Thursday 31 October 2019

Biggest Cities In Saudi Arabia

The capital city of Riyadh houses almost one quarter of the current Saudi population.

Saudi Arabia is an Arab state found in Western Asia also referred as “the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” Started in 1932 by Ibn Saud, it consists of ten major cities namely Riyadh, Jeddah, Mecca, Hofuf, Ta’if, Medina, Dammam, Khobar, Khamis Mushait, and Burayda.

Biggest Cities In Saudi Arabia


Riyadh is the largest city in Saudi Arabia, and it is also the commercial capital of the country with a population of 6,506,700. Riyadh is also Riyadh’s Province capital and belongs to the historical areas of Najd and Al-Yamana. The Riyadh Development Authority and the mayor of Riyadh head this municipal district with the governor of Riyadh province acting as the chairperson. Riyadh grew into a large metropolis from a small isolated town in the 1940’s. The city grew at the rate of 8.2% between the years 1974-1992. Riyadh has a hot desert climate.


With a population of 3,976,400, Jeddah is the largest town in Makkah Province. It is also the second largest city in Saudi Arabia after Riyadh and the biggest seaport in the Red Sea. Jeddah is situated in the Hijaz Tihamah area on the coast of the Red Sea. In 2009, Jeddah was positioned fourth in the Africa-Mid–East area because of its innovation. It is believed that Jeddah developed as a fishing hamlet by the Yemeni Quda’a tribe in 522 BC and has a tropical arid climate.


Mecca is Makkah area's capital city in the Hejaz area in Saudi Arabia. With a population of 1,919,900, Mecca gets visitors three times its population every year during the Haji pilgrimage. It is situated in a narrow valley 43.5 miles from Jeddah and its elevation above sea level is 908 feet. Mecca is also considered to be the place of birth for Muhammad and the location of Muhammad’s first revelation of the Quran. In the Islamic religion, Mecca is the holiest city and presently managed by the municipality of Mecca with a mayor as its head.


With a population of 1,271,800, Medina is the capital city of Saudi Arabia’s Al-Madinah region. It is often referred as the "Radiant City" and is found in the Hejaz. Al-Masjid an-Nabawi has great religious significance because it is the burial place of Prophet Muhammad. Medina city comes second after Mecca as holiest city according to Islam religion. It is located 200miles north of Mecca and 118 miles from the red sea and located on Hejaz’s most fertile area.

Unique And Interesting

Each of these cities in Saudi Arabia has different cultural, social and economic ties and unite together to form the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Regardless of their sizes and population, they all offer something unique and worthy of exploration.

Biggest Cities In Saudi Arabia

Rank City Population

1 Riyadh 6,506,700
2 Jeddah 3,976,400
3 Mecca 1,919,900
4 Medina 1,271,800
5 Al-Ahsa 1,136,900
6 Ta'if 1,109,800
7 Dammam 975,800
8 Buraidah 658,600
9 Khobar 626,200
10 Tabuk 609,000

By Benjamin Elisha Sawe

•culled from

The Culture Of Saudi Arabia

The culture and society of Saudi Arabia is deeply religious, traditional, and family-oriented in nature.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a western Asian nation in the Arabian Peninsula, is a deeply religious country where Islam is the state religion of the country and plays an important role in shaping the culture and the way of life of the people of the country.

Family Structure

Religion and kinship play important roles in Saudi Arabian society. There is a high rate of gender segregation in the country. Women are not allowed to work in areas where they will come into contact with unrelated men. Women can only work in settings where they interact with others of the same sex only like girls’ schools, universities for women, etc. Even in social settings, women and men who are unrelated are not allowed to interact with each other. Women participation in the country’s workforce is quite low. Women also enjoy lesser rights and freedoms than men. They cannot drive or leave the country without assistance from a mehram (a male guardian). They have to depend on men in their family (usually father, brother, and husband) throughout their lives for all public dealings. They have to wear covered clothing and a veil at all times in public.

Arranged marriages are common in Saudi Arabia. A man is allowed to have four wives at one time but he must subject them to equal treatment. Getting divorced is easy for men but difficult for women. Men and women hardly interact in the Saudi society as the gender divide prevents such interactions outside the home. The elderly are highly regarded in the society. Guests are greeted very well and offered tea and other refreshments by the host family. Cultural traditions place a high importance on generosity and hospitality. Social interactions are highly gender and age specific in the Saudi society. Likewise, extended family is held in very high regard in Saudi Arabia.


Saudi Arabia is a theocratic state. Al Saud, or the House of Saud, is the name of the royal family of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is an Islamic state where the Saudi government makes rules according to different aspects of Islamic teaching. The practice of religions other than Islam in public is not allowed. All citizens of the country must be Muslims and conversion to other religions is punishable by law. Propagation of other faiths is banned. About 99.3% of Saudis are Sunni Muslims.

September 23 is a secular holiday in the country and is celebrated as the National Day, marking the founding of the modern day Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. All the remaining official holidays are related to Islam. Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, Mawlid An-Nabawi are some of the Islamic festivals and events observed in the country. The holy month of Ramadan is observed in Saudi Arabia, which affects man aspects of Saudi life. During Ramadan, shops and services shut down and working hours are generally reduced.


Music and dance are an integral part of the lives of Saudis. One of the native dances of this country is Al Ardha that features Saudi men in their traditional attires and with swords or rifles in hand, positioned shoulder to shoulder, dancing to the rhythms of sung poetry and drum beats. The mizmar dance form is another traditional dance of the Saudis that is popular in Jeddah, Mecca, and Medina. The performing arts form uses an oboe-like instrument called the mizmar. The drum plays an important role in tribal and traditional customs. The Bedouin poetry form of nabaṭī is also very popular in Saudi Arabia. Another native dance and music form of the Saudis is the Samri. Here men, seated on their knees, clap their hands and sway to the rhythm of drums and poetry.

Arabic literature is ages old and features both poetry and prose written in the Arabic language. The Qur'an, regarded as the best piece of Arabic literature by many, has helped shape Arabic culture and literature over the years. The Islamic Golden Age was the time when the Arabic literature flourished but it continues to have a great impact in the modern world today.
Saudi Arabia is also famous amongst Arab and Islam countries for its art and craft. The gold and silver jewelry and handicrafts of the country are praised across the world. The kiswah is a traditional handicraft of the country that is a black cloth with the Quranic verses embroidered with threads of gold and silver. It is made in Mecca and replaced each year in the Ka’ba, Mecca’s sacred shrine. Pottery, leather goods, wood carving, and handicrafts in copper and brass are also famous craft forms of Saudi Arabia. Since Islam forbids the display of the human body in art, the work of Saudi artists mainly concentrates on abstract and geometric shapes. Calligraphy is an important sacred art of the Saudis.


The cuisine of Saudi Arabia is similar to that of the neighboring nations of the Middle East, Africa, and Turkey. Pork is considered impure in Islam and thus consumption of it is banned in the country. Halal Islamic dietary laws are followed while slaughtering animals for meat. The khūzī, a stuffed lamb dish is regarded as the traditional national dish of Saudi Arabia. Another popular dish is the shāwarmā that features flat bread wrapped marinated and grilled meat. Kebabs are also a delicacy of Saudi Arabian cuisine. A rice dish served with shrimp or fish called machbūs is also consumed as a delectable dish. Dates and fresh fruit are also commonly served.

As the consumption of alcohol is forbidden by Islam, Saudi Arabian law prohibits the sale of alcohol. Coffee and tea are popular beverages served to guests invited to homes in the country. A yogurt drink called laban, camel milk and buttermilk are also popular beverages.
Globalization and the appearance of modern supermarkets and multi-cuisine restaurants have greatly altered the culinary dietary habits of the urban Saudis. Fast food has become particularly popular in the country. The traditional Saudi customs favor consumption of food while sitting on the ground and discourage the use of forks and knives.


Clothing in Saudi Arabia is dictated by the religion and customs of the country and is strictly enforced. Women are required to adorn the abaya, a long (usually black) cloak that covers their entire body, revealing only the hands. The Saudi women are also required to wear a veil called the niqāb that covers their head and face. Foreign women in Saudi also must wear the abaya but they can keep their hair and face exposed.

