minister Gila Gamliel, who will host Pahlavi, praised his “brave decision” to visit the country. She emphasized that Pahlavi’s leadership represents peace and tolerance, as opposed to the extremist regime currently governing Iran.
In addition to attending the Holocaust memorial ceremony, Pahlavi will visit a desalination plant, the Western Wall, and meet with local Bahai community representatives and Israeli Jews of Iranian descent. Pahlavi, who left Iran just before the revolution and now resides in the US, has called for a peaceful revolution to establish a parliamentary monarchy, protect human rights, and modernize Iran’s economy.
Although it remains unclear whether Pahlavi can garner enough support for a return to power, his visit to Israel signifies a willingness to rebuild the relationship between the two nations. Pahlavi has expressed his desire to “rekindle the ancient bond” between Israel and Iran, stating that the Islamic Republic does not represent the Iranian people.
Image Credit: AP Photo/Jacques Brinon, File
Tragedy struck the Al-Ras area of Dubai on Saturday when a fire erupted in a residential building, resulting in the death of 16 people and injuring nine others, according to local media reports. The fire broke out on the fourth floor of the five-storey building, in a neighborhood that houses many migrant workers and traders.
The Dubai Civil Defence Force arrived on the scene at 12:41 local time (9:41 GMT) and has attributed the cause of the fire to “a lack of compliance with building safety and security requirements.” A comprehensive investigation is currently underway to provide a detailed report on the causes of the accident.
Al-Ras, one of the oldest parts of Dubai, is located near the city’s gold and spice markets, which are popular tourist attractions. Dubai is home to approximately 3.3 million people, nearly 90 percent of whom are foreigners. The nationality of the victims has not yet been disclosed.
In recent years, fires have broken out in several skyscrapers in Dubai and other rapidly expanding cities within the UAE. These incidents have raised concerns about building safety, particularly the use of a flammable type of aluminum exterior cladding with a plastic core. In response, authorities announced stricter building regulations in 2017, including the use of fire-resistant cladding to minimize fire risks.
No arrests have been made as part of the ongoing investigation. The Dubai Civil Defence Force urges residential and commercial building owners and residents to fully comply with security and safety requirements and guidelines in order to avoid accidents and protect lives.
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Sultan al-Jaber, president of the COP28 climate talks and head of the United Arab Emirates’ national oil company, called for “available, accessible and affordable” finance for developing economies most vulnerable to the destructive impacts of climate change. Speaking at the G7 climate and environment ministers meeting in Japan, Al-Jaber urged prioritizing support for poorer countries. He emphasized the need to provide a fair deal for the Global South when it comes to climate finance.
Al-Jaber, also the UAE’s minister for industry and advanced technology and founder of the government-owned renewable energy company Masdar, affirmed that ambitious plans to fight global warming need to be supported with pragmatic, actionable plans enabled by accessible finance. COP27 in Egypt saw a landmark agreement to create a “loss and damage” fund for developing countries to cover climate-related destruction costs.
In a closed-door address to the G7 climate ministers, al-Jaber called for developed countries to fulfill their promise of providing $100 billion a year to developing nations to combat climate change and triple the amount of money available for clean tech investment, adaptation finance, and energy transition in these countries by 2030.
The G7’s latest draft climate statement reaffirms its commitment to the $100-billion pledge, which dates back to COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009, and promises to work with other developed nations to meet this goal in 2023.
Image Credit: AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili, file
Independence Day in Kuwait is celebrated throughout the country. Kuwait Independence Day is special occasion celebrated throughout the country to celebrate Kuwait’s independence. In Kuwait, Independence Day is celebrated on February 25 every year and 2024 will be no different. Kuwait’s Independence Day is a celebration of freedom, unity, and the rich cultural heritage
Kuwait gained independence from British colonial rule on June 19, 1961. However, the country officially celebrates its Independence Day on February 25th to coincide with the ascension of Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem Al-Sabah to the throne in 1950. Sheikh Abdullah was instrumental in leading the nation towards independence and is fondly remembered as the “Father of Modern Kuwait.” This visionary ruler oversaw the negotiation of the Anglo-Kuwaiti Agreement, which ultimately led to the country’s liberation from foreign rule.
Kuwait’s Independence Day is a symbol of national pride and unity. The country’s liberation from colonial rule laid the foundation for its political, economic, and social development. The day serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made by the nation’s leaders and people in their pursuit of freedom, dignity, and sovereignty. The celebration of Independence Day also highlights the importance of preserving Kuwait’s unique cultural heritage and maintaining strong national identity in an increasingly globalized world.
Turkey’s upcoming presidential election on May 14, 2023, will see the incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan face off against Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the candidate for the Nation Alliance. The Nation Alliance comprises six opposition parties, including the moderate-nationalist Good Party (İYİ), one Islamist party, one centre-right, and two conservative parties. In contrast, Erdoğan’s People Alliance includes his ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), the right-wing Nationalist Action Party (MHP), one left-wing nationalist party with Maoist roots, two Islamist parties, and one Islamist-Kurdish party with alleged ties to a terrorist organization.
The presidential race will likely hinge on several factors, including the Nation Alliance’s cohesiveness and the current government’s ability to keep the currency from collapsing before the election. While Kılıçdaroğlu may be the joint candidate for the Nation Alliance, it remains to be seen whether voters from other opposition parties will support him. Additionally, the Labor and Freedom Alliance’s position on his candidacy is uncertain, although an official announcement of support may be forthcoming.
The main campaign issues between Kılıçdaroğlu and Erdoğan center on their competing visions for Turkey’s future. Kılıçdaroğlu promises change, while Erdoğan promises stability. However, the opposition’s advantage lies in their ability to promise change with stability, while Erdoğan is left with the option of scaremongering by conjuring up doomsday scenarios of political fragmentation and chaos if he loses.
While the outcome of the parliamentary election is relatively easy to predict, with none of the alliances likely to win a majority, parties within the same alliance may not always vote as a monolith, especially on critical issues of political reform. The opposition has drafted an Agreement for A Strengthened Parliamentary System and a Memorandum of Understanding on Common Policies, which set out common objectives for their political agendas. With the main support of the Labor and Freedom Alliance, parliamentary approval of proposed political reform measures that do not require constitutional amendments is likely. However, reforms that do require broader consensus, including a restoration of the parliamentary system, may face challenges.
Despite numerous public opinion polls, relying on them to predict the outcome of the election may lead to misperceptions, as many have methodology problems. There are also concerns about election integrity, despite Turkey’s long tradition of democratic elections. Restrictions on freedom of expression, pressure on the media, and the incumbent’s access to public resources mean that Turkish elections are unfair, even if they are real and competitive.
