Category Archives: Documentaries

Qatar: Inside The Emirate’s Culture & Traditions (DW)

On the surface, Qatar is a dazzling and colorful Arab country, home to sheikhs and big business. But migrant workers without Qatari citizenship make up nearly 90% of Qatar’s total population – the highest such rate in the world.

Anyone traveling to Qatar arrives with plenty of prejudices: that it is a corrupt, filthy-rich emirate full of forced laborers who have no rights; that it is home to businessmen whose practices are, at best, questionable. But for the Qataris themselves, and the millions of guest workers from all over the world who live there, the picture is more nuanced.

Yes, Qatar is a dictatorship with an emir who enjoys almost unlimited power. But at the same time, Qatar is remarkably open and progressive. The emirate is tiny, and yet tremendously fascinating – with its vast desert landscapes, its bizarrely-shaped mountains and its picturesque sandy beaches.

Analysis: The Future Of Energy Policies In Europe

DW Documentary – Energy is life – these days, Europeans are experiencing that first-hand. For far too long, Europe has depended on coal, oil and gas imports from around the world. Not only have these fuels been driving the climate catastrophe, but they also serve as a dangerous bargaining chip for geopolitical interests.

Energy is essential — and it is a major problem. The war in Ukraine has shown just how dependent Europe is on fossil fuels. This has weakened Europe and given export countries – frequently governed by authoritarian rule – a geopolitical means of leverage. Now, war on the European continent has eclipsed concerns over the climate Crisis. The increased consumption of harmful fuels is creating economic and political problems.

Yet, against the odds, decarbonizing Europe remains a widespread priority, and alternative solutions are already available. In France, Denmark and Ukraine, civil initiatives are taking energy supplies into their own hands and investing in the joint production of their own solar energy. In some cases, privately produced solar energy has proven much cheaper than what national solar energy providers offer.

These initiatives show that decentralizing energy production could be the key to transforming our energy supply. Poland still depends heavily on coal, but is offering re-training programs for employees in the mining business to help them transition to green jobs. An estimated one million such green jobs are expected to be created in Europe by 2030. Green hydrogen, currently still in the development stages, could be a sustainable and profitable alternative for industries in the future.

Across the continent, workable alternatives are emerging. The current quick succession of political crises has now joined the ongoing climate crisis to show just how important it is to act now.

Views: How Venice Was Built On A Swamp (NOVA)

Building a city on a lagoon has its challenges. Here’s how the citizens of Venice accomplished this task centuries ago.

Rising sea levels and sinking land threaten to destroy Venice. Leading scientists and engineers are racing against the clock and battling the forces of nature to try to save this historic city for future generations. Discover the innovative projects and feats of engineering currently underway, including a hi-tech flood barrier, eco-projects to conserve the lagoon, and new efforts to investigate erosion beneath the city. This is Venice as never seen before, at a critical moment in its rich history.

Archaeology: Neolithic Village Of Ba’ja In Jordan

DW Documentary – The Neolithic village of Ba’ja in Jordan

is a famous archaeological site. It was one of the world’s first known settlements, founded some 9,000 years ago. The site has produced magnificent finds including an ancient necklace made of 2,500 beads. What prompted our Neolithic ancestors to settle down? Why did they change their nomadic, hunter-gatherer lives so radically?

As is so often the case in archaeology, it is tombs that tell us the most, while also raising new questions. One of the most magnificent finds at the Ba’ja archaeological site is the richly furnished tomb of a young girl. In 2018, as the excavation team was about to depart, beads emerged from beneath the slab of a nondescript tomb. The team kept working until they finally recovered around 2,500 beads.

