India - Saudi Security Ties Getting Stronger
Testimony to Modus Operandi of Iran’s Intelligence in Europe
A Weekly Political News Magazine
Issue 1841- February- 26/02/2021
Mariam Al Mahdi: Revolutionary ‘Kandake’ as Sudan’s Top Diplomat Issue 1841- February- 26/02/2021 www.majalla.com
Who Dares to Finance Fresh Startups?
A Weekly Political News Magazine
www.majalla.com/eng According to the 2020 Saudi Arabia Venture Capital Report, Saudi Arabia ranks third in the size of venture capital financing among Arab countries. Investments of the Saudi venture capital amounts to 15% of USD 1031m, the value of total investments pumped into Arab countries by business angels in 2020. Overcoming bureaucracy of traditional financing channels, Saudi angel investors, be they banks or lending institutions, private or public, are paving the way for a younger generation businesspeople to take part in the development of Saudi post-oil economy. In this week’s cover story, Motasem Al Felou provides us with insights on the daring business angels who coinvest with state-owned SVC to catalyze startups .
Ghassan Charbel Editorial secretary Mostafa El-Dessouki HH Saudi Research and Marketing (UK) Ltd
Biden’s administration has taken few conciliatory steps to encourage Iran to return to the nuclear deal. However, Tehran has rebuffed all these measures and imposed new restrictions on IAEA inspections of suspicious nuclear activity. In his weekly column, Joseph Braude writes about how far the efforts of Biden’s team have gone, Tehran’s rejection of US insistence of its return to compliance before Washington and the risky choices Biden is facing .
10th Floor Building 7 Chiswick Business Park 566 Chiswick High Road London W4 5YG
Locked down due to the coronavirus pandemic, people are now using Clubhouse for hours, moving between virtual rooms to discuss various topics, ranging from business, advertising, and marketing to arts, culture, media and even dating tips . Menna A. Farouk draws closer attention to the im� pact of the application on the Arab world, noting that Arabs, too are flocking to talk about various topics related to the challenges facing the Arab societies such as traditions, marriage, women’s rights, politics and how to make more money .
Read these articles and more on our website eng.majalla.com. As always, we welcome and value our readers’ feedback and we invite you to take the opportunity to leave your comments on our website .
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A Weekly Political News Magazine
A Weekly Political News Magazine
Saudi Arabia Seeks to be a Global Tourist Destination
Issue 1841- February- 26/02/2021
22 Ray of hope as Saudi Arabia Proposes
to Mediate Nile Dam Dispute
32 The White House Offers Tehran
an Olive Branch
26 Palestinian Community in Israel – A
Different Fight for Survival
30 A System Failure
It’s Not Too Late to Get in 50 Better Shape 5
52 Nanomaterials in Food
Pope Francis visit to Iraq Iraqi Christians pose for photo near a mural of Pope Francis on the wall of a church upon his upcoming visit to Iraq, Pope Francis’ historic visit from March 5-8 will include trips to Baghdad, the city of Mosul in the north and a meeting with the country’s top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. February 22, 2021 )Reuters Photos(
Putin meets with his Belarusian President Lukashenko in Sochi Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko arrive at the mountain resort of Krasnaya Polyana near the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Monday, Feb. ,22 2021. AZ Sochi, (AP Photos)
A WEEK IN THE MIDDLE EAST LEBANON The World Bank threatened this week to suspend its multi-million dollar financing for Lebanon’s COVID-19 vaccinations over politicians jumping the line, Reuters reported. Local media and officials said some lawmakers got shots in parliament this week while other Lebanese in the priority groups were still waiting their turn, drawing a rebuke from the doctor leading the campaign and outrage on social media. The World Bank’s reallocation of $34 million enabled Lebanon to receive its first two batches of about 60,000 Pfizer-BioNTech doses this month. The bank has monitored the rollout to ensure the first shots go to healthcare workers and the elderly. It had warned against favouritism in the country, where decades of state waste and corruption have triggered a financial meltdown.
IRAQ U.S. President Joe Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi discussed recent rocket attacks on Iraqi and coalition forces in a phone call this week and agreed those responsible “must be held fully to account,” the White House said, Reuters reported. Most attacks cause no casualties but the latest rocket attack was the third in Iraq in just over a week to target Green Zone areas that host U.S. troops, diplomats or contractors. The rockets in such attacks are typically fired by groups that U.S. and Iraqi officials say are backed by Iran.
YEMEN EGYPT Delegations from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar met in Kuwait this week for the first time since an agreement last month to end a rift of more than three years, the UAE state news agency WAM said, according to a Reuters report. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt agreed in January at a summit in Saudi’s al-Ula to restore diplomatic, trade and travel ties with Doha, which had been severed in 2017 over accusations that Qatar supported terrorism, a charge it denies. Two separate meetings took place; one between UAE and Qatari delegations on Monday and the other one between Egyptian and Qatari delegations on Tuesday. “The two sides discussed joint mechanisms and procedures for implementing the al-Ula statement. They emphasized the importance of preserving Gulf kinship and developing joint Gulf action in the interest of GCC countries and their citizens, and of achieving stability and prosperity in the region,” WAM said. They thanked Saudi and Kuwait for their roles in ending the rift.
United Nations aid chief Mark Lowcock appealed this week for about $4 billion in 2021 to fund humanitarian operations, warning that “Yemen is speeding towards the worst famine the world has seen in decades”, Reuters reported. Hospitals should prepare for a possible second wave of COVID-19 and take steps to prevent the disease spreading, health authorities in the government-controlled part of Yemen said. Testing and reporting are limited because of Yemen’s more than six-year war but the number of confirmed new cases has risen in the past 10 days, after levelling off since September to just a couple a day.
SAUDI ARABIA U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, state media said this week, according to Reuters. Crown Prince Mohammed, who is also Saudi Defence Minister, reviewed bilateral relations with Austin, especially in defence cooperation, state news agency SPA said. Austin reaffirmed the importance of the strategic defence partnership between the two countries, and said the United States was committed to helping Riyadh defend itself, condemning attacks launched into the kingdom by the Houthi group in Yemen. Austin said in a statement he had a productive call. “We discussed the continued commitment to the 70 year US-Saudi security partnership, and I’m looking forward to working together to achieve regional security & stability,” he said.
Kuwait’s Civil Aviation Authority this week announced it was extending an entry ban for non-Kuwaiti citizens until further notice as part of coronavirus restriction measures, it said on Twitter, according to a Reuters report. Citizens are still allowed to enter but they must spend a week in quarantine at a hotel and another week at home.
Palestinians in Gaza began a limited COVID-19 vaccination programme after receiving doses donated by Russia and the United Arab Emirates, but a wider campaign could be further off as health officials await larger shipments, Reuters reported.
UAE United Arab Emirates’ state-owned weapons maker EDGE expects to be involved in the supply chain of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 war plane if the sale of U.S. planes to the Gulf Arab state goes ahead, its chief executive said this week, according to Reuters. U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration is re-examining the sale of 50 F-35 stealth jets, 18 armed drones and other military equipment approved by former President Donald Trump during his last days in office. “Any platform that is coming to the country, we are now getting heavily involved in this supply chain in whatever component that makes sense for the client and for us,” EDGE CEO Faisal al-Bannai said at Abu Dhabi’s Idex defence exhibition.
SYRIA A German court sentenced a former member of President Bashar al-Assad’s security services to 4-1/2 years in prison this week for abetting the torture of civilians, the first such verdict for crimes against humanity in the 10-year-old Syrian civil war., according to a Reuters report.
A WEEK ACROSS THE WORLD
Britain has started to drive down cases of the more infectio South African variant of coronavirus and will only emerge fr lockdown in stages to make sure that does not change, the country’s health secretary said this week, according to a Reu report. A day before Prime Minister Boris Johnson sets out his plan restrictions in England, Hancock said there was also early da showing that the faster-than-expected vaccine rollout was re transmissions and easing pressure on hospitals. Britain has the world’s fifth-worst official COVID-19 death t secure mass vaccine supplies means one in three adults has started to fall.
LIBYA The interior minister of Libya’s U.N.-backed government survived an ambush by gunmen on his motorcade this week, a brazen attack highlighting the towering challenges that remain for the newly appointed government that is trying to unite the country before elections late this year, AP reported. Armed men opened fire at Fathi Bashagha’s motorcade on a highway in Tripoli, wounding at least one of his guards, said Amin al-Hashmi, a spokesman for the Tripoli-based Health Ministry. He said the minister survived the attack and his guards chased the assailants, killing one and detaining two others. The Interior Ministry said in a statement that Bashagha was was returning to his residence in the Janzour neighborhood when armed men in an armored vehicle opened fire on his convoy.
SUDAN Sudan’s central bank sharply devalued the currency this week, announcing a new regime to “unify” official and black-market exchange rates in an effort to overcome a crippling economic crisis and access debt relief, Reuters reported. The change is a key reform demanded by foreign donors and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), but was delayed for months as shortages of basic goods and rapid inflation complicated a fragile political transition. The central bank set the indicative rate at 375 pounds to the dollar, several commercial banking sources said, from a previous official rate of 55 pounds. Recently, the dollar traded at between 350 and 400 Sudanese pounds on the black market. The central bank will set a daily indicative rate in a “flexible managed float”, a circular sent to banks said. Banks and exchange bureaus are required to trade within 5% above or below that rate.
AUSTRALIA Facebook will restore Australian news pages, ending an unprecedented week-long blackout after wringing concessions from the government over a proposed law that will require tech giants to pay traditional media companies for their content, Reuters reported. Both sides claimed victory in the clash, which has drawn global attention as countries including Canada and Britain consider similar steps to rein in the dominant tech platforms and preserve media diversity. While some analysts said Facebook had defended its lucrative model of collecting ad money for clicks on news it shows, others said the compromise - which includes a deal on how to resolve disputes could pay off for the media industry, or at least for publishers with reach and political clout. “Facebook has scored a big win,” said independent British technology analyst Richard Windsor, adding the concessions it made “virtually guarantee that it will be business as usual from here on.”
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ETHIOPIA Sudan this week accused Ethiopia of an "unforgivable insult" in its sharpest statement since a decades-old border dispute flared late last year. Clashes erupted between Sudanese and Ethiopian forces over Al-Fashqa, an area of fertile land settled by Ethiopian farmers that Sudan says lies on its side of a border demarcated at the start of the 20th century, which Ethiopia rejects. In a statement on Thursday, Ethiopia's foreign ministry said it believes "the conflict being trumpeted by the Sudanese government's military wing could only serve the interests of a third party at the expense of the Sudanese people". Sudan's foreign ministry responded on Saturday by saying "slander towards Sudan and accusation of being an agent for other parties is a grave and unforgivable insult".
GHANA Ghana received the world’s first delivery of coronavirus vaccines from the United Nations-backed COVAX initiative this week — the long-awaited start for a program that has thus far fallen short of hopes that it would ensure shots were given quickly to the world’s most vulnerable people, AP reported. The arrival of 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the West African country marks the beginning of the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history, according to the World Health Organization and UNICEF. It is a linchpin of efforts to bring the pandemic to an end and has been hailed as the first time the world has delivered a highly sought-after vaccine to poor countries during an ongoing outbreak.
