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  • Ethiopia in Lonely Planet's Top Ten Best in Travel 2017 List

    Where should you go next? Lonely Planet’s experts select the most amazing places to go and things to do in the year ahead.

    10. Ethiopia

    With its own calendar (where else can you get 13 months of sunshine?), timekeeping, script, language, cuisine, church and coffee, Ethiopia is as exotic as countries come. And whether you’re trekking through the Simien Mountains to witness wildlife that roams nowhere else on Earth, climbing to a church carved into a remote cliff face in Tigray or boating across the serene waters of Lake Tana to visit an age-old monastery, you’ll be overwhelmed by the beauty of the landscape. In 2017 new airline links will make the country more accessible than ever, so be one of the first to hop on board.

    9. Myanmar

    Change has been a long time coming in the nation also known as Burma, but the election of the first civilian government in half a century has all eyes on the future. No one is pretending that all Myanmar’s problems have gone away, but things are moving in the right direction, and Southeast Asia’s most secretive country is poised to receive an influx of travellers. Visiting comes with challenges, but the reward is a window onto a vanishing Asia, where the difficulties of travel are part of the appeal, and where life moves to the timeless rhythm of chanting monks and monastery bells.

    8. Oman

    Oman has been the ace in Arabia’s pack for a while, but with more flights than ever before and high-end hotels popping up all over the place, the sultanate looks ready to raise its game yet again. Luxury accommodation, including the award-winning duo of Six Senses on the Musandam Peninsula and Alila in the Hajar Mountains, has long had a foothold here, but glitzy properties from Anantara, Kempinski and other high-end names are also slated to open soon. The burst of construction doesn’t stop there, though – the US$120-million Majarat Oman, a futuristic theme park for families, is set to debut in 2017.

    See the complete list here!

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  • The Nile Project Releases Second Album

    Jinja is the long awaite d follow-up to Aswan, the live recording from the Nile Project’s debut concert in 2013.
    Featuring artists from Burundi, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, and Uganda, the album consists of ten
    original compositions born during the Nile Project’s 2nd annual musicians Gathering in Jinja, Uganda.


    Each year, the Nile Project convenes a selection of artists from its growing Musicians Collective. A
    phenomenon that moves from music school to composition bootcamp to full-scale rehearsal, musicians from
    the 11 Nile countries explore all manners of combining their diverse languages, musical modes, rhythms,
    timbres, and playing styles. The Nile Gathering is two weeks of musical roulette that gives every artist a
    chance at the driver’s seat. To the listener, the performance is an aural adventure with many unexpected
    twists and textures.


    On the surface, the Nile Project blends traditional musical idioms into one seamless Nile sound. But look a
    little further and you’ll begin to see a 35-member Musicians Collective modeling contemporary organizational
    concepts such as systems thinking, network theory, and participatory leadership.


    The Nile Project is pioneering a new approach to transform transboundary water conflicts by using music to
    ignite cross-cultural empathy and spark environmental curiosity. Recent invitations to lead workshops and
    performances for key diplomats and policymakers at the United Nations, the European Commission, and the
    African Union attest to the capacity of these collaborations to transform the way we think and interact with
    respect to the many challenges we collectively face.


    Jinja captures cross-cultural musical collaborations among artists sharing diverse relationships to world’s
    longest river. Kindred harps and resonant lyres from the Nile’s sources in East Africa and Ethiopia to its deltas
    in Sudan and Egypt have reunited to learn new musical modes while buzzing timbres and ingenious
    polyrhythms support vocals in six languages.

    Click here for information on how to help the Nile Project

    Read more »
  • AddisFortune interview with guitar virtuoso Michael Hailu


    Guitar virtuoso Michael Hailu, a long time member and musical director of Jano Band, has always marched to his own drum, following his own musical journey. Michael is gaining wide critical acclaim and attracting legions of fans. He has played a key role in the local music scene as a producer of many popular local artists such as Michael Belayneh, Teddy Afro and Abinet Agonafir. With his signature guitar close by, and his warm, open personality in full display, the 28-year-old shares his experiences to SAMSON BERHANE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER, inside his studio, about music, life and how he became interested in playing the guitar by watching a video of Michael Jackson and his guitarist. With his unique sound and contribution to the advancement of Ethiopian music, it is easy to predict why he is indeed a star in the making.

