Ramadan: Airplanes, Athletes, and Reality TV

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ACCRA, Ghana -- Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting and contemplation, began on June 28th.

Until recently, the concept of this religious event was distant to me as there isn't a large Muslim population in my North Carolina home.  However, since coming to work in Accra, the capital and largest city of Ghana, my interactions with Muslim people has increased.

I work next to a lovely Muslim village full of women in brightly colored Hijabs, and have witnessed demonstrations of peaceful coexistence, when in every conference that I attend, the opening prayer is done by a Christian and the closing prayer given by a Muslim.

Under terms of Ramadan, Muslims must fast from sunrise to sunset. This fast means no food and in some cases no water, but it's also a time of restraint for other things, such as personal vices, unkind thoughts, and angry actions.

While I am not partaking of the fast myself, but out of respect me and many non-Muslims choose not to eat in public during Ramadan. Until I restricted my public eating habits, I never realized he availability of food. Vendors in every corner, sales ladies walking through traffic jams balancing baskets of bread or fruit or candy on their heads and selling their wares to people in cars, bicyclers pushing ice-cream carts.... All forbidden during Ramadan.

Even though it clearly requires a great deal of restraint, at least it seems pretty straightforward -- a time of self-sacrifice and re-devotion to Allah, a time to cut out the bad and nurture the good. However, the blessed month can come with some unexpected twists and hurdles.

For instance, while traveling. Technically, the Quran gives a pass to travelers, suggesting they keep up their strength for he journey and make up the missed days later. However, many Muslims continue adhering to as many guidelines as possible.  Timing is important during Ramadan, and a hassle for anyone flying through time zones. There is a time for prayers, a time for fasting, and a time for Suhoor (pre-fasting meal) and Iftar (meal to break the fast.) In places with a heavy Muslim population, there are public announcements or alerts reminding Muslims of the time.

I was caught off guard while watching TV last week when my regularly scheduled programming switched suddenly to play Arabic music and show a passage from the Qur'an. However, those mid-flight have a bit more trouble than those at home watching TV.  Luckily, airlines are usually sympathetic.  Recently, Emirates announced that along with providing traditional Muslim sunrise and sunset meals, with items such as vegetable samosas, dates and baklava, it would also be using a special tool that calculated latitude, longitude and altitude to provide the most accurate possible timing for the ceremonies.

Back on solid ground, athletes may also have problems.  This year, Ramadan coincides with the World Cup, which causes some Muslim players extra difficulties.  On the other hand, the Qur'an does give an exemption to warriors about to go into battle, so perhaps Football is covered in that fine print.  Ramadan's timing may even have affected betting odds on teams, as some suggested teams from Muslim regions might have performance issues.  France, Germany, Belgium, and Algeria all had prominent Muslim players and, in my humble opinion, they all played admirably, fast or no fast.  That may be thanks to a special team of nutritionists FIFA provided to advise the fasting players.

As well as lack of food and hydration fears, disrupted sleep schedules (for nighttime prayers) may result in athletes not being up to par. In the past, some coaches held nighttime practices so the players could be well nourished during practice, so at least the nutrition issue would be solved, if not the disrupted sleep issue. Especially in hotter regions, it isn't uncommon for any Muslim to burn the midnight oil during Ramadan, which unfortunately can lead to an increase in car accidents during the month.

On the other hand, in Brazil sun up to sundown is only 12 hours, so if athletes make sure their sunrise meal is adequate and they start the day hydrated, it shouldn't be a problem.  In the Netherlands, however, Muslims would have to be much hardier, as a day lasts almost 20 hours there this time of year. Australian Muslims have it easiest, with only ten hours of fasting.

Perhaps one of the more bizarre results of the clash of modernity and Ramadan is its recent mingling with Reality TV.  Though not without its share of controversy, as some think the TV personalities don't present the proper air of modesty and good taste representative of the faith.  However, some shows are better than others, and such idiosyncrasies vary from show to show.

For example, one where teens try to recite the longest passage from the Qur'an to win prizes, or shows where gifts of charity are awarded specifically to those less fortunate, to the "ever popular" cooking shows that in this instance, focus on Suhoor and Iftar -- each with the apparent intent of declaring that even the oldest and most sacred traditions can keep pace with changing times.

