Category: Middle East

Cities in Saudi Arabia

Cities in Saudi Arabia

According to commit4fitness, Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy ruled by the sons and grandsons of the first king, Abdul Aziz. The head of state is the king. Criminal law is based on Sharia. The law prohibits discussion of the existing political system. The consumption of alcohol and drugs is strictly prohibited.

The main population of the country is concentrated in cities. The largest city in the country, the capital of the kingdom, its political, cultural and scientific center is Riyadh. Jeddah is the second largest city in the country, its “economic capital”, the most important port on the Red Sea. Mecca and Medina, being one of the largest cities in the country, are the symbols of Saudi Arabia and the holy cities of Islam. The ports on the Persian Gulf of Dammam, Jubail and Khafji, where the main oil refining capacities are concentrated, also play the most important role in the country’s economy.

RIYADH is one of the most luxurious and modern capitals in the Middle East. The truly colossal revenues received by the country from oil production made the capital rich and pretentious. There are a great many skyscrapers here, new projects are developed and approved every year. But the true decoration and heart of the capital are 2400 mosques. The city sacredly preserves the traditions of the religious life of the homeland of Islam.

JIDDA is the diplomatic capital of Saudi Arabia. It is a large modern city, a seaport, an industrial center. Magnificent buildings of embassies and consulates were built in the seaside part of the city, and a university was opened. Traditional quarters with narrow streets have been preserved in the old part of the city. Jeddah is also famous for its shopping centers that occupy entire blocks. Numerous beaches are open in the city and its environs, and diving on the nearby coral reefs is very popular.

Mecca is the spiritual center and holy city for all Muslims on the planet. It was in Mecca that the founder of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad, was born, it is here that the holy places of the Islamic world are located, it is here that millions of pilgrims from all over the world flock to the Hajj. Mecca is a closed city for representatives of other faiths, but getting here at least once in a lifetime is a sacred duty and duty of every Muslim. Almost all life in the city is connected with serving pilgrims – modern hotels have been built, many of which are located in close proximity to the Haram mosque.

MEDINA is the second holy city of Islam and the first to follow the precepts of the prophet. The center of the city and its main shrine is the huge complex of Masjid al-Nabi (Mosque of the Prophet), built on the site of a similar structure built by Muhammad himself. It is here that the sacred place for every Muslim is located – the grave of the prophet. Like Mecca, only Muslims are allowed to enter the territory of Medina, although the local “haram” (area closed to non-Muslims) is noticeably smaller, which allows everyone to see local shrines, even from afar.

ABHA – due to its unique geographical position, this city is the coolest in the country. Located at an altitude of 2200 meters and surrounded by a chain of mountains, because of this, hot air does not penetrate into the region and it often rains. Thus, the mild climate has made Abha the most important center of tourism in the country. The city has preserved the Shada Palace, built as the residence of King Abdulaziz. 45 km. The picturesque landscapes of Al-Sod begin southeast of the city, and the lands of the Asir National Park stretch to the south.

NAJRAN is one of the most interesting and visited cities in the country. The main attraction is Al-An Palace. It is also worth visiting the Najran Museum with an exhibition of archaeological finds, a fort and a fortress mosque.

FARASAN GROUP OF ISLANDS is a vast archipelago of 84 coral and sandy islands, is one of the natural breeding grounds for seabirds, gazelles, sea turtles, therefore it is almost entirely part of the national park of the same name.

RECREATION: Today, Saudi Arabia is a country with huge tourism potential. The unique nature of the deserts, combined with mountain ranges, the interweaving of ancient traditions and a powerfully developing economy, as well as the presence of numerous religious places of the Islamic world, make this country very attractive for travel. One of the most intensively developing tourist regions of the country is Half Moon Bay, which has the longest sandy beach in the kingdom. The Red Sea is a real paradise for diving enthusiasts. Here is one of the largest coral reef systems in the world. Camel racing, equestrian sports, yachting, etc. are popular among active sports.

