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Some Favorite destinations in the Arab world for Digital Nomads

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Hadi Khatib of IMFInfo.com asks what are some Favorite destinations in the Arab world for Digital Nomads and provides answers that would not be a surprise for anyone who knows the MENA region.
But before we get into Hadi’s thoughts, here are some of Kamel Daoud‘s in his latest article in Liberte. It summarises well our situation at this conjecture, specifically that of the MENA region.

Strange paradox: the journey dies in the very century that has overcome gravity, distance, arduousness. As if after inventing so many Herculean engines, it is the vengeful immobility that becomes our lot.

Flying today? It is a long, expensive act, which requires availability, compelling reasons, health tests, a rare visa and other passage documents.

Go to sea? It goes through death, or shipwreck, or uprooting. It is no longer a journey, but a swim against the current.

Here is Hadi Khatib’s

What are some favorite destinations in the Arab world for digital nomads?

The evaporation of the traditional office workplace last year shifted the spotlight to the role digital nomads play choosing to work from anywhere thanks to special visas issued by a number of countries around the globe

  • Entrepreneurs and young CEOs may be categorized as digital nomads when constantly exploring opportunities
  • Working online and remotely depends on inflation’s stability and low costs of living
  • The Arab world has quite a few places where remote work is possible

The evaporation of the traditional office workplace last year shifted the spotlight to the role digital nomads play choosing to work from anywhere thanks to special visas issued by a number of countries around the globe. 

The UAE recognized this role and issue a special visa to attract those workers. Dubai’s Remote Work Visa provides digital nomads with the chance of mixing business with pleasure. Valid for one year, requirements extend to providing proof of employment with a minimum income of $5,000 per month, or proof of ownership of a company. The fee is $611 and must be accompanied by valid health insurance with UAE coverage.

But, as COVID-19 winds down, is a return to the office imminent?
Airbnb’s introduction of long-term rentals is one indication that this model for work-life balance may have some staying power. Just like desert nomads, digital nomads are not always on the move, and often settle for periods of time before moving on again.

Who are digital nomads?

Digital nomads are mostly freelancers – the likes of bloggers, writers, editors, content creators, web programmers, translators, consultants, and photographers. Additionally, entrepreneurs and young CEOs may also be categorized as digital nomads when constantly exploring opportunities.

Digital nomads are typically drawn to destinations that meet certain requirements and that are anchored by accessible visas that allow them to legally stay in a foreign destination for a good amount of time.

There are some important factors that every digital nomad should take into consideration when choosing a new neighborhood, city, or country:

Quality of Internet connection

While remote and exotic locations certainly are attractive, these places could quickly lose their appeal if they lack strong and reliable internet connections.

Costs of living

Working online and remotely depends on inflation’s stability and low costs of living. When paying the bills, like rent, electricity, groceries, and internet becomes a concern, it’s time to return to nomad life again.

Crime rates and safety ratings

Nomads like the presence of other nomads to hang out and share war stories with. Without them, they could feel isolated and dependent on the friendliness of locals. One thing that must be taken into consideration when choosing a destination is whether locals like foreigners and whether or not crimes rates are high.

Digital nomads in Arab countries

The Arab world has quite a few places where remote work is possible.

Rabat, Morocco

Morocco has multiple cities that are fun to explore, such as Rabat, Marrakech, Fes, and many more. If you’re more of a beach person, Morocco has that too. English, Arabic and French languages are spoken.  It’s pretty safe as a country and visas are relatively easy if you have a passport from a Western country.

You can stay in Morocco for up to 90 days with a tourist visa, which is easily extendible. In the cities, Morocco has pretty good internet access whether it is through cafes and hotels. There are also options to buy data plans for relatively cheap. Outside the cities, though, it might be tougher to find places with strong internet, but they do exist.

Morocco has multiple residence options depending on your budget. There are hostels (the cheapest option) and Riads (hotels typically created from houses in the medinas, and are the most expensive option), and many choices in between. As for the cost of living, Morocco is cheaper than the US.

Tunis, Tunisia

Tunis, the capital, is right on the coast and is a great place for remote work. There are many places to travel to within Tunisia to see beautiful landscapes and historic ruins. People do speak English, especially in cities, but not everyone. Tunisia is also pretty safe. The tourist visa for Tunisia allows for stays up to 90 days and is free for people with US passports. Longer than that, though, and you will need to fill out another application and pay for another type of visa. The visa application is now available online.

Internet speed in some places in Tunisia is slower than in other countries, which does make it harder for remote work, but there are places with faster internet.