    Fortune: What inspired you to become an artist?

    I have loved the sound of a guitar since my younger days. I discovered Jennifer Batten play in a Michael Jackson concert and I was impressed. How could I not be that, when I was discovering something unique and beautiful? For the longest time, playing with my guitar became my best memorable hours well spent.

    Then I also discovered other kinds of music, including gospel and popular music. For me, music is something that takes you away to moments that mean something for you. It takes me back to the days I would walk into a church and receive some peace of mind. As far as popular music is concerned, I first became a member of a group, founded by popular artist Dawit Tsige.

    Q: Do you recall the excitement you had when your work came out?

    I most definitely do. It was my effort with Abel Mulugeta on the album “Tegerime” and then I got to work with Teddy Afro. That was a milestone moment for me. It is very hard to identify which song made me known to the public. I worked in many bands, however, my work with Michael Belayneh, the song Tizita must have been the one that made me, humbly, a household name.

    Q: Jano is known for its unique sound.

    Before my work with Jano, I was mainly interested in rock music. That is more of my style. Jano has a sound that is mixed, a reflection of our diversity in contemporary, jazz, and soul music and gospel.

    I brought the idea to the group. However, it was Bill Laswell (former partner of Gigi), a famous American producer, who worked with the likes of U2, who brought us together. Since he was our producer at the time, we followed suit and accepted his advice. We are known to experiment, to discover all unique styles.

    Read the full interview here

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  • Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway officially completed


    The completion of the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway, a new 752km track linking Ethiopia’s capital with the Port of Djibouti (pictured), was officially marked today (Tuesday) at a ceremony at Nagad Railway Station in Djibouti.

    In the presence of Djibouti’s President, His Excellency Ismail Omar Guelleh, and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, His Excellency Hailemariam Desalegn, and senior officials from across the region, the new railway – linking Djibouti to Ethiopia – was officially inaugurated.

     

    The new railway can reach speeds of 160 km/h for passenger trains and 120 km/h for cargo trains. It will cut cargo journey times between the Port of Djibouti and Addis Ababa from three days by road to just 12 hours. Trial services for the new $4.2 billion railway began in October 2016, with regular services transporting goods and passengers expected to begin early this year.

    The railway is a major milestone for trade in the region. Currently, more than 90% of Ethiopia’s trade passes through Djibouti, accounting for 70% of the overall activity at Djibouti’s ports. With Africa’s GDP predicted to double by 2035, and the population expected to reach 2.5 billion over the next 30 years, the continent is in need of major new infrastructure links.

     

    In addition to building links with Djibouti’s port facilities, the railway will support the development of Djibouti’s International Free Trade Zone (DIFTZ), which will help spur the nation’s manufacturing industry and provide employment opportunities for its citizens. The railway project has been coupled with a US$15 billion expansion programme to improve Djibouti’s port facilities, and build new highways and airports in the country.

     

    Aboubaker Omar Hadi, Chairman of the Djibouti Ports and Free Zones Authority (DPFZA), said: “This railway marks a new dawn for Africa’s integration into the global economy. From today, millions more Africans are now linked to Djibouti’s world-class port facilities. Connecting Africa, Asia and Europe, Djibouti is at the heart of the world’s trade routes, and we are proud to play a vital role in developing the region and wider continent.”

     

    The railway was previously inaugurated from Ethiopia’s side on 5th October 2016. With journeys now also possible from Djibouti, the new railway represents the next step in plans for a 2000km long track that will also connect Djibouti and Ethiopia to South Sudan. The vision is that this could one day evolve into a Trans-African railway crossing the continent from the Red Sea to the Atlantic Ocean, a journey which by sea currently takes eight weeks.

    Source: dpfza.gov.dj

    Read more »
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