Green Prophet Good news that impacts the Middle East and your world Wed, 26 Apr 2017 07:03:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Green Prophet 32 32 The best (eco) beaches in Israel Wed, 26 Apr 2017 07:03:03 +0000 sewage, contaminated water, Israel, Tel Aviv, Mediterranean Sea

It’s summertime and the weather is fine, goes the odd song and after a heat wave this week, Israel remembers how amazing and simple it is to spend your days away at the beach. Beaches are great activities for kids, for teens, for parents. Bring a picnic or sit up at one of Israel’s beach bars, and you have a day, or even a week of fun. Of course you need to wear sunscreen and be mindful of sun exposure, but for that you can bring or rent a beach umbrella. Where to choose when Israel has so many beaches to offer? Even the City of Tel Aviv has about a dozen beaches to choose from, so we like to recommend the beaches with the Blue Flag.

The Blue Flag is an international symbol for environmental conservation at the beach. This designation is given to 21 beaches in Israel that have demonstrated eco-standards for their sandt and seaside boardwalks. Water cleanliness, wheelchair accessibility and trash management are all criteria for getting a Blue Flag. So if you see one blowing, you know stewards of that beach are adhering to strict standards that are tested twice a month. 

Some of the standards via Israel’s Ministry of Environment Protection include:

Environmental Education and Information

  1. Beach authorities run environmental educational activities for the community
  2. Information on the beach’s ecosystems is provided
  3. Information on services available on the beach is provided
  4. Beach rules are listed

Water Quality

  1. A minimum water quality standard is met
  2. Beach authorities test the water quality at least five times a season

Environmental Management

  1. Garbage is collected often, such that the coast is clean
  2. Recyling bins are located on the beach
  3. Rules prohibiting vehicles from the beach are enforced
  4. Sleeping on the beach is prohibited, unless it is specifically permitted
  5. Rules prohibiting entrance of animals to the beach area are enforced

Safety, Security, and Services

  1. Coastal facilities and life saving equipment are maintained
  2. A suitable number of lifeguards are on duty
  3. An action plan is prepared, in case of a severe case of pollution, such as an oil spill
  4. The beach is handicapped-accessible
  5. Clean drinking water is available

Blue Flags are awarded every year. Tel Aviv consistently gets a number of Blue Flags, usually at Metzitzim — Tel Aviv’s northernmost beach, and which also happens to be the city’s only man-made lagoon, where it’s safe for kids and dogs to come and jump in the water; and Tel Aviv’s Jerusalem Beach, which is great for walking to, but which is also wheelchair accessible and includes a workout spot for adults.

Haifa and Eilat tend to pick up a Blue Flag every year, including Dado Beach in Haifa which offers, beach couches, free WiFi services, lots of shade and a mile and a half of beach promenade.

"eilat underwater eco tourism"

Down in Eilat, which will get scorching hot is the Blue Flag Shchafim Beach, located along the promenade beside the Dan Hotel one of many Israel hotels. It’s a magnet for international travellers and Israelis who jump on a plane from Tel Aviv for some low cost staycations.

The Dan Hotel in Eilat, while a large hotel chain, is a good place to stay since Eilat offers little in the way of boutique or eco hotels. A feature from Dan is great programs for kids, which keeps them happy while parents get to relax. This hotel has also made a commitment to sustainability with some projects and features such as:

  •  Thermal windows to reduce air conditioning costs. It get smoking hot in Eilat!
  • Heat recovery systems that use energy emitted from the air conditioning systems to heat swimming pools
  • Equilibrium pools in all their hotels to save energy and water
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Arab Emirates wants to colonize Mars Mon, 24 Apr 2017 05:19:33 +0000

Build a “mini city” on Mars? A project being conceived in the United Arab Emirates plans to construct a human settlement on the Red Planet within the next 100 years. These plans are a result of environmental studies made at Abu Dhabi’s on-going sustainable Masdar City environmental project which also studies the wrath of global warming and its effects on the Middle East. Will Mars be the Arab Gulf’s ticket out of an uninhabitable environment?