If you are not partaking in Ramadan, please be considerate to those who are.  Know that employees may need time off and it's not a "holiday" or "vacation" -- it requires dedication, commitment, and adjustment.  Extra attention to charity or one's family life, as well as daily prayers, require a more flexible schedule and understanding colleagues.  If in a Muslim neighborhood or workplace, be discrete in your dress and eating habits. And try to eat an Iftar feast if you get the opportunity.

To our Muslim readers: Ramadan Kareem!

Iranians Arrested after Celebratory World Cup Video

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Allyson Cartwright, Contributing JournalistLast Modified: 16:42 p.m. DST, 09 July 2014

Ali karimi and Nakamura Shunsuke during their the World Cup 2006 qualifying match in Tehran, Photo by  MEVA_SLS

TEHRAN, Iran — For the second time in the past few months, Iran authorities have arrested those involved in making a celebratory music video. Last month, six individuals were arrested and since released for filming a music video to the Pharrell Williams song “Happy”.

This week, three individuals have been arresting for filming a music video entitled “Gole Iran” by the London-based Ajam Band in support of Iran’s World Cup football team. VICE News reports that those arrested are two 23-year-olds, who can be seen in the video, and a 26-year-old photographer.

Like in the video that the young Iranians made to “Happy”, Iranian authorities have issue with the women in the videos being shown not wearing headscarves. The official IRNA news agency of the state released a quote from police chief Colonel Rahmatollah Taheri, who called the World Cup music video “vulgar”, according to Associated Press.

For this reason, the World Cup video was also condemned by Iranian authorities because it is illegal for women without scarves to be in—and especially dance in—public. In this World Cup video, both men and women can be seen dancing and singing in various locations in Iran, including the city where the arrests were made, Sharoud. They are shown waving Iran’s flag and playing musical instruments.

Iran has been known to censor websites in the past, but with the arrests made from the highly-viewed “Happy” video and “Gole Iran” videos it appears that Iranian authorities are making examples of viral videos to Mahsa Alimardani, an Iranian-Canadian internet researcher, specializes in human rights criticized the arrests telling Mashable, "They're trying to make a point about the world cup festivities, and this is the only way they can scare people. It's really ridiculous."

The punishment of the makers of the video echoes sentiments of the country’s hardliners who are aiming to steer the country away from what they consider Western “decadence”. However, the country’s more moderate president Hassan Rouhani has sought for more cultural and social tolerance in Iran. Despite this, internet censorship apparently still has a presence as this is the second public arrest made over a harmless YouTube video.

There are thirteen credited individuals in the making of “Gole Iran”, including the seven members of Ajam Band, who wrote the song played in “Gole Iran”. Aside from the seven-member band, there are six that were responsible for the directing, editing, filming, and graphics, according to VICE News. The roles of the individuals arrested in making the video remains unknown. In the case of the “Happy” arrests, the detained parties included the dancers and the film’s director.

The video published days before the World Cup commenced garnered 30,000 views on YouTube and now has over 300,000 views. Agence France-Press said the video aired on satellite television in Iran, which is watched illegally by many of its people. Iran was eventually knocked out of the competition June 25 after impressively holding their own against semi-finalists Argentina. Amir Jahnashai, the founder of an Iranian opposition television channel in London tweeted, “The entire Iranian nation today supports our football team. Such solidarity should be present in all fields,” as was the message of “Gole Iran”.

Follow Allyson on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Journalist: @allysoncwright

The Smartest Girl in all of Afghanistan

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Allyson Cartwright, Contributing JournalistLast Modified: 13:36 p.m. DST, 24 June 2014

" 10327-F-BH761-090 " Photo by: Ashley N. Avecilla BALKH, Afghanistan — During Afghanistan’s university entrance exams last month, a girl named Shohreh Ghaderi scored the highest of anyone in the country.

She beat over 225,000 other test-takers. Considering Afghanistan’s history of repressing women’s education, Ghaderi’s feat is challenging the status quo of families not sending their daughters on to higher education.

The university entrance exams in Afghanistan, known as the Kankor, are the Afghan equivalent of the American SATs, but far more imperative for Afghani students. Only about thirty-percent of the students that take the Kankor will be accepted to a public institution of higher education, according to Outlook Afghanistan.

Those who do not qualify have the option of attending one of the few private universities, but most students are too poor to afford it. Shohreh Ghaderi commented on the situation of her fellow test-takers to BBC News saying “Many students who sat for the exam had no security where they live. They don’t have proper books or teachers or access to computer. They have nothing.”

