Falling crime rates and prison closures

Dutch justice? Falling crime rates and prison closures The closure of five prisons in as many years against the background of a falling crime rate, is the kind of news many governments would give their eye teeth for. But not everyone in the Netherlands is happy, as Gordon Darroch reports. The Dutch cabinet has faced awkward questions since justice minister Ard van der Steur told parliament in March that the rapid decline of the prison population has left around one-third of cells empty. Unions accused him of breaking a promise made by his predecessor, Fred Teeven, that no more jails would shut before the election in March 2017. And opposition politicians claimed that the decline had more to do with the police lacking the means to track down criminals than any real fall in the crime rate. The impact could have been even more dramatic if the government had adopted the recommendations of a prison service report published in July, which concluded that eight jails and three youth detention centres will be surplus to requirements...  More >


Exhibition shows handbags of the royals

Exhibition highlights the handbags that graced the shoulders of royalty What do Queen Maxima, Grace Kelly and Dries van Noten have in common? They all feature in a royal-themed exhibition in Amsterdam, writes Julia Corbett. The Museum of Bags and Purses, located in a canal house on Herengracht, has a reputation as one of the world's finest fashion museums. Its experts have spent a year putting together a display of royal handbags that celebrates the style of some of Europe's most iconic kings, queens and princesses. Queen Maxima of the Netherlands has selected three bags from the collection of one of her predecessor, queen Juliana, to include in the collection. Also on display are six bags selected by Britain's queen Elizabeth II. Hollywood style icon Grace Kelly, who later became princess Grace of Monaco, is represented too with the famous Kelly bag designed by Hermes. The exhibition will run until February 26 and looks at how Europe's royals influenced handbag styles down the centuries. The travel collection of the empress Elisabeth...  More >


Nobel prizes come at a price

Government urged to invest in science: Nobel prizes come at a price Invest in science or those Nobel prizes may well become a thing of the past, the Netherlands' leading Dutch scientific organisations are warning. The fact that Ben Feringa won the Nobel prize for chemistry is a huge boost for Dutch science. But a coincidence it is not. A prize of this magnitude is the result of decades of investment in the lengths and breadths of scientific research. The Dutch scientific community is proud of its home grown Nobel laureate, a man who not only excels in his field but  who is modest to boot. Feringa, rightly honoured for his work, never fails to point out that he is not a scientific soloist. The gold medal he will receive in Stockholm in December is the result of teamwork. Many scientists from a number of disciplines and universities here and abroad have been working on the development of molecular motors from the early nineties. Team sports The Netherlands is good at scientific team sports, with just the right balance of competition and...  More >


Ai Weiwei pledges ‘one voice’ for refugees

Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei pledges ‘one voice’ for refugees Ai Weiwei’s new exhibition at the Foam, Amsterdam, highlights his feelings of affinity with the plight of refugees fleeing to Europe.   By Moira Holden Ai Weiwei candidly admits he ‘never had a good memory’, so his enthusiasm for social media solves that problem. ‘I just push the button to record the moment,’ he said, during the opening of his exhibition, #SafePassage, in the Dutch capital. The artist (59) has visited many refugee camps around the Mediterranean since his passport was returned to him by the Chinese authorities, allowing him to travel abroad for the first time in four years. Since December last year, he has recorded the daily life of refugees in camps on the Greek island of Lesbos, Syria, Turkey, Italy, Israel and France. Social media His Instagram feed has functioned as a de facto real-time newswire and the printed images of the refugees’ faces chronicling their day-to-day life, their hope and despair are displayed in thousands of small iPhone...  More >


The IamExpat Fair comes to The Hague

The IamExpat Fair comes to The Hague this November The IamExpat Fair in The Hague will take place on Saturday November 5, 2016, at the Grote Kerk. The IamExpat Fair is designed to support internationals in the Netherlands, and connect them with local businesses and service providers. This event is an exciting opportunity for internationals to find everything they need in one location, on one day. From companies and services in the areas of career, housing, education and expat services, to family, health and leisure - the IamExpat Fair has it covered! From 10am to 5pm this free single-day event will host stands from dozens of companies and organisations in the landmark Grote Kerk. Free workshops and presentations will also be running throughout the day. Visitors to the IamExpat Fair in The Hague can: - Get assistance with finding rental properties or understanding Dutch mortgages - Meet with recruiters and companies that are hiring - Attend workshops about living and working in the Netherlands - Learn about advancing...  More >


