US Pair Can’t Leave Qatar Amid Appeal   no comments

Posted at 11:56 am in the places I would like to go

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Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/10/world/middleeast/us-pair-cant-leave-qatar-amid-appeal.html

Written by enfoquec on April 10th, 2014

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Kerry under fire over Mideast peace process   no comments

Posted at 10:48 am in the places I would like to go

Peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have hit another snag, prompting Washington to reassess whether to continue brokering talks marred by what a White House spokesman called “unhelpful actions” by both conflict parties. US Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to meet with President Barack Obama on Tuesday (08.04.2014). Late last week,
Kerry had stated it was time for a “reality check” – that there was a limit to US efforts if the parties themselves were unwilling to move forward, Kerry said during a visit to Morocco.

This tentative failure “has damaged Kerry’s reputation because it shows that he misread the situation,” said Jim Phillips, a senior research fellow for Middle Eastern affairs at the conservative, Washington-based Heritage Foundation. Kerry overestimated the prospects for a successful negotiation and also devoted an immense amount of time to this issue while neglecting other, more pressing topics, Phillips told DW.

Reality check for Kerry?

After
eight months of shuttle diplomacy, more than a dozen trips to the region and countless rounds of evening negotiations, Kerry decided to pull the emergency brake and announced to carry out a “reality check” regarding the peace process. But first and foremost, it might turn into a reality check for Kerry himself, writes the “New York Times.”

And this could be uncomfortable for Kerry, who – according to Republican Senator John McCain – chooses to ignore reality. Kerry has not just been criticized by the opposition; off the record, criticism has also been voiced by politicians in the Obama administration.


Netanyahu has threatened to punish Palestinians for submitting requests to join international treaties

Meanwhile, Obama publicly supported his secretary of state, saying, “I have nothing but admiration for how John [Kerry] has handled this.” While that kind of backing might help him at home, it won’t restore his prestige and authority abroad. Obama largely left handling the Mideast peace process to Kerry and has only tried within the last month to up pressure on Abbas and Netanyahu toward reaching an agreement.

Matthew Duss of the Center for American Progress says it has been a problem that the US wasn’t allowed to publicly talk about its successes along the way due to confidentiality. Contrary to Phillips, he regards Kerry’s role as mainly positive.

“The way Secretary Kerry was managing this process was very good. I think the security assessment that was done by General Allen in particular was a very smart move, addressing upfront one of Israel’s biggest concerns, which is the security arrangement that would come after the end of the occupation,” he told DW.

That opened up a time slot for a possible agreement early this year.

According to Duss, Kerry’s main failure was “that he did underestimate the lack of trust that exists between the parties right now.”

Abbas’ dwindling power

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had been considerably weakened from the start of the talks, since he was isolated in his own government and amongst the leadership of the Palestinians. And although Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed on Sunday that Israel was ready to continue talks, experts widely expressed doubts that he was serious about negotiations.

Their skepticism was indeed justified, Duss said, pointing to Israel’s decision last week – contrary to prior agreement –
not to release another group of Palestinian prisoners. In turn, that move pushed Abbas to sign a series of global treaties and agreements on behalf of the State of Palestine. Officially accepting such documents would be equivalent to recognizing Palestinian statehood – a prospect the US and Israel would be unlikely to accept.


Abbas decided to sign treaties on behalf of the State of Palestine, thus angering Israel

According to Phillips, Kerry failed to sufficiently account for the fact that the Abbas administration doesn’t rule the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by the militant Islamic group Hamas.

“And as long as Hamas is there, it can torpedo any agreement that the Palestinian authority makes overnight with another round of rocket terrorism. And that greatly reduces Israel’s willingness to make concessions,” he said.

Duss said Obama is wise by taking Kerry out of the line of fire for now and putting experienced diplomats on the case. That buys time to rethink their role and increases pressure on players in the region. It seems clear that Netanyahu is very concerned about the consequences of failure, Duss said.

Against ‘artificial deadlines’

Israelis and Palestinians have increased the frequency of their meetings again in an attempt to save the peace talks and extend the deadline, which will expire in three weeks time. Phillips, however, warns about imposing a new deadline.