Ultimately, the upcoming election is more than a contest between Erdoğan and Kılıçdaroğlu or the parties and alliances they represent. Erdogan is facing a wave of public anger over poor governance and misguided centralization, and with a general election just nine weeks away, a tight presidential race awaits.
Image Credit: AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici
When placing women, water and diplomacy in the same sentence, often enough the link among them is not easily or well understood. Because, both terms can be seen as an asset in the Middle East region. Both can be bought as an asset or at least the main victims of the water scarcity in the world are women.
In 2017, the UN Security Council organized a briefing meeting on Preventive Diplomacy and Transboundary Waters emphasising the role of water diplomacy and cooperation in conflict prevention. This illustrates that the growing imbalance in global water supply and demand leads to tensions and conflicts and could potentially evolve into a widespread threat to international peace and security. Relatedly, water crises ranked as a top global risk in the 2020 World Economic Forum Report. At the same time, water deprivation is increasingly seen as a fundamentally political and security problem, and not confined only within the realms of human development and environmental sustainability.
When we look at the role of women in water diplomacy related decision-making; it has been underestimated, despite the acknowledged essential role of women in peacebuilding, conflict management and sustaining security even though it was reaffirmed by the landmark United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (adopted on 31st October 2000) and by the eight resolutions on the issue adopted thereafter.
Having said this, the situation in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is no different, where gender inequality concerns have traditionally taken a back seat to the “larger” or “more urgent” issues of civil wars, foreign interventions, unemployment, corruption, and authoritarianism. It will not be exaggeration if I use the statement that I already used during an interview called ‘The climate conversation: Gender equity and climate change’ with the UK’s first women entrepreneurship magazine, March 8, last January that “worldwide, women and girls spend an estimated 200 million hours – daily – collecting water. This is a gigantic waste of valuable time. Just imagine – those 200 million hours add up to 8.3 million days, or more than 22,800 years. In a hypothetical scenario, it’s as if a woman started to walk with her empty bucket in the Stone Age and didn’t reach home with any water until 2022.”
As an example, in Egypt with its neighbours over access to the Nile and plans for a giant hydroelectric dam in Ethiopia, women have been suffering and that have sparked regional tensions over restrictions to shared water supplies. In Syria, during civil war, water becomes a tool in the hands of fighting parties. It becomes a weapon of war. And it is civilians who suffer the most. Therefore, access to water in Middle East should be unconditional. The weaponization of water over so many centuries have obviously led to the situation now – where it just seems so much more extreme.
Relatedly, women’s contribution to water management and effectively usage of it is clearly fundamental. In order to promote the entry of women in this sector, several international conferences have been held, highlighting and making internationally known the importance of women as leaders, experts and mediators in the equitable access to water for all uses. Notable examples include the United Nations Water Conference in Mar de Plata (1977), the International Drinking Water and Sanitation Decade (1981-90) and the International Conference on Water and the Environment in Dublin (1992). NASA’s research in 2019 justifies concerns that drinking water is declining in the Middle East and that some countries will face water shortages in the future. The World Bank also warned at the climate summit in Egypt last year that water shortages could become a major problem in parts of the Middle East and North Africa in the coming years.
‘The need for more women in water diplomacy is universal.’ This was the crucial statement during the first-ever Women in Water Diplomacy Network Leadership Council and Nile and Beyond Strategy launch event hosted by the Swedish Embassy in Pretoria last year. During this workshop, we, as a women representative, with the stakeholders, representing government institutions, civil society organisations, private sector and academia, delved into the key findings of Women & Water Diplomacy in the Middle East and North Africa: A Comparative Study of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and Palestine.
In terms of next step on water diplomacy and women empowerment, building women change hubs in MENA region and educating women on water usage and scarcity are the key points. Less fortunate women should be enlightened on the growing imbalance in global water supply and demand leads to tensions and conflicts and could potentially evolve into a widespread threat to international peace and security.
To sum up, for water diplomacy to bear fruits, the inclusive participation of all stakeholders in the process is an absolute must, including women.
Teacher’s Day Lebanon is celebrated throughout the country. Teacher’s Day is a special occasion to pay tribute to the nation’s dedicated educators. This day celebrates the vital role teachers play in shaping young minds, fostering growth and development, and shaping the future of the country. In Lebanon, Teachers’ Day is observed on October 5, a date that highlights the importance of teachers and acknowledges their immense contributions to society.
This day celebrates the vital role teachers play in shaping young minds, fostering growth and development, and shaping the future of the country. Teachers in Lebanon, like their counterparts around the world, provide essential guidance and mentorship to students throughout their educational journey. They not only impart knowledge but also help students develop essential life skills, such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and effective communication. In Lebanon, educators are particularly important due to the nation’s diverse cultural landscape and the need for fostering social cohesion and mutual understanding.
While Teachers’ Day in Lebanon is a significant occasion, it is essential to remember that honoring and appreciating educators should be an ongoing effort. Encouraging professional development, providing necessary resources, and promoting a supportive work environment are crucial steps in ensuring that teachers can continue to make a difference in the lives of their students.
Teachers’ Day in Lebanon is a meaningful event that emphasizes the indispensable role of educators in shaping the nation’s future. By celebrating and honouring Lebanese teachers, society reaffirms the value of education and its role in fostering a brighter future for all.
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In a significant development towards regional stability, Qatar and Bahrain have decided to resume their diplomatic ties more than two years after the Arab boycott of Doha was lifted. Both countries’ state news agencies confirmed the decision on Wednesday, marking the latest move in a broader trend of resolving disputes in the region.
The restoration of diplomatic ties between Qatar and Bahrain follows the end of a three-and-a-half-year boycott of Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, and Egypt in January 2021. Although the other three countries re-established travel and trade links with Doha in 2021, Bahrain had remained an exception until now.
The decision was made during the second meeting of the Bahraini-Qatari Follow-up Committee at the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) General Secretariat headquarters in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. In separate statements, the two countries emphasized their commitment to working together moving forward.
This development comes after Bahrain’s Crown Prince spoke with Qatar’s Emir by telephone in January, signaling a willingness to mend relations between the two Gulf states. The primary disagreement that led to the severing of ties in 2017 was Qatar’s support for Islamist movements, which were considered a threat by its Arab neighbors, and its close ties with Iran and Turkey.
In a further sign of regional stabilization, Saudi Arabia welcomed Syria’s foreign minister on Wednesday, indicating that the Arab League may be ready to reinstate Damascus. Syria’s membership was suspended more than a decade ago following President Bashar Assad’s brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protests.
Additionally, last month, Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed to restore diplomatic ties that were severed in 2016, with China acting as the mediator. Bahrain’s dispute with Qatar focused primarily on the latter’s relationship with Iran and disputes along their maritime border.