'You’ll never get me to love camping'

‘How Dutch am I? You’ll never get me to love camping’ British national Kerrie Finch, 46, has lived in the Netherlands for 16 years. She might be partial to herring but she's not into Dutch stereotypes and would never, ever call herself an expat. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I came for a three-month freelance contract in August 2000 to work with a PR company. I stayed in that role for one year, then one thing led to another, which led to another. I love travelling and do a lot for business – I’ve been in the US, France, Croatia, Latvia, the UK and Sweden already this year, with trips to Russia, Singapore and Italy in the pipeline – but Amsterdam is home. How do you describe yourself - an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international etc - and why? European first, British second, international third, expat never. How long do you plan to stay and why? Nothing is forever, but I’ve already been living in Amsterdam for 16 years and counting, so I won’t be moving on any time soon, I’m kind of settled! I run a reputation...  More >


Liberation Route Europe keeps WWII alive

What happened here? Liberation Route Europe keeps World War II memories alive Think of war memorials and you think of somewhere to lay flowers and remember the dead. But with many war veterans no longer with us, it's becoming incumbent on us all to remember their sacrifices through shared stories. Many of these stories are literally just around the corner, as Simon Weedy discovers. Much of my love for history back in my school days can be attributed to our teacher. Mr McCauley was a magnificent narrator whose infectious zeal for the events of decades and centuries ago made everyone sit up and listen. His great passion was World War II and he loved telling us all about how Europe and the USA came together to defeat nazi Germany. Those 'stories' weren't a result of his vivid imagination however, but borne out from the accounts of those who had lived through the war and, of course, reflections on those who hadn't. I was captivated. Some 30 years later, I am recalling those stories as I stand beside an obscure monument on a street corner near my house in...  More >


Whats on in October: space to sunshine

From space to sunshine: great things to do in October There's an autumn chill in the air and the leaves are starting to tumble, but that's no excuse to stay cooped up at home. Here's a round-up of some of the best ways to get out and about this October. Check out a royal handbag Amsterdam's quirky museum of bags and purses is staging a new exhibition of handbags that belonged to princesses and queens. Check out bags owned by Britain's Queen Elizabeth, Princess Grace of Monaco and, of course, the Dutch royals. Queen Maxima has selected three bags from the collection of former queen Juliana. Get spaced out On October 2, the European Space Agency is holding an open day at its headquarters in Noordwijk. Visitors will be able to wander round the sprawling facility at their own pace, meeting astronauts, scientists and mission designers while seeing special exhibits and actual space hardware. You need to register in advance to take part. Remember Marilyn Monroe The Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam is staging an exhibition of Marilyn Monroe...  More >


How to get on with the job

Get on with the job, and let us take care of the details Congratulations! You’ve successfully secured that dream job in the Netherlands. Now you need to make sure you get the most out of the tax system. Tax breaks are a nice extra and if you know your rights the benefits can add up to a considerable sum. After all, there are few things the Dutch love more than a discount. Legislation The Dutch knowledge economy has prospered by attracting migrants with the right type of expertise, so it makes sense for the government to make it as appealing as possible for people like yourself to come and work here. To attract foreign specialists whose field of knowledge is scarce or unavailable in the Netherlands, the Dutch government introduced a special tax facility for expats known as the 30% ruling. Briefly put, this tax advantage means that you only pay income tax on 70% of your gross salary, so the remaining 30% is tax free. This tax benefit is applicable to expat employees working in the Netherlands as long as they meet certain requirements. The...  More >


How to go Dutch: Passing exams is easy

How to go Dutch: Every time I pass an exam I lose an excuse to speak English Five years ago Molly Quell moved to the Netherlands with her husband, an academic, for a short-term project. Now she’s single, has fallen in love with the country and finds herself in the unexpected position of having to integrate. Read the first and second parts of her series here. I was honestly terrified that as I sat down to write the third piece in this series, I would have to confess that I had failed the inburgeren examen. In fact, if you’d talked to me after I'd written the last piece I would have told you I was considering taking up residency in any country that didn’t require me to speak Dutch (which, it turns out, is most of the world). But that is not what happened. In the past three months, I have sat and passed two of the five exams – with 9s. As I explained in my first piece, the integration exam has five components: Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking and the infamous Knowledge of Dutch Society. I have passed Reading and Listening and am due to sit Writing...  More >


