Moving Mecca: The holy city will have three million residents and eight million pilgrims a year by 2030. When it comes to transit, a fleet of buses won’t cut it

Wednesday, May 12, 2010 – Globe and Mail
ANNA MEHLER PAPERNY

A site regarded as one of the holiest on the planet is gearing up for a 21st-century transit makeover.

Mecca, birthplace of Mohammed, is aiming to create a massive, multimodal public transit network to accommodate the millions of Muslim pilgrims who flock there. And Canadian transportation engineers are among those helping them.

Mecca is no stranger to Olympic-sized crowds: For centuries, it’s been the home of the world’s largest pilgrimage – the hajj, which brings about 2.5 million people each year. That number is expected to grow to four million, even as the city itself doubles in size. A fleet of buses just doesn’t cut it any more.

Continue reading

A father’s loss in Gaza, a major win for Canada

Friday, September 18, 2009 – Globe and Mail
ANNA MEHLER PAPERNY

TORONT and O — At his comfortable Toronto home, the star recruit of Canada’s most ambitious graduate public-health program is the perfect host: He pours tea and arranges chairs; his eldest children bring out plate after plate of food, and his youngest daughter entertains guests with living-room acrobatics.

Izzeldin Abuelaish, who made headlines around the world as a peacenik and vocal advocate of Israeli-Palestinian détente, starts teaching today at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health. It’s a hopeful new beginning nine months after a blast ripped his world asunder on the other side of the globe.

The Israeli shell that hit Dr. Abuelaish’s apartment and killed three of his daughters was one of innumerable human tragedies in the midst of Gaza’s bloody conflict last January, which elicited a United Nations report this week slamming both Israel and Hamas for war crimes.

But this particular incident caused a media firestorm that crystallized the conflict internationally.

Continue reading