Ghaderi, however, will be one of the fortunate ones that will be going on to university. On taking the exam she said to BBC News, “There were 160 multiple choice questions. I only made three mistakes. I remember I was doubtful of one question. It asked what the chemical formula was for phosphoric acid. It was a very easy question, but I don’t know if I chose the right answer.” Despite those three mistakes, she managed to earn the highest score in the country.

Because of her high score she stands out, but what makes her achievement all the more noteworthy is that she is a girl. Traditionally, Afghan girls do not go on to university, instead opting for a domestic life, but that is not the case for her family. She credits her education to her family saying, “My dad used to help me with my questions. I do not believe any of this has to do with luck. I was brought up in an academic family where everyone cares about education.”

When it comes to how she achieved the highest scores in the country she says to BBC News that there was neither a “special technique” in how she studied nor any unique talent, but it was how hard she studied that mattered. She says, “Everything is possible if you have strong will. You have to have a goal in life and believe that nothing can stop you from achieving it.”

Ghaderi credits peace and security to bettering education for other girls. She tells BBC News that violence in certain areas is why girls are not going to school saying, “Some people won’t let their daughters study because of the lack of security.” She continues to say, “If everywhere was safe then there would be no excuse for stopping their daughters from studying and it would become an outdated tradition.”

With Ghaderi’s impressive score, she will be attending Kabul University. She intends on studying medicine. When she visited a class of other girls prior to their university exams, she left them with this encouraging message, “I hope I can be an inspiration to you all and that you all will be successful in the university entrance exam and then you will become and inspiration for our community.”

Follow Allyson on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Journalist: @allysoncwright

Changing Egypt: Sexual Harassment Criminalized

Allyson Cartwright, Contributing JournalistLast Modified: 00:28 a.m. DST, 18 June 2014

Aliya Mehdi - علياء مهدي, Photo by Gigi Ibrahim

CAIRO, Egypt — Egypt’s interim president, Adly Mansour, has approved amendment to sexual harassment laws this month that would make sexual harassment a punishable offense with fines and prison sentences.

This action from Mansour also reflects newly-elected incoming President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s stance against sexual harassment. Sisi has recently been vocal about his condemnation of Egypt’s high sexual harassment rates.

According to CNN, the 2013 United Nations report, "Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women", showed that over ninety-nine percent of Egyptian women claim that they have been the victims of some kind of sexual harassment. And The Guardian says that since 2011, there have been over 250 mob sexual attacks at Cairo rallies, according to rights groups.

Mansour’s newly-passed law is a response to international pressure, especially from the US, to reform sexual harassment laws in Egypt. This new law will make sexual harassment a crime with the penalties ranging from fines of at least 3,000 Egyptian pounds ($420) to at least six months of jail time, according to Newsweek.

The law stratifies the severity of different forms of sexual violence, making the more severe have stricter punishments. The baseline definition of sexual harassment the law defines is "implying sexual or obscene gestures, including modern means of communication,” as reported by CNN. This level of harassment is punishable by at least six months in prison, barring any aggravated measure. More severely, CNN says, if the sexual harassment is made with "the intent of receiving sexual gratification from the victim," then the punishment could rise to one year in prison.

Egypt’s soon-to-be President Sisi, however, has come under fire in the past for his treatment of the country’s problems with sexual violence. It was under his leadership as military chief that he defended the Egyptian military’s use of “virginity tests” on female protesters who claim abuse, according to Newsweek.

Despite this, Sisi has recently made strides denouncing sexual harassment when he met publically with a victim, three days after his inauguration. The photocall involved Sisi bringing a bouquet of roses to the hospital bedside of a 19-year-old victim of a mob-related sexual assault, according to CBS News. The victim was at a rally celebrating the election of Sisi when she was stripped and attacked.

When Sisi met with the girl, video showed him standing at her bedside with hospital staff and military aides, as he apologized to the victim. CBS News says that in the video he tells her, "I have come to tell you that I am sorry. I am apologizing to every Egyptian woman." He goes on to say, "We as a nation will not allow this to happen again."

Furthermore, Sisi requested that YouTube remove the video of a sexual assault victim from the website on her behalf. The video shows the woman being stripped and dragged through Tahrir Square at a Sisi election rally, according to Newsweek.

The spokesperson for Sisi released a statement on the YouTube request saying, "The Egyptian embassy in Washington DC and a number of Egyptian authorities, at the direction of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, have requested the YouTube administration to remove the video of the sexual assault victim," it continued, "This came in response to her wish, which she expressed during the president's visit to her yesterday at the hospital to check on her condition."

