Spain Registers Hottest Spring Temperatures on Record

A woman using a fan to cool-off walks past a man lying in the shade in Seville on April 26, 2023 as Spain is bracing for an early heat wave. (AFP)
A woman using a fan to cool-off walks past a man lying in the shade in Seville on April 26, 2023 as Spain is bracing for an early heat wave. (AFP)
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Spain Registers Hottest Spring Temperatures on Record

A woman using a fan to cool-off walks past a man lying in the shade in Seville on April 26, 2023 as Spain is bracing for an early heat wave. (AFP)
A woman using a fan to cool-off walks past a man lying in the shade in Seville on April 26, 2023 as Spain is bracing for an early heat wave. (AFP)

Spain registered its hottest spring on record this year, and its second driest ever, the state meteorological agency said Wednesday.

Rubén Del Campo, spokesman for the Aemet weather agency, said the latest data showed a continuation of the extremely high temperatures the country suffered in 2022, which was the hottest year ever recorded in Spain.

The spring heat was accompanied by a scarcity of rain that will exacerbate Spain's long-term drought, despite some rainfall over the last month. Spain's Ecological Transition Ministry reported Tuesday that the country's reservoirs are at 47.4% of their capacity, consolidating a downward trend.

Del Campo noted knock-on effects for the Mediterranean country's ecosystem. “Surface water temperatures recorded in 2022 were the highest since at least 1940,” he told a press conference, warning that the phenomenon endangered marine life and its ability to reproduce.

The situation inland was also made much more precarious. “These high temperatures have repercussions on both human health and ecosystems in terms of increased likelihood of forest fires,” the spokesman added.

Del Campo also issued predictions for the summer ahead, which he said would likely be “extremely hot,” though with a probability of some rainstorms. The Aemet spokesman said it was not clear that the El Niño weather phenomenon would contribute to the expected high temperatures in Spain. El Niño is a cyclical warming of the world's oceans and weather, which is forecast to return later this year.

The Spanish government announced 2.2 billion euros ($2.4 billion) worth of drought response measures last month, including funding for urban water reuse and further aid for struggling farmers.

Spain is Europe’s leading producer and exporter of fresh fruit and vegetables. The country requested emergency funds from the European Union in April given the dire prognosis for this year’s crops.



Media Minister: Saudi History Exhibition Establishes Relationship between Saudi Media, National History

Minister of Media Salman bin Yousef Al-Dosari at the exhibition. SPA
Minister of Media Salman bin Yousef Al-Dosari at the exhibition. SPA
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Media Minister: Saudi History Exhibition Establishes Relationship between Saudi Media, National History

Minister of Media Salman bin Yousef Al-Dosari at the exhibition. SPA
Minister of Media Salman bin Yousef Al-Dosari at the exhibition. SPA

The Minister of Media and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Salman bin Yousef Al-Dosari, expressed the Saudi media’s pride in its national message and its responsibility to consolidate the historical depth of the Saudi state by introducing its achievements, nobility, and cultural and social heritage, and promoting its civilizational achievement and regional and global status so that the progress march continues towards a promising future for the nation and the citizens under the Saudi Vision 2030.

He made his remarks following the opening on Wednesday of “Saudi Arabia's History Exhibition” at the headquarters of SPA in Riyadh. He noted that this documentary initiative aims to enrich historical knowledge and highlights the prosperous present of the country, within a framework that reflects the image of the Kingdom on the world stage.

He added that SPA’s holding of an exhibition on Saudi Arabia's history comes in the context of its national media role and to enrich its educational and knowledgeable message through an interactive media presentation, in a new experience for visitors from inside and outside the Kingdom, applying an innovative method that establishes a relationship between the media institution and the Kingdom's history.

The minister of media reiterated that the exhibition embodies the depth of the media’s connection with Saudi Arabia's history.

Nearly a century ago, the Kingdom witnessed the publication of Umm Al-Qura newspaper in 1924, in which it documented events and the reality of the national scene in its various aspects then. The issue of September 23, 1932 announced the declaration of all parts of the Kingdom united, under the name "Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” marking a new era of development and modernization of the media sector, the diversity of its mass-media organizations, and the breadth of its message, keeping pace with the latest technologies across various media platforms.

