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Beyond the Headlines

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.
206 Episodes
On April 19, Nasa’s Ingenuity helicopter lifted off from the surface of Mars in a history-making first flight.The small, drone-like rotorcraft, which arrived on the Red Planet attached to the Perseverance rover, climbed three metres into the thin air, hovering for 30 seconds before touching back down in the Jezero crater.It was the first controlled flight by a powered aircraft on another planet.Another groundbreaking first for science followed a day after.A gold device about the size of a car battery on Perseverance, called Moxie, created oxygen out of that same thin atmosphere.Previous missions have focused mainly on answering long-held questions about our mysterious celestial neighbour. Has it ever supported life? Can we find liquid water there?But this new generation of experimental technology has begun to pave the way for the eventual human exploration - and even colonisation - of Mars.On this week's Beyond the Headlines host Arthur Scott-Geddes looks at the latest wave of pioneering science missions on Mars, which are helping to usher in a new era in the exploration of the solar system.
Within months of the emergence of coronavirus in late 2019 drug companies around the world were racing for a vaccine. Within a year, shots were being delivered into people’s arms. The speed at which the world developed not one but several different Covid-19 vaccines in seemingly record time has thrown into sharp relief other vaccine programmes that have toiled for years with no final breakthrough.HIV, the virus that causes Aids, kills nearly 700,000 every year, but has outwitted vaccine developers for more than three decades. Even regular influenzas can be deadly and our tools to stop it are very limited. But now, there is renewed hope that this could change – and that may be thanks to the work on Covid-19 vaccines.On this week's Beyond the Headlines, host James Haines-Young delves into how Covid-19 vaccines have already shaken up the drug industry and how what we are learning now could one day lead to tailor-made treatment for almost any ailment.
India hit what it thought was its peak of Covid-19 infections in September 2020 when the pandemic then started to ease. But the country now has the world’s second highest number of Covid-19 cases, surpassing Brazil, and is now only behind the United States. The new, deadly explosion has overwhelmed India’s hospitals, graveyards and crematoriums, particularly in its biggest cities of Delhi and Mumbai.On this week's Beyond the Headlines host Suhail Akram speaks to those affected by the crisis to understand how India’s Covid-19 crisis got so out of hand.
Desalination used to be the preserve of money-rich but water-poor Middle Eastern countries. It was expensive and caused pollution but in the arid desert where rain is scarce, there was little choice. Without desalination, taps across the Gulf would run dry and farms would wither and die. Experts have issued warnings about the water wars of the future as one of the world’s most precious resources begins to dry up. This week on Beyond the Headlines, host James Haines-Young looks at how Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Israel and Gulf states led a water revolution and how desalination could quench the world’s water worries.
On December 31, 2020, one year after coronavirus was first detected, the World Health Organisation gave the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine emergency validation, making it the first to be given such clearance. It was just seven months after the first trials began – a record breaking length of time. Other vaccines followed. AstraZeneca, Moderna, Sinopharm, Sputnik V and Johnson & Johnson are now common names for a range of jabs that are being deployed in different regions of the world. Hundreds of millions of doses have been administered worldwide. But with over seven and a half billion people on Earth and with most types requiring two doses, we still have a long way to go. On this week's Beyond the Headlines, host Suhail Akram looks at how we vaccinate the world.
The AstraZeneca vaccine was heralded as ‘the vaccine for the world’ when it was first approved for use in the UK on December 30. It is inexpensive and can be stored in normal fridges, unlike other vaccines. But its image has been marred by recent controversies. This week on Beyond the Headlines, host Suhail Akram delves into the benefits and the risks of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
For nearly a week, the ultra-large Ever Given container ship was wedged across the Suez Canal, stopping dead all trade through one of the world’s most vital shipping lanes. With no way through, hundreds of ships queued up in the Red Sea and the Mediterranean and waited. Within 48 hours of the Ever Given running aground on March 23, there was enough oil on tankers waiting at the entrance to the Suez to power the UK for a fortnight. Nearly $10 billion dollars worth of trade a day sat idle. This week on Beyond the Headlines, James Haines-Young talks about the week when global trade stopped because of a tanker.
