Nawaat in English

The Nawaat team

11 September 2017

Researcher at Harvard University and third in the order of succession to the Moroccan throne, Hicham Alaoui was expelled from Tunisia on 8 September 2017, few hours after landing in Tunis. The Boston resident, nicknamed the « red prince », was to speak in an academic symposium on Sunday organized by Stanford University. In spite of our numerous requests, Tunisian authorities have refused to reveal the motives behind their decision. Moulay Hicham, who is known for his critical views on authoritarianism in the Arab world and Morocco in particular, responded to Nawaat’s questions. Interview.

09 September 2017

There has been a flare-up of public debate in Tunisia following President Beji Caid Essebsi’s controversial decision to form a committee that will reassess and reform the inheritance law. With some exceptions to the rule, this Qur’an-based law stipulates that women receive half the inherited allotment that men do. Essebsi, the leader of the catchall secular party Nidaa Tunis, noted that a reformation of inheritance laws is necessary for gender equality in Tunisia, a country that has become a role model in the Middle East for its democratic transition.

22 August 2017

Voter registration for municipal elections closed on 10 August 2017, and Tunisia’s Independent Elections Authority, the ISIE, announced its decision not to extend the process, in spite of relatively low turnout. On August 11, the ISIE released the results of the two-month registration period: 535,784 new voters and 92,201 updated registrations for a total of 5,373,845 voters who will participate in local elections on December 17.

21 August 2017

Towards the beginning of the summer months, Tunisia’s Ministry of Tourism and sector operators announced their expectations for an improved tourist season. At the start of June, the National Tourism Office (ONTT) calculated the number of tourist arrivals for January through May 2017 to be nearly double (46.2%) that of the same period last year. Media reports on the ONTT’s numbers displayed a range of enthusiasm « It’s going much better! »—to reserved optimism—« Tourism is going (a little bit) better ». On the ground, Tunisia’s seaside hotels are mostly full, its beaches packed with locals and visitors from near and far. Air-conditioned restaurants and cafés are bustling. The shaded, winding passageways of Tunis’ Medina, a UNESCO World Heritage site, are also teeming with people. Does this mean that business is in full swing for the souk’s craftsmen and vendors?

18 August 2017

Voter registration for Tunisia’s municipal elections closed on August 10, bringing the total number of citizens registered to over 5.7 million. Of the 1.3 million Tunisians living abroad, 8,838 registered to vote in the elections scheduled for December 17th. As the country prepares for its first district-level elections since the revolution, the Fédération des Tunisiens pour une Citoyenneté des deux Rives (FTCR) and partnering organizations are leading a discussion on the role of Tunisian immigrants in local governance in their towns and cities of origin.

14 August 2017

While media outlets and Tunisia’s Ministry of Tourism are understandably eager to paint a convincing portrait of the country’s tourism come-back, not everyone sees growth from the same perspective. On the ground, Tunisia’s seaside hotels are mostly full, its beaches packed with locals and visitors from near and far. The shaded, winding passageways of Tunis’ Medina, a UNESCO World Heritage site, are also teeming with people. Does this mean that business is in full swing for the souk’s craftsmen and vendors? Nawaat took a walk up and down the Medina’s main tourist circuit to find out.

05 August 2017

A pair of worn sneakers dangles from an electric wire stretching between telephone poles, of little consequence to the pigeons perched close by and pedestrians on the street below. How many of them look up and wonder about the shoe fixture slung overhead? This is just the sort of mundane urban detail that intrigues Mourad Ben Cheikh Ahmed, creator of the blog « Lost in Tunis ». In his most recent post, Mourad shared a series of photos accompanied by a brief explanation: « shoe tossing, or shoefiti (shoes + graffiti) is undeniably a form of street art ».

