February 2014


The Brookings Institute has recently released an “Arab World Learning Barometer,” that includes information on education and youth in Yemen. Check it out here.

The Arab World Learning Barometer is an interactive tool developed by the Center for Universal Education at Brookings. Using the latest available data, the barometer provides a snapshot of the state of education and learning in the Middle East and North Africa.

The barometer measures the quality of education and learning by examining four areas: getting into school, staying in school, whether students are learning basic skills while in school, and the link between education and youth unemployment. The barometer brings together often scarce data for 20 countries in the Arab region. The data cover the 2001-2012 period and do not reflect setbacks due to recent conflicts in the region.

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Palestinian Arab Idol Gets Booted From World Cup, and Shakira’s Response Was Perfect

by Milana Knezevic, PolicyMic, February 13, 2014

Palestinian Arab Idol winner Mohammad Assaf says he has been banned from performing at the World Cup opening ceremony this summer — and that Shakira is boycotting.

He said at a press conference earlier this week that he was supposed to sing at the show kicking off the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, but that because of some “countries” or “groups” — no one was specified — his record company was told this won’t happen after all. He also said that Colombian superstar Shakira, who sang the 2010 World Cup anthem “Waka Waka,” has refused to perform at the ceremony because of it.

Assaf rose to fame last year when he won the regional singing competition Arab Idol, and was especially lauded for his performances of traditional Palestinian music:


Hear the winning song on Youtube here

In the process, he gained some high-profile fans. FIFA President Sepp Blatter visited Palestine last summer, and said he would invite Assaf to sing at this summer’s World Cup.

It was reported then that Assaf and Shakira might sing together in Brazil, but now it appears both will be staying away from the festivities. (more…)

There is a fascinating short video on Youtube of what is apparently the first filming done in Palestine. Check out the blog Hummus for Thought for the Youtube bounce but also for a transcription of the commentary. As the narration indicates, Jerusalem was an interfaith city. There is even a shot of a Jew wearing a tarbush at the wailing wall. At this time under Ottoman control, the population of the three districts that comprised Palestine was 85% Muslim, 10% Christian and 5% Jewish.

By Stephen Hawking, Washington Post, February 14

Stephen Hawking is the author of “A Brief History of Time” and a former professor of mathematics at the University of Cambridge.

The Greek philosopher Aristotle believed that the universe had existed forever. The reason humanity was not more developed, he believed, was that floods or other natural disasters repeatedly set civilization back to the beginning.

Today, humans are developing ever faster. Our knowledge is growing exponentially and with it, our technology. But humans still have the instincts, and in particular the aggressive impulses, that we had in caveman days. Aggression has had definite advantages for survival, but when modern technology meets ancient aggression the entire human race and much of the rest of life on Earth is at risk.

Today in Syria we see modern technology in the form of bombs, chemicals and other weapons being used to further so-called intelligent political ends.

But it does not feel intelligent to watch as more than 100,000 people are killed or while children are targeted. It feels downright stupid, and worse, to prevent humanitarian supplies from reaching clinics where, as Save the Children will document in a forthcoming report, children are having limbs amputated for lack of basic facilities and newborn babies are dying in incubators for lack of power. (more…)

An American woman who becomes a celebrated belly dancer on a Nile cruise boat out of Cairo in Egypt. Now there’s a plot. But it is full of as many twists as a belly vibrating to a dumbak. For the story of Luna in a graphic comic book format, check out her story here.

الاقتصاد نيوز ينشر اسماء السجناء الفارين من مركزي صنعاء مع التهم الموجهة لكل واحد منهم

كشف مصدر قضائي التهم المدان فيها 29 سجينا فرو يوم امس في عملية خاطفة يعتقد بوقوف تنظيم القاعده وزرائها وقال المصدر بان من بين الفارين من السجن اسماء قيادات خطرة من تنظيم القاعده ومحكومين بالاعدام وخاطفي اجانب الاسماء مع التهم والعقوبات الصادرة :

.1 وليد محمد محمد العبشي -قاعدة محكوم بالسجن 7 سنوات في أكتوبر 2013 -متهم بأعمال إرهابية بأبين

.2. علي عبدالرحمن علي القباطي3. يحيى يوسف محمد حيدره -قاعدة محكوم بالسجن 6 سنوات بأكتوبر 2013 -متهم بأعمال إرهابية بابين

.4. عهد محمد سعيد عامر -قاعدة محكوم بالسجن 6 سنوات في أكتوبر 2013 -متهم بأعمال ارهابية في أبين

.5. سامح محمد محسن الشجري -قاعدة محكوم بالسجن 6 سنوات بأكتوبر 2013 -متهم بأعمال إرهابية بابين

.6. عمر احمد محمد فضل الألاء -قاعدة محكوم بالسجن 7 سنوات باكتوبر 2013-متهم بأعمال ارهابية في أبين

.7. جميل يسلم علي شيخ -قاعدة محكوم بالسجن 6 سنوات باكتوبر 2013 -متهم بأعمال ارهابية بأبين

8. وهيب علي عبدالله مهدي- تابع للقاعدة مسجون منذ 2008..

9 امين محمد احمد مشوص -قاعدة محكوم بالسجن 6 سنوات في اكتوبر 2013 -متهم بأعمال ارهابية في أبين
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Anyone who has visited Yemen knows that there is a rich tradition of silver jewelry. One of the most ardent collectors of Yemeni jewelry is Marjorie Ransom, whose book Silver Treasures from the Land of Sheba: Regional Styles of Yemeni Jewelry is due out later this year. There is an informative interview with Ransom in a Youtube video from Yemeniati.

The euphoria of the Arab Spring has abated in Egypt. Many saw the election of Ibrahim al-Morsy as hope for a transition to a government that respected religion and still maintained secular values for diverse Muslim and non-Muslim views in Egypt. This hope was dashed by the “coup” that removed Morsy from office and has led to criminalization of the Muslim Brotherhood. It is not a case of the military regaining control as in the old days of Mubarak, since the military never lost control. Nor are there any clear cut “good guys” in the current political environment. An excellent overview of the situation is provided by H. A. Hellyer in Salon. Check it out online.

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