Northern giants: Europe’s biggest oil producers

Ever since the 1950s, the world’s most industrialized nations have depended on one vital source of energy: oil. As the lifeblood of the modern era, its products have powered several industries and sectors and have contributed to numerous present and future innovations.

According to a 2016 data, global oil production ran a daily average of 80.6 million barrels on that year alone – and a dominant percentage of its producers mostly come from developed countries, including regions from Europe.

While Europe is the smallest oil-producing continent (in fact, it is dwarfed by the Middle East), three of its nations contribute to a massive volume of oil products in the world. Here they are.

  1. Russia (Approx. 540.7M tons annually)

Russia belongs to the ranks of the top oil producers in the world and it’s the largest in Europe. The massive oil production in the country mostly comes from the Eastern and Western Siberian region. Oil dominates the list of Russia’s commodities for export, selling almost 70% of its oil.

  1. Norway (Approx. 88M tons annually)

The Norwegian oil production’s operation started in the 1960s when it was first discovered in the country’s North Sea. Since then, Norway became the second largest oil producer in Europe, with oil becoming the nation’s top export commodity. Crude oil accounts for almost 40% of Norway’s total exports every year, while the petroleum industry covers 17% of the country’s GDP.

  1. United Kingdom (Approx. 45.3M tons annually)

As the third largest oil producer in the continent, the UK has also won its place as the 19th largest in the world. The country’s oil reserves were discovered in Scotland during the 19th century. As the production reached its peak, oil deposits in Derbyshire and Eakring were discovered a century later.


REPOST: World Conference on Tourism and Culture concludes with important UNESCO and UNWTO declaration

Strengthening the synergies between tourism and culture may not only lead to economic prosperity, but also to sustainable development that many generations will be able to enjoy. More on this in the article below from eTurboNews:

courtesy of Ministry of Heritage and Culture of Oman

Culture, in all of its wondrous expressions, inspires more than 1.2 billion tourists to pack a bag and cross international borders each year. It is an important means to promote inter-cultural dialogue, create employment opportunities, curb rural migration, and nurture a sense of pride among host communities. Yet unmanaged, it can also harm the very heritage cultural tourism relies on.

Recognizing that a sustainable, approach with buy-in from all partners, is crucial to cultural tourism, peacebuilding and heritage protection, on December 12, the Muscat Declaration on Tourism and Culture: Fostering Sustainable Development was signed by representatives of UNESCO, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), delegations, private sector, local communities and NGOs.

This concluded the two-day World Conference on Tourism and Culture co-organized by UNESCO and the UNWTO and hosted by the Sultanate of Oman. Through the Declaration, some 30 Ministers and Vice Ministers of Tourism and Culture, and 800 participants from 70 countries, reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen the synergies between tourism and culture, and to advance the contribution of cultural tourism to the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.

“Cultural tourism is growing, in popularity, in importance and in diversity embracing innovation and change. Yet, with growth comes increased responsibility, responsibility to protect our cultural and natural assets, the very foundation of our societies and our civilizations” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.

Francesco Bandarin, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture, emphasized that we need to create a positive dynamic between culture and tourism “that promotes sustainability while benefiting local communities. This dynamic must contribute to safe and sustainable cities, decent work, reduced inequalities, the environment, promoting gender equality and peaceful and inclusive societies.”

Ministers from Cambodia, Libya, Somalia, Iraq and Vietnam discussed the role of cultural tourism as a factor of peace and prosperity, and shared views on the capacity of tourism to support the recovery of their countries.

The Declaration calls for cultural tourism policies that not only empower local communities, but also employ new, innovative tourism models that advance sustainable development, host-guest interaction, and cultural exchange. It promotes integrating sustainable cultural tourism and the protection of heritage in national, regional and international security frameworks. The Declaration also references UNESCO’s 1972 Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage and 2005 Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions in relation to these objectives.

Ahmed Bin Nasser Al Mahrizi, Minister of Tourism of the Sultanate of Oman, highlighted the importance of exchanging experiences and ideas to achieving sustainable tourism development. Participants shared best practices on issues such as community engagement, visitors’ management, and use of resources from tourism in conservation in such diverse locations as the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania, the Ras Al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates or the Palace of Versailles in France. Entrepreneurship, SME’s and the protection of traditional knowledge were viewed as compatible with developing sustainable tourism, with examples from India in the hotel sector and in other regions developing local food initiatives. Other examples included World Bank projects revitalizing cultural heritage for sustainable tourism development, and Seabourn Cruise Line’s partnership with UNESCO to raise awareness of World Heritage with their guests.