The restoration of ties between Qatar and Bahrain is a positive step in a series of ongoing efforts to resolve regional disputes, including those between Iran and Saudi Arabia. These developments suggest that stability and cooperation may be on the rise in the region, offering hope for a more peaceful future.
Father’s Day in UAE is celebrated throughout the country. Father’s Day is a special occasion celebrated worldwide to honour the mothers who have made significant contributions to our lives. In UAE, Father’s Day is celebrated on June 21st every year and 2023 will be no different. It is a time when people express their love and gratitude for their fathers through various gestures and gifts.
However, the date of Father’s Day varies in different countries around the world. In the United Kingdom and United States, it is celebrated on the third Sunday in June.
In many parts of the world, Father’s Day is celebrated annually on the third Sunday in June. These countries include the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, India and a number of other countries around the world. In Germany, Father’s Day is celebrated on Ascension Day, which is a public holiday in Germany.
Despite the different dates of celebration, the sentiment and purpose behind Father’s Day remain the same. It is a special day to honour and appreciate the unconditional love and care that fathers provide to their children. Whether through a thoughtful gift, a card, or simply spending time together, the goal is to show our mothers how much they mean to us and express our gratitude for all they do. If you are planning on celebrating Father’s Day in UAE this year you should have enough time to prepare!
Image Credit: Derek Thomson on Unsplash
Father’s Day Lebanon is celebrated throughout the country. Father’s Day is a special occasion celebrated worldwide to honour the mothers who have made significant contributions to our lives. In Lebanon, Father’s Day is celebrated on June 21st every year and 2023 will be no different. It is a time when people express their love and gratitude for their fathers through various gestures and gifts.
However, the date of Father’s Day varies in different countries around the world. In the United Kingdom and United States, it is celebrated on the third Sunday in June.
In many parts of the world, Father’s Day is celebrated annually on the third Sunday in June. These countries include the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, India and a number of other countries around the world. In Germany, Father’s Day is celebrated on Ascension Day, which is a public holiday in Germany.
Despite the different dates of celebration, the sentiment and purpose behind Father’s Day remain the same. It is a special day to honor and appreciate the unconditional love and care that fathers provide to their children. Whether through a thoughtful gift, a card, or simply spending time together, the goal is to show our mothers how much they mean to us and express our gratitude for all they do. If you are planning on celebrating Father’s Day in Lebanon this year you should have enough time to prepare!
Image Credit: Derek Thomson on Unsplash
Egypt’s Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, is expected to make a visit to Turkey this week, according to an announcement made by the Turkish government on Monday. The visit may lead to progress in reinstating envoys, following the cutting of diplomatic ties a decade ago. Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s Foreign Minister, stated that during the visit, concrete steps could be taken towards appointing ambassadors. Discussions regarding the possibility of restoring ambassadors between the two countries began in 2021, as Turkey sought to improve ties with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Israel.
However, the process accelerated after the two countries’ leaders, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt and Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan, shook hands at the World Cup in Doha. Cavusoglu also stated that the two presidents may meet in person after Turkey’s May 14th election. The visit comes after Shoukry’s visit to Turkey two weeks ago to show solidarity after massive earthquakes that killed more than 50,000 people in Turkey and Syria.
Further discussions on improving relations between Turkey and Egypt have been underway for some time, with the goal of ending the decade-long diplomatic freeze. The relationship between the two countries soured in 2013 after the military coup in Egypt that overthrew then-president Mohamed Mursi. Since then, relations have been strained over a number of issues, including Turkey’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt has designated as a terrorist organization, and the two countries’ differing positions on the conflict in Libya. Additionally, tensions have flared over territorial claims in the eastern Mediterranean, with both countries competing for resources in the region.
However, in recent years, there has been a push to restore diplomatic ties between the two countries, as Turkey seeks to improve its standing in the region. This push has been part of a larger effort by Turkey to repair relations with former regional rivals, including Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.
The recent earthquakes that struck Turkey in February have provided an opportunity for the two countries to come together. Shoukry’s visit to Turkey to show solidarity was the first visit by an Egyptian foreign minister since 2016, and it was followed by Cavusoglu’s visit to Cairo last month, which was the first visit by a Turkish foreign minister since 2012.
While the restoration of diplomatic ties between Turkey and Egypt would be a significant development, there are still hurdles to overcome. One major obstacle is the two countries’ differing positions on the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt considers to be a terrorist organization. Turkey, on the other hand, sees the group as a legitimate political movement.
Additionally, the two countries’ competing interests in the eastern Mediterranean will need to be addressed. Turkey has been pursuing an aggressive foreign policy in the region, including conducting military drills and exploration activities in waters claimed by Greece and Cyprus. Egypt has sided with Greece and Cyprus on this issue, and the two countries have signed an agreement demarcating their maritime boundaries.
Despite these challenges, there are signs that the relationship between Turkey and Egypt is thawing. Shoukry’s upcoming visit to Turkey is a positive sign, and the fact that the two countries have been engaged in talks to restore diplomatic ties is a step in the right direction. With continued efforts, it is possible that the two countries can put their differences aside and work towards a more peaceful and stable region.
Image Credit: Reuters
Kuwait’s Prime Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf Al Sabah has announced a new cabinet, appointing a new finance minister, Manaf Al Hajri while keeping other major cabinet roles unchanged, according to the state news agency Kuna. Manaf Al Hajri, a well-known figure in Kuwait’s business and finance circles, has been named as Minister for Finance and Minister of State for Economic and Investment Affairs. Bader Al Mulla will continue in his role as Oil Minister.
The political divisions and institutional gridlock that have hampered investment and reforms aimed at reducing Kuwait’s reliance on oil revenues continue to pose a challenge for the government. The removal of the former finance minister, Abd Al Wahhab Al Rasheed, who was an element of tension with the 2022 parliament, suggests that the government is trying to regain the trust of the people and is betting on the return of the 2022 parliament, said Ahmad Al Din, member of the political bureau of the Kuwaiti Progressive Movement.
Kuwait, which holds some of the world’s largest oil reserves, has strong fiscal and external balance sheets. However, relations between the Prime Minister and the Speaker of the National Assembly have been particularly tense since the Constitutional Court annulled last September’s election results. Sheikh Talal Al Khaled Al Sabah was reappointed as Minister of Interior and Acting Minister of Defence, while Sheikh Salem Abdullah Al Sabah remains Foreign Minister.
Image Credit: REUTERS/Stephanie McGehee
Egyptian Rose Cookies, also known as Kahk, are traditional cookies that have been enjoyed in Egypt for centuries. These delicate and sweet treats are typically served during special occasions and holidays such as Eid Al-Fitr, weddings, and other celebrations.
But what makes these cookies so unique? And why are they so popular in Egypt and beyond? In this article, we’ll explore the history and ingredients of Egyptian Rose Cookies, as well as some tips for making them at home.