“It would be a mistake to set artificial deadlines for reaching an agreement, even on a framework agreement,” he said in regards to Kerry’s announcement to finalize negotiations by the end of April. “Time and time again, the US has pushed prematurely for final settlement, going back to Clinton at second Camp David, the Bush administration at Indianapolis talks, and then Obama in the first term and then Kerry in the second term,” he said, adding, “I just don’t think conditions on the ground are right for a peace settlement.”

Article source: http://www.dw.de/kerry-under-fire-over-mideast-peace-process/a-17549879

Written by enfoquec on April 8th, 2014

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The UAE: A Thriving Japanese Car Market   no comments

Posted at 9:33 am in the places I would like to go

The Japanese automotive industry is one of the most prominent in the world.


Japan is currently the world’s third largest automobile manufacturer in the world with an annual production of 9.9 million vehicles in 2012. Six out of ten of the world’s largest automobile manufacturers have their bases in the island nation.

Brands like Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Suzuki, Mitsubishi and Mazda are synonymous with safety and quality. Likewise,Yamaha and Kawasaki remain the bywords of durability and endurance. The ‘green’ car industry is also ruled by Japanese car–makers Toyota (which includes the highly acclaimed Prius) and Honda (includes the Civic and Insight hybrids). Nissan is also aggressively pursuing a plan to push green car sales.

Japanese car–makers have faced a string of tough challenges over the past few years: starting with the 2008 financial crisis, followed by the yen strengthening to a record high against the dollar – a move that undermines the price competitiveness of vehicles built in Japan and is threatening companies to move production overseas.

A massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan and severe floods in Thailand disrupted the parts supply chain and led to months of production stoppages and constrained the supply of vehicles followed by recalls of millions of vehicles due to safety glitches.

In spite of these setbacks, Japan’s auto industry is starting to see potential big improvements in its business environment.

The yen recently weakened to a 28-month low against the dollar as the newly established government vowed to tackle the yen’s strength. The Nikkei subindex for the auto sector has surged more than 26 per cent since mid –November, outstripping a 20 percent rise on the benchmark Nikkei during the same period.

UAE’S TOP TRADING PARTNER

According to a report by Dubai Customs, Japan is the UAE’s top automobile trading partner, accounting for 25 per cent of foreign trade valued at Dh 8 billion for the first half of 2013.

Japanese brands traditionally regarded as more reliable than their European and US counterparts–are the country’s best one sellers.

Car giant Toyota announced a strong growth of 31 per cent in sales across the Middle East in 2012.The Japanese auto giant delivered 660,285 vehicles, making 2012 a record year in the region for the Toyota and Lexus brands. Globally, sales of Toyota and Lexus cars totalled 8.72 million units, an increase of 23 per cent compared to 2011.

Across the GCC region alone, Toyota sold 624,400 vehicles in 2012.

Similarly, 2012 was acknowledged as the best year ever for sales for Nissan Middle East for its Nissan Patrol flagship vehicle.

More than 14,000 Nissan Patrols were sold in the Middle East in 2012 representing a 66 per cent increase in sales and giving Nissan Patrol a record market share of 22 per cent in the Gulf market.

The Nissan Patrol is Nissan’s flagship SUV model and enjoys a rich heritage and passionate following in the Middle East that dates back to the 1950s. The iconic vehicle notched another historic milestone by setting a Guinness World Record – ‘heaviest object pulled by any production vehicle’.

An unmodified production of Nissan Patrol hauled a 170.9-tonne cargo plane, inclusive of the weight of the plane, cargo and fuel, for over 50 meters at the Sharjah International Airport.

GROWTH IN AUTO PARTS TRADE

The auto parts trade in the Dubai has grown over 27 per cent in the last four years, according to a Dubai Customs report.

Dubai’s auto spare parts foreign trade was valued at Dhs7 billion in 2012, an increase of Dhs8 billion as compared to Dhs29 billion in 2009. The auto spare parts market continued to rise, reaching Dhs32 billion in 2010 and Dhs36 billion in 2011, most of which is made up from export and re-export activities, taking up the major share of foreign trade.

Japan is deemed to be Dubai`s top trade partner in spare parts and accessories, claiming 28 per cent of the imports market share with a value of Dhs6.1 billion.