Following the first UNWTO/UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and Culture in Cambodia in 2015, this second Conference was part of the official events of the 2017 International Year of Sustainable Tourism, so declared by the United Nations. Istanbul (Turkey) and Kyoto (Japan) will host the 2018 and 2019, editions respectively.

Crucial things to consider before building a startup

Image source:

Starting a business of your own can be one of the most challenging feats that you’ll ever take on. Even before launching, you’ll have to accomplish several tasks that can be overwhelming especially if you’re new to the industry.

To help you get started, here are some of the important factors to consider before venturing into the field of business.

  1. Choosing a winning business idea

Most of the successful companies out there have started from a small yet ambitious idea. With the thousands of competitors out there however, developing your concept that is both innovative and creative may not be enough. You must have the originality and uniqueness that will help you stand out from the rest.

  1. Identifying sources of funds

Starting a business is a type of investment with a lot of risks – but if you do it right, it will all be worth the physical as well as the financial effort that you have put into it. Startups and small businesses rely on a steady source of capital to take their first steps.

Some funding sources may be from your personal savings and from business loans. With the former, you won’t incur an interest expense but the latter offers large amount of loans.

  1. Getting to know the business arena.

Know your competitors and make sure that you’re ready to face the active and often fast-paced battle in the startup arena. Analyze where you are in the competition by doing the necessary research. Study your competitor’s strategies and see how they can be applied on to your own venture.

Moreover, create a sound business plan to have a clear vision of your plan for the future and which step to take next.

  1. Abiding to legal obligations for startups

Last but the most important is to secure the needed legal documents to finally start your business. The requirements can vary depending on the country or the city where you are so do your homework.

The kind of workplace culture most millennials seek in order to thrive

Image source:

As the largest generation in today’s workforce, millennials are dominating every industry around the globe and many companies have acknowledged the importance of hiring, training, and retaining this group of individuals as a major strategy for success.

Since the millennials have extremely different characteristics than the baby boomers especially when it comes to how they engage, interact, and perform in an office environment, corporations and organizations have made it a priority to create and transform the workplace and provide a more relevant workplace culture for this rising generation.

While millennials dream of the same things like stability and financial independence, they also want to make a difference in the society. They crave experience and training not only as an employee but as a responsible member of the community. This is why most millennials prefer organizations that can give them opportunities for volunteering, helping improve the lives of other people in need.


Image source:

Other factors that make a workplace attractive for this rising generation lies on how companies help employees grow not only as a worker but as a part of a team. Collaboration, training opportunities, and flexible schedules are just a few of the many ways to keep millennials motivated.

Furthermore, this demographic has proven to be more productive and highly engaged when they are satisfied and happy not only with the work they do but with how they interact and develop connections within the office environment.

Most of them are team players and can be more productive especially if they work with other like-minded individuals. They want to fully reach their potential in that mentorship and opportunities to lead can make them more excited and encouraged to aim higher.

Technology also plays a big role in reshaping work cultures suitable for millennials. Since this demographic can easily wield the power of social media and the Internet, they expect transparency and honesty from their companies.

REPOST: Families and culture matter to reducing poverty

A country’s economic performance does not always reflect its abundance in natural resources, excellent policies (in theory), or even strategic location. In most ocassions, economic success boils down to people’s attitude and the society’s overall culture. Policy Options shares more insights:

In the analysis of poverty and income inequality, attitudes, culture and family can affect people’s situations as much as economic factors do.

In Hillbilly Elegy, his spectacularly successful book about growing up in a wretchedly dysfunctional and poor community in Ohio with cultural roots in the Appalachian mountains, the Yale-trained lawyer J.D. Vance identifies the reason why he could eventually rise out of poverty — the people closest to him: his mother, his distant father and his grandparents, among others.

Vance details the various challenges facing what he characterizes as distinct traits in hillbilly culture: “From low social mobility to poverty to divorce and drug addiction,” and many other problems including suspicion of outsiders, he writes, “my home is a hub of misery.” His parents divorced early and his mother circled through men and then drugs; his father was mostly absent until later. Vance thus came to rely on his grandparents, who, while quirky, were nevertheless an anchor of stability at key points in his adolescent life.

Vance’s story struck me because he also describes one remedy often prescribed to fix social ills: economic opportunity.