Dress codes also exist for Saudi men and boys. The traditional dress for men, irrespective of social status or type of job, is a thobe which is a long, loose traditional dress. The men usually wear white thobes during the hot summers and dark colored woollen thobes in winter. On special occasions, the thobe is accompanied with a bisht that is a long cloak (usually black, brown or white) with gold trimmings. The Saudi men also adorn the traditional headgear which has three parts: a small white cap called the
tagia , a large square piece of cloth (white, red or white checked) called the gutra , and a doubled black cord called the igal that keeps the gutra in position. Leather sandals act as the traditional footwear. Western-style clothes are common among the young Saudis for casual style.

Sports and Entertainment

Soccer is Saudi Arabia’s national sport and the Saudi Arabia Football Federation governs the national soccer team of the country. The team has participated in about four FIFA World Cup games and 12 AFC Asian Cup games. The country also has a skilled national basketball team that won bronze at the 1999 Asian Championship. Volleyball, tennis, and others sports are also popular here. Among the traditional sports, camel and horse racing are hugely popular. Camel racing tracks are present throughout the country and the animals are raced for prize money. The King's Camel Race that is held annually attracts about 2,000 competitors and 30,000 spectators every year. Hunting with guns is not allowed in the Saudi culture but hunting using falcons and dogs is very popular. The Government of Saudi Arabia promotes sports to a great extent and has set up sports cities, centers and clubs in both the urban and rural areas of the nation with world-class facilities to encourage the citizens of the country to participate in sports.

Other forms of entertainment are largely a private matter in Saudi Arabia. The country has no public cinema halls. Cinema halls and theaters in the country were completely shut down in 1980 due to an increase in Islamist activism. Saudis usually watch films at their private residences using DVD’s, satellite, or video.

Camping and water sports are popular activities in the national park and coastal areas of Saudi Arabia, respectively.

By Oishimaya Sen Nag

•culled from

Wednesday 30 October 2019

Music In Costa Rica

Walter Ferguson
Music is an integral part of most Latin American cultures and Costa Rica is no exception. Many of Costa Rica's musical traditions date back to colonial times, when the Spanish brought European rhythms to the country's shores. Over time, Spanish beats harmonized with indigenous tempos to create folkloric music unique to Costa Rica.

Today, in addition to the nation's proprietary genres, Costa Ricans enjoy Latin, American and British contemporary rock. However, when it comes to dancing, most prefer the traditional Latin rhythms of salsa, merengue, cumbia, and bolero. On the weekends, discos and dance halls are packed, as the typically conservative locals let loose and flirt wildly while dancing the night away. From classical to reggaeton, music is everywhere – in the streets, homes, restaurants, bars, discos and theaters.


Walter Ferguson
Costa Rican folk music is defined as traditional rhythms created by everyday citizens, for the enjoyment of the masses. By definition, folk music is imitated and evolves over the years. In Costa Rica, the four powerhouses for folk music are Guanacaste, the Central Valley, Limon, and San Isidro del General; these styles are known respectively as musica guanacasteca, musica aldeana, musica limonense, and musica generalena. Popular folk music from other areas of the country is considered to copy these four principal styles.


The rhythms of Guanacaste are an integral part of the nation's musical heritage. Folkloric music from Guanacaste features Spanish, Nicaraguan, Cuban, Panamanian and Colombian influences. It employs use of the marimba, a type of large wooden xylophone, and encompasses many styles – puntos, tambitos, callejeras, and parranderas are among the most popular. Guanacaste's music is inseparably interwoven with the region's dances, which incorporate old-world flourishes and traditional costume; popular Guancastecan dances include the Punto Guanacasteco and Los Amores de Laco.


The Central Valley's folk music has no known composers, but these beautiful, Spanish-influenced melodies are known as "serenatas campesinas," or peasant serenades. Batambas are a common type of Central Valley folk music that feature guitarists and marimba players, and a harmonic and irresistible beat. The Central Valley's traditional songs can be easily identified, since each stanza continues for several counts longer than the music. Two popular examples of "musica aldeana" are "Despierta nina" (Wake up, child) and "No puede haber amor como el primero" (There can be no love like the first).


There are four basic branches of Caribbean folkloric music, which is rooted in the rhythms of Spain, the Central Valley, and the Caribbean islands. The first type features comparsas, or lively bands that play during parades and celebrations. The second form, known as sinkit, is a famed Costa Rican musical genre that has base drums, snare drums, and clarinets. The third branch of Limon's musical heritage is known as "son," and is rooted in the syncopated rhythms of Spain, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Panama and the Dominican Republic. Finally, "Afrotica," also known as Afro-Costa Rican or Afro-Limonese music, is the result of blending traditional Christian music with the so-called profane sounds of plebeian Costa Rica.


San Isidro del General is a small city located in south-central Costa Rica. Historically, this region was both physically and culturally separated from the rest of Costa Rica, allowing for the emergence of unique folkloric rhythms. Popular regional music includes Campera, a combination of peasant music and creole beats; Tambito, an upbeat guitar tune; Southern Son, which features a three-four meter with accents on the first and third beats; and Tonadas, which are romantic songs inspired by local legends, incorporating guitar, violin, accordion, and mandolin harmonies.


The National Symphony Orchestra (Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional) has received international acclaim under the direction of its current conductor, Chosei Komatsu. The Costa Rican Youth Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Choir – one of the first professional choirs in Central America – and the Costa Rican Chamber Opera are also important fonts of the nation's classical music. San Jose's National Theater hosts a variety of concerts, from classical guitar to solo pianists and grand symphony orchestras. Other venues of interest include the Teatro Mozart and the Costa Rican and North American Cultural Center.


Several jazz cafes and restaurants in and around the Escazu and San Jose area are excellent options to watch new musicians play acoustic and jazz sets. The nation's most famous jazz ensemble, Editus, has found international acclaim and won a Grammy award in 2000 for Best Latin Pop Presentation. To nurture the nation's burgeoning jazz scene, Costa Rica hosts the semi-annual International Jazz Festival, which celebrates some of the world's most talented musicians.


Calypso is a style of Afro-Caribbean music that originated in Trinidad among slaves who used the music as a means to communicate and tell stories. In Costa Rica, Cahuita's Walter Ferguson is a popular calypso musician whose songs include anecdotes about his childhood in poverty-stricken Panama, and are an excellent illustration of Afro-Caribbean culture.


Reggae, which first developed in Jamaica in the 1960s, is very popular in Costa Rica, especially along the Caribbean coast. Local artists include C-Sharp and Fuerza Dread, who perform at local bars like La Mochila, which hosts Costa Rica Reggae Nites every Friday. In 2011, Damian Marley honored Costa Rica as the only Central American country to make his tour list. Reggaeton blends urban beats with Jamaican dancehall and Latin rhythms to create Spanish-language songs popular among the nation's teenagers and dance club regulars. Reggaeton is also the music of choice for catchy ad campaigns and San Jose street music.


Costa Rica's dance clubs boogie to the beats of merengue, salsa, cumbia and other Latin American rhythms. Interestingly, while Costa Ricans dance salsa and merengue in the traditional styles, they exchange the popular Colombian-style cumbia dance steps for "swing criollo," or creole swing, which features a series of hops and bouncing steps to accompany cumbia's infectious beat.


Popular Costa Rican contemporary musicians include Ghandi, Cantares, Balerom, Evolucion, Akasha, El Parque, Gaviota, Percance, and Debi Nova. In August 2011, Malpais, one of Costa Rica's favorite bands, suffered the loss of Fidel Gamboa, a founding member and lead singer.

•Written by: Ryan Van Velzer

•Culled from

What Religions Are Practiced In Qatar?

Islam is the religion of the majority in Qatar.

Located in the Arabian Peninsula of Western Asia, Qatar encompasses an area of 11,581 square km and hosts an estimated population of about 2,641,669 individuals. Like all other states in the Arabian Peninsula, Islam is the dominant religion in Qatar. It is also the country’s official religion. Muslims account for 67.7% of the population of Qatar. 13.8% of the population adheres to Christianity while an equal percentage are Hindus also live in the nation. 3.1% of the population adhere to Buddhism. The remaining 1.6% of the population of Qatar are either unaffiliated or are followers of other religions.

The Most Popular Religion In Qatar

Most of the Muslims of Qatar belong to the Sunni sect while only about 10% of the Muslim population of the country are Shiites. Islam determines the way of life of Qatar’s citizens. The legislation of the country is based on the Sharia law. State-sponsored schools in the country make Islamic instruction compulsory for students. Several beautiful mosques are found throughout the country with the Mohammed Bin Abdul Wahab mosque serving as the state mosque of Qatar.

