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SPORT | Page 1
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TUESDAY Vol. XXXV No. 9615
January 27, 2015
Rabia II 7, 1436 AH
www. 2 Riyals
Emir attends camel race
Gulf’s ‘biggest’
indoor leisure
hub set to open
In brief
QATAR | Education
96 applications
for new schools
The Supreme Education Council (SEC)
has received 96 applications until the
end of December 2014 to set up new
private schools in the academic year
2015/2016, local Arabic daily Al Arab
reported yesterday. “The approvals
will be announced in June,” Hamad alGhali, director of the Private Schools
Office, told the daily.
During the current academic year
(2014/2015), a total of 35 schools
were opened, out of 98 applications
received. The SEC will accept
applications for new schools until
June. The most important conditions
for granting licences are the
provision of a suitable building and
security and safety requirements
in addition to the Civil Defence
permission and approval of tuition
HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani attended the closing ceremony
of the annual Arabian Thoroughbred Camel Race for the Golden Sword of HH the
Father Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani which was held at the Shahaniya
Racetrack yesterday. The Emir honoured the winners of the four main final races.
The silver sword was presented to Abdul Hadi Khalil al-Shahwani al-Hajri, owner of
the camel Al-Yarmouk which won the title of the fourth main race. Trophies were
presented to Rashid bin Ghadir al-Kutbi, owner of the camel Al-Jeen which won the
second main race; Abdullah Hilal Ahmed Ibrahim, owner of the camel Zaraf which
won the first main race; and Mana Khalifa al-Rashid al-Suwaidi, owner of the camel
Waddah which won the third main open race.
QATAR | Movies
West End Park cinemas
closed for maintenance
The cinema complex at the West
End Park, consisting of two halls of
500 seats each, has been closed
for maintenance. When contacted,
an official of the company that
operates the cinema halls said they
would try to resume the screening
after a fortnight when the works
are done. The official explained
that the two halls would have more
advanced facilities when they
reopen. “Situation permitting, the
two other halls at the complex,
which are yet to be opened, will
also be ready when the present
halls resume their screening,” he
added. The two screens, generally
regarded as probably the only
“affordable” cinema viewing facility
for a considerably large number of
expatriates, has been a big hit with
the movie goers in the country.
QATAR | Event
HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin
Hamad al-Thani will attend the
graduation ceremony of the second
batch of students of the air college
at Leader Mohamed bin Abdullah
Al Attiyah College at Al Udeid Air
Base today.
SPACE | Astronomy
Big asteroid
to skim by Earth
An asteroid the size of a mountain
is about to shave by Earth, in a rare
type of flyby that will not be seen
for another decade, astronomers
said yesterday. Page 13
Anti-austerity coalition
takes power in Greece
lexis Tsipras was sworn in as
Greece’s youngest prime minister in 150 years yesterday and
is set to lead an anti-austerity coalition after a stunning election win that
has sent shockwaves through Europe.
Tsipras’s decisive victory in Sunday’s vote set the country on a collision course with international
creditors over plans to renegotiate its
massive bailout deal.
His radical leftwing Syriza took 149
out of the 300 seats in parliament, becoming the first party to take power in
Europe that openly rejects spending
cuts and austerity measures.
Having fallen two seats short of
an absolute majority, the leftists
quickly forged a coalition with the
small right-wing Independent Greeks
(ANEL) party.
The new cabinet is expected to be
announced and sworn in today.
At his swearing-in ceremony
Tsipras - characteristically wearing
an open-necked shirt without a tie broke with tradition by taking a civil
instead of a religious oath.
His first priority will be to deliver
on his pledge to renegotiate the terms
of the country’s 240bn-euro ($269bn)
EU-IMF bailout despite universal opposition from Greece’s European allies.
Renewed fears that Greece could be
forced out of the eurozone if it defaults
on its debt repayments saw the euro
hit an 11-year low against the dollar
while Greek stocks closed down more
than 3%. Pages 19, 26
CRA finds Vodafone promo in breach of code
he Communications Regulatory
Authority (CRA) has found Vodafone Qatar’s “3 Months Free”
marketing campaign to be “in breach
of” the Code on Advertising, Marketing and Branding, and issued an order
to the service provider to remove all its
advertisements related to this promotional campaign.
The advertisement includes “inaccurate and misleading” messages for
customers leading them to believe that
customers subscribing to this offer will
receive three months’ worth of subscription for free.
CRA said it “regularly monitors”
advertisements issued by the licensed
service providers in Qatar to ensure
compliance with the advertising code,
which was issued last year to protect
telecom consumers from misleading
and deceptive advertisements about
telecom service and products.
“The recent Vodafone promotion ‘3
Months Free’, in its current form, cre-
ated the perception that the offer was
free of any charges when in reality this
promotion offers customers a discount
of 30% of the subscription fees over a
period of 10 months,” CRA said.
The code requires that advertisements and information provided to
consumers should be fair, truthful and
accurate, and should not be misleading. This obligation is underpinned by
more detailed provisions for advertisements comparing competing products,
special offers, broadcast advertisements, etc.
CRA has ordered Vodafone to “remove” all promotional materials for related to this campaign. “Vodafone may
opt to correct the promotion by changing the content in the campaign to reflect the published tariff, which states
that all new postpaid customers will get
a discount equal to three month’s subscription free over 10 months on their
postpaid plan’s monthly rental,” CRA
“We are here to protect telecom
consumers from misleading and unfair practices by service providers.
CRA has put in place several initiatives to ensure that operators act in
the best interest of the consumers.
The Code on Advertising, Marketing & Branding, was issued last year,
and forms an important aspect to
consumer protection together with
the Telecom Consumer Protection
Policy, a dedicated consumer complaint process, a 24/7 hotline (103),
and Arsel – CRA’s mobile app,” said
Amel Salem al-Hanawi, CRA head,
Consumer and Government Affairs
“I would like to encourage all telecom consumers in Qatar to be more
aware of your rights and make informed decisions. If you notice any
misleading advertisement reach out to
us, and we will work with you to ensure
that the information provided is accurate and to your benefit,” she added.
Megapolis is set to open in Medina
Centrale at the Pearl-Qatar in
March this year
atar will soon have the “biggest
indoor entertainment centre in
the region”. A 5,000sqm family
entertainment centre, Megapolis, is
set to open in Medina Centrale at the
Pearl-Qatar in March this year, it was
announced yesterday.
The centre will combine a multitude
of entertainment venues that range
from arcades and indoor attractions
like golf, bowling, snooker, billiards and
darts, to high tech 3D and 5D games,
karaoke and an active sports zone.
Megapolis will also feature five eateries: Saladworks, Earl of Sandwich,
Cool de Sac, Camille’s Ice Cream and
Mister Pizza.
