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Architectural professions top list of elite occupations

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Dezeen reports that in the United Kingdom architectural professions top the list of all elite occupations.
For millennia, humans make and build the most things in the world, but also contaminate it the most, as it is getting more and more obvious these latter days. Would this impact this article’s assertion if generalised to the rest of the world, mean that those privileged society elites are responsible for what we got now?

In any case, here is :

Architectural professions top list of elite occupations in the UK

By Lizzie Crook 

A report by the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre has found that architecture is among the most privileged industries in the UK.

The report, titled Social Mobility in the Creative Economy, reveals that 73 per cent of workers in the architecture industry are classed as privileged.

This means architectural careers such as architects, town planning officers and technicians rank as number one in the study’s list of the 25 most elite occupations in the UK.

The report also found that class-based exclusion is more prominent in the creative industries than in other sectors of the economy, with other creative occupations ranking in the top 25 including artists, journalists and musicians.

Architecture sector “dominated by the privileged”

“Creative occupations such as architects; journalists and editors; musicians; artists; and producers and directors are, in fact, as dominated by the privileged as doctors, dentists, lawyers and judges,” the report states.

“They are even more elite than management consultants and stockbrokers.”

The report also found that in 2020, those from privileged backgrounds were twice as likely to be employed in the creative industries as those from working-class backgrounds (9.8 per cent and 4.9 per cent respectively.)

A graphic from the report revealing architecture as the most privileged industry, courtesy of the PEC and Green-Doe Graphic Design

The Social Mobility in the Creative Economy report was carried out by Heather Carey, Dave O’Brien and Olivia Gable as part of a three-year programme led by the Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC) exploring class in the creative industries.

The statistics draw on a Labour Force Survey from July to September 2020. These surveys are carried out quarterly by the Office for National Statistics to record the UK population’s employment circumstances.

In the report, privilege is defined as people who had at least one parent who worked in a “higher or lower managerial, administrative or professional occupation” when they were 14 years old.

This references the National Statistics Socio-Economic Classification (NS-SEC), which clusters various occupations together into eight groups. The report considers those who belong to groups I or II, which includes doctors, CEOs and lawyers, to be privileged.

One in four creative roles filled by working class people

The report also states that in 2020 just one in four people working in the creative industries sector were from lower socio-economic backgrounds and this has remained largely unchanged since 2014.

This means that the UK’s creative industries would need to employ 250,000 more working-class people to become as socio-economically diverse as the rest of the economy.

A graphic showing the difference in socio-economic diversity between the creative industries and the rest of the economy 

“To put this figure in perspective, this deficit is greater in scale than the size of the creative workforce in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland combined,” the report states.

As such, the authors of the report have also called on the government and industry to adopt a 10-point plan to establish a socially inclusive creative economy.

Recommendations include prioritising creating fair foundations for success and widening access to higher education, eliminating unpaid internships and accelerating the progression of diverse talent.

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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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Qatar hugs and makes up with its warring neighbours

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Gulf blockade: Qatar hugs and makes up with its warring neighbours – but will it last? wonders Mustafa Menshawy, Lancaster University, elaborating on a situation at one end of the MENA that lasted hardly more than three years, whereas the similar one at the other end of the region continues unabated for the last forty years. It is that of the ongoing North African situation, but that is another story. In the meantime, let us read Mustafa’s.


Shortly after four Arab countries – Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt – imposed an embargo on Qatar in 2017, I flew into the country’s capital Doha. Hamad airport – usually buzzing with visitors from the Gulf countries (one of every four visitors to Qatar in 2015 came from Saudi Arabia) – was eerily quiet.

The four countries severed ties with Qatar in June 2017 after they accused Doha of supporting terrorism. They demanded the shutdown of Qatari news network Al Jazeera as well as calling on the country to downgrade its relations with Iran. Doha defiantly rejected the accusations and agreed to mediation from Kuwait and the US to end the standoff.

Qatar has estimated its losses from the blockade in the billions of dollars – citing factors such as “industrial-scale theft of content from its sports broadcaster BeIN by rival Saudi network BeoutQ and the manipulation of its currency by the four countries. So, when they agreed on January 5 to lift the embargo and restore diplomatic relations with Qatar, all sides were keenly anticipating any economic benefits the restored detente might bring.

