Boeing celebrates 747 at final commercial delivery of ‘jumbo jet’

by Jason REDMOND with Juliette MICHEL in New York Agence France-Presse EVERETT, United States (AFP) — Boeing marked its final commercial delivery of the 747, “the Queen of the Skies” on Tuesday at a ceremony commemorating an aircraft that democratized flying and serves US presidents. Thousands of current and former employees, celebrities and aviation industry brass converged on Boeing’s plant in Everett, Washington, in the Northwestern part of the United States, a factory built for […]

Tourists surge back to Jordan’s desert marvel Petra

by Mussa Hattar Agence France Presse Petra, Jordan (AFP) — Tending to his camels in Petra, Jordan’s spectacular archaeological marvel hidden deep in a desert canyon, Hussein Bdoul is all smiles: the tourists are back. After years in which the Covid pandemic turned the storied “Rose City” into a ghost town, the father of seven is back at work, offering visitors rides on his decorated animals. “Tourism has returned and the numbers are even greater,” […]

Researchers dig up secrets of ‘self-healing’ Roman concrete

by Chris Lefkow Agence France Presse Washington, United States (AFP) — How have Rome’s ancient aqueducts and architectural marvels such as the Pantheon, which features the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome, endured the test of time? Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and other institutions believe they have uncovered the mystery of the durability of the 2,000-year-old structures — self-healing concrete. The secret lies in an ingredient of the ancient concrete used by […]

‘More the merrier’: Asia tourist hubs ready for China influx

by Sara HUSSEIN / Tomohiro OSAKI Agence France-Presse TOKYO, Japan (AFP) — In Tokyo’s Asakusa tourist district, caricaturist Masashi Higashitani is dusting off his Chinese as he prepares for an influx of travelers after Beijing ends inbound quarantine rules. “We used to say ‘ni hao’ all the time,” he said with a laugh as he whipped up a portrait in minutes. Nearly 9.6 million Chinese visited Japan in 2019, the biggest group of foreign tourists […]

To strengthen ties, ancient Maya gifted neighbors a spider monkey

by Issam AHMED Agence France Presse Washington, United States (AFP) — Seventeen hundred years ago, a female spider monkey was presented as a treasured gift — and later brutally sacrificed — to strengthen ties between two major powers of pre-Hispanic America, according to a new study. The paper, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), compared the offering by Maya elites to Teotihuacan to China’s panda diplomacy that accompanied the […]

Bong! Big Ben’s back in Britain

by Jitendra JOSHI Agence France Presse London, United Kingdom (AFP) — Getting up close to Big Ben requires earplugs, and ear defenders over them to be safe. When the 13.7-tonne bell sounds, the vibration hits you in the chest. After a five-year restoration project, the world-famous ringer is back with a bong. The Great Clock towering above Britain’s Houses of Parliament is resuming daily operations following the painstaking renovation of more than 1,000 moving parts. […]

Climbers at odds over far-right dogwhistle route names

by Julia ZAPPEI wih Pia OHLIN in Stockholm Agence France Presse Wiener Neustadt, Austria (AFP) –Just outside Vienna, climbers scramble up “Fortress Europe”, one of the routes up an impressive rockface towering over fields and forests. But the name — and others like it that some climbers see as racist or sexist dog whistles — is raising hackles in Austria and elsewhere. “The usage of these names leads to a normalisation of right-wing extremist propaganda […]

Rare Canaanite inscription found on ivory comb in Israel

Tel Lachish, Israel (AFP) — A rare inscription that sheds new light on the use of Canaanite language some 3,700 years ago has been discovered on an ivory comb in southern Israel, archaeologists said Wednesday. The comb was found at the Tel Lachish site in 2017, but the letters were not noticed until earlier this year following further examination, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem said in a statement. The artefact provides “direct evidence” of the […]

‘Spirited Away’: Ghibli theme park prepares for visitors

by Natsuko FUKUE Agence France Presse Nagakute, Japan (AFP) — Beyond the gates, a whimsical world awaits, complete with a fluffy Cat Bus, the toothy grin of Totoro and a life-sized No-Face seated on a train: welcome to Ghibli Park. On Wednesday, media got a sneak peek at the highly anticipated new theme park from Studio Ghibli, creator of beloved titles like “My Neighbour Totoro” and the Oscar-winning “Spirited Away”. It will open its doors […]

Air tickets set to keep climbing from pandemic low: experts

  by Tangi Quemener Agence France Presse Propelled by inflation, the price of air tickets has begun to take off again after tumbling during the pandemic, a reversal that looks set to intensify due to environmental pressures, experts say. For members of the International Air Transport Association, gathered in Doha for their annual meeting this week, minds are focused on how far such increases risk undermining passenger growth targets. The IATA is also pleading for […]

Spectacular glass-bottomed bridge opens in Vietnam

  Mộc Châu, Vietnam (AFP) — Don’t look down! Vietnam launched a new attraction for tourists with a head for heights on Friday, with the opening of a glass-bottomed bridge suspended 150 metres (490 feet) above a lush jungle. The Bach Long pedestrian bridge — whose name translates to “white dragon” — in northwest Son La province snakes around dizzying cliff faces before spanning a dramatic valley between two peaks, hitting a total length of […]