The United Development Company (UDC), a Qatari shareholding
company and master developer of the
Pearl-Qatar, had signed a lease agreement in March 2014 with Palma Hospitality Group, covering a total area of
7,000sqm, to launch a series of food
and beverage concepts in addition to
These concepts are strategic to the
building of a diversified retail mix
which suits the budding spirit of Medina Centrale, dubbed as the Pearl-Qatar’s town centre, officials said.
Mohamed Yoosaf, acting general
manager of Retail Leasing at the PearlQatar, expressed delight to see one of
the most anticipated entertainment
hubs in Doha and at the Pearl-Qatar
coming to completion.
“This reflects the investment stability the State of Qatar continues to
enjoy and the growing interest from
investors and developers in the PearlQatar as a leading mixed-use development housing Doha’s fastest growing
community,” he said.
“Megapolis is therefore a valuable
addition to the family-oriented facilities that are planned for the island and
categorises as the new generation of
hybrid recreation centres that embody
exquisite designs and infrastructure
with high tech and service sophistication,” Yoosaf said.
A view of the billiards room at Megapolis.
The Bowling alley at Megapolis.
“Our strategic partnership with
Palma Hospitality will further see two
restaurants, La Casa 28 and Debs w
Reman as well as the world-renowned
coffee shop, Mokarabia, opening also
in Medina Centrale later this year.”
The Pearl-Qatar’s retail and hospitality expansion plans continue
to unfold in Porto Arabia and Qanat
Quartier, the island’s other two main
retail areas aside from Medina Centrale, with another big indoor sporting
facility, Gymito, spanning an area of
2000sqm being in the pipeline among
many other concepts which will be
announced in due time.
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Aspire Zone
to celebrate
Sport Day
he Aspire Zone Foundation (AZF) will celebrate
the fourth National
Sport Day (NSD) on February 10
with a wide range of activities,
it was announced yesterday.
Spanning throughout various locations at Aspire Zone,
the celebration will feature a
number of fun games and activities for children, young people,
women, men and people with
special needs, along with family-specific activities.
In 2011, an Emiri Decree was
issued to designate the second
Tuesday of every February as
the National Sport Day. Since
then, Aspire Zone has been
committed to organising a vari-
ety of sporting events, drawing
thousands of people of all ages
to engage in entertaining physical activities within its exceptional facilities.
Qatar, along with India and
Japan, is among the few countries that dedicate a national
day for sport to highlight the
importance of sport for healthy
Every year, AZF opens up its
world-class venues to the community members to enjoy its facilities and services, thus giving
them an incredible opportunity
to involve in sports and physical
Although AZF’s agenda is full
of local, regional and interna-
Nasser Abdullah al-Hajri
tional sporting events throughout the year, it dedicates the
NSD to the community to exercise and explore new and
interesting patterns of active
healthy lifestyles.
Nasser Abdullah al-Hajri, a
member of the AZF NSD Organising Committee said: “The
relationship between NSD and
Aspire Zone is really exceptional thanks to the correlation
between the NSD’s mission
and AZF’s mission and vision,
both of which aim to improve
the athletic performance and
use sport, in general, as means
for achieving development and
openness to other cultures and
changing human societies for
the better. AZF is particularly
aiming to promote sports and
physical activity to inspire all
community members to adopt
active healthy lifestyles regardless of their health and fitness
This year, AZF will organise
10 different events planned for
all members of the public. In
addition, 24 major companies
and organisations have chosen
to celebrate the NSD at Aspire
Zone; 14 of them will organise
public events, while the rest will
organise activities for their staff
members and their families.
AZF will announce these
events in more detail soon.
More information about
AZF’s NSD event programme
could be had from
Transport Minister meets Korean official
Indian and
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 yesterday
sent cables of congratulations
to Indian President Pranab
Mukherjee on the occasion of his
country’s Republic Day.
The three leaders also sent
cables of congratulations to the
Governor-General of Australia
Peter Cosgrove on the occasion
of his country’s National Day.
Ties reviewed
at meetings
HE the Minister of Transport Jassim Seif Ahmed al-Sulaiti yesterday met Kim Kyung Sik, South
Korean Vice Minister for Land and Infrastructure and Transport. Discussions focused on matters
of common interest in the transportation field and ways of enhancing them. The meeting was
attended on the Qatari side by a number of senior officials from the Ministry of Transport and
Qatar Railways Company (Qatar Rail) and Qatar Transport Company (Mowasalat), Qatar Ports
Management Company and the New Port Project Steering Committee. On the Korean side, the
meeting was attended by a number of Korean senior officials of national institutions for highways,
railways and International Contractors Association of Korea as well as representatives of major
Korean companies and officials from Ministry for Land and Infrastructure and Transport. At the
end of the meeting the Transport Minister presented a memento to the Korean guest.
Advisory Council holds meeting
The Advisory Council held its
weekly regular meeting chaired
by Speaker HE Mohamed bin
Mubarak al-Khulaifi.
The council discussed a report
by the Legal and Legislative
Affairs Committee on draft law
No14 of 2014 to amend some
provisions of law No7 of 2012
Qatar committed to protecting
environment, says minister
E the Minister of Environment Ahmed Amer Mohamed
al-Humaidi yesterday said his
ministry is taking steps to protect the
environment and maintain its natural balance so as to implement Qatar’s
National Vision 2030 and to achieve a
comprehensive and sustainable development for generations.
Speaking at the Qatar’s first forum on green building regulations
entitled “Using building blocks after
recycling in construction,” the minister asserted that his ministry has attached great attention to researches
and studies on conformity standards
and quality systems in addition to
providing support for research activities that serve the environment
and protect them from pollution and
The ministry has supported private
scientific research using construction
waste after recycling in construction
and building projects in order to protect the environment through the op-
timal utilisation of natural resources,
he said, adding that the ministry works
to use stones, sand and building waste
after recycling in construction, foundations for roads, infrastructure and
some construction industries such as
bricks, tiles, concrete blocks and other
These scientific researchers are considered key for eco-friendly legislation
and laws which were enacted and issued by the ministry to regulate building and construction provisions in Qatar, al-Humaidi said.
He expressed his thanks and appreciation to those who contributed in
the preparation of scientific researches
aiming at maintaining the environment
and achieving sustainable development in the country.
He also expressed thanks to Qatar
National Research Fund for its contribution to financing scientific researches at solving environmental
problems, the Public Works Authority
(Ashghal) and UK Transport Research
Laboratory(TRL) in Qatar for their
participation in preparing researches
in addition to the national institutions that have contributed positively
to supporting technical and scientific
The Minister honoured the research
team with certificates and shields.
Meanwhile, Assistant Undersecretary for Laboratories and Standardisation at the Ministry of Environment
Dr Mohammed bin Saif al-Kuwari said
the ministry is keen to achieve Qatar National Vision 2030, which aims
to transform Qatar into an advanced
country capable of achieving sustainable development.
