US State Department levels up diplomacy with new video game exchange program

US State Department levels up diplomacy with new video game exchange program
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Students would join peers from other countries to form ‘game studios’ and collaborate virtually to create games. (Getty Images/AFP)
US State Department levels up diplomacy with new video game exchange program
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Students would join with peers from other countries to form ‘game studios’ and collaborate virtually to create games. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 08 April 2021

US State Department levels up diplomacy with new video game exchange program

US State Department levels up diplomacy with new video game exchange program
  • Students would join with peers from other countries to form ‘game studios’ and collaborate virtually to create games

DUBAI: The US State Department is levelling up its diplomacy with a new project that would virtually link up nearly 3,000 students from Bahrain, Israel, the UAE and the US for a creative collaboration on video games and game design.

Nonprofit group Games for Change’s (G4C) Game Exchange virtual exchange program is one of the 19 grantees under the state department’s Stevens Initiative announced for this year.

Under the two-year project, students would join peers from other countries to form ‘game studios’ and collaborate virtually to create games, facilitated by classroom teachers trained in G4C’s game design curriculum. G4C advocates and empowers game creators and social innovators to drive real-world impact through games and immersive media.

Partners in the US include middle and high schools from the Detroit Public School Community District and the New York City Department of Education. Schools will be selected from the said districts in Spring 2021.

For the Middle Eastern counterparts, it would be the Bahrain Ministry of Youth and Sports in Bahrain; twofour54 Abu Dhabi in the UAE and Beit Berl College, Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art in Israel.

‘Game studios’ would be charged with creating at least two game projects on a Sustainable Development Goal of their choice, and students could access and learn a variety of tools and platforms to develop their games and collaborate virtually.

Each year, participants submit game projects to the Game Exchange competition, with finalists and winners acknowledged at a culminating awards event.

The Stevens Initiative, named for late US Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, is a public-private partnership funded by the US government which aims to foster connections between young people in the US and the MENA region via skill development.

The Stevens Initiative has awarded 83 grants since its launch in 2015, benefiting nearly 75,000 youngsters from 17 MENA countries and the Palestinian Territories and in 47 US states, Puerto Rico, one tribal community, the US Virgin Islands, and Washington, D.C.


Iranian TV slammed for interrupting football to prevent fans seeing female referee’s legs

Each time Sian Massey-Ellis appeared on the screen, the broadcaster cut away to landscape shots of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and the streets around the ground. (Daily Mail/Screenshot)
Each time Sian Massey-Ellis appeared on the screen, the broadcaster cut away to landscape shots of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and the streets around the ground. (Daily Mail/Screeshot)
Updated 14 April 2021

Iranian TV slammed for interrupting football to prevent fans seeing female referee’s legs

Each time Sian Massey-Ellis appeared on the screen, the broadcaster cut away to landscape shots of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and the streets around the ground. (Daily Mail/Screenshot)
  • Each time Sian Massey-Ellis appeared on screen, the broadcaster cut away
  • Iranian women’s rights group: ‘Censorship is in the DNA of the Islamic Republic’

LONDON: Football fans in Iran had to endure state TV cutting away from its broadcast of Tottenham Hotspur’s Premier League match against Manchester United on Sunday to avoid showing the legs of assistant referee Sian Massey-Ellis.

Each time Massey-Ellis appeared on the screen, the broadcaster cut away to landscape shots of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and the streets around the ground.

According to Iranian women’s civil rights group My Stealthy Freedom, the decision was to prevent viewers seeing her bare legs.

“The television censors were rattled by the presence of a female referee in shorts,” the group said in a statement.

“Their solution was to cut away from the action to views of London’s backstreets, which made a mockery of the game. At the end of the game, one of the commentators joked that he hoped the viewers enjoyed the geographic show,” it added.

“Censorship is in the DNA of the Islamic Republic of Iran. We should not normalise this practice. This is not our culture. This is the ideology of a repressive regime.”

In 2018, an Iranian state TV channel blurred out AS Roma’s badge during coverage of their Champions League quarterfinal with Barcelona due to it containing an image of a female wolf feeding the mythical founders of the city, Romulus and Remus.


Queen returns to royal duties after death of Prince Philip

Queen returns to royal duties after death of Prince Philip
Updated 14 April 2021

Queen returns to royal duties after death of Prince Philip

Queen returns to royal duties after death of Prince Philip
  • Prince Philip died at the age of 99
  • The royal family is observing two weeks of mourning

LONDON: Queen Elizabeth II has returned to royal duties, four days after the death of her husband, Prince Philip.

The 94-year-old British monarch attended a retirement ceremony for a senior royal official on Tuesday, according to the Court Circular, the official record of royal engagements.

The royal family is observing two weeks of mourning for Philip, who died Friday at the age of 99. The palace has said members of the royal family will “undertake engagements appropriate to the circumstances” during the mourning period.

