Podcast: The Jihadi Daycare Edition

DutchNews podcast – The Jihadi Daycare Edition – Week 8 The sound of doors slamming shut echoes through this week's podcast as the Netherlands says it will turn away returning IS fighters, Venezuela closes its border with Curacao and a Dutch journalist has a full-on crockery-smashing row with a Fox News host. We also find out how the cabinet got its fingers burned over energy bills and discuss whether compelling children from immigrant families to attend pre-school will really help them integrate better. News Coalition parties projected to lose heavily in provincial elections Government admits it used wrong figures in underestimating energy price rise Jihadi bride who faces losing British citizenship may seek Dutch nationality Venezuela shuts sea border with Dutch Caribbean islands to block aid Sport Ajax roll over Breda to close gap at top of Eredivisie to four points PSV and PEC angry at KNVB's decision to postpone Ajax game Discussion: Does compulsory pre-schooling help integration? Dijkhoff: children...  More >

Nine key facts for filing your taxes

Nine things to take into account when filing your tax return February is the month that most of us get a blue envelope from the tax office, telling us it is almost time to file our annual tax return. Here are nine key issues that you need to take into account. 1. It is all down to boxes The Dutch tax system distinguishes three types of income for tax purposes. Each type of income is referred to as box 1, 2 or 3 and has its own tax rate. Box 1 covers taxable income from employment and home ownership, box 2 includes taxable income from income you have from shares in companies in which you have a 'substantial interest' and box 3 is used for taxable income from savings and investments. 2 Do you have to file an income tax return? Probably yes. If you received notification from the Dutch tax office to file your income tax, then you have to do so even if you had no income. The letters are typically sent in February, so yours may have already dropped through your letter box. If you live in the Netherlands currently or have done for part of...  More >

Who will guard your child when you’re gone

Who will take care of your child when you’re gone? Historically, if you wanted to designate a guardian for your child in case something should happen to you, it had to be done by will. Today, a new option is available which makes this process cheaper and easier: appointing a guardian via the parental authority register. As a parent in the Netherlands, you want to know that if something happens to you, your child will have someone to protect their best interests. However, until recently the only way that a parent could designate a guardian was to state this in their will. Appointing a guardian via the parental authority register Since April 1, 2014, it has been possible to designate a guardian for your child via the parental authority register. This second option makes the process easier and cheaper – but is available only in Dutch. Visit the parental authority register With the parental authority register, parents can appoint a guardian by submitting an online request, or completing a form in writing and posting that form...  More >

'I am not a great believer in maps'

‘Amsterdam weather is controlled by an angel who is on an internship’ Originally from Pakistan, Basir Mahmood is an artist, photographer, and filmmaker whose works have appeared in galleries and museums all around the world. A few years ago, he was awarded a research fellowship in Amsterdam, and he continues to live in the city. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I have been travelling around for the last eight years now, from one artist residency to another. This is how I also ended up at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam in 2016. After finishing the two-year-long programme, I decided to stay because of the city itself and the people I met here. In Amsterdam so far I have collaborated with professional translators, athletes and young actors, to produce video works. How do you describe yourself – an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international? I think I would be more comfortable calling myself an expat, even if I was residing back in Pakistan. This feeling comes mainly through the position I take as an artist while making a work...  More >

Weird stairways, stone tables and Gandalf

Leiden’s not-so-visible oddities: Mysterious stairways, stone tables and Gandalf Leiden dates back all the way to the 9th century. Over the past 1,100 years, it’s steadily acquired its fair share of historical oddities and other curiosities that are unique or simply bizarre. Here’s a few that are often overlooked by visitors and locals alike. 1 A mysterious stairway Outside Leiden’s medieval Stadhuis, there’s a stairway that leads to a small platform. Together, they seem pretty pointless but they served an important purpose back in the day. The platform was once used by civic leaders to make important announcements to the public. These included everything from information about political dealings to the latest developments in criminal proceedings (stuff like which convict was going to get hanged next and when). A closer look at the stairway reveals two other interesting details. There are two rods that served as measuring sticks back when a unit of measurement called the Rhineland Foot was still being used. Okay, well, one of the ‘rods’...  More >

