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Comprehensive plan for development of Arab culture to be discussed at UAE conference

The UAE Ministry of Culture and Youth announced on Saturday that it will host the 22nd session of the Conference of Arab Culture Ministers in collaboration with the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO) on December 19-20, 2021.
The conference, taking place during Expo 2020 Dubai, will host 21 ministers in-charge of cultural affairs in various Arab countries, the Director General of ALECSO, and other key figures from the Arab world.

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The conference will discuss a comprehensive plan for Arab culture and its modernization and discuss ways to keep it relevant today while promoting cultural cooperation among Arab nations. It will also seek to foster exchanges with other cultures around the world.
The main discussions of the conference will centre on unifying Arab efforts in various cultural fields, including cooperation in the registration of intangible heritage with UNESCO, and the development of cultural and creative industries in the region.
The event is also set to propose the ambassador programme to promote Arab culture.
It will focus on a number of topics, most notably the Status Report and the Future of the Arabic Language, published by the UAE Ministry of Culture and Youth, in partnership with the Arabic Language Advisory Council.
Furthermore, the conference will discuss ways to develop and launch joint projects in the fields of culture, heritage, and the Arabic language.
The participating ministers will also join the opening ceremony of the Arabic Language Summit, and Al Burda Festival and Award, which will be held in conjunction with this session.
Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, UAE Minister of Culture and Youth, applauded the session, set to be held at Expo 2020 Dubai – the world’s largest cultural platform, dedicated to celebrating the diversity of human cultures and providing an opportunity to learn about the cultures of 192 countries.
“The Conference of Arab Culture Ministers is a very significant platform to promote Arab cultural cooperation and devise new ways to ensure its enrichment and advancement,” Al Kaabi asserted. “The UAE is committed to fostering greater cooperation with ALECSO and strengthening its role in supporting the organisation’s efforts.”
“The UAE is an active partner in leading Arab cultural cooperation,” Al Kaabi added. “Hosting the conference in the UAE reflects our wise leadership’s vision to support Arab culture as the link between the peoples of this region and reaffirms the pivotal role culture plays in forging stronger ties.”
Dr. Mohamed Ould Amar, ALECSO’s Director General, revealed that the Organisation had prepared extensively for this critical conference. “The conference is very promising for our organization and gives us great hope for the future of Arab culture,” he said.

“The conference was planned after a lot of thought and deliberation in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and by bringing together high-ranking ministers, it seeks to promote collaborative Arab activities in the fields of culture and heritage.”

“The UAE will remain a key partner to ALECSO in various activities and programmes – particularly in the cultural field,” he said.

The 22nd session of Conference of Arab Culture Ministers, while bringing together government officials, policymakers, and members of international organizations, will discuss the outcomes of the World Conference on Creative Economy, and draw up a five-year roadmap of joint Arab efforts to record intangible heritage with UNESCO. It’s a definitive platform for those interested in Arab culture and the Arabic language and forge conversations with Arab youth, to exchange ideas, tackle challenges and discuss new opportunities.
The Chair of the conference is set to be handed over from the Arab Republic of Egypt, Chair of the 21st Session, to the United Arab Emirates to lead the current session. The agenda includes the ratification of the theme and venue of the next session of the conference, which is expected to be hosted in Saudi Arabia.
Attendees will also participate in Al Burda Award and Festival, which feature intellectuals and innovators in Islamic culture from around the world, in an effort to enhance the UAE’s position as a cultural hub and an incubator for creative arts through various dialogue sessions, art exhibitions, and performances.

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Security guard killed inside Qatar Embassy in Paris

A security guard was killed in the early hours of Monday inside the Qatar Embassy in Paris in an incident that does not appear to have any links to terrorism, a source close to the investigation said.
The incident took place at around 0630 (0430 GMT), the source said, adding that the suspect had entered the embassy and had a row with the security guard, who died after being punched.

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The Paris prosecutor’s office confirmed the death and said one person had been arrested on the spot.
“I can confirm that an investigation was opened today on the count of murder,” the prosecutor’s office said.

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Sandstorm forces closure of Iraqi airports and public buildings

Iraq closed public buildings and temporarily shut airports Monday as another sandstorm — the ninth since mid-April — hit the country, authorities said.

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The capital Baghdad was enveloped in a giant dust cloud that left usually traffic-choked streets largely deserted, an AFP correspondent said.

Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi ordered all work to cease in public institutions, with the exception of health facilities and security agencies.

He cited “poor climatic conditions and the arrival of violent sandstorms” in a statement issued by his office.

Iraq is ranked as one of the five most vulnerable nations to climate change and desertification.

The environment ministry has warned that over the next two decades, Iraq could endure an average of 272 days of sandstorms per year, rising to above 300 by 2050.

Air traffic was suspended Monday at international airports in Baghdad, Erbil and Najaf, according to statements issued by each airport, before authorities announced later in the morning that flights were resuming at Baghdad and Erbil.

The previous two sandstorms killed one person and sent nearly 10,000 people to hospital with respiratory problems.

The Middle East has always been battered by sandstorms, but they have become more frequent and intense in recent years.

The trend has been associated with rising heat and water scarcity, overuse of river water, more dams, overgrazing and deforestation.

Oil-rich Iraq is known in Arabic as the land of the two rivers, in reference to the Tigris and Euphrates.

Iraq’s environment ministry has said the weather phenomenon could be addressed by increasing vegetation cover and planting trees that act as windbreaks.

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Oxfam tells Davos: Time to tax growing billionaire club

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a new billionaire every 30 hours and now one million people could fall into extreme poverty at the same pace, Oxfam said Monday as the Davos summit returns.

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The international charity said it was time to tax the rich to support the less fortunate as the global elite gathered at the Swiss mountain haven for the World Economic Forum after a two-year Covid-induced absence.

Oxfam said it expects 263 million people to sink into extreme poverty this year, at a rate of one million every 33 hours, as soaring inflation has added a cost-of-living crisis on top of COVID-19.

By comparison, 573 people became billionaires during the pandemic, or one every 30 hours.

“Billionaires are arriving in Davos to celebrate an incredible surge in their fortunes,” Oxfam executive director Gabriela Bucher said in a statement.

“The pandemic and now the steep increases in food and energy prices have, simply put, been a bonanza for them,” Bucher said.

“Meanwhile, decades of progress on extreme poverty are now in reverse and millions of people are facing impossible rises in the cost of simply staying alive,” she said.

Oxfam called for a one-off “solidarity tax” on billionaires’ pandemic windfall to support people facing soaring prices as well as fund a “fair and sustainable recovery” from the pandemic.

It also said it was time to “end crisis profiteering” by rolling out a “temporary excess profit tax” of 90 percent on windfall profits of big corporations.

Oxfam added that an annual wealth tax on millionaires of two percent, and five percent for billionaires, could generate $2.52 trillion a year.

Such a wealth tax would help lift 2.3 billion people out of poverty, make enough vaccines for the world and pay for universal health care for people in poorer countries, it said.

Oxfam based its calculations on the Forbes list of billionaires and World Bank data.

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