Egyptian Rose Cookies have a long and rich history. They date back to ancient times, when Egyptians would offer cakes and cookies to their gods during religious ceremonies. Over time, these cookies evolved into what we know today as Kahk.
Kahk is a staple during Eid Al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan. During this time, families gather to celebrate the end of the month-long fast by exchanging gifts and sharing food. Kahk is a popular gift during this holiday, as well as during weddings and other celebrations.
Egyptian Rose Cookies are made with simple ingredients that are easy to find in most grocery stores. The key ingredients include flour, sugar, butter, and milk. However, what sets these cookies apart is the addition of two unique ingredients: sesame seeds and rose water.
Sesame seeds are a common ingredient in Middle Eastern cuisine, and they add a nutty flavor and crunchy texture to the cookies. Rose water, on the other hand, adds a delicate floral flavor and aroma that is quintessential to Egyptian Rose Cookies.
Making Egyptian Rose Cookies is a labor of love, but the end result is well worth the effort. Here are some tips to help you make perfect Kahk at home:
Egyptian Rose Cookies, or Kahk, are a delicious and beautiful treat that have been enjoyed for centuries in Egypt and beyond. Made with simple ingredients and flavored with sesame seeds and rose water, these cookies are a must-try for anyone who loves Middle Eastern cuisine. With a little practice and patience, you can make perfect Kahk at home and enjoy this delicious treat anytime you like.
Yemen’s internationally recognized government has announced the postponement of a prisoner exchange with Houthi rebels until April 14. The Yemen prisoner exchange, which is supervised by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), was supposed to begin on April 11, but the ICRC requested additional time to complete the necessary procedures. Yemeni negotiator Majid Fada’el confirmed the delay in a tweet, adding that the ICRC had asked for more time to carry out the swap.
Abdul Qader al-Murtada, who heads the Houthi prisoner affairs committee, also confirmed that the group had been notified of the delay by the ICRC. However, he accused the government of obstructing the implementation of the prisoner exchange deal. As of yet, there has been no official confirmation from the ICRC regarding the delay.
The Yemen prison exchange involves the release of 887 prisoners from both sides. Last year, the Yemeni government and Houthi rebels signed a UN-brokered deal to free 2,000 prisoners, but the release was disrupted amid accusations from each party of violating the agreement.
The postponement of the prisoner swap highlights the ongoing challenges facing Yemen’s peace process. The country has been engulfed in violence and instability since 2014 when Houthi rebels captured much of the country, including the capital, Sanaa. The conflict has resulted in the displacement of millions of people, a humanitarian crisis, and a severe economic downturn.
The UN has been attempting to broker a peace deal between the Yemeni government and the Houthi rebels, but progress has been slow. The recent delay in the prisoner swap is another setback for the peace process, and it remains to be seen whether the parties will be able to reach a lasting agreement. The situation in Yemen remains precarious, and the international community must continue to support efforts to end the conflict and alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people.
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Iranian authorities have announced the installation of cameras in public places and thoroughfares to identify and penalize women who appear in public without a hijab, according to a statement released by the police on Saturday. The police force will take action to identify individuals who break norms by using smart cameras and tools in public places and thoroughfares. After identifying violators of the hijab law, the police will send proof and warning messages to inform them of the legal consequences of this crime.
The move is aimed at preventing resistance against the hijab law, according to a statement reported by the Iranian judiciary’s Mizan news agency and other state media. The statement said such resistance tarnishes the country’s spiritual image and spreads insecurity. Iran’s police chief, Ahmad-Reza Radan, said in an interview with state television that from next Saturday, individuals who remove their veil will be identified using smart equipment.
“People who remove their hijab in public places will be warned first and presented to the courts as a next step,” the police chief said. Car owners will also receive a warning text if any of their passengers violate the dress code, and their vehicles will be seized if the offense is repeated. Businesses will also be required to seriously monitor the observance of societal norms with their diligent inspections, according to the police statement.
The head of Iran’s judiciary, Chief Justice Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, warned last week that Iranian women who fail to wear the hijab would be “prosecuted without mercy.” However, women are still widely seen unveiled in malls, restaurants, shops, and streets around the country, risking arrest for defying the obligatory dress code. Videos of unveiled women resisting the morality police have flooded social media.
Under Iran’s interpretation of Sharia, women are obliged to cover their hair and wear long, loose-fitting clothes to disguise their figures. Violators have faced public rebuke, fines or arrest. The veil is considered one of the civilizational foundations of the Iranian nation and one of the practical principles of the Islamic Republic, according to an Interior Ministry statement released on March 30. The statement urged citizens to confront unveiled women, directives which have previously emboldened hardliners to attack women.
The backlash against Mahsa Amini’s custodial death sparked widespread protests, with accounts emerging of how women protesters have been treated by the Iranian administration. This has led to calls for repealing the controversial hijab law, which dictates that women and girls as young as seven must wear a hijab. Approximately 40 million Iranian women are under constant surveillance since its introduction after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. In November 2022, Iranian officials arrested two prominent actors, Hengameh Ghaziani and Katayoun Riahi, for removing their headscarves and publicly supporting anti-government protests.
Image Credit: AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, File
Saudi Arabia is set to send two astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) next month. Rayyanah Barnawi, a breast cancer researcher, and Ali Al Qarni, a fighter pilot, will join UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi on the 10-day mission aboard a SpaceX Dragon capsule. The target launch date was announced by SpaceX and Axiom Space, the company in Houston that has helped arrange the trip for Saudi Arabia. The inaugural flight is part of the kingdom’s sustainable human space flight program, announced in September. The Saudi astronauts will focus on 11 of the 20 science experiments assigned to the AX-2 crew. They will take off from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida on May 9 at 6.43 am UAE time.
Saudi Arabia is preparing for a significant milestone in the country’s space program, as two Saudi astronauts are set to embark on a 10-day mission to the International Space Station (ISS) in May. The target launch date was recently announced during a remote media briefing by SpaceX and Axiom Space, the Houston-based company that arranged the trip for Saudi Arabia.
The AX-2 mission will include Rayyanah Barnawi, who will become the first Arab woman to go to space, and Ali Al Qarni. They will join former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson and US pilot John Shoffner on the mission. The Falcon 9 rocket will deliver the Dragon crew capsule to space, and the spacecraft will take about 37 hours to dock with the station.
The Saudi astronauts will be assigned 11 science experiments, focusing on breast cancer and stem cell research. The Saudi Space Commission has received scientific proposals from universities across the country to be included in the experiments.
The Saudi government is planning a sustainable human spaceflight program, with the AX-2 mission being the inaugural flight under this program. Mishaal Ashemimry, the microgravity research lead at the Saudi Space Commission, said that the country is considering long-duration space missions in the future. She added that the human space flight program is intended to be sustainable, with a constant flow of astronauts going to space to conduct research for the betterment of humanity.