After his statement, the minister of media extended his thanks and appreciation to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince and Prime Minister, for their support to Saudi media, and their continued interest in developing it, to enhance its role in highlighting the Kingdom's movement, under the goals of Saudi Vision 2030.


KAICIID Trains Journalists to Use Dialogue, Media in Conflict Settlement

The participants acquired the necessary skills to use alternative
methods to address conflicts. (Asharq Al-Awsat).
The participants acquired the necessary skills to use alternative methods to address conflicts. (Asharq Al-Awsat).
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KAICIID Trains Journalists to Use Dialogue, Media in Conflict Settlement

The participants acquired the necessary skills to use alternative
methods to address conflicts. (Asharq Al-Awsat).
The participants acquired the necessary skills to use alternative methods to address conflicts. (Asharq Al-Awsat).

The King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) held a training workshop that hosted 32 Arab journalists from different religious and cultural backgrounds in Kuala Lumpur. It focused on understanding conflicts and how to use dialogue and media as efficient tools to address them.

During the second workshop of the Dialogue Journalism Project, the participants improved their knowledge of conflicts, and the decisive role that mediation can play to achieve peace.

They also acquired the necessary skills to use alternative methods to address conflicts by studying different cases of social disputes between two parties and developing sustainable and innovative solutions for these cases.

They trained on drafting “primary agreements” aimed at protecting the rights of all parties and establish peace among them.

Waseem Haddad, program manager in the Arab region, underscored the pivotal role that media can play to enhance coexistence, build sustainable peace, and respect the other who comes from another religious, ethnic, and cultural background. “Media can be a bridge of communication and agreement among different communities, and even among the members of the same community,” he explained.

“Journalists can harness dialogue to resolve conflicts and build communication bridges, which highlights the importance of the Dialogue Journalism Project led by KAICIID in the Arab region,” he said.

The participants said that after five days of various workshops and discussion sessions, they felt more open to accept the other and coexist with them without prejudgments, more committed to fighting hate speech, and more able to enhance peaceful agreements among religions and cultures.

They also acknowledged the importance of joining hands to empower the strategic role of media in promoting dialogue, coexistence, conflict settlement, and peace.


Climate Crisis Has ‘Opened the Gates to Hell’ UN Chief Tells Summit

 UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attends the UN Climate Ambition Summit on the sidelines of the 78th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York City on September 20, 2023. (AFP)
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attends the UN Climate Ambition Summit on the sidelines of the 78th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York City on September 20, 2023. (AFP)
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Climate Crisis Has ‘Opened the Gates to Hell’ UN Chief Tells Summit

 UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attends the UN Climate Ambition Summit on the sidelines of the 78th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York City on September 20, 2023. (AFP)
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attends the UN Climate Ambition Summit on the sidelines of the 78th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York City on September 20, 2023. (AFP)

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday told world leaders humanity's addiction to fossil fuels had "opened the gates to hell" as he kicked off a climate meeting where leading polluters China and the United States were conspicuously absent.

Despite increasing extreme weather events and record-shattering global temperatures, greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise and oil and gas companies reap handsome profits.

Guterres has thus billed the "Climate Ambition Summit" as a "no nonsense" forum where leaders or cabinet ministers will announce specific actions that deliver on their commitments under the Paris Agreement.

In his opening speech, he evoked 2023's "horrendous heat" and "historic fires," but stressed: "The future is not fixed: It is for leaders like you to write.

"We can still limit the rise in global temperature to 1.5 degrees. We can still build a world of clear air, green jobs and affordable clean power for all," he said, referring to the target seen as needed to avoid long-term climate catastrophe.

The bar for the podium was set high, with the UN chief making clear that only leaders who had made concrete plans to achieve net-zero greenhouse emissions would be allowed to speak.

After receiving more than 100 applications to take part, the UN finally released a list on Tuesday night of 41 speakers which did not include China, the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan or India.