Podcast: The Everyone's a Muppet Edition

DutchNews podcast – The Everyone’s a Muppet Edition – Week 8 A blockbuster edition of the podcast this week as the Dutch government sends in Stef Blok to wrestle with a muppet named Brexit and try to beat Venezuela's aid blockade by going through Curacao. We also hear how Ajax took pride from a home defeat, Amsterdam's mayor raised the stop sign to red light tourism and a Dutch entrepreneur's flour bomb blew up in his face. In our discussion we review the court decision that could allow dozens of people to prove once and for all that they were secretly fathered by a sperm clinic owner. Ophef of the week: Blok's big blue Brexit muppet sparks backlash Top story Dutch government to use Curacao as 'relief hub' to break Venezuela's aid blockade (NRC, Dutch) News Amsterdam's mayor says red light district should not be a tourist attraction Brexit has brought 42 firms and 2000 jobs to the Netherlands School pupils to continue environment protests after meeting Rutte Dutchman loses patent on Ethiopian flour after bid to sue bakery...  More >

The Dutch mock weddings which are sincere

Marry for a day? Dutch mock weddings which are surprisingly sincere At Wed and Walk, marriage isn’t for life, it’s for just one day. Deborah Nicholls-Lee finds out why romantics are flocking to Amsterdam to take part in a mock wedding. Toon and Tetty exchange rings under an arch festooned with roses and ribbons and crowned with two white doves. The birds, flowers and wedding are fake, but the sentiments are all real. Despite having presided over around 6000 mock weddings, Jona Rens (39), whose business Wed and Walk ‘marries’ people for just one day in the Netherlands’ only fake wedding chapel, still often finds herself in tears. She’s not the only one. ‘Nine out of ten men start crying,’ she tells me. ‘They just break down – it’s beautiful to see.’ Kitsch Jona is on the train, but I’m sat on the red carpet (her ‘aisle’) in the middle of her shop in Amsterdam’s Pijp district, whispering into my phone. Around me is a cornucopia of kitsch: plastic cakes, love-heart sweets, and trays of thrift-store rings. Frilly...  More >

Indian designer bridges east and west

Indian designer bridges east and west to go Dutch A fashion designer in India is reaching out to the international community in the Netherlands in a bid to break into Europe. Dutch women may not be renowned for their passion for high fashion, and their casual approach to both work and formal wear is one of the first things which new arrivals often notice. But Indian designer Amit Sachdeva hopes his cross-over designs will help change all that. Amit uses simple cuts and classic drapes for his designs, which, his supporters say, are bound to appeal to the native Dutch as well as internationals and expats. ‘My approach to fashion is a melding of western notions of cut, construction and finish, but using Indian detailing and craftsmanship,’ Amit says. ‘My way of designing is very meditative. I like to take my own sweet time to finish or start a design. I can’t design under any time pressure. I am a perfectionist and pay attention to minutest details.’ Many in the Netherlands’ growing Indian community have heard of...  More >

The best of the Rembrandt shows nationwide

2019 is the year of Rembrandt: here’s where to catch his works The life and works of Rembrandt van Rijn are being celebrated across the country this year to mark the 350th anniversary of his death. Deborah Nicholls-Lee has a round-up of the main events. 2019 marks 350 years since Rembrandt van Rijn’s death and the Dutch tourist board has leapt at the chance to extol one of the country’s best-loved artists and wax lyrical about the Golden Age, when Amsterdam was the wealthiest city in Europe. Amsterdam The Rijksmuseum Rembrandt spent most of his life in Amsterdam and painted his most iconic pieces there. The city’s Rijksmuseum is home to the largest collection of Rembrandts in the world. Currently courting huge press attention is the exhibition All the Rembrandts (15 February – 10 June) – a giant celebration of all Rembrandt’s styles and periods, comprising 22 paintings, 60 drawings and over 300 prints. Alongside world-famous works such as The Night Watch and The Jewish Bride, the public will get a rare view of fragile...  More >

Employers who can’t find staff need to up their pay rates

Employers who can’t find staff need to up their pay rates   Employers who can't attract staff need to stop advertising and start paying, says economist Mathijs Bouman. I'm sorry employers of the Netherlands but you are still not getting the message. At every congress and event in the land you tell me how important it is to conquer new markets, embrace new technologies and, especially, how essential it is to put the customer first. Customer service, that’s what it’s all about for growing companies. But customers are not your problem when it comes to growth. In fact, customers who find someone at the other end of a phone line at your company can count themselves lucky. With so many unfilled positions you are hardly going to free up staff to answer the telephone. According to new figures from the UWV jobs agency 46% of jobs are difficult to fill. Construction and industry in particular are having a hard time finding staff. One in 10 employers is expecting quality of work to fall because of lack of personnel. Staff shortages...  More >