There is something to that. Take away jobs and money, or never have either in the first place, and the insecurity can ravage families. But the problem is that this formulation, in isolation, misses how attitudes, culture and family can affect people’s economic situation just as much as they are affected by it. Vance offers the example of a young couple he knew who desperately needed work and health benefits (the 19-year-old girlfriend was pregnant). But their attitudes and a lousy work ethic ended up getting both fired.

This dynamic — call it the “family and culture affects potential prosperity” relationship — is seldom recognized in Canadian policy analysis, journalism and politics. I examine it in Missing Family Dynamics, my recent report for the think tank Cardus. But too many analyze and prescribe policy remedies as if only material factors (money, employment, interest rates) matter to social outcomes.

Thus, one policy analyst might recommend a particular government action to alleviate poverty; another will demonstrate how a better economy can help the poor. Both approaches, depending on their specifics, are valid and necessary. But often overlooked is how addictions and attitudes can contribute to prosperity or poverty. A chronic gambler may have a decent job but lose everything because of bad bets; an employee with a poor attitude may get fired and fall into poverty.

This matters to the statistics: consider how the breakup of a family creates poverty. When a one-income household with $50,000 in income splits into two, with $25,000 incomes, the increased total costs of supporting two households can drop both into poverty. When the trend is widespread, breakups will make the poverty statistics look worse, even if nothing else has changed in the wider economy.

Similarly, the changing composition of families can affect inequality statistics. In 1976 and 2011 (two of the years examined in my study), married couples without children had the second-highest median after-tax income among all family types. A slightly different data set, family composition (comparing 1976 and 2014) shows that the proportion of such couples rose from 12.1 percent (1976) to 18.3 percent (2014) of all family types.

When a higher proportion of families is of the dual-income, no-children type — the ones with the second-highest median earnings — that social trend alone could increase observed inequality. It doesn’t mean there is anything to panic about. But it does mean that a social development, a voluntary change in family structure, will have impacted the statistics. By the same token, a drop in the proportion of two-parent families, who have the highest after-tax income, could affect inequality statistics too, but in the opposite direction.

Clearly the individual choice to marry or to have children, or not, among other social and cultural trends, can impact poverty and inequality; it is not only economic factors that matter. But the primacy of economics is, in my view, often the default assumption of many, who seem to analyze and write as if only more tax dollars and well-intentioned smart people collected together in a room will magically yield a useful and efficacious government policy to solve much of what ails us. That wrongly assumes a material remedy for a nonmaterial development that has its origins elsewhere: a decline in faith, changing morality or other passions of the heart that are quantifiable not at their start but only in their observable effects much later; to address such matters, policy tinkering may be ineffective.

Continue reading HERE.

Why countries are now spending billions on cultural tourism

Image source:

According to the World Tourism Organization, 2016 was a successful year for the international travel industry, marking a 5-percent growth in the number of tourists visiting hundreds of thousands of destinations across the globe.

While travelling has proven to offer long-lasting benefits to many people, tourism, more specifically cultural tourism has also ensured sustainable social, cultural, and most importantly economy development to their host destinations.

In definition, cultural tourism is a subgroup of tourism that focuses on how travelers engage in a country’s way of life in specific geographic areas: their history, the native art, religion, and the overall elements that constitute the entire identity of the local community.

The impacts of cultural tourism on many host countries can have lasting effects in many aspects of their region’s socioeconomic performance. In addition, it helps establish and strengthen the home culture’s image and identity not only to the world but to its young generation who seem to have forgotten the lessons and wealth of their own history and tradition.

Image source:

In countries like Japan and India, the growing industry has helped preserve their historical heritage and introduce them to a wider audience, creating harmony and understanding among the different peoples of the world.

How tourists and travelers engage in a particular country’s culture and its people does not only promote development but it also creates a positive impression on the regions’ demographic by opening a whole new perspective for the home population, especially the youth.

Most importantly, the enduring economic and social influence of cultural tourism creates better living environment and funding of new infrastructure that will only benefit the tourists but also the local community.

In fact, these benefits drive many countries to spend billions of dollars to attract international tourists primarily because of how the performance of the industry directly affects other major branches of the economy. Tourism supports businesses, creating incomes, and grows employment demands.

REPOST: What makes a creative city?

