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Blast in northern Syria kills at least 36

AN EXPLOSION in northern Syria killed at least 36 people on Sunday and wounded many others, but the cause of the blast wasn’t immediately known, opposition activists said. The opposition-run Syrian Civil Defense, first responders also known as the White Helmets, said the blast occurred in the village of Sarmada …

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Mesmerised in a land of stark beauty

ON EITHER side, there is nothing at all: Eastern Desert and Western Desert, the maps simply call these vast stretches of sun-scorched sand and red rock. In between, strips of fertile green riverbanks appear like a mirage in the wilderness, a place where 90 per cent of Egyptians turn away …

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Persia’s dead poets society

THE sun is setting over the tomb of the great fourteenth-century Persian poet Hafez. Water tinkles from fountains and the air is filled with the perfume of roses. At the centre of the gardens, the tiled dome of an elegant green-and-blue pavilion glows in the honeyed light. Iranians circle the …

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Take a detour in sleepy Oman

AS the little boat drifted perilously close to jagged rocks, I gaped upwards, lost in wonder at the scale of the honey-coloured cliffs that rose from nothing and soared to loom more than 200m above my head. Gulls circled, arcing out over the sea and back towards their perches on …

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Burj Khalifa in Dubai

AT 829 metres up, I really feel like I’m on top of the world. I’ve been whisked up to the observation deck on the superstructure Burj Khalifa in Dubai. It’s the world’s tallest man-made structure. And it’s just as outrageous as it sounds. While it has a total of 160 …

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