INDEX QATAR 2 вЂ“ 10, 30, 32 11 REGION ARAB WORLD 12, 13 INTERNATIONAL 14 вЂ“ 27 COMMENT BUSINESS CLASSIFIED SPORTS 28, 29 1 вЂ“ 9, 15 вЂ“ 20 10 вЂ“ 14 1 вЂ“ 12 SPORT | Page 4 Ezdan Holding to allow 49% foreign ownership Smith replaces Clarke as Oz Test captain 11,460.02 56.71 -11.82 -0.07% +345.59 +3.11% -1.10 -1.90% d in Sydney siege ends as police storm cafe A gunman killed six people and seriously wounded another yesterday in a series of shootings near the northeastern US city of Philadelphia, authorities said, as police hunted for the suspect. All seven victims have a вЂњfamilial relationshipвЂќ to the suspect, identified as 35-year-old Bradley William Stone, said prosecutors in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Police said Stone - possibly wearing military fatigues - should be considered вЂњarmed and dangerous.вЂќ No possible motive was given for the shootings. One of the dead is believed to be a woman who was killed in her house in the middle of the night. Page 15 17,269.01 he R is bl TA 978 A 1 Q since AUSTRALIA | Security Six dead in shootings, manhunt for suspect NYMEX TUESDAY Vol. XXXV No. 9573 December 16, 2014 Safar 24, 1436 AH www. gulf-times.com 2 Riyals Schools hunt for вЂ�affordableвЂ™ new premises In brief AMERICA | Crime QE Latest Figures GULF TIMES Heavily armed Australian police stormed a Sydney cafe early today and freed a number of hostages being held there at gunpoint, in a dramatic end to a 16-hour siege in which three people including the attacker were killed. Police have not publicly identified the gunman but a police source named him as Man Haron Monis, an Iranian refugee and self-styled sheikh known for sending hate mail to the families of Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan and who was charged last year with being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife. Page 17 DOW JONES pu BUSINESS | Page 1 By Ramesh Mathew Staff Reporter HH the Father Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani greets Ghanim Mohamed al-Muftah, a 12-year-old Qatari boy who has become a beacon of hope for physicallychallenged children, at the opening of the second Mal Awal Exhibition at the Doha International Exhibition Centre yesterday. Father Emir opens Mal Awal show QNA Doha U nder the patronage of HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, HH the Father Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani inaugurated yesterday the second Mal Awal Exhibition at the Doha International Exhibition Centre. HH the Father Emir made a tour of the exhibition during which he was briefed on the personal collections of Qatari and GCC citizens as well as collections of Arab and Islamic heritage. HH the Father Emir toured a number of halls including the amber and pearl halls as well as the photography pavilion. HH Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa alThani also toured the pavilion of the historic and contemporary arts collections, in addition to rare Islamic manuscripts and ancient п¬Ѓshing tools. Page 32 S ome Asian expatriate schools are unable to go ahead with their expansion plans due to the dearth of вЂњaffordableвЂќ and purpose-built complexes, it is learnt. In view of the growing demand for more seats, the schoolsвЂ™ authorities are keen to expand their facilities for the coming academic year. However, sources among the schoolsвЂ™ operators point out that despite this demand and an urgent need to enhance their facilities, the shortage of purpose-built and вЂњaffordableвЂќ buildings in and around Doha has adversely hit their plans. вЂњWhile we are getting a large number of enquiries for new admissions at different levels in our school, we have not been able to locate a suitable and larger location where the school can be shifted in the coming year,вЂќ said a management committee member of one of the newly-started community schools. The operator said their school had been looking for larger premises somewhere in the immediate neighbourhood of Doha for more than two months but had not been able to п¬Ѓnd an вЂњaffordable and purpose-built building that would suit their budgetвЂќ. The principal of another school, which is located outside Doha city, echoed similar sentiments. The school functions from two separate campuses to house more than 1,100 students and has been receiving a large number of enquiries for the coming academic year. вЂњWe go all around looking for a suitable and larger building practically every day so that we can operate from a single facility without any hassles,вЂќ he said, expressing anxiety at the shortage of вЂњaffordableвЂќ and purpose-built buildings. Tourism summit Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) has kicked off its annual three-day interactive Framework Marketing Summit in Doha to map out a detailed worldwide tourism promotion programme for the fiscal year 2015-16. The summit brings together senior QTA head office executives, representatives of QTAвЂ™s five overseas offices and private sector stakeholders from local hotels and other industry suppliers, QTA said in a press release. вЂњThis event is highly important in ensuring that all parties involved in QatarвЂ™s tourism industry are on the same page understanding the QTAвЂ™s vision, mission, values and marketing philosophy,вЂќ said Rashed AlQurese, QTA chief marketing and promotions officer. Airing similar views, officials of another school felt the local educational authorities need to intervene at the earliest and allot adequate land for school operators who were facing a shortage of space for their operations. One of them said a complex featuring new expatriate schools from different communities could be an effective solution. вЂњOtherwise, the issue of inadequate space will recur in the coming years as well,вЂќ he added. Almost all schools in the countryвЂ™s Asian communities that have come up in recent years are functioning from rented premises where no expansion or modiп¬Ѓcation is possible owing to the stringent directives of the Supreme Education Council, say sources. These schools, the sources add, are keen to increase the student strength but the non-availability of suitable premises is preventing them from doing so. As a result, parents and students may have an even tougher time than in previous years, they further point out. Meanwhile, it has been pointed out that even if some schools get alternative locations in the coming weeks, it is doubtful if they can commence classes on time as various formalities need to be completed before the start of the next academic year. 2 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 QATAR Condolence cables Envoy meets Bangladesh minister HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, HH the Deputy Emir Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad al-Thani and HE the Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani have sent cables to Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Fujairah Sheikh Hamad bin Mohamed al-Sharqi, and Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ajman Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid al-Nuaimi condoling the death of Sheikha Fatima bint Rashid al-Nuaimi, mother of the ruler of Fujairah and sister of the ruler of Ajman. Ties reviewed Bangladeshi Minister for Labour and Employment and Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment Musharraf Hussain meeting QatarвЂ™s Ambassador Abdullah Abdulaziz Mohamed al-Mana in Dhaka yesterday. They discussed relations between the two countries. HE the Assistant Foreign Minister for International Co-operation Affairs Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdurrahman bin Jassim alThani held separate meetings with French and Pakistani ambassadors to Qatar Jean Christophe Peaucelle and Shahzad Ahmad, respectively. Bilateral relations were discussed. Emir chairs economic affairs council meeting QNA Doha H H the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, Chairman of the Supreme Council for Economic Affairs and Investment, chaired the CouncilвЂ™s п¬Ѓfth meeting at the Emiri Diwan yesterday. The meeting was attended by HH the Deputy Emir and Vice-Chairperson of the council Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad al-Thani and HE the Prime Minister, Minister of Interior and Executive Member of the Council Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani. HE the Minister of Finance Ali Sherif al-Emadi, who is also Secretary-General of the council, said in a statement to Qatar News Agency (QNA) that the Council discussed topics tabled on its agenda, especially an item on the followup of the CouncilвЂ™s previous resolutions and procedures. The agenda included the following: First: Presentation by HE the Prime Minister on a number of government projects and initiatives to support economic development. The initiatives cov- ered the following areas: 1-Industry, economic areas, tourism, food security, roads and public transportation and labourersвЂ™ housing. 2-Revitalisation of money markets and the bourse. 3-Budget for the allocation of new plots of land to serve trade activities, warehouses, industry, housing, health, education and agriculture. 4-Strategy of projects of storage sector and logistic areas. 5-Promotion of trade and economic sectors of priority. 6-Plans for offering markets and commercial streets, and building of central markets. HH the Emir issued directives for pressing ahead with the above-mentioned projects and initiatives in accordance with the plan of action and implementation mechanism drawn up for them. Second: Approved the budget of Qatar Petroleum for 2015. Third: Approved the budget of Qatar Investment Authority for 2015 and its investment strategy. Fourth: Approved the budget of the council for 2015/2016. Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 5 QATAR Al-Hashmi (right) and al-Naemi announce cyber security drills yesterday. ictQATAR to launch cyber security drills from 2015 By Joseph Varghese Staff Reporter T he Ministry of Information and Communications TechnologyвЂ™s (ictQATAR) Cyber Security Division will hold sector-wise cyber security drills from 2015, disclosed a top official of the ministry. Interacting with the media at the second cyber security drill yesterday, Khalid al-Hashmi, executive director for Cyber Security, ictQATAR, said the efforts were aimed at setting the global standards for information security exercises to improve collaboration and the nationвЂ™s readiness to address cyber risks. вЂњWe will be organising cyber security drills for each sector separately from 2015. We will start it with п¬Ѓnancial sector, energy sector and the government sector. This national level initiative is in full alignment with the National Cyber Security StrategyвЂ™s 2nd objective of conducting national drills and exercises.вЂќ вЂњWe launched the cyber security strategy early this year and it has п¬Ѓve major pillars. They are; safeguard the nationвЂ™s critical information infrastructure; respond to and recover from cyber attacks; establish a legal framework and regulations; capacity building and collaboration.вЂќ вЂњThe drills aim to make people connect to the new trends in cyber security and how the new trends can provide the right measures in mitigating the risks. We have a team, a good team that is monitoring the whole process and make sure that the cyber security is ensured in the country.вЂќ Rashid Zayed al-Naemi, cyber security specialist, ictQATAR said: вЂњThe cyber threats are always the same and the more computers are connected to the Internet, the more threats you have. Cyber security is all about locating the risks and managing them. That is what is aimed through these drills.вЂќ Representatives of public and private organisations are taking part in the daylong cyber security drill. With more than 320 participants, representing around 35 organisations from various critical sectors, including п¬Ѓnance, telecommunications, energy, government, transportation, aviation and health, the drill is the п¬Ѓrst of its kind in the Mena region. It has set the global standards for information security exercises to improve collaboration and the nationвЂ™s readiness to address cyber risks as one team. At the drill, 170 executives and decision makers from QatarвЂ™s biggest organisations exercise their cyber security processes, national collaboration and resilience plans. About 150 engineers are participating in 32 task forces, and technical teams are operating simultaneously in 32 locations across the country responding to the вЂњnear real lifeвЂќ simulated attacks that have been carefully designed to stress test the participating teamsвЂ™ technical capabilities. 6 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 QATAR Al-Fadala (centre) with Alexander (left) during the launch of Qatar Insurance CompanyвЂ™s loyalty programme- вЂ�U-ClubвЂ™ in Doha yesterday. QIC launches loyalty programme for comprehensive car cover holders I nsurance major QIC has introduced the nationвЂ™sп¬Ѓrst loyalty programme for the policyholders of the companyвЂ™s comprehensive car insurances. Under this, Qatar Insurance Company has set up U-Club, which provides a range of beneп¬Ѓts for the owners of the car that has comprehensive cover with the QIC. Ali al-Fadala, senior deputy group president and CEO of QIC said, вЂњWe acknowledge that buying a new car is one of the biggest investments an individual or family makes and we truly want to do all we can to help protect this investment, both in terms of securing it in the best way and in terms of taking good care of the vehicle. вЂњWe have therefore introduced QICвЂ™s U-Club, which hosts a series of beneп¬Ѓts for both the car owners and the car itself be it special offers on regular car maintenance, value added packages to the existing insurance or even special offers for the car owner and his family.вЂќ QICвЂ™s U-Club offers discounts and other beneп¬Ѓts from a variety of different partners, ranging from selected workshops in the Industrial Area and home and travel insurance discounts to special offers on home appliances and personal items вЂ“ all centred on the car and the people owning or using the car. вЂњIt is very easy to enrol for a membership of the new U-Club; in fact all QIC customers having comprehensive car insurance, which covers own damage caused to the car, are eligible for joining the club. The club has several tiers, which aims to increase the offered beneп¬Ѓts depending on how long you have been a customer with QIC and how many cars you have insured with us,вЂќ al-Fadala said. Coral, silver and gold are the three tiers of the U-Club. Most members will enrol themselves in the Coral tier and earn points as they go up to become eligible for the silver and gold tiers, depending on how long they stay or how many cars they insure with QIC. The вЂњbest partвЂќ of the loyalty programme, according to QIC is that while the membership is personal and belongs to the policy holder, the beneп¬Ѓts can be used by the immediate family. QIC chief executive ofп¬Ѓcer (Qatar) P E Alexander explained the details of the U-Club loyalty programme. At the launch event, he said, вЂњWe are happy to have so many loyal customers and by launching this U-Club, we aim to honour this loyalty by offering a series of very good and valuable offers that can be used every day by our customers and members of the U-Club.вЂќ 8 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 QATAR New CEO vows to promote DFI goals T he Board of the Doha Film Institute (DFI) has announced the appointment of Fatma al-Remaihi (pictured) as its chief executive officer. She will also serve as the director of the Ajyal Youth Film Festival and Qumra and further build on the InstituteвЂ™s fundamental goals of promoting a strong п¬Ѓlm culture in Qatar through п¬Ѓlm appreciation, education and п¬Ѓnancing initiatives. Part of the DFI team since 2009, al-Remaihi has been the acting CEO since August 2014 in addition to her role as director of the Ajyal which wrapped its successful second edition last week. She previously served as the director of programmes at the DFI. Al-Remaihi said: вЂњI am honoured to be appointed as the CEO of the Doha Film Institute. It is a privilege to work with the filmmakers in our local and regional community, and I look forward to continuing to support them in telling their stories, and to expand further on our objective to build a vibrant and sustainable culture of film appreciation in Qatar.вЂќ As CEO, al-Remaihi is responsible for setting and overseeing the strategic direction of the In- stitute, maintaining its focus on promoting п¬Ѓlm culture in Qatar and developing its presence on the regional and international stage. She directs the artistic and operational aspects of the Ajyal Youth Film Festival and Qumra, as well as the InstituteвЂ™s yearround screening programmes, film funding initiatives and its strategic partnerships with key international film organisations. Al-Remaihi joined the DFI in 2009 as cultural adviser to the п¬Ѓrst edition of the Doha Tribeca Film Festival. After gaining valuable experience in several key departments of the organisation, she led a Community Outreach team in the delivery of a variety of initiatives and events to appeal to the wide array of audiences in Qatar. Al-Remaihi was the driving force behind the establishment of a strategic partnership with The Giffoni Experience, whose youth jury model informs the competition section of the Ajyal Youth Film Festival and brings together a group of international youth media specialists for the Doha Giffoni Youth Media Summit. The winners with officials. BoysвЂ™ school wins Enterprise Challenge trophy T he Enterprise Challenge Qatar 2014 competition has announced the results of its п¬Ѓnal contest for high school students. Ahmed Bin Hanbal BoysвЂ™ School won the п¬Ѓrst prize in the п¬Ѓnal round of the business simulation competition and took home the Enterprise Challenge Qatar 2014 trophy. The second place was awarded to Al Zubarah BoysвЂ™ School and Al Shamal BoysвЂ™ School came in the third place. While Al Guwairiya Girls School won the п¬Ѓrst prize for the business simulation competition in the girlsвЂ™ category, the second place was awarded to Al Rayyan GirlsвЂ™ School. Al Khor GirlsвЂ™ School п¬Ѓnished third. Enterprise Challenge Qatar is an annual competition that encourages and inspires entrepreneurship among young people in Qatar. Taking part in the contest enhances their business knowledge and equips them with valuable skills, including teamwork and strategic thinking. Raed al-Emadi, vice-chairman of Bedaya Centre, said: вЂњThe Enterprise Challenge is paving the way for QatarвЂ™s bright future. This year, I am very pleased to see more than 100 volunteer mentors from QatarвЂ™s business community. The majority of our volunteers are Qataris, who have been trained by Bedaya and Qatar Shell.вЂќ вЂњI am especially delighted about extending our partnership with Qatar Shell for an additional three years.вЂќ Rob Sherwin, deputy country chairman, Qatar Shell, added: вЂњWe are also delighted to have extended our partnership with Bedaya and expanded Enterprise Challenge Qatar to reach, this year, more than 700 students from 14 schools and nine universities across Qatar.вЂќ The schools participating in the 2014 competition are Al Rayyan GirlsвЂ™ School, Al Khor GirlsвЂ™ School, Al Shamal GirlsвЂ™ School, Al Guwairiya GirlsвЂ™ School, Al Shahaniya GirlsвЂ™ School, Qatar Complex GirlsвЂ™ School, Umm Hakeem GirlsвЂ™ School, Al Shamal BoysвЂ™ School, Qatar Technical BoysвЂ™ School, Ahmad Bin Hanbal BoysвЂ™ School, Abdullah Bin Ali Al Misned BoysвЂ™ School, Al Zubarah BoysвЂ™ School, Omar Bin Abdulaziz BoysвЂ™ School and Al Doha BoysвЂ™ School. The Enterprise Challenge Qatar programme has different tiers for high school and university students and is made up of two parts comprising the Ethical Business Challenge, which tests participantsвЂ™ ability to balance the economic, environmental and social performance of their company, and the Business Simulation element, which familiarises students with general business concepts from inception to trading, п¬Ѓnance, sales, marketing and production. The university winners of the grand п¬Ѓnal competition were announced at the opening gala dinner of the Global Entrepreneurship Week, which was held from November 17 to 23. The Enterprise Challenge competition was created by Mosaic, a UK-based not-forprofit organisation established by the Prince of Wales in 2007, with a range of mentoring programmes aimed at fostering opportunities for young people. Qatar Shell is the founding partner of Mosaic in Qatar, and together with Bedaya, has worked to bring the Enterprise Challenge to Qatar. NHIC launches new toll-free number for Seha members T he National Health Insurance Company (NHIC) has introduced a new toll-free number, 8008800 to increase the publicвЂ™s ease of communication with the National Health Insurance Scheme (Seha). Seha members can now call the easy-to-remember number to follow up on claims, seek in- formation and clariп¬Ѓcations, inquire about scheme-related issues or even make suggestions and complaints. The Seha call centre is open Saturday through Thursday from 7am to 10pm. Dr Faleh Mohamed Hussain Ali, acting CEO of NHIC, said: вЂњThe new service we are launching helps facilitate the publicвЂ™s access to the quality and diverse health- care services covered by Seha. As we celebrate the Qatar National Day, I would like to convey our best wishes to HH the Emir, HE the Prime Minister and the people of Qatar and underscore that we will continue to expand and improve the schemeвЂ™s services for the beneп¬Ѓt of the nation.вЂќ The NHIC also operates several additional communication chan- nels for members to interact with and contact the Seha scheme. These include information booths at public and private key hospitals as well as a customer care centre located on the sixth п¬‚oor of Amwal Tower in West Bay. The public can also contact NHIC via the Seha social media accounts at facebook.com/SehaQatar and twitter.com/SehaQatar. SehaвЂ™s coverage includes both in-patient and out-patient services including preventative care, emergency treatment, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, long-term care, radiology, ophthalmology, laboratory testing and prescription medicines as well as dental and optical services. 10 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 QATAR 10 concerts to be held at Dubai Shopping Festival T A Destination Imagination event in progress. Annual Destination Imagination Qatar programme launched A lFaisal Without Borders Foundation (Alf) has kickstarted this yearвЂ™s Destination Imagination Qatar (DI) programme with DI team manager training workshops for 229 volunteer teachers from the 68 independent and international schools participating in this yearвЂ™s DI initiative. Alf executive director Ali MarвЂ™e said: вЂњThis year, we are seeing nearly 10 times the number of schools taking part in the DI Qatar programme across the country and the response to attend our volunteer team manager training workshop, with 229 teachers signing up, reп¬‚ects this huge increase and growing interest in this highly successful programme that delivers real empowerment to Qatar schoolchildren. WeвЂ™re hoping to be able to send 140 students to the global DI п¬Ѓnals in Nashville next summer, a п¬Ѓvefold increase on last year. вЂњAs the licence holder for the DI programme in the GCC and Jordan, we are also taking DI to Jordan and the UAE this year and plan to reach all GCC countries by the end of 2018.вЂќ The DI programme empowers students through developing key life skills and sharpening their independent learning ability. The DI training of team managers aims to ensure they understand the programme objectives and the wording of the complex challenges that students have to master so that pupils get the most they can out of the DI process. The training also reinforces the importance of creativity through all stages of the creative process - recognise, imagine, initiate, collaborate, assess and evaluate вЂ“ which helps enhance studentsвЂ™ talent for innovation. Above all, the training reinforces the concepts of honesty, ownership, opinion-giving and teamwork through activities that demonstrate the relevance of these skills in life and business. Alf general manager Abdullatif al-Yafei added: вЂњOne of the cornerstones of Alf Foundation is educational empowerment of QatarвЂ™s youth to become wellrounded and capable future leaders. Last yearвЂ™s DI pilot was a resounding success and it was inspiring to see how pupils who took part developed personally, socially and educationally. Learning crucial 21st century skills can only stand them and future DI teams in great stead for the rest of their lives.вЂќ This year, the DI organisation is planning an Invitational for students from all over the world, which will be held in Beijing and run by DI China. Teams will attend the four-day DI China Tournament and participate in a special 24-hour challenge, which they will solve at the tournament, presenting their solution to appraisers on the third day. Qatar is sending a team of п¬Ѓve 13-year-olds from Amna Bint Wahab Independent Preparatory School for Girls to attend the DI Beijing event. Due to AlfвЂ™s exponential success with DI, Qatar will be the host of the Invitational Regional DI event in 2016. he 20th edition of the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) will run from January 1 to February 1, 2015 under the theme вЂ�A Journey of CelebrationsвЂ™, the Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE) CEO Laila Mohamed Suhail announced yesterday in Doha. вЂњThe special anniversary edition, organised by DFRE, is all set to be the biggest in the festivalвЂ™s history, with a spectacular calendar of events that embraces DSFвЂ™s key pillars of shopping, entertainment and winning,вЂќ she told a press conference. вЂњThe GCC has always been a key market for Dubai and DSF mainly due to a combination of factors such as its geographical proximity and the fact that we share the same values and cultural backgrounds. Moreover, families вЂ“ our key audience вЂ“ constitute the bulk of the visitors from this region,вЂќ she explained. Saeed Mohamed Mesam al-Falasi, director, Strategic Alliances Division DFRE, made a presentation on the DSF 20th edition that provided a glimpse of the exciting line-up of retail activations, entertainment and promotions. The 20th anniversary editionвЂ™s calendar of events includes a range of world-class shows such as the DSF Concerts series which will stage the biggest entertainment extravaganza in the history of the shopping festival. A series of 10 concerts will be staged over the weekends of DSF and will feature 20 of the biggest musical artistes of the Arab world. Other highlights include mega п¬Ѓreworks displays every weekend that will add to the citywide illuminations, a series of celebrityhosted pop-up shops, stage shows including MAMMA MIA! the smash hit musical and the world premiere of Smurfs Live on Stage, as well as high-end fashion events such as Abati and a second edition of the Market Outside The Box that will give shoppers the opportunity to indulge in some unique retail therapy. Mega raffles will offer visitors and residents the opportunity to win big including the Inп¬Ѓniti Mega Raffle which will offer two luxury Inп¬Ѓniti cars and AED100,000 in cash every day to one lucky shopper for 32 days of the festival. As a DSF 20th Anniversary Special, shoppers participating in the Inп¬Ѓniti Mega Raffle will also get the chance to win additional prizes worth over AED2mn. Another offer is the Gold and Jewellery Mega Raffle, which will give away a total of 100kg of gold and 40 carats of diamond вЂ“ making it the largest-ever gold raffle to be held in the region. Other popular raffles will include the Nissan Grand Raffle, offering one winner one Nissan car every day for the duration of the festival. To commemorate the 20th edition, the Dubai Gold and Jewellery Group in association with DFRE, will also be manufacturing the worldвЂ™s longest handmade gold chain вЂ“ a 5km (extendable to 8km) creation that will be made out of a minimum of 160kg of gold in a bid to set a new Guinness World Record. UCL Qatar, QScience.com partner for archaeology A new partnership highlighting archaeological research in the Middle East has been set up between University College London in Qatar (UCL Qatar), and QScience.com, the online academic publishing platform of Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Journals. The partnership takes the shape of a new, open access book series entitled UCL Qatar Series on Archaeology and Cultural Heritage enabling anyone, anywhere in the world, to freely read about archaeological research and build a greater understanding of the regionвЂ™s fascinating history. вЂ�Craft and science: International perspectives on archaeological ceramicsвЂ™, is the п¬Ѓrst volume in the series to be published this week. Edited by Marcos MartinГіn-Torres, an archaeologist at UCL in the UK, the full text is freely available to download on the QScience. com website. One of the chapters of the п¬Ѓrst book focuses on techniques used to gener- ate the distinctive colour and shine of early silver Islamic lustre. The presence of silver and copper nanoparticles in the glazes of 9th-12th century AD ceramics give some of the most decorative works of that time a golden, reп¬‚ective nature, which was highly-valued. Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Journals (BQFJ) is a collaboration between Qatar Foundation (QF) and Bloomsbury Publishing that fosters scholarly and research communication and supports QFвЂ™s mission to enhance transfer knowledge. QScience.com is one platform offering a unique research environment while UCL Qatar, a partner of QF member Hamad Bin Khalifa University, is a leading centre of excellence for the study of cultural heritage. Thilo Rehren, UCL Qatar director said: вЂњBoth Qatar Foundation and UCL Qatar share a strong ethos of excellence, and are committed to promoting research as a key element of creating knowledge. This is relevant for cultural heritage as much as for engineering, as we all live in a society shaped by its heritage, which we need to understand in order to shape the future.вЂќ вЂњTo make knowledge most effective, it needs to be shared вЂ“ and the Open Access drive in modern scientiп¬Ѓc publishing is a major step in this direction. We at UCL Qatar are therefore delighted to see that Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Journals is promoting Open Access for books and journals being at the forefront of developments in science disseminations.вЂќ Christopher Leonard, QScience. com editorial director said: вЂњWe are truly excited to work with UCL Qatar to bring some of the wonderful work they are doing in Doha to a wider audience. These open access books mean that anyone, anywhere in the world, can read about this research and build upon it for a greater understanding of the history of Qatar and the wider region.вЂќ Sidra names chair of psychiatry dept S idra Medical and Research Center, has appointed Mohmed Waqar Azeem, as its inaugural chair of the Department of Psychiatry. Dr Azeem will be responsible for setting new standards for world-class patient and family care, outstanding medical education and innovative research in psychiatry. Azeem will also hold the position of Founding Chair of Child Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q). Through these joint appointments he will play an integral role in improving mental health services for children and families in Qatar and the region. Azeem joins Sidra from Albert J Solnit ChildrenвЂ™s Centre, one of the premiere child and adolescent psychiatry teaching facilities in the US where he held the position of chief of psychiatry and medical director. He also served as an associate clinical professor at Yale Child Study Centre, Yale University School of Medicine and associate residency training programme director for Yale Child Study Centre and Solnit Centre Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship. вЂњDr Azeem joins a world-class team of peers and specialists who bring in unparalleled skills and knowledge from the worldвЂ™s most distinguished academic medical centres,вЂќ said Dr Ziyad Hijazi, acting chief medical officer. вЂњDr. Azeem has an exceptional background in both psychiatric clinical care and research, and he will be instrumental in ensuring that the mental health services we bring to the children and women of Qatar and the region represent the highest possible standards of patient care.вЂќ Azeem is a diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in both Adult Psychiatry and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), as well as a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association (APA). His research has been presented internationally and published in peer-reviewed journals. вЂњJoining Sidra at this crucial stage in QatarвЂ™s healthcare development is a unique opportunity for any clinician. Knowing that you will have tangible impact on the way care is provided for future patients is a once-in-a-lifetime-chance and I am honoured to be part of this talented team,вЂќ said Azeem. вЂ�Salwa road works to end in 3 weeksвЂ™ T he ongoing strengthening and widening works of a stretch on the Salwa Road between Jabr Bin Ahmed Intersection (Radisson Blu) and the Centre roundabout will be completed in about three weeks according to AshghalвЂ™s road maintenance section chief Mohamed Jamal el-Khazindar. He was speaking to local Arabic daily Al Wa- tan. A signal will replace the Centre roundabout. Also the track lanes on either side of the road would be widened. The ongoing works near Radisson Blu are part of a major revamping of a 6.3km stretch on the C Ring Road between VIP roundabout (Umm Ghuwailana) and Advisory Council Intersection (near Hamad Hospital), the official added. Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 11 REGION Saudi policeman killed in shootout Agencies Riyadh A Saudi policeman was killed in a clash with a man armed with a machinegun who took three workers hostage near Riyadh, the state news agency SPA reported yesterday. Security forces came under heavy п¬Ѓre when they responded to the hostagetaking on Sunday night in Rawdhat Sider, in the Mujamma region close to the capital, it said. вЂњAn unknown man carrying an automatic weapon took three labourers hostage near al-Hamoud mosque ... and threatened to shoot passersby,вЂќ SPA quoted a Riyadh police A young protester gestures during a secessionist demonstration in Aden yesterday. Top separatist is shot dead in south Yemen Amnesty calls on the authorities to investigate the killing, describing it as an вЂњextrajudicial executionвЂќ Agencies Aden A separatist activist was shot dead in southern Yemen yesterday as secessionists staged a day of civil disobedience, witnesses and activists said of a killing Amnesty International called an вЂњexecutionвЂќ. Khaled al-Junaidi, a prominent п¬Ѓgure in the Southern Movement, was shot in the chest when security forces opened п¬Ѓre while trying to arrest him, activists said. Junaidi was released from prison earlier this month after serving п¬Ѓve months for separatist activities, and had been preparing to take part in yesterdayвЂ™s day of action, witnesses said. Amnesty called on the authorities to investigate his killing, describing it as an вЂњextrajudicial executionвЂќ. вЂњYemeni authorities have an obligation under international law to ensure that an independent, impartial and prompt investigation into this killing is conducted, and that all those responsible are brought to justice, including anyone who ordered the killing,вЂќ AmnestyвЂ™s deputy regional director Said Boumedouha said in a statement. The London-based watchdog said п¬Ѓve masked security officers ordered Junaidi out of his car, and one of them shot him. They then drove Junaidi to a nearby hospital and left him at the entrance, it added. Most businesses and schools in Aden were closed in response to the call for the demonstration to de- mand the secession of the formerly independent south. South Yemen became independent after the end of British colonial rule in 1967, before it joined the north in 1990. Secessionists failed in a civil war in 1994 to reverse the uniп¬Ѓcation. Since mid-October, the Southern Movement has staged a sit-in in central Aden to demand secession. Elsewhere yesterday, a street vendor was shot dead by southern separatists in Hadramout province Houthi militiamen bury the bodies of their comrades who were killed two days ago in clashes with armed tribesmen, during a funeral in Sanaa yesterday. in southeast Yemen, witnesses said. The gunmen opened п¬Ѓre as the man, who was from north Yemen, failed to stop at a checkpoint, triggering a confrontation between the militants and other residents of northern origin. Rising demands for separation by southern separatists have been one of several challenges facing President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi since he took office three years ago after mass protests forced his predecessor Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down. Separatists say Sanaa has plundered the former socialist South Yemen in favour of northern officials, especially under SalehвЂ™s rule, and treats them as second classcitizens. HadiвЂ™s government has vowed to correct wrongs against southern Yemenis and compensate thousands of civil servants or former army officers and soldiers п¬Ѓred from their posts after the 1994 war, or restore many to their posts. Apart from southern separatists, HadiвЂ™s government faces an Al Qaeda threat in the south and eastern part of the country and a major challenge from Shia Houthi militias who seized control of Sanaa in September in what they said was a drive against corruption but are refusing to quit. UN Gulf War fund to meet on Iraq plea for payment delay The UN Gulf War reparations fund will hold a special meeting on Thursday to address IraqвЂ™s plea to postpone a final $4.6bn instalment payment for its 1990-91 occupation of Kuwait, a UN official said. Iraq, which faces a cash crisis caused by falling oil prices and war with Islamic State, is seeking to defer the final tranche of reparations to Kuwait for wartime damage to its oil facilities. вЂњBecause the Governing Council is aware of this issue, it decided to hold a special session to consider the issue of IraqвЂ™s deposits to the compensation fund,вЂќ an official at the UN Compensation Commission (UNCC) said yesterday. вЂњThe Governing Council will hold a special session to obtain the views of both Iraq and Kuwait on the issue,вЂќ the UNCC official, who declined to be named, told Reuters. Any decision would depend on how ready the two sides are to reach an agreement, the official added. spokesman as saying in a statement. вЂњWhen police surrounded him and asked him to drop his weapon he opened п¬Ѓre heavily,вЂќ the statement said. The gunman, whose motives were not disclosed, was wounded and arrested, and the hostages were released, SPA said. The agency said a policeman was killed and another wounded along with a civilian in the shootout. Also on Sunday, a second member of the security forces was killed in a Shia area of the kingdom, official media said. SPA said a soldier was fatally wounded as officers came under attack from вЂњan unknown gunman п¬Ѓring from farmsвЂќ near Awamiya in eastern Saudi Arabia. Awamiya, just west of Dammam city on the Gulf coast, has witnessed clashes between security forces and protesters from the minority Shia community. Saudi Arabia, which is taking part in US-led air strikes against the Islamic State militant group in Syria, last week announced the arrest of three suspected IS supporters over a November 22 incident in which a Danish national was shot and wounded in Riyadh. Saudi officials have said this year they are concerned about a rise in domestic Islamist militancy due to conп¬‚icts in Iraq and Syria. The government has decreed tough penalties for terrorist crimes. 12 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 REGION/ARAB WORLD Netanyahu вЂ�wonвЂ™t acceptвЂ™ Palestinian terms at UN The Palestinians have said they will submit a draft text setting a two-year deadline for an end to the Israeli occupation of their lands to the UN as early as tomorrow AFP Rome I sraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday angrily rejected a Palestinian bid to set a UN deadline for an end to IsraelвЂ™s occupation amid a flurry of talks led by US top diplomat John Kerry. вЂњWe will not accept attempts to dictate to us unilateral moves on a limited timetable,вЂќ the Israeli leader said before arriving in Italy. Amid a renewed drive to push the Israeli-Palestinian peace process to the top of the global agenda, Kerry and Netanyahu met for nearly three hours in the US ambassadorвЂ™s sumptuous residence in Rome. The Americans are seeking to avert an end-of-year showdown at the UN Security Council, which could place them in a diplomatic quandary. The Palestinians have said they will submit an Arabbacked draft text setting a two-year deadline for an end to the decades-long Israeli occupation of their lands to the UN as early as tomorrow. Simultaneously France is leading European efforts to cobble together a more nuanced resolution which could prove more acceptable to the US administration. The French text would set a two-year timetable, but for concluding a peace treaty without mentioning the withdrawal of Israeli forces. Paris is also hoping to seize more of the initiative by not leaving the negotiations solely in the hands of the US. вЂњThe absence of a peace process is fuelling tensions on the ground, so it is imperative to make rapid progress on a UN resolution,вЂќ said French foreign ministry spokesman Romain Nadal. вЂњIt is vital to relaunch the peace talks as soon as possible and on a credible basis to offer some kind of concrete political horizon to the parties,вЂќ he said. US officials have said Kerry is aiming to learn more about the European initiative dur- ing his hastily-arranged preChristmas trip. Traditionally the US has used its power of veto at the UN Security Council to shoot down what it sees as moves against its close regional ally, Israel. But there is a growing impatience in Europe over the peace impasse amid fears the Middle East risks spiralling into even greater chaos. Several European parliaments have called on their governments to move ahead with the recognition of a Palestinian state. US officials told reporters accompanying Kerry that Washington has not yet decided whether to veto or back the French-led UN initiative. The US administration opposes moves to bind negotiatorsвЂ™ hands through a UN resolutionвЂ”particularly any attempt to set a deadline for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the West Bank. But a US veto risks running contrary to WashingtonвЂ™s avowed aim of a Palestinian state and would anger key Arab alliesвЂ”many of whom are much-needed partners in the US-led coalition against Is- 3 Israelis charged in school torching Reuters Jerusalem T Netanyahu and Kerry shake hands prior to their meeting in Rome yesterday. lamic State militants. And Netanyahu said that вЂњin the reality in which Islamic terrorism is reaching out to all corners of the globe, we will rebuff any attempt that would put this terrorism inside our home.вЂќ вЂњWe will stand firm in the face of any diktat,вЂќ the Israeli leader said ahead of yesterdayвЂ™s talks, which included a brief closed-doors meeting with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. Kerry also met with the VaticanвЂ™s Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and thanked Pope Francis for вЂњhis engagement to try to reduce tensions in the region.вЂќ The US secretary of state was due to fly to Paris for a dinner meeting with his French, German and British counterparts and the new EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini at Orly airport. He will then travel to London to meet with the chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat and the secretary general of the Arab League, Nabil al-Arabi, today. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius is also to meet with Arabi today. Diplomatic sources say Paris is hoping to persuade the Palestinians to back their compromise resolution, rather than risk a US veto of the more muscular Arab version. But the Palestinians appear divided, as frustration grows over the snailвЂ™s pace of diplomatic efforts, with the decision resting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. hree Israelis from a farright group were charged yesterday with setting п¬Ѓre to a classroom in an Arab-Jewish school that has been a symbol of co-existence in Jerusalem. IsraelвЂ™s Shin Bet security service said brothers Nahman and Shlomo Twito, aged 18 and 20, and Yitzhak Gabai, 22, belong to Lehava, a group that objects to personal or business relations between Jews and Arabs. According to the indictment, the men set п¬Ѓre to a classroom in the Hand-in-Hand school last month and sprayed anti-Arab graffiti on the walls of its courtyard. Classes were not in session at the time. The brothers, who live in a settlement in the occupied West Bank, and Gabai, a resident of Jerusalem, were led into court handcuffed and smiling. They made no comment and were not asked to enter a plea. More than 600 pupils from pre-school through high school attend Hand-in-Hand. Its student population is divided equally between Israelis and Palestinians, with lessons given in both Arabic and Hebrew. The Shin Bet said Lehava teaches the ideology of the late Meir Kahane, a far-right, US-born rabbi who won election to the Israeli parliament in 1984 and advocated the expulsion of Palestinians from Israel and the occupied territories. Labelled racist and undemocratic by Israel, KahaneвЂ™s group, Kach, was banned from politics in 1988. Two years later, Kahane was assassinated in New York by an Egyptian-American gunman. Rouhani says he will try to clinch nuclear accord Reuters Geneva/Dubai P resident Hassan Rouhani said yesterday that he would try to clinch a nuclear deal with world powers despite opposition from some quarters in Iran. Rouhani was speaking as Iran resumed talks with the United States in Geneva on its nuclear programme. An eventual deal would remove sanctions imposed on Tehran But his government must sell any agreement to hardliners in the country who are wary of any rapprochement with the West. вЂњSome people may not like to see the sanctions lifted. Their numbers are few, and they want to muddy the water,вЂќ Rouhani, widely seen as a pragmatist, told a gathering of officials at a Central Bank seminar in Tehran. He appeared to refer to hardliners including senior commanders of the elite Revolutionary Guards. вЂњThe overwhelming majority of our nation - intellectuals, academics, theologians, the greats, and the leadership - are in favour of getting the sanctions removed,вЂќ Rouhani said. US and Iranian negotiators began a two-day meeting in Geneva before wider talks between Iran and six global powers in the same city tomorrow on how to end the 12-year dispute over TehranвЂ™s nuclear programme. Iran and the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia failed last month to meet a self-imposed deadline to resolve the standoff, extending the talks for seven more months. They aim to reach an agreement on the substance of a п¬Ѓnal accord by late March as more time would likely be needed to reach a consensus on the technical details. Wendy Sherman, acting US deputy secretary of state, and Abbas Araqchi, IranвЂ™s deputy foreign minister, led their delegations in yesterdayвЂ™s talks. IranвЂ™s official Irna news agency quoted an unnamed member of TehranвЂ™s delegation as saying uranium enrichment and how to remove sanctions were sticking points. вЂњSome differences have been bridged, some others havenвЂ™t. There is need for more diplomacy and consultations,вЂќ he said. IranвЂ™s reluctance to scale back its capacity to enrich uranium - which can have both civilian and military uses has drawn international sanctions that have severely hurt its economy. Tehran denies Western allegations it has been seeking to develop the capability to assemble nuclear weapons. In a new report, the International Crisis Group think tank said an agreement was within reach if both sides showed more п¬‚exibility on enrichment capacity and sanctions relief. But it warned that differences вЂњremain sharp and overcoming them will grow more difficult with time, as the voices of sceptics get louderвЂќ, referring to hardliners on both sides. Renovated Tutankhamun gallery unveiled AFP Cairo T he Cairo government unveiled yesterday four newly renovated halls of the famed Tutankhamun gallery in the Egyptian Museum as the facility undergoes a complete overhaul. The gallery houses treasures that were found intact in 1922 along with the mummy of the 19-year-old boy king in the temple city of Luxor, and is a world famous tourist attraction. Its renovation is part of a seven-year project to refurbish the entire Egyptian Museum overlooking Tahrir Square, and in turn revive downtown Cairo. Yesterday, Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehlab unveiled the newly renovated halls located at the eastern entrance of the Tutankhamun gallery. The renovation of the museum has been aided by funds from the European Union and other international donors. James Moran, who heads the EU delegation in Cairo, said the bloc supported the project in order to help to A tourist takes a photo of artefacts on display in the Egyptian MuseumвЂ™s Tutankhamun gallery yesterday. boost EgyptвЂ™s tourism sector whose вЂњrevival... is fundamental for the economyвЂќ. The EU, he added, would offer 92,500 euros ($115,000) next year to help renovate the eastern wing of Tutankhamun gallery. The Egyptian Museum houses the largest collection of pharaonic artefacts and has witnessed several alterations since it was п¬Ѓrst opened in 1902. Four years of political turmoil since the ouster of veteran leader Hosni Mubarak has battered the countryвЂ™s economy amid falling tourist revenues and investments. Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 13 ARAB WORLD Qaeda seizes two bases in blow to Assad Al Nusra FrontвЂ”the Al Qaeda branch in SyriaвЂ”seizes Hamidiyeh and Wadi al-Deif, the regimeвЂ™s largest outposts in Idlib AFP Beirut M ilitants linked to Al Qaeda dealt a major blow to SyriaвЂ™s regime yesterday by seizing two key army bases within hours, giving them control over most of Idlib province. The gains also signalled another defeat for Western-backed rebels who were driven out of most of the northwestern province last month by Al Nusra Front. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Al Nusra FrontвЂ”the battered countryвЂ™s Al Qaeda branchвЂ”seized Hamidiyeh and Wadi al-Deif, the regimeвЂ™s largest outposts in Idlib. The militants advanced in coordination with Islamist rebel groups Ahrar al-Sham and Jund al-Aqsa, the Observatory said, adding that a string of villages in the area also fell. Al Nusra Front claimed via Twitter it was вЂњthe only faction that took part in the liberation of Wadi al-DeifвЂќ, and that it was now вЂњchasing downвЂќ soldiers. State television cited a military source as implicitly acknowledging the loss. вЂњThe army redeployed this morning in the Wadi al-Deif region and is engaged in п¬Ѓerce п¬Ѓghting at Hamidiyeh,вЂќ it reported the source as saying. The attack on Wadi al-Deif, which began on Sunday, killed at least 31 troops and 12 militants, the Observatory said. Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source from LebanonвЂ™s Shia Hezbollah movement which had deployed п¬Ѓghters to bolster regime efforts in Idlib said вЂњmore than 3,000 (Islamist) gunmenвЂќ joined the twin offensive. Mainstream rebels had been battling to take Wadi al-Deif and Hamidiyeh for around two years, but despite repeated attempts had failed to do so. Charles Lister of the Brookings Doha Centre said the gains highlighted the rise of the Islamist militants in the province. вЂњThe nature of the operations has served to underline the renewed prominence of more Islamically minded forces in Idlib, with Jabhat (Front) alNusra and Ahrar al-Sham having played the dominant role in practically capturing the facilities,вЂќ he said. Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said Al Nusra had used tanks and heavy weapons captured last month from the Western-backed Syrian Revolutionary Front. Its defeat of the SRF was seen as a blow to US efforts to create and train a moderate rebel force as a counterweight to militants of the Islamic State group. Within hours of taking Wadi al-Deif, Al Nusra and the two other Islamist rebel groups also seized Hamidiyeh, the Observatory said. вЂњThey took 15 soldiers prisoner from Hamidiyeh,вЂќ Abdel Rahman said, adding that helicopters evacuated senior officers late Sunday, hours before it fell. After Al Nusra and its allies moved in, regime warplanes launched 17 air raids against the base, the Britain-based group said. Thomas Pierret, who teaches Islamic and Middle Eastern studies at the University of Edinburgh, said the advance is important militarily because the bases are on a road linking the central province of Hama to Aleppo in the north. Lister said the advance may pave the way for вЂњa major assault on Idlib cityвЂќ, which like most Syrian provincial capitals remains in regime hands. The gains give Al Nusra п¬Ѓrm control of much of Idlib province, limiting the chances of a challenge from potential rivals. Until September this year, Ahrar al-Sham had sought to distance itself from more hardline militants in Syria. But a September 9 explosion that killed its top leadership вЂњpushed the group to align itself more openly with Al NusraвЂќ, Abdel Rahman said. Syrian regime forces walk in Al Mallah Farms after regaining control of the area north of Aleppo yesterday. European Union backs UN plan for Aleppo ceaseп¬Ѓre Reuters Brussels E uropean Union foreign ministers threw their weight behind a UN plan for a truce in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo yesterday, saying it offered a glimmer of hope for п¬Ѓnding a political solution to the three-and-a-half year old civil war. UN peace envoy Staffan de Mistura briefed the ministers on Sunday evening on his plan for a вЂњfreeze in the п¬ЃghtingвЂќ in Aleppo to try to get humanitarian assistance into the city that is split between opposition п¬Ѓghters and government troops. IraqвЂ™s new PM battles to unite divided nation Reuters Baghdad T hree months after he took ofп¬Ѓce with a mission to unite his broken, warring country, IraqвЂ™s new prime minister has swept away the divisive legacy of his predecessor with a burst of rapid and dramatic measures. But Haider al-Abadi faces a huge challenge forging a common front against Islamic State (IS) п¬Ѓghters, rebuilding an ineffective army and reasserting a degree of central government authority across Iraq. Time is short and the battle to contain the militants who control swathes of territory is draining the countryвЂ™s п¬Ѓnances. Millions of people have been displaced and sectarian anger is growing. Abadi has responded with a series of steps to improve the Shia-led governmentвЂ™s standing, not just with Iraqi Kurds and Sunni Arab tribes but also across borders with Gulf neighbours. His successes include a deal last month with IraqвЂ™s autonomous Kurdish region on oil exports and budget payments, which followed months of dispute. He has dismissed dozens of top army and security officers appointed by former premier Nuri al-Maliki, announced a campaign against corruption in the military, ordered curbs on arrests without a judgeвЂ™s authorisation, and decreed the speeding up of the release of detainees when courts order them to be set free. вЂњHis biggest achievement was his desire for change, to deal with the mistakes of the last eight years,вЂќ said former judge and minister Wael Abdulatif, referring to MalikiвЂ™s two terms in office. After Maliki alienated IraqвЂ™s Sunnis and Kurds by promoting hardline Shia interests, Abadi has tried to win over IraqвЂ™s Sunni tribes whose western and northern heartlands have emerged as the core of IS power. He appointed a Sunni defence minister and has held talks with Sunni tribal leaders. The moderate Shia Islamist has also tried to mend fences with Arab states across the Gulf, an effort which has not gone unnoticed in the region. вЂњWhat I heard and saw from the prime minister is frankly the difference between day and night (compared with) what weвЂ™ve known and what weвЂ™ve heard from the previous prime minister Maliki,вЂќ said UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed alNahayan, shortly after visiting Baghdad last month. Saudi Arabia is talking, once again, about reopening its embassy in Baghdad soon. Abadi shocked many Iraqis last month when he said an investigation had found that at least 50,000 вЂњghost soldiersвЂќ were on the army payroll, taking salaries without showing up for duty and paying off officers who let them stay at home. вЂњHeвЂ™s dismantled much of MalikiвЂ™s state,вЂќ said a senior Western diplomat in Baghdad, approvingly. вЂњIf you look at the achievements of this government, it delivers. But it must be given time.вЂќ During his term in office, IS forces have been pushed back from Jurf alSakhr south of Baghdad and two towns near the Iranian border, while the militantsвЂ™ п¬Ѓve-month siege of IraqвЂ™s largest oil reп¬Ѓnery has been lifted. But none of the political or military gains is irreversible. The job of imposing central authority remains, and some believe his momentum will stall. вЂњHe started off well and heвЂ™s got the right approach, but a more positive attitude is not sufficient to put Humpty Dumpty together again,вЂќ said Kurdish regional government spokesman Safeen Dizayee, noting that Abadi may face discontent not just from outside but also among his own constituents. Pro-government fighters walk through a muddy field during a siege by the Islamic State group on the outskirts of Aziz Balad in Saladeddin province, north of Tikrit, yesterday. вЂњWe are going to take some decisions on the ways we can concretely support the efforts of the United Nations, in particular on plans for a freeze ... for Aleppo,вЂќ EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said before talks resumed yesterday. вЂњThat is crucial not only for humanitarian and for security reasons but also as a symbol of what we can do and what we should do to stop the war in Syria ... ItвЂ™s time for us to make a positive contribution to a solution there,вЂќ she said. Mogherini did not say what form EU support might take, but Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said that, if there was a truce, the EU вЂњmust be ready with food, medicines to help the population in AleppoвЂќ. Separately, the European Commission and Italy agreed yesterday to launch a regional trust fund for Syria with initial funding of 23mn euros designed to mobilise humanitarian aid for the Syrian refugee crisis. De Mistura recently met Syrian opposition groups in Turkey to try to win their support for the plan. He has warned that the fall of Aleppo, once SyriaвЂ™s main commercial city, would create an additional 400,000 refugees. Some 200,000 people have died in the civil war. The opposition, as well as some diplomats and analysts, say the initiative is risky and that Aleppo could face the same fate as the central city of Homs, where government forces have largely regained control. Britain also has some reservations about the plan. But Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said de Mistura had вЂњthe most realistic plan, the only plan that we see that is being carved outвЂќ. вЂњThere is total support of his plan,вЂќ she told reporters. Danish Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard said de Mistura was making progress and urged Moscow to back the plan at the UN Security Council. вЂњWe will urge the Russians to engage in the whole process of a truce in Aleppo,вЂќ he said. 14 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 AFRICA Congo wonвЂ™t bow to foreign вЂ�injunctionsвЂ™ Joseph Kabila appears unlikely to give up power when his term ends Reuters Kinshasa T he president of Democratic Republic of Congo told foreign nations yesterday to respect his countryвЂ™s sovereignty after several urged him to comply with the constitution and not to run for re-election. Though Joseph Kabila has yet to publicly declare his intentions, Congo is rife with speculation that he is looking for ways to remain in charge of the vast, mineral-rich nation after his second elected п¬Ѓve-year term in office ends in 2016. вЂњWe are always open to the opinions, advice and suggestions of our partners, but never to injunctions,вЂќ Kabila said during a rare public speech before a joint session of parliament. Kabila came to power in 2001 when his father, Laurent, was assassinated in the middle of a conп¬‚ict that sucked in regional armies are killed millions of Congolese. He steered Congo to post-war elections in 2006 and won re-election in 2011, although the second vote was marred by complaints of widespread irregularities. CongoвЂ™s constitution currently limits presidents to two elected terms in office. Senior US officials have already publicly called on Kabila not to alter the constitution in order to hold onto power. Democratic Republic of Congo president Joseph Kabila reviewing troops in Kinshasa. During a summit of French-speaking countries last month, FranceвЂ™s president Francois Hollande more broadly cautioned leaders facing constitutional term limits to learn from the example of Burkina Faso. Mass protests forced Burkina FasoвЂ™s President Blaise Compaore to step down and п¬‚ee the country after he tried to push through constitutional changes to extend his 27-year rule. Congolese opposition leaders have managed to draw thousands of protesters to marches calling for Kabila to step down in 2016. In his speech yesterday, Kabila criticised what he said was the вЂњsystematic tendencyвЂќ among some of his countrymen to look abroad for assistance to settle domestic political differences. вЂњThere is no crisis in DRC, and even were we to have one we would sit down together around a table to negotiate,вЂќ he said. A court in Democratic Republic of Congo sentenced a former army colonel to life in prison yesterday for crimes against humanity in the countryвЂ™s restive east between 2005 and 2007. The military court in Bukavu, capital of South Kivu province, convicted lieutenant colonel Bedi Mobuli Engangela on several counts of crimes against humanity. The life sentence was for murder. The 42-year-old defendant also received a 20-year sentence for rape, two 15-year terms for вЂњsexual slavery and вЂњother inhuman actionsвЂќ, such as torture and abduction, and 10 years for вЂњimprisonment and other forms of grave deprivation of physical libertyвЂќ. Engangela, who was known as Colonel 106 after the battalion he commanded in South Kivu, was accused of deserting between 2005 and 2007 to lead a militia that attacked several villages. The militia was accused of gang rapes and other crimes. Engangela has been in preventive custody since 2007. His name featured on a list of п¬Ѓve senior officers accused of serious human rights abuses against whom the UN had asked Congolese authorities to expedite proceedings. In November, a court in the capital Kinshasa sentenced a former rebel leader turned army general, Jerome Kakwavu, to 10 years in prison for war crimes, including rape, murder and torture. Nigerian economy in doldrums ICC urged to probe Nigerian politician Reuters Amsterdam A Nigerian human rights group yesterday asked the International Criminal Court to bring charges against Nigerian presidential candidate Muhamedu Buhari for post-election violence in 2011. The Northern Coalition for Democracy and Justice said in a statement Buhari should face justice over the violence, when 800 people were killed and many churches and schools were destroyed. The ICC has been looking into possible war crimes in Nigeria since 2010, but few believe it would be keen to take on another powerful politician after being forced to drop charges against Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta earlier this month. BuhariвЂ™s All Progressives Congress party denied the claims, saying they were politically motivated. вЂњThey will not stop at anything to try to derail General Buhari,вЂќ said spokesman Lai Mohamed. вЂњI can see the hands of the government behind it.вЂќ Nigerian officials were not immediately available to respond. The courtвЂ™s prosecutor receives dozens of such submissions each year, of which very few ever result in investigations. The NCDJ alleged the violence included acts of murder, torture and rape systematically directed at perceived nonsupporters of Buhari. The NCDJ had previously referred Buhari to the ICC in 2011, but said it decided to submit more evidence after the former military ruler emerged as the main candidate in FebruaryвЂ™s presidential elections. вЂњWe have a lot of very strong evidence we are submitting to the prosecutor,вЂќ said Goran Sluiter, a Dutch law professor acting for the NCDJ, adding he wanted to ensure Buhari did not escape justice by winning political office. Earlier this month, the ICC withdrew charges against Kenyatta, who was accused of orchestrating a wave of deadly violence after the 2007 Kenyan elections, due to insufficient evidence. Observers say the ICC charges were a key factor in helping Kenyatta secure the presidency two years ago, from which position he was able to lead Kenya and its African allies in a campaign of lobbying against the courtвЂ™s charges. Buhari, 71, has been an inп¬‚uential political п¬Ѓgure in Nigeria for much of its postindependence history, leading a military government for two years until 1985. The ICC was set up 12 years ago to try those suspected of serious international crimes in cases where local authorities are unable to do so. It has been criticised for bringing weak cases and securing just three convictions. Third no-show for Nigerian preacher AFP Lagos A People stand outside Wuse Market in Abuja. Nigeria is suffering from a plummeting currency, steep budget cuts, corruption scandals and diving oil prices; yet all this is unlikely to decide a tight race for the presidency. When the central bank devalued the naira last month to save foreign reserves, the impact was felt instantly on the streets. Nigeria imports 80 percent of what it consumes. Trophy hunters, bushmen unite against BotswanaвЂ™s hunting ban AFP Botswana T wo large antelope heads with mighty horns decorate the office of Botswanan taxidermist Debbie Peake, while a photo hanging on the wall shows a man beaming next to a buffalo carcass. These are the kind of trophies that wealthy Europeans and Americans take home from the southern African country, which gets nearly 9% of its gross domestic product from tourism. They pay up to $10,000 to kill a kudu antelope or, until recently, $50,000 for an elephant. Trophy hunters in Botswana have included SpainвЂ™s former king Juan Carlos, whose luxury hunting expedition to kill an elephant sparked a scandal in his unemployment-hit country in 2012. But BotswanaвЂ™s president Ian Khama - an ardent conservationist - imposed a nationwide hunting ban in January, preventing people from hunting anywhere in the country. Tourists are only allowed to hunt in private game ranches, where they may shoot a reduced number of species such as the wildebeest and the warthog. The hunting of elephants has been stopped, even if many wildlife experts say Botswana has too many elephants - about 200,000, up from 40,000 in 1990. During the dry season, elephants go everywhere, says Peake, a spokeswoman for the Botswana Wildlife Management Association, which promotes the interests of the countryвЂ™s wildlife industry. They knock down fences, trample farmersвЂ™ crops, scare people and consume so much vegetation that they endanger other species, she adds. Trophy hunters killed about 400 elephants - and 800 other animals - annually before the ban. That was too few to justify the practice as a means of reduc- ing their number, Peake admits. вЂњBut since the private game ranches measure tens of thousands of hectares, they help to keep land reserved for wildlife, and they also generate money for conservation through taxes and trophy export fees,вЂќ she said. Even prior to the ban, hunting was heavily regulated. Animal hunting was under strict quotas, the size of which varied according to the speciп¬Ѓc area. Owners of trophy hunting game ranches were granted quotas per animal - e.g. ten elephants per ranch per year. Some animals were completely protected and excluded from quotas, such as the lion and the leopard. вЂњMany outsiders imagine that conservation is about being kind to animals. But in reality, it is about conserving the species and making money for that purpose,вЂќ says Richard Fynn, a senior research scholar on rangeland ecology and management at the University of Botswana. The government, however, says aerial surveys have shown some animal species to be on the decline and that it wants to assess the situation. It also wants to combat poaching, or illegal hunting. Poachers coming mainly from Zambia killed about 60 elephants in Chobe national park - the main area where they operated - in 2012. Those in favour of the hunting ban see it as reп¬‚ecting a strong commitment to conservation. вЂњIt is far from certain that we have too many elephants, as experts differ on what a suitable number would be,вЂќ environmentalist Map Ives said. The hunting ban does not only affect trophy hunters, but also Botswanans who hunt for subsistence. Campaigners like Peake have found an ally in BotswanaвЂ™s Bushmen - numbering about 50,000 in total and regarded as descendants of the original inhabitants of southern Africa - who typically hunt antelopes and giraffes. The Bushmen argue that they practised a form of ecological hunting, limiting their tools to the traditional bows, arrows and spears used for millennia. They are now preparing to challenge KhamaвЂ™s hunting ban in court. вЂњWe have always lived with animals ecologically in the wild and respected the animals we hunt,вЂќ activist Jumanda Gakelebone says, stressing the sense of closeness with animals. But while activists claim that the Bushmen use only low-tech hunting equipment, some have clearly been swayed by modernity. On a recent visit to hunting grounds, reporters observed the use of п¬Ѓrearms. As the Bushmen face legal battles over their subsistence hunting, their newfound allies look to return to another kind of tradition. вЂњTrophy hunting is not essentially about killing. It is about the outdoor experience, the tracking of the animal, the hardship that can last for 10 days - the sense of achievement,вЂќ Peake says. Nigerian preacher yesterday again failed to appear at a coronerвЂ™s inquest into a building collapse at his Lagos church which killed 116 people, including 81 South Africans. Pastor and televangelist TB Joshua had been called to give evidence at the hearing but his lawyer, Lateef Fagbemi, asked for him to be excused because of a pending high court application. Lawyers for Joshua, who has claimed the collapse may have been sabotage, are attempting to stop the inquest, arguing that the coroner has exceeded his powers to call him as a witness. The high court hearing will be held next Monday, the inquest was told. Coroner Oyetade Komolafe accepted JoshuaвЂ™s absence pending the high court session. вЂњLet your client go to the high court and come back,вЂќ he told Fagbemi. Joshua was summonsed twice to appear at the inquest before the application to stay proceedings was made. The engineer of the collapsed building was in court but said he could not give evidence because he was ill. Komolafe warned him that he faced jail if he did not appear on Friday. Expert witnesses have told the hearing that there was no sign of an explosion or sabotage of the building, which housed foreign followers of JoshuaвЂ™s Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN). The Lagos state government has said the building did not have planning permission and that an inspection had found that other structures on the sprawling SCOAN site were shoddily built. On JoshuaвЂ™s theory of aerial sabotage from a low-п¬‚ying plane, Raп¬Ѓq Arogunjo, of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), said the aircraft seen over the building was on a training mission. The Nigerian Air Force C-130 aircraft, п¬‚ying at 1,100 feet, was operating вЂњnormally in line with aviation rulesвЂќ. Islamists kill 10 Somali soldiers Reuters Mogadishu R ebels from the Islamist Al Shebaab group attacked a military base in southern Somalia early yesterday, killing at least 10 soldiers and burning two military vehicles, officials said. African Union and Somali troops launched an offensive this year that has driven Al Shebaab out of its last major strongholds. YesterdayвЂ™s attack highlights the challenge of halting guerrilla-style raids by the al Qaeda-aligned group. вЂњAl Shebaab attacked our military forces at 3amвЂќ in the Lower Shabelle region, Somali military officer Aden Nur told Reuters. вЂњThey killed 10 soldiers and burnt two military vehicles (equipped) with anti-aircraft guns.вЂќ Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, al ShebaabвЂ™s military spokesman, said the group was behind the attack and said 14 Somali soldiers had been killed and three vehicles had been burned. Al Shebaab often cites a higher death toll than the number given by officials. Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 15 AMERICAS Sony demands halt to reporting from leaked documents: media groups Reuters Los Angeles S ony Pictures Entertainment told certain news organisations on Sunday to stop publishing information contained in documents stolen by hackers who attacked the movie studioвЂ™s computer network last month, three media groups reported. The New York Times, the Hol- lywood Reporter and Variety published stories reporting that they had each received a letter from David Boies, an attorney for Sony, demanding that the outlets stop reporting information contained in the documents and immediately destroy them. The studio вЂњdoes not consent to your possession, review, copying, dissemination, publication, uploading, downloading or making any useвЂќ of the information, Boies wrote in the letter, accord- Cheney on Meet the Press: Torture is what the Al Qaeda terrorists did to 3,000 Americans on 9/11. ing to the New York Times report. A Sony spokesman had no comment on the reports. Representatives for Variety and the Hollywood Reporter could not immediately be reached via e-mail on Sunday. New York Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said: вЂњAny decisions about whether or how to use any of the information will take into account both the signiп¬Ѓcance of the news and the questions of how the informa- D efenders and critics locked horns on Sunday over last weekвЂ™s release of a US report that aired harrowing new details of AmericaвЂ™s torture of вЂњwar on terrorвЂќ detainees, and opened fresh political wounds. The US Senate report released last Tuesday said that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)вЂ™s interrogation of Al Qaeda suspects, including beatings, rectal rehydration, and sleep deprivation, was far more brutal than acknowledged вЂ“ and did not produce useful intelligence. Former US vice-president Dick Cheney on Sunday vehemently defended the programme, lauding the CIA operatives who ran it as heroes. вЂњIвЂ™m perfectly comfortable that they should be praised, they should be decorated,вЂќ the right-hand man to former president George W Bush told NBC televisionвЂ™s Meet the Press programme. вЂњIвЂ™d do it again in a minute,вЂќ Cheney said. But one of the п¬Ѓercest critics of the use of torture, US Senator John McCain, who himself suffered grievous mistreatment at the hands of his captors during the Vietnam War, was adamant that the detaineesвЂ™ treatment was wrong. вЂњThere were violations of the Geneva Conventions for the treatment of prisoners,вЂќ the Republican senator told CBS televisionвЂ™s Face the Nation programme. Senate Democrats last week released the long-awaited investigation into detention and interrogation practices at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp and at secret detention facilities вЂ“ so-called вЂњblack sitesвЂќ вЂ“ where detainees were secretly held at locations worldwide. Cheney insisted there was вЂњno comparisonвЂќ between the tactics and the deaths of American citizens on September 11, 2001, adding that the CIA вЂњvery carefully avoidedвЂќ the practice of torture. вЂњTorture is what the Al Qaeda terrorists did to 3,000 Americans on 9/11,вЂќ he said. But others, including many Democrats, said the agency deliberately misled the public about the severity and extent about what they euphemistically called its вЂњenhanced interrogation programmeвЂќ. Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse said that the US public, lawmakers and other top US officials were all kept in the dark about the true nature of the programme. вЂњWe spent a lot of time looking into it and were told, this is a very minor thing,вЂќ he told Face the Nation. вЂњYou know, you just touch them with the waterboard and they confess,вЂќ he said, describ- McCain: We do things wrong. We make mistakes. We review those. And we vow never to do them again. ing how the intelligence agency soft-pedaled what it was doing. Another Democrat, Ron Wyden, senior member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said it may be time to п¬Ѓre CIA Director John Brennan, who last week delivered an unprecedented speech defending the agencyвЂ™s conduct. The CIA, Wyden said, is afп¬‚icted with a вЂњculture of denialвЂќ and expressed concern that the discredited interrogation methods could come into use again unless those who tolerated them are purged. The 500-page report spearheaded by Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee asserted that interrogation tactics used on terror suspects were more brutal than previously known. It also concluded that the CIA deliberately misled Congress and the White House about the value of the intelligence its interrogators were gathering. Cheney, however, strongly disagreed. вЂњIt worked. It absolutely worked,вЂќ he said on Sunday. Reiterating comments he made last week, the former vice-president insisted that his then-boss was fully aware about the details of the programme as it was being conducted. вЂњThis man knew what we were doing,вЂќ he said about expresident Bush. вЂњHe authorised it. He approved it.вЂќ The debate over the past several days has swirled not just about whether the programme was justiп¬Ѓed, but whether details about it should be made public. Many Republicans have suggested that America and its overseas interests could become the target of revenge attacks details about the way it once treated detainees was made known. McCain however, insisted that releasing the document was the right thing. вЂњWe do things wrong. We make mistakes. We review those. And we vow never to do them again,вЂќ he said. of documents that include employee salaries and п¬Ѓnancial information, marketing plans and contracts with business partners. In addition, the documents that have emerged included an exchange in which co-chairman Amy Pascal joked about President Barack ObamaвЂ™s race. After media outlets reported on that, Pascal subsequently issued a public apology for the вЂњinsensitive and inappropriateвЂќ e-mails. Pascal is scheduled to meet this week with civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton, whose spokeswoman says he is weighing whether to call for her resignation. Pascal did not respond to a request for comment, and a Sony spokeswoman declined to comment on PascalвЂ™s future. Sony, in a memo to staff seen by Reuters on December 2, acknowledged that a large amount of data was stolen by the hackers but has declined to conп¬Ѓrm speciп¬Ѓc documents. Over the weekend, a message claiming to be from the Guardians of Peace, a group that says it carried out the cyber-attack on Sony, warned of additional disclosures. вЂњWe are preparing for you a Christmas gift,вЂќ said the message posted on a site for sharing п¬Ѓles called Pastebin. вЂњThe gift will be larger quantities of data. And it will be more interesting.вЂќ Sandy Hook victimsвЂ™ families п¬Ѓle lawsuit Reuters Newtown Defenders and T critics clash over US вЂ�torture reportвЂ™ AFP Washington tion emerged and who has access to it.вЂќ A spokesman for Boies conп¬Ѓrmed that he sent a letter to media outlets on behalf of Sony but declined to discuss details. Disclosures from the internal documents have caused turmoil at the studio, a unit of JapanвЂ™s Sony Corporation, and shed light on internal discussions key to the companyвЂ™s future. For instance, the unidentiп¬Ѓed hackers have released troves he families of nine people killed in an attack on a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school in 2012 п¬Ѓled a wrongful-death lawsuit yesterday against the company that manufactured the gun used in the attack, the Hartford Courant reported. The suit named gunmaker Bushmaster, a distributor and the local retailer that sold the weapon used by 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza to kill 20 п¬Ѓrst-graders and six educators in a December 14, 2012, attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Families of nine victims and a 10th person who was wounded п¬Ѓled the suit in state court, the Courant reported. Bushmaster did not respond to a request for comment. While the parents could not be reached for comment, a spokesman for Bridgeport law п¬Ѓrm Koskoff, Koskoff and Bieder said on Sunday that a lawyer at the п¬Ѓrm had recently met with some of the Newtown parents about potential suits. вЂњAttorney Josh Koskoff has met with parents about legal action,вЂќ said Geraldo Parrilla, a legal assistant with the п¬Ѓrm. Lanza, who began the shooting spree by killing his mother at their home, ended his rampage by turning his gun on himself as he heard police approaching. On Sunday residents of Newtown gathered at a somber prayer service to remember the victims in one of the deadliest school shootings in US history. The town, located some 126km northeast of New York City, did not hold any official event to commemorate the massacre. There were no formal events last year either. вЂњWe refuse to give in to violence that shattered our dreams that day,вЂќ Reverend Matthew Crebbin of the Newtown Congregational Church told about 200 people at the historical Newtown Meeting House, including US Senator Richard Blumenthal. Members of the clergy said they were not aware of any relatives of the victims having attended the service, which was sponsored by the Newtown Interfaith Clergy Association. In addition, there were candlelight vigils across Connecticut over the weekend. In Fairп¬Ѓeld on Sunday, about 30 people gathered in a small church to remember the victims. вЂњWe will continue п¬Ѓghting to prevent these kinds of evil acts in the future,вЂќ US Representative Jim Himes told the congregants, each of whom was holding a white candle. The massacre inп¬‚amed a national debate over gun control and raised the prospect of a wave of lawsuits by the families of the п¬Ѓrst graders who were killed. Despite the outrage that followed the Newtown massacre, school shootings remain common across the United States. Some 95 incidents, including fatal and non-fatal assaults, suicides and unintentional shootings have occurred in 33 states since the Newtown massacre, according to Everytown for Gun Safety. The group was created by the merger of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, founded by former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Mums Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a group founded after the Newtown shootings. вЂњItвЂ™s astounding,вЂќ said Shannon Watts, who founded the Mums Demand Action group. вЂњThere is no other developed country that would tolerate this kind of gun violence around school-age children.вЂќ Gun-rights advocates note that the Second Amendment of the US Constitution protects the right to bear arms and suggested after the Newtown attack that armed guards in schools could avert future violence. Newtown has razed the school that was site of the attack. It recently acquired the home where Lanza lived with his mother, who he shot dead before the rampage. That building may also be torn down. Mementos for 20 students and six educators, killed in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, are seen on a tree in Newtown, Connecticut. For a second straight year the leafy suburb has planned no public events to commemorate the massacre at the elementary school. The 12-member Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission is planning a permanent memorial to honour the dead. вЂњWe are meeting monthly, but have taken December off out of respect for the families who lost their loves ones on that tragic day,вЂќ said Kyle Lyddy, chairman of the commission, which includes four parents of children killed in the attack. The commission is entering the п¬Ѓnal phase of recommending either a single or multiple memorials and is considering such proposals as an outdoor park and gardens, and indoor murals and art exhibits, Lyddy said. At least five shot dead near Philadelphia A police SWAT team has been called to a small town in Pennsylvania where a suspect in a shooting spree is believed to be barricaded inside a house, a police spokesman said yesterday. The SWAT team was called to Pennsburg, Pennsylvania, about 30km northwest of Philadelphia, the spokesman in nearby Sounderton told DPA. The suspect is believed to be alive inside a house, Philadelphia television station WPVI said, quoting police. The Sounderton police spokesman said that a second SWAT team was dispatched within Souderton. He declined to provide further details, saying that the matter was being handled by the communityвЂ™s district attorneyвЂ™s office. The special police units were called after five people were found dead at three locations in Souderton, according to WPVI. The first shooting was reported at 3.55am (0855 GMT) in Souderton. Police arrived to find a woman fatally shot. Two other calls followed, leading police to different locations where the bodies of people shot dead at close range were found. The shootings, ABC television affiliate WPVI said, were thought to have been committed by a male military veteran. The Souderton Area School District posted a notice on its website that its schools were on lockdown due to the police activity. вЂњAll students are safe and are secured in their classrooms. Visitors will not be allowed in the schools until further notice,вЂќ it said. It was unclear whether the shootings were related or if there were other suspects. Jury must decide if вЂ�Canadian PsychoвЂ™ killer is insane AFP Montreal A jury must decide whether to send вЂњCanadian PsychoвЂќ killer Luka Magnotta to prison for life or to hospital indeп¬Ѓnitely, after hearing п¬Ѓnal arguments in his trial. Magnotta has admitted to killing 33-year-old Chinese student Lin Jun. But he has pleaded not guilty to п¬Ѓrst degree murder, committing indignities to a body, harassing CanadaвЂ™s prime minister and other charges. His defence attorney said Magnotta, 32, was вЂњinsaneвЂќ at the time, and requires psychiatric treatment, not jail. Prosecutors, however, argued that it was all an act and that the killing was вЂњplanned and deliberateвЂќ. вЂњHe wanted to be famous or infamous,вЂќ Crown lawyer Louis Bouthillier told the court. Yesterday Quebec Superior Court Justice Guy Cournoyer at the end of the 11-week trial was expected to instruct the jury to return a verdict of guilty or вЂњnot This file photograph courtesy of the Service de Police de la Ville de Montreal (SPVM) shows Magnotta escorted by police upon arrival from Germany on June 18, 2012 at Mirabel Airport in Mirabel, Quebec. criminally responsibleвЂќ. If Magnotta is found not guilty by reason of insanity, he would land in a psychiatric ward until doctors deemed him п¬Ѓt for release. Magnotta has acknowledged using a screwdriver to fatally stab him in May 2012, before sexually abusing and dismembering the manвЂ™s corpse, and then posting a video of the heinous act online. Days after the killing, Montreal police discovered the victimвЂ™s torso in a suitcase by the trash outside an apartment building along a busy highway. LinвЂ™s severed hands and feet were sent in the mail to federal political parties in Ottawa and to two elementary schools in Vancouver. The head was found in a Montreal park months later. Afterwards, Magnotta п¬‚ed Canada, but was arrested in Germany in June 2012, following an international manhunt, and extradited. He was arrested in a Berlin Internet cafe, after stops in France and elsewhere in Germany. Born Eric Clinton Newman, he changed his name to Magnotta in 2006 after years of using aliases such as Vladimir Romanov, or Angel. The media dubbed him the вЂњCanadian PsychoвЂќ after it was discovered that the soundtrack from the movie American Psycho was playing in the background of the video of the alleged murder that was posted online. LinвЂ™s family has branded him вЂњa devilвЂќ. During his trial, the prosecution said Magnotta planned the murder six months in advance, and rehearsed it days prior to LinвЂ™s death. The Crown pointed to a December 2011 e-mail to a British journalist investigating cat mutilations, in which Magnotta purportedly said he wanted to videotape the slaughter of a human. вЂњNext time you hear from me it will be in a movie I am producing that will have some humans in it, not just pussies,вЂќ read the email sent to reporter Alex West. вЂњOnce you kill and taste blood, itвЂ™s impossible to stop.вЂќ The defence stressed that Magnotta was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, as well as borderline personality disorder вЂ“ which is not a mental illness. He was treated for the condition in 2005 when he was convicted of fraud. He was prescribed antipsychotic medications, as well as drugs to reduce anxiety, but apparently did not always take his medication. Without the drugs, вЂњhe would be prone to relapse of his symptoms, which include paranoia, auditory hallucinations, fear of the unknown, etcвЂќ, a psychiatrist told an Ontario court in June 2005. Prosecution witnesses, however, suggested that Magnotta was faking the symptoms, that his initial schizophrenia diagnosis had been п¬‚awed and that subsequent doctors simply went along with it. Magnotta did not testify. But he told doctors that he slit LinвЂ™s throat because he believed Lin was a government agent sent to kill him. He also said he heard voices in his head. 16 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 ASEAN Earthquake drill Vietnam upholds banking tycoonвЂ™s 30-year jail term AFP Hanoi A Vietnamese court yesterday upheld the 30year jail sentence on a disgraced banking tycoon for his role in a multimillion dollar scandal that shocked the nationвЂ™s п¬Ѓnancial markets. Nguyen Duc Kien, 50, was found guilty in June of fraud, tax evasion, illegal trading and вЂњdeliberate wrongdoing causing serious consequencesвЂќ. He denied the charges but was imprisoned for three decades and handed a 75bn dong ($3.5mn) п¬Ѓne. вЂњKien still said he was innocent, but the court has totally rejected the defence and concluded that there was no foundation to reduce his sentence,вЂќ his lawyer Bui Quang Nghiem said after the ruling. Kien appeared at the Hanoi Court of Appeals every day over the course of his 10-day appeal hearing. The п¬‚amboyant multimillionaire was on trial in June alongside seven other defendants, all top bankers at Asia Commercial Bank (ACB) which counts global banking giant Standard Chartered as one of its вЂњstrategic partnersвЂќ. Five of the defendants, who had been sentenced to between two and eight years in Schoolchildren take part in an earthquake and tsunami drill in Banda Aceh yesterday. Indonesian landslide death toll rises to 51 AFP Jemblung Village votes to kick out 48 HIV patients A Thai village has voted to kick out a charity that was housing 48 HIV positive patients, NGO officials said yesterday. Officials at The Glory Hut Foundation, which provides care for HIV patients, said village heads at the settlement in Chonburi province, around 60 kilometres south-east of Bangkok, have told the charity to leave because the HIV patients were affecting land value and business. вЂњThey are asking us to leave despite the fact that we donate them our excess goods and teach their children English,вЂќ said Chanchanok Khamtong, a spokeswoman for the charity. She added that the charity had run out of funding and could not move out of its rented building at the present time. вЂњWe simply donвЂ™t have the funds to move anywhere else,вЂќ said Chanchanok. вЂњWeвЂ™re not disturbing the villagers. We just want to help and care for our patients.вЂќ Officials from the Chonburi municipality have said that they would find better accommodation for the foundation. Guerrillas вЂ�killed seven soldiersвЂ™ in Myanmar ambush last week Reuters Yangon S I ndonesian rescuers dug through mud with shovels and their bare hands for a third day yesterday in the hunt for dozens of people still missing after a landslide engulfed a village, as the death toll rose to 51. Fifty-seven people are still unaccounted for after heavy rain triggered the landslide that swallowed up houses in Jemblung village on Java island late Friday. Officials say the chances of п¬Ѓnding anyone alive are now slim. More than 1,000 rescuers, including police and soldiers, have been digging through huge mounds of red mud that cascaded onto the village, which lies in a valley surrounded by hills, with a sound like thunder. вЂњWe hope and pray that we can rescue some of the missing but the chances are slim,вЂќ local search and rescue chief Agus Haryono said. National disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nu- A policeman, with a rescue dog, stands in an excavator as they search for landslide victims at Sampang village in Banjarnegara yesterday. groho told reporters that as of yesterday afternoon, rescuers had found 51 bodies and were still struggling to п¬Ѓnd the remaining 57 missing. вЂњWe are expecting to retrieve more bodies from the mud by the end of the day,вЂќ he said. Bulldozers and excavators were still trying to clear a huge pile of fallen trees and earth blocking the main road to the site, in the hope of speeding up the rescue effort, he added. Several people were seriously injured in the disaster and hun- Police drop blasphemy case against editor DPA Jakarta I ndonesian police have dropped a blasphemy case against a newspaper editor over the publication of a cartoon critical of Islamic State, the Press Council said yesterday. A Muslim group lodged a police complaint in July after The Jakarta Post published an editorial cartoon that depicted an Islamic State п¬‚ag bearing the statement of faith. Police said last week that The Jakarta Post editor Meidyatama Suryodiningrat would be questioned as a suspect. вЂњThere has been an agreement not to continue with the case,вЂќ Yosep Adi Prasetyo, a member of the Press Council, was quoted as saying by the Tempo.co news website. He said police agreed that they would not interfere in journalistic ethical issues handled by the council. Police could not be immediately reached for comment. Some hardline groups had objected to The PostвЂ™s depiction. The Post, one of two national Englishlanguage newspapers, later retracted the cartoon and apologised. But it has denied that the cartoon was blasphemous, saying that it was a journalistic piece that criticised Islamic State. Human rights group Amnesty International said last month that more than 100 people had been jailed for blasphemy-related offences in Indonesia over the past decade. The blasphemy law was enacted in 1965 and is part of the criminal code, but the number of convictions rose sharply during the 10-year rule of president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. dreds of others evacuated from the area. Initial rescue efforts were hampered by persistent heavy downpours but the weather has cleared since Sunday. President Joko Widodo visited the scene at the weekend and urged authorities to speed up rescue efforts. Landslides triggered by heavy rains and п¬‚oods are common in tropical Indonesia during the rainy season. The national disaster agency estimates around half the countryвЂ™s population of 250mn lives in areas prone to slippages. jail, appealed alongside him in December. One defendant, Le Vu Ky, 58, a former vice-chairman of the ACB board, had his sentence reduced from п¬Ѓve to four years Monday. All the other sentences were upheld. Kien вЂ” a shareholder in some of VietnamвЂ™s largest п¬Ѓnancial institutions and a founder of ACB вЂ” and his accomplices were accused of causing losses of $67mn through illegal cross-bank deposits and investments. They were said to have exploited legal loopholes to run complex schemes for raising and transferring cash. These endangered the stateвЂ™s management of VietnamвЂ™s money markets, according to the verdict at the time. Kien п¬Ѓrst rose to public prominence as a vocal critic of corruption in Vietnamese football, using his role as chairman of Hanoi Football Club to sound off against VietnamвЂ™s Football Federation. When Kien was arrested in August 2012 it sent вЂњshockwaves across the countryвЂќ, state media reported at the time, and caused ACBвЂ™s share price to plunge. Some experts interpreted the arrest of the high-proп¬Ѓle banker as part of bitter inп¬Ѓghting within the ruling Communist Party. even Myanmar soldiers were killed and 20 wounded in an attack by rebels in the northeastern frontier with China п¬Ѓve days ago, state media said yesterday. The military accused insurgents of ambushing an army patrol and laying siege to a base near Kunlong, about 30km from the Chinese border, last Wednesday, the state-backed Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported. вЂњThe remnant Kokang insurgent group launched unprovoked attacks on Tatmadaw camps and columns while the government is implementing the peace process,вЂќ the newspaper said, using the traditional name for the Myanmar military. The latest round of peace talks between guerrilla groups and the semi-civilian government that took over in 2011 after nearly 50 years of military rule ended without agreement on Sept 27. Most of the rebel groups have been battling for greater autonomy under a federal system but the military has long stressed the need for a strong, centralized government as set down in a 2008 militarydrafted constitution. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said he did not know any details about the latest killings but hoped the border remained stable. вЂњWe hope that Myanmar can maintain peace, stability and development and use talks to push for ethnic reconciliation, and especially maintain peace and stability on the China-Myanmar border,вЂќ Qin said. The Kokang insurgents, also known as the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), were formerly part of the Communist Party of Burma, a Chinabacked guerrilla alliance that battled the Myanmar government until it fell apart in 1989. The MNDAA signed a ceaseп¬Ѓre agreement with the government that year, the п¬Ѓrst of about a dozen ethnic armed groups to do so. Australian woman вЂ�dupedвЂ™ in Malaysia drug case AFP Sepang A n Australian woman who was arrested entering Malaysia with crystal methamphetamine is innocent and was only carrying a bag for a stranger, a lawyer seeking to spare her the death penalty said yesterday. The woman, Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto, 51, was arrested on December 7 after arriving at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in transit from Shanghai to Melbourne. MalaysiaвЂ™s customs chief said yesterday a search of her bag as she attempted to leave the airport revealed 1.5 kilogrammes of crystal methamphetamine, or вЂњiceвЂќ, stitched into a secret compartment. Anyone with at least 50 grams of the drug is considered a traf- Malaysian customs chief Omar Bin Chik Lim (centre) shows the packet of drugs seized from an unidentified Australian woman during a press conference at the Customs headquarters near the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang yesterday. п¬Ѓcker in Muslim-majority Malaysia, which imposes a mandatory sentence of death by hanging upon conviction. Attorney Tania Scivetti said her client was вЂњduped into car- rying the bagвЂќ by an African man who asked her to take it to Melbourne. She added that the suspect was not attempting to enter Malaysia, but was unfamiliar with the airport and had merely followed a crowd toward immigration. вЂњShe is okay, but very confused,вЂќ Scivetti said. вЂњWith the facts I have at the moment, this is not an easy case but a do-able one.вЂќ The defendant was expected to appear in court to be charged on Thursday or Friday. Australian media have said the alleged drug mule is a mother of four from the Sydney area. Scivetti said she is an unemployed former factory worker. Hundreds of people are on death row in Malaysia, many for drug-related offences, though few have been executed in recent years. Two Australians were hanged in 1986 for heroin trafficking вЂ” the п¬Ѓrst Westerners to be executed in Malaysia вЂ” in a case that strained bilateral relations. Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 17 AUSTRALASIA/EAST ASIA Executed teen found innocent 18 years on AFP Beijing Three dead as cops storm Sydney cafe to end siege A Gunfire and loud blasts at scene of siege; Three people killed, gunman among them; Police name attacker as Iranian refugee Chinese teenager executed after being convicted of murder and rape 18 years ago was declared innocent by a court yesterday, in a rare overturning of a wrongful conviction. The 18-year-old, named Hugjiltu and also known as Qoysiletu, was found guilty and put to death in Inner Mongolia in 1996, but doubt was cast on the verdict when another man confessed to the crime in 2005. вЂњThe Inner Mongolia Higher PeopleвЂ™s Court п¬Ѓnds HugjiltuвЂ™s original guilty verdict... is not consistent with the facts and there is insufficient evidence,вЂќ the court in Hohhot said in a statement. вЂњHugjiltu is found not guilty.вЂќ To howls of anguish, the dead manвЂ™s mother, father and brother burned a copy of the court decision on his grave, footage on news portal Netease showed. His brother Zhaoligetu told Sina.com: вЂњMy mother wished him вЂ�rest in peaceвЂ™ and hoped he could reincarnate.вЂќ Campaign groups and experts welcomed the court decision and said it was a signal to the rest of the justice system that it must perform better. ChinaвЂ™s courts, controlled by the ruling Communist Party, have a near-100% conviction rate in criminal cases and confessions extracted under dubious conditions are commonplace. Leaders of the ruling communist party have promised to strengthen the rule of law вЂњwith Chinese characteristicsвЂќ, but experts caution the concept refers to greater central control over the courts, rather than judicial independence. The courtвЂ™s deputy president gave HugjiltuвЂ™s parents compensation of 30,000 yuan ($4,850), the official Xinhua News Agency reported. The money was a personal donation by the head of the court, it added, rather than an official payment by the institution. вЂњThis is an amazing thing the court did, to admit that they were wrong,вЂќ said Wang Gongyi, deputy director of the research institute of the Ministry of Justice. вЂњIt also sends a clear message to the police and prosecutors around the country: if thereвЂ™s not enough evidence, donвЂ™t impose wrongful convictions,вЂќ he said. вЂњIn the future this case will be singled out as what not to do and will inп¬‚uence the entire legal system.вЂќ Reuters Sydney H eavily armed Australian police stormed a Sydney cafe yesterday and freed a number of hostages being held there at gunpoint, in a dramatic end to a 16-hour siege in which three people were killed and four wounded. New South Wales police said two men, aged 34 and 50, and a 38-year-old woman died. The attacker was among the fatalities. Heavy gunп¬Ѓre and blasts from stun grenades п¬Ѓlled the air shortly after 2am local time (1500 GMT yesterday). Moments earlier at least six people believed to have been held captive managed to п¬‚ee after gunshots were heard coming from the cafe, and police later conп¬Ѓrmed that they made their move in response. So far 17 hostages have been accounted for. Medics tried to resuscitate at least one person after the raid and took away several wounded people on stretchers, said a Reuters witness at the scene in downtown Sydney. Bomb squad members moved in to search for explosives, but none were found. The operation began shortly after a police source named the gunman as Man Haron Monis, an Iranian refugee and selfstyled sheikh facing multiple charges of sexual assault as well as being an accessory to murder. He was also found guilty in 2012 of sending offensive and threatening letters to families of eight Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan, as a protest against AustraliaвЂ™s involvement in the conп¬‚ict, according to local media reports. A US security official said the US government was being advised by Australia that there was no sign at this stage that the gunman was connected to known terrorist organisations. Although the hostage taker was known to the authorities, security experts said preventing attacks by people acting alone could be difficult. вЂњTodayвЂ™s crisis throws into sharp relief the dangers of lone wolf terrorism,вЂќ said Cornell University law professor Jens A policeman and a paramedic escort a hostage (centre) away from the scene during a siege in the central business district of Sydney. Right: One of the hostages runs towards police from the cafe. File photo shows Iranian refugee Man Haron Monis. Right: Armed police stay outside the cafe where a gunman had taken people captive, following the operation. David Ohlin, speaking in New York. вЂњThere are two areas of concern. The п¬Ѓrst is ISIS (Islamic State) п¬Ѓghters with foreign passports who return to their home countries to commit acts of terrorism. вЂњThe second is ISIS sympathisers radicalised on the internet who take it upon themselves to commit terrorist attacks to fulп¬Ѓl their radical ideology. вЂњWe are entering a new phase of terrorism that is far more dangerous, and more difficult to defeat, than Al Qaeda ever was.вЂќ During the siege, hostages had been forced to display an Islamic п¬‚ag, igniting fears of a jihadist attack. Australia, a staunch ally of the US and its escalating action against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, has been on high alert for attacks by home-grown militants returning from п¬Ѓghting in the Middle East. News footage showed hostages holding up a black and white п¬‚ag. The п¬‚ag has been popular among militant groups such as Islamic State and Al Qaeda. At least п¬Ѓve hostages were released or escaped yesterday, with terriп¬Ѓed cafe workers and customers running into the arms of paramilitary police. The incident forced the evacuation of nearby buildings and sent shockwaves around a country where many people were turning their attention to the Christmas holiday follow- ing earlier security scares. In September, anti-terrorism police said they had thwarted an imminent threat to behead a random member of the public and days later, a teenager in the city of Melbourne was shot dead after attacking two anti-terrorism officers with a knife. The siege cafe is in Martin Place, a pedestrian strip popular with workers on a lunch break, which was revealed as a potential location for the thwarted beheading. In the biggest security operation in Sydney since a bombing at the Hilton Hotel killed two people in 1978, major banks closed their offices in the central business district and people were told to avoid the area. Muslim leaders urged calm. The Australian National Imams Council condemned вЂњthis criminal act unequivocallyвЂќ in a joint statement with the Grand Mufti of Australia. CRISIS Hong Kong leader declares Occupy protest вЂ�overвЂ™ as last site cleared AFP Hong Kong H ong KongвЂ™s leader declared an end to more than 11 weeks of sitin protests by pro-democracy demonstrators after police cleared the last remaining camp and arrested a handful of peaceful protesters yesterday. A committed core of around a dozen demonstrators had staged a sit-in at the centre of the last site in the busy shopping district of Causeway Bay as police cut away barricades and tore down banners and shelters. Seventeen people, from students to the elderly, were arrested without resisting, with some shouting вЂњWe will be backвЂќ and вЂњFight to the endвЂќ. Trucks and cleaning teams moved in to remove the debris, and roads around the site which have been closed for weeks reopened. Activists calling for free leadership elections occupied major traffic arteries after China said in August that candidates for the cityвЂ™s chief executive elections in 2017 would п¬Ѓrst be vetted by a loyalist committee. Campaigners said the move would ensure a pro-Beijing stooge in the leadership role. Police demolished the cityвЂ™s Police officers remove a barricade during a clearance at the last вЂњOccupyвЂќ protest site at Causeway Bay shopping district in Hong Kong yesterday. main protest camp last week. вЂњFollowing the completion of clearance work in Causeway Bay Occupy area, the episode of illegal occupation activities for more than two months is over,вЂќ chief executive Leung Chunying told reporters yesterday. He said that the demonstrations had led to вЂњserious lossesвЂќ in sectors including tourism and retail. вЂњOther than economic losses, I believe the greatest loss Hong Kong society has suffered is the damage to the rule of law by a small group of people,вЂќ he added. Leung is viliп¬Ѓed by protesters who cast him variously as a wolf and a vampire and have repeatedly asked for him to step down. But Beijing has backed his administration throughout the occupation. вЂњIf we just talk about democracy without talking about the rule of law, itвЂ™s not real democracy but a state of no government,вЂќ Leung said. Police chief Andy Tsang defended the behaviour of his ofп¬Ѓcers -- which has been criticised for being heavyhanded. вЂњWhat is necessary will very much depend on the circumstances,вЂќ he said when questioned over levels of force. He described police action as вЂњappropriateвЂќ and the end- ing of occupy as вЂњcomparatively peacefulвЂќ. Nevertheless, the force had received almost 2,000 complaints from members of the public over its behaviour, he said. Most of those were related to вЂњneglect of dutyвЂќ and вЂњunnecessary use of authorityвЂќ. More than 900 people were arrested during the occupation with more than 200 protesters and 100 police officers hurt, he added. Causeway Bay hosted the smallest of the three camps that sprang up in late September, paralysing sections of the city, as part of the student-led campaign for free leadership elections. The main Admiralty camp which sprawled across a kilometre of multi-lane highway through the heart of the business district was cleared on Thursday. Police cleared the other major protest site in the working-class commercial district of Mongkok - scene of some of the most violent clashes since the campaign began - in late November. Students who spearheaded the street protests were among the sit-in group in Causeway Bay yesterday. They were joined by a 90-year-old campaigner surnamed Wong who sat on who was later led away by police, walking slowly using a cane. Abe pledges Japan constitution rewrite AFP Tokyo P rime Minister Shinzo Abe yesterday vowed he would try to persuade a sceptical public of the need to revise JapanвЂ™s paciп¬Ѓst constitution, the day after scoring a thumping election victory. The premier, who was reelected by a landslide in SundayвЂ™s polls, pledged to pursue his nationalist agenda while promising to follow through on much-needed economic reforms. вЂњRevising the constitution... has always been an objective since the Liberal Democratic Party was launched,вЂќ Abe told reporters. вЂњI will work hard to deepen peopleвЂ™s understanding and receive wider support from the public.вЂќ AbeвЂ™s desire to water down JapanвЂ™s constitution, imposed by the US after the end of World War II, has proved divisive at home and strained already tense relations with China. His attempt earlier this year was abandoned, with the bar of a two-thirds parliamentary majority and victory in a referendum thought too high. The conservative leader has also said he wants reforms to education that would instil patriotism in schoolchildren and urges a more sympathetic retelling of JapanвЂ™s wartime misdeeds. His ruling LDP and its junior partner Komeito swept the ballot on Sunday with a two-thirds majority in the lower house of parliament. The coalition won a combined 326 of the 475 seats, crushing the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan. Their slightly-improved tally of 73 did not include leader Banri Kaieda, who fell on his sword on Monday. Abe is expected to reappoint a broadly similar cabinet after he is formally named prime minister again by the lower house on December 24. He insisted the election had been a necessary plebiscite on his big-spending, easy-money policies, known as Abenonmics, although critics said the record low turnout of around 52% tarnished his mandate. вЂњWe must go ahead with Abenomics swiftly, this is exactly what has been shown in the vote. We have to respond to that,вЂќ Abe said, pledging to вЂњcompile an economic stimulus package immediately, within this yearвЂќ. Nearly 300 Chinese вЂ�fightingвЂ™ alongside IS About 300 Chinese people are fighting alongside the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, a Chinese staterun newspaper said yesterday, a rare tally that is likely to fuel worry in China that militants pose a threat to security. China has expressed concern about the rise of Islamic State in the Middle East, nervous about the effect it could have on its Xinjiang region. But it has also shown no sign of wanting to join US efforts to use military force against the group. Chinese members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) are travelling to Syria via Turkey to join the Islamic State, also known as IS, the Global Times, a tabloid run by ChinaвЂ™s ruling Communist PartyвЂ™s official newspaper, the PeopleвЂ™s Daily, said. JUSTICE Journo goes on trial over defamation A Japanese journalist accused of defaming South Korean President Park Geun-Hye went on trial in Seoul yesterday, in a case which has strained relations between the two countries and raised questions about media freedoms. Tatsuya Kato, who until Oct 1 was bureau chief of JapanвЂ™s conservative Sankei Shimbun newspaper, is charged with criminal libel punishable by up to seven yearsвЂ™ jail. The charge stems from an August article he wrote about ParkвЂ™s whereabouts on the day the Sewol passenger ferry sank in April with the loss of 300 lives. 18 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 BRITAIN AVIATION CRIME JUSTICE LAW AND ORDER DECISION Inquiry into air traffic failure to be launched Police charge four men with terrorism offences Tag trial man jailed for burglaries Woman questioned in death probe Legal aid guidance ruled unlawful The government will establish an independent inquiry into a technical failure at an air traffic control centre which caused widespread disruption to flights in and out of London last week. The National Air Traffic Service (Nats) and the UK Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement yesterday they would appoint a chairman and a number of experts to study the causes and responses, in a bid to try to avoid future incidents. Hundreds of flights to and from London were disrupted on Friday causing knock-on effects to air travel across Europe, in a technical failure which a senior minister called вЂњsimply unacceptableвЂќ. Police said they had charged four men, arrested two weeks ago at the port of Dover and in London, with terrorism offences. Michael Coe, 33, Simon Keeler, 43, and Anthony Small, 33, were charged with preparing and assisting others for acts of terrorism and conspiracy to possess false identity documents. Abdulraouf Eshati, 28, is accused of possessing articles connected to the preparation of terrorism and immigration offences. Two other men, Zagum Perviaz and Hamzah Safdar, detained with them during operations at Dover and across London between November 1 and December 4, were charged with conspiracy to possess and produce false identity documents. A repeat offender has been jailed for two years after a satellite-linked ankle tag placed him at the scene of seven burglaries. Aron Thompson, 26, committed the break-ins within weeks of being freed from prison in November last year despite being fitted with a tag under a ministry of justice trial. West Midlands Police said Thompson agreed to wear the tag, which can pinpoint its wearerвЂ™s position to within 10 metres, rather than report regularly to police stations and undergo a night-time curfew. Thompson, of Geraldine Road, Hay Mills, Birmingham, was jailed at the cityвЂ™s Crown Court after admitting seven counts of burglary. A 44-year-old woman is helping police with their inquiries after the death of another woman. Police were called to Balmoral Road, Gillingham, Kent, after a woman was found injured. She was taken to hospital but later died. A Kent Police spokeswoman said the death was being treated as вЂњunexplainedвЂќ. She said: вЂњA 44-year-old Gillingham woman is helping police with their inquiries following an incident in Balmoral Road. вЂњKent Police was called at 12.10pm where a woman was found with injuries. The ambulance service treated the patient at the scene before she was taken to hospital; however she died. Officers are treating the incident as an unexplained death and inquiries are ongoing.вЂќ Government guidance in relation to granting legal aid for immigration cases has been declared вЂњunlawfulвЂќ by leading judges. Earlier this year the High Court in London ruled that the guidance issued by Lord Chancellor Chris Grayling was вЂњunlawful and too restrictiveвЂ™вЂ™. A judge in London said the guidance вЂњsets too high a thresholdвЂ™вЂ™ and вЂњproduces unfairnessвЂ™вЂ™ by denying publicly-funded legal advice to applicants in вЂњexceptional casesвЂ™вЂ™. The government appealed against that ruling to the Court of Appeal. Yesterday Master of the Rolls Lord Dyson, who heard the appeal with Lord Justice Richards and Lord Justice Sullivan, announced that the guidance was вЂњunlawfulвЂќ. Ukip candidate quits over offensive remarks Party at Downing Street Blair, Straw вЂ�could be quizzedвЂ™ over torture claims Agencies London K erry Smith has quit as UkipвЂ™s candidate in a top target seat after being forced to apologise for a series of offensive comments. In recordings of phone calls obtained by the Mail on Sunday, the would-be MP was said to have mocked gay party members, joked about shooting people from Chigwell in a вЂњpeasant huntвЂќ and referred to someone as a вЂњChinky birdвЂќ. They were revealed just days after he was reinstated as the partyвЂ™s general election candidate in South Basildon and East Thurrock. He initially apologised and explained that he had been under great stress at the time of the comments and taking strong pain killers. But in a statement, he said: вЂњI have offered my resignation as Ukip PPC (prospective parliamentary candidate) for South Basildon and East Thurrock. I want the best for South Basildon and East Thurrock and I want to see the real issues discussed that touch the lives of people. вЂњTherefore I have chosen to resign so that Ukip can win this seat next May.вЂќ His decision throws open what has become a highlycontentious selection process in a seat Ukip harbours serious hopes of winning in 2015. Smith was deselected as the candidate in October - with Neil Hamilton, the former Tory minister who is now UkipвЂ™s deputy chairman, the most prominent of those who entered the frame to replace him. But he was then reinstated and Hamilton ended up endorsing him in his hustings speech at the selection meeting, before lashing out at party insiders over what he said was a вЂњdirty tricksвЂќ campaign being run against him. His tirade against the вЂњcancer at the heart of UkipвЂќ came after a letter from the partyвЂ™s п¬Ѓnance committee about his expenses claims was leaked. Sir Malcolm Rifkind, chair of intelligence and security committee, says he will investigate allegations вЂ�without fear of favourвЂ™ Guardian News and Media London T A reindeer handler waits for children to arrive for the annual Downing Street childrenвЂ™s Christmas Party at 10 Downing Street in central London yesterday. ony Blair and his former foreign secretary Jack Straw could be summoned before a parliamentary inquiry in an attempt to determine the extent of any British involvement in torture of terror suspects. The two senior п¬Ѓgures from the last Labour government may be asked to give evidence to the intelligence and security committee (ISC) in the wake of the publication of a US Senate report conп¬Ѓrming that the CIA used brutal and ineffective methods after 9/11. However, pressure is growing on the government to announce a separate, judge-led inquiry, amid concerns that the ISC is too closely associated with the Westminster establishment. Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the ISC chairman and a Conservative former foreign secretary, said he would investigate вЂњwithout fear or favourвЂќ regardless of whether it might embarrass the security services, ministers or Whitehall. He said his committee would not shy away from saying that the evidence pointed towards the possibility of prosecutions if it thought that was appropriate. Asked on BBCвЂ™s Andrew Marr Show whether senior п¬Ѓgures from the last government such as Blair and Straw could be asked to give evidence, Rifkind replied: вЂњCertainly we would request any former minister or serving minister who has a contribution Husband denies attacking Mel B London Evening Standard London M el BвЂ™s husband yesterday denied he had ever hit his wife, following speculation on Twitter over her admission to hospital and her appearance on Sunday nightвЂ™s programme. The X Factor judge missed SaturdayвЂ™s show after being taken to hospital on Thursday. The former Spice Girl was back on screens Sunday night but appeared to be covered in scratches and bruises and was not wearing her wedding ring. Fans were quick to speculate about the cause of the starвЂ™s injuries online. But yesterday Stephen Belafonte, her husband of seven years, took to Twitter to criticise the comments. He wrote: вЂњI donвЂ™t usually respond to Twitter msgs but I will respond to comments of hitting my wife which I think are quite disgusting un true!вЂќ He added: вЂњMel was very ill a bunch of doctors helped her get better if fans canвЂ™t just relax B4 being negative they r not real fans of @OfficialMelB.вЂќ The former Spice Girl was back on screens Sunday night but appeared to be covered in scratches and bruises Mel B, 39, was taken to hospital after collapsing вЂњin agonyвЂќ on Thursday. When she appeared back on screens Sunday night for the X Factor п¬Ѓnal, concerned viewers pointed out she appeared to have вЂњa swollen faceвЂќ, a bruise on her cheek and scratches on her upper arms. Within minutes of the show starting, viewers began speculating as to the cause of her injuries on Twitter. One wrote: вЂњMel BвЂ™s got a well iffy bruise on her cheek, scratches on the top of her arms and no wedding ring.... xfactor.вЂќ As the programme started Sunday night, Mel B said: вЂњI really missed being here but thanks to all the doctors and nurses who took care of me and got me here tonight.вЂќ When it emerged she would be missing SaturdayвЂ™s show, Mel BвЂ™s estranged mother Andrea and her sister Danielle both took to Twitter to express their concern. Danielle tweeted: вЂњI am beyond desperate and this should be a private family matter!! But we donвЂ™t know what else to do if anyone at all can help then pls do!вЂќ In a message to Belafonte, she said: вЂњYou told me and mum she is п¬Ѓne and not in hospital. IвЂ™ve recorded all your calls for the past week. Where is my sister?вЂќ to make to our inquiries, to give evidence. If they refuse to do so that itself would imply they had something to hide. So weвЂ™ll have to wait and see what happens.вЂќ He said no decisions had yet been taken about who would be called as witnesses. It was reported over the weekend that Straw was questioned by police as a witness in 2012 over allegations that MI6 agents were involved in the renditions of Libyans back to the regime of Muammar Gaddaп¬Ѓ, where they were subsequently mistreated. The police inquiries are expected to conclude within the next few months, enabling the ISC to start investigating the allegations as its top priority. Speaking on the same programme, Alan Johnson, the Labour former home secretary, said he had found вЂњno evidence of British agents being involvedвЂќ in torture or rendition during his time in government, but Blair and Straw should appear before the ISC if they were asked. As the ISC struggles to defend its credibility as the right body to investigate, Rifkind also promised that he would ask the US Senate intelligence committee to hand over secret material redacted from their report at the request of the UK. Despite RifkindвЂ™s reassurances, senior politicians from across the parties - including the Tory former cabinet ministers Dominic Grieve and Andrew Mitchell - have now backed calls for an independent judge-led inquiry into British involvement in torture after the police investigations have п¬Ѓnished. Even the shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, has said her instinct is that an independent inquiry is needed, despite the fact that it would examine events that took place under the last Labour government. Critics fear that the ISC is compromised by the facts that it is largely composed of establishment п¬Ѓgures, that its meetings are mainly conducted in secret and that its reports are subject to redactions by the government. It will not compel witnesses to give evidence, and those who do so are not speaking under oath. One of the ISCвЂ™s biggest critics is Norman Baker, the LibDem former home office minister, who said it had вЂњnot really delivered the goodsвЂќ in the past. He said the investigation needed to get to the bottom of the scandal before the UK considered renewing its contract with the US for the lease of the Diego Garcia airbase, which has been used at least twice for the rendition of terror suspects. The ISC took on the job of investigating the torture of detainees after Sir Peter Gibson, a retired judge, was frustrated in his inquiry because two police investigations had been launched into the rendition of detainees to Libya. In an interim report, Gibson said he had not found any evidence of British agents themselves undertaking torture, but he raised 27 serious questions that had not been answered about their potential involvement in what the CIA was doing. These included whether the two intelligence agencies were willing to вЂњcondone, encourage or take advantage of rendition operationsвЂќ mounted by others. The government has appeared lukewarm so far about reviving the Gibson inquiry, saying it will wait and see what the ISC п¬Ѓnds before ordering another investigation. South coast rail line вЂ�must improveвЂ™ London Evening Standard London R Claire Perry: condemns rail services ail Minister Claire Perry yesterday condemned services on one of LondonвЂ™s busiest commuter lines as unacceptable вЂ” and demanded improvements. Passengers have complained about frequent delays on the Brighton mainline, too little information about disrupted services and a lack of Wi-Fi. вЂњThe standard of performance on this route is signiп¬Ѓcantly below where it should be, and this is not acceptable,вЂќ Perry told the Standard. вЂњI have made clear to the industry that I expect Network Rail and the operators to take action to remedy matters.вЂќ The route runs from the south coast to London Bridge and Victoria stations. Simon Kirby, Conservative MP for Brighton Kemptown, raised the problems with Perry in the Commons. вЂњMy constituents pay considerable sums of money for tickets and do not appreciate having to travel in discomfort, often on overcrowded and delayed trains,вЂќ he later said. He has met with Southern Railway and Network Rail about the problems. Norman Baker, Liberal Democrat MP for Lewes, argued that the rail line from Lewes to Uckп¬Ѓeld in East Sussex should be reopened to relieve congestion. Network Rail admitted performance on the Brighton mainline had вЂњnot been acceptable over the last few monthsвЂќ and it was вЂњacutely awareвЂќ of the need to improve. A spokeswoman added: вЂњWe operate one of the busiest railway routes in the countryвЂ¦As a result, any delays or incidents, even very small ones, can quickly affect a large number of trains.вЂќ She said Network Rail was investing to improve signalling and track reliability and adopting new contingency plans to react more quickly to disruptions. Southern Railway accepted that punctuality on the mainline was вЂњnot good enoughвЂќ and stressed its priority, working with Network Rail, was to improve services and reduce delays. Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 19 BRITAIN CONTROVERSY TRAVEL OFFBEAT CRIME PEOPLE Mantel dismisses Tory вЂ�foolsвЂ™ who attacked BBC Double-decker rail plan to ease crush Amazon glitch leads to 1p вЂ�bargainsвЂ™ Boys quizzed after manвЂ™s stab death Fare-dodging City executive banned Hilary Mantel has dismissed attacks on the BBC over its plan to broadcast her short story about the murder of Margaret Thatcher by an IRA sniper. Mantel, who has twice won the Man Booker prize, said criticisms of The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher being chosen for Radio 4вЂ™s Book at Bedtime were вЂњa skirmish in a war with the BBCвЂќ. She said: вЂњThe same tetchy commentators who made fools of themselves when my stories were first published have been persuaded to do it again. YouвЂ™d think theyвЂєd learn.вЂќ Former cabinet minister Lord Tebbit and Lord Bell, former adviser to Lady Thatcher, suggested it was an example of the corporationвЂєs Left-wing bias. Double-decker trains are being considered as a solution to overcrowding on LondonвЂ™s busiest rail services. Network Rail officials have proposed introducing double-decker trains during busy periods between Southampton, Woking and London Waterloo. Other measures include building вЂњflyoversвЂќ to allow trains to bypass busy stations, a new London terminus and greater use of narrow train seats. Network Rail unveiled the proposals as solutions to overcrowding in the next 30 years. Rail passenger numbers are projected to rocket in that period, with journeys doubling to 3.2bn a year. A software error led to hundreds of items being sold for just 1p on Amazon, and now businesses say they risk going bankrupt if they are forced to follow through with the sales, a media report said yesterday. The glitch occurred between 7pm and 8pm Friday, and affected firms that use the tool RepricerExpress, The Telegraph reported. The RepricerExpress software automatically reprices items of stock if a cheaper version becomes available elsewhere online and is designed to keep businesses competitive. But a computer error led to hundreds of items being sold on Amazon at a fraction of their normal price. Four boys have been arrested on suspicion of murder after a 52-year-old man was stabbed to death following a вЂњverbal altercationвЂќ with a group of youngsters, Scotland Yard said. Police were called to a residential address in The Broadway, Edmonton, north London, at around 7.50pm on Sunday night following reports of a stabbing. Scotland Yard said they believed the victim had been involved in a verbal altercation with a group of boys, aged in their mid-teens, as he attempted to gain entry into the block of flats. He was followed by two of the males and stabbed, police said. The suspects, all believed to be aged 13 and 14, remain in custody at a north London police station. A high-flying City executive who paid back nearly ВЈ43,000 after he was caught dodging rail fares has been banned from the financial industry. Jonathan Burrows, who reportedly earned ВЈ1mn a year, admitted his behaviour was вЂњfoolishвЂќ saying the ban came after an unblemished 20-year career. Burrows left his job as a managing director of BlackRock Asset Management Investor Services earlier this year. He was yesterday banned by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) from performing any function in the industry it regulates вЂњfor not being fit and properвЂќ after the fare dodging, which was believed to have taken place over five years. Planned cuts will endanger the public: police chief Bernard Hogan-Howe: cuts without reform put the public at risk Guardian News and Media London L arge cuts to police and other services will endanger public safety unless the next government pushes through radical structural reforms to cut back office costs, BritainвЂ™s most senior police officer has warned. Scotland Yard commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, writing in the Guardian, gives his sternest warning yet about the potential effects of forthcoming cuts with police preparing to be told this week of even more reductions to come. The Met commissioner said he expected increasing reductions in budgets whoever wins the 2015 general election and argues for reforms, including mergers of individual forces which would rip up the historic the landscape of policing, to lessen the potential damage. вЂњThereвЂ™s a bigger risk to public safety if we donвЂ™t take radical action,вЂќ, the commissioner writes, adding: вЂњWeвЂ™ve saved hundreds of millions already, but from 2016 onwards it will be much harder.вЂќ In a move that clashes with Conservative party policy, Hogan-Howe calls for the culling of over 30 forces in England and Wales, to create nine super forces, based on the regional boundaries. He warned that criminals are moving from the вЂњshotgunвЂќ robberies of the past to more sophisticated offences involving data and cybercrime, and police need to catch up. Sir BernardвЂ™s intervention comes amid real concern among the leadership of the Yard and London government about the level of cuts proposed, which could see it lose in total one-third of its budget. Police chiefs across the country fear the scale of the cuts to come could see neighbourhood policing, vital to preventing crime, decimated. Privately they fear a potential return to вЂњ1980sвЂќ style policing of responding to emergencies and little else. The commissionerвЂ™s intervention comes at the start of a dramatic week for policing. Yesterday the Home Secretary, Theresa May, was grilled by MPs on the powerful home affairs committee after the chief of Lincolnshire police last week warned cuts could send his force to the wall. Tomorrow the home office will tell forces about more cuts, with police fearing they will eventually be bigger than the 23% reductions suffered since 2010. In his article, the commissioner says others involved in keeping the public safe are also facing large cuts. Sir Bernard said: вЂњOur partners face their own cost pressures, and the big concern is that if we donвЂ™t work together, with a shared view of the risks, public safety will suffer.вЂќ Sir Bernard set out an argument for reforms, to avoid an increase in danger faced by the public. He cited the example of domestic abuse to show how many agencies can be involved in a case: вЂњSocietyвЂ™s ability to reduce abuse is much more than a policing issue. ItвЂ™s about a range of agencies - from social services to mental health - having the capacity to intervene early. If we retrench in isolation, the risks to public safety can only increase.вЂќ Hogan-Howe warns that cuts to other public services jeopardises assets the police rely on. He says police could lose crime п¬Ѓghting CCTV cameras which are funded by local councils, because they themselves face tough spending cuts. Sprouts for вЂ�BorisвЂ™ Senior aquarist Charles-Edouard Fusari, offers sprouts to вЂ�BorisвЂ™ a rare Green Sea turtle, during a photocall to promote the the Sea Life London Aquarium in central London yesterday. Miliband turns focus on migrant wage competition Reuters London O pposition Labour leader Ed Miliband yesterday set out plans for a new law to prevent British workersвЂ™ wages being undercut by the exploitation of foreign workers, part of a strategy to show his party cares about immigration. Polls show immigration is a top voter concern ahead of a national election in May, and both Labour and Prime Minister David CameronвЂ™s Conservatives have unveiled policies aimed at halt- ing the surge in popularity of the anti-EU UK Independence Party (Ukip), which wants to curb immigration. вЂњWhen people can be exploited for low wages or endangered at work, it drags the whole system down, undercutting the pay and conditions of local workers,вЂќ Miliband told a question and answer session with voters in eastern England. вЂњWe are serving notice on employers who bring workers here under duress or on false terms and pay them signiп¬Ѓcantly lower wages, with worse terms and conditions. We will make it a criminal offence to undercut pay or conditions by exploiting migrant workers.вЂќ Labour, which most opinion polls put either neck-and-neck with the Conservatives or slightly ahead, has also said it plans to increase п¬Ѓnes for п¬Ѓrms who do not abide by the national minimum wage and ban recruitment agencies hiring only from abroad. Data published by the International Labour Organisation this month showed that migrants earn 8.4% less than British citizens on average, despite being very nearly as well educated, experienced and productive. T he government yesterday promised to put its ambitious budget targets on a more formal footing, in a largely political move meant to embarrass the opposition Labour party. Cutting BritainвЂ™s deficit has been the main economic goal of the ConservativeLiberal Democrat coalition since it came to power in 2010, and Finance Minister George Osborne wants to keep it at the top of the agenda in the run-up to a national election in May 2015. YesterdayвЂ™s commitment is designed to force Labour into either signing up to the target, thus providing tacit approval for OsborneвЂ™s fiscal approach, or opposing it and facing criticism as lacking financial discipline. In a written statement to parliament yesterday, Os- borne said he would reduce the official time limit for the government to run a budget surplus to three years from five years, in an attempt to cement budget plans announced earlier this month. вЂњI have always been clear that more tough choices will need to be made in the next parliament to eliminate the deficit and get debt falling. This charter entrenches the commitment to finish the job and maintain economic stability,вЂќ Osborne said. The original deficit reduction plan envisaged Britain would run a budget surplus within five years on a cyclically adjusted basis and excluding investment spending. The new framework will also commit the government to have total debt falling as a share of gross domestic product by 2016-17, replacing an earlier target of 2015-16 which the government has long accepted that it will miss. Labour have said they intend to balance the budget by the end of the decade, enabling a slower pace of spending cuts and more time for growth to boost tax receipts. It describes the coalition plans as driven by ideology rather than economic necessity. Prime Minister David Cameron, speaking earlier yesterday in Poole, southwest England, said Britain needed to reduce its deficit faster to ensure it could cope with the unexpected. вЂњIf a real economic storm hit again, the fall-out would be felt by families up and down this country - people lying awake worrying about their mortgage payments, businesses closing down, jobs lost, homes lost.вЂќ Osborne did not formally commit to run a surplus on all government spending, something his Conservative Party wishes to do by the 2018-19 financial year, but which his Liberal Democrat coalition partners are less keen on. Labour would tackle wider issues such as housing and healthcare. When asked about the document, Miliband, who came under п¬Ѓre for forgetting to mention immigration during his keynote speech to his partyвЂ™s annual conference in September, described it as вЂњnot very well drafted language, out of contextвЂќ. вЂњThere can be no doubt about where we stand on this issue. We think this is an important issue and an issue we are going to talk about,вЂќ he said. New Scottish leader meets with Cameron Government sets more ambitious budget target Reuters London LabourвЂ™s push on immigration was overshadowed, however, after an election strategy document on tackling the threat of Ukip was leaked to a national newspaper. The document said it would be вЂњunhelpfulвЂќ in some cases to raise the issue of immigration with voters, saying activists should вЂњlisten carefullyвЂќ to voter concerns on immigration before вЂњmoving the conve rs a t i o n onвЂќ to how AFP London S Prime Minister David Cameron speaks on the economy to an audience at a school in Poole yesterday. cotlandвЂ™s new First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, met Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday for the п¬Ѓrst time since taking office, with the two discussing the further devolution of powers. SturgeonвЂ™s Scottish National Party (SNP), then led by her predecessor Alex Salmond, lost a referendum on independence for Scotland in September but secured a pledge that more powers would be handed to Edinburgh and has seen its support surge since. Negotiations are now going on about how much extra authority the Scottish government should now be given, with draft legislative proposals due to be published in January. Cameron and Sturgeon discussed giving the vote to 16- and 17-year-olds at ScotlandвЂ™s next elections, a Downing Street statement said, lower than the 18-year age limit in the rest of the UK. Cameron gave his backing to SturgeonвЂ™s proposals for this. вЂњThe premier made clear that he wants to work with the п¬Ѓrst minister, forging even stronger ties between our governments,вЂќ a Downing Street statement said. The British government is hoping to вЂњresetвЂќ relations with the administration in Scotland after an often fractious relationship with the hard-charging Salmond. вЂњIt takes two to reset a relationship,вЂќ the Scottish secretary in CameronвЂ™s government, Alistair Carmichael, said yesterday. вЂњI believe Nicola Sturgeon will be more constructive and co-operative to work with.вЂќ Salmond is expected to become a lawmaker at Westminster at next yearвЂ™s general election, raising the prospect that he could lead negotiations for the SNP to join a future coalition government. Earlier, Cameron held talks with Sturgeon and other leaders from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland at Downing Street on extremism, constitutional change and the economy. 20 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 EUROPE Belgium cut off from the world by strikes AFP Brussels B A board shows all departing flights cancelled during a national strike in a protest over the governmentвЂ™s planned pension reform and budget cuts at the Brussels Airport in Zaventem. Princess pays court в‚¬587,000 The sister of SpainвЂ™s King Felipe VI has paid a deposit of в‚¬587,000 ($750,000) to cover her alleged liability in a graft case which has damaged the monarchyвЂ™s standing. Prosecutor Pedro Horrach said last week that there was no evidence to try the princess Cristina but said she should pay в‚¬587,413.58 to cover the money she could have made thanks to her husbandвЂ™s alleged illegal dealings. Horrach recommended that her husband, former Olympic handball player Inaki Urdangarin, be tried for embezzlement and money-laundering. If Urdangarin is found guilty, the prosecutor recommended he be sentenced to 19 and a half yearsвЂ™ jail time and fined в‚¬3.5mn. Urdangarin, 46, is accused along with his former business partner of creaming off в‚¬6mn in public funds from contracts awarded to Noos, a charitable foundation. Cristina, 49, sat on the board of Noos and Urdangarin was its chairman. Probe into spying launched in Oslo Norwegian police are investigating a possible spying operation by a foreign power after electronic devices designed to intercept telephone conversations were discovered near government buildings. In its own two-month investigation, the daily newspaper Aftenposten detected signals from several surveillance devices that had been placed near the prime ministerвЂ™s offices, the central bank, parliament and major company headquarters. вЂњWe canвЂ™t exclude the possibility that this is coming from foreign state agencies,вЂќ said Siv Alsen, spokeswoman for the policeвЂ™s intelligence unit, which will carry out the investigation. Aftenposten said that the surveillance devices were able to attract mobile phone signals and record conversations. вЂњIf correct, such surveillance is completely unacceptable,вЂќ Justice Minister Anders Anundsen said in a statement. Police storm flat to end siege Belgian armed police stormed an apartment in the western city of Ghent yesterday to end a siege after reports that gunmen had taken a hostage there. The victim was safe and well and three other men had been detained, a spokeswoman for state prosecutors said. вЂњThree men have been taken away though there were no weapons found. The earlier reports were of four men with kalashnikovs,вЂќ she said. вЂњItвЂ™s not entirely clear whether someone was in fact taken hostage.вЂќ Armed police in balaclavas emerged about 1pm from the cordoned-off building in the Dampoort district. Belgian broadcaster VRT cited neighbours as saying that the flat had been used by drug dealers. elgium ground to a halt in its biggest strike in years yesterday as trade unions grounded п¬‚ights, cut international rail links and shut sea ports to protest the new governmentвЂ™s austerity plans. In the climax to a month of industrial action against new Prime Minister Charles MichelвЂ™s policies, striking workers stopped all public transport while most schools, businesses and government offices shut down. Pickets also blocked traffic outside the Brussels headquarters of the European Union, a 28-nation bloc that has seen years of protests against austerity aimed at cutting debts that threatened the euro currency. The Belgian strike came days after a day of protest in Italy against Prime Minister Matteo RenziвЂ™s ambitious reform plans, while there have been similar demonstrations in Spain and Greece in recent months. вЂњThere has never been a strike this strong,вЂќ Marie-Helene Ska, the head of the Christian CSC union, was quoted as saying by the Belga news agency. Belgian trade unions launched their movement last month with a march of more than 100,000 people in Brussels, which ended in violent protests that left dozens of police officers injured. Unions went ahead with yesterdayвЂ™s strike after MichelвЂ™s right-of-centre government refused to budge on plans to save в‚¬11bn ($13.7bn) over п¬Ѓve years. His coalition, which took ofп¬Ѓce in October, intends to raise the retirement age from 65 to 67 from 2030, scrap plans for a usu- ally automatic cost-of-living raise next year and introduce public sector cutbacks. French-speaking Michel вЂ“ at 38 is BelgiumвЂ™s youngest prime minister since 1840 вЂ“ heads a coalition of three Flemish-speaking right-leaning parties and his own Francophone liberals. The government formed п¬Ѓve months after elections had hoped to calm a nation deeply divided between the richer Flanders and the poorer French-speaking Wallonia, but instead has led to weeks of industrial action. The last national strike in Belgium was in 2012 against the government of socialist prime minister Elio di Rupo. Belgian airspace was closed after air traffic controllers joined the strike, preventing п¬‚ights from landing or taking off from airports in Brussels, Charleroi, Liege, Antwerp and Ostend for 24 hours from 2100 GMT on Sunday. Some 50,000 passengers have been affected as a total of 600 incoming and outgoing п¬‚ights have been cancelled at Brussels international airport, spokeswoman Florence Muls said. вЂњAll п¬‚ights are cancelled. Everything is immobilised,вЂќ Muls told AFP, adding that it had affected some travellers trying to get away early for the Christmas holidays. вЂњItвЂ™s a real disasterвЂќ for the airports and passengers, JeanJacques Cloquet, managing director of Charleroi said on the RTBF news website, adding there would be a knock-on effect during the busy holiday period. Eurostar rail services from Brussels to the British capital London and trains to the French capital Paris, Amsterdam in the Netherlands and the German city of Cologne have also been halted until early today. Belgian rail SNCB said domestic inter-city train services were cancelled and trams, buses and metro services were all cancelled, leading many people to take the day off work and stay home. The strike is also likely to affect post offices and rubbish collections, prisons and the courts. Protesters erected road barriers that snarled traffic in Brussels and other cities, and could be seen warming their hands by braziers while brandishing banners and handing out leaп¬‚ets. Union leader Ska denied that they wanted to bring down the government. вЂњThe government was elected democratically. We do not challenge it at all,вЂќ Ska said on Belgian television. вЂњWhat we want is to know where Belgium will be in п¬Ѓve years on social matters.