A ‘beautiful’ city is almost always a perfect magnet for tourists, and consequently, a fertile ground to build and grow any business. Culture, in this case, plays an important role in revitalizing urban spaces and may even serve as the sole basis for establishing new architectural movements, artistic trends, and even business concepts. Read more on The Guardian:

Interior of Your Rainbow Panorama by Olafur Eliasson, a floating rainbow walkway on top of ARoS Aarhus art museum in Denmark. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

Rem Koolhaas and Ellen van Loon of OMA architecture practice are in conversation at the Manchester International festival, talking about the major contract they landed for the Manchester arts centre Factory: a hub for cultural activity and soon to be home of the Manchester festival. “We need to give more attention to the technology of buildings, robotics, new spatial management,” Koolhaas says. I feel the bristling of the humans in the room.

But he is on to something. Space is often wasted by use of repetition but with canny robotics, and snuggled pullies, you can enfold and stack space that was once elongated and create something new from it – in the case of the proposed Factory, a rationalised chaos of adjustable use and activity.

So what will the culture houses of the future look like, if we think outside the box? What uses will they need to fulfil? How will big ideas – like those for Factory – play out in real life? And what can cities do to encourage cultural experiments and investment?

Koolhaas and van Loon want a theatre with 60m of depth that extends out into and merges with the street. As an artistic director, I worry about the performance scale of a hanger space like this and how it will dwarf the humans on stage. I fret about sound bleeds too. But in the future, they offer, there will be invisible sound bubbles and a kind of aural architecture; sound might one day be stilled, collected and quarantined from itself. We have the technology – or at least we will.

At an investment of £110m, Factory is not a shy project. Like the city it is responding to and planning for, it implies a cultural confidence, a bit of a bolshie sense of taking it up to the big smoke of London. Manchester, once grubby, depressed and down, has been on the up and up for some time. The role of culture in this upswing is interesting to think about.

Culture has become a boom for numerous cities who have bought into the regeneration narrative led by urbanists such as Graeme Evans and Susan Carmichael – the idea that culture plays a leading role in revitalising community and urban spaces. Not long after Evans and Carmichael’s ideas were floated, cities – particularly smart cities, with a young vibe – began to enthusiastically embrace the thoughts of other gurus, such as Richard Florida’s concept of creative cities.

People who live in or visit these cities are not, Florida suggests, especially interested in dusty cultural institutions – high-profile art galleries, operas and such. They prefer to meander about in districts characterised by warehouses, and the hole-in-the-wall operations of nascent pop-up culture – cafes, start-up galleries – which themselves breed the next gen of outlets: bookshops, grassroots and recycle boutiques.

Continue reading HERE.

Optical technology: tracing the significant milestones in the history of camera


Technology has made the impossible a reality and its constantly evolving and ever-changing nature have brought significant changes not only to our way of life but also to how we create new cultures. One particular example is the birth of one of the first products of optical technology, the camera, and how it has brought a magical curiosity and expanded the imagination of generations of people across the globe.

But where are we now in the optical technology timeline and what were the most important milestones that cameras have achieved before they became what they are today? As a key player in tech economics, how has the industry emerged as a major product loved by consumers?

During the 5th to 3th century B.C., both philosophers from two of the greatest civilizations of the ancient world, China and Greece, theorized the basic principles of optics and the camera. However, their vision of this tool was only limited to entertainment and expanding their knowledge of their environment. Little did they know that it would someday change the world as they knew it.



It was in the 19th Century when Louis Daguerre’s first ‘daguerreotype’ was introduced to the public, and his invention was an answer to the limitations of Joseph Niepce’s version of the camera obscura, a projection device that shows real-life imagery through the clever use of light and the absence of it.  Unlike today’s cameras, however, the daguerreotype needed thirty full minutes of light exposure.

Almost thirty years later when the very first American patent was issued in photography for a camera owned and developed by Alexander Wolcott and it was followed by William Henry Talbot’s ‘calotype’, a process that uses negative-positive photo processing that allowed multiple copies of a single shot.

The camera technology have undergone several changes and improvements over the decades, creating a promising future for a better, faster and more practical tool to capture life through the lens—and come 1978, the world stood still as they welcomed the very first point-and-shoot autofocus camera from Konica, one of the leading technology companies today. This event introduced a whole new definition of the camera and gave us a more focused view of what’s ahead.



Optical technology today has made significant and notable progress compared to its early and ancient counterparts and top camera companies have vowed to constantly evolve and provide the world with the latest and most innovative products that will continue to awe photography enthusiasts’ one click at a time.