Related: California City to be rebranded as Mars City

The destruction of human habitat and global warming in the Arab world alone may make much of this region virtually uninhabitable by the end of the 21st century. The UAE’s Mars settlement project was launched recently by Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who announced the “Mars 2017” project at the World Government Summit conference held in Dubai. He predicted there would be a sustainable human settlement on Mars within 100 years. The first steps for this venture would include a UAE launced Mars Hope probe, which will make extensive studies of the Martian topography and atmosphere in preparation for a human exploration voyage.

Exploring and settling the Red Planet has been the dream of scientists for years. Findings made by NASA’s Curiosity Rover Mars probe indicate the existence of water on Mars, mostly in the form of ice at the polar regions and underground.  There is even speculation that Mars may once have had oceans as much as a mile (1.6 km) deep, as well as a much warmer climate and denser atmosphere.

The presence of sufficient quantities of water would be essential for any sustainable human settlement there. The increasing depletion of water resources in the Arab World, especially the Gulf region, is said to be decreasing by more than 10% alone by the year 2050. This may be a prime reason why this seemingly far fetched project is being planned.

There is no limit to Man’s imagination as to what a future Martian city could look like, as shown in the photo below:

It is no easy task to take humans to Mars, however. A voyage there is estimated to take more than six to eight months, based on current models of space travel vehicles and propulsion. Perhaps it might be much better to make use of funds for such a project towards finding solutions for damage caused by global warming and habitat destruction on our own planet; instead of trying to settle a planet that by current studies to date indicate a much more inhospitable environment than Earth’s.

Meanwhile Mars City plans on building the first Mars prototype city in California, and will feed people using hydroponics. Check out the gala planned for LA next month.

Read more about damage caused to the Middle East by habitat destruction and global warming:

Dispatch from inside Masdar
Amazing “Atlas” tracks Arab world habitat destruction over time
The Wrath of Global Warming and the Middle East

Mars colony image illustrations by Richard Beasley 

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Want to live on Mars? Gala dinner in LA unveils first opportunities to eat like a Martian Sun, 23 Apr 2017 08:39:42 +0000

If you could move to Mars, what would your house look like? Would you eat from your local hydroponic Martian farm, drink wine from the Martian vineyard and eat meat cultured by vegetarian butchers?

Mars architect Very Mulyani is building the first Mars City, on Earth, and is pretty sure your future home on Mars, with 40% less gravity, won’t be anything like what you own or rent on earth today: “With lower gravity, a house doesn’t have to have a door touching the ground,” she says.

And for food? These questions and more will be answered in Los Angeles on May 25, at the world’s first dinner for Mars. Grab a date, and take advantage of discount tickets, ($150 instead of $300 for Green Prophet readers, and $500 for VIP) as Mulyani lays the foundations for the first Martian city she is creating on Earth, in the Mojave Desert.

Her blueprint is smart: take a city that has a long time reputation as a “failed planned city”, bursting with potential, hidden natural treasures beneath it and Space enterprise all around it, and rebrand it into a city for Mars. The plan is to turn “the city that survived”, California City in the Mojave Desert, into the first Mars City prototype on Earth.

California City, unbuilt suburb

California City was built in the 1960s by real estate developer and sociology professor Nat Mendelsohn who purchased 80,000 acres of the Mojave Desert to build California’s next great city to rival Los Angeles. Complete with a 26-acre central park and lake, the idea didn’t take off. Though about 14,000 people live there today, crumbling paved roads and loss of potential is evident everywhere. The city needs a positive boost.

California City today: full of potential.

This is where Mulyani plans on building the first Mars City prototype, and then scale the idea to locations around the world. The new project will give a chance for real people to live in a habitat that could simulate Mars, while creating an educational and innovative environment for real progress to be made for our future on the Red Planet.

But before you buy your first condo on Mars, Mulyani’s event will let you get a taste of the future. An Evening on Mars she explains, was created for a few reasons: Once we live on Mars, we can’t only eat “potatoes and ketchup” like Matt Damon did in The Martian.

