UN agency honours young artists who promote ArabWestern cultural exchanges

13 April 2011The United Nations cultural agency today celebrated 20 young artists – from an Iraqi pianist and a Lebanese trumpeter to a Dutch composer and two Israeli curators – for their contributions to dialogue between the Arab and Western worlds, saying it hopes their efforts will spark similar initiatives from other artists. The United Nations cultural agency today celebrated 20 young artists – from an Iraqi pianist and a Lebanese trumpeter to a Dutch composer and two Israeli curators – for their contributions to dialogue between the Arab and Western worlds, saying it hopes their efforts will spark similar initiatives from other artists.The Young Artists for Intercultural Dialogue between the Arab and Western worlds were announced at a ceremony early this evening at the Paris headquarters of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).The agency said in a press statement that the awards are part of a wider joint effort by UNESCO and the UN-backed Alliance of Civilizations to promote intercultural dialogue and understanding, and it hopes these awards will heighten awareness about their work.One of the artists honoured, the Iraqi pianist Zuhal Sultan, founded the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq when she was aged just 17 and has since worked with many Western performers.The Palestinian-American playwright Betty Shamieh writes plays focused on intercultural relations, particularly involving Arab-Americans, while the French-Algerian novelist Faïza Guène depicts the realities of life for North Africans residing in the French suburbs.Other artists named include the Belgian-Moroccan dancer-choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, the French photographer JR, the Italian film director Federico Ferrone and the Israeli curators Ruti Sela and Mayaan Amir.Several musicians were also garlanded, including the Lebanese trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf, the Egyptian band Massar Egbari, the Dutch composer Merlijn Twaalfhoven and the members of Talent 2008, a project bringing together nine musicians from the Palestinian territories, Egypt and Norway. read more

PO cancels Gulf cruises out of fear its ships could be targeted

Boris Johnson and other UK ministers are also urging Australia to send warships to join the task force. Mr Johnson made the request in a call with Scott Morrison, Australia’s prime minister.  “The Australian Government remains very concerned about the increased tensions in the Strait of Hormuz, and we are considering the American request, and also now the request from the United Kingdom, but we have not yet made any decision,” said Linda Reynolds, the Australian defence minister.  The HMS Duncan has been deployed to the region by the UK Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. The HMS Duncan has been deployed to the region by the UK to protect shippingCredit:Ben Sutton/MoD/PA However, if Iran were to seize a civilian cruise ship with hundreds of British tourists aboard it would be a major escalation in the crisis.  The decision by P&O highlights how some ship owners have begun to see their associations with the UK as a potential risk when sailing in the Persian Gulf.  No owners have yet taken the step of removing the British flag and swapping it for a neutral country. But the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), which is responsible for registering British-flagged ships, acknowledged fears among ship owners.“We are aware that some customers will have concerns over the ongoing situation, they trust us to discuss these issues with them in confidence and feedback any concerns to our colleagues in government,” the MCA said.  The P&O ship in the Persian Gulf, Oceana, is registered in Bermuda and therefore flies the Red Ensign, a red flag with the Union Jack in its top-left corner. The Red Ensign is different from the UK flag but P&O were concerned its clear associations with Britain could draw Iranian attention.  Britain announced this week it was joining a US-led naval mission to protect civilian ships in the Persian Gulf.  The 23 crew members of the Stena Impero are still being held by Iran. None of the crew are UK citizens, meaning the British government is under little public pressure to take drastic action to secure their release.  P&O Cruises has cancelled its cruises in the Persian Gulf over fears that its British ships could be potential targets for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. The cruise line said it had decided to call off all trips in the region until next year amid the continuing standoff between Britain and Iran over the seizure of tankers. “The increased tension in the region highlighted by the attacks on tankers in the Straits and the detention of a British-flagged tanker by the Iranian authorities means as a British company flying the Red Ensign it is not advisable for us to maintain our planned Dubai and Arabian Gulf programme this winter season,” said Paul Ludlow, president of P&O Cruises.“Whilst we appreciate our guests will be disappointed, the safety of our guests and crew is absolutely paramount and given our UK status, coupled with the uncertainty in the region, we have had to make this difficult decision.”The cruise line said all guests would be fully refunded and would consider returning to the region in 2020 if the political situation calmed. Iran seized the Stena Impero, a British-flagged oil tanker, in July in response to the seizure of an Iranian oil tanker off the coast of Gibraltar.  The Stena Impero has been held by Iran for several weeks The Stena Impero has been held by Iran for several weeksCredit:Morteza Akhoondi  read more