The ancient town of Hasankeyf, Turkey faces submersion in just a few short months following the construction of a new hydroelectric dam on the Tigris river which will harness the flow of the the river to generate electricity at the expense of the areas surrounding the dam upstream.
Hasankeyf is currently inhabited by some 3000 residents, whom have a deadline of October 8th to vacate the town to their new dwellings on higher ground the opposite side of the river in the new development of ‘New Hasankeyf’. This is not an unfamiliar story of displacement; much of the world have trialed and succeeded in generating energy from renewable sources at the expense of people’s settlements. But what makes this case truly remarkable is that Hasankeyf has been continuously inhabited for the past 12,000 years and has been home to some of the worlds earliest civilisations.
A monument to these civilisations, ancient relics are found scattered across the town; Neolithic caves, Byzantine ruins and Ayyubid mosques among many others. Some of the monuments from the ancient city have been moved to the new town, but the human history that goes along with them will be left to drown. The citizens fear for the loss of their ancestry as it provides a large part of their economy through both tourism and animal husbandry.
The plans for the development of the dam have been in the making for decades, and constriction began in 2006. The Turkish government’s plans to develop the poverty-stricken Kurdish south-eastern region have been undeterred by the national and international protests, and withdrawal of support from key European banks providing funding. The government expects that the dam will contribute a much-needed $412 million to the economy on an annual basis. However, the dam is also something of a diplomatic issue too – the Tigris flows through neighbouring Iran who have expressed concerns that the new, restricted flow of the river downstream could cause water shortages in their country.
The town does not have the special protection of global schemes designed to protect such relics. UNESCO status, for example, can only be achieved if nominated by the national government. Where this national government has already condemned this citadel to extinction, it seems unlikely that protections will be awarded.
Etihad Airways Goes Plastic Free For Earth Day
Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, is the first airline in the region to operate an ultra long-haul flight without any single-use plastics on board, in a bid to raise awareness of the effects of plastic pollution. The flight landed in Brisbane on 22 April – Earth Day.
Earth Day is now a global event each year, with over 1 billion people in 192 countries taking part in large-scale civic and political action. 2020 will mark Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary, and with plastic pollution being one of the biggest issues the planet faces, the organisation has committed to a multi-year campaign to eliminate plastic pollution. Since the beginning of the campaign in 2018, consumers and companies alike are broadly committing to the effort, and Etihad’s initiative is a great example of what can be achieved when the world works together to bring about ecological change.
Etihad identified over 95 single-use plastic products used across its aircraft cabins. Once removed from aircraft, Etihad prevented over 50 kilograms of plastics from being sent to landfill in that single flight. The flight is a big part of Etihad’s ongoing commitment to protecting the environment, and the airline has pledged to reduce it’s single-use plastic consumption by 80% by the end of 2022.
H.H. Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Transport said: “Sustainable and efficient transport is core to the government’s vision, and we commend Etihad’s proactivity in paving the way for sustainability and efficiency in air transportation. The investment in sustainable alternative fuels and the focus on emerging environmental concerns such as plastic pollution reaffirms Etihad’s commitment to the Abu Dhabi transport vision.”
Guests on board enjoyed eco-friendly products such as sustainable amenity kits, award-winning eco-thread blankets made out of recycled plastic bottles, tablet toothpaste and edible coffee cups while children were treated to eco-plush toys. Where sustainable alternatives to in-flight amenities could not be sourced, the items instead were withheld from the flight.
As a result of planning the Earth Day flight, Etihad additionally committed to remove up to 20 per cent of the single-use plastic items on board by 1 June 2019. By the end of this year, Etihad will have removed 100 tonnes of single-use plastics from its in flight service.
Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said: “There is a growing concern globally about the overuse of plastics which can take thousands of years to decompose. We discovered we could remove 27 million single-use plastic lids from our inflight service a year and, as a leading airline, it’s our responsibility to act on this, to challenge industry standards and work with suppliers who provide lower impact alternatives.”
Why not travel with us to the United Arab Emirates with Globetrekker’s Arab Gulf States?
Main Image: Etihad 787-9, LoadedAaron, Flickr Creative Commons
By Sofi Pickering
Halal Tourism On The Rise
According to analyst Thomson Reuters so-called Halal Tourism, catering exclusively to Moslem tourists, is taking off, particularly in the Mediterranean.
Thomson Reuters says Halal Tourism is expected to almost double in value from 180 billion dollars in 2017 to 280 billion dollars in 2023.