вЂќ Merkel warns Germans not to fall prey to anti-immigrant movement AFP/DPA Berlin G erman Chancellor Angela Merkel has condemned a wave of protests against immigrants, asylum seekers and the вЂњIslamisationвЂќ of the country and warned Germans not to be вЂњexploitedвЂќ by extremists. Ahead of fresh marches planned by the far-right populist вЂњPatriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the OccidentвЂќ (PEGIDA) group, Merkel said that a right to demonstrate did not extend to вЂњrabble-rousing and defamationвЂќ against foreigners. вЂњThere is no place for hate campaigns and slander,вЂќ she said. She told reporters that those taking part in the protests вЂњshould take care not to be exploitedвЂќ by radical elements trying to harness fears of rising numbers of foreigners in Germany to drive an extremist movement. PEGIDA started with a few hundred people in October in Dresden, in the former communist east, and swelled to a crowd of 10,000 last Monday. It has also spawned half a dozen clone groups in other cities. A poll for news website Zeit Online showed that nearly one in two Germans вЂ“ 49% вЂ“ sympathised with PEGIDAвЂ™s stated concerns and 30% indicated they вЂњfullyвЂќ backed the protestsвЂ™ aims. Almost three in four вЂ“ 73% вЂ“ said they worried that вЂњradical IslamвЂќ was gaining ground and 59% said Germany accepted too many asylum seekers. Protest organisers sought to rally even greater numbers this week, while counter demonstrators were set to march under the banner вЂњDresden for all вЂ“ for a cosmopolitan DresdenвЂќ. Justice Minister Heiko Maas told Sueddeutsche Zeitung that the marches вЂњbring shameвЂќ on the country and that Germans should stand up to racism. He warned that Germany, amid a record inп¬‚ux of asylum seekers from countries stricken by war and poverty, is experiencing an вЂњescalation of agitation against immigrants and refugeesвЂќ and called the trend вЂњrepugnant and abhorrentвЂќ. Since the protests have grown in size, a debate about immigration and refugees has gripped Germany, a country whose Nazi past makes expressions of xenophobia especially troubling. Germany, EuropeвЂ™s biggest economy, has become the continentвЂ™s top destination for asylum seekers and the worldвЂ™s number two destination for migrants after the United States. The inп¬‚ux of refugees from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and several African and Balkan Anti-Uber taxi strike causes minimal disruption in Paris Reuters/AFP Paris countries has strained local governments, which have scrambled to house the newcomers in old schools, office blocks and army barracks. Asylum homes have been targeted by vandals and arsonists but elsewhere local residents have sought to welcome refugees with neighbourhood support services. While some politicians have argued the government needs to listen closer to the concerns of citizens about immigration, others have pointed out that the fast-greying country needs newcomers. вЂњRefugees are good for our country,вЂќ the parliamentary leader of the Social Democrats, Thomas Oppermann, told the Focus news weekly. вЂњWe Germans received a lot of support after World War II, and these people deserve our protection. And besides, many Syrian refugees have qualiп¬Ѓcations that we desperately need in this country.вЂќ Growing number of Swiss militants heading overseas AFP Geneva T he UberPop transport service will be banned in France from January 1 to avoid unfair competition, the interior ministry said yesterday as taxi drivers impeded morning traffic into Paris in a one-day protest against the US-based online cab-hailing п¬Ѓrm. Uber allows users to summon taxi-like services with their smartphones while its UberPop arm links private drivers to passengers. It has gained popularity around the world since its 2010 launch but drawn controversy over its aggressive approach to traditional taxi services. FranceвЂ™s highly-regulated taxi drivers say that Uber has hit their business unfairly as it has expanded rapidly. Authorities have voiced concern that UberPop drivers may not have the required commercial vehicle insurance. Taxi unions had vowed to block 260km (160 miles) of roads around Paris with slowly moving taxi motorcades during the morning rush hour. By late morning, traffic was mildly disrupted on the highways leading from Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports into the city centre, traffic reporters said. Taxi drivers gathered at dawn near the main airports and headed slowly towards the city, horns blaring, hoping to force traffic to a snailвЂ™s pace вЂ“ known as an вЂњoperation escargotвЂќ in French, after the word snail. вЂњIt is a п¬Ѓght against all Uber. Enough is enough. Authorising UberPOP puts 57,000 French taxis at risk, and 57,000 families with them. And that is out of the Merkel: there is no place for hate campaigns and slander. S ome 22 people have left Switzerland to п¬Ѓght abroad as jihadists since May, including eight in the past fortnight, the Swiss intelligence agency said yesterday. This represents almost onethird of the 62 who have left to п¬Ѓght since 2001, including 37 who headed to Syria and Iraq and 25 to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Eight have since died, the agency said, giving no details of how, where or when. Three п¬Ѓghters have returned to Switzerland since the end of November, bring the total to 19 returnees since 2001. The numbers are far below the hundreds who have п¬‚ocked from countries such as France and Britain to п¬Ѓght with the Islamic State organisation in Iraq and Syria. But the agency said: вЂњThe increase in the numbers compared to November certainly indicates a growing phenomenon.вЂќ It said the numbers may also be explained by increased efforts to identify would-be п¬Ѓghters. While вЂњevery case is differentвЂќ, the intelligence agency said: вЂњDeclarations posted on the Internet by people who seem to live in Switzerland and inciting violence and jihad pose an increasingly alarming problem.вЂќ Earlier this month, a 30-year-old Swiss convert to Islam was ordered to do 600 hours of community service after returning from п¬Ѓghting with the IS group in Syria. He travelled there late last year to join a training camp but after two weeks asked to leave, only to be detained by the group for 54 days, RTS public broadcaster reported. French police arrest 10 suspects Taxi drivers take part in a вЂ�snail operationвЂ™ after parking their cars on the Trocadero square in Paris during a demonstration to protest a courtвЂ™s refusal to ban urban ridesharing service UberPOP. question вЂ“ we wonвЂ™t allow it,вЂќ said Ibrahima Sylla, president of Taxis of France group, one of the organisers. But there were fewer bottlenecks than originally anticipated due to the non-participation of some unions. Interior ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said a law passed this year that takes effect in 2015 and regulates the taxi industry and chauffeured cars вЂњis even more constrictive for these types of businessesвЂќ, a reference to Uber. вЂњNot only is it illegal to of- fer this service but additionally for the consumer there is a real danger,вЂќ Brandet told iTELE, citing substandard driver insurance. San Francisco-based Uber did not respond to a request for comment. On Friday, a commercial court in Paris refused to hear a lawsuit brought by UberвЂ™s competitors that sought to ban UberPop on the grounds of unfair competition. The court said the emergency request was unjustiп¬Ѓed and said any further actions to ban the service should be examined in a criminal court. UberвЂ™s French subsidiary was п¬Ѓned в‚¬100,000 ($124,290) in October for fraudulent business practices, with a court п¬Ѓnding that it advertised UberPop as a car pool instead of a paid transportation service. Uber has continued to operate the service pending appeal. The company has been banned in the Netherlands and in the Indian capital of New Delhi after a female passenger there accused an Uber driver of rape. Anti-terrorism police arrested 10 people across France yesterday in a sweep aimed at disrupting a suspected jihadist network sending young fighters to Syria, the Paris prosecutorsвЂ™ office said. The arrests were mostly carried out in the cities of Toulouse and Le Havre as well as Paris, the office said. BFM-TV reported that the early morning raids stemmed from an investigation launched last year after a Turkish family concerned about the behaviour of their son alerted authorities. The investigation also targeted four people in prison linked to the presumed network, police told Reuters. вЂњFor several years, these jihadist networks have represented an unrivalled threat,вЂќ Prime Minister Manuel Valls said during a visit to Dijon. вЂњWeвЂ™ve been working for two years to respond to this threat, to dismantle these networks with the work of the police.вЂќ Authorities say that 1,132 French nationals have been linked to fighting in Syria or Iraq, more than any other Western nation. That number includes those either currently in Syria or Iraq, those in transit, and those who have returned. In November, a 22-year-old French convert to Islam, Maxime Hauchard, appeared in a video of the beheading of a US aid worker. Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 21 EUROPE Erdogan slams EU reaction to media raids DPA/Reuters Istanbul T urkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has lashed out at the European Union, after the bloc criticised police raids on media houses that led to the arrest of 24 people, including journalists. вЂњWe donвЂ™t care if the EU takes us in or not. Right now we are concentrating on protecting our national safety,вЂќ Erdogan said, referencing his countryвЂ™s EU candidacy. Police arrests on Sunday focused on the Zaman newspaper and the Samanyolu TV channel. Both media houses have links to the Hizmet movement of USbased Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, against whom Erdogan has a running rivalry. Police officials, including a local chief, were also detained. EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn described the raids as вЂњnot really an invitation to move further forwardвЂќ with Turkey. German Chancellor Angel MerkelвЂ™s spokesman said it was вЂњin TurkeyвЂ™s own interest to clear up any possible doubt over its commitment to basic democratic principlesвЂќ following the raids. Federica Mogherini, the EU foreign policy chief, said that the arrest operation вЂњgoes against the European values and standards Turkey aspires to be part ofвЂќ. Turkey has been recognised as a candidate for full membership in the bloc since 1999, but has struggled to advance towards accession. вЂњThey say it is about freedom of the press, but it has nothing to do with it,вЂќ Erdogan said, accusing those arrested of being part of a sophisticated criminal network plotting against him. Erdogan has been locked in a п¬Ѓerce battle with the Gulenists, his one-time allies, since last year. Erdogan accuses the Gulenists of running a shadowy вЂњparallel stateвЂќ and seeking to overthrow the government. He claims they used illegal wiretaps on government offices and orchestrated corruption allegations against top officials in December last year. The corruption scandal led to four ministers resigning, though the legal case against top officials has since largely collapsed, with the ruling Justice and Develop- ment Party (AKP) walking away more or less unscathed. The party won local elections in March and Erdogan was elected president in August, after serving as prime minister for over a decade. The European Union, human rights groups and media freedom organisations have all condemned the arrests. вЂњYesterdayвЂ™s arrests of senior journalists in a section of the media that has played a leading role in covering allegations of corruption by government officials, raise serious questions about the authoritiesвЂ™ motivation for their detention,вЂќ Amnesty International said. Prosecutors ordered the detention of 31 suspects on Sunday. The charges against them include forgery, fabricating evidence and forming a criminal network seeking to work against the state, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported. Initially, 27 people were arrested, but three have since been released. The exact charges against each individual remain unclear. Ekrem Dumanli, the editorin-chief of the Zaman daily, who was among those arrested said on Supporters of the Hizmet movement shout slogans and hold copies of the Zaman newspaper as they take part in a demonstration in Istanbul a day after Turkish police began an operation targeting the media close to the Hizmet movement. The words on the placard in front reads вЂ�Black day for democracyвЂ™. Sunday that the governmentвЂ™s allegations are unfounded. Since last December, when the corruption allegations emerged during a series of police raids, the authorities have moved to purge thousands of alleged Gulenist loyalists from the police service and prosecutorsвЂ™ offices. The latest arrests are being described as the next step against the so-called вЂњparallel stateвЂќ. Zaman described the raids as a вЂњblack dayвЂќ for TurkeyвЂ™s democracy and other papers have also voiced concern that the press is being silenced. Pro-government media outlets have largely echoed the accusations that those arrested were fabricating evidence and plotting a coup. The Gulen movement denies trying to overthrow TurkeyвЂ™s government. Kemal Kilicdaroglu, head of the Republican PeopleвЂ™s Party (CHP), the largest opposition party, was critical of the arrests. вЂњThese operations are not what we were taught in the eyes of the Germany wants new Ukraine talks before Christmas DPA Brussels F resh Ukraine peace talks should be held before the upcoming holiday season, German Foreign Minister FrankWalter Steinmeier said yesterday. Diplomatic efforts to restart the talks last week bore no fruit as Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists blamed each other for failing to agree on a fresh round. Talks in September produced a ceaseп¬Ѓre, which went virtually unheeded in some areas until last week. It continued to hold yesterday. No soldiers were killed and there were no reports of injuries during the past 24 hours, the Security Council said in Kiev. Ukraine was to feature in talks among EU foreign ministers in Brussels, and EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini is also due to hold talks with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk. Germany and France also urged Ukraine to implement economic and social reforms. In a joint telephone call with President Petro Poroshenko late on Sunday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande stressed that without reforms, there would be no international aid, the German government said yesterday. The European Union is considering a third aid package for Ukraine on top of the в‚¬1.61bn ($2bn) already pledged but wants to see progress on economic and social commitments from Kiev. EU member states are also mulling an extension of sanctions relating to Crimea with measures targeting investment, trade and services, a senior EU official said. But EU governments are вЂњsplitвЂќ over the move, a diplomat said on the condition of anonymity. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said the EU should keep the pressure on Russia: вЂњThe security situation is not improving, and frankly speaking, the ceaseп¬Ѓre also is not working.вЂќ Mogherini said her talk yesterday with Yatseniuk вЂњopens a new pageвЂќ for relations with Kiev, more focused on implementing reforms. The EUвЂ™s foreign policy chief is due to visit Kiev today and tomorrow for talks with Poroshenko and civil society representatives. R ussian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has branded new sanctions approved by the US Congress against Russia as hostile. вЂњThis move by the United States is of course hostile,вЂќ he told Interfax news agency in an interview. вЂњThe President (Barack Obama) now has a choice whether or not to sign this law.вЂќ The US Congress on Saturday unanimously approved the Ukraine Freedom Support Act in both houses, which includes fresh sanctions against Moscow over its support of the pro-Russian insurgency in Ukraine. The measures, which are up to Obama to approve or veto, hit RussiaвЂ™s defence and energy sectors with conditional sanctions against п¬Ѓrms that sell or transfer military equipment to the territory of Ukraine (as well as Georgia, Moldova, and Syria), with Erdogan: We donвЂ™t care if the EU takes us in or not. standards were improving. вЂњThis process is the planting of the seeds of the new Turkey,вЂќ he said. вЂњThose who try to get involved in dirty business and dirty relations with the hope of returning Turkey to its old days are getting the necessary response, and will continue to get it.вЂќ Asked whether he expected вЂњsabotageвЂќ from Gulen allies Moscow wants rebel regions to stay with Kiev Reuters Moscow M oscow wants Ukraine to carry out a constitutional reform to allow more autonomy to Russianspeaking eastern regions that would then stay with Kiev, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in comments published yesterday. In an interview with the Interfax news agency, Lavrov said that Ukraine needed a constitutional reform вЂњwith the participation of all regions and all political powersвЂќ that would allow the two rebellious eastern regions to remain part of the country. Lavrov put the blame on Kiev for what he said was forcing the eastern regions out of Ukraine by refusing to give them more autonomy to seek ways out of the conп¬‚ict that has killed more than 4,700 people since the violence started mid-April. вЂњI very much hope that the steps which the Ukrainian leadership is taking, provoking the tearing away of Donbass will end,вЂќ he said in referring to the two eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. вЂњ... that KievвЂ™s policy will change towards establishing dialogue with Donbass in order to work out the agreements that will allow all Ukrainians from all the regions to live in Ukraine with equality and respect.вЂќ Russia has in the past weeks called for a new round of peace talks on the conп¬‚ict, which pits ahead of a parliamentary election next June, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told the pro-government Sabah newspaper yesterday that the state had to вЂњtake precautionsвЂќ. вЂњThis is not an investigation into journalistic activities,вЂќ he was quoted as saying, and more details would emerge as the legal process took its course. Lavrov: This move by the United States is ... hostile. government troops against proRussian rebels п¬Ѓghting to split from Kiev. In September, Kiev, Moscow, pro-Russian separatists and the OSCE European watchdog agreed on a ceaseп¬Ѓre in east Ukraine. But it has been repeatedly violated and the West accuses Russia of supporting the rebels with arms and troops to destabilise Ukraine and stall its drive towards closer ties with the European Union. The West slapped sanctions on Russia over the conп¬‚ict. Russia sides with the rebels but says it is not involved in the conп¬‚ict. It blames the West for playing a role in the toppling UkraineвЂ™s former, Moscow-allied president Viktor Yanukovych in February. Nordic countries summon Russian envoys in protest Workers set up a Christmas tree in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine. Fresh Ukraine peace talks should be held before the upcoming holiday season, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said yesterday. Lavrov blasts вЂ�hostileвЂ™ US Congress sanctions AFP Moscow law. This is done as a method of revenge. You cannot administer a government through revenge,вЂќ he said. Mogherini and other top EU officials visited Turkey only last week, trying to shore up relations. The bloc is due to discuss accession issues today and Turkey is likely to feature prominently in the talks following the arrests. Erdogan, whose AK Party was elected in 2002, introduced many democratic reforms in his п¬Ѓrst years in power and curbed army involvement in politics. Nato allies often cited Turkey as an example of a successful Muslim democracy, but more recently critics have accused Erdogan of intolerance of dissent and, increasingly, a divisive reversion to Islamist roots. The president has cast the battle against GulenвЂ™s вЂњHizmetвЂќ (service) network as a continuation of TurkeyвЂ™s вЂњnormalisationвЂќ, a struggle to root out anti-democratic forces, and insisted yesterday that TurkeyвЂ™s democratic the goal of stopping the п¬‚ow of weapons to separatists across the border. MoscowвЂ™s response to the sanctions will depend on whether they go into force and their вЂњpractical applicationвЂќ, Lavrov said. He said such sanctions could even hit Ukrainian businesses which happen to have partners in the Russian defence industry. вЂњThis example shows that itвЂ™s not concern for Ukraine that lies at the base of this initiative, but a maniacal wish to punish Russia for all conceivable and inconceivable wrongdoings.вЂќ Lavrov also said that Moscow has the right to deploy nuclear weapons in Crimea after it became Russian territory in a disputed March referendum. вЂњThe Russian state has every right to use its legitimate nuclear arsenal accordingly with its interests and its international responsibilities,вЂќ he said. вЂњCrimea became part of a state that ... has such weapons.вЂќ Reuters Stockholm S weden and Denmark protested to Moscow yesterday over a Russian military jet Stockholm said had shut down one of its location instruments and п¬‚own too close to a Swedish civilian airliner. FridayвЂ™s incident off southern Sweden inп¬‚amed sensitivities over Russian п¬‚ights in the Nordic region that have increased steeply this year, driven in part by tensions over separatism in eastern Ukraine. Finland also expressed concern about вЂњDark FlightsвЂќ with so-called transponder locators switched off. Sweden and Denmark said they had summoned Russian ambassadors over the behaviour of the military aircraft which Swedish authorities said had caused an SAS п¬‚ight from Copenhagen to Poznan, Poland, to change course. Russia denied that its aircraft had posed any danger to the airliner. Danish Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard said on his way into a European Union meeting in Brussels it was вЂњcompletely unreasonable that civilian lives are put in danger in this wayвЂќ. Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom agreed. вЂњOur protest will be very clear ... this is dangerous and deп¬Ѓnitely inappropriate.вЂќ The Swedish military said the Russian jet had turned off its transponder вЂ“ a communications device, alongside normal radar, making it easier for an airplane to be located. While civilian п¬‚ights should п¬‚y with their transponders on at all times, military п¬‚ights are allowed to turn them off when п¬‚ying over international airspace as long as they show consideration to other п¬‚ights. FinlandвЂ™s government instructed air safety authorities and ministry officials on Sunday to contact Russian colleagues, and said it wanted вЂњdark п¬‚ightsвЂќ вЂ“ with transponders turned off вЂ“ to be discussed at the International Civil Aviation Organisation. вЂњThere is no direct defence policy threat against Finland, but looking at the current п¬‚ight activity above the Baltic Sea, one could say that the situation is ... much more tense than in a long, long time,вЂќ Prime Minister Alexander Stubb said in a radio interview with YLE radio. 22 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 INDIA JUDICIARY DISEASE RACKET HEALTHCARE BUSINESS Mishra murder convicts to be sentenced on Dec 18 Jaundice kills 13 in Odisha town Hoarding of flight tickets being probed CARE Group adds two more hospitals LuLu plans to invest Rs25bn in Telangana A Delhi court yesterday said it would sentence on December 18 four convicts in the 1975 murder of then railway minister Lalit Narayan Mishra. District Judge Vinod Goel last week held four followers of Hindu sect Anand Marg guilty of killing Mishra 39 years ago. Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special public prosecutor N K Sharma termed the attack on Mishra a terrorist act done to spread panic. Sharma left it to the court to decide whether the case falls under the category of вЂњrarest of rareвЂќ warranting death sentence and said the four were are convicted under sections dealing with murder that entail a minimum punishment of life imprisonment and maximum of death penalty. Jaundice has killed 13 people in OdishaвЂ™s Sambalpur town and its adjoining area since May and infected nearly 1,100 others, an official said yesterday. The administration has stopped supplying drinking water through pipelines over fear that sewage may have seeped into the drinking water as new patients continue to pour into hospitals and private clinics. вЂњSo far, 13 people have died of jaundice,вЂќ chief district medical officer J K Samantaray said. Most of those affected have been treated and cured. Only ten jaundice patients are currently undergoing treatment at the local government hospital, he added. Tripura policeвЂ™s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has launched a probe into the hoarding of flight tickets and manipulation of rates, officials said yesterday. вЂњFollowing reports of bulk booking of air tickets by a section of travel agencies, our officials have raided offices of six agencies in the past two days and collected all relevant documents. None has been arrested yet,вЂќ Superintendent of Police Sanjoy Roy said. вЂњWe are now studying the guidelines of various airlines and relevant aspects and then we would take our next action,вЂќ he said. In the recent months, eight airlines stopped operations on the Agartala-Kolkata-Guwahati routes. The Hyderabad-based CARE Hospitals Group has expanded its network with two more hospitals - one in Madhya Pradesh and another at Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh. The group signed an agreement with Marble City Hospital, Jabalpur, to operate the facility as part of the CARE network on an Operations and Management (O&M) contract through subsidiary Ganga CARE based in Nagpur. The hospital, with a capacity of 200 beds, would mark the entry of CARE Hospitals into Madhya Pradesh, a statement by the group said yesterday. CARE added a unit in Vizag by longterm lease of a standalone hospital to meet the growing demand for tertiary healthcare in the city. The LuLu Group, a leading retail chain in the Middle East, plans to invest Rs25bn in Telangana next year. M A Yusuf Ali, the chairman of Abu Dhabi-based group, shared this information when a delegation led by Telangana Minister for Information and Technology K T Rama Rao called on him in Dubai. The LuLu group is the largest retail chain in the Middle East which has over 100 hypermarkets and a turnover of over $5bn, an official statement said. The LuLu group plans to invest in three projects in Telangana - a fruit and vegetable processing unit, an integrated meat processing unit, and a modern shopping mall in Hyderabad. Inп¬‚ation rate п¬‚at; rate cut hopes soar Uber incident spurs calls for more women taxi drivers AFP New Delhi I ndiaвЂ™s wholesale inп¬‚ation fell to a п¬Ѓve-and-a-half-year low driven by ongoing falls in fuel and food prices, data showed yesterday, boosting expectations of an interest rate cut early next year. The Wholesale Price Index, IndiaвЂ™s inп¬‚ation measure with the biggest basket of goods, slipped to a lower-than-expected 0% in November from a year earlier, the lowest rate since July 2009, official data showed. The latest WPI compares with a п¬Ѓve-year-low of 1.77% recorded in October, and was below analystsвЂ™ estimates of about 1.1%. Analysts said Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram RajanвЂ™s aggressive policies to curb price rises appeared to be paying off. The sharp fall in global crude oil prices also helped keep inп¬‚ation in check in India, which imports most of its fuel. вЂњThis means the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will be under pressure to cut rates,вЂќ said Arun Singh, senior economist at credit data п¬Ѓrm Dun & Bradstreet. Figures released on Friday showed consumer inп¬‚ation slowed to 4.38%, a three-year low, while industrial output contracted, also putting pressure on the central bank to cut rates. That inп¬‚ation п¬Ѓgure was below the RBIвЂ™s 6% goal for January 2016, and down sharply from double-digit inп¬‚ation last year. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is hoping for a cut in borrowing costs to boost investment and stimulate the faltering economy, which is mired in the longest slowdown in a quarter of a century. But even with inп¬‚ation falling, the RBI has resisted appeals to loosen monetary policy. Rises in prices of food especially have caused huge hardship for IndiaвЂ™s 1.2bn population, of which nearly a quarter live in severe poverty, according to the World Bank. Rajan, a former chief economist of the IMF, said earlier this month a cut in its benchmark repo rate was вЂњprematureвЂќ, but indicated a reduction was very likely in early 2015 if inп¬‚ation continued to fall. Women who had come to rely on web and radio-based taxis are reassessing their safety after the Uber case Agencies New Delhi T Female drivers from the вЂ�She TaxiвЂ™ service pose next to a taxi on a road in Kochi. Last year Kerala launched вЂ�She TaxisвЂ™, a fleet of 40 pink taxis run by women, and fitted with wireless tracking gear and panic buttons linked to call centres. World Yoga Day result of Indian diplomacy: Sushma IANS New Delhi T he adoption of June 21 as the International Yoga Day by the UN signiп¬Ѓes the support that recent diplomatic endeavours of the government have evoked on the world stage, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said yesterday. вЂњIn the history of the United Nations, this is the highest number of co-sponsors ever for any resolution of this nature,вЂќ Swaraj said while making a statement on the issue in both houses of parliament. The UN last week adopted June 21 as the International Yoga Day following a proposal by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his UN General Assembly address in September. Swaraj said: вЂњWhile on one hand, we consistently advocate a proactive and innovative approach for making India and the greater South Asian region more prosperous, at the same time, we are thinking and act- ing on new measures to project IndiaвЂ™s soft power- the unparalleled cultural richness, diversity and uniqueness of India and its people.вЂќ вЂњCo-sponsorship, quite simply, meant that these countries not just supported India, but expressed their public willingness to own the initiative as wellвЂќ She said an unprecedented 177 of the total 193 member states of the UN co-sponsored a resolution on the International Yoga Day. вЂњIn the history of the United Nations, this is the highest number of co-sponsors ever for any resolution of this nature,вЂќ Swaraj said. вЂњThe list of co-sponsors was wide, all encompassing and a triumph of Indian diplomacy - from the P-5 to the Small Island States of the Paciп¬Ѓc; from the heart of Africa to nearly the whole of Europe; from most of our South Asian neighbours to our distant friends in the Caribbean and Latin America, all in one voice stood up in our support. вЂњThe sheer number of supporters as well as the smooth adoption also symbolises the strong international support that the recent diplomatic endeavours of our government have evoked on the world stage,вЂќ she said while decribing it a вЂњnew breakthroughвЂќ in Indian diplomacy. Terming these as a critical part of вЂњa new IndiaвЂ™s breakthrough diplomacy,вЂќ the external affairs minister said: вЂњFrom Make in India to Swachh Bharat and now International Yoga Day they are all small steps in our journey to ensure a vibrant, happy and prosperous India, whose imprint and inп¬‚uence are felt far beyond our own shores.вЂќ he alleged rape of a woman passenger by an Uber taxi driver once again spotlights the risks of IndiaвЂ™s transport system, which fails to keep women safe. One solution: taxis driven by women for women. Last year, the southern state of Kerala launched вЂ�She TaxisвЂ™, a п¬‚eet of 40 pink taxis run by women, and п¬Ѓtted with wireless tracking gear and panic buttons linked to call centres. Now the service has become a model for Prime Minister Narendra ModiвЂ™s government to replicate nationwide, its chief executive says. вЂњThe Delhi incident shows the need for вЂ�She TaxisвЂ™ all over the country,вЂќ P T M Sunish said. вЂ�She TaxisвЂ™ has ferried 24,000 people on about 10,000 trips since November 2013. Demand so far exceeds supply that as many as half of callers have to be turned away, Sunish said. вЂњI feel secure and the family is satisп¬Ѓed,вЂќ said Aswathy Sreekumar, 25, a technology worker who has used the service for seven months, after п¬Ѓnishing work at midnight. вЂњOtherwise, I keep getting calls from my parents.вЂќ Women, especially young, urban professionals, who had come to rely on web and radio-based taxis are reassessing their safety after the Uber case. Cleanliness campaign With GPS technology, cheap and easy smartphone use and pledges of safety, taxi services had given women a sense of independence in recent years that they had not previously enjoyed as they travelled the capital and other cities. вЂњFor a few years there, we working women in Delhi were living in a mirage of safety provided by radio taxis,вЂќ TV journalist Sunetra Choudhury said in a blog last week. вЂњWe all loved the idea that whenever we knew weвЂ™d be late, we could pay a professional group to arrive at our office, at our friendвЂ™s, at the bar, and take us safely where we needed to go.вЂќ вЂњThe Uber rape has killed my urge to step out and explore my city as an adult like I should.вЂќ On DelhiвЂ™s streets, women spoke of their fear of taking public transport or hiring one of the green and yellow three-wheel rickshaws known as autos after dark, relying instead on the many cab companies. вЂњMen will stare at you, touch you, grope you. You have to keep looking around all the time and just be safe,вЂќ said Sonam Bahri, a 28-year-old banking executive. Others were angry that Uber had apparently failed to conduct proper background checks on its driver who allegedly raped the woman, aged in her mid-20s, as she travelled home from a night out with friends. вЂњI am shocked because I didnвЂ™t expect a global company like Uber to be so casual with their approach,вЂќ said Mitali Gupta, 27, who works in IndiaвЂ™s IT outsourcing industry. Rising sex crimes have Dead guru to remain in deep freeze for now AFP Chandigarh D Bollywood stars Amitabh Bachchan and Dia Mirza pose for a photograph during a вЂ�CleanathonвЂ™ television campaign to promote cleanliness in Mumbai. prompted states and small п¬Ѓrms to launch taxi services run by women. The trend grew after the December 2012 protests over the rape of a young woman on a moving bus in New Delhi and her subsequent death. Tougher laws and promises of better policing have proved ineffectual. IndiaвЂ™s public transport is the fourth most dangerous in the world for women, and nighttime safety ranks second worst, a recent poll showed. Women commuters face sexual harassment and public transport is seen as risky. вЂњThe Uber incident reinforces that you are safer when a taxi is driven by a woman. People would be keener now,вЂќ said social activist Susieben Shah, who started Priyadarshini Taxi Service in 2010 in Mumbai. Now it aims to expand to New Delhi and the southern tech hub of Bengaluru. Another company, Sakha Cabs, with 14 taxis in the capital, plans to expand in Jaipur and Kolkata. Still, expansion is slow. Reluctant investors fear the tiny number of women drivers will brake future expansion, and IndiaвЂ™s male-dominated social structure will deter aspirant drivers. After the Uber incident India is stepping up support for such training, an official of the Ministry of Women and Child Development said. But critics say better security is the answer. вЂњGovernment always resorts to knee-jerk reactions,вЂќ said Ranjana Kumari, director of the Centre for Social Research. вЂњFailure in law and order implementation cannot be compensated by such measures.вЂќ evotees of a dead guru who has been in a freezer in northern India since January won a court battle yesterday delaying his cremation for at least another seven weeks. Supporters had approached the court in Punjab seeking a stay on an earlier order for the cremation of вЂњgodmanвЂќ Ashutosh Maharaj, whom authorities declared dead on January 29. вЂњThe division bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has stayed the cremation till February 9,вЂќ Swami Vishalanand, a spokesman for the guruвЂ™s ashram, said. Followers have insisted their spiritual leader is not dead but in a state of deep meditation, and will eventually return to lead them. They have been guarding the ashram in the town of Nurmahal, where AshutoshвЂ™s body has been kept in a freezer as the monthslong legal battle has been waged over his future. Ashutosh, reportedly in his 70s, was one of IndiaвЂ™s many gurus and headed the Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan (Divine Light Awakening Mission) that claims to have millions of followers around the world. Devotees have invoked freedom of religion under IndiaвЂ™s constitution as reasons against his cremation, which was originally sought in the courts by a man claiming to be the guruвЂ™s son. A two-judge bench yesterday stayed the cremation order made by a single judge of the same court on December 1. Ahead of its decision, thousands of followers massed in Nurmahal at the weekend in a show of support for the guru whom they said should be allowed to continue his вЂњsamadhiвЂќ, the highest level of meditation. AshutoshвЂ™s website, which says his mission was founded in 1983 and has spiritual centres around the world, has thanked followers for standing by the mission while the guru undertakes his вЂњmeditationвЂќ. Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 23 INDIA Conversion row stalls Rajya Sabha IANS New Delhi T he Rajya Sabha continued to be disrupted yesterday and led to the upper houseвЂ™s adjournment as opposition members kept up their protest over conversions and demanded Prime Minister Narendra Modi speak on the issue even as the government suggested a ban on the practice. Though the government agreed to a discussion, the opposition was not ready to relent unless Modi participated. вЂњThe opposition can take the decision... There is no difference in opinion that such incidents (forced conversions) shall stop. Is the opposition wanting a ban on conversion or forced conversions,вЂќ Finance Minister Arun Jaitley asked as adjournments marred the proceedings of the upper house of parliament, where the opposition is in the majority. The issue is expected to echo today as well, with opposition refusing to relent without a statement by the prime minister. Government sources, however said they will table the insurance bill in the upper house in any case. The opposition has have been protesting in wake of recent reports of conversion of Muslims to Hinduism, and also Bharatiya Janata Party MP Yogi AdityanathвЂ™ comment supporting a mass conversion programme. Adityanath reportedly said that there was nothing wrong if people re-convert to Hinduism if they were doing it willingly. Protests started yesterday as soon as the house met for the day, when Congress leader Anand Sharma raised the issue and said they had given a notice for suspension of question hour. вЂњThere is a serious situation in the country. An organisation that calls itself a social organisation, has started a controversial programme on вЂ�ghar wapsi (home-coming)вЂ™,вЂќ he said. The house was then ad- journed by Deputy Chairman P J Kurien till 12 noon. As proceedings resumed, the entire opposition appeared united as the adjournment notice was submitted by the Congress. While the motion was not accepted by Chairman Hamid Ansari, who was in the chair, the government agreed for a discussion. Protests continued in the question hour, forcing Ansari to adjourn the house for 10 minutes and then till 2pm. In the post-lunch session, the uproar continued and opposition members said they wanted Modi to assure the house that such incidents will stop. On the governmentвЂ™s side, Jaitley, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu and Home Minister Rajnath Singh were present in the house, and offered to take up the discussion immediately. However, opposition parties insisted that Modi be called to speak. вЂњThe incidents that are happening are a violation of the Constitution, and people related to ruling party are doing this,вЂќ Sharma alleged. Jaitley dismissed the oppositionвЂ™s stand, saying they did not want a debate, but only to disrupt the house. Communist Party of IndiaMarxist (CPM) leader Sitaram Yechury then said mere discussion is not enough. Kurien said it was for the government to decide who would answer the debate, also asking if the member was questioning the home ministerвЂ™s competence. Members from the Congress and the Samajwadi Party then trooped near the chairmanвЂ™s podium, raising slogans. Other opposition members were seen raising slogans standing at their seats. In the din, the house was adjourned for half-an-hour, and later for the day. Talking to reporters later, Sharma slammed the government for suggesting a ban on conversions. вЂњIt is out of the purview of constitution. State does not have a religion, and it cannot tell people what religion to follow,вЂќ he said. Wintry delight A white blanket of snow covers buildings and trees after a heavy snowfall in Pithoragarh in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand yesterday. An intense cold wave left Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh reeling yesterday. The tourist town of Manali in Himachal Pradesh recorded a biting minus two degrees Celsius. Mehdi did not recruit volunteers: Rajnath Islamic State Twitter account back up as police seek clues Agencies New Delhi A popular pro-Islamic State Twitter account traced to an Indian engineer was back up yesterday as police combed through tens of thousands of followers to identify sympathisers of the militant group. Mehdi Masoor Biswas, who police said was behind the @ ShamiWitness Twitter handle, has co-operated with investigators since he was picked up from his one-room apartment in Bengaluru on Saturday, the government said. His account was disabled at that time and it was not clear how it became active again. Police said the account was part of their investigation but not under their control. Security officials said @ ShamiWitness had been reactivated to determine if Mehdi was a cheerleader or an online recruiter for Islamic State. вЂњPolice are investigating if there are more people like Mehdi,вЂќ said Hemant Nimbalkar, a joint commissioner of police in Bengaluru. Biswas told police that more than 60% of his Twitter followers were non-Muslims and the majority of his Muslim followers were from Western countries, particularly Britain, Home Minister Rajnath Singh told parliament. Each day, Mehdi, 24, sent out hundreds of posts, applauding Islamic StateвЂ™s advances in Iraq and Syria and mocking its enemies, while working by day as a food company executive. His interrogation had indi- cated that his activities were limited to posting and reposting of pro-ISIS material on his Twitter account and other social media sites, Singh said, adding that Mehdi had denied recruiting volunteers. Singh said Biswas has been arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and provisions of the Indian Penal Code. вЂњThrough a Twitter account, he was disseminating information for IS and came to light in electronic media in the United Kingdom,вЂќ the minister said. He said Biswas belongs to a middle class family from Kolkata and did his electrical engineering from Guru Nanak Dev Institute of Technology in 2012. He joined ITC following a campus recruitment drive and is currently employed with the company. BiswasвЂ™ father N Masroor Biswas, who was employed with the West Bengal electricity board, however refused to believe that his son has any links with the terror group and claimed his account was hacked. In Bengaluru, a senior police official received a threat tweet on Sunday, a day after Biswas was arrested. The tweet from an unknown Twitter account (abouanfa16) threatened Bengaluru Deputy Commissioner of Police Abhishek Goyal with revenge for arresting Mehdi. India has the worldвЂ™s thirdlargest Muslim population, but they have largely shunned Islamist causes. Police say only four Indians are known to have joined Islamic State п¬Ѓghters, and one had since returned and is in custody. The clean-shaven MehdiвЂ™s role as a propagandist for the Middle Eastern group, revealed by BritainвЂ™s Channel 4, has exposed IndiaвЂ™s vulnerabilities and its inability to keep track of people turning to the groupвЂ™s violent ideology. Mehdi told police he started following developments in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan while in college and had been active on social networking sites since 2009. Originally using the name вЂњEl SaltadorвЂќ he began sharing information about the war in Syria and gradually became an online voice with an apparently vast knowledge of the conп¬‚ict, but always with a polite tone. By the beginning of this year, he was cheering the successes of Islamic State and praising its п¬Ѓghters after their deaths. вЂњYou bros talked the talk, walked the walk,вЂќ he wrote about Iftikhar Jaman, a British ISIS п¬Ѓghter killed in Syria a year ago. Private schools slam Christmas directive on Navodaya students IANS New Delhi T hree private schools here expressed dismay over the central governmentвЂ™s reported directive to Navodaya schools to call students on Christmas Day, saying the move would hurt the religious sentiments of Christians. The principals of DelhiвЂ™s prominent schools said though they did not receive any such circular, they expressed their concern over the issue. вЂњChristmas is the festival of Christians who are a minority community and their festival must be honoured,вЂќ said Madhulika Sen, principal of Tagore International School. вЂњAll I know is that our school is closed on December 25. We have not received any communi- cation from the Centre. If we receive any, we will see what needs to be done,вЂќ she added. The principal of another famous school in central Delhi said the вЂњmove would hurt the sentiments of Christians.вЂќ вЂњIf this has happened to Navodaya today, it might happen to private schools too in the future,вЂќ another school principal said, requesting not to be identiп¬Ѓed. SpiceJet seeks govt help as п¬Ѓnancial woes mount AFP New Delhi I ndiaвЂ™s cash-strapped SpiceJet airline, which announced the cancellation of nearly 1,900 of its domestic п¬‚ights last week, sought вЂњurgent reliefвЂќ from the government yesterday as its п¬Ѓnancial woes mounted. The airline asked for the governmentвЂ™s п¬Ѓnancial help to ensure it is able to run its everyday operations smoothly. SpiceJet officials met Mahesh Sharma, junior civil aviation minister yesterday and вЂњmade the plea for urgent relief,вЂќ a report in Press Trust of India news agency said. Sharma conп¬Ѓrmed the meeting and said no decision had yet been taken on the private airlineвЂ™s request, which would be put to the Prime MinisterвЂ™s Office and the ministries of п¬Ѓnance and petroleum. вЂњNo assurance has been given to them,вЂќ the minister added, according to the report. The no-frills airline, SpiceJet, is IndiaвЂ™s second-largest carrier by passenger share. Even with as many as 3.3bn passengers expected to take to IndiaвЂ™s skies by the end of 2014, according to the international Air Transport Association, the company - which has a п¬‚eet of 37 - is struggling to stay aп¬‚oat. SpiceJetвЂ™s shares are down some 80% from the 2007 peak. Earlier this year SpiceJet reported п¬Ѓfth straight quarter of net losses for July-September. The losses in the latest quarter shrank by 45% yearon-year to Rs3.1bn ($50.1mn) as the airline cut fares to п¬Ѓll more seats. Its troubles have stirred memories of the failure of liquor tycoon Vijay MallyaвЂ™s Kingп¬Ѓsher Airlines, which stopped п¬‚ying in 2012 after running up huge debts. Last weekвЂ™s п¬‚ight cancellations come after Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju п¬‚agged his deep concern over the airlineвЂ™s п¬Ѓnancial health, saying SpiceJet вЂњis giving us heart attacksвЂќ. SpiceJet is 53% controlled by Kalanidhi Maran, who heads the southern familyowned Sun media group. The airline laid out a recovery plan two months ago that involved using fewer and newer planes. It has called its turnaround effort a вЂњwork in progressвЂќ that is gaining momentum. However, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) said no special directions were issued to keep schools open on December 25 and the regular vacation schedule would be followed to observe the day as a holiday. Accusing a section of the media of п¬‚oating a distorted impression about the CBSE requiring schools to remain open on Christmas Day, the education board said in a statement that its proposed instructions were for a two-day online essay competition starting from December 24, which was вЂњcompletely voluntaryвЂќ for students to participate from their homes or any other place. The human resource development (HRD) ministry came under п¬Ѓre over a circular by the Navodya Vidyalaya Samiti asking all its schools to observe December 25 as вЂњGood Governance Baby elephant rescued DayвЂќ by organising various competitions for students. According to the CBSE statement, Navodaya schools are residential schools and their vacation pattern depends on climate conditions in their respective regions. The event would be observed only in those schools that do not have any winter break this year, but no classes will be held that day. Infosys manвЂ™s family happy he escaped IANS Hyderabad T Villagers secure a wild elephant calf at a rice paddy field at Borbhugia near Koliabor in Nagaon district, in the northeastern Assam state, yesterday. The baby elephant was separated from its herd. However, students living in hostels on the school premises would have the opportunity to participate in the essay competition on voluntary basis, the statement said. Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti, that comes under the HRD ministry, clariп¬Ѓed that no other activities for this competition would be held except the opportunity to submit essays online voluntarily. he family of Ankireddy Vishwakant expressed joy on learning that he was rescued safely from a Sydney cafe when Australian police stormed it to end a hostage drama. His parents were elated to see him on television channels coming out of the cafe. Clad in a white shirt and with raised hands, the techie was seen emerging from the cafe and escorted by two commandos. His family spoke to AnkireddyвЂ™s wife in Sydney who conп¬Ѓrmed the news. She told them he spoke to her by telephone after being rescued. вЂњThank God! This is a big relief for us,вЂќ said AnkireddyвЂ™s father Ishwar Reddy at his house in Guntur town, about 300km from here. The software engineerвЂ™s mother Sulochana, who was in shock since the hostage drama began in the morning, was overjoyed. Relatives and friends gathered at their home to share the happy moment. He is an employee of software giant Infosys. His father, a government employee, said his son stopped at the cafe on his way to work when a gunman took him and 29 others hostage. ReddyвЂ™s daughter-in-law told him that police officers assured her that the operation to secure the safe release of the hostages would end in a day. Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu spoke to Reddy and took up the matter with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who also spoke to AnkireddyвЂ™s wife by phone. 24 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 LATIN AMERICA The Nicaragua navy at the site of the sunken boat. TRAGEDY LEGAL DISASTER LAW AND ORDER Nicaragua discovers shipwrecked fishing boat Guantanamo 9/11 hearing cancelled: army spokesman Landslide kills 13 Ecuador workers Unrest flares again in MexicoвЂ™s Michoacan state NicaraguaвЂ™s navy said it had located a fishing boat that sunk last week along with the body of one fisherman, while 17 remain missing off the Caribbean coast of the Central American nation. The shipwreck of the boat carrying 50 occurred on Wednesday due to strong winds and heavy swells. A total of 32 passengers have been rescued or found alive since the incident while the search for the missing continues. вЂњA wave suddenly came up on us and turned the boat onto its side, and from there upside down,вЂќ said Oscar Angel Williams, one of the rescued fisherman. The navy said the boat was found some 60 nautical miles from the town of Puerto Cabezas. Court officials yesterday cancelled a two-day pretrial hearing for suspects in the September 11, 2001, attacks at the US prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a US Army spokesman said. The hearing, intended to examine allegations the FBI tried to infiltrate legal defence teams, according to a docket on a Pentagon website. It would have been the first such proceeding since a US Senate report on CIA torture was released last week. No reason was given for the cancellation. Judge James Pohl, an Army colonel, ruled in July that no conflict of interest arose for defence attorneys from the FBI approaching a security officer for a defence team. A landslide at a construction for a dam in Ecuador killed 13 workers and left 12 others injured, the Andes news agency reported. Three Chinese workers were among the dead in the disaster, which occurred at the Coca Codo Sinclair dam, where a reservoir is under construction. The cause of the landslide was not immediately known. The project in the Amazonian provinces of Sucumbios and Napo in north-eastern Ecuador includes hydroelectric generation slated at 1,500 megawatts, which would be the countryвЂ™s largest-capacity power plant. The $2.2bn project is led by Chinese contractor Sinohydro. Local police and vigilantes clashed over street blockades in a troubled western Mexican state, a sign of renewed unrest in an area President Enrique Pena NietoвЂ™s government said it had pacified. The federal governmentвЂ™s security commissioner for Michoacan state, Alfredo Castillo, said on his Twitter account that a half dozen blockades had been removed following dialogue with the groups behind the unrest. The groups criticised the government for failing to apprehend Servando вЂњLa TutaвЂќ Gomez, leader of the Knights Templar drug cartel which for years has ravaged Michoacan, despite nearly a year of federal police and military intervention. Venezuela residents face threat of hyperinп¬‚ation AFP Caracas G loomily watching their money shrink in value, Venezuelans donвЂ™t need government statistics to tell them what they already know: their country is facing the looming risk of hyperinп¬‚ation. Breaking its own regulations, the Venezuelan central bank has stopped publishing the official inп¬‚ation rate, which stood at 63.4% at the end of August. Since then, prices have only continued to rise, as the South American oil giant feels the pinch of falling crude prices and struggles to import the food and medicine it largely buys abroad. It is difficult to evaluate just how much value the bolivar has lost in recent months. But one quick measure is the Extra Value menu at McDonaldвЂ™s: In September 2013, a Big Mac combo meal cost 125 bolivars; by November 2014, the price had nearly doubled, to 245 bolivars. The US fast food giant is, paradoxically, a good place to track VenezuelaвЂ™s inп¬‚ationary spiral. For one thing, it remains popular with Venezuelans, despite anti-вЂњYankee-loverвЂќ diatribes by President Nicolas Maduro, the political heir to late socialist п¬Ѓrebrand Hugo Chavez. For another, it is one of the few food businesses not to have been hit by the shortages crippling the Venezuelan economy. вЂњWe raise our prices practically every month,вЂќ a McDonaldвЂ™s employee said on condition of anonymity. вЂњWeвЂ™ve never raised them as much as this year.вЂќ Exacerbating matters, there has been a shortage of foreign currency for almost two years now. Coupled with declining domestic production, that has caused chronic shortages of a host of basic goods including cooking oil, milk, п¬‚our, toilet paper, deodorant, razors, shampoo and detergent. MaduroвЂ™s government has tried to bolster buying power by raising the minimum wage three times last year and three times this year. But the increase вЂ“ 64% in 2014 - only feeds the inп¬‚ationary beast. Families now rush to buy all they can at the start of the month in a race against prices. The only refuge for their money is the black-market dollar. But Venezuela, which gets 96% of its foreign currency from oil sales, has also watched its oil price fall by a third since July. That means fewer dollars, putting pressure on the black-market exchange rate, which rose from 100 bolivars to the dollar to 150 last month - up from 40 a year ago. The official exchange rate meanwhile remains at 6.30 bolivars, the level Maduro vowed to keep it at a year ago. вЂњThe deterioration of the currency outlook because of falling oil prices traditionally puts pressure on the dollar. That makes the government slash access to foreign currency (at the official rate) and forces people onto the black market,вЂќ said economist Pedro Palma. вЂњThat generates enormous uncertaintyвЂќ and further fuels inп¬‚ation, he said. There is no set numerical deп¬Ѓnition of hyperinп¬‚ation, but economists often consider it to be a monthly inп¬‚ation rate of more than 50%. Venezuela is not at that threshold, but there are warning signs. The monthly inп¬‚ation rate likely stands at around 5% now, according to Henkel Garcia, head of consulting п¬Ѓrm Econometrica. вЂњIn November, peopleвЂ™s salaries bought approximately 13% fewer products than 12 months ago,вЂќ he said. вЂњThe threat of hyperinп¬‚ation risks becoming a reality of the monetary disorder continues or gets worse, if thereвЂ™s an abrupt fall in supply and if thereвЂ™s a lack of conп¬Ѓdence in the currency.вЂќ According to the former research chief at the central bank, Jose Guerra, directors there are considering a plan to stop publishing inп¬‚ation data altogether and only release it on request after vetting petitionersвЂ™ applications. Protest at senatorвЂ™s appointment Activists from Landless Movement (MST) demonstrate outside the Agriculture National Confederation (CNA) building in Brasilia, Brazil yesterday. The MST are protesting against the appointment of senator Katia Abreu as minister of agriculture. Prosecutors indict second ex-Petrobras executive Reuters Sao Paulo B razilian prosecutors yesterday said they had formally charged four more people, including a former executive at state-run Petrobras, in a widening probe into a kickback scheme that allegedly stole billions of dollars from the oil company. The prosecutors said Nestor Cervero, the former head of PetrobrasвЂ™ distribution subsidiary, as well as lobbyist Fernando Soares and Julio Camargo of local contractor Toyo Setal fun- Colombians case against Occidental dismissed Reuters Washington A US federal appeals court yesterday threw out a human rights lawsuit brought against Occidental Petroleum Corporation over allegations that it played a role in killings carried out by the Colombian military in 2004. A three-judge panel of the San Francisco-based 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district court judgeвЂ™s decision to dismiss the lawsuit п¬Ѓled in California by family members of three labour union leaders killed by the 18th Brigade of the Colombian National Army during the incident. The plaintiffs claimed that Houston-based Occidental, which operates a pipeline near the Venezuelan border, provided funding to the brigade, making it liable for the actions of the soldiers under a US federal law called the Alien Tort Statute as well as California state law. The appeals court said US courts could not hear the case because it was an inherently political question OccidentalвЂ™s Colombian subsidiary and Ecopetrol, ColombiaвЂ™s state-owned oil company, jointly gave assistance worth $6.3mn to help with security at a time when guerillas were attacking the pipeline, according to the ruling. Colombian government officials said at the time the people killed were guerilla members who had attacked soldiers. The family members who sued for monetary damages said the union members were killed in part because they had been critical of the environ- mental impact of the oil industry. In an unsigned opinion, the appeals court said US courts could not hear the case because it was an inherently political question. The court noted that the US government had itself provided $99mn worth of training and equipment to the 18th Brigade. In November, the same appeals court ruled for Occidental in a similar case, also concerning the companyвЂ™s activities in Colombia. The ruling is the latest in a series of victories for corporations seeking to fend off human rights lawsuits following a US Supreme Court ruling in April 2013 in favour of Royal Dutch Shell. In that case, the justices limited the circumstances under which companies can be sued for human rights violations under the Alien Tort Statute. nelled $40mn of kickbacks and accepted $13mn in bribes from Korean shipbuilder Samsung Heavy Industries. The bribes helped secure a contract on a $586mn drillship off the coast of Africa and a similar scheme was repeated in the Gulf of Mexico, the prosecutors said in a statement. Toyo Setal and Samsung Heavy Industries were not immediately available for comment. The companies themselves are not charged with any crimes. The team of prosecutors in Parana state vowed to expand their investigation last week af- ter accusing 36 people, including executives from six of BrazilвЂ™s largest engineering п¬Ѓrms, with forming a cartel to funnel kickbacks to the ruling WorkersвЂ™ Party and its allies. Sources involved in the landmark investigation have said their probe could include the role of foreign companies in a scandal that has become the biggest crisis yet for President Dilma Rousseff вЂ™s government and caused Petrobras to delay the publication of its earnings until next year. Rousseff, who was the chair of PetrobrasвЂ™ board of directors from 2003 to 2010, when Official visit allegedly more than 10bn reais ($3.9bn) were transferred to her WorkersвЂ™ Party and allies, has denied any knowledge of the scheme or wrongdoing. Cervero, who Petrobras п¬Ѓred in March, was indicted on charges of corruption and money laundering for alleged crimes committed between 2006 and 2012. The same prosecutors indicted Roberto Costa, another former executive at Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as the company is formally known, on Thursday. Cervero was also PetrobrasвЂ™ international director when it Temporary refuge for Cubans on boat Reuters George Town, Cayman Islands A RussiaвЂ™s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin and VenezuelaвЂ™s Foreign Minister Rafael Ramirez (right) meet in Caracas yesterday. purchased a Pasadena, Texas reп¬Ѓnery which critics say it overpaid for. Prosecutors charged Alberto Youssef, the Parana-based money changer who led investigators to the kickback scheme, with money laundering and said yesterday they are seeking to recover an additional 296mn reais for public coffers. Sergio Moro, the federal judge in Curitiba, on Friday accepted the п¬Ѓrst official case involving Costa as well as engineering executives from Engevix and will likely open additional cases presented by prosecutors in coming days. group of 26 Cubans on a homemade wooden boat were granted temporary refuge in the Cayman Islands when bad weather interrupted their quest to seek exile in the US. The four women and 22 men, almost all from the coastal town of Santa Cruz Del Sur in the southeastern province of Camaguey, were four days into their journey when they took shelter from high seas. In a break from normal rules, Cayman authorities said they can remain until the weather improves. One of the passengers on the boat, Laudmir Hernandez, a carpenter, said the hand-crafted wooden vessel took just seven days to build and is powered by an antique, US-made, PierceArrow four-cylinder car engine. He said the lack of economic opportunity forced him to embark on the risky 644km journey across the Caribbean to Honduras. Cubans seeking to п¬‚ee communist-run Cuba have been heading in increasing numbers by sea to Central America and then making a long journey overland to reach the US. Under WashingtonвЂ™s вЂњwet foot, dry foot policy,вЂќ Cuban migrants who make it onto US soil are allowed to remain, while those intercepted at sea are turned back. Cayman authorities allowed the latest group to come ashore and use a public beach cabana to shower, as well as sleep on the beach and receive food from local Good Samaritans. Migrants are usually only allowed ashore if they agree to be repatriated. US officials say more than 16,000 Cubans arrived without visas at the border with Mexico in the past year, the highest number in a decade. Cuban ofп¬Ѓcials blame the US policy for encouraging migrants to risk their lives. Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 25 PAKISTAN/AFGHANISTAN Kabul wants IslamabadвЂ™s role for peace with Taliban Internews Islamabad A fghanistan has asked Pakistan to play a more вЂ�visibleвЂ™ role in persuading the Afghan Taliban to come to the negotiation table in a move suggesting that Kabul continues to believe that Islamabad still holds the key for an elusive peace deal. The request for PakistanвЂ™s proactive role in a possible peace deal, comes from the new administration in Afghanistan led by President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Officer Dr Abullah Abdullah, diplomatic sources said. The change of government in Kabul, after a decade of rule by former president Hamid Karzai, is seen as a new beginning for both neighbours to move away from an acrimonious relationship of mistrust to one built on mutual co-operation. But that co-operation appears to be hinged on PakistanвЂ™s role in brokering a deal between Afghanistan and insurgents. The Afghan president dur- ing his recent visit to Islamabad sought PakistanвЂ™s help in bringing the Afghan Taliban to the negotiating table. His request for help stems from the widely held perception that PakistanвЂ™s security establishment, because of its historic ties with the Taliban, can still push insurgents to make peace with the Ghani administration. вЂњThere is a strong perception in Afghanistan that PakistanвЂ™s security establishment still controls the Taliban, despite denial by Pakistan,вЂќ commented a west- ern diplomat, who is engaged with both Islamabad and Kabul. вЂњThere is a strong perception in Afghanistan that PakistanвЂ™s security establishment still controls the Taliban, despite denial by PakistanвЂќ вЂњI think reality lies between the two extremes,вЂќ the diplomat added saying that clear Pakistan support for peace talks in Afghanistan backed by practical steps could go a long away in ad- dressing the longstanding misgivings between the two neighbours. Despite the recent п¬‚urry of diplomatic initiatives aimed at generating a better appreciation of PakistanвЂ™s limited inп¬‚uence in Afghanistan and its willingness to facilitate the peace process, western diplomats continue to hold the view that fears of a possible вЂ�proxy warвЂ™ between Pakistan and India in post-2014 Afghanistan might compel authorities in Islamabad to keep their options open. Imran Khan leads anti-govt protest Public transport suspended in Lahore following protest by Imran KhanвЂ™s supporters; Punjab govt says two children died after their ambulance was stuck in traffic jam caused by protest DPA Islamabad F S The on-going military offensives in North Waziristan Agency, where п¬Ѓghters from the deadliest Afghan insurgent network the Haqqanis have also been targeted in a вЂ�clear manifestation of our policy to act against all groups without any discrimination,вЂ™ the official argued. Army Chief General Raheel Sharif during his two-week long trip to the United States earlier this month, tried to convince his American interlocutors that Pakistan had no favorites in Afghanistan. Students in Pakistan seek support for IS emale students at a pro-Taliban mosque in Pakistan have sought support for Islamic State, police said yesterday, in the latest among growing signs of groupвЂ™s inп¬Ѓltration of a region long dominated by Al Qaeda. Once known as Al QaedaвЂ™s вЂњveiled brigade,вЂќ the students of the Red Mosque in the capital Islamabad called on fellow Muslims to support an Islamic caliphate in a video circulated secretly last month, police ofп¬Ѓcial Mohamed Naeem said. The Pakistani military killed more than 100 people during a week-long siege and subsequent storming of the mosque in 2007 for harbouring militants linked with Al Qaeda. The operation was conducted after months of a vigilante campaign by veiled stickwielding students to establish Taliban-style Shariah rule in the capital. AFP Lahore upporters of the party of PakistanвЂ™s Imran Khan shut down major roads in the eastern city of Lahore yesterday in the latest round of protests against the government. Thousands of followers of KhanвЂ™s Pakistan Tehreek-eInsaf (PTI) gathered at different junctions on major roads in the city and burned tyres, forcing the suspension of public transport. Khan, a star cricketer turned politician, claims the 2013 general election which brought Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to power was rigged. He wants Sharif, whose power base lies in Lahore, to resign. Local and foreign observers, however, have rated the polls as credible. The Punjab provincial government, which is run by SharifвЂ™s Pakistan Muslim League-N party, accused KhanвЂ™s supporters of reneging on an agreement to let ambulances through their barricades. Salman Raп¬Ѓque, health adviser to the Punjab chief minister, told AFP that three people, including two infants, had died in ambulances stuck in traffic caused by the protests. A doctor in Lahore childrenвЂ™s Islamabad has publicly insisted that it cannot lead the peace process in Afghanistan and has repeatedly said that it is ready to play the role of a facilitator. A senior Pakistani official contended that the country was doing whatever it could to help facilitate an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process. The official, who wished not to be identiп¬Ѓed, also dismissed the perception that Pakistani security apparatus enjoyed the level of inп¬‚uence that it once had over the Afghan Taliban. But the radical mosque survived the onslaught and grew even bigger in subsequent years to become a network of Islamic seminaries across Pakistan for both male and female students. Around half-a-dozen students wearing black veils and sitting in front of a banner with an Islamic State slogan spoke in the video, Naeem said. вЂњAll Muslims should support Islamic State and Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi because they are doing jihad for Islam,вЂќ one of the women said. Naeem said police had seized several hundred CDs of the video and were investigating who was behind it. Red MosqueвЂ™s chief cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz defended the video, saying it was studentsвЂ™ right to seek support for a group they like. The video came on the heels of a series of events suggesting local support in Pakistan for the group that controls large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria. Fresh syllabus may reach schools in April Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan addresses an anti-government protest in Lahore yesterday. Workers from Imran KhanвЂ™s party shut down major roads in Lahore in the latest round of protests against the government. hospital said they received a body of a newborn baby but the cause of death was not clear. PTI leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi denied the allegations, insisting that party workers had not stopped ambulances taking patients to hospitals. Thousands of police were on the streets to try to prevent violence, following clashes at a similar protest in the city of Faisalabad last week. вЂњA contingent of 15,000 police personnel have been deployed in the city to avoid any untoward incident,вЂќ senior police official Haider Ashraf said. Khan has vowed to paralyse major cities around the country as part of his efforts to topple SharifвЂ™s government. A lengthy sit-in protest outside the parliament building in Islamabad in late August and early September led to brief violent clashes and destabilised SharifвЂ™s government. Khan has said he and his supporters will paralyse the country on December 18 if their demands are not met. The Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan has finally moved forward to bring changes to the national curriculum in the light of the prime ministerвЂ™s recent directives. The commission has directed the four provinces, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan, Fata and the Islamabad capital territory (ICT) to suggest amendments to their existing curricula. The decision was taken at a meeting held at the HEC with Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed in the chair. The meeting was attended by experts from all the provinces and regions besides joint education adviser Rafiq Tahir of the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training. вЂњBefore bringing changes to the national curriculum, we have decided to review the existing one,вЂќ said Tahir. Heritage dept launches efforts to restore Great Wall of Sindh Internews Karachi T he Endowment Fund Trust (EFT) for Preservation of Heritage of Sindh province with the help of various conservationists has taken on the restoration of the historical Ranikot Fort. Situated in Jamshoro district, some 90km from Hyderabad, Ranikot, also known as the вЂ�Great Wall of SindhвЂ™, is believed to be the worldвЂ™s largest fort. The structure comprises an outer wall that is 32km in circumference and includes 8.75km of man-made fortiп¬Ѓcation walls strengthened with 40 circular and seven rectangular bastions. The rest of the wall is 23.25km of lofty peaks in the Kirthar mountain range. During a visit by conservationists, researchers and NED university students to Ranikot arranged by the EFT on Saturday, Badar Abro, a writer and researcher, who has studied the length and breadth of the fort for which he also spent a considerable time there, explained: вЂњAll the points in the hills from where people could enter the area have been closed by the fortress, the rest is already closed by the rocky hills.