In his speech at the forum, al-Kuwari noted that the 2010-2020 national standardisation strategy aims to
preserve the homeland, environment
and the optimal utilisation of Qatar’s
natural resources through researches
and studies on conformity standards,
quality systems and to find solutions
to problems as well as providing support for research activities, technical
and analytical consulting in checking
and analysing field in accordance with
the terms of reference contained in the
Emiri Decree No 44 of 2014 on the establishment of the Qatar General Organisation for Standards and Metrology.
Color Run to be held on Feb 7
he Color Run Qatar presented
by Sahtak Awalan: Your Health
First, a health campaign by Weill
Cornell Medical College in Qatar, will
take place on February 7.
All Color Runners who signed up for
the original event are now automatically registered for next month’s event
which will take place at Qatar National
Convention Centre (QNCC).
The Color Run Qatar was originally
scheduled to take place on January 24
but was postponed following the death
of Saudi King Abdullah and Qatar’s
three-day mourning period.
The Color Run is a 5km, untimed
fun run where participants can run,
jog, walk, or even push their children
in strollers around the course under a
shower of coloured powder. The course
will wind its way around QNCC, lighting up the area with huge clouds of vibrant colour.
Over 5,000 Color Runners have
confirmed to take part in the event.
The event also focuses on promoting
healthy living. Over 60% of Color Runners are first-time 5km runners and the
event hopes to further Qatar’s commit-
The Color Run returns on February 7.
ment to improving health and wellness
across the country.
The event has gathered support from
all corners of the community in Doha,
including budding young athletes from
the Qatar Athletics Federation. Twotime World Junior Hammer Throw
Champion Ashraf ElSeify and runner
Mariam Farid have voiced their excitement in taking part in the event.
The Color Run will donate $1 from
every entry to Educate A Child, an initiative launched by HH Sheikha Moza bint
Nasser, chairperson of Qatar Foundation.
regarding educational coupons.
The Council also discussed
the Services and Public
Utilities Committee’s report
concerning draft law No 19 of
2014 to amend some provisions
of law no 22 of 1988 on the
administrative borders of
Shahaniya city.
Also yesterday, the Advisory
Council’s Cultural and
Information Affairs Committee
met under its acting rapporteur
Hadi Said al-Khayareen.
The committee studied a draft
law organising sports clubs and
sent it back to the Council for
further study.
HE the Minister of Culture, Arts
and Heritage Dr Hamad bin
Abdulaziz al-Kuwari yesterday
met in Doha separately with
Director General of the Islamic
Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organisation (ISESCO),
Dr Abdulaziz Othman al-Twaijri
and Director General of Arab
League Educational, Cultural and
Scientific Organisation (ALECSO)
Dr Abdullah Hamad Muhareb.
The meetings reviewed aspects
of co-operation between
the ministry and the two
Also yesterday, HE Minister of
Education and Higher Education
and Secretary General of the
Supreme Education Council Dr
Mohamed bin Abdul Wahed alHammadi met the ISESCO chief.
zHE Minister of Labour and
Social Affairs Dr Abdullah bin
Saleh Mubarak al-Khulaifi met
with Morocco’s Ambassador
in Qatar Al-Makki Kawan. They
discussed bilateral relations and
the means to enhance them.
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
al khaliji partners with HMC
for blood donation campaign
Justice Minister receives QCS delegation
focuses on
Al Khalij Commercial Bank (al khaliji), in association with Hamad
Medical Corporation the “Blood Donor Centre,” recently organised blood donation campaign at the bank’s headquarters in
West Bay.
The initiative dubbed as “Make Every Drop Count” was part of
al khaliji’s corporate social responsibility programme. It aims to
contribute to a healthy community and to sponsor activities
in all fields, especially those of health, education, the environment, sport and culture. Receiving a good response from its
employees, al khaliji’s approach is designed to create positive
impact on people’s lives and the community as a whole in Qatar. The programme raises awareness about the importance of
conducting blood research and accessing safe blood to prevent
deaths caused by diseases, lack of blood stocks or bleeding.
Qatar team for Arab education meet
Qatar will participate in the regional conference for the Arab states on
Education Post-2015 to be held in the Egyptian city of Sharm El Sheikh
from January 27-29.
Organised by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) and the Egyptian Education Ministry, the Regional
Conference for the Arab States on Education Post-2015 will develop
and validate regional recommendations for action to be adopted at
the World Education Forum in Incheon in 2015. Qatar’s delegation to
the meeting will be headed by HE Dr Mohamed bin Abdul Wahed alHammadi, Minister of Education and Higher Education and secretarygeneral of the Supreme Education Council.
The Minister of Justice HE Dr Hassan bin Lahdan Saqr al-Mohannadi yesterday met with a delegation from Qatar Cancer Society (QCS)
including director general Mariam Hamad al-Nuaimi, planning and follow-up head Abdulaziz al-Break, and public relations director Abdullah al-Kaabi.
They discussed the activities of the organisation and its leading role in raising awareness in the community and supporting cancer patients.
CMC election panel set to
unveil first list of voters
he Supervising Committee
for the fifth Central Municipal Council election will
announce the initial list of voters
at the headquarters of each constituency tomorrow.
The first phase of voter list
registration was completed last
As many as 19,396 voters registered through the headquarters
of the 29 electoral constituencies
as well as ‘Metrash2’ service. The
committee has urged all citizens
who have registered their names
to visit the electoral headquarters,
to ensure their names are entered
in the voters’ list.
The Committee will start receiving applications for addition
or deletion of the voters through
the headquarters of all electoral
constituencies as well as ‘Met-
Brigadier Majid al-Khulaifi
rash2’ service tomorrow.
It will also provide a chance
to the citizens, who could not
register their names in the voters’ list, to do so during the addition and deletion period which
runs until February 5. Regarding
the evaluation of the first phase
of registration, the Elections
Department director and head
of the Supervising Committee
for the fifth Central Municipal
Council election, Brigadier Majid Ibrahim al-Khulaifi said the
Ministry of Interior has undertaken all efforts in preparation of
the CMC elections and has eased
the procedures of voters’ registration.
“But the number of the applicants received during the registration period is less than previous
elections which saw a registration
of 32,000 voters,” he said.
The official explained that the
CMC election is a national opportunity and participation is obligatory for every citizen who has
been granted the right to vote.
atar University College
of Arts & Sciences (QUCAS) recently partnered
with American Council of Education (ACE) to deliver a workshop for establishing a clear professional development system
and a greater operational efficiency for faculty administrators
within QU.
The two-day workshop drew
over 37 participants who included a number of current and
future leaders at CAS and other
QU colleges.