MYANMAR Protesters gathered in Myanmar’s biggest city this week despite the ruling junta’s threat to use lethal force against people who join a general strike against the military’s takeover three weeks ago. More than 1,000 protesters gathered near the U.S. Embassy in Yangon despite barriers blocking the way, but left to avoid a confrontation after 20 military trucks with riot police arrived nearby. Protests continued in other parts of the city, including next to Sule Pagoda, a traditional gathering point. Factories, workplaces and shops were shuttered across the country Monday in response to the call for a nationwide strike. The closings extended to the capital, Naypyitaw.
GREECE Police clashed with protesters and arrested 31 people in Greece’s second-largest city Monday during a demonstration against a new campus security law. Protesters occupied the principal’s building at the University of Thessaloniki in northern Greece for several hours and the clashes broke out when police entered the building to remove them. A total of 32 people who took part in the protest were fined 300 euros ($365) each for breaking the country’s lockdown rules.
Who Dares to Finance Fresh Startups? Saudi Business Angels Bridge the Startup Financing Gap Government- owned SVC Co-invests with Angel Groups to Catalyze Startups with USD 750 m Jeddah: Motasem Al Felou Who would take care of a baby idea with a problem-solving concept and spend a lot to have it materialized? Banks, in general, tend to lend bigger enterprises. The share of bank loans dedicated to young entrepreneurs and fresh ideas are relatively low everywhere in the world. When banks are conservative, venture capitals are the brave hearts who pay to give wings to entrepreneurial spirits to fly as high as possible. Saudi delivery and e-commerce Apps, whose brands are worth millions now, were just small ideas that were grown by angel investor and bright entrepreneurs. We are taking a short trip to the concept of
business angels in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
FILLING THE FINANCING VACUUM From enterprise services to financial technology, and from digital learning to e-commerce, Saudi business investors are taking the risk of financing business startups for years without making immediate profits. Those angels go through the journey of financing brand evolution stages until the bran stands on its feet, either alone or in groups or even specialized equity financing funds that are risk-handling-oriented. To add more credibility and assurance, Saudi Venture Capital Company (SVC), a publicly
Guests attend the 2020 Global AI Artificial Intelligence)( Summit in the Saudi capital Riyadh on The .2020 ,21 October summit brings together stakeholders from public sector, academia and private sector, including technology companies, investors, entrepreneurs and startups to shape the future of Artificial Intelligence (AI). (Getty)
owned company established in 2018, is investing three quarter a billion USD to support the entrepreneurial financing lines. “They are true saviors. For some, they are guardian angels in a business context”, said Abdulrahman, a Saudi wannabe entrepreneur in his thirties.
“Those investors have paved the way for the younger generation businesspeople to take part in the development of Saudi post-oil economy, where the share of oil decreasing in favor of non-oil sectors.”
Saudi public-funded business incubators have existed more than a decade. Back in 2005, Kafalah, a program created to finance SME’s in cooperation between bank and guarantees from the Saudi Ministry of Finance.
HOW DO THEY MAKE PROFIT
“Fresh ideas need believers and sacrificers, who are patient with an eye on the big prize after a journey of patience”, said Fahad Albogami, a long-time Saudi economy journalist.
Angel investors make profit only when the startup grows its equity and get sold to new investors. Uber bought the rival Careem in a USD 3.1 bn deal around a couple of years ago. “After a journey of extreme patience and
uninterrupted financing. The startup brand is sold and angels get the big prize.”, explains Albogami how the bigger the effort, the bigger the fruit in the field of angel investment. “Business angels could be as simple as a small businessperson funding a project from scratch or a joint of angel funds”, added Albogami.
NEW FINANCING HORIZONS “Saudi angel investors overcome bureaucracy of traditional financing channels, be they banks or lending institutions, private or public”, Albogami pointed his finger on the differentiation point, the edge, of business angels. “Those investors have paved the way for the younger generation businesspeople to take part in the development of Saudi post-oil economy, where the share of oil decreasing in favor of non-oil sectors, especially in the fields of technology and IA and digital, and many innovation-based industries”, he added. Saudi Arabia ranks 3rd after the UAE and Egypt in the size of finance among Arab countries, according to the 2020 Saudi Arabia Venture Capital Report, prepared by MAGNiTT Report, sponsored by SVC. %15 is share of investment of the Saudi venture capital from USD 1031 m, the value
“Fresh ideas need believers and sacrificers, who are patient with an eye on the big prize after a journey of patience”
of total investments pumped in the Arab countries by business angels in 2020. The good news is that 2020 saw the USD 151 m invested in Saudi-based startups with the deal flow %35 up compared to the previous year. This comes against the backdrop of COVID19-. More international capitals landed in KSA in 2020 more than 2019, marking an increase of %11, based on the SVC sponsored report.
PROSPERITY PROSPECTS For decades, the Saudi Arabian financing policies has been known for testing new ideas and digesting with exploration and longterm results, maintaining a steady growth rather than uncalculated fast growth. Once they discover the results are positive, they accelerate their steps.” “Saudi Arabia is set for faster growth both in volume and number of deals to move to higher regional and international ranks with more business angels joining the industry”, concluded Saudi expert Albogami.
Fahad Albogami, economy expert and journalist
India - Saudi Security Ties Getting Stronger A Partnership to Address Regional Security Challenges Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan
countries plan to hold a joint exercise for the first time. The exercise will be conducted in the latter India and Saudi Arabia have long enjoyed cordial part of the year and the Indian Army contingent relations, primarily driven by India’s energy se- will travel to Saudi Arabia for it. The decision to curity requirements. But the bilateral partnership hold joint army exercises appear to be a follow has seen important shifts in recent years. Accord- up to the visit of General N.M. Naravane, the ing to Indian media reports, the armies of the two Indian army chief, to Saudi Arabia in December.
Mohammed Bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, left, is greeted by Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, right, as Ram Nath Kovind, India’s president, applauds during a ceremonial reception at the presidential palace in New Delhi, India, on Wednesday, Feb. ,20 2019. (Getty)
The navies of the two countries were also planning to hold their first-ever joint naval exercises in March 2020 but it had to be postponed on account of the pandemic. The naval exercise has been rescheduled for the first half of 2021. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two trips to Saudi Arabia, first in 2016 and then in 2019, and the visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to India in 2019, have been important in consolidating the bonds between the two sides. All of this suggests that while energy security might continue to dominate the agenda, security and defense cooperation are becoming higher priorities in the India-Saudi relationship. The recent high-level political visits between India and Saudi Arabia are a sign of greater political attention and demonstration of the intent on both sides to shed their traditional approach, in which Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir were significant sticking points. This was evident during Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval’s visit to Saudi Arabia in October 2019, when the Saudi government reportedly stated that Riyadh “expressed understanding of India’s approach and actions in Jammu and Kashmir,” a comment that referred to the abrogation of Article 370. During the visit of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, deputy prime minister and minister of defense of Saudi Arabia in February 2019, Modi and bin Salman “condemned in the strongest terms, the recent terrorist attack on Indian security forces on 14 February, 2019 in Pulwama in Jammu & Kashmir,” demonstrating a more nuanced position from Riyadh and support for India. The “neutral” stand is an important shift in Saudi Arabia’s approach towards India in general and Jammu and Kashmir in particular. India-Saudi relations began to assume a certain dynamism after Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to the Kingdom in 2010. The signing of the Riyadh Declaration is considered an important marker in the bilateral ties, elevating the relationship to a strategic partnership. The two sides condemned terrorism, extremism and violence and underscored the importance of combatting terrorism that threatens all societies. The leaders agreed to strengthen information sharing related to terrorism, money laundering, narcotics, and arms and human trafficking. This
The signing of the Riyadh Declaration is considered an important marker in the bilateral ties, elevating the relationship to a strategic partnership. The two sides condemned terrorism, extremism and violence and underscored the importance of combatting terrorism that threatens all societies. was followed by then-Defense Minister AK Antony’s visit to Saudi Arabia in 2012, the first by an Indian defense minister to Riyadh. The signing a Memorandum of Understanding on Defense Cooperation in February 2014 was important in strengthening their defense partnership. The two sides also agreed to set up a Joint Committee on Defense Cooperation (JCDC) to identify and augment defense collaboration between the two sides. The committee has had four meetings so far – in 2012, 2016, 2017, and 2019 – with the two sides deciding to engage in training and capacity building exercises, intelligence sharing, and maritime security. The JCDC meetings have given a spurt to maritime security ties between the two countries. The two sides have been engaged in training and capacity building exercise as well as hydrographic cooperation. The Royal Saudi naval forces have reportedly stepped up naval engagements with the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard, with Indian ships undertaking a number of goodwill visits to Saudi ports since the early 2000s. During one such visit by Indian Coast Guard ship Samudra Paheredar in February 2020, the Embassy of India in Riyadh put out a statement saying that these visits “are symbolic of our desire to enhance our cooperation with the Kingdom in matters of defence.” In an effort to further augment maritime ties between New Delhi and Riyadh, Admiral Sunil Lanba, chairman of the chiefs of staff committee and chief of the na-
val staff visited Saudi Arabia in February 2018, during which he met the Saudi Deputy Defense Minister Mohammad bin Abdullah Al-Aysesh as well as the heads of the various military services. In addition to these meetings, Lanba also visited the Naval Operations Center, Naval Fire and Rescue School, and Western Fleet at Jeddah, which also involved a visit to HMS Dammam, an Al-Riyadh class frigate. Reports indicated that Saudi Arabia has been keen on strengthening maritime security cooperation with India in the western Indian Ocean, which includes some
Reports indicated that Saudi Arabia has been keen on strengthening maritime security cooperation with India in the western Indian Ocean, which includes some of the busiest shipping lanes, including those in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Oman, and the Arabian Gulf.
of the busiest shipping lanes, including those in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Oman, and the Arabian Gulf. These are incidentally of enormous interest to India as well, as highlighted in the Indian Navy’s Maritime Security Strategy issued in 2015. Saudi armed forces have regularly attended training programs at Indian military institutions including the National Defense College, the College of Defense Management and the Defense Services and Staff College. India and Saudi Arabia have also agreed to strengthen their cooperation in the area of defense production, as indicated by the signing of an MoU between Saudi General Authority of Military Industries and India’s Department of Defense Production. Overall, India-Saudi Arabia defense cooperation has considerably picked up the pace. N. Ram Prasad, deputy chief of mission at the Indian Embassy in Riyadh, recently wrote in Arab News that “the direction of the India-Saudi bilateral defense relationship remains extremely positive with several initiatives being taken,” also noting that both countries “are ascending powers and major players in their respective regions and are natural partners in addressing the various security challenges confronting the region.” This suggests that these trends are set to continue. This article was originally published in The Diplomat.