The AX-2 mission is also significant because of Axiom Space’s involvement in the trip. The same company helped the UAE secure its recent trip to the ISS, and has also signed similar deals with Turkey, Italy, and Hungary, ultimately helping more countries get access to space. The space infrastructure company is also building a commercial space station in low-Earth orbit that would welcome tourists, astronauts, and researchers.
Michael Suffredini, CEO of Axiom Space, said that the company is in the process of signing on two more countries. Suffredini also emphasized the importance of cooperation between countries in space exploration, saying, “we think what we’re doing is not only serving a market but more importantly helping us as a species learn to live off the planet which is going to be very important.”
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Saudi Arabia and Iran have agreed to resume direct flights between their countries as a major step towards restoring diplomatic ties, following a meeting of their foreign ministers, Prince Faisal bin Farhan and Hossein Amirabdollahian, in Beijing on Thursday. In addition, visas will be issued for each other’s citizens, and both private and state bilateral visits will resume, as per the joint statement released by Saudi Arabia and Iran. The reopening of embassies and consulates will begin soon, and it will take up to two months to complete, according to the statement.
This is the first official meeting between the two countries’ most senior foreign ministry officials since ties were severed seven years ago. The leaders will follow up on a deal brokered by China last month to reconcile relations and reopen embassies. The meeting highlights China’s increasing influence in the region, one that is being monitored by the US.
The move is expected to reduce the chance of armed conflict between the former rivals, both directly and in proxy conflicts around the region. The leaders also discussed reviving a security agreement signed nearly two decades ago that stipulated co-operation on terrorism, drug smuggling, and money laundering, and to revive a trade and technology deal from 1998.
In 2016, Riyadh severed ties with Tehran after protesters invaded Saudi diplomatic posts in Iran after the execution of a prominent Shiite cleric in the kingdom. However, since April 2021, the two sides have held five rounds of negotiations in Baghdad. Prince Faisal also met with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang during the meeting, where they discussed the Saudi-China relationship and the positive role played by China in reaching the Saudi-Iranian agreement.
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The recent announcement of the appointment of Iran’s ambassador to the UAE marks a significant shift in the two countries’ previously strained relations. The UAE had downgraded its relations with Iran in 2016 after the Saudi embassy in Tehran was stormed by Iranian protesters. However, the UAE upgraded its ties with Iran in August 2022 and announced the return of its ambassador to Tehran.
The realignment in relations between Gulf states and Iran is significant for the region, particularly given the animosity between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which has fueled conflicts in the Middle East. The recent announcement by Saudi Arabia to re-establish ties with Tehran in a China-brokered deal marks a step-change in years of hostility between the two nations and has the potential to reduce tensions in the region, leading to improved security and stability in the Gulf.
The UAE’s long history of business and trade ties with Iran has been further strengthened by recent developments. Iran’s newly appointed ambassador, Reza Ameri, has previously served as the director general of the Iranian expatriates office in the foreign ministry, indicating the importance of the UAE-Iran relationship. Dubai, one of the UAE’s emirates, has been one of Iran’s primary links to the outside world, further highlighting the significance of the realignment in relations between the two countries.
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Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi has accepted an invitation to visit Saudi Arabia, according to a statement made by First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber on Monday. This marks Raisi’s first official trip to the kingdom, and the move is seen as a positive step in the ongoing efforts towards reconciliation between the two countries.
The Chinese-brokered deal that led to the resumption of diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia after years of hostility is seen as a significant step towards improving ties between the two states. Under the agreement, Iran and Saudi Arabia are due to reopen their embassies and consulates within the next two months.
During a meeting between Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, and his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amirabdollahian, the two countries are expected to discuss ways to strengthen the renewed relations, including arrangements for the exchange of ambassadors.
Experts predict that the renewed relations will reshape the region’s geopolitics that have been dominated by conflict and turbulence for years. This is a positive sign of progress in the ongoing efforts towards regional cooperation and the enhancement of relations with neighbouring states, as a top priority of the Raisi administration.
The Saudi-Iranian rivalry has been one of the most enduring and intractable conflicts in the Middle East, fuelled by a range of political, ideological, and sectarian factors. The two countries have been locked in a struggle for regional dominance for decades, and the situation has been complicated by the involvement of external powers such as the United States and Russia.
The Chinese-brokered deal to restore diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia was seen as a significant breakthrough in efforts to reduce tensions in the region. The agreement has been welcomed by many in the international community, who see it as a positive sign of progress towards a degree of peace and stability in the Middle East.
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Jordan’s Crown Prince Hussein, 28, is set to marry his Saudi fiancée Rajwa Al Saif on June 1, 2023 in what is set to be Jordan’s next royal wedding. The Royal Hashemite Court confirmed the wedding date in December 2022. While no details of the Jordan’s next royal wedding have been revealed yet, it is expected to be a grand celebration, befitting a royal wedding.
Rajwa Al Saif, 28, is the daughter of Saudi businessman Khalid Al Saif. She completed her secondary education in Saudi Arabia before moving to the United States for higher education, where she studied architecture at Syracuse University. She also holds a degree in Visual Communications from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles.
The couple announced their engagement in August 2022, with the families gathering at the Al Saif family home in Riyadh to celebrate. Queen Rania of Jordan congratulated the couple, expressing her joy and happiness at the news.
The wedding will take place just days before Crown Prince Hussein’s parents, King Abdullah II and Queen Rania, celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary. The couple were married on June 10, 1993, after meeting earlier that year.
Rajwa Al Saif is the youngest daughter of Khalid bin Musaed bin Saif bin Abdulaziz al-Saif and his wife, Azza bint Nayef Abdulaziz Ahmed al-Sudairi. She has four older siblings: Faisal, Nayef, and Dana. She is also exactly two months older than Crown Prince Hussein, who was born on June 28, 1994.
As the wedding date draws near, there is sure to be more excitement and anticipation surrounding the event. Fans and well-wishers of the Jordanian royal family can look forward to learning more about the wedding details as they emerge.
Jordan’s Princess Iman, the daughter of King Abdullah II and Queen Rania, tied the knot with Jameel Alexander Thermiotis in a grand ceremony at Beit Al-Urdon Palace in Amman on March 12, 2021. The royal wedding was attended by close family members and friends, following COVID-19 protocols.
The bride looked stunning in a traditional white dress, with a delicate lace veil and a diamond tiara on her head. She was accompanied by her father King Abdullah II as she walked down the aisle, while her mother Queen Rania looked on proudly.
Jameel Alexander Thermiotis, who is of Greek descent, wore a black tuxedo with a white shirt and black bow tie. He looked dashing as he stood next to Princess Iman during the ceremony.
