Ammon News, Panorama

Lebanese star Haifa Wehbe’s revealing shorts cause a stir in Egypt

[11/5/2017 1:57:30 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Less than a month after Lebanese star Haifa Wehbe’s ban from acting in Egypt amid conflict with producer Mohammed al-Sobki, potentially banning her from the country, the actress fell into another heated debate. After holding a concert at the American University in Cairo on Wednesday, the singer-actress was issued a warrant calling her in for investigation before the Egyptian Musicians' Syndicate. Wehbe immediately took to Twitter to clear-up the situation before rumors and hear-say take over. In her tweet she says: “I was surprised to hear just now that a journalist submitted a complaint against me to the Musicians' Union because she was against the shorts I wore to the concert at the American University in Cairo. Is this an intentional thing now after all my successes in Egypt, or is this modern look strange to some. Any ways, I’ve been called in for an investigation, or in this case my representative will be investigated.” Her fans hurried to support her and let her know that they will continue to be there for her amid the controversy. *Al Arabiya

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Legal employment gives Syrians in Jordan a lifeline

[11/4/2017 1:45:48 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Mansour Mafalani is just like any of his co-workers at the Carrefour supermarket in Amman. He punches in at 7am, clocks out at 3pm, and jokes with his colleagues on his breaks. But unlike his co-workers, Mr Mafalani comes from the Zaatari camp for Syrian refugees, about an hour's drive from the Jordanian capital. “I work in Amman and my home is in Zaatari,” Mr Mafalani, 37, said while slicing a cut of steak at the meat section of the supermarket in north Amman. “For once I feel that I have a full life.” He is one of 34,000 Syrians granted work permits by Jordan this year under a new system providing free, fast-tracked work permits for Syrians in select sectors such as services, agriculture, manufacturing and construction. Through such jobs in the cities of Irbid, Zarqa and Amman, many of Jordan’s 1.3 million Syrian refugees — more than half of whom are not registered with the UN — are for the first time earning a steady income from legal employment. Yet while the increased freedom of mobility and economic independence has improved the lives of tens of thousands of Syrians, it has not led to an emptying of Jordan’s three Syrian refugee camps. Quite the opposite: more Syrians are lining up to enter them. Syrians such as Mr Mafalani, who now have steady salaries, health insurance and transportation, have no plans of leaving the camps any time soon. For them, life in Amman — where rents can reach up to 400 dinars (Dh2,070) and food is more costly — simply isn’t an option. “I have a wife, 11 children, a mother and a sister living with me,” Mr Mafalani said. “In Amman, my salary wouldn’t cover us for a week.” Hundreds of Syrians like Mr Mafalani return home every other week to the Zaatari and Azraq camps, one to two hours by bus, to spend time with their families before going back to shared housing provided by their employers in Amman. “I have made our caravans into a palace in Zaatari,” Mr Mafalani said. “If I stay in the camp, I can save 150 dinars a month and live like a king.” It is the benefits provided in Zaatari, such as free housing, electricity and water, that are drawing many of the estimated one million Syrian refugees who live outside the camps and struggling to make ends meet. Also, goods ranging from cooking oil to satellite dishes are sold at lower prices. More than 80 per cent of the 660,000 Syrians in Jordan registered with UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, live below the national poverty line of 2.2 dinars a day. Facing a 40 per cent shortfall in funding, the UN is able to provide only 30,000 of the most vulnerable families with monthly assistance of about 130 dinars. The agency has also been forced to rotate families in and out of its cash assistance programme to help as many as possible. After years in Jordan, many Syrian families have exhausted their savings and fallen into debt, accruing up to six months of bills at grocery shops and unable to pay their rent. They are being evicted or choosing to seek new lives at the camps. According to the UNHCR, Syrian families are showing up at the gates of the Azraq and Zaatari camps and asking to be allowed in. Around 1,000 Syrians are returning to Zaatari each month and 700 to the Azraq camp. “After several years, many families’ savings are gone and they are in a difficult position,” said Olga Sarrado, UNHCR spokeswoman. “With the increased freedom to move around and the facilitating of work permits, many Syrians are choosing to live in the camps and take advantage of work opportunities outside.” Suleiman, who did not want to disclose his full name, is one of many Syrians packing up and heading to the camps. He works illegally as an electrician, plumber and tile layer in Amman. Even though there is plenty of demand in the capital, and customers pay between 30 and 50 dinars an hour, the 42-year-old father of six says he finds it difficult to keep up with the cost of goods and services in the city. “My salary can reach up to 700 dinars a month, but I can never feel it in my pocket,” he said. “My rent is 300 dinars, I spend 150 on food, 100 on transportation, 50 on electricity, and that doesn’t even take into account clothes and items for my wife and children.” Suleiman decided to move with his family to the Zaatari camp, from where he hopes to apply for legal employment. “Amman is a place to spend money. The camps are a place to save for the future,” he told The National. Employers in Jordan are all too happy to have Syrians working for them. They do not have to pay the 400-dinar work permit fee required for other nationalities, and many Syrians have had long experience in the services sector. Under an agreement, many factories, industrial zones, restaurants and supermarkets go through the UNHCR to recruit Syrians with skills that they need. Carrefour has been an active recruiter. At the supermarket chain’s request, the UNHCR contacted Mr Mafalani, who had 20 years’ experience working as a butcher and at restaurants in Damascus and Deraa. Carrefour provided him with training, a stipend for housing and transportation. In three months, Mr Mafalani has built personal relationships with dozens of customers, who call him directly to reserve their cuts of meat. “Mansour and our other Syrians treat each customer like they are kings, they don’t just rush through their duties — they care,” said Barakat Malkawi, manager of the Jubeiha Carrefour. “They build strong relations with the customers and are really loved.” This is all part of a strategy by Jordanian authorities who want to ensure that Syrian families have an “improved standard of living” and benefit the economy without affecting Jordanian workers. “Unlike other foreign workers, Syrians will spend their money back into the Jordanian economy, not send it abroad,” said a Jordanian interior ministry source. “We and all relevant authorities want to facilitate their access to legal employment and to enjoy their right to a dignified life — all while not at the expense of Jordanian workers.” *The National