ABHA Saudi Arabia

Syria Politics, Economy, and Society

Syria Politics, Economy, and Society

Government and politics

Syria has been a republic since 1963. In 1971, President Hafiz Al-Assada decreed a provisional Constitution, then in 1973 the current Constitution that defines Syria as a Democratic, People’s and Socialist Republic was approved in a referendum, based, among others, on the principles of equality before the law, freedom religious and private property. Every seven years a president is elected, who must be Muslim. And every four, a People’s Assembly and a Council of Ministers. Under the Constitution, the president has powers to appoint and remove vice presidents, the prime minister, and ministers. He is also commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, general secretary of the Baath Arab Socialist Party, and president of the National Progressive Front.

The legislative bodies are the People’s Assembly and the Local Administration Councils. The three powers of the Syrian state are controlled by the Baath, which is assured of decisive participation in the powers of the state thanks to the country’s Constitution. It is allowed the participation of six other minor political parties that together with the majority Baath make up the so-called National Progressive Front (FNP), these parties are the only ones authorized to express the political ideas of Syrian citizens.

Likewise, it is the Baath Party that dominates the aforementioned Front, these parties make up the Parliament that is controlled directly by the President of the Republic, since the Executive power reserves most of the legislative powers and of review of the activities of the Legislative.

The Syrian Constitution invests the Baath Party with the leadership functions of the state government and the life of Syrian society. The President, who has great powers to run the government, is elected for 7 years to fulfill his functions, in addition to this he is also the Chairman of the Baath Party and the leader of the National Progressive Front.

The president of Syria also has the powers to appoint ministers, declare war, propose laws to the Legislative branch, and direct the armed forces. In the referendum for the election of the President in 2007, Bashar al-Assad was reelected with 97% of the votes. Syrians ratify Bashar Al Assad as president by 97%], Terra Actualidad, May 29, 2007.

Economic development

Syria’s economy is based on oil extraction, therefore, it is subject to fluctuations in the international price of oil ; in addition, it tends to turn to Iran as a supplier, due to the fact that domestic production is in deficit. The main refineries are in Homsand Baniyas. It also has reserves of natural gas, rock salt and phosphates. The agriculture (wheat and cotton) generates 27% of GDP and livestock, mainly goat and sheep is aimed at the export of wool. The textile, food, metallurgical and cement industries account for 22% of GDP. The rights to pass foreign oil through its pipelines generate large revenues.

In May of 2009 it is reported in the area of services that commercial real estate prices are on the rise in Damascus and infrastructure reports that Syria Islamic Bank lends € 100M to expand the Deir Ali power plant.

Transport

Syria has several international airports, among which those in Damascus, Aleppo and Latakia stand out. It also has an extensive bus network that connects the entire country, both towns and cities. Moreover, the main cities are connected by the railway network.

Social development

Religion

According to andyeducation, the Islamic religion is predominant: Muslims mainly obey Sunni orthodoxy (74%), although there are also Druze, Alawites, Shiites and Ismailis. Christianity (10%) in its different confessions (Orthodox, Maronites, Catholics of the Armenian rite, Syriacs, etc.) is confined to the peripheral provinces and some urban neighborhoods.

Culture

The artistic and cultural achievements of ancient Syria are numerous. Archaeologists have found that Syrian culture rivaled that of Mesopotamia and Egypt, especially around Ebla. Additionally, many Syrian artists have contributed to Roman Hellenistic thought and culture. Cicero was a student of Antiochus of Ashkelon in Athens. Also the books of Posidonius greatly influenced Livy and Plutarch.

Syrians have also contributed to Arabic literature and music and have a great tradition of oral and written poetry. Syrian intellectuals emigrated to Egypt played a fundamental role in the Al-Nahda, or cultural and literary renaissance of the Arabs in the 14th century. The most famous Syrian authors are Adonis, Haidar Haidar, Ghada al-Samman, Nizar Kabbani, Zakariyya Tamer and Saadallah Wannous.

