Museums open up to Dutch language learners

Groups learning Dutch as a second language have been crossing the entrances of a range of museums after the Stad en Taal (city and language) initiative was launched to teach Dutch culture in an accessible way. Julia Corbett joined a tour at the Rijksmuseum. The daunting task of speaking Dutch has just become a lot easier thanks to the Rijksmuseum’s new initiative, which immerses learners into the language and culture of the Netherlands during intimate Dutch speaking tours. Under the title Stad en Taal, six museums in Amsterdam together with the city council are providing the educational programme after research showed that a museum setting was the perfect location for boosting language learning. The researchers found that after learning more about the country’s history in an interactive way, people also began to feel more at home. Friendships Among our group taking the Stad en Taal guided tour were people from Russia, China and Syria. Although many had never been...  More >

Universities should become unsafe again

Universities must become unsafe places again, in which students are not protected from hearing opinions different from their own, writes Leiden law professor Paul Cliteur. 'Berkeley cancels speech by extreme right commentator Ann Coulter, the Volkskrant wrote on April 20. Coulter had been invited by Republican students to come to Berkeley on April 27 to talk about her take on immigration. Swayed by a storm of protest the famously left-leaning university decided the safety of students and staff would be compromised and the event was cancelled. ‘We were unable to find a secure and suitable location,’ the university said in a statement. It’s starting to become a trend. Controversial speaker. Protests. Authorities: ‘Sorry, the event has to be cancelled for safety reasons. Ayaan Hirsi Ali Ayaan Hirsi Ali couldn’t go to Australia because her safety couldn’t be guaranteed. A meeting by the Forum voor Democratie with Thierry Baudet in Dordrecht also generated protest....  More >

Bikepacking in Noord Holland

Bikepacking is a new cycling trend. It's basically lightweight touring/camping on a mountain bike or racing bike using the latest generation of bags which don't need carriers or racks.  Mike Cooper went on a bikepacking trip through Noord Holland and Friesland The great whites were following me. There were eight of them. They were big. I wasn't nervous, I was enjoying their company. One thing about long-distance solo bikepacking: alone is the default. Great white egrets, herons more common to the Ukraine than to the Netherlands, are welcome company along the endless Houtribdijk, heading north out of Lelystad into an icy headwind towards Enkhuizen and fietsknooppunt 12. It was day two and I was fast running out of fuel. Three day tour My brief journey in early spring took three days and two nights. North from Haarlem to Den Oever, over the Afsluitdijk, south around the Frisian coast from Zurich to Lelystad, over the Houtribdijk, around the coast to Hoorn and across back to...  More >

11 tips to help buy your dream Dutch home

Buying a house in the Netherlands may be the right option if you are fed up with trying to find the perfect place to rent or planning to really put down roots. We asked estate agent Mie-Lan Kok for some key tips to think about before deciding to take the plunge. 1 Be realistic You might love the idea of living in Amsterdam but unless you have a high-paying job, the city centre is probably going to be out of reach - even though it is cheaper than places like London and Berlin. Decide which is more important to you - location or price - and tailor your property search accordingly. Will it be a small apartment in a nice area or a bigger place in a less desirable part of the city? 2 Think about the future You need to think of buying a home as an investment that will last for years to come so take your future needs into account as well. Do you work in Amsterdam and are you considering having a family? Then you might be better checking out the pretty town of Weesp or more centrally-located...  More >

'I feel more Dutch since I naturalised'

Originally from Hampshire in the UK, Paul Oram moved to the Netherlands after meeting his future wife while scuba diving in Egypt. He now lives in The Hague, where he works as a graphic designer and volunteers for Stichting Present, an organisation that helps vulnerable individuals.  How did you end up in the Netherlands? I was working in London in 1997 and I was getting fed up, so I decided to do something completely different and booked a week's diving holiday in Egypt, on my own. It was shortly after a terrorist attack at a tourist site, but I decided to go because I'd already paid and couldn’t get my money back. My Dutch wife to be was there, doing exactly the same thing. We literally met underwater. I remember thinking at the time ‘she’s the one for me’ and we went from there. A few years later I sold my place in London a few years later and moved over here to be with her. How do you describe yourself – an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international? I’d say I’m...  More >

Just how Dutch is AkzoNobel?