Article source: http://gulfbusiness.com/2014/04/uae-thriving-japanese-car-market/

Written by enfoquec on April 6th, 2014

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5 free things in Tel Aviv, from beaches to boulevards to strolls in the park   no comments

Posted at 8:53 am in the places I would like to go

TEL AVIV, Israel — As a city regularly ranked the most expensive in the Middle East, you are going to have a hard time enjoying Tel Aviv’s plethora of hopping clubs, swanky bars and mouthwatering restaurants without making a major dent in your wallet. But if you are ready to pack a lunch, use your legs and lose yourself in the seaside city’s urban vibe, you’ll find there is still plenty to take in without shelling out a shekel.

THE BEACHES

A dozen municipal beaches stretch out along 14 kilometers (9 miles) of coast, offering ample space for relaxing in the soft sand and dipping in the warm Mediterranean waters. Access is free of charge and some offer extra amenities such as beach volleyball courts and outdoor exercise equipment. You can also observe and partake in Israel’s unofficial national sport of matkot, or beach paddleball. The pros come out to the Hilton Beach early Saturday mornings, where the fast-paced sound of balls smacking echoes along the promenade. Later, tourists are also welcome to join public sessions of Israeli folk dancing.

THE BOULEVARDS

Tel Aviv’s founders envisioned a “garden city” in which small roads lead into green enclaves nestled inside a bustling urban landscape. Visitors get a sense of this unique design thanks to the wide tree-lined walkways and bike paths that split the six boulevards of the city (Rothschild, Chen, Nordau, Ben-Gurion, Ben-Zion and Yerushalayim).

Along trendy Rothschild, you’ll get a glimpse of “The White City” — a collection of some 4,000 boxy, Bauhaus-style buildings that earned Tel Aviv UNESCO recognition as a World Heritage Site. On Ben-Gurion, the home of the boulevard’s namesake (and Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion) can be toured free of charge. As the epicenter of a social protest movement that swept the country against its high cost of living, Tel Aviv has seen street kiosks pop up in recent years that offer discounted coffee during the day and “drink points” at night with affordable alcohol that can (legally) be consumed openly on the streets of Tel Aviv.

THE YARKON PARK

Tel Aviv’s primary open space sits along the Yarkon River and offers a perfect place for a jog, a stroll or a picnic. Renting kayaks will cost money, but you can lazily lounge along the riverbank as long as you want or visit a free mini-petting zoo. Those in the mood for more adventure can try scaling the outdoor climbing walls or join a pickup soccer or basketball game.

JAFFA

The biblical Mediterranean port city of Jaffa is part of the joint Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipality. It offers a gateway into the city’s origins, with synagogues, churches, mosques and clock towers from the Ottoman era open to visitors. In Old Jaffa, walk down the ancient cobblestone alleyways, pop into pottery stores or just grab a seat to stare at the glistening waters below. A renovated port area with myriad restaurants and coffee shops offers a pleasant place to walk by the sea, where rickety fishermen’s ships still dock. Cool off from the blazing heat at the port’s new indoor market. Now quite gentrified, there are also chic neighborhoods, galleries and a bohemian flea market to explore.

NEVE TZEDEK

Long before Tel Aviv became a city in 1909, the first Jewish neighborhood to emerge from Jaffa was Neve Tzedek. Hebrew for Oasis of Justice, today it is literally a Soho-like enclave, lined with upscale designer stores and shops and galleries, but it also maintains its original feel of a quaint village. Explore the main Shabazi Street, but also the smaller passageways that house boutiques and trendy coffee shops. The neighborhood’s flagship Suzanne Dellal Center offers pricey dance performances, but only a short walk away you can find the renovated Hatachana, Tel Aviv’s old railway station where live music can be enjoyed while observing outdoor art exhibits.

Article source: http://www.therepublic.com/w/ML--Travel-Trip-5-Free-Things-Tel-Aviv

Written by enfoquec on April 4th, 2014

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5 free things in Tel Aviv, from beaches to boulevards to strolls in the park   no comments

Posted at 8:53 am in the places I would like to go

TEL AVIV, Israel — As a city regularly ranked the most expensive in the Middle East, you are going to have a hard time enjoying Tel Aviv’s plethora of hopping clubs, swanky bars and mouthwatering restaurants without making a major dent in your wallet. But if you are ready to pack a lunch, use your legs and lose yourself in the seaside city’s urban vibe, you’ll find there is still plenty to take in without shelling out a shekel.