Ray of hope as Saudi Arabia Proposes to Mediate Nile Dam Dispute Riyadh’s Bid to Sponsor a Settlement Before Ethiopia’s Second Filling 22
By: Amr Emam CAIRO – Speculation is rife about the future of negotiations between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia over the latter›s Nile River dam, after Saudi Arabia unveiled a plan to broker a settlement of the conflict between them. Saudi Minister of State for African Affairs Ahmed Al Qattan revealed recently that his country would try to help the three states end the deadlock over the dam. The Saudi effort, he said, would try to preserve the rights of the three states. However, following a meeting with Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok in Khartoum on 17 February, Minister Qattan noted that Riyadh backs the water rights of Arab states.
DEEP EFFECTS Negotiations over the multibillion dollar Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) have been stalled for several months now.
Satellite Imagery of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam reservoir filling. (Getty)
Egypt and Sudan accuse Ethiopia of wasting time until the dam is a fact on the ground. The three countries are locked in technical negotiations over the duration of the filling of the dam reservoir as well as its operation after the filling. The negotiations have produced no result so far. Cairo and Khartoum express concerns that the project will significantly trim the amounts of water reaching them. Egypt, for example, says the dam will threaten water supply to its population of 100 million. «Egypt depends on the Nile for 97% of its needs,» Egyptian Minister of Irrigation Mohamed Abdel A›ti said on 14 February. He revealed that his country needs 114 billion cubic meters of water annually to satisfy its agricultural and industrial needs as well as the needs of its people, even though it receives only 55.5 billion cubic meters of water from the Nile every year. Sudan is also concerned that the Ethiopian dam
Saudi Arabia invests billions of dollars in the three states. A settlement of the conflict between the three states will have an effect on Red Sea security as well as on stability in the Horn of Africa, two regions of major importance for Riyadh. will trim the water supply for its population of over 40 million. Apart from water shortages, Sudan also expects to suffer effects on its hydroelectric dams from the dam. «This means that the Ethiopian dam can cause electricity shortages in our country, especially during droughts,» Sudanese Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas said in December last year.
PROCRASTINATING Sudan even expresses concern over the safety of its people, especially from a possible collapse of the dam. This is why both Cairo and Khartoum consider the Ethiopian hydroelectric dam an «existential threat.» In June last year, Egypt asked the United Nations Security Council to arbitrate the dam issue. This came almost a year after then-President Donald Trump made a failed bid to help the three countries settle their dispute over the dam. «Ethiopia was responsible for the failure of the American mediation because it refused to recognize this mediation,» Egyptian international law professor Ayman Salama told The Majalla. «It was against signing a legally-binding agreement.»
The US-sponsored talks on GERD culminated in an agreement on the filling and the operation of the dam. Egypt initialed the agreement in February last year. However, Ethiopia did not send its delegation to the agreement signing ceremony, even though it welcomed the accord at first.
TOUGH MISSION The declared Saudi mediation bid also comes hard on the heels of an attempt by the African Union to find a solution to the problem. The South African presidency of the pan-African organization tried to bring the three countries together all through 2020. Nevertheless, this effort bore no fruit. In January this year, Egypt declared talks over the dam a «failure.» Sudan pulled out of the talks altogether in the same month, saying the talks were taking the wrong track. «The Ethiopian government did not cooperate at all, causing the negotiations to produce no result,» Sudanese political analyst Mohamed Saleh Matar told The Majalla. Ethiopia, which says the $4 billion dollar project is crucial for its economic development, moves ahead with the dam construction despite the nonsettlement of the dispute with downstream countries, Egypt and Sudan.
Cairo and Khartoum express concerns that the project will significantly trim the amounts of water reaching them. That’s why both countries consider the Ethiopian hydroelectric dam an «existential threat»
Ethiopia made the first filling of the dam reservoir in July last year. It plans to make a second filling of the reservoir in July this year. This leaves Saudi Arabia enough time to make a serious mediation bid and commit Ethiopia to agreeing with downstream states before making the second filling of the dam, observers said. «Saudi Arabia can bring the three parties together, thanks to its political weight in the Arab region and in Africa,» Matar said. «It can do this before Ethiopia makes the second filling of the dam reservoir in July.» Egypt and Sudan say they want Ethiopia to sign a legally binding agreement on the filling and the operation of the dam before the filling of the dam reservoir is complete.
Participants in a meeting for Arab and African countries of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden (L to R) Foreign Ministers of Eritrea Osman Saleh Mohammed, Somalia Ahmed Isse Awad, Saudi Minister of State for African Affairs Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz Qattan, Foreign Ministers of Jordan Ayman Safadi, Saudi Arabia Faisal bin Farhan, Egypt Sameh Shoukry, Djibouti Mahmoud Ali Youssouf, Sudan Asma Mohamed Abdalla, Yemen Mohammad Al-Hadhrami, pose for a group picture ahead of the meeting in the Saudi capital Riyadh on January 2020 ,6. (Getty)
RAY OF HOPE Qattan revealed that Saudi Arabia will host a meeting of the Council it formed last year for Red Sea security soon. Apart from Saudi Arabia, the council contains eight member states, including Egypt and Sudan. This comes amid optimism over the Saudi mediation bid. Saudi Arabia, observers said, enjoys strong relations with Cairo, Khartoum and Addis Ababa. «These relations make Riyadh more capable of convincing the three countries to reach a deal,» Egyptian political science professor Nadia Helmi told The Majalla. Saudi Arabia invests billions of dollars in the three states. A settlement of the conflict between
the three states will have an effect on Red Sea security as well as on stability in the Horn of Africa, two regions of major importance for Riyadh. However, Saudi Arabia will have a ride that is far from easy or smooth as it tries to end the deadlock on the dam, analysts said. One of the challenges it will possibly face is Ethiopia›s desire to stay away from any legally binding agreements. «This means that Saudi Arabia needs to have cards it can use if Ethiopia resorts to its traditional wasting of time,» Helmi said. «The Saudis can also enlist help from other international players that enjoy equally strong relations with Ethiopia».
Palestinian Community in Israel – A Different Fight for Survival Unlicensed Guns Threaten a Young Generation By: Amal Shahada Tawfiq Zaher, a Nazareth artist, went to pick up his granddaughter from nursery as he used to do every afternoon. On their way home, on a main road, there was a shooting targeting a bakery next to them so he jumped to cover his
granddaughter with his body. A gunshot killed him instead of another young man. Ahmed Hegazy was a student in a nursing school. He was studying for exams at his colleague’s house when they heard loud voices. Hegazy went out to see what was going on, but he got shot and fell dead.
Ahmad, Mahmoud and their parents were asleep at their home when a stranger broke into the house and shot all of them dead. By the end of January, there were more than 420,000 unlicensed guns in various Israeli Palestinian towns, which means that one in every five households owned a gun. The Israeli army is the primary source of these guns, where 80% of them are obtained by criminal gangs from the army. Although such seizures are officially described as “theft from military camps”, most of these “thefts” took place in coordination with elements inside the army. While the Arab community was highly agitated, and was actively protesting to put an end to such phenomena, demanding the army and the police forces to unveil the perpetrators, a major theft of ammunition took place.
More than 420,000 unlicensed guns in various Israeli Palestinian towns by the end of January. (Supplied)
Early January, 93,000 bullets were stolen from Tze’elim military training base in southern Israel, which is considered one of the most heavily-guarded and secured bases, with all its hightech surveillance system and military guards. Until now little is known about the method of the theft, but it is evident that some military elements collaborated with the robbers and facilitated their job. Without meeting any resistance, the robbers were able to storm into the ammunition warehouse, carry more than 93,000 5.56 mm bullets, transfer them to a truck and leave within minutes.
The Israeli army is the primary source of these guns, where %80 of them are obtained by criminal gangs from the army. Although such seizures are officially described as “theft from military camps”, most of these “thefts” took place in coordination with elements inside the army. but, as in all similar incidents, no one has been detained.
POLICE END CRIME IN JEWISH AREAS BUT LET IT SPREAD IN PALESTINIAN TOWNS Prior to Tze’elim’s incident, another theft took place in which the robbers stole a number of M16 rifles which have become a main killing weapons in the Israeli Palestinian communities.
Hegazy’s murder, in late January, stirred widespread protests throughout Arab towns in the country. Protesters accused the police forces of failing to stop the killings within the Palestinian towns. The High Follow-Up Committee of the Arab Citizens of Israel as well as antiviolence associations have grown active in setting up plans to combat this fatal phenomenon. According to a military official, the robbers These groups, which have been campaigning were aware of the security routines inside the to defend their right to keep their lands, have base and took advantage of a security hole to come to strive for another kind of survival – storm the army’s central ammunition ware- preventing the killing of their youth. house. However, another official acknowlSignificantly, during the protests, main roads edged that they obtained a help from inside. The military estimated that more than were closed to paralyze Israeli streets. Police USD$15,000,000 worth of guns, ammunition officers were widely deployed and they harshly and equipment are stolen every year from mili- attacked the Arab protestors, in contrast to their tary bases and camps. Each stolen item is worth handling with Jewish protesters. from $5,000 to $10,000. The question is -- why do Israeli security and Aviv Kochavi, the Israeli chief of staff, an- political agencies keep silent about such phenounced an investigation into Tze’elim’s theft, nomena when they should have intervened by
seizing the guns, detaining and prosecuting the criminals? Remarkably, most crimes go unpunished, and the perpetrators are able to move freely so that people fear for the lives of their children if they go outdoors. On the contrary, in Jewish towns, the government successfully cooperated with security and police forces to uproot crimes some years ago. Nabila Espanioly, a psychologist and a member of Women Against Weapons, told Majalla, “the approach towards the Arab public is based
“Whenever we get more active in our strife, the state gets more upset, so if we are distracted by internal issues from opposing the state’s policies, the government will be satisfied.”
on negligence and taking advantage of the Palestinian society. There is a systemic policy to worsen the situation and aggravate violence in the Arab towns.” As for addressing the problem in both Arab and Jewish communities, Espanioly said, “Studies show that when Israel decided to cut off weapon sources in Netanya and Lod, it succeeded in contrast to its inaction with regards to the Arab community unless the victim is a Jew. In such case, the police seriously deal with the crime.” “Therefore, it is required that the police take action. Government policies are also needed to impose gun control, cut off weapon sources, and seriously handle robbery and black market crimes,” she added. Confronting the current situation, the Arab society should also acknowledge its own responsibility. Espanioly stated, “Our community should be responsible by preventing engagement with organized crime. There are also plenty of other issues that we have to address, for example, black market deals, and other grey list activities such as money laundering and other related transactions.”
