Tag Archives: DW 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.

The Future Of Cities: CO2 Absorbing & Repurposed

Will the cities of the future be climate neutral? Might they also be able to actively filter carbon dioxide out of the air? Futurologist Vincente Guallarte thinks so. In fact, he says, our cities will soon be able to absorb CO2, just like trees do.

To accomplish this, Guallarte wants to bring sustainable industries and agriculture to our urban centers, with greenhouses atop every building. But in order for Guallarte’s proposal to work, he says, cities will have learn to submit to the laws and principles of nature. Urban planners also have big plans for our energy supply. In the future, countries like Germany could become energy producers.

In Esslingen am Neckar, residents are working on producing green hydrogen in homes, to be used as fuel for trucks. It’s a project that‘s breaking new ground, says investor Manfred Norbert. Our future cities will be all about redefining a new normal. Architects and urban planners are expecting to see entirely new approaches to communal living, as well as new urban concepts for autonomous supply chains. The repurposing of old buildings, and the generation of food as well as energy, are other important topics.

The architect Arno Brandhuber thinks the current building stock available, and the possibilities it offers, have been underestimated. His spectacular business headquarters are located in an old silo in Berlin’s Lichtenberg district. His most provocative project, something he calls his “Anti-villa,” is a repurposed East German factory for cotton knitwear. It‘s a prime example of sustainable design.

Travel & Culture: North In The Mountains Of Iran

Iran’s mountainous terrain has always been an important part of people’s lives. Years ago, these mountains were populated by legendary horsemen. Today, they are the subject of scientific investigation. This film provides the viewer with stunning arial views of these mountains. It unfurls the rich tapestry of Iran’s history, from the legendary Order of the Assassins to the Mongol invasions. We also get to know Iran by meeting some of the fascinating people who live there. Take Ali, a world champion of mounted archery. Despite its waning popularity, the sport has endured in Iran due the importance of horses throughout Iranian history. We get to explore the historic Tabiz bazaar, which is still a bustling market and kaleidoscope of cultures today. There, we meet Dschebrael, a stall owner who speaks Azeri, the official language of Azerbaijan. In fact, Azeri can be heard throughout the market, which serves as a meeting place for Iran’s many ethnic groups, and thus as a microcosm of the country’s cultural diversity. The film introduces us to beekeepers and violinmakers, as well as young people living in Iran who want to travel and express themselves freely on social media — even though it is forbidden.

Analysis: How Taiwan Is Facing Threat From China

Taiwan is a democracy with a strong human rights record and a high standard of living. But despite the country’s economic strength and elected government, the island state struggles to receive international recognition. Even in terms of corruption, Taiwan’s track record is better than that of some European states.

The problem is that Beijing regards democratic Taiwan, which seceded from the mainland in 1949, as a renegade province rather than an independent state. China is trying to isolate it internationally. Many fear that China has plans to attack Taiwan in the near future: The President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, has made it clear that his country is prepared to claim the island by military means. Beijing has been adopting this threatening stance for decades.

Thus far, the goal has been to annex the island to the mainland at some undefined point in the future. China’s historically questionable worldview would see this as reunification; from Taiwan’s perspective, it would be annexation. Both countries are highly armed – a war would inevitably cost many people their lives.

The film throws open a window on a nation that has been in a state of existential threat for decades; a country that is home to people who will defend their freedom at all costs – and also those who yearn for an imminent annexation with China.

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.

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?

Documentary: Lebanon’s Historic Economic Crisis

Lebanon is now going through the worst economic crisis in its history. 80 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line. In one year, food prices have jumped 500 per cent due to galloping inflation. Lebanon was long regarded as the Switzerland of the Middle East.

But those days are gone. A series of crises have plunged the nation into the abyss. And its people are suffering. For Riad, who runs a grocery store in the suburbs of Beirut, business has become hellish. Every morning, calculator in hand, he changes the labels of his products according to the day’s exchange rate. An operation made all the more complex by the fact that his store is plunged into darkness, due to a lack of electricity.

The Lebanese government no longer provides more than two hours of electricity per day in the country. It is impossible for the population to heat, light or use their refrigerators. Taking advantage of the situation, a network of private generators has emerged. The Lebanese pound, the local currency, has lost 90 per cent of its value.

The only people unaffected are those paid in dollars. The greenback, which can be exchanged for a small fortune against the local currency, has created a new privileged social class in the country. A salesman in an international pharmaceutical company, Joseph lives like a king in a ruined Lebanon. Thanks to his new purchasing power, he repaid his mortgage in two months, instead of… twenty years!

In a bankrupt state, plagued by corruption, six out of ten Lebanese now dream of leaving the country. In Tripoli, in northern Lebanon, Mohammed and his son set out for Germany by sea. Even though the trip was cut short off the Turkish coast, the young father is still ready to take all possible risks to reach the European Eldorado.