THE BEACHES

A dozen municipal beaches stretch out along 14 kilometers (9 miles) of coast, offering ample space for relaxing in the soft sand and dipping in the warm Mediterranean waters. Access is free of charge and some offer extra amenities such as beach volleyball courts and outdoor exercise equipment. You can also observe and partake in Israel’s unofficial national sport of matkot, or beach paddleball. The pros come out to the Hilton Beach early Saturday mornings, where the fast-paced sound of balls smacking echoes along the promenade. Later, tourists are also welcome to join public sessions of Israeli folk dancing.

THE BOULEVARDS

Tel Aviv’s founders envisioned a “garden city” in which small roads lead into green enclaves nestled inside a bustling urban landscape. Visitors get a sense of this unique design thanks to the wide tree-lined walkways and bike paths that split the six boulevards of the city (Rothschild, Chen, Nordau, Ben-Gurion, Ben-Zion and Yerushalayim).

Along trendy Rothschild, you’ll get a glimpse of “The White City” — a collection of some 4,000 boxy, Bauhaus-style buildings that earned Tel Aviv UNESCO recognition as a World Heritage Site. On Ben-Gurion, the home of the boulevard’s namesake (and Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion) can be toured free of charge. As the epicenter of a social protest movement that swept the country against its high cost of living, Tel Aviv has seen street kiosks pop up in recent years that offer discounted coffee during the day and “drink points” at night with affordable alcohol that can (legally) be consumed openly on the streets of Tel Aviv.

THE YARKON PARK

Tel Aviv’s primary open space sits along the Yarkon River and offers a perfect place for a jog, a stroll or a picnic. Renting kayaks will cost money, but you can lazily lounge along the riverbank as long as you want or visit a free mini-petting zoo. Those in the mood for more adventure can try scaling the outdoor climbing walls or join a pickup soccer or basketball game.

JAFFA

The biblical Mediterranean port city of Jaffa is part of the joint Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipality. It offers a gateway into the city’s origins, with synagogues, churches, mosques and clock towers from the Ottoman era open to visitors. In Old Jaffa, walk down the ancient cobblestone alleyways, pop into pottery stores or just grab a seat to stare at the glistening waters below. A renovated port area with myriad restaurants and coffee shops offers a pleasant place to walk by the sea, where rickety fishermen’s ships still dock. Cool off from the blazing heat at the port’s new indoor market. Now quite gentrified, there are also chic neighborhoods, galleries and a bohemian flea market to explore.

NEVE TZEDEK

Long before Tel Aviv became a city in 1909, the first Jewish neighborhood to emerge from Jaffa was Neve Tzedek. Hebrew for Oasis of Justice, today it is literally a Soho-like enclave, lined with upscale designer stores and shops and galleries, but it also maintains its original feel of a quaint village. Explore the main Shabazi Street, but also the smaller passageways that house boutiques and trendy coffee shops. The neighborhood’s flagship Suzanne Dellal Center offers pricey dance performances, but only a short walk away you can find the renovated Hatachana, Tel Aviv’s old railway station where live music can be enjoyed while observing outdoor art exhibits.

Article source: http://www.therepublic.com/w/ML--Travel-Trip-5-Free-Things-Tel-Aviv

Written by enfoquec on April 4th, 2014

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County Durham exhibition shows off the Art of Egyptian Tentmakers   no comments

Posted at 8:29 am in the places I would like to go

An exhibition celebrating the art of Egyptian tentmaking enjoys its last day in Durham today.

Weekend visitors to Durham Castle’s Norman Chapel have been treated to displays of exquisite textiles as well as demonstrations of the ancient craft tradition and associated lectures as part of The Art of Egyptian Tentmakers.

Contemporary appliquéd pieces of design, craftsmanship and colour were commissioned for this exhibit in the 900-year-old chapel. In a variety of sizes, the pieces, serve as wall hangings, bedspreads, and pillow coverings. They are not woven, as are European tapestries, but stitched with impressive dexterity.