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Models present traditional Armenian costumes in Jordan

[10/31/2017 6:52:59 AM]

AMMONNEWS - A model prepares to present traditional Armenian costumes during a fashion show at the Royal Culture Center in Amman, the capital of Jordan, on Oct. 30, 2017. The fashion show was held by Watany Sporting Club (WSC), established by Jordanian Armenians, in cooperation with Teryan Cultural Center, which studies and promotes Armenian poetry and traditional costumes. *Xinhua

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Egyptian lawyer says raping women who wear ripped jeans is ‘national duty’

[10/30/2017 3:45:13 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Egyptian lawyer Nabih al-Wahsh sparked outrage in Egypt after he said that women who wear ripped jeans deserve to be sexually harassed and raped. Wahsh made the remarks on Infrad Show which is hosted by Saeed Hassaseen and aired by the satellite channel Al-Assema. The program’s topic was the controversy surrounding the draft law on fighting prostitution and inciting debauchery. During the heated debate, Wahsh said raping women who wear ripped jeans is “a national duty,” adding that girls who show parts of their body by wearing such clothes are inviting men to harass them. His statements sparked outrage across the country as activists have stepped up to condemn him while others prepared to file a complaint against him. Head of the National Council for Women Doctor Maya Mursi condemned Wahsh’s shameful remarks which are viewed as a “flagrant call” for rape and said they violate the Egyptian constitution which protects women from all forms of violence. Mursi also voiced surprise that these statements were made by a lawyer who is tasked with defending rights and freedoms. She added that the council will file a complaint to the attorney general against Wahsh and Al-Assema, adding that the council had also filed a complaint to the Supreme Council for Media Regulation. The council also urged media outlets not to host such controversial figures who make remarks that incite violence against women. Meanwhile, Wahsh said that he faced criticism on social media as a result of the interview, adding that he actually demanded stricter punishment for sexual harassment. “Girls must respect themselves so others respect them. Protecting morals is more important than protecting borders,” Wahsh added. *Al Arabiya

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Jordanian pilot proposes to sweetheart on Amman-Dubai flight