The recent actions by Sisi are promising for the future of Egypt under his presidency. Mozn Hassan, the director of rights group Nazra for Feminist Studies said to The Guardian, "What Sisi did gives a clear message that the government recognizes that this is happening." However, Hassan skeptical of Sisi says, "But the problem is that saying sorry is not the state's responsibility. The state's responsibility is to bring accountability to the people who did it, and to implement a strategic, systematic plan to combat this and eradicate the issue."

Hopefully, with Manour’s criminalization of sexual harassment in addition to Sisi’s public condemnation of the crime, Egypt incidence of the crime will decrease and women’s rights improve. Egypt's National Council for Women seems to be optimistic as they say of the new laws, "(The decision) reflects the keenness of the state and the interest in the protection of women and preservation of their rights."

Follow Allyson on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Journalist: @allysoncwright

Qatar's Strategy for Post-Oil Economy | FIFA World Cup 2022

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Vinita Tiwari, Middle East CorrespondentLast Modified: 22:50 p.m. DST, 12 June 2014

Qatar Airways, Photo by Erick Espinosa

DOHA -- Qatar will be the hosting the FIFA World Cup 2022. The event is huge and the results expected out of it are anticipated to be equally impressive. Let us unfold the significance of the event for Qatar and how it can improve the fortunes for all the emirates.

United Nations' Study on the Correlation between Sport Events & Economy

There are certain facts that never lose its authenticity and keep on backing the instances even for years. Sports events produce an incredible number of economic and social benefits for the country in which a globally followed and prestigious event such as the World Cup.

Research conducted by the United Nations, which was later published in a number of known papers on this economic, strongly supports the correlation between sport events and the capacity for a country to leverage revenue to effect social change.

In the case of Qatar, it is looking toward a post-oil boom economy to other revenue streams. Though, a sporting event and the revenue generated cannot compare to that generated by oil sales, it does indicate a trend toward seizing opportunities that provide the initial entree into alternate streams of income.

Below are some of the facts shared in the study

An important wing of the United Nations Organization and one of the top contributors in the research, Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), mentioned that:

  1. Sport and physical education can effectively contribute to economic and  social growth;
  2. That hosting World Sports events contribute towards promoting good will which facilitates the development of substantive dialogue;
  3. Sporting events transcend the barriers of religion, culture, and nationalism, thus giving rise to an equitable society and thereby a more prosperous nation.

The study asserts its position based upon historical evidence of past cross-cultural promotional efforts and the positive benefits that were the result of these interactions. In fact, recognized organizations and personalities from known sport teams like Italian National Workers Compensation Authority (INAIL), veterans associated with Brazilian soccer team, World Sports Alliance, to name few, agreed with the premise that sports events engender participation and joie de vivre.

FIFA World Cup: Why Qatar?

Since most emirates in the Gulf region are brimming with economic success, some may question why the World Sports Alliances chose Doha, a city in Qatar to host the FIFA 2022? Here are some of the reasons that made Qatar the ‘hot’ choice:

  • Huge Cost Incurred in ‘Green’ Efforts: According to Zawya, Qatar has proposed to spend a whopping $50 billion on infrastructure;
  •  Use of Solar Power: The proposal is loaded with other positive points; one of them is that the air-cooled stadiums will be powered by solar power and there will be inputs to make use of renewable energies to host the game in a safe environment;
  •  The Efforts Met the Fate: The efforts brought in a lot of applaud from the spectators who were keeping a strict watch on the countries that were a part of the race. Qatar left behind economically strong countries like the United States of America and earned 14 plus votes.

Consequently, according to the United Nations research revealed above, Qatar will receive a good boost to the already flourishing economy.

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Published: 12 June 2014 (Page 2 of 2)

The Foreseen Economic Benefits

Any event happening within a country assures a lot of fiscal benefits as well as encouraging foreign investments and visitors to explore a region of the world that they might otherwise choose. The investments received would be directed towards upgrading the infrastructure and hospitality domain. The economy and the job market share inter-dependencies that require that each grows in portion to the other to balance out the macro benefits.

  1. A Bright Example

South Africa is a prime example of this phenomenon. 2010 proved to be a fortunate year for the country when it hosted the World Cup games, which helped the country to realize an increase in foreign trade, investments as well as boost the tourism market sector. Per the hard data, the total awareness factor of South Africa as a leisure destination increased by an estimated 9% after the event. Though the return on investment was not as high, the event still gave rise to a lot of employment opportunities pertaining to the tourism and hospitality jobs.