Opening remarks were made
by Dr Mazen Hasna, QU vice
president and chief academic officer, CAS dean Dr Eiman Mustafawi and ACE presidential advisor for Leadership Dr Kevin P
Dr Mustafawi said: “We are
pleased to partner with ACE on
this effort that aims to enhance
and promote leadership education and training, and build
inter-disciplinary collaboration
within QU and with institutions
at home and abroad. It is in line
with our five-year development
plan in which we will continue to
spearhead leadership development on a university-wide basis
and to contribute to advancing
leadership best practice, faculty
motivation and student success.”
Participants were oriented on
a range of leadership responsibilities, principles and administrative functions such as how to
motivate excellence in teaching,
research and service as well as
to manage student and faculty
complaints. This also included
best practice in managing conflict and change and various
strategies commonly utilised
in navigating the challenges of
leadership positions.
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
QA holds enrolment activation
Qatar Airways recently held a mall enrolment activation to showcase the airline’s Privilege Club Programme, its benefits
and services to visitors at the Lagoona Mall.
London Mayor seeks to
expand ties with Qatar
he Lord Mayor of the
City of London, Alderman Alan Yarrow,
will arrive in Qatar today to
help improve the financial
and professional services
relations between Qatar and
the United Kingdom.
The visit, which forms
part of a 12-day tour to the
Gulf from January 16 to 28,
aims to boost the bilateral
trade and investment between the two countries,
which stands at £5bn per
year. The UK is the fourth
largest exporter to Qatar.
Lord Mayor Yarrow, who
is also acting as ambassador for the UK’s financial
and professional services,
is slated to meet with HE
the Prime Minister and
Minister of Interior Sheikh
Abdullah bin Nasser bin
Khalifa al-Thani, other senior members of the government, investment authorities, and senior business
He will be joined by a
wide ranging business delegation from the UK, which
includes senior representa-
tives from banks, asset
managers, insurers, and legal services firms. The Lord
Mayor will also launch the
establishment of the new
British Chamber of Commerce in Doha housed in the
HSBC headquarters.
“Qatar is rapidly progressing with a visionary economic reform plan.
With the World Cup being
hosted in 2022, combined
with proposals for ambitious infrastructure developments, the nation has
maintained its status as one
of the globe’s fastest growing economies,” Lord Mayor
Yarrow said.
He added: “My visit,
accompanied by a strong
business delegation, goes to
show just how committed
the UK is in remaining the
Qatar’s partner of choice
in the financial and professional services sector. With
a trade relationship worth
£5bn each year, we are more
than ever wanting to build
on this and support Qatar
in their grand economic
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
New Discovery Sport
launched in Qatar
lfardan Premier Motors,
the exclusive importer of
Land Rover in Qatar, has
unveiled Land Rover’s highlyanticipated new Discovery Sport
yesterday. It is described as the
world’s most versatile and capable
premium compact SUV.
Dignitaries and loyal Land
Rover customers attended the
vehicle’s Mena debut at the
newly-opened Marsa Malaz
Kempinski, The Pearl-Doha.
“The Discovery Sport combines premium dynamic design and versatility which I am
confident will resonate on an
emotional level with our Mena
customers, and we expect this
to deliver solid results when
sales start,” said Chris Wilde,
brand director for Jaguar Land
Rover Mena. “We are extremely proud to be revealing
the new Discovery Sport here
in Qatar.”
He noted that the vehicle garnered a huge amount of attention globally and in the GCC region since the official unveiling
at the Paris Motor Show.
Rabih Ataya, general manager, Alfardan Premier Motors,
expressed confidence that the
vehicle will exceed customer’s
Chris Wilde (third, left), and Rabih Ataya (fourth, right) with other officials at the unveiling of the new
Discovery Sport yesterday at the newly-opened luxury resort Marsa Malaz Kempinski, The Pearl – Doha.
PICTURE: Shemeer Rasheed
expectations when sales start.
Car enthusiasts across the
Mena region have been closely
watching the hot weather tests
on the vehicle prototypes with
the Jaguar Land Rover Engineering Centre in Dubai.
The prototypes were put
through their paces during arduous Middle East hot weather
Military college to hold
graduation ceremony
on Thursday
total of 104 students
from Ahmed bin Mohammed Military College will be graduating this
Thursday, local daily Arrayah
has reported.
Under the patronage of
HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim
bin Hamad al-Thani, the
graduation ceremony will be
attended by the State Minister for Defence Affairs HE
Major General Hamad bin
Ali al-Attiyah, Qatari Armed
Forces Chief of Staff HE Major General (Pilot) Ghanim
bin Shahain al-Ghanim, and
senior commanders of the
The 10th batch of students
from the military college will
be joined by their parents and
friends at the ceremony.
Of the 104, 92 students
come from the Armed
Forces, the Interior Ministry, Lekhwiya Force and
the Emiri Guard while the
were from four Arab states
(the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Kuwait and
The new batch of graduates
who enrolled in September
2010 finished Bachelor of Law,
Bachelor of Business Administration, Bachelor of Information Systems and Bachelor of
Students have studied police
and military sciences, business administration and law,
in addition to two courses of
parachute jumping and thunderbolt.
tests which included off-road
desert capability, transmission calibration and brake
noise temperatures up to a
sweltering 50°C.
The exclusive behind-thescenes footage of the hot weather testing captured the new
Discovery Sport showing off its
exceptional capabilities, making
it one of the most accomplished
vehicles in its segment.
A host of innovations have allowed the vehicle to boast a progressive new design approach
and introduce the versatility of
5+2 seating into the premium
compact SUV class for the first
time, in a seating no larger than
existing 5-seat premium SUVs.
Coupled with supple longtravel suspension, the innovative rear axle also ensures the
Discovery Sport is comfortable,
refined and rewarding to drive
on-road, while retaining the
breadth of the class-leading allterrain capability for which Land
Rover is world-renowned.
As with every new Land Rover,
Ataya said safety has been a key
priority in the development of
the new SUV which resulted in a
first-in-class pedestrian airbag,
autonomous emergency braking,
and a state-of-the-art bodyshell featuring both ultra-highstrength steel and lightweight
This represents a fraction of
the advanced equipment available in Discovery Sport, which
also includes Head-Up Display (HUD), an all-new 8-inch
touchscreen infotainment system, and tilt-and-slide row-two
seating for maximum interior
The new Discovery Sport
range of four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engines will be
available exclusively at Land
Rover Showroom at Alfardan
Plaza on Al Sadd Street, with a
price starting from QR159,000.
QC food programmes benefit 2.75mn
atar Charity’s 2014 food
benefited more than
2.75mn people who were affected by natural or human-made
emergencies and disasters in 55
countries across Africa, Asia and
Europe, the agency announced
Prominent within this is
QR58.6mn worth of projects to
feed refugee and internally displaced Syrians as well as those
displaced during and after the
conflict in the Gaza Strip - especially the most vulnerable
including the elderly, femaleheaded households and persons
with special needs.