A Palestinian boy carries a photo of Tawfiq Zaher (Supplied)
“The approach towards the Arab public is based on negligence and taking advantage of the Palestinian society. There is a systemic policy to worsen the situation and aggravate violence in the Arab towns.” rates of murder and gun acquisition in the Middle East. No doubt that dire economic situation of the Palestinian community is behind the high crime rates. Given the spread of Covid-19 and rising unemployment, more young people commit crimes, as some of them get hired to shoot a target assigned by criminals. A photo of Ahmed Hegazy (Supplied)
Espanioly said that there is clearly a governmental plan to distract the Palestinian community from its major issues and prevent it from political involvement. She explained, “As a minority in Israel, we need all powers to strive for our rights in housing, healthcare, education, and social issues. Whenever we get more active in our strife, the state gets more upset, so if we are distracted by internal issues from opposing the state’s policies, the government will be satisfied.” “We, as a community, face an identity crisis. The problem of political disintegration is attributed to our existence as an Arab minority in an undemocratic Jewish state. Given such political facts, we need to be more focused on our causes in order to be stronger,” Espanioly added.
96KILLED IN 2020, 15 KILLED IN THE LAST MONTH It is reported that 96 Palestinians were killed in 2020, and by the end of last January, 15 others were killed by unlicensed guns. Thus, the Palestinian community in Israel has the highest
According to Central Bureau of Statistics, 30% of 250,000 young Arabs (aging 18-24) are dropouts and are not enrolled in any form of education or training. Two-thirds of them are men. In Jewish community, only 13% of the youth are dropouts, with equal gender proportions. Espanioly commented, “We have many social problems. Our children live in a totally different world. There is this virtual reality full of both appropriate and inappropriate content. We have authoritarian families which do not treat children well. Schools are not well equipped to develop their life skills and preserve their identity. Thus, young men and women stumble and drop out of schools and become easy prey for criminals.” She lamented that young people are arrested while the criminals who direct them are left free and are protected despite being known to the authorities. “We are a persecuted minority in the country, but we still have to assume the responsibility of our young people,” she concluded.
Testimony to Modus Operandi of Iran’s Intelligence in Europe Former Agent Reveals the Regime’s Demonizing Campaign against Opposition Groups London : Majalla An exiled Iranian opposition council released a letter sent by a former operative of the Iranian regime’s intelligence ministry to the United Nations
Secretary General and other international entities, in which he disclosed the details of a demonization and terrorism campaign against the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). The Committee on Security and Counterterrorism of
the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) said that it received the letter which was also sent to the UN High Commissioners for Human Rights and Refugees, the Secretary General of Amnesty International, the International Federation of Human Rights, the Friends of a Free Iran Group in the European Parliament, as well as the Minister of Interior and the General Director of the State Police in Albania. Hadi Sani-Khani (41 years), the author of the letter, said that he joined the MEK in Iraq, after he left Iran for Turkey in 2003. He was relocated to Albania in September 2016, but two months later he decided to quit the MEK ranks, because he “could not continue the struggle,” and went to the office of the UN Refugee Agency in Tirana. He added, “Two weeks later, I went to the Iranian embassy in Tirana. For four years I fell into a trap set by the Iranian regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) and its Iranian embassy in Albania. During this period, I began to collaborate with official agents of the MOIS in the Embassy in Albania.”
Maryam Rajavi (L), President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), listening to Gen. Jack Keane, former Vice Chief Staff of the United States Army, during the Trans-Atlantic Summit on Iran Policy, held online on September 2020 ,18, in Ashraf 3-, Albania. (Getty)
“They used me in demonization, espionage, intelligence gathering, and reconnoitering schemes to carry out terrorist actions against the MEK,” he revealed. In the letter, he wrote that an Iranian official insisted that he gather information about Maryam Rajavi, the chief of the NCRI, as well as senior MEK officials. The information required was specifically focused on their residence and the number of bodyguards they have. Another task assigned to him included leading a group of agents to write and publish articles on topics identified by the MOIS officials against MEK and publishing them on MOISaffiliated websites and social media accounts.
Hadi Sani-Khani fell into a trap set by the Iranian regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security and its Iranian embassy in Albania. Iranian embassies, adding that, “the prosecution and expulsion of the agents and operatives of the MOIS, the IRGC, and the Quds Force are indispensable to countering the Iranian regime’s terrorism and espionage and preventing the MOIS from using diplomatic sites and capabilities.” The information provided by the letter is of specific importance, especially after a Belgium court, earlier this month, sentenced an Iranian diplomat to 20 years in prison over a foiled bomb plot. Assadolah Assadi, the third-ranking counselor in Iran’s Embassy in Vienna, was convicted of the attempted bombing of a NCRI rally near Paris in 2018. French officials revealed that he was running an Iranian state intelligence network and was acting on orders from Tehran. After the court’s decision, prosecution lawyer Georges-Henri Beauthier told Reuters, “The ruling shows two things-- A diplomat doesn’t have immunity for criminal acts... and the responsibility of the Iranian state in what could have been carnage.” Investigators determined that Assadi brought the explosives for the plot with him on a commercial flight to Austria from Iran, according to Belgium’s federal prosecutor.
Khani revealed more information about the regime’s mercenaries in Albania disclosing their names and roles. He provided details of the amounts of payment given to those agents along with payment methods. Moreover, he offered to testify in any court about the plans of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence.
In an interview with Reuters, NCRI’s Maryam Rajavi said that the ruling proved that Iran was carrying out state-sponsored terrorism. She added that the EU could not remain intact/keep standing while some countries in the bloc were pushing for more dialogue with Tehran.
In response, the NCRI opposition group called upon Albania and other European countries to close the
“The European Union and its governments must hold the regime accountable,” Rajavi said.
The White House Offers Tehran an Olive Branch Iran restricts IAEA Inspections Despite US Appeasing by Joseph Braude Over the past, the Biden administration unveiled what will likely be the signature Middle East initiative of its first year in office: a bold attempt to revive the Iran nuclear deal. So far, Biden’s team has undertaken a number of measures in a bid to bring Tehran back into compliance with the terms of the JCPOA. Yet
so far, Tehran has rejected Biden’s insistence that its return to compliance must precede Washington’s.
BIDEN DELIVERS ON PROMISE OF CONCILIATION Since declaring his candidacy for President, Biden has campaigned on returning both the
U.S. and Iran to full compliance with the terms of the 2015 JCPOA, which President Trump abandoned in 2018. As of last week, Biden demonstrated that his conciliatory bearing in domestic politics extends to foreign policy as well. The White House offered Iran three significant gestures in an attempt to win favor with Tehran. The first, most modest gesture came in the form of the administration’s decision to ease onerous travel restrictions on Iranian diplomats posted to the United Nations. Last week, the State Department announced it was easing the travel restrictions imposed by the Trump administration on movements of Iranian diplomats accredited at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. As State Department officials told reporters, “The idea here is to take steps to remove unnecessary obstacles to multilateral diplomacy by amending the restrictions on domestic travel. Those had been extremely restrictive.”
Iran’ Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) meets with the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi (R), in Tehran on February ,21 2021. (Getty)
In the next gambit, the White House formally rolled back the previous administration’s reimposition of all UN sanctions on Iran. On February 18, acting U.S. Ambassador Richard Mills sent a letter to the UN Security Council on behalf of President Biden saying that the United States “hereby withdraws” three letters issued by the Trump administration, which culminated in its late September announcement that the United States had reimposed all UN sanctions on Tehran. Lastly, and most crucially, the administration publicly announced it had agreed with Western European allies to return to multinational talks with Iran about reviving the deal. On the same day that the White House and State Department were unveiling the above concessions, Enrique Mora, the European Union’s deputy secretary general for political affairs, announced that the U.S. had joined the multilateral talks, tweeting that “The #JCPOA at a critical moment. Intense talks with all participants and the U.S. I am ready to invite them to an informal meeting to discuss the way forward.”
Despite this outreach, Washington has received little in return, at least to date. This weekend, Tehran carried through on its months-long threats to suspend adherence to the JCPOA provisions requiring intrusive inspections of its declared nuclear sites. TEHRAN REBUFFS Despite this outreach, Washington has received little in return, at least to date. This weekend, Tehran carried through on its months-long threats to suspend adherence to the JCPOA provisions requiring intrusive inspections of its declared nuclear sites, supposedly in order to honor a December law passed by the hardliner-controlled Majles. IAEA director general Rafael Grossi attempted to put the best face on the development by cloaking the new status quo in “a temporary bilateral technical understanding” that would preserve some degree of visibility into Iran’s illicit activity. At the same time, Grossi frankly admitted, “There is less access, let’s face it.” Foreign Minister Zarif did not strike a particularly conciliatory tone either: “The United States is addicted to sanctions, but they should know that Iran will not yield to pressure.” Tehran’s hardball has handed the nascent Biden administration a difficult choice. On the one hand, holding fast to its position that Iran must show full compliance before America re-enters the deal risks Tehran abandoning the deal completely. But to provide further sanctions relief before Iran resumes full compliance risks forfeiting most of Washington’s leverage before negotiations have even begun.
A System Failure
America Needs a Global Health Policy for the Pandemic Age
By Ashish Jha Shared transnational challenges are supposed to bring the world together. The Covid19- pandemic, however, has done the opposite, exposing the shortcomings of the structures that govern global health. At the start, countries scrambled in a free-for-all for medical supplies. They imposed travel bans and tightly guarded data about the novel disease. The World Health Organization (WHO), after struggling to secure Chinese cooperation, became a scapegoat for U.S.
President Donald Trump, who announced that the United States would withdraw from the international health body. U.S. President Joe Biden, promising to break with Trump’s retreat to vituperative nationalist politics, has signaled his intent to rejoin the WHO and revive the United States’ leading role more broadly. As welcome as those steps are, the Biden administration cannot simply pick up the mantle of U.S. leadership after it was discarded four years ago. Even before Trump’s presidency, American primacy in global health governance was ebbing. No one can turn back
A lab technician uses a single channel pipette dropper to test material during Covid19- polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test processing at a laboratory in the Dunkeld suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa, on Wednesday, Feb. 2021 ,10. (Getty)
the clock to the bygone era in which the United States set the agenda. The great health challenges of the twentieth century— including HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis—affected poor countries more than wealthy ones. To address those diseases, the United States embraced a model of global health that resembled patronage, providing aid to institutions and countries. Washington shaped the international agenda through funding and its broad sway over multilateral health organizations, chief among them the WHO. In the twenty-first century, the United States has contributed about one-fifth of the WHO’s budget, much of it earmarked for specific programs that have been high priorities for Washington, including children’s health and infectious diseases. Likewise, U.S. bilateral global health funding over the last 20 years—the United States spent 9$ billion in 2020 alone—has given Washington overweening influence over the health systems of recipient countries. The outsize U.S. role has made it hard for multilateral organizations to function effectively without tacit U.S. support. No doubt the money spent by the U.S. government has done tremendous good, but it has also allowed the United States to unilaterally set international health priorities and define the metrics of success, sometimes at the expense of what is actually needed on the ground. But this model is now becoming obsolete. Unlike the health threats of the last century, the Covid19- pandemic has reached nearly every corner of the globe. The United States cannot sit aloof from a troubled world, dispensing its benevolence and largess; it, too, is caught up in the crisis. At the same time, new networks and institutions, including philanthropies, regional organizations, and private companies, now play a major role in addressing global health challenges. Western researchers once steered the development of best practices and scientific knowledge in matters of public health; now scientists and organizations in the developing world wield influence, too. The technological revolution has generated many forms of new data that promise to transform the way governments and their health agencies work. As a result, the governance of global health is becoming more decentralized, determined less by Washington’s prerogatives than by the combined work of governments, nongovernmental organizations, and private actors. In such a world, Washington must reimagine how it can lead: instead of trying to define the agenda, it must work with other governments, regional organizations, and the private sector to put partnership at the center of its efforts to protect public health.