The queen attended a ceremony at Windsor Castle for Lord Chamberlain Earl Peel, who has retired as the royal household’s most senior official. He oversaw arrangements for the funeral of Prince Philip, also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, until handing over to his successor days before the duke’s death.

Philip’s funeral will take place Saturday at Windsor Castle, with attendance limited to 30 because of coronavirus restrictions.

Servicemen and women from the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Army and Royal Air Force will take part in the funeral procession, and Philip’s coffin will be borne to St. George’s Chapel at the castle on a specially adapted Land Rover, which he designed himself.


LEGO’s heart-warming Ramadan greeting goes wrong as toymaker mistakes holy month for Eid

LEGO’s heart-warming Ramadan greeting goes wrong as toymaker mistakes holy month for Eid
Updated 14 April 2021

LEGO’s heart-warming Ramadan greeting goes wrong as toymaker mistakes holy month for Eid

LEGO’s heart-warming Ramadan greeting goes wrong as toymaker mistakes holy month for Eid
  • Despite the fact that Ramadan has been observed each year for more than 14 centuries, a few companies are still mistaking the holy month of Ramadan for Eid Al-Fitr
  • The picture attached with the LEGO congratulatory Ramadan tweet displayed a text showing “Eid Mubarak” instead of Ramadan Kareem

LONDON: Every year just before Ramadan begins, congratulations and greetings are widely circulated to family, friends, employees and the general public to celebrate the commencement of the holy month. 

Some businesses make use of this celebratory period by sending out Ramadan greetings while simultaneously marketing their products. Yet, despite the fact that Ramadan has been observed each year for more than 14 centuries, a few companies are still mistaking the holy month of Ramadan for Eid Al-Fitr, the celebration that marks the end of Ramadan.

 

 

Indeed, on the first day of Ramadan this year, the toy company, LEGO, tweeted what is likely intended to be a Ramadan greeting that reads: “Make it a celebration to remember with a LEGO set and open the door to quality family time spent together.” 

So far so good, right? Well not necessarily, because the picture attached with the tweet displayed a text showing “Eid Mubarak” instead of Ramadan Kareem, or any other traditional Ramadan greeting. 

Although people were not hugely disturbed by the mistake, most comments on the greeting acknowledged the effort from the part of LEGO, but highlighted that Eid is not due for another 30 days. 


‘Not during Ramadan!’ Fans disappointed as K-Pop’s BTS announce virtual concert during Holy month

“Bang Bang Con 2021” is the South Korean band’s third online concert since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. (AFP)
“Bang Bang Con 2021” is the South Korean band’s third online concert since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. (AFP)
Updated 13 April 2021

‘Not during Ramadan!’ Fans disappointed as K-Pop’s BTS announce virtual concert during Holy month

“Bang Bang Con 2021” is the South Korean band’s third online concert since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. (AFP)

DUBAI: K-Pop boy band BTS has announced that they are set to perform an online concert event on April 17. 

However, some fans are not quite happy with the timing of the concert, titled “Bang Bang Con 2021,” that happens to be during Ramadan. 

Instagram users quickly took to the platform to comment on the South Korean band’s post saying: “Please don’t make it in the time of RAMADAN because Muslim armies can’t watch it (sic).”  

 

“Not during Ramadan,” wrote one fan, while another said: “We as Muslims have to fast in the month of Ramadan, sorry I can’t follow, later.” 

However, not all fans were left disappointed. Some took to social media to express their delight.

“I change my dentist appointment. The power of BTS in my life. April 17 block off in my calendar (sic),” said one user on Twitter. 

Another fan tweeted: “April 17 ARMYS - aren't we all so lucky to have @BTS_twt?”

This event is the South Korean band’s third online concert since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. 

“Bang Bang Con 2021” will be streamed on BTS’s YouTube channel.    

In April 2020, the seven-member band presented a two-day streaming event that featured an online performance and clips from fan meetings.

Two months later, in June, the group held their first paid online gig “Bang Bang Con: The Live,” which attracted more than 756,000 fans from over 100 countries. They achieved a new Guinness World Record title for the most viewers for a music concert live stream due to that event.


Restaurants in Dubai not required to screen off dining areas during Ramadan

Restaurants in Dubai not required to screen off dining areas during Ramadan
Updated 12 April 2021

Restaurants in Dubai not required to screen off dining areas during Ramadan

Restaurants in Dubai not required to screen off dining areas during Ramadan

DUBAI: Restaurants in Dubai will not be required to screen off dining areas during the fasting hour of Ramadan, state news agency WAM reported.

Restaurants will be allowed to serve customers without putting in place curtains, dividers or facades as has been the mandatory practice previously, a circular issued by Dubai’s Department of Economic Development on Sunday said.

Restaurants will not be required to obtain a permit for serving food to customers during Ramadan fasting hours.