Start planning a holiday in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is not a country that attracts huge numbers of tourists, unless they are heading to Makkah on the Hajj pilgrimage. Well the country is planning to change that by investing millions of dollars into their tourism industry. They hope to pull themselves away from their reliance on the oil industry and make tourism their big money earner.

With strict laws against alcohol and big restrictions against women, it remains to be seen whether they’ll be successful or not. There is also the issue of their human rights violations.

The Saudi Kingdom is already the home of Mecca and Medina, two of the most important sites in the Islamic faith, and it has developed a sizable and growing industry for religious visitors. According to figures from the World Bank, the total number of tourists arrivals to Saudi Arabia reached over 18 million in 2014, though the large majority of those visitors are said to be religious visitors or pilgrims. The obvious problem of only inviting lots of pilgrims is that they tend not to be big spenders!

Hajj Pictures 130

Pilgrims walking around the Ka’ba above, and on Mount Mercy on the Plain of Arafat below:

plains of Arafat Mount Mercy

Finally the enormity of Hajj is shown by Tent City:



Schedule in a ‘Worry Time’

‘This is an interesting little animation clip which gives you tips on how to cope with too many worries. Perhaps some of the Year 11 students who are starting to realise the importance of the next month and a half, might need these handy tips on how to cope with overwhelming worries.

And from Monty Python’s Life of Brian – Always look on the bright side of life!


European Convention on Human Rights is pulled into EU debate

There is a lot of disagreement amongst the government’s top politicians in the Cabinet over whether the UK should leave the European Convention on Human Rights no matter what happens with the EU vote in June.

It was the Home Secretary Theresa May who pushed for the UK to leave the European Convention on Human Rights and was quickly criticised: “sacrificing Britain’s 68-year-old commitment to human rights for her own miserable Tory leadership ambitions”.


What the Home Secretary had said precisely was:

“The ECHR can bind the hands of parliament, adds nothing to our prosperity, makes us less secure by preventing the deportation of dangerous foreign nationals – and does nothing to change the attitudes of governments like Russia’s when it comes to human rights. So regardless of the EU referendum, my view is this: if we want to reform human rights laws in this country, it isn’t the EU we should leave but the ECHR and the jurisdiction of its court.”

Meanwhile David Cameron the Prime Minister has put out this comment through his advisers: “The PM has made clear he wants to see reform of the ECHR and has ruled absolutely nothing out if we don’t achieve that.” But sources admitted that the government’s position did not require withdrawal from the ECHR.

UKIP Candidate struggles to understand renewable energy

  • Stop building massive wind farms
  • Let’s invest in renewable energy

This is the oxymoron you can find in a UKIP candidate’s campaign leaflet being handed out around Worthing.

Numerous people spotted the obvious error.

Renewable Energy Illustration2

Renewable energy sources quickly replenish themselves and can be used again and again. For this reason they are sometimes called infinite energy resources. Geographers will know heaps about renewable energy I’m sure.


What to eat at Passover

Radio 4 has a 5 minute radio excerpt about which food is allowed and which is not, during the Jewish festival of Passover. Passover is the most celebrated of all Jewish holidays and remembers how in the biblical Book of Exodus it tells how the Israelites were slaves in Egypt. You had God parting the Red Sea and the prophet Moses leading them to freedom. Later on they wandered through the desert to the Holy Land, and along the way God gave them Jewish law. This is what Passover remembers.

seder plate

The lamb bone symbolises the sacrifice brought to the temple in Jerusalem on the afternoon before Passover.
The egg is another symbol of sacrifice but also has another meaning. Food usually becomes soft when cooked, but eggs become harder. So the egg symbolises the Jews’ determination not to give up their beliefs while they were slaves in Egypt.
The lettuce dipped in salt water is a reminder of the slaves tears.
The bitter herbs symbolise the bitter suffering of the Israelites in Egypt.
The charoset represents the mortar used by the Israelites to make bricks while enslaved in Egypt.
Four cups of wine remind Jews of the four times God promised freedom to the Israelites, and to symbolise liberty and joy.

So how do Jewish people celebrate Passover? By participating in a big meal called a seder, which means “order” in Hebrew — all its rituals are performed step by step. Seder guests take turns telling the story of the Exodus and the Israelites’ new relationship with God based on the law given to Moses on Mount Sinai.

Jewish families own haggadahs, books that recount the Exodus. Each participant in the seder gets a copy and follows along as family and friends read and explain the symbolism of the foods on the table. Some haggadahs are beautifully illustrated books with added commentary and poems.

Something to remember is that Jewish people deny themselves bread for the eight days of Passover. The reason for this is that rushing out of Egypt, with Pharaoh’s army at their heels, the Israelites had no time to bake bread. So to this day Jews eat matzo — essentially a flat cracker — during Passover in place of food with leavening. So forget the croissants, pasta, granola bars, etc.

US Air Strikes in Syria have now killed 41

When trying to decide if a war is Just War students should refer to its criteria:

just or not

News that the number of civilians killed by US air strikes in Syria against ISIS has doubled to 41 could sway people’s opinions on whether it is truly a Just War. The poster below explains the reasons some people say it isn’t Just War. Can you think of arguments to say it is?

its not just war