These days, a soccer World Cup is a multi-billion dollar project, with a number of financial "winners," such as FIFA, and many losers, given the development priorities that are sacrificed to build gleaming stadia. Does this also mean that one can explain a nation's success at the cup largely by money?
What we are hearing now on Algeria's political and economic front is about a young nation on the path to reinvent itself and, if successful, to become a great source of stability, prosperity and democracy in North Africa.
This year's World Cup is not just about soccer -- at least not as far as the Middle East and North Africa is concerned.
In spite of all the resources devoted to fighting Somalia-based Al Shabaab in recent years, the group has grown stronger, and continues to cross the region's borders with impunity. The same is true with Boko Haram in Nigeria and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
Millions across the Middle East and North Africa will cheer Algeria, the only Arab squad to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, when it meets Belgium this week in its first tournament match.
An attacking midfielder or winger, Sofiane Feghouli has many admirers in European football -- including one Arséne Wenger, who referred to the Valencia man as "exceptional" and "a beast."
Far from the red-carpeted Mediterranean opulence of the Croisette, the Sahara International film festival -- known as FiSahara -- took place in a sun-baked refugee camp deep in the Algerian desert.
This crisis could yet escalate. Egypt has yet to stabilize and yet the countries that backed the coup are continuing a policy which spreads the chaos further. By framing the fight against Islamism a transnational one, they are committed to a formula of exporting military dictatorship across North Africa.
Recently, I had the opportunity to meet a rock and roll band visiting from Algeria called Dar K' Side, or "House of Poems" (HoP).What captured my attention were the smiles on each of the Algerian musicians. These smiles were louder than the music. These guys were inspired.
If Algeria is not opened-up to moderate multiparty democracy and the free-market system, it will become a breeding ground for religious extremism. Algeria needs political change, and it needs it quickly.
Smarter cities consider a variety of sectors because urban planning is not just creating "new" and imposing "modern," at the expense of cultural spaces, but preserving what works.
In France, anti-Semitism is often attributed to tension between the Muslim and Jewish communities as well as to critical attitudes toward Israel on the French Left. But, France is a paradox.
Amidst the turmoil that has ensued throughout post-Mubarak Egypt, al-Qaeda has established a stronghold in the Sinai from where jihadists routinely target Egypt and Israel.
Algeria descended into civil war when its military suppressed the country's democratically popular Islamists. Could the same happen in Egypt?
It is clear that under the shade of America's security umbrella in the Middle East, Koreans have been making strong inroads. Are there ways in which the United States, as a partner of Korea, might seek to benefit from those inroads, whether on the ground or over the airwaves?
As the confetti is swept away and the world gets back to work, will 2014 be a banner year or will we be singing that "old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind" a year from now? Here are a few reasons to think the world will be greener a year from now.