The wedding ceremony was a blend of Jordanian and Greek traditions, reflecting the couple’s diverse backgrounds. The newlyweds exchanged rings and vows in front of their loved ones, and were officially declared husband and wife.
Following the wedding, the royal couple posed for photographs at the palace, with King Abdullah II and Queen Rania by their side. The wedding was also attended by Princess Iman’s siblings, Crown Prince Hussein, Princess Salma, and Prince Hashem.
Princess Iman, who was born on September 27, 1996, is the second-eldest child of King Abdullah II and Queen Rania. She studied at the International Academy Amman and Georgetown University in Washington D.C. before pursuing a career in humanitarian work.
Jameel Alexander Thermiotis, on the other hand, is a businessman and entrepreneur with Greek roots. The couple met while studying at Georgetown University, and have been together for several years.
Overall, the wedding of Princess Iman and Jameel Alexander Thermiotis was a beautiful celebration of love and unity. The newlyweds looked radiant and happy, surrounded by their loved ones, and we wish them a lifetime of happiness together.
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Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El Sisi has arrived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on a surprise visit to improve relations with one of his country’s key allies and economic backers. The visit aims to strengthen ties between the two nations, with Saudi Arabia having provided Egypt with billions of dollars in grants, central bank deposits, and investments over the past decade to prop up the country’s economy. President El Sisi, who has taken charge of the economy since taking office in 2014, has praised financial assistance from Gulf Arab states and noted that Egypt could not have survived the political tumult and near economic meltdown after a 2011 uprising without aid from Gulf Arab nations.
During the visit, President El Sisi was received by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is also the Prime Minister, at King Abdulaziz International Airport. They reviewed the close and historical bilateral relations between the two countries and discussed all issues of common concern, including the latest developments in the regional and international arenas. The Crown Prince hosted a suhoor banquet in honor of El-Sisi, where they discussed the prospects for joint cooperation and ways to further enhance and develop bilateral cooperation in various fields.
Egypt’s economy is currently in the throes of an acute crisis chiefly caused by the fallout from the Russia-Ukraine war. Over the past year, Egypt’s currency has lost about 50% of its value, inflation is at its highest level in more than five years, and a dollar crunch continues to undermine local industries and curb imports. In response, Egypt is offering investors stakes in 32 state enterprises, including banks and military-owned companies, to raise foreign currency. The country is hoping that Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab nations will seize the opportunity to add to their existing stakes in Egyptian companies. Mending ties with Saudi Arabia would be a significant win for Egypt and its economy.
Lebanon faces internet blackouts as workers at state-owned Ogero continue their strike to demand pay increases reflecting the sharp depreciation of the country’s currency. The strike began on March 25 and the situation has become increasingly dire. Imad Kreidieh, Ogero’s chairman, has warned that the network will completely stop working as their generators run out of fuel. Kreidieh stated that the strike will not only affect Ogero but other operators, Alfa and Touch, too.
The yearly state budget allocated to Ogero has dropped to about $4 million, which barely covers the fuel needed for the operation of internet relay stations, leading to sharp salary cuts. Talks with Lebanon’s parliament are expected to take place on March 27 to seek a resolution. The economic crisis in Lebanon dates back to 2019 and reached a new low last week when 100,000 Lebanese pounds became worth just $1, down from $67. The strike comes amid growing protests and public anger against the ruling political elite, with the majority of the population affected by poverty.
Following the announcement that the Lebanese state-owned Ogero employees launched an open-ended strike, Lebanon faces internet blackouts. The employees are demanding pay increases that reflect the sharp depreciation of the country’s currency. The strike is expected to impact not only Ogero but also other operators, including Alfa and Touch, who rely on Ogero to route their data.
The chairman of Ogero, Imad Kreidieh, has warned that if a deal is not found with the government, the network will completely stop working as the generators will gradually run out of fuel. “Lebanon completely relies on Ogero for its bandwidth, leaving no one exempt from a blackout,” Kreidieh said. The currency crisis has cut Ogero’s yearly budget to the equivalent of $4 million, which is barely enough to cover the expenses for the fuel required to operate the Internet relay stations, leading to drastic salary cuts.
Lebanon’s economic crisis dates back to 2019 but hit its lowest point last week when 100,000 Lebanese pounds became worth just $1, down from $67. It has led to employees at Ogero complaining that their salaries have become worthless, with inflation estimated to be more than 180% last month. Marwan Halabi, a member of Ogero’s Union, said, “Our salary is worth nothing because of the currency collapse, our demands are the same as other public sector employees: we want our salaries to be tied to the dollar.”
Talks with Lebanon’s parliament were expected to take place on March 27 to seek a resolution. The strike is the latest in a full-fledged collapse that Lebanon is undergoing, facing an unprecedented economic crisis, political and security void.
According to its website, Ogero is the executive arm of the Ministry of Telecommunication, founded by the Lebanese state in 1972. The company is the infrastructure operator for all telecom networks in the country, including mobile operators and internet service providers, among others.
Meanwhile, Lebanon’s caretaker Minister of Telecommunication, Johnny Corm, has warned that the military might take over the state-run telecom company Ogero amid a growing dispute between the government and the company’s employees, who have been on strike for a week demanding pay increases. “I spoke with caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati this morning and he asked me to [allow] for the intervention of the Lebanese army and for us to take over Ogero,” Corm said in an interview with the local Radio Liban Libre station. “I will not see citizens be taken hostage. The internet is a basic need and is necessary for the continuity of life, and any interruption is prohibited,” he added.
The spat between the government and Ogero employees comes as Lebanon faces its worst economic crisis in decades. In February, the inflation rate reached 189.67%, and poverty is affecting more than three-quarters of the population of 6 million, according to the United Nations. Public anger against the government is growing by the day, with regular protests across the country denouncing the failure of the ruling political elite to address the numerous crises.
The country has been without a president since October 2022, when President Michel Aoun, a staunch ally of the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement, stepped down after the end of his six-year term, which saw deepening political divisions among rivals. Since then, parliament has failed more than 10 times to elect a president. Hezbollah, which has gained considerable influence in the country in the past years, is backing Suleiman Frangieh. But the majority of parliamentarians have refused to support Frangieh, an ally of Syria’s Assad family.
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Two Iranian women have been arrested after a man attacked them with yoghurt for not covering their hair in public. The incident, which was caught on camera, went viral on social media. The judiciary reported that the two women were detained on charges of showing their hair in public, which is illegal in Iran, while the man was held for disturbing the public order. The arrests come after months of protests in the country demanding an end to the compulsory wearing of the headscarf. Not wearing the hijab in public is illegal for women in Iran and those who refuse to wear it face arrest, fines, and violence. The situation remains tense as the Iranian authorities show no sign of relenting on this issue.