Dutch paint maker AkzoNobel is being hotly pursued by American peer PPG. The potential takeover has prompted economic affairs minister Henk Kamp to say it is  in the Netherlands’ interests to make sure Dutch multinationals continue to be led from the Netherlands.’ So just how Dutch is AkzoNobel? True, the company is headquartered in the Zuidas business district in Amterdam. True, its shares are traded on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange. And AkzoNobel operates in more than 80 countries around the world. Its main operations are paints and coatings and specialty chemicals. AkzoNobel is truly a multinational. So how much money does it make in the Netherlands? In 2016, the group turned over €14.2bn. About one-third of this was generated in Europe, of which €1.4bn, or 10%, in the Netherlands. And what about its local workforce? AkzoNobel has a global payroll of 46,000, and 4,900 of them are in the Netherlands - so around 10% then. Share ownership in the Netherlands, however,...  More >

Podcast: The 50 Shades of Orange Edition

As the king turns 50 we look at the enduring popularity of the Dutch royal family. Meanwhile the other great orange institution – the national football team – finally finds a new coach, firefighters rescue a dog from a rabbit hole, Jeroen Dijsselbloem rescues himself from a Greek tragedy and a building in Amersfoort has a very modern facade. Top story TV interview marks king's 50th birthday Full interview on NOS website News Dick Advocaat expected to be appointed national football coach for third time Court to rule on whether 12-year-old boy should undergo cancer treatment Emojis used on building facade Firefighters free dog from rabbit hole Discussion Seven in 10 Dutch support royal family  More >

Ten great things to do in May

From celebrating freedom to celebrating beer - here's our round-up of some of the best things to do in the Netherlands this May. Celebrate freedom and harmony Liberation Day – May 5 – sees Bevrijdingsfestivals taking place across the country. National and international bands will be performing on stages from Amsterdam to Zwolle, under the banner ‘Geef vrijheid door’ ('Pass freedom on’). The festivals are free and there's a dedicated website where you can find out what’s happening near you. Check out the other side of Dick Bruna Dick Bruna, who died in February this year, was much more than the creator of Nijntje (aka Miffy). The famous rabbit has deliberately been left out of 2000x Dick Bruna, an exhibition of his other works, including his book covers for Dutch thriller series Havank. Until May 11, at the Atrium in The Hague. Website Give Scorsese the Eye The first major Martin Scorsese retrospective, which has been touring New York, Berlin, Melbourne and...  More >

Dutch king Willem-Alexander turns 50

King Willem-Alexander turns the ripe old age of 50 on April 27. To mark the occasion,  here are some random facts about the Dutch king. 1 Willem-Alexander was a 'completely normal Dutch boy', according to his primary school teacher. But unlike other completely normal Dutch boys he had to submit to much attention from the press. ‘Alle Nederlandse pers opgerot’ (all Dutch press buzz off), the nine year-old Willem-Alexander famously piped up at a gathering of journalists. The royals’ relationship with the press was always a little tetchy, which is why some suggested that Willem-Alexander’s little outburst may have been copied from things his parents might have said at home. 2 Willem-Alexander is crazy about sport, especially ones in which the Dutch excel, such as football and speed skating. That side of his character is nowhere better admired than on the stands of stadiums where the king, decked out in orange in spite of his unfortunate colouring, jumps up and down just...  More >