Christianity In Qatar

Christians in Qatar are primarily foreigners of European, South and North American descent. Christian expats from Asian and African countries also live here but in smaller numbers. The activity of Christian missionaries is not encouraged in Qatar. The government of Qatar donated ground to the Christian religious authorities to build churches in the country in 2008.

Other Religions Practiced In Qatar

Most of Qatar’s Hindus are immigrants from South Asia and Southeast Asia. Buddhists in the country are also mainly from Southeast Asian nations. Most of Qatar’s Hindus and Buddhists are migrant workers living in the country on a temporary basis. Several other religions also have a minor presence in Qatar.

Religious Freedom And Tolerance In Qatar

The Constitution of Qatar provides for the freedom of religion in the country. However, proselytizing by non-Muslims is a punishable offense. Apostasy by Muslims is also punishable by law. Although the ruling family and the government are strictly linked to Islam, non-Muslims are allowed to work in government posts. Islamic festivals are celebrated as national holidays in Qatar. Religious groups need to be registered with the government to be legally recognized. To be approved, each group must have at least 1,500 members. The publication and distribution of religious texts in Qatar are strictly monitored by the Government of the country.

Religious Beliefs in Qatar

Rank Religion Percentage of Population

1 Islam 67.7
2 Christianity 13.8
3 Hinduism 13.8
4 Buddhism 3.1
5 Unaffiliated 1.6

By Oishimaya Sen Nag

•culled from

The Culture Of Qatar

Although Qataris have a strong sense of family privacy, they always extend their hospitality to strangers.

The Western Asian country of Qatar is located in the small Qatar Peninsula that is part of the larger Arabian Peninsula. Qatar hosts a population of around 2,363,569 inhabitants. Interestingly, the ethnic Qataris are a minority in the country as they comprise only about 11.6% of the total population. Islam is the religion of the majority in Qatar with Muslims accounting for 67.7% of the population. Christians, Hindus, and Buddhists account for 13.8%, 13.8%, and 3.1% of the population, respectively. The number of residents of Qatar fluctuates considerably depending on the season. The Qataris depend heavily on foreign skilled and unskilled labor for work. Thus, the majority of the country’s population (about 88.4%) comprises of migrant workers from various countries around the world.

6. Qatari Cuisine

The cuisine of Qatar reflects traditional Arab, Iranian, and Levantine cuisines. It is also significantly influenced by Indian cuisine. Since the Sharia law is applicable in the country, pork is banned from Qatar. The consumption and sale of alcohol are heavily regulated. Dates and seafood are staples of the Qatari diet. The national dish is called Machbūs. It is a meal comprising of rice, vegetables, and meat. Other traditional Qatari dishes include kasba (a dish similar to biryani), balalet (spicy noodles usually with an omelet on top), ghuzi (roast lamb served with rice), etc. Arabic coffee and karak (tea with a mixture of spices) are popular beverages. Hummus (a dip prepared by grinding chickpeas and sesame), motabel (a dip made of eggplant, sesame paste, and garlic), and nichee (hummus without sesame paste) are dips used in Qatari cuisine. Some of the traditional desserts are om ali (a rice and bread pudding), Mehalabiya (pistachio and rose water pudding), and sago (sweet gelatin pudding flavored with spices).

5. Clothing in Qatar

Men in Qatar wear the traditional thawb which is a long white shirt accompanied with white loose pants. The ghutra is a loose headdress worn by the men that are kept in place by a black rope called agal. Traditional Qatari women wear long black robes called the abayah and a headdress called the hijab. A burqa is worn by some women to conceal the face.

4. Qatari Literature

Qatari written literature developed only recently with the modern literature movement beginning in the late 20th century. Poetry in the form of verbal literature was, however, popular since the pre-Islamic times. Age-old traditions, beliefs, and folk tales were passed on through the generations via poetry. The development of the oil industry in the 20th century led to prosperity in the country and an increased level of literacy. The new changes ushered in a literary revolution. Both female and male writers have contributed to Qatari literature since then. Kaltham Jaber, a leading female Qatari writer, is famous for publishing a collection of short stories. Dalal Khalifa and Shu'a' Khalifa are famous Qatari novelists. The maritime novel of Al Qursan by Abdulaziz Al-Mahmoud received global recognition.

3. Folk Music and Dance in Qatar -

Qatari folk music is closely associated with the sea. Many folk songs are based on the pearl hunting activity of the people. A popular folkloric dance form of Qatar is Ardah. Here, two rows of men with or without swords face each other and dance to the music of drums and spoken poetry. Songs sung by women are generally related to their daily activities. Women would also sing about the hardships of pearl hunting when the pearl ships returned to harbor.

2. Sports in Qatar -

Football (soccer) is the most popular sport played in Qatar. Other sports like basketball, volleyball, camel and horse racing, cricket, swimming, etc., are also played in the country. The traditional Qatari games include taq taq taqiyyah, al dahroi, and al sabbah which are played by men. Traditional games for women include al laqfah, nat al habl, etc. Falconry, hunting, and some board games are other traditional Qatari games.

1. Life in a Qatari Society -

Women enjoy a certain degree of freedom in Qatar. Women can drive, travel solo, receive education, and hold jobs, freedoms which are often not enjoyed by women in some neighboring Arabic nations. Qatari women enter the workforce and obtain jobs mainly in government offices, and in education, health, social affairs sectors. However, despite these freedoms, gender bias can be seen in many aspects of life in a Qatari society, such bias is more pronounced in rural areas. Men engage more in the public sphere than women.

Most marriages in Qatar are arranged. Usually, such marriages take place between families with similar backgrounds or status in society. Since the Islamic religion allows polygyny, it is legally sanctioned in Qatar. However, the number of polygynous marriages have significantly dropped in the country. The higher costs of maintaining multiple households and better recognition of women’s rights are held responsible for such a trend. Divorce rates have also gone up with both men and women seeking a divorce.

Although the traditional Qatari households are extended or joint, nuclear families are also found in the present day. Preferences are still, however, given to living near the husband’s family by staying in a single extended household or family compounds with separate houses.
Children are considered an important part of marriage and family life. Childless couples often resort to medical aid to have children. In extreme cases, men may resort to polygyny or divorce to seek children from a new wife. The mother and other females in the family are usually assigned the task of childcare. Today, many Qatari households employ foreign nannies to take care of their children.

Although Qataris have a strong sense of family privacy, they always extend their hospitality to strangers. Visitors are offered food and beverages and a place to rest. However, they usually have separate guest areas where they host visitors. Such areas are separate from the regularly used family areas. Interaction and exchange of greetings between members of the opposite sex are usually reserved. The elderly people are given great respect and politely greeted by the younger generation.

By Oishimaya Sen Nag

•culled from

Monday 28 October 2019

Religious Beliefs In Palestine

Islam is the religion of the majority in Palestine. Learn more about the religious demographics of Palestine here.

Palestine is a de jure sovereign state found in the
Middle East , which is recognized by 136 members of the UN and is an observer non-member of the UN. Palestine claims the Gaza strip and the West Bank and has declared Jerusalem as its capital while the city of Ramallah is the administrative center. As of 2016, the state of Palestine had a population of 4,816,503 ranking as the 123rd with the highest population in the world. Palestine is one of the most homogenous societies regarding religion in the whole of the Middle East, as 93% of the population is Muslim. Other religions include Christianity, Judaism, Samaritans, and Druze religions among others.

Islam In Palestine

The majority of the Palestine population is Muslim of the Sunni sect, and they account for 93% of the total population. Palestinian Muslims consider Jerusalem as an important part of their religion, with the Al-Aqsa mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem being regarded as the 3rd holiest site in the Muslim world. According to Islam, it is believed that Mohammed was taken from the sacred mosque in Mecca to the mosque of Al-Aqsa in the night journey. Accessing the site poses challenges to Palestinians because it involves several formalities, with casual visits being prohibited. Muslims in Palestine practice their religion with some dimensions to the popular religion. In the recent past radicalization has taken root with the interpretation of religion replacing the more tolerant and informal understating of society and religion.

Other Religions In Palestine

Christianity accounts for 6% of all Palestinians worldwide, but in Palestine, they account for 0.6% of the population. Palestinian Christians belong to the denominations such as the Oriental Orthodoxy, Eastern Orthodoxy, Lutheranism, Anglicanism, Catholicism, and other denominations of the Protestant faith.