Those directly affected by violence across the Levant, Central
and South Asia and Africa were
beneficiaries of Qatar Charity,
while drought-affected populations of the Sahel and Horn of
Africa regions also figured highly
in the agency’s projects as did
those harmed by widespread European flooding.
Qatar Charity’s relief materials being loaded onto trucks from Mersin
in southern Turkey for distribution among Syrians across the border.
Don Berwick, former administrator at US Department of Health.
US official
named key
for WISH
he World Innovation
Summit for Health
(WISH), a global initiative of Qatar Foundation (QF),
has announced that Don Berwick, former US Department
of Health administrator, will
be a keynote speaker on global
healthcare at WISH 2015 next
Don Berwick is former administrator of the Centres for
Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) within the Obama
administration, and president
emeritus and senior fellow of
the Institute for Healthcare
Improvement, an organisation he founded and led for 20
Dr Berwick’s commitment
to improving effectiveness,
sharing innovation and delivering fair healthcare for
everyone makes him a perfect ambassador for WISH
and a valuable speaker,
bringing a lifetime of health
expertise, for this year’s
WISH Summit slated for
February 17-18.
Berwick said: “I am honoured to be taking part in
WISH and look forward to
joining such a prestigious
global community. WISH
provides an essential platform for global collabora-
tion, bringing together some
of the best internationallyrenowned health experts to
share insights and discuss
WISH inspires and diffuses healthcare innovation
and best practice, remaining
closely aligned to the vision
and mission of Qatar Foundation to unlock human potential and serve to underscore
Qatar’s pioneering role as an
emerging centre for healthcare
Prof the Lord Darzi of Denham, executive chair of WISH
said: “WISH, at its heart, is
about creating a community
of healthcare experts passionate about identifying, sharing
and promoting best practice
the world over.
“To do this, we combine the
rich experience of global experts to create templates for
success. I am therefore delighted that Don Berwick will
be joining us this year to bring
policy creation experience
from his time served in office
advising President Obama, his
system management expertise
from his role at the Institute
for Healthcare Improvement
(IHI) and his view on patient
care from his work at Harvard
Medical School.”
QRC signs deal to boost aid work in Somalia
atar Red Crescent (QRC) and
Somali Red Crescent Society
(SRCS) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU)
to enhance co-operation and coordination in implementing various
humanitarian projects in Somalia.
The MoU was signed by QRC
secretary general Saleh bin Ali alMohannadi, in the presence of the
director of administrative affairs
and human resources Nayef bin
Faisal al-Mohannadi and head of
QRC’s office in Somalia Dr Zuhair
Senior officials of SRCS, led by
its president Dr Ahmed Mohamed
Hassan, visited the country. He was
joined by SRCS vice president Dr
Youssef Hassan Mohamed, Somaliland co-ordinator Ahmed Bakal,
and Mogadishu co-ordinator Mohamed Ahmed Adli.
The officials exchange documents after signing the deal.
Some of QRC’s humanitarian activities are being implemented in
communities affected by drought
and typhoons across Somalia.
“This MoU is an extension of
QRC’s work in Somalia, in light of
its message as an international humanitarian organisation that is an
auxiliary to the State of Qatar in its
humanitarian efforts locally and
internationally,” said al-Mohannadi.
He stressed that they strive to
protect human dignity at times of
disasters or armed conflicts in compliance with the principles and rules
defined by the Geneva Conventions,
the International Red Cross and Red
Crescent Movement, and relevant
national and international laws.
Dr Hassan echoed the statement
of al-Mohannadi saying the MoU
will help reach the biggest portion
of the Somali people and improve
their lives. He thanked QRC and Qatar for their efforts to aid “brothers
in Somalia.”
Dr Abdel-Qader recounted that
QRC started working in Somalia in
2004 and opened an office in 2006.
“Since then, it has implemented
numerous relief and developmental
projects in response to famines and
malnutrition,” he said, adding: “The
agreement is expected to augment
QRC’s efforts to pursue its slogan of
‘Saving Lives and Preserving Dignity’ in favour of the Somali people, helping them overcome their
Customs authority honours employees
The General Authority of Customs (GAC) yesterday marked International Customs Day. Long-serving employees and those with an excellent service
record were honoured on the occasion.
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Regional policymakers for
Gulf Engineering Forum
By Ramesh Mathew
Staff Reporter
atar is to host the 18th
Gulf Engineering Forum
at The St Regis Doha on
March 1-3.
Qatar Society of Engineers
chairman Ahmed Jassim al-Jolo
said the event, which is held
along with an expo of engineering and related industries,
would be attended by a host of
decision-makers, policy experts,
senior officials from private and
public sectors, eminent engineering professionals and a large
number of industry professionals, representing engineering institutions and consultant offices
across the region.
The three-day event, held
under the patronage of HE the
Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser
bin Khalifa al-Thani is coming
to the country at a time when
the state is undergoing a massive
transformation to meet its growing needs and requirements, said
al-Jolo, who also served earlier as
chairman of the premier forum of
the country’s senior engineers,
the Professional Engineers Committee.
The event is being held with
the support of Ashghal.
The forum, he said, is targeting
the realisation of the goals and
objectives of the Qatar National
Vision 2030 that aim at delivering the best infrastructure network and high standards of living
for its citizens and residents.
Along with bringing together
key industry professionals from
across the region and outside, the
Qatar Society of Engineers board member Abdullah al-Baker (extreme left) speaks as Ahmed al-Jolo (centre), Qatar Society of Engineers board member Ibrahim Mohamed al-Sulaiti and others look on. PICTURE: Jayaram
three-day meeting also aims to
serve as a platform for exchange
of ideas and views of the engineering societies, said the senior
Qatari engineering professional.
The participants are expected
to benefit significantly from the
expertise to be brought at the forum by the senior professionals
involved in different areas of infrastructure development, added
“With the hosting of the forum, one of our main intentions
is to boost the levels of engineering awareness among the upcoming professionals and students of
engineering in the country,” said
al-Jolo while explaining the significance of the event.
The forum participants will
review the progress of the major
projects executed in the region’s
states, and other projects which
are in different stages of execution. “We will also hold elaborate deliberations on the region’s
future plans and infrastructure
projects to be implemented in the
Gulf States,” said al-Jolo.
There are a number of issues
involved in the execution of any
major project and the professionals working behind such ambitious plans are facing a host of
challenges throughout different
phases of their execution, pointed out al-Jolo while deliberating
yesterday on the forum’s agenda.
Developments in the transportation sector, green standards
for infrastructure, provision and
availability of raw materials for
engineering projects, human resources for engineering projects,
and the best practices in project
management are among the
themes of the forum’s discussion, it is understood.
At the forum, Qatari Society of
Engineers in co-operation with
the Gulf Engineering Union will
give away awards for excellence
and innovation for the basic infrastructure projects in the GCC
States. Awards will be given to the
entities represented in the Gulf
engineering institutions (where
awards are given to the best
project designed by a qualified
person working in the engineering
sector) and individual awards for
GCC –based innovator engineers.