THE CENTER CANNOT HOLD The U.S.-led global health order of the past did achieve major victories, with the high-water mark being the bid
African countries, which have to date managed the pandemic much better than the United States and western European countries, will decide their own health priorities and ensure that medical studies conducted in Africa are led by African researchers in the interests of African peoples. by the George W. Bush administration in 2003 to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic through the program known as the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Activists capitalized on the moral standing that the United States had gained in the wake of the 11/9 attacks to build an unprecedented coalition with conservative Christian policymakers. They launched PEPFAR with an initial budget of 15$ billion over five years. Since then, Congress has reauthorized the program every five years. Having devoted to date over 95$ billion, it remains the largest commitment of any government in history to address a disease and the largest commitment by the U.S. government to any cause since the Marshall Plan. It has been enormously successful, preventing, by one estimate, 18 million deaths. But even as PEPFAR marked a seminal achievement in U.S.-led global health policy, it also pointed the way forward to a new world less dominated by the United States. PEPFAR adopted multilateral approaches from the outset, working with the WHO and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to build the capacities of local health systems around the world. In recent years, PEPFAR has focused its work on 13 countries, and it intends to direct 70 percent of its future funding to partner organizations headquartered in poor countries, not in the capitals of the West. That change in emphasis is revealing of a broader shift. The United States and the WHO no longer hold total sway over the governance of global health. When the WHO was founded, in 1948, there were few other organizations of its kind. But smaller, regional organizations now help lead the way in a more interconnected world. The Pan American Health Organization, for example, has funded immunization initiatives and supported health education programs across Latin America. And health agencies in South Korea and Vietnam have led far more effective responses to the pandemic than their counterparts elsewhere.
Africa has seen perhaps the most dramatic progress in coordinating a regional health policy. In 2017, the African Union’s members launched the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention. When an Ebola disease outbreak began in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2018, the Africa CDC supported six laboratories that conducted tens of thousands of tests and trained thousands of healthcare workers. As the Ebola outbreak was ending in 2020, the Africa CDC shifted its focus to the Covid19- pandemic, organizing the region’s response and helping distribute medical supplies across Africa. The Africa CDC has actively pushed back against the old Western-centric model of global health. In April 2020, its director, John Nkengasong, refused to sanction a trial in Africa of a tuberculosis vaccine that might offer protection against the novel coronavirus. A French doctor had suggested in a televised discussion that such a vaccine should be tested in Africa because the continent had “no masks, treatment, or intensive care, a bit like we did in certain AIDS studies or with prostitutes.” The doctor later apologized, but the implication of Nkengasong’s refusal was clear: African countries, which have to date managed the pandemic much better than the United States and western European countries, will decide their own health priorities and ensure that medical studies conducted in Africa are led by African researchers in the interests of African peoples. Indeed, in November, 13 African countries launched the ANTICOV study, a joint effort to devise treatments for mild to moderate cases of Covid19- in a bid to keep
The Gates Foundation has used its financial muscle to drive improvements in vaccinations and other lifesaving therapies for the world’s poor. A private philanthropic organization having this much influence represents a sea change in global health.
hospitalization rates down. Meanwhile, in Geneva, the WHO has become an arena for geopolitical competition. As a membership organization, the WHO is vulnerable to the power dynamics among its member states, and China and the United States, in particular, have clashed over its decisions. The WHO made the mistake of appeasing China after the outbreak of Covid19- at the end of 2019, presumably in an effort to gain better access to information about the progress of the disease. The WHO’s leaders applauded Beijing’s response to the virus and overlooked early missteps and the withholding of critical data, sparking outrage in the United States and elsewhere. China has played an increasingly large role in global health in recent years, both through bilateral initiatives—its vast investment project known as the Belt and Road Initiative includes health infrastructure projects around the world— and through support for multilateral programs. A country of China’s size must be engaged in these global efforts, but that engagement is most effective in the service of shared values and a broad, international consensus. Ironically, the U.S. decision a few months into the pandemic to withdraw from the WHO only made it harder for the international community to try to hold China accountable. The Trump administration’s abandonment of multilateralism played into China’s hands.
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks during a press conference following a WHO Emergency committee to discuss whether the Coronavirus, the SARS-like virus, outbreak that began in China constitutes an international health emergency, on January 2020 ,30 in Geneva. (Getty)
The proliferation of technologydriven startups of this kind points to a new challenge in global health: managing the reams of health data that governments, health-care providers, and private companies produce. How data are generated, governed, and ultimately used will be the defining issue of global public health in the coming decades.
THE RISE OF THE PHILANTHROPISTS Another powerful force remaking the governance of global health is the growing role of private and nongovernmental actors. The launch of the Gates Foundation in 2000 marked an important shift away from a model of global health centered on government action. In its first year of operation, the foundation spent 1.5$ billion—orders of magnitude more than what any other organization of its kind had ever spent. The seismic impact of the Gates Foundation can be seen in a massive increase in global health spending, including at the WHO: the organization’s budget grew from less than 1$ billion in 2000 to nearly 6$ billion in 2020. In 2018, the Gates Foundation was the second-largest funder of the WHO, after the U.S. government. The Gates Foundation has used its financial muscle to drive improvements in vaccinations and other lifesaving therapies for the world’s poor. A private philanthropic organization having this much influence represents a sea change in global health. Beyond philanthropies, a new kind of public-private partnership has arisen to address neglected problems at a time when many countries are struggling to provide basic health care to their citizens. Indeed, the cost of developing effective measures to fight future pandemics is prohibitively high for any individual country, but all
countries benefit from the preparations of one. In 2017, a collection of private donors, pharmaceutical companies, and national governments launched the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations. CEPI directs resources to develop vaccines against highly contagious diseases. The group has helped address some of the biggest challenges in pandemic preparedness, ones that were difficult for the WHO to tackle on its own. CEPI has supported the development of vaccine platforms—technologies that can be quickly adapted to create vaccines for new diseases. It has sought to broker deals between private pharmaceutical companies and vulnerable nations to ensure greater access to vaccines during outbreaks. In 2019, for instance, CEPI helped deploy experimental Ebola vaccines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In 2020, with the pandemic raging, CEPI collaborated with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, a public-private global health partnership, and the WHO to launch the Covid19Vaccine Global Access Facility, also known as COVAX, an effort to distribute effective and safe vaccines to countries otherwise unable to procure them. As of January 2021, COVAX had over 180 participating countries—but not the United States, which joined Belarus, Russia, and a handful of island states in declining to join the initiative. In keeping with Trump’s “America first” foreign policy, this decision was one of several marking the administration’s position of “vaccine nationalism,” in which Washington saw the United States’ health interests as part of a zero-sum contest with other countries. Under Trump, the United States stood mostly alone in approaching vaccines for Covid19- as a matter of purely national importance. Meanwhile, the rest of the world—with China playing a prominent role—has participated in multilateral initiatives to help distribute
Covid19- vaccines. Entities such as the Gates Foundation, CEPI, and COVAX have not made the United States or the WHO irrelevant. Far from it. But in a world of increasingly diffuse power, no single player can drive the global health agenda. This is largely a good thing. And it provides the United States an opportunity to engage as a partner—rather than as a patron—encouraging collective action and countering parochial nationalism.
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER As global health leadership has become decentralized and less reliant on the West, so, too, has medical scholarship. Advocates for “decolonizing global health” have long pointed to the disproportionate share of Western authors featured in global health journals, studies, and reviews; researchers and practitioners in poor countries that bear the greater burden of disease are often sidelined. But times are changing. Cutting-edge health and pharmaceutical research increasingly takes place outside the West. Chinese scientists who studied in the United States now run large, well-funded laboratories in China that are driving the next generation of scientific breakthroughs. Similar pioneering work is taking place in Southeast Asia and, increasingly, South Asia. In the years to come, African and Latin American scientists are poised to join their counterparts elsewhere in driving research forward. Non-Western researchers are more often leading global health studies, particularly those presented in open-access publications—scholarship available to all for free. A 2019
In a world of increasingly diffuse power, no single player can drive the global health agenda. This is largely a good thing. And it provides the United States an opportunity to engage as a partner— rather than as a patron—encouraging collective action and countering parochial nationalism.
analysis of medical research conducted in Africa—an area long dominated by Western scholars—found that 93 percent of infectious disease studies had at least one African author, and nearly half had an African lead author. As education and scientific capacity in the developing world improve, knowledge and best practices increasingly flow from poor countries to wealthy ones, bucking old colonial dynamics. Private enterprises have also helped reshape the public health landscape in developing countries. The health technology company Baobab Circle, for instance, has introduced a popular app in sub-Saharan Africa that allows users to track their exercise, diet, and mental health and access online consultations with physicians. In Egypt, the startup TakeStep helps recovering addicts through telemedicine, allowing them to schedule appointments with counselors, psychiatrists, and clinicians. The Ugandan startup Matibabu has pioneered a device that can rapidly diagnose malarial infection (the cause of one million deaths globally per year) without requiring a blood sample. In India, Healthians delivers at-home tests for many diseases to rural communities that lack easy access to hospitals and clinics. Medicus AI, a company founded in Dubai, has designed an app that uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to explain complex medical diagnoses through user-friendly visualizations and recommendations.