For centuries Cairo’s master craftsmen have recorded their rich cultural heritage in this way.

Originally intended to line tents, the pieces have subsequently been used in an array of contexts from weddings and pilgrimage celebrations to political rallies. Craftsman Hany Abdel Kader, who is one of many keeping this ancient tradition alive has been on hand throughout to demonstrate the complex techniques employed in the creation of the beautiful pieces. As well as being able to look at the displays and see the craftsmanship for themselves, visitors have been invited to buy contemporary examples of the Egyptian textiles.

Exhibition of the work from Tentmakers of Islamic Cairo, Prof James Piscatori, Middle East Studies at Durham University

 

The exhibition made up part of a wider season dedicated to exploring and celebrating the cultural traditions of the Arab World built on years of study of the Middle East in Durham. Organised by the Durham World Heritage Site, in conjunction with Durham University’s School of Government and International Affairs, the season also included a photographic exhibition featuring the Tentmakers of Islamic Cario.

Meanwhile James Piscatori, professor at Durham’s School of Government and International Affairs, and Seif El Rashidi, the co-ordinator of the Durham World Heritage Site, also presented two short and informal talks on the history of Islamic Textiles yesterday.

Challenging the pervasive image of the Middle East as volatile and troubled, it was intended that displaying these lavish pieces while exploring the heritage behind them should serve as a reminder of the region’s ancient, intricate and aesthetically rich cultural traditions.

James Piscatori, project leader says, “This is a fantastic opportunity to discover the rich visual culture of the Middle East, and to meet with a master craftsman representing a highly specialised skill that has existed on one street in Cairo for at least a thousand years.

“It is a tradition that resonates very well with the quilting tradition of the North East.”

The Art of Egyptian Tentmakers in Durham Castle’s Norman Chapel will be open from 10am to 6pm today.

Article source: http://www.thejournal.co.uk/culture/arts-culture-news/county-durham-exhibition-shows-art-6896172

Written by enfoquec on April 2nd, 2014

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‘The Voice Arabia’ Crowns Iraqi Singer Sattar Saad   no comments

Posted at 7:38 am in the places I would like to go

BEIRUT — Iraqi singer Sattar Saad was crowned winner of the “The Voice Arabia” on Saturday during an intense finale which drew millions of viewers across the Middle East and saw guest star Ricky Martin take the stage to perform his new songs “Adrenalina” and “Come With Me.”

Aired by satcaster Middle East Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), The Arab version of “The Voice” wrapped with Saad draped in an Iraqi flag on stage receiving the trophy from his coach, Iraqi pop music sensation Kadim Al Sahir.

Saad’s victory, which sparked celebrations in the streets of Baghdad, earned him a record contract with Universal Music Group.

The second season of “The Voice” in the MENA region saw escalating ratings, driven by young auds “which was reflected by the voting and the social media platforms in the Arab world,” said MBC spokesman Mazen Hayek.

Martin, who arrived by private jet to Beirut where he made an overnight stop, offered the winner some advice before exiting the stage amid an audience frenzy and vowing to back in the Arab world “very soon.”

“My advice to the artist who wins tonight is: keep your focus, be surrounded by good people, and fight to bring your music to the rest of the world,” he said.

Young Iraqi singers featured prominently on “The Voice Arabia” this year. Two out of four finalists were from the country which has a rich musical heritage, a revival of which could help it rise from the ashes of war.

“It’s something that gives them more hope,” said the show’s host, Egyptian actor Mohamed Karim.

But Karim pointed out that several countries across the Arab world, from which the show’s 100 participants were selected, are enduring very rough living conditions. One of the finalists was from civil war-torn Syria.

Karim also underlined the pan-Arab nature of the show.

“The good thing about ‘The Voice” in this region is you’ve got more than twenty Arabic countries involved. All these countries speaking the same language, it’s kind of hard to find that anywhere else around the world,” he noted.

Though the Middle East does not have an exact TV ratings metric system, Karim said the finale’s audience is estimated to have scored 100 million viewers.

 

Article source: http://variety.com/2014/tv/news/1201150095-1201150095/

Written by enfoquec on March 31st, 2014

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