Winter fest concludes
A group of children taking part in a competition at the winter festival, Leshtah, that concluded yesterday at Katara,
the Cultural Village. As many as 188,421 visitors came to the festival this year, 60,000 more than last year. The five-day
festival enjoyed a wide and active participation from a number of entities in the country, including the Childhood
Culture Centre, Doha Youth Centre, Qatar Heritage and Identity Centre, Al-Gannas Society, and other social and public
organisations. Dr Khalid bin Ibrahim al-Sulaiti, general manager of Katara, said that Katara aims at attracting families
to its programmes and events to give them elite and useful entertainment.
Visitors enjoying an event during the winter festival. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam
The second award will be given for
best projects developed from the
faculties of engineering, architecture or individual projects carried
out by one engineer or member
engineers of any organisation in
which they work
The main theme for this year’s
award is “Basic infrastructure
projects in the GCC States”. The
five sub-categories of the award
are transportation, green standards for infrastructure, provision
of raw materials for engineering
projects, provision of human resources for engineering projects
and best practices in project
Qatar hosted the forum last in
2008 and Muscat was the venue
of the last edition.
Forum exposure will ‘benefit’ students here
Local students pursuing academic programmes at engineering colleges in the country
would benefit from the three-day
Gulf Engineering Forum, senior
officials of the Qatar Society of
Engineers (QSE) have said.
Speaking to Gulf Times yesterday,
chairman Ahmed Jassim al-Jolo and
board member Ibrahim Mohamed
al-Sulaiti said the QSE hopes the
experiences that the local students
receive from such gatherings as the
Forum would not only empower the
country’s upcoming engineer professionals but would also enhance
their professional abilities.
With the intention of enhancing
the professional competence of
the young engineers and those
undergoing studies at the country’s
engineering colleges, the QSE is
holding special sessions at the Gulf
Engineering Forum to give maximum exposure to the youngsters.
“We want our upcoming
engineers to handle their duties
impeccably as and when a major
challenge arises in future,” said
al-Sulaiti, who also added that
students from Qatar University’s
College of Engineering and Texas
A&M University at Qatar would be
invited to attend the sessions for
youngsters to be held as part of
the three-day forum.
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Drone targets
Yemen Qaeda
suspects amid
political crisis
An unmanned aircraft fires
four missiles at a vehicle in
a desert area east of Sanaa,
killing three suspected Al
Qaeda militants
three suspected Al
Qaeda militants in
Yemen yesterday after Washington vowed to carry on its
campaign against the group
despite the country’s ongoing
political crisis.
The US embassy in Sanaa,
meanwhile, announced on its
website that it was closed to the
public until further notice due to
security concerns.
US President Barack Obama
on Sunday insisted Washington
would pursue its efforts against
Al Qaeda in Yemen regardless of
upheaval that has seen Westernbacked President Abd-Rabbu
Mansour Hadi tender his resignation.
UN envoy Jamel Benomar met
with Houthi leaders and members
of other parties as part of a bid to
broker an agreement after the Shia
militia seized the presidential palace last week.
“He has been convening and
chairing daily meetings with 16
political parties in order to build
consensus on a way forward,” UN
spokesman Stephane Dujarric
In the latest unrest yesterday,
the Houthi militiamen attacked
protesters gathered at Sanaa University to demonstrate against
their occupation of the capital.
Yesterday’s drone strike saw an
unmanned aircraft, which only
the United States operates in the
region, fire four missiles at a vehicle in a desert area east of Sanaa,
killing three suspected Al Qaeda
militants, a tribal source said.
Yemeni authorities have for
years allowed Washington to carry
out strikes against Al Qaeda in
the Arabian Peninsula, the local
branch of the militant network
which claimed responsibility for
this month’s deadly attack on
French satirical weekly Charlie
In India on Sunday, Obama had
vowed the United States would
“continue to go after high-value
targets inside of Yemen”.
“Washington will continue its
campaign, regardless of who will
be sitting on Yemen’s presidential
chair, and regardless of whether
the chair is empty or filled,” said
Khaled Fattah, a Yemen expert at
the Carnegie Middle East Centre.
Hadi resigned on Thursday
after the Houthis kidnapped his
chief of staff and seized key buildings across the capital.
The unrest has raised fears of
strategically important Yemen
collapsing into a failed state.
In a message on its website,
Washington’s mission in Sanaa
said: “The US Department of
State warns US citizens of the
high security threat level in Yemen
due to terrorist activities and civil
It urged US citizens “not to
travel to Yemen” and those in the
country to “make plans to depart
Child rapist
in Jeddah
Saudi Arabia yesterday
beheaded a serial child
rapist, official media said.
“Mousa bin Saeed Ali
al-Zahrani lured several
underage girls and
kidnapped them. He also
threatened them and their
relatives and physically
assaulted them in his
home,” the Saudi Press
Agency said, citing the
interior ministry.
“He raped them, detained
them, forced them to drink
alcohol, and forced some to
watch pornographic material.”
The report did not disclose
his nationality.
Zahrani was beheaded
in Jeddah, bringing to 13
the number of Saudis and
foreigners executed this
year, according to an AFP
Protesters shout slogans during a rally in Sanaa yesterday against the occupation of the capital by Houthi rebels.
Yesterday, Houthis armed with
daggers attacked protesters gathered inside the campus of Sanaa
University to demonstrate against
them, leaving 10 people wounded,
activists said.
The Houthis had earlier blocked
access to the university and the
nearby Change Square with roadblocks in a bid to prevent demonstrations.
also gathered in Yemen’s third city
Taez yesterday, activists said.
The Houthis, who descended
from their base in Yemen’s rugged north to overrun the capital in
September, fired in the air on Sunday to disperse a protest at Change
Square and detained several activists and reporters.
The journalists were released
after signing pledges not to cover
demonstrations, according to an
activist, Mohamed al-Saadi.
Yemen’s parliament on Sunday
again postponed a session to consider Hadi’s resignation.
Four political parties negotiating with the Houthis to bring the
country out of crisis announced
late Sunday they were ending
contact with the militia.
Abdullah Noaman, head of the
Nasserist Unionist People’s party,
accused the Houthis of “arrogance” as he announced the end
of talks.
Hadi tendered his resignation
along with Prime Minister Khaled
Bahah, saying he could not stay in
office as the country was in “total
The crisis had escalated on January 17 when the Houthis seized
Hadi’s chief of staff, Ahmed Awad
bin Mubarak, in an apparent bid to
extract changes to a draft constitution.
Pitched battles then erupted in
the capital, with the Houthis seizing the presidential palace and
firing on Hadi’s residence in what
authorities said was a coup attempt.
Obama was expected to raise
the crisis in Yemen with King Salman, the new leader of Saudi Arabia, in a visit to the country today,
the White House said.