вЂќ On average the walls are 25 feet in height with a thickness of 12.5ft at the base and 11ft at the top. And the merlons are another six feet in height and four feet thick. The п¬Ѓve entrances to Ranikot are the Saan Gate in the eastern wall, Amri Gate in the north, Mohan Gate in the west, Shah Pir in the south and Thori Dhoro in the southeast. Inside the fortress lie two structures also in the shape of fortresses though much smaller in size. Providing a view of the valley below, the lower one is called Mirikot and the upper one Sher Garh. Approaching Mirikot along a gravel road stones picked up by tires hit the п¬‚oorboards of the vehicles as the п¬Ѓrst sight of the great fortress wall appears before you and you are suddenly reminded of pictures of the Great Wall of China. Meanwhile, Sher Garh can only be accessed by the very brave as it is a very steep climb up the hillock. вЂњThose who have attempted it say that they understood how it got its name as climbing it is something only lions or the lionhearted would dare do,вЂќ said Saleem Lashari, a conservationist. Who built Ranikot and why is still unknown. Some attribute it to the Arabs while others believe it was built by the Greeks. It is said that the fort was later discovered by the Talpurs who then renovated it. According to experts in the material on Ranikot, prepared and distributed by the EFT, the Ranikot Fort also known as вЂ�The Great wall of SindhвЂ™ in Kirthar mountains Sindh. walls are described to be originally built of coursed rubble with mud covered by lime plaster on either side. вЂњA three-inch thick layer of lime concrete on top is lined with about a two-inch thick coursed rubble masonry in lime mortar. The lining work was originally done by the Talpurs for increasing the mass and strength of the wall and also protecting it from the rain. But the cladding work was done without removing the lime plaster from the fortiп¬Ѓcations and without developing its bond with the original construction.вЂќ Over the years the barracks of Mirikot lost their thatched roofs while the fort wallsвЂ™ poorly bonded coating could not protect it from erosion and cracks due to rain and moisture. Ranikot since 1993 has been on the list of tentative Unesco World Heritage Sites. The culture department of the government of Sindh had also launched a restoration project at Ranikot during the 1990s, which was then abandoned after strong criticism from various quarters. The EFT started the Ranikot project in Jan-Feb 2014 by п¬Ѓrst safeguarding the collapsed structures. вЂњIвЂ™m grateful to chief minister of Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah for giving his nod to the EFT whose trustees, Hameed Akhund and Hameed Haroon, constantly keep us motivated. вЂњWhen we started work for the preservation and restoration of historical sites some four to п¬Ѓve years back, we didnвЂ™t think we would be working on such big projects. It is still the beginning but we hope to turn the worldвЂ™s spotlight on these places,вЂќ said Jahangir Siddiqui, who is managing the restoration of Ranikot. MNA Dr Naп¬Ѓsa Shah, also present at the site, said she wanted Ranikot to be on the World Heritage Sites list. вЂњThe Rohtas Fort is already on UnescoвЂ™s list but Ranikot, which is much bigger and magniп¬Ѓcent, is still only on its tentative list,вЂќ she said. The EFT engineers have installed a 1,600-foot-long water pipeline to supply water to the site, which was not available at such a height earlier. A special water pump made in Lahore is also now in place and water for construction work is stored in the underground water tanks. A four-kilometre-long road is also being maintained for transporting material and labour during the restoration. The inner skin of the fortiп¬Ѓcation wall of Mirikot was badly damaged and was to be restored as a priority. Its eroded top has been removed and the cracks п¬Ѓlled with lime grouting with another two layers of three-inch lime and concrete coating applied to make it waterproof. The roof of the barracks at Mirikot has also been reconstructed and wooden bridges put in the fort wall to connect the walkways. Some of the walls have cement п¬Ѓnishing that hides the limestone and seems rather ghastly and out of place. EFT trustee Hameed Akhund explained: вЂњWell, that was before government funding and all us trustees were contributing in whatever way we could do. We had to do something to salvage the portions of the wall that was about to collapse if we hadnвЂ™t stepped in then.вЂќ Meanwhile, Mohan Lal, technical person with the EFT, shared the ingredients of the material being used to repair the walls. вЂњWe are using a concoction of gum, gur and methi [fenugreek] powder mixed with lime stone. Originally the plaster on the walls was all lime with no bonding of the skin with the stone and rubble bringing on cracks. вЂњYou see,вЂќ he said. вЂњMasonry structures breathe. There is a vacuum in the pores at night when the air is cool and during the day those pores open up to let the heat escape. If you cover it all with cement, you seal the pores and the surface bursts open to appear as cracks.вЂќ The old cement, it was observed at this point, is itself loosening and shedding and as that happens the new material is being used to п¬Ѓll the cracks and strengthen the walls. According to Hameed Akhund, in the past eight to 10 months, the EFT had spent over Rs2mn on priority repairs. вЂњWorking with our survey teams, technical experts and engineers, we would now work out a complete restoration plan for Ranikot to be carried out in phases,вЂќ he said. 26 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 PHILIPPINES Police uncover strip bars and drugs in jail raid AFP Manila A raid on the PhilippinesвЂ™ biggest jail yesterday uncovered drug lords вЂњliving like kingsвЂќ in secret luxury cells with strip bars, sex dolls, a jacuzzi and methamphetamines, the justice secretary said. Police commandos in full battle armour and tracker dogs swooped down on the infamously crowded and corrupt Bilibid prison complex before dawn to verify reports that drug rings were operated from behind bars. Aside from the methamphetamine вЂњiceвЂќ, police found 1.4mn pesos ($31,000) in cash, inп¬‚atable sex dolls, a strip bar and a jacuzzi, across 20 airconditioned вЂњvillasвЂќ, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said. вЂњThey are here to serve jail time but instead, theyвЂ™re living like kings,вЂќ de Lima told reporters after the raid. Jail officials who conspired with the inmates face вЂњoutright dismissalвЂќ, she said. During yesterdayвЂ™s raid, one вЂњvillaвЂќ had a fully inп¬‚ated sex doll sprawled on the bed while an adjacent room was equipped with an elevated platform, strobe lights and a mirror ball, police said. Police said the platform was for strippers who were smug- gled into the jail compound. A bright blue bra with feathers was hung beside the stage. Another area had a small concert stage equipped with a п¬‚at screen television, a drum set, guitars and keyboards. A safe in one of the rooms contained Rolex and Patek Philippe watches, Louis Vuitton wallets and stacks of dollar bills, police said. Bathroom п¬‚oors and walls were covered in marble tiles, showers with hot water were encased in glass and a bathtub had a п¬‚at screen television attached to it. One room was stocked with an expensive whiskey brand. Bilibid, on the outskirts of Manila was built for 8,900 inmates but currently houses 23,000. The luxury villas, for drugs lords, kidnap gang leaders and other powerful inmates, were scattered around the sprawling 1,230-acre compound. De Lima expressed shock at the outcome of the raid. But cases of rich inmates bribing prison authorities and building small houses, or simply leaving the jail, have emerged publicly repeatedly over the years. The practice highlights corruption in government and the wide divide between rich and poor as the rest of the prisoners, mostly petty criminals, are crammed in squalid cells. Govt calls ceaseп¬Ѓre with rebels for Christmas Reuters Manila P hilippine President Benigno Aquino has suspended army operations against Maoist guerrillas for a month to mark Christmas and a visit by Pope Francis, the head of the military said yesterday. The unilateral ceaseп¬Ѓre will start at midnight on Dec 18 and end at midnight on Jan 19, the day the Pope, the head of the more than 1.2bn Roman Catholic worldwide, is scheduled to leave the Philippines, General Gregorio Catapang said. вЂњThe declaration of the suspension of military offensive against the New PeopleвЂ™s Army will highlight the governmentвЂ™s sincerity to pursue peace,вЂќ Catapang said in a statement. It will be the longest Christmas truce in three decades. The rebels have been fighting to overthrow the government for 45 years. The conflict has killed more than 40,000 people and stunted growth in resource-rich rural areas. The 4,000-member guerrilla force, largely based in mining areas on the southern island of Mindanao, is expected to declare a shorter truce over Christmas and the New Year. Law enforcement operations and humanitarian work in typhoon-ravaged areas in the central Philippines, particularly on Samar island where the rebels are active, will, however, go on to ensure safety, Catapang said. Military spokesman Colonel Restituto Padilla said the truce did not cover the Abu Sayyaf militant group on the remote southern islands of Basilan and Jolo. The militants are known for kidnapping, bombing and beheading hostages. Pope Francis is due to arrive in the mostly Catholic Philippines on Jan 15. Supporters of slain transgender Filipino Jeffrey вЂњJenniferвЂќ Laude, hold placards during a rally outside a courthouse in Olongapo city, north of Manila yesterday. US Marine charged with transgenderвЂ™s murder AFP Manila P hilippine prosecutors yesterday charged a US Marine with murder over the death of a Filipino transgender, in a case that has fanned antiAmerican sentiment and tested close military ties. Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton used вЂњtreachery, abuse of superior authority and crueltyвЂќ against his alleged victim, lead prosecutor Emilie Fe delos Santos said as she announced the charge. вЂњWe believe we have a strong case,вЂќ delos Santos told a nationally televised brieп¬Ѓng. Pemberton will not be allowed to post bail, she said. Murder is punishable by up to 40 years in jail. Jennifer Laude, a 26-year-old transgender woman also known as Jeffrey, was found dead on October 12 in a cheap hotel in a red light district of the port city of Olongapo. Pemberton, who had just п¬Ѓnished taking part in US-Philippine military exercises near Olongapo, had checked into the hotel with Laude and was the Prosecutor Emilie Fe delos Santos talks to members of the media outside the court building in Olongapo. last person seen with her, police said. The charge sheet against Pemberton released yesterday detailed what the prosecutors said was an unprovoked and relentless attack against a defenceless victim. вЂњRespondent Pemberton choked Jennifer from behind. Obviously, in that position, Jennifer was deprived of the opportunity to defend herself,вЂќ the six-member prosecutors panel said in the charge sheet. вЂњUndeniably, respondent (Pemberton) made sure that Jennifer was dead. He did not stop at Cultural parade badly beating her up and choking her, he made sure she suffered to her death. вЂњHe deliberately and repeatedly plunged her head down the toilet until she breathed her last.вЂќ Pemberton, aged 19 at the time of the death, had asked via his lawyer to downgrade the murder charge to homicide, which carries a maximum 20year prison term. He has made no other comment on the case. LaudeвЂ™s death sparked street protests in the Philippines, a But the agreement signed in March has not been implemented, while the Philippine Supreme Court deliberates on a challenge to its legality. Anti-American groups have used the Pemberton case to rally support for their opposition to the expanded military agreement. Aquino has said the Pemberton case should not sour relations with the US. However the case has thrown a spotlight on controversial provisions of the 1998 agreement, particularly one that allows the US government to retain custody of American suspects even while in the Philippines. A public outcry pressured the Philippine government to secure the transfer of Pemberton from a US warship to military headquarters in Manila. But even while at the military headquarters, Pemberton has remained under official US custody and he has refused to attend any court hearings. Following yesterdayвЂ™s п¬Ѓling of charges, the local court which has jurisdiction over the case will decide whether there are enough grounds for Pemberton to stand trial. Judges seek exemption from senatorвЂ™s graft trial By Reina Tolentino Manila Times T Students performing in the streets of the Pasig City suburb of Manila with a parade known as вЂњPaskotitapвЂќ. Paskotitap is a combination of parade and contest held every December in the city of Pasig where schools are given a chance to showcase their talents and skills in dancing. former US colony that gained independence in 1946 but has retained a close alliance. An enduring US military presence since the independence has been a constant source of anger for vocal and powerful American critics. The US was forced to close down two major military bases in 1992, after the Philippine Senate bowed to anti-US sentiment and refused to renew their leases. However the allies in 1998 signed a Visiting Forces Agreement that allowed US troops to take part in war games on Philippine soil. Military exercises involving thousands of US soldiers have since taken place each year. In March a new agreement was signed to allow a greater US troop presence in the Philippines, including more exercises and the building of new facilities. This was part of US President Barack ObamaвЂ™s so-called pivot to Asia. Philippine President Benigno Aquino had courted a greater US presence in an effort to counter perceived rising Chinese aggression in a long-running territorial dispute in the South China Sea. he three justices of the SandiganbayanвЂ™s Fifth Division no longer want to continue hearing the plunder and graft complaints п¬Ѓled against Sen. Jose вЂњJinggoyвЂќ Estrada in connection with the pork barrel scam. Associate Justices Roland Jurado, Alexander Gesmundo and Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta informed Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje Tang that they want to inhibit themselves from the case вЂњfor personal reasons.вЂќ The case was raffled off to the Fifth Division led by Jurado in June this year. It was the п¬Ѓrst time in the 40-year history of the antigraft court that three magistrates wanted to recuse themselves from a case. The letter, signed by the three justices, was dated December 10. It was received yesterday.The presiding justice turned over the request to the court en banc, which will decide and issue a resolution on the matter. The court, however, will not be able to resolve the request within the year. It held its last en banc session also yesterday, and only one of the three magistrates wishing to inhibit was present. According to Executive Clerk of Court IV Renato Bocar, there would be another en banc session next year to hear and ask the two other justices their reasons why they want to be out of the case. The magistrate who was present in the en banc session refused to disclose their reasons for lack of authority from the two others, Bocar said. The court withheld the justiceвЂ™s identity. Bocar, however, noted that the justicesвЂ™ request will not delay the case because no more hearings are scheduled for the rest of the month and the next en banc session will be on the п¬Ѓrst Monday of January. The cases will be re-raffled to another division when the court en banc allows the three justices to inhibit themselves. вЂњWhatever proceedings happened in the Fifth Division will remain in the case records. The witnesses need not testify again. It will be transferred to the division where the case will be re-raffled,вЂќ Bocar said. The Sandiganbayan is composed of п¬Ѓve divisions, each with three justices constituting a quorum. Under its internal rules, if the chairman inhibits, then the case will be re-raffled to the remaining four divisions. Two other divisions are handling the plunder complaints п¬Ѓled against Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Ramon вЂњBongвЂќ Revilla Jr. Bocar said it will be up to the court if it will exempt these two divisions from the re-raffle of EstradaвЂ™s case. Estrada is facing plunder and graft complaints for allegedly receiving kickbacks from projects funded by his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel. He and Napoles, his co-accused, have pending bail petitions before the Fifth Division. Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 27 SRI LANKA/BANGLADESH/NEPAL Four held over oil spill in Bangladesh mangrove DPA Dhaka F our people were arrested yesterday after an oil tanker sank, causing a spill in BangladeshвЂ™s largest mangrove forest. The master and three other crew members of a cargo vessel that collided with the tanker and caused it to sink last Tuesday were detained, police ofп¬Ѓcer Manzur Kader said. Nearly 350,000 litres of furnace oil then leaked in the river system of the Sundarbans forest. The accident, which occurred in the Shela river, 360km southwest of Dhaka, killed the master of the oil tanker, whose body was found on Sunday in a river by his relatives. It also spilled oil over 350sq km of the Sundarbans, a Unesco World Heritage Site. If found guilty, the suspects face a maximum sentence of seven years in prison, the police officer said. Farid Sheikh, a local resident who ferries passengers in a small boat through the forest, said the spill has silenced the forest and coated birds, trees and shrubs in thick layers of black sludge. вЂњThe Sundarbans is usually buzzing with the chirping of birds and the bustle by its wildlife,вЂќ Sheikh, 27, said. вЂњThe bustle is gone after the accident.вЂќ A day after the sinking, a rare Irrawaddy dolphin was found dead 25km from the accident site, and residents said they have hardly seen any dolphins in the sanctuary since. Conservationists said they fear the biodiversity of the Sundarbans will be damaged in the long term, and environmental activists accused the government of being callous in its handling of the disaster. вЂњWe will stage demonstra- By Mizan Rahman Dhaka B Workers from the forestry department using water to clean oil-covered vegetation on the banks of the Shela river after an oil-tanker carrying 350,000 litres of furnace oil collided with another vessel in Mongla, yesterday. tions in Dhaka to protest the governmentвЂ™s inadequate actions to save the forest,вЂќ said Anu Mohammad, head of a pressure group called the National Committee for Protection of Oil, Gas and Ports. In the meantime, the forest department started spraying chemicals to disperse the oil. вЂњWe have engaged two water pumps to remove the oil from shrubs and trees in the Sundarbans,вЂќ forest official Amir Hossain Chowdhury told local media. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also asked officials to determine an alternative route for commercial vessels in the Sundarbans as environmental groups demanded a halt to shipping there. The operation of mechanised vessels through BangladeshвЂ™s 6,000sq km part of the forest was banned after the spill. The Sundarbans stretches for a total of 10,000sq km in both India and Bangladesh. It is home to about 260 species of animals, including the Bengal tiger, estuarine crocodile and Indian python. TV talent show seeks civil servant with X-factor Reuters Kathmandu A Nepali talent show is in the п¬Ѓnal stages of п¬Ѓnding a star who doesnвЂ™t need to sing, dance or act - but has the X-factor when it comes to honesty in their job in the civil service. The competition, Integrity Idol, is searching for the most honest civil servant as part of a campaign to promote greater integrity among bureaucrats in the Himalayan republic and tackle a perception of rampant corruption in government offices. Wedged between China and India, Nepal was ranked 126th out of 175 countries in watchdog Transparency InternationalвЂ™s global corruption perception index this month, down from 116 last year. вЂњThis means Nepal is more corrupt and less accountable than it was in 2013,вЂќ said Ashish Thapa, executive director of Transparency International Nepal. The contest was organised by local non-government organisation, Accountability Lab, which works to promote Hasina accuses Zia of hatching conspiracy greater honesty in public ofп¬Ѓces and more government accountability. More than 300 nominations were submitted and whittled down to п¬Ѓve п¬Ѓnalists including a health worker, two teachers, a district education officer, and two workers devoted to п¬Ѓght maternal and child mortality in remote villages. Students quizzed the п¬Ѓnalists last week in a 30 minute TV show and voters have until midnight on Monday to choose their favourite candidate through social media or by mail. Organisers expect 10,000 people to vote with the results to be announced next week. The winner will get a certiп¬Ѓcate to mark their dedication, integrity and honesty in their work. Narayan Adhikari, Accountability LabвЂ™s South Asia representative, said he hoped the initiative would encourage a young generation of people to join the civil service. вЂњIf you ask young people now few want to take government jobs because many think they are corrupt, less efficient and lack integrity. We want to change that by recognising civil servants who are doing good work honestly and with integrity.вЂќ The п¬Ѓnalists said the contest was a good start to motivate civil servants who work hard but are often unrecognised. Bhuwan Kumari Dangol, a п¬Ѓnalist, who has been teaching nursing students for over 15 years, said she had not done anything extraordinary to be nominated by her students. вЂњWhat I have done is to fulп¬Ѓll my responsibility sincerely and without any bias,вЂќ she said. Another п¬Ѓnalist, Gyan Mani Nepal, an education officer in remote Panchthar district, said he was proud to be nominated. вЂњI think my work has been appreciated by the students and their parents,вЂќ said Nepal, who shares his cell phone number with students so they can tell him when teachers are absent. Prime Minister Sushil Koirala says widespread corruption in government and NGOs вЂњthreatened social norms and valuesвЂќ in Nepal, one of the worldвЂ™s poorest nations where one quarter of 27mn people live below the poverty rate of $1.25 a day. Body of sunken tankerвЂ™s captain recovered The mutilated body of the captain of a sunken tanker ship was recovered on Sunday, five days after the accident caused a massive oil spill on the Shela river flowing through the Sundarbans mangrove forests. Captain Mukhlesur Rahman had been missing since Tuesday when the OT Southern Star 7 capsized, Xinhua reported. Seven crew members aboard the oil tanker had managed to swim to the bank. A day after the sinking, a rare Irrawaddy dolphin was found dead 25km from the accident site, and residents said they have hardly seen any dolphins in the sanctuary since. In the meantime, the forest department started spraying chemicals to disperse the oil. angladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has accused opposition BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia of hatching a conspiracy to turn Bangladesh into a failed state and called upon the people to remain alert to foil the plot. вЂњBangladesh National Party (BNP) leader Khaleda Zia wants to make the country a failed and dysfunctional state by enforcing anti-government movement,вЂќ the prime minister said, adding that the people will no longer stay with her movement as it is being launched only to protect the war criminals. Hasina, also president of the ruling Awami League, urged the countrymen to stay alert so that none can hinder the countryвЂ™s peace and progress. She was addressing a function on the occasion of Martyred Intellectuals Day held at the Institute of Agriculturists at Khamarbari in Dhaka on Sunday. Last week, BangladeshвЂ™s internationally-acclaimed economist Dr Wahiduddin Mahmud told an international conference in Dhaka that the country is already witnessing dysfunctional governance. The premier alleged that BNP founder Ziaur Rahman and the partyвЂ™s incumbent chief Khaleda Zia have rewarded the self-confessed killers of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman by giv- Snow fun ing them jobs at different embassies abroad. Terming BNP-Jamaat PakistanвЂ™s collaborators, Prime Minister Hasina urged all to remain alert so that this quarter cannot return to power to play with peopleвЂ™s fate. вЂњWe all have to remain vigilant so that those Pakistani collaborators canвЂ™t get back to power, kill people and play with the fate of the mass people,вЂќ she said. The prime minister urged people to take a vow to materialise the dreams of the millions of martyrs by building a modern and prosperous Bangladesh where there will be no hunger and poverty. вЂњWeвЂ™ll have to build the country with the spirit of their dreams and the Liberation War ethos,вЂќ she said. The government is working to that direction, and will turn the country into Sonar Bangla (golden Bengal) as dreamt by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Hasina said. Branding BNP as the companion of war criminals, Hasina said: вЂњItвЂ™s the nature of BNP to help the war criminals as its founder Ziaur Rahman had stopped their trial.вЂќ In this connection, the AL president said Bangabandhu had started the trial of the war criminals just after the countryвЂ™s independence, but, after the change in the political scenario in 1975, Ziaur Rahman stopped it by promulgating an ordinance. вЂњHe had also rehabilitated the war criminals in Bangladesh politics,вЂќ she said. Have good вЂ�ties with both India and ChinaвЂ™ IANS Colombo S Children playing with snow in Jumla district, 359km from Kathmandu, yesterday. The falling temperatures in last couple of days brought snowfall to the mountainous districts of the Himalayan nation. ri Lanka has reiterated that it has close relations with both India and China, as both countries played a crucial role in the island nationвЂ™s development. вЂњWe have a foreign policy which is not based on exclusivity. We do not make choices between countries,вЂќ said Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Gamini Peiris, in an interview to The Sunday Leader, which was cited by Xinhua in a report. вЂњBoth countries (India and China) have helped us. They have invested and participated in the development of infrastructure,вЂќ Peiris said adding that вЂњWe have excellent relations with both countriesвЂќ. Sri Lanka has seen a boost in its ties with India and China in recent years, particularly as some Western countries, led by the US, look to hold the Mahinda Rajapakse government responsible for human rights abuses during the п¬Ѓnal stages of the 30-year civil war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels, the report noted. The Sri Lankan foreign minister blamed some Western diplomats in Sri Lanka for вЂњcrossing the line,вЂќ saying it was wrong for foreign missions to associate with elements involved in criminal activities against the interests of Sri Lanka. Nepal leaders begin deliberations for new constitution IANS Kathmandu W ith the January 22 deadline hardly п¬Ѓve weeks away, NepalвЂ™s constituent assembly (CA) yesterday initiated deliberations on resolving the contentious issues coming in the way of framing the countryвЂ™s new constitution. The disputed issues were presented to the constituent assembly last week after the political dialogue and consensus committee (PDCC) failed to resolve them, Xinhua reported. During a meeting earlier in the day, Nepal ruling and opposition parties had totally different attitudes on how to settle the sticking points hampering the exercise. The ruling parties - Nepali Congress and Communist Party of Nepal-Uniп¬Ѓed Marxist-Leninist (CPN-UML) вЂ” said the contentious issues should be resolved through a voting process, while opposition parties continued to insist that it would not be possible to promulgate the new constitution without consensus of all the political parties. вЂњIf parties cannot settle the contentious issues, the new constitution should be drafted through a voting process,вЂќ Nepali Congress vice-president Ram Chandra Poudel said. Speaking in the parliament, opposition party leader Krishna Bahadur Mahara said the parties should seek alternatives as parties have very little time to forge consensus. He said the new constitution should be drafted on the basis of consensus. However, Bhim Rawal, a CPNUML leader, said it was necessary to promulgate the new constitution even by going for a voting process if consensus was not forged in this regard. He said it was up to Nepali leaders to resolve the conten- tious issues by themselves. The key contentious issues in the debate, among others, relate to the form of government, the electoral system, name, number and the boundaries of federal provinces, protection of preferential rights, the independence of the judiciary and arrangements for the transitional period after the promulgation of the new constitution. Lanka Minister Gamini Peiris 28 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 COMMENT Chairman: Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Attiyah Editor-in-Chief : Darwish S Ahmed Production Editor: C P Ravindran P.O.Box 2888 Doha, Qatar firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone 44350478 (news), 44466404 (sport), 44466636 (home delivery) Fax 44350474 GULF TIMES Climate change: What now for the Paris accord? Four years ago, the worldвЂ™s nations vowed to forge a pact by the end of 2015 that would tame climate change and bequeath a safer planet to future generations. Operational from 2020, the accord would curb heattrapping carbon emissions and hold global warming under 2C (3.6F). And it would crank out hundreds of billions of dollars (euros) in help for climate-vulnerable, poor countries. But an exhausting negotiation round in Lima, designed to ease the way to the deal to be inked in Paris in 12 monthsвЂ™ time, served as a reminder of what happens when soaring visions encounter gritty reality. In less than two weeks, the annual talks of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Convention (UNFCCC) retreated from high-minded rhetoric to familiar nit-picking and п¬Ѓnger-pointing. Thirty-two hours beyond their scheduled close, the negotiations were saved thanks to a compromise that gutted the text of its most ambitious measures for emissions curbs and aid. The row casts a shadow over the three rounds of talks scheduled ahead of the November 30-December 11 п¬Ѓnale in Paris, say observers. вЂњThere are deep and long-standing divisions on major issues including climate п¬Ѓnance, which countries are more obligated to take action to reduce emissions, and whether to give greater priority to adaptationвЂќ, said Alden Meyer with the US-based Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). вЂњThese divisions nearly derailed the process in Lima; if they arenвЂ™t addressed, they threaten to block an agreement in Paris.вЂќ The biggest source of conп¬‚ict in Lima was about fairness among the UNFCCCвЂ™s 196 parties. Enshrined in the UNFCCCвЂ™s charter at its founding 22 years ago, is a principle known as вЂњcommon but differentiated responsibility,вЂќ or CBDR. CBDR is interpreted by developing countries as meaning that industrialised countries should bear more of the burden for curbing fossil fuel emissions. After all, goes this argument, they were the п¬Ѓrst to beneп¬Ѓt from fossil fuels to power their rise to prosperity. Asking poor countries which did not have this historic advantage to shoulder the burden equally would be unfair, they argue. Rich countries, for their part, demand stronger efforts from everyone to reduce greenhouse gases. Further complicating matters, developing countries demanded that п¬Ѓnancial aid and technical help, and not just carbon cuts, feature in national pledges designed to be at the core of the 2015 pact. This was why, after the rhetoric in Lima had faded and the talks got serious, things got difficult. вЂњThe mistrust from Peru will be a poison in these negotiations,вЂќ said Asad Rehman of Friends of the Earth. вЂњRich developed countries have to be dragged kicking and screaming to budge an inch. When you send a signal you are not serious about reducing emissions by delaying targets and fudging on finance, then no-one else will be serious either.вЂќ Elliot Diringer of a US thinktank, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, said Lima showed up fears among some developing countries that CBDR is losing its sacred status. Adding to next yearвЂ™s problems is the DNA of decisionmaking under the nation-state system, which is poorly designed to cope with a global environmental crisis. вЂњThe mistrust from Peru will be a poison in these negotiationsвЂќ To Advertise email@example.com Display Telephone 44466621 Fax 44418811 Classified Telephone 44466609 Fax 44418811 Subscription firstname.lastname@example.org 2014 Gulf Times. All rights reserved WorldвЂ™s beaches being washed away due to coastal development From Florida to the Costa del Sol, costly sea defences are accelerating beach erosion and will ultimately fail to protect coastal towns and cities from rising tides, say experts By John Vidal London T he worldвЂ™s beaches are being washed away as coastal developments increase in size and engineers build ever higher sea walls to defend against п¬Ѓerce winter storms and rising sea levels, according to two of the worldsвЂ™ leading marine geologists. The warning comes as violent Atlantic and Paciп¬Ѓc storms this week sent massive 50ft waves crashing over sea defences, washed away beaches and destroyed concrete walls in Europe, north America and the Philippines. вЂњMost natural sand beaches are disappearing, due partly to rising sea levels and increased storm action, but also to massive erosion caused by the human development of the shore,вЂќ said Andrew Cooper, professor of coastal studies at the University of Ulster. вЂњThe widespread damage on western EuropeвЂ™s storm-battered shores, the devastation caused by hurricane Sandy along the northeastern US seaboard, the deaths brought on by typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines all exemplify the total inadequacy of [coastal] infrastructure and the vulnerability of cities built on the edge of coastlinesвЂќ, said Orrin Pilkey, professor of earth and ocean sciences at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Pilkey and Cooper say in a new book, The Last Beach, that sea walls, which are widely believed by many local authorities to protect developments from erosion and sea level rise, in fact lead to the destruction of beaches and sea defences and require constant rebuilding at increasing cost. Dunes and wide beaches protect buildings from storms far better than sea walls, say the authors. вЂњThe beach is a wonderful, free natural defence against the forces of the ocean. Beaches absorb the power of the ocean waves reducing them to a gentle swash that laps on the shoreline. Storms do not destroy beaches. They change their shape and location, moving sand around to maximise the absorption of wave energy and then recover in the days, months and years to follow,вЂќ said Pilkey . Beaches in nature are almost indestructible, but seawall construction disrupts the natural movement of sand and waves, hindering the process of sand deposition along the shorelines, said Cooper. вЂњThe wall itself is the problem. If you build a sea wall to protect the shore, the inevitable consequence is that the beach will disappear. The wall cannot absorb the energy of the sea. All beaches with defences ... are in danger. When you build the sea wall, that is the end of the beach,вЂќ he said. вЂњBeaches have become long, narrow engineering projects sustained only by constant maintenance and ongoing expenditures. Ugly seawalls have removed beaches altogether. Trying to hold the shoreline in position makes a п¬‚exible response to sea level rise more difficult,вЂќ said Pilkey. Many of the worldвЂ™s most famous beaches are now ecologically dead and dependent for their survival on being replenished with sand or gravel, they say. вЂњThe death knell has already sounded for large stretches of beaches along densely developed shorelines like those in Florida, SpainвЂ™s Costa del Sol, AustraliaвЂ™s Gold Coast and BrazilвЂ™s Rio de Janeiro,вЂќ says Pilkey. Driven by tourism and trade, coastlines have become home to a growing proportion of the worldвЂ™s population, but no country will be able to prevent its beaches being washed away and its defences destroyed, the authors warn. As sea level rise adds to the damage done by the increasingly frequent storms expected with climate change, retreat from the shoreline will become imperative - but next to impossible. вЂњWe will have to retreat [from the shoreline]. There is no choice. In economic terms alone, it will be impossible to defend everything. Defending cities like London or Rotterdam in Europe mean there will be no money for all the other smaller seaside towns,вЂќ says Cooper. Sea level rise will mean that cities will have to build much higher sea walls to survive and this will cause beaches to disappear. вЂњA world without beaches is a distinct possibility. [Coastal cities] will end up with massively high sea walls. In years to come you may not be able to see the sea from many developments [in places like Florida] except from second or third п¬‚oors. By building high rise developments along coastlines we have made it impossible to retreat,вЂќ he says. The authors accuse engineering consultancies and government agencies of promoting a hardengineering, anti-ecological, shortterm response to beach erosion. вЂњThe US army corps of engineers, the Dutch institute for Delta Technologies in Holland and HR Wallingford in UK are major movers in shoreline engineering, whose whole raison dвЂ™etre is to make money by building defences,вЂќ said Pilkey. But their work often proves misguided, he said. вЂњAfter Hurricane Sandy hit the US east coast in 2011, the corporations pumped 200,000cu m of sand on to Atlantic Beach, New Jersey. Within п¬Ѓve months it had disappeared, leaving a 9m-high cliff cut into the shoreline, and an estimated bill of $4mn to deal with itвЂќ. вЂњRising seas around the world will multiply these bills by millions because of such misguided, short-term schemes, with beaches needing to be replaced every few yearsвЂќ, he said. But Jonathan Simm, technical director for п¬‚ood management at HR Wallingford defended engineers. вЂњWe are but servants. There are some very difficult social and political decisions that have to be made about which frontages should be defended. Engineers get struck in the middle between differentвЂ¦ political and technical arguments. вЂњThe reality is that major urban conurbations are going to want to sustain their existing defences. But a lot of beaches are under stress so the engineering is going to become much more expensive.вЂќ Sea level rise, which is expected to raise levels signiп¬Ѓcantly over the next 100 years, will affect beaches in different ways, said Pilkey. вЂњAlthough the sea has only risen a foot (0.3m) over the last 100 years or so, that amount can have a real impact on shoreline retreat on very gently sloping coasts. In theory, a one-foot sea-level rise should push the shoreline back 2,000ft.вЂќ As beaches disappear, countries are turning to increasingly expensive sand replenishment programmes which dump thousands of tonnes of dredged sand on existing, eroded beaches. But these artiп¬Ѓcial beaches usually erode at least twice as fast as natural beaches and can only ever be a temporary solution, said Cooper. вЂњAs time goes on and as the sea level rises, the interval of re-replenishment will get shorter because the beach becomes less stable. Beach replenishment is only a plaster that must be applied again and again at great cost. It doesnвЂ™t remove the problem, it treats the symptoms. Eventually and inevitably beach replenishment will stop either as sand or money runs outвЂќ. It also smothers all life on the beach. вЂњThe near shore food chain that originates with the tiny organisms living between grains of sands and surviving on occasional inп¬‚uxes of seaweed is now gone. The whole ecosystem is out of whack. Habitats for turtle and bird nesting are being destroyed,вЂќ said Cooper. вЂњWe have a mentality to just rebuild everything after a storm. The simplest solution would be to move the infrastructure back. The problem is the obsession with building and defending property right next to the beach and to hold the beach in place. This process just destroys the beach.вЂќ - Guardian News & Media An aerial view of the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy to the New Jersey coast. New ZealandвЂ™s stark rich-poor divide By Max Rashbrooke Wellington A new report shows New ZealandвЂ™s economy has been most affected by inequality out of all the OECD nations. How did the land of the fair go end up in such a state? In the 1940s, New Zealanders hated inequality so much that one visiting academic suggested they should erect a statue of equality in Auckland harbour, as a counterpart to the USвЂ™s celebrated sculpture. And that image lingers: many people still think of New Zealand as an egalitarian paradise, a friendly and accommodating country where вЂњa fair goвЂќ is the national phrase. Those observers, and indeed many New Zealanders, might have got a shock this week when the OECD published a landmark report, showing that economies the world over are being hamstrung by growing inequality and that New Zealand was the worst affected. A stark rich-poor divide, the OECD argued, had taken over a third off the countryвЂ™s economic growth rate in the last 20 years. But how could this be? The simple answer is that in the two decades from 1985 onwards, New Zealand had the biggest increase in income gaps of any developed country. Incomes for the richest Kiwis doubled, while those of the poorest stagnated. Middle income earners didnвЂ™t do too well, either. Because New Zealand had previously been so egalitarian, that world-beating increase still wasnвЂ™t enough to rocket the country right to the top of the inequality league table, but it is now doing just as badly on some measures as Britain. In both countries, the top п¬Ѓfth get about 40% of after-tax income ; the bottom п¬Ѓfth get just 8%. New Zealand is now just as divided as the country that many of its citizensвЂ™ ancestors left in order to п¬Ѓnd a more equal society. How has this happened? Tracing the causes of a growing income gap is like trying to map earthquake fault lines - never a precise science - but it is hard to ignore the correlation between the timing of the increase and the countryвЂ™s post-1984 political revolution. Embracing reforms known elsewhere as Thatchernomics and Reaganomics with unprecedented enthusiasm, New Zealand halved its top tax rate, cut benefits by up to a quarter of their value, and dramatically reduced the bargaining power - and therefore the share of national income - of ordinary workers. Thousands of people lost their jobs as manufacturing work went overseas, and there was no significant response with increased trade training or skills programmes, a policy failure that is ongoing. At the same time, New Zealand stopped building affordable houses in any serious quantity, forcing poorer households to spend ever-increasing amounts on rent and mortgages. None of this implies that New Zealand enjoyed a halcyon existence before the 1980sвЂ™ reforms; it didnвЂ™t. But it does imply that an alternative path towards a modern economy, one in which the beneп¬Ѓts of growth were shared evenly, was ignored. As the OECD report points out, that would actually have led to greater growth, as well as greater equality. Outrage over New ZealandвЂ™s widening gaps has been muted, partly because much of the extremes are hidden: poverty tends to be concentrated in areas that middle-class New Zealanders donвЂ™t enter, and the richest citizens still feel some pressure not to п¬‚aunt their wealth. Perspectives can also be short. In recent years, after that explosive 20-year rise, income gaps have been steady, leading some to dismiss the issue. But as the OECD report shows, the key learning is the long-term impact. What started in the 1980s continues to hold back New Zealanders - and their economy today. Alarm bells are п¬Ѓnally beginning to sound. Recent polling shows threequarters of New Zealanders think theirs is no longer an egalitarian country, and that this is a bad thing. Part of the unease stems from a realisation that big income gaps arenвЂ™t compatible with the idea that there should be an equal chance for all. In very unequal countries like the US, half an adultвЂ™s income can be predicted from what their parents earned. New Zealand isnвЂ™t there yet, but it does have a situation in which exclusive schools are raffling off internships at New York п¬Ѓrms, while the parents of poor children are on such low wages that they canвЂ™t afford the electricity to keep a fridge running . Is that вЂњa fair goвЂќ? ItвЂ™s hard to think so. - Guardian News & Media Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 29 COMMENT The real Lima climate change deal The Lima conference has shown just how hard the negotiations in Paris next year will be, despite recent optimism about global progress By Michael Jacobs Lima I t was the agreement that everyone wanted, yet that no one much likes. This yearвЂ™s annual United Nations climate-change conference in Lima, Peru, п¬Ѓnally concluded in the early hours of Sunday morning, more than 24 hours after the scheduled close, after п¬Ѓerce argument in the п¬Ѓnal days. Negotiators from 196 countries patched together a compromise that keeps the world on course to a new global climate agreement in Paris next year; but almost everyone was left unhappy with some provision or another. Many critics of the deal, however, have missed the point. The Lima deal is weak in many respects. But it also represents a fundamental breakthrough for shaping a comprehensive global climate regime. The Lima conference had two goals. The п¬Ѓrst was to adopt an outline of the text of the 2015 Paris agreement. This goal was achieved вЂ“ but only by creating a huge 37-page document containing every possible option that countries may want to see in next yearвЂ™s deal. Delegates did not attempt to negotiate between the various options, taking to heart the old maxim вЂњWhy do today what you can put off until tomorrow?вЂќ That negotiation has been left to the п¬Ѓve sessions of talks scheduled for 2015, starting in February. Given the divergence among the positions included in the Lima text, arriving at a draft п¬Ѓt for signing in Paris next December will be a huge task. The second goal was to agree on the terms under which countries will devise their national commitments вЂ“ officially, their вЂњintended nationally determined contributionsвЂќ (INDCs) вЂ“ in 2015. Here, the compromises were sharply felt. Developing countries wanted the INDCs to include plans for adaptation to climate change as well as emissions cuts, and they wanted developed countries to include п¬Ѓnancial support for poorer countries. Instead, no commitments to new money were made, and the inclusion of adaptation plans will be optional, not compulsory. Meanwhile, developed countries wanted all countries to provide standardised information on their emissions targets and plans, to ensure transparency and comparability. The key elements were agreed on, but only in the form of guidance, not as requirements. Likewise, the proposal by the European Union and the United States that countriesвЂ™ plans be subject to some kind of assessment was dropped from the п¬Ѓnal text. But the aggregate effect of all countriesвЂ™ plans will be calculated, allowing evaluation next year of whether the world has done enough to limit average global warming to the agreed ceiling of 2C. It almost certainly will have not. For many of the agreementвЂ™s critics, particularly those in the environmental movement, these compromises made the Lima deal an excessively вЂњbottom-upвЂќ agreement. Countries have too much latitude to make whatever commitments they want, relatively unconstrained by a common set of вЂњtop-downвЂќ rules imposed by the agreement. Such critics worry that this will make it harder to persuade countries to cut emissions further when it becomes clear that their collective efforts are not enough, and that it may even allow some countries to use irregular accounting methods. But this overlooks the Lima agreementвЂ™s greatest accomplishment: It ends the longstanding division of the world into only two kinds of countries, developed and developing. Ever since the original UN Framework Convention on Climate Change was signed in 1992, countriesвЂ™ obligations have been deп¬Ѓned according to their level of development in that year. The rich so-called вЂњAnnex 1вЂќ countries have had compulsory obligations, while poorer вЂњnon-Annex 1вЂќ countries Dear Sir, The Government of India is making elaborative arrangements to celebrate the Centenary Celebrations of renowned mathematician Ramanujam from December 16 to 22 in all the schools throughout India. The purpose behind this celebration is to create an awareness amongst the student community, teaching faculty and the society at large the immense contribution made by Ramanujam. Ramanujam, with no formal training in pure mathematics, made extraordinary and impeccable contributions to mathematical analysis, number theory, inп¬Ѓnite series, continued fractions besides merely have been required to make voluntary efforts. Over the last 22 years, that binary distinction has looked increasingly obsolete, as the larger developing countries, such as China and Brazil, have emerged as economic superpowers and major greenhousegas emitters. For this reason, the z Michael Jacobs is Visiting Professor in the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics. Weather report Letters Celebrating a great mathematician developed world has long wanted to replace the вЂњп¬ЃrewallвЂќ between the two historic groupings with a form of differentiation that better reп¬‚ects the contemporary world. But the developing countries вЂ“ including major powers like China вЂ“ have insisted that it remain. No longer. The Lima agreement creates obligations for countries without regard for the distinction between Annex 1 and non-Annex 1. Rather, it uses a new phrase drawn from the recent agreement between the US and China: countriesвЂ™ responsibilities will be based on вЂњcommon but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities in light of different national circumstances.вЂќ The п¬Ѓrewall has been breached. In theory, the Lima agreement on INDCs does not determine the shape of the long-term Paris agreement. So another п¬Ѓerce battle on this issue can be expected next year. But the vast majority of developing countries вЂ“ including China and Brazil вЂ“ are happy with the new regime. So it is impossible to imagine the binary model being restored вЂ“ and those countries that opposed the change know it, which is why the п¬Ѓnal two days in Lima were so п¬Ѓercely fought. The Lima conference has shown just how hard the negotiations in Paris next year will be, despite recent optimism about global progress. But one highly signiп¬Ѓcant decision has now effectively been made. Abandoning the rigid distinction between developed and developing countries paves the way toward an agreement that all countries, including the US and China, can sign. - Project Syndicate Three-day forecast several others. When his amazing and astonishing mathematical skills became apparent to the wider mathematical community, centred in Europe at that time, he began a famous partnership with the English mathematician G H Hardy. He rediscovered previously known theorems in addition to producing new work. Rightly, Ramanujam was said to be a natural genius as evidenced by facts and п¬Ѓgures. He independently compiled nearly 3,900 results, mostly identities and equations. Almost all his claims have now been proven correct. His works have fuelled and were instrumental in initiating innumerable research programmes and projects worldwide. I make a fervent appeal to all the educational institutions in Qatar to follow suit by spreading the message about this great mathematician, who lived a simple, yet sensible life. Students and all others concerned will draw great inspiration to know about his life, work, and the indelible impression he has created. In conclusion, I feel proud and honoured as I too hail from the same TODAY town (Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu) and studied in the same school (Town Higher Secondary School) where Ramanujam spent his younger days. High: 26 C Low: 18 C Misty to Foggy at places at early morning becoming moderate temperature daytime and partly cloudy to cloudy with chance of light V Kalyanaraman email@example.com WEDNESDAY High: 26 C Low : 17 C P Cloudy Please send us your letters THURSDAY By e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Fax 44350474 Or Post Letters to the Editor Gulf Times P O Box 2888 Doha, Qatar High: 27 C Low : 18 C P Cloudy FishermenвЂ™s forecast OFFSHORE DOHA Wind:NE-SEвЂ™LY 3-12/15 KT Waves: 1-3/4 Feet INSHORE DOHA Wind: NE-SEвЂ™LY 3-12/KT Waves: 1-2/3 Feet All letters, which are subject to editing, should have the name of the writer, address and phone number. The writerвЂ™s name and address may be withheld by request. Around the region Abu Dhabi Live issue Baghdad Dubai Kuwait City Manama The fallacy of perfection are constantly frustrated, as perfection is not a real goal and can never really be achieved. Success is your marketing goal. Customers donвЂ™t look for perfect products and services, even if they say they do. Customers want their needs met, and your job as a marketer is to understand those needs and give that to them. 4. Perfection wastes time. When you work towards perfection, youвЂ™ll find yourself spending a lot of time on smaller things, and not the big things that matter. YouвЂ™ll make small changes that your customers wonвЂ™t even notice, and miss out game-changing features that could make you successful. DonвЂ™t waste your time! The next time you п¬Ѓnd yourself splitting hair to achieve perfection, ask yourself: does my customer really want this? If I achieve this, who will notice? How will it make a difference to the world? Remember your goal in marketing is success, not perfection. By Ahmed al-Akber Manama W hen I worked for Fortune 500 companies, I was known for being a perfectionist. I toiled over strategies and spent a great deal of time thinking, writing, and talking about marketing plans. Nothing got past me as far as planning was concerned, and I was rewarded for it. I only realised how limiting this style of work was when I left Corporate America to start my own business. It was very early on when I realised that my marketing results were suffering as a result of over-planning. ThatвЂ™s when I understood that seeking perfection can damage your business in a lot of ways. HereвЂ™s how: 1. Perfection in marketing is not attainable. You can always do things better, faster, and cheaper. But that doesnвЂ™t mean your marketing needs to be perfect - it needs to be successful. And success only happens when things get done. Therefore focusing on getting marketing activities done and learning what works and what doesnвЂ™t, and how to do them better, is the best way to achieve success. 2. Perfection hampers our mindset. When you aim to be perfect, nothing you do will ever be good enough, and you will always be second-guessing yourself. Your conп¬Ѓdence gets heavily affected, and you play not to lose rather than to win. Aiming for perfection is also unrewarding and frustrating, as you are working towards something that canвЂ™t be achieved. 3. Perfection misses the point. Seeking perfection will mean that you z Ahmed al-Akber is the managing director of ACK Solutions, a п¬Ѓrm that helps companies to improve their marketing and sales results by offering more effective ways attracting customers and signiп¬Ѓcantly better products and services. Ahmed has worked internationally in marketing, sales, and strategic planning at companies such as the Coca-Cola Company, Philip Morris International and Dell. Questions or comments can be sent to Ahmed on email@example.com Muscat Riyadh Tehran Weather today P Cloudy P Cloudy P Cloudy Clear P Cloudy Clear Clear Cloudy Max/min 26/21 25/16 28/17 27/18 26/20 26/22 24/16 16/08 Weather tomorrow Clear P Cloudy Clear Clear Clear Clear P Cloudy Clear Max/min 28/21 26/17 28/18 24/17 24/19 25/21 25/18 15/10 Weather tomorrow P Cloudy Clear C Showers Cloudy Clear P Cloudy C Storms P Cloudy C Showers P Cloudy T Storms Clear C Rain Cloudy Cloudy P Cloudy C Rain C Showers C Rain Clear C Storms C Storms Clear Max/min 17/14 23/16 31/24 03/00 28/14 28/17 29/23 28/19 15/14 13/09 31/26 31/18 06/-1 29/23 00/-3 28/11 08/07 06/02 21/18 -2/-6 31/26 29/20 12/03 Around the world Athens Beirut Bangkok Berlin Cairo Cape Town Colombo Dhaka Hong Kong Istanbul Jakarta Karachi London Manila Moscow New Delhi New York Paris Sao Paulo Seoul Singapore Sydney Tokyo Weather today P Cloudy P Cloudy T Storms M Cloudy Clear P Cloudy P Cloudy P Cloudy Rain C Showers T Storms Clear Cloudy C Storms Cloudy Clear P Cloudy Cloudy T Storms C Snow C Storms C Storms Cloudy Max/min 19/13 23/16 31/25 03/01 29/15 24/16 29/23 28/20 14/12 13/09 31/26 31/17 05/04 30/24 -3/-3 28/12 07/01 04/03 25/17 00/-9 30/26 31/21 11/04 30 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 QATAR Commercial Bank tent hosts traditional activities C ommercial Bank has commenced Qatar National Day celebrations with traditional activities in a special tented zone by Commercial Bank Plaza in West Bay. Over the course of three days, the bank is hosting staff and visitors to enjoy a range of traditional handicrafts, food, drinks, games, music and a photo gallery by a Qatari artist. To begin the celebrations, Commercial Bank CEO Abdulla Saleh al-Raisi led a cake-cutting ceremony for staff and opened the National Day zone comprising a traditional tented area and majlis. Following the opening, Commercial Bank board members participated in a traditional Arda dance to the delight of the audience. Over the next two days, visiting local boys and girls schools will perform the Arda dance and will be given special National Day gifts, besides having the opportunity to take patriotic photographs in a photo booth. The tented area has a coffee shop where guests are served Arabic coffee and traditional food favourites, all accompanied by historic Qatari music and games. QatarвЂ™s heritage and customs are further celebrated with the display of handicrafts such as Sado (hand spinning and weaving) Bisht (stitching), boat making, pearl diving and falconry. Coinciding with the National Day celebrations, Commercial Bank is offering a range of вЂњgenerous ratesвЂќ for Qatari nationals on personal loans, vehicle loans and deposit accounts, the bank has said in a statement. Qatari customers can enjoy a personal loan at 3.99%, with a payment holiday of up to six months, and vehicle loans at 2.39%, with a payment holiday of up to three months plus a special offer on motor insurance. Competitive rates are also available on Commercial Bank Time Deposit Accounts and Qatari customers are rewarded further by qualifying to receive a вЂњFree for LifeвЂќ Commercial Bank credit card with each personal loan, vehicle loan or deposit made during the offer period. Al-Raisi said, вЂњQatar National Day is a joyful occasion when all Qataris can be especially proud of our nationвЂ™s great achievements. Today, we celebrate our rich heritage and past but also look forward to a bright and prosperous future under the wise leadership of HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad alThani. Commercial Bank is a Qatari bank for Qatari staff and Qatari customers and so we have chosen to celebrate National Day this year by hosting a range of traditional Qatari activities, which are vital to maintain and cherish for the years to come.вЂќ amad International Airport (HIA), QatarвЂ™s new world-class gateway to the world, is preparing for the inп¬‚ux of departing passengers during the winter season and celebrating Qatar National Day on Thursday. To celebrate National Day, HIA will be decorated in this yearвЂ™s theme of a traditional dhow. The images throughout the state-of-the-art airport will show the cultural signiп¬Ѓcance of the dhow and QatarвЂ™s history of the dhow as used in pearl diving. HIA will be distributing special, themed gifts for younger passengers and will have a dedicated photography area set up behind the world-famous Lamp Bear by Urs Fischer, where passengers can have their photo taken next to a traditional dhow model. To ensure passengers have an enjoyable and relaxing time at the airport during National Day, HIA is advising passengers to arrive at the airport three hours before their п¬‚ight departure time and that checkin will close 60 minutes prior to departure. To save time at the airport, Qatar Airways and many other airlines operating from HIA offer passengers online check-in. Badr al-Meer, chief operating officer, HIA, said: вЂњWe at HIA are delighted to be celebrating our п¬Ѓrst National Day in our superb new facility. As passengers from Qatar and all over the world travel for National Day and the festive season, this is a great opportunity for us to showcase Qatari hospitality, and we would like to wish everyone safe travels and a happy National Day.вЂќ Members of the public dropping off and collecting pas- sengers are advised that HIA offers free parking for the п¬Ѓrst 30 minutes in the short-term car park. The short-term car park is charged at QR5 per hour after the п¬Ѓrst 30 minutes. Free parking can be found in the long-term car park for passengers who drive their own car to the airport. The long-term car park provides a bus ride to the bus terminal at HIA. All unattended vehicles parked on the curb side throughout the HIA facility will be towed away by the authorities. Passengers looking for further information on the airport, п¬‚ights and airline operations can now visit www.dohahamadairport.com, or alternatively check for updates via HIAвЂ™s new social media channels including; Twitter (@HIAQatar), Facebook (Hamad International Airport) and Instagram (HIAQatar). UCQ nursing students sing paean A large crowd of nursing students and University of Calgary in Qatar (UCQ) partners, staff, faculty, families and friends gathered this week on the grounds of UCQ to celebrate Qatar National Day. To start the event, UCQ dean and chief executive officer Dr Kim Critchley spoke to the audience, expressing her gratitude to HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani for the honour of serving the state through the delivery of вЂњgold-standard nursing educationвЂќ to the people of Qatar. Hissa al-Aali, associate director of the College of Nursing Programme, further inspired the many nursing students present with a strong sense of pride in their futures as nursing professionals in this country, and praised the impact their commitment will have on its future. In a poem, UCQ Master of Nursing student Shaika al-Qahtani expressed her gratitude to HH the Emir and HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser for their vision and leadership, and pledged to use the skills and knowledge she has acquired at UCQ to вЂњmake Qatar the bestвЂќ. The National Day celebration at UCQ showcased Qatari culture through food, an Arda and a folk show. One of its highlights was 10-year-old Mohamed Khalifa, who brought along his young falcon and inspired national feelings in everyone there with a beautiful recitation celebrating Qatar. oredoo has officially launched its Qatar National Day campaign, inviting customers to share the reasons why they are proud to live in Qatar to get the chance to win an iPhone 6 and be published in the Ooredoo Qatar National Day book. The вЂњBook of LegaciesвЂќ will include the best submissions from the public and Ooredoo employees and will be distributed for free to everyone who has content published in the book. People can take part in the legacy campaign by visiting the dedicated website, http://qatarslegacy.ooredoo.qa, or posting their stories via social media (Facebook, Twitter and InstaGram) with the hashtag #QatarsLegacy. Submissions can include stories, pictures, songs, videos and artwork. Fatima Sultan al-Kuwari, director of community and public relations at Ooredoo, said: вЂњQatar National Day is a chance for us to celebrate our roots and the beautiful country we are proud to be a part of. We are inviting all of our customers, social media followers and everyone who logs onto our National Day website to share their stories of pride about Qatar, not just to win an iPhone 6 or be part of our book, but to connect with the people of Qatar.вЂќ Posts published in the вЂњBook of LegaciesвЂќ and on the web- The celebrations in progress. HIA preparing for inп¬‚ux of departing passengers H OoredooвЂ™s legacy campaign invites comments from customers O Mowasalat pavilion brings back old-world charm By Ramesh Mathew Staff Reporter A visit to the Mowasalat pavilion at Darb al-Saai, the main centre of Qatar National Day celebrations, will give visitors an idea about the public transport that existed in the country several years ago. With an exhibition of old buses that were in use in the country before Mowasalat buses hit the countryвЂ™s roads in October 2005, the transport companyвЂ™s pavilion has attracted the attention of hundreds of citizens and residents. Students from city schools are guided to the place by their teachers from early in the morning and most of them seem amazed seeing the old model British-manufactured buses that on display at the pavilion. Though visitors are not allowed inside the buses many of them choose to get photographed with the vintage buses. While some of the old-timers may have seen buses resembling the exhibited GMC vehicle which was in use until a decade ago and a few may have also ridden it to such places as Al Jamaliya, Industrial Area and Al Khor. Also on show is a right-hand drive Bedford, one of the very few public transport buses operated This right-hand drive Bedford bus on display at Mowasalat pavilion at Darb al Saai. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam along some of the countryвЂ™s roads until the beginning of the 1970s. Ever since the authorities moved the vehicle to the transport companyвЂ™s workshop a few years ago, its one and only entry and exit door has been done away with and that portion is now joined with the rest of the body. An old orange and white taxi car is also on display. Even after the KarwaвЂ™s turquoise taxis Ashghal connects with youngsters An Al Meera official handing out gift hampers to students. Al Meera makes its presence felt A l Meera Consumer Goods Co is an active presence at Darb al-Saai, the main centre for Qatar National Day celebrations. The kiosk it has set up in the ward of Souk Waqef, is providing snacks and drinks needed by the visitors to the fair grounds. Dr Mohamed Nasser alQahtani, deputy CEO of Al Meera, said: вЂњOur initiative comes as part of Al MeeraвЂ™s keenness to keep strong bonds with its customers ever since the company was established and share enjoyment on this meaningful occasionвЂќ. School students visiting Darb al-Saai during the morning are given water bottles, pocket tissues, biscuits, juices, a notebook and a pen at Al Meera kiosk. The outlet is open from 8am to noon and from 4pm to 10pm. site will be selected by a team of dedicated Ooredoo employees. Those chosen to be part of the book will be contacted via email at a later date. As part of the campaign, Ooredoo will also give away three iPhone 6 devices to customers with the best submissions. The winners will be announced via social media. To celebrate Qatar National Day last year, Ooredoo created a giant mural consisting of 5,000 individual reasons why people love Qatar. The mural, which was displayed at Landmark Mall during the festivities, was recorded as the largest opinion response the company has ever had for a single campaign. вЂњWe aim to beat last yearвЂ™s record and really capture the diverse population of QatarвЂ™s voices. By publishing the anthology of posts in a book, we are giving everyone who took part a lasting token,вЂќ added al-Kuwari. As well as the Pride is our Legacy campaign, Ooredoo will announce a special Qatar National Day offer for customers in the coming week. The company will also hold employee celebrations to mark the important occasion, with a special event also held for the teams that continue to work during the day of celebration to ensure that Qatar stays connected. A s part of the celebrations being organised by the Public Works Authority, Ashghal, to mark Qatar National Day, groups of schoolchildren visited its headquarters. The initiative, вЂњAshghal in the eyes of our children,вЂќ is a part of the efforts to enhance its communication with the young generation, and to encourage their interests, and make them aware of their key role in developing the country. Students were welcomed by AshghalвЂ™s officials and engineers, who gave them a п¬Ѓeld tour to introduce them to the important areas of AshghalвЂ™s roads, buildings, and drainage projects. The visit also included a tour to AshghalвЂ™s Heritage Village, which was held for the п¬Ѓrst time this year. The village is A group of students during a visit to Ashghal headquarters. a model of the old Qatari village with its diverse cultural elements. There is also a traditional market featuring shops and boutiques of traditional crafts and occupations that were practised in the past. Abdulla Saad al-Saad, manager, public relations and communications department, Ashghal, said: вЂњWe believe that National Day is all about strengthening patriotism and spirit of belonging in the hearts of the new generation.вЂќ Activities this year include a new initiative under the slogan вЂњQatarna - Our Past and PresentвЂќ which aims at creating the largest album showcasing images of QatarвЂ™s past and present. hit the roads for the п¬Ѓrst time in September 2004, orange and white taxis continued for almost two more years until they were completely withdrawn towards the end of 2006. al khaliji kicks off social media drive Al Khalij Commercial Bank (al khaliji) has achieved great success with its recently launched social media campaign on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, an initiative especially marking Qatar National Day 2014. вЂњParticipants from across Qatar have expressed their love for the country through sharing вЂ�selfiesвЂ™ showcasing some of their favourite places and landmarks in the country,вЂќ al khaliji said in a statement yesterday. The contributions have so far been various, impressing and rich with QatarвЂ™s most appealing locations. The chance remains open for all those who would like to join the campaign and pay a unique tribute to Qatar. Interested participants are invited to visit https://www.facebook.com/ Alkhalijcommercialbank/, https://twitter. com/khalijibank, and http://instagram. com/alkhalijibank/ to discover Qatar and upload exclusive pictures. Anyone can take a вЂ�selfieвЂ™ at a favourite location in Qatar and post it on al khalijiвЂ™s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages with the hashtag #alkhalijiselfie. The photos with the most likes will receive recognition in the media and online. 32 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 QATAR HH the Father Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad al-Thani and other dignitaries watching cultural performances by children, which marked the launch of the second Mal Lawal exhibition. Father Emir opens second Mal Lawal exhibition H H the Father Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani led the launch of the second Mal Lawal вЂ“ Biennale exhibition yesterday at Doha Exhibition Centre (DEC). HE the Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage Dr Hamad bin Abdul Aziz alKuwari, Qatar Museums (QM) deputy chairman of the Board of Trustees Sheikh Hassan bin Mohamed bin Ali al-Thani, government officials and other guests also attended the opening. A number cultural performances by groups of children were staged on the occasion. HH the Father Emir toured the exhibition, during which he was briefed on the personal collections of Qatari and GCC citizens as well as collections of Arab and Islamic heritage. HH the Father Emir toured a number of halls, including the amber and pearl halls, as well as the photography pavilion. HH Sheikh Hamad also toured the pavilion of the historic and contemporary arts collections, in addition to rare Islamic manuscripts and ancient п¬Ѓshing tools. A one-of-its-kind event in the region, Mal Lawal - meaning вЂњfrom the old daysвЂќ - features around 4,000 rare collections gathered by more than 110 Qatari private collectors and 42 from the wider GCC region. The exhibition, which runs until February 28, 2015, is organised by QM under the patronage of HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. The initiative is made possible under the guidance and leadership of HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad al-Thani, chairperson of the Board of Trustees of QM. вЂњThe event is a unique showcase of private collections, which blends heritage and culture and celebrates historically and socially signiп¬Ѓcant objects and antiques,вЂќ QM said in a statement. Following the success of the п¬Ѓrst event in September 2012, the much-anticipated biennale has grown in size and scale. It now occupies more than 8,000sqm at DEC. Organised into nine categories, most of the collections on display include manuscripts, weapons, Islamic collections, old maps, ethnographic/heritage items, antiquities, jewellery, clothing and accessories, and other rare items from Qatar and the rest of the GCC region. This year, a number of new elements have been introduced to the programme to make the event even bigger and more extraordinary. Four Majlis settings will give visitors an intimate glimpse into the heart of a traditional Qatari home. Specially-created live video links will deliver a virtual experience of eight вЂњhome museumsвЂќ and their A collection of old cameras displayed by a Kuwaiti collector. Collectors have showcased a number of shisha pipes and metal boxes. HE the Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage Dr Hamad bin Abdul Aziz al-Kuwari (second, right) and popular Qatari singer Fahad al-Kubaisi (third, right) join young cultural performers at the opening of the second Mal Lawal exhibition yesterday. PICTURES: Noushad Thekkayil private collections of unparalleled quality. More than 100 вЂњoral historiesвЂќ captured in mini-п¬Ѓlms will document and celebrate the memories and observations of venerable Qatari elders. The biennial design has also been conceived to be as family-friendly as possible, setting up a food court, series of cafes serving traditional Qatari dishes, and a specially-created childrenвЂ™s area with a movable cinema installation. Inspired by the traditional streets, villages and avenues of old Qatar, or вЂњAl FerganвЂќ, the walls of the exhibition are shaped as arcs extending in some cases to 40m to accommodate the many thousands of pieces. вЂњWe are delighted to present the second edition of Mal Lawal this year, which launches in conjunction with Qatar National Day celebrations and highlights QatarвЂ™s unique heritage,вЂќ said Sheikh Hassan. вЂњBy raising awareness of such objectsвЂ™ importance and instilling a love of preserving their historical, social and cultural worth, Mal Lawal perfectly encapsulates Qatar MuseumвЂ™s strategy of focusing on art, creativity and heritage to honour the traditions of the past while embracing the future.