30 July 2017

Eighteen miles from the Algerian border on Tunisia’s north-western coast are the rocky shores of Tabarka. Heading into town from the east, voluminous pink and white oleander border the highway. Storks stand statue-like atop their nests, perched at the top of electrical towers. A massive bronze saxophone occupies the turn-about just outside of town. Here, and pasted onto the big contrabass which sits at the harbor downtown, are sky-blue posters announcing Tabarka’s jazz festival, which takes place this year July 22 through 29. As historical as the festival is, will its come-back this year succeed in promoting Tabarka as an attractive and competitive tourist destination?

24 July 2017

The Tunisian Court of Auditors knocked a government initiative to reboot the country’s tourism sector. In its 30th annual report released on June 30, the Court takes stock of the Ministry of Tourism’s Program for the Renovation of Hotel Establishments (PMNH) launched in 2005. More than ten years later, the time lapse, funds invested, and paperwork amassed are considerable, according to numbers crunched by the Court, whereas the program’s contribution to the quality and competitiveness of Tunisia’s hotels is less clear. What is evident is the initiative’s failure to ensure funding went where it was needed most.

21 July 2017

The last report of the International Crisis Group (ICG) about Tunisia diagnosed corruption and clientelism as the main problems plaguing Tunisia’s “national unity” government. Titled “Blocked Transition: Corruption and Regionalism in Tunisia”, it called for a more inclusive formal economy for business newcomers and entrepreneurs. It also drew attention to the fringe group of business leaders operating in the informal sector, and cited this group’s involvement in backing the protests occurring in the south of the country. That idea inspired a backlash of criticism concerning ICG’s framing of the conflict as an intra-elite struggle. Nawaat had a meeting with Michael Béchir Ayari, senior analyst for ICG Tunisia. Interview.


03 August 2017

“Manich Msamah”: resistance in times of consensus The “Manich Msamah” [I will not forgive] campaign contests the adoption of a draft law introduced by President Beji Caid Essebsi in 2015, the law of “economic reconciliation”. The Presidency’s proposed bill addresses past economic violations, mainly financial corruption and misuse of public funds. Public uproar last week before the bill was passed on to parliament stemmed from the possibility of impunity for corrupt state officials and businessmen once the law is passed.

02 August 2017

Wars in the name of democracy and freedom have been waged all over the world to the end of taking over natural resources, mainly oil, coal and gas. Even terrorism seems to be motivated by the same interests. In 2016, members of the terrorist group ISIS in Lybia conducted attacks on military forces of the nearby city of Misrata and began to move toward Sidra, Lybia’s biggest oil port and its largest refinery, Ras Lanuf. In Irak in 2014, ISIS took control of a strategic oilfield in Alas, Tekrit.

01 November 2015

Among the dilemmas Tunisia has been suffering is financial corruption which destroyed economy, burdened the people, widened the gap -under dictatorship- between the Haves and the Have-nots and accelerated the revolt against the mafia and the symbols of corruption in the country. The slogans of the revolution included promoting equitable development, establishing justice to the oppressed and putting the thieves on trial. Five years have passed since the dictator –Zine Al-Abidine Ben Ali- fled the country(January 14, 2011), yet the politicians’s viewpoints concerning the corruption dossier are still split: a sharp debate over the economic reconciliation bill, submitted by the President Beji Caied Essebsi (March 20, 2015) and consented by the Council of Ministers (July 14, 2015), took place.

17 October 2015

On October 9, 2015, the Nobel Prize Committee announced the Tunisian Quartet as the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and the associated award, the equivalent of 972 thousand US dollars. The Quartet will receive the prize in the Norwegian capital of Oslo on December 10, 2015.

07 October 2015

Every time I attend what seems to be a sophisticated intellectual social event and mention unresolved women issues and the need for a feminist revolution in Tunisia, it backfires on me with what I view as inconsiderate prejudices. Some educated members of civil society think that what Tunisian women have accomplished today is more than enough and that demanding any more rights might lead to turning women into better citizens than men. If this is the case with educated individuals, imagine how it is with those in remote and marginalized areas.