Saudis seek greater US role
in Mideast as Obama visits
ew Saudi King Salman is
expected to use President
Barack Obama’s stopover
today to push for greater US involvement in resolving Middle East
crises, analysts say.
Obama, accompanied by his wife
Michelle, is cutting short a visit to
India to convey his condolences
after the death of King Abdullah
last Friday.
Following the death, Obama in a
statement paid tribute to the late
king as a bold leader who made an
enduring contribution to Middle
East peace.
The American president praised
Abdullah’s “steadfast and passionate belief in the importance of the
US-Saudi relationship”.
But despite the long-standing
strategic partnership, analysts
say Riyadh has grown dissatisfied
with what it sees as a lack of US
engagement with the region’s key
Anwar Eshki, chairman of the
Jeddah-based Centre for Strategic and Legal Studies, said “diver-
gences persist” between the two
These differences include the
battle against the Islamic State (IS)
militant group, Yemen, Syria and
Libya, Eshki said.
Saudi Arabia and its Gulf neighbours in September joined a USled coalition conducting air strikes
against IS in Syria.
Despite this co-operation, Riyadh thinks “it is necessary to eliminate the underlying reasons” that
led to the emergence of IS, chiefly
discrimination against Sunni Muslims in Iraq, Eshki said.
White House Deputy National
Security Adviser Ben Rhodes confirmed in New Delhi that Yemen’s
turmoil and the battle against IS
would figure on the agenda.
“I’m sure that while we are
there, they will touch on some of
the leading issues where we cooperate very closely with Saudi
Arabia,” he said.
“Clearly that would include the
continued counter-ISIL campaign
where the Saudis have been a partner and have joined us in military
operations,” he said, using another
term for IS.
“That of course also includes the
situation in Yemen where we have
co-ordinated very closely with
Saudi Arabia and the other countries.”
Riyadh would like Washington to
exercise more pressure to get the
protagonists in both Yemen and
Libya back to negotiations, Eshki
Libya has two rival governments
and powerful militias are battling
for territory.
In Yemen, President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, a key US ally in
the fight against Al Qaeda, tendered his resignation last week
after Shia militiamen kidnapped
his chief of staff and seized key
Seen from Riyadh, US Secretary
of State John Kerry has failed to
achieve a breakthrough on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, 13 years
after the kingdom launched an
initiative for peace with the Jewish
state, Eshki pointed out.
Ties between Washington and
Riyadh have not been at the ideal
level in recent years, said JeanFrancois Seznec, a Middle East
specialist at Georgetown University in the United States.
“The Saudis at all levels think
that the Americans are no longer
reliable,” said Seznec.
However, he said the Saudis
view in “a quite positive way”
international negotiations with
Iran and a potential agreement
on Tehran’s controversial nuclear
The US and four other permanent members of the UN Security
Council face a June 30 deadline for
a final deal with Iran.
Tehran insists its nuclear enrichment programme is for domestic energy production and denies pursuing an atomic weapons
According to Seznec, the Saudis are convinced that if international powers reach an agreement
with Tehran, the Saudis could then
strike their own deal with Iran
to “restore order” in the region,
starting in Syria and Yemen.
Frederic Wehrey, of the USbased Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace Middle East
Program, said disagreements between Saudi Arabia and the United
States are manageable.
“But the Saudis are still looking
for greater collaboration and coordination,” he said.
Riyadh cultural
festival put off
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon signs a condolence book for the late King Abdullah at Saudi Arabia’s permanent
mission to the UN, in New York yesterday. Standing alongside Ban is the kingdom’s permanent representative to the UN,
Abdallah Y al-Mouallimi.
Saudi Arabia yesterday postponed
its biggest national cultural festival,
an event developed by the late
King Abdullah, after his death last
The Janadriyah festival was to
be held on February 4-22, with
a special guest pavilion from
“A royal directive was issued to
postpone the National Festival
for Heritage and Culture to... next
year,” the official Saudi Press
Agency said.
It said the postponement
was “due to the death of the
Custodian of the Two Holy
Mosques King Abdullah bin
Abdulaziz al-Saud”.
The festival is a major annual
event which takes place on the
outskirts of Riyadh.
It features camel races, cultural
performances, and pavilions
showing folklore, handicrafts, and
food from around the kingdom.
Each year also features a guest
country. Germany announced
in early January that it would
be this year’s guest, and would
send cultural troupes as well as
companies to exhibit.
Abdullah developed the festival
before he acceded to the throne
in 2005.
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Hopes low
as Syria
talks start
in Russia
Kurds expel
IS militants
from Kobane
A monitor says the Kurdish
People’s Protection Units
have pushed IS militants
from all of Kobane
urdish militia have driven
Islamic State militants
from the Syrian border
town of Kobane after months of
heavy fighting, a monitor and a
spokesman said yesterday, dealing a crucial blow to the militants.
Across the border in Iraq
meanwhile, a top army officer
announced troops had “liberated” Diyala province from IS
In Syria, the Kurdish advance
marked the culmination of a
battle lasting more than four
months in which nearly 1,800
people were killed.
The Britain-based Syrian
Observatory for Human Rights
monitor said the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) had
pushed IS militants from all of
They “expelled all Islamic
State fighters from Kobane and
have full control of the town”,
Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said.
“The Kurds are pursuing some
jihadists on the eastern outskirts
of Kobane, but there is no more
fighting inside now.”
The monitor said Kurdish
forces were carrying out “mopping-up operations” against remaining IS forces in the Maqtala
district, on the eastern outskirts
of the town.
YPG spokesman Polat Jan
also announced the news on
his Twitter account, writing:
“Congratulations to humanity, Kurdistan, and the people
of Kobane on the liberation of
Mustafa Ebdi, an activist from
the town, said “fighting has
YPG forces are “advancing
carefully in Maqtala because
of the threat of mines and car
bombs”, he added.
The advance by Kurdish fighters came after 24 hours of heavy
bombing by the US-led coalition
fighting IS in Syria and Iraq.
In a statement, the Pentagon
said the coalition had carried out
17 air strikes against IS positions
in Kobane in the 24 hours from
January 25 alone.
The targets included “tactical
units” and “fighting positions”
as well as an IS vehicle and staging areas, the statement said.
The loss of Kobane, also
known as Ain al-Arab, would be
an important defeat for IS.
The group has lost 1,196 fighters since it began its advance on
the town on September 16, according to the Observatory.
At one point, the group looked
poised to overrun Kobane, which
lies on the Syrian-Turkish border.
weapons captured from military
bases in Syria and Iraq and committed hundreds of fighters to
the battle.
But Kurdish forces gradually pushed back the militants
with the help of the US-led air
raids and a group of fighters
from Iraq’s Kurdish peshmerga
Analysts say the loss of
Kobane is both a symbolic and
strategic blow for IS, which set
its sights on the small town in a
bid to cement its control over a
long stretch of the Syrian-Turkish border.
