From King Charles III’s upcoming coronation at Westminster Abbey to the first ever Africa Super League and commemorating the 50th anniversary of Pablo Picasso’s death, Arab Observer looks ahead to the new year and shares some of the major events coming up in 2023.
Croatia adopts the Euro and joins the Schengen Area
More than nine years after joining the European Union on July 1, 2013, Croatia becomes the 20th country to adopt the Euro and the 27th to join the Schengen visa-free travel area on January 1.
It will help Croatia cement deeper financial ties with the currency’s 19 other users and the European Central Bank. In addition, eurozone visitors will no longer need to exchange their euros for Croatian kuna and stop at border controls before entering the Baltic nation.
“After 10 years of membership (in the EU), we intentionally and deservedly reached the stage where we would become the only country in history to join the Schengen and eurozones on the same day,” Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic told AP during a recent business conference. These changes “will have a transformative impact on our economy”, he added.
Some Croatians however are not excited about these upcoming changes, as it means their beloved kuna, which was introduced after Croatia declared its independence from the former Yugoslavia on June 25, 1991 and its war of independence from 1991 to 1995, will be phased out. They are also concerned that the new currency will lead to price hikes, as businesses may round up prices when converting from kunas to euros.
Commemorating the 50th anniversary of Pablo Picasso’s death
To mark the 50th anniversary of the Spanish painter Pablo Picasso’s death on April 8, 1973 in the medieval village of Mougins on the French Rivieira, museums across Europe and the US will participate in the 1973-2003 Picasso Celebration. This event will be organised by the Musée National Picasso-Paris, Bernard Ruiz-Picasso, the artist’s grandson, and José Guirao, Spain’s former culture minister, who passed away in July 2022.
The exhibitions and associated programmes held as part of this event will “highlight the artist’s influence throughout the 20th century and his point of reference for 21st century artists”, according to the Musée National Picasso-Paris.
France is hosting two of these exhibitions: “Fernande Olivier et Pablo Picasso, dans l’intimité du Bateau-Lavoir” (Fernande Olivier and Pablo Picasso, in the Intimacy of the Bateau-Lavoir) until February 19 at Paris’s Montmartre Museum and “Picasso/Poussin/Bacchanales” until March 5 at Lyon’s Museum of Fine Arts. An international symposium centred around the theme of “Picasso in the 21st century: historical and cultural Issues” will also be held at the UNESCO building in Paris from December 6 to 8.
Last but not least, the Picasso Study Centre will open at the Musée National Picasso-Paris sometime next year. The general public and experts alike will be able to come to this research centre to peruse the museum’s library and archives.
Coronation of King Charles III
Charles III will be crowned king at Westminster Abbey by the Archbishop of Canterbury on May 6, marking the first coronation of a British monarch in the 21st century and the first since Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.
Camilla will also become queen consort that day. “The Coronation will reflect the monarch’s role today and look towards the future, while being rooted in longstanding traditions and pageantry,” according to Buckingham Palace.
Palace sources have also stated that Charles III’s coronation ceremony, codenamed Operation Golden Orb, will be simple, due to the current economic crisis. It will last one hour, compared to the late queen’s three-hour ceremony, and the guest list will be reduced from 8,000 to 2,000.
Turkey General Election
Amid an ongoing economic crisis, which has seen Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lose support, Turkish voters will head to the polls on June 18. This is an “historic” election, writes Ahmet Kuru, professor of political science at San Diego State University, as “it will determine whether the increasingly autocratic rule of President Recept Tayyip Erdogan will continue to dominate the country’s politics or not”.
Since becoming president in 2017, Erdogan has shifted the country closer to autocracy by moving from a parliamentary system of government to a presidential one. Over the past year, he also cracked down on journalists and introduced a new censorship law that tightens control over social media platforms and traditional media.
Erdogan will likely go up against the Nation Alliance, a coalition of opposition parties that has not yet chosen a presidential candidate, and the Labour and Freedom Alliance, led by the People’s Democratic Party, which enjoys a lot of support from Turkey’s Kurdish community.
Women’s FIFA World Cup in Australia, New Zealand
Australia and New Zealand will co-host the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, running from July 20 to August 20, in 10 venues across nine host cities. A total of 32 teams from all six football confederations will be participating in the tournament, making it the largest Women’s World Cup ever.
The first match will be between New Zealand and Norway at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand while the final will be held at Stadium Australia in Sydney.