вЂќ Nasser al-Hammadi, Mal Lawal Biennale chairman and curator, hopes the exhibition strengthens the spirit of national A number of carpets with unique designs. A cultural performance by a group of girls at the opening ceremony. participation. вЂњIt is the ideal initiative to promote a passion for collecting antiques and artefacts, particularly for the next generation,вЂќ he said. вЂњWe hope it will ignite renewed interest in linking the riches of our past with a fast-evolving present, as well as paving the way to our future.вЂќ Stephen Kelly, president and general manager of Oxy Qatar (main sponsor of Mal Lawal biennial), said the uniqueness of the artefacts displayed at the exhibition allows people to learn about Qatar and the regionвЂ™s traditions by taking them on a journey through time and history. вЂњWe hope the unique sense of engagement and community that Mal Lawal creates will further enhance public awareness and appreciation of local art and cultural heritage, particularly among the younger generation in Qatar,вЂќ he stressed. Old jars are among the 4,000 rare collections at Mal Lawal. Symposium gathers 12 local and international artists By Joey Aguilar Staff Reporter T he Al Asmakh International Sculpture Symposium 2014 brings together 12 local and international artists who are showcasing their ingenuity by вЂњcapturing the beauty of Qatar through visual artsвЂќ. Two Qataris, Mohamed alAtiq and Talal al-Dhefairi, join 10 artists from Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Egypt, Sudan, Oman, Tunisia, France and Italy, who will also participate in various activities, including a series of lectures and museum visits during the fortnight-long event. The cultural event is organised by Regency Art and Wyndham Grand Regency Doha under the patronage of HE Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim al-Thani and with support from the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage. At a press conference yesterday, Hassan Ibrahim Hassan al-Asmakh, vice-president of Regency Group Holding, told reporters that they conducted a thorough screening in selecting the artists and their works. He said Regency Art, a nonproп¬Ѓt organisation, wants to bring unique workshops to the country as they try to differentiate them from other companies within Qatar. вЂњWe decided to test out a sculpting symposium initially with the п¬Ѓrst batch, you are (the) founders, initiators of this programme,вЂќ al-Asmakh told the artists. He noted that all artworks from the programme will be exhibited at a reception in Wyndham Grand Regency DohaвЂ™s lobby Regency Group Holding vice president al-Asmakh (centre) joins local and international artists in announcing the launch of Al Asmakh International Sculpture Symposium 2014 yesterday. PICTURE: Jayaram on December 24, from 5.30pm to 7.30pm. The masterpieces will not be for sale but will stay with them as part of the symposium. Also, Regency ArtвЂ™s п¬Ѓve-year forecast does not involve the sale of any of the works but rather for collection and display only. Hotel guests will also have the opportunity to meet the talented and award-winning artists who have travelled from various parts of the world. Al-Asmakh hopes the event will be one of the historical and cultural pillars of their art programme вЂњin the near futureвЂќ as it offers talented artists and professionals the opportunity to express their creativity. Citing the negative perception of some people about the Middle East, he said the programme helps entrench the status of Qatar on the вЂњmap of artвЂќ. вЂњSculpting as an art form has changed over the years,вЂќ he noted. вЂњNow it is more of conveying a message using different media.вЂќ About the venue of the symposium, al-Asmakh said they chose their farmhouse due to its accessibility to the main road, which is a factor in transporting the pieces with ease. вЂњThe venue has a lot of greenery and a pond; that was the location we chose because of the ease of access,вЂќ he explained. вЂњWe are ready to store and move the pieces without them being damaged, and also to have a direct link to the highway for the artists.вЂќ Wyndham Grand Regency Doha hosted the second edition of the Al Asmakh International Symposium of Art 2014 in March this year. The week-long cultural event had gathered more than 40 artists from a diverse range of countries such as Russia, Sweden, the Netherlands and Morocco. PRICE PRESSURE | Page 4 SPORTING EDGE | Page 20 Ooredoo facing new competitor in Myanmar Alfardan Autos unveils new BMW X6 Tuesday, December 16, 2014 Safar 24, 1436 AH GULF TIMES GULF MARKETS STABILISE: Page 5 BUSINESS QSE bounces back as bank, consumer goods stocks surge Ezdan Holding gets nod to hike foreign ownership limit to 49% HH the EmirвЂ™s directive to QSE-listed companies to enhance the foreign ownership limit вЂњis a welcome move that could bolster investment in the domestic market and contribute to the national economy,вЂќ Ezdan Holding chairman Sheikh Khalid bin Thani bin Abdulla al-Thani said E zdan Holding, which plans to launch several major real estate projects over the next year, will soon allow up to 49% foreign ownership, a move that will have a вЂњpositive impactвЂќ on the local bourse and the business sector in Qatar in general. At the extraordinary general assembly, shareholders yesterday approved the boardвЂ™s proposal to hike the non-Qatari ownership limit to 49% from the present 25%. The companyвЂ™s initiative follows HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-ThaniвЂ™s directive to the listed companies to enhance the foreign ownership limit with a view to improving the liquidity in the market as well as attracting higher foreign investments. вЂњIt (the directive of HH the Emir) is a welcome move that could bolster investment in the domestic market and contribute to the national economy,вЂќ Ezdan Holding chairman Sheikh Khalid bin Thani bin Abdulla al-Thani told the shareholders. GECF 16th Ministerial Meeting in Doha today The 16th Ministerial Meeting of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) will be held at the forumвЂ™s headquarters at the Tornado Tower in Doha today. During the ordinary meeting, member countries will examine the evolution of international gas markets, the reports of activities of the executive council and the forum secretariat as well as вЂњother mattersвЂќ relating to the forum and the industry as a whole. Established in 2001, Doha-headquartered GECF brings together major gas exporting countries: Qatar, Algeria, Russia, Iran, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, Trinidad & Tobago, Libya, Egypt, Bolivia, Venezuela and Oman. The observer countries are Norway, the Netherlands and Kazakhstan. QatarвЂ™s affordable housing demand may grow at 3.75% CAGR until 2022: Markaz By Pratap John Chief Business Reporter T he demand for вЂњaffordable housingвЂќ in Qatar has been projected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.75% until 2022, a new study has shown. According to Kuwait Financial Centre (Markaz) almost the entire demand for affordable housing in Qatar is expected to вЂњremain concentrated in the urban areasвЂќ of the country. Markaz has stressed that affordable housing had not вЂњreceived its due share of concern from the policymakersвЂќ. вЂњThere is a pressing need to look at the issue of affordable housing shortages in the GCC (Gulf Co-operation Council) region and the factors inherent in the system leading to such a chronic shortage,вЂќ Markaz said. The GCCвЂ™s population is estimated to have reached 49.3mn last year and poised to grow at a higher rate than developed and developing countries, it said. This, combined with a growing workforce in the region, puts вЂњsevere pressureвЂќ on вЂњmatching supply and demandвЂќ for affordable housing in the GCC. The region has become one of the most urbanised areas in the world with more than 75% of its population living in cities. Unemployment levels across the countries remain on a higher side. The level of unemployment in Bahrain and Oman is about 15% of the working population, while in Saudi Arabia it stands at 10.5%. The GDP (gross domestic product) per capita of GCC nations are comparable to that of developed nations, and fares much better compared to emerging market economies like China, India, and Brazil. вЂњThe high GDP per capita of the nations is also translating into rising demand for housing, including affordable housing. The commitment of GCC economies towards diversiп¬Ѓcation to usher in future growth of the region, will eventually create more demand for low-cost housing, as the people from lowest income groups п¬Ѓnd themselves able to afford a house of their own,вЂќ Markaz said. The demand for affordable housing is estimated to be high across all the GCC member states, the report said. The total demand for affordable housing in Saudi Arabia is estimated for more than 3mn in 2014 with approximately 82% of this demand pertaining to urban areas. The ever-widening gap between the demand and supply of affordable housing in GCC countries is pressing the governments in the region to have an urgent look at the issue. The GCCвЂ™s affordable housing industry faces many challenges, such as tough credit markets terms, volatility in the prices of building materials, and shrinking margins of developers. Moreover, supply-side bottlenecks in the form of lack of housing п¬Ѓnance, delays in approvals, inefficient urban planning system, high-cost construction priority (such as villas and highend apartments), and long waiting lines of government housing schemes pose additional pressure on the sector to deliver. However, the recent initiatives are encouraging, where governments are coming forward to provide land in good locations and at reasonable prices. GCC governments also provide incentives to developers, as well as formation of urban development bodies in the region, the report said. There has been a higher acceptance of public-private partnership (PPP) in the GCC, in recent years, due to the enhanced ability of the private sector to execute housing projects on a largescale. But prospective developers need to feel conп¬Ѓdent of generating stable income п¬‚ows from low-cost housing schemes. Consolidation of industry players through mergers and acquisitions will improve economies of scale, and serve to address cost and margin issues in low cost housing projects. It will also lead to easier access to liquidity for the developers than most competitors worldwide, and enable effective and quick implementation of the projects. вЂњThe issue of affordable housing in GCC is serious and needs to be dealt with on an urgent basis. An effective plan of action needs to focus towards integrating economic, social and cultural issues along with physical planning and development by the adoption of a national housing policy that considers providing accommodation for future population growth in large cities and encourages their decentralisation towards other organised suburban centres,вЂќ Markaz said. Ezdan Holding Group CEO Ali al-Obaidly said an increase in non-Qatari ownership limit would enhance the groupвЂ™s standing in the market in line with the Qatar National Vision 2030. вЂњIt could bring in more foreign investments, supporting the development of the country and providing economic opportunities to new institutions,вЂќ he said. Sprucing up its diversiп¬Ѓcation efforts, Ezdan Holding has in this year acquired more than 20% stake in Qatari Investors Group, purchased up to 20.16 % stake in Widam Food (formerly Mawashi) and more than 20% in Islamic Holding Group, a Shariah-principled Qatar Exchange-listed stock brokerage. In 2015, Ezdan Holding plans to launch several major realty projects such as Ezdan Mall Al Wakra, the п¬Ѓrst of its kind in the area where the population has been growing exponentially. The group is also constructing Ezdan Ho- tel Al Shamal. It is part of the QR1.5bn complex, being built on Al Shamal Road behind Landmark Mall, spread over around 115,000 sq m. The sprawling complex includes 129 luxury villas, 256 apartments and a 220room four-star hotel - the п¬Ѓrst of its kind on North Road. The QR4.5bn residential project comprising 11,000 residential units in Al Wakrah and being built in partnership with SAK Holding Group, will be completed by 2017. Ezdan Holding owns more than 18,000 diverse real estate units in Doha and other vital locations like Al Wakrah, which are run by its real estate arm. Highlighting that its core strategy has been to achieve diversity across its operations, alObaidly had earlier said the objective is to вЂњdissociateвЂќ from the real estate sector to reinforce the groupвЂ™s investment portfolio in other sectors in a вЂњbalanced mannerвЂќ without getting exposed to concentration risks. 4 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 BUSINESS Saudi billionaire prince to launch Arab news channel Saudi billionaire businessman Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is to launch an Arab satellite news channel on February 1, vowing to вЂњbreak the mouldвЂќ in a crowded field. Bahrain-based Alarab News Channel, broadcasting in Arabic, said yesterday it would usher in вЂњa completely new style of news programming in the Middle East and beyondвЂќ. Through his Riyadh-based Kingdom Holding Co, Alwaleed has diversified investments that include luxury global hotels as well as international media firms News Corp and Time Warner. Alarab will enter a market revolutionised by Qatar-based Al Jazeera almost 20 years ago when it became the regionвЂ™s first pan-Arab news television broadcaster. Dubai-based Al-Arabiya, belonging to the MBC Group owned and chaired by Sheikh Waleed al-Ibrahim, a brother-in-law of Saudi ArabiaвЂ™s late King Fahd, followed in 2003. вЂњAlarab will break the mould of news presentation, becoming a platform for transparent presentation and discussion of the regionвЂ™s most intractable issues,вЂќ it said in a statement. AlarabвЂ™s general manager is Jamal Khashoggi, a veteran Saudi journalist forced to step down from the helm of the kingdomвЂ™s Al-Watan daily in 2010. Alarab will also be competing against other relative newcomers such as Sky News Arabia, France 24 in Arabic and the BBCвЂ™s Arabic service. Through his Riyadh-based Kingdom Holding Co, Alwaleed has diversified investments that include luxury global hotels as well as international media firms News Corp and Time Warner A woman talks on a mobile phone at a market in downtown Yangon, Myanmar. Despite Myanmar still being a country largely underserved by mobile services at a current penetration rate of some 11%, future competition between the four operators could turn out to be a tough one and put prices further under pressure. Ooredoo is facing a new competitor in Myanmar By Arno Maierbrugger Gulf Times Correspondent Bangkok T he upcoming launch of a fourth mobile phone operator in Myanmar means a new challenge for QatarвЂ™s telecom group Ooredoo which is currently building up a nation-wide network in the country seen as one of the worldвЂ™s last telecoms frontiers, with Telenor and incumbent Myanmar Post and Telecommunication (MPT) as its current competitors. News broke last week that Viettel, VietnamвЂ™s largest mobile network operator and a government-owned enterprise wholly owned and operated by Viet- namвЂ™s Ministry of Defence, will invest around $1.8bn in Myanmar to set up a mobile phone network on its own. In a п¬Ѓrst step, Viettel will create a joint venture with MyanmarвЂ™s Yatanarpon Teleport, holder of the fourth mobile phone licence, and bring in $800mn in the deal. The rest, $1bn, should come from an unnamed foreign partner, it turned out at shareholdersвЂ™ meeting of Viettel held on December 3. Viettel вЂ“ together with Ooredoo and Telenor вЂ“ was one of the bidders in MyanmarвЂ™s 2013 mobile phone licence auction but failed to secure a licence. However, its deputy general director Le Dang Dung said after the auction that the company will continue to seek вЂњco-operation opportunities with winning bidders to launch services in the country.вЂќ In turn, Yatanarpon Teleport has been looking for foreign companies to establish a partnership in the telecommunication sector ever since it received the licence. The company is majority-owned by MPT at 51%, with the rest being held by local private investors, among them Elite Tech Co, part of the inп¬‚uential conglomerate Htoo Group of Companies of business tycoon Tay Za, believed to be MyanmarвЂ™s richest businessman but also a prominent name on the US sanctions list against Myanmar business people. Before deciding to tie up with Viettel, Yatanarpon Teleport has reportedly mulled partnerships with ThailandвЂ™s True Corp Kurdistan failed to pay $100mn, says Dana Gas Reuters Dubai/London Dana Gas, one of the largest investors in IraqвЂ™s Kurdistan, said yesterday the semi-autonomous region had failed to pay $100mn as instructed by a London arbitration court, prompting Dana to ask the court to enforce the order. вЂњAn application to the English Court has been made for enforcement of the order, with the prospect of sanctions being imposed on the KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government) for non-compliance,вЂќ Dana said in a statement. The case is part of much bigger вЂњmultibillion dollarвЂќ claims that the Pearl consortium, led by Dana, brought against Kurdistan for breach of contractual commitments and which it says are due to be heard in London next April. The consortium, which also consists of Crescent Petroleum of the UAE, AustriaвЂ™s OMV and Hungarian oil and gas group MOL, had filed an arbitration case in London in October 2013, seeking to confirm its contract rights and to obtain payments for production. The case is closely watched by other companies active in Kurdistan, whose untapped oil and gas reserves and lucrative production-sharing contracts have attracted major international oil companies in recent years. Dana has said it is had not received any significant payments from the KRG. The KRG has previously rejected claims, saying DanaвЂ™s statement about London court rulings were вЂњmisleadingвЂќ and it was the consortium that owed it billions of dollars. Yesterday, Dana said the London Court of International Arbitration had ordered the KRG to pay the consortium $100mn, which the KRG failed to do by the stipulated deadline of November 17, 2014. Dana said it had therefore applied on December 12 to the court for enforcement of the order. The Pearl consortium has invested more than $1.2bn in Iraqi Kurdistan, according to the statement, and currently produces an average of over 80,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, including 320mn cubic feet per day of gas. and Axiata from Malaysia, both large telecoms in their respective countries, but the talks were unsuccessful. Yatanarpon currently offers pre-paid mobile services and Internet packages as well as satellite communication. Ironically, its majority owner MPT will turn a competitor itself as it also holds a mobile phone licence and has recently partnered with Japanese firms KDDI Corp and Sumitomo Corp, which have said they will invest $2bn in their own mobile phone network. Despite Myanmar still being a country largely underserved by mobile phone services at a current penetration rate of some 11%, future competition between the four operators could turn out to be a tough one and put prices further under pressure. Ooredoo and Telenor launched their new mobile services in August and September this year, respectively, and since prices for SIM cards have plummeted from $150 to $1.50. Both companies paid very high bids for their licences and need to invest billions of dollars in mobile phone tower construction and other telecommunications infrastructure, along with massive marketing incentives. Adding to the situation is MyanmarвЂ™s current devaluation of the national currency, the kyat, which brought with it rising inп¬‚ation for consumer goods and lower purchasing power for Myanmar people, decelerating the speed of mobile phone customer growth. Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 5 BUSINESS QSE bounces back on bank and consumer goods stocks By Santhosh V Perumal Business Reporter T Local retail investorsвЂ™ increased penchant for equities led the 20-stock Qatar Index to surge 3.11% to 11,460.02 points yesterday. Barwa building QR750mn warehouse for Manateq Barwa Real Estate Company is building a вЂ�low costвЂ™ warehouse at an estimated cost of QR750mn. The company has been awarded a tender to build, operate, and transfer the warehousing for Manateq (Economic Zones Company); a Barwa spokesman confirmed the development in a communiquГ© to the Qatar Stock Exchange. The announcement comes close on the heels of Gulf Warehousing Company announcing its order to develop Bu-Sulba Logistics Hub, which aims to serve small and medium enterprises in Qatar, at an estimated cost of QR685mn. Barwa will develop low cost warehousing solutions, within a period of 24 months, and under a lease agreement of 25 years. The letter of intent was executed on Sunday among Barwa Real Estate, Ministry of Economy and Commerce, and Manateq. The project aims at increasing the presence of Barwa in the local Qatari market, and diversity its investments in line with the nature of its business and activities, the spokesman said. This project will also lead to reinforce BarwaвЂ™s financial position, through the income from the operating activities for the 25 years lease period, it said, asserting that there is no conflict of interest between it and Manateq. he Qatar Stock Exchange yesterday bounced back with 346 points gain to inch near the 11,500 mark, mainly lifted by banking and consumer goods stocks. Local retail investorsвЂ™ increased penchant for equities led the 20-stock Qatar Index (based on price data) to surge 3.11% to 11,460.02 points as volumes also rose. Both domestic and foreign institutions chose to book proп¬Ѓt in the market, which is, however, up 10.41% year-to-date. The index that tracks Shariahprincipled stocks was seen gaining faster than the other indices in the market, where capitalisation swelled 3.13% or more than QR19bn to 633.99bn. The Total Return Index rose 3.11% to 17,092.52 points, the All Share Index by 3.17% to 2,925.2 points and Al Rayan Islamic Index by 3.46% to 3,788.59 points. Consumer goods stocks vaulted 4.61%, followed by banks and п¬Ѓnancial services (4.31%), industrials (2.76%), transport (1.94%), real estate (1.79%), telecom (1.6%) and insurance (1.17%). More than 90% of the companies extended gains to investors with major gainers being Industries Qatar, QNB, Qatar Islamic Bank, Marfa Al Rayan, Masaya Qatar, Vodafone Qatar, Gulf International Services, Doha Bank, Birwa, Gulf Warehousing and Nabila. However, Dallas and Islamic Holding Group were seen bucking the trend. Qatari retail investors turned net buyers to the tune of QR83.59mn compared with net sellers of QR68.05mn the previous day. Non-Qatari individual investors Woqod plans 7 more CNG fuel stations by 2017 Senior officials and Woqod executives during the one-day вЂ�CNG workshopвЂ™ at the La Cigale hotel in Doha yesterday. Woqod plans to commission some seven more compressed natural gas (CNG) fuelling stations in the country by 2017 with the support of Qatar Petroleum, the exclusive fuel distributor said yesterday. вЂњThere are plans for a much wider roll out of CNG availability, both through Woqod service stations and at the home base of large fleet operators,вЂќ the company said in a release. Currently, Woqod has one CNG station, fuelling some 66 Mowasalat buses in DohaвЂ™s New Industrial Area. According to Woqod, Mowasalat had agreed to provide a feedback on the usage of CNG in its buses. Yesterday, Woqod held a one-day вЂ�CNG workshopвЂ™ at the La Cigale hotel in Doha. Commenting on the event, Woqod CEO Ibrahim Jaham al-Kuwari said, вЂњI am pleased and honoured to open the first workshop we are holding on the introduction of CNG as an alternative road transportation fuel in Qatar.вЂќ also turned net buyers to the extent of QR28.83mn against net proп¬Ѓttakers of QR65.18mn on December 14. However, domestic institutions turned net sellers to the tune of QR35.18mn compared with net buyers of QR131.59mn on Sunday. Foreign institutions also turned net sellers to the extent of QR77.32mn against net buyers of QR1.63mn the previous day. Total trade volume rose 12% to 25.21mn shares, value by 5% to QR1.01bn and transactions by 13% to 11,034. The consumer goods sectorвЂ™s trade volume almost tripled to 4.74mn equities, value rose 28% to QR155.16mn and deals by 11% to 1,256. The transport sectorвЂ™s trade volume more than doubled to 2.87mn stocks with value also more than doubling to QR112.47mn on a 56% jump in transactions to 860. There was a 20% expansion in the telecom sectorвЂ™s trade volume to 3.53mn shares, 7% in value to QR75.91mn and 28% in deals to 1,403. The industrials sectorвЂ™s trade volume expanded 13% to 3.12mn equities, value by 5% to QR217.76mn and transactions by 53% to 2,733. However, the insurance sectorвЂ™s trade volume plummeted 97% to 0.01mn stocks, value by 74% to QR5.48mn and deals by 43% to 140. The real estate sector saw its trade volume plunge 21% to 5.86mn shares, value by 11% to QR142.5mn and transactions by 13% to 1,877. The banks and п¬Ѓnancial services sector reported a 15% slippage in trade volume to 4.98mn equities, 10% in value to QR298.76mn and 2% in deals to 2,765. In the debt market, there was no trading of treasury bills and government bonds. Most Gulf markets stabilise amid pause in crude plunge Reuters Dubai Most Middle East stock markets became more stable yesterday, after plunging in previous days, as the price of oil recovered slightly. But fund managers said it was by no means clear that any sustained recovery of stock prices was starting. Brent crude climbed above $62 per barrel, after hitting 5-1/2-year lows of $60.28 earlier, as traders began pricing in expectations of improving global manufacturing data to be published later this week. DubaiвЂ™s stock index inched up 0.1% as most shares in the emirate gained. The market rose as much as 4.8% during the day before giving up almost all those gains by the end of the session. The Dubai index had tumbled 14.4% in the two previous sessions as oilвЂ™s plunge triggered panic selling. With the outlook for oil still uncertain, very few people are willing to call a bottom for Gulf stock markets. вЂњItвЂ™s just a normal technical rebound, thereвЂ™s nothing more at this stage,вЂќ Sebastien Henin, head of asset management at The National Investor in Abu Dhabi, said of yesterdayвЂ™s equity market trading. вЂњIt is not a game changer.вЂќ Abu Dhabi and Oman also gave up all their intra-day gains and closed down 0.7% and 0.9% respectively. Renaissance Services, which provides services to the oil and gas sector, was the biggest loser in Muscat, tumbling 8.8%. Gulf bourses have been closely correlated with oil prices for the last few weeks as investors became worried that a sharp decline in oil revenues could trigger large government spending cuts and thus slow non-oil growth. Analysts and fund managers believe this is unlikely to happen in countries other than Oman and Bahrain, since the big Gulf economies have huge fiscal reserves. But stock markets may remain under pressure from retail investor selling until there is clear evidence that government spending and corporate profit growth is staying strong. Saudi ArabiaвЂ™s benchmark, on the other hand, underperformed the region and dropped 2.6% as an initial recovery gave way to a fresh sell-off across the board. The marketвЂ™s year-to-date gains, which peaked at 30.6% in September, have now turned into a 7.4% loss. Analysts say many Gulf investors may continue selling into any strength for a while. вЂњUpcoming catalysts which will help determine the direction of markets will be the 2014 results, along with the announcement of the Saudi budget for 2015,вЂќ Sherif El Haddad, manager of the EFG-Hermes Middle East and Developing Africa Fund, said in a monthly report on Monday. Saudi Arabia is expected to announce its budget near the end of this month, and possibly next Monday. вЂњLooking ahead, we suspect that the big falls in equities have probably now happened,вЂќ Jason Tuvey, London-based Middle East economist with Capital Economics, said in a note on the Gulf. вЂњBut if oil prices settle at $60$65 per barrel over the coming years, as we expect, a sharp rebound in stock markets across the Gulf seems unlikely.вЂќ Elsewhere in the Gulf, KuwaitвЂ™s index edged up 0.4% to 6,302 points, while BahrainвЂ™s index lost 0.3% to 1,378 points. EgyptвЂ™s index rose 1.3% to 8,832 points. Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 6 BUSINESS Shetty gets loan of up to $800mn for Travelex purchase A loan of up to $800mn to help Abu Dhabi-based entrepreneur BR Shetty acquire a majority stake in foreign exchange operator Travelex has been completed, two sources aware of the matter said yesterday. The facility, arranged by Goldman Sachs and QNB, will last for 18 months, according to one of the sources. The second source said the cash would be borrowed through an entity owned by Shetty called BRS Ventures and Holdings Ltd. Shetty declined to comment when reached by Reuters. Both sources spoke on condition of anonymity as the information isnвЂ™t public. Three other banks вЂ” Doha Bank, National Bank of Fujairah and Commercial Bank International вЂ” joined the loan, the first source said. Travelex, the worldвЂ™s largest foreign exchange specialist, was set up as a bureau de change in the 1970s and now trades in over 80 currencies and more than 50 countries. It said in May that Shetty and Abu Dhabi private equity house Centurion Investments would buy the firm from its shareholders including Chairman Lloyd Dorfman and Apax Partners. Traders watch dealing on the Tehran Stock Exchange in this file photo dated December 21, 2003. The bourse has lost 20% in 2014 and is set for the first yearly decline since 2008 as petrochemical companies and lenders plunged. Over the previous five years, shares soared 910%, or about 300% in dollar terms after factoring in the rialвЂ™s declines. IranвЂ™s 300% stock rally fades as nuke deal eludes Rouhani Bloomberg London/Dubai T he п¬Ѓve-year rally in Iranian stocks is coming to an end as optimism fades that President Hassan Rouhani can resolve an international standoff over the countryвЂ™s disputed nuclear programme. The Tehran Stock Exchange Index has lost 20% in 2014, set for the п¬Ѓrst yearly decline since 2008, as petrochemical companies and lenders plunged, bourse data show. Over the previous п¬Ѓve years, shares soared 910%, or about 300% in dollar terms after factoring in the rialвЂ™s declines. Progress on talks with world powers stalled last month, undermining conп¬Ѓdence that RouhaniвЂ™s election in June 2013 would spur a detente with the US The two sides announced November 24 theyвЂ™d need another seven months to try to end a decade of international sanctions that are throttling the econo- my. The six-month plunge in oil, IranвЂ™s biggest income source, deepened the selloff. вЂњAfter the spike on the back of the potential for rapprochement, continued negotiation extensions have weighed onвЂќ stocks, Emad Mostaque, a London-based strategist at Ecstrat Ltd, said by e-mail on December 12. вЂњThe market retains signiп¬Ѓcant upside potential in the medium and long term, but low oil prices and continued economic adjustment are likely to weigh in the short term.вЂќ Trading slid this year, with $102mn shares changing hands on average by December, compared with $203mn a year earlier. By comparison, stock trading in Saudi Arabia, the regionвЂ™s biggest market, averaged $2.3bn, data compiled by Bloomberg show. While foreigners can invest in Iranian stocks, regulations vary depending on how theyвЂ™re categorised. Overseas money managers are classiп¬Ѓed as вЂ�portfolio investorsвЂ™ if they hold up to 10% of a companyвЂ™s shares, or вЂ�strategic investorsвЂ™ if they own from 10% to 100%, according to Tehran-based investment boutique Turquoise Partners. Equities more than doubled last year as Rouhani, considered the most liberal of presidents approved by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, reached an interim accord with the US, UK, France, Germany, China and Russia in November 2013 to ease sanctions on crude exports in exchange for caps on nuclear work. The exchangeвЂ™s market value climbed 38% since 2011 to $120bn, compared with $484bn for SaudiвЂ™s exchange. Saderat Bank, subject to European Union sanctions since 2010, and Parsian Oil & Gas this year tumbled more than 31% from 53-week highs. вЂњThere were positive expectations and hopes as we approached the deadline,вЂќ Homayoun Darabi, an individual investor, said in Tehran on December 7. вЂњThe fact that there was then no agreement meant that people pulled out.вЂќ Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said earlier this month talks are near a вЂњsuccessful end.вЂќ Negotiators will meet again on December 17. IranвЂ™s revenue from crude sales fell 30% because of oilвЂ™s plunge, which could put pressure on the budget, Rouhani said on December 8. The government, which assumed a price of $100 for a barrel in the п¬Ѓscal year through March, is basing its 2015 spending plan on an average of $72. Brent fell to $61.85 last week, extending the drop from this yearвЂ™s peak to about 46%. вЂњIt is hard to say which had a bigger impact - the negotiations or oil - but in my view, the biggest factor was disappointment that came after weeks of optimism on a potential nuclear deal,вЂќ Ramin Rabii, managing director at Turquoise, said by e-mail on December 9. This yearвЂ™s decline вЂњwas a very natural market correction,вЂќ he said. The $7bn in sanctions relief secured last year spurred bets IranвЂ™s $366bn economy would recover from a recession. The relief has proven less valuable than initial expectations, a US administration official said in November. With crude comprising 15% of gross domestic product and вЂњsigniп¬ЃcantвЂќ foreign-exchange reserves, Iran can вЂњfund the full oil income portion of the budget for a year even with zero oil income,вЂќ according to Rabii. IranвЂ™s economy will expand 1.5% in 2014 after shrinking 5.6% and 1.7% in the previous two years respectively, according to International Monetary Fund estimates in April, prior to crudeвЂ™s slide. The IMF forecasts inп¬‚ation will slow to 23% in 2014 from 35% last year. The 420-member Tehran Stock Exchange fell 8.4% the past month and traded at 5.5 times reported earnings at the end of November. That compares with 14.6 for Saudi stocks. вЂњEuphoric rally buying can only last so long,вЂќ EcstratвЂ™s Mostaque said. вЂњThe п¬Ѓnal hurdles are primarily on the political side.вЂќ Aldar to cut debt by over a third in two years: CFO Reuters Dubai A bu DhabiвЂ™s Aldar Properties will cut its debts by more than a third over the next two years, its chief п¬Ѓnancial officer said yesterday, extending a trend that has already led to credit agencies upgrading their ratings on the company. Aldar, 34%-owned by Abu Dhabi government fund Mubadala Development Co, had 9.6bn dirhams ($2.6bn) of debt as of September 30 - down from 13.8bn at the end of 2013 and set to fall to 6bn over the next two years. The reduction is down to Aldar, which merged with statebacked Sorouh Real Estate in June 2013 and which ranks as the emirateвЂ™s largest developer, using some of the money due from Abu DhabiвЂ™s government to repay debt, chief п¬Ѓnancial officer Greg Fewer told Reuters. Smartphone generation: MenaвЂ™s overnight mobile Internet revolution By Khaldoon Tabaza What is the single indicator related to the online market opportunity in the UAE and Saudi Arabia that beats all other developed and developing countries? Just take a look at people in coffee shops, malls, or even at family gatherings, youвЂ™ll notice immediately that everyone has a smartphone. To be specific, 74% of all mobile phones in the UAE and Saudi Arabia are smartphone devices, beating South Korea, which comes in second place with a penetration rate of 73%. Other emerging online markets such as Russia and Brazil have smartphone penetration rates of only 36% and 26%, respectively. The fierce competition between the GCC (Gulf Co-operation Council) and South Korea in this regard becomes even more interesting when you know that the total population and gross domestic product of the GCC are very similar to those of South Korea. The contrast, however, is that South Korea has produced mobile gaming and application companies that are worth billions of dollars, and is starting to spread the products of those companies worldwide. So whatвЂ™s in it for local and regional online businesses in our region? The proliferation of 3G and 4G networks, in addition to Wi-Fi networks in public places, has enabled successful online businesses with strong strategies to capture mobile users, wherever they are. For example, leading online food ordering business, Hellofood, receives almost 80% of its orders via mobile in Saudi Arabia. OpenSooq, an online classifieds business, gets approximately 50% of its traffic via its mobile site and its application, which was downloaded more than 2.5mn times in less than 6 months. A random look at some of the recent listings on OpenSooq show a user who captured a photo of a camel at the outskirts of Saudi Arabia with his smartphone, offering it for sale in a couple of clicks, and a landlord who took photos of his apartment in Kuwait, offering it for rent on the online platform. In fact, certain online business models are built almost exclusively for mobile applications, including mobile taxi hailing, mobile messaging, and mobile gaming. Not only do smartphones offer users the freedom to perform online actions anywhere and anytime, they also offer specific capabilities that are not always available on desktops and laptops, including location-based services, operator billing (overcoming the challenges of online payments), and a much easier integration of voice, photos, and videos. In many ways, smartphones have brought online services to a new category of users in the Middle East, who were not users of desktop computers of laptops. In fact, users in some countries such as Iraq where the mobile infrastructure has leapfrogged the fixed lines infrastructure, were first introduced to the Internet through their mobile phones, not desktops. Even in more mature online markets, new users including teenagers and elderly people view smartphones and connected smart devices as their primary online device, contrary to the traditional view that mobile is just an ancillary channel in usersвЂ™ eyes. In a couple of years -if not earlier- we should not be surprised if smart devices become the primary online channel for all users. However, embracing online users isnвЂ™t exclusive to smart websites, but has extended to include вЂњsmart governmentsвЂќ. Here itвЂ™s important to mention the UAEвЂ™s e-government programme, which is quickly making the UAE the first country in the world to extend almost all government services to smartphone devices in record time. The most notable sector that is lagging behind in optimising and focusing on mobile strategies in the region is traditional media, because while online versions of traditional media are available online, mobile presence is poor. We are yet to see a powerful second-screen application that leverages the power of smartphones for leading TV or radio stations, and advertisers have not yet explored the powerful benefits of being able to interact with users who watch their TV or hear their radio advertisements while holding their smart devices. Additionally, print media that produced mediocre web versions have not invested beyond producing simple mobile sites and applications, while mobile screen advertising is yet to be fully leveraged to reap meaningful returns. The old saying in the online industry that вЂњmobile is the future, and it will always be,вЂќ has finally become outdated, with the future being here today. It happened overnight, taking many media and commerce operators by surprise, and there is no turning back. Khaldoon Tabaza is the founder and MD of iMENA Holdings, an investor and operator of online businesses in the Middle East and North Africa. The views expressed are his own. Men use smart mobile devices in front of the Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC). The proliferation of 3G and 4G networks in the Gulf, in addition to Wi-Fi networks in public places, has enabled successful online businesses with strong strategies to capture mobile users. Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 7 BUSINESS An exterior view of the airport in Lodz. Poland is not the only country in Europe to have built airports that struggle to attract flights. Around 80 airports in Europe attract fewer than 1mn passengers a year, and about three-quarters of those are in the red, according to industry body Airports Council International. European Union funds help Poland build вЂ�ghostвЂ™ airports Reuters Lodz, Poland T he European Union has given Poland more than в‚¬100mn ($125mn) to build at least three вЂњghostвЂќ airports in places where there are not enough passengers to keep them in business. The result is gleaming new airport terminals which, even at the peak of the holiday season, echo to the sound of empty concourses and spend millions trying to attract airlines. Poland is not the only country in Europe to have built airports that struggle to attract п¬‚ights. Around 80 airports in Europe attract fewer than 1mn passengers a year, and about three-quarters of those are in the red, according to industry body Airports Council International. Some cost much more to build than the Polish projects. One airport in eastern Spain, open for three years, has so far received not a single п¬‚ight. But Poland is striking because the country received so much money for its projects from EU funds. Poland received в‚¬615.7mn in EU support for airports between 2007 and 2013, according to п¬Ѓgures supplied to Reuters by the European Commission. That was almost twice as much as the next biggest recipient, Spain, and more than a third of all member statesвЂ™ money for airports. The government declined to provide all the information on which it based its decisions to invest in the airports, but Reuters has reviewed data on three sites where traffic fell dramatically short of forecasts. Poland is often touted by Brussels as one of the most efficient users of EU aid, and there is no suggestion the country used EU airport money corruptly. European help has been vital in improving PolandвЂ™s aviation infrastructure, only a small share of the countryвЂ™s airport spending has been on white elephants, and passenger shortfalls may have been exacerbated by the 2008 global п¬Ѓnancial crisis. Spokespeople at some airports said the projects could be considered a success because they were creating jobs, bringing in tourists, and driving investment in the regional economy. But it is clear mistakes were made in Poland, planning officials and aviation executives say. The whole experience raises questions about how the government will handle the next big injection of EU money, which it expects to be в‚¬82bn over the next seven years. The problem is most striking at the recently rebuilt Lodz passenger terminal, where passenger numbers in 2013 fell almost one million short of forecasts, according to European Commission documents examined by Reuters. On a relatively busy day this summer, just four п¬‚ights arrived and four departed. In between, the place was almost deserted. In the early afternoon a single passenger, a woman in a blueand-white striped T-shirt, sat in a 72seat waiting area. Outside on the tarmac, п¬Ѓve sets of movable steps stood waiting for a jet to land. Where there arenвЂ™t enough passengers to make an airport viable, local governments keep them on life support through subsidies, according to a report by CEE Bankwatch Network, a non-governmental watchdog. The beneп¬Ѓciaries have often been the airlines that use them. Jacek Krawczyk, the former chairman of the board of Polish national airline LOT who sometimes advises the European Commission on aviation policy, said Poland was no worse than other EU countries at building airports, but the sheer volume of EU money it was trying to absorb in a short space of time explained some problems. The European Union has now tightened up the rules on state aid that airports can receive. Krawczyk, who was not directly involved in planning any of the airport investments, said that in those Polish cases where things did go wrong, вЂњthere was no corruption, just wrong priorities.вЂќ Between 2007 and 2013, the European Union promised funding to help build and upgrade 12 Polish airports. Some of the projections underlying the plans were highly ambitious. The government declined to detail its predictions for passenger numbers. But п¬Ѓgures for three of the airports вЂ” Lodz, Rzeszow and Lublin вЂ” are contained in letters on a related topic sent by the European Commission to the Polish foreign minister. The letters show Polish authorities projected combined passenger numbers for the airports to be more than 3mn passengers a year. In 2013, the actual number was just over 1.1mn. Together, the investments in the three airports totalled about в‚¬245mn. Around 105mn of that came from the European Union. The rest came from central government in Warsaw, local governments and the airports themselves. The airport with the biggest projected traffic was in Lodz. In its heyday, the city was a thriving textile manufacturing centre. Now, many of the elegant 19th-century merchantвЂ™s houses lining the main drag, Piotrkowska Street, are crumbling. Jerzy Kropiwnicki, mayor of Lodz between 2002 and 2010, wanted to attract foreign investment and tourists. The city had a small airport that handled domestic п¬‚ights; but Kropiwnicki felt a big international terminal would revive the local economy. вЂњI used to endlessly answer questions like: вЂ�How do we get to you?вЂ™ and вЂ�How do we п¬‚y there?вЂ™вЂќ Kropiwnicki told Reuters. Poland, which had joined the Eu- ropean Union in 2004, was gearing up for a massive injection of EU cash to be spent on development projects between 2007 and 2014. To get the funds, the country had to prepare a strategic plan for civil aviation. At the Transport Ministry, this task fell mainly to Andrzej Korzeniowski. He was given three months to draft the plan and meet the EU funding deadline. вЂњI slept on a camping mattress under my desk,вЂќ Korzeniowski, now retired, told Reuters. вЂњI had no time to eat.вЂќ Looking back on the 160-page document he drafted, Korzeniowski says it was, under the circumstances, a good programme. But it had a big shortcoming: It let local governments decide where new airports should be built, and how big they would be. вЂњThat was the biggest mistake, for which weвЂ™re now paying the price,вЂќ he said. вЂњThe local governments decided, вЂ�IвЂ™m a prince in my domain, the government doesnвЂ™t tell me what IвЂ™m supposed to do, we do what we want.вЂ™вЂќ By 2005, passenger numbers in Lodz were shooting up. Wojciech Laszkiewicz, an adviser to the mayor who went on to be deputy chief executive of the airport, said the team decided to rebuild the terminal entirely. The airport commissioned a feasibility study from advisory п¬Ѓrm Ernst & Young (EY), published in November, 2009. EY predicted a minimum of 1.042mn passengers in 2013 for Lodz. That was less than the government forecast but many more than the 353,633 who actually passed through the airport last year. EY declined to comment. LodzвЂ™s mayor, Kropiwnicki, left ofп¬Ѓce in 2010, two years before the new terminal opened. The aim of the airport was to help stimulate the local economy, he said, and it is achieving that. вЂњFrom my point of view, the airport wasnвЂ™t supposed to make a proп¬Ѓt.вЂќ The problem, say aviation industry officials and consultants, is that passenger numbers for any individual airport are impossible to predict with conп¬Ѓdence. Even if national forecasts hold true, local factors can pull passengers away from one airport and attract them to another. Lodz quickly became a victim of this вЂњcannibalisation,вЂќ as the airline industry calls it, because Warsaw airport was also upgraded, and a new highway built which brought the capital within 50 minutesвЂ™ drive of Lodz. вЂњTo have an airport in Lodz from that point of view makes no sense at all,вЂќ said Krawczyk, the former airline chairman. He is now president of the EmployersвЂ™ Group of the European Economic and Social Committee, a Brussels-based consultative body that advises on EU decision-making. In a statement, a spokesman for the Ministry of Infrastructure and Development said it could issue guidelines, but could not directly inп¬‚uence local authorities: вЂњA decision on expanding or building an airport for a particular region is the prerogative of the local authorities.вЂќ Under EU rules, though, the initial cash for airports comes from national governments. They are reimbursed by the EU when it approves a scheme. Only investments worth over в‚¬50mn have to seek the CommissionвЂ™s prior approval, and many of the Polish airport investments were below that threshold. The Commission has since said its approach to funding the airports will undergo a radical change. In February, it introduced stricter criteria, and said loss-making airports will be forced to wean themselves off state aid. It did not name any countries. For now, the Polish airports still need help, and that can be expensive. Senior managers in the Polish aviation industry said the cost of running a small regional airport would be at least в‚¬3mn a year. At the moment in Europe, they are often propped up through п¬Ѓnancial injections from local authorities, which are often their biggest shareholders. The state also has indirect methods of helping the airports, in particular by giving money to the airlines вЂ” mainly low-cost carriers like Ryanair. вЂњIn practice, these payments serve as an incentive for airlines,вЂќ CEE Bankwatch Network, the non-governmental watchdog, said in its report. Lodz and Rzeszow airports did not respond to questions about how much they pay airlines. A spokesman for Lublin airport said only that it was successfully boosting communications to help the local economy. But public records for Podkarpackie, the mountainous, forested region where Rzeszow airport sits, show that between 2011 and 2014 its government paid в‚¬5.7mn to Ryanair in exchange for advertisements promoting the region, which appeared on RyanairвЂ™s web site and in its in-п¬‚ight magazines. Podkarpackie spent another в‚¬3mn to advertise with Polish carrier Eurolot over a three-year period. In all, 70% of the regionвЂ™s 2013 promotional budget went to airlines that п¬‚y into Rzeszow airport. These payments are problematic, say several people involved in Polish aviation, because the airports are at the mercy of the airlines. With so many airports to choose from, airlines can easily shift routes. вЂњThe relationship between the local airports and low-cost carriers is suicidal,вЂќ said Krawczyk, the former airline chairman. For low-cost carriers, he said, вЂњnothing will ever be enough. ... At some point they will say, вЂ�If you donвЂ™t give us more, weвЂ™ll go.вЂ™ And they go.вЂќ A spokesman for the region where Rzeszow is located said the deals were good value because they allowed it to target the kind of travellers it wants. He said tourist numbers in 2013 were double the level in 2010. A Eurolot spokeswoman said such marketing deals were widely used in the aviation business in Europe. She said the airline provided marketing exposure for the region, for example by painting its jets in the regionвЂ™s colours. Ryanair chief executive Michael OвЂ™Leary told Reuters such advertising was a good deal for local governments because the Ryanair website reached a huge audience. He said Ryanair brought economic beneп¬Ѓts to places that are off the beaten track, in part by п¬‚ying in tourists. But вЂњif the airport doesnвЂ™t want me, thatвЂ™s п¬Ѓne. IвЂ™ve 80 other airports in Europe who want the growth. We donвЂ™t force any airportsвЂќ to pay. вЂњIf Rzeszow has enough low fares, Rzeszow can grow to 1mn visitors, 5mn visitors, 10mn visitors,вЂќ said OвЂ™Leary. вЂњThey provide вЂ” well, I donвЂ™t know what Rzeszow is famous for, but itвЂ™s famous for something.вЂќ 8 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 BUSINESS SAUDI ARABIA Company Name QATAR Company Name Zad Holding Co Widam Food Co Vodafone Qatar United Development Co Salam International Investme Qatar & Oman Investment Co Qatar Navigation Qatar National Cement Co Qatar National Bank Qatar Islamic Insurance Qatar Industrial Manufactur Qatar International Islamic Qatari Investors Group Qatar Islamic Bank Qatar Gas Transport(Nakilat) Qatar General Insurance & Re Qatar German Co For Medical Qatar Fuel Co Qatar Electricity & Water Co Qatar Cinema & Film Distrib Qatar Insurance Co Ooredoo Qsc National Leasing Mazaya Qatar Real Estate Dev Mesaieed Petrochemical Holdi Al Meera Consumer Goods Co Medicare Group Mannai Corporation Qsc Masraf Al Rayan Al Khalij Commercial Bank Industries Qatar Islamic Holding Group Gulf Warehousing Company Gulf International Services Ezdan Holding Group Doha Insurance Co Doha Bank Qsc Dlala Holding Commercial Bank Of Qatar Qsc Barwa Real Estate Co Al Khaleej Takaful Group Aamal Co Lt Price 77.50 57.50 15.15 21.80 13.30 12.45 90.00 124.50 203.20 70.00 43.10 74.80 35.60 91.00 21.05 43.10 9.00 193.00 172.50 39.50 76.20 112.70 18.71 17.30 27.15 176.00 102.00 93.80 41.60 20.80 171.50 180.50 53.20 79.90 13.77 27.05 52.50 43.40 66.00 39.00 45.45 11.55 % Chg -3.13 9.94 3.77 2.40 0.53 0.24 2.51 4.62 5.28 4.63 2.01 5.20 4.09 3.53 1.20 1.41 -2.28 5.18 0.88 0.00 0.13 0.99 3.94 3.28 0.18 6.02 4.62 1.74 4.00 2.46 2.08 -9.98 3.30 9.90 0.00 3.24 4.37 -1.03 0.92 5.41 8.21 0.26 Volume 4,199 478,656 3,290,784 1,598,280 3,527,423 688,125 178,688 20,537 262,314 38,586 108,500 230,903 67,735 200,002 1,385,665 4,096 152,931 118,375 118,389 10,222 237,575 306,347 2,520,574 935,023 185,785 268,605 24,473 2,137,105 58,062 483,815 369,423 1,308,736 997,862 5,898 290,340 246,588 195,226 1,745,283 38,742 366,484 SAUDI ARABIA Company Name Saudi Hollandi Bank Al-Ahsa Development Co. Al-Baha Development & Invest Ace Arabia Cooperative Insur Allied Cooperative Insurance Arriyadh Development Company Fitaihi Holding Group Arabia Insurance Cooperative Al Abdullatif Industrial Inv Al-Ahlia Cooperative Insuran Al Alamiya Cooperative Insur Dar Al Arkan Real Estate Dev Al Babtain Power & Telecommu Bank Albilad Alujain Corporation (Alco) Aldrees Petroleum And Transp Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair & C Alinma Bank Alinma Tokio Marine Al Khaleej Training And Educ Abdullah A.M. Al-Khodari Son Allianz Saudi Fransi Coopera Almarai Co Saudi Integrated Telecom Co Alsorayai Group Al Tayyar Amana Cooperative Insurance Anaam International Holding Abdullah Al Othaim Markets Arabian Pipes Co Advanced Petrochemicals Co Al Rajhi Co For Co-Operative Arabian Cement Arab National Bank Ash-Sharqiyah Development Co United Wire Factories Compan Astra Industrial Group Alahli Takaful Co Aseer Axa Cooperative Insurance Basic Chemical Industries Bishah Agriculture Bank Al-Jazira Banque Saudi Fransi United International Transpo Bupa Arabia For Cooperative Buruj Cooperative Insurance Saudi Airlines Catering Co Methanol Chemicals Co City Cement Co Eastern Cement Etihad Atheeb Telecommunicat Etihad Etisalat Co Emaar Economic City Saudi Enaya Cooperative Insu United Electronics Co Falcom Saudi Equity Etf Filing & Packing Materials M Wafrah For Industry And Deve Falcom Petrochemical Etf Gulf General Cooperative Ins Jazan Development Co Gulf Union Cooperative Insur Halwani Bros Co Hail Cement Herfy Food Services Co Al Jouf Agriculture Developm Jarir Marketing Co Jabal Omar Development Co Al Jouf Cement Saudi Kayan Petrochemical Co Knowledge Economic City Kingdom Holding Co Saudi Arabian Mining Co Malath Cooperative & Reinsur Makkah Construction & Devepl Mediterranean & Gulf Insuran Middle East Specialized Cabl Mohammad Al Mojil Group Co Al Mouwasat Medical Services The National Agriculture Dev Najran Cement Co Nama Chemicals Co National Gypsum National Gas & Industrializa National Industrialization C Maadaniyah National Shipping Co Of/The National Petrochemical Co Rabigh Refining And Petroche Al Qassim Agricultural Co Qassim Cement/The Red Sea Housing Services Co Saudi Research And Marketing Riyad Bank Al Rajhi Bank Saudi Arabian Amiantit Co Lt Price 42.10 14.56 13.50 52.02 21.68 17.76 20.32 17.23 35.10 13.25 106.87 7.80 26.81 37.72 15.90 50.17 83.52 19.05 36.39 52.33 39.94 34.53 73.52 24.30 15.91 90.78 10.65 30.96 107.05 19.95 39.83 37.56 75.79 28.23 70.02 34.92 31.57 40.50 22.08 30.80 28.28 69.75 27.71 31.30 63.68 151.40 32.20 172.93 12.29 21.21 53.87 6.33 40.46 10.85 28.50 81.38 28.70 45.20 31.58 24.60 26.50 13.52 19.60 70.00 20.49 94.91 42.97 180.06 49.86 13.34 10.03 15.66 16.15 26.55 27.30 73.06 31.70 21.14 12.55 120.76 29.55 30.61 9.47 23.77 29.66 23.92 29.30 32.33 21.30 17.10 11.88 92.77 35.90 15.70 16.04 52.44 12.77 % Chg -0.33 -2.80 0.00 -8.91 -9.70 -9.30 -5.31 -8.88 -9.93 -9.86 -2.62 -6.14 -9.70 -4.89 -8.62 -3.63 -3.56 -4.70 -8.59 -6.55 -0.15 -9.01 -0.22 0.00 -7.18 -6.01 -6.25 -9.66 0.05 -9.97 -6.81 -8.30 -2.81 -1.53 -8.78 -6.76 -9.70 -9.86 -9.10 -9.81 -6.88 0.00 -1.21 0.00 -8.73 -3.42 -9.90 1.53 -3.83 -3.50 -1.68 -6.22 -2.39 -8.52 -9.84 -5.46 0.00 -9.94 -8.81 -7.17 -9.74 -9.38 -9.97 -2.79 -0.24 -5.08 -5.44 -0.89 -1.64 -8.63 -4.75 -9.69 -8.76 -6.18 -9.90 -0.61 -9.94 -6.34 0.00 -2.35 -9.22 -1.58 -8.94 -9.45 -4.23 -3.82 -9.96 -3.23 -3.92 -3.99 -3.96 -1.31 -9.50 -5.08 -1.78 -0.87 -3.40 Volume 150,979 1,245,917 163,837 419,033 1,168,890 472,559 1,333,894 738,877 1,258,853 27,946 32,882,062 766,205 639,595 1,591,620 260,381 434,135 33,028,276 172,454 110,321 1,908,134 395,001 409,126 557,347 545,092 1,059,449 1,036,784 312,215 885,760 1,110,179 207,518 310,904 396,820 1,716,780 169,831 481,073 180,899 756,078 652,682 409,584 2,507,934 407,920 152,190 266,011 335,233 119,056 628,114 573,896 99,898 1,772,720 3,678,957 4,295,220 681,417 29,048 730,954 1,210,222 21,600 811,439 1,678,865 546,574 63,122 1,294,591 98,310 121,338 102,658 1,376,330 11,687,667 10,240,113 3,045,287 590,869 7,723,977 7,460,320 34,024 2,220,228 3,569,526 46,407 179,702 1,043,115 2,189,479 511,236 66,801 1,763,151 1,451,231 1,817,331 253,594 2,845,664 1,969,524 134,520 317,434 48,327 2,052,769 4,215,419 1,993,171 Saudi British Bank Sabb Takaful Saudi Basic Industries Corp Saudi Cement Sasco Saudi Dairy & Foodstuff Co Saudi Arabian Fertilizer Co Al Sagr Co-Operative Insuran Saudi Advanced Industries Saudi Arabian Coop Ins Co Salama Cooperative Insurance Samba Financial Group Sanad Cooperative Insurance Saudi Public Transport Co Saudi Arabia Refineries Co Hsbc Amanah Saudi 20 Etf Saudi Re For Cooperative Rei Savola Saudi Cable Co Saudi Chemical Company Saudi Ceramic Saudi Electricity Co Saudi Fisheries Al-Hassan G.I. Shaker Co Dur Hospitality Co Arabian Shield Cooperative Saudi Investment Bank/The Saudi Industrial Development Saudi Industrial Export Co KUWAIT Lt Price 50.01 28.37 77.65 96.88 24.38 120.03 137.24 31.90 19.85 31.40 24.55 36.85 15.23 23.07 50.65 27.80 8.96 71.96 9.13 52.09 95.69 14.71 33.14 64.47 28.71 44.45 24.99 14.92 38.26 % Chg -0.04 -9.74 -3.18 -2.64 -9.23 -0.12 -0.90 -9.73 -9.85 -9.95 -9.88 -3.05 0.00 -6.60 -7.20 0.72 -8.01 -3.98 -4.70 -5.94 -4.52 -2.58 5.61 -2.69 -2.11 -5.51 -3.10 -9.08 -8.23 Volume 175,022 757,826 6,001,763 108,689 784,385 14,665 160,118 747,322 1,276,625 480,184 253,910 1,592,023 3,288,406 672,439 17,810 3,457,570 534,652 1,076,521 157,364 296,946 2,592,153 2,397,652 108,198 380,476 297,408 373,392 1,127,667 438,346 KUWAIT Company Name Viva Kuwait Telecom Co Securities Group Co Sultan Center Food Products Kuwait Foundry Co Sak Kuwait Financial Centre Sak Ajial Real Estate Entmt Gulf Glass Manuf Co -Kscc Kuwait Finance & Investment National Industries Co Kuwait Real Estate Holding C Securities House/The Boubyan Petrochemicals Co Al Ahli Bank Of Kuwait Ahli United Bank (Almutahed) National Bank Of Kuwait Commercial Bank Of Kuwait Kuwait International Bank Gulf Bank Al-Massaleh Real Estate Co Al Arabiya Real Estate Co Kuwait Remal Real Estate Co Alkout Industrial Projects C AвЂ™ayan Real Estate Co Investors Holding Group Co.K Markaz Real Estate Fund Al-Mazaya Holding Co Al-Madar Finance & Invt Co Gulf Petroleum Investment Mabanee Co Sakc City Group Inovest Co Bsc Kuwait Gypsum Manufacturing Al-Deera Holding Co Alshamel International Hold United Industries Co Mena Real Estate Co National Slaughter House Amar Finance & Leasing Co United Projects Group Kscc National Consumer Holding Co Amwal International Investme Jeeran Holdings Equipment Holding Co K.S.C.C Nafais Holding Safwan Trading & Contracting Arkan Al Kuwait Real Estate Gulf Finance House Ec Energy House Holding Co Kscc Kuwait Slaughter House Co Kuwait Co For Process Plant Al Maidan Dental Clinic Co K National Ranges Company Kuwait Pipes Indus & Oil Ser Al-Themar Real International Al Ahleia Insurance Co Sak Wethaq Takaful Insurance Co Salbookh Trading Co K.S.C.C Aqar Real Estate Investments Hayat Communications Kuwait Packing Materials Mfg Soor Fuel Marketing Co Ksc Alargan International Real Burgan Co For Well Drilling Kuwait Resorts Co Kscc Oula Fuel Marketing Co Palms Agro Production Co Ikarus Petroleum Industries Mubarrad Transport Co Al Mowasat Health Care Co Shuaiba Industrial Co Kuwait Invest Co Holding Hits Telecom Holding First Takaful Insurance Co Kuwaiti Syrian Holding Co National Cleaning Company Eyas For High & Technical Ed United Real Estate Company Agility Kuwait & Middle East Fin Inv Fujairah Cement Industries Livestock Transport & Tradng International Resorts Co National Industries Grp Hold Marine Services Co Pearl Of Kuwait Real Estate Warba Insurance Co Kuwait United Poultry Co First Dubai Real Estate Deve Al Arabi Group Holding Co Kuwait Hotels Co Mobile Telecommunications Co Al Safat Real Estate Co Tamdeen Real Estate Co Ksc Al Mudon Intl Real Estate Co Kuwait Cement Co Ksc Sharjah Cement & Indus Devel Kuwait Portland Cement Co Educational Holding Group Bahrain Kuwait Insurance Kuwait China Investment Co Kuwait Investment Co Burgan Bank Kuwait Projects Co Holdings Al Madina For Finance And In Kuwait Insurance Co Al Masaken Intl Real Estate Intl Financial Advisors First Investment Co Kscc Al Mal Investment Company Bayan Investment Co Kscc Egypt Kuwait Holding Co Sae Coast Investment Development Privatization Holding Compan Kuwait Medical Services Co Injazzat Real State Company Kuwait Cable Vision Sak Sanam Real Estate Co Kscc Ithmaar Bank Bsc Aviation Lease And Finance C Arzan Financial Group For Fi Ajwan Gulf Real Estate Co Manafae Investment Co Kuwait Business Town Real Es Future Kid Entertainment And Specialities Group Holding C Lt Price 600.00 130.00 86.00 325.00 120.00 208.00 490.00 65.00 214.00 40.00 72.00 620.00 400.00 600.00 880.00 610.00 248.00 285.00 72.00 36.00 51.00 0.00 82.00 0.00 1.52 106.00 32.00 75.00 880.00 400.00 62.00 0.00 12.50 0.00 99.00 36.00 150.00 52.00 0.00 0.00 31.00 70.00 110.00 86.00 0.00 112.00 23.50 89.00 0.00 260.00 0.00 24.50 0.00 91.00 0.00 65.00 77.00 90.00 65.00 405.00 142.00 176.00 232.00 86.00 142.00 100.00 136.00 58.00 0.00 240.00 0.00 29.50 0.00 15.50 60.00 310.00 99.00 700.00 46.50 70.00 134.00 35.50 172.00 110.00 13.00 116.00 178.00 56.00 150.00 116.00 510.00 20.00 445.00 65.00 370.00 93.00 1,280.00 164.00 0.00 51.00 142.00 475.00 670.00 27.00 290.00 66.00 38.00 104.00 28.00 54.00 190.00 56.00 45.50 0.00 66.00 39.00 55.00 42.00 240.00 47.50 40.00 55.00 34.00 114.00 130.00 % Chg -7.69 0.00 1.18 0.00 0.00 -1.89 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 4.35 3.33 0.00 1.69 -1.12 0.00 0.81 -5.00 1.41 0.00 -3.77 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.92 -7.25 1.35 4.76 0.00 -1.59 0.00 13.64 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.64 1.45 3.77 0.00 0.00 0.00 -2.08 0.00 0.00 5.69 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 6.94 0.00 4.84 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.18 -1.39 0.00 7.94 -3.33 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.72 0.00 6.90 -1.64 0.00 5.32 -2.78 1.09 0.00 8.06 0.00 -1.15 0.00 4.00 -6.45 0.00 -1.75 0.00 9.43 -1.92 8.11 0.00 -2.99 1.37 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 6.25 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.89 0.00 0.00 -1.30 0.00 0.00 8.00 0.00 1.82 0.00 0.00 -5.71 6.85 -8.33 0.00 1.69 1.06 -4.76 0.00 7.94 0.00 3.17 Volume 1,888,680 100 56,000 100 9,700 115,500 31,598 10,000 70,000 70,500 488,268 697,966 83,131 36,501 906,422 582,853 1,634,182 3,432,161 20 283,657 3,157,196 446,951 2,579,985 174,035 1,197,577 369,093 100 901,004 11,310,690 413,200 7,000 13,001 258,730 570,200 100 148,768 3,010 105,226 54,489,253 100 50 6,238,211 185,000 50 443,250 15,000 31,100 1 40,898 1,200 6,395 172,050 109,313 10 139,743 1,997,198 296,136 2,642,250 2,791,228 705,924 19,950 50,100 3,945,841 2 390,000 7,700 36,051 1,338,275 122 2,750 100 500 1,930,323 177,734 111,193 4,257,864 10,210,826 376,352 930,300 20,000 50,100 60,000 5,000 1,701 90,000 1,158,843 528,300 3,379,400 5,880 70,010 2,659,703 3,996,037 2,245,210 5,003,032 500 2,752,700 1,249,377 207,000 26,100 110,000 3,350,810 94,467 455,438 3,619,500 280,000 1,422,227 500 1 Company Name Abyaar Real Eastate Developm Dar Al Thuraya Real Estate C Al-Dar National Real Estate Kgl Logistics Company Kscc Combined Group Contracting Zima Holding Co Ksc Qurain Holding Co Boubyan Intl Industries Hold Gulf Investment House Boubyan Bank K.S.C Ahli United Bank B.S.C Al-Safat Tec Holding Co Al-Eid Food Co Al-Qurain Petrochemicals Co Advanced Technology Co Ekttitab Holding Co S.A.K.C Kout Food Group Ksc Real Estate Trade Centers Co Acico Industries Co Kscc Kipco Asset Management Co National Petroleum Services Alimtiaz Investment Co Kscc Ras Al Khaimah White Cement Kuwait Reinsurance Co Ksc Kuwait & Gulf Link Transport Human Soft Holding Co Ksc Automated Systems Co Metal & Recycling Co Gulf Franchising Holding Co Al-EnmaвЂ™a Real Estate Co National Mobile Telecommuni Al Bareeq Holding Co Kscc Union Real Estate Co Housing Finance Co Sak Al Salam Group Holding Co United Foodstuff Industries Al Aman Investment Company Mashaer Holdings Co Ksc Manazel Holding Mushrif Trading & Contractin Tijara And Real Estate Inves Kuwait Building Materials Jazeera Airways Commercial Real Estate Co Future Communications Co National International Co Taameer Real Estate Invest C Gulf Cement Co Heavy Engineering And Ship B Refrigeration Industries & S National Real Estate Co Al Safat Energy Holding Comp Kuwait National Cinema Co Danah Alsafat Foodstuff Co Independent Petroleum Group Kuwait Real Estate Co Ksc Salhia Real Estate Co Ksc Gulf Cable & Electrical Ind Al Nawadi Holding Co Ksc OMAN Lt Price 32.00 0.00 20.50 99.00 860.00 130.00 13.50 65.00 45.00 400.00 226.00 53.00 122.00 196.00 0.00 42.00 850.00 33.00 305.00 95.00 0.00 58.00 132.00 200.00 48.50 400.00 390.00 90.00 60.00 69.00 1,380.00 0.00 150.00 17.50 52.00 242.00 81.00 150.00 44.50 60.00 60.00 445.00 420.00 86.00 124.00 55.00 32.00 94.00 146.00 345.00 132.00 19.00 1,200.00 79.00 410.00 63.00 355.00 590.00 140.00 % Chg -1.54 0.00 5.13 4.21 -1.15 0.00 12.50 -1.52 0.00 1.27 0.00 8.16 0.00 4.26 0.00 -3.45 0.00 0.00 -1.61 0.00 0.00 -1.69 -2.94 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 -5.26 -7.69 0.00 -1.43 0.00 0.00 6.06 4.