2022: War, a World Cup and the death of a beloved monarch - a year in review

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It’s the year when the life-changing COVID-19 pandemic faded as a top story, only to be eclipsed by conflicts, political scandals, protests, record-breaking heatwaves, global inflation and a controversial World Cup – stories that dominated headlines across the world in 2022.

From the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the consequent threat of nuclear strikes, prolonged protests in Iran calling for a change in regime, the death of the UK’s longest-reigning monarch and the passing of the UAE’s President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan - 2022 was a hinge in history.

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Here are some of the biggest news stories – locally, regionally and internationally as the earth completes yet another revolution around the sun:

January

A veteran of the Ukrainian National Guard Azov battalion conducts military exercises for civilians amid the threat of Russian invasion, in Kyiv, Ukraine, January 30, 2022. (Reuters)
A veteran of the Ukrainian National Guard Azov battalion conducts military exercises for civilians amid the threat of Russian invasion, in Kyiv, Ukraine, January 30, 2022. (Reuters)
  • Formal talks got under way between US and Russian officials in Geneva over the fate of Ukraine, but fears rose over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intent on invading Ukraine. Panic grew as US and NATO meetings with Russian officials failed to produce a commitment from Moscow to draw down its major troop buildup along the border. Families of US diplomats and embassy staff in Ukraine were ordered to leave the country. Officials warned all Americans against travel to Ukraine as well as to Russia.
  • The 2022 Kazakhstan unrest, also known as Bloody January, saw a series of mass protests after a sharp increase in liquefied gas prices following the lifting of a government-enforced price cap.
  • An earthquake rocked western Afghanistan, killing dozens and destroying hundreds of homes. The 5.6 magnitude tremor shook the western province of Badghis, reducing brick homes to rubble.
  • The Iran-backed Houthi attacks on UAE soil saw several missiles target the capital city of Abu Dhabi. The Houthis used cruise and ballistic missiles, as well as drones, in an attack on Abu Dhabi that killed three people and injured six others. Other attempts were intercepted. The attacks drew regional and international condemnation.
  • Lebanese coffee shop owner Abdallah Assaii becomes the first in a line of desperate nationals to stop his own bank in a desperate attempt to access savings frozen after the country's economy collapsed. Banks began imposing draconian limits on withdrawals and transfers in 2019, leaving depositors able to access only a fraction of their savings in dollars and Lebanese pounds.

February

Veterans of the Ukrainian National Guard Azov battalion conduct military exercises for civilians amid threat of Russian invasion, in Kyiv, Ukraine February 6, 2022. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
Veterans of the Ukrainian National Guard Azov battalion conduct military exercises for civilians amid threat of Russian invasion, in Kyiv, Ukraine February 6, 2022. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
  • Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, leading to global crises for food and energy. It also marked the start of the ongoing humanitarian crisis that displacing millions of people in Ukraine. Moscow repeatedly denied it would invade Ukraine and once it did, said it sought to “disarm” Kyiv, purge it of “nationalists” and halt the expansion of NATO, not seize territory. Within minutes of Putin’s announcement, explosions were reported in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odessa, and Donbas. Ukrainian officials said that Russian troops had landed in Mariupol and Odessa, and launched cruise and ballistic missiles at airfields, military headquarters, and military depots. The invasion has likely resulted in tens of thousands of deaths on both sides. It has caused Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War II.
  • The head of the World Health Organization announced that 90 million cases of coronavirus had been reported since the omicron variant was first identified 10 weeks previously. That’s more cases than all of 2020, the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. It came as many European countries begun easing lockdown measures, including Britain, France, Ireland and the Netherlands.