If people inhabit Mars, they will need to be aware of their food choices, and shape this future, Mulyani tells Green Prophet: “We will promote some of the food available for astronauts for the long duration of space travel to get to Mars, but also the long-term solutions needed for indoor farming in a region that is not very compatible with what we can eat.”

At the dinner, guests will get to sample future Martian food grown with hydroponics and some vegan Martian meat “made for astronauts who might miss a burger,” she says.

Mars Farm, Eddy hydroponics, grow food“Square Roots by Kimbal Musk, Herbivore Butcher, Eddy, Mars Farm and other pioneers have begun developing and popularizing this concept, through hydroponic and aquaponic gardens. We will savor this new variation of eating healthy as if we were on another planet!” says Mulyani.

Gray Bright will be the Space Master of Ceremony –– with hosts such as The Mayor of California City; General Pete Worden, the Executive Director for Stephen Hawking’s organization; Loretta Whitesides, the first astronaut client of Virgin Galactic; and Dave Bearden, General Manager, NASA & Civil Space Programs at The Aerospace Corporation.

gray bright

The aim is to attract investors and donors who share the vision of creating Mars City for the end goal, while benefiting the prototype and sustainability technology implementation on Earth.

Building Mars City will require some planning. The group will build temporary structures in the desert for science retreats, art festivals and a space fashion show already planned for 2018. Permanent structures will be built later, from 3D-printed sustainable smart homes to the Mars Research lab, which includes: the Museum of the Future, science retreats for summer camps and Stargazers’ Park.

Future residents to Mars City (on Earth) do not need to be scientists. In fact, Mulyani wants artists, kids, everyday people to be part of shaping the future.

And the big questions we want to know are, when Elon Musk’s group is enroute to Mars, what’s going to be waiting for them? How will Mulyani (pictured below,with friends) make it livable before then?

Making the Mojave Desert the first Mars City prototype. Very Mulyani is pictured far left. Next to her is the President of The Chamber of Commerce of California City (Alexia Svejda), Aman Chowdry (land owner, Blugill Solar), Andrew Allado (Credit line capital, financier).

“The first three things we will build will include a spaceport where rockets can land safely, refuel and then operate the robots to prepare the land and build shelter and a base for humans. Then I hope these robots will then build a photo booth, an instant O2 homebase with a ready-to-eat growing indoor garden, and a satellite connected phone cabin,” says Mulyani.

Rendering of Mars City on Earth by Séries and Séries

“We will have to come up with some technology where the humans are conducting their avatars which are designed robots, as if they live there already. I definitely don’t recommend humans go before a safe and entertaining environment is set up, tested and passed through safety checks by Aerospace Corp.,” she says.

But before we get there, dreaming and building will not be a waste, even if it takes another 100 years: “Mars, with all its natural challenges, gives us the discipline to think differently, survive differently and go beyond our comfortable habit to exist,” concludes Mulyani.

Spirulina gnocchis anyone?

Thinking about moving to Mars? Get a taste at An Evening on Mars
When: May 25th, 6:30 to 9:30 PM
Where: The Skirball Cultural Center, LA

Link here to buy a ticket. Use code MARSFRIEND50 for 50% OFF

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Green gambling – the rise of eco-friendly entertainment Fri, 21 Apr 2017 09:16:53 +0000 Las Vegas as Persian Rug

Aerial view of Las Vegas, as a rug and art installation.

Taking care of the environment isn’t something that’s usually particularly associated with gambling. Massive lavish constructions, with bolted on hotels, retail and even residential developments don’t generally speak to an environmentalist agenda, but they certainly come up pretty instantly when you think of the gambling industry.

Yet arguably the need for more eco-friendly forms of gambling, as with entertainment in general, has never been greater. With record global temperatures and both scientific and political consensus backing urgent action, it’s never been more pressing to avoid inflicting further damage on the environment where possible.

