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Beyond the Headlines

Author: The National UAE

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Dive deeper into the week's biggest stories from the Middle East and around the world with The National's foreign desk. Nuances are often missed in day-to-day headlines. We go Beyond the Headlines by bringing together the voices of experts and those living the news to provide a clearer picture of the region's shifting political and social landscape.
129 Episodes
For the past two weeks, air pollution in the Indian capital of Delhi has been off the scale. A toxic mix of dust, soot from farmers burning paddy field stubble, car fumes and construction all combined into a murky grey film over the city. The pollution was so bad visibility was reduced and the government moved to close schools and advise people to stay in doors.This week, host James Haines Young talks to Dr Vikas Maurya (Specialist Pulmonology at Fortis Hospital in Delhi) and Professor Guojun (Economics Department of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology) about why so many cities are struggling to breath. James also talks to Tanya Dutta, a reporter with The National in Delhi.
On October 9 after months of warning, Turkey launched an offensive across their southeast border into Syria. The move came after US President Donald Trump pulled his forces back from the border, effectively green lighting the operation. The move abandoned America’s Kurdish and northern Syrian allies who had led much of the fighting in the long campaign against ISIS in Syria.This week host James Haines-Young looks at the situation for the newly displaced refugees fleeing a Turkish offensive at home to seek safety in northwest Iraq. Firas Al Khateeb from the UNHCR, Jack Moore, our deputy foreign editor and Willy Lowry, our video journalist talk about the situation on the ground.
The Iraqi city of Mosul lays in ruins. A three year campaign by the Iraqi army and international forces managed to push ISIS out of the country they tried to take over in 2014. But it came at a huge cost. Thousands were killed, by some estimates 40 per cent of Iraqi’s famed Golden Division counter terrorism officers died as they fought street to street, house to house in Mosul. There is an estimated 8 million tonnes of rubble in Mosul, the remnants of a fierce fight with heavy weapons. In the final push to liberate the old city, ISIS blew up the famed Al Nuri Mosque. The site had stood since the 12 century, withstanding the rise and fall of nations and countless invasions. On the 23rd of April 2018 the UAE pledged over $50 million to rebuild the Al Nuri mosque, working with UNESCO and the Iraqi government to complete the project.Host James Haines-Young speaks to Noura Al Kaabi, to talk about the reconstruction of the Al Nuri Mosque and its famous leaning minaret.
Songs of Revolution

Songs of Revolution


A Beyond the Headlines extra. The Lebanese people have joined together with a single message, to stand against the government that they see as corrupt, inept and self serving. The clashes gave way by day three to a more jubilant atmosphere. Multiple videos of people dancing together, singing and of large community clean ups occurring in the mornings after the protests have given the rallies a festive feel.On this episode, Saeed Saeed is speaking to some of Lebanon’s biggest indie artists about what the protests mean to them.
Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets of Lebanon from the north to the south. The demonstrations have gone viral across social media platforms with videos of raves through the evenings and clean-up efforts the morning after. Host James Haines-Young takes a look at what sparked the protests, how the government is reacting and what options are available to Lebanon as they continue.
On October 1st, young Iraqis took to the streets in Iraq’s southern provinces to demand basic services like clean water and electricity, job creation and an end to widespread corruption. The government response to the protests was swift and brutal, killing over 100 people and leaving a further 6,000 wounded. Demonstrators said they were set upon by armed forces and attacked with rocket-propelled grenades and sniper fire. Anger at the violence meted out against demonstrators only served to inflame the situation further, driving more Iraqis out to protest and garnering global attention to their cause. Just as their cause seemed to be gaining momentum, the protests came to an abrupt stop. But young protestors are planning to get back to the streets. Host Taylor Heyman, assistant foreign editor at The National, looks at what is driving the protests and where they are heading.
On the afternoon of October 6, US President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed the more than 8 year Syrian civil war.That one phone call upended nearly five years of US policy in Syria.Shortly afterwards, the White House released a statement announcing their withdrawal from the country and Erdogan's plans to launch an offensive across the Northern border. Host James Haines-Young looks at why Donald Trump stood aside for a Turkish invasion of Syria and why does Ankara want a new war.
At 2.59pm UAE time on Thursday the 3rd of October 2019 Hazza Al Mansouri, the first Emirati in space touched down on Earth after spending 8 days at the international space station. For the last eight days Al Mansouri was speeding around the earth at 7.66km/hour completing approximately 16 orbits a day. During his time there in zero gravity, Hazza conducted experiments relating to the perception of time in microgravity and the effects of space on the body’s cardiovascular system.  But now he’s back. And his visit sparked the imagination of a country. Host Suhail Rather looks at the mission and what is next for the UAE. He spoke to James Langton, contributor for The National who was in Kazakhstan covering the departure of Hazza from Baikonur and Salem Al Marri, Assistant Director General for Scientific and Technical Affairs at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre about their objectives and their plans for Mars. He also spoke to Mikolaj Zielinski, a UAE resident from Poland and a Mars One candidate. Mars One is a Netherlands based project that is raising money to be one of the first to send humans to Mars on a one way trip to colonise the red planet.
On the 27th of September 2019, Hazza Al Mansouri became the first Emirati to go to space. He did it from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, from the same spot that Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, started his journey over 58 years ago.  Back then, in the early years of the space race, Cold War rivals The Soviet Union and the United States were in a technological battle to achieve spaceflight capability, in hopes to secure their scientific and symbolic superiority. Yuri Gagarin went into space ten years before the UAE was formed in 1971. Since then 40 more nationalities have left the earth’s atmosphere, the 40th being the UAE. Although few nations have their own technology to make the journey, the desire to take part in humanity’s expedition into the cold, hostile environment is vast, with many nations spending millions of dollars to take part in the privilege. What does space offer them? Why does it capture the human imagination and what does it mean for a nation? Host Suhail Rather looks at the UAE space programme and where it’s headed. With a human colony on Mars planned for 2117 and a probe headed for the red planet next year we take a look at what Hazza’s mission means for the local population.
The United Nations General Assembly is the pinnacle of global diplomacy. For one week every year more than 190 world leaders gather in New York City. Some of the big news stories from the UN General Assembly so far have been the impassioned speech given by 16 year old Greta Thunberg and the much more listless speech from Donald Trump. Trump addressed his anti-globalist agenda and the US relationship with Iran. Multimedia producer and host, Willy Lowry, is in the big apple reporting on events as they unfold. He speaks to The National’s Editor-in-Chief, Mina Al-Oraibi and Damien McElroy, our London Bureau-Chief about the events so far.  To read more about the United Nations General Assembly visit (
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