Dams tame wild rivers, they prevent floods, irrigate crops and generate billions of watts of renewable hydroelectric power. But some 25 miles from Raqaa, Syria the Daesh (aka ISIS) don’t see the Tabqa dam as a source of green energy. They see it as a military base, a prison and weapon of war.
A recent study released by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) concludes that the current drought that began in 1998 in the eastern Mediterranean Levant – which includes Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and Turkey – is the region’s worst dry spell since 1100 C.E.
United Nations-sponsored World Water Day was celebrated this week in a series of events around the world ranging from races to speeches to demonstrations of how individuals could conserve consumption of this most-critical of natural resources. To mark the occasion, two experts in international water policy have co-authored an Op-Ed exploring the future of water,[.....]
Just in time for St. Paddy’s Day, scientists from Dublin and Belfast have evidence that stone age Irish settlers had genetic origins in the Middle East. Thank the Vikings for the DNA that gave rise to red hair and freckles, introduced when they invaded the island nation at the end of the eighth century. But[.....]
Interior Design & Textiles students from London’s Royal College of Art (RCA) have designed a piece of clothing with three distinct uses: it is a weather-proof coat, a sleeping bag, and a tent. Their prototype aims to meet the immediate needs of migrating people, with pockets specially designed to store passports, personal documents, and phones.
Google did a doodle marking the 151st birthday of the pharmacist who helped us navigate the chili peppers, the tiny veggie with the power to drop diners to their knees. Wilbur Scoville was the first person to measure the heat of peppers. His heat scale is still in use today, scoring the piquancy of peppers. (What[.....]
Soup for Syria is a beautiful new cookbook of delicious and easy-to-make recipes guaranteed to fill your belly and feed your mind with heightened humanitarian awareness. But at its heart it is a cookbook, a perfect primer for any cook seeking healthy and flavorful food made with no-fuss ingredients (mostly vegetarian) found in supermarkets everywhere.
For Syrian refugees, seeing light at the end of the tunnel is a whole lot to ask. The Syrian civil war is reaching its five-year anniversary, and that’s not quite a call to celebration. What can humans cling to in such desolation? The things that make us human. We have the ability to feel and[.....]
As the world awaits the release of the final draft agreement emerging from the COP21 climate talks – expected this morning – longtime expert in water policy, Dr. Sundeep Waslekar explores one specific aspect of climate change in the following article, providing clear insight into the future of water, not only as a critical resource for all[.....]
Each day, something terrible happens somewhere in this world. Families and communities are torn apart and thrown together in unfamiliar ways. Strangers who had found one another just barely tolerable become fellow humans, grieving needing and helping one another to survive. “My name is Sidra. I am 12 years old… I have lived here in[.....]
American media giant 20th Century Fox has teamed up with United Arab Emirates Al Ahli Holding Group to build a theme park in Dubai, set to open in 2018, that will feature attractions based on blockbuster movies such as “Aliens,” “Titanic,” “Ice Age” and “Planet of the Apes.” So the UAE builds another resource-guzzling folly for audiences[.....]
Why blow your wedding bucks on one extravaganza when you can hold two for the same price? Jordanian newlyweds Mutaz Mango and Basma Omar opted to split their celebration, hosting a private party for family and friends and a second for Iraqi and Syrian refugee children living in the old Hashemi al Shemali neighborhood of[.....]
A special Kickstarter campaign invites you to aid the ballooning Middle Eastern refugee crisis, with all proceeds going directly to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The one-week fundraiser was launched on Tuesday in response to a question posed by President Barack Obama: could crowdfunding incite Americans to get more involved in refugee relief? White House[.....]
The Svalbard Global seed bank was established in February 2008. It was designed to store seeds for hundreds or even thousands of years in the event of a global disaster. But now, only seven years later, the Syrian civil war made it necessary to withdraw seeds from this doomsday vault.
Quick! What’s the best wedding you ever attended? Youtube archives threaten to break the internet with flash mob proposals, bridal party dance antics, and epic fail toasts. Meet a young Turkish couple that refreshingly flipped their big day on its head, making a naturally narcissistic milestone into something all about others. They invited 4,000 Syrian refugees[.....]