“Halal Only” tourist resorts offer halal prepared food, no alcohol and separate bathing areas for men and women. They also provide prayer rooms and mosques, and broadcast the call to prayer five times a day over hotel public address systems.
Halal Tourism is still largely focused on the Gulf region and traditional Moslem holiday destinations such as Malaysia, Nigeria, Russia, Iran and Indonesia. But now more and more hotels on Turkey’s Turquoise Coast are also offering Halal holidays and first resorts have also opened on Spain’s Costa del Sol.
According to halalbooking.com, Halal-friendly holidays are a response to a growing Moslem middle class.
Soumaya Hamid, who runs the online Halal Travel Guide, said: “The last 10 years have been about meeting the basic needs of Moslem travellers. The next stage is to take it further to new destinations and authentic experiences.”
Iran’s capital city has banned city dwellers from walking pet dogs in public places – such as parks – as a next step in its ongoing campaign to discourage dog ownership.
Tehran Police Chief Hossein Rahimi reportedly said Tehran’s Prosecutor’s Office had given its stamp of approval for the ban.
Islamic Iranian authorities regard dog-ownership as a symbol of pro-Western policy and ideology. In 2010, the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance banned the media from publishing any advertisements for pets or pet-related products and in just five years ago there was a push to fine and flog dog-walkers.
People have also been prohibited from driving a car with a dog inside.
Islamic tradition considers dogs to be “unclean” and traditionally in the past people have avoided having them in the home. However, dog ownership has become increasingly popular in recent years in the country, especially among the middle class.
Louvre Abu Dhabi today announced it will open its doors to the public on 11 November 2017. It is the first museum of its kind in the Arab world: a universal museum that focuses on shared human stories across civilisations and cultures.
The opening celebrations will include a wide range of public programmes, including symposiums, performances, concerts, dance and visual arts by renowned contemporary and classical artists.
Located in Abu Dhabi, Pritzker Prize winning French architect Jean Nouvel has designed a museum city (Arab medina) under a vast silvery dome. Visitors can walk through the promenades overlooking the sea beneath the museum’s 180-metre dome, comprised of almost 8,000 unique metal stars set in a complex geometric pattern. When sunlight filters through, it creates a moving ‘rain of light’ beneath the dome, reminiscent of the overlapping palm trees in the UAE’s oases.
On display will be the museum’s important collection of artworks, artefacts and loans from France’s top museums. In addition to the galleries, the museum will include exhibitions, a Children’s Museum, a restaurant, a boutique and a café.
His Excellency Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority and Tourism Development & Investment Company, said: “Louvre Abu Dhabi embodies our belief that nations thrive on diversity and acceptance, with a curatorial narrative that emphasises how interconnected the world has always been. The museum represents the latest innovation in a long-standing tradition of cultural preservation nurtured by the founding leaders of the UAE.
“Louvre Abu Dhabi forms one element of Abu Dhabi’s cultural strategy, which safeguards our rich heritage and catalyses creativity. Investment in a vibrant cultural ecosystem supports the UAE’s economic diversification and development as a modern, dynamic society. Louvre Abu Dhabi will inspire a new generation of cultural leaders and creative thinkers to contribute to our rapidly-changing and tolerant nation.”
Her Excellency Ms. Françoise Nyssen, the French Minister of Culture added: “This museum is one of the most ambitious cultural projects in the world, brought to light by Jean Nouvel’s exceptional architectural masterpiece. With the expertise of its cultural institutions and loans from its national collections, France is particularly proud to play a significant role in the completion and the life of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, and so for several decades to come.
“Endowed with an innovative scientific and cultural project combining the expertise of 13 French museums and institutions steered by the Agence France-Muséums, the Louvre Abu Dhabi will indeed offer visitors a unique experience: a brand new journey through major works of art from different civilisations, mirrored to reveal our common humanity. The Louvre Abu Dhabi therefore carries a message of tolerance and peace and stresses the unwavering commitment of our two countries to promote culture and education as a shield against extremism.”
Louvre Abu Dhabi’s story will begin in the“Great Vestibule, where visitors are introduced to themes such as maternity and funerary rituals. The dialogue between works from different geographical territories, sometimes far apart, highlights similarities between the canons despite each having its own mode of expression. The galleries will be both chronological and thematic, and subdivided into 12 chapters. Displays include works from the earliest empires, including the first figurative representations, such as the Bactrian Princess created in Central Asia at the end of the 3rd Millennium BCE, funerary practices of ancient Egypt illustrated by a set sarcophagi of Princess Henuttawy, and the creation of new economies with a Decadrachm coin of Syracuse signed by the artist Euainetos.