The incident has sparked outrage and highlighted the ongoing debate over the compulsory wearing of the hijab in Iran. The video of the attack has circulated widely on social media, with many expressing their disgust at the man’s violent and misogynistic behaviour.
The law requiring women to wear the hijab in public has faced significant backlash in Iranian society, with growing numbers of women defying authorities by discarding their veils in public. This has led to an increase in protests and demonstrations across the country, calling for an end to the mandatory hijab.
In September 2022, the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who was detained by morality police in Tehran for allegedly wearing her hijab “improperly”, sparked widespread protests across the Islamic Republic. Thousands have been arrested and four protesters have been executed since then, but the authorities show no sign of relenting.
The recent arrests of the two women in Iran has once again raised concerns about the treatment of women and their rights in the country. The Iranian authorities have consistently defended the compulsory wearing of the hijab as a “religious necessity“, but many argue that it is a violation of women’s rights and a tool for controlling them.
Despite the risks involved, many Iranian women continue to defy the law and openly protest against it. The situation remains tense as the debate over the hijab continues to rage on in Iranian society, with no clear solution in sight.
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The Bahrain economy grew at its fastest pace since 2013, with a 4.9% increase in 2022, according to the annual report released by Bahrain’s Ministry of Finance and National Economy. The report stated that the non-oil sector’s real gross domestic product had grown by 6.2%, surpassing the annual target of 5% set under Bahrain’s economic reform plan.
However, the oil economy decreased by 1.4% due to a fall in production, contributing just 16.9% to the economy last year. The government unveiled an economic reform plan in 2021, which aims to invest $30bn in strategic projects, drive post-COVID growth, and attract foreign direct investment to create more jobs and diversify the economy. The plan also aims to create over 20,000 jobs for Bahraini citizens annually until 2024 and train 10,000 more through its Tamkeen program. Bahrain’s Ministry of Finance and National Economy has set a target of achieving a balanced budget by 2024.
Bahrain’s impressive economic growth in 2022 is a positive sign for the country’s economy, especially considering the challenges faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The strong growth of the non-oil sector is particularly noteworthy, as it indicates that the government’s economic reform plan is having a positive impact. By investing in strategic projects and attracting foreign direct investment, Bahrain is taking steps towards diversifying its economy and reducing its dependence on oil.
The decrease in the oil economy is a reminder of the importance of diversification, as it highlights the risks associated with relying on a single industry for economic growth. However, with only 16.9% of the economy coming from the oil sector, Bahrain is already making progress in this regard. The government’s goal of achieving a balanced budget by 2024 is also a positive development, as it demonstrates a commitment to fiscal responsibility and sustainable economic growth.
The economic reform plan’s target of creating over 20,000 jobs for Bahraini citizens annually until 2024 and training 10,000 more through its Tamkeen program is a significant step towards improving the country’s job market and reducing unemployment. The creation of new jobs will not only benefit Bahraini citizens but also contribute to the country’s economic growth by increasing consumer spending.
Overall, Bahrain’s strong economic growth in 2022 and the government’s ambitious economic reform plan are positive developments for the country’s economy. By continuing to invest in strategic projects and attract foreign investment, Bahrain can build on this momentum and further diversify its economy, creating more opportunities for its citizens and driving long-term economic growth.
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People around the world are starting to wonder when daylight saving time (DST) will begin and end in 2023. Daylight savings 2023 is a practice in which we set our clocks ahead by one hour in the spring and set them back by one hour in the fall. This practice is observed by many countries, including those in the Middle East.
In the Middle East, most countries observe DST, which is also known as summer time. However, the dates on which they begin and end DST can vary. This is because DST is usually determined by the governments of each country, and they may choose different dates based on their own unique circumstances.
For example, in the United Arab Emirates, DST usually begins on the last Friday in March and ends on the last Friday in September. In Saudi Arabia, DST usually begins on the second Friday in March and ends on the first Friday in November.
So when is daylight saving time in 2023? Well, it depends on where you are. Here are the expected dates for some Middle Eastern countries:
It’s important to note that these dates are subject to change, as the governments of each country may adjust the start and end dates of DST based on their own unique circumstances. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to check with your local government or official sources to confirm the dates.
If you’re living in the Middle East or planning to visit in 2023, be sure to keep track of the DST dates in your destination country. This will ensure that you don’t miss any important appointments or events due to a sudden change in the time. And remember, always double-check with official sources to confirm the dates of DST in your location.
Lebanon, a country already struggling with one of the world’s worst economic crises, now faces a new challenge – two different time zones making it hard to tell the current local time in Lebanon. The controversy began when the government decided to postpone the winter clock changes, with Daylight Saving being introduced from midnight on April 20 instead of from midnight on March 25.
Daylight saving time (DST) is a practice of advancing clocks by one hour during the summer months so that the evenings have more daylight and the mornings have less. This practice is followed by many countries around the world, including those in the Middle East. While the start and end dates of DST can vary from country to country, it is important to be aware of when DST begins and ends so that you can adjust your schedule accordingly.
In the Middle East, most countries observe DST, but the dates can vary. In some countries, like the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, DST begins and ends on the same dates. However, in other countries, like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar, the dates can differ by a few weeks. For instance, in Saudi Arabia, DST usually begins on the second Friday in March and ends on the first Friday in November.
The Riyadh Season Team XI is a group of talented individuals who have been carefully selected to organize and execute one of Saudi Arabia’s most significant events, the Riyadh Season.
Riyadh Season is an annual festival held in Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia. It’s a celebration of culture, entertainment, and fun, and it brings people from all over the world to experience the magic of this vibrant city.
The team behind the Riyadh Season is a group of professionals who have been handpicked from various industries to work together and ensure the success of the event. From marketing and communications to event planning and logistics, the Riyadh Season Team XI has it all covered.
The team is led by His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal, Chairman of the General Sports Authority and Chairman of the Riyadh Season. With his guidance, the team has been able to create an unforgettable experience for the attendees, featuring a wide range of activities, including concerts, cultural shows, sports events, and much more.
The Riyadh Season Team XI is made up of experts from different fields, including event management, marketing, finance, and operations. They work together to ensure that the event is well-planned, organized, and executed to perfection.
The team’s expertise in event planning has resulted in the successful execution of the Riyadh Season, attracting visitors from around the world to Saudi Arabia’s capital city. In 2019, the Riyadh Season attracted over 22 million visitors, generating a significant economic impact for the country.
The Riyadh Season Team XI is also responsible for ensuring that the event is safe and secure for all visitors. With strict security measures in place, visitors can enjoy the event without any worries.
The Riyadh Season Team XI is a group of talented professionals who have worked tirelessly to make the Riyadh Season one of the most significant events in Saudi Arabia. Their expertise, hard work, and dedication have ensured that the event is well-planned, organized, and executed to perfection, resulting in its tremendous success. With their continued efforts, the Riyadh Season is set to become an even bigger and better event in the coming years.