An increasing movement within the gambling sector is raising the profile of green issues – both from the point of view of operators and players. So how can gambling go fully green, and how is the gambling sector, particularly online and on mobile, leading this charge?

cleantech, design, organic food, radiation, iPhone, green apps

Green Gambling – Why Playing Online Is Better For The Planet

Consider your average trip to the casino. It might be a Saturday night affair, and it might see you travelling into your nearest town or city. That could be a car journey, a train ride or even a taxi to the door if you’re going direct – not to mention the carbon footprint of the building itself. Visiting a casino impacts the environment in terms of your transport to the casino, but even visiting a physical casino in the first place means you’re adding to the carbon footprint of your gaming.

Land-based casinos and gambling resorts are massive constructions, involving raw materials, machinery and fuel – all of which contributes to taxing the environment, just take Macau for example. And that’s before you look at everything else you buy or use, all for the sake of a memorable Saturday night – whether you win or lose.

But it doesn’t have to be this way, and an increasing number of players are modifying their own playing behaviour in response to growing concerns over the environmental impact of gambling. One of the most effective, straightforward ways to do this is to switch to gambling exclusively online, rather than offline.

Online gambling requires none of the travelling, and there’s no personal contribution to the environmental footprint of a land-based casino. At the same time, you’re not forgoing anything you would expect from a trip to a physical casino – the same games, the same winnings and sometimes even better bonuses and promotions mean you’re actually getting an equivalent, if not superior, gambling experience, without the carbon footprint.

The Future of Vegas and Eco Gambling

If your local land-based casino contributes to emissions and damaging the environment, then it is nothing compared to the effect of big resorts like Vegas. This is compounded by the fact so many players choose to travel to Vegas by air, sometimes flying thousands of miles to enjoy everything the city has to offer.

Vegas has always been considered the global home of gambling, and it will continue to be a prominent destination for travellers and gamblers alike in the decades to come. There is simply too much going on in Vegas for it to disappear as a tourist attraction. However, there are some signs that the numbers of visitors might be starting to subside from their all-time peaks, and a part of that must be to do with the rise of online gambling.

Keeping one eye on the environmental impact of your gambling would suggest that travelling to Vegas, if at all, is a once in a lifetime thing – especially if you’re flying in from another continent. The environmental impact of each trip doesn’t bear thinking about, and at a time when people worldwide are actively trying to become more environmentally conscious, it’s becoming increasingly hard to justify for many gamblers.

Play Online – Protect The Environment With More Convenient Gambling

Playing online resolves much of these concerns. In large part, this is probably why so many more gamblers are turning to online and mobile gaming, instead of making their trips across cities, countries or even continents to reach the gambling tables. Because online casinos have minimal physical footprint, other than maybe a few offices, they offer a much lower carbon footprint all in. That means less damage to the environment, as well as the convenience of not having to leave your home to play.

That includes live casino games – you can even play with a real dealer to get the full land-based casino experience from home or from your mobile device. At a time where it is becoming increasingly important for individuals to take responsibility for their impact on the planet, having such a convenient, low-emissions alternative at your fingertips is a great reason to choose gambling as your eco-friendly entertainment of choice.

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How to Know if Becoming a Landlord is Right for You Thu, 20 Apr 2017 19:39:07 +0000 The Wheeled House, Acrojou, tiny house on wheels, structures made with recycled materials, circus and thither hybrid, eco-themed theater, theater with a green conscious, green design, sustainable design

Want to rent your house? Be prepared.

Landlords have the opportunity of making profits off of real estate either as a side venture or as a career. If you are thinking of investing in real estate to rent, here are a few facets you should consider.


Marketing is the first step in finding tenants. In order to create a solid marketing strategy, you may want to research the ads in your area. The most successful ads typically have in-depth details about the property itself, the area, and numerous photos. Take high-resolution photographs of your property from various angles, so prospective tenants can properly visualize the environment.

Sharifi House, nextoffice, tehran, Iran, Iranian architecture, transformer house, rotating house, rotating rooms, daylighting, energy efficiency, modular design, iranian architects

Renting your house means taking great photos.