March

FILE PHOTO: Will Smith (R) hits Chris Rock as Rock spoke on stage during the 94th Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., March 27, 2022. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Will Smith (R) hits Chris Rock as Rock spoke on stage during the 94th Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., March 27, 2022. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo
Yo-Yo Ma performs during the Expo 2020 Dubai closing ceremony at Al Wasl, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, March 31, 2022. (Reuters)
Yo-Yo Ma performs during the Expo 2020 Dubai closing ceremony at Al Wasl, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, March 31, 2022. (Reuters)

April

Former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn looks on before speaking during a protest about the rising cost of living during a demonstration outside Downing Street in London, Britain, April 2, 2022. (Reuterrs)
Former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn looks on before speaking during a protest about the rising cost of living during a demonstration outside Downing Street in London, Britain, April 2, 2022. (Reuterrs)
  • Protests against the worsening cost-of-living crisis, mainly from the soaring price of energy, were held across the UK. Inflation in Britain and across Europe surged, as Russia’s war in Ukraine crippled supplies of energy and food staples like wheat.
  • Washington imposed sanctions on Vladimir Putin’s two adult daughters, isolating the Russian president’s close family members from the United States financial system and freezing all assets they hold in the US. In retaliation for what the Biden administration called war crimes in Ukraine, the US also targeted Russia’s prime minister, the wife and children of Russia’s foreign minister and members of Russia’s Security Council.
  • UK’s former Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke of his “humility” as he addressed MPs for the first time since receiving a fixed-penalty notice for breaching lockdown rules. It came after it was revealed a “bring your own booze” gathering was held at his official residence during the first coronavirus lockdown. The prime minister repeated the apology he gave for his conduct in the wake of a fine, but urged MPs to focus instead on pressing issues including the conflict in Ukraine.
  • Emmanuel Macron won France’s presidential election, fending off a historic challenge from far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, making him the first French leader to be reelected in 20 years.
  • Will Smith resigned from the motion picture academy following his altercation with Chris Rock on Oscars night
  • A two-month truce goes into effect in Yemen in a tentative first step in ending the county’s devastating war

May

A United Arab Emirates flag waves in front of a big poster of President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi. December 15, 2009. (File photo: Reuters)
A United Arab Emirates flag waves in front of a big poster of President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi. December 15, 2009. (File photo: Reuters)
  • UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan died at the age of 73. The Ministry of Presidential Affairs declared an official national mourning for the death of the president for 40 days. The UAE’s Federal Supreme Council elected former Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan as the President of the UAE, making him the third ever President of the UAE.
  • Citizens and trade unions rallied around the world to mark May Day, sending messages of protest to their governments and issuing calls for peace in Ukraine. It was a time of high emotion for participants, and the 2022 May Day marches were no different with police at the ready as street demonstrations commemorated the cause, also known as International Workers’ Day.

June

Abortion rights supporters protest in New York after the United States Supreme Court ruled in the Dobbs v Women's Health Organization abortion case, overturning the landmark Roe v Wade abortion decision, in New York, U.S., June 24, 2022. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Abortion rights supporters protest in New York after the United States Supreme Court ruled in the Dobbs v Women's Health Organization abortion case, overturning the landmark Roe v Wade abortion decision, in New York, U.S., June 24, 2022. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
 Britain's Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, along with Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis appear on the balcony of Buckingham Palace as part of Trooping the Colour parade during the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations in London, Britain, June 2, 2022. (Reuters)
Britain's Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, along with Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis appear on the balcony of Buckingham Palace as part of Trooping the Colour parade during the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations in London, Britain, June 2, 2022. (Reuters)

July

People take pictures of the sunset from Greenwich Park view point, during a heatwave in London, Britain, July 18, 2022. (File photo: Reuters)
People take pictures of the sunset from Greenwich Park view point, during a heatwave in London, Britain, July 18, 2022. (File photo: Reuters)
A man looks at a television broadcast showing news about the attack on former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe earlier in the day, along a street of Tokyo on July 8, 2022. (AFP)
A man looks at a television broadcast showing news about the attack on former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe earlier in the day, along a street of Tokyo on July 8, 2022. (AFP)
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman presented on July 25, 2022, the designs of THE LINE, a city located in NEOM. (Supplied)
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman presented on July 25, 2022, the designs of THE LINE, a city located in NEOM. (Supplied)