A gallery dedicated to universal religions will feature sacred texts: a Leaf from the “Blue Quran”, a Gothic Bible, a Pentateuch and texts from Buddhism and Taoism. The artistic exchanges on the trading routes during the Medieval and Modern periods are brought to the fore through a number of ceramic works. Between Asia and the Mediterranean and then between Europe and America, guests will appreciate how the world’s horizon gradually expanded. A set of screens from the Japanese Namban demonstrate the dialogue between the Far East and Europe. From the image of the Prince throughout the world, illustrated by an important Ottoman Turban Helmet to a more intimate vision of a new art of living, the museum presents a chest of drawers made in Red Chinese lacquer by Bernard II Van Risenburgh (BVRB, 1696–1766), created in France. In a section about Modernity are Edouard Manet’s (1832–1883) the Gypsy, Paul Gauguin’s (1848–1903) Children Wrestling, and Piet Mondrian’s (1872–1944) Composition with Blue, Red, Yellow and Black. On show will be a monumental work by the artist Ai Weiwei (1957) and his questioning of globalisation.
Louvre Abu Dhabi’s first site-specific works installed in the outdoor areas by renowned contemporary artists, interact with the spirit of the museum and the fabric of the architecture. American artist Jenny Holzer (1950) has created three engraved stone walls named For Louvre Abu Dhabi (2017). These cite historical texts from Ibn Khaldun’s Muqaddimah, the Mesopotamian bilingual (Akkadian / Sumerian) Creation Myth tablet, and the 1588 annotated edition of Michel de Montaigne’s Les Essais. Italian artist Giuseppe Penone (1947) has produced several works specifically for Louvre Abu Dhabi. Leaves of Light (2017) is a vast bronze tree with mirrors placed in its branches to reflect the ‘rain of light’. Propagation (2017) is a wall of porcelain tiles that depict hand-drawn concentric circles originating from the fingerprint of Sheikh Zayed, the UAE’s founding father. It was produced in collaboration with the workshops of Sèvres – Cité de la céramique in France.
The inauguration week will also feature two prestigious events coproduced under the French-Emirati Cultural Programme that was initiated over a year ago by our two countries and supported by the creative momentum generated by the Louvre Abu Dhabi. I have the hope that the Louvre Abu Dhabi will always bring this energy further, inspire new callings, promote mutual understanding, and always reinforce the strong bonds uniting the United Arab Emirates and France.”
Jean Nouvel, the architect of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, commented: “After eleven years of studies and construction, guests will be able to enter this place of light, this revelatory meeting place of a number of planetary cultures beyond the seas and centuries. It is an architecture that is protective of its treasures, it is homage to the Arab city, to its poetry in geometry and light, and, under the large cupola, it is an evocation of the temporalities which inexorably punctuate the hours, days, and the passing of our lives.”
Artworks on loan
Jean Nouvel Gaston Bergeret
In the galleries, important artworks on loan from 13 leading museums in France will be presented. Highlights include Leonardo da Vinci’s (1452–1519) La Belle Ferronnière (on loan from musée du Louvre); Vincent van Gogh’s (1853–1890) self-portrait (musée d’Orsay et de l’Orangerie); a rare ivory saltcellar from the Benin Empire (musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac); a Globe by Vincenzo Coronelli (1650–1718) of Bibliothèque nationale de France; a pair of gui vessels (Musée national des arts asiatiques Guimet); Jacques-Louis David’s (1748–1825) Napoleon Crossing the Alps (Château de Versailles); Auguste Rodin’s (1840–1917) Jean d’Aire from the group the Burghers of Calais (Musée Rodin); a 13th century reliquary chest (Musée de Cluny – Musée national du Moyen Âge); a Chinese ewer of Persian shape (Musée des Arts Décoratifs); a Breastplate of Marmesse (Musée d’archéologie nationale – Saint Germain en Laye); the Apollo Belvedere statue by Primatice (1504–1570) from Château de Fontainebleau; and Standing Woman II by Alberto Giacometti (1901–1966) from Centre Pompidou.
The intergovernmental agreement includes the loan of the Musée du Louvre’s name for 30 years and 6 months, temporary exhibitions for 15 years, and loans of artworks for 10 years.
Nestled just thirteen feet from the Israeli separation wall stands anonymous British artist Banksy’s largest and most controversial political testament yet, The Walled Off Hotel. The hotel opened earlier this month on the West Bank in Jerusalem and is a temporary and self-financed project of the famous artist.