Tenant Screening

Screening tenants is possibly the most critical part of being a landlord. Your tenants ultimately determine what the next year or years of your leasing relationship will be like. In order to screen a tenant properly you must first know what you are looking for. Typically, landlords look for tenants who show good character and responsibility. But how can you tell if that person is right for you property? Below are just a few things to look out for:

  • Credit Score. In order to secure a unit, a renter needs to have a good credit history. Their credit report shows their history and experience with creditors, which may give you a good idea as to whether they will be responsible enough to pay your rent. If, for example, they have poor credit due to a failure to pay on time, this is likely a candidate you want to screen out of the process. However, if they lack credit due to their age, you may consent to the tenant to have a cosigner.
  • Current Income. Whether or not you allow for cosigning, it is still important to know a tenant’s current income. Most landlords agree that the tenant must make three times the amount in rent, or if there are multiple tenants, to make a combined income three times the rent. This ensures that the tenant has a safety net should unexpected expenses occur during the month.
  • Eviction History. If your prospective tenant has a past eviction, this should signal a huge red flag for you. A prior eviction is an almost sure sign that they are going to neglect paying rent and possibly vandalize your property. Chances are, you probably have candidates in your lineup with evictions in their past.
  • Criminal History. Landlords differ on who and who they do not accept in regard to criminal history, and for good reason. Fortunately, you can get everything you need through a background check from a service like SmartMove. Typically, landlords have a cap on the number of committed crimes a tenant has accumulated. For example, a landlord may not accept a candidate who has committed more than two crimes in five years, and so on. The nature of the crime may determine this as well. Some states offer incentives to those who house convicts, so you may want to research this in your area.
  • For some landlords, referrals are not mandatory, however, they can be insightful. Candidates should preferably send referrals in a sealed envelope directly from the person who wrote it. Keep in mind that not all referrals are authentic, but it can yield significant insights into the person’s character.

Budgeting for Repair and Maintenance

Unless you are handy with a hammer and a screwdriver, you may need to have a maintenance worker on hand. Maintenance is just part of the job of a landlord, no matter how new or old your property is. Make the most of what you have by staying on top of your tenant’s needs, and fix any issues right away. Remember that it may be less expensive in the long run to invest money where it needs to be invested.


Mediating with Tenants

As a landlord, you are the CEO, CFO, and the HR department. There will be times when you have to deal with hiccups, such as a tenant calling you in desperation because their roommate left and won’t pay rent. You may also need to stay firm on the policies in your contract. This is never easy, but you must remember that you are the boss, and ultimately you have the power to enforce your contract and mediate a solution.

Know Your Goals

Becoming a landlord is an excellent opportunity to accumulate profits in the long-run. If you want to be a landlord, make sure you understand your financial and personal goals so you can optimize your career and lifestyle.

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Virtual Reality – a green perspective Wed, 19 Apr 2017 19:32:56 +0000 natural disasters, sustainable design, eco-designVirtual reality is considered by many a technology set to change the world. Whether this change will be for the better or worse, only time will tell – some praise the technology as revolutionary, others point out its dangers as it may deepen the alienation we already witness thanks to the connected world around us.

There is one perspective usually not considered when it comes to virtual reality: can it help us in fields like ecology and energy efficiency? Well, even if at first sight there’s no apparent connection between the two, if we look close enough, we can see that VR can indeed incline the balance of nature to the right direction.

Saving power

Las Vegas is one of the most power-hungry cities of the world. According to a recent estimate, Vegas consumes around 8,000 megawatts of electricity on a summer day, and this number is expected to continue growing in the coming years. To put things in perspective, an average American household consumes around 11 megawatts in a year. Surprising as it may sound, virtual reality could save the bulk of this power.