Jordan will waive its 40 dinar ($57) visa fee for incoming tourists to make visits to Jordan “more convenient and affordable for people of all nationalities,” according to a government press release. The action aims to boost tourism to kingdom attractions such as Petra, Pella, and the protected area of Wadi Rum. It’s just one of several new initiatives to reinvigorate Jordan’s[.....]
Mayors from 114 North American cities entered into an agreement to rehabilitate an endangered river halfway across the world. Launched at the recent Water After Borders (WAB) summit in Chicago, the partnership brings expertise in transboundary water system management to the Jordan River, a waterbody long embroiled in regional politics.
A team of Syrian scientists at the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA) braved the terrors of civil war to protect a critical piece of global heritage, meticulously transporting plant genetic material from a seed bank in Aleppo to the Svalbard Seed Vault in Norway. Their actions to protect the region’s ancient farming[.....]
The population at Jordan’s Zaatari camp for Syrian refugees has dwindled. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) counts current residents at 83,000, down from over 200,000 in April 2013. People are relocating to communities across Jordan, electing to return to Syria, or simply bailing out of the refugee program. Meanwhile, those that remain – many in[.....]
Collateral Repair Project (CRP) is a scrappy nonprofit in Amman, Jordan that brings critical help to people commonly referred to as “collateral damage” – urban refugees, victims of war and conflict, and those on the lowest rung of the local economic ladder. Read on to learn how a group of Amman’s most marginalized women are giving back to[.....]
A winter storm is banging around much of the Middle East. Precip’s teamed up with gale force winds, causing first-world headaches like clogged transport, school closures, power outages and the promise of steep heating bills. But mostly people are rocking a few days respite from the usual grind, and – judging from the flood of[.....]
Last May, Lebanese lawmaker Walid Jumblatt called for marijuana to be legalized in Lebanon. While he never touched the weed himself, he said, “I support growing cannabis for medical use and to improve the living conditions of farmers in north Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley,” according to the Daily Star. Now he’s back in the[.....]
Open a newspaper in the Middle East and expect to be whacked with some bad news. Still, I wasn’t prepared to read that – according to the World Misery Index (the name was a tip-off to what was coming) – Jordan (where I live) is the fourth most miserable country in the Arab world. Regionally, only[.....]
How best to stay on track living productive, happy lives in the midst of communal fear and sadness? Tap into the healing power of nature, but make it more potent by pairing it with paint.
Sunni fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) took over Iraq’s largest hydroelectric dam last Sunday, along with three towns and an oilfield according to the commander of the Peshmerga Kurdish fighters who had been defending the facility. Facing minimal opposition, ISIS seized control of Mosul Dam after a 24-hour battle. Workers remain[.....]
Israel and Hamas agreed to a 12-hour ceasefire in Gaza yesterday, a brief respite from the escalating violence that is testing the capabilities of relief agencies already strained by four years of Syrian war and renewed battles in Iraq. It’s a half day opportunity to park politics and take humanitarian action. Want to make a difference? Jump into[.....]
The Middle East joins the race to space with a new program which will launch a research probe to MARS in the next seven years. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Ruler of Dubai) announced establishment of a UAE Space Agency.
Is there anything that communicates more effectively than music? It transcends language, with a power unmatched among the Fine Arts to cross boundaries, express and evoke emotion, and unite disparate people.
Syria’s war has killed 150,000 people and forced more than three million from their homes. About a million of these refugees live in Jordan and as many as 200,000 have lived in the Zaatari refugee camp near Jordan’s Syrian border. This Green Prophet visited nearby Zaatari village where another 500 refugees live.
Anyone who hasn’t been to Syria in the last few years can’t possibly grasp the full extent of the horrors Syrians have endured, but we do know it has been unspeakably hard. To take the edge off, a handful of artists in Damascus built what the Guinness Book of Records recently confirmed is the world’s[.....]
A new one-day contest has attracted birding experts from around the world to southern Israel where they compete to record the highest number of species migrating through the Great Rift Valley along the Africa Eurasia Flyway.
Artist Hikaru Cho transforms ordinary foods into completely different foods, not by culinary skill, but with acrylic paint. She painstakingly camouflages veggies, fruits and even eggs into similarly-shaped but totally different foods. Viewers report they can experience the “surprise” in their mouths!
“I’m alive.” I’ve made that call, maybe you have too. That surreal statement instantly erases panic in whomever’s on the other end of the line. It reconstructs a momentarily unglued world.
