‘Cycling4Gaza’ pedals into its fourth year

Updated 12 October 2012
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‘Cycling4Gaza’ pedals into its fourth year

An international team of 35 members will cycle 350 kilometers on Oct. 24 around the Sea of Marmara in Turkey to raise £ 200,000 toward health and educational projects for Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon.
“Cycling4Gaza” is a humanitarian initiative which began in the wake of the 2009 war on Gaza by a group of young people based in London to mobilize people yearly from all parts of the world for a cycling challenge, with the goal of reaching the Gaza Strip.
Over the past three years, participating members have cycled across the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Jordan to create awareness about the ongoing blockade on the Gaza Strip, and raise critical funds for NGOs that work to support refugees living under occupation to help build a self-reliant and healthy Palestinian community.
Funds generated by the sporting challenge have benefited select charities like Welfare Association and MAP (Medical Aid for Palestinians) which provide primary trauma care, and maternal and child health care through training programs for the medical team and other members of the community.
Last year, the team cycled across Aqaba to the Dead Sea, Jordan, successfully raising over £ 220,000 that supported the National Society for Rehabilitation based in Khan Younis and Rafah, Al Wefaq Relief and Development Society, Society for the Care of the Handicapped in Gaza, and Nour Marifa.
The donations have also supported health organizations in the treatment of injured, disabled and special needs children; provision of sight and hearing aids; psychiatric and psychosocial support; and special education and training programs.
“This is the fourth time ‘Cycling4Gaza’ is taking place; it will be my second time however,” said Rawan Yaqub who will be participating from Saudi Arabia.
“Last year was an eye opener since we had a rider from Palestine who spoke to us about his personal experience in Gaza. We got to hear stories first hand. The team was great and their spirit was amazing. We learned to work together in harmony, and of course being part of the team raised our awareness on Gaza and their everyday suffering”, she added.
For more details on Cycling4Gaza’s 2012 challenge, visit: www.cycling4gaza.com


After shedding Daesh, Mosul embraces makeovers

An Iraqi woman gets a lip injection at an aesthetic clinic in the northern city of Mosul on November 19, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 19 December 2018
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After shedding Daesh, Mosul embraces makeovers

  • Mosul, and Iraq more broadly, have been shaken by waves of conflict since the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein and paved the way for a sectarian war
  • The city’s medical services were hit hard by Daesh’s three-year reign and the months-long battle to oust it

MOSUL, Iraq: For three years, Mosul’s women were covered in black from head to toe and its men had to keep their beards long. Salons were shut, and plastic surgery considered a crime.
But more than a year after the Daesh group’s ouster, the Iraqi city is flaunting its more fabulous side.
Need to zap away a scar or a burn? Cover up a bald spot with implants? Whiten teeth for a dazzling smile? Mosul’s plastic surgeons and beauticians are at your service.
Raji Najib, a Syrian living in Mosul, recently made use of the city’s aesthetic offerings.
The 40-year-old had long been self-conscious of his bald spots, until his Iraqi friends told him what had worked for them — hair implants at a new clinic in their hometown.
“They told me the equipment was modern, the nurses competent and the prices good,” Najib said.
In Mosul, the average hair implant procedure costs around $800, including the follow-up after the operation.
Nearly 90 kilometers (50 miles) to the east in Iraq’s Irbil, or even further north in Turkey, the same operation costs at least $1,200.
Plasma injections to prevent hair loss cost around $63 in Mosul, but at least $20 more in Irbil.
In addition to the difference in price, Najib would have had to put up money and time for travel.
“Going to a clinic in Mosul is much easier, as I don’t have time to travel outside Mosul,” he told AFP.

Decades ago, only one department in Mosul’s hospitals offered plastic surgery, and only to those who had a severe accident or were trying to eliminate a physical handicap from birth.
Mosul, and Iraq more broadly, have been shaken by waves of conflict since the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein and paved the way for a sectarian war.
Religious hard-liners forced women to cover up or stay at home, and extremists in particular targeted hairdressers, many of whom closed their shops in fear.
Another shock came in 2014 when the Daesh group swept across much of Iraq’s north, with the militants making Mosul their de facto capital.
The religious police of Daesh enforced ultra-strict rules on dress for all residents, making sure women showed no skin and men wore ankle-length capris and long beards, with no moustache.
The city has since gotten a makeover.
Five beauty clinics have opened since Mosul was recaptured last summer by Iraqi security forces, and they can hardly keep up with the flow of customers, most of them men.
Muhannad Kazem told AFP he was the first to relaunch his city’s beauty business with his clinic, Razan, which offers teeth whitening services and other dental care.
His secret? “The employees came from Lebanon, and the treatments and machines were imported,” said Kazem, 40.

The city’s medical services were hit hard by Daesh’s three-year reign and the months-long battle to oust it.
The available hospital beds in Mosul dropped from 3,657 before 2014 to just 1,622 last year, according to the local human rights commission.
But the city is rebuilding, and one new commercial center houses the Diamond Dental Clinic in the bottom floor, with the Shahrazad beauty center upstairs.
A poster at the entrance advertises what’s on offer: injections of botox and other fillers, slimming surgeries, dermatological operations, and more.
Inside the glossy interior are men and women alike, an unthinkable sight under the iron-fisted rule of Daesh.
A female employee carefully injected serums to prevent hair loss into the scalp of a woman gritting her teeth, one of the dozen customers streaming in per day.
Beautician Alia Adnan said the physical and mental impact of the militants on people in Mosul has been long-lasting.
“They have hair or skin problems because of the stress and the pollution that Mosul’s residents were exposed to, both under Daesh and during the clashes,” she told AFP.