Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Aleppo Named 2006 Islamic Cultural Capital, News from Qatar Airways

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Aleppo Named 2006 Islamic Cultural Capital, News from Qatar Airways

Article excerpt

Hundreds gathered in Aleppo, Syria in March to celebrate the city's designation as the Arab world's capital of Islamic culture for 2006. Palestinian, Yemeni and Sudanese cultural ministers joined Syrian Culture Minister Riad Naasan Agha and Prime Minister Naji Otri at the opening ceremonies.

"It is the responsibility of all of us to declare at this occasion that when we meet, we raise the banner of friendship and peace," Agha said. "We appeal to the world for dialogue, Christians and Muslims united to edify this culture."

Aleppo's selection by the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Syrian minister noted, was in part due to the city's historical place as a cross-roads and melting pot: It has become an "example of coexistence among religions, communities and races," he said. Aleppo was a major trading center on the Silk Road and its Christian, Muslim and Jewish heritage has made it into one of the world's unique cities.

One of the world's oldest continuously inhabited cities, Aleppo is famous for its souqs, fortresses, gates, mosques, churches and hammams, or public baths. Covered by nearly 18 miles of stone archways, the Aleppo soucf is the longest covered market in the Middle East.

In May, the usual heavy, heady scents of the spice souq give way to wheelbarrows filled with pink rose petals and woven baskets of fresh mint-bright, delicate, springtime aromas that delight passersby -only to be overwhelmed by the coffee-roasting stalls.

Five-Star Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways launched its inaugural flight from Doha to Hong Kong in March, bringing to a total of 70 the destinations scattered across the Middle East, Europe, Africa and Asia serviced by its 45-aircraft fleet. By 2015 the fleet will nearly triple in size, to 110 Airbus jets. During the past year, Qatar Airways carried 4.5 million passengers; this year that number is expected to rise to 6 million.

Qatar Airways is one of only four airlines in the world ranked Five Star for excellence in service. In addition, it recently received the prestigious In-Flight Service Consistency Award from Skytrax. The airline also introduced electronic ticketing as part of an initiative to replace paper documents and simplify travel. …

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