Iraq is listed as the 20th most corrupt country in the world in the latest ranking by anti-corruption organisation Transparency International. Venality is rampant in a country still emerging from the shadows of multiple wars, terrorism and long-time sanctions.One aspect of this is the widespread practice of government jobs for bribes. Despite laws that criminalise both the briber and the bribe-taker, fresh graduates desperate for jobs say they have no other option. Since 2003, job creation has mainly been a government task.In this week's Beyond the Headlines host Ahmed Maher asks: is corruption in Iraq impossible to beat?
March 2013, Raqqa. The Syrian revolution is in full swing. A crowd gathers around a statue of Hafez Al Assad in the centre of the city. The statue is of President Bashar Al Assad’s father, and much like the Assad regime has looked over this part of Syria for five decades. Though not for much longer. Activists and members of the Free Syrian Army chant Allahu Akbar, and fire at the statue as it is pulled down. The relic lies on its side, they climb on top of it - Raqqa is now the first provincial capital to fall to the revolution.But this was only the beginning. Darker times lay ahead. This is the story of Raqqa’s revolution , why it failed, and what has become of the city after ten years of war and revolution in Syria. On this week's Beyond the headlines host Gareth Browne, just back from Raqqa, looks at 10 years of conflict in Syria.
It's hard to overstate just how significant Pope Francis's visit to Iraq really was. Nor how remarkable it is that it actually went ahead. Iraq, despite the best efforts of the security forces, is not stable. Just days before the Pope arrived on March 5, a US civilian contractor was killed in a rocket attack, probably the work of an Iran-backed militia. Pope Francis’s predecessor Benedict said days before the pontiff left the Vatican that the trip was dangerous. And yet, it went ahead. And it did so in the middle of a global pandemic. On this week's Beyond the Headlines, host James Haines-Young looks at the highlights of the visit, hearing from The National’s own correspondents stationed across the country for the trip, and asks: what will be the legacy of these four historic days?
It was beyond our capacity of understanding ten years ago when a young man in Tunisia decided to take his own life by setting himself on fire. This act was enough to start large-scale protests in what became known as the Arab uprisings. Two months ago, in the impoverished city of Kasserine, a desperate and jobless man in his twenties set himself on fire in west-central Tunisia. He narrowly escaped death. Local media reported that he was in his twenties and was struggling through tough economic times. But the horrifying act almost went unnoticed in Tunisia. On this week's Beyond The Headlines, host Ahmed Maher looks at why Tunisian society is becoming numb to the increasing number of stories of self immolation. 
On February 21 about 120,000 Indian farmers gathered at a grain market in Punjab to protest against the government. The crowds of men and women arrived early, making their way to the market in tractors, buses, trailers and cars. They waved flags and vowed to head south to the capital of New Delhi to make their voices heard. Waiting for them in Delhi were tens of thousands more farmers who had been camping near the highways leading into the capital for months.  On this week's Beyond the Headlines, host Taylor Heyman looks at why India’s farmers have been moved to launch these protests.
At the beginning of 2020 the UAE faced a conundrum. Abu Dhabi Ports was seeking to boost its cargo-handling capacity, which meant more construction above and below water. A new project with Etihad Rail was also planned to connect Khalifa Port with the proposed national railway that would run through the country. But the Abu Dhabi shoreline is home to the Ras Ghanada reef, consisting of 8 million corals, of which 500 would be under threat from the proposed works. In this week's Beyond the Headlines host Suhail Akram looks at how the UAE moved an entire coral reef.
On February 9, 2021, after seven months in space and six years since the mission's inception, a room full of Emirati engineers watched anxiously as their attempt to put a satellite into orbit around Mars reached its final destination. The UAE is just the fifth nation to send a spacecraft to the Red Planet. In this episode, we hear from Omar Adbelrahman Hussain, lead mission design and navigation engineer for the Emirates Mars mission, Hamad Alhazami, command controller of the Hope probe, and Mohsen Al Awahdi, mission systems engineer for the probe. We also talk to Sarwat Nasir, who watched the orbit attempt at a special event held in Dubai.Hosted by Suhail Akram.
