Sunday, April 19, 2009

Moving to Algeria

by Dan on April 17, 2009

From luscious Mediterranean beaches to the vast Sahara Desert, Algeria presents visitors with constantly stunning and varied landscapes. The Sahara Atlas Mountains in the North, and the Ahaggar Mountains in the South, rise dramatically above the arid land. One of the most enchanting things about living in Algeria will be the opportunity to travel throughout the country to experience the diverse terrain and breathtaking scenery. The climate is as varied as the topography. The coastal region is generally pleasant, while in the desert there can be vast temperature differences between day and night, which should be kept firmly in mind when considering clothing.

Algeria boasts several fascinating cultural UNESCO World Heritage Sites, with ruins from Phoenician, Roman, and other ancient Empires, as well as prehistoric rock paintings preserved from thousands of years ago. This rich cultural tradition has stayed strong in Algeria, and in particular there is an excellent literary tradition, with Albert Camus being the most well known to Western audiences. Some works by stand-out contemporary writers like Assia Djebar and Mohammed Dib can be found in English, and are highly recommended to anyone considering relocating to Algeria.

English is not commonly spoken in Algeria, so it will be essential to learn at least the basics of a foreign language. It’s a wonderful opportunity to learn and connect. Arabic is the only official language, with variations throughout the country between Algerian and Standard Arabic. In fact, Berbers make up an ethnic majority of the population and many speak various Tamazight dialects. You are sure to impress locals if you attempt a little Arabic, so why not try?

French is not a national language, but it did survive de-colonization, and is the most widely spoken language among foreigners in Algeria, as well as still being common for commerce, diplomacy, and higher education.

Visitors from the United States or most European countries require a visa; information and applications can be found at the Embassy’s US website. The currency is the Algerian Dinar, and Westerners’ jaws will drop at the exchange rates. However, imported items are much more expensive (as well as quite limited). A willingness to go local is essential – it will enliven the experience and save you money!

One of the most extraordinary things about living in Algeria is the food. Think of shady olive groves and fragrant orchards, slow-cooked tajines and aromatic spices. The cuisine combines the best of Mediterranean and North African, new European and traditional Berber. See the mouthwatering blog of Chef Farid Zadi if you don’t believe us.

A land of natural extravagance and dramatic history, Algeria has a lot to offer to those bold enough to try life there. Learn some French or, better yet, Arabic, pack for the weather in the region you will be moving to, read a little Camus or Djebar, and prepare yourself for an Algerian adventure!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

U.S. Congress authorized President James Madison to use the Navy against the Regency of Algiers

President James Madison, after the conclusion of a peace treaty with Great Britain ending the War of 1812, sought authority to use the U.S. Navy to take action against vessels of the ruler and Regency of Algeria that had been seizing U.S. commercial vessels in the Mediterranean area.

Due to acts of “overt and direct warfare against the citizens of the United States,” President Madison, on February 23, 1815, recommended that Congress declare the “existence of a state of war between the United States and the Dey and Regency of Algiers.”15

Congress did not declare war but did pass legislation, enacted on March 3, 1815, that authorized the President to use the U.S. Navy, “as judged requisite by the President” to protect the “commerce and seamen” of the United States on the “Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean and adjoining seas.” The President was also authorized to utilize the U.S. Navy to seize “all vessels, goods and effects belonging to the Dey of Algiers, or to his subjects...and to cause to be done all such other acts of precaution or hostility as the state of war will justify, and may, in his opinion, require.”

The President was further granted the discretionary authority to grant special commissions to “owners of private armed vessels of the United States,” to permit them to lawfully subdue, seize, and capture “any Algerine vessel, goods or effects” with the same authority as U.S. Navy vessels, subject to instructions given by the President.16

From: Congressional Research Service Report for Congress Declarations of War and Authorizations for the Use of Military Force: Historical Background and Legal Implications- Updated March 8, 2007

by Jennifer K. Elsea, Legislative Attorney, American Law Division
and Richard F. Grimmett, Specialist in National Defense, Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade Division.

15-The text of President James Madison’s message to Congress is found in Richardson, James D. (ed.). A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents (20 vol.,
Washington, 1897-1917), Vol. II, p. 539.
Also in Annals of the Congress of the United States, 13th Congress, 3rd session, p. 269.
16-Act of March 3, 1815, Chap. 90, 3 Stat. 230.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Photo of Assekrem by Ales Bravnicar

In 2007, BBC News website published a selection of my photographs from Algeria.
Every year I am drawn to this crazy place called Sahara. In the Hoggar Mountains, deep in the heart of Algeria, lies a refugee built by a priest Charles de Foucauld. Seeing the sunrise from his hut is a pure mystical experience, a kind of magic.

By Ales Bravnicar


Saturday, February 28, 2009

Lycee Bugeaud devenu Emir Abdelkader

Boulevard Colonel Lotfi

Vue panoramique de B.E.O

Les 3 horloges

Trois Horloges

Bab-El-Oued City


Again considered a dangerous area by many locals it is nice to visit to see a real working-class district of Algeria. Women may wish to cover up a bit more here and all people should be a bit more careful about money, phones and cameras. However, saying that I have found people here to be the friendliest in the capital and despite the negative image they have, they are arm and welcoming. The seafront here is a nice place to walk, offering beautiful views up to the church of Notre Dame d'Afrique. The seafront promenade is new and clean, having been rebuilt following the floods of 2003 which devastated the area. The small Jardin de Prague is a nice square, offering a pleasant place to sit and relax amongst the trees but turning right from here brings you to the crowded market streets of Bab-El-Oued. Noise and confusion rule here and it is one of the best places in the city to get cheap traditional fast food. The area is certainly more Islamic in feel than other areas and the Islamic parties had strong support here during the 1990s, and Bab El Oued became something of a no-go area. In fact the mosques here were known to be rather too fanatical and this led to a government crackdown on what the imams were actually preaching. The area was the site of the first big riots that triggered the calls for multi-party elections in 1988 and the beginning of the ensuing problems. As such it is interesting to see where the troubles all began, and to get a feel of the life of the less affluent in Algiers. The area is largely safe and the common street sense that needs to be employed in any poorer district of any large city is all the precaution you need. There are no real sights: the atmosphere alone is the reason to come here. The area houses a large and lively street market and there are many small traditional cafes and eating places though only men would be able to enter. At prayer times the streets are filled with the faithful praying as there is no room in the mosques, making for a fantastic sight. Things are a bit more ramshackle here but the French-built buildings are still beautiful and there are a fair few grand structures dotted around.