Art

Given the influence of the different peoples established in Syrian territory more or less with a certain stability, the art in this nation presents different currents, sometimes opposing, which give it great originality. Two trends appear since the Neolithic, the first of an autochthonous character with wood sculpture and high relief. The second is more associated with neighboring civilizations, such as hieratic zoomorphic sculpture.

They are World Heritage of Unesco:

  • 1979 – Old City of Damascus
  • 1980 – Siege of Palmyra
  • 1980- Old town of Bosra
  • 1986 – Old City of Aleppo

One of the most important writers and playwrights in Syria is Saadallah Wannous (1941 – 1997), who was born in a town near Lbahr Hsain in Tartous. He was educated in the Latakia schools. He studied journalism in Cairo (Egypt) and served as editor of the cultural pages of the newspapers Alsafir in Lebanon and Althawra in Syria. He also worked as director of the public authority for theater and music in Syria. In the sixties he traveled to Paris to study art of the theater. He died Of maypole 15 of 1997 after a long battle with cancer that lasted five years.

Syria Politics, Economy, and Society

GCC – Gulf Cooperation Council

GCC – Gulf Cooperation Council

The GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) was founded in 1981 with the aim of ensuring security and stability in the region through economic and political cooperation. Its current issues include political reforms and the process of reducing dependence on oil exports. Secretary-General Nayef al-Hajraf took office in 2020. The GCC has six member states.

Introduction

The Gulf Cooperation Council (short for GCC by ABBREVIATIONFINDER) emerged from the concerns of the heads of state in the region when the Shia Muslim revolution broke out in Iran in 1979.

Most of the states on the Arabian Peninsula have large Shia Muslim minorities within their borders but are ruled by Sunni Muslims. There were great fears that Shia Muslims would be inspired by the events in Iran and revolt.

When, since the war between Iran and Iraq, which began in 1980, it seemed possible to swell across the countries’ borders and withdraw the neighboring states, the need for a regional association was considered ever greater.

Formalized regional cooperation would give the small states (together the GCC states have about 35 million inhabitants) a means of power against the powerful Iran and Iraq (close to 70 and 26 million inhabitants respectively). The GCC would guarantee security and stability in the region through economic and political cooperation. Social and cultural issues would also be coordinated.

The emergence

In the spring of 1981, the Foreign Ministers of Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia formed the Gulf Cooperation Council. In 1984, the states agreed to establish a regional protection force (Dir`al-Jazira, “Peninsula Shield Force”, or in English Peninsula Shield Force, PSF) consisting of units from all member states.

PSF was stationed in Saudi Arabia and was intended to act as a rapid reaction force that could withstand intruders while awaiting reinforcements (preferably from the United States and the United Kingdom). Discussions were also held about creating a joint army for the area and coordinating arms purchases.

The formation of the GCC was for the conservative and change-reluctant monarchies in the Persian Gulf an unusually rapid process and more a reaction to external events than a response to an internal will for cooperation and integration. It also seems that the signatories were driven by different visions of what the organization was aiming for, something that is reflected in the GCC’s statutes.

The statutes stipulate that the GCC shall strive for social and economic integration, a line which shall have been represented primarily by Kuwait. Oman pushed for a common military alliance that would cooperate with the United States. The Saudis seemed lukewarmly interested in both economic integration and military cooperation, and instead prioritized political stability in the region (in practice, to prevent the Shia Muslim-dominated revolution in Iran from spreading to Saudi Arabia).

In 1987, while war was still raging between Iran and Iraq, Kuwait was subjected to a robot attack by Iran. Kuwait, like the other GCC states, supported the Iraqi side in the war. Following the attack, the GCC declared that an attack on any of the Member States would be perceived as targeting all of them. For the GCC, as for all states and organizations in the region, the Iraq invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 was tense. However, unlike other regional organizations, the GCC was not divided on the issue. The GCC Council of Ministers was united in its condemnation of the invasion, which was described as a violation of Kuwait’s sovereignty. The GCC demanded that Iraq leave Kuwait immediately.