Qatar may be the smallest of the Gulf states – but it’s the richest. So when, hours after the agreement, foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani talked about the possibility of the country’s sovereign wealth fund investing in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, his hint would have been well received in Riyadh.

Dangling the carrot of investment is a good way of appeasing Saudi Arabia, which is keen to attract foreign investment to back Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s grandiose modernisation projects as well as respond to the country’s long-term need to secure new export markets and diversify its oil-dependent economy.

Fraternal relations

But the biggest sign of the new detente has so far been in the tone of Qatar’s news media. Top of the list of the 13 demands placed on Qatar by the four countries was shutting down Al Jazeera.

Qatar didn’t shut the network down – but watching the network in the days after the blockade ended, one could feel the difference. Bulletins no longer include regular news on “violations” by the Saudi regime. The channel even rebranded the Saudi Crown Prince, who it had vociferously attacked just a few weeks ago for “tarnishing the image of the Saudi state”. Now Bin Salman is represented as a rising peacemaker engaged in relations of “fraternity”. This was symbolically reflected in the way he hugged Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani when the Qatari emir arrived in Riyadh for their meeting on the sidelines of the Gulf Cooperation Council meeting in Saudi Arabia on January 5.

Coverage of Qatar by Saudi network Al Arabiya has also softened considerably, something picked up on by the BBC, which even hosted analysts to comment of the repeatedly screened scene of the hugging between the two leaders. “It was a hot hugging”, commented one analyst, of the enthusiastic way the two leaders embraced when meeting at the airport in Riyadh.

The reconciliation has brought a sense of relief in all four countries. Ordinary people paid a deep humanitarian price – many are linked by close tribal ties and there are thousands of cases of cross-border intermarriage (to give you an idea of how close the Saudi Arabia and Qatar are, consider that it takes just an hour to drive from Doha to Saudi territory).

In Qatar, I heard many stories of families split apart when Qatari nationals were ordered to leave their three Gulf neighbours within 14 days. More than 12,000 residents in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and UAE were also ordered to leave Qatar. Social media is now full of videos of families jubilantly crossing “Abu Samra”, the land border between Saudi Arabia and Qatar within hours of the agreement.

Happy talk

This may all sound like a return to normality, but sceptics pointed to the fact that, while the two feuding leaders talked of “brotherly unity” and desires for “Gulf unity”, neither mentioned an agreement on any of the issues that caused the crisis. On the one hand, everyone’s a winner – but, on the other, we don’t know how or why. The situation has been described as a “detente borne more of exhaustion than compromise”.

The 13 demands made by the other Gulf states of Qatar remain unmet. For example, the Qatari foreign minister has already scotched a demand for Qatar to reduce its ties with Iran by shutting down diplomatic posts in Iran or expelling members of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard, saying a couple of days after the agreement that his country would not alter relations with Tehran.

So this dispute is far from ended and there is a lot of tension brewing under the surface. Saudi Arabia, for its part, sees Iran as an “existential threat” and is unlikely to take no change as a negative answer.

Others believe that for Bin Salman, temporarily easing the tension with Qatar is “low-hanging fruit” – something achieved with relative ease ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th US president. Biden is known for his critical attitude towards Riyadh’s approach to human rights.

There is no sign that Qatar is also heeding the other demands, including closing Turkey’s military base outside Doha. Turkey is popular among Qataris. You’ll see cars with number plate stickers featuring the Turkish flag – or even with the image of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

With so few issues apparently actually resolved, it’s little wonder that it took just days for new signs of tension to reappear after the agreement. The UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, said following the GCC summit that Doha still has questions to answer, including: “How is Qatar going to deal vis-à-vis interfering in our affairs through support of political Islam? Is Turkey’s presence in the Gulf going to be permanent?”

These are the same questions asked of Qatar long before the four countries issued their ultimatum in 2017. It’s tension that is likely to outlive the warmth engendered by those televised hugs.

Mustafa Menshawy, Postdoctoral Researcher in Middle East Politics, Lancaster University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Paris climate pact turns five

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Reuters’ ANALYSIS – As Paris climate pact turns five, leaders urged to make more space for nature by Megan Rowling  is about how all people at the front can help towards countering the planet’s climate from warming any further.