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 -2.20 -7.69 3.45 0.00 0.00 -4.44 3.33 -3.51 -1.54 -1.05 7.35 -1.43 4.76 5.56 7.14 0.00 0.00 1.61 0.00 3.51 0.00 Volume 3,449,800 11,929,291 142,367 11,000 560 1,380,829 159,010 1,322,580 760,171 1,031,145 500 500 537,146 1,870,053 131,550 4,000 140,010 25,010 1,169,010 57,510 750 2,167,590 9 2,000 24,200 90,000 10,000 52,796 100 4,680,763 3,090,360 5,000 2,000 100 8,873,030 175,010 11,000 200 137,543 73,812 13,000 435,200 160,051 299,999 26 20,000 511,055 11,241,013 2,900 20,300 500 2,892,794 100,000 235,630 50 OMAN Company Name Voltamp Energy Saog United Finance Co United Power Co United Power/Energy Co- Pref Al Madina Investment Co Taageer Finance Salalah Port Services AвЂ™saffa Foods Saog Sohar Poultry Shell Oman Marketing Shell Oman Marketing - Pref Smn Power Holding Saog Al Shurooq Inv Ser Al Sharqiya Invest Holding Sohar Power Co Salalah Beach Resort Saog Salalah Mills Co Sahara Hospitality Renaissance Services Saog Raysut Cement Co Port Service Corporation Packaging Co Ltd Oman United Insurance Co Oman Textile Holding Co Saog Oman Telecommunications Co Sweets Of Oman Oman Orix Leasing Co. Oman Refreshment Co Oman Packaging Oman Oil Marketing Company 0Man Oil Marketing Co-Pref Oman National Investment Co Oman National Engineering An Oman National Dairy Products Ominvest Oman Medical Projects Oman Ceramic Com Oman Intl Marketing Oman Investment & Finance Hsbc Bank Oman Oman Hotels & Tourism Co Oman Holding International Oman Fiber Optics Oman Flour Mills Oman Filters Industry Oman Fisheries Co Oman Education & Training In Oman & Emirates Inv(Om)50% Oman & Emirates Inv(Emir)50% Oman Europe Foods Industries Oman Cement Co Oman Chlorine Oman Chromite Oman Cables Industry Oman Agricultural Dev Omani Qatari Telecommunicati National Securities Oman Foods International Soa National Pharmaceutical-Rts National Pharmaceutical National Packaging Fac National Mineral Water National Hospitality Institu National Gas Co National Finance Co National Detergents/The National Carpet Factory National Bank Of Oman Saog National Biscuit Industries National Real Estate Develop Natl Aluminium Products Muscat Thread Mills Co Muscat Insurance Company Modern Poultry Farms Muscat National Holding Musandam Marketing & Invest Al Maha Petroleum Products M Muscat Gases Company Saog Majan Glass Company Muscat Finance Al Kamil Power Co Interior Hotels Hotels Management Co Interna Al-Hassan Engineering Co Gulf Stone Gulf Mushroom Company Gulf Invest. Serv. Pref-Shar Gulf Investments Services Gulf International Chemicals Gulf Hotels (Oman) Co Ltd Global Fin Investment Galfar Engineering&Contract Galfar Engineering -Prefer Financial Services Co. Flexible Ind Packages Lt Price 0.36 0.13 1.29 1.00 0.00 0.14 0.65 0.72 0.21 2.00 1.05 0.62 1.04 0.11 0.36 1.38 1.49 2.45 0.42 1.39 0.32 0.48 0.26 0.29 1.50 1.35 0.15 2.40 0.26 2.24 0.25 0.26 0.31 0.00 0.40 0.00 0.45 0.52 0.15 0.00 0.23 0.00 5.51 0.60 0.02 0.06 0.14 0.11 0.00 1.00 0.47 0.56 3.64 1.71 1.45 0.00 0.16 0.52 0.00 0.10 0.00 0.06 2.05 0.53 0.14 0.70 0.00 0.29 3.75 0.00 0.30 0.16 0.00 0.00 1.86 0.00 2.30 0.83 0.28 0.15 0.31 0.00 1.25 0.09 0.08 0.43 0.15 0.12 0.12 10.50 0.12 0.11 0.43 0.16 0.00 % Chg 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 -0.99 0.00 0.00 0.00 -2.65 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 -8.77 0.00 -9.60 0.00 -4.71 0.00 1.01 0.00 0.00 -2.04 0.00 0.00 0.00 -4.49 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 -6.13 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 -3.17 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 -6.04 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.15 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 -3.36 0.00 -1.75 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 5.68 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 -1.65 0.00 0.00 -0.91 0.00 0.00 0.00 Volume 1,902 8,040 332,873 3,900 319,775 183,405 37,800 329,190 7,900 105,827 1,279,339 257,116 1,100,544 28,003 6,607 136,176 2,500 17,000 35,589 108,049 3,155,912 182,285 242,000 - Company Name Financial Corp/The Dhofar Tourism Dhofar Poultry Aloula Co Dhofar Intl Development Dhofar Insurance Dhofar University Dhofar Power Co Dhofar Power Co-Pfd Dhofar Fisheries & Food Indu Dhofar Cattlefeed Al Batinah Dev & Inv Dhofar Beverages Co Computer Stationery Inds Construction Materials Ind Cement & Gypsum Pro Marine Bander Al-Rowdha Bank Sohar Bankmuscat Saog Bank Dhofar Saog Al Batinah Hotels Majan College Areej Vegetable Oils Al Jazeera Steel Products Co Al Sallan Food Industry Acwa Power Barka Saog Al-Omaniya Financial Service Taghleef Industries Saog Gulf Plastic Industries Co Al Jazeera Services Al Jazerah Services -Pfd Al-Fajar Al-Alamia Co Ahli Bank Abrasives Manufacturing Co S Al-Batinah Intl Saog Lt Price 0.13 0.49 0.18 0.53 0.53 0.20 1.47 0.00 0.00 1.28 0.16 0.11 0.26 0.25 0.04 0.00 0.00 0.18 0.52 0.29 1.13 0.51 5.51 0.37 0.00 0.80 0.33 0.00 0.39 0.31 0.55 0.75 0.19 0.05 0.00 % Chg 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 -3.64 0.00 0.00 5.56 0.00 0.00 -1.60 -1.13 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.57 0.00 0.00 Volume 10,000 93,845 68,817 62,192 1,608,738 28,000 1,731,245 - UAE Company Name National Takaful Company Waha Capital Pjsc Union Insurance Co Union National Bank/Abu Dhab United Insurance Company Union Cement Co United Arab Bank Abu Dhabi National Takaful C Abu Dhabi National Energy Co Sudan Telecommunications Co$ Sorouh Real Estate Company Sharjah Insurance Company Sharjah Cement & Indus Devel Ras Al Khaima Poultry Ras Al Khaimah White Cement Rak Properties Ras Al-Khaimah National Insu Ras Al Khaimah Ceramics Ras Al Khaimah Cement Co National Bank Of Ras Al-Khai Ooredoo Qsc Umm Al Qaiwain Cement Indust Oman & Emirates Inv(Emir)50% National Marine Dredging Co National Corp Tourism & Hote Sharjah Islamic Bank National Bank Of Umm Al Qaiw National Bank Of Fujairah National Bank Of Abu Dhabi Methaq Takaful Insurance #N/A Invalid Security Gulf Pharmaceutical Ind-Julp Invest Bank Insurance House Gulf Medical Projects Gulf Livestock Co Green Crescent Insurance Co Gulf Cement Co Foodco Holding Finance House First Gulf Bank Fujairah Cement Industries Fujairah Building Industries Emirates Telecom Corporation Eshraq Properties Co Pjsc Emirates Insurance Co. (Psc) Emirates Driving Company Al Dhafra Insurance Co. P.S. Dana Gas Commercial Bank Internationa Bank Of Sharjah Abu Dhabi Natl Co For Buildi Al Wathba National Insurance Intl Fish Farming Co-Asmak Arkan Building Materials Co Aldar Properties Pjsc Al Ain Ahlia Ins. Co. Al Khazna Insurance Co Agthia Group Pjsc Al Fujairah National Insuran Abu Dhabi Ship Building Co Abu Dhabi National Insurance Abu Dhabi National Hotels Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank Abu Dhabi Aviation Lt Price 0.97 2.60 1.12 4.99 2.00 1.31 7.00 6.30 0.85 0.65 0.00 3.90 1.10 1.27 1.50 0.66 3.78 2.82 0.80 7.75 125.00 1.40 1.17 6.90 5.52 1.77 3.60 4.25 11.00 0.67 0.00 2.80 2.45 1.00 2.00 2.70 0.67 1.08 3.99 3.77 15.85 1.35 1.45 10.90 0.77 6.90 5.00 7.70 0.48 1.75 1.75 0.74 5.35 5.80 1.24 2.20 50.00 0.58 5.99 300.00 1.70 6.50 3.30 5.30 6.10 3.00 % Chg 0.00 4.00 0.00 -2.16 0.00 -0.76 0.00 0.00 3.66 1.56 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 -1.49 0.00 -5.69 8.11 -5.49 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 4.12 0.00 0.00 -4.76 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 -8.26 0.00 0.00 0.00 6.93 0.00 0.00 -0.63 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.32 -2.82 0.00 0.00 -2.04 0.00 0.00 -8.64 0.00 0.00 -9.49 -3.08 12.23 0.00 3.28 0.00 0.00 0.00 4.76 2.91 1.16 -5.06 Volume 5,814,367 1,545,021 7,000 121,481 342,550 10,000 4,835,533 139,078 102,000 660,278 620,020 539,770 2,032,353 31,000 158,575 4,451,096 2,236,185 172,272,168 14,600 22,574,760 442,063 203,000 111,452 45,156,056 250 262,094 10,000 1,112,000 2,484,660 3,983,428 100,000 BAHRAIN Company Name United Paper Industries Bsc United Gulf Investment Corp United Gulf Bank United Finance Co Trafco Group Bsc Takaful International Co Taib Bank -$Us Securities & Investment Co Seef Properties Sudan Telecommunications Co$ Al-Salam Bank Delmon Poultry Co National Hotels Co National Bank Of Bahrain Nass Corp Bsc Khaleeji Commercial Bank Ithmaar Bank Bsc Investcorp Bank -$Us Inovest Co Bsc Intl Investment Group-Kuwait Gulf Monetary Group Global Investment House Kscc Gulf Finance House Ec Bahrain Family Leisure Co Esterad Investment Co B.S.C. Bahrain Duty Free Complex Bahrain Car Park Co Bahrain Cinema Co Bahrain Tourism Co Bahraini Saudi Bank/The Bahrain National Holding Bankmuscat Saog Bmmi Bsc Bmb Investment Bank Bahrain Kuwait Insurance Bahrain Islamic Bank Gulf Hotel Group B.S.C Bahrain Flour Mills Co Bahrain Commercial Facilitie Bbk Bsc Bahrain Telecom Co Bahrain Ship Repair & Engin Albaraka Banking Group Banader Hotels Co Ahli United Bank B.S.C Lt Price 0.00 0.00 0.34 0.00 0.22 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.19 0.00 0.11 0.00 0.00 0.81 0.17 0.04 0.14 0.00 0.21 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.20 0.87 ` 1.55 0.22 0.00 0.44 0.00 0.83 0.00 0.66 0.16 0.83 0.40 0.70 0.45 0.33 2.10 0.85 0.00 0.77 % Chg 0.00 0.00 9.74 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 -3.51 0.00 0.00 -0.61 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 -1.27 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 -1.92 Volume 5,000 30,000 50,000 220,000 15,000 145,114 95,000 100,000 30,000 9,087 9,000 18,500 8,160 97,000 20,000 20,000 36,834 15,009 34,000 4,851 89,560 20,000 7,514 7,870 10,000 42,000 LATEST MARKET CLOSING FIGURES Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 9 BUSINESS DJIA WORLD INDICES Company Name Exxon Mobil Corp Microsoft Corp Johnson & Johnson General Electric Co Wal-Mart Stores Inc Chevron Corp Procter & Gamble Co/The Jpmorgan Chase & Co Verizon Communications Inc Intl Business Machines Corp Pfizer Inc Coca-Cola Co/The At&T Inc Merck & Co. Inc. Intel Corp Walt Disney Co/The Visa Inc-Class A Shares Cisco Systems Inc Home Depot Inc United Technologies Corp McdonaldвЂ™s Corp Boeing Co/The American Express Co 3M Co Goldman Sachs Group Inc Unitedhealth Group Inc Nike Inc -Cl B Du Pont (E.I.) De Nemours Caterpillar Inc Travelers Cos Inc/The Lt Price 87.55 47.10 104.28 24.56 83.89 102.55 89.75 59.64 45.51 154.33 30.87 40.92 32.26 57.68 36.19 91.32 255.89 26.87 100.44 112.59 90.15 121.59 90.17 157.36 188.11 98.97 96.07 69.56 90.51 103.38 % Chg 1.10 0.32 -0.14 -1.33 0.10 0.17 0.22 -0.67 -0.15 -0.68 -0.26 0.02 0.31 -0.07 -0.10 -0.19 -0.35 0.06 0.66 0.39 -0.52 0.68 -0.91 0.15 -0.38 0.21 -0.10 0.30 0.01 0.21 5,031,034 6,449,207 1,587,573 16,516,294 1,297,395 2,915,297 1,411,381 4,260,215 4,071,605 1,531,911 4,379,569 5,156,182 6,351,469 2,235,398 6,564,981 1,484,216 1,180,756 5,298,512 1,197,868 1,017,291 1,725,462 1,346,956 999,618 535,726 937,234 609,657 1,370,267 1,058,653 1,544,342 375,010 FTSE 100 Company Name Wpp Plc Wolseley Plc Wm Morrison Supermarkets Whitbread Plc Weir Group Plc/The Vodafone Group Plc United Utilities Group Plc Unilever Plc Tullow Oil Plc Tui Travel Plc Travis Perkins Plc Tesco Plc Standard Life Plc Standard Chartered Plc St JamesвЂ™s Place Plc Sse Plc Sports Direct International Smiths Group Plc Smith & Nephew Plc Shire Plc Severn Trent Plc Schroders Plc Sainsbury (J) Plc Sage Group Plc/The Sabmiller Plc Rsa Insurance Group Plc Royal Mail Plc Royal Dutch Shell Plc-B Shs Royal Dutch Shell Plc-A Shs Royal Bank Of Scotland Group Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc Rio Tinto Plc Reed Elsevier Plc Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc Randgold Resources Ltd Prudential Plc Petrofac Ltd Persimmon Plc Pearson Plc Old Mutual Plc Next Plc National Grid Plc Mondi Plc Meggitt Plc Marks & Spencer Group Plc London Stock Exchange Group Lloyds Banking Group Plc Legal & General Group Plc Land Securities Group Plc Kingfisher Plc Johnson Matthey Plc Itv Plc Intu Properties Plc Intl Consolidated Airline-Di Intertek Group Plc Intercontinental Hotels Grou Imperial Tobacco Group Plc Imi Plc Hsbc Holdings Plc Hargreaves Lansdown Plc Hammerson Plc Glencore Plc Glaxosmithkline Plc Gkn Plc G4s Plc Friends Life Group Ltd Fresnillo Plc Experian Plc Easyjet Plc Dixons Carphone Plc Direct Line Insurance Group Diageo Plc Crh Plc Compass Group Plc Coca-Cola Hbc Ag-Cdi Centrica Plc Carnival Plc Capita Plc Burberry Group Plc Bunzl Plc Bt Group Plc British Sky Broadcasting Gro British Land Co Plc British American Tobacco Plc Bp Plc Bhp Billiton Plc Bg Group Plc Barclays Plc Bae Systems Plc Babcock Intl Group Plc Aviva Plc Astrazeneca Plc Associated British Foods Plc Ashtead Group Plc Arm Holdings Plc Antofagasta Plc Anglo American Plc Aggreko Plc Admiral Group Plc Aberdeen Asset Mgmt Plc 3I Group Plc #N/A Invalid Security Lt Price 1,286.00 3,544.00 169.00 4,455.00 1,722.00 214.90 900.50 2,562.00 362.60 437.60 1,768.00 166.60 388.00 900.40 766.00 1,609.00 654.00 1,020.00 1,028.00 4,487.00 1,911.00 2,525.00 231.90 432.10 3,209.50 425.00 392.50 2,012.50 1,966.00 367.00 810.00 2,630.50 1,042.00 5,005.00 4,098.00 1,440.50 678.50 1,504.00 1,124.00 178.50 6,370.00 868.00 1,015.00 476.40 464.50 2,070.00 75.25 235.00 1,121.00 319.90 3,206.00 202.70 323.80 456.60 2,155.00 2,431.00 2,707.00 1,174.00 594.90 916.00 584.50 282.30 1,342.00 324.80 270.00 353.40 715.00 1,010.00 1,609.00 428.70 279.90 1,821.50 1,434.00 1,048.00 1,246.00 264.40 2,732.00 1,005.00 1,602.00 1,709.00 402.70 0.00 736.50 3,366.50 377.85 1,288.50 806.00 227.55 436.10 1,051.00 469.30 4,462.50 3,052.00 1,123.00 924.50 690.00 1,109.50 1,412.00 1,232.00 403.80 417.70 0.00 % Chg -0.08 0.25 -1.17 -0.02 1.35 -0.19 -0.28 -0.97 -1.28 0.00 0.34 0.51 -0.92 -0.87 -1.16 -0.12 -0.15 -0.39 -1.15 -0.99 -1.34 -1.10 1.93 -0.35 -1.97 -0.86 -0.28 -0.94 -0.91 -2.29 0.19 -1.94 -0.95 -0.50 -1.25 -1.30 0.07 -1.05 -1.23 -1.16 -0.23 -1.64 -1.74 -1.00 -0.68 -1.66 -1.16 -1.92 -1.15 1.59 0.16 -0.64 -1.34 -0.04 0.05 -0.98 -0.15 -1.43 -1.41 -0.60 -2.01 -1.98 -1.65 0.03 -0.37 -0.48 -2.39 0.10 -1.89 1.68 -1.72 -0.11 -0.97 -0.10 -0.80 -0.38 0.48 -0.40 1.20 -0.23 1.33 0.00 -0.87 -1.13 -2.02 -2.75 -1.59 -2.04 -1.40 -0.57 0.28 -2.42 -0.59 -2.35 -0.80 -1.64 -2.33 -0.63 0.16 -1.51 -1.25 0.00 Volume 2,925,546 577,684 5,226,362 311,895 919,322 86,115,852 2,074,878 1,891,455 5,339,124 291,597 19,673,693 3,331,586 3,323,060 903,246 2,053,497 954,544 759,796 1,584,459 1,029,857 580,790 247,512 7,164,117 1,356,031 1,709,210 1,714,920 1,168,164 4,804,874 5,976,908 6,040,930 5,160,206 2,608,245 2,407,929 1,305,480 963,198 2,765,465 2,067,946 546,026 1,533,231 9,076,971 327,324 5,920,284 1,014,959 1,779,500 7,048,585 326,699 117,474,805 10,417,732 1,017,174 3,881,506 293,030 4,611,542 1,909,775 5,674,720 295,236 386,798 1,682,284 565,018 17,769,812 671,492 1,245,861 43,929,514 7,056,872 2,432,410 2,377,189 3,907,370 863,232 1,131,897 849,367 2,224,322 2,014,141 3,049,232 2,070,306 1,749,142 509,133 14,977,307 474,570 1,382,100 1,076,203 341,974 11,777,063 1,717,627 2,066,556 31,215,650 7,709,476 9,953,831 27,547,002 3,898,955 785,540 7,659,595 3,672,953 403,864 2,127,622 2,058,093 1,373,136 4,639,549 305,953 538,812 2,897,798 1,359,451 - TOKYO Company Name Inpex Corp Daiwa House Industry Co Ltd Sekisui House Ltd Kirin Holdings Co Ltd Japan Tobacco Inc Seven & I Holdings Co Ltd Toray Industries Inc Asahi Kasei Corp Sumitomo Chemical Co Ltd Shin-Etsu Chemical Co Ltd Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Kao Corp Takeda Pharmaceutical Co Ltd Astellas Pharma Inc Eisai Co Ltd Daiichi Sankyo Co Ltd Fujifilm Holdings Corp Shiseido Co Ltd Jx Holdings Inc Lt Price 1,235.50 2,182.50 1,503.00 1,498.00 3,450.50 4,299.00 916.10 1,047.50 466.00 7,959.00 598.00 4,742.50 4,958.00 1,695.00 4,487.00 1,687.50 3,665.00 1,854.50 434.60 % Chg 0.90 -2.61 -1.89 0.27 -1.86 0.51 -1.82 -2.10 -2.31 -2.75 -3.20 2.10 0.26 -1.60 -2.31 -0.91 -3.20 0.46 -0.09 Indices Volume Volume 5,546,400 1,769,200 3,903,800 3,589,300 5,310,200 2,431,500 8,548,000 4,009,000 12,685,000 1,534,800 6,793,400 3,145,000 2,258,900 6,220,800 1,878,200 2,087,000 3,038,200 2,334,600 14,005,300 Lt Price Change Dow Jones Indus. Avg S&P 500 Index Nasdaq Composite Index S&P/Tsx Composite Index Mexico Bolsa Index Brazil Bovespa Stock Idx Ftse 100 Index Cac 40 Index Dax Index Ibex 35 Tr 17,253.25 2,001.56 4,636.82 13,739.61 40,726.93 46,718.00 6,233.96 4,056.10 9,485.34 10,033.20 -27.58 -0.77 -16.78 +8.56 -987.64 -1,283.98 -66.67 -52.83 -109.39 -111.80 Nikkei 225 Japan Topix Hang Seng Index All Ordinaries Indx Nzx All Index Bse Sensex 30 Index Nse S&P Cnx Nifty Index Straits Times Index Karachi All Share Index Jakarta Composite Index 17,099.40 1,379.29 23,027.85 5,164.59 1,108.32 27,319.56 8,219.60 3,294.14 22,972.77 5,108.43 -272.18 -20.36 -221.35 -32.26 -3.30 -31.12 -4.50 -29.99 +82.64 -52.00 TOKYO Company Name Bridgestone Corp Asahi Glass Co Ltd Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Meta Sumitomo Metal Industries Kobe Steel Ltd Jfe Holdings Inc Sumitomo Metal Mining Co Ltd Sumitomo Electric Industries Smc Corp Komatsu Ltd Kubota Corp Daikin Industries Ltd Hitachi Ltd Toshiba Corp Mitsubishi Electric Corp Nidec Corp Nec Corp Fujitsu Ltd Panasonic Corp Sharp Corp Sony Corp Tdk Corp Keyence Corp Denso Corp Fanuc Corp Rohm Co Ltd Kyocera Corp Murata Manufacturing Co Ltd Nitto Denko Corp Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Nissan Motor Co Ltd Toyota Motor Corp Honda Motor Co Ltd Suzuki Motor Corp Nikon Corp Hoya Corp Canon Inc Ricoh Co Ltd Dai Nippon Printing Co Ltd Nintendo Co Ltd Itochu Corp Marubeni Corp Mitsui & Co Ltd Tokyo Electron Ltd Sumitomo Corp Mitsubishi Corp Aeon Co Ltd Mitsubishi Ufj Financial Gro Resona Holdings Inc Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdin Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Gr Bank Of Yokohama Ltd/The Mizuho Financial Group Inc Orix Corp Daiwa Securities Group Inc Nomura Holdings Inc Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Holdin Ms&Ad Insurance Group Holdin Dai-Ichi Life Insurance Tokio Marine Holdings Inc T&D Holdings Inc Mitsui Fudosan Co Ltd Mitsubishi Estate Co Ltd Sumitomo Realty & Developmen East Japan Railway Co West Japan Railway Co Central Japan Railway Co Ana Holdings Inc Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Kddi Corp Ntt Docomo Inc Tokyo Electric Power Co Inc Chubu Electric Power Co Inc Kansai Electric Power Co Inc Tohoku Electric Power Co Inc Kyushu Electric Power Co Inc Tokyo Gas Co Ltd Secom Co Ltd Yamada Denki Co Ltd Fast Retailing Co Ltd Softbank Corp Lt Price 4,135.00 584.00 298.80 0.00 195.00 2,527.50 1,829.00 1,480.00 31,320.00 2,685.50 1,756.50 7,678.00 880.00 506.70 1,403.00 7,912.00 371.00 669.60 1,447.50 273.00 2,353.00 7,440.00 52,710.00 5,503.00 19,780.00 7,530.00 5,473.00 12,705.00 6,649.00 664.70 1,045.00 7,311.00 3,498.00 3,639.00 1,721.00 4,044.50 3,872.50 1,239.50 1,032.50 13,020.00 1,240.50 685.00 1,527.50 8,428.00 1,185.00 2,108.00 1,189.00 665.60 604.80 453.80 4,233.50 644.60 201.30 1,504.00 929.00 693.00 3,003.50 2,800.00 1,750.50 3,804.00 1,417.50 3,166.50 2,489.50 3,968.50 8,630.00 5,535.00 16,825.00 293.30 6,267.00 7,506.00 1,809.00 433.00 1,343.50 1,252.50 1,392.00 1,261.00 620.40 6,709.00 368.00 42,295.00 7,269.00 % Chg -1.28 -0.51 -1.55 0.00 -2.01 -3.25 0.47 -2.89 -1.03 -3.07 -1.73 -2.50 -1.83 -1.42 -2.91 -2.74 -2.11 1.69 -1.06 -1.09 -3.59 -3.00 -1.29 -1.94 -1.05 -3.83 -2.37 -1.93 -1.76 -2.05 -2.84 -2.52 -0.63 -2.60 -0.98 -0.83 -2.07 -1.51 -1.01 -1.44 -4.69 -2.67 -1.45 -0.59 -1.62 -1.95 -0.71 -0.79 -1.26 -2.81 -2.43 -2.51 -1.37 -1.89 -1.80 -1.44 -3.11 -2.41 -2.40 -2.71 -1.39 -2.54 -1.58 -1.79 0.05 -0.50 -0.24 -1.25 -0.13 -1.46 -1.36 -6.48 -2.93 -3.32 -2.04 -1.71 0.05 -1.05 -2.13 -1.18 -0.91 Volume 3,051,100 6,814,000 35,127,000 25,937,000 5,001,000 4,059,000 3,458,200 155,500 4,366,500 4,090,000 1,432,500 14,955,000 14,815,000 7,207,000 2,209,700 21,230,000 16,336,000 9,385,100 19,838,000 10,431,200 1,257,300 88,100 1,889,600 1,085,300 534,500 1,542,600 730,100 1,167,600 13,273,000 12,683,600 12,018,400 7,387,600 1,934,100 2,428,100 1,165,400 6,057,000 3,600,900 2,034,000 525,400 11,288,100 14,588,100 12,919,700 735,900 6,530,300 8,582,600 4,349,400 51,974,200 8,701,200 24,892,000 7,655,800 5,046,000 135,385,700 7,320,100 10,328,000 28,552,300 1,016,400 2,047,100 3,134,800 2,862,800 3,150,700 4,814,000 4,634,000 2,271,000 833,000 691,000 408,300 24,682,000 2,286,000 2,486,300 6,892,500 55,532,500 1,732,800 2,826,400 1,389,400 2,112,300 6,106,000 677,600 9,944,600 750,900 6,551,500 SENSEX Company Name Zee Entertainment Enterprise Wipro Ltd Ultratech Cement Ltd Tech Mahindra Ltd Tata Steel Ltd Tata Power Co Ltd Tata Motors Ltd Tata Consultancy Svcs Ltd Sun Pharmaceutical Indus State Bank Of India Sesa Sterlite Ltd Reliance Industries Ltd Punjab National Bank Power Grid Corp Of India Ltd Oil & Natural Gas Corp Ltd Ntpc Ltd Nmdc Ltd Maruti Suzuki India Ltd Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd Lupin Ltd Larsen & Toubro Ltd Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd Jindal Steel & Power Ltd Itc Ltd Infosys Ltd Indusind Bank Ltd Idfc Ltd Icici Bank Ltd Housing Development Finance Hindustan Unilever Ltd Hindalco Industries Ltd Hero Motocorp Ltd Hdfc Bank Limited Hcl Technologies Ltd Grasim Industries Ltd Gail India Ltd Dr. ReddyвЂ™s Laboratories Dlf Ltd Coal India Ltd Cipla Ltd Cairn India Ltd Bharti Airtel Ltd Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd Bharat Heavy Electricals Bank Of Baroda Bajaj Auto Ltd Axis Bank Ltd Asian Paints Ltd Ambuja Cements Ltd Acc Ltd Lt Price 367.65 541.55 2,536.70 2,495.75 400.95 83.85 493.95 2,358.65 844.20 310.55 209.90 878.80 1,096.65 134.45 343.05 133.00 137.50 3,368.75 1,252.30 1,445.90 1,501.20 1,308.85 137.75 392.55 1,924.80 782.50 156.95 345.25 1,124.30 790.10 153.20 3,145.45 941.50 1,485.30 3,415.85 422.25 3,355.65 144.75 377.05 632.10 241.90 349.95 636.35 248.80 1,057.40 2,517.90 476.75 767.25 228.30 1,435.00 % Chg 1.74 -0.29 1.00 -3.59 -0.43 -0.53 -1.20 -3.76 0.10 -0.26 -2.78 -0.40 0.05 -0.26 1.77 0.04 -1.15 -0.31 0.07 -0.27 -0.65 4.93 -1.96 -0.80 -0.71 0.49 0.74 -0.30 5.12 -0.96 -0.23 0.66 1.07 -1.80 1.64 -0.48 -0.65 -4.80 3.49 -1.37 -0.08 0.57 -4.68 0.59 -0.21 -0.14 -1.38 -0.91 1.11 0.35 Volume 1,566,935 1,615,170 164,026 746,254 5,772,319 3,383,900 4,094,539 1,863,702 1,567,675 16,672,121 4,418,012 3,335,816 1,121,410 1,675,662 5,309,192 11,083,096 2,851,178 189,553 1,136,093 314,453 1,880,608 1,646,513 4,428,330 5,951,513 3,412,028 1,159,772 3,982,771 7,639,035 2,650,699 758,053 6,254,842 261,902 1,766,399 1,213,928 46,754 2,511,651 195,006 9,004,193 3,292,273 1,134,732 5,110,497 3,578,360 2,534,746 4,020,067 1,004,434 219,084 3,516,717 875,726 1,366,535 341,724 An employee leans on a glass wall above the main atrium of the London Stock Exchange. The benchmark FTSE 100 index retreated 1.87% at 6,182.72 points yesterday. Europe markets tumble on oil price worries AFP London E uropean stocks tumbled yesterday, wiping out gains early in the day spurred by a modest and short-lived rebound in oil prices, as concerns over global crude demand persisted. Low oil prices and the impact of Western sanctions especially took a toll on Russia, which saw its rouble plummet by 9.5% amid warnings of a steep economic contraction of 4.8% next year if crude prices do not climb. After slight increases earlier in the day, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in January was down 44 cents at $61.41 in late London trading. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for January declined sharply, down $1.15 to hit $56.66 in midday trading in New York. Both had hit their lowest levels since 2009 previously during MondayвЂ™s trading. The oil market has now collapsed by 50% in value since June, weighed down by plentiful supplies, the stronger dollar and weak demand arising from the struggling global economy. Renewed worries over oil prices wiped out gains earlier in the day in European stocks, with LondonвЂ™s benchmark FTSE 100 index retreating 1.87% to end the day at 6,182.72 points. The Paris CAC 40 fell 2.52% to 4,005.38 points, its lowest level since October 20 and its sixth-consecutive drop. In Frankfurt, the DAX 30 lost 2.72% to 9,334.01 points. European equities fell sharply last week as traders tracked the dizzying plunge in oil prices, which hurts the proп¬Ѓts of energy companies. вЂњIf ever a reminder was needed that oil is by some distance the most important commodity in the world the last few weeks have provided it,вЂќ said analyst David Hufton at energy brokerage PVM Oil Associates. A potential new political crisis in Greece also spooked European markets last week, with concerns over the possibility of snap elections which could jeopardise tough austerity measures. вЂњThe move in oil was shown to be a dead-cat bounce and prices rolled over and erased most stock market gains with them,вЂќ said Jasper Lawler, an analyst at CMC Markets UK. вЂњAfter such a sharp drop last week, itвЂ™s not surprising there wasnвЂ™t much in the way of conп¬Ѓdence to hold onto the morningвЂ™s share price gains going into the afternoon,вЂќ he added. Lawler said вЂњlower oil prices almost unequivocally boost demand in the HONG KONG HONG KONG Company Name Aluminum Corp Of China Ltd-H Bank Of East Asia Bank Of China Ltd-H Bank Of Communications Co-H Belle International Holdings Boc Hong Kong Holdings Ltd Cathay Pacific Airways Cheung Kong Holdings Ltd China Coal Energy Co-H China Construction Bank-H China Life Insurance Co-H China Merchants Hldgs Intl China Mobile Ltd China Overseas Land & Invest China Petroleum & Chemical-H China Resources Enterprise China Resources Land Ltd China Resources Power Holdin China Shenhua Energy Co-H China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd Citic Ltd Clp Holdings Ltd Cnooc Ltd Cosco Pacific Ltd Esprit Holdings Ltd Fih Mobile Ltd Hang Lung Properties Ltd Hang Seng Bank Ltd Henderson Land Development longer term but the realisation is setting in for markets that part of the reason prices are falling rapidly right now is because global demand is slowing.вЂќ In a sign of the ambivalence, stock markets in most Gulf Arab states shed the majority of the gains they made at the start of trading yesterday to close lower or п¬‚at following days of heavy losses. Asian markets fell on the back of the low oil price, while investors in Japan shrugged off Prime Minister Shinzo AbeвЂ™s decisive re-election and focused instead on the faltering economy. A strong report on US industrial production in November helped push Wall Street stocks higher in early trading after last weekвЂ™s heavy losses, but markets were back in the red by midday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.71% to 17,158.04 points. The broad-based S&P 500 lost 0.92% to 1,983.89, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index fell 0.99% to 4,607.33. In foreign exchange deals, the euro stabilised against the dollar, climbing to $1.2460 from $1.2455 late in New York on Friday. The British pound fell to 79.60 pence to the euro and $1.5655. Gold was at $1,209.25 per ounce compared to $1.217 late Friday. Lt Price 3.36 29.90 4.09 6.57 8.12 25.70 17.26 129.20 4.91 6.02 26.65 25.90 88.95 22.50 6.03 15.64 19.44 20.05 22.60 10.20 13.36 64.90 10.14 10.54 9.15 3.72 21.35 126.50 51.35 % Chg -0.88 -1.48 -0.49 -1.65 -1.22 -1.15 -0.58 -1.90 -1.21 0.33 -0.37 -3.00 -1.88 -2.17 0.00 0.26 -2.31 -1.47 0.22 -3.95 -0.45 -0.99 0.80 -1.31 0.77 -1.06 -1.61 -0.55 -0.68 Volume 7,186,284 2,825,421 314,540,187 28,361,923 15,676,359 6,390,542 2,697,145 4,375,301 13,206,281 246,301,925 29,807,547 2,558,416 16,462,118 18,516,068 131,193,542 2,023,859 7,801,364 2,152,961 7,992,704 67,340,708 8,420,870 1,992,579 109,821,077 5,945,762 2,343,662 4,594,760 3,907,567 922,739 1,448,525 Company Name Hong Kong & China Gas Hong Kong Exchanges & Clear Hsbc Holdings Plc Hutchison Whampoa Ltd Ind & Comm Bk Of China-H Li & Fung Ltd Mtr Corp New World Development Petrochina Co Ltd-H Ping An Insurance Group Co-H Power Assets Holdings Ltd Sino Land Co Sun Hung Kai Properties Swire Pacific Ltd-A Tencent Holdings Ltd Wharf Holdings Ltd Lt Price 17.46 173.40 74.10 88.10 5.26 7.91 31.35 8.85 8.25 72.50 74.65 12.34 112.50 100.00 111.90 55.20 % Chg -0.80 -0.97 -1.40 -1.78 -0.57 0.25 -0.79 -0.56 1.98 -2.03 -1.06 -1.12 -0.79 -1.57 -1.58 -0.36 Volume 7,013,056 4,214,201 21,034,540 7,251,111 269,142,960 14,752,790 1,454,577 9,247,711 129,707,058 32,983,937 1,899,171 3,161,001 2,635,005 1,660,321 16,768,081 3,503,690 GCC INDICES Indices Doha Securities Market Saudi Tadawul Kuwait Stocks Exchange Bahrain Stock Exchage Oman Stock Market Abudhabi Stock Market Dubai Financial Market Lt Price 11,460.02 7,904.91 6,302.12 1,378.23 5,571.99 4,180.76 3,325.49 Change +345.59 -214.16 +27.37 -4.18 -51.66 -28.99 +4.16 вЂњInformation contained herein is believed to be reliable and had been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. The accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. This publication is for providing information only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation for a purchase or sale of any of the financial instruments mentioned. Gulf Times and Doha Bank or any of their employees shall not be held accountable and will not accept any losses or liabilities for actions based on this data.вЂќ CURRENCIES DOLLAR QATAR RIYAL SAUDI RIYAL UAE DIRHAMS BAHRAINI DINAR KUWAITI DINAR Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 15 BUSINESS Chinese п¬Ѓrms seek control deals in outbound M&A Reuters Hong Kong Reuters Beijing C hinese п¬Ѓnancial п¬Ѓrms are targeting purchases of distressed banking assets coming on the market in Europe, having been urged by Beijing to expand their reach beyond emerging markets. The п¬Ѓrst Chinese purchase of a European investment bank was announced last week, with Haitong Securities agreeing to pay в‚¬379mn ($470mn) for an investment bank in austerity hit Portugal. Banco Espirito Santo de Investimento (BESI) is being sold by Novo Banco, the bank carved out of Banco Espirito Santo after it was rescued in August. For ChinaвЂ™s second largest brokerage itвЂ™s a modest-sized deal, equivalent to just 1.5% of HaitongвЂ™s market value. But it demonstrates the changing character of acquisitions by Chinese п¬Ѓnancial п¬Ѓrms. These days they mostly seek controlling stakes, and now they are scouting Europe for opportunities, avoiding anything too big. вЂњIncreasingly, Chinese п¬Ѓnancial п¬Ѓrms are seeking control deals as a way to expand their global footprint,вЂќ Mayooran Elalingam, head of Deutsche BankвЂ™s Asia-Paciп¬Ѓc M&A said. вЂњSeveral distressed opportunities are available in eurozone economies and we expect the Chinese п¬Ѓnancial services sector to be active in these situations,вЂќ he added. Such deals can help Chinese banks gain treasured European banking licences as well as expertise, notably in debt markets, that can be transferred back home, whereas growth through opening overseas bank branches can be a slow process. This year, the government began encouraging Chinese stock brokers and п¬Ѓnancial п¬Ѓrms to acquire greater international reach, according to investment bankers. вЂњThe government is encouraging the outbound M&A push,вЂќ a Hong Kong based M&A banker said. The drive for geographic spread reп¬‚ects ChinaвЂ™s efforts to build up overseas bank outlets as the yuan currency P Employees work inside a branch of Haitong Securities Co in Beijing. Chinese financial firms are seeking control deals as a way to expand their global footprint. gains a greater share of global trade. HaitongвЂ™s purchase of BESI, PortugalвЂ™s biggest debt underwriting п¬Ѓrm, will give it control of a business that earned 247mn euros in revenues in 2013, according to analysts at Daiwa Capital Markets, and a ready-made investment banking network in Europe. вЂњAs regulators liberalize the п¬Ѓnancial industry in China, banks, insurers and securities п¬Ѓrms would be on the lookout for asset managers, private banks and wealth managers,вЂќ said Bernard Teo, head of п¬Ѓnancial institutions group investment banking in China with Gold- man Sachs. Some M&A bankers do not rule out the possible acquisition of a European commercial bank. Struggling Italian lender Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the worst-performing European bank in a recent asset quality review by the European Central Bank, could attract Chinese bids, according to Hong Kong-based M&A bankers. Chinese buyers could also be interested in Novo Banco, which PortugalвЂ™s authorities hope to sell in the п¬Ѓrst half of next year, they added. Until now Chinese п¬Ѓnancial п¬ЃrmsвЂ™ strategy has been based on organic growth and sporadic purchases of minority stakes in foreign п¬Ѓrms, mostly in the emerging market sphere. So far this year, they have announced $3.2bn worth of overseas deals, threequarters of which were majority stake purchases, according to Thomson Reuters data. The total spend on overseas deals is way below the record $17.9bn posted in 2007, but back then only 4.3% of the deals were for majority stakes. In 2007, just before the global п¬Ѓnancial crisis erupted, Chinese п¬Ѓnancial п¬Ѓrms and sovereign wealth fund bought stakes in publicly listed global п¬Ѓnancial companies, including a $5bn investment in Morgan Stanley. The stock market losses from the illtimed deals created a headache for executives back home. вЂњChinese п¬Ѓnancial institutions are likely to shy away from large transformational deals as they have learnt valuable lessons from the investments made during the п¬Ѓnancial crisis,вЂќ Goldman SachsвЂ™ Teo said. Their main goal now, Teo said, is to serve Chinese Corps expanding globally. Only EM reformers will keep investors as tide turns Reuters London E merging marketsвЂ™ popularity with investors is ebbing as a strong dollar lures money away and commodity prices fall, but some governments promising tough economic reforms may stem the п¬‚ow of capital leaving. India and Indonesia currently look the most promising, fund managers say, following the election of pro-business governments on a ticket to introduce reforms that will open up state companies to foreign investment and cut red tape. вЂњReformers are performers,вЂќ said Bill Street, head of investments for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at State Street. вЂњYou need to differentiate your exposures in emerging markets .. We have some select funds that pull out reformers. WeвЂ™ve seen some good reform happening in India and IndonesiaвЂќ In India, Prime Minister Narendra ModiвЂ™s government plans to sell state stakeholdings in major companies, shake up labour laws and cut populist subsidies on fuel. Craig Botham, an emerging markets economist at UK fund manager Schroders, said he expected success on those fronts вЂњto lead to greater investment, picking up momentum going into 2016вЂќ but was only вЂњcautiously positiveвЂќ on similar claims by the government in Indonesia. So far the two countries have had mixed success in retaining foreign portfolio capital. According to Lipper вЂ“ a Thomson Reuters company that tracks the funds South KoreaвЂ™s Iran oil imports rise 6.5% Reuters Seoul S outh KoreaвЂ™s imports of Iranian crude oil rose 6.5% in November from a year earlier, but shipments for the first 11 months of the year were still below the 2013 average, in line with international sanction requirements. Preliminary customs data from the worldвЂ™s п¬Ѓfth-largest crude oil importer showed yesterday that Seoul bought 567,611 tonnes of crude oil from Tehran last month, or 138,686 barrels per day (bpd), compared with 532,851 tonnes a year ago. Iranian crude shipments between January and November were 5.65mn tonnes, or 124,012 bpd, down 7.6% from a year earlier and 7.5% below the 2013 average of 134,000 bpd, according to the data вЂ�Xiaomi booked $56mn proп¬Ѓt in 2013вЂ™ and Reuters calculations. Iran has suspended highergrade uranium enrichment and big Asian buyers, including South Korea, should hold their crude imports from Tehran at end-2013 levels under a preliminary deal between Iran and six powers agreed in November 2013. Talks between Iran and the six powers вЂ“ the US, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany - failed last month to resolve a 12-year stand-off over TehranвЂ™s nuclear ambitions as the sides agreed to extend the talks till June 2015. South KoreaвЂ™s SK Energy and Hyundai Oilbank import Iranian oil and their imports п¬‚uctuate each month. Overall, South Korea imported 11.1mn tonnes of crude last month, or 2.71mn bpd. The total was 8.7% higher than the 10.2mn tonnes imported in November last year, the customs data showed. industry вЂ“ net sales for India themed investment funds domiciled in Europe amounted to в‚¬303mn in September, making them the one of the fastest selling emerging market investment products. In contrast, Indonesian-themed funds saw an outп¬‚ow of в‚¬64mn. The countryвЂ™s president Joko вЂњJokowiвЂќ Widodo, who was elected in July, does not hold a parliamentary majority вЂ“ limiting his ability to deliver on his promises to liberalise the economy and attract more foreign investment. Investors are also unenthusiastic about prospects for Turkey, where politicians hoping to win elections scheduled for mid 2015 are unlikely to inп¬‚ict economic pain on voters despite recommendations by the IMF to tighten п¬Ѓscal and monetary policy, as recommended by the IMF. вЂњEconomic populism remains a risk in Turkey, and the countryвЂ™s structural reform agenda will likely remain stalled ahead of parliamentary elections in June,вЂќ JP Morgan said in a research note. European equity funds focusing on Turkey saw a net outп¬‚ow of в‚¬68.5mn in September, according to Lipper вЂ“ a trend also reп¬‚ected in the falling value of the Turkish lira in 2014, down around 5% against the dollar. South Africa, which has seen demand for its commodity exports sink as key customer China slows down, is also out of favour with investors вЂ“ as a result of which the rand currency has fallen more than 10% against the dollar since May. Brazil is another country losing friends in the City of London and on Wall Street following the re-election of left-leaning president Dilma Rousseff, who some doubt has the political clout to curb a budget deп¬Ѓcit and control inп¬‚ation. One voice countering those others however is veteran fund manager Mark Mobius, who runs the Templeton Emerging Markets Investment Trust. He said he thought Brazil could well bounce back next year and also suggested Russia вЂ“ whose economy is crumbling beneath the combined weight of Western sanctions, falling oil prices and the collapse of the rouble вЂ“ could stage a recovery if it embraced reform вЂњWe believe both Russia and Brazil have the resources to bounce back strongly should more appropriate policies be adopted,вЂќ Mobius wrote to clients, noting he had big holdings of Brazilian banks Itau Unibanco and Banco Bradesco. rivately owned Xiaomi Technology booked 347.5mn yuan ($56mn) in net proп¬Ѓt last year, according to a regulatory п¬Ѓling that showed the worldвЂ™s No.3 smartphone maker grappling razor-thin margins. The п¬Ѓgure casts new light on the growth of a company that reached third place in just four years thanks to handsets lauded for balancing quality and affordability. Only this month did momentum п¬Ѓnally stall when a patent challenge in India halted sales. Valued by private investors at more than $10bn, Xiaomi recorded revenue of 26.6bn yuan and an operating margin of just 1.8%. A Xiaomi spokeswoman conп¬Ѓrmed the accuracy of the п¬Ѓling, but said it did not cover the entirety of XiaomiвЂ™s business. вЂњTheyвЂ™re growing so fast and so lean, I wouldnвЂ™t be surprised even if they were losing money,вЂќ said Forrester Research analyst Bryan Wang. вЂњThe current market is so competitive that I donвЂ™t think itвЂ™s sustainable without consolidation.вЂќ Xiaomi brands itself an вЂњInternet companyвЂќ that eschews traditional marketing and sells hardware at low prices as a distribution channel for its real moneymaker: software and services. But the п¬Ѓnancial strain of such a business model, and whether Xiaomi can generate sustainable proп¬Ѓt, has been a subject of long-running speculation in the technology industry. All but leading smartphone makers Samsung Electronics Co and Apple are likely to see proп¬Ѓtability dwindle in coming years due to pricing pressure from low-margin companies like Xiaomi, Fitch Ratings said last month. SamsungвЂ™s mobile division reported an operating margin of 18.7% last year, whereas Apple reported 28.7% for the business year ended September 2013. LG ElectronicsвЂ™ mobile business posted a margin of just 0.5%. South KoreaвЂ™s LG lost its position as the worldвЂ™s third-biggest smartphone maker during the third quarter of this year when Xiaomi claimed a global market share of 5.6%, according to Strategy Analytics. XiaomiвЂ™s п¬Ѓnancial results were included in a п¬Ѓling made on Monday to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange by Midea Group Co. Xiaomi bought 1.3% of the electrical appliance manufacturer for 1.27bn yuan. Xiaomi has been investing heavily in such companies with the aim of building an ecosystem of Internet-connected devices and appliances to extend its reach beyond smartphones. Indonesia central bank steps in to arrest rupiah fall Reuters Jakarta/Singapore The Indonesian rupiah tumbled to its lowest level since August 1998 yesterday as declining risk appetites and increasing demand for dollars to settle year-end foreign loan payments put pressure on the countryвЂ™s currency, bonds and shares. Bank Indonesia said that it was acting in both the foreign exchange and bond markets to help stabilise prices, as emerging markets from Europe to Latin America suffer sharp outflows of capital. The rupiah fell to 12,695 rupiah before paring its losses to 12,665 per dollar. The currency was down 1.7% on the day вЂ“ its biggest one-day drop in more than four months вЂ“ and 4.3% this year. Analysts attributed the fall to a combination of factors including how the sharp drop in oil prices has increased pessimism about global growth, and a steady rise in the dollar on expectations the US central bank will begin raising interest rates next year. вЂњThe US continues to post positive economic data which in turn hit the rupiah,вЂќ said Royke Tumilaar, head of treasury at Bank Mandiri. вЂњHigh foreign ownership in our capital The Indonesian rupiah tumbled to its lowest level since August 1998 yesterday as declining risk appetites and increasing demand for dollars to settle year-end foreign loan payments put pressure on the countryвЂ™s currency, bonds and shares. markets makes us really exposed to a strengthening dollar,вЂќ he added. The yield of the 10-year government bond rose to 8.203% from 8.087% on Friday. Traders said they believed state banks were buying bonds amid heavy foreign selling. At 0740 GMT, the benchmark index for Indonesian shares was down 1.2%. Moves in rupiahвЂ™s non-deliverable forwards suggest selling by overseas investors is behind the rupiahвЂ™s latest drop, said Satoshi Okagawa, senior global markets analyst for Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp in Singapore. вЂњThere are some visible signs of currency hedging against rupiah weakness,вЂќ Okagawa said. Divya Devesh, foreign exchange strategist for Standard Chartered Bank in Singapore, said that on top of weak risk appetites, year-end corporate demand for dollars plus profit-taking in Indonesian bonds may be weighing on the rupiah. вЂњWe have seen massive inflows into Indonesian bonds this year, and there seems to be a minor selloff in bonds, so people might be taking profit ahead of the year-end,вЂќ Devesh said. Wellian Wiranto, economist at SingaporeвЂ™s OCBC Bank, said the rupiah вЂњhas been hit because of the relatively high degree of foreign ownership in its government bonds, which is not a plus point given the anticipation of broad strength in the US economy and dollar.вЂќ Data from IndonesiaвЂ™s Finance Ministry shows an outflow of 11tn rupiah ($869.22mn) between December 1 and December 11, during which foreign ownership of total tradable bonds fell to 38.6% from a record high 39.5%. IndonesiaвЂ™s credit default swaps contacts were major underperformers yesterday. The 5-year contract or the cost of insuring sovereign debt for 5 years rose 12 basis points (bps) to 167/177 basis points (bps) compared with the broad market index which widened by 6 bps. The rupiahвЂ™s fall comes shortly after Bank Indonesia (BI) showed increasing concern about the level of foreign borrowing by Indonesian companies. 16 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 BUSINESS BoJ survey shows business mood fragile in fourth quarter Reuters Tokyo C onп¬Ѓdence among Japanese manufacturers worsened slightly in the fourth quarter and п¬Ѓrms expect conditions to deteriorate more, highlighting the challenges Premier Shinzo Abe faces in reviving the economy a day after his big win in SundayвЂ™s snap election. The headline index measuring big manufacturersвЂ™ sentiment stood at plus 12, down 1 point from three months ago and worse than a median market forecast of plus 13, the Bank of JapanвЂ™s closely-watched вЂњtankanвЂќ survey showed yesterday. Big manufacturers expect their sentiment index to fall to plus 9 in March, partly showing companies are concerned that Abe and the BoJвЂ™s efforts to weaken the yen are pushing up import costs too much. The sentiment among big servicesector п¬Ѓrms improved, the survey showed, suggesting consumer spending is gradually recovering from a sales tax hike in April. However, underlining the patchy economic recovery after JapanвЂ™s slip into recession in the third quarter, non-manufacturers expect business conditions to worsen slightly three months ahead. вЂњThe decline in sentiment at manufacturers shows some companies are worried about the yen weak pushing up input costs,вЂќ said Hidenobu Tokuda, senior economist at Mizuho Research Institute. вЂњCapital expenditure plans are healthy and sentiment at nonmanufacturers is improving, which suggests the economy can continue to recover gradually.вЂќ AbeвЂ™s election win gives him a fresh mandate to pursue policies aimed at ending 15 years of deп¬‚ation and sparking durable growth. That task became even more stiff after the economy unexpectedly slipped into recession in the third quarter due partly to the hit from the April tax hike. Inп¬‚ation is currently running at 0.9%, lagging the BoJвЂ™s 2% goal which it wants to hit in the п¬Ѓscal year starting April 2015. But Japan has little room to deploy massive п¬Ѓscal stimulus given its huge public debt, while the central bank is already aggressively printing money under its quantitative easing programme launched in April last year and expanded in October. Policymakers hope that big manufacturers, which saw proп¬Ѓts boom thanks to the weak yen and sliding oil prices, will spend more on wages and capital expenditure, helping to broaden the economic recovery. The tankan showed big companies plan to increase capital expenditure by 8.9% in the п¬Ѓscal year ending in March 2015, compared with a median forecast of a 8.0% rise. JapanвЂ™s inbound tourism growth boosts retailers and railroad operators Reuters Tokyo I nvestors are snapping up Japanese stocks in the retail and transportation sectors, thanks to a weaker yen that has lured a record number of foreign visitors in one of the few bright spots for the economy. The yen has tumbled to seven-year lows making Japan cheaper for tourists and helping companies that cater to tourists such as railway operators and certain retailers. Tourism spending is a boon to Japanese firms battling a stagnant domestic economy, which slipped into recession in the third quarter, and a declining population. Foreign visitor numbers hit a record 11mn from January to October, up 27% from the previous year, according to the Japan National Tourism Organisation. These tourists spent ВҐ1.468tn in that period, surpassing last yearвЂ™s full year п¬Ѓgure of ВҐ1.417tn, according to the Japan Tourism Agency. In July-Sept alone, they spent a record 550.5bn yen, up 41.2% year-on-year. вЂњThe trend has just started. Foreigners will continue enjoying bargains in Japan as a weak-yen trend is likely to last,вЂќ said Daiju Aoki, senior economist at UBS Securities. вЂњWe expect doubledigit growth in tourism spending to continue.вЂќ The yen has lost about a third of its value over the past two years since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pushed through monetary easing and government spending to revive the economy. Railroad companies are among the stocks that investors say beneп¬Ѓted. Keisei Electric Railway Co, which connects TokyoвЂ™s downtown and the Narita Airport, hit a 23-year high recently and is up 43% this year, compared to a 5.3% rise in the Nikkei share average. Central Japan Railway Co, which runs bullet trains between Tokyo and cities in Western Japan including Kyoto, a major tourist attraction, has hit a multi-year high, and is up 37% this year. Other beneп¬Ѓciaries include Oriental Land Co, which operates Tokyo Disney Resort, which hit a record high this month and is up 74% year-to-date. Shinkansen bullet trains sit on the platform at Tokyo station. Central Japan Railway Co, which runs bullet trains between Tokyo and cities in Western Japan including Kyoto, a major tourist attraction, has hit a multi-year high, and is up 37% this year. Real estate investment trusts (REITs) that invest in hotels are also booming. Japan Hotel Reit Investment Corp hit a multi-year high this month and is up 56% this year. Some shares have risen so much that some investors think they are now fully valued. For instance, Oriental Land is already one% above the target price of analysts at Nomura, which recommends shares as вЂњbuyвЂќ. вЂњSome of these stocksвЂ™ valuations are expensive,вЂќ said Makoto Kikuchi, the chief executive of Myojo Asset Manage- ment, adding that income from foreigners accounted for only a small portion of the groupвЂ™s sales. However, some other shares, such as retailers that have been stepping up efforts to woo foreign tourists, could rise more. To encourage foreign shoppers the government in October expanded taxfree items for foreign tourists to include consumables such as snacks, drinks and cosmetics on combined purchases over ВҐ5,000. вЂњRetailers like Bic Camera are worth looking at as more foreign tourists buy Japanese goods such as candies and pens,вЂќ Masashi Oda, chief investment ofп¬Ѓcer at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank.Bic Camera IncвЂ™s inbound sales for the п¬Ѓrst quarter through November soared 2.5 times on the year, the companyвЂ™s spokesman said. Their shares rose 100% so far this year to ВҐ1,182. But SMBC Friend Securities think the shares could rise to ВҐ1,500. вЂњSince consumables became tax free, sales of alcohol beverages and drugs has been rising dramatically. We are also seeing sales growth in cameras and watches as the number of foreign visitors is increasing,вЂќ he said. Tokyo п¬Ѓrms promise Abe вЂ�utmost effortsвЂ™ to raise wages Reuters Tokyo J apanese business leaders have promised Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to do their вЂњutmostвЂќ to raise wages and allow suppliers to pass on higher costs, while also urging him to push through labour reforms, said a draft agreement between the government, business and labour groups. Abe and business leaders, including Sadayuki Sakakibara, chairman of Toray Industries Inc and the Keidanren business lobby, are scheduled to announce the plan today after a meeting in Tokyo, according to a draft seen by Reuters. The agreement, the broad terms of which were п¬Ѓrst reported by the Yomiuri newspaper on Saturday, were hammered out in advance of the election landslide that returned Abe and his ruling coalition to power on Sunday. Wage growth is crucial to the success of the вЂњAbenomicsвЂќ agenda aimed at breaking a cycle of slow growth and deп¬‚ation through monetary and п¬Ѓscal stimulus and pledges of structural reform. For a second year, Abe is pressuring major companies to raise base pay in the п¬Ѓscal year from April. Some major unions have signalled that they will ask for a wage hike of over 2% in base pay. AbeвЂ™s Liberal Democratic Party and its junior partner won a two-thirds majority in a lower-house election that the prime minister called a referendum on his economic policies at a time when consumption has sputtered and business conп¬Ѓdence faltered. Adjusted for inп¬‚ation, overall wages fell for the 16th straight month in October, down 2.8% from the previous year. In addition, Japanese business conп¬Ѓdence barely improved in the fourth quarter, according to a closely watched Bank of Japan survey, suggesting a slow climb from recession despite gains for stock prices and a steep fall in the yen. On Tuesday, Abe, Sakakibara and representatives of smaller companies and a national labour group are set to meet at the prime ministerвЂ™s residence. A draft of the agreement ready to be announced after that meeting commits all parties to work together to вЂњsustain a positive economic cycleвЂќ in JapanвЂ™s economy, the worldвЂ™s third largest. вЂњTo sustain a virtuous cycle between company proп¬Ѓts, wage increase and consumption growth, and to ensure an end of deп¬‚ation, companies need to use increased proп¬Ѓts to raise wages and make investments,вЂќ the draft accord said. вЂњThe business community will make the utmost efforts to raise wages,вЂќ it said. The meeting will also include Nobuaki Koga, the president of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, known as Rengo in Japan, a labour group that represents almost 7mn workers. Abe held a similar meeting with business and labour leaders last year. In spring wage negotiations, some larger п¬Ѓrms agreed to wage increases. Others, like Sony Corp, have moved to implement more п¬‚exible pay arrangements that could cut average pay. To improve proп¬Ѓts at smaller п¬Ѓrms and encourage them to raise wages, companies will pledge to allow suppliers to pass on higher input costs, caused in part by the weaker yen. Business leaders also renewed a call for the Abe administration to press ahead with labour reforms without detailing speciп¬Ѓc steps. The draft urges changes that would make it easier to pay workers for performance rather than based on seniority and to improve productivity in the service sector, which employs seven in 10 workers in Japan. In June, Abe announced limited labour market reforms that stopped short of changes sought by foreign investors. The biggest change eliminated compulsory overtime for workers earning the equivalent of $100,000 per year. GlencoreвЂ™s Pacorini entrenches LME warehousing position By Andy Home London Load-out queues in the London Metal ExchangeвЂ™s (LME) warehousing network fell across the board last month. The backlog to remove aluminium from Detroit, the most acutely impacted location, shrank by 30 days to 641 days, while the wait to remove other metals stuck behind the wall of aluminium fell from 111 to 93 days. The reduction in waiting times was even sharper at the Dutch port of Vlissingen, a drop from 637 to 555 days, according to the LMEвЂ™s latest monthly report. A вЂњflashвЂќ queue to load out zinc at New Orleans, meanwhile, almost disappeared in November, dwindling to just 10 days from 71 days at the end of September. All good news, it appears, for the LME, which has been lambasted by industrial users for its dysfunctional physical delivery system and its disputed part in fracturing the aluminium marketвЂ™s pricing model. True, the problem can hardly be described as fixed given youвЂ™d still have to wait well over a year to get aluminium out of either Detroit or Vlissingen, but at least things are moving in the right direction even before the exchangeвЂ™s new rules linking load-in to load-out rates (LILO) kick in from February. However, the simple metrics of queue length mask a redrawing of the battle-lines in the LMEвЂ™s ongoing campaign against its warehousing companies. One in particular, Pacorini, the metal logistics arm of Glencore, is steadily increasing its dominance of the global LME storage system. Its share of LME-registered metal, both on-warrant and awaiting departure, has grown from just under 50% in April to 54% in November. Even that figure, though, understates the influence Pacorini now has in terms of exchange stocks of aluminium, copper and zinc. Metro, the LME warehousing operator owned by Goldman Sachs , took centre stage in the recent US Senate hearings on the impact of the load-out queue at its Detroit sheds on the aluminium price. And the Detroit aluminium queue is still the longest, although any direct correla- tion with soaring physical premiums has, for now at least, broken down. But Metro has been out of the queuecreation game for many months now. Its Detroit operations have received just 1,725 tonnes of aluminium since April. A total 537,000 tonnes have been loaded out over the same period. Goldman Sachs said in June it was voluntarily complying with the LMEвЂ™s LILO rule, even while its enactment was held up in the UK legal system. Such good behaviour may also have something to do with ensuring operational stability during a sales process which is thought to be entering its final stages. Recent fluctuations in the Detroit queue have been all about fresh cancellations of metal stored in Metro sheds. But that process is now also pretty much done. The amount of non-cancelled aluminium in Detroit is just 16,075 tonnes and itвЂ™s by no means certain all of that is in Metro anyway. The pricing point has passed to Vlissingen, where Pacorini holds all but 900 tonnes of the total 1.9mn tonnes of LMEregistered metal. That shift in power is evident from the flurry of reverse cancellations at Vlissingen during the November aluminium squeeze. The movement of 116,175 tonnes of metal back onto LME warrant is the main reason why the load-out queue at Vlissingen fell so sharply in November. Unlike Detroit, open aluminium tonnage at the Dutch port is high at a current 704,425 tonnes. Only Rotterdam holds more вЂњliveвЂќ aluminium but it is split across several different operators and a good part of it is thought to be locked down under rental agreements. As aluminium drains steadily from the LME system, the game is determined by the amount of free-float metal available through the clearing system and much of it, if not most of it, appears to be located at Vlissingen. Also, unlike Metro Detroit, Pacorini Vlissingen has started loading in more aluminium in recent weeks. It received 76,950 tonnes last month and another 36,725 tonnes so far this month. A one-off related to the spread stress of last month or a re-modelling of load-in and load-out rates before the February deadline? Only time will tell but itвЂ™s a disconcerting development from the LMEвЂ™s perspective. MetroвЂ™s foot-print in New Orleans has also been steadily diminishing. That вЂњflashвЂќ zinc queue in September resulted from the mass cancellation of stocks in Metro sheds. The company currently holds just 775 tonnes of noncancelled tonnage of all LME metals in New Orleans. Andy Home is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 17 BUSINESS Rouble hits new record lows as US threatens fresh sanctions Reuters Moscow T he rouble hit further record lows yesterday and Russian shares fell, hurt by investor concern about possible new US sanctions over the Ukraine crisis. The central bank was probably intervening yesterday, traders said, in what has become nearly a daily action since the start of the month. The Russian currency weakened beyond 59 roubles per dollar for the п¬Ѓrst time. At 1203 GMT it was around 2.3% weaker at 59.53 against the dollar and 2.4% weaker at 74.04 versus the euro. A modest recovery in oil prices, whose sharp fall has together with sanctions been the main cause of the roubleвЂ™s over 45% slide against the dollar this year, prevented further losses. After Russian markets closed last week, the US Congress passed a bill setting out tougher sanctions on Moscow and authorising the supply of military aid to Ukraine. US President Barack Obama has yet to sign the bill into law and has said he opposes further sanctions on Russia unless Europe is on board. The bill вЂњwill be negative for market sentiment,вЂќ analysts at Sberbank CIB investment bank wrote in a note. RussiaвЂ™s central bank said yesterday it had conducted $478mn worth of forex market interventions on December 11, taking the total the bank has spent defending the currency this month to almost $6bn. вЂњThe policy response from the Russian authorities has been close to non-existent вЂ“ weak, feeble FX intervention, and no appetite to raise policy rates in any meaningful way,вЂќ Tim Ash, head of emerging markets research at Standard Bank in London, said in a note. The central bank raised its main lending rate by one percentage point last week, but the move did little to buttress the currency. Brent crude was trading over 1% higher at $62.60 a barrel in afternoon trading in Moscow, offering support for oil which is one of RussiaвЂ™s chief exports. Russian shares slipped, mirroring developments elsewhere in emerging markets. The dollar-based RTS index was 3.4% lower at 771 points but the rouble-traded MICEX was up 0.1% at 1,460 points. Russian dollar bond spreads crossed the 600 basis-point level, while debt insurance costs touched 500 basis points, according to Markit. The headquarters of Bank of America Corp in Charlotte, North Carolina, the US. The second-biggest US bank by assets has captured 9.8% of Asian equity trading adjusted by commissions, according to Greenwich Associates. Bank of America and CLSA named top Asia brokers in 2014 Bloomberg Hong Kong B ank of America Corp and CLSA were named the yearвЂ™s top equity brokerages in Asia as they won the most business from fund managers in the region, according to Greenwich Associates. Bank of America, the secondbiggest US bank by assets, captured 9.8% of Asian equity trading adjusted by commissions, while CLSA had 9.6%, according to the report e-mailed to news organisations yesterday. The market share of the top 10 brokerages has fallen to 76% from an estimated 83.5% in 2007, the report showed. вЂњOver the coming years, foreign banks will face tougher competition in Asia from emerging banks,вЂќ said Andrew Clarke, director of trading at Mirabaud Securities Asia in Hong Kong. вЂњChinese, Hong Kong, Singaporean, Malaysian and Australian п¬Ѓrms are all out for more Asian business and they will get it.вЂќ Bank of America and Hong Kong-based CLSA, a unit of Citic Securities Co, led their rivals in a year where Japanese and Hong Kong trading volumes have faltered as ChinaвЂ™s economy slows and optimism over JapanвЂ™s stimulus policies fades. Average daily volumes for 2014 on the Nikkei 225 Stock Average are down 33% from a year earlier, while those on Hong KongвЂ™s Hang Seng Index have dropped 1.3%, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The MSCI Asia Paciп¬Ѓc Index lost 4% this year, poised for its п¬Ѓrst annual drop since 2011. UBS Group was third in GreenwichвЂ™s brokerage ranking with a 9% market share, followed by Credit Suisse GroupвЂ™s 8.3%. Morgan Stanley was next with an 8.1% share, while Goldman Sachs Group rounded out the top six brokerages with 7.6%. The study was based on interviews with 238 Asian equity fund managers and analysts, 110 traders, and 35 users of equity derivative products at institutions based in Asia. вЂњThese rankings do matter to some brokers as their bonus depends on it,вЂќ MirabaudвЂ™s Clarke said. For Asian equity research and advisory services, Hong Kong- based CLSA won 9.3% of the commission-weighted vote from survey respondents, the Greenwich report showed. Bank of America, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, had 9.1%. вЂњAs attractive as the Asian equity business appears, attempting to crack the ranks of leading brokers at this point is a daunting task requiring sizable outlays just to enter a playing п¬Ѓeld already crowded with entrenched competitors,вЂќ Greenwich said in the report. The п¬Ѓrm, based in Stamford, Connecticut, was started in 1972 and provides research and advisory services to the п¬Ѓnancial services industry. Asia markets slump; Tokyo leads losses Sensex edges lower; rupee weakens AFP Tokyo Reuters Mumbai A Indian shares edged lower after earlier hitting their lowest levels in 1-1/2 months as software services providers fell after Tata Consultancy ServicesвЂ™ tepid comments on its outlook, while other blue-chips were hit by global risk aversion. Oil prices touched fresh 5-1/2year lows yesterday, spurring an emerging market selloff as demand for the safe-haven yen picked up while European stocks stabilised after their worst week since 2011. Foreign investors sold shares worth Rs8.65bn on Friday, bringing their total outflow to nearly $280mn over the last four consecutive sessions of sales, regulatory data showed. The 50-shares NSE index has started looking oversold after falling for six out of the past seven sessions and closing below its 50-day moving average on Monday for the first time in nearly two months. вЂњWe believe the downside is limited from the current levels in index and expect consolidation or technical rebound in the coming session prior to any further fall,вЂќ said Jayant Manglik, president at Religare Securities. The benchmark BSE index ended 0.11% lower at 27,319.56. The broader NSE index closed down 0.05% at 8,219.60, closing below its 50-day moving average for the first time since October 21. Both indexes earlier declined to their lowest intraday level since October 30. Software stocks led the decliners after sector leader TCS on Friday said seasonal trends would sian markets fell yesterday as oil remained near п¬Ѓve-year lows, while investors in Japan shrugged off Prime Minister Shinzo AbeвЂ™s decisive re-election and focused instead on the faltering economy. Sydney shed 0.64% as a hostage crisis erupted in the heart of the city, with terriп¬Ѓed people cowering inside a cafe where an Islamic п¬‚ag was displayed against a window, sparking a security lockdown in an area home to government and corporate headquarters. Stocks on the Australian market dropped 33.5 points to close at 5,186.1, while in Tokyo the Nikkei 225 index closed down 1.57%, or 272.18 points, at 17,099.40. Seoul п¬Ѓnished п¬‚at, falling 1.35 points to 1,920.36. Hong Kong lost 0.95%, or 221.35 points to close at 23,027.85, but Shanghai ended 0.52%, or 15.25 points, higher at 2,953.42. In other markets; Wellington fell 0.29%, or 15.88 points, to 5,499.07; Fletcher Building was off 0.62% at NZ$8.05 and Air New Zealand was down 1.21% at NZ$2.44. Taipei fell 41.70 points, or 0.46%, to 8,985.63; Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co п¬Ѓnished 0.74% higher at Tw$136.0 while Hon Hai Precision Industry shed 2.12% to Tw$87.7. Manila п¬Ѓnished up 0.71%, or 51.41 points, at 7,275.62; Philippine Long Distance Telephone lost 0.14% to 2,840 pesos while Universal Robina rose 1.24% to 196.40 pesos. Bangkok closed down 2.41%, or 36.46 points, at 1,478.49; media operator BEC World plunged 5.66% to 50baht, while oil company PTT Exploration and Production sank 5.33% to 106.50 baht. Kuala Lumpur fell 1.8%, or 31.17 points, to 1,701.82; Malayan Banking slid 2.49% to 8.60 ringgit, while AMMB Holdings dropped 3.28% to 6.19. Jakarta closed down 1.01%, or 52 points, Businessmen are reflected on a share prices board in Tokyo. The Nikkei 225 index closed down 272.18 points to 17,099.40 yesterday. at 5,108.43; car maker Astra International lost 2.09% to 7,025 rupiah, while food producer Indofood Sukses Makmur rose 0.38% to 6,575 rupiah. Singapore closed down 0.90%, or 29.99 points, to 3,294.14; oil rig maker Keppel Corp fell 1.24% to Sg$8while Singapore Airlines п¬Ѓnished down 0.43% at Sg$11.58. Tokyo slipped after AbeвЂ™s widely expected election win in a snap poll on Sunday that he had billed as a referendum on his economic policies. вЂњThe elections are a net plus for the market, but really came as no surprise and thus are not likely to be a very large factor in todayвЂ™s trading,вЂќ said Nomura Securities equity market strategist Junichi Wako. вЂњAnalysts are essentially back to where they were beforeвЂ”hoping for a thorough п¬‚eshing out of AbeвЂ™s plan to revitalise the economy,вЂќ he told Dow Jones Newswires. Investors were also focused on the Bank of JapanвЂ™s quarterly Tankan survey that showed conп¬Ѓdence among major Japanese manufacturers edged down in the three months to December. The slide in Asian markets comes after crashing oil prices dragged US stocks to one of their worst losses of the year on Friday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.79% and the S&P 500 tumbled 1.62%. It was the S&P 500вЂ™s п¬Ѓrst weekly loss in nearly two months and its worst singleweek decline - 3.5%вЂ”since May 2012. Oil prices bounced back somewhat in Asian trade Monday but remained near п¬Ѓve-year lows. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate rose 49 cents to $58.30 while Brent gained 68 cents to $62.53 in afternoon trade, reversing losses in both contracts in early trading. Lower oil prices beneп¬Ѓt consumers, but traders have been unnerved by the speed of the freefall in crude prices, which could put projects on hold in the oil sector and hurt energy companies and banks. Oil prices have plunged more than 50% since June. On forex markets the dollar was lower, buying ВҐ118.23 in early Monday trade against ВҐ118.79 in New York on Friday afternoon. The euro fell to ВҐ147.31 from ВҐ148.05 and to $1.2453 from $1.2464 in US trade. Gold was at $1,210.54 an ounce at 1035 GMT compared with $1,225late Friday. impact its Q3 revenue. TCS fell 3.8%, Tech Mahindra ended down 3.6%, Wipro lost 0.3%, Infosys ended 0.7% lower and HCL Technologies closed 1.8% down. Metals and mining stocks fell tracking lower Chinese rebar futures and spot iron ore prices. Tata Steel fell 0.4%, Jindal Steel and Power lost 2%, JSW Steel ended down 1.4% while Sesa Sterlite fell 2.8%. In other blue-chips, Bharat Petroleum Corp fell 4.7% and Axis Bank lost 1.4%. Meanwhile the rupee posted its biggest single-day fall in more than four months, tracking steep losses in emerging market currencies while domestic data showing an unexpected contraction in industrial output sparked concerns about economic growth. The falls pushed the rupee to a new 10-1/2 month low against the dollar on Monday, in a session when the Indonesian rupiah hit a 16-year low amidst a slump in crude prices and worries about US rate hikes expected next year. The central bank was seen as having stepped in to prevent more losses in the rupee. вЂњToday, RBI sold dollars at 62.70 to contain rupeeвЂ™s rapid fall but the dollar demand was huge,вЂќ said Param Sarma, chief executive officer at NSP Forex, a consultancy and brokerage firm. вЂњWhile one can expect the central bank to intervene regularly to halt the rupeeвЂ™s fall, rupee could possibly weaken to 63.30 or thereabouts by end-December before any recovery is seen,вЂќ he added. The partially convertible rupee closed weaker at 62.94/95 per dollar, after hitting 62.95, its lowest level since January 28 compared with FridayвЂ™s 62.29/30 close. 18 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 BUSINESS BT wireless comeback has sellers competing in talks Bloomberg London B T Group PlcвЂ™s negotiations to acquire one of BritainвЂ™s two largest wireless operators gained momentum over the weekend, with the owners of O2 and EE jostling with each other to reach a deal with the former telecommunications monopoly, according to people familiar with the matter. BT, which wants to expand into mobile services, may announce exclusive talks with Telefonica, which controls O2, or Deutsche Telekom and Orange, the shareholders of the venture called EE, as early as later yesterday, said the people, who asked not to be identiп¬Ѓed because deliberations are private. While the British п¬Ѓrm was leaning toward O2 last week, it has continued negotiations with EEвЂ™s owners as it tries to solicit a better price and structure, said the people. To alleviate BTвЂ™s concern about EEвЂ™s more complicated ownership, Paris-based Orange and Bonn-based Deutsche Telekom offered terms that would see the French exit entirely with the Germans selling only part of their 50% stake, one of the people said. вЂњThereвЂ™s a need for consolidation in the UK market and everyone wants to move,вЂќ said Stephane Beyazian, an analyst at Raymond James. вЂњBT has some п¬‚exibility on price in this case, because there are at least two potential sellers.вЂќ Assuming a valuation of 7 times the targetsвЂ™ adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation, O2 is worth ВЈ9.4bn ($14.8bn) and EE ВЈ11bn, according to estimates by Citigroup analysts. Representatives for London-based BT, Madrid-based Telefonica, Parisbased Orange and Bonn-based Deutsche Telekom declined to comment on the talks. BT, which said last month it had received expressions of interest from the owners of two UK carriers for a deal, is eyeing wireless targets so it can sell fuller service packages to help boost phone bills and retain customers. BT has become popular because it controls the countryвЂ™s biggest п¬Ѓbre network. Without a deal, Telefonica, Orange and Deutsche Telekom would be left lacking a nationwide broadband net- BT is eyeing wireless targets so it can sell fuller service packages to help boost phone bills and retain customers. work to offer bundles of mobile, Internet and TV services in the UK. Shares of BT rose 0.8% at 8:05am in London, as Telefonica fell 0.3% in Madrid. Orange lost 0.6% in Paris and Deutsche Telekom added 0.2% in Frankfurt. Billionaire Li Ka-shingвЂ™s Hutchison Whampoa is also considering whether to pursue a deal for its UK mobile unit Three, which trails EE, O2 and Vodafone Group by customers, people familiar with the situation have said. If Three decides to make an acquisition, that would mean the вЂњone-buyer situationвЂќ wonвЂ™t persist, Beyazian said. Deutsche Telekom and Orange have been debating what to do with their four-year-old venture. In January, they agreed to freeze talks over an initial public offering of EE as executives worried about the impact the service-bundling trend would have on the market. EE has started selling broadband service through a wholesale arrangement with BT, while BT had planned to extend its mobile service вЂ” currently available to businesses through a re- sale agreement with EE вЂ” to consumers next year. BT has been expanding its own TV offers, bidding against Rupert MurdochвЂ™s Sky Plc for the most popular soccer matches and buying out ESPNвЂ™s channel in the UK last year. That put BT in a stronger position to offer so-called quadruple-play packages. For Telefonica, a sale of O2 would generate proceeds to repay some of its в‚¬45bn ($56bn) in net debt as it tries to maintain its ratings, said Carlos Winzer, an analyst at MoodyвЂ™s Investors Service, which ranks the compa- nyвЂ™s debt at Baa2, the second-lowest investment grade. Telefonica could also use the money to help fund takeovers in the faster growing Brazilian market. BTвЂ™s expansion plan has sparked talks across the UK as other carriers looked for ways to defend their positions. Besides Hutchison, Vodafone is also considering its options, including a combination with Liberty Global Plc, which runs the Virgin Media broadband and TV business in the country, people familiar with the matter have said. Australia needs budget steps to absorb shock to exports: Treasurer Reuters Perth Australia will take budget measures to cushion an economy facing its worst decline in terms of trade in more than half a century, Treasurer Joe Hockey said yesterday, with the government poised to unveil large cuts to services and spending. The budget cuts are expected to be announced today alongside a mid-year economic outlook that will factor in the heavy hit AustraliaвЂ™s resourcedependent economy has taken from a sharp fall in commodity prices in recent months. вЂњIf we donвЂ™t use the budget as a shock absorber for this extraordinary fall in the terms of trade, then Australians will lose jobs, and weвЂ™ll lose our prosperity,вЂќ Hockey told reporters in Sydney. вЂњThe forecast decline in the terms of trade this year is the largest since records were first kept in 1959,вЂќ he said. Economic growth is forecast to stay at 2.5% and rise to 3% over the next few years, Hockey said, while unemployment is likely to rise to levels вЂњa tick higherвЂќ than forecast in May. On Saturday, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann confirmed in a television interview that jobs would be cut, after the Australian newspaper reported that 175 government agencies are expected to be axed and the number of government workers reduced to levels seen eight years ago. вЂњThe overwhelming objective here is to ensure that we streamline the operation of the public service. If you reduce the number of government bodies, there will be an impact on jobs,вЂќ Cormann told Sky News. The mid-year review is expected to show the budget deficit for the fiscal year ending in June 2015 had blown out by around A$5bn ($4.2bn) to nearly A$35bn. The ruling Liberal-National coalition has failed to get many of the savings measures it set out in its annual May budget through a hostile parliament. Just a year into office, Prime Minister Tony AbbottвЂ™s government has suffered record low approval ratings, with the economy running into strong external headwinds. Rising salaries give Kuroda, Yellen and Carney reasons to smile Bloomberg Washington B ank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda is п¬Ѓnally getting a pay raise вЂ” and so, too, are a growing number of workers throughout the industrial world. Wages are beginning to climb in the US, Japan, the UK and Germany as tightening job markets force employers to pay workers more. ThatвЂ™s good news for households already beneп¬Ѓting from a steep fall in oil prices. The raises arenвЂ™t big вЂ” Kuroda, for example, is getting a 1.3% bump вЂ” and labour has a long way to go to get back to where it was before the US recession hit at the end of 2007. Yet the increases are a welcome sign for policy makers that the world economy is on the mend and primed for potentially faster growth.вЂњItвЂ™s a very desirable development,вЂќ said Peter Hooper, chief economist for Deutsche Bank Securities Inc in New York and a former Federal Reserve official. вЂњItвЂ™s what the central bankers want to see.вЂќ The bigger pay checks will help lift output as workers spend the extra money theyвЂ™re getting вЂ” and falling energy prices reinforce their purchasing power. Global gross domestic product will rise 3.5% in 2015 after expanding 3.2% this year, according to the median forecast of 38 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News from December 5 to 10. вЂњA pickup in pay should be supportive of a further acceleration in consumption,вЂќ said Neville Hill, co-head of global economics and strategy at Credit Suisse Group in London. The stepped-up salaries eventually may lead to faster inп¬‚ation as companies raise prices to make up for their increased labour costs. ThatвЂ™s something central bankers including Kuroda will embrace rather than dread, given their determination to avoid deп¬‚ationary slumps in their economies. Fed Chair Janet Yellen and her colleagues will be taking a close look at whatвЂ™s happening to wages and inп¬‚ation when they gather December 16 in Washington for their last two-day policy-making meeting of the year. Up for Kuroda, Yellen and Carney: All smiles. consideration: whether to drop their stated intention to hold short-term interest rates near zero for a вЂњconsiderable timeвЂќ after they ended their assetpurchase programme in October. The last increase for the benchmark federal funds rate came in 2006. In Japan, Kuroda and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe вЂ” who won a sweeping victory in elections December 14 вЂ” have been urging companies for months to boost wages, arguing that such action is needed to break the countryвЂ™s decadeslong economic funk. KurodaвЂ™s pay increase, to ВҐ34.7mn ($294,000), was the п¬Ѓrst for a BoJ governor in nine years. There are signs that businesses are starting to follow the central bankвЂ™s example. Base salaries rose 0.4% in October from a year earlier, a п¬Ѓfth consecutive increase, based on data from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. Large companies are set to boost winter bonuses by an average 5.8% this year, the most since 2008, after lifting summer payouts by 7.2%, according to preliminary results from a survey by the Keidanren business lobby group. Behind the budding wage pressures is a taut job market, with JapanвЂ™s shrinking and aging population causing the worst shortfall in two decades. The unemployment rate, at 3.5% in October, matches the lowest since 1997, and there were 1.1 positions available for every applicant. вЂњItвЂ™s a structural change, so the labour shortage will continue for a long time,вЂќ said Minoru Nogimori, an economist at Nomura Holdings Inc in Tokyo. It is вЂњproducing conditions where prices tend to rise. ItвЂ™s an ideal situation for the BoJ as it aims for 2% inп¬‚ation.