10 years of DutchNews.nl: Top 10 stories

10 years of DutchNews.nl: stories from the Netherlands that made a splash DutchNews.nl is celebrating 10 years of providing Dutch news in English. Since its launch in September 2006, the website has published 35,000 articles which have been read 76 million times by 13 million unique visitors from all over the world. So what have been the biggest stories and features over the years? ‘We have been surprised by the broad range of news stories which have made the top 10 of most-read items,’ says editor Robin Pascoe. ‘Classic Dutch subjects such as cannabis and euthanasia are included of course, but so are Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb’s outspoken views on Isis and sexual abuse within the Catholic church.’ Top news stories in 10 years More prisons to close as falling crime leaves cells empty Amsterdam will not ban tourists from cannabis cafes Dutch to scrap ban on insulting foreign heads of state Catholic church abuse: at least one youth castrated for ‘homosexuality’ Time is right to wipe out Isis, says Rotterdam’s Muslim...  More >


Bol.com in English, but not yet perfect

Bol.com’s English site is online but not yet ‘under the knee’ Since mid-June online hypermarket bol.com has been available in English to increase its appeal to non-Dutch speakers in the Netherlands and Belgium. The feature is in the beta phase and bol.com has been using automated translation software to translate the content from Dutch to English. So how is it working out so far? To carry out the translations, bol.com is working with Microsoft Translate. Because the translation is done automatically, the English doesn't always come out perfect. Bol.com admit to their customers in the drop-down information bar that they don't quite have the service ‘under the knee’. You can, of course, buy a dictionary from bol.com to look up the original Dutch phrase onder de knie, which mean's you've mastered something. Books, music, computers, washing machines, baby clothes, cat baskets, bikes... you name it, bol.com probably sells it. Since being founded in 1999 bol.com has become the biggest online store in the country. And after receiving...  More >


'I have a Dutch layer full of memories'

‘Amsterdam in the 80s had a gritty, open texture and a kindly tolerance’ Julia Barnes, 59, is a musician (viola) and composer based in Zaandam. An American by birth, she's lived in the Netherlands for 35 years and remembers the man who used to rollerblade around Amsterdam wearing just a thong. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I came here from London to take lessons from a particular viola teacher. As a student I thought I would be in Amsterdam for one year. I had no idea about the local artistic scene and I found it to be diverse, wacky and wonderful. I met a man, now my ex-husband, and had two daughters. Today I am a performing musician, a teacher and a composer of new crossover projects mixing art, literature and music. I spent the last year and a few months composing nine song settings based on James Joyce’s Pomes Penyeach and putting them together with Dutch translations of the poems into a performance that tells the story of the poet’s journey from Dublin to Trieste to Zurich. How do you describe yourself - an expat, lovepat, immigrant,...  More >


A six month election campaign has started

And they’re off: a six month election campaign started with the budget Tuesday's budget was a predictable good news story and the launch of a six-month long election campaign, writes DutchNews.nl editor Robin Pascoe So, what a surprise! We’ll all be better off in election year. If last year’s budget was all about treading water and waiting to see what the economic upturn would bring, this year's is the coalition's last before the general election next March. Little wonder then that the emphasis is on boosting spending power across the board and rewarding voters who have gritted their teeth through four years of crisis, cautious recovery and cuts. A little extra in top-up benefits for the poorest families, the healthcare own risk payment gets frozen and more money for defence and public safety – all measures which can be guaranteed to generate a few positive headlines for the struggling VVD-PvdA coalition. Debate The pre-election nature of the budget will only be emphasized in the subsequent debate in parliament, where all the opposition...  More >


Not a tourist? This is the fair for you

New to the Netherlands and not a tourist? This is the fair for you Learning Dutch, finding a house, experiencing Dutch culture, making connections, solving immigration and tax issues, and finding employment – all at the 'I am not a Tourist' fair for Internationals in the Beurs van Berlage - Amsterdam on Sunday, 2 October 2016. For those not familiar with this annual celebration, the I am not a Tourist' fair is the biggest expat-oriented event in the Netherlands – expected to host 4,500 internationals and friends again this year. Still going strong after 13 previous editions, and the introduction of the Eindhoven edition, it brings you everything you need to enjoy life in the Netherlands. In just one day and under one roof at the beautiful Beurs van Berlage, this event is all about enriching your life abroad, whether you are new to the expat lifestyle or an old hand. Featuring the Job Fair for Internationals This year the Expat Fair will feature the Job Fair for Internationals, where expats can meet with some of the top employment agencies,...  More >