Further research showed the beads belonged to an elaborately crafted necklace that had been buried with the girl. The team affectionately christened her Jamila, “the beautiful one.” Jamila’s necklace is a sensation, and has been put on display at the new Petra Museum. There, the entire history of the country is presented, beginning with Ba’ja and humankind’s decision to leave behind the hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

Along with other finds from Ba’ja, Jamila’s finely wrought necklace calls into question much of what we thought we knew about the Stone Age. In recent decades, the burial site in Jordan has helped us see Neolithic people through different eyes. One thing seems clear: They were able to invest time in aesthetics, jewelry and furnishings because their food supply was secure.

Ecosystems: Plastic Waste Spoils Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands are home to some of the most unspoiled nature in the world. But even here plastic waste is a problem, and biodiversity is under threat. Marine biologists and conservationists are campaigning for the expansion of protected zones. The fauna and flora of the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean is a treasure trove for marine biologists.

They still know very little about many of the fish, rays and sea turtles that can be found here. But these days, their work is focused primarily on conservation, because many of these species are endangered due to threats such as overfishing and boat strikes. Efforts to protect local wildlife include attaching tracking devices to juvenile hammerhead sharks to determine their migration routes, which can then be designated as protected areas.

Other research teams are focused on the problem of plastic waste in the Pacific – identifying where it comes from and exploring its impact on marine life. Meanwhile, local fishermen are under pressure: Large fishing fleets from China and elsewhere ply the waters near the Galapagos Islands, severely depleting fish stocks. As a result, local fishing boats are forced to move into designated conservation zones. If the delicate marine environment surrounding the Galapagos Islands is to survive, fishing needs to become more sustainable.

Wildlife: The Black Rhino’s Comeback In Zimbabwe

In Zimbabwe, the mighty rhino is making a comeback. In southern Africa, the animal was poached to near extinction in recent decades. We visit a wildlife sanctuary, with an elite anti-poaching team, to see how the animal is being bought back from the brink.

It’s one of the most successful rhino conservation projects in Africa. In south-eastern Zimbabwe, a private wildlife sanctuary is working hard to bring endangered rhinos back from the brink. In decades past, the mighty Black Rhino was poached to near extinction in southern Africa. Its horn, almost worth its weight in gold, makes it a target for organised poaching gangs.

In 1998, the privately-funded Malilangwe Trust had a population of 28 white and 28 black rhinos, imported from South Africa. Today its rhino population numbers in the hundreds. Reporter Michael Davie, an Australian born in Zimbabwe, returns home to witness this extraordinary wildlife success story. He spends time with the sanctuary’s highly trained anti-poaching team, the Malilangwe Scouts, the tip of the spear against the ever present poaching threat.

“Individually you can’t win against poaching and we need every one of us to fight against poachers,” says Patrick, a Sergeant in the Scouts. “You have to be a team, a strong one.” Davie captures all the incredible action of the hectic “rhino ops” where specialists dart the animals from helicopters then move in on 4WDs as they dash across the park. Led by ecologist Sarah Clegg, the rhino ops team collect vital data on the herd.

“They’ve got this reputation of being bad-tempered and dangerous and they are, but I think it’s mostly that they’re just such emotional creatures,” says Sarah, who’s studied the animal for more than two decades. “They’re just insecure, you know? And so they need more love.” Malilangwe increased its rhino population to such an extent that last year, it relocated some of its Black Rhino herd to nearby Gonarezhou National Park — a former killing ground for rhinos.

“It’s what we all aim for in our careers as conservationists,” says Sarah. “It’s a wild park, so being able to put the rhino back into that park is like waking it up again.” This visually stunning story has a powerful message of hope. “Everyone needs to know the rhino is special,” says Patrick.

Africa Views: Failure And An Enduring Crisis In Mali

Northern Mali fell into the hands of armed jihadists in 2012. This resulted in the launch of the French-led “Operation Serval,” designed to liberate the occupied territory. But the crisis only worsened. The crisis in Mali is a story of failure.

The failure of a state, as well as the failure of the international community. This failure created a breeding ground for jihadists. How did it come to this? The crisis began in the early 2000s with the arrival of Algerian jihadists in Mali. At the time, their arrival did not worry those in power, who believed they would be safe if they left the jihadists alone.