The US, which has won the tournament four times and is ranked number one in the world, is the defending champion, while the Netherlands, Germany, England, Sweden and France are among its strongest challengers. It will also be the first time that Ireland competes in the tournament.
The player to watch will be Brazil’s forward and captain, Marta, who is her country’s all-time record scorer with 115 goals and widely seen as the greatest female football player of all time, holding the record for most goals scored (17) at both male and female FIFA World Cup tournaments.
Africa Super League
Announced on November 29, 2019 by FIFA’s President Gianni Infantino and launched on August 10, 2022 in Tanzania by Confederation of African Football (CAF) President Patrice Motsepe, the Africa Super League will kickoff for the first time in August 2023.
“This is one of the most exciting projects in the history of African football and will significantly contribute to the development and growth of the quality and competitiveness of football in Africa,” said Motsepe in an announcement. CAF will invest a total of $200 million in the tournament to develop both men and women’s football in its 54 member countries, train the next generation of football players and channel money into its other competitions.
The organisers add that this tournament will help “support the growth of club football, the construction and maintenance of football infrastructure and facilities” and keep “football talent” in Africa.
Originally comprising 24 clubs from 16 countries, the latest reports indicate that there may only be eight teams competing now.
The Africa Super League will run alongside the existing African Champions League, which takes place from February 10 to June 9.
Men’s Rugby World Cup in France
The 10th men’s Rugby World Cup will feature 20 countries and take place from September 8 to October 28 in nine venues across France, with sports pundits predicting that the three-time hosts led by Antoine Dupont will win the trophy for the first time. Their main challengers will be New Zealand, reigning champion South Africa, who beat England in the 2019 final, and Ireland. However, Scotland also boasts a squad of talented players and Italy could well emerge as an unexpected challenger.
France and New Zealand will kick off the tournament at the Stade of France. The final match will also be held in this stadium, located north of Paris.
Chile will make its first ever appearance at the Rugby World Cup and Portugal will return for its second appearance after 16 years.
Return of the OSIRIS-REx NASA mission
The OSIRIS-REx is the first NASA mission that collected a sample from an asteroid. The spacecraft left Earth on September 8, 2016 at 7:05pm EDT and reached the Bennu asteroid (formerly known as 1999 RQ36), chosen due to its composition, size and proximity to Earth, on December 3, 2018. It successfully collected a small sample of dust and pebbles on October 20, 2020 and is expected to arrive back to Earth on September 24.
This mission will help scientists at the Utah Test and Training Range, a military testing and training area attached to the Department of Defence, find out more about how planets formed, how life began and better understand asteroids that could impact Earth in the future.
Pakistan General Election
Pakistan faced much political and climate-related turmoil this past year. Former prime minister Imran Khan, leader of the centrist Tehreek-e-Insaf party and a former cricket star, was ousted from power in April following a vote of no confidence. He was replaced by Shehbaz Sharif, head of the Muslim League-Nawaz party, who presides over a coalition government. Major flooding in August then left one-third of the country underwater, resulting in the displacement of more than 33 million people, at least 1,400 deaths and over $30 billion in economic losses.
Although no official date has yet been given for when the elections will be held, they must take place by October 12 at the latest, as per the country’s constitution. Khan, who is rising in popularity among his country folk, is pressuring the government to hold them sooner and says that he will only govern Pakistan if he secures a two-thirds majority.
Khan has continued to hold huge anti-government rallies since being removed from power, despite being wounded in a failed assassination attempt in November. He also said that the current government is illegitimate and that he was ousted from government as part of a US-backed coup, without providing evidence.
United Arab Emirates to host COP 28
COP27 in Egypt was seen as a disappointment as “no progress” was made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and abandon fossil fuels, said French Energy Transition Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher in a statement. The UAE will host COP28 from November 30 to December 12 in Dubai, becoming the second Middle Eastern country to host a COP.
“We have only one planet, and with that in mind, it is imperative that we partner and work together in a spirit of determination and optimism,” said Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president of the UAE, in an announcement on November 23, 2022. He added that COP28 will be the country’s most important event of 2023.
The UAE was the first country in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region to ratify the Paris Agreement and announce its commitment to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Critics have pointed out however that it sent 1,000 delegates to COP27, the largest delegation of any country, 70 of whom were linked to oil and gas companies. Furthermore, at least 30 percent of the Gulf nation’s GDP comes from oil and gas, with much of the remaining amount coming from industries heavily linked to fossil fuel consumption, such as airlines, tourism and construction.