Other religions in Palestine include Judaism and Druze or Samaritan religions. In territories which are considered Palestinian, there are Jews settlers who number about 400,000, who identify themselves as Palestinian Jews although they are considered Israeli citizens.

Religious Freedom In Palestine

There is no constitution for the state of Palestine, and the basic laws assume that Islam is the religion of the state and therefore secures the freedom of religion. The principles of sharia law are integrated into the legislature.

By Benjamin Elisha Sawe

•culled from

Is Palestine a Country?

Palestine is recognized as a country by 136 out of the 193 United Nations member states.

Palestine is not a country. It is recognized as a sovereign state by 136 UN members. The Declaration of Independence and the Proclamation of the State of Palestine took place on November 15, 1988 in Algiers, Algeria. Since then, the objective of the Palestine Liberation Organization has been to attain recognition of the Palestinian state from the international community.


The UN General Assembly passed a resolution in 1974, recognizing the right of the Palestinian people to attaining sovereignty. It also recognized the PLO as the sole representative of Palestinians and granted it the status of Observer in the United Nations. After the Proclamation of Independence, Palestine replaced PLO in the UN but Palestine has not yet attained formal status in the system.

Following the declaration, many countries, particularly developing states in Africa and Asia, recognized the state of Palestine amidst opposition from the US. The Arab League and Organization of the Islamic Conference officially recognized Palestine and it was accorded membership in both forums.

Since 1989, representatives of the PLO have been attempting to gain membership into several agencies connected to the UN. However, these efforts have been thwarted by threats from the US to withhold funding from any organization that admits Palestine.

Israel's Position

Between 1967 and the signing of the second Oslo Accord in 1995, no Israeli government proposed a Palestinian state. Most mainstream politicians in Israel opposed the idea even after the Palestinian National Authority was established in 1994. Ariel Sharon was the principal Israeli Prime Minister to declare that an independent Palestine was the solution to their conflict. This was the goal of his administration.

After the inauguration of the current government in 2009, Prime Minister Netanyahu reiterated that an independent Palestine posed a threat to Israel. Following criticism from the international community, Israel accepted the idea of a Palestinian state. However, they have refused to accept the 1967 borders, citing security concerns. Israel is also opposed to Palestine's plan of approaching the UN General Assembly claiming it is against the Oslo Accord.

Diplomatic Recognition

Of the 193 member states in the United Nations, 136 states had recognized the state of Palestine by September 2015. This is a 70.5% representation. These countries include Turkey, Serbia, Russia, China, and Sweden. The Holy See, which has the same status of a non-member observer as Palestine in the UN, maintains diplomatic ties with Palestine.

Entities Who Do Not Recognize Palestine

Most member states of the UN who have not recognized Palestine as a state are not entirely opposed to its independence. Entities such as Australia, Bahamas, and Japan support a two-state solution but insist on an agreement between the two parties. Some member states of the European Union such as Belgium and Denmark prefer to wait for the Union's formal decision. Entities including the United States, Colombia, Eritrea, and Finland are open about not supporting a Palestinian state.

Multilateral Treaties

The state of Palestine is a party to numerous multilateral treaties registered with six depositories. The six depositories are the United Kingdom, UNESCO, UN, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Russia. After the accession of the UNESCO conventions in 2011 and 2012, Palestine became a member of UNESCO. The other conventions were ratified in 2014 when negotiations with Israel hit a stalemate.

Countries Who Maintain Diplomatic Relations With Palestine

Countries That Recognize Palestine

Antigua and Barbuda
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Burkina Faso
Cape Verde
Central African Republic
Costa Rica
Cote d'Ivoire
Czech Republic
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Dominican Republic
East Timor
El Salvador
Equatorial Guiena
Holy See
North Korea
Papua New Guinea
Republic of the Congo
Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Sao Tome and Principe
Saudi Arabia
Sierra Leone
South Africa
South Sudan
Sri Lanka
United Arab Emirates

By Kimutai Gilbert

•Culled from

Sunday 27 October 2019

Religious Beliefs In Oman

Islam is the religion of the majority in Oman.

Located on the Arabian Peninsula’s southeastern coast, Oman occupies an area of 309,500 square km and hosts a population of 4,424,762 people.
Islam is the dominant religion of Oman and virtually all citizens of Oman are Muslims. People of other religions are mainly foreign nationals who have migrated to Oman for work. Muslims account for 85.9% of the population of the country.

Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, and others account for 6.5%, 5.5%, 0.8%, less than 0.1%, and 1% of the population of Oman, respectively. 2% of the population is not affiliated with any particular religion.

Islam In Oman

Nearly three-quarters of Oman’s Muslims adhere to the Ibadi School of Islam. Sunnis and Shia Muslims account for a significant part of the population of Oman. The Shia community is mainly found along the coasts of Al Batinah and Muscat. The adherence to Ibadism is one of the main reasons for the country’s historical isolation in a Sunni-dominated Arab world. Islam has been practiced in the country since ages and was one of the first places in the world to have a significant presence of the religion. Ibadism practiced in the country heavily influences the culture of the nation.

Ibadism demands strict adherence to the Sharia law, both in private and public. These laws are strictly implemented in Oman. Singing and dancing are frowned upon and discouraged. Oman’s mosques are also simple and clean and lack minarets and ornate decorations that characterize many mosques in other parts of Arabia.

Other Religions In Oman

Christianity is the largest minority religion in Oman. Most of the Christians living in the country are migrant workers who have arrived from South Asia or Southeast Asia. Oman’s Christians are affiliated with the various Christian denominations like Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Protestantism. They are mainly found in and around the major urban areas like the capital city of Muscat. The Hindus of Oman are primarily immigrants from India. There are two Hindu temples in the country.

Status Of Freedom Of Religion In Oman

Although Islam is the official religion of Oman and the Sharia is the source of legislation, the country generally allows others to practice their religions without interference from the state. Discrimination on the basis of religion is not practiced by the state. The Omani society is mostly tolerant of the religion of others but social hierarchies do exist. Religious gatherings in private are discouraged by the government. Also, publications by non-Islamic religious institutions are required to take ministerial approval prior to printing. The religious organizations in the country must also be registered with the government.

By Oishimaya Sen Nag

•culled from

The Culture Of Oman

The society of Oman is largely tribal with each tribe having its own culture and customs.

The Western Asian nation of Oman is located in the Arabian Peninsula’s southeastern coast. The culture of the country is steeped in its official religion, Islam. About 4 million people inhabit Oman. The figure includes around 2.23 million Omani citizens. The rest are expatriates from various countries who have migrated to Oman for work. Oman has developed its own subsect of Islam called Ibadhism. However, Sunni and Shia Muslims also reside in the country. About 85.9% of the population of Oman is represented by Muslims. Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, and adherents of other religions comprise the rest of the population. The society of Oman is largely tribal with each tribe having its own culture and customs.

5. Clothing In Oman

The thawb or dishdasha is usually worn by Omani men. It is an ankle-length full-sleeved collarless robe that is generally white in color. Traditional accessories for men include the khanjar (a ceremonial curved dagger), muzzar (a headdress), and the assa (a ceremonial cane). Omani women wear vibrant colored embroidered dresses over trousers called sirwal. They also adorn the lihaf, a headdress. In public, traditional women wear the abaya (a loose-fitting black cloak) and the hijab (a Muslim hair covering).

4. Cuisine In Oman

Omani cuisine is influenced by various global cuisines including Arabic, Persian, Indian, African, etc. Rice is the staple of the cuisine. Fish, lamb, and chicken are other important parts of the diet. Omani dishes are usually rich in herbs, spices, and marinades. Everyday meals feature curry, cooked fish, chicken or meat, rice, and vegetables. Some of the traditional Omani dishes include harees (wheat mixed with chicken or meat and cooked to form a paste), kebabs, machboos (rice cooked in meat or chicken broth with added saffron), Shuwaa (a festive-occasion meal of roasted meat or chicken marinated with a spicy date paste), etc. Kahwa is a popular Omani beverage. It is coffee served with cardamom powder. Tea and yogurt drinks are also popular.

3. Omani Music and Dance

The coastal location of Oman strongly influences its music scene. The interaction between Omani sailors and foreign musicians has helped enrich the music of the country. The traditional Omani music puts a strong emphasis on rhythm. Every stage of the life of an Omani like birth, marriage, and death, is accompanied by traditional music. Dancing is also common during celebrations. A large section of the educated Omanis also enjoys Western dance and music.