As problems arose, the international community looked the other way, continuing to view Mali as an example of democracy at work in Africa. When the jihadists finally took control in the north and introduced Sharia law, France sent in the army. But without a political solution, the army was stymied. Aid money was embezzled and corruption was pervasive.

As France looked for an off-ramp, the crisis in Mali crossed the border into both Burkina Faso and Niger. In all of this, civilians are the forgotten victims. The violence in the Sahel has created more than two million refugees – a number that has quadrupled in less than two years. These refugees are settling wherever they can, as they struggle just to survive.

Wildlife & Music: Sir David Attenborough & Scottish Symphony Orchestra (BBC)

Ivor Novello Award winning and Emmy nominated composer, Ben Salisbury, is best known as one of the countries leading film and TV composers, with recent credits including the feature films ‘Ex Machina’, ‘Free Fire’ (both co-composed with Geoff Barrow) and ‘Beyonce: Life is But a Dream’. He is also a member of the bands ‘Drokk’ (with Geoff Barrow) and ‘Dolman’ (with Scott Hendy).

Ben is particularly well known in the field of Natural History, where he has scored over 50 films – including the last 3 of David Attenborough’s ‘Life Of…’ series. He has also formed a critically acclaimed writing partnership with Porstishead’s Geoff Barrow. The pair have so far released the album DROKK: Music Inspired By Mega City One, described by The Quietus as ‘jaw dropping.. one of the heaviest and most intensely atmospheric records of the year’. The soundtrack album to Ex Machina has been described by Louder Than War as ‘sensational’, and there are further plans to continue a collaboration which, according to screenwriter/director/producer Alex Garland ‘sets an incredibly high bar of creative skill and integrity’. Other recent co-written credits from Ben and Geoff include Ben Wheatly’s Free Fire (executively produced by Martin Scorsese) and Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror: Men Against Fire.

Mozambique Views: Will Ruby Mining Improve Lives?

Rubies are increasingly prized on the international gemstone market. The world’s largest ruby mine is in northern Mozambique, where thousands of people are fleeing extremist militias. Can the lucrative business improve the lives of the people there?

The mine’s executives have a clear-cut position: They say they pay the taxes they owe, and Mozambique’s government should use the money to build schools in the region, ensure security and fight poverty. They say the mine alone can’t provide a livelihood to the entire region. Meanwhile, some residents regularly attempt to enter and mine rubies themselves. In the past, there have been reports of violent confrontations with the mine’s security personnel. Are the rubies a blessing or a curse? A report by Adrian Kriesch.

Evolution: How Nature Is Adapting To Urban Sprawl

It’s a new and surprising chapter in the theory of evolution. According to recent studies, it’s in our cities, of all places, that animals and plants adapt particularly quickly to changing living conditions.

Nature’s response to the spread of cities is astonishing: Why do catfish in the river of a French city systematically prey on urban pigeons on the banks? Why do female birds on a university campus in California suddenly change their mating behavior? How do mice in New York’s Central Park cope with an altered diet of human food waste? How have killifish in the Atlantic built up resistance to deadly chemical waste?

And, is it possible for moths to adapt to nighttime light pollution? New research provides surprising new insights into Darwin’s theory of evolution. Nowhere else do animals and plants adapt so quickly to new living conditions as in cities. Biologists have long known that animals and plants occupy new habitats in the vicinity of humans.

But now, new genetic analyses show that these adaptations are accompanied by significant changes in DNA. Even more surprising: these evolutionary changes have not occurred over periods of millennia, but within just a few decades. The process has amazed scientists, who watch as nature transforms even our most hostile man-made interventions — pollution, light pollution, noise, garbage and dense development — into creative energy for new adaptations. Some researchers believe that our cities may soon develop their own, brand-new life forms. What are the implications of these developments for the balance between humans and nature on our planet?