12 December 2020


Forests and other ecosystems have been neglected in efforts to fight global warming, say officials and activists, calling for a joined-up approach to tackling biodiversity and climate crises.

BARCELONA, Dec 12 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Five years ago, when the Paris Agreement to tackle climate change was adopted, storing planet-warming carbon in ecosystems such as tropical forests, wetlands and coastal mangroves was not seen as a major part of the solution.

Now officials and environmentalists say goals to limit global temperature rise cannot be met without nature’s help.

Ahead of a U.N. “Climate Ambition Summit” to mark the fifth anniversary of the Paris accord on Saturday, held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they said threats to plants, wildlife, human health and the climate should be confronted together.

“It is time for nature to have a more prominent role in climate discussions and solutions,” said Brian O’Donnell, director of the Campaign for Nature, which works with scientists, indigenous people and conservation groups.

“Global leaders can no longer deal with the climate and biodiversity crises in isolation if we are to be successful in addressing either of them,” he added in a statement.

It noted scientific estimates that protecting the planet’s ecosystems could provide at least a third of the reductions in emissions needed by 2030 to meet the aims of the Paris pact.

Under that deal, nearly 200 countries agreed to limit the average rise in global temperatures to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius and ideally to 1.5C above preindustrial times.

But the Earth has already heated up by about 1.2C and is on track to warm by more than 3C by the end of the century, the United Nations said this week.

Understanding has accelerated in recent years about the crucial role ecosystems on land and sea play in absorbing carbon emitted by human activities – mainly from burning fossil fuels – and curbing potentially catastrophic planetary heating.

In 2019, a U.N. climate science report said the way the world manages land, and how food is produced and consumed, had to change to curb global warming – or food security, health and biodiversity would be at risk.

Zac Goldsmith, Britain’s minister for the international environment and climate, said nature had been “left behind” and life on the planet was being exhausted at a “terrifying speed”, as forests were cut down and seas polluted.

“We are denuding the world at a rate that would have seemed impossible to humans a century ago,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

FILE PHOTO: Village leader Matakin Bondien points to a young mangrove plant which has sprouted in a clearing where mangrove trees were felled in Pitas, Sabah, Malaysia, July 6, 2018. REUTERS/Edgar Su

SUPPLY CHAINS

As host of the next major U.N. climate negotiations in November 2021, in Glasgow, the British government has vowed to put protection for forests and natural systems firmly on the political agenda.

Goldsmith said the COP26 team was aiming to build a global coalition of governments and businesses committed to preventing deforestation in supply chains.

That follows a proposed new UK law requiring large companies to ensure the commodities they use – such as cocoa, rubber, soy and palm oil – are not linked to illegal forest clearing.

Britain also will push for countries to phase out close to $700 billion in annual subsidies worldwide for land use that harms the environment and degrades carbon-storing soils, such as intensive farming, he added.

That money could be redirected into efforts to safeguard ecosystems – something sorely needed as less than 3% of international climate finance from donor governments and development banks is spent on that purpose, Goldsmith said.

Financial markets, meanwhile, have yet to recognise the value of nature or the true cost of destroying it.

Illegal farmers dry cocoa’s beans in a destroyed Djigbagui village nick-named Bandikro, in the Rapides-Grah’s classy forest, in Soubre, Ivory Coast, March 7, 2020. REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon.

GREEN GIGATON

U.N. officials working on a new large-scale effort to channel payments to tropical countries and smaller jurisdictions that lock up carbon in rainforests hope to start turning that problem around by COP26.

Last month, they launched a “Green Gigaton Challenge” that aims to catalyse funding for 1 billion tonnes of high-quality emissions reductions a year by 2025 from forests in regions including the Amazon and Congo Basin.

Doing so would cut emissions by the equivalent of taking 80% of cars off American roads, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Tim Christophersen, head of nature for climate at UNEP, said the initiative was spurred by surging business interest in forest protection as a growing number of large firms commit to cutting their emissions to net zero by mid-century or earlier.