Several major leaders didn't bother making the trip to New York for this year's UN General Assembly, including President Xi Jinping of China and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak from the United Kingdom, who said he was too busy.

US President Joe Biden, who addressed the General Assembly on Tuesday, sent his climate envoy John Kerry to the meeting -- although Kerry won't be permitted to speak in the segment reserved for "movers and doers."

"There's no doubt that the absence of so many leaders from the world's biggest economies and emitters will clearly have an impact on the outcomes of the summit," Alden Meyer of climate think tank E3G said.

He blamed competing issues -- from the Ukraine conflict to US-China tensions and rising economic uncertainty -- but also the lobbying power of the fossil fuel industry.

Catherine Abreu, executive director of nonprofit Destination Zero, said it was "perhaps a good-news story that we see Biden not being given a speaking slot at the summit" because the United States is continuing to expand fossil fuel projects even as it makes historic investments in renewables.

"I think about this as being a correction from past summits, where leaders have been given the opportunity to take credit for climate leadership on the global stage, while they continue to pursue plans to develop fossil fuels, and continue driving the climate crisis back at home," she added.

While the United States won't take the rostrum, California will be represented by Governor Gavin Newsom. From Britain, London Mayor Sadiq Khan will also attend.

Broken promises

The event is the biggest climate summit in New York since 2019, when Greta Thunberg stunned the world with her "How Dare You" speech before the UN.

Anger is building among climate activists, particularly younger people, who turned out in thousands last weekend for the "March to End Fossil Fuels" in New York.

Observers are eager however to see what Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and European Union President Ursula von der Leyen say both on their own goals and on financing commitments for the developing world.

Advanced economies vowed in 2009 to channel $100 billion to less developed countries by the year 2020 -- a promise that was broken -- even as much of the funding that was mobilized came in the form of loans.

Meanwhile, a "loss and damage" fund aimed at providing financial assistance to nations most vulnerable and impacted by the effects of climate change has still not been operationalized.

There are some bright spots, including the announcement that Colombia and Panama are joining a grouping called the Powering Past Coal Alliance -- particularly notable as Colombia is the world's sixth biggest coal exporter.


France Rolls Out the Red Carpet for King Charles III’s State Visit

French President Emmanuel Macron, right, and Britain's King Charles III walk in the street from the Elysee Palace to the British ambassador to France's residence, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023 in Paris. (AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron, right, and Britain's King Charles III walk in the street from the Elysee Palace to the British ambassador to France's residence, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023 in Paris. (AP)
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France Rolls Out the Red Carpet for King Charles III’s State Visit

French President Emmanuel Macron, right, and Britain's King Charles III walk in the street from the Elysee Palace to the British ambassador to France's residence, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023 in Paris. (AP)
French President Emmanuel Macron, right, and Britain's King Charles III walk in the street from the Elysee Palace to the British ambassador to France's residence, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023 in Paris. (AP)

President Emmanuel Macron and King Charles III were holding talks in Paris on Wednesday at the start of a long-awaited three-day state visit meant to highlight the friendship between France and the UK

Charles' trip to France was postponed in March amid widespread demonstrations against Macron’s pension changes.

For their first stop in the French capital, Charles and Queen Camilla attended a ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe, where they were greeted by Macron and his wife, Brigitte.

Macron offered a warm welcome to the new king, often putting his hand on his arm and his back. Both smiled as they chatted together.

Paris city center has been placed under high security for the occasion, with thousands of police officers and surveillance drones being deployed.

Small crowds gathered behind a wide range of barriers on the Champs-Elysees to get a chance to see the royal parade.

The visit shows "the deep historical ties that unite our two countries. It is also an opportunity to showcase France’s cultural, artistic and gastronomic excellence," the French presidency said.

At the Arc de Triomphe, both national anthems were played before a review of French troops and a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to marking "the shared sacrifices of the past and an enduring legacy of cooperation," according to Buckingham Palace.

