1. IN LEBANON REFUGEE CAMPS, EDUCATION TAKES A NEW LOOK

    The first prototype of a low cost computer for accessing learning resources using a Raspberry Pi computer and a screen from: http://hdmipi.com/ – created by the innovation team in Lebanon. Photo credit: James Cranwell-Ward, UNICEF Lebanon

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    From BarakaBits.com:

    Raspberry Pi is a computer designed to teach young people to program. Tiny and low-cost, it can be plugged into a TV and still has the processing power of a desktop PC. It is not only an affordable way to introduce children to technology but, more importantly, it stimulates them to become future innovators.

    This summer, the Pi will enter Lebanon’s refugee camps, where children will be able to explore how to make games while learning about their rights as a child. The program, called Pi4Learning, was developed by Unicef Lebanon to help get Syrian children back into learning through a curriculum based on Khan Academy, which was produced by the local NGO Foundation for Learning Equality.

    “It’s untapped ground and it will be really interesting to see what e-learning can do in a context where schools are drastically overrun and there are just not enough school places for children,” Unicef Innovationist James Cranwell-Ward says.

    But why would learning coding help these kids face the harsh reality of displacement? It seems the key to the program is vision: through stimulating their building of programming skills, children become active users who can build knowledge instead of simply consuming.

    “The rate at which tech is being rolled out into our lives is phenomenal, and coding — or the understanding of technology and how to manipulate it — is going to be a core component of our lives and our children’s lives moving forward,” he told The Guardian.”

    For more information about the Raspberry Pi for Learning Initiative, click here.

     

  2. A LOOK IN HISTORY: WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN GAZA’S ONLY AIRPORT

    In a historic December 1998 trip, President Bill Clinton cut the ribbon at a ceremony for the Gaza’s International Airport alongside Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. (Stephen Jaffe/Getty)

    Did you know that Gaza had a working airport at one time? Very few flights came and went but it was build and it fully functioned until Israel claimed it was a ‘security risk’. ‘The child of the 1993 Oslo Accords’ would last only two years and cost an approximate $60 million to build.

    Read Al Jazeera’s article “Dashed dreams: How Gaza’s short-lived airport never took off” here.

     

  3. From Salon.com: “Wired for change: Millennials, hashtag activism and today’s new Arabs”

    From Salon.com: “Wired for change: Millennials, hashtag activism and today’s new Arabs”

    Protesters in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Sept. 30, 2011 (Credit: Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

    "Gen Y are far more likely to be able to read and write than their elders, giving them greater access to the Internet. In 1980 only about half the citi­zens of the Arabic-speaking states had these skills. By 2000 the average literacy rate was 61.5 percent in seventeen Arab countries, but among those fifteen to twenty-four, the rate was much higher, around 80 percent, for both men and women. Although in some countries as many as 50 percent of older women still could not read and write in 2000 to 2004, in those years the average literacy rate of Arab women age fifteen to twenty-four in the six countries where there were significant political upheavals, was 82 percent. In three of those countries—Tunisia, Libya, and Bahrain—it was over 90 percent!

    There is an enormous difference between expecting 50 per­cent of the people your age to be able to read a newspaper and expecting 80 percent of them to read. Generation Y is the most literate cohort of Arabs ever to exist. This large pool of educated young people in Egypt fueled the rise of newspapers that, despite the country’s censorship regime, often demonstrated a streak of independence. The four most popular among the youth tended to have a secular orientation and often took their cues from bloggers and human rights NGOs regarding which stories to pursue.”

    Read the rest of the article here.

    Thank you Mariana for bringing this article to my attention!

     
  4. Eid Mubarak everyone!

    Happy Eid!

    !كل سنة و أنتم طيبين 

     
  5. Today marks Quds day, or Jerusalem day.  Today, thousands of people throughout the world will march to express solidarity with the Palestinian people. Quds day takes place every year on the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan.

    Quds Day demonstrations will be held in around 80 countries, including the United States, Iraq, Gaza Strip, Syria, India, Lebanon, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Sweden, France, as well as many countries in East Asia.

    The video above is by the legendary Lebanese singer Fairouz. The song, commonly translated as Flowers Among Cities (زهرة المدائن) is fitting for today as she sings about freeing Jerusalem from all the violence and atrocities and returning peace to the holy city. Video contains lyrics in English.

     
     

  6. RAMADAN THROUGHOUT THE WORLD

    National Geographic has put together some photos showing Ramadan celebrations throughout the world.

