Interview: Tunisian physicist Nour Raouafi, on NASA’s mission to reach the Sun

Over the past month, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe has been breaking space records left and right. On October 29, PSP became the closest and fastest human-made object orbiting the Sun, while October 31 marked its first solar « encounter ». In light of these events, Nawaat speaks with the Project Scientist of the NASA mission to reach our solar system’s star, the Sun. Nour Raouafi, Tunisian solar physicist at John Hopkins University Applied Sciences Lab which built the PSP spacecraft, describes the early phase of this seven-year journey into the Sun’s outer atmosphere, or corona, and also talks about his own trajectory to working on this stellar mission.

Hammamet’s forest

Beginning in October, farmers in Tunisia’s northwest, particularly Beja, Jendouba, Zaghouan, will begin planting cereal crops like wheat and barley and leguminous crops including chickpea, lentil and faba which will both feed soil and stock pantries. A select few farmers in the region will also plant canola, an industrial oilseed supplied by French agribusiness giant Groupe AVRIL who is partnering with the Tunisian Ministry of Agriculture to develop a canola sector that is « 100% Tunisian ». The project is in fact part of a decades-long push to introduce canola as a « locally grown » alternative to imported grains and oils.

Rouhanyet Mystic Fest : « Is this what you call peace and love? »

Rouhanyet Mystic Fest is celebrating Season of Peace, its third edition which takes place from September 5-9 in Tunis’ postcardesque Sidi Bou Saïd. Organized by actor Hichem Rostom and wife Sana Ezzine, the event claims to be a « spiritual gathering based on mystic arts, sufism, sacred musics and all expressions of spirituality », offering festival-goers a smattering of yoga sessions, crystal healing and nightly musical concerts with the likes of Yuma and Labess. But amidst festival slogans of « peace, love, tolerance and fraternity », several artists from the previous edition are calling, quite simply, to be paid for their work.

National Registry of Institutions, stepping on the toes of Tunisia’s civil society organizations

In June 2017, Tunisia’s Ministry of Civil Society and Human Rights pledged to reform the legal framework regulating associations, an attempt to « harmonize » the sector with the fight against terrorism and money laundering. The government’s proposal to amend Decree 88 of 2011, widely regarded as an important gain of the revolution for freedom of association, was perceived as a significant threat to this constitutional right. But while Tunisian and international civil society organizations had their gaze fixed on protecting Decree 88, the threat materialized in a far less obvious form: draft law 30/2018 on the National Registry of Enterprises, precipitously passed into law by parliament on July 27, 2018.

Tunisia’s skies soon to be opened up to drone technology?

On the heels of Korea’s joint agreement with the African Development Bank including a $5 billion assistance commitment to Africa, Tunisia’s Ministry of Development has landed a piece of the deal. The Korea Africa Economic Cooperation (KOAPEC) fund has carved out a million-dollar grant towards a project that will deliver Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), more commonly known as drones, for data collection in Tunisia’s agricultural sector. Until now, drone use in Tunisia has been largely restricted under ministerial law of 6 April 1995. Will South Korea’s experiment influence lawmakers to devise new regulations and open Tunisia’s skies to a wider application of this technology?

To fast or not to fast? Tunisia’s struggle against police conservatism during Ramadan

In Tunis, many practice the fast during Ramadan, abstaining from food and drink from sunup to sundown, just as many do not. At any time of day, you can find the latter crowded into the smoky refuge of one of the cafés and restaurants that continue to serve throughout the day, recognizable by their shutters partially pulled down over doorways or faded newspapers pasted across window fronts, discreet signals to non-fasting passers-by that inside, it’s business as usual. But this activity remains susceptible to police harassment justified by Interior Minister Lotfi Brahem, dismissed on June 5 after being vehemently criticized by NGOs.

حديقة البلفيدير: رئة العاصمة في خطر

العديد يعرفون البلفيدير من خلال حديقة الحيوانات، لكن هذه الحديقة العمومية التي تمسح أكثر من 100 هكتار هي من أكبر المناطق الخضراء بالعاصمة وغطاءها النباتي يجعلها بمثابة رئة العاصمة التي تعرف كثافة سكانية متصاعدة وتختنق بحزام المناطق الصناعية المحيط بها. لكن الارتجال على مستوى التهيئة العمرانية يهدد مساحة البلفيدير بالتقلص لتفسح المجال لباعثين عقاريين خواص أو لطرقات تحد من الاختناق المروري وتُضَاعف من التلوث. في لقاء مع نواة، نبهت آمنة الشرفي، الكاتبة العامة لجمعية أصدقاء البلفيدير، من هذه المخاطر مشددة على الأهمية الوطنية لهذه الحديقة وضرورة المحافظة عليها.

Yasiin Bey alias Mos Def à la rencontre de la scène hip hop tunisienne

Autrefois connu sous le nom de Mos Def, Yasiin Bey se produira, jeudi 10 mai, au Carpe Diem à La Marsa pour le Tunis Block Party (TBP). Tout comme les deux premières éditions organisées par les collectifs Frd & Friends, Upper Underground et Debo, l’évènement rassemblera la crème de la crème des DJs, Bboys, rappeurs et graffeurs tunisiens. Après le succès des deux premières éditions de Tunis Block Party, une performance assurée par le « Bey de Brooklyn » va sans doute réunir un plus grand nombre d’aficionados pour cette troisième édition.