Hotels there could be expensive, but there are renting options from locals in Facebook groups and hostels. For transportation, Tunis has a large public transportation system consisting of buses and light rail/metro. The average cost of living in Tunis for a digital nomad is $1000-$1200 a month.

Amman, Jordan

With amazing places to visit like Petra or Aqab, Jordan makes an amazing country for digital nomads to work from. Jordan has a lot of places to visit, food to try, and sites to explore. Many Jordanians in Amman speak English and overall, Jordan is safe.

In Jordan, the visa process is simple. You can get a visa at the border for single entry, two entries, or multiple entries. The single-entry visa is $56.50 and is valid for 30 days.

The prices of the visas increase from there. If you want to stay longer than 60 days, you have to register at a police station.  

For internet access, there are many cafes in Amman that have internet. In addition, data plans are available to buy and are somewhat cheap.  

Airbnb, hostels, and renting from locals is available. To get around in Amman, taxis are probably the best option.  

The cost of living in Jordan is more expensive than in Morocco or Tunisia, although the food is cheaper than in the US. On average, the cost of living is about $1330/month.  

Dahab, Egypt

Egypt has many places to visit including Alexandria, Luxor, Dahab, and more. Not every place in Egypt has Ancient Egyptian sites, but there are places that have beaches and are fun to explore. Not everyone speaks English but you’ll find help with the language very quickly. Egypt is relatively safe.

The visa process for Egypt is different than the other countries. A tourist visa for someone from the US costs $25 and is good for 30 days only. Beyond that, you will probably have to get a visa before traveling, which is available either online or at an embassy.  

Internet in Egypt is typically pretty slow. It would be hard for digital nomads to use the internet, but in some places, like in Dahab, Egypt, there are good spots for the internet. Beyond that, though, it might be better to get a modem or find a “coworking space” to work in.

Hostels are good options for long-term stays.  

As for the cost of living, Egypt is much cheaper than the U.S. The average cost of living for a single person in Egypt is $750/month, with some variance in cities. 

From Dubai to Southland: a Striking NZ architectural mesh

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A New Zealand Stuff article elaborates on how from Dubai to Southland this striking NZ architectural mesh on Invercargill CBD rebuild is getting the attention it deserves. But what is all the fuss about?

The above image is for illustration and is of Stuff.co.nz.

Dubai to Southland: Striking NZ architectural mesh on Invercargill CBD rebuild

SUPPLIED The colourful facade which will go on the Invercargill Central is made in Wellington. The same company has produced a similar product for Expo 2020 Dubai. [Artist impression of Invercargill project]

Tens of millions of people will walk underneath a striking Kiwi-made canopy at Expo 2020 Dubai, and the same product will adorn the Invercargill city centre redevelopment.

Petone company Kaynemaile​ make a polycarbonate architectural mesh, which has been used in a 12,000-square metre canopy at the Middle Eastern expo, which is a six-month world fair, involving 192 countries.

The same mesh product will cut a similarly striking figure when it is wrapped around the car park of the redeveloped Invercargill CBD.

About a tenth of the size of its Dubai cousin, the Invercargill facade will feature 1200sqm of the polycarbonate mesh, which will be lit with programmable lighting.

Invercargill Central project director Geoff Cotton said it would wave in the wind, as a moving piece of art.

The mesh would screen the development car park, face Tay St, and Cotton said it would go up towards the end of winter 2022.

SUPPLIED Petone firm Kaynemaile made the canopy at Expo 2020 Dubai from polycarbonate architectural mesh.

Kaynemaile’s chief executive officer Kayne Horsham​ designed chainmail costumes to be used in Lord of the Rings, which inspired the architectural mesh.

All their products are made in Wellington. The mesh in Dubai forms a canopy to the entrance of the expo, which is expected to host 25 million visitors over its six-month duration.

The expo was delayed a year because of the Covid-19 pandemic but kept the 2020 moniker, and began on October 1.

READ MORE:
Lord of the Rings chainmail inspires Dubai Expo canopy
Southland welcomes Level 3 in with coffee and catch up on CBD block development
Invercargill CBD block rebuild boss hopes lost time can be made up

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UAE seeks to reach net-zero emissions by 2050

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The UAE seeks to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 with a $163B plan. It is one of the countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region since its founding that wants to effectively attract investments through diversification of its economy.
The country is one of the biggest oil exporters in the world. It announced an ambitious plan to achieve zero carbon emissions that would see the Gulf nation spending $163 billion on renewable energy. The plan to be completed by 2050, puts this country at the top of the MENA region in terms of concrete climate commitment.

