Changing names of cities: what’s in a name?

Changing a town’s name for a singular – even arbitrary – purpose, even if only temporarily, has a relatively long history. Changing names of cities also leaves with a few questions: What good did these city name changes accomplish? Do residents of these cities feel any prouder of their localities now than before? Have the changes resulted in better investment opportunities, infrastructure or living standards?

The Baghdad Peace Festival

Baghdad was founded by the Abbasid caliph al-Mansur in 762 CE. When he founded a completely new city for his capital, he chose the name Medina al-Salaam or The City of Peace. This was the official name on coins, weights, and other official usage, although the common people continued to use the old name. Baghdad soon became the home to pioneering scientists, astronomers, poets, mathematicians, musicians, historians, legalists and philosophers. The Baghdad Peace Festival was started in 2011 to remind people of that history.

Baghdad | Shahbandar Café: A traditional cultural café

Shahbandar café is one of Bagh­dad’s few remaining traditional cultural cafés. Since opening its doors, Shahbandar café had become a hub of Baghdad’s intellectual life, drawing poets and politicians to its wooden benches and photo-lined walls.  The café still stands, a testament to the resilience of the country and the capital, Baghdad, even if so much has happened here. From British rule to modern-day Iraq, Shahbandar has lived through the birth of a nation, the toppling of its monarchy, decades of domination by Saddam Hussein, the drama of the US-led invasion and the bloody chaos that followed.

cape town water crisis

It’s time to bring our planet back from the brink

The coastal paradise of 4 million on the southern tip of South Africa, Cape Town, is to become the first modern major city in the world to completely run dry. And even though residents aren’t responsible, the burden of making sure it doesn’t happen rests largely on our ability to cut down on water usage.

Megalithic Culture: Ancient megaliths at Barwadih

Megalithic monuments are among the earliest and most permanent of archaeological structures, and so many of them were used, or more properly, have been used and reused for thousands of years. Their original intent is likely lost to the ages, but they may have had multiple functions as they were used by different cultural groups over the centuries and millennia.

khovar wall painting

Khovar: An ancient tribal wall art

Tribal wall painting is an age-old tradition. The personal experiences of the artists and their interactions with the nature are the biggest influence in these art forms. Khovar art was traditionally for decorating the marriage chamber of the bride and groom, and it usually depicts the animals and plants of neighbouring forests and valleys.