The Olympics: why developed nations shine

This article originally appeared on Asharq Al-Awsat English’s website in August 2012.

By Harry Darkins

London, Asharq Al-Awsat- The Summer Olympic Games is the most prestigious of international sporting events. Every four years, thousands of elite athletes from around the world come together to compete for glory in 26 sports, spanning a total of 39 disciplines. This union of nations is appropriately symbolized by the five interlocking rings of the Olympic emblem, which represent the five continents of the world. Continue reading “The Olympics: why developed nations shine”

From Jordan to the West Bank

King Hussein / Allenby Bridge border crossing

King Hussein / Allenby Bridge crossing

Located just north of the Dead Sea, this is the only border crossing between the West Bank and Jordan.  Israeli regulations prevent Palestinians residing in the West Bank from using Ben Gurion airport, Israel’s main hub, therefore requiring them to use this crossing in order to travel from Amman’s Queen Alia airport. Continue reading “From Jordan to the West Bank”

From Haifa to Hebron

Queuing to pass through the stringent security of Jerusalem’s central bus station, it is important to keep your end destination in mind so as not to lose all hope and give up.
By British standards, people in Israel are rude.

The transition from the orderly queues and lack of eye contact usually found on public transport in the UK to the forthrightness of the Middle East is a difficult one, and one which takes some getting used to.  Continue reading “From Haifa to Hebron”

The view from the street

In the small ‘Ahwa’ near the meeting of Shari’ Mobtadayan and el-Qasr el-Ainy, you can become part of the furniture.

The chairs are recklessly stacked on top of one another, propped up by the sturdy steel body of the smouldering coal store.  They are anxious for a customer of their own to come and put them to use, so that they no longer feel like the odd piece of rubbish which Nasser – the owner – throws to the street; not caring when or by whom it will be swept up.  Continue reading “The view from the street”

Equal marriage, unequal funerals

Despite tangible progress in social attitudes and legislation, the grief of many gay and lesbian people who lose their spouses still goes unrecognised

Losing a partner can be especially difficult in the UK if they happened to be a member of the same sex. Why, in a country often considered the best place in Europe to be gay, is there still such inequality? Panagiotis Pentaris, a specialist in the study of gay widows and widowers and a PhD Researcher in Faiths & Civil Society at Goldsmiths College, gave me his take on the situation. Continue reading “Equal marriage, unequal funerals”