‘Cycling4Gaza’ pedals into its fourth year

Updated 12 October 2012

‘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


Tulips from Amsterdam? A blooming scam, says new probe

This file photo taken on March 6, 2003 shows bulbs at the flower market in Amsterdam. (AFP)
Updated 16 October 2019

Tulips from Amsterdam? A blooming scam, says new probe

  • Tulip bulbs should only be sold between August to December and planted before the start of the (northern hemisphere) winter, in order for the flowers to bloom in spring

THE HAGUE: Tourists are being ripped off at Amsterdam’s famous flower market, with just one percent of all bulbs sold at the floating bazaar ever producing a blossom, investigators said Tuesday.
A probe commissioned by the Dutch capital’s municipality and tulip growers also found that often only one flower resembled the pictures on the packaging like color, and that there were fewer bulbs than advertised.
“The probe showed that there is chronic deception of consumers,” at the sale of tulip bulbs at the flower market, the Royal General Bulb Growers’ Association (KAVB) said.
“Millions of tourists and day-trippers are being duped,” KAVB chairman Rene le Clercq said in a statement.
Amsterdam and the KAVB have now referred the matter to the Dutch consumer watchdog.
The Amsterdam flower market is one of the city’s most famous landmarks and dates from around 1862, when flower sellers sailed their barges up the Amstel River and moored them in the “Singel” to sell their goods.
Its fame inspired the popular song “Tulips from Amsterdam,” best known for a 1958 version by British entertainer Max Bygraves.
Today the market comprises of a number of fixed barges with little greenhouses on top. Vendors not only sell tulip bulbs but also narcissus, snowdrops, carnations, violets, peonies and orchids.
But of 1,363 bulbs bought from the Singel and then planted, just 14 actually bloomed, the investigation said.
Investigators found a similar problem along the so-called “flower bulb boulevard” in Lisse, a bulb-field town south of Amsterdam where the famous Keukenhof gardens are also situated.
Since first imported from the Ottoman Empire 400 years ago, tulips “have become our national symbol and the bulb industry a main player in the Dutch economy,” said Le Clercq.
But the “deception about the tulip bulbs is a problem that has been existing for the past 20 years,” he added.

The victims are often tourists, KAVB director Andre Hoogendijk said.
“A tourist who buys a bad bulb is not likely to come back,” he told Amsterdam’s local AT5 news channel.
Vendors at the market told AT5 that complaints were known.
“There are indeed stalls here that sell rubbish. That is to everyone’s disadvantage, because it portrays the whole flower market in a bad light,” one unidentified vendor said.
But a spokesperson for the City of Amsterdam said that all vendors were being investigated “and that the results are shocking.”
“So to say that it is only a few stalls is not true,” the spokesperson told AFP in an email.
The probe took place earlier in the year during springtime, the spokesperson said.
“The issue is that you shouldn’t even sell tulip bulbs during the spring. No decent florist shop in Holland does that.”
Tulip bulbs should only be sold between August to December and planted before the start of the (northern hemisphere) winter, in order for the flowers to bloom in spring.