Its creation marks the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, a letter sent from Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Walter Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community, stating that Palestine has become “a national home for the Jewish people”. This document was the cause of considerable controversy and backlash whose eventual outcome lead to the wall that currently divides the nation of Palestine with the state of Israel.
With the wall blocking much of the sunlight, it’s “the worst view of any hotel in the world,” said Banksy, which very much seems to be his point. Whilst the hotel view and its location forces guests to face the harsh reality that the Palestinians have to had to endure, the interior confronts the various political facets of the situation whilst incorporating many of the first world elements of a hotel that we seemingly take for granted.
Piano Bar – The Walled Off Hotel
The three-story hotel offers hostel-like accommodations as well as 9 private rooms and suites ranging anywhere from $30 to $965 a night. The more budget friendly rooms resemble military barracks with iron bunk beds and cold concrete walls. The suites are lavishly adorned and decorated, of course, with Banksy’s signature political art pieces. The rest of the hotel resembles an gentleman’s club from era of colonial Britain, complete with a tea room serving high tea in fine china, a museum dedicated to telling the story of the declaration and the wall, and even a piano bar which served as the focal point for the The Walled Off Hotel’s grand opening celebration which included the special guest Sir Elton John, alongside an art gallery filled with local artists’ work. After Banksy commissioned the project, it became an entirely independent local business, with none of its profits going back to its creator.
Banksy Art for Private Room – Uncrate.com
The Walled Off Hotel isn’t meant to offer guests the typical “vacation” experience, but rather to expose them to the realities of middle-eastern conflict. Although it’s not the most economically thriving part of town, several restaurants, shops, and bars surround the hotel, which Banksy assures is safe for tourists as well as locals. Banksy hopes for the Palestinian-staffed hotel to keep its doors open until the end of the centennial year so plan your visit soon for this unquestionably inspiring and thought provoking experience.
Written by Savannah Chinelli, intern for Pilot Productions HQ in London
Palmyra in Syria is the latest site from ancient world to come under threat from Islamic State forces
The city of Palmyra in Eastern Syria is the latest site in the ancient and classical world in the Middle East to come under threat from so-called Islamic State forces.
Palmyra is in the middle of the Syrian desert, in the north-east of Damascus and contains the monumental ruins of a great city that was one of the most important cultural centres of the ancient world.
From the 1st to the 2nd century, the art and architecture of Palmyra, standing at the crossroads of several civilizations, married Graeco-Roman techniques with local traditions and Persian influences representing the epic relics of a shared human history and were of particularly special meaning to Iraqis and said to the cradle of civilization.
Check out our report on other Danger Lands in the Middle East and beyond.
If you’ve got a penchant for a spiked up punk rocker head of hair or even an 80s style mullet, you may wish to take heed if hanging out in Tehran this summer and and wishing to pop in to the local barber to keep yourself in trim.
That is because The Guardian have this week reported that the authorities in Iran have banned “Homosexual” and “devil worshiping” haircuts in a move seen as somewhat of a trend where each summer they crack down on anyone donning haircuts or or clothing seen as imitations of western lifestyles.
Seen as more of a moderate leader compared to his predecessor, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani has been critical of such crackdowns which are seen more of an enforcement of Islam than an implementation of the law. However the head of Iran’s barbers’ union Mostafa Govahi has threatened the revocation of licenses to any barbers who are styling their clients with such ‘banned’ looks. He has also added that barbers across Iran had been given a list of ‘appropriate hairstyles for men. And that ‘Haircuts that show symbols or signs of devil worshipers or those adopted by homosexuals are banned’ (however giving no details on what kind of style these are exactly).
So if you’re out and about in Iran this summer with any kind of nonconformist styles on the street, remember you may feel the force of the annual crackdown and be marched off to the nearest barber with their ‘approved’ list of styles!
If you want to find out more about traveling in Iran, check out our destination guide!
Iran is a notoriously tough place to exist freely as a homosexual. Illegal and punishable by death it ranks as a serious no-go country for any gay travelers.
The Soul of Aleppo – The Ancient Souk
Originally posted to Flickr by Anas.A at http://flickr.com/photos/50471244@N06/4956886022
The souk, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was often recognized as being one of the most beautiful in the world and contained over 1500 shops with countless amounts of items, from spices, oils and dyes, to jewellery, silk, precious metals and everything in between. Not only was the souk popular with the locals, but it was also a must see on many travellers’ itineraries.