Online gaming venues like All Slots Casino will roll out a virtual reality casino in the coming years. The virtual All Slots will have all the games an average Vegas casino offers its players. Once it transcends into the cyberspace, the All Slots will be able to beat its Vegas counterparts not only in game variety but diversity, décor, and many other aspects. While the All Slots will not be able to offer the same entertainment options as Vegas, there are other VR applications in the works to cover that.

Las Vegas as Persian Rug

To spend time in virtual reality, people need a personal computer and a headset – most families already own the first – which counts into the above-mentioned 11 megawatts a year.


Scientists believe virtual reality can also help save the environment. Not directly, of course – nothing you do in cyberspace has any effect on the real world. It could, in turn, promote a better understanding of nature and, as professor Jeremy Bailenson from Stanford University put it, “can give everyone, regardless of where they live, the kind of experience needed to generate the urgency required to prevent environmental calamity”.

“One of the greatest challenges to staving off irrevocable climate change isn’t simply getting buy-in from skeptical politicians – it’s getting people to visualize how driving a gas-guzzling car or living in an energy inefficient home is contributing to a problem that may only manifest itself completely in future decades,” the professor noted, cited by The Guardian in 2016.

The professor’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab (VHIL) has released a short documentary and an interactive game to explain ocean acidification, the process through which the atmospheric carbon dioxide is absorbed by the ocean, harming the conditions for sea life, and perhaps offer them an incentive to do more to save the environment.

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How to Go Green with Your Rental Property Thu, 13 Apr 2017 10:57:19 +0000 etgar keret house bed

The real estate market is once again on the rise, which is great news for investors. However, in the decade following the housing market crash, a new generation of renters has emerged, and this generation desires different qualities in a rental property than those of the past. Modern tenants are looking for green properties that offer function and sustainability. The Millennial generation grew up more socially and environmentally conscious of environmental impact. They are more likely to focus on sustainable energy, decreased destruction of native habitats, and a decrease in waste. Here are just some of the ways you can go green with your rental property to entice this young population of tenants.

Pete Davis

Seal up Any Cracks or Holes

Have previous tenants complained of the cold? Does it seem that the heater can’t keep up with the demands of cold weather? The property could be losing heat through cracks or openings in walls, windows, and door frames. Your tenants will spend less money on heating and reduce energy usage if they don’t need to crank up the thermostat to stay warm. Inspect your property for any cracks that need sealing. If your property has an old front door, heat could be escaping through a loose or gapped door frame. You may consider installing new doors; some property owners install glass screen doors to serve as an extra protective layer. Be sure to pay attention to any check any cracks in the ceiling, as heat tends to rise and can escape through the uppermost parts of your home. Improving sealing and insulation can require more than a do it yourself approach; consider using a PACE program like HERO from Renovate America on PACE programs like this specialize in helping property owners access important energy efficient upgrades. With financing and a network of contractors in one single spot, installing important insulation and sealing is made simple. No sweat off your brow, and a new enticing sustainable feature that can draw in tenants—it’s a double win.

Install a Low-Flow Toilet

Standard toilets account for almost 30% of all indoor water use. Imagine reducing your property’s water usage by about a third. Modern technology has seen an influx of low-flow toilets that use less water to flush waste. Many of these water efficient toilets offer two levers as well—one for flushing urine, and one for flushing hard waste. Your tenants will spend a lot less on their water bill, which is a huge plus for marketing your property.

Purchase an Energy Star Washing Machine

There are many ways to save water, and none as efficient as an Energy Star washing machine. If you install an Energy Star washing machine, you can save as much as 50% more water, when compared to a standard model. As in-unit laundry continues to be a top-desired amenity amongst renters, this investment could be more than worth the payoff.

Check for a Leaky Faucet

It may seem minor, but if your property contains leaky faucets, indoors or out, your tenants may be wasting up to 180 showers worth of water per year. Leaky pipes or faucets left untreated can turn into a much more expensive problem if they have cracks or are rusty. Prevent future expenses by solving the issue while it is small and do your part in water conservation in one simple step.