Yasiin Bey aka Mos Def meets the Tunisian hip hop scene

It’s mathematics. In T-minus 10 days, Yasiin Bey, the artist formerly known as Mos Def, will be at Carpe Diem in La Marsa for Tunis Block Party (TBP) on May 10. Like the first two editions organized by collectives FRD, Upper Underground and Debo, the event will gather la crème de la crème of Tunisian DJs, Bboys, rappers and graffers. After an impressive turnout for block parties 1 and 2, a performance by the « Bey of Brooklyn » is sure to draw an even larger crowd for the event’s third edition. But TBP is not just a show for hip hop aficionados: with as much emphasis on street as stage, the party promises equal parts entertainment plus much-needed, healthy competition for participating artists.

Nour Harkati: On his journey, music and new album « Helwess »

Nour Harkati has spent the greater part of the past six years overseas, in Paris, Berlin and most recently New York. He wears the freshness of someone who has been away for a long time and is happy to be home. The singer-song writer has returned to Tunis for Jazz at Carthage, where he will perform with the band Aytma on April 15. During his sojourn in the capital, Harkati talks to Nawaat about life, travels and the musical adventure which has enabled him to try out different sounds and styles along the way. His latest collaborative project is “Helwess”, a soulful and otherworldly alternative rock album.

Reportage au Cap Bon : Pas de chance pour le zhar

Entre mi-mars et mi-avril, les bigaradiers sont en pleine floraison. Comme chaque année au Cap Bon, les femmes s’activent pendant une trentaine de jours pour la cueillette du zhar, la fleur d’oranger bigarade. Si les petites récoltes familiales sont transformées à la maison en eau florale selon les traditions, 80% de la récolte régionale est livrée aux unités industrielles pour en extraire la très précieuse huile de néroli. Alors que la fleur d’oranger est la plus ancienne plante aromatique et médicinale traitée par les Tunisiens, seuls les grands transformateurs profitent d’un marché en plein essor.

The Barker at Bardo: an art exhibition with bigger bark than bite

March 18 marked three years since the attack at Tunisia’s Bardo National Museum. Among the centuries of history and art housed within the former palace of the Beys, the memory of the recent incident and its 23 victims still lingers. But today, the building is alive with school groups and visitors, locals and foreigners alike. From March 11 – April 12, 2018, Museum visitors will discover « The Barker at Bardo », a contemporary art exhibition by artist Faten Rouissi in partnership with the Agency for the Development of National Heritage and Cultural Promotion.

Tunisia’s new regional administrative courts: What challenges lie ahead?

Just in time for long-awaited municipal elections on May 6, 2018, Tunisia’s 12 new administrative courts are finally up and running. Prior to the creation of these regional chambers, all complaints concerning violations and abuse of power by public authorities were filed with the administrative judiciary headquartered in the capital. Despite delays and funding constraints that have beleaguered their organization, a dozen new chambers and 60 newly-appointed judges have hit the ground running since they became operative on February 22 of this year. For in addition to its day-to-day litigations, the administrative judiciary has a pivotal role to play in ensuring the integrity of upcoming local elections.

American grains in Tunisia: can self-sufficiency be imported?

The National Agronomy Institute of Tunis has collaborated on several projects with the US Grain Council over the past decade. Now they are launching a new project in the country’s animal feed sector. On March 1, Minister of Agriculture Samir Taieb and US Ambassador to Tunisia Daniel Rubinstein convened at INAT to announce the creation of a regional training center for feed manufacture engineers and technicians. With the aim of improving feed and livestock production in Tunisia, the project promises to serve consumers but also farmers and feed manufacturers. The USGC is clear in its communications that the project also serves to promote American grains in Tunisia’s import-saturated market.

Hunting in Tunisia: Obsolete legislation, poor management and a lack of political will

In January 2018, the Lebanese Hunting Club posted a series of photographs displaying hunters smiling behind their spoils, hundreds of birds downed during a trip to Tunisia. The images suscitated a wave of outrage by conservation groups not only for the way that the group advertised their copious kill, but for the fact that hunting of this scale is permitted under current legislation. On paper, regulations in the sector were designed to conserve biodiversity and ecosystems. To what extent do today’s hunting practices, quotas and implementation live up to this role?

Constitutional Court: consensus blocked it, consensus to move it forward

In parliament this week, deputies fixed the date on which they will elect the first four members of Tunisia’s Constitutional Court. Long held up in the selection process, the assembly now has less than a month to approve candidates before voting on March 13, 2018. Four years after the adoption of a new Constitution and three years after passing the organic law concerning the Constitutional Court, deputies have been under mounting pressure to establish the unique authority with the capacity to ensure the constitutionality of the laws. Consensus is at once the main cause of delays and also the solution of last recourse. At this late phase, will it enable them to move forward?

Interview avec Habibi Funk à Tunis [Vidéo]

Pour le finissage de Geniale Dilletanten, exposition itinérante de l’Institut Goethe (20-28 janvier), la performance de djing d’Habibi Funk fait salle comble au Marengo Club, au centre-ville de Tunis. De son vrai nom, Jannis Stürtz, co-fondateur du label Jakarta Records à Berlin, donne, à travers le projet Habibi Funk une deuxième et parfois une première vie aux œuvres méconnues d’artistes de la scène underground des années 70 et 80 de la Tunisie, d’Algérie, d’Egypte, du Soudan et du Liban. A l’occasion de son séjour tunisois, Nawaat l’a rencontré. Interview.


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