  1. Qatari Economy: Expected Good Things!

Already riding high with high expat rate, enviable per capita income figures, and a free economy; Qatar is one of the richest and leading oil exporters. Apart from this, the employment market is picking up the pace and is even more ‘hotter’ in the recent times.

The return on investment” is expected sky rocket and the job market will exponentially expand to accommodate the infrastructure, service, technology, and tourism sectors.  Some of the obvious economic benefits are:

  • The world cup will be viewed by millions of people and the wealth and economic stature of Qatar will be staged globally. This digital twist will definitely lure the investors from different countries to seek opportunities to partner in business ventures;
  •  The tourism domain will receive positivity as people will be attracted to be a part of the grand event and thus temporary migration is expected;
  •  In order to be the best host around, the construction domain will be more active as it initiates the building of roads, subway systems, and other infrastructure required to effectively host the event;
  1. “Where There is Good, There is Bad!”

The fact can’t be ignored that good things come with shades of darkness. Qatar is definitely going to benefit economically from the opportunity to host the FIFA World Cup 2022; but there are certain facts that we just can’t ignore. Here are some of the factors arranged as a series of events that can create minor issues for the host state:

  • Since Qatar houses rich citizens, the import of poor workers from foreign countries to build the roads, stadiums, and the subway system that will be necessary to host the World Cup may cause socioeconomic tensions because of the disparity of wealth and opportunity;

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Published: 12 June 2014 (Page 3 of 3)

  • The potential for large numbers of immigrants to remain in the country after the event, may cause an unanticipated drain on the economy as Qatar struggles to deal equitably with this immigrant population, a problem with which many other nations wrestle with. However, one strategy is to incentivize the laborers to return to their countries of origin through generous allotment of wages;
  •  The economic and job opportunities provided by this event can be leveraged by these temporary workers to improve their lives and perhaps provide them with skills that they might not otherwise have obtained in their own countries, but it may not be enough to encourage them to return to their homeland;
  •  Finally, the job opportunities for Qatar residents will increase since new jobs will be created to maintain and service all areas of infrastructure improvements or development once the event has concluded; but an equally great chance exists that Qataris may end up competing with skill immigrates for the same jobs in the future.

Whatever the challenges, Qatar is set to be the FIFA 2022 host and is leaving no stone unturned in making the event spectacular, enjoyable, and economically beneficial for all people.

Qatar Opening Up To a Green Perspective

The state of Qatar is known for its wealth-creating Oil reserves; however, with government initiatives to diversify the economy, the emirate is looking forward to engaging in non-Oil based private sector ventures which will initiate job creation. A little known fact is that Qatar has not forgotten its social responsibilities and is striving to provide Eco-friendly environment, and economy driven by companies that value and support employee satisfaction, and incentivizing workers by providing some of the best paying jobs in the region. Thus, Qatar has set forth the following goals and objectives;

  1. Companies based out in Qatar are implementing occupational safety policies designed to protect employees, and are urging the government bodies to legislate these improvements so that these improvements will also benefit post-FIFA World Cup 2022 workers;
  2. FIFA 2022 itself represents a great initiative for Solar Energy which will be used to power the stadiums and air-conditioning where the games will be held;
  3. Then, there are councils and operating bodies based in Qatar, such as IOSH, Qatar Branch, that focuses on business development and ensuring that companies who decide to do business in Qatar can be assured that their workers will be safe both inside and outside of the workplace.

The Verdict

The benefits of hosting a FIFA World Cup are indisputable, and certainly the economic drivers are crucial to the desire for a country to be awarded such an honor. However, it is not only about monetary gain, it is also about the reputation, profile, brand of any country. If the elements are targeted correctly then a lot of positive global attention can be focused on both the games and the country, thus encouraging people to hopefully dispel any preconceived notions and just have fun!