Modify Your Garden

Curb appeal is important, but so is water conservation. If you live in a drought-prone area, then your garden cannot sustain certain plants unless you are willing to water them more often. Many homeowners waste hundreds of dollars every year by overwatering non-native plants in arid climates. Do yourself and the environment a favor by re-landscaping your lawn for drought-resistance plants. You may be surprised—desert plants come in a variety of lush and vibrant colors that are sure to make your garden stand out. In addition, you will save hundreds or thousands of dollars every year depending on your yard’s size and maintenance needs. Many states and localities offer rebates and incentives for property owners who make the switch to drought-tolerant landscaping. Check your local laws to see if you qualify for a rebate and keep in mind that the better your curb appeal, the more justified you are in charging higher rent prices.

Going green with your rental property is likely easier than you think. Incorporate these sustainable amenities and improve your rental income and property value.

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6 great reads for Arab American Heritage Month Mon, 10 Apr 2017 01:22:15 +0000 arab american literatureApril is Arab American Heritage Month, and here are six publications from a half dozen Arab American authors whose work is influencing the literary landscape of the USA, and beyond.

I’ve chosen one for each of the six Muslim-majority nations whose citizens are currently banned from entering the America.

Crack one open and learn some “alternative facts” about the Middle East. A published book will always be mightier than a presidential tweet.

arab american literature
1. The Book of Khalid by Lebanese-American Ameen Rihani is a reprint of the first Arab-American novel which dealt with religious conflict and the immigrant experience. This is the story of two Lebanese men who set off for adventure in 20th Century New York, only to return to Lebanon, their minds now saturated with Western political ideals.

The story later inspired Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, and includes illustrations by Gibran.

arab american literature2. Hiding in Plain Sight by Somali author Nuruddin Farah – called “the most important African novelist to emerge in the past twenty-five years” by The New York Review of Books – is a riveting saga about freedom and family, about liberty and obligation. Follow Bella, a photographer living in Rome, as she returns to Nairobi to care for the children of her murdered brother. Kirkus Reviews called it a “body of work worthy of a Nobel Prize.”

arab american literature

3. In the Country of Men by Libyan writer Hisham Matar takes us to his homeland circa 1979.  Meet nine-year-old Suleiman whose carefree Tripoli childhood is soon uprooted by politics and adult intrigue. It’s a stunning examination of the private fallout of current events told with keen insight and literary grace.

arab american literature4. The Tent by Egyptian Miral al-Tahawy is powerful, and disturbing.  Female characters fill the novel, linked by their subjegation to an often absent, patriarch and his brutal mother. Get up close and personal with these Bedouin, peasant women, and feel the weight of their tragic existence.

arab american literature5. Second Person Singular by Israeli Arab Sayed Kashua is a story of love and betrayal that poses the question: can a tiger ever change its spots? Kashua writes in Hebrew coveying emotional power and a sense of the absurd. Here he tackles people straddling two worlds in a psychological mystery set in a divided society.

arab american literature6. The Moor’s Account by Moroccan author Laila Lalami is a fictional account of the first black explorer of America, Moroccan slave Mustafa al-Zamori, who sailed from the Spanish port of Sanlúcar de Barrameda in 1527 with the conquistador Pánfilo de Narváez, 600 men and 100 horses. Their aim was to claim what is now the Gulf Coast of the United States for the Spanish crown. Fate intervened, and the story – told by Mustafa – gives a fascinating narrative for this failed expedition.

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World’s oldest windmills may stop in Nashtifan, Iran Sun, 09 Apr 2017 03:15:55 +0000

Windmill apprentices wanted: Click-clack…click-clack, click-clack the rhythm echoes the heartbeat of the Persian desert wind. For more than one thousand years the people of Nashtifan, in northeastern Iran have heard this sound as they harnessed the “storm’s sting” wind that gave their village its name.

There are about 30 windmills in the desert near this sand-colored village in the Razavi Khorasan Province of northeastern Iran. Their wooden blades rotate on a vertical axis between high walls of red clay and straw. The 50 to 60 foot high machines make a familiar clatter, like a freight train on uneven track, a blend of urban industrial sounds and the natural whispers of wind in the desert. They serve the same purpose as the more familiar Dutch windmills, they turn a grindstone to turn grain into flour.

