Welcome to the ‘Best of The National’, your guide to our most compelling, important and exclusive content from the past seven days.
This was a week that began in colourful celebration as the UAE marked its 47th anniversary. The week was bookended with a potent display of the Emirates’ history, with the grand reopening after 10 years of renovations of the impressive Qasr Al Hosn in the heart of Abu Dhabi.
Pope Francis is to visit the UAE in February, the first pontiff to visit the country.
On the diplomatic front, history was made in Sweden when the Houthi rebels and the Yemen Government sat down to begin talks.
Qatar made the shock announcement it was leaving the Opec bloc of oil producing countries and the families of Iranian prisoners made a rare joint appeal for their freedom.
Back in the UAE, the 100-day countdown began before the start of the Special Olympics.
And public outrage at a circus in Dubai that features performing lions forced organisers to cancel the show.
These stories, and much more… Enjoy.
From the country’s southern border with Saudi Arabia to the reaches of Ras Al Khaimah, the country, its residents and citizens came out in force to mark the 47th National Day. The celebrations were complemented by the announcement in Abu Dhabi of Dh18.3 billion in new loans, homes and residential land.
It is the historic seat of government in Abu Dhabi and one of the oldest buildings in the country. After a decade of careful renovations, Qasr Al Hosn reopened to the public as a museum and cultural space that promises to redefine that part of the city.
The head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, is to visit the UAE in a landmark visit to build bridges of tolerance, the Vatican announced on Thursday.
Then there was the story of a defiantly old-school circus, its performing lions and the outrage it caused among residents.
Away from the Emirates and at the time of writing, UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths had successfully brought the Houthi rebels and the Yemen Government to the negotiating table in Stockholm, Sweden. Is there chance for a longed-for peace?
Iran’s disinformation operation across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram spans 15 countries and reaches more than half a million people every month, according to a new investigation. The Tehran-based network includes more than 70 websites that push propaganda in support of the Islamic Republic’s policies, we reported.
Journalists and media activists in north-west Syria said they feared for their lives following the assassination of prominent media activist Raed Fares last month. Fares was driving home from the media office with friend Hammud Al Junayd in the town of Kafranbel when they were shot and killed by unknown gunmen on November 22.
The families of seven men imprisoned in Iran joined forces for a rare appeal to world leaders to pile pressure on Tehran for their freedom. Some spoke out for the first time to call on governments to put the plight of the detainees foremost in any discussions with the regime amid heightened tensions after US President Donald Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal.
It took three years to put together but the UN's response to the migration crisis of 2015 is at risk of being hobbled next week by countries who will snub the agreement and the forum in Morocco where the international plan is set to be signed.
Changing tack: Saeed Saeed sat down with Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash for an exclusive interview while he was here to perform during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
And we spoke at length to the inspiring Enric Sala, National Geographic’s explorer-in-chief, about his lifelong fight to save the world’s oceans.
Our Business team looked at the effect of Qatar’s announcement this week that it was to leave Opec. The decision was seen as Doha further isolating itself from its fellow GCC nations and was criticised by UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash. But what can Qatar’s motives be?
From Sport, Paul Radley wrote about the success of cricket's T10 League Season 2 and how it had established the game as part of the UAE's sporting landscape. And, following the success of Tyson Fury in his epic battle with Deontay Wilder, Jon Turner praised the British fighter for his return from the brink of self-destruction and how he had inspired other sufferers of mental health problems.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has agreed a Brexit deal with the European Union, but the UK parliament still has to have a say. If a majority backs the deal, the UK will leave the EU on March 29, but Mrs May needs 320 votes and most analysts say she’s way off. In the latest in his Sightline series, Tim Marshall from The National's London bureau explains some of the ‘No’ vote scenarios Theresa May and her party will face.
The countdown to the Abu Dhabi Special Olympics began last Tuesday, with 100 days left until the start of the sporting extravaganza. More than 7,500 athletes from a record 192 countries are set to take part in the breath-taking spectacle, which will begin in March. Our multimedia team has everything you need to know.
This week, we spoke to Enric Sala, National Geographic’s explorer-at-large about his passion to save our marine environment as part of his Pristine Seas project. We have audio and stunning video detailing the Spaniard's efforts.
In this week’s episode of Beyond the Headlines, Sophia Barbarani looks at the legacy of former US president George HW Bush. A hero to some Kuwaitis for his intervention in Iraq’s invasion, he also left many Iraqi lives in ruins.
We reported this week on Qatar’s announcement of its intention to leave Opec. In Business Extra, host and assistant editor in chief Mustafa Alrawi is joined by regular contributor Robin Mills, the chief executive of Qamar Energy, to examine the factors – politics, economic and symbolic – behind the move.
And in The Cricket Pod, we previewed India v Australia and sports reporter Paul Radley shares his experience of covering the T10 League and explains what he believed went into its success.
In Opinion, Saeb Erekat responded to the article by Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy that appeared last week in The National. How dare he blame the Palestinian leadership for the lack of economic development in Gaza and the West Bank.
Damien McElroy marvelled at the indefatigability of Alan Greenspan. If the nonagenarian former Federal Reserve chief can still work, why not the rest of us? It would solve our money worries.
And Olivier Oullier considered the virtues of vaping and explained the psychological tricks that could persuade smokers to shift from cigarettes to this healthier way of inhaling.
Have a great weekend,