August

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi attends a meeting with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen at the presidential office in Taipei, Taiwan August 3, 2022.
U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi attends a meeting with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen at the presidential office in Taipei, Taiwan August 3, 2022.
U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner, who was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and later charged with illegal possession of cannabis, stands inside a defendants' cage during the reading of the court's verdict in Khimki outside Moscow, Russia August 4, 2022. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina/Pool/File Photo
U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner, who was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and later charged with illegal possession of cannabis, stands inside a defendants' cage during the reading of the court's verdict in Khimki outside Moscow, Russia August 4, 2022. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina/Pool/File Photo
Author Salman Rushdie is helped by people after he was stabbed on stage before his scheduled speech at the Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua, New York, U.S., August 12, 2022, in this picture obtained from social media.
Author Salman Rushdie is helped by people after he was stabbed on stage before his scheduled speech at the Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua, New York, U.S., August 12, 2022, in this picture obtained from social media.
  • The Taliban marked one year since they seized the Afghan capital of Kabul. The rapid takeover triggered a hasty escape of the nation’s western-backed leaders, sent the economy into a tailspin and fundamentally transformed the country. Taliban fighters staged small victory parades on foot, bicycles and motorcycles in the streets of the capital.

September

A boy places flowers at the base of a statue of Queen Elizabeth II at Government House in Adelaide after her passing away on September 9, 2022. (AFP)
A boy places flowers at the base of a statue of Queen Elizabeth II at Government House in Adelaide after her passing away on September 9, 2022. (AFP)
A protester holds a portrait of Mahsa Amini during a demonstration in support of Amini, a young Iranian woman who died after being arrested in Tehran by the Islamic Republic’s morality police, on Istiklal avenue in Istanbul on September 20, 2022. (AFP)
A protester holds a portrait of Mahsa Amini during a demonstration in support of Amini, a young Iranian woman who died after being arrested in Tehran by the Islamic Republic’s morality police, on Istiklal avenue in Istanbul on September 20, 2022. (AFP)
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman. (SPA)

October

Britain's new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks outside Number 10 Downing Street, in London, Britain, October 25, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Britain's new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks outside Number 10 Downing Street, in London, Britain, October 25, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
  • Britain got its fifth conservative prime minister in six years. Rishi Sunak took office in October after his tax-cutting predecessor Liz Truss self-combusted in just 44 days — the shortest-ever tenure for a British leader.
  • Russia vetoed a United Nations resolution calling its Ukraine annexation referendums illegal. The vote in the 15-member Security Council was 10-1 with China, India, Brazil and Gabon abstaining. The resolution would also have demanded an immediate halt to Russia’s “full-scale unlawful invasion of Ukraine” and the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all its military forces from Ukraine.

November

A view of a logo of the COP27 climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. (File Photo: Reuters)
A view of a logo of the COP27 climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. (File Photo: Reuters)
The opening ceremony of the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar. (Twitter)
The opening ceremony of the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar. (Twitter)
  • President Xi Jinping cemented his control at the helm of China after winning a historic third term in November as leader the world’s second-largest economy. Many China residents took to the streets in protest after losing patience with snap lockdowns, mass testing and curbs on movement occasioned by Xi’s signature zero-Covid strategy.

December

The United Arab Emirates’ Rashid Rover – the Arab world’s first mission to the Moon – was launched on December 11, 2022. (Twitter)
The United Arab Emirates’ Rashid Rover – the Arab world’s first mission to the Moon – was launched on December 11, 2022. (Twitter)
  • The United Arab Emirates’ Rashid Rover – the Arab world’s first mission to the Moon – was launched. The Rashid rover - built by Emirati engineers from the UAE’s Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) - is to be sent to regions of the Moon unexplored by humans. It marked the UAE’s first Moon mission, with more rovers to be developed in the future.
  • US basketball star Brittney Griner was released in a prisoner swap with Russia in exchange for former arms dealer Viktor Bout, following personal mediation efforts from Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and officials from the UAE.
  • The China-Gulf summit kicked off in Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh in the presence of Gulf leaders and Chinese President Xi Jinping. According to the final communique issued after the summit concluded, the leaders encouraged communication and cooperation in the fields of culture, education, tourism, media and sports, and academia.
  • Time Magazine named Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy its person of the year, awarding him the accolade “for proving that courage can be as contagious as fear.” Editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal says the choice of Zelenskyy — alongside “the spirit of Ukraine” — was “the most clear-cut in memory.”

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