The jet fighters of the Patrouille de France and Britain's Red Arrows, the acrobatic teams of the two air forces, flew together above the monument, leaving a trail of red, white and blue smoke in the Parisian sky.

Charles and Macron, followed by Brigitte and Camilla in another car, then headed to the presidential palace under escort from the horses of the French National Guard, with both waving at the crowd.

Macron and Charles were holding a bilateral meeting at the Elysee Palace, because the visit also "symbolizes the relationship of friendship and trust" since they "have in the past worked closely together to protect biodiversity and combat global warming," the French presidency said.

The agenda was also due to include talks on Russia's war in Ukraine and the migration issue as Italy's southern island of Lampedusa was in recent days overwhelmed by people setting off from Tunisia.

While the UK royal family long ago ceded political power to elected leaders, members of the royal family remain Britain's preeminent ambassadors as presidents and prime ministers jockey to bask in the glamor and pageantry that follows them wherever they go.

The visit comes amid a recent warming in the Franco-British relationship after years marked by Brexit talks and related disputes.

At a bilateral summit in March, Macron and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak agreed to strengthen military ties and step up efforts to prevent migrants from crossing the English Channel.

"We know that the British and French relationship has been difficult at times since 2016," Ed Owens, a historian of the British monarchy, told The Associated Press.

"This move on the part of the British state to send the king to France is about reassuring the people of France, but also the people of the UK that this is a relationship of significant important and that it is based on history, heritage and that there are many other things in our shared futures that connect us."

A state dinner on Wednesday in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles in the presence of more than 150 guests will be one of the highlights of the visit.

The menu includes blue lobster and crab followed by Bresse poultry and a gratin of cep mushrooms prepared, respectively, by French chefs Anne-Sophie Pic and Yannick Alléno. Both have been awarded three Michelin stars. The cheese course will feature France’s Comté and Britain’s Stichelton blue cheese. For dessert, world-famous pastry chef Pierre Hermé will prepare his rose macaroon cookie, made of rose petal cream, raspberries and lychees.

On Thursday, Charles will address French lawmakers at the Senate, providing a new venue for the king to show off his language skills after he wowed his audience by switching seamlessly between German and English during a speech to Germany’s parliament in March.

He will later rejoin Macron in front of Notre-Dame Cathedral to see the ongoing renovation work aimed at reopening the monument by the end of next year.

UK Ambassador Menna Rawlings, speaking on French news broadcaster LCI, said that Charles was "very sad" after the monument's spire and roof collapsed in a blaze in 2019. It reminded him of the 1992 fire at Windsor Castle, she added.

"Of course it’s an incredible moment for him to have the opportunity, with the queen, to look at this (renovation) work and also meet the firemen who were involved," she said.

Charles and Macron will also attend a reception for British and French business leaders about financing climate-related and biodiversity projects.

The king will end his trip on Friday with a stop in Bordeaux, home to a large British community. He will meet emergency workers and communities affected by the 2022 wildfires in the area and visit the Forêt Experimentale, or experimental forest, a project designed to monitor the impact of climate on urban woodlands.


4 Lives Saved after Successful Organ Transplants in Arar

Saudi Flag / File/Reuters
Saudi Flag / File/Reuters
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4 Lives Saved after Successful Organ Transplants in Arar

Saudi Flag / File/Reuters
Saudi Flag / File/Reuters

A specialized medical team at Prince Abdulaziz bin Musaed Hospital in Arar performed successful kidney, liver and lung transplants after having been donated the organs from a brain-dead patient, saving the lives of four recipients.

The hospital where the brain-dead person has followed the protocol in force in the Kingdom in such cases and asked the family to donate the organs, SPA reported.

According to the Saudi Center for Organ Transplantation, the recipients of the donated organs are a 50-year-old patient (right kidney), a 47-year-old patient (left kidney), a 44-year-old patient (liver), and a 45-year-old patient (lung).


