Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Arabian Peninsula

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Arabian Peninsula

Article excerpt

Bahrain Votes Islamist

Bahrain held its first municipal elections since 1957 on May 9 of this year, with a reported voter turnout of over 50 percent-not bad for elections on the local level, and a good sign for the nation's proposed Oct. 24 parliamentary elections. All Bahraini citizens and permanent residents aged 20 or above were eligible to vote in the elections, and King Hamad issued a special call for citizens to "exercise their constitutional electoral right in complete freedom and responsibility." According to the May 10 Arab News, voting took on an often festive air as candidates and supporters handed out sweets, water, and pens to voters waiting in line despite the 95 degree heat. For some, however, the polls and their results were less than encouraging. Opposition groups noted that the country's five constituencies were evenly divided, without regard to population. Also, while 31 of 307 candidates were women, not one was elected. Rather, 35 of the 50 municipal seats being contested went to Islamist members of either the Shi'i Islamic National Accord Association (INAA) or the Sunni Islamic National Forum Association (INFA). UAE to Rebuild Palestinian Homes

The Arab News reported on April 28 that United Arab Emirates (UAE) President Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan has ordered the reconstruction of 800 housing units, replete with all amenities, destroyed by Israel during its invasion of the West Bank Jenin refugee camp. The announcement came as Zayed's son, Shaikh Hamdan Al Nahyan, met with Peter Hansen, commissioner general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). UNRWA is "happy that the UAE has come forward with such a proposal that will bring succor and relief," Hansen said, and will consider working with the Red Crescent Society (RCS) and UAE authorities on the project, according to the April 28 Khaleej Times. The commissioner general also appealed to the international community to help raise $117 million in emergency funds for refugees. Hansen and UNRWA have first-hand knowledge of Israel's brutal incursions: the Israeli army damaged 22 U.N. schools, four U.N. health centers and two U.N. ambulances during the incursions. Said Hansen: "We are working out the extent of loss caused, to claim compensation from Israel for their actions."

Dubai Rock City

Who knew? The Dubai municipality and Detroit, Michigan signed a "sister cities" agreement in 1998 aimed at improving common understanding and the exchange of ideas, resources and people between the two cities. …

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