Flashes from the Muslim World

AFGHANISTAN

Kabul Plans to Address Water Crisis

Afghanistan’s government has started building nearly two million trenches and 25 small dams to address a water crisis in the capital city of Kabul, caused by a booming population and wasteful consumption of the resource, officials told Arab News. So far, 25 small dams and 1.9 million ditches have been dug. More than 33,000 people have been employed for the initiative. With an approximate population of six million people, Kabul’s demand for water is far greater than its natural supply.

INDONESIA

Signed an Agreement for Museum

The Muslim World League (MWL) and the Museum of the History of the Prophet Muhammad (saws) in Indonesia signed an agreement to launch museums and exhibitions about the Prophet’s life and the Islamic world in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta. The signing ceremony was attended by MWL Secretary-General, Dr. Mohammed bin Abdul Karim al-Issa, and former Indonesian Vice President, Jusuf Kalla. The project will begin on land with an area exceeding 100,000 square meters with all facilities in Jakarta, reflecting Indonesia’s appreciation for this historic Islamic project. The agreement was signed earlier using initials, followed by the foundation-stone laying ceremony. The exhibits will include all the prominent scenes from the life of the Prophet, presented using the latest technology. The agreement also includes the distribution of over 200 encyclopedias and books on the Prophet’s life prepared by the MWL during the last three years.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Financial Assistance to Sudan

The Abu Dhabi Fund for Development said that it has provided USD556.6 million to Sudan in monetary, economic, and other forms of aid, and said it will continue to provide assistance to Sudan to complete a USD1.5 billion grant the UAE committed to last year. The total included a previously announced USD250 million deposit in Sudan’s central bank, as well as USD119.8 million in budget support. The aid also included 540,000 tons of wheat worth USD144.7 million, medical aid worth USD19.75 million and educational aid worth USD11.4 million. Sudan consumes two million tons of wheat annually, according to official figures, relying heavily on imports.

Islamic Art

In honor of the International Day of Islamic Art, we have picked out some highlights of the collection at the UAE’s Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization.

  1. Bowl Art: This type of early Islamic art work was inspired by luxury wares imported from Iraq and China. The calligraphy in the middle of the bowl is done in a style that resembles the early Islamic Kufic writing found on Iraqi vessels.
  2. Ceramics: The bowl shows a white floriated Kufic inscription, which conveys blessings, displayed against a dark brown background.
  3. Unglazed wares: Unglazed ceramics were the most common products of Islamic pottery. Experts say that the iconographic details on this artwork seem to be inspired by tenth century rock crystal carvings in Egypt.
  4. Vases: Since its invention in Iraq during the ninth century, the complex overglaze technique has been the expertise of potters.
  5. Bottles: The influence of blue and white porcelain, imported from China, pervaded Islamic ceramics between the 15th and 17th
  6. Oil lamp: The copper alloy oil lamp served as a reading lamp, according to experts. Its bulbous body was designed to provide oil for a long period of uninterrupted light.

First Shale Gas from UAE

The United Arab Emirates has delivered its first unconventional gas as it takes a step closer to becoming self-sufficient in the energy feedstock. The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and TOTAL said the unconventional gas was delivered from the RuwaisDiyah concession located 200 kilometers off Abu Dhabi city. The pair is targeting the production of one billion standard cubic feet of gas from the concession before 2030, ultimately enabling gas self-sufficiency for the UAE. It comes two years after the signing of the region’s first unconventional gas concession agreement.

Abu Dhabi Fund Boosts Food Security

Abu Dhabi based ADQ has agreed to acquire a major stake in Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC) as part of an USD800 million investment in the commodity trader. The deal comes as the coronavirus pandemic re-focuses attention on food security in Gulf states which rely heavily on imports. As part of this transaction, LDC also signed a long-term supply deal with ADQ for the sale of agri-commodities to the UAE. LDC is one of the big four global commodity trading houses, posting profits of USD126 million in the first half of the year.

SAUDI ARABIA

OIC Body Urges Respect for Religions

Religion should not be exploited for political gain or media propaganda, the Saudi Press Agency reported one of the world’s largest Islamic organizations as saying, weeks after the brutal beheading of a teacher in a Paris suburb. The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), which was founded by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in 1979, said it was following with concern the growing and systematic abuse, of Prophet Muhammad’s character in the media and political discourse of some French officials.