[10/29/2017 2:37:12 PM]

AMMONNEWS - A Royal Jordanian pilot made headlines, proposing to his beloved in a romantic way mid-air, which moved all passengers and crew members. The man who was on a regular flight from Amman to Dubai asked his sweetheart, who was on the same trip, to marry him, according to Al Qabas newspaper. “Today’s flight is very special to me as my sweetheart is also on the plane,” he said, while making his proposal on the loudspeaker. He then distributed sweets to all the passengers and thanked them for their congratulations and good wishes of a happy married life and everlasting love. *GDN Online

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Mystery of 400 ancient stone structures in Saudi Harrat Khaybar region

[10/19/2017 4:01:03 PM]

AMMONNEWS - In a remote desert area in Saudi Arabia, archaeologists have found around 400 mysterious stone structures on the edge of volcanoes that are possibly thousands of years old. The team found the stone structures using Google Earth and these formations have been dubbed the ‘gates’ because they appear to look like field gates from above, reported UK’s Mail Online. Some of these strange features are more than four times the length of a football pitch, and are built on ancient lava domes and were found in the Harrat Khaybar region in Saudia Arabia. These structures may be up to 7,000 years old, according to experts, but they have not been able to find out the purpose of these ‘gates’. Some of the ‘gates’ go up the side of the lava dome. The strange cluster appear to be the oldest man-made structures in the landscape and some are up to 1,700 feet long and built across old lava domes. The smallest gates are 43 feet (13 metres) in length while the longest are 1,699 feet (518 metres) long. Many of the structures have multiple stone walls that form a rectangular design whereas others - called ‘I’ type gates - have one stone wall with piles of stones at the ends. Hospitable climate? Experts say that thousands of years ago this area would have been much more hospitable than it is now. According to David Kennedy of the University of Western Australia, the purpose and age of these structures, remain unknown. His paper on the subject due for publication next month in the journal Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy, wherein he wrote: “Gates are found almost exclusively in bleak, inhospitable lava fields with scant water or vegetation, places seemingly amongst the most unwelcoming to our species.” The gates are “stone-built, the walls roughly made and low”, he said. Remains of lava flows can be seen on top of some of the gates, suggesting that they are older than some of the lava flows. The strange clusters “appear to be the oldest man-made structures in the landscape.” * Al Arabiya

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Ivana Trump says she’s the ‘first lady,’ Melania responds with feisty remarks

[10/10/2017 3:46:29 PM]

AMMONNEWS - US First Lady Melania Trump accused her husband's first wife Ivana of making "attention-seeking and self-serving noise" Monday, after the former Mrs Trump jokingly referred to herself as the first lady while trying to sell her memoirs. In an interview with ABC News to promote her new book -- "Raising Trump" -- the 68-year-old Ivana Trump attempted a little joke when describing her longstanding relationship with the 45th US president. "I have the direct number to White House but I don't really want to call him there because Melania is there, and I don't really want to cause any kind of jealousy or something like that because I'm basically first Trump wife, OK? I'm first lady, OK?" she told ABC, with a laugh. Melania Trump, 47 and normally very reserved, was not amused. "Mrs. Trump has made the White House a home for Barron and the president," said a tersely worded statement from her spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham, published by CNN. Barron is the Trumps' young son. "She loves living in Washington, DC, and is honored by her role as First Lady of the United States." "She plans to use her title and role to help children, not sell books," Grisham said. She added: "There is clearly no substance to this statement from an ex. This is unfortunately only attention-seeking and self-serving noise." Ivana Trump is the mother of Trump's three eldest children: Donald Jr, Ivanka and Eric. The former real estate magnate has two other children: Tiffany, with his second wife, Marla Maples, and 11-year-old Barron -- who lives with his parents at the White House. Ivana, a Czech-born former model, skier and businesswoman, married Trump in 1979. The couple were a fixture on the New York celebrity circuit before divorcing in a blaze of scandal in 1992. Trump went on to marry Maples, with whom he had been having an affair, but they divorced six years later. Melania is Trump's third wife. Ivana is perhaps best known for coining Trump's nickname "The Donald." *AFP

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