2. Literature and Arts in Oman

Past literature of Oman focussed on history and religion. Oral literature, mainly in the form of poetry, plays an important role in the Omani culture. In more recent times, a number of Omani authors have published works of fiction.
Oman has a rich tradition of handicrafts. Silver and gold jewelry, carved swords and daggers, baskets, rugs, pottery water jugs, etc., are some of the famous items produced by artisans in Oman. Since Islam prohibits representation of the human form in paintings, Omani artists usually abide by such rules.

1. Life in the Omani Society

The gender roles in Oman vary with the geography of the nation. Women are more active in economic activities in the desert interiors of the country. There, they also occupy important positions in politics and society. Women are more associated with household duties and childcare in the agricultural oases settlements. In the cities and towns, many women work outside the homes in the education, social service, and other sectors. Omani women are respected and have significant authority in the household. Both men and women take family decisions. Efforts are also made to include more women in the government.

Marriages in Oman are usually arranged, preferably between cousins. Marriages are more of a union between two families. The primary aim is to produce children to continue the future generations. Polygamous marriages are not uncommon. Islam permits up to four wives for a man at any given point of time. Polygamous marriages are more common among rich men as they can afford multiple households. In recent times, men have, however, tended to divorce their former wives and then remarry, leaving many women destitute and at the mercy of the government for financial help.

Domestic units usually comprise of a single extended household or multiple houses within a large compound hosting related families. The residence is patrilocal, that is, wives live with the husband’s family. Elderly men and women in the family have the greatest authority and their decisions are often deemed final in household matters. Inheritance in Oman is based entirely on the Islamic law or Shariah.

Children are taken care of by the mother and other female members of the family. They are expected to be respectful towards the elders and take up adult responsibilities at an early age. Although both girls and boys attend school, dropouts at an early age are common, especially in rural areas. Early marriages and the need to supplement the family income are the most common reasons for such dropouts.

Omanis greet each other with great politeness. The elderly people are offered help by the younger generation. Interactions between non-related members of the opposite sex are usually reserved. Interactions with friends and relatives of the same sex, however, is full of warmth.

By Oishimaya Sen Nag

•culled from

Saturday 26 October 2019

Religious Beliefs In Lebanon

Islam is the most popular religion in Lebanon.

The Western Asian country of Lebanon occupies an area of 10,452 square km and hosts a population of 6,006,668 people. The country’s strategic location on the Mediterranean Sea coast has influenced its religious demographics and culture since the ancient times. Islam is the dominant religion in Lebanon. 54% of the population is represented by followers of Islam. Christianity is the second largest religion, accounting for about 40.5% of the total population of Lebanon. The remaining population adheres to the Druze religion or other religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, the Baha’i faith, etc.

The Largest Religion In Lebanon

Both Sunni and Shia Islam is practiced in Lebanon. The Sunnites and Shiites represent nearly an equal proportion of the Muslim population of the country. Twelvers, Ismailis, and Alawites are the Shia groups with a significant number of adherents in the country. Sufism also has an influence on the Islam practiced in the nation. Lebanese Sunnites are primarily found in the larger cities of the country like Tripoli and the capital city of Beirut. They also live in some rural areas and the western section of the Beqaa Valley. Shiites are found in larger concentrations in Southern Lebanon and south Beirut. They are also found in large numbers in the Hermel and Baalbek districts of the country.

The Druze Religion Of Lebanon

The Druze is the religion of a small percentage of the Lebanese people. The adherents of this faith trace their origins to the Near East. They are described as an esoteric ethnoreligious group who identify themselves as Muwahhideen or Unitarians. Lebanon’s Druze community primarily resides in the mountainous regions near Beirut.

Christianity In Lebanon

Lebanese Christians belong to different Christian groups like Protestants, Orthodox, Melkites, and Maronites. The religion has a long history in the country. Lebanon is also the Middle-East country with the highest proportion of Christians in the population.

Religious Freedom And Tolerance In Lebanon

Lebanon is the most religiously diverse country in the Middle East region. It is a secular state where freedom of religion is provided to the citizens of the country. Thus, the people have the right to select and practice a religion of their choice. In the Lebanese society, the religious authorities representing an individual's faith, often handle family matters like marriages and divorces.

Breakdown of Religious Beliefs In Lebanon

Rank Religion Population Percentage (%)

1 Islam 54
2 Christianity 40.5
3 Druze 5.5

By Oishimaya Sen Nag

•culled from

Biggest Cities In Lebanon

One of the oldest cities in the world, Beirut is the capital and most populous city of Lebanon, and an important economic hub.

Lebanon’s cities have been in existence for many centuries and have been home to ancient civilizations, whose evidence are in the architectural remains, pottery, and recorded materials. The cities have been influenced by the various people who settled within there in different periods. Religiously, the cities have been mentioned in the Scriptures of different religious groups. While these ancient cities have adjusted to cater for modern growth, parts of the traditional cultural heritage have been retained in museums and within the cities. This heritage is an important tourist, research, and archaeological attraction.

The Four Biggest Cities In Lebanon


Beirut is Lebanon’s capital, the largest and the most populous with a population of 1,916,100 people. The ancient city is the most important commercial port in Lebanon with commercial trading points, banks, and local and foreign businesses. Its rich cultural heritage has developed over centuries of interaction with different people from various countries and societies. The town attracts a huge number of tourists to the museums such as the National Museum of Beirut, the Sursock Museum, and the Archaeological Museum of the American University of Beirut. Beirut has hosted many sporting activities such as the Pan Arab Games in its stadiums; Camille Chamoun Sports City Stadium and the Beirut Municipal Stadium.


Tripoli is the second largest and second most populous city located in the northern region of Lebanon. Tripoli has a population of 229,398 people. Like Beirut, Tripoli is an ancient city with a great archaeological importance due to its rich architectural heritage that has developed throughout the centuries of its existence. Tripoli served as an important financial center and a port during the early centuries of its establishment and has remained a major port in Lebanon. The city has important tourist attractions such as the clock tower and the Palm Islands Nature Reserves. Tripoli is an important religious center with mosques and churches, educational center, and transport and communication center.


Sidon is the third most populous city in Lebanon with a population of 163,554. The city existed from the prehistoric times through the modern times carrying with it evidence of the cultures of its inhabitants through their diverse architecture, pottery, and sculptures. Sidon has important trading facilities, health centers, schools, churches, mosques, and entertainment centers. The city is mainly based on agricultural activities such as wheat farming. Pollution is a major issue in the city due to dangerous dumping sites with materials that are damaging to the sea affecting the quality of fish, besides endangering the lives of the residents.


Tyre existed in the ancient times as a Phoenician city and is currently one of the largest cities in Lebanon with a population of 135,204. After its founding in about 2750 BCE, tyre grew to become a prosperous trading center. The island city was a victim of sieges by various rulers throughout the centuries. Tyre was renowned for the production of purple dye that was used exclusively by the royalty. The city eventually fell with the demise of the Roman Empire. Today the city has been designated as a UNESCO world Heritage Site due to itsr significant role in history and antique architecture. Some of the oldest buildings in Tyre face the risk of destruction through wars and modern development.

Cities Of Lebanon Today

Most of the major cities of Lebanon are located along the coast and serve as primary port centers in the country and trading points for merchants from different continents. Among large cities are Nebatiye et Tahta, Habbouch, Djounie, Zahle, Baalbek and En Naqoura.

The Biggest Cities In Lebanon

Rank Name Of City Population

1 Beirut 1,916,100
2 Tripoli 229,398
3 Sidon 163,554
4 Tyre 135,204
5 Nabatîyé et Tahta 120,000
6 Habboûch 98,433
7 Djounie 96,315
8 Zahle 78,145
9 Baalbek 30,916
10 En Nâqoûra 24,910

By Benjamin Elisha Sawe

•culled from

The Culture Of Lebanon

Lebanon is a Middle Eastern nation with a rich and unique culture.

Formally known as the Lebanese Republic, Lebanon is a country in Western Asia . The culture and customs of the country have evolved and grown over thousands of years. Several communities and people such as the Phoenicians, the Greek, the French, and others have influenced the culture. In modern times, this diversity is observed in several things such as the population. The population has several religions and practices including festivals, cuisine, architecture, music styles, and other things.