An Emirates Airlines Boing 777 plane unload a coronavirus vaccine shipment at Dubai International Airport on February 2021 ,1 as key transport hub Dubai announced an initiative to accelerate the delivery of coronavirus vaccines, particularly to developing nations. (Getty)
The proliferation of technology-driven startups of this kind points to a new challenge in global health: managing the reams of health data that governments, health-care providers, and private companies produce. How data are generated, governed, and ultimately used will be the defining issue of global public health in the coming decades. Authoritarian countries have already started monitoring and controlling their populations by exploiting various data streams. Increasingly, multinational corporations are tapping into private data sources to build sophisticated models that will allow them to identify and respond to disease outbreaks. Yet government agencies in democratic countries are struggling to determine how best to use these data without violating ethical standards and legal protections. Worried about privacy, they have proved reluctant to utilize the data sets held by private companies. As a result, they have missed out on the huge potential for data-driven approaches to public health, ceding the field to authoritarian governments and private industry. Fortunately, the coronavirus crisis may compel a reevaluation of this approach, as the contrast between the inadequacy of conventional public health data streams and the effectiveness of the tools available to autocratic regimes and private parties becomes apparent. Consider how China has responded to the pandemic. In addition to imposing lockdowns more rigid than those feasible in democratic countries, China deployed a surveillance
system that uses various relatively new technologies— including location tracking, facial recognition, and QR codes that allow citizens access to public spaces only if they aren’t sick. In the early stages of the pandemic, for instance, the local government of Hangzhou introduced an app that assigned users a color code to indicate their health status. Only those with a green code—a clean bill of health—could enter subways, malls, and other public spaces. The app was decidedly opaque and invasive. Users, most of whom had not been tested for Covid19-, had no idea how determinations about their health status were made, and the app appeared to report users’ locations and other personal information to the police. It was as if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States had used Facebook to track suspected Covid19- patients and then quietly shared their user information with the local sheriff’s office. However disconcerting this approach was from a privacy perspective, it also allowed China to rapidly contain the virus. Many Western countries, by contrast, continue to struggle to do so, in part because they are reluctant to resort to such invasive apps. The United States has lagged behind its European peers in gathering and sharing relevant data, including contact-tracing data and genomics analysis, and only a handful of U.S. states have enabled mobile phone contact-tracing capabilities. There are some signs of progress: the state of California has pioneered a Covid19exposure notification system that safeguards privacy by protecting users’ identities and blocking their locations. Facebook and Google have developed powerful tools for monitoring and responding to the pandemic, including community mobility data (analyzing anonymous data of the movements of people in a community) and symptom maps (tracking users’ reports of Covid19- symptoms on social media). But the federal government remains missing in action. If the United States does not lead the implementation and mainstreaming of these technologies, the country will be forced to choose between meeting future health challenges blindfolded and adopting approaches developed by authoritarian governments that do not share U.S. constitutional values.
FROM PATRON TO PARTNER After decades of setting the global health agenda and almost single-handedly funding key global health goals, the United States must adjust to being a partner in a broader, more decentralized system. This new partnership model should be understood as the inevitable result of long-term shifts, including the growing importance of private enterprise to public health, the increased role of China as a global power, and the decolonization of global health policy as more authority and resources are afforded to poor countries. Washington should not simply dwell on its lost standing and influence in the arena of global health governance. Instead,
it should enthusiastically play a central and constructive role in this new order, working with a diverse set of partners to reform global health in ways that are consistent with American values. As a first order of business, the United States must renew its commitment to the WHO. This does not mean that Washington should refrain from criticizing the WHO; indeed, reform of the organization, including encouraging the body to adopt a narrower, more focused agenda and granting it greater budgetary discretion to respond to emerging threats, must be a top priority of the Biden administration. But criticism will be meaningless without
For wealthy countries, for example, the WHO represents an opportunity to shape the global health agenda and keep disease outbreaks at bay. For less wealthy countries, the WHO is a lifeline, providing crucial technical assistance and helping eliminate diseases such as polio.
credible assurance that the United States will work to help the WHO succeed rather than simply walk away when the going gets tough. Some argue that the WHO has become obsolete in the increasingly decentralized public health system, its consensus-based leadership cumbersome by comparison to ad hoc associations of countries and private entities. But in truth, the WHO is like a Rorschach test, with each of its different constituents seeing in it a different agency that should prioritize different goals. For wealthy countries, for example, the WHO represents an opportunity to shape the global health agenda and keep disease outbreaks at bay. For less wealthy countries, the WHO is a lifeline, providing crucial technical assistance and helping eliminate diseases such as polio. Too often, the WHO tries to be all things to all countries, ensuring that it is effective in few of the objectives it pursues. A clearer, more streamlined set of responsibilities would allow the WHO to build stronger capacities to monitor infectious disease outbreaks and share critical health data among countries. Having a more coherent agenda would help the organization secure more stable funding. The WHO must do the things that only it can do, including setting shared global health norms and targets and coordinating responses to transnational health threats. Its leadership, with full input from its member states, must ensure that such reforms aren’t merely cosmetic; they must recast the WHO to meet modern challenges. The United States should not make the WHO a battleground
African Union’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), director Dr. John Nkengasong (L) and Head of Communication at African Union Commission, Wynne Musabayana (R) hold a press briefing on the coronavirus cases in Africa, on March ,10 2020, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (Getty)
A medical worker collects a throat swab from a teacher for nucleic acid testing at a primary school on 2021 ,22 February in Wuhan, Hubei Province of China (Getty)
of geopolitical competition with China; instead, it should encourage the organization to adopt higher standards in several crucial areas, including data transparency. New data streams are essential to building modern surveillance systems for disease outbreaks. For instance, in 2020, using mobile phone data, investigators highlighted the role of informal cross-border migration in the transmission of malaria in Bangladesh. The WHO must recognize both the importance of these kinds of data and the necessity to shape the norms around their use. The body’s current approach relies on more traditional data sources and methods of modeling disease that are inadequate to prepare for current threats. Indeed, the assessments the WHO had made before Covid19- of various countries’ pandemic preparedness were often completely wrong; some of the ostensibly bestprepared countries (notably the United States) have had the worst responses to Covid19-. Beyond the WHO, the United States should invest in the growing diversity of the global health governance ecosystem by supporting new public-private entities. It should help fill niche gaps by, for example, supporting the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, which develops diagnostic tests for diseases that may spark pandemics, and allow the WHO to concentrate on a limited set of core competencies. Washington should expand its global health partnerships with entities such as the Africa CDC to improve public health in the developing world, promote American soft power, and strengthen the ability
of poor countries to respond to disease outbreaks. A top priority of U.S. global health investments must be building the capacity of researchers and public health leaders in the developing world through prepublication support (offering advice and technical assistance to researchers), research partnerships, data sharing, and policy collaboration as peers. And the United States must help ensure that the information generated by the technological revolution, much of it in private hands, can be used for the good of public health without infringing on democratic values and individual rights. In the twentieth century, global health challenges were rarely truly global. Instead, they were typically confined to particular countries or regions. But in the twenty-first century, threats to health affect the entire world. The United States needs to recognize that the centralized approach to global health that it dominated and the WHO managed is no longer viable. The era of U.S. agenda setting may have ended, but that only increases the importance of U.S. leadership. In years past, American priorities inevitably shaped global health; today, if the United States wants future global health initiatives to reflect its values, it must collaborate with others and seek to lead through partnership. ASHISH JHA is Dean of the Brown University School of Public Health. This article was originally published in the March/April 2021 issue of Foreign Affairs Magazine and on ForeignAffairs.com.
A Weekly Political News Magazine
Issue 1841- February- 26/02/2021
Mariam Al Mahdi: Revolutionary ‘Kandake’ as Sudan’s Top Diplomat www.majalla.com
Saudi Arabia Seeks to be a Global Tourist Destination DGDA Eyeing 25 Million Tourists and Visitors By Hatem Khedr Living up to its great position regionally and internationally, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia under the leadership of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz is carrying out several pro-
jects in diverse sectors, but mainly in tourism to put the country on the global tourism map as an international hub. Diriyah, one of the most important places in Saudi Arabia, has a great significance to the Kingdom as it was the capital of the first Saudi
state. It includes several tourist places developed by authorities to allure a large number of visitors from inside and outside the country, as part of the framework of Saudi Arabia Vision 2030, CEO of DGDA Jerry Inzerillo said in an interview with Saudi media this month. He also pointed to the significance of Diriyah in hosting sports events like Formula E to be held on February 26-27. He said their mission is to highlight Diriyah’s location as one of the greatest gathering places in the world, with the modern amenities and infrastructure of a key tourist destination. The Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA) has begun construction works worth SAR75billion (USD 20bln) on Diriyah Gate, which is a new cultural and lifestyle tourist destination located in Diriyah, 15 minutes northwest of Riyadh City, according to the DGDA website. In line with the DGDA’s strategy, the Gate giga project seeks to transform seven square kilometers of Diriyah city into a world lifestyle destination for heritage, culture, retail, education and hospitality, with the aim of alluring 25 million visitors and tourists annually. The G20 logo is projected at the historical site of al-Tarif in Diriyah district, on the outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh, on .November 20, 2020 )Getty Images(
The scheme will include entertainment, cultural, hospitality, retail, educational, office and residential areas, including more than 20 hotels. In light of the great renaissance seen in the Kingdom, the plan covers the establishment of advanced educational institutions, academies, cultural institutes, universities and museums, The Gate also will work on evolving a place of great learning and help visitors be relaxed, inspired and culturally connected. In addition, the project features a chain of outdoor plazas and a three km. escarpment walk that offers views across the historic Wadi Hanifah. Officials hope that the destination will attract local and international visitors through its worldclass entertainment and events. The Gate, which draws on the influence of 300-year-old Najdi architecture, will comprise the Kingdom’s most accessible collection of heritage and culture offerings, including more than
In line with the DGDA’s strategy, the Gate project seeks to transform seven square kilometers of Diriyah city into a world lifestyle destination for heritage, culture, retail, education and hospitality, with the aim of alluring 25 million visitors and tourists annually. 20 Saudi cultural attractions. Moreover, the DGDA and Misk Art Institute (MAI) signed a memo to share expertise and boost cooperation in varied domains, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported last December. The memo is part of the Saudi Vision 2030 that aims at creating further job opportunities and prospects for the local community as well as listing the country on the global tourist map. The two organizations agreed to share artwork and information across media resources to achieve the common goals. The DGDA has signed a memo with the National Water Company (NWC) to provide water services that focus on a sustainable environmental development. The MoU will help serve the development’s tourism, and its economic, environmental, heritage goals. It said that the services carried out by NWC would back the DGDA’s strategies to accomplish projects for the ecosystem and green spaces in Al-Bujairi area, and for afforestation and natural shading in pedestrian paths, bicycle paths, and sports areas. Samhan Heriatge Hotel, located in the wellknown historical Diriyah province, will be inaugurated in 2022 and will offer a distinguished and tasteful hospitality for guests from all over the world. The original pedestrian paths of the hotel have been designed to mimic the passage-
ways of the ancient Diriyah. The plan, set to be an architectural masterpiece, will be situated in a stunning natural locale in the Al-Bujairi and Wadi Hanifa areas. The hotel will provide an opportunity to guests from inside and outside Saudi Arabia to be acquainted with ancient Saudi life and its historical events.
Diriyah has a great significance to the Kingdom as it was the capital of the first Saudi state. It includes several tourist places developed by authorities to allure a large number of visitors from inside and outside the country.
