Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 August 2020

ISIS falls, koalas rescued and Nadia Murad meeting Trump: 12 videos that sum up 2019

From the serious to the silly, here are some of the videos that defined this year

Donald Trump showed interest in the plight of the Yazidis, but appeared to lack knowledge on the topic. The video went viral. AP
Donald Trump showed interest in the plight of the Yazidis, but appeared to lack knowledge on the topic. The video went viral. AP

It's been a whirlwind year in news, with so much happening it can sometimes feel hard to keep up. Before we head into 2020, we invite you to take a moment look back at the year that was.

From the truckers escorting people from ISIS' last enclave to Lebanon exploding in protest, here are some of the videos that defined the last 12 months.

1. Boxer-turned-politician Manny Pacquiao eyed redemption

The year 2019 kicked off with a good old fashioned tale of redemption for boxer Manny Pacquiao as he prepared for a fight that the boxing champion hoped would lead him to a rematch against Floyd Mayweather. The National's John McAuley spent time with the man who has become the pride of the Philippines and winner of an unprecedented number of world titles in eight divisions as he prepared for his 70th bout.

All the bluster of boxing dropped away as Manny handed cash to those struggling, trained for his fight and fulfilled his role as a senator.

2. The Pope Visited Abu Dhabi

February saw Pope Francis, head of the Catholic church, land in Abu Dhabi for his first trip to the Gulf. The three-day visit was full of significant historic moments, but one of the most heartwarming came when a little girl ran out from the crowd at Zayed Sports City to deliver a very special letter.

Fortunately, the Pope's car stopped and she was able to break through the security to deliver her message.

3. Truckers empty ISIS' last pocket of territory

In March, hardy local drivers entered Baghouz to take ISIS fighters and their families out of the encampment as troops from the Syrian Democratic Forces and western coalition prepared to move in and clear the group's final bastion.

The men ferrying people out of the enclave spoke to The National's Campbell MacDiarmid and Willy Lowry about what was for them another day at work.

4. The ISIS member who said he felt betrayed by his country and the group he joined

Once a bombastic online show-off about his activities in the "caliphate", when The National's Campbell MacDiarmid interviewed Mark Taylor inside a Kurdish prison in northern Syria, the captured ISIS member was more reserved.

The New Zealander, who joined ISIS in October 2014, described his frustration over how he was portrayed in the media and his 50-day imprisonment by the group.

5. Muslims rally to help Cyclone Idai victims

March also brought a harrowing natural disaster to Mozambique, as Cyclone Idai ravaged the landscape, killing over 450 people and displacing many more.

One light among the darkness of loss and destruction was the Muslim community of Maputo, who came together to raise money and feed the victims. The National's Erica Elkhershi and Jack Moore investigated.

6. Sri Lanka's Christians mourn together

After eight co-ordinated blasts on Easter Sunday against the country's Christian community rocked Sri Lanka, The National's Willy Lowry met congregants of one of the targeted churches to discuss what's next for their community. More than 200 people died in the suicide bombings.

7. Yazidi activist Nadia Murad educates Donald Trump

In July, Nadia Murad spoke up about the plight of the Yazidi people on a trip to the White House. The Iraqi-Yazidi Nobel Laureate was abducted by ISIS in Iraq in 2014 and met Trump at a gathering to raise awareness of religious persecution.

Mr Trump showed interest in the plight of her people, but appeared to lack knowledge on the topic. Her explanation captured by cameras went viral online.

8. The dramatic rescue and sad passing of Lewis the Koala

In a tale which warmed hearts around the world, Lewis the koala was rescued from raging bushfires by Australian Toni Doherty in November. She gave him water and even the shirt off her own back finding the injured koala on the Oxley Highway west of the New South Wales state town of Wauchope.

Unfortunately, just days after his rescue, the severely burned 14-year old koala had to be put down. An online fundraiser for koalas topped 1.6 million Australian dollars (Dh3.9m) in the wake of his death, raising money to help the species.

9. Arab-Israeli ISIS member unrepentant from Kurdish Jail

The National's Jack Moore tracked down an Israeli-Arab ISIS fighter in a Kurdish prison in October. Mohammed Khalid's family presumed he was dead. In fact, he had been scooped up in an American special-forces raid in December 2017 before being passed around by four regional players - the United States, Jordan, the Iraqi government and the Iraqi Kurds.

His lack of remorse and surety the "caliphate" will return makes for an unnerving watch.

10. A Palestinian mother and her son were reunited after 20 years

In a tale which gave hope to the Palestinian diaspora with family in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, Palestinian journalist Amjad Yaghi was reunited with his mother in December after 20 years apart.

Despite 14 attempts to go to and visit her, Mr Yaghi was unable to get out of Gaza after militant group Hamas took control of the territory in 2007 and Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade that included travel restrictions. A video of their joyful reunion went viral, and it's not difficult to see why.

11. India introduces citizenship law

India rounded out the year in a blaze of protest against a controversial citizenship law. The Citizenship Amendment Act invites migrants from religious minorities from neighbouring countries – including Hindus, Christians, Jains, Buddhists, Sikh and Parsis from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh – to apply for Indian citizenship.

It's a lot to take in – luckily The National's Suhail Rather was on hand to explain.

12. Lebanon's lengthy protest breeds creativity

More than one video required here. Since Lebanon's protests kicked off in October, videos from the streets have gone viral time and again for the novel ways the Lebanese people are finding to raise awareness of their demands.

From banging pots and pans...

To raving in the streets...

These protesters know how to get the message out.

Updated: January 2, 2020 10:11 AM

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