However, within the diversity, there are uniformities in things like language, which is clearly stated in the law. The official language is Arabic although there are provisions for using French. Aside from the two, the country has a hybrid language known as Lebanese. Here are some important factors related to Lebanese culture.

5. Religions Practiced

Lebanon has at least 18 known religious groups . The two main religions, as is the case for most countries in the world, are Islam (54% of the population) and Christianity with a share of about 40.4% of the population. In this regard, Lebanon shows similar characteristics with other Middle Eastern countries where the dominant population practices Islam as well as having a sizeable Christian following. Islam is divided into two main groups namely Sunni and Shia while Christianity has smaller divisions including the Maronite Church, the Protestant Church, the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, and others.

Interestingly, the latest data shows that Shia and Sunni Muslims have the same number with each group contributing half of the 54%. Among Christians, the largest sect is the Maronite Church with a share of about 21% of the total Christian population. The Lebanese community also has a minor Jewish group, which has a following of fewer than 100 people. Religion is so important to the country such that the President, the Prime minister, and the Speaker of the Parliament have to be Maronite, Sunnite, and Shiite respectively.

4. Festivals

As the country has a significant following of both Muslims and Christians, it is not a surprise that it observes both Muslim and Christian holidays and festivals. Muslim holidays are determined by the Islamic lunar calendar while both the Gregorian and the Julian Calendars determine Christian ones. Some of the Muslim holidays include the popular Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. These two are possibly the biggest festivals since the former ends the holy month of Ramadan while the latter is simply one of sacrifice. Other Muslim celebrations include the Birth of their Prophet Muhammad, Ashura, and a celebration to remember the willingness by Abraham to sacrifice his only son to God. On the other hand, Christians celebrate popular holidays such as Christmas on December 25 and Easter. The Armenian Orthodox Christians have their Christmas as per the Julian calendar, which is on January 6.

The country has several national holidays such as the Worker’s day, Martyrs Day, and Independence Day. In addition, there are a number of music festivals including the famous Baalbeck International Festival, Beiteddine International Festival, Dhour Chwer Festival, and others.

3. Cuisine

Unsurprisingly, the food is similar to other countries in the Middle East such as Syria and Cyprus . Some of the main national dishes include kibbe and the tabbouleh. The former is simply a meat pie prepared out of burghul and minced lamb while the latter is a salad prepared out of tomatoes, burghul, and parsley. Arak is the national beverage and is prepared by fermenting grape juice. The drink is usually served with ice and water as well as food. Arak has similarities to raki of Turkey and ouzo from Greece. In recent times, other drinks such as wine and beer are gaining popularity among the population as the diversity increases. The hotel sector serves several other delicacies including things like a selection of mezze and grilled meat as well as fish. Fruit, Arabic coffee, and traditional sweets usually accompany these meals.

People who are not well off usually eat a thick stew of rice, lentils, and onions known as M'Juhdara. Mostly, people living in the Lebanese diaspora in places like Lent eat this stew. Other people’s daily life is dominated by foods such as pita bread, rice, pasta, red meat, and other foods. Fruit is also a popular component of a diet.

2. Music And Dance

Both traditional and modern styles of music are popular in the country. While traditional styles are still around, modern forms of music such as pop and fusion have also gained popularity. Accordingly, radio stations air both kinds of music. Popular local musicians include the likes of Fairuz, Najwa Karam, and others. Some of the artists who have been mixing traditional and modern styles include Marcel Khalife while modern artists include the likes of Haifa Wehbe and Fadl Shaker. The World Intellectual Property Organization reports that the music industry in the country could potentially grow to be the leading one in the Middle East.

1. Literature

Some popular Lebanese writers include the likes of Khalil Gibran who lived between 1883 and 1931. Khalil is famous for one of his poetry books, The Prophet, which he wrote in 1923 and includes 26 poems. Today, the book has more than 40 different translations. Other writers include Elias Khoury, Georges Schehadé, Amin Maalouf, and Hanan al-Shaykh.

By Ferdinand Bada

•culled from

Friday 25 October 2019

What is the most popular music in Canada?

Music plays an important role in our lives. It raises our mood, makes us excited, relaxed, and calm. It also provides us with a way to express our feelings and emotions. Many of us consider it an approach of getting away from grief, worries, and pain. That being said, it is something more than entertainment. In addition, Canadian people love listening to music. This is the reason Canada has the world’s sixth largest music industry. The history of music in Canada is very diverse. Native people, British, Irish, as well as the French, have significantly contributed to the Canadian music traditions and legacy. In this article, we will talk about the most popular music in Canada.

The development of music infrastructures such as chamber halls, church halls, academics, conservatories, record companies, performing arts institutes, television music channels, and radio stations have produced pioneering music, songs, and melodies that are loved by people all over the world. Canadian music artists are very talented who have contributed prodigiously to create popular music genres and subgenres. For instance, rock music, which include punk rock, hard rock, folk rock, country rock, progressive rock, pop rock, and alternative rock.

Although the United States is considered a musical hub in the world, it is worth mentioning that Canadian artists are not behind in this race. “Old Guard” Canadian musicians like Neil Young and Celine Dion have passed the musical torch to superstars of the new generation such as Justin Bieber and Drake. Likewise, radio and albums, which are some of the classic musical mediums have revolutionized into new technologies such as digital music and streaming or downloads. Despite the medium and artists, music remains a significant part of the culture in Canada.

Basing on a recent stats of music releases in the country, we can say that the most popular music genre in Canada is Alternative rock. It is a clear winner among all the music genres in Canada. A nationwide survey concluded that 21.6% of people love listening to Alternative rock music. Singer-Songwriter or Folk music is listened by 21.0% Canadians. Similarly, pop music (8.0%), Rock (13.8%), Rap (4.1%), Country (6.4%), Blues (2.8%), Adult contemporary (3.8%), World (1.8%), and other music or songs (4.2%). Among the most popular artists and bands are Avril Lavigne, Nickelback, Alanis Morissette, Arcade Fire, and Bryan Adams. Moreover, Canadians admire playing music on Keyboard, recorder, piano, and electric guitar.

•culled from

Thursday 24 October 2019

Religious Beliefs in Kuwait

Islam is the dominant religion in Kuwait.

Kuwait is a country in Western Asia with a population of about 4.2 million people. This population includes about 1.3 million Kuwaitis and 2.9 million expatriates. Thus, Kuwait is one of the few countries in the world in which expats make up the majority of the population.

A vast majority of Kuwait’s population practice Islam, which is the country's official religion. According to the CIA World Factbook, Muslims account for 76.7% of Kuwait’s total population. Most of Kuwait’s Muslims adhere to Sunni Islam, although there is also a small but significant Shia Muslim community. Christians in Kuwait represent 17.3% of the population, while the remainder of the population, especially expats from foreign countries, follow other religions or do not claim affiliation with any particular religion. The followers of these other religions include Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Bahá'ís.

However, these percentages have been calculated on the basis of the total population, where about 69% of the population is represented by immigrants to Kuwait. Thus, the figures might vary considerably if only Kuwaiti citizens are considered to comprise the population of the country.

The Largest Religion in Kuwait

It is estimated that between 85% and 95% of Kuwaiti citizens are Sunni Muslims, while between 5% and 15% are Shias. Other Islamic sects also have small populations in Kuwait. Among non-citizens of Kuwait, there are about 100,000 Shias. However, no estimate of the number of Sunnis among non-citizens exists.

Christianity in Kuwait

Christianity is the largest minority religion in Kuwait. The country is one of only two countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that have non-Muslim citizens. However, most of the country’s Christians are non-Kuwaiti immigrants, and there were only 259 Christian citizens in Kuwait in 2014. This group can be divided into two sub-groups based on their origin. The first group, which makes up about one-quarter of Kuwait’s Christian population, arrived in Kuwait from Turkey and Iraq, and are now well-integrated in Arabic society, speak Arabic, and adhere to the local culture and cuisine. The remaining Christian Kuwaitis arrived more recently from Palestine during the 1950s and 1960s. A few Christian Kuwaitis also trace their origins to Lebanon and Syria.

Religious Freedom and Tolerance in Kuwait

Kuwait’s constitution is considered to be the most liberal of all GCC member states. However, attempts to strictly Islamize the state have been made several times before. The Kuwaiti society is generally considered to be diverse and liberal, and it is this liberal nature that allows a large population of expats from different religious backgrounds to work and live in Kuwait.