The organization’s security force was placed on high alert to prevent an Iraqi invasion of Saudi Arabia in the first place. But of the proud declarations of PSF, it had only become an active force of almost 7,000 men. The Kuwait crisis showed that the countries’ defenses were vulnerable and weak, despite investing large sums in common defense systems.

During the Kuwait crisis, closer cooperation emerged between the GCC countries, Egypt and Syria. Egypt and Syria had both welcomed the US-led UN alliance formed to liberate Kuwait. As part of the cooperation between the two countries and the GCC , the Damascus Declaration was signed in March 1991. Its aim was to build a regional peacekeeping force, introduce a ban on weapons of mass destruction in the region and find a solution to the Palestinian issue through international conferences. After conflicts over funding and the composition of the peacekeeping force, plans for a joint peacekeeping force remained on paper.

During the 1980’s, relations within the GCC were inflamed by a series of internal conflicts. The organization’s two smallest states, Bahrain and Qatar, had been at odds over the Fasht al-Dibal reef since the 1930’s, where oil could be found. Both states claimed the area and in 1986 they were at war. Bahrain also claimed the city of Zubarah, which is located inside Qatar territory. After Saudi Arabia’s failure to mediate in the conflict, Qatar took the matter to the International Court of Justice in The Hague in 1991. After a lengthy trial, Bahrain gained sovereignty over the Hawara Islands and Qit`at Jaradah, while Qatar gained Zubarah, the island of Janan and the Fasht al-Dibal reef.

A security agreement to combat crime and terrorism was drawn up at the 1994 summit, but neither Kuwait nor Qatar signed it. Kuwait therefore abstained because an accession was considered contrary to the country’s constitution and Qatar abstained in protest against Saudi Arabia’s dominance in the organization. In 1992, a border conflict flared up between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. At the 1995 summit, Qatar boycotted the final negotiations in protest of the non-election of its candidate for secretary general. Instead, the council elected a Saudi to the new secretary general. Qatar did not accept the new Secretary-General until it was decided that the post of Secretary-General would rotate between the countries in the future. Only five years later was the border dispute between the countries settled.

In 1996, Yemen applied for membership of the GCC, and in the early 2000’s, Yemen was allowed to participate in bodies that discussed certain issues, such as education and health care. Negotiations on full membership continued, but the civil war has put an end to the process and Yemen is one of the issues on which GCC member states do not agree.

GCC - Gulf Cooperation Council

World Bank Business

World Bank Business

The business

The main purpose of the World Bank is to promote sustainable economic growth in order to reduce poverty in the recipient countries. This is done by offering loans and guarantees, as well as providing support in the form of analysis and advice. The bank is the world’s largest financier of development aid.

Projects supported by the World Bank can focus on, for example, education, health care, road construction, environmental protection or reforms of the financial sector and public administration.

The Bank works closely with the governments of the recipient countries, but also with non-governmental organizations and with other international bodies such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the various UN specialized agencies and regional development banks.

The World Bank’s support for a country is based on an analysis of the causes of poverty in a recipient country. Based on the analysis, the World Bank then, in dialogue with the country’s government, develops a tailor-made assistance program that is described in so-called Country Assistance Strategies (CAS). The help can consist of financial support, advice or technical assistance.

Investments are made on the basis of achieving growth by building competence among representatives of the state and government, creating a functioning rule of law, developing stable financial systems and fighting corruption.

According to six strategic goals developed by Robert Zoellick, World Bank Governor 2007-2012, the work will focus on helping the poorest countries (mainly in Africa), preventing conflicts and supporting reconstruction in failing states, supporting middle-income countries as a majority of the world’s poor live there., safeguard public and public goods (not least the environment), expand cooperation with the Arab world, which is found to be poorly integrated into the world economy, and provide expertise and expertise.