That means companies such as Microsoft, Salesforce and Disney need to offset emissions they cannot eliminate themselves by paying to reduce them elsewhere, through projects such as restoring degraded forests.

Under the gigaton challenge, donor governments will invest public money to put a floor under the price per tonne of carbon stored – which could be about $10-$15 – aimed at rewarding successful nature protection efforts that companies will eventually pay even more to back.

Countries including Costa Rica and Chile have shown interest in participating, but deals have yet to be brokered between forest-nation governments and the private sector.

Over the past decade, U.N. agencies have worked to develop the basis for a robust market in forest carbon offsets – but without firm international rules, carbon prices have not risen high enough to provide an incentive to keep trees standing.

“There is a need for countries to see some sort of reward for results” at a price that makes protecting forests financially viable, said Gabriel Labbate, UNEP’s team leader for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+).

The United Nations and others are still waiting for governments to iron out differences over a system to use carbon credits to meet emissions reduction targets under the Paris pact.

Christophersen warned that companies – especially in the oil and gas industry – should not see supporting forest protection as an alternative to slashing their own emissions.

“Nature is not a substitute for emissions reductions in other areas, and in particular for getting off fossil fuels,” he said.

(Reporting by Megan Rowling @meganrowling; editing by Laurie Goering. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org/climate)

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Qatar University bags six prizes at global innovation contest

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Hard work in completing scientific research and reaching creative solutions using the Young Scientists Center’s latest technologies resulted in Qatar University bags six prizes at global innovation contest. It is told in The Peninsula of 7 December 2020.

The Qatari pride was expressly reconfirmed in the country’s continuous support to all leaders of development and pioneers of the knowledge-based economy to fulfil Qatar National Vision 2030.

Pic: Salim Matramkot / The Peninsula

Doha: Four distinguished scientific projects of Qatar University’s (QU) Young Scientists Center (YSC) won six international prizes at the International Invention, Innovation & Technology Exhibition in Malaysia (ITEX). 

The event was organised in cooperation with the International Federation of Inventors’ Associations and the Institute of Engineering and Technology. This achievement, which represents the State of Qatar and QU, was achieved in a strong competition that included 250 entries.

ITEX is an international competition held online this year, which targets school students and university students. This competition has several rules and guidelines that determine the type of projects that are qualified and the categories in which they can participate and compete. The exhibition provides a unique opportunity for all participating inventors to gain recognition for their inventions and showcase their innovative projects, and compete globally through the platform that it provides to them.  Four groups of students affiliated with the centre’s programmes participated in projects developed at Qatar University laboratories using the latest equipment and research methods.

Sarah Al Obaidly, a student at the College of Engineering, and Maryam Al Kuwari, a student in the College of Arts and Sciences at Qatar University, affiliated with the ‘I am a Researcher’ programme, won the gold medal and an award in the “Top Three of Excellence” category, for a project titled “Functionalized polymer membrane for wastewater treatment, whose importance lies in purifying water from impurities.”

High school students Tamim Al Rashed and Youssef Al Mahmoud from Qatar Banking Studies and Business Administration school won the gold medal for a hydrogel sensor for agricultural applications that aims to improve soil properties and fertility. 

Abdullah Al Janahi and Abdullah Al Nasr, Qatar Science and Technology school students, won the gold medal for a project entitled Intelligent and Robust Composite Nanofibers for the Autonomy of Electronic Devices.

As for the preparatory stage, Ahmed Majed and Ahmed Salama from Al Kaaban preparatory school for boys won a bronze medal and an award in the “Top Three of Excellence” category for a project titled ‘COVID-19 pandemic inspired at home innovation: Through an unconventional remote educational model executed by the Qatar University Young Scientists Center’. This project demonstrates the novel and effective educational methods applied by the centre to face the challenges of distance learning and to ensure students learn in a way that stimulates creativity and innovation.

The students’ outstanding success was pleasing to the sponsoring programme of the centre, “Ras Laffan Industrial City Community Outreach Program”. Their pride was expressed in the outcomes of hard work in completing scientific research and reaching creative solutions using the Young Scientists Center’s latest technologies at Qatar University. The programme affirmed its continuous support to all students to become the leaders of development in the country and pioneers of the knowledge-based economy to fulfil Qatar National Vision 2030.