The above image is for illustration and is of Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan as seen during the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates January 13, 2020. WAM/Handout via REUTERS

UAE seeks to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 with $163B plan

BY REUTERS

This file photo dated July 8, 2020, shows hydropanels, produced by Zero Mass Water Inc., at the planned site of the IBV drinking water plant in Lehbab, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, using technology to extract moisture from the atmosphere using energy from the sun. (Christopher Pike/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The United Arab Emirates on Thursday announced a plan for net-zero emissions by 2050, and would oversee 600 billion dirhams ($163 billion) in investment in renewable energy.

This makes it the first country in the Middle East and North Africa region to launch a concrete initiative to achieve that climate commitment.

The Gulf state has launched several measures over the past year – coinciding with 50 years since the country’s founding – to attract investment and foreigners to help the economy recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The economic initiatives also come amid a growing economic rivalry with Gulf neighbour Saudi Arabia to be the region’s trade and business hub. read moreReport ad

“We are committed to seize the opportunity to cement our leadership on climate change within our region and take this key economic opportunity to drive development, growth and new jobs as we pivot our economy and nation to net zero,” said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai.

The UAE, an OPEC member, has in the past 15 years invested $40 billion in clean energy, the government said. Its first nuclear power plant, Barakah, has been connected to the national grid and the UAE aims to produce 14 GW of clean energy by 2030, up from about 100 MW in 2015, it said. read more

No further details on the 600 billion dirhams of investment were given.

The UAE will use the path to net zero as a way to create economic value, increase industrial competitiveness and enhance investment, said Sultan Al Jaber, minister of industry and advanced technology and special envoy for climate change.Report ad

The UAE is bidding to host the COP28 global climate talks in 2023.

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WOHA designs a truly green pavilion for Expo Dubai 2020

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FLOORNATURE ARCHITECTURE & SURFACES News produced this article on how WOHA designs a truly green pavilion for Expo Dubai 2020. It somehow relates to the cities of Dubai and Singapore with some additional views on other Pavilions.

WOHA designs a truly green pavilion for Expo Dubai 2020

5 October 2021

Starring: WOHA Architects

Photographer: Quentin Sim, Singapore Pavilion Dubai Expo 2020,

Singapore-based architecture firm WOHA, known for its green architecture many years before forests on towers became fashionable, has designed Singapore’s pavilion for the World Expo 2020 in Dubai. The pavilion is a prototype that demonstrates how the built environment can coexist with nature.


Other photos…A year late, the Dubai Expo 2020 opened on 1 October 2021. Among the many architectural highlights is the Singapore pavilion commissioned by Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority from WOHA. In essence, it is a structure designed to welcome visitors to a sustainable oasis in the desert that integrates nature, innovation and architecture. In addition, the structure addresses Singapore’s vision of becoming a city in nature.
That is why the pavilion was designed as a prototype to demonstrate how the built environment can coexist with nature. It also reflects Singapore’s history. It is a city-state that manages to thrive in a difficult environment on a limited area, as the pavilion is also located on one of the smallest lots in the Expo. But this is certainly not to the detriment of either the design solutions adopted or its tremendous visual impact.
To maximise the usable area of the site, the architects of the WOHA studio, known for its distinct approach to biophilic design and integrated landscape planning, opted to stack multiple levels and functions on top of each other. Thus, visitors are treated to an experiential journey as they make their way along the canopied walkway that meanders through multiple levels of the pavilion, surrounded by verdant palms, trees, shrubs and orchids. The Hanging Garden and three thematic cones all wrapped in vertical greenery add to this immersive, three-dimensional biophilic experience. Next comes the Open Sky Market on the upper level, crowned by a canopy of solar panels that shelters the pavilion from the elements and generates electricity, making the Singapore pavilion a net-zero energy consumer. To reduce the use of energy and other resources, passive strategies such as natural cross-ventilation, shading and planting were implemented to create a comfortable climate for visitors and plants. A solar reverse-osmosis desalination system will meet all of its water needs.
The Singapore Pavilion also houses more than 170 varieties of plants that will grow during the Expo period. As well as providing a wonderful immersive experience, the plants provide measurable ecosystem services such as reducing solar heat, sequestrating greenhouse gases, reducing other pollutants such as PM10 particles, producing oxygen, reclaiming rainwater and providing habitats for animals.
By means of exhibitions and experiences, the Singapore pavilion investigates how we can build resilient, self-sufficient, biophilic, attractive yet highly functional structures that coexist with nature. These are flexible solutions in that these design strategies can be adapted to different climates and geographies, and even be scaled up to district or even city level.
As the architects of WOHA say: “Our climate crisis shows us that the impact of human actions on the planet cannot be ignored, and that urgent action needs to be taken. This reinforces the aspirations of the SG Pavilion: to design a different future and to create a sustainable, resilient environment in which humans coexist with nature.”

