Venues from across Arab world feature in TIME’s ‘World’s Greatest Places’ list

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King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture - also known as Ithra. (Wikimedia Commons: AhmadElq)
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Louvre Abu Dhabi. (AFP)
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Warner Bros. World in Abu Dhabi. (AFP)
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14th century Al-Qarawiyyin Library in Fez. (AFP)
Updated 25 August 2018
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Venues from across Arab world feature in TIME’s ‘World’s Greatest Places’ list

  • The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture in Dhahran, also known as Ithra, is included in the list
  • The beautiful 14th century Al-Qarawiyyin Library in Fez also made the cut

LONDON: A Saudi architectural icon has been named in TIME magazine’s first annual list of the “World’s Greatest Places.”
The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture in Dhahran, also known as Ithra, is included in the list of places to visit, as are Abu Dhabi’s Louvre and the UAE capital’s Warner Bros. World theme park.

Ithra was built as a corporate social responsibility initiative by Saudi Aramco to serve as a national and regional catalyst for intellectual development, creativity and cross-cultural sharing. Its state-of-the-art, multi-disciplinary facilities attract thousands of visitors for initiatives and events from around the world.

The center consists of a 1600-square-meter Great Hall; a museum with four galleries, each focusing on a specific range of cultural expression spanning Saudi identity and heritage, Islamic art and civilization, and the culture of the Arabian peninsula. A cinema is home to the Saudi Film Festival, and a library holds more than half a million items. The Performing Arts Theater is a 1,000-seat opera house, and the Knowledge Tower hosts 2,000 annual workshops including STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and reading programming for youth. 

By showcasing the Kingdom’s rich cultural heritage and hosting or collaborating on international projects, the King Abdulaziz Center encourages the understanding that flows from artistic expression into all aspects of life, at home and abroad. 

Since its inauguration by the King Salman in 2016, the Center has emerged as a pioneering force offering unprecedented access to unique arts, culture and knowledge programming.

The beautiful 14th century Al-Qarawiyyin Library in Fez also made the cut, while Cairo’s Marriott Mena House hotel was considered one of the best places to stay in the world.
In its introduction to the list, TIME explained how it asked for nominations “across a variety of categories— such as museums, parks, bars, restaurants, theme parks, cruises and hotels— from editors and correspondents around the world as well as dozens of industry experts.” 

They then used a series of criteria to evaluate each nomination — quality, originality, innovation, sustainability and influence.

See the full list here.


Paris official seeks to outlaw Airbnb rentals in city center

Updated 06 September 2018
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Paris official seeks to outlaw Airbnb rentals in city center

  • With some 60,000 apartments on offer in the city, Paris is the biggest market for Airbnb
  • The administration of Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has already taken action against Airbnb and others

PARIS: The Paris city council member in charge of housing said Thursday that he would propose outlawing home rentals via Airbnb and other websites in the city center, accusing the service of forcing residents out of the French capital.
Ian Brossat said that he would also seek to prohibit the purchase of secondary residences in Paris, saying such measures were necessary to keep the city from becoming an “open-air museum.”
“One residence out of every four no longer houses Parisians,” said Brossat, who is expected to head the Communist party list for European Parliament elections next year.
With some 60,000 apartments on offer in the city, Paris is the biggest market for Airbnb, which like other home-sharing platforms has come under increasing pressure from cities which claim it drives up rents for locals.
“Do we want Paris to be a city which the middle classes can afford, or do we want it to be a playground for Saudi or American billionaires?” he said.
Brossat has had Airbnb and its rivals in his sights for years, and recently published a book assailing the US giant titled “Airbnb, or the Uberised City.”
He wants to forbid any short-term tourist rentals of entire apartments in the First, Second, Third and Fourth Arrondissements of Paris, home to some of the world’s most popular sites including the Cathedral of Notre-Dame and the Louvre museum.
“If we don’t do anything, there won’t be any more locals: Like on the Ile Saint-Louis, we’ll end up with a drop in the number of residents and food shops turned into clothing or souvenir stores,” he said, referring to the Seine island in the shadow of the Notre-Dame cathedral.
“We’ll be living in an open-air museum,” he added.
Brossat hopes the measures will be included in a law aimed at overhauling France’s real estate laws to be debated this fall.
The administration of Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has already taken action against Airbnb and others, requiring homeowners to register with the city and limiting the number of rentals to 120 nights a year.
Last month the city said the total amount of fines levied against home rental platforms rose to €1.38 million ($1.60 million) from January to August 15, compared with €1.3 million for 2017 as a whole.
Its crackdown echoes those in other hot tourist destinations including Amsterdam, Barcelona and Berlin.
Last month Airbnb sued the city of New York after it passed a law forcing home-sharing platforms to disclose data about their hosts, calling it a campaign “funded by the city’s powerful hotel lobby.”