вЂќ The job market is super tight even though Japan has been in a recession, with GDP contracting the past two quarters, noted Jonas Prising, chief executive officer of ManpowerGroup. He said the Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based staffing company is having trouble п¬Ѓnding the workers its Japanese clients want. Labour income as a share of the economy has fallen signiп¬Ѓcantly over the past few decades in a wide range of countries, including the US, Japan and Germany, according to research published last year by University of Chi- cago economists Loukas Karabarbounis and Brent Neiman. They attributed much of the drop to declining prices for computers and other capital goods, which induced companies to replace workers with machines. Other researchers, including Fed economists Bart Hobijn and AysegГјl Sahin, trace the fall in the US more to globalisation, in particular the expansion of supply chains outside America. Both those forces may be waning. The relentless decline in computing costs has slowed, lessening the attractiveness of information-technology equipment to corporate purchasers. Computer and peripheral equipment prices have fallen by a cumulative 6.7% during the past three years, after dropping by more than two-thirds in the previous decade, according to data from the Commerce Department in Washington. World trade growth also has slackened to about 3% in each of the past two years, compared with an annual average of 7.3% in 2000 through 2010, data from the International Monetary Fund in Washington show. Deutsche BankвЂ™s Hooper said the creation of global supply chains seems to have plateaued, while global talks to liberalise trade have п¬‚oundered. Cyclical forces are starting to work in labourвЂ™s favour as well. At 5.8% in November, the US jobless rate is closing in on the 5.2% to 5.5% range most Fed policy makers reckon is the equivalent of full employment. вЂњWeвЂ™re very close to the tipping point,вЂќ Prising said. вЂњI donвЂ™t see a rapid acceleration, but I do think weвЂ™ll start to see some upwards movementвЂќ in wage growth. That already may be happening. As measured by the Labor DepartmentвЂ™s employment-cost index, wages and salaries rose 0.8% in the third quarter вЂ” an increase that hasnвЂ™t been exceeded since the п¬Ѓrst three months of 2007. Ellen Zentner, senior US economist for Morgan Stanley in New York, sees wages rising around 2.5% next year, after increasing 2% this year, lifting consumer spending and the economy. Yellen has made no secret of her desire to see compensation rise at a faster clip, telling reporters on March 19 that increases of 3% to 4% вЂњwould be normalвЂќ and consistent with the FedвЂ™s 2% inп¬‚ation target. The pick-up in salary growth will allow policy makers to begin raising short-term interest rates in June after holding them effectively at zero since December 2008, Deutsche BankвЂ™s Hooper said. The US central bank вЂњwonвЂ™t need to have its foot on the accelerator quite so heavily,вЂќ he added. The story is much the same in the UK, with the Bank of England expected to begin tightening policy next August, according to Philip Shaw, chief economist at Investec Securities Ltd in London. BoE Governor Mark Carney said last month that officials are вЂњseeing the п¬Ѓrst tentative signs of the long-awaited pickup in wage growth.вЂќ He predicted real incomes вЂњwill be further supportedвЂќ by lower energy and food prices. UK average weekly earnings excluding bonuses grew faster than inп¬‚ation in the third quarter for the п¬Ѓrst time in п¬Ѓve years, advancing 1.3% from the previous year. The minimum wage was lifted 3% in October to ВЈ6.50 ($10.23) an hour. Meantime, Germany is introducing a minimum wage of в‚¬8.50 ($10.60) an hour in January. That, along with higher pay increases, should bolster effective wages by about 3.5% next year, according to Morgan Stanley. Such a jump may be welcomed even by the inп¬‚ation-loathing Bundesbank, whose president, Jens Weidmann, has praised wage growth this year and said it reп¬‚ects a tighter labour market. The hope is that if Germans spend more, it will help boost the economies of neighbouring nations where wages still are under pressure. вЂњWith most of Germany enjoying virtual full employment, German wages are rising nicely,вЂќ said Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg Bank. вЂњWorkers are reaping the rewards of their previous wage restraint.вЂќ The increases across advanced nations are вЂњa welcome step forward,вЂќ said Joseph Lupton, an economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co TheyвЂ™re a sign the world economy is вЂњgetting back to some sense of normalcy.вЂќ Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 19 BUSINESS Early slowdown signs emerge for US oil states after crude slide Reuters New York After leading the US economic recovery out of recession, some of the nationвЂ™s top oil states are showing early signs of a slowdown as a result of the plunge in crude prices. In Houston, Texas, the first oil industry layoffs have been announced, with realtors there predicting a sharp decline, up to 12%, in home sales next year. AlaskaвЂ™s 2015 fiscal year budget revenue forecast will have to be lowered by almost $2bn, according to Fitch Ratings, because of the sharp drop in the stateвЂ™s forecast crude prices. That will widen AlaskaвЂ™s budget gap to almost $3.4bn, Fitch said in a December 11 report. States such as Texas, North Dakota, Alaska, Oklahoma and New Mexico are all likely to feel strains next year, Wells Fargo Securities municipal analyst Roy Eappen said in a recent report. Meanwhile, household sentiment in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Arkansas where memories of the catastrophic 1980s oil crash are still fresh, weakened in October more than any other region, according to a report by Decision Analyst Inc. The Texas-based research company surveys monthly thousands of homeowners in the Census BureauвЂ™s nine regional divisions. The West South Central division, comprising those four states, had seen the strongest growth for four years, but in October survey lagged the rest of the nation, with economic gauges improving in six regions and two recording no change. вЂњThe fact that the economic index is in decline in this region signals that the economy in these oil states is heading for an economic slowdown,вЂќ said Jerry Thomas, president of Decision Analyst. Responding to a more than 40% drop in crude prices since June, at least a dozen US energy companies have cut spending plans for next year вЂ” bad news for states that rely on jobs, wealth and tax income they provide. As a result, while most states expect a tailwind from cheaper oil and its boost to consumption, it is the oil statesвЂ™ turn to act as a drag on the nationвЂ™s overall economic growth. Thanks to the shale oil boom North DakotaвЂ™s economy grew by a fifth in 2012 and almost 10% last year. Texas economy expanded by nearly 7% in 2012 and 3.7% in 2013 compared with nationwide rates of 2.5% and 1.8%, respectively. That is about to change. In a sign of things to come, Houston-based Hercules Offshore Inc recently notified the authorities of planned вЂњmass layoffs.вЂќ In an October 30 letter, a copy of which has been obtained by Reuters, the company said it would be perma- nently laying off 324 workers in its Gulf of Mexico operations due to the anticipated closure of four rigs. According to company filings, it has 2,200 employees. Hercules Offshore did not respond to a request for comment. The number of well permits fell almost 40% nationwide in November, according to industry data firm Drilling Info Inc, which means fewer jobs and less related business. Bud Weinstein, an energy economist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, said the downturn in production will affect related industries such as transportation, cement, metal parts and food suppliers. For example, it takes up to 2,000 truck trips to build one new well, Weinstein said. An informal tally by Reuters of announced plans for US drilling rig operations shows at least seven firms plan to cut the number of rigs they operate now by a total of more than 50 in 2015, with each rig estimated to employ 50-60 workers. Another concern is dwindling sources of funding that would help companies ride out the downturn. Prices of some of the junk-rated bonds that helped energy companies finance their expansion during boom years have been tumbling and banks in oil-producing regions are expected to curb lending to the energy sector. Russell Evans, an Oklahoma City University economist, said the 1982 oil crash has left deep scars in Oklahoma where oil and gas industry accounts for about 20% of all jobs and two-thirds of those created since 2008. Evans expects Oklahoma to weather the current price slide better because of a strong long-term outlook for the industry, but the history of booms and busts keeps many on edge. вЂњThere is a fair amount of anxiety here,вЂќ he said. For Karr Ingham, whose firm Ingham Economic Reporting monitors rig counts, permits and the oil economy in Texas, there is no doubt that hard times are just round the corner. вЂњA slowdown is coming, period. ItвЂ™s just a matter of time.вЂќ PetSmart agrees to be bought by BC Partners in $8.3bn deal Bloomberg New York P An employee works to manufacture diesel truck engines at the Cummins Mid-Range Engine Plant in Columbus, Indiana. US factory production increased 1.1% last month after an upwardly revised 0.4% advance in October, the Federal Reserve said yesterday. US factory production accelerates in sign of economyвЂ™s strength Manufacturing output jumps 1.1% in November; factory capacity use highest since December 2007; New York state factory activity brakes sharply in December Reuters Washington U S manufacturing output recorded its largest increase in nine months in November as production expanded across the board, pointing to underlying strength in the economy. Factory production increased 1.1% last month after an upwardly revised 0.4% advance in October, the Federal Reserve said yesterday. вЂњThere is little evidence here that weaker global growth or a stronger dollar has hurt US manufacturing,вЂќ said John Ryding, chief economist at RDQ Economics in New York. The upbeat factory data joined bullish employment and retail sales reports in suggesting strength in the economy, even as growth in the fourth quarter is expected to moderate sharply after two back-to-back quarters of robust expansion. Wall Street had expected manufacturing output to rise only 0.5% in November after a previously reported 0.2% gain in October. But the optimism over the manufacturing sector was tempered somewhat by a second report from the New York Federal Reserve showing its Empire State general business condi- tions index fell to -3.58 in December, the п¬Ѓrst contraction since January 2013, from a reading of 10.16 in November. Economists said the New York Fed survey was volatile because of limited factory activity in the region. вЂњOn balance, however, the weak reading is consistent with slower manufacturing activity late in the quarter,вЂќ said Jesse Hurwitz, an economist at Barclays in New York. A third report showed homebuilder sentiment ebbed in December, though builders remained more optimistic than in the п¬Ѓrst half of the year. The data comes a day before Federal Reserve officials gather for a two-day meeting to assess the economyвЂ™s health and deliberate on monetary policy. Economists expect the US central bank to open the door a bit wider to interest rate hikes next year after the recent run of bullish data. US stocks were trading slightly lower, while prices for Treasury debt fell. The dollar was up marginally against a basket of currencies. Overall manufacturing output increased broadly in November, with a 5.1% jump in automobile production after three straight months of decline. There were also solid gains in machinery, apparel and leather, and petroleum and coal products. Mining output slipped 0.1% last month, while utilities production jumped 5.1% as a cold snap boosted demand for utilities. The gain in manufacturing and utilities combined to lift overall industrial production by 1.3% in November, the largest increase since May 2010. The amount of manufacturing capacity in use last month rose to its highest since December 2007. Overall industrial capacity use hit its highest level in more than 6-1/2 years. вЂњThe sharp rise in pace of capacity utilisation is of particular interest as it could be seen as an indication of accelerating resource slack absorption in the US economy,вЂќ said Millan Mulraine, deputy chief economist at TD Securities in New York. Officials at the Fed tend to look at capacity use as a signal of how much вЂњslackвЂќ remains in the economy and how much room there is for growth to run before it becomes inп¬‚ationary. etSmart Inc agreed to be bought by a group led by BC Partners for about $8.3bn in the largest leveraged deal for a US company this year. The group will pay $83 a share, or about 39% more than the companyвЂ™s price on July 2, before activist investor Jana Partners began pushing for the sale, according to a statement yesterday. Including debt, the total value of the deal is about $8.7bn, the statement shows. BC Partners beat other bidders including Leon BlackвЂ™s Apollo Global Management and KKR & Co to close the deal after a weeks-long auction that came down to negotiations over the weekend, people with knowledge of the matter said. BC Partners struck a deal on Sunday, after making a п¬Ѓnal offer a day earlier that topped other bids, the people said, asking not to be identiп¬Ѓed discussing private information. вЂњIt was a very competitive auction,вЂќ Raymond Svider, a managing partner at BC Partners, said in a telephone interview. вЂњThe company should never have been put in play. Growth slowed and the market overreacted. We feel fortunate.вЂќ A spokesman for Apollo declined to comment, as did a representative for Jana and a spokeswoman for KKR. In addition to BC Partners, the consortium includes Caisse de DГ©pГґt et Placement du QuГ©bec and StepStone. The sale is a victory for Jana and Longview Asset Management, which also urged the retailer to sell itself as its business waned. Same-store sales at the pet-supply company were п¬‚at last quarter after falling in the previous three months for the п¬Ѓrst time in at least a decade, as competition from Amazon. com Inc and other retailers intensiп¬Ѓed. Until Jana, the $10bn hedge fund run by Barry Rosenstein, began its campaign on July 3, PetSmartвЂ™s shares had tumbled 18% in 2014. Longview, which controls about 9% of PetSmart, said later that month it also backed a sale. Longview supports the sale to BC Partners, according to the statement. Shares of Phoenix-based PetSmart have now gained 6.8% this year, closing at $77.67 on December 12, compared with an 8.3% gain in the Standard & PoorвЂ™s 500 Index. Including debt, the buyout group is paying about 9.3 times PetSmartвЂ™s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation in the 12 months through November 2, data compiled by Bloomberg show. That compares with a median of 8.9 times historic Ebitda paid in 24 buyouts of US consumer companies over $1bn in the last п¬Ѓve years. The private-equity deal tops Blackstone Group LPвЂ™s $5.4bn purchase of industrial-products maker Gates Global LLC in July, data compiled by Bloomberg show. PetSmart made a good buyout candidate because of its high free-cash-п¬‚ow yield вЂ” a measure of how much cash from operations the business generates relative to its share price, analysts have said. Petco Animal Supplies Inc, a PetSmart competitor, was acquired by private-equity investors led by Leonard Green & Partners in 2006, and buyout п¬Ѓrms also may be interested in PetSmart thanks in part to an attractive п¬Ѓnancing market, Jana said in July. The $8.3bn deal for PetSmart, struck on Sunday, is the largest leveraged deal for a US company this year Sony hack reveals health information on employees, children Bloomberg New York Documents stolen from Sony Corp by hackers include detailed and identifiable health information on more than three dozen employees, their children or spouses вЂ” a sign of how much information employers have on their workers and how easily it can become public. One memo by a human resources executive, addressed to the companyвЂ™s benefits committee, disclosed details on an employeeвЂ™s child with special needs, including the diagnosis and the type of treatment the child was receiving. The memo discussed the employeeвЂ™s appeal of thousands of dollars in medical claims denied by the insurance company. Another document leaked in the hack is a spreadsheet from a human resources folder on SonyвЂ™s servers that includes the birth dates, gender, health condition and medical costs for 34 Sony employees, their spouses and children who had very high medical bills. The conditions listed include premature births, cancer, kidney failure and alcoholic liver cirrhosis. The document doesnвЂ™t include employeesвЂ™ names. A Sony spokesperson didnвЂ™t respond to a request for comment. The health documents are part of a devastating computer attack on the companyвЂ™s Culver City, California-based unit Sony Pictures that sent thousands of files circling the Web between various file-sharing sites used by hackers. The information revealed has included the salaries of thousands of employees and e-mails taking shots at President Barack Obama and at Hollywood stars like Angelina Jolie. The release of the health information could be some of the most damaging material, said Deborah Peel, director of Patient Privacy Rights, a non-profit group. вЂњThis stuff will haunt all those people the rest of their lives. Once itвЂ™s up on the Internet it is up in perpetuity,вЂќ Peel said. вЂњThis is a thousand times worse than that other stuff,вЂќ she said, referring to salary information and personal e-mails. вЂњHealth information is the most sensitive information about you.вЂќ Hackers who call themselves Guardians of Peace have been releasing batches of documents every few days since the breach garnered global headlines November 25. Sony is conducting an internal probe that has linked the attack to hackers known as DarkSeoul, according to two people familiar with the companyвЂ™s investigation. Media reports have tied the group to North Korea. Tokyo-based Sony hasnвЂ™t made that association publicly. One e-mail between SonyвЂ™s insurer, Aetna, and its human resources department over a denied claim contains the name of an employee and the type of surgery the workerвЂ™s spouse had. Another between health insurer Anthem and SonyвЂ™s human resources department includes the name of an employee and an unresolved claim for speech therapy sessions. In the memo discussing denied claims for the employeeвЂ™s specialneeds child, SonyвЂ™s human resources department went into great detail on the type of treatment the child was getting, how the child was faring, the location of the facility and conversations the insurer had with the childвЂ™s care providers. Peel said that level of detail shouldnвЂ™t have been shared, especially the childвЂ™s name, which isnвЂ™t relevant to making a determination about the claim. вЂњThis is the absolute worst nightmare for this employee and their family,вЂќ said Peel. вЂњWhy they are doing this with the name and location and all the identifiable information is beyond me.вЂќ Carol Olsby, who has worked in human resources at mid-sized and large technology companies, said employers who arenвЂ™t self-insured may receive aggregate financial data for unusually large medical claims if the insurance broker is justifying a significant rate increase. For example, if a company had employees whoвЂ™d developed costly chronic conditions, like a type of cancer or kidney failure, or had a premature baby, those would be considered serious medical conditions and the insurer could argue that rates should rise. She said employee names and personal information wouldnвЂ™t be shared. Olsby, who now runs consulting firm Carol Olsby & Associates, also said some employees may e-mail the companyвЂ™s human resources department with medical information if a claim is denied. Human resources would investigate the situation and determine if they need to contact the insurance company. The information would only be provided to those вЂњwho would have a need to know.вЂќ Tuesday, December 16, 2014 BUSINESS GULF TIMES Alfardan Automobiles unveils new BMW X6 A fter introducing the new BMW X6 model at the вЂ�BMW M meets XвЂ™ drive event at the Losail International Circuit last month, Alfardan Automobiles, the official BMW Group importer in Qatar, has unveiled the second generation of the Sports Activity CoupГ© at the BMW showrooms. The new BMW X6, the previous generation of which posted global sales of almost 250,000 units, enjoys a special status among its rivals. The design of the new BMW X6 blends the robustness and versatility of a BMW X model with the sporting elegance typical of the brandвЂ™s coupГ©s. The interior combines generous space with model-speciп¬Ѓc sports features and a luxurious ambience, while attractive design and equipment packages further highlight the exclusive style of the new BMW X6. Mohamed Kandeel, chief operating officer, Alfardan Group вЂ“ Automotive Operations, said: вЂњThe new BMW X6 combines the vigorous body and versatility of a BMW X model with the sporting elegance found in BMWвЂ™s CoupГ©s.вЂќ The new Design Pure Extravagance equipment package adds striking, high-quality accents to both the interior and the exterior. The M Sport package includes specially selected features that enhance the vehicleвЂ™s dynamic character. Also available are model-speciп¬Ѓc features from BMW Individual. The new BMW X6 comes with an exclusive roster of standard equipment, which goes beyond that of the previous model: 19inch light-alloy wheels, automatic tailgate operation and the 8-speed Steptronic sport transmission with steering wheel shift paddles are all included, as are leather trim, two-zone climate control and auto-dimming rear-view mirror. The 40: 20: 40 split/folding rear seat backrests, allow load compartment capacity to expand from 580 litres to 1,525 litres (75 litres more than the predecessor model.) The new BMW X6 offers a line- up of engines including the latestgeneration V8 developing 450hp for the BMW X6 xDrive50i. The BMW X6 xDrive35i 306hp is set to join the range in Q1 2015. Ensuring that the noticeably increased performance of the new BMW X6 is accompanied by an up to 22% reduction in average fuel consumption are BMW TwinPower Turbo technology, the standard-п¬Ѓtted eight-speed Steptronic sport transmission, extensive BMW EfficientDynamics technology, weight-saving optimisations and enhanced aerodynamics. The standard вЂ“ and permanently active вЂ“ intelligent allwheel-drive system BMW xDrive optimises traction, directional stability and cornering dynamics, as the situation requires. For improved dynamics, xDrive can optionally link up with adaptive suspension packages, including Dynamic Performance Control. For increased performance, Dynamic Performance Control is offered together with Dynamic Drive active roll stabilisation as part of the Dynamic adaptive suspension package to deliver a targeted improvement in the carвЂ™s sporty handling attributes. Further enhanced ride comfort can be achieved thanks to of air suspension at the rear axle and the Adaptive M suspension (part of the M Sport package), which also offers bespoke, sportsoriented suspension tuning. Adaptive LED headlights, Comfort Access (including hands-free tailgate opening and closing) and other high-class options underline the innovative character of the new BMW X6. Driving pleasure and long-distance comfort, meanwhile, can be further enhanced by features including the Navigation System Professional with Touch Controller. A wide variety of features are available through BMW ConnectedDrive. This includes items such as the BMW Head-Up Display, Driving Assistant and Surround View, as well as all BMW ConnectedDrive services and Online Entertainment. The design of the new BMW X6 blends the robustness and versatility of a BMW X model with the sporting elegance typical of the brandвЂ™s coupГ©s. Ooredoo wins major awards at вЂ�CommsMEA Awards 2014вЂ™ in Dubai Ooredoo has received a average 4G speed. string of major awards at the The company has made CommsMEA Awards 2014, held good progress on its network in Dubai recently. modernisation programme The groupвЂ™s major investment across its footprint, in order to in 4G and fibre technology stay ahead of rising demand received the prestigious for mobile Broadband services, вЂњTechnology investment of the and has taken a lead in 3G yearвЂќ award, while its groundservices in Algeria, Tunisia breaking вЂњSimply do wondersвЂќ and even its newest market of campaign with football star Myanmar in 2014. Leo Messi received вЂњMarketing OoredooвЂ™s innovative approach campaign of the yearвЂќ. was further demonstrated In addition, OoredooвЂ™s Asiacell by its вЂњSimply do wondersвЂќ operation received вЂњCorporate campaign, which included an social responsibility campaign of advert starring Leo Messi and the yearвЂќ for its on-going work an attention-grabbing social with refugees and internallymedia contest. displaced people in Iraq. The companyвЂ™s operations in Qatar were highly commended in the вЂњCustomer service provider of the yearвЂќ section, while its Mobile Health Clinic вЂњThese awards demonstrate the range and incredible impact of initiative was also OoredooвЂ™s initiativesвЂќ commended in the вЂњCorporate Social ResponsibilityвЂќ division. It began airing across a range Ooredoo Group CEO Dr Nasser of pan-Arab and international Marafih said, вЂњThese awards channels during the FIFA demonstrate the range and World Cup 2014 in June incredible impact of our 2014. The advert received initiatives across our footprint. more than 11mn views Whether it is pioneering online, making it the most network technology, engaging popular and most-watched marketing campaigns that advert from the region, with inspire young people, or particularly strong viewing dedicated programmes figures in Indonesia, Qatar, to support underserved Algeria and Kuwait вЂ” four of communities, Ooredoo strives OoredooвЂ™s key markets. to make a difference and AsiacellвЂ™s work with refugees enrich peopleвЂ™s lives in every and internally displaced people market that we operate in.вЂќ has delivered significant OoredooвЂ™s investment in 4G benefits in 2014. The company services has enabled the has worked hard to keep company to become the communication channels Middle EastвЂ™s leader in the open within conflict areas provision of ultrafast 4G by distributing 10,000 free services, offering 4G in Qatar, SIM cards equipped with a Kuwait and Oman, and to hold free SMS notification service leading positions in mobile offering vital information for data across its markets. internally displaced people and Qatar has second highest refugees. It also established level of household broadband a call centre in Sulaimanyah, of any developing country aiming to connect people with after Korea, according to the the dedicated organisations most recent UN Broadband and programmes that provide Commission report, with support, as well as donating Ooredoo most recently handsets to refugee camp launching 4G Plus (Advanced representatives to enable LTE), delivering speeds of up families to contact each other 225 Mbps, nearly double the across conflict zones. The interior of the New BMW X6. Qatar Executive displays Bombardier Global 5000 Vision private jet in Dubai Q Sheikh Ahmed with Edwards at Qatar ExecutiveвЂ™s booth at the Middle East Business Aviation Show, MEBA, at the Dubai World Central exhibition site. Right: The interior of Qatar ExecutiveвЂ™s new Bombardier Global 5000 Vision private jet. Qatari family п¬Ѓrms set to be key driver of GCC growth: Report Q atari family п¬Ѓrms are set to be the key driver of the GCC growth in 2015, says a new research report, which estimates that family п¬Ѓrms outperform non-family п¬Ѓrms by an average of 15%. The вЂњunique strengthsвЂќ of Qatari family п¬Ѓrms hold important insights for economic forecasters, policy planners and business leaders looking for growth. Family п¬Ѓrms represent around 75% of the private sector economy in the GCC, so their continued success is a vital contributor to overall GCC growth, Oxford Strategic Consulting (OSC) said. The research found that Qatari family п¬Ѓrms possess particular advantages that give them a unique competitive edge. Firstly, 50% of GCC family-owned п¬Ѓrms are involved in more than п¬Ѓve sectors, which means that they spread the risk, are more resilient to downturns in one sector, and can rapidly move into growth markets вЂ” although they can be spread too thinly. вЂњQatari family companies also beneп¬Ѓt from a distinctive leadership style,вЂќ which, OSC said, focuses on relationships and loyalty. The most successful family firms are also unusually integrated with the government and consequently more aligned with their countryвЂ™s objectives. Much of their economic success is related to providing stability and a strong cohesive link between national and private sector strategies and objectives. вЂњYet Qatari family п¬Ѓrms do face challenges. For example, a typical family business in GCC must grow at a rate of 18% a year in order to maintain the same family wealth across generations. Family п¬Ѓrms also face difficulties when assessing family members, which can be a touchy subject, and ultimately determining a successor. Similarly, family п¬Ѓrms often struggle with how to вЂ�fast-trackвЂ™ sons into important leadership roles. вЂњIt is clear that not all Qatari family п¬Ѓrms follow strategies as they appear in traditional business textbooks. A familyвЂ™s business strategy may, for example, be more concerned with preserving the family name rather than generating proп¬Ѓts. It is precisely the unique qualities of these family п¬Ѓrms that enable these companies to continue to defy expectations and serve as key drivers of regional growth.вЂќ atar Executive displayed its brand new Bombardier Global 5000 Vision private jet at this yearвЂ™s Middle East Business Aviation Show вЂ” MEBA вЂ” at the Dubai World Central exhibition site. The biennial show was officially inaugurated by Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum, president of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, chairman and CEO of Emirates Group and Chairman of Dubai Airports, who also visited Qatar ExecutiveвЂ™s booth during his tour of the show. Qatar ExecutiveвЂ™s Bombardier Global 5000 Vision attracted many visitors during the threeday show, all of whom were given the opportunity to see the elegant aircraft interiors and reп¬Ѓned cabin features of this technologically-advanced aircraft. Qatar Executive executive vice-president, David Edwards, said, вЂњQatar Executive continues to go from strength to strength and MEBA is a great opportunity for us to showcase our rapidly expanding fleet and demonstrate our industry leading offerings to partners and customers alike.вЂќ The Global 5000 jet combines luxury and unsurpassed performance, and features one of the widest and most spacious cabin interiors in the world of super-large business jets. Able to fly non-stop from Doha to destinations such as Tokyo, the aircraft offers high levels of comfort through its two-cabin configuration and allows for seven passengers to sleep comfortably. The three-day event allowed Qatar Executive to showcase its growing business aviation serv- ice portfolio and raise interest for its new General Aviation Terminal (FBO), which is currently being constructed at the new Hamad International Airport and is set to open in the п¬Ѓrst half of 2015. Apart from strengthening relations with customers, brokers and suppliers and establishing new business relationships, the Qatar Executive team, used the show to reinforce the ground-breaking announcement recently made by the company to purchase up to 20 Gulfstream aircraft, including the manufacturerвЂ™s all-new G500 and the G650ER. Since its inception just п¬Ѓve years ago, Qatar Executive has seen rapid growth and is currently п¬‚ying a top-notch п¬‚eet of eight business jets, which can reach most destinations in the world non-stop. Barwa Bank wins two awards at Islamic Business & Finance Awards Barwa Bank has been named вЂњBest Sukuk ArrangerвЂќ and вЂњBest Corporate BankвЂќ at the Islamic Business & Finance Awards 2014. Barwa Bank executive general manager and chief business officer Khalid Mahdi al-Ahbabi accepted the awards on behalf of the bank in a ceremony held at the Jumeirah Emirates Hotel in Dubai. In a statement, Barwa Bank said, вЂњWe are delighted to be recognised with these awards, leading credence to our effective innovative approach to Shariah-compliant banking. These awards are a testament that we have been very successful in balancing the traditions and compliance requirements of Shariah-compliant banking with a contemporary approach to customer service and product development.вЂќ The CPI Financial awards was established in 2005 to recognise the best performing institutions in a variety of regions where Islamic finance is either already developed or is rapidly expanding. Picture shows Barwa Bank executive general manager and chief business officer Khalid Mahdi al-Ahbabi receiving the awards at the Islamic Business & Finance Awards 2014 in Dubai. CRICKET | Page 5 NBA | Page 7 Waqar wants to remove вЂ�unpredictableвЂ™ tag of Pakistan Bryant has matched Jordan in points ... and nastiness Tuesday, December 16, 2014 Safar 24, 1436 AH FOOTBALL GULF TIMES PSG suffer shock loss but MarseilleвЂ™s defeat softens blow SPORT Page 3 UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE PSG to face Chelsea in last 16 Manchester City to tackle Barcelona in the other high profile clash AFP Paris J ose MourinhoвЂ™s Chelsea were drawn yesterday against Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City tackle Barcelona in two blockbuster Champions League last 16 ties. ChelseaвЂ™s вЂ�rewardвЂ™ for sailing into the knockout stages unbeaten was a testing match-up against the Qataribacked French champions who they beat on away goals in last seasonвЂ™s quarter-п¬Ѓnals. Chelsea secretary David Barnard told Sky Sports News: вЂњPSG are known to us as we played them in the quarters last year and theyвЂ™ve got David Luiz playing for them too. вЂњItвЂ™s a good draw logistically too for our supporters. вЂњBoth sides have very different squads from last year, so if it was PSG or anyone else, it wouldвЂ™ve been the same situation.вЂќ PSG president Nasser al-Khelaiп¬Ѓ told AFP his club had to learn from last seasonвЂ™s meeting with the 2012 winners. вЂњLast year was an apprenticeship which must not be repeated.вЂќ He added: вЂњChelsea are a good draw for us. I am very conп¬Ѓdent. IвЂ™ve got conп¬Ѓdence in my manager and in my players that theyвЂ™ll show on the pitch the best of PSG.вЂќ Like PSG, English champions City will be out for revenge after being brushed aside 4-1 on aggregate by Barca at this stage in the 2013/2014 campaign. CityвЂ™s director of football, former Barcelona player Txiki Begiristain, said: вЂњWe have plenty of conп¬Ѓdence with the way we qualiп¬Ѓed beating Bayern Munich at home and Roma away, so the players will be working hard to get п¬Ѓt and arrive in conп¬Ѓdence for those games. вЂњWe have improved our squad from last season and we have some real quality up front.вЂќ Barcelona representative Andoni Zubizarreta said: вЂњIt is the same draw we had a year ago, it was a very difficult game and we are going to look forward to it. вЂњManchester City have an outstanding squad with a very good coach, a very good team and are very competitive.вЂќ The last 16 draw staged at UEFAвЂ™s headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, gave holders Real Madrid a palatable pairing against German side Schalke 04, coached by Roberto Di Matteo, who was in charge of Chelsea when they were crowned kings of Europe. Real met Schalke in last seasonвЂ™s last 16, easing through 9-2 on aggregate, en route to their tenth title. вЂњWe have the utmost respect for Schalke, a club with whom we have a great relationship. They are very competitive, one lapse in concentration can take its toll,вЂќ said Real director Emilio Butragueno. вЂњThe balls come out as they come out, of course, we are the outsiders, but there is always the old football saying; вЂњform beats classвЂќ,вЂќ said Schalke board member Peter Peters optimistically. Last yearвЂ™s beaten п¬Ѓnalists Atletico Madrid come up against Bayer Leverkusen. Arsenal, п¬Ѓnalists in 2006, face their coach Arsene WengerвЂ™s old club Monaco, Italian champions Juventus will have to overcome Borussia Dortmund, and German giants Bayern Munich, who beat Borussia in the 2013 п¬Ѓnal, play Shakhtar Donetsk. вЂњDonetsk are the least known side in the last 16, so it wonвЂ™t be so easy to prepare for this game,вЂќ said Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. вЂњI think itвЂ™s goood to п¬Ѓnally play someone different and not Arsenal again,вЂќ Dutch winger Arjen Robben added. Arsenal are appearing in the knockout stages for the 17th successive season, and club secretary David Miles reflected on their favourable match-up. вЂњAs the draw came out, it was evident a lot of the big teams had gone, so weвЂ™re pleased to have avoided them. 2 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 FOOTBALL SPOTLIGHT Champions League draw reaction In-form United are вЂ�forcing luckвЂ™, says coach van Gaal вЂ�ItвЂ™s not for nothing that we scored the way we have scored today. You need luck, but you can force luck, and we are forcing luck now. That was not the case at the startвЂ™ PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN (FRA) V CHELSEA (ENG) PSG president Nasser AlKhelaifi: вЂњLast year was an apprenticeship which must not be repeated. Chelsea are a good draw for us. I am very confident. IвЂ™ve got confidence in my manager and in my players that theyвЂ™ll show on the pitch the best of PSG.вЂќ Chelsea secretary David Barnard: вЂњPSG are known to us as we played them in the quarters last year and theyвЂ™ve got David Luiz playing for them too. ItвЂ™s a good draw logistically too for our supporters. Both sides have very different squads from last year, so if it was PSG or anyone else, it wouldвЂ™ve been the same situation.вЂќ MANCHESTER CITY (ENG) V BARCELONA (ESP) CityвЂ™s director of football Txiki Begiristain: вЂњWe have plenty of confidence with the way we qualified beating Bayern Munich at home and Roma away, so the players will be working hard to get fit and arrive in confidence for those games. We have improved our squad from last season and we have some real quality up front.вЂќ Barcelona coach Luis Enrique: вЂњIt is a very tough and difficult opponent, one of the most difficult in the draw and one of the contenders for the Champions. A lot can happen between now and February. But it will certainly be a balanced match. I always think positively and I am only thinking about beating Manchester City in the knockout stage.вЂќ BAYER LEVERKUSEN (GER) V ATLETICO MADRID (ESP) Bayer Leverkusen CEO Michael Schade: вЂњAtletico Madrid is a very difficult opponent. You have to be realistic and we will go into this tie as the clear underdogs. We have to put in a 100 percent effort in both matches, better still a few percent more. If we have two very good days and twice put in a full performance, then perhaps we have a chance.вЂќ Atletico Madrid managing director Clemente Villaverde вЂњWe know Leverkusen well. We faced them in the Europa League (in 2011) and it is a club we have good relations with and we know the potential they have.вЂќ Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal reacts during the English Premier League match between Manchester United and Liverpool at the Old Trafford, in Manchester. AFP Manchester M anchester United manager Louis van Gaal felt that his sideвЂ™s 3-0 Premier League victory over Liverpool proved that his methods are beginning to take effect at Old Trafford. SundayвЂ™s win, secured by goals from Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and Robin van Persie, was UnitedвЂ™s sixth in a row and galvanised their grip on third place in the table, but there were rough edges to the hostsвЂ™ display. Liverpool created a host of chances, with David de Gea earning the man-ofthe-match award for a series of spectacular saves, while MataвЂ™s goal should have been ruled out for offside. It had been a similar story last Monday when United won 2-1 at Southampton despite registering only three attempts at goal. But van Gaal believes that United are now a different team to the one that slithered to a seventh-place п¬Ѓnish last season following their travails under his hapless predecessor, David Moyes. Asked for the secret to UnitedвЂ™s current form, the decorated Dutch coach told his post-match press conference: вЂњBecause we have a way of playing that always takes into account the qualities of the opponent. вЂњI have a staff that always are looking for the way we can do pain to the opponent. And we found this today (Sunday) again. вЂњItвЂ™s not for nothing that we scored the way we have scored today. You need luck, but you can force the luck, and we are forcing the luck now. That was not the case at the start.вЂќ Rooney, who played in midп¬Ѓeld, set United on their way in the 12th minute by sweeping home a cut-back from Antonio Valencia. Mata headed home п¬Ѓve minutes before half-timeвЂ”a goal described with some justiп¬Ѓcation by Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers as вЂњclearly offsideвЂќвЂ” and then teed up van Persie for UnitedвЂ™s third in the 71st minute. An injury to Marcos Rojo obliged van Gaal to deploy midп¬Ѓelder Michael Carrick as one of three centre-backs in a defensive set-up that mirrored LiverpoolвЂ™s. The visitors regularly found a way in behind UnitedвЂ™s defence, with De Gea thwarting Raheem Sterling and substitute Mario Balotelli three times each, but van Gaal felt his players adapted well to the enforced changes. вЂњOnly yesterday (Saturday), Rojo in a training session got injured and then I have to change my line-up again, which I have to do every week,вЂќ he said. вЂњBut the most important thing is my philosophy and when you stick by your philosophy, every player can do that because every player has played already in that philosophy.вЂќ Defeat completed a miserable few days for Liverpool, who were knocked out of the Champions League by Basel last Tuesday and now trail United by 10 points. Rodgers admitted that his squad had lost some of the team spirit that saw them come within a whisker of pipping Manchester City to the title last season. вЂњFor me, the whole scenario is about looking to build a team again,вЂќ said the Northern Irishman, who lost Luis Suarez to Barcelona in the close season and is currently without striker Daniel Sturridge due to injury. вЂњWe had a team that was growing for a couple of years that has changed now, the squad and injuries and whatnot. вЂњBut weвЂ™re having to recapture the team ethos again and thatвЂ™s something weвЂ™re looking to build towards.вЂќ Rodgers sprang a surprise by dropping goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, whose form has come under scrutiny, and he conп¬Ѓrmed that Australian Brad Jones would remain in goal for tomorrowвЂ™s League Cup quarter-п¬Ѓnal at Bournemouth. вЂњSimon has been fine. HeвЂ™s a really good professional. I spoke to him the other day and he accepted it,вЂќ said Rodgers. BOTTOMLINE Reds set sight on League Cup the moment, and I donвЂ™t like to compare the teams until the season is п¬Ѓnished.вЂќ Derby, coached by former England manager Steve McClaren, currently sit third in the Championship, a point below Bournemouth and second-place Middlesbrough, and are bidding to reach the semi-п¬Ѓnals for the п¬Ѓrst time since 2009. AFP London P remier League leaders Chelsea and beleaguered Liverpool will be among the teams bidding to take a step closer to Wembley when the League Cup reaches the quarter-п¬Ѓnal stage this week. Both sides face second-tier opposition, with Chelsea visiting Derby County today and Liverpool travelling to new Championship leaders Bournemouth tomorrow. In the only all-Premier League tie, Tottenham Hotspur host Newcastle United, while the third divisionвЂ™s sole representatives, Sheffield United, host outof-form Southampton. The League Cup holds special signiп¬Ѓcance for Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, as he won the 2005 tournament in his п¬Ѓrst season at the club and went on to lift the trophy for a second time in 2007. LiverpoolвЂ™s Northern Irish manager Brendan Rodgers. Chelsea have made a sensational start to the campaign, losing only one of their п¬Ѓrst 24 games in all competitions, but goalkeeper Petr Cech says they cannot be compared to the great teams of the past until they win something. вЂњThis team has huge potential,вЂќ said the Czech, who stood in for the injured Thibaut Courtois in SaturdayвЂ™s 2-0 win over Hull City and is expected to keep his place for the trip to Pride Park. вЂњIt has been doing really well this season, we are top of the league and have been doing some brilliant games. вЂњBut we are empty-handed at BOURNEMOUTH TARGET LIVERPOOL SCALP While Chelsea have been in cruise control since mid-August, LiverpoolвЂ™s campaign has lurched from one disaster to another. Brendan RodgersвЂ™s side crashed to a demoralising 3-0 defeat at arch rivals Manchester United in the league on Sunday, days after limping out of the Champions League in the group phase. As such, a positive result at Bournemouth would help to banish some of the stormclouds gathering over the club, but Eddie HoweвЂ™s team are rid- ing the crest of a wave after sinking Cardiff City 5-3 on Saturday to claim top spot in the Championship. вЂњEverybody that works here works extremely hard,вЂќ Bournemouth assistant coach Jason Tindall told BBC radio. вЂњThatвЂ™s our ethos, thatвЂ™s our philosophy, and itвЂ™s nice to see weвЂ™re performing well and getting our rewards for all the hard work that everybody has put in.вЂќ Bournemouth, who famously dumped holders Manchester United out of the FA Cup in 1984, will be appearing in the League Cup quarter-п¬Ѓnals for the п¬Ѓrst time. Tottenham and Newcastle approach their encounter at White Hart Lane tomorrow on the back of contrasting results in the league. Spurs climbed to seventh place in the table after Christian Eriksen scored an 89th-minute winner in a 2-1 win against Swansea City on Sunday, whereas Newcastle crashed to a 4-1 defeat at Arsenal. JUVENTUS (ITA) V BORUSSIA DORTMUND (GER) Juventus director Pavel Nedved: вЂњFor us, the draw has been quite kind. I wonвЂ™t say Juve are going to qualify, but we believe in our qualification chances.вЂќ Dortmund CEO HansJoachim Watzke: вЂњWhen you are in the last 16, you already know you will face an ambitious opponent. Juve are marching at the front of the Italian league and have a lot of experience, thatвЂ™s a tough opponent.вЂќ SCHALKE 04 (GER) V REAL MADRID (ESP) Schalke director Peter Peters: вЂњThe balls come out as they come out, of course, we are the outsiders, but there is always the old football saying; вЂњform beats classвЂќ. Real are the best team and we want to do better than we did last year. ItвЂ™s important that we prepare well for the coming year after many injuries.вЂќ Real director Emilio Butragueno: вЂњWe have the utmost respect for Schalke, a club with whom we have a great relationship. they are very competitive, one lapse in concentration can take its toll.вЂќ SHAKHTAR DONETSK (UKR) V BAYERN MUNICH (GER) Shakhtar Donetsk CEO Sergei Palkin: вЂњWe need to play against strong opponents. Because only strong opponents will make us strong. And it will also show our weaknesses.вЂќ Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben: вЂњI think itвЂ™s good to finally play someone different and not Arsenal again. But we need to be careful, a few Brazilians play there who are really good. We will analyse the opponent well and concentrate on the game.вЂќ ARSENAL (ENG) V MONACO (FRA) Arsenal secretary David Miles: вЂњAs the draw came out, it was evident a lot of the big teams had gone, so weвЂ™re pleased to have avoided them. WeвЂ™re certainly not taking anything for granted though against Monaco. ItвЂ™s the first time weвЂ™ve played them in a competitive match, so Arsene Wenger will be delighted to go back to one of his former clubs.вЂќ Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim: вЂњArsenal are a great side with many quality players. ItвЂ™s going to be a tough match. But I believe anything is possible. Arsenal are favourites though.вЂќ BASEL (SUI) V PORTO (POR) Basel coach Paulo Sousa: вЂњWe are up against a club used to playing European matches. Porto are a very big side, with a winning mentality and a well established football philosophy. But weвЂ™ve shown in the group stage we can match any team.вЂќ Porto on Twitter: вЂњFC Porto and @FC_Basel have never met before. How is going to be in the @ChampionsLeague round of 16? #UCLdrawвЂќ BRING IT ON Guardiola relishing Donetsk clash AFP Munich B ayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola admitted yesterday he is relishing facing Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League when the clubs meet for the п¬Ѓrst time in the last 16. Due to UkraineвЂ™s ongoing conп¬‚ict with Russia, yesterdayвЂ™s draw means the п¬Ѓrst leg will be moved from Donetsk to Lviv, on the border with Poland, on February 17 with the return leg at MunichвЂ™s Allianz Arena on March 13. It will be the first time 2013 Champions League finalists Bayern have played Mircea LucescuвЂ™s Donetsk, but Guardiola has prior knowledge of the Ukraine outfit from his four years as Barcelona coach. Bayern reached the last 16 as group winners while Donetsk qualiп¬Ѓed as group runners up and their Brazilian striker Luiz Adriano is the competitionвЂ™s top scorer with nine goals in his п¬Ѓve matches so far. вЂњBayern have never played against Donetsk, but I have п¬Ѓve times, four times in the Champions League and once in the Super Cup, and I even lost to them once,вЂќ said Guardiola. вЂњMircea Lucescu is one of the best coaches in Europe. вЂњThey have many good Brazilians, young talented players who always like to attack. вЂњI am looking forward to the Bayern coach Pep Guardiola. ties and I think it will be an excellent match as both teams like to attack. вЂњI have a lot of respect for the opponent.вЂќ Donetsk are п¬Ѓve points behind leaders Dynamo Kiev in UkraineвЂ™s Premier League and last reached the last 16 in Europe in the 2012/13 season. Most of BayernвЂ™s Germany stars have no experience of playing Ukrainian opposition, but Arena Lviv is where Germany beat Portugal and Denmark in the group stages of Euro 2012, which goalkeeper Manuel Neuer takes to be a good omen. вЂњDonetsk are the least known side in the last 16, so it wonвЂ™t be so easy to prepare for this game,вЂќ said Neuer. вЂњThe club from the Ukraine has a lot of money and they have invested very well in the team. вЂњAnyway, I am quite conп¬Ѓdent weвЂ™ll reach the quarter-п¬Ѓnals,вЂќ the keeper added. Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 3 FOOTBALL LIGUE 1 HIGHLIGHT PSG suffer shock loss but MarseilleвЂ™s defeat softens blow Milito hails Racing вЂ�dreamвЂ™ with new Argentine title вЂ�WeвЂ™re really upset. WeвЂ™re just not used to losing and now thatвЂ™s two in a weekвЂ™ Racing ClubвЂ™s captain Diego Milito celebrates after defeating Godoy Cruz and clinching the Argentine First Division tournament. AFP Buenos Aires D Zlatan Ibrahimovic (left) of PSG vies for the ball against Lars Jacobsen (front) of EA Guingamp during the French Ligue 1 match at the Roudourou Stadium in Guingamp, France. AFP Paris S tar-studded Paris Saint Germain slumped to a second defeat in a week as they lost their unbeaten French Ligue 1 record when lowly Guingamp beat them 1-0 on Sunday. But the shock reverse was softened when league leaders Marseille, on 38 points, also lost 1-0 at Monaco in SundayвЂ™s late game, leaving the champions second just a point adrift of the top and Lyon third on 36 points. Victory would have made Marseille вЂ�Champions of AutumnвЂ™, league leaders going into the winter break, but Bernardo SilvaвЂ™s precise shot from the edge of the area on 68 minutes handed Monaco a deserved win. Fresh from securing their passage into the last-16 of the Champions League as group winners on Tuesday, MonacoвЂ™s disciplined display left the usually swashbuckling Marseille frustrated. Rod Fanni missed a simple chance for the visitors with an open goal begging just before half-time, and MarseilleвЂ™s star striker Andre-Pierre Gignac was kept quiet. PSG president Nasser al-Khelaiп¬Ѓ had been furious as his side lost 3-1 in Barcelona on Wednesday. But SundayвЂ™s performance was far worse. Jeremy Pied got GuingampвЂ™s goal with a п¬‚ying header on the edge of the sixyard box in the 11th minute with the Paris central defence of Thiago Silva and David Luiz nowhere to be seen. вЂњIt was poor marking all round, even me I got it wrong,вЂќ said PSG midп¬Ѓelder Blaise Matuidi. вЂњWeвЂ™re really upset. WeвЂ™re just not used to losing and now thatвЂ™s two in a week.вЂќ Edinson Cavani had hit the crossbar in the second minute and Zlatan Ibrahimovic had the ball in the net in the 35th minute only to see an offside п¬‚ag go up. PSG had ten wins and seven draws going into the game and, despite dominating, GuingampвЂ™s bloody-minded resist- ance was eventually more than a match for the Qatari-backed PSG side. вЂњThis is not just a bad week, itвЂ™s a dreadful one,вЂќ said PSG coach Laurent Blanc. вЂњIf we lose because the other side were good thatвЂ™s one thing, but this we cannot tolerate.вЂќ Lille, dumped out of the Europa League in midweek, picked up three welcome points with a 3-0 win over Toulouse, thanks to goals from Djibril Sibide, Ryan Mendes and Nolan Roux. Earlier, Saint Etienne coach Christophe Galtier was left with a bitter taste after a 0-0 stalemate with Nice saw his midп¬Ѓelder Ismael Diomande sent off for a second yellow after a clash with NiceвЂ™s Carlos Eduardo, who was also given a straight red for his studs in the face challenge. вЂњHe got kicked in the face, I canвЂ™t explain it,вЂќ said Galtier of the second yellow. вЂњThe guy from Nice deserved his red though.вЂќ On Saturday a freak own goal helped Nantes to a 2-1 win over Bordeaux to end a three-match losing run thanks to Jordan VeretoutвЂ™s opener, cancelled out by Kian HansenвЂ™s own goal. In the 66th minute BordeauxвЂ™s young Slovenian reserve keeper Azbe Jug haplessly scored the decider when the ball, rebounding off a post, struck him on the head and ended up in his own net. Rennes were thwarted 2-0 at Bastia, playing much of the game a man down after Fallou DiagneвЂ™s 26th minute red card. A п¬Ѓrst half stoppage time goal from Ryad Boudebouz and Yannick CahuzacвЂ™s effort nine minutes from time earned Bastia a precious fourth win of the season. ReimsвЂ™ Brazilian midп¬Ѓelder Rigonato scored either side of the break in ReimsвЂ™ pulsating defeat of Evian, while on a high-scoring day in the French top п¬‚ight Lens came from behind to salvage a 3-3 draw at Montpellier. On Friday, Ligue 1вЂ™s leading scorer Alexandre Lacazette grabbed a brace as Lyon beat bottom club Caen 3-0 to make it eight consecutive home wins. iego Milito said it had been вЂњa dream come trueвЂќ to return to his п¬Ѓrst side Racing Club and help them to win their п¬Ѓrst Argentinian title for 13 years. Racing beat Godoy Cruz 1-0 on the п¬Ѓnal day of the championship on Sunday to claim their eighth national crown and spark wild celebrations among their fans. Milito, now 35, decided to return to his п¬Ѓrst side after leaving Inter Milan in June. The striker inspired Racing to win eight of their last nine games to take the crown ahead of Buenos Aires rivals River Plate, the title holders. вЂњThis is a dream come true,вЂќ said Milito amid the celebrations in which tens of thousands of Racing fans took to the streets of the capital, taking over the Obelisk monument which is the traditional rallying point for football commemorations. вЂњThis is special, because I love this club. I started here and learned everything here. That allowed me to build my career,вЂќ Milito added. вЂњI feel privileged. I am very proud of this group, to join this team has been fantastic,вЂќ added the player known as вЂ�The PrinceвЂ™. Milito spent п¬Ѓve seasons at Inter and was a member of the team that won the Champions League, World Club Cup, Italian title and Italian Cup in 2010. RACING LEGEND He was also a member of the Racing side that won the title in 2001 but he could not have imagined such a dramatic return to the club of his youth. Some fans are now demanding that a Milito statue be put up. Despite being one of ArgentinaвЂ™s big п¬Ѓve clubs, along with River Plate, Boca Juniors, Independiente and San Lorenzo, Racing have had repeated troubles in recent decades. Their glory days were in the 1960s. They beat ScotlandвЂ™s Celtic in a brutal Intercontinental Cup п¬Ѓnal in 1967 that needed a playoff in Montevideo. But they went bankrupt in 1999 and had to п¬Ѓnd new owners. They bounced back from that by winning the 2001 title, their п¬Ѓrst in 35 years. Racing twice narrowly avoided relegation in recent years but reached the Argentina Cup п¬Ѓnal in 2012 in a sign of their resurgence. Coach Diego Cocca has also only been at Racing for six months and made controversial decisions such as signing striker Gustavo Bou to partner Milito. Bou п¬Ѓnished as the clubвЂ™s top scorer. вЂњIвЂ™m happy because we have made history,вЂќ Cocca said. вЂњAt times it has cost a lot, but this team has balls on the big stage.вЂќ Cocca had infuriated fans when after losing a derby to п¬Ѓerce local rivals Independiente, he said: вЂњI would rather lose to Independiente but win the title.вЂќ In the end he was proved right. Bou dedicated the victory to his recently deceased mother. вЂњBefore she died she gave me advice so that I could celebrate today. I wish she was here today,вЂќ Bou said. HAPPY TIMES SpursвЂ™ coach hails strength of character LA LIGA Bad day at home for Atletico DPA Madrid S unday turned out to be a surprisingly bad day for Atletico Madrid and Sevilla, who had been looking forward to moving up the Spanish league table with home wins. Instead, Atletico crashed 1-0 at home to sixth-place Villarreal, after Sevilla had been held 0-0 by Eibar. The results left Sevilla in fourth place with 40 points, two points below third-place Atletico. Atletico are three points behind second-place Barcelona and seven behind leaders Real Madrid. вЂњThe game was interesting between two good teams,вЂќ said Atletico coach Diego Simeone, who refused to pass judgement on the referee. вЂњ[Villarreal] won thanks to a clever counterattack. ... This is clearly a setback for us, but we just have to pick ourselves up.вЂќ Atletico MadridвЂ™s Mario Mandzukic reacts during his teamвЂ™s La Liga match against Villarreal at Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid. Villarreal dominated the п¬Ѓrst half but were denied a clear penalty for handball by Atletico captain Gabi. Atletico seemed to have taken the lead when Mario Mandzukic headed in a centre from Arda Turan - only for the goal to be disallowed for an alleged push on defender Mario Gaspar. The only goal was calmly put away six minutes from time by the promising Vietto, after taking an excellent pass from Denis Cheryshev. It was AtleticoвЂ™s п¬Ѓrst home loss since May 2013. Earlier Sunday, Sevilla were held 0-0 at home by deп¬Ѓant Eibar on Sunday. Sevilla coach Unai Emery raised eyebrows by starting with Colombian striker Carlos Bacca on the subsвЂ™ bench, and the Sevilla attack lacked precision and penetration. On the few occasions when the hosts managed to break through the solid Eibar defence, they were kept at bay by promising goalkeeper Xabier Irureta. вЂњI can only congratulate my players for this performance,вЂќ Emery said. вЂњThey worked very hard throughout the match and, with a bit more luck, would have won quite easily.вЂќ In their п¬Ѓrst ever season in the top п¬‚ight, Eibar were everyoneвЂ™s summer favourites for relegation but are now sitting pretty in ninth place. Earlier Sunday, Granada went back toward the danger zone with a late 2-1 defeat at midtable Espanyol. Ecuador striker Felipe Caicedo gave Espanyol the lead in the 34th minute after the Granada defence had failed to clear a centre from Lucas Vazquez, only for Youssef El-Arabi to level for the visitors on the hour by turning in a clever near-post centre from Pit. GranadaвЂ™s plan to hold out for a draw went up in smoke 10 minutes from time when leftback Juan Carlos was sent off. Super-sub Christian Stuani won the game for Espanyol in stoppage time by turning in another excellent cross from the promising Vazquez. The win took Espanyol up to 11th and pulled Granada down to 16th, just two points above relegation. It was вЂњvery hardвЂќ to leave without a point, Granada boss Joaquin Caparros said. вЂњWe deserved a draw at the very least, I think,вЂќ he said. вЂњTo concede a winning goal in injury time is horrible, just horrible.вЂќ Espanyol hero Stuani said: вЂњI was really keen to get onto the п¬Ѓeld, to help the team. I knew I was going to have one or two chances to score with them reduced to 10 men.вЂќ Tottenham HotspurвЂ™s head coach Mauricio Pochettino. AFP London M auricio Pochettino was delighted with the strength of character shown by his Tottenham side after their last-gasp 2-1 Premier League victory over Swansea at the Liberty Stadium. Christian Eriksen earned the visitors all three points with an 88th minute goal, after Wilfried Bony had cancelled out Harry KaneвЂ™s early header. It was enough to lift Tottenham into seventh place in the table and earn them a п¬Ѓrst win in four games. вЂњIt was an important win, but it is also important to show character and п¬Ѓght and we did that,вЂќ said Pochettino. вЂњThey are a very good side with good players and itвЂ™s not easy to get three points here. вЂњWe scored a late goal, but in football it happens. Swansea pushed us after their goal and maybe they were better than us in that period. But we were always alive in the game and it was a great goal.вЂќ He added: вЂњWhen you arrive at a new club, with different players, you need time to try and put your ideas across to the squad. However, we are in a good place and IвЂ™m very pleased today that we showed that character. вЂњChristian is still young and this is only his second season in England, but he is a great talent and a very important player for us.вЂќ Having made changes after the midweek Europa League trip to Besiktas, Pochettino said: вЂњWe needed to manage our players after the game in midweek. If you make changes and you win, you are an unbelievable manager, but if I had have changed things and we had have lost, it wouldnвЂ™t have been like that.вЂќ Swansea manager Garry Monk lamented his teamвЂ™s lack of a killer punch in front of goal. вЂњIt was sickening. I couldnвЂ™t see that coming to be honest, but two individual errors have cost us. And, of course, we were not clinical enough at the other end. вЂњAfter we scored it was one way traffic. If it was a boxing match, they would have called it off.вЂќ 4 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 CRICKET CHANGE AT TOP SPOTLIGHT Smith replaces injured Clarke as Oz Test captain вЂ�He is an exceptional young man who is highly regarded not only for his fine performances with the bat but also his maturity and clear leadership potentialвЂ™ Steven Smith (left) will captain AustraliaвЂ™s Test team for the rest of the series against India, with regular skipper Michael ClarkeвЂ™s (on the ground) career in serious doubt due to persistent injury problems. Reuters Melbourne S teven Smith will captain AustraliaвЂ™s Test team for the rest of the series against India, with regular skipper Michael ClarkeвЂ™s career in serious doubt due to persistent injury problems. Batsman Smith, aged 25 years and 195 days, becomes AustraliaвЂ™s youngest Test captain since Kim Hughes who was named in 1979 at 25 years and 57 days, and the third-youngest of all-time. Smith was in a two-horse race with wicketkeeper Brad Haddin to replace the 33-year-old Clarke, who suffered yet another hamstring strain during AustraliaвЂ™s victory charge on day п¬Ѓve of the п¬Ѓrst Test in Adelaide on Saturday. Haddin, who will deputise for Smith as vice-captain, had been seen as a viable short-term replacement for Clarke, but at 37 and in waning form with the bat, was not a long-term prospect. SmithвЂ™s selection ahead of Haddin suggests ClarkeвЂ™s hopes of leading Australia or even playing again remained in grave doubt, as Clarke himself suggested to re- Clarke to undergo surgery on injured hamstring Australian captain Michael Clarke will undergo surgery on his injured hamstring today, leaving him in a race against time to be ready for next yearвЂ™s World Cup. ClarkeвЂ™s decision to go under the knife has ensured he will definitely miss the three remaining Test matches against India and possibly the World Cup, starting in mid February. Cricket Australia team doctor Peter Brukner said in a statement yesterday that the 33-year-oldвЂ™s injury was вЂњsubstantialвЂќ and it was too early to say when he may be able to make a comeback. вЂњWhilst surgery is not always required with hamstring injuries, Michael has substantial damage to a key part of the porters after Australia won the Adelaide Test by 48 runs. With Clarke sidelined, Smith could also be in line to lead Australia into the 50-over World Cup starting in February on home soil. The initial squad is due to be named on January 7. Smith will be a popular choice as captain, a position dubbed the вЂњsecond high- hamstring tendon and it was felt the best course of action was to surgically repair the damaged area,вЂќ Brukner said. вЂњHis recovery and the timing of his return to play will be dependent on the surgeonвЂ™s advice and how well he recovers in the coming weeks.вЂќ Clarke injured his hamstring while fielding during AustraliaвЂ™s first Test win over India on Saturday. He also suffered back pain while batting in the first innings, forcing him to retire hurt before he returned to complete a century. They were just the latest in a series of chronic problems he has had with his back and hamstrings over the past two years and prompted him to speculate that he many never play again. est officeвЂќ after that of the Prime Minister in cricket-mad Australia. The right-handed batsman and parttime legspinner has scored a mountain of runs over the past 12 months and shown an impressive poise under п¬Ѓre at odds with his boyish features. вЂњWe congratulate Steve on the wonderful honour of leading his country,вЂќ chair- man of selectors Rod Marsh said on Cricket AustraliaвЂ™s (cricket.com.au) website. вЂњHe is an exceptional young man who is highly regarded by the National Selection Panel not only for his п¬Ѓne performances with the bat but also his maturity and clear leadership potential.вЂќ Smith has prior experience as a skipper, leading New South Wales state in domestic competition and the Sydney Sixers in the local Twenty20 league. Since carving up SydneyвЂ™s grade cricket scene as a teenager, Smith has long been marked for big things, and made his п¬Ѓrst class debut for New South Wales at the age of 18. By 21, he had represented Australia in all test, one-day international and T20 teams, making his test debut against Pakistan at LordвЂ™s in 2010, and scoring 77 in his second Test against the same opponents at Leeds. He brings impressive form into his debut as captain, the second Test starting in Brisbane on Saturday, having blasted an unbeaten 162 in the п¬Ѓrst innings in Adelaide and 52, also unbeaten, in the second. Australia lead the four-test series 1-0. The teams play the third test in Melbourne on December 26 and the п¬Ѓnal match in Sydney from January 6. History favours Australia at Gabba where they have not lost in 26 years AFP Brisbane A ustralia, under new captain Steve Smith, take a one-nil series lead over India into tomorrowвЂ™s second Test in Brisbane where they have not lost a Test in 26 years. The Australians have proved formidable in steamy Brisbane where the pace and bounce of the Gabba wicket troubles touring sides, none more so than India who have not won in п¬Ѓve attempts. AustraliaвЂ™s last Gabba Test loss was against the Viv Richards-led West Indies by nine wickets in 1988. India will also likely have a new captain with Mahendra Singh Dhoni expected to return to the leadership role after missing the series opener to recover from a fractured thumb. It is bitter-sweet for India with Dhoni taking the reins from stand-in skipper Virat Kohli whose twin centuries had the tourists on the cusp of a remarkable come-from-behind victory in Adelaide until a late clatter of wickets on the п¬Ѓnal day. вЂњI would be very happy that he (Dhoni) is going to be п¬Ѓt and available for the second Test,вЂќ Kohli said. вЂњIt doesnвЂ™t matter if I have the вЂ�cвЂ™ in front of my name or not. That doesnвЂ™t change anything as far as my mindset is concerned.вЂќ But former Australia Test captain Ian Chappell believes Kohli should be installed as IndiaвЂ™s full-time skipper. вЂњKohliвЂ™s performance over three-and-a-half days must have tempted the selectors into thinking now is the right time to elevate him to full-time Test captaincy,вЂќ Chappell said. вЂњThereвЂ™s no doubt that MS Dhoni has passed his use-bydate as a Test captain, and this seems the perfect time to en- act the changeover.вЂќ The teams have to back up from a three-day turnaround and the Australians are tinkering with freshening up their pace attack with Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc vying for starting roles. вЂњWe will see how they pull up,вЂќ coach Darren Lehmann said on Sunday of the bowlers who performed in Adelaide. вЂњWe will pick the best team to get 20 wickets. A couple of them are sore but the next day or two will tell. ItвЂ™s a quick turnaround.вЂќ Off-spinner Nathan Lyon is also expected to п¬Ѓgure prominently at the Gabba, where he has taken 15 wickets in three Tests at 21.87. Lyon captured a careerbest 12 wickets in the match, including seven for 152 in the second innings at the Adelaide Oval, triggering a п¬Ѓnal-session collapse to steer Australia to victory. вЂњHe did a really good job (in Brisbane) last year against England, got some key wickets,вЂќ Lehmann said. вЂњHe enjoys the bounce at the Gabba.вЂќ IndiaвЂ™s pace attack of Varun Aaron, Mohamed Shami and Ishant Sharma will also relish bowling at the Gabba, while off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin is in line for a return. The Indian managementвЂ™s decision to hand a debut to rookie leg-spinner Karn Sharma ahead of the more experienced Ashwin in Adelaide came in for some post-match criticism. While off-spinner Lyon picked up 12 wickets and delivered a dramatic victory to the home team on the last day, wrist-spinner Sharma ended with match п¬Ѓgures of 4 for 238. Despite IndiaвЂ™s record at the Gabba, it is a match that the tourists must at least draw to still have a chance of winning the series ahead of the third Test beginning Boxing Day in Melbourne. Virat Kohli (right), who led India in the first Test, will make way for regular skipper MS Dhoni for the remaining three Tests of the series. FOCUS New captain promises aggressive approach AFP Melbourne T wenty-п¬Ѓve year-old Steven Smith takes over as captain of Australia against India at the Gabba tomorrow with a promise to pursue an aggressive style of cricket. вЂњWeвЂ™ve been playing some very good cricket and weвЂ™re going to continue playing that aggressive, positive brand of cricket,вЂќ Smith, who has played 23 Tests, told reporters. вЂњAs a captain п¬Ѓrst and foremost IвЂ™ll try to lead from the front with my performance on the п¬Ѓeld.вЂќ Smith, who becomes the third youngest man to lead his country, smashed 162 not out in the п¬Ѓrst innings and was 52 not out in the second in Adelaide. He vowed AustraliaвЂ™s in-your-face attitude will not change. вЂњWhen we cross the line there are no friends. WeвЂ™re not friends with the opposition,вЂќ Smith said. CA looked to the long term and п¬Ѓrst officially appointed Smith as vice-captain to Clarke yesterday before conп¬Ѓrming he would therefore lead the Test side in ClarkeвЂ™s absence. Veteran wicketkeeper Brad Haddin, who captained Australia on the п¬Ѓnal day in Adelaide, will serve as deputy in Brisbane. SmithвЂ™s appointment means Cricket Australia have accelerated succession planning for ClarkeвЂ™s eventual departure, which may become clearer over the next couple of days after surgery on his troublesome hamstring. The sight of Smith and his boyish features ordering around seasoned teammates like 37-year-old vice captain Haddin and 35-year-old paceman Ryan Harris may seem curious at п¬Ѓrst. Haddin helped guide Australia to a nerve-jangling victory on day п¬Ѓve of the Adelaide Test when Clarke limped off the п¬Ѓeld injured and was fancied as a good short-term replacement by the countryвЂ™s high performance chief Pat Howard. But the hard-bitten wicketkeeper will be an important sounding board for Smith, who has led state team New South Wales and claims the respect of senior players. Much of that respect has developed only in the past 12-18 months as Smith has cemented his place with a mountain of runs after three years of hard graft on the fringes since his 2010 debut as a raw 21-year-old at LordвЂ™s against Pakistan. вЂњI think IвЂ™m just getting better every day,вЂќ said Smith, who was unbeaten in both innings at Adelaide, scoring 162 and 52. вЂњI am (ready). IвЂ™m extremely excited. I think when IвЂ™m just a player on the п¬Ѓeld I try to have my brain thinking like a captain all the time. Obviously itвЂ™s a different kettle of п¬Ѓsh (leading) Australia, but IвЂ™m really looking forward to the challenge.вЂќ National selector Rod Marsh said: вЂњThese are difficult circumstances given MichaelвЂ™s injury and the fact that we donвЂ™t know how long he will be out of the game. вЂњWhat we do know is that it wonвЂ™t be an overnight п¬Ѓx so after a lot of thought we have taken the opportunity to appoint an emerging young leader as captain until such time as Michael regains п¬Ѓtness and returns to the side. вЂњWe congratulate Steve on the wonderful honour of leading his country. On Wednesday he will become AustraliaвЂ™s 45th Test captain and at the age of 25 will become one of our youngest leaders.вЂќ Marsh paid tribute to Haddin, saying he SMITH FACTBOX had вЂњdone an exceptional job as vice-captain since assuming the role last year and will provide strong support to Steve just as he has done for Michael. вЂњThere was a strong argument for Brad to assume the captaincy until Michael returns, but given we donвЂ™t know how long that will be, we felt the time was right to take a longer-term view and give a young player this chance.вЂќ Clarke is now focusing on getting п¬Ѓt for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, which starts on February 14. He was disconsolate following AustraliaвЂ™s 48-run п¬Ѓrst Adelaide Test win over India after being forced off with a torn right hamstring. Born June 2, 1989 in Sydney. Started his career as a promising legspin bowler and middle order batsman but is now primarily a batsman. Made his debut for Australia aged 20 in a Twenty20 match against Pakistan on Feb 2010, taking two wickets and scoring eight runs. He has gone to play 21 T20s for Australia, with a high score of 34 and best bowling figures of 3-20. Made his one-day international debut for Australia in Feb 2010, against the West Indies, taking two wickets but did not bat. Has since played 45 ODIs, scoring 921 runs at an average of 31.75. He has scored two hundreds and three 50s. He was picked for AustraliaвЂ™s Test team in mid 2010, aged 21, against Pakistan at LordвЂ™s. Has played 23 Tests, scoring 1,749 runs at an average of 46.02 with five hundreds, nine half-centuries and a high score of 162 not out, against India at Adelaide Oval last week. Smith was dropped from the Test team in early 2011 after making just two half-centuries from his first five Tests. He was recalled to the team just over two years later, making 92 on return. He scored his first Test century, an unbeaten 138, in the fifth Ashes Test at The Oval last year, then two more in the 201314 Ashes series in Australia. Was named AustraliaвЂ™s 45th Test captain yesterday, taking over from Michael Clarke after he injured his hamstring in the first Test with India. Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 5 CRICKET TASK FORCE FINDINGS WI bosses, players blamed for India tour fiasco AFP Kingston W Former Windies fast bowler Wes Hall was part of the task force set up by the WICB. Task Force Recommendations est Indies cricket bosses, players and their union representatives have all been blamed for OctoberвЂ™s catastrophic abandonment of the tour of India. The West Indies team left India four matches into a п¬Ѓve-game one-day series after a pay dispute between players and the board, with the п¬Ѓfth one-dayer, a subsequent Twenty20 international and three Tests abandoned. It was a decision which prompted India to demand $42 million in compensation and damages. A task force set up by the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) has spread the blame for the debacle and laid out a raft of recommendations ranging from clear guidelines for playersвЂ™ contracts to ap- Contracts must be given to players at least three weeks before a tour and signed one week before the tour or players will be disqualified from selection The WICB should recruit a sports psychologist for touring parties The WICB should convene bonding sessions twice yearly between players, management and the board pointing a team psychologist for touring parties. It also insisted on вЂњbonding sessionsвЂќ between officials and players to help rescue the battered reputation of a team which was once the most feared in the world. вЂњThere is something fundamentally wrong in sending a team to faraway places with only an historical view of their terms of employment and then to radically change those historical terms after they arrive in that distant place,вЂќ said the report by the task force which was made public late on Sunday. вЂњIt was the conclusion of the players in India that their compensation would be reduced by some 70 percent,вЂќ it added. The task force, which included lawyers Michael Gordon and Richard Cheltenham as well as legendary former fast bowler Wes Hall, said that it was wrong for the players to be left in the dark over their contractual entitlements. On this point, both the WICB and the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) were at fault. вЂњThe Board and WIPA were attempting a seachange in the п¬Ѓnancial arrangements for West Indian professional cricketers without ensuring that there was understanding and acceptance by the WICBвЂ™s employees, the touring cricketers,вЂќ added the task force. PREVIEW вЂњThey both erred significantly in failing to ensure that their vision for the future of West Indies cricket with its ramifications for the sharing of sponsorship money and the concomitant changes in the level of remuneration for both the senior cricketers and the new class of professional players was clearly understood and the vision shared.вЂќ However, the national team players, many of whom have been locked in long-running disputes with the WICB, did not escape censure for abandoning the India tour despite knowing that David Cameron, the president of the WICB, and WIPA chief Wavell Hinds were due to п¬‚y to India to hold talks aimed at ending the crisis. вЂњA signiп¬Ѓcant proportion of the blame for the termination of the tour must also lie with the players, and in particular their leaders,вЂќ added the statement. FOCUS Proteas relishing red ball return against the Windies The first Test starting tomorrow will be the first outing for West Indies since they cut short their tour of India in October after a dispute between the players and their board Waqar hopes to remove PakistanвЂ™s вЂ�unpredictableвЂ™ tag AFP Dubai C oach Waqar Younis wants to remove the вЂ�unpredictableвЂ™ image linked to his Pakistan side ahead of this weekвЂ™s п¬Ѓnal two one day internationals against New Zealand. Pakistan routed New Zealand by 147 runsвЂ”their second biggest win over the rivalsвЂ”in the third day-night international in Sharjah on Sunday. That came two days after Pakistan went down by four wickets in an unimpressive show in the second match, also played in Sharjah. With Pakistan leading the п¬Ѓve-match series 2-1, Waqar wants consistency in the п¬Ѓnal two matches in Abu Dhabi tomorrow and on Friday. вЂњWe have to remove that tag,вЂќ said Waqar yesterday. вЂњSaying that itвЂ™s (lack of consistency) no more a problem would be wrong but the effort is to develop a good team which can do well abroad.вЂќ Pakistan posted 364-7 in 50 oversвЂ”their highest total against New Zealand in all one-day cricketвЂ”before dismissing their rivals for 217 in 38.2 overs. Waqar stressed he wants to develop a good team. вЂњWe have not become world beaters by winning the match big, there is plenty to work and if we win consistently our performance should be so good so that even if we lose we are not hurt,вЂќ said Waqar, a former Pakistan captain. The Pakistan coach described skipper Misbah-ul HaqвЂ™s hamstring injury which ruled him out of the last three games as a setback. вЂњWe wanted him to be п¬Ѓt and play in this series but I hope he will be back in three weeks and we have started working on that,вЂќ he added. All-rounder Shahid Afridi replaced Misbah as skipper for the remaining games and celebrated the occasion with a п¬Ѓery 26-ball 55 besides taking three wickets on Sunday. вЂњWhen you win, everything looks good and Afridi led the team well but saying it (the win) came because of change in captaincy would be unfair,вЂќ said Waqar. Waqar said the team management was trying to overcome the loss of Mohammad Hafeez as bowler after his suspension last week for illegal action. вЂњWe are trying to develop players who can bowl as well as bat so we will also work on (Ahmed) Shehzad and try to get the best out of him as a bowler, we are trying to get Hafeez cleared before the World Cup, so we have all our resources in the mega event,вЂќ said Waqar. Left-handed batsman Haris Sohail п¬Ѓlled in as left-arm spinner, taking three wickets each in the last two matches. Waqar hoped senior batsman Younis Khan will show form. вЂњI think Younis did well in the last match,вЂќ said Waqar of Younis who made 35 on Sunday. вЂњWe are looking for someone around whom others can bat, he has an amazing record in Tests and technique but I feel he needs runs to get his conп¬Ѓdence back in one-day and I am sure itвЂ™s just round the corner.вЂќ South African batting will revolve around AB de Villiers (left) and Hashim Amla, who have to shoulder much of the burden after the retirements of Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith. Reuters Cape Town T op-ranked South Africa play their п¬Ѓrst Test in п¬Ѓve months when they face an unfamiliar West Indies in the opening contest of their three-match series in Pretoria tomorrow. It will also be a п¬Ѓrst outing for islanders since they cut short their tour of India in October after a dispute between the players and their board. Having last played each other in п¬Ѓveday cricket in 2010, South Africa coach Russell Domingo said he had to do some extra homework against a team without experienced stalwarts Chris Gayle, Darren Bravo and Darren Sammy, who retired from tests in May. вЂњWe havenвЂ™t played a Test since our tour to Zimbabwe in August so that is nearly п¬Ѓve months,вЂќ Domingo told reporters. вЂњIt gives us some time away from the white ball to re-energise that aspect of our game; we have played a lot of ODI cricket over the last year. вЂњWe need to do our homework on them. West Indies cricket has a proud reputation and a proud record. We know that they are one of the best one-day sides in the world and they are a team that will be desperate to do well in the test format.вЂќ South Africa will hand a debut to 27-year-old right-handed batsman Stiaan van Zyl, usually a number three at provincial level for the Cape Town-based Cobras, but likely to п¬Ѓll in at seven in the place of the injured JP Duminy for this series. The tour will be a challenge for the West Indian batsmen against South AfricaвЂ™s vaunted pace attack of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander, with Proteas opener Dean Elgar suggesting it is the toughest country in the world to face the new ball. Elgar, a replacement in the opening positions for the retired Graeme Smith, believes the side is at peace with the loss of their former captain and Jacques Kallis, who retired from international cricket last season, and are looking forward to the years ahead under new skipper Hashim Amla, who debuted in the role in Sri Lanka in July. вЂњThat era has come to an end now,вЂќ Elgar said. вЂњThe guys who are in the team appreciate what has happened and are mature and professional enough to understand that itвЂ™s the time for another opening pair to start things out.вЂќ The Proteas have dominated the tour- ists since losing their п¬Ѓrst Test meeting in 1992, having claimed 16 wins to three in the 25 tests between the sides. Amla, who leapfrogged ODI captain AB de Villiers to be given the Test captaincy following the retirement of long-serving Graeme Smith last season, would be aiming to notch his п¬Ѓrst win as captain on home soil. Under AmlaвЂ™s leadership, South Africa gained away wins against Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe earlier this year and his team will be strong favourites to continue the winning run. The West Indies have lost ten of 12 previous Tests in South Africa, managing just one win and one draw. They currently languish in eighth place on the International Cricket Council Test rankings, while South Africa are number one. There are some question marks about the home sideвЂ™s batting order, however, following the retirements of Smith and Kallis, their all-time leading run-scorer. The opening pair of Alviro Petersen and Dean Elgar may be vulnerable against experienced West Indian fast bowlers Kemar Roach and Jerome Taylor, with Petersen not having made a century in 23 previous Test innings, which have yielded only three п¬Ѓfties, while Elgar is a relative newcomer to the Test opening role. South Africa still have world-class performers in Amla and De Villiers, who are expected at four and п¬Ѓve. On a pitch that usually favours fast bowlers, the West Indian bowling looks reasonable but a perennial problem for the tourists has been inconsistent batting. With Darren Bravo missing for personal reasons and Chris Gayle because of injury, they are likely to rely greatly on Marlon Samuels, who hit a double century in a warm-up match last week, and the 40-year-old Shivnarine Chanderpaul. Teams South Africa (likely): Hashim Amla (captain), Alviro Petersen, Dean Elgar, Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers, Stiaan van Zyl, Quinton de Kock (wk), Robin Peterson or Kyle Abbott, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel. West Indies (from): Denesh Ramdin (captain, wk), Kraigg Brathwaite, Devon Smith, Leon Johnson, Marlon Samuels, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Jermaine Blackwood, Jason Holder, Kemar Roach, Jerome Taylor, Sulieman Benn, Sheldon Cottrell, Assad Fudadin, Shannon Gabriel, Chadwick Walton (wk) Gillespie wants Test status for Ireland London: Ireland should be given full Test-playing status to help put some excitement back into cricketвЂ™s traditional format, according to former Australia bowler Jason Gillespie. With Test match crowds dwindling, Gillespie believes the time is right for the International Cricket Council (ICC) to get Ireland and their fan club, the вЂ�Blarney ArmyвЂ™ on board. вЂњLetвЂ™s face it, outside of Australia and EnglandвЂ”and to a lesser extent South AfricaвЂ”people donвЂ™t turn up to watch test cricket. ThatвЂ™s just the way it is. And itвЂ™s sad,вЂќ Gillespie, now coach of English county Yorkshire, said. вЂњOne fantastic way to give test cricket a lift straight away would be to give Ireland full test status. вЂњItвЂ™s something that should happen sooner rather than later from the ICC. Imagine if Ireland were given test status: that would be huge news in world cricket, and it would be a massively positive story for the world game. вЂњThe ICC and all the national boards talk a lot about the importance of protecting the integrity of test cricket. If it is that important, then we should look to improve it, and in my view including Ireland would improve it.вЂќ Ireland are established in one-day internationals and are preparing for next yearвЂ™s World Cup where they are in a pool including West Indies, Pakistan, India and fellow outsiders United Arab Emirates. At the 2011 World Cup in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, Ireland pulled off a stunning pool victory over England and also beat the Netherlands. 6 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 SPORT OLYMPIC BID MOTORSPORT Rome to lead Italy bid for 2024 Games вЂ�We will do everything we can until 2017 when the final decision is madeвЂ™ Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi announces ItalyвЂ™s and RomeвЂ™s candidacy to host the 2024 Olympic Games next to Italian swimming champion Federica Pelligrini during a press conference at the Italian Olympic Committee (Coni) headquarters in Rome yesterday. (AFP) Hamilton wins BBC Sports Personality of the Year award Reuters London D ouble Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton, who won 11 grands prix for Mercedes in 2014, was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year against the odds on Sunday. The award is widely regarded as BritainвЂ™s most prestigious cross-sports accolade. вЂњI am so speechless,вЂќ said the 29-year-old after a British public vote that overturned the betting form, with bookmakers having golfer Rory McIlroy as their clear favourite. вЂњI really was not expecting it. Dude, you had such an amazing year,вЂќ he told McIlroy at the ceremony in Glasgow. вЂњNever in a million years did I think I would be up here standing with the greats,вЂќ added Hamilton, who had walked the pre-event red carpet with his bulldog Roscoe. McIlroy, who won two majors in 2014 and helped Europe retain the Ryder Cup, was a forlorn-looking runner-up with European 10,000 metres champion Jo Pavey third. Bookmakers William Hill had listed the Northern Irishman at 2/5 earlier on Sunday with Hamilton, who was runner-up for the award in 2007 and again when he won his п¬Ѓrst title with McLaren in 2008, the 7/4 second favourite. Hamilton is the п¬Ѓfth racing driver to win the award in 61 years, with champions Damon Hill and Nigel Mansell winning it twice after Stirling Moss and Jackie Stewart before them. The Team of the Year award went to EnglandвЂ™s World Cup-winning womenвЂ™s rugby players while EuropeвЂ™s triumphant Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley was coach of the year. Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo took the overseas personality of the year prize. Williams name Steve Nielsen as new sporting manager AFP Rome R ome will spearhead an Italian bid for the 2024 Olympic Games, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said yesterday vowing a strong campaign to win the event. Italy is the п¬Ѓrst country to announce a bid taking advantage of new International Olympic Committee (IOC) rules allowing events to be staged in more than one city. Rivals in Europe and North America are expected to quickly emerge though. Renzi announced at the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) headquarters that Rome would be the centrepiece of the Games bid but that вЂњall the cities, from Florence and Naples to SardiniaвЂќ could be involved. вЂњThis is a challenge we would like to win. We will do everything we can until 2017 when the п¬Ѓnal decision is made,вЂќ said Renzi. No speciп¬Ѓc details were released, although one report said the sailing events could be held around the millionairesвЂ™ paradise of Sardinia. Rome, which held the Summer Games in 1960, shelved plans to bid for the 2020 event two years ago due to concerns over rising costs as the country battled an economic crisis. Turin held the Winter Olympics in 2006. Renzi said there would be a campaign вЂњcommitted to making sure Italy wins this matchвЂќ. вЂњRome will be the centrepiece of the project, then it will be up to CONI to decide which other cities will be involved,вЂќ he added. The IOC last week passed new rules allowing the Games to be held in more than one city and encourages the use of existing facilities so hosts can spread and cut costs. CONI president Giovanni Malago said ItalyвЂ™s bid would be dynamic but lowcost. вЂњLess expenditure, more ideas and total transparencyвЂ”our bid will revolutionary and led by a youthful team,вЂќ said Malago, who admitted the IOCвЂ™s new rules had encouraged Rome. He said Italy would вЂњexploit the expansion of existing infrastructure.вЂќ Critics of the plan quickly hit out though. In a п¬‚ash poll on the website of Gazzetta dello Sport daily, 64% of readers voted against the bid. Matteo Salvini, leader of the right-wing Lega Nord party, on Sunday said that some venues built for the 2006 Winter Games remain unused and that the country is still paying for the world swimming championships in Rome п¬Ѓve years ago. Salvini took aim at Renzi, who comes from Florence. вЂњIt would be better if the phenomenon from Florence thought more about the thousands of amateur Italian sports clubs that are at risk of closure thanks to the government, rather than fantasising about an unlikely Olympics,вЂќ said Salvini. Antonio Di Pietro, a former Italian senator and a prosecutor known for his anticorruption work, appeared to take RenziвЂ™s government to task when he said the future canoe-kayak events could be вЂњheld in the streets of GenoaвЂќ. In October, hundreds of people were evacuated and millions of euros of damage caused to the northern city by heavy п¬‚ooding. Rome can expect a tough competition for the 2024 Games. The US Olympic Committee is to decide this week between Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston or Washington for a probable American bid. Germany has said that Berlin or Hamburg will be put forward for the 2024 or 2028 Summer Games. Paris is to decide in January whether to stage a bid and the Azerbaijan capital, Baku, and DohaвЂ”both beaten by Tokyo in the bid to host the 2020 GamesвЂ”are potential candidates. South Africa could have a bid by Durban or a joint Johannesburg-Pretoria bid. Cities must make applications by September 15 next year. The IOC will choose a п¬Ѓnal list of candidate cities in May 2016 and make a п¬Ѓnal decision in Lima in mid 2017. The IOC last week passed reforms to make hosting the Games more attractive and more affordable. The Games can now be hosted by two cities, or two countries. The cost of bidding will also be cut. IOC President Thomas Bach called the new rules вЂњhistoricвЂќ and вЂњa major step forward in the organisation of the Olympic Games.вЂќ The 2014 Winter Games in Sochi cost Russia an estimated 50 billion dollars and IOC members believe the spiralling costs have put many countries off hosting the four-yearly showpiece. Steve Nielsen has been appointed sporting manager of Williams with immediate effect, the official Formula One homepage quoted the British team as saying yesterday. Nielsen joins directly from Toro Rosso and he has previously worked with Caterham, Tyrrell, Honda, Arrows and Benetton. вЂњIвЂ™m delighted to be joining a team of WilliamsвЂ™ history and stature in what is a very exciting time for everyone at Grove after a very impressive 2014 season,вЂќ Nielsen said in a statement. Williams were third in the 2014 constructorsвЂ™ championship, behind Mercedes and Red Bull, to record their best finishing position in several years. вЂњSteve brings a wealth of experience of the sporting side of Formula One and will help us as a team as we aim to climb further up the championship table,вЂќ technical officer Pat Symonds said. For the 2015 season, which starts with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 15, Williams have retained drivers Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa. Gutierrez signs for Ferrari as test driver Esteban Gutierrez has signed for Ferrari as a test and back-up driver for 2015, the Italian Formula One team said yesterday. The 23-year-old Mexican raced the last two seasons for the Sauber team, which had Ferrari engines, but was released at the end of this campaign. вЂњWe are pleased to be able to offer this opportunity to Esteban who, although young, has plenty of experience relating to the new generation of Formula 1 cars,вЂќ team principal Maurizio Arrivabene said. вЂњI am sure that, with his experience, he will make an important contribution to the development work of the team in the simulator.вЂќ FerrariвЂ™s two starting drivers for the 2015 season are former world champions Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel. YACHTING Comanche set for Sydney to Hobart debut AFP Sydney T he sleek new 100-foot supermaxi Comanche may be the most anticipated yacht of this yearвЂ™s Sydney to Hobart race, but accomplished American skipper Ken Read says it will be far from an ideal п¬Ѓrst voyage for the boat. The incredible superyacht, built in Maine at a cost of millions of dollars for technology billionaire entrepreneur Jim Clark and his wife Kristy explicitly to break records, is broader than its class rivals and has a towering 150-foot mast set further back than most. In the right conditions, the state-of the-art boat is expected to be tough to be beat. But the weather is everything in the Sydney to Hobart which can see yachts face mountainous seas and brutal galesвЂ”or left becalmed by a lack of wind. Last year fellow supermaxi Perpetual Loyal was well ahead after the п¬Ѓrst day but was stalled by a lack of wind and left helpless as it was overtaken by eventual line honours winner Wild Oats XI. вЂњAnd IвЂ™ve told Jim and Kristy thisвЂ”that we really couldnвЂ™t have chosen a worse race for its п¬Ѓrst race,вЂќ Read told AFP from onboard the Comanche in Sydney. вЂњBut itвЂ™s been the goal from the start.вЂќ The 53-year-old Read is one of the worldвЂ™s most decorated sailors. Twice named United States Yachtsman of the Year, Read has won nine world championships, been at the helm in AmericaвЂ™s Cups and Volvo Ocean Races and has won the AdmiralвЂ™s Cup. But he will sailing in uncharted waters in his п¬Ѓrst foray into the gruelling 628-nautical mile (1,163km) race down the east coast of Australia from Sydney Harbour to the Tasmania capital of Hobart, past the perilous Bass Strait. вЂњFirst of all, you canвЂ™t build a boat to be the best in all conditions, so youвЂ™ve got to pick and choose your conditions,вЂќ he said of Comanche, which will be competing for overall handicap and line honours among the supermaxis - the biggest and fastest class of yacht in the race. вЂњThe boatвЂ™s real goal is to try to break some records eventually,вЂќ Read said. вЂњIn all honesty, this boat isnвЂ™t really perfect for the Sydney to Hobart. But it is the best all-round option for all the rest of the stuff we want to do.вЂќ The race begins on Boxing Day, December 26, and Read will spend Christmas in Sydney before making his debut in AustraliaвЂ™s most famous sailing race. вЂњObviously IвЂ™ve followed it,вЂќ he said of the Crew members on the new French-designed 100-foot US supermaxi Comanche during sea trials in Sydney yesterday. The sleek new 100-foot supermaxi Comanche may be the most anticipated yacht of this yearвЂ™s Sydney to Hobart race, but accomplished American skipper Ken Read says it will be far from an ideal first voyage for the boat. (AFP) fabled event. вЂњI know a lot about itвЂ”its history, the passion around here for it, but IвЂ™ve watched it on the Internet like most other people.вЂќ The experienced yachtsman is also acutely aware of the dangers of the race, including the terrible events of 1998 when п¬Ѓve yachts sank and six people died after the race was hit by wild weather. Comanche, which was transported to Australia by container ship, has had little sailing time and Read said even decisions to take it on training runs were not taken lightly. вЂњIвЂ™m worried about absolutely everything on this boat getting damaged,вЂќ said Read, admitting that the boat was unproven and untested. This yearвЂ™s race, the 70th edition, has a п¬‚eet of 118вЂ”the largest since 1994вЂ”with п¬Ѓve of them supermaxisвЂ”Comanche, Wild Oats XI, Perpetual Loyal, Ragamuffin 100 and RIO 100. But to Read, it is his black and red vessel which is вЂњspectacularвЂќ. вЂњI keep telling all the guys, we have to keep sailing because every day we go sailing the boat gets smaller; you know itвЂ™s not so intimidating. вЂњBecause I can tell you the п¬Ѓrst few days of sailing the boat were like, вЂ�Dear Lord, what have we done?вЂ™ ItвЂ™s just a big, angry monster. And the more we sail it... it makes the boat less intimidating. SheвЂ™s a good girl though, right? Right sweetheart?вЂќ he says as he pats the boat gently. вЂњHang in there baby.вЂќ Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 7 FEATURES FOCUS Bryant has matched Jordan in points... and nastiness To compete with the man many consider as greatest ever, Bryant has become more aggressive than Jordan ever was By Hunter Felt The Guardian NBAвЂ™s leading point-scorers I f Kobe Bryant has spent his career chasing Michael Jordan, then this past week may be the culmination of that quest in more ways than one. On Sunday night, in the 100-94 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard scored 27 points, putting him ahead of JordanвЂ™s 32,292 career total. Bryant is now third on the NBAвЂ™s all-time points list behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (No1) and Karl Malone (No 2). Earlier in the week, Bryant п¬Ѓrmly cemented his reputation as an even more abrasive team-mate than the infamously prickly Chicago Bulls legend. On Thursday, Bryant went on an epic rant during off-day practice, ripping fellow Lakers for being вЂњsoft like CharminвЂќ. Immediately afterwards, he brought his complaints directly to general manager Mitch Kupchak, in front of gathered media members, saying вЂњthese [expletives] arenвЂ™t doing [expletive] for me.вЂќ (The phrase, amusingly enough, comes off as even more profane when left as Mad Libs than п¬Ѓlled in with the curse words in question.) It feels п¬Ѓtting that Bryant would both out-shoot and out-trash talk his idol in such a short timeframe. In his possibly quixotic quest to compete with the man considered by many to be the greatest basketball player of all time, BryantвЂ™s path has made him more aggressive than even Jordan ever was, both on and off the court. Obviously, itвЂ™s hard to say he hasnвЂ™t had a lot of personal and team success trying to out-Jordan Jordan. Bryant is one of the 10 best players in basketball history. HeвЂ™s a 16 time NBA All-Star who has won п¬Ѓve championships with the Lakers. To even bring up the fact that he is headed to the Basketball Hall of Fame as soon as heвЂ™s eligible does disservice to his legacy. Of course he is. HeвЂ™s Kobe Bryant! Still, even though Bryant may be above him on the scoring list, there are few who would put him on par with MJ. Sunday nightвЂ™s achievement comes with the asterisk that Jordan left some of his prime years on the table by leaving the game twice, once during the peak of his career, before п¬Ѓnally retiring for good. Plus, Bryant came into the league straight out of high school while Jordan played three years of college basketball at North Carolina before making his NBA debut. In short, Bryant has had more time to put up the numbers. Beyond that, statistics tend to back the judgment that Jordan was the superior offensive player, particularly when efficiency enters the equation. Let his latest accomplishment not hide the fact that it was just last month that Bryant broke a much more ignoble record by setting the all-time NBA record for 1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 2. Karl Malone 3. Kobe Bryant 4. Michael Jordan 5. Wilt Chamberlain 6. Shaquille OвЂ™Neal 7. Moses Malone 8. Elvin Hayes 9. Dirk Nowitzki 10. Hakeem Olajuwon Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers waves to the crowd after passing Michael Jordan on the all-time scoring list with a free throw during the NBA game against Minnesota Timberwolves in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Sunday. (AFP) missed п¬Ѓeld goal attempts. Defensively, thereвЂ™s very little debate that Jordan holds a signiп¬Ѓcant edge over Bryant. If one wants to go by championships, which is probably a silly measurement but itвЂ™s something we fans love to do, Bryant has п¬Ѓve, Jordan six. Considering BryantвЂ™s age and the current state of the Lakers, they are both equally likely to win another. Meanwhile, BryantвЂ™s off-the-court reputation suggests that he has been under the sway of the idea that a big part of what made Michael Jordan вЂњMichael JordanвЂќ was his almost sociopathic desire not just to win, but to crush and humiliate others while doing so. ItвЂ™s telling that both have been (positively!) described as вЂњtwo raving lunatic competitors that could really score the basketball.вЂќ In certain NBA circles, they celebrate JordanвЂ™s darker side, a side which clashes violently with the popular conception of Michael Jordan: Charismatic Winner/American Icon/Beloved Corporate Brand. The real Jordan would п¬Ѓght with team-mates, occasionally physically, hold grudges for years over the п¬‚imsiest pretexts and generally treat people like targets he needed to demolish. Some writers have theorised that these antisocial tendencies werenвЂ™t a toxic side product of JordanвЂ™s basketball genius, but rather a necessary component of it. To be a winner, the Myth of Jordan proclaims, means having to be the bully, even towards those on your own side. If that was the key to JordanвЂ™s great- ness, maybe BryantвЂ™s attempt to outdo him in sheer unpleasantness was his way of attempting to best him. If Jordan could be contentious with team-mates, BryantвЂ™s relationship with his was often downright adversarial. Bryant would unleash his wrath on both the scrubs вЂ“ he once informed notorious league п¬‚ameout Smush Parker that he couldnвЂ™t even talk to him вЂ“ with the same ease as he could with the all-time greats. His conп¬‚ict with Shaquille OвЂ™Neal eventually forced LA to trade the massively popular centre to the Miami Heat. The joke might be on us sceptics, after all Bryant did help lead п¬Ѓve teams to championships. Again, though, itвЂ™s hard to say that his way worked better than JordanвЂ™s. Phil Jackson, who coached both players to multiple titles, noted sharp differences between how the two functioned as leaders in his book Eleven Rings: The Soul Of Success. One of the biggest differences between the two stars from my perspective was MichaelвЂ™s superior skills as a leader. Though at times he could be hard on his team-mates, Michael was masterful at controlling the emotional climate of the team with the power of his presence. Kobe had a long way to go before he could make that claim. Bryant, of course, maintains that ThursdayвЂ™s incident at practice was an example of him вЂњchallenging guysвЂќ. If one wanted to go the вЂњcorrelation equals causationвЂќ route, it should be noted that in FridayвЂ™s game, Nick Young, the main target of BryantвЂ™s abuse, made the game-winning three pointer in a 112- 38,387 36,928 32,310 32,292 31,419 28,596 27,409 27,313 27,223 26,946 110 overtime victory over the defending champion San Antonio Spurs. Maybe if he hadnвЂ™t been compared to toilet paper the day before he would have thrown up an airball instead. Even assuming that it works, is this kind of Full Metal Jacket drill sergeant approach really the best way for a teamвЂ™s best player to get the most out of his fellow players? The current crop of NBA superstars, a generation removed from Jordan, seem to suggest that basketball greatness doesnвЂ™t necessarily require embracing oneвЂ™s inner misanthrope. Nobody could deny that LeBron James and the Kevin Durant have substantial competitive drives and the egos one would expect from two of the very best at their profession. Neither of them, however, seem to come from the same mould as MJ or Kobe. James has a more selп¬‚ess, team-based approach to the game. DurantвЂ™s humility shone through his 2014 MVP speech, where he thanked every basketball-playing humanoid he ever played with in any capacity. Maybe itвЂ™s that times have changed. In todayвЂ™s media-saturated environment, every perceived misstep immediately becomes the top trending topic on Twitter. Considering this, itвЂ™s hard to see any current or upcoming MVP caliber NBA player challenging Bryant when it comes to cultivating a combative public persona. At the very least, it would be an ongoing PR nightmare for handlers. Who knows? It might not even be possible for a player to go any further. Hours after BryantвЂ™s rant went viral, CharminвЂ™s official Twitter account made it into a punchline, a sign that he may have crossed over into the realm of self-parody. Bryant has taken JordanвЂ™s вЂњkiller instinctвЂќ and pushed it to its absolute limits, into the realm of absurdity Yes, Bryant has established himself as JordanвЂ™s true successor, surpassing him on the all-time points chart only conп¬Ѓrmed this. The fallout after ThursdayвЂ™s embarrassment, however, suggests that this line of succession has already reached its end. We may not see another NBA superstar base their game on the concept that you can bully your way to greatness. As many predicted, Bryant was, in fact, the Next Jordan. He also could be the Last Jordan. That might be for the best. BOTTOMLINE Why Clarke bowing out now could be a fitting end to a great career By Russell Jackson The Guardian I n the preface to his new book, Cricket As I See It, former Australian Test captain Allan Border pauses to consider the nondescript, anti-climactic manner in which his Test career ended on a foreign п¬Ѓeld during his sideвЂ™s 1994 Test tour of South Africa. In that game at Durban it wasnвЂ™t so much a case of raging against the dying light as a man coming to terms with the frustrations of a game that had gripped and absorbed him for decades but which he was now prepared to leave behind. It was the fault of the Proteas thought Border, that the Test was heading for a dull draw so he вЂњbatted out the last day with that п¬Ѓrmly in mind, almost out of spite for the way South Africa had played its п¬Ѓrst innings.вЂќ He walked off Kingsmead Oval knowing his time was up. He mightnвЂ™t have considered it at the time, but an attritional draw was perhaps a п¬Ѓtting way for Border to go. It was AB vs the rest of the world, rugged and grumpy AB proving one last point, bloody-minded AB having the last say. It was ugly in a sense that, with the beneп¬Ѓt of hindsight, seems poetic and apt. Not every Test captain bows out in a manner that reп¬‚ects their character but there would be something equally symbolic about Michael Clarke вЂ“ now at a crossroads after his body failed him again in Adelaide вЂ“ departing Test cricket much the same as heвЂ™d come in, with a nationвЂ™s eyes п¬Ѓxed upon him and delivering a captivating century in a win against India. There might be a far more compelling story to come out of the Adelaide Test, one that shows us more accurately the physical hell Clarke put himself through not just in making that determined century but by taking the п¬Ѓeld at all. His primped and preened exterior has long obscured the physical turmoil that each innings places him under, but not even Clarke can affect an illusion of vitality now. The hamstring has gone again but itвЂ™s the dodgy back thatвЂ™s troubled him his entire career, an ailment that has gradually worsened in a curve running the opposite direction as his public approval rating. The irony at play here is that a man nicknamed вЂњPupвЂќ and for whom youth and glamour always seemed bywords should gradually succumb, after 108 matches and 8,432 runs at an average of 50.79, to an injury of gnarled old-timers. Many Test captains go out as Clarke might do now вЂ“ their bodies completely defeating them before opponents or waning hunger had. Beyond cricket, there is perhaps a more accurate comparison to be considered between twilight period Clarke and late-career NBA legend Larry Bird, a team-deп¬Ѓning superstar hobbled so badly by degenerative back injuries that he spent the last years of his career lying on the ground beside the bench because sitting was too painful. Bird too spent entire seasons railing against his certain fate, performing at a superhuman level even when debilitating pain and a drastically limited range of movements had made something fragile of his classical talents. That must have been a torturous frustration for Australia captain Michael Clarke leaves the ground with a stump after beating India on the final day of the first Test at Adelaide Oval on Saturday. (AFP) an athlete whoвЂ™d once bounced around with spring-heeled vigour and taken for granted the gift of contorting his body into rubbery shapes. Not long after his body said вЂ�noвЂ™, Bird also lost a teammate and protГ©gГ©, Reggie Lewis, in tragic circumstances. On Saturday evening Clarke spoke to the press with an almost relaxed frankness that seemed to speak volumes. It looked like a dress rehearsal. Only two weeks back and against general consensus, the hobbled Australian skipper seemed hell-bent on getting his own way and playing in the opening Test of the summer. That his employer publicly contradicted him was a signiп¬Ѓcant embarrassment blown away by the swirling winds of grief. Yet in the afterglow of that magniп¬Ѓcent win at the weekend, after everything that he and his teammates have been through in the most testing fortnight of their careers, he appeared resigned and philosophical at the fact that it might be all over. Publicly-expressed self-doubt is not ClarkeвЂ™s normal style. If he does п¬Ѓnish up, and thereвЂ™s certainly no guarantee he will, Clarke would leave an ageing but reinvigorated team in an assuredly better place than when he п¬Ѓrst took the job. In almost every sense he could feel something like closure and a relief that might never quite set in should he battle on to next winterвЂ™s Ashes. No-one could begrudge Clarke listening to what his body is telling him in less than subtle terms. Into his place for at least the remainder of the Australian summer steps 25-year-old Steven Smith, a player now remarkably assured for his age. If his nimble footwork and ceaseless п¬Ѓdgeting at the crease are a measure of his mindвЂ™s dexterity and restlessness, heвЂ™ll be as proactive in the п¬Ѓeld as the man he succeeds. There is another section in BorderвЂ™s book when AustraliaвЂ™s longest-serving Test captain runs the rule over ClarkeвЂ™s leadership. His strength, says Border, is that he never lets a game drift, that he gambles with creativity and п¬‚air to conjure results like the one we saw in Adelaide on Saturday. That judgment and the ability to read the mood, you also sense, might perhaps now come to the fore as Clarke considers his own cricket mortality. The Australian captain, Border concludes with some poignancy, вЂњhas a feel for those thingsвЂќ. 8 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 SPORT NBA National Football League roundup Knicks have another rough ending, fall to tough Raptors Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks donвЂ™t connect, missing 7 of 8 shots in overtime Houston Texans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was carted off the field in the first half of SundayвЂ™s game against the Indianapolis Colts with what was called a fractured left leg by multiple media outlets. When asked after the game if FitzpatrickвЂ™s left leg is broken, Texans coach Bill OвЂ™Brien would neither confirm nor deny the report. If FitzpatrickвЂ™s leg is broken, he is expected to miss the rest of the season, leaving the offence in the hands of rookie Tom Savage. Backup quarterback Ryan Mallett, who had replaced Fitzpatrick as the TexansвЂ™ starting quarterback, is out for the season with a torn pectoral. The San Francisco 49ers lost two running backs on Sunday. Frank Gore was ruled out for the rest of the game after suffering a concussion in the first half. Carlos Hyde limped off the field late in the third quarter after sustaining what appeared to be a knee injury. Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker left SundayвЂ™s game against the New York Jets because of an injury with 1:58 left in the first half and did not return. Locker, after being hit by Jets defensive end Quinton Coples, fell hard on his left shoulder and jogged off the field after a short delay. NFL owners will vote in March on a proposed new playoff system that will expand from 12 teams to 14 and include reseeding, ESPN reported. In addition to first-round byes for the teams with the best record in the AFC and NFC, two divisional champions in each conference will be guaranteed a home game under the proposal. The remaining four teams in each conference will be seeded based on win-loss record. Dallas Cowboys coach Jason GarrettвЂ™s job appears safe, ESPN reported. Garrett is in the final year of his contract and the team has finished 8-8 the past three seasons. The Cowboys, who entered Sunday at 9-4, have slowed down after a hot start but are still guaranteed to finish the season with a winning record. Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis plans to make major changes to the team, according to ESPN. Those plans include spending lots of money and overhauling the organisation in an attempt to build a winning team. The changes could include firing general manager Reggie McKenzie. The Raiders are expected to hire a new coach. Tony Sparano replaced fired coach Dennis Allen in the interim after an 0-4 start. Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne broke the franchiseвЂ™s record for games played Sunday. Wayne, 36, played his 209th career game, breaking former teammate Peyton ManningвЂ™s record. Manning, now with Denver, played his 208th game as a Colt in 2011. FOCUS PenguinsвЂ™ Crosby diagnosed with mumps P New York KnicksвЂ™ Carmelo Anthony (left) shoots for three over Toronto RaptorsвЂ™ Patrick Patterson during their NBA game in New York on Sunday. (USA TODAY Sports) Newsday (TNS) New York T he Knicks, eventually, will п¬Ѓgure out how to п¬Ѓnish games against a quality opponent. But Sunday night was another missed opportunity because of too many misses and mistakes. With a chance to beat the Atlantic Division-leading Raptors, Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks couldnвЂ™t connect. They missed 7 of 8 shots in overtime and had a costly turnover, leading to a 95-90 defeat to Toronto at Madison Square Garden. Anthony led the Knicks (5-21) with 34 points, but he was 0-for-3 in the extra period with a turnover. He shot 11-for-24. The Knicks shot 37.2 percent, committed 25 turnovers and lost for the 11th time in 12 games. Terrence Ross had 22 for the Raptors (18-6) and Kyle Lowry 21. The Knicks were without Iman Shump- ert because of a dislocated left shoulder. J.R. Smith was penciled in to start despite a partial tear of his left plantar fascia, but he was limited during a pre-game workout and couldnвЂ™t play. Tim Hardaway Jr., who started at shooting guard, came down hard on his leg on a drive to the basket in the third quarter. He was hobbling and left the game but eventually returned and п¬Ѓnished with 18 points. In the overtime, the Raptors took a 91-87 lead on a Lowry jumper with 3:33 to go. It stayed that way until AmarвЂ™e StoudemireвЂ™s foul shot with 2:18 left. Lowry then hit a tough baseline fadeaway to put Toronto up п¬Ѓve. Anthony missed two 3-pointers on the next possession, leading to an Amir Johnson layup to make it 95-88 with 1:05 left. Following a timeout, the Knicks had a п¬Ѓve-second violation because they couldnвЂ™t inbound the ball. The KnicksвЂ™ only basket in the overtime was a Hardaway layup with 5.2 seconds remaining. In regulation, Ross hit a jump shot with 2:38 left that gave the Raptors an 86-84 lead. The Knicks had four different opportunities to tie it but their next four possessions went this way: Stoudemire turnover, Calderon missed jumper and two straight Anthony misses. After AnthonyвЂ™s second miss with 37.9 seconds left, the ball went out of bounds off the Raptors. It was close, but the ofп¬Ѓcials reviewed it and said it was KnicksвЂ™ ball. This time, Anthony came through, driving to the basket to tie the game at 86 with 28.7 seconds left. On the ensuing possession, Lou Williams missed a three-pointer but Patrick Patterson got the offensive rebound and the Raptors called timeout with 2.7 seconds remaining. Lowry got the inbounds and had a chance to win it. He drove and his off-balance fadeaway from the baseline didnвЂ™t hit the rim. Anthony scored 15 consecutive Knicks points spanning the third and fourth quarters. Shane Larkin ended the run вЂ” with Anthony on the bench вЂ” with a 3-pointer that made it 74-all with 9:21 remaining. Later in the fourth, with the Knicks down 80-79, they misп¬Ѓred on four chances to take the lead. Larkin missed a п¬‚oater in the lane and Anthony an open 3-pointer on the same possession. Following a stop, Calderon couldnвЂ™t convert on a three and Hardaway missed a layup. Lowry made four foul shots on the RaptorsвЂ™ next two trips to make it 84-79. The Knicks ended an 0-for-6 drought on their next time up the court as Stoudemire threw down a Calderon feed. Anthony connected on a three on the ensuing trip to tie it at 84 with 2:54 left. RESULTS Golden State..........128 Chicago.........................93 Washington ..............93 LA Lakers ................100 Oklahoma City ..... 112 Toronto ..........................95 San Antonio ............99 New Orleans .. 122 (OT) Miami .....................................75 Utah ........................................ 84 Minnesota ........................94 Phoenix...............................88 New York.............90 (OT) Denver ...................................91 ittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby has joined the list of NHL players diagnosed with mumps as the team conп¬Ѓrmed his mystery illness was the viral infection causing concern in the league. The Penguins made the announcement on Sunday, just two days after saying Crosby would miss two games as a precautionary measure because he had not been feeling well. On Friday the team said they had no indication Crosby had the mumps, but on Sunday they conп¬Ѓrmed the diagnosis and said he would sit out MondayвЂ™s game against Tampa Bay. вЂњWeвЂ™re concerned about it (spreading), itвЂ™s a disease thatвЂ™s going throughout the league,вЂќ Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said. вЂњYou just donвЂ™t know far it can spread. WeвЂ™re watching this on a regular basis.вЂќ Crosby has nine goals and 26 assists for 35 points in 27 games this season. The mumps struck NHL teams across the country this season, with conп¬Ѓrmed cases among the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, New Jersey Devils, Min- nesota Wild and St. Louis Blues. The viral illness, better known as a childhood disease, can cause a characteristic swelling of the salivary glands, but also causes fever, fatigue and muscle aches. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told the Chicago Tribune this month that the league had been in touch with team doctors to discuss вЂњbest practicesвЂќ to contain the spread of the virus, and some teams had offered immunization boosters to players. Penguins team doctor Dharmesh Vyas said CrosbyвЂ™s case took time to diagnose because he didnвЂ™t have severe symptoms, but medical staff continued to monitor him closely because of the outbreak in the league. вЂњEvery indication was that he was well protected against the disease,вЂќ Vyas said, noting that Crosby received an immunization booster before competing for Canada at the Sochi Olympics in February. Other players and staff who showed low antibodies were immunised two weeks ago, Vyas said. вЂњWeвЂ™re trying to stay ahead of it,вЂќ he said. NHL Shootout shutout costs Kings in 4-3 loss to Maple Leafs By Lisa Dillman Los Angeles Times (TNS) I t was shootout karma. Or something like that. You can guess what happened a day after Los Angeles Kings Coach Darryl Sutter ripped shootouts after practice here, saying, вЂњI donвЂ™t have the time of day for them.вЂќ The Kings were forced to have the time of day with the shootout Sunday but didnвЂ™t have any success against Toronto goalie James Reimer. Reimer stopped Marian Gaborik, Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar of the Kings, and the Maple LeafsвЂ™ Joffrey Lupul scored against Kings goalie Jonathan Quick to give Toronto a 4-3 victory at Air Canada Center. This particular shootout certainly wonвЂ™t be remembered for its artistic merit. Lupul was the only one of six shooters to convert. Considering the Kings trailed 2-0 after the п¬Ѓrst period, picking up one point could be considered a small measure of improvement after regulation losses in three of their last four games. Toronto is 9-1-1 since Nov. 18, having won its last п¬Ѓve games. вЂњWe battled back,вЂќ Sutter said. вЂњItвЂ™s tough to get points, especially in this building.вЂќ ThereвЂ™s a п¬Ѓne line between talking about positive signs and being mindful of the bottom line of wins and losses. вЂњYouвЂ™ve got to be careful when you lose, that you donвЂ™t say thatвЂ™s OK,вЂќ Sutter said. вЂњYouвЂ™ve got to п¬Ѓnd ways. You soldier on and get ready for the next one, thatвЂ™s what youвЂ™ve got to do.вЂќ Scoring for the Kings were Justin Williams (eighth of the season), Dwight King (third) and Gaborik (п¬Ѓfth). Williams had the primary assist on GaborikвЂ™s goal, which made it 3-2 at 1:02 of the third period. He has been one of the more consistent Kings forwards in terms of scoring, and this was his second multiple-point performance of the season. King scored his п¬Ѓrst goal since Nov. 6, and for Gaborik, it was his п¬Ѓrst goal since he returned to action after his latest go-round with an upper-body injury. вЂњItвЂ™s been awhile,вЂќ King said. вЂњI just tried to take it to the net, wasnвЂ™t too much time left in the period. A little fortunate with the bounce off the goalie. But IвЂ™ll take it.вЂќ Toronto tied it 3-3 when it scored a quick goal on the power play at 8:49, a mere eight seconds after going on the man advantage when Trevor Lewis went off for high-sticking David Booth. The Kings gave up a quick power-play goal in Montreal, too, shortly after a faceoff. Toronto Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk (left) tries to get by Los Angeles Kings defenseman Robyn Regehr (centre) and forward Jeff Carter during their NHL game in Toronto on Sunday. (USA TODAY Sports) вЂњWe played as well as we can,вЂќ Sutter said. вЂњWeвЂ™re a different team than we were last year. We need great goal- tending, and we need guys to score big goals. Usually that comes out of your top guys. The best thing taken out of tonight is that Gabby scores. вЂњWeвЂ™re 30-some games into the year, and heвЂ™s п¬Ѓnding his way.вЂќ Kopitar and Jeff Carter have had their scoring woes, of late. вЂњJeff plays the same way every night,вЂќ Sutter said. вЂњHeвЂ™s a guy that _ in the scoring part _ has run hot and cold his whole career, itвЂ™s not right now. ThatвЂ™s how heвЂ™s been. HeвЂ™ll come out of it as long as he continues to do all the little things, stay on top of it and work the way he works.вЂќ On Saturday, Kings defenseman Drew Doughty talked about the need for urgency. They have shown the knack for п¬‚ipping the switch at the necessary time. вЂњWhen weвЂ™re playing desperately, our team is very good,вЂќ Doughty said. вЂњAnd when we are kind of just going through the motions, playing games that way, weвЂ™re not very good. We need to start playing desperate because weвЂ™re losing points and slowly getting out of a playoff spot.вЂќ Doughty said that the п¬Ѓrst period on Sunday served as a distinct wake-up call. вЂњWe came in after the п¬Ѓrst period and we were down 2-0, and I think we all were frustrated, no doubt about it,вЂќ he said. вЂњWe knew we werenвЂ™t playing the way weвЂ™re supposed to be playing.вЂќ RESULTS Edmonton .................... 0 NY Rangers .................. 2 Chicago............................ 2 Calgary ................................1 Toronto.............................4 Los Angeles ....3 (SO) Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 9 SPORT PICTURE PERFECT Fernando Alonso looks at an old McLaren Honda Formula 1 car in a picture posted by McLaren Honda on Facebook. Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton (left) was adjudged BBC Sports Personality of the Year while former British cyclist Chris Hoy was given the Lifetime Achievement Award. Hoy tweeted this pic and wrote: вЂњPhoto with the champ. #yourtrophysbiggerthanmine @LewisHamiltonвЂќ. Tickets for the Italian Super Cup match between Juventus and Napoli to be played in Doha on December 22 are on sale at a booth in Villaggio Mall. PICTURE: Anas al-Samaraee The Ballon dвЂ™Or 2014 trophy is displayed at the Mellerio jewellery workshops in Paris along with the names of the nominees вЂ” BarcelonaвЂ™s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi, Bayern MunichвЂ™s German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and Real MadridвЂ™s Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo. (AFP) Two-time MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo drives a Ferrari 458 GT3 Challenge Evo during ther 12-hour Abu Dhabi endurance event. Lorenzo come out on top in the вЂ�GentlemanвЂ™ category for Kessel Racing, accompanied by teammates Liam Talbot, Marco Zanuttini and Jacques Duyver. (MotoGP.com) Tennis player Roger Federer (right) and ski racer Dominique Gisin are adjudged SwitzerlandвЂ™s sportsman and sportswoman of the year in Zurich, Switzerland, on Sunday. (EPA) 10 Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 HORSE RACING SPOTLIGHT ASEER CONTINUES TO DAZZLE WITH AD DIBAL CUP VICTORY Mohanad al-Yaqout trained Aseer was brilliantly ridden by Tadgh OвЂ™Shea for his fifth success on the talented colt QREC vice-chairman Abdulaziz al-Malki (centre) and QREC general manager Sami Jassim al-Boenain (second from right) are seen with the winners of the Ad Dibal Cup, which featured the eight event card at the Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club yesterday. PICTURES: Juhaim By Chris Hoover Doha A l Jeryan StudвЂ™s Aseer continued to dazzle with yet another superlative performance to annex the Ad Dibal Cup, which featured the races at the Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club yesterday. The Mohanad al-Yaqout trained Aseer was brilliantly ridden by Dubai based jockey Tadgh OвЂ™Shea for his п¬Ѓfth success on the talented colt. Jeem led them all the way into the straight and Aseer slipped in through the rails improving position all along the turn. On entering the home stretch, OвЂ™Shea had Aseer take charge and the Yaqout trainee quickly went away to establish an useful which eventaually held him in good stead. Though Moaddie came charging in the п¬Ѓnal 100 metres, Aseer was unrelenting and held on to win by a length. Sraab also п¬Ѓnished with a late burst but could only п¬Ѓnish third. вЂњHe is a very special horse to me. I have ridden him in all his п¬Ѓve victories. He is very tough and genuine and likes a п¬Ѓght. Today, they went faster than I thought, so I rode him in check and reserved him for the п¬Ѓnal onslaught. Once Aseer quickened in the straight, he was not willing to give up. Everytime I ride he seems to be getting better and better and the credit goes to trainer Yaqout for keeing him in great shape. It was a great performance by Aseer and I am thrilled to be a part of this victory in the main event,вЂќ jockey OвЂ™Shea told the Gulf Times. Trainer Yaqout was elated with the п¬Ѓne performance of his ward. вЂњI have worked hard to keep Aseer п¬Ѓt. We are targeting him in a few important races only. He is a brilliant horse as he has always come out and performed well for us. It is a great feeling to be a part of this success story.вЂќ Julian Smart saddled Rabha put in a determined gallop in the straight to win beating Ladys Sandman in a keen tussle in the Pure Arabian Handicap for horses rated 60 and below. Selhab Al Naif was in the thick of things until the home turn before Ladys Sandman and Ra- QREC vice-chairman Abdulaziz al-Malki (right) presents the Ad Dibal Cup to Al Jeryan Stud trainer Mohanad al-Yaqout after his ward Aseer had won the event at the QREC yesterday. bha came alongside. The duo matched strides in the п¬Ѓnal strides of the race but it was Rabha with Tadgh OвЂ™Shea in the saddle, which produced an electrifying run to win by a neck. Zohair MoghsenвЂ™s Archers Prize put in a dazzling display while decimating the п¬Ѓeld in the Thoroughbred Graduation Plate. Archers Prize recorded a comfortable victory in the hands of jockey Suerland. Haayil was a well beaten second, while Khuduoa and Dartford completed the frame. In the opener, Mohammed Riyaz trained Sahaba Al Uraiq was a runaway winner of the Local Bred Pure Arabian Maiden Plate. The three year old grey п¬Ѓlly was quickly off the blocks and set her own pace before skipping away from her seven rivals to win by a widening margin of п¬Ѓve Jockey Tadgh OвЂ™Shea rides Aseer to victory in the Ad Dibal Cup at the QREC yesterday. This was the fifth successive win for OвЂ™Shea astride Aseer. lengths. Sirat Al Naif chased the winner all the way to п¬Ѓnish second ahead of Nazal Al Naif, who was a further six lengths behind in third. Istara (Akbar-Shebaa) having proп¬Ѓted from her п¬Ѓfth to Fiteen in her previous start, the Hassan Ali Hassan al-MatwiвЂ™s п¬Ѓve year old bay mare came good in the Pure Arabian Maiden Plate. After taking over the running at the midway mark, Istara (Evert Pheiffer astride) gallloped on resolutely to thwart the challenge of the late п¬Ѓnishing Meghwaar to win by three fourths of a length. Al Hattal was beaten close home to third place by his stable mate. Abdullah al-JaberвЂ™s Al Mostarsil pulled off a hard fought victory and jockey Marvin Suerland did well to get the maximum out of the eight year old chestnut horse in the Pure Arabian Handicap for horses rated 50 to 80. Al Mostrasil darted into the lead and had a slight upper hand when Kassiba arrived to challenge. The duo were engaged in a neck and neck п¬Ѓght with the former unrelenting to the pressure. Suerland managed to wriggle free and moved ahead in sight of the winning post to win by a neck. Jockey Suerland continued his good form to take his third win, while steering MoghsenвЂ™s Emaad to a start to п¬Ѓnish victory in the Thoroughbred Handicap for horses rated 55 to 75. After hitting the front, Suerland cleverly dictated the pace and skipped away from the pack to win by three lengths. Sunley Pride came with a late dash to pip Freckenham to the runner-up berth. Suerland was once ahain in the forefront as he guided Al Murqab StudвЂ™s Pearl Bridge to a thrilling victory in the Thoroughbred Conditions race, run over nine furlongs. One Cool Bex was quick at the start and led the п¬Ѓeld, closely followed by Pearl Bridge and Mefraas. One Cool Bex continued to call the shots until the п¬Ѓnal furlong but was soon challenged by Pearl Bridge. Once he got the nod from Suerland, Pearl Bridge quickly covered ground and went past the front runner to win by a length to give its rider, his fourth win of the day. RESULTS Trainer Mohanad al-Yaqout and jockey Tadgh OвЂ™Shea lead in Aseer after a victorious outing in the Ad Dibal Cup yesterday. 1st race: Sahaba Al Uraiq (Declan Cannon) 1, Won by: 5, 6, 11. Time: 1:18.77. Trained by: Mohammed Riyaz. Owned by: Sheikh Faisal bin Hamad bin Jassim bin Thani al-Thani 2nd race: Istara (Evert Pheiffer) 1, Meghwaar 2, Al Hattal 3, Ankor Class 4. Won by: Вѕ, ВЅ, 11. Time: 2:06.91. Owned and trained by: Hassan Ali Hassan al-Matwi 3rd race: Al Mostarsil (Marvin Suerland) 1, Kassiba 2, Nomaas 3, Al Jeali 4. Won by: Nk, ВЅ, Hd. Time: 1вЂќ19/01. Trained by: Abdullah al-Jaber. Owned by: Abdullah Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber 4th race: Archers Prize (Marvin Suerland) 1, Haayil 2, Khuduoa 3, Dartford 4. Won by: 3 ВЅ, 2 ВЅ. ВЅ. Time: 1:55.68. Trained by: Zohair Moghsen. Owned by: Khaifan Mohammed Ali Sheban al-Suwaidi 5th race: Al Nefor (Richard Mullen) 1, Ladys Sandman 2, Al Nefor 3, TM Tasha 4. Won by: Nk, 3 ВЅ, 8. Time: 2:07.61. Trained by: Julian Smart. Owned by: HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al-Thani 6th race: Emaad (Marvin Suerland) 1, Sunley Pride 2, Freckenham 3, Galaxy 4. Won by: 3, Nk, 1. Time: 1:55.25. Trained by: Zohair Moghsen. Owned by: Hussain Ali Bukanan 7th race: Pearl Bridge (Marvin Suerland) 1, One Cool Bex 2, Exodus 3, Mefraas 4. Won by: 1, 1, 2 ВЅ. Time: 1:53.18. Trained by: Zohair Moghsen. Owned by: Al Murqab Stud 8th race: Aseer (Tadgh OвЂ™Shea) 1, Moaddie 2, Sraab 3, Manayer 4. Won by: ВЅ, Hd, Distance. Time: 2:04.32. Trained by: Mohanad al-Yaqout. Owned by: Al Jeryan Stud Gulf Times Tuesday, December 16, 2014 POSTER Thierry Henry FRANCEвЂ™S TOP SCORER OF ALL TIME | ARSENAL AND BARCELONA LEGEND | 1998 WORLD CUP WINNER | 338 GOALS 11 Tuesday, December 16, 2014 SPORT GULF TIMES SPOTLIGHT FOOTBALL Zaqhwan crowned SuperSport champ in season finale вЂ�You dream about being champion and dedicate your whole life to itвЂ™ Action from the thrilling Petronas Asia Road Racing Championship season finale at the Losail International Circuit in Doha on Sunday. By Sports Reporter Doha Z aqhwan Zaidi clinched the SuperSports 600cc title to become the youngest rider to win the premiere class in a thrilling PETRONAS Asia Road Racing Championship season п¬Ѓnale at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar on Sunday. The Musashi Boon Siew Honda Racing rider was third in the standings with a 22-point disadvantage heading into the п¬Ѓnal round and was able to secure the title having п¬Ѓnished Race 1 second and Race 2 as champion. Retiring Katsuaki Fujiwara (BEET Kawasaki Racing) who initially led the standings missed out on his second SuperSports title, after he completed both races outside top-10 following technical difficulties with the front-end suspension. It was a dramatic end to an enthralling season and gave Honda, who sealed the SuperSports 600cc team awards with ZaqhwanвЂ™s victory at the п¬‚oodlit desert circuit, their third ridersвЂ™ title after Ryuichi Kiyonari (2012) and Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman (2013). The п¬Ѓnal standings had Zaqhwan on top with 170 points, one point ahead of Yuki Ito (Hong Leong Yamaha) in second and 15 above retirement-bound Katsuaki Fujiwara (Kawasaki Racing) in third place.вЂњYou dream about being champion and dedicate your whole life to it, so when it comes true it is very special and amazing! IвЂ™m just really happy to make my country proud,вЂќ said an emotional Zaqhwan after the race. вЂњHonestly we did not expect to win because this is only my third year racing in the premiere class. But when we Zaqhwan Zaidi (right) celebrates after winning the SuperSports 600cc title of the Asia Road Racing Championship at the Losail International Circuit. saw Yuki and Fujiwara п¬Ѓnish outside top п¬Ѓve in Race 1, it became clear we actually stood a chance so Zamri and I cooked up a strategy together,вЂќ he added. Meanwhile, Gupita Kresna became the п¬Ѓrst Asian 130cc champion despite crashing during the sprint to the п¬Ѓnish line in Race 1. Closest title contender, Norizman Ismail retired from Race 1 having encountered technical issues with his Honda This is the п¬Ѓfth consecutive year an Indonesian rider has won the intermediate category. Gupita secured the title having п¬Ѓnished Race 1 in 13th position following a huge collision with Kazuki Masaki (Team Honda RSC) on the front straight during the dash for the п¬Ѓnish line. Both riders escaped the horriп¬Ѓc crash uninjured and picked up their bikes to complete the race, with Gupita pushing his Kawasaki to the п¬Ѓnish line. Fortunately for the Kawasaki KYT Rextor Manual Tech rider, immediate title rival, Norizman Ismail (Harian Metro Y-TEQ SCK Honda Racing) retired from the race due to a broken exhaust pipe and the three points he picked up was enough for him to clinch the title. GupitaвЂ™s compatriot, Reza Fahlevy (Faito Factory Racing) won Race 1 in 18вЂ™04.320s with Ahmad Fazrul Sham and Rusman Fadil completing the podium steps in 18вЂ™04.330s and 18вЂ™04.338s respectively. Boosted by his championship win, Gupita went on to secure his maiden victory for the season in a hectic Race 2. In a breathtaking photo-п¬Ѓnish, Gupita crossed the line in 18вЂ™04.860s, 0.118 seconds ahead of Fazrul Sham with Mohd Amirul Ariff Musa (T.Pro Yuzy Honda NTS) 0.002 seconds behind. It was a superb display of clever race craft by Gupita, who battled a persistent pack. He started the п¬Ѓnal lap in 15th place, in the slipstream of his rivals and passed Amirul on the fast, sweeping back section and timed his п¬‚ying п¬Ѓnish to perfection. Picking up 28 points from this round, Gupita puts an end to the 2014 Underbone 130cc title chase with 176 points, while T.Pro Yuzy Honda NTSвЂ™ Taiga Hada and Amirul Ariff rounded up top three with 127 points and 126 points respectively. T.Pro Yuzy Honda NTS won the Underbone 130cc team award with 180 points followed by Kawasaki KYT Rextor Manual Tech second and Harian Metro Y-TEQ SCK Honda Racing third with 176 points and 163 points. Meanwhile, Khairul Idham Pawi bid farewell to the Asia Dream Cup on a high as he chalked up another double win in the Asia Road Racing Championship. Having already wrapped up the championship title in Thailand (Round 5), Khairul could afford to relax in Qatar, but it would simply see him perform better as he snatched lead at the п¬Ѓrst corner and disappeared into the distance in Race 1, completing the nine-lap race in 17вЂ™53.697s. Nasser Khalifa al-Attiyah, QMMF President and FIM Vice President, expresses his happiness that the п¬Ѓnal round of the season was held in Qatar. вЂњI am very happy to host the п¬Ѓnal round of this championship for п¬Ѓfth year and I wish all the best to all the riders for the future,вЂќ al-Attiyah said in the grid. Tough Asian draw for Lekhwiya By Sports Reporter Kuala Lumpur Q atar Stars LeagueвЂ™s Lekhwiya and Saudi champions Al Nassr, who are returning to AFC Champions League after a three-year absence, have been paired in Group A along with IranвЂ™s Persepolis and a team advancing from the play-offs following yesterdayвЂ™s draw. Lekhwiya, is the lone club from Qatar which has earned direct qualiп¬Ѓcation to the continentвЂ™s premier club competition. Two other clubs, El Jaish and Al Sadd, will take the play-off route to force their way into the main draw, which features 32 top clubs from Asia including defending champions Western Sydney Wanderers of Australia. Elsewhere in the East, Korean champions and 2006 winners Jeonbuk Hyundai will meet Chinese FA Cup holders Shandong Luneng and Vietnamese champions Becamex Binh Duong in Group E in addition to a team from the play-offs. And in Group F, 2008 champions and J League winners Gamba Osaka will face two-time Asian champions Seongnam FC, ThailandвЂ™s Buriram United as well as the п¬Ѓnal play-off winner. In the West, last yearвЂ™s п¬Ѓnalists Al Hilal will look to go one better starting with a Group C that includes Foolad Khouzestan from Iran as well as UzbekistanвЂ™s Lokomotiv Tashkent and one of four playoff winners from the West. Defeated by Al Hilal in last yearвЂ™s semi-п¬Ѓnal, Al Ain from the United Arab Emirates will also be keen to go further having come so close in the previous edition. The inaugural AFC Champions League winners have been drawn in Group B alongside Saudi ArabiaвЂ™s Al Shabab, Uzbek League champions Pakhtakor and a play-off winner. The eight outstanding places in the group stage of the AFC Champions League will be decided by the play-offs which take place over four rounds at the start of February with the п¬Ѓrst group stage matches set for February 24 and 25. AL KHARAITIYAT PART WAYS WITH MARCHAND Al Kharaitiyat terminated the contract of coach Bertrand Marchand, it emerged on Sunday. The Frenchman was told his services were no longer required following the 3-3 draw against Qatar SC on Saturday. Marchand had took over Kharaitiyat halfway through the previous season in a brilliant unbeaten run which kept the relegation threatened side in QatarвЂ™s elite football league for another season. But SaturdayвЂ™s result was the teamвЂ™s п¬Ѓfth match in a row without a win, a fact which the clubвЂ™s administration was not happy about. Syrian coach Yassir Sobaie has been put in charge of the side. Kharaitiyat are currently 12th in the Qatar Stars League table with 13 points. Thousands turn out to watch top tennis stars at the IPTL Doha: Thousands of tennis enthusiasts turned up in Dubai last weekend to cheer the most iconic stars in tennis at the sportsвЂ™ latest and most exciting spectacle, the Coca-Cola International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) presented by Qatar Airways. Indian Aces, who charmed tennis lovers in Manila, Singapore and New Delhi over the previous two weeks, were crowned champions on Saturday at the last step of the tour in Dubai, after an exhilarating finale match witnessed by thousands of fans. IPTL brought the excitement of the league format to a sport followed by millions across the world by featuring current and former ATP and WTA players in its inaugural season from 28 November until 13 December 2014. In this quicker and exciting format the League broke the traditional etiquette of tennis with first time features such as time-outs, Happiness PowerPoints, shoot-outs, a running shot clock and exciting live in-game entertainment. Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Akbar al-Baker said: вЂњWe are delighted to have received such an encouraging response from sports aficionados in all four cities as part of this new League. Partnering with IPTL reaffirms our longstanding history of associating with large-scale sporting events which allow us to connect with supporting fans and legendary sports stars around the globe, and this event was a perfect example of that.вЂќ The championship featured renowned players such as Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams, Ana Ivanovic, Sania Mirza and others playing for four franchises вЂ“ the Manila Mavericks, Singapore Slammers, Indian Aces and the UAE Royals, each of which had a team of sports legends and current stars. In its capacity as Presenting Sponsor, Qatar Airways secured exclusive booths at the stadiums in Dubai and New Delhi with an activity area where tennis enthusiasts and the airlineвЂ™s loyal customers got a chance to take pictures against backdrop images of Qatar AirwaysвЂ™ A380 aircraft. FOCUS QatarвЂ™s Carella, Torrente in thrilling three-way title showdown By Sports Reporter Sharjah T he Qatar TeamвЂ™s Alex Carella and Shaun Torrente will go head-to-head with Frenchman Philippe Chiappe in a gripping three-way п¬Ѓght to decide the outcome of the UIM F1 H2O World Championship at this weekendвЂ™s Grand Prix of Sharjah. Attention will focus on what promises to be an intense battle on the Khaled Lagoon course, with Chiappe heading into FridayвЂ™s race with a three-point lead over defending champion Carella and a six-point lead over CarellaвЂ™s teammate Torrente. A win for either Chiappe or three-time champion Carella would give them the world title, but Torrente needs to win outright and hope that Chiappe does not п¬Ѓnish second if he is to take the crown. A Torrente win and a second place for Carella would also be sufficient for the American to claim his п¬Ѓrst crown. вЂњThis is going to be one of the most exciting races in history,вЂќ said Khalid bin Arhama al-Kuwari, head of formula racing at the Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF). вЂњIt is very important that we п¬Ѓnd the right propeller for the guys. We didnвЂ™t have the unofficial twohour free practice in Abu Dhabi and that made us suffer to п¬Ѓnd the right propeller. They (race officials) have also changed the course in Sharjah but we will have two hours of unofficial free practice and that is a big value for us. вЂњOur plan is simple. Team Qatar wins the World Championship. I say to Alex and Shaun, go out there and win the title for the people who worked so hard to bring you to the top. ItвЂ™s a perfect course for our boats and hopefully, we will have some luck and win it like last year.вЂќ While all eyes will be on the battle between Carella, Torrente and Chiappe, FinlandвЂ™s double World Champion Sami Selio is due a change in fortune and Team Abu DhabiвЂ™s Thani al-Qamzi and Ahmed al-Hameli will be hoping to end a disappointing season with a win. The ingredients are there for an explosive п¬Ѓnish to the year. вЂњIвЂ™ve struggled a bit recently,вЂќ admitted Carella, who holds a one-point lead over Torrente in the п¬Ѓght for the UIM F1 H2O Pole Position Championship. вЂњThe past few weeks have given me time to plan my strategy and I really feel IвЂ™m in a great place physically and mentally and ready to take my fourth straight championship. I like it here. I beat Jay (Price) back in 2011 and Shaun and Philippe last year, so IвЂ™ve had good luck on Khaled Lagoon.вЂќ Torrente is also upbeat about his chances: вЂњIвЂ™m feeling the heat, but itвЂ™s all about going out Alex Carella will be aiming for a fourth UIM F1 H2O World Championship title for the Qatar Team on Friday. and having a good race. ItвЂ™s that simple really. Qualifying is so very important here and IвЂ™ll be ready for the challenge, believe me!вЂќ Khalid Abdullah al-Kuwari and Mohammed al-Obaidly took control of two new Danishbuilt Molgaard F-4S boats in Qatar and they have quickly adapted to their new race craft, as their second and third places in Abu Dhabi last month proved. They will be hoping to end the season with a п¬Ѓrst outright win in a pair of F-4S Trophy races where GermanyвЂ™s Mike Szymura takes a 25-point lead over young Australian Briney Rigby on to Khaled Lagoon. A win for the German in ThursdayвЂ™s opening race would be sufп¬Ѓcient for him to claim the title with one race to spare. Teams will be permitted to carry out two hours of unlimited free practice from 15.00hrs (UAE time) tomorrow afternoon. F-4S free practice and time trials take centre stage from 09.00hrs on Thursday and the п¬Ѓrst of the F-4S Trophy races at 14.30hrs precedes the vital Pole Position competition for the main entrants, starting at 15.30hrs. Further free practice and F-4S time trials are scheduled for Friday morning and the п¬Ѓnal F-4S Trophy race п¬Ѓres into life at 14.30hrs. The Grand Prix of Sharjah will bring down the curtain on the season from 16.00hrs.