Saudi Arabia Opens Local Universities for Students from Around the World

Saudi Arabia has launched a new initiative to bring in students and researchers from around the world to study in Saudi universities. Photo: Al-Imam University
Saudi Arabia has launched a new initiative to bring in students and researchers from around the world to study in Saudi universities. Photo: Al-Imam University
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Saudi Arabia Opens Local Universities for Students from Around the World

Saudi Arabia has launched a new initiative to bring in students and researchers from around the world to study in Saudi universities. Photo: Al-Imam University
Saudi Arabia has launched a new initiative to bring in students and researchers from around the world to study in Saudi universities. Photo: Al-Imam University

Saudi Arabia has launched a new initiative to bring in students and researchers from around the world to study in Saudi universities, and benefit from the various academic curricula in its colleges, universities, and institutes.

Minister of Education Yousef Al-Benyan opened the forum on the “Study in Saudi Arabia Initiative” on Monday, in the presence of ambassadors, diplomats, and representatives of international organizations.

The forum aims at showcasing the details of the initiative and the accompanying exhibit exploring the opportunities to bring exceptional students from around the world to study in Saudi universities.

The Minister said Saudi Arabia is a major destination for scientific research and innovation, and that the unlimited support provided by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has helped guaranty a special and sustainable research environment.

Al-Benyan invited the ambassadors and diplomats in the Kingdom to explore the educational opportunities and various academic programs to open the door for collaborations with distinguished researchers from different fields.

He also noted that joining the academic programs in Saudi universities enables international students to benefit from the new curricula and advanced facilities, and offers chances to interact with various cultures and enjoy new experiences and rich educational journeys.

“Bringing students, researchers, and interns from around the world to join the Saudi higher education institutions is an integral part of the kingdom’s view to develop the educational sector and boost its international position. It also contributes to fulfilling the fourth sustainability goal (good education), and boosting students’ flow from around the world and promoting scientific and cultural exchange,” he explained.

Al-Benyan also shed light on the care given to the Arabic language as a universal language, and how Saudi Arabia is the perfect destination to learn it and explore its fine cultural heritage. The economic shifts in the world have placed the Kingdom among the fastest growing economies, which helped create opportunities of technical and vocational development in different sectors including oil and gas, renewable energy, technology, and business.

74,000 students from around the world

Saudi universities have hosted over 74,000 students from around the world, and graduated more than 140,000 students from 160 countries in various specialties and academic levels, who benefited from the exceptional educational level and the high-quality outputs in the kingdom.

Dr. Sami Al-Haisouni, director of the scholarships department for non-Saudi students at the Ministry of Education, said the “Study in Saudi Arabia Initiative” reflects the Kingdom’s commitment to providing the best opportunities in the field of education and cultural exchange for international students. The Kingdom has paid great attention to supporting and empowering international students who have chosen it as their destination for education, he added.

Advanced Saudi universities

Saudi Arabia is a major cultural destination and a fine educational hub that has achieved a significant advancement over the past decades as a result of the guided support to develop the education sector, promote its outputs, and transform the conventional education system into a modern one.

The “Study in Saudi Arabia” platform opens the doors of Saudi universities for those willing to join from around the world to invest and develop their skills, benefit from the outstanding capabilities of the Kingdom’s universities, educational facilities, and research centers that serve all kind of scientific purposes.

The development efforts in the Saudi education sector have leveled up some Saudi universities to pioneering ranks. The Times’ World University Rankings 2023 includes 21 Saudi universities compared with 15 last year; seven Saudi universities were among the best worldwide, according to QS Universities Rankings 2021. The Kingdom has also ranked 36th among the best higher education systems in the world.

Public and private Saudi universities showcased their capacities in the exhibition accompanying the forum. They also introduced their educational and academic programs, seats allocated to international students, admission details, and academic information that students need to learn.

In addition to presenting the Ministry of Education’s approach for studying in Saudi Arabia, the forum provides comprehensive information, figures, and statistics about studies in the Kingdom, advantages, universities, colleges, and institutes, as well as the diploma, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in many fields including computer and Islamic law.


