In a significant development, King Mohammed VI of Morocco has extended a formal invitation to the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to visit the North African kingdom. This invitation comes as a gesture of gratitude following Israel’s recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over the contentious Western Sahara territory.
The royal summons, issued this Wednesday, warmly invites Mr. Netanyahu to visit Morocco at a mutually agreeable time, to be determined through diplomatic channels.
The Israeli Prime Minister announced his decision regarding the mineral-laden desert region via a letter which was subsequently referenced by the Moroccan royal office on Monday.
Economic, security, and tourism ties between Israel and Morocco have been strengthening progressively. This forthcoming meeting is expected to “open new possibilities in the bilateral relations between Morocco and Israel,” as per King Mohammed.
The Moroccan monarch praised Israel’s decision, affirming that the issue of Western Sahara represents “the national cause of the kingdom and the priority of its foreign policy”.
Around 80 per cent of the vast 266,000-square-kilometre desert region is currently administered by Morocco. The remaining portion of this sparsely populated area is controlled by the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, a breakaway state supported by Algeria and not internationally recognised by the United Nations.
Several Arab and African nations, along with the US, back Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara. The ongoing territorial dispute has led to the closure of land borders between Algeria and Morocco since the early 1990s due to security apprehensions.
Earlier this year, an attempt to mollify the strained relations was made by King Mohammed when he invited Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune for discussions in Rabat. However, the King chose not to attend the first Arab League summit in three years, hosted by Algeria in November.
A thaw in Israel-Morocco relations was observed as part of the 2020 Abraham Accords, with encouragement from the then-US President Donald Trump, who acknowledged Morocco’s rule over the Western Sahara region.
Image Credit: Alexander Schimmeck on Unsplash
In the aftermath of a deadly attack on Israeli civilians, an incensed mob of settlers launched a violent retaliation in the Palestinian town of Turmus Ayya on Wednesday. The onslaught, which included the torching of homes, vehicles, and fields, left a trail of destruction and terror among the local populace. The assaults extended to the West Bank village of Urif, marking a severe escalation of violence in the region.
A day of violence began in the wake of the burial service for Israeli victims of a recent Palestinian terror assault. A subsequent rampage by Israeli settlers left one Palestinian dead, identified as Omar Qattin, a 27-year-old father of two, and a further twelve injured. Four of those were casualties of gunfire, one of whom is critically wounded, according to the Palestinian Authority health ministry.
Residents maintain that Mr Qattin, an electrician by profession, was unarmed and distant from the scene of conflict when he was shot. The identity of his assailant remains undetermined.
The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) criticised the violence but neglected to mention any incidents of Palestinian casualties. Despite the devastating impact on Turmus Ayya, the IDF claimed that their forces had managed to disperse the settlers and that an inquiry was underway. Meanwhile, the police force is investigating a shooting incident involving their officers, who returned fire after reportedly being targeted during the riots.
In the aftermath of the settlers’ attack, Turmus Ayya’s mayor reported that around 60 cars and 30 homes had either been partially or entirely burned, with approximately 400 settlers implicated in the assault.
Repercussions of the settlers’ rampage reached international audiences, eliciting strong reactions. Both Egypt and Jordan’s foreign ministries condemned the violence, calling for international intervention to protect Palestinians, and immediate cessation of attacks on Palestinian settlements.
The violence continued later on Wednesday when settlers from the Yitzhar area launched an assault on the nearby village of Urif. Palestinian media documented these instances of violence, adding to the rising tensions in the region.
The surge in hostility between Israelis and Palestinians is following a year of escalating tensions marked by frequent military raids in the West Bank and recurrent deadly Palestinian terror attacks. This year alone, 24 people have fallen victim to Palestinian attacks in Israel and the West Bank, with the death toll on the Palestinian side reaching 129, according to The Times of Israel.
Image Credit: Majdi Mohammed/AP
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.
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.
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.