Visiting Aleppo at this time is highly discouraged. However, before the seemingly endless fighting and senseless fire that set the bazaar and surrounding monuments ablaze, the Pilotteam travelled to this fascinating city to see the brighter, more vibrant days of Aleppo.
Holly Morris filming in Syria – click on the Image to watch the Behind the Scenes filming on location in Syria
Host and traveller, Holly Morris, was fortunate enough to have Aleppo on herSyria itinerary. Holly experienced the rich history and exquisite beauty that the trading centre represented, first-hand. Through the alleys, stone archways and colossal wooden doors, rows of vendors were plentiful, one selling gold, another of fresh meat, textiles and even a pharmacy were permanent fixtures here, some dating back as far as the 13th Century. Holly also explored the Citadel, an ancient landmark and one of the oldest and largest castles in the world. She then went on to visit the city of Apamea, the Dead Cities, Saladin’s Castle and eventually makes her way to capital, Damascus.
The Ancient Citadel of Aleppo – Outside its main entrance
Although the enormous destruction in Aleppo is beyond comprehension, it is still possible to rebuild and repair what has been obliterated in the flames. It comes at no small cost, estimated at millions of dollars, but hopefully the Souk of Aleppo can flourish again and represent the city and its rich part in history that it once did.
Carnival Season Around the World
Carnival season is upon us and whether you are in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, or South America, there is no shortage of celebrations happening all around the world. The most well known festivals are celebrated in New Orleans, Louisiana, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, Sydney, Australia, Venice, Italy and Trinidad and Tobago.
Mardi Gras is centered mainly around the French Quarter of New Orleans for approximately two weeks and commences on Fat Tuesday, which falls on February 12th this year. However, the multiple parades take place Uptown and in mid-city, due to the narrow streets in the French Quarter. From the elaborately decorated floats, wild costumes, lively music, famous King Cakes, to the lengths people will go to in order to obtain a plethora of colorful, signatory beads, there is never a dull moment or a shortage of purple, green and gold.
Pilot’s Justine Shapiro took part in the Mardi Gras festivities when she was invited to join one of the 27 floats of the Krewe of Orpheus. In true Mardi Gras fashion, Justine wore a jester costume and adorned herself with multiple beads.
Rio De Janeiro, fittingly known as the carnival capital of the world, is no stranger to celebrations. Rio’s Carnival dates coincide with Mardi Gras, beginning on Saturday February 9th and ending on February 12th this year. During Carnival, the various samba schools, each representing their specific neighborhood, are the main draw. Samba dancers often rehearse months before Carnival and are decked out in extravagant handmade costumes with lavish headpieces. Host, Ian Wright dives head first into samba, learning from the school, Caprichosos de Pilares and ultimately taking part in the parade.
The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, takes places from February 8th through March 3rd this year and is Sydney, Australia’s biggest event of the year. Justine Shapiro takes viewers on a firsthand experience of this liberating celebration of expression and equal rights. Anything goes in this parade, from the Scantily clad costumes to dancing in the streets, drawing a crowd of over a million people to be free to be themselves. This year marks the 35th anniversary of the Sydney Mardi Gras and is themed quite appropriately as, “The Generations of Love.”
The two most celebrated days of Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago fall on February 11th and 12th this year, right before Ash Wednesday and has been called, “The Greatest Show on Earth.” Justine Shapiro lets viewers inside the Caribbean’s biggest carnival as she joins in the celebration.
Music is a highlight for this carnival, with various competitions, including the International Soca Monarch competition and the National Panorama competition that innovatively incorporates the use of steel pans, garbage can lids, pots and pans to create sounds, rhythms and melodies. Bikinis with headpieces adorned in feathers are often seen during Carnival among a multitude of various character costumes, from Minstrels, Jab Jab’s, Midnight Robber’s to Dragons and Bats.
Justine travels to The Venice Carnival, which takes place in St. Mark’s Square and is centered around various types of eclectic looking masks, allowing people to maintain a bit of anonymity and play a different character. Like the other carnivals, Venice also commences on February 12th this year, marking the start of Lent. The mask contests and the water show on the Venice canals are two highlights of the Carnival and what better excuse to travel to this gorgeous city than to attend one of the biggest celebrations of the year?
This is undoubtedly an exhilarating time of year to dress up, celebrate cultural milestones and bask in the traditions that were established decades ago. Carnivals are plentiful around the world and although the five mentioned here are some of the most popular ones, they are definitely not the only ones.