REPOST: How To Shift Your Negative Company Culture

As a business owner, the dynamics of your people will largely affect numerous aspects of your company. Having a good workplace culture is extremely important, but achieving it can be a very tough process. Here are more insights from Forbes:


If you’re not dealing with a startup, chances are your company culture has been developing over many years. I hope that you have been paying close attention to the dynamics of your people — if you haven’t, you might find yourself in a bad situation. Leaders must nurture the workplace environment and pay as much attention to the atmosphere as they would to the interworkings of the corporate process, such as sales development, inventory control and customer service.

If you need to change the culture of your company or department, be ready for a tough road ahead. It isn’t easy to shift beliefs and change the way people have been operating — in some cases, for many years. A drastic change may be imminent due to a significant event that is happening to the company, i.e., bankruptcy, a PR nightmare, significant sales decline, etc.


Put Strong Leaders On The Front Line

The good news is this: If you have strong leaders, you can change the culture with the right amount of focus, energy and communication. Remember, the culture echoes your leadership team. The first thing you have to decide is if you have the right players in place. Chances are, if you have a poor company culture, you have to make changes within your leadership team immediately. If their team does not trust him or her, this leader will be ineffective and will not be able to gain agreement on the desired outcome.


Define Your Desired Culture

Once you determine you have the right players to facilitate this seismic shift, you must decide what your culture needs to be in order for you to succeed. What characteristics does your team need to have in order to survive the test of time? These characteristics will be the roadmap for decision-making and problem-solving. If your people do not embrace change and are content, it will be very difficult for you to get buy-in to the new vision.

You will have to identify the behaviors that are harming the culture and ensure they are restricted in the workplace. It can be as simple as a “no cursing” rule. Cursing in the workplace is demeaning and intimidating. If you have identified collaboration as a core value, cursing at one another is in direct conflict with the outcome you are trying to produce. Determine all the bad behaviors that are harmful to your environment and get rid of them. This may require you to dismiss certain individuals from your team altogether. If they are harmful to your environment, they need to go.

Biggest cultural phenomena dominating the online world

Certain cultural codes can have significant impact on a country’s economic activities. In fact, many products and services we consume are usually created in such a way that they will be seen as socially and ethically acceptable. At other times, however, it is innovation and novel ideas that dictate how new cultures should be made.

Thanks to the wonder of technology, we are now all connected in a way that when a particular event, an activity, or a trend makes it big even from a thousand miles away, it’s just a matter of seconds in order for people all over the globe to be a part of the cheering, virtual crowd. In turn, the power to reach billions of people in a matter of seconds contributed to a whole new way of life not just defined by one wave of influence but an overlapping cultural phenomena that continue to shape the world one click at a time. Here are the biggest cultural phenomena that are dominating and will continue to dominate the world over:

  1. The robust Korean Wave
Image source:

The spread of Korea’s finest pop cultural icons were introduced through the popularity of K-dramas. Known for its unpredictable plots and interesting twists, the country’s film and TV industry soared into global admiration. But the world hasn’t seen everything yet—not until the entire viewing public exploded with the phenomenal K-Pop fever that is sweeping every person, young and old, across continents, with their cool music and electrifying dance moves—the ‘Hallyu’ culture was born. In 2012, Korean rapper Psy broke Youtube records with his international hit single ‘Gangnam Style.’ Moreover, the Hallyu phenomenon as a whole is believed to have boosted South Korea’s tourism industry to a whole new level.


  1. Hollywood’s Age of Superheroes
Image source:

We’re expecting a heroic and valiant generation that will finally save the actual world from its future damnation, thanks to the rise of the new superhero movies that have continued to dominate the industry.  The superhero era started in the early 2000s but it’s not yet showing any sign of weakness especially when we take a look at how the world wholeheartedly welcomed a female heroine, Diana as the Wonder Woman with open arms, hearts, and mind.


  1. Netflix and the new television
Image source:

According to industry experts, the Netflix culture has brought a new age of movie home viewing and it did not only change how the public consumes content but also how films and programs are made. In fact, it is believed that such video-on-demand streaming culture may eventually kill traditional TV and film, although not anytime soon. In addition, they have given millions of viewers the opportunity to participate, react, and demand for higher-quality shows and entertainment that they rightfully deserve—without the pressure from advertisers and similar outfits.

  1. The ubiquitous Selfie culture
Image source:

Driven largely—or perhaps, entirely—by social media and the widespread availability of mobile devices with good-quality cameras, taking selfies has become the norm for most users of social networking sites, particularly Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook. It has become an acceptable behavior over the last few years, and has come a long way from being seen as an annoyingly narcissistic (and to some extent, psychologically damaging) activity into a commonplace way of creating personal content online.