Al-Bujairi Terrace, one of the projects in Diriyah, includes luxurious international restaurants and café shops with fabulous natural views overlooking historical and heritage sites. With an area of 15,000 square meters, the scheme will provide services to both visitors and guests from inside and outside the Kingdom. The plan involves a number of luxurious restaurants designed to show a traditional Najd atmosphere in the site, with a 180-degree panoramic view overlooking both historic At-Turiaf as well as Wadi Hanifa with its fascinating nature. AtTuriaf is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Al-Bujairi Terrace has been developed to be a globally attractive area to those who are interested in entertainment, eating food and tasting coffee in a heritage atmosphere with natural vistas. Al-Bujairi Boulevard is a renowned monument in Al-Bujairi Terrace area that contains ancient heritage sites and natural landscapes in historic Diriyah. The Boulevard is also a shopping area that has
Attendees prepare for the gala evening hosted by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Heritage at Al Diriyah in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Friday, Sept. 27, 2019 )Getty Images(
A theme park in Diriyah, outside Riyadh )Getty Images(
various international luxury and local brands, and prestigious shopping malls to serve all visitors and guests. Diriyah Park, located in Al-Buhairi District in Riyadh, is characterized by its fascinating natural and artificial features including lakes, small waterfalls, large areas and wonderful corridors on which visitors can walk amid the beautiful atmosphere of a park full of trees and palms. The Park also has several distinctive restaurants and cafes, with all the service facilities that visitors need. All this is in addition to the lighting, which adds an aesthetic touch to the Park. There are many unique monuments scattered around the Park which tourists enjoy viewing. At-Turaif district in Diriyah involves numerous fabulous archaeological buildings and museums in a distinctive architectural and engineering style, together with luxurious shops and heritage palaces. It has the Palace of the Princes and the Palace of
Nasser bin Saud. At-Turaif is distinctive as an important tourist site due to its location on the southwestern mountain of Diriyah, and this helps tourists enjoy charming views. It also includes some mosques, particularly Imam Muhammad bin Saud Mosque. Established in 2017, the DGDA aims to maintain the history of Diriyah and develop its historic site into one of the world’s greatest gathering places as well as making it into a hub for Saudi Arabia’s culture and heritage The DGDA is transforming Diriyah into one of the region’s foremost destinations for cultural knowledge-sharing activities and international events. Diriyah Gate is a destination for contemporary life, shopping, dining at various restaurants, and getting acquainted with several international and local brands held in the distinctive Najdi area. Over 100 restaurants offer the tastiest local and international food in the diverse atmospheres and urban spaces near Wadi Hanifah.
Love … Actually
A Living Heritage Ever After By Amira el Noshokaty
ulty of Arts, Beni Sweif University, Egypt, the folk stories and epics are usually based on true stories that the collective memory has trimmed or embellished. However, the first love story known in Egyptian history was that of Isis and Osiris.
February might be the official month of love. However, in our Arabic and Egyptian intangible heritage, love is celebrated all year through the volumes of narratives about love interwoven with legends, wars, epics and folk songs that uncover the love sagas throughout the centuries.
ISIS AND OSIRIS
According to Mohamed Helal, Professor of Folk Heritage and Mawal (rhymed stories) in the Fac-
Isis, who cried over the death of her husband Osiris, is the one who taught Egyptians music, ag-
riculture and love. That she managed to collect all of Osiris’ body parts from all over Egypt, and prayed to God to bring Osiris back to life, and her prayers were answered and she conceived Horus who ruled after his father, “this is a legendary love story indeed,” noted Helal.
ANTAR AND ABLA The folk heritage has a lot of love stories that have defied the test of time. “Take Antara Ibn Shaddad, and his beloved cousin Abla. He was a great warrior and poet who lived in the Arab peninsula and whose poetry was among the poetry hung on the holy shrine (Moaalakat). When Antar asked Abla’s hand in marriage, his uncle refused because of Antar’s dark skin colour. Antar fought the whole tribe and won the heart of his beloved,” added Helal.
SHARIAR AND SHAHRAZAD
Illustration of Scheherazade from the book Arabian Nights, 1892. From the New York Public Library. (Getty)
Alf Leila w Leila (Arabian Nights) stands as one of the richest sources of folk stories in Arab heritage. The story opens up with the love story that bloomed between the vicious King Shahriar and his wife Shahrazad. Before falling in love with Shahrazad, King Shahriar learned from his brother that his wife was cheating on him. While they were both on a hunting trip, they encountered a beautiful lady who was entrapped by a vicious jinni who had abducted her from her beloved husband on her wedding night. Seeking revenge, the woman cheats on the jinni whenever he is asleep and hence seduced Shahriar and his brother. Having shared this experience, Shahriar came back home a different and harsh man, who killed every woman he married on the next morning. All of the people who feared for their daughters fled the country, and there was no one left but Shahrazad, daughter of his vizier. Shahrazad was a brave woman who did not flee the kingdom because she wanted to stop the violence and spare the girls of her kingdom from death. Through her charming stories, she kept Shahriar entangled in her stories for 1000 nights, and in the end she healed him with her stories and her genuine love. She bore him three chil-
“Folk stories and epics are usually based on true stories that the collective memory has trimmed or embellished.” dren and they lived happily ever after.
QAIS AND LAILA In the Arab peninsula, Qais fell in love with his cousin Laila, with whom he grew up. “He wrote poetry in praise of her beauty which in the Bedouin tradition is regarded as slander,” explained Helal adding, “in the old days, when the word spreads that a beautiful woman is in a certain tribe, lots of feuds usually follow because she is perused by the knights of all tribes who would fight to win her hand in marriage.” The story ends on a sad note, where Laila dies and Qais loses his mind until he follows her to death.
HASSAN AND NAIMA This one long folk song tells of an epic love story between a singer and a young girl who fell in love with him and his lyrics. “Back in the day, being a singer was not a high status profession, and hence her father refused to allow them to marry.” However, Naima ran away and went to Hassan’s house where Hassan let her stay with his mother, as he feared for her honor. But her family never forgave this love and her cousin ripped off Hassan’s head. It was Naima who showed the police where Hassan’s head was, as she hid it in her scarf. “When the verdict condemned her cousin, she yelled that it was not enough, because Hassan was such a great singer.” There are a lot of lessons for us embedded in all such love stories that history has kept alive in our intangible heritage. One outstanding fact is that a happy ending is not a certainty, but another thing we do know for sure – love is for the brave.
It’s Not Too Late to Get in Better Shape No Matter What Your Age, You Can Improve Your Fitness
Harvard Women ,s Health Watch If it›s been a long time since you›ve exercised and you›re feeling less than fit, you might think that it›s too late to make a change. But you›re wrong. You can improve your fitness at any age. «The stories in this area are actually very dramatic. Even people 100 years old or older can build muscle strength,» says Dr. Edward Phillips, assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Jonathan Bean, a professor in the same department, describes the case of a -101year-old man who wanted to be able to wheel his own wheelchair down the hall to read the newspaper. The man embarked on a weight training plan. «He got to the point where he could use a walker to go down and read the newspaper,» says Dr. Bean. This far surpassed his original goal. It›s an extreme illustration, but a potent one, of Dr. Bean›s point: it›s never too late. That said, there are some limits to how much you can progress. «Workouts aren›t going to turn someone in their 80s, 90s or 100s into someone who is 40 or 50 years old, but most people can get stronger and improve their endurance,» says Dr. Bean.
Today, only an estimated %40 of American adults get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise a week, the low end of what the government recommends. And many people who do walk or get other aerobic exercise often don›t meet the second part of the government›s recommendation, twice-weekly strength training. Only %20 of adults meet that goal, says Dr. Phillips. «We›re sacrificing our healthy older years by not moving,» he says. Often the barrier that keeps people from moving as much as they should is mental. «Some people assume,
‹Well, I›m 70, I can›t lift that, or I can›t go skiing or bike riding, because I›m too old.› They can›t, not because they physically would be unable to, but because they›ve made the decision that they can›t mentally,» says Dr. Phillips. «Even among those of us who are into fitness, there may be an exaggerated sense of ‹I can›t do that because I›m older.›»
TEST YOURSELF: HOW STRONG ARE YOU?
One test of strength and power is a simple chair test. Sit in a chair with your arms crossed across your chest. Set a timer for 30 seconds and see how many times you can move from a sit to a stand, keeping your arms crossed. «This chair exercise tests both strength and power. Strength is measured by whether you can get up off the chair, but power is measured by how quickly you can do it,» says Dr. Edward Phillips, assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School. If you want to improve your score, use this same set of movements as an exercise to build strength: 1. Sit in a chair with your hands crossed on your chest or held out in front of you at chest level. Your feet should be flat on the floor, hip-width apart, and directly beneath your knees. 2. Lean forward slightly and slowly stand up. Hold. 3. Slowly sit down with control. Do this 10 times for a set, and then rest for a minute or two. Try to build up to three sets. To get the most from this exercise, press your heels into the floor and tighten your buttocks as you stand up to help you balance. Steady yourself before you sit down. Exhale as you stand, inhale as you sit. Need an easier version of this exercise to get started? Place your hands on your thighs (or use a chair with armrests) to assist you as you stand up and sit down. Need more of a
The most important thing for people to recognize is that even exercising once a week makes a difference if they were not doing that before
challenge? Modify the exercise by placing your right foot slightly in front of your left one, keeping both feet flat on the floor. Stand up and sit down. Do this 10 times, then repeat with the left leg in front.
IMPROVING YOUR HEALTH
If you want to get started on a fitness plan, check in with your doctor first before you start exercising. «Provided you don›t have any major contraindications, exercising is a great thing to do,» says Dr. Bean. Typically, you should focus your efforts in three different areas: cardiovascular fitness, strength, balance and flexibility. If you are looking to improve your fitness, start gradually. Also set reasonable expectations, says Dr. Phillips. «One of the things that we›ve done in our work is to look at what are the ingredients of exercise that help people to function better,» he says. Most people want to maintain
their level of physical functioning. «Ultimately, they want to be able to function the best they can, and advance and not move backward,» he says. To improve your physical performance, gradually increase the difficulty as you progress, no matter where you›re starting from. «The most important thing for people to recognize is that even exercising once a week makes a difference if they were not doing that before,» says Dr. Bean. When performing an activity, be aware of how hard you are working, something called perceived exertion. «People should be working at a level that is somewhat hard when they are exercising,» says Dr. Bean. You›ll know that you are working at moderate intensity if you can talk during your workout, but not sing. Monitor and track your perceived exertion over time to see how you›re doing. For example, if you start out walking once a week, gradually increase the number of days, the amount of time you walk, or your speed as your walk gets easier and your perceived exertion drops. To build strength, gradually add weight or resistance to your workouts. «Increase the weight by %10 every one to two weeks if you can,» says Dr. Bean. If you are working on your flexibility, start by testing your current range of motion on all your joints. «Some people are born more flexible than others, so progress in this area is very individual,» says Dr. Bean. Balance can be improved by using some simple strategies. «Something as simple as balancing on one foot can help your balance improve,» says Dr. Phillips. Practice standing on one foot a few times a week, and you can improve demonstrably. «That›s a really potent thing, and any little advantage that you get will reduce your risk of falling,» says Dr. Phillips. Improving your balance and reflexes makes it more likely that you will be able to catch yourself if you lose your balance and avoid a fall to the ground. Remember, if you don›t increase the difficulty of your exercise routine, your fitness level will stay the same. «Your body adapts to the degree to which you push it. But we also don›t want people to overdo it and create an injury,» says Dr. Bean.