Not a Pretext for Promoting Hatred

Freedom of expression must not be used as a pretext for promoting hatred, the head of the Muslim World League warned recently. Those who developed such constitutional rights had never intended for them to be used in this way, Dr. Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa said. “Freedom should never be abridge for conflict and a clash between civilizations,” he said. They are not understood in this light. Al Issa spoke amid renewed controversy over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad (saws) first published five years ago in a Danish newspaper and a French satirical magazine. However, Al-Issa cautioned Muslims against over-reacting to provocation. “No doubt these cartoons offend Muslims and we are condemning them in the strongest terms,” he said. “But over-reacting which is negative and goes beyond what is acceptable, is harmful. In fact, it is beneficial to haters.”

Student Volunteers Guide Pilgrims

Eighty students from the Grand Mosque Institute have taken part in volunteer work at Makkah’s Grand Mosque following the gradual return of pilgrims and worshippers. The students worked a combined total of 240 hours per day, or three hours per student, the Saudi Press Agency reported. Supervised by the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, volunteers guided worshippers and pilgrims toward prayer areas, and ensured social distancing in halls and corridors while performing Umrah.

Better Late than Never

For centuries, artisan growers in the cloud-wrapped mountains of Jazan in southern Saudi Arabia have cultivated the Khowlani coffee bean. “What none of us could do, however, was purchase the fruits of the coffee farmers’ labour in a supermarket. Until now, that is! Say hello to Jabaliyah – the first coffee brand to originate exclusively in Saudi Arabia. We not only want to grow Jabaliyah in Saudi Arabia, but also want to start exporting that brand to the world,”Company co-founder, Ali al-Sheneamer, told Arab News. “Aramco conducted a great program, educating farmers on the best methods of irrigation, how to improve quality. So we have seen rapid development over the past five to seven years in growing coffee beans,” Al Sheneamer said. And there is more to come from Jazan and other regions of Saudi Arabia.

New Zealand Envoy Lauds Efforts of Etidal

New Zealand Ambassador, James Monroe, recently visited the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology, known as Etidal. Praising the work of the Center, the envoy said Etidal’s efforts are advanced and critical in its line of work. “Your work is vitally and globally important. It has been a pleasure to see the progress you have achieved while maintaining your exacting standards and dedication to your methodology. I wish the Center and all your staff the very best,” He said. The Center was established on three basic pillars: confronting extremism by the latest intellectual, media and numerical methods and means. The Center works to refute hate and extremist speech and promote concepts of moderation through the production of media content that confronts radical thoughts.

OIC Calls on Afghans to End Violence

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) called on all Afghan parties to put an immediate end to violence and work together for reconciliation and lasting peace. OIC Secretary-General, Dr. Youssef al-Othaimeen, reiterated the organization’s firm commitment to assisting the Afghan people in their efforts to achieve comprehensive national reconciliation. He vowed to help the Afghans achieve stability in their country. The OIC Secretary-General called on all member-states to play their role in helping Afghans reach a political solution. He stressed the importance of dialogue to resolve all issues amicably and in accordance with the teachings of Islam.

PALESTINE

Gaza’s First Woman Taxi Driver

Palestinian mother of five,Nayla Abu Jubbah, launched a small revolution by becoming the first female taxi driver in the deeply conservative Gaza Strip. In the impoverished Palestinian territory, women have the same legal rights as men to drive a vehicle, but in practice, the trade of taxi-driver has been exclusively male – at least, until now. The Israeli-blockaded territory was suffering 50% unemployment even before the COVID-19 pandemic. She bought the vehicle with her inheritance when her father died.

UZBEKISTAN

Bumper Melon Harvest

This year, the melon-growing season has been especially good, and it is just as well. The Coronavirus pandemic hit Uzbekistan hard, just when it was on an economic upswing. Remittances sent by migrants working abroad fell by half, according to a report by the United Nations Development Program published in July, straining hundreds of thousands of family budgets that depended on them. Strict lockdowns triggered massive layoffs around the landlocked country of 33 million with small businesses especially affected. With COVID–19 and all the unemployment it has caused these winter melons are a lifeline, noting that around 50 tons of the crop is expected to sell in the off-season.

 [COMPILED BY: SYED NEHAL ZAHEER]