By Oishimaya Sen Nag

•culled from

Biggest Cities In Kuwait

Founded in 1946 with the discovery of oil nearby, Al Ahmadi is the most populous settlement in Kuwait, and houses many oil refineries.


Kuwait is located at the northernmost tip of the Persian Gulf and shares borders with Saudi Arabia and Iraq. It encompasses a total area of 6,880 square miles and is home to 4.2 million people. Of these individuals, 70% are from foreign countries. The ethnic makeup of this country is 60% Arab, 37.8% Asian, and 1.9% African. The majority of Kuwaitis live in urban areas. This article takes a look at the most populated cities in Kuwait.

Biggest Urban Areas In Kuwait

Al Ahmadi

Al Ahmadi is the most populated city in Kuwait with a population size of 637,411. It is located along Kuwait's eastern coastline and serves as the capital of the Al Ahmadi Province. This city is relatively young, founded in 1946 after the discovery of oil. The first immigrants to live here was British and Indian. City planners based its design on American urban areas.
Headquarters for the Kuwait Oil Company and the Kuwait National Petroleum Company are located here. The biggest industry here is oil refinery. The city is known for being the greenest city in Kuwait.


Hawalli is the second most populated urban area in Kuwait. It is one of the several areas that make up the Hawalli Governorate and has a population size of 164,212. During and after the Gulf War, many of the city’s Palestinian residents left. Today, it is home to a large Arab population.
This city is home to two international schools, the American School of Kuwait and the New Pakistan International School. Additionally, the Qadsia football stadium is located here, which is the most important in Kuwait. Hawalli is a large commercial center with a large mall and several types of stores.

Al Farwaniyah

The third most populated area in Kuwait is Al Farwaniyah, with a population of 86,525. It is located in the Farwaniyah Governorate, the most populous in the country, and about 6.5 miles from Kuwait City, the nation’s capital.
Al Farwaniyah is one of the major residential areas of Kuwait and houses the largest number of foreign immigrants. Men far outnumber women here, which is true of the entire country.
Other large cities located in Kuwait include Al Fahahil (68,290), Kuwait City (60,064), Ar Riqqah (52,068), Al Manqaf (39,025), Al Jahra (24,281), Al Fintas (23,071), and Janub as Surrah (18,496).

Environmental Threats

The biggest environmental threats in Kuwait are rooted in its principal industries:oil exploitation and refinery. These industries have contributed significantly to water, air, and soil pollution. In January of 1991, Iraq set fire to the oil fields located here. These fires burned until April with the last fire being extinguished in November of the same year. The smoke from the fires reached between 10,000 and 20,000 feet into the atmosphere. Additionally, the smoke blocked between 75% and 80% of the sun’s rays, leaving the country draped in darkness and lowering temperatures between 4° and 6° celsius.
The oil wells also leaked between 300,000 and 400,000 barrels a day for approximately 10 months. Estimates suggest that the leaks contaminated 40 million tons of sand and soil. This combined with the soot from the fires created a hard layer of a substance, like a mix of tar and concrete, that has covered 5% of Kuwait’s property.

This pollution has resulted in damage to agricultural production and biodiversity of the country. The oil production has also led to climate change with an overall increase in temperature 1.6° celsius by 2035, increasing instances of drought and dust storms, and a rise in sea level in coastal areas.

Which Are The Urban Areas In Kuwait?

Rank City Population

1 Al Ahmadi 637,411
2 Ḩawallī 164,212
3 Al Farwānīyah 86,525
4 Al Faḩāḩīl 68,290
5 Kuwait City 60,064
6 Ar Riqqah 52,068
7 Al Manqaf 39,025
8 Al Jahra 24,281
9 Al Finţās 23,071
10 Janūb as Surrah 18,496

By Amber Pariona

•culled from

The Culture Of Kuwait

Kuwait has a thriving art scene and features more than 30 art galleries.

Kuwait is a country located in Western Asia, on the northeast part of the Arabian Peninsula. Officially, the State of Kuwait has a population of approximately 4.2 million inhabitants, of which only 1.3 million are Kuwaitis, while the remainder are migrant workers from other countries. Ethnic Kuwaitis and other Arab populations account for 30.4% and 27.4% of Kuwait’s population, respectively. Various Asian populations represent a combined 40.3%, and the country also has small populations from Africa, the Americas, and Australia. Islam is the official and predominant religion in Kuwait, as it is practiced by 74.6% of the population. Christianity is the second most common religion, and is practiced by 18.2% of the population.

Kuwaiti Cuisine

Kuwaiti cuisine has been influenced by Arabian, Mediterranean, Persian, and Indian cuisines. Seafood, especially fish, rice, and bread are the staples of Kuwaiti cuisine. For example, the traditional Kuwaiti flatbread, called khubz, is baked in a special oven and topped with sesame seeds and usually served with fish sauce. Other popular dishes of Kuwaiti cuisine include biryani (seasoned rice cooked with lamb or chicken), maglooba (rice cooked with potatoes, eggplant, and meat), harees (wheat and meat cooked together, mashed, and topped with cinnamon sugar), machboos (a dish of fish, mutton or chicken, served with rice cooked in the same spiced broth), and gabout (steamed flour dumplings stuffed with cooked meat or vegetables and served with meat stew). Arabic coffee, karak tea, dried lime tea, and sharbat are examples of some of the popular beverages in Kuwait.

Literature and the Arts

Written literature in Kuwait developed relatively recently. Historically, oral literary traditions prevailed, as folk tales and legends were passed down orally from one generation to the next. However, during the 20th century, several eminent writers emerged in Kuwait, writing novels, poetry, and history. For example, Ismail Fahd Ismail, Taleb al-Refai, and Laila al-Othman are some of the noted contemporary Kuwaiti writers.

Calligraphy has a long history in Kuwait. In fact, Arabic calligraphy is one of the acceptable forms of artistic expression in Kuwait, and is regarded as sacred in Islam.

Kuwait has a thriving art scene and houses over 30 art galleries. Mojeb al-Dousari, a Kuwaiti artist, is regarded as the founder of portrait art in the Gulf region. Art festivals like the Al Qurain Cultural Festival are held in the country to encourage Kuwaiti artists.

Perforing Arts in Kuwait

Kuwait is the birthplace of many musical genres that are currently popular in the Middle East. The country’s music has influenced the music culture of many of the neighboring nations. The maritime influence has also shaped the music of the nation. For example, Fijiri (vocal music sung by the pearl divers) and swat (a form of urban music played using a drum, a plucked lute, and in later years, also a violin) are are some music genres that originated in Kuwait. Various music festivals are held in the country, and musical education is provided by many academic institutions in Kuwait. Today, contemporary Kuwaiti music is popular throughout the Arab world.

Kuwait is the only country in the Persian Gulf with a domestic tradition of theater. The country’s cultural life is portrayed by its theater, and Abdulhussain Abdulredha is one of the prominent actors of Kuwaiti theater. The Higher Institute of Theatrical Arts in Kuwait provides higher degrees in theatrical arts, and the country has become the center of the television, comedy and drama scene within the Persian Gulf. In fact, Kuwait has has been nicknamed the "Hollywood of the Gulf." Soap operas originating from Kuwait have high viewership across the Persian Gulf region.

Sport in Kuwait

Football (soccer) is the most popular game in Kuwait. There are many football clubs throughout the country, including both men’s and women’s national football teams. Another popular sport is basketball, and Kuwait's national basketball teams have participated in several international competitions. Handball, hockey, and cricket are other examples of the sports played in Kuwait.

Life in Kuwaiti Society

Laws and customs in Kuwait define and enforce a division of labor by gender. However, women in Kuwait participated in the workforce more than any other other country in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Females are often employed in academic, social service or clerical positions, while business leaders, managers, and top-level administrators are male. Nevertheless, the rights and freedoms of women in Kuwait are improving. Women gained the right to vote in 2005, and younger Kuwaiti women are more educated and more prominent in the country's commercial and social circles than the previous generations.

Marriages are mostly arranged and women usually need their father’s permission to marry. Women cannot marry non-Muslim men, while men are allowed this freedom. The prevailing religious laws also allow men to have up to four wives at one time.

Families are usually extended and residence is patrilocal in nature (living with the husband’s family). Inheritance is based on Islamic law, which allows both genders to inherit the property of their parents.

