"The world's first zero-carbon city is being built in Abu Dhabi and is designed to be not only free of cars and skyscrapers but also powered by the sun.
The oil-rich United Arab Emirates is the last place you would expect to learn lessons on low-carbon living, but the emerging eco-city of Masdar could teach the world.
At first glance, the parched landscape of Abu Dhabi looks like the craziest place to build any city, let alone a sustainable one.
The inhospitable terrain suggests that the only way to survive here is with the maximum of technological support, a bit like living on the moon.
The genius of Masdar - if it works - will be combining 21st Century engineering with traditional desert architecture to deliver zero-carbon comfort. And it is being built now.
Masdar will be home to about 50,000 people, at least 1,000 businesses and a university.
It is being designed by British architects Foster and Partners, but it is the ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is paying for it. And it will cost between £10bn (USD$15bn) and £20bn (USD$30bn). "
(Tom Heap, BBC News)
[Profiled on the BBC Radio 4 programme 'Costing The Earth: Eco-City Limits' Monday 29 March at 2100 BST]
"[Mikhail] Bakhtin's concept of carnival as a subversive, disruptive world-upside-down event in which the repressive views, lies, and hypocrisy of the officially run and dominated everyday world are unmasked provides a powerful theoretical concept for any study of Iranian popular theatrical and related musical forms. Bakhtin was concerned with polyvocality and the fact that from the onset of the European Renaissance the voices of the common people were increasingly not heard. The Islamic Republic's ban on the performance of improvisational comic theater would seem to support this theoretical stance with empirical evidence of official reaction. In the European context analyzed by Bakhtin, a writer, exemplified by Rabelais, enacts an important role because he or she reflects the voices of the low, the peasant, the outcast. In Bakhtin's view, the healthy voice of the low, which questions the high-the church and the state-is an important check on oppressive officials in a healthy society.
A full-fledged carnival—such as those in Rio de Janeiro and New Orleans—does not exist in the Iranian culture sphere. By carnival I mean a massive demonstration of excessive eating, drinking, and sexual and bodily exposure, popularly associated with Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, that does not occur within an Islamic/Iranian context. Threads and themes of carnivalesque and grotesque subversion, however, can be found woven through the fabric of the Iranian world. Here the needle that pricks the official religious, social, and political powers most is the traditional comic theater in its many guises.
In many ways siyah-bazi and ru-howzi embody Bakhtin's notions of the grotesque and the carnivalesque. Gholam-siyah, the blackface clown, the 'low Other,' always wins over his master: the world upside down. Gholam-siyah's extravagant clothing, movements, speech, and lower-class language demonstrate Bakhtin's dictum, 'the grotesque...cannot be separated from folk humor and carnival spirit' (Stallybrass and White 1986, 43). Gholam's bright red costume and conical hat, for example, are probably the closest thing to carnival costume in the entire Middle East. William O. Beeman, a scholar of Iranian linguistics, discusses the blackface clown: 'The clown distorts normal physical movement by jumping, running, flailing his arms, and twisting his body into odd shapes' (1981, 515). This is, of course, part of his repertoire, for sight gags make up much of the comedy of traditional comic theater. This grotesque twisting of the body is also part of the dancing that occurs in the comic theater, especially by the male characters."
"From the outside, the Luthan Hotel and Spa in Riyadh's diplomatic quarter looks just like any other modern hotel.
But step inside the discreet, frosted-glass building and you enter a women's world which men are forbidden to enter.
The Luthan is the Middle East's first women-only hotel, and as well as catering just for female guests, all the staff are women too."
(Stephanie Hancock, 4 March 2009, BBC News)
[The Luthan Hotel operates as a heterotopia (Michel Foucault). The hotel does so through enabling a discordant relation to exist between the specific societal ordering of the hotel and broader Saudi Arabia society. In doing so the hotel can be seen as a case of societal ordering reminiscent of the pre French Revolution Palais Royal (Kevin Hetherington).]
"Viktor Navorski (Tom Hanks) is a visitor to America from a small fictional eastern European country called Krakozhia. He's detained at JFK airport, New York, informed that a coup has occurred in his homeland and that as Krakozhia is no longer recognised by the US, his passport is invalid and he cannot enter the States. His nation no longer exists, so he can't go back, so he takes up residence in the airport terminal, scratching out a living and making friends with the people who work there. He even falls in love with strangely available airline hostess Amelia (Catherine Zeta-Jones), but all the while Navorski is being watched by a paper-shuffling airport security fascist Frank Dixon (Stanley Tucci).The film is, in fact, based on a real-life incident, namely that of Merhan Karimi Nasseri, the Iranian-born traveller who, having lost his documents, has been living on a red plastic bench at Charles de Gaulle Airport since 1988. DreamWorks, it seems, paid Nasseri for the rights to his story, but rather than have a character of Middle Eastern origin (the investors wouldn't like that), this gutless production opts instead for a fictional country."
(Brendan Walls, 2004)
Walls, Brendan (2004) Brisbane News, Brisbane, AUSTRALIA: Brisbane News.