Dutch destinations: Deventer

Dutch destinations: Deventer is an under-rated gem Best known for its annual Dickens festival during the winter holiday season, Deventer is a picturesque city located east of Apeldoorn with a rich literary history. Here you’ll find gorgeous architecture, great cafes, and a very old kettle with a blood-soaked past. Deventer’s history goes all the way back to the Dark Ages, and it’s one of the country’s oldest communities. Historians theorise that it was likely founded by the English missionary Lebuinus in the mid 8th century. He constructed a wooden church in the area that was later destroyed by the Saxons. Over a hundred years later, the fledgling village known as Deventer was hit by another major setback. This time, it was burnt to the ground by rampaging Vikings. It was quickly rebuilt, this time with a protective wall that was steadily improved during the centuries that followed. The city served as one of Europe’s most important centres for publishing in the 15th century after Richard Paffraet brought a printing...  More >

Podcast: The Whistling Dixit Edition

DutchNews Podcast – The Whistling Dixit Edition – Week 6 There's an end of days feel to the podcast as we review a week in which schoolchildren took a collective day off to demand urgent action on global warming, just days after MPs agreed to talk about it for a bit longer. We also look at how Geert Wilders became Islam's number one recruiting sergeant, why a no-deal Brexit could trigger medicine shortages in the Netherlands, a setback for British expats and Dutch shoemakers, and perhaps the most alarming news of all – is Dick Lawyer really about to pull out of football management? Top Story Ministers doubt whether carbon tax will cut emissions News British residents fail in bid to force EU court ruling on their nationality after Brexit Former MP Joram van Klaveren becomes second Wilders-to-Islam convert Compensation for unemployed people who used toxic paint in job scheme Van Haren loses latest stage of legal battle over red soled shoes Sport Dick Advocaat rules out taking over at Feyenoord because of 'negative...  More >

The main changes on your January pay slip

Tax cuts and premium rises: the main changes on your pay slip With the first month of 2019 now over, you will have received your first pay packet of the year. Financial advisor José de Boer knows what you should be looking out for. Dutch pay slips are complicated affairs - a sheet of acronyms and percentages that take a great amount of knowledge and concentration to unravel. Research by payroll processing company Raet has shown that 35% of people think their pay slip is too complicated for them to be able to check and a further 18% say they have no idea what is taken off their gross salary to start with. So here is a quick guide to the main changes this year. Netto loon (take home pay) According to calculations by the social affairs ministry, most people will have more take home pay this month, even if they do not enjoy a January pay rise. The increase will be between 1% and 2.4% of take home pay, so roughly Loonbelasting (income tax) The boost in take home pay is mainly down to changes to the income tax system, which will have moved...  More >

'There is a non-hierarchic mentality here'

‘There’s a non-hierarchic, “say what’s in your heart” mentality here’ Groningen-based Israeli Guy Weizman (45) moved to the Netherlands with his partner some 20 years ago to work with celebrated choreographer Itzik Galili. Today he is the artistic and general director of theatre company Noord Nederlands Toneel and dance company Club Guy & Roni; parent to a teenage son; and an enthusiast for Dutch art, literature, philosophy and oliebollen. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I was invited to come and work here when I was dancing, myself. It’s not so unusual for dancers to travel around because dance is pretty much an international language. Before I came to the Netherlands, I lived in Berlin and Barcelona and Brussels. When I was in Brussels, this guy that I worked with before asked me if I wanted to join a project in Amsterdam with him. That’s how I ended up in Amsterdam for two years; and then the whole group moved up to Groningen and I moved with it – and I’ve stayed ever since! How do you describe yourself – an expat, lovepat,...  More >

Impotent ministers, MPs and voters

Impotent ministers, impotent MPs and impotent voters: Wynia’s week In the Netherlands governments govern as if elections and even new cabinets are just by the by. It’s diversity and sustainability galore and anyone who dares criticise Brussels is a populist. Where can a voter find refuge these days? asks Syp Wynia. Who wouldn’t want to be a minister? A nice, chauffeur-driven car, a ministry at your beck and call and a weekly outing to the Trêveszaal, the most beautiful place for a parliamentary get-together ever. But does a minister have any say at all? Take the current cabinet. Most ministers came into view seven months after the government accord. They were supposed to carry out an agreement in which they had no say whatsoever. Only prime minister Mark Rutte (VVD), agriculture minister Carola Schouten (ChristenUnie) and social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees (D66) were actually present when the accord was written – with Schouten and Koolmees taking a back seat. And how about CDA’s Hugo de Jonge? He may be deputy prime minister...  More >