Lending

The World Bank lends money to long-term development projects aimed at fighting poverty and creating growth. The bank is involved in approximately 1,700 projects in developing countries.

Middle-income countries can apply for loans from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), which is part of the World Bank. Middle-income countries include countries with a national income per capita between about $ 1,000 and $ 12,000 a year. The recipient country pays interest on the loan, which is repaid within 15 years. The first five years are usually free of charge. Projects must have a good chance of becoming profitable.

The International Development Fund (IDA), which is also part of the World Bank, provides long-term loans to the poorest countries. The loans are given on very favorable terms, which means that they are virtually exempt from interest and have a long repayment period, between 20 and 40 years, of which the first 10 years are amortization-free. However, the projects financed by IDA must also be considered commercially profitable. Thus, IDA’s lending deviates from pure development assistance activities.

Some countries, especially small island states, which have higher incomes may also borrow from IDA as their credit rating is too low for IBRD loans. Other countries have such a low income that they qualify for IDA loans, but still a high enough credit rating to be able to borrow from the IBRD as well. The latter include India, Pakistan and Indonesia. A total of 78 countries qualified for IDA credits in 2009.

To obtain a loan through IDA, a country must develop a credible strategy for combating poverty, a so-called PRSP (Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper; see also IMF: Progress). At the same time, IDA offers a special loan credit PRSC (Poverty Reduction Support Credit) which is given in parallel with the IMF’s so-called PRGF loan (see IMF: Progress) and which, like the latter, will support various structural and social reforms.

In 2008, the World Bank lent a total of $ 24.7 billion to 298 projects. The IBRD accounted for 13.5 billion, of which a third went to Latin America and the Caribbean and almost as much to countries in Europe and Central Asia. Of the $ 11.2 billion that IDA portioned out, just under a third was grants and the rest loans. Half of IDA’s money went to sub-Saharan Africa and a quarter to southern Asia.

External cooperation

According to commit4fitness, the World Bank works closely with the IMF, not least with regard to the HIPC initiative (see Progress). A 2007 report stated that there is room to strengthen cooperation, not least to better manage crisis situations, coordinate technical assistance and clarify the roles of the two institutions in the work of developing financial sectors. The Bank also works closely with a number of other UN agencies that also work to combat poverty in the world.

In addition to lending from the IBRD and IDA budgets, the World Bank also manages trust funds for assistance to particularly high-priority development needs. These funds are financed outside the World Bank’s own resources, mostly through contributions from about ten countries. The funds include multi-billion initiatives such as HIPC and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFTAM), as well as a wide range of smaller and more specialized projects.

The World Bank contributes to about 170 regional and global partnerships, often with similar purposes. In 2000, the Bank initiated an international collaboration between educational institutes in developing countries, the Global Development Learning Network. Co-financing of specific projects also occurs.

Technical assistance and research

An increasingly important part of the World Bank’s activities is technical assistance. This is given, among other things, in the form of the economic country analyzes that form the basis for designing aid programs for the recipient countries. Often, certain parts of the loans from IBRD and IDA are set aside for counseling, training and other forms of knowledge transfer. Technical assistance is also provided in the form of training in financial management and project analysis for officials from the member states’ public administrations.

The World Bank’s research forms the basis for how its work is designed and how the Bank prioritises the areas to be supported. The bank conducts a number of different research projects in different subject areas and regions. In addition to country analyzes, regional analyzes are produced each year that address various themes, such as regional trade, income distribution and work to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

In addition, the bank issues several reports. One example is the annual World Development Report, which analyzes obstacles to development in the world and provides recommendations for how to bridge them. Another annual report is Poverty Reduction and the World Bank, which examines the effects of the World Bank’s efforts to reduce poverty.

World Bank Business