El Gouna Film Festival Unveils Highlights of 6th Edition

Marianne Khoury, GFF artistic director, speaks during the press
event. (El Gouna Film Festival).
Marianne Khoury, GFF artistic director, speaks during the press event. (El Gouna Film Festival).
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El Gouna Film Festival Unveils Highlights of 6th Edition

Marianne Khoury, GFF artistic director, speaks during the press
event. (El Gouna Film Festival).
Marianne Khoury, GFF artistic director, speaks during the press event. (El Gouna Film Festival).

El Gouna Film Festival (GFF) unveiled the highlights of its sixth edition set to be held from 13 to 20 October. In a press event on Monday, the festival announced it is hosting a “film market”, for the first time, in addition to several new initiatives including the “CineGouna Emerge”.

The festival returns after a one-year hiatus, which according to Intishal al-Timimi, director of GFF, didn’t affect it, but highlighted its importance on the cinematic scene. He also noted that the void the festival left and its comeback reflected the success of its past five editions, and the sturdy foundations on which it stood since its debut in 2017.

Timimi said he’s committed to maintaining the power of GFF despite the serious competition among the Arabic film festivals, which start with the Gouna festival and ends with the Red Sea Film Festival separated by short time intervals.

This year, the Feature Narrative Competition includes 14 films. The jury of the competition is headed by Bosnian Director Jasmila Žbanić.

The GFF program also includes 12 films in the Feature Documentary Competition, 21 films in the Short Film Competition, and 17 films in the Official Selection Out of Competition section.

Also, 13 films compete for the GFF's annual Cinema for Humanity Audience Award, while five compete for El Gouna Green Star Award dedicated to the best work covering environmental causes.

Eng. Naguib Sawiris, the festival founder, said “the city of Gouna is the key behind the festival’s success. Cinema makes happiness and we need that,” noting that he’s passionate about movies and that he watches four films a day. Sawiris said the festival has succeeded since its first edition thanks to good intentions and teamwork.

Marianne Khoury, GFF artistic director, announced that 80 films are partaking in the festival, some of them won international awards. She also said that the festival received a total of 160 submissions, and the committee selected 20 projects — 13 in development and 7 in post-production, adding that 14 films will be screened simultaneously with the GFF as part of the “Zawya Cinema”, so the audience in Cairo can watch them. Yousra, the esteemed actress and member of the International Advisory Committee, called on the media to give the festival’s major segments, workshops and events the same attention usually given to the Red Carpet.

Amr Mansi, GFF executive director, said he is betting on a different edition that serves the cinema industry and puts it on par with tourism. “We were concerned about the economic situation and the lack of sponsor, but we saw a remarkable enthusiasm from the old sponsors and those who have joined as for the first time,” he added.

The press event was also attended by filmmaker Marwan Hamed, who will be handed the 2023 Career Achievement Award; and filmmaker Amr Salamah who partakes in the festival with his film “60 Pound” in the short film competition. El Gouna Film Bridge includes a panel with artist Hend Sabry, and a lecture on production with American producer Ted Hope, in addition to a number of discussion panels on topics like influential filmmaking, storytelling and climate, and the Egyptian cinema.


For Climate Activists, New York’s Lights Shine Too Bright 

The Manhattan skyline is viewed on May 5, 2015 in New York City. (Getty Images/AFP)
The Manhattan skyline is viewed on May 5, 2015 in New York City. (Getty Images/AFP)
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For Climate Activists, New York’s Lights Shine Too Bright 

The Manhattan skyline is viewed on May 5, 2015 in New York City. (Getty Images/AFP)
The Manhattan skyline is viewed on May 5, 2015 in New York City. (Getty Images/AFP)

New York's annual Climate Week is underway, bringing together activists, politicians and business leaders for hundreds of events aimed at addressing the planetary crisis.

But the bright lights that give the "city that never sleeps" its iconic glow have long been a source of frustration for campaigners, something at odds with the spirit of conservation embodied by the yearly summit, which takes place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

"We have a long way to go until a brightly lit city is seen for what it is, which is just an egregious waste of energy -- and something that's having a direct impact on the natural world," Ruskin Hartley, director of the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), told AFP.