    A Bosnian man talks to a visitor before setting off a firework cannon to mark the end of the day’s Ramadan fast in Sarajevo. About 40 percent of Bosnia’s 3.8 million residents are Muslim. (Photograph by Amel Emric, AP Photo.)

    In Java, Indonesia, a young Muslim man jumps through a flaming rope during the celebration marking the end of Ramadan. The capital of East Java will mark the beginning of Eid al-Fitr with the Surabaya Carnival Night Market. (Photograph by Gembong Nusantara, AP Photo.)

    On the evening of the first day of Ramadan, Muslim women at a mosque in East Java attend Tarawih. Tarawih are special evening prayers done during Ramadan, when long passages of the Koran are recited or read aloud. (Photograph by Sigit Pamungkas, Reuters.)

    Click here to see the rest of the pictures:

     

  7. MUSLIM PLAYERS AT THE WORLD CUP, DURING RAMADAN

    From The New York Times: “Ramadan Poses Test to Muslim Players at World Cup

    RIO DE JANEIRO — Down the quiet, tree-lined Rua Gonzaga Bastos, less than half a mile from Estádio do Maracanã, the custodian of this city’s only mosque was preparing for the busiest time of the year.

    Mohamed Zeinhom Abdien, the custodian, was sitting at a desk opposite messy piles of boxes containing thousands of leaflets about Islam written in Portuguese, English and Arabic.

    The observance of Ramadan, one of Islam’s five pillars, is a religious obligation in which Muslims fast and forgo any liquids from dawn until dusk over the course of a month. The month begins Saturday night, and Abdien’s usually quiet mosque has been inundated with newcomers.

    “Normally we have 100, maybe 150 people here every Friday to pray, after the imam gives the call to prayer in Portuguese,” said Abdien, an Egyptian-born tour guide who moved to Rio 21 years ago.

    “But the World Cup,” he said, spreading his arms at the dozens of boxes, “it means there have been many Algerian fans, TV presenters, even a few players.”

    This World Cup in Brazil has drawn thousands of Muslim fans — from Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran, Nigeria and beyond — and Ramadan, which is pegged to a lunar calendar and begins a bit earlier in the Gregorian calendar each year, is due to start just as the second round opens.

    Read the rest of the article here.

     

  8. MUSIC FESTIVALS GROW IN MOROCCO

    From The Guardian.com: “Morocco Reshapes its Image-Through Music Festivals”:

    (PHOTO: Mehdi Nassouli playing at Morocco’s Timitar festival. Photograph: Rachid Bourhim/PR)

    You may not have noticed, but Morocco has become one of the leading destinations for music festivals in the world. There’s the Fes festival, a leading world music festival, and the snappily named Jazzablanca in Casablanca. But the biggest ones are the funkier Gnaoua festival in Essaouira on the coast, the massive pop Festival Mawazine in Rabat – which has starred the likes of Rihanna and Stevie Wonder – and Timitar in Agadir. Each attracts crowds of up to 500,000 people (that’s three times the size of Glastonbury). All of them, too, are not just music festivals – they have specific social and political agendas as well.


    Read the rest of the article here.

     

  9. HAPPY RAMADAN!

    (Picture above: Ramadan fanous or latern. Learn more about the history of the special Ramadan famous here.)

    Ramadan is once again here! Muslims throughout the world will fast from dawn to sunset throughout the special month of Ramadan. At sunset, Muslims break their fast and eat dinner or iftar, which is usually shared with family or community members.

    For more information, check out the the Time photo blog “Iftar: Breaking Ramadan’s Fast

     

  10. AMERICAN-STYLE MALLS CONTINUE TO SPROUT IN EGYPT

    From The Wall Street Journal:

    "Just a few kilometers from the ancient Pyramids of Giza, another unusual structure is rising in the hot desert dunes: a 102-foot-high ski slope.

    The artificial snow complex is being built alongside Mall of Egypt, a 4.9 billion Egyptian pound ($686 million) mega shopping center that epitomizes a boom in retail development sweeping Cairo. The ancient city is importing a hallmark of American culture that already has been highly successful in the countries of the Arabian peninsula.

    (Photo: A rendering of a ski slope being built alongside Mall of Egypt, part of a shopping-center boom in Cairo.Majid Al Futtaim Properties)

    About 1.8 million square meters of mall retail space is forecast to be completed in Cairo by the end of 2015, double the level at the end of last year, property consultants at JLL forecast. The planned pipeline is potentially much bigger if developers break ground on more than 10 other major projects that are on the drawing board.”

    Read the rest of the article, “Food Courts, Fake Snow Take Over Cairo Mall Retail Space Is Sprouting Up All Over the Ancient City”, here.