Christiane Bürklein

Project: WOHA
Location: Dubai
Year: 2021
Images: Quentin Sim. Singapore Pavilion Dubai Expo 2020

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The Egyptian ‘Architect of the Poor’

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EGYPTIAN STREETS in its ARTS & CULTURE posted a commemorative article on how Hassan Fathy, the Egyptian ‘Architect of the Poor’ developed against the then ongoing trends of modernism. Did he contribute in his own specific way to the birth of the Post-Modern movement? One wonders but lets us first have a look at this story.

The image above is of one of the architect’s achievements.

The Egyptian ‘Architect of the Poor’: Hassan Fathy And Why His Vision Still Matters

By Amina Zaineldine

25 September 2021

“[Some] saw him as a lonely guru, reminiscent of Old Testament prophets, promising that the world would reap misery for not listening to the truth of his message.”

These words, written in a study dedicated to Hassan Fathy’s legacy, paint a mysterious picture of the life and work of the controversial, yet highly celebrated, Egyptian architect. But who was he, and what makes him stand out until today as one of the most unique, timeless, and internationally recognized Egyptian architects of all time?

Born in 1900 in Alexandria to an upper-middle class family, one notable peculiarity in Fathy’s six-decade career is that much of his work – including New Gourna, the village that became his best-known project – was neither urban nor for the well-to-do.

The New Gourna Mosque by Hassan Fathy

Located in Luxor, New Gourna was a prime example of the philosophy ingrained in Fathy’s designs. Architecture, he believed, was for human beings. At the core of his concepts were the needs of those who would use his buildings. In the case of New Gourna and many of his other projects, those who used his buildings were Egypt’s rural poor, whom he centred in most of his work.

“We need a system that allows the traditional way of cooperation to work in our society. We must subject technology and science to the economy of the poor and penniless,” said Fathy, who became known as ‘the architect of the poor’.

His work also rejected many elements of internationalist modernism and embraced traditional styles, approaches, and materials, believing that they were best suited for the environment. He valued indigenous insights on architecture and believed that they were there for a reason; a direct result of indigenous needs.

While building New Gourna, for example, he championed cultural authenticity by using mud bricks as his main building material and designing domed ceilings as is common in Upper Egypt.

The design of buildings in New Gourna by Hassan Fathy.

Fathy, whose work focused on developing countries, the Arab and Muslim world, and particularly Egypt, believed that straying too far from traditional concepts and instead opting for culturally alien designs and materials, would with time encroach on the indigenous cultural identity.

These beliefs marginalised Fathy for some time within the Egyptian community of architects, which initially did not fully accept his rejection of modernism, but Fathy was immovable. Eventually, still within his lifetime, he was vindicated.

Gradually, more and more people in Egypt and the rest of the world began to see that what he was proposing was a different, more locally-centred form of modernism, which is far more sustainable and likely to preserve unique cultural identities.

Fathy was honoured many times for his work and architectural philosophy, receiving awards such as the first Aga Khan Chairman’s Award ever given, as well as the Right Livelihood Award in the first year of its inception, both in 1980. His book, Architecture for the Poor: An Experiment in Rural Egypt, in which he evaluates and discusses his project at New Gourna years after it was built, has become a staple for architecture students around the world.

Hassan Fathy’s Dar al-Islam Mosque in New Mexico.

Today, over three decades after Fathy’s death, his ideas are still proving to be relevant and insightful, perhaps even more than in his own day: for all the excitement about Egypt’s current construction boom, with developments in new urban centers such as the New Administrative Capital or New Alamein City, some are voicing concerns very similar to the core of Fathy’s message of humanism, cultural authenticity, and sustainability.

With expensive, modernist designs that do not tie in local designs or materials, Fathy’s words from 1969 are recalled:

“In modern Egypt, there is no indigenous style. The signature is missing; the houses of rich and poor alike are without character, without an Egyptian accent,” he writes in his book Architecture for the Poor: An Experiment in Rural Egypt. “The tradition is lost, and we have been cut off from our past ever since Mohammed Ali cut the throat of the last Mamluk.

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