Nanomaterials in Food There’s a New Kind of Pollution to be Worried About By Kristin Toussaint Nanotechnology is spurring a new industrial revolution. The process of engineering materials on an incredibly small scale (a human hair is about 80,000 nanometers wide) has led to advancements in everything from electronics to paint to cosmetics to clothes.
But their small size also poses a threat as a new type of pollution: nanomaterials can easily end up in the environment, get into living organisms, and make their way through the food chain, new research shows. In a paper published in the journal Nature Communications, researchers traced
nanomaterials, which can vary from 1 to 100 nanometers in size, through the food chain, beginning by identifying nanomaterials in algae, and then following those materials as they moved into zooplankton that ate the algae, and then fish that ate the zooplankton. At each step, the nanoparticles changed size and shape and spread throughout the organism’s body, penetrating cells and entering organs. In the fish, the nanoparticles accumulated in the brain. Fazel A. Monikh, lead author and researcher at the University of Eastern Finland, isn’t exactly sure why those nanoparticles are piling up in the fish’s brain, but he says it’s concerning, especially because these nanomaterials often aren’t listed as ingredients, or you may be unaware a product has them. “There is no labeling because we don’t have a definition for nanomaterials to give to policy makers to enforce some regulations,” he says.
Nanoparticles in blood vessel, computer illustration )Getty(
Nanomaterials are items that humans engineer to be that small carbon nanotubes that are stronger than steel but lighter than aluminum, used in touch screens and solar cells; nanoparticles of titanium dioxide used in sunscreen to help the product blend into our skin.
Companies are rushing to incorporate this technology into their products, but there hasn’t been a complete understanding of their risk. “So far whatever we have with regulation [is] all for chemicals, but now we These nanomaterials that made their are dealing with something new,” Monikh way into the food chain are different says. “This material has shape, size, physical from microplastics, pieces less than five boundaries, different things accumulate on millimeters in length, and nanoplastics, even it, in it. The existing protocol doesn’t have smaller fragments less than 0.001 millimeter. an answer for such materials, because the That sort of pollution occurs when plastic protocols are for chemicals and chemicals enters an environment and degrades into are uniform.” smaller and smaller pieces. Nanomaterials, though, are items that humans engineer to be More work will be needed to understand that small carbon nanotubes that are stronger what potential harm, if any, the material, than steel but lighter than aluminum, used in pose. Next he and his team will be looking touch screens and solar cells; nanoparticles further into why and how these particles of titanium dioxide used in sunscreen to help accumulate in fish brains, and what effects they might have. He’s hoping policymakers the product blend into our skin. take up this issue, too, and start regulating Regulating nanoparticles is difficult because the use of nanomaterials, especially as we there’s not yet a test strong enough to find wait to learn more about them. “We cannot them at scale. Measuring the presence of stop this new revolution, we can never fight nanoparticles by mass, like we do to detect companies, but what we can do is to design chemicals, isn’t enough, because it doesn’t safe nanomaterials, because if we know what take their physical makeup and structure are the effects, we can design them to be into account. For his research, Monikh safe,” he says. “We have to tell [companies]: developed a method to isolate and extract ‘Do not rush, just hold on. Let’s see what is the nanoparticles from the organisms’ tissue, the risk.’” which allowed the researchers to count and This article was originally published in the Fast Company. measure each piece of nanomaterial.
How Arabs Are Interacting during Clubhouse Mania
The Audio-based Content Is Believed to Be the Future of Social Media Menna A. Farouk It all started in late January when billionaire and renowned Tesla owner Elon Musk walked in into the Clubhouse app to talk about aliens and humans living on Mars. Hundreds of thousands flocked to the audio-based app to listen in. Locked down due to the coronavirus pandemic, people are now using Clubhouse for hours moving between virtual rooms to
discuss various topics, ranging from business, advertising, and marketing to arts, culture, media and even dating tips. It is not only the app’s interesting and useful chat rooms and its “invite-only” feature that are bringing more people in. It is also the celebrities and prominent figures who are joining and engaging with people on the app. The day after Musk first appeared on the app, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg walked in to talk about virtual reality and
augmented reality. Then it started to attract other celebrities like Drake, Oprah Winfrey, Jared Leto, Tiffany Haddish and Joe Budden. But what is Clubhouse really and how are Arabs are interacting with the new app?
Clubhouse Drop-in audio chat app logo on the App Store is seen displayed on a phone screen in this illustration photo taken in Poland on February 21, 2021 )Getty(
Clubhouse is an invite-only app that enables users to go into closed chat rooms to talk about anything, with the chats not being recorded or with users being able to go back again to them. It was launched in March 2020 by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Paul Davison and ex-Google employee Rohan Seth. The value of the Clubhouse app in May 2020 was about 100$ million, and only about 1,500 people were using it, according to the Guardian. The number of users increased to about two million in January 2021, according to The Economist. The app received approximately 12$ million in funding from the capital firm Andreessen Horowitz in May 2020. It can only now house iPhone users, but its expansion seems imminent Currently, it is the main talk of social media users worldwide. Arabs, too, are flocking to the app, talking about various topics and mainly addressing themes related to the challenges facing the Arab world such as traditions, marriage, women’s rights, politics and how to make more money. The app has also been used by one government official in Kuwait to receive feedback on his agency’s performance. The head of the Kuwaiti Government Communication Center, Tariq Al-Muzrim, participated in a discussion chat room on the Clubhouse platform. In the room, people discussed the role of the Communication Center and the official received direct criticism and responded to rumors. Famous Egyptian filmmaker Khaled Youssef and ex-Google employee Wael Ghoneim, who was also behind the January 25 Revolution, opened a chat room to talk about what happened during the revolution. Bassem Youssef, who had a renowned Egyptian comedy TV show, participated in a chat room about creating content creation and making it profitable. In Saudi Arabia, the app has stirred much controversy with some users expressing their dissatisfaction with the topics discussed by Saudi men and women in Clubhouse rooms «without censorship or restrictions.» Many called for a ban because of its «negative impact on the young women of the Kingdom and their religious and community values.” They launched hashtags on Twitter like #Clubhouse_ content_harms_society. However, others believe that the app can be a good opportunity to defend the Kingdom in the face of those whom they described as «saboteurs and traitors who want to defame its image.” In a tweet, Saudi social researcher Amani El-Aglan said that Clubhouse is like “any other app that saboteurs will log into as happened before with other apps.” “Instead of fighting it, try to find defensive solutions that would
“People are now more inclined towards recording voice notes rather than texting and it is not something new. We have been talking about this for three years now. And Clubhouse understood that very well and targeted that niche market.” help limit its negative impact,” she tweeted.
CRITICISM It is not only in Saudi Arabia that the rise of Clubhouse is raising concerns, but across the world as well. Earlier in February, thousands of Chinese users suddenly found themselves unable to access Clubhouse before the start of the week-long Lunar New Year holiday. The Clubhouse management faces criticism about whether it is equipped to deal with abuse and hate speech on the app, especially with its dramatic growth in popularity. Through the app, anyone can broadcast certain content by creating a chat room, and then inviting a large number of people to talk about desultory topics without any restrictions. Although the content may spread hatred, incite extremism or go against social values, the chats immediately disappear after the end of the chat room without anyone being able to monitor violations. Recording of the chats is also not permissible and whoever tries to record can be subjected to the suspension of their account. “It seems that the app is playing on the Fear of Missing Out or FOMO as well as allowing talk about any kind of topic,” Majalla was told by Fady Ramzy, a digital journalism instructor at the American University in Cairo and a social media specialist. “This kind of FOMO-related content is very profitable and can be duplicated in many other social media platforms,” he added.
THE FUTURE IS AUDIO Ahmed Esmat, executive director of Alexandria Media Forum and a digital transformation expert, said that Clubhouse chose an emerging niche market that will be the future of social media, namely, audio chat. “People are now more inclined towards recording voice notes rather than texting and it is not something new. We have been talking about this for three years now. And Clubhouse understood that very well and targeted that niche market,” he told Majalla.
Mariam Al Mahdi: Revolutionary ‘Kandake’ as Sudan’s Top Diplomat By Majalla Painted by Mekdad Mariam Al Mahdi is only the second woman to be appointed as Foreign Minister in Sudan’s history. A doctor and a politician, she represents the aspiration of the Sudanese people for better government and future. She is considered one of the most prominent opposition female figures during the term of the toppled President Omar Hassan al- Bashir. Her appointment comes at a complicated time, where the country is facing a number of crises on both the economic and security fronts, with security challenges along the Sudanese-Ethiopian border and the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam and its repercussions on Sudan’s water security. In addition, she bears the responsibility of integrating Sudan within the international order after the fraying rule of Al-Bashir. One of the most significant issues in her portfolio is the signing of the Sudan-Israel normalization agreement, due to her party’s reservations on the decision. She stated that removing Sudan from the list of state sponsors of terrorism is of the utmost importance to her country. However, she refused to link it to the agreement. Dr Al Mahdi was appointed by Sudanese Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok as new foreign minister in a Cabinet comprising 25 members. She is the second woman to hold the position of
foreign affairs minister in the history of Sudan, following Asma Muhammad Abdullah who was appointed in late 2019, as part of Sudan’s 18-member transitional council. Born in Omdurman in 1965, she is the daughter of Sadiq Al-Mahdi, the late opposition leader and former prime minister of Sudan, and the leader and founder of the National Umma Party. She was very close to her father, who used to call her “Mariam, the victorious”. Her father was overthrown by a military coup that brought former president Omar Al Bashir to power in 1989. After spending some years in exile, Al-Mahdi returned to Sudan and ran in a failed presidential bid in 2010. He supported the 2019 protests that ousted al-Bashir, and eventually died due to Covid-19 complications in November 2020. Although a bright and passionate medical student who earned her first degree in general medicine and surgery from the University of Jordan in 1991 and then went on to qualify in tropical pediatric medicine from Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in 1995, Mariam only practiced medicine as a general practitioner in Sudan’s children’s hospitals for six years in the mid-1990s. Adding to her political upbringing, Dr Al Mahdi received a higher diploma in develop-
ment and gender issues from Ahfad University for Girls in Omdurman in 2006, and a Bachelor of Law from Neelain University in Sudan in 2013. Her political journey spans almost three decades and she threw herself into the struggle to free her country from the Muslim Brotherhood, assuming various roles in the National Umma Party, until she became its deputy head. Joining the fighters in Asmara, she held the Sudanese military title of Major. She participated in the Juba alliance which comprised most prominent opposition forces following The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (known as the Naivasha Agreement) with the Sudanese regime at the time. Supporting an end to Al-Bashir’s three-decade rule, Dr. Mariam Al-Mahdi joined the 2019 protests which eventually ousted him. Due to her political activism, the Sudanese “Kandake” (a historical word which refers to ancient kings’ wives, and became used during the Sudanese protests to describe a woman’s determination, resistance and capability) was detained several times by security forces, last of which was in January 2019 as anti-government protests spread to Khartoum university. As Sudan seeks to find its place in the African sun, this revolutionary minister will have her diplomatic work cut out for her!