A Facebook campaign called “She Wants a Bicycle Now” led by Syrian college students is getting young people on bikes in impressive numbers.
Listen up. Several Syrian children froze to death this past week because they lacked adequate clothing. The UN predicts that more Syrians will die this winter from exposure to the elements than from the violence of the last three years. There needs to be more sustainable ways of treating refugees. But let’s start with the[.....]
Nearly 7 million people have fled their homes to escape the violence in Syria, and 2 million refugees in Jordan and Lebanon face a wet, cold winter with nothing – not even a safe lamp to light their way. Which is why WakaWaka launched the Solar for Syria campaign.
The good news is that 800 tons of Syria’s chemical weapons are scheduled to be destroyed before the end of December. The bad news is, the byproducts of this chemical weapon destruction will be dumped into the Mediterranean Sea where they could damage fragile ecosystems.
In Ireland we know about cold bones. This is a story about how we started collecting hats in Ireland for cold kids in a Syrian refugee camp.
What started as a few throwaway balls of yarn to a tiny knitter in Jordan’s Zaatari Syrian refugee camp inspired a goofball idea: I asked crafty folks everywhere to toss a few hats in the ring. The reaction has been jaw-dropping. So far we have collected some 4,000 handmade hats for Syrian refugees.
International media is streaming updates on Syria, Big Brother antics by USA and UK intelligence services, and British buildings that can melt cars, but hardly a word on continuing protests in Turkey. And they are continuing despite chronic under-reporting by Turkish press.
A glowing profile of the wife of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad written two years ago for a major fashion publication is back online: read it while you can.
Opposites attract; just ask salted caramel, chocolate-covered pretzels, or kettle corn. These treats are all sweet-and-salty food combinations and here’s a new one to add to summer – just before the season ends.
The day that the month long fast called Ramadan ends is normally a joyous occasion for Muslims across the globe, but this year, with nearly two million of their Syrian brothers and sisters stranded, and strife roaring through North Africa and the Levant, a deep shadow has grabbed hold of this year’s Eid al-Fitr holidays.
The ongoing Syrian conflict has put refugees at their highest number since 1994 – a terrible year for the people of Rwanda and Yugoslavia; this year – in time for World Refugee Day – IKEA and the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) have unveiled a solar-powered home.
During the last six years, the words energy security, water security, and food security could be found a lot in the Arab media. Since most of the Arab media is controlled by the Arab regimes, the appearance of these items shows that the environmental awareness of the Arab regimes has been on the rise.
When aid workers with the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) speak to women inside Syria – many of them displaced from their homes and living in cramped collective shelters – they say they would rather do anything than get pregnant.
The online ‘zine Foreign Policy posted its “worst countries for journalism” with the Middle East grabbing three of the Top Ten slots. As we scour the media, we already see how this fares for environmental reporting which is practically non-existent in the Middle East.
The nominees for the 2013 Aga Khan Award for Architecture were recently announced: 20 candidates – half hailing from the Middle East – all vying for a million dollar prize.
Young Syrian refugees are being forced into sex and child labor in Jordan Abdul Rahman, an eight-year-old refugee from Syria, rummages through a trash container along the side road of north Amman’s bustling Sweileh neighborhood. His sparkling green eyes stare out from his dirty, emaciated face. His bony legs appear from under torn blue trousers.[.....]
Gabriele Galimberti’s“Toy Stories” documents the world’s children posed with their favorite toys. Everyone remembers their most prized possessions. Mine were an Etch-a-Sketch, some wads of Silly Putty, and an endless supply of Crayola crayons: surely you can rattle off yours? Galimberti, an Italian photographer who specializes in serials, all variations on a single theme, said[.....]
The fig: over 750 varieties and native to the Middle East The strong grey trunk, the wide velvety leaves, the sticky itchy white milk resin that leaks from the cracked leaves, its round crimson fruits with their bellies filled with honeyed goodness. In my opinion, nothing beats a fig tree. The fig (which tastes great[.....]
Can executions be green? Laurie answers this tongue in cheek. Tardy executioners have prompted Saudi Arabia to re-evaluate their centuries-old practice of public beheadings.The use of capital punishment in Saudi Arabia is based on a hardline interpretation of Sharia (Islamic) law. The practice attracts international scorn because of the wide array of crimes which garner[.....]