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Follow Vinita on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Middle East Correspondent: @vinita1204

ISIS | The Extremist Group Too Violent for al-Qaeda

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SYRIA — A formerly affiliated subsidiary of al-Qaeda, known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham (ISIS), has been committing brutal acts of violence that even al-Qaeda condemns. After being denounced from al-Qaeda as a “deviant organization," the group is increasing its presence in the Levant (the Sham), particularly Syria. In Early May ISIS carried out seven public executions in the Syrian city of Ar-Raqqa, leaving two of the deceased on display, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The slaying of the seven Syrian rebels in Ar-Raqqa are just the beginning of the threat ISIS poses on the region. According to the group, the seven prisoners were crucified in response to a grenade attack on ISIS members. However, an eyewitness source told CNN that the five dead prisoners that were not displayed were children. The source, from an anti-ISIS activist group, also claims that these five victims were under eighteen; one was a seventh-grade student.

Their other attacks are also seemingly unjustified acts of terror. ISIS’s targets tend to be apparently innocent civilians, including cab drivers, goat herders, and children. Their use of crucifixion began this March when, as CNN reported, ISIS accused a shepherd of theft and murder. ISIS members shot the shepherd in the head and posted his body to a wooden cross. Photo evidence showed the body leaning against a building painted with ISIS’s name and flag.

ISIS relies on symbolism in their attacks—like with the crucifixion—making their acts all the more terrifying for the people. CNN reported that another man killed by ISIS had his body covered in a red sign that read in Arabic, "This man fought Muslims and detonated an IED here."

The group justifies many attacks as revenge.  However, in February, Daily Mail reports that a young girl was stoned to death in Syria by ISIS. She had made a Facebook account and ISIS authority condemns the use of social media, equating it to adultery.

The Syrian government has left voids in the communities since the civil war, which has allowed ISIS to easily slip into power by preying on the people. ISIS has been using the absence of authority to seize it for themselves and issue dictates that comply to strict sharia law. CNN reports that decrees are posted on buildings that command: "All shop owners must close their stores immediately upon the announcement of prayer and go to the mosque. Any violators after the issuance of this announcement will face consequences."

ISIS forces the Christian minority to follow a different set of rules. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Christians must not recite prayers around Muslims, cannot repair churches, cannot display crosses, and must pay a special tax to militants.

ISIS’s rule is so harsh that even Al-Qaeda criticizes the group and cut ties with them. The imprisoned al-Qaeda leader, Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi has written letters from jail condemning ISIS’s actions. The Long War Journal reports that Maqdisi wrote that their attacks on Muslims is “unlawful” and that the group has denied al-Qaeda leadership saying they “began to justify their sin and their transgression against the Mujahideen, as well as their rebellion against their leaders and their rejection of the advice of their leaders, under the guise that al Qaeda has deviated from the path of Jihad.”

The rules instated by ISIS have not been imposed since ancient Islamic times. Abbas Barzegar, assistant professor of Islamic studies at Georgia State University, told CNN,” It has become a standard feature of fringe Islamist groups to revive these outdated practices in an effort to bring back what they believe is authentic." And he goes on to say that what the group believes is “authentic” to Islam is to punish anyone who opposes God because they “deserve the highest form of punishment possible”.

There are Syrians that are confronting the extremist group. An anti-ISIS activist uses Facebook for updates, plans for protests, and posts of alleged crimes committed by ISIS. The anti-ISIS Facebook page currently has 12,000 followers.

Follow Allyson on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Journalist: @allysoncwright

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Dubai: A Tale of Economic Upsurge

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Vinita Tiwari, Middle East CorrespondentLast Modified: 05:09 p.m. DST, 29 May 2014

"BURJ AL ARAB" Photo by: Nitin Badhwar

A recent survey done by one of the globally recognized auditors, Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) revealed that Dubai has been honorably named as the ‘City of Opportunity’. The emirate has left behind a lot of economically strong countries in the race; emerging as one of the flourishing employment producing cities.

Sweeping off the accolades and awards on a global platform was never easy for an Arab federation that was strangling in the ropes of tradition and orthodox perspectives; a couple of years ago. Let us explore and know the history and what led to the huge success of Dubai from different aspects.

History of Dubai: A Time-Line Reflecting the Rise & Fall of the City

Dubai dons the image of an economically powerful Arab federation and an employment powerhouse that encapsulates opportunities not only for nationals but for millions of expats as well. But the situation was never this favorable and Dubai has risen from the ashes, in a true sense. Let us analyze the Dubai’s history, year-wise:

  1. 1930-1940 (The ‘Dark’ Decade):

Long before, when the wealth-generating oil & gas fields were not explored; it was the Pearling industry that flourished in the corners of the UAE, especially Dubai. During this tenure itself, recession destroyed everything and the booming Pearl industry dipped in no time. The sudden fall created a lot of social pressures and there were scenarios of disputes amongst the royals.

