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Welcome to The National's weekly newsletter Beshara, where we share the most positive stories of the week.

The discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole spurred international efforts to curb the production of CFCs. Getty
The discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole spurred international efforts to curb the production of CFCs. Getty

Sometimes a little moment or small movement can be a major milestone when we look at the bigger picture.

Levels of harmful hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), or greenhouse gases, which were developed as replacements for much more potent chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), have dipped for the first time.

Building on the success of the 1987 Montreal Protocol, which led to a global ban on CFCs, in 1992 nations agreed also to phase out HCFCs.

While the reduction is small, it has come sooner than expected and prompted experts to suggest the ozone layer will recover in about 40 years.

It is the first step in the right direction and proof that with collective efforts and effective legislation, change – the right kind – is possible.

This week’s Beshara highlights other such news where nudges are making inroads that will one day be the success story these mighty changemakers have been striving for.

Best wishes always,

Nicola

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Coral sculptures ‘making a real difference’

Phase 2 of Project REEFrame has been running since October and is set to continue until late 2026. Photo: Freestyle Divers.
Phase 2 of Project REEFrame has been running since October and is set to continue until late 2026. Photo: Freestyle Divers.

“When our sculptures have faded into history, there will be coral there,” Darryl Owen, owner of Freestyle Divers, told our reporter Daniel Bardsley this week. The group is running a project that uses and nurtures artificial reefs that will one day transform into natural, thriving ecosystems.

Based off the coast of Fujairah in the UAE, the structures have already proved a success.

Launched in 2021, there is now a one-hectare artificial reef teeming with more than 100 species in an area that had previously been bare sand. A plan is now under way to set up a second reef 10 times larger.

You can learn more here – and see photos of the novelty reef shapes they have also created, including a 12-metre yellow submarine, an octopus and a gaming console with controllers.

Plus, don’t miss another great story from Daniel this week – he has been exploring how coffee can be made more sustainable and learning about the farmers who are leading the way. Read it via the link in the highlights below.

 

QUOTED

'The way it works is people join and we help people get connected to projects to start projects that will help Palestine in some way … the tool has been incredibly effective'

– Paul Biggar, creator of Tech for Palestine, a community of industry experts that has grown to 5,000 since its launch. Learn more about this and other tech initiatives helping thousands of Palestinians whose livelihoods have been affected by war

 

Three Hijabis fighting racism in football

Shaista Aziz, Huda Jawad and Amna Abdullatif, who are known as The Three Hijabis, attend an iftar at Wembley Stadium in London. Photo: TheThreeHijabis / X
Shaista Aziz, Huda Jawad and Amna Abdullatif, who are known as The Three Hijabis, attend an iftar at Wembley Stadium in London. Photo: TheThreeHijabis / X

While it is a deeply crying shame that there is any need for such activism, learning about the efforts of the internet-famous #TheThreeHijabis fills one with greater pride than a trophy-winning goal.

Shaista Aziz, Huda Jawad and Amna Abdullatif sparked a Twitter storm in 2021 when they posted a pic of themselves in a bar watching England beat Ukraine alongside a thread on “the importance of an anti-racist, inclusive England team and why representation matters”. This response sparked a public discourse and led them to create a petition calling for racists to be banned from football for life … over a million signatures later and the rest is still shaping sporting history.

Tim Stickings caught up with the inspirational trio this week to learn where they are up to with their mission and to get their take on the coming Euro 2024 tournament and the Paris Olympics.

“One of the biggest things that we feel has changed is how everyone is willing to talk about equality and diversity in sport,” said Ms Jawad.

It is a great read – here.

And while I have you on the footy and the “summer of sport” – don’t miss this on Ukraine’s national team hoping to lift spirits in troubling times, and bookmark the latest Abtal, our podcast with Arab Olympic athletes. In this episode, host Reem Abulleil is joined by Lebanese trap shooter Ray Bassil, who is gearing up for her fourth consecutive Olympic Games this summer.

 
 

SNAPSHOT

Muslim worshippers pray around the Kaaba at the Grand Mosque in Makkah. AFP
Muslim worshippers pray around the Kaaba at the Grand Mosque in Makkah. AFP

The annual Hajj pilgrimage has begun in Saudi Arabia.

Officials said more than 1.5 million foreign pilgrims had arrived in the country this week, joining hundreds of thousands of Saudis and other resident pilgrims.

The Hajj, among the world's largest religious gatherings, is one of the five pillars of Islam. All Muslims are required to undertake it at least once in their lives if they are physically and financially able to do so.

Bahraini pilgrim Ahmed Mohammed, who is accompanying his ageing father this year, told The National: “Many don’t get the chance or wait their whole life to perform the Hajj, but this year we were so happy when we made the cut.”

From the special moments to the special measures for pilgrims who need additional support – you can follow Hajj reports and updates as they happen – here.

Discover the stories behind more captivating photos this week

This week's selection includes the Rubik's Cube's 50th anniversary, a giant panda's birthday and dragon boat racers.
This week's selection includes the Rubik's Cube's 50th anniversary, a giant panda's birthday and dragon boat racers.
 

IMPACT ON INSTAGRAM

A selection of positive stories on @thenationalimpact
A selection of positive stories on @thenationalimpact
 

HIGHLIGHTS

Does our love of coffee have to be bad for the planet?
Scientists' work in space provides clues on how to stop ageing
Prostate cancer-killing ultrasound therapy to be offered in Dubai
Updated: June 14, 2024, 7:37 AM