Blogwatching: Amsterdam's unique boutiques

Blogwatching: Amsterdam’s unique boutiques There are dozens of boutique places to shop in Amsterdam and lots of independent stores. Tracy and Marc from blog Amsterdam Wonderland have put together a list of favourites. The city authorities have worked hard to keep international chains out of the centre, strictly limiting the number of fast food joints and coffeeshops (ie: the places that DON’T sell coffee!) within the the historic heart. If it IS a coffee you’re actually after, the chains you’ll find are, in general, Dutch ones with the likes of Bagels and Beans and Coffee Company far more ubiquitous than Starbucks and co. But if you want is to hit the shops, then read on.  Shopping in Amsterdam is a joy – IF (that’s a big if) – you know where to head. For us, the independents are what we really love.  Those little stores in the city centre that you know probably struggle to make a living, but that we all want to see thriving.  They are mostly not clothes shops (though there are many lovely ones scattered...  More >

Podcast: The Tweede Kamer Mint Edition

DutchNews podcast – The Tweede Derde Vierde Kamer Mint Edition – Week 5 It's a high-stakes edition of the podcast as political parties are banned from receiving foreign donations, the government sees an €8 million Rubens painting go west and cyclists face €95 fines for using mobile phones. In sport, physiotherapists' goldmine Robin van Persie leaves Ajax's €75 million man chasing shadows in the Klassieker, while FC Utrecht call time on Dick Advocaat's lucrative career. And we discuss whether the deal to grant amnesty for more child refugees to settle means Mark Rutte's cabinet will be allowed to stay in the Binnenhof. Ophef of the week: Viewers cry foul as quiz show sets music questions in 'sport' round Poll identifies Sonja and Sander as the most average Dutch people Top Story Government bans political donations from outside EU News Climate debate cancelled as leaders protest Dijkhoff no-show Mauritshuis to check authenticity of two of its Rembrandts Sale of Rubens drawing brings in €8m for Dutch princess Cyclists...  More >

How to set up business in the Netherlands

Expanding or going it alone? How to set up a business in the Netherlands The Netherlands, with its stable business climate, its open economy and its excellent transport infrastructure, is one of the biggest draws in Europe when it comes to setting up in business. For a small country, the Netherlands packs a lot of punch. The country is considered one of the best connected in the world, thanks to its ports and transportation hubs - as well as its high speed internet. The country is currently sixth in the World Economic Forum's ranking of the most competitive economies, and as one of the most prosperous regions in the world, the local market also offers excellent potential. Coupled with that is the welcoming Dutch approach to doing business, a whole raft of organisations to help you establish in a new market, and, of course, a friendly fiscal regime. Company structure So how do you go about it to start a business in the Netherlands and what are the requirements? It is relatively simple, no matter where you live in the world. The Netherlands...  More >

Twelve great things to do in February

Gods, perfection and dance: 12 great things to do in February There is plenty of art and culture on offer this February - from the start of the Rembrandt celebrations to the 50th anniversary of man landing on the moon. Hanneke Sanou has some recommendations. Meet Rembrandt the social networker This year the Netherlands is celebrating 350 years of Rembrandt and the Rembrandthuis in Amsterdam, where the artist lived for 20 years, kicks of the festivities with an exhibition about the role of friends, relatives and patrons in his life. Rembrandt  was a good networker although his luck ran out in the end and even powerful friends like collector Jan Six could not save him from penury.  The exhibition also explores Rembrandt’s relationship with the Uylenburgh family, childhood friend Jan Lievens and fellow-artist Roelant Roghman. Highlight is a portrait of Titus, his son, which has ever been shown in Europe before. From February 1. Website Don't drop that phone The next best thing to outdoor skating is to go out for a bracing walk with...  More >

Expat Centre Leiden extends a warm welcome

Expat Centre Leiden gives internationals a warm welcome     Leiden has a thriving international community, and many of the region’s expats have been helped to feel at home by Leiden Expat Centre. So what is the secret of its success? Last year, Expat Centre Leiden registered its 1,000th international worker. It’s a testament to the success of the project, which aims to give a soft landing to people coming to live and work in the region and create a community of internationals. Expat Centre Leiden is a public private partnership, funded partly by local authorities and partly by local industry, including the university and the science park. In short, the centre helps highly skilled migrants, traditional expats, scientific researchers, entrepreneurs and recent graduates with their move to the Leiden area, as well as offering consultations to companies and HR departments who are dealing with an international workforce and the paperwork. The centre covers Leiden itself and the surrounding municipalities of Leiderdorp,...  More >