  1. 1958-1968 (The ‘Bounce-Back’ Decade)

It was in the year 1958 that Sheikh Rashid officially became the ruler of Dubai and started building relations and directing initiatives towards revamping the economy of Dubai. The initiatives were for re-branding the image of the city and making it a major trading hub. After a couple of years, the city discovered its own oil field. This attracted a lot of traders and thereby after a long time, Dubai saw economic growth. As the decade ended, Dubai was already exporting crude oil and generating revenues.

  1. 1990-2006 (The ‘Fortunate’ Decade)

Dubai was now fast emerging as a wealth and job generating machine sort of country. By the end of 1990, there were political upturns as Sheik Maktoum, the new ruler of Dubai paved way for organizing Dubai shopping festival and the Dubai World Cup. Moreover, in this time period only, Burj Al Arab came into existence. By 2003, Dubai got recognition from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, as a financial hub. All these major political happenings led to the economic success of Dubai.

  1. 2006-Till Date (The Never-Ending Success)

Dubai has now become one of the top tourist destinations and placed itself ahead of all the powerful job markets and economies.

Other than economy and revenues, Dubai has come a long way in shedding its conservative image and rolling out as a country that welcomes people from different cultures and backgrounds. This is no less than a sign of a powerful country. Let us explore this aspect as well.

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Published: 29 May 2014 (Page 2 of 2)

History of Dubai: Ruling Out the Social & Cultural Barriers

Times have changed and so is the thought process. Owing to a strong economy and a high per capita income, Dubai manages to attract a good number of migrating job seekers every quarter. So, it can be clearly said that the flourishing city of the UAE has a mixed populace in terms of religion, caste and creed. The expats have reported a healthy lifestyle and this proves that the federation has left behind the age-old cultural stigmas that marred the success earlier.

The above discussion shares some of the facts that reveal the arduous journey that Dubai has covered from being a small city to what it is today. If people are regarding the city as fortunate, then there are reasons behind it. Let us unfold the current fiscal and job market scenarios of Dubai.

Dubai: A City of Booming Economy & a Ripple-Creating Job Market

Dubai has come a long way in creating the stature that it maintains today. The economic evolution and extermination of tightening cultural yardsticks has resulted into a city that is flourishing and raining jobs in almost all the sectors. There are certain government initiatives that have been taken to bring in revenues and make Dubai’s economy stronger. Here are some of them:

  • Government initiatives directed towards bringing in economic diversification
  • Foreign trade has proved to be a major contributor in boosting the economy
  • Initiatives to promote jobs in service industry-Finance & Trade sectors in the city of Dubai
  • There are initiatives strategized by government bodies in Dubai that aim to offer employees a better and secured workplace. This has actually attracted a lot of countries to partner with Dubai and create jobs for people.

All these factors and ventures have helped in developing Dubai in becoming one of the economically strong cities and a job market to ‘die-for’. Well, Dubai has acquired the status of being a land of opportunity, then there are ought to be some more reasons that supports the fact. Well, there are certain upcoming events that will even elevate the success rates. Here is a snapshot of the foreseen fortunate events:

Dubai: Upcoming Fiscal-Boosting Happenings

  1. World Expo Bid Win 2020

Dubai will be hosting the next World Expo Bid that will witness countries from different parts of the world participating and displaying job opportunities in different sectors. Some of the mobility and Oil & Gas related issues will also be addressed in the exposition. The event is expected to create millions of jobs across sectors. The economy is expected to be boosted by a whopping $24.2bn.

  1. Launch of World Free Zones Organization

Dated May 19, 2014, the World Free Zones Organization (World FZO) unveils in the city of Dubai. The organization is a non-profit entity that will operate for all free zones around the world and is set to transform the way in which world economy operates.

Not only fortunate for working lot, Dubai has also proved its worth for the business group as well. Dubai is a favorable place for all the working people owing to booming fiscal situation, high per capita income and a tax-free working zone.

A ‘City of Opportunity’ in True Sense

Dubai has come a long way to reach a place where it is now and has also shed its image of being a culturally narrow federation. The fierce combination of low corporate tax rates, affordable cost of living and quality of life are some of the defining factors of Dubai. The city is not only a favorable land for emiratis but also an excellent employment destination for expats as well. With all these factors combined together, Dubai has emerged as a winner in true sense.

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