During his 2015 presidential primary race, a day after the San Bernadino shootings in which a married Islamist couple shot and killed 14 people, Donald Trump said he wanted “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on”.In 2017, when Trump came to power, the so-called “Muslim Ban” was introduced. Trump signed an executive order banning the nationals of 7 predominantly Muslim countries from entering the USA for 90 day. All Syrian refugees were banned indefinitely and all other refugees were banned for 120 days. Although the ban hit some constitutional hurdles a slightly watered-down version came into effect in March of that year.When Biden became the Democratic nominee he pledged to repeal the ban on his very first day in office. And true to his word, on January 20 he did exactly that. On this week's Beyond the Headlines host Cody Combs looks at how the repeal of the “Muslim Ban” will affect Muslim refugees.
In December 2019, two months after the start of the popular protests across Lebanon, Human Rights Watch warned of an impending health crisis in the country.  The government was failing to fund public and private hospitals, and they in turn were struggling to pay staff and purchase medical equipment.This was before anyone in Lebanon had even heard of Covid-19. Since then the situation has been getting worse. The impact of Covid-19 has steadily been building - the economy shrank over 19% in 2020 and inflation continued to rise. When an explosion tore through Beirut in August, five nurses died, hospitals were damaged and the pressure on the healthcare system increased yet more.On this week's Beyond the Headlines, host Gareth Browne, takes a look at Lebanon’s failing health system and asks, can it survive the coronavirus pandemic?
On 20 January, 2021, Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States. President Biden has come into power breaking records and making history. He received more votes than any other president in history, beating Barack Obama’s previous record. At 78, he is the oldest president to be sworn in, breaking Donald Trump’s record. And he is the first president to have a female vice president, Kamala Harris. At the same time, as Trump leaves the White House, he too departs having made history. Trump is the only president to have been impeached twice.We talk to Dr Lindsay Chervinsky, presidential historian and scholar at the Institute for Thomas Paine Studies in New York state, and Bryant Harris, The National’s correspondent in Washington, about how unprecedented this presidential handover has been.Hosted by Cody Combs.
In December 2011 in Cairo, during a protest in Tahrir Square, a woman was captured on video being dragged along the ground. During the attack, her abaya, the name for the long, loose cloak worn by women in many Arab and Muslim countries, came undone, exposing her midriff and her blue bra. This moment became the catalyst for a growing women's movement in Egypt. Host Ayesha Khan talks to Ragia Omran, a lawyer from Egypt who has been a human and women’s rights activist since the mid ’90s, and Engy Ghozlan, a social activist from Egypt, about the movement.We also hear from Nadine Abdel Hamid, a 22-year-old woman who exposed Ahmed Bassem Zaki, a sexual predator who preyed on a shocking number of women and underage girls.
2020 ended with some relief that we now have vaccines for Covid-19. But the pandemic is not over yet and new strains of coronavirus have spread. Now we have to work out how to distribute the vaccines globally. And anyway, just how effective are they? Which is the best? How long will it take for them to reach us? On this week's Beyond the Headlines, Suhail Akram looks at the next front in the battle against Covid-19.
As we look back on the year 2020 it is undeniable that there is one story that has defined the year. But beyond the coronavirus, what have been the defining stories from The National’s newsroom? Iraq had a tumultuous year as it slid into economic despair after a year of anti-establishment protests. Lebanon sank deeper into economic crisis only to be hit with a blast that left a quarter of a million people homeless, two hundred dead and more than 6,000 injured. Ethiopia nearly came to blows over the Great Nile Dam, while fighting in the country’s Tigray region pushed the country to the brink of civil war. A brutal conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh killed more than 5,000 soldiers and 144 civilians on both sides. And then there was the simmering tension between Iran and the US, as well as, what was described as the most crucial election in America’s history. On this week's Beyond the Headlines host Suhail Akram brings you the stories from some of our correspondents around the world about the defining moments of 2020. 
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