What the papers say about insulting women

What the Dutch papers say about insulting women, Jewish traditions and young Turks Introducing a new regular, a round-up of some of the week's best or most provocative columns. This week we tackle insulting women as entertainment for boys, the way politicians harp on about the Netherlands Jewish-Christian tradition and why young Dutch Turks voted to give president Erdogan more powers. Insulting women Micro biologist and NRC columnist Rosanne Herzberger takes on Telegraaf Media’s website which features a show called DumpertReeten (Dumpert arses) in which ‘a couple of men children are slouched on the sofa watching infantile videos. They express their appreciation via a special rating. If it’s a bad video, one woman wearing a string and bra turns around to show her backside. If the video is good four or five women do the same.’ Referencing Fox News’ Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly, both fired for sexual harassment, Herzberger suggests that women hit back with a well-aimed kick, not quite in the balls of TMG but fairly close: the...  More >

Podcast: The Happy Orange Bunnies Edition

In this week's podcast, we hear about a Brexit summit in The Hague, Ajax's dramatic ten-man victory in the Europa League and why Dutch teenagers are much happier than their pet bunnies. We also give you all the information you need to join in the fun, drinking and cleaning up on King's Day. Top story Groningen gas criminal inquiry News Netherlands hosts Brexit mini-summit Dutch teenagers among happiest in the world PVV moves to ban dual nationality Ajax reach Europa League semi-final Unhappy bunnies need company Discussion King's Day traditions and festivities  More >

The richest men in the Netherlands

While it may be harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven than it is for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, the ranks of the rich in the Netherlands are swelling. Reflecting this, business magazine Quote doubled the length of its annual rich list in 2016 as part of its 20th birthday celebrations. The Quote list is complicated by several factors: many rich Dutch live elsewhere for tax reasons (or perhaps an unsated lust for skiing) – and then there is family wealth as opposed to individual riches. The best illustration of this is Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken, the only child of the late beer magnate Freddy Heineken. Charlene lives in London, is resident in Switzerland and has five children. Both she and her husband hold supervisory board posts with the brewing group. Charlene's 25% controlling share in Heineken is worth €11bn on the Quote list, an increase of 14% over the previous year. She is by far the richest Dutch person. The Heineken heiress...  More >

'Dutch people are really traditional'

Originally from Israel, Inbal Tur-Shalom moved to Amsterdam after falling head over heels in love with a Dutchman during a road trip through New Zealand. She now owns a photography studio, leads tours around the city and enjoys live music in the Jordaan. How did you end up in the Netherlands After working as a customer care manager for a big IT company in Israel, I felt life had more to offer. So, at the age of 36, I resigned, packed a backpack and went travelling through Cuba, the Dominican Republic, South America and the United States. After a year, I came back to Israel but felt that I hadn’t had enough of travelling so I decided to go to New Zealand. I rented a car there and drove all the way from the top of the north island to the bottom of the south island. After two months, I met a Dutch guy who had been living in NZ for two years. It was crazy love at first sight, he asked me to stay with him and I did. About a year later, life, circumstances and the recession made us decide to...  More >

Working together is key to being Dutch

Working together is a key part of the Dutch psyche Working together to reach consensus is one of the essences of being Dutch. No wonder then that even at school children learn all about making deals with their peers, writes editor Robin Pascoe The Netherlands is now in the middle of a long and complicated process to create a new coalition government. The Dutch political system invariably creates coalitions and the process can take months and months. Manifesto points are ditched, compromises reached, trade-offs agreed and finally the parties that have managed to find enough common ground publish their long-awaited coalition agreement – their blue-print for the country for the next four years. Consensus Those who romanticise the Dutch tradition of consensus like to see its origins in the Dutch fight against the sea – when everyone had to work together to ensure the dykes were high and the waves kept at bay. This may well be the case. But consensus is not just confined to the corridors of power in The Hague. Consensus...  More >