Video: how Schiphol airport has grown

Video: how Schiphol airport has grown over 100 years Amsterdam's Schiphol airport is celebrating its 100th anniversary and the city's archive has produced a video animation of how the airport has grown over the years. Today, Schiphol has five runways and processes 58 million passengers a year.   More >


What's On this autumn? English theatre

What’s on this autumn? English language theatre, comedy and other shows The International theatre scene continues to blossom, with an increasing number of English language companies, language-no-problem shows and internationally focused festivals popping up all over the country. Esther O’Toole had a look at what the new season promises. Theatre Toneel Groep Amsterdam In the last few years TA’s programming has become increasingly interesting and diverse. This season the theme of freedom runs through all the productions. Though most shows are in Dutch they still offer English surtitles on all their Thursday night performances and are continuing their cooperation with internationally renowned theatre directors. This season stellar director Katie Mitchell (UK) will be one to watch out for. Website The International Theatre in English Theodora Voutsa’s company return to the Compagnie Theater in Amsterdam November, with their much lauded modern version of Sophocles’ Antigone, which enjoyed a sell-out run back in March. November 4 and 25 only....  More >


Volunteer group Access celebrates 30 years

Volunteer organisation Access has been helping new arrivals settle for 30 years Whether it be sensible advice about childbirth or making friends, finding a job or even where to buy a tie, volunteer organisation Access has been helping internationals in the Netherlands for the past 30 years. Molly Quell looks back at the organisation's history as they celebrate their anniversary this month. The Access model is unique in the world but the problems it seeks to solve aren’t. The experience of moving abroad is, unsurprisingly, a stressful one. In 1985, the American Community Council (ACC), an organisation which brought together all of the American-focused groups in The Hague - from churches to schools - took on this challenge. According to Gale Metcalf and Joel Wallach, who helped with the founding of Access: 'It was not about the availability of support or information, it was access to and awareness of it that we noted as being absent in The Hague.' The ACC looked at that model and concluded that what its community needed was a clearinghouse for information...  More >


Want to become Dutch (again)?

Want to become Dutch (again)? This government is making it harder It is incomprehensible that the government is pressing ahead with its plans to increase the residency requirement to become Dutch from five to seven years and is continuing its crusade against Dutch citizens who live abroad, writes Eelco Keij. With parliamentary elections set to take place in March 2017, the current coalition government - an alliance between the PvdA and VVD - entered the election season by giving the finger to foreign nationals who want to become Dutch citizens. They are pressing ahead with new legislation which will increase the time needed to become a naturalised Dutch citizen from five to seven years. Their basis for this is 'a feeling in society' - according to the official statements. In other words, the measure looks good in the light of growing support for far-right and anti-establishment parties. This new piece of legislation - not in effect yet, the senate still needs to have its say - will have a strong impact both on hard-working foreign residents...  More >


Go wet and wild; swimming in Dutch lakes

Make the most of the last days of summer with a swim in a Dutch lake Children are back at school and the workplaces are almost back to normal. But a bout of late summer sun means shrieks of delight can still be found in lakes and rivers from Friesland to Limburg. The Dutch do love their water, as Simon Weedy discovers. The celebrations which followed Sharon van Rouwendaal and Ferry Weertman's gold medals in the 10K open water swim at the Rio Olympics were a joy to behold. But to a nation which needs little excuse to jump into a lake or river, their achievements – as superb as they were – should have come as little surprise. Weather-wise, you wouldn't honestly say that it's been the best summer ever. Frankly, it's been a bit of a wash-out. Or at least it had been until a couple of weeks ago. Right on cue, a decent spell of sunshine arrives and suddenly everyone is rushing to embrace this 'Indian Summer', topped off with a cooling dip. And despite an abundance of outdoor swimming pools, there is no shortage of places to indulge in 'wild swimming',...  More >