According to US Department of Energy figures, outdoor lighting in the United States consumes enough energy annually to power 35 million homes. At any given time, only one percent of artificial light reaches human eyes, the department says.

City-wide energy estimates are hard to come by, but it's clear from satellite images that New York is among the worst offenders in the United States, which as a country is far more wasteful than Europe, according to studies.

As participants at Climate Week NYC -- now in its 15th year -- hold events on topics ranging from climate financing to lowering the carbon footprint of food systems, to the role of art in activism, reducing light pollution should be part of the discussion, said Hartley.

"People are looking for ways that we can make a meaningful difference in short order, given the magnitude of the crisis that is facing us. And one of the simplest things we can do is to look around and figure out where we can cut waste from the system," he argued.

Globally, the IDA estimates that outdoor lighting that escapes to space is responsible for one percent of annual greenhouse emissions.

Birds, stargazing and human health affected

It's not just an energy problem, either.

New York City lies along a bird migration pathway known as the Atlantic Flyway, with millions passing through every year, Dustin Partridge, director of conservation and science at the New York City Audubon, told AFP.

Artificial light draws the birds into the city. During the day, they crash into buildings because they see reflections of enticing vegetation in the glass and concrete jungle, while at night they fly into lighted windows.

"In New York, we have about a quarter million birds die each year with collisions," said Partridge, with Climate Week occurring in the middle of the fall migration.

The seeds these birds disperse are vital for the health of carbon-sequestering ecosystems all the way from Canada, where they began their journeys, to their destinations in South America.

"You can go outside in the evening in New York City and look out and see an easy solution to protecting biodiversity and helping fight against climate change," said Partridge.

That's to say nothing of the impact of light pollution on stargazing -- the reason the IDA was founded in the first place.

"The light that's been traveling millions of light years is being absorbed and hidden in the last nanosecond, and what a loss to society that is," said Hartley.

Other research has uncovered potential impacts on human health -- for example, increased incidents of certain cancers, which could be linked to disruptions of circadian rhythms. Artificial light also brings more mosquitoes, and the diseases they bring.

New York passed legislation in 2021 that required all city-owned buildings to turn off non-essential lights from 11:00 pm to 6:00 am during spring and fall migration.

But these account for a small fraction of all buildings, and a bill introduced this May that would extend similar rules to privately-owned and industrial buildings, remains pending.

Critics argue New York's nighttime skyline is an essential part of the city's identity -- a place of energy where people come to dream and achieve great things.

To this, the campaigners point to the examples of European cities that have begun flipping the switch when most are asleep -- including in Paris, the "City of Lights."


Palestine Applauds Decision to Inscribe 'Tell es-Sultan' on World Heritage List

The “Tell es-Sultan/Old Jericho” site. (shutterstock)
The “Tell es-Sultan/Old Jericho” site. (shutterstock)
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Palestine Applauds Decision to Inscribe 'Tell es-Sultan' on World Heritage List

The “Tell es-Sultan/Old Jericho” site. (shutterstock)
The “Tell es-Sultan/Old Jericho” site. (shutterstock)

Palestinians applauded the UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee’s decision to inscribe the pre-historic site of “Tell es-Sultan/Old Jericho” on the World Heritage List.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said the decision to inscribe Tell es-Sultan is “a matter of great importance and evidence of the authenticity and history of the Palestinian people,” assuring that the Palestinian authorities would “continue to preserve this unique site for all humanity.”

Abbas, on behalf of the Palestinian state and people, thanked Saudi Arabia led by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, king Salman bin Abdulaziz, and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, for hosting the committee, as well as the committee members, the UNESCO’s executive board, and all the member states that made the enlisting happen.

The UNESCO took the decision to inscribe “Tell es-Sultan/formerly Jericho” as a World Heritage at its 45th world heritage committee meeting held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Rula Maayah stated that Palestine has now five sites on the UNESCOS’s World Heritage list including “Tell es-Sultan”: Jerusalem (the old city and its walls), Bethlehem (the birthplace of Jesus including the Church of the Nativity and the pilgrimage route), the old town of Hebron, and the “cultural landscape” of the village of Battir south of Jerusalem.