'Not good enough' porcelain goes on show

  Artefacts once considered not good enough for the gaze of the Chinese emperor have now finally been viewed by Dutch royalty. Moira Holden finds out more about a collection of porcelain which was never meant to be seen. Queen Maxima opened Forbidden Porcelain: Exclusively for the Emperor, a painstaking restoration of broken china from the Far East, now on display at the Prinsenhof Museum. The porcelain was originally made and destroyed without being used by the emperor because it was considered not perfect enough for the ruler’s eyes. The emperors of China’s Ming dynasty demanded absolute precision when it came to porcelain. If there was merely a hint of imperfection in the china, it was deemed unsuitable to be presented to the imperial court and was broken up and buried. This 'waste' has now seen the light of day after lying hidden for many centuries in the Chinese city of Jingdezhen, the centre of the imperial pottery workshops. Fast forward hundreds of years...  More >

Podcast: The Pandamonium Edition

This week we find out why the country suffered a collective bout of panda fever, what's happening in the coalition talks and why it's the end of the road for Amsterdam's infamous beer bikes. In the discussion we explain a bit about our podcast and ask for your feedback so we can make it even better. Top story Pandas touch down at Schiphol News Coalition talks suspended for Jesse Klaver's family illness Dutch Turks held in Turkey At least 20 Dutch Turks stuck in Turkey have appealed for consular help Sylvana Simons court case Beer bikes no more Sport Max Verstappen at the Chinese Grand Prix Discussion: all about your DutchNews podcast hosts Find us on Twitter: Paul Peeters Gordon Darroch Molly Quell  More >

Can Dutch firms ban headscarves?

Does a recent European Court ruling mean Dutch companies can ban their employees from wearing headscarves? The answer is, to put it simply, both yes and no. Bans on wearing 'any political, philosophical or religious sign' are not discriminatory, the European Court of Justice said in its ruling last month. However, employers can only implement them as part of broader rules regarding employee appearance. The Court ruled on the case of Samira Achbita, a receptionist employed by G4S Security Company in Belgium, who began wearing a headscarf to work for religious reasons. She was subsequently fired after refusing to remove the headscarf after the company implemented a dress code which included a ban on wearing religious symbols in the work place. Achbita challenged her dismissal in a Belgian court. The Belgian court then referred the case to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The ECJ was asked whether banning a headscarf in the broader context of banning religious and political symbols...  More >

Reforming Amsterdam's red light district

The city of sleaze is cleaning itself up. Fed up with brothels, low-rent snack bars and sex shops, Amsterdam city council is busy trying to gentrify the red light district. But not everyone is happy, particularly police and the sex workers themselves, as Graham Dockery finds out. Is the city losing a central aspect of its identity? Or is this a long overdue clean up? Either way, the effects are already visible. Tourists walking through the district a couple of years ago would have seen far more red lights for a start. There are now just under 300 window brothels in the district, down from 486 in 2006. In alleys where working girls used to ply their trade, indie art galleries and barber shops now occupy the windows. The strip clubs and peep shows still operate, but they share the street with upscale boutiques and thrift stores. Diversity ‘I want some more diversity in this area,’ said Annabelle van Dijk. Annabelle works in Koko Coffee and Design, an achingly hip establishment...  More >

Participation declaration 'bombastic'

‘Participation declaration is bombastic cocktail of norms, values and culture’ Why bother with a tutti frutti of norms, values and culture for newcomers if you have a perfectly serviceable constitution to fall back on? asks Bas de Gaay Fortman, a former GroenLinks MP turned Utrecht University professor. ‘Welcome to the Netherlands!’ Such is the ringing participation declaration’s greeting to the ‘newcomer’ – who is likely to have been living there for a while. What follows is a kind of citizens’ declaration of faith in which values, norms and culture are mixed like a cocktail. That a large majority of MPs ‘(VVD, PvdA, PVV, CDA, SGP, 50plus and a few splinter parties) passed this text is mind boggling. The bill brings in a new element to the integration process. ‘The core values of Dutch society’ are not to be shrugged off, the explanatory memorandum warns. That is why all those who are required by law to follow an integration programme must ‘express’ their allegiance to the Netherlands. Because ‘We’ (is this a royal ‘We’?)...  More >