Mothers and other female members of the household are assigned the task of childcare. Education is free for children between ages six and fourteen, but schools are usually segregated by gender.

Honor, respect, and reputation are considered to be basic foundations of Kuwaiti. Interactions between members of the opposite sex are highly restricted, and public displays of affection are frowned upon. However, members of the same sex can interact. Men often shake hands with each other upon greeting and before departure.

By Oishimaya Sen Nag

•culled from

12 Important And Health Benefits of Alligator Pepper

The seeds of the Alligator pepper are similar to the grains of paradise however Alligator pepper seeds are usually sold enclosed with the pods while the grains of paradise are sold as single
seeds. Alligator pepper is also known as hepper pepper, mbongo spice, Afrika kakulesi, melegueta pepper, ginny papper, Guinea pepper or Atare. The tree grows about 1 meter tall with narrow lanceolate leaves that have similar appearance with the bamboo leaves. The leaves are located at the base of the shoots on short peduncles with labellum and bracts that enclose the developing flowers. The fruit is distinguished by its ovoid shape with reddish colour when fresh however, the colour changes to brown when dry.

The skin of the fruit has close similarity with the back of an alligator and this suggests the origin of its name. The fruit contains many small brownish seeds with sharp peppery, bitter, pungent and aromatic flavour. The fruit encloses the seeds, which are sealed with inner thin papery whitish skin. It’s strong pungent, peppery taste is as a result of its aromatic ketones and high tannin content. Alligator pepper is a highly valuable spice as a result of its high medicinal and nutritive values, for example, the phytochemicals derived from its seeds are being used since time immemorial for treating several diseases. Apart from medicinal purposes, alligator pepper is usually snacked upon and used for culinary purposes.

Benefits of Alligator Pepper

1. Consumption Purposes

Alligator pepper is a popular spice that is normally snacked upon especially by elders and sometimes youths. In traditional meetings and events such as baby naming ceremonies, traditional marriages, burial ceremonies, town meetings etc, the alligator pepper is usually served together with kola nuts and peanut butter (ósè ọ́jị́) as part of the customary rites.
Both the seeds and leaves can also be used for garnishing salads and for preparing assorted dishes such as pepper soup , stews, chicken and lamb dishes etc. It’s hot peppery and pungent flavour augments dishes and makes them spicy. While cooking, alligator pepper can be substituted with black pepper, grains of paradise, piper guineense or black cardamom. The seeds are usually ground before adding to dishes as they tend to be a little bit hard. Furthermore, the beer industry normally uses the alligator pepper for strengthening and flavouring alcoholic beverages such as gin, beer, wine and ale.

2. Anti-oxidizing Properties Alligator pepper
seeds are an excellent source of phytonutrients such as terpenoids, alkaloids, flavonoids, tannins, cardiac glycosides, saponin and phenolic compound. They scavenge for free radicals and offer protections against viruses, allergens, microbes, platelet aggregation, tumors, ulcers and hepatotoxins (chemical liver damage) in the body. This suggests why it is commonly used in folk medicine for preventing and tackling intestinal problems.

3. Treatment of Gastrointestinal Disorders The seeds extracts of the alligator pepper can be used for treating gastrointestinal disorders such as stomach pain, diarrhea, ulcer and intestinal worms.

4. Wound Healing The seeds can be crushed and used for preparing concoctions for treating and healing wounds. Alligator pepper contains a high amount of tannin that is distinguished by its stringent property and as such it is very effective for healing wounds, treating burns and soothing inflamed mucous membrane.

5. Antimicrobial Properties The seed extract has antimicrobial properties due to its constituents of phenolic compounds that are normally used as disinfectants. Studies reveal that Aframomum melegueta extract is broad spectrum and as such has inhibitory effect on the growth of bacteria such as Salmonella typhi, Staphylococcus aureus and Klebsiella pneumonia etc.

6. Aphrodisiac Properties Studies reveal that the alligator pepper is aphrodisiac in nature thus can be used for stimulating sexual desires.

7. Anti-inflammatory Properties The seed has anti-inflammatory properties due to its constituent of gingerol that inhibits the leukotriene and prostaglandins synthesis. It offers protection against inflammation of the body.

8. Analgesic Properties The aqueous extract of the plant is analgesic in nature and as such can be used for relieving and alleviating pains such as joint pain, toothache, stomach pain, arthritic pain and rheumatoid pain.

9. Dermatological Care Alligator pepper can be used for preparing herbal remedy for treating infectious skin diseases such as measles, chickenpox and smallpox.

10. Stimulating Properties Due to its stimulating properties and peppery pungent taste, the alligator pepper is normally chewed as a stimulant to keep the body alert.

11. Malaria Treatment The leaves are used for preparing herbal medicines for preventing and treating malaria.

12. Digestive Properties The seeds aid easy digestion of food thereby preventing constipation and bloating.

Side Effects of Alligator Pepper

There are no recorded side effects of the alligator pepper, however, pregnant and lactating mothers are encouraged not to consume it based on the following reasons; An experiment by Inegbenebor et al., (2009) showed that high dosage of alligator pepper administered to pregnant rats led to the termination of their first trimester pregnancies. Based on this report, pregnant women in their first trimester are highly recommended to refrain from eating the alligator pepper in other to avoid miscarriages. Uloneme et al., (2014) agree that lactating mothers should avoid taking alligator pepper in high quantities as it can reduce the prolactin secretion. Prolactin is a hormone released from the pituitary gland that stimulates milk production after childbirth. No doubt that breast milk is essential for newborn babies as it offers them immunity and nutrition before they are of age to easily eat and digest solid foods.

Wednesday 23 October 2019

Religious Beliefs In Jordan

Islam is the religion of the majority in Jordan.
The Western Asian country of Jordan is located on the Jordan River’s eastern bank. The country occupies an area of 89,342 square km and hosts a population of 10,171,480 individuals. As per the CIA World Factbook, ethnic Jordanians comprise 69.3% of the country’s population. Islam is the official and largest religion in the Middle Eastern country of Jordan.

Religious Composition of Jordan

The vast majority of Jordan’s population, about 97.2%, adhere to Islam. It is the official or state religion of the country. About 20,000 to 32,000 Jordanians identify as Druze and these people reside primarily in the north of the country.
Christianity is the biggest minority religion in Jordan and Christians account for 2.2% of the population. Most of the Christians are Greek Orthodox. Other Christian denominations active in Jordan include Roman Catholicism, Coptic Orthodox, Protestantism, etc. Buddhists and Hindus make up 0.4% and 0.1% of the population of Jordan, respectively. Less than 0.1% of the country’s population practice Judaism and folk religions.

The Official Religion of Jordan

Most of the Muslims in Jordan are Sunnis. Shiite’s comprise only a small percentage of the Muslim population in the country. Prior to the 1980’s, the Islamic population of Jordan was less orthodox in their religious practices. They exhibited less adherence to Islamic teachings and often practiced a syncretic form of religion where they combined their indigenous traditional religious beliefs and practices with those of Islam. Things, however, changed after the 1980’s. There was an Islamic revival in Jordan. The Jordanian society underwent great changes during this time. More women now adhered to the strict Islamic dress code for women. Mosque attendances also rose during this time. There was an overall increase in the number of Jordanians who more strongly adhered to Islamic principles and beliefs.

Religious Freedom and Tolerance in Jordan

Although the state religion of Jordan is Islam, the Constitution of the country provides for freedom of religion to its citizens. One can practice one’s own religion in the country as long as it does not violate morality and public order. Conversions of one’s religion, especially from Islam to some other religion, is highly frowned upon and can lead to immense societal pressure bestowed on the converted person and his or her family. However, conversion to Islam is mostly free of any legal complications and is usually encouraged. Although Muslims and Christians peacefully co-inhabit in Jordan, some of the smallest minorities do complain about discrimination. The government also puts some restrictions on the religious organizations and missionaries active in the country, especially if they are affiliated to non-Islamic faiths. Overall, however, the Jordanian society is generally more tolerant of the religious faiths of others than many other countries in the Arab world.

Religious Beliefs In Jordan

Rank Major Religions of Jordan Percentage of the Population

1 Islam 97.2%
2 Christianity 2.2%
3 Buddism 0.4%
4 Hinduism 0.1%
5 Judaism <0.1%
6 Folk Religions <0.1%

By Oishimaya Sen Nag

•culled from
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