The minister said the significance of this decision stems from acknowledging that the site is an authentic part of the diverse Palestinian heritage, and enjoys an exceptional human value as the oldest fortified city in the world.

“Tell es-Sultan represents the first successful example of permanent human settlements, and the oldest agricultural town in the world that was built in the modern Stone Age, 10,000 years ago, in the lowest spot on Earth (250 meters below sea level), near the Ein Sultan spring. It encouraged humans to move to a stable life that relied on the domestication of plants and animals, construction, pottery making, and developed social, economic, and religious systems, she noted.

The site is one of the most important archaeological sites in Palestine, it was the cornerstone of Jericho, and the beginning of human life during the Natufian period before the emergence of plants, about 10,500 years ago.

“Tell es-Sultan” is located in the lower part of the Jordan Valley, 10 kilometers north of the Dead Sea, two kilometers north of Jericho’s center, and 250 meters below sea level, making old Jericho the lowest and oldest city in the world.

It features 29 layers of ancient civilizations and prominent constructions, including the circular building known as “The Jericho Tower”, a unique architectural design boasting an internal stone staircase and a three-meter-wide corridor. The city is surrounded by a wall and a three-meter-deep trench.

Palestinians in Jericho celebrated the decision with sports events, cavalry marches, musical performances, and a laser show at “Tell es-Sultan”.

“It’s a historic day and a political and cultural triumph for the Palestinians that comes after a campaign of falsifications led by the Israeli government to hinder the site’s addition to the World Heritage List,” said Mayor of Jericho, Abdul Karim Sedir.

Minister of Agriculture Riad Attari said this historical moment highlights the victory of the Palestinian right.


CIFF Names Bosnian Director to Head Official Competition Jury

(FILE) Bosnian film director Danis Tanovic. AFP
(FILE) Bosnian film director Danis Tanovic. AFP
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CIFF Names Bosnian Director to Head Official Competition Jury

(FILE) Bosnian film director Danis Tanovic. AFP
(FILE) Bosnian film director Danis Tanovic. AFP

The Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) announced the appointment of the renowned Bosnian director Danis Tanović as the president of the Official Competition Jury for its 45th edition, scheduled between November 15 and 24.

This choice was made to “bring in prominent figures from the global film industry” to take part in the festival, and to foster CIFF as a platform for expertise exchange among emerging Egyptian, Arab, and international filmmakers participating in the event, according to a statement issued by CIFF on Sunday.

“We are delighted to host esteemed international names at the 45th Cairo Film Festival. Danis Tanović is one of the most important cinema figures in the world, and his works won many awards at prestigious festivals,” Festival President Hussein Fahmy said.

Danis Tanović is one of the best directors and screenwriters in Eastern Europe and the world. Among his renowned works is “No Man’s Land,” which won several awards, including the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Screenplay at Cannes in 2001. He also directed films such as “An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker” and “Death in Sarajevo,” which won the Silver Bear – Grand Jury Prize at the Berlinale in 2016. Tanović is the only director from Bosnia and Herzegovina to win an Academy Award.

Amir Ramsis, director of CIFF, said: “I am proud to have Danis Tanović as the president of the International Jury at the Festival in its 45th edition. I am delighted that our festival always gives its audience the opportunity to engage with names that have made the history of cinema.”

The upcoming edition of the Egyptian festival celebrates short films given their growing audience, and the CIFF’s selection to qualify one film for the Oscars. It also announced that it’s awarding a money prize of $5,000 to the best short Arabic film partaking in the official competition, and decided to dedicate a new category to the promising Egyptian filmmakers- a non-competitive segment that showcases new work experiences of emerging directors.

The 45th edition of CIFF will honor esteemed director Yousry Nasrallah with the Golden Pyramid Award for his outstanding journey, and Actor Ahmed Ezz with the Faten Hamama Award for Excellence.

The Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) is one of the finest festivals in the Arab world and Africa, and the only festival in the region registered in category A of the International Federation of Producers in Prasles, France, FIAPF.