Nashtifan or nashtifun windmills in Iran, world's oldest windmills

But this relic of man’s first attempt to harness the wind for this purpose is a distant ancestor. It is thought to date back to this part of Persia sometime between 500 to 900 AD. One of the earliest records is the story of Pīrūz Nahāvandi who designed windmills and after complaining to Calif Umar of a high tax charged by his master, he promised to build a windmill for Umar, “By God, I will build this mill of which the world will talk.”

Nishatfun windmills in Iran

The world did talk of these mills. It wasn’t long before windmills spread from Persia into parts of Europe and Asia where they evolved into the more familiar horizontal axis design we see in everything from the wooden windmills that Don Quixote fought in La Mancha Spain to the 200 megawatts of offshore wind that Don Trump fought at his golf resort in Scotland.

There is a good reason for this design change. The flat vertical boards of the Nashtifan windmills are pushed by the wind on one side and unlike designs based on the Bernoulli principle, they can never move faster than the wind and they fight against the wind on the upwind side.

The Nashtifan windmills are neither modern nor efficient, but there is no shortage of wind in this part of Iran. So the mills were maintained and used by local people over centuries as an important part of their culture and history. Mohammad Etebari is the most recent keeper of the windmills.

But unfortunately he has not yet identified an apprentice to take over this centuries old tradition as he grows older. Watch the video and if you know any young person who lives near Nashtifan, ask if they will might take up this long tradition and continue this rhythmic sound in the desert.

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4 ways to improve your mental health at college Fri, 31 Mar 2017 06:48:43 +0000 relieving stress from studying for master's degree online

Many college degree programs, for example, nursing school or an online masters in social work (or even in sustainability!), can be very emotionally taxing. As a student, you may have little experience in working with service users in these industries, and in certain situations, dealing with other people’s problems while studying towards working in these types of careers can quickly take its toll on a student’s mental health. So, if you are currently studying for a degree that’s affecting you mentally, it is essential that you do what you can to help strengthen your mind and better deal with your situation. Here are some of the best ways for students to improve and strengthen their mental health.

Mindfulness Meditation

If studying for your online MSW is stressing you out, then mindfulness meditation is an ancient Buddhist technique that can help you to gain better control over your stress and anxiety levels, helping to clear your mind and leave you feeling more self-aware. Whilst meditating, practice guided breathing exercises to help you regain your calm and be in control of your thoughts and worries. Try this simple exercise – first breathe in through your nose for five seconds, hold it there for a further two seconds, and then exhale for seven seconds.


As a student healthcare or social worker, you’ve probably recommended therapy to many of your patients. But, if you’re feeling stressed, anxious or down yourself, then you could also benefit from this service. Even if you don’t suffer from serious mental health problems, attending a course of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or other talking therapy can be a great way to find better ways to deal with stress and upset in your life and regain control.

Sleep Early

Many students, especially high achievers, go to bed late to squeeze enough time into the day to get everything done. If you’re studying online, it can be even easier to do this without a physical class timetable to stick to and the freedom to study when and where suits you best. But, this can lead to a later wake-up time in the morning, reduced energy throughout the day, and even longer-term problems such as insomnia. So, get yourself into a regular bedtime routine and aim to sleep early enough to get around eight hours per night, as this will be beneficial for both your mental and physical health.

Hobbies and Interests

When you’re studying for an advanced degree such as an online social work masters, it can be easy to quickly become caught up in your work and spend less time focusing on your hobbies and interest. But, whilst dedication is an admirable quality in a student that will surely help to improve your results, it’s important to ensure that you don’t end up burning out and overworking yourself. So, whether it’s pursuing a childhood hobby that you’ve been neglecting recently or taking the plunge to try something new, remember that fun and relaxation is important to your health and well-being.

Looking after your mental health at college is essential for future success.

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