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Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan has been appointed as Vice President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by President Sheikh Mohamed, alongside Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. The announcement also named Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed as Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed and Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed as Deputy Rulers of Abu Dhabi.
As the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Presidential Court, Sheikh Mansour has played a key role in Abu Dhabi’s wealth funds and business sectors. He has also been instrumental in leading the Emiratisation program as the head of the Emirati Talent Competitiveness Council. Sheikh Mansour is also the Chairman of Abu Dhabi Judicial Department, where he spearheaded a significant overhaul of civic, family and personal status laws that have separated expatriates from the Sharia-based legal system.
Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed, the President’s eldest son, has been a member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Office. He has overseen some of the emirate’s largest recent development projects, along with its highly successful start-up incubator, Hub71.
Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan serves as National Security Adviser and holds top positions in some of the emirate’s largest state-linked companies. Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed, the Deputy Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council, also holds several positions in government, sports clubs and business.
The appointment of Sheikh Mansour as Vice President is an essential move for the UAE, and it highlights his vast experience and expertise in business and government sectors. The appointment has been approved by the UAE Federal Supreme Council, and it is a clear indication of the President’s confidence in Sheikh Mansour’s leadership abilities.
The announcement of the appointment of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed as Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed and Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed as Deputy Rulers of Abu Dhabi is a significant milestone for the UAE. The move will reinforce the country’s leadership in the global arena, and it underscores the UAE’s commitment to achieving its strategic vision.
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Every year, millions of people in the United States and many other countries around the world participate in the tradition of “springing forward” for daylight saving time. This annual event is typically scheduled to take place on the second Sunday in March, but the exact date of when is spring forward can vary depending on where you live. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at when is spring forward and what you need to know to be prepared for the time change.
First, let’s define what we mean by “springing forward.” Daylight saving time (DST) is a practice where we adjust our clocks forward by one hour in the spring and then back by one hour in the fall. This shift is intended to make better use of the available daylight during the longer days of summer, when more people are awake and active for longer periods of time.
The idea of DST dates back to the late 19th century, but it wasn’t widely adopted until World War I, when many countries began using it as a way to conserve energy. Today, most countries in North America and Europe observe DST, although some areas have chosen to opt out.
In the United States, spring forward typically takes place on the second Sunday in March. For 2023, this means that the time change will occur on March 12th. However, it’s important to note that not all states follow DST, so if you’re unsure whether your state participates, you should check with local authorities.
Other countries around the world have their own schedules for DST. In Canada, for example, most provinces follow the same schedule as the US, but there are a few exceptions. In the United Kingdom, the time change occurs on the last Sunday in March, while in Australia it takes place on the first Sunday in October.
The shift to daylight saving time can be a bit disruptive for some people, as it means losing an hour of sleep. To make the transition easier, experts recommend taking a few simple steps:
If you’re wondering when is spring forward, the answer is March 12th for 2023 in the United States. Remember that DST can be a bit disruptive, but with a little preparation and patience, you can make the transition easier and enjoy the benefits of longer days and more daylight.
Spring forward, also known as daylight saving time, is a seasonal time change where clocks are set forward by one hour to create longer evening daylight during the spring and summer months. It typically occurs on the second Sunday in March in the United States and Canada, while other countries may have varying dates or not observe the time change at all.
The history of daylight saving time can be traced back to the 19th century when Benjamin Franklin proposed the idea to save candles by utilizing more natural sunlight. However, it was not until World War I that many countries began to adopt the practice as a way to conserve fuel and resources during the war effort. Since then, the practice has been used on and off around the world with different start and end dates.
In the United States, the Uniform Time Act of 1966 established the current system of daylight saving time, which occurs from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November. The rationale behind this is that it is during this time that there is more natural daylight in the evening, which can reduce energy consumption and encourage more outdoor activities.
However, not everyone agrees with the practice of daylight saving time. Some argue that the disruption to sleep patterns can cause health problems, and studies have shown that there is an increase in traffic accidents and workplace injuries on the Monday following the time change. Additionally, some states and territories within the United States do not observe daylight saving time, such as Hawaii and Puerto Rico.
For those living in the United States and Canada, spring forward occurs on the second Sunday in March. In 2023, that date falls on March 12th. This means that at 2:00 am local time, clocks will be set forward by one hour to 3:00 am. This will result in one hour less of sleep, but longer daylight hours in the evenings.
Lebanon, a country already struggling with one of the world’s worst economic crises, now faces a new challenge – two different time zones making it hard to tell the current local time in Lebanon. The controversy began when the government decided to postpone the winter clock changes, with Daylight Saving being introduced from midnight on April 20 instead of from midnight on March 25.
Looking ahead to 2024, spring forward will occur on March 10th. This means that clocks will be set forward by one hour at 2:00 am local time, resulting in one less hour of sleep but longer daylight hours in the evenings.
It’s important to remember to adjust your clocks accordingly to avoid being late for any appointments or events. Additionally, it’s a good time to check and replace the batteries in smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms.
Mother’s Day is a special occasion celebrated globally to honour the efforts and love of mothers. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is no exception, and the day is celebrated with great enthusiasm and affection. However, the date for Mothers Day in UAE may differ from other parts of the world. In this article, we will share the dates for Mother’s Day in UAE for 2023 and 2024.
In UAE, Mother’s Day is celebrated on the 21st of March each year. This date is significant as it marks the beginning of spring in the country, and the day is observed as an official holiday. Mother’s Day is a time to express gratitude and appreciation for the sacrifices and hard work that mothers do to raise their children and support their families.
In 2023, Mother’s Day in UAE will fall on a Tuesday, on the 21st of March. This provides an excellent opportunity for families to come together and celebrate the occasion, either by spending quality time with their mothers or by presenting them with special gifts and flowers.
Looking ahead to 2024, Mother’s Day in UAE will fall on a Thursday, on the 21st of March. The day provides a mid-week break for mothers to enjoy some time off work and celebrate the occasion with their families.
In many parts of Europe, Mother’s Day is celebrated on the same day as in the UK, which is the fourth Sunday of Lent. However, in some countries such as France, it is celebrated on the last Sunday of May. Similarly, in Germany, Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday of May, which is the same day as in the United States.
Many businesses and shops offer special deals and discounts on gifts and flowers for Mother’s Day, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for any promotions that may be available. Mother’s Day is a special occasion that provides an opportunity to celebrate and honour the contributions and love of mothers. In UAE, Mother’s Day is celebrated on the 21st of March each year, and in 2023 and 2024, it will fall on a Tuesday and Thursday, respectively. Make sure to mark the dates in your calendar and take the time to show your appreciation and love for your mother on this special day.
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