Since the group emerged in its
current form in 2013, it has captured large swathes of territory
in both Syria and Iraq.
It has declared an Islamic
“caliphate” in territory under its
control, and gained a reputation
for brutality, including executions and torture.
But its apparent failure in
Kobane could put the brakes on
its plans for expansion in Syria.
“Despite all that manpower,
all that sophisticated weaponry,
IS couldn’t get the city, so it’s
a big blow for their plans and
it’s a great achievement for the
Kurds,” Kurdish affairs analyst
Mutlu Civiroglu said.
“Kobane sets an example on
the ground, showing that when
you have skilled fighters on the
ground with the support of air
strikes, this danger, these forces,
can be stopped and eliminated.”
Members of the Syrian Kurdish People’s Defence Units (YPG) celebrate in Kobane yesterday.
Civiroglu said YPG forces
would likely spend the next few
days clearing Kobane before
expanding outwards to surrounding villages captured by
Civilians were largely spared
in the fighting because the
town’s residents evacuated en
masse, mostly across the border
into Turkey, in the early stages of
the battle.
Over the border in Iraq, the
army announced another defeat
for IS, with the recapture of Diyala province.
“We announce the liberation
of Diyala from the (IS) organisation,” Staff Lieutenant General
Abdulamir al-Zaidi said.
“Iraqi forces are in complete
control of all the cities and districts and subdistricts of Diyala
The general said there would
still be clashes however against
IS in the rural Hamreen mountains, which stretch across
multiple provinces, including
yrian opposition figures
met in Moscow yesterday as part of a new bid
co-ordinated by Russia to wind
down the war in Syria, but few
held out any hope of a breakthrough.
Several prominent opposition
figures have refused to join the
four-day talks and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has also
cast doubt on the Moscow initiative bearing any fruit.
Nevertheless, members of his
government were expected to
join the closed-door talks later
in the week.
Russia’s top diplomat Sergei
Lavrov said the aim of the first
two days of discussion was to
“provide a platform for the Syrian opposition so that they can
develop some shared approaches
to talks with the government”.
“We plan that after two days
of contacts between Syrians in
Moscow, the representatives
of the Syrian government will
join the opposition, again just
in order to establish personal
contact,” he said in televised remarks yesterday.
His deputy Mikhail Bodganov
said that up to 30 members of
the Syrian opposition could join
the talks and that Lavrov may
meet members of the opposition tomorrow “if there is a constructive mood”.
Lavrov said the Moscow meetings were part of a process aimed
at restarting UN-mediated talks
to end nearly four years of civil
war that has claimed more than
200,000 lives since 2011.
Two previous rounds of talks
in Geneva ended without success.
Assad seeks agreement
over US-led air strikes
resident Bashar al-Assad has
said US-led air strikes against
Islamic State militants in Syria
should be subject to an agreement
with Damascus and Syrian troops
should be involved on the ground.
Assad was speaking in an interview
with the US-based Foreign Affairs
Magazine published yesterday.
“With any country that is serious
about fighting terrorism, we are ready
to make co-operation, if they’re serious,” Assad said, when asked if he
would be willing to take steps to make
co-operation easier with Washington.
Washington supports opposition
forces fighting for the past four years
to topple Assad, but its position has
become complicated since IS and
other hardline groups emerged as the
most powerful rebel factions.
Since IS took over much of Syria
and Iraq last summer, the United
States has mounted regular air strikes
against it. But it has rejected the idea
of allying itself with the Syrian government despite them now having a
common enemy.
When asked what he would like to
see from the United States, Assad said
Washington should pressure Turkey
not to allow money and weapons into
northern Syria and “to make legal cooperation with Syria and start by asking permission from our government
to make such attacks”.
“The format we can discuss later,
but you start with permission. Is it an
agreement? Is it a treaty? That’s another issue,” he said.
Washington informed Damascus
before it started strikes in Syria in
The power of the hardline Islamists,
including IS and the Al Qaeda-affiliated Al Nusra Front, makes it more
difficult for the United States to find a
suitable ally on the ground.
It plans to train and equip members
of the mainstream Syrian opposition
to fight IS as part of its strategy to roll
back the group’s gains in Syria.
A first group of about 100 US troops
will head to the Middle East in the next
few days to establish training sites for
Syrian opposition fighters.
Assad said the campaign should be
backed up by the Syrian army on the
“The question you have to ask the
Americans is, which troops are you
going to depend on? Definitely, it has
to be Syrian troops.”
The United Nations says 200,000
people have been killed in the civil
war, which started with pro-democracy protests that were violently repressed.
Show of solidarity
Issued in Public Interest by
Activists hold up pictures of Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh, who was captured by Islamic State after his plane
came down near Raqa in Syria on December 24, during a sit-in in solidarity with him in Amman yesterday.
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
IS affiliate claims executing Egypt police officer
he Islamic State group’s
Egyptian affiliate, Ansar
Beit al-Maqdis, claimed
in a video released yesterday the
killing of a police officer whose
body was found almost two
weeks ago.
Egyptian troops found the
body of Ayman al-Desouky, who
had been kidnapped from near
the town of Rafah on the border
with the Gaza Strip, during a
search operation in North Sinai
on January 13.
In the video released on its
Twitter account, Ansar Beit alMaqdis (Partisans of Jerusalem) said its militants abduct-
ed Desouky and later executed
The footage shows gunmen
dragging a policeman out of a
car at a checkpoint manned by
militants wielding machineguns
and rocket-propelled grenades.
It then shows a militant
shooting the blindfolded and
handcuffed officer in the head
three times.
Prior to the shooting, the video titled “We swear to avenge”
shows riot police arresting female protesters at Cairo’s Al
Azhar University, the prestigious seat of Sunni Muslim learning.
In November, Ansar Beit alMaqdis, the deadliest militant
group in Egypt, pledged its allegiance to the Islamic State
group, which has captured large
chunks of territory in Syria and
The group, which is based in
the Sinai Peninsula, has claimed
a string of killings of what it says
were informants to the Egyptian
and Israeli security forces.
It has also claimed a late October attack on troops near North
Sinai’s provincial capital of El
Arish that killed 30 soldiers.
In response to that attack,
the authorities imposed a state
of emergency in parts of North
Sinai, which was extended by
another three months on Sunday.
The army has poured troops
and armour to fight a dogged insurgency on the peninsula that
has grown since then army chief
Vote on
sons freed
from prison,
await retrial
Alaa and Gamal Mubarak
were driven to their home
in Cairo’s upscale Heliopolis
area, security officials say
he sons of deposed
Hosni Mubarak were released from prison yesterday,
security officials said, a move
that could fuel tension after the
violent anniversary on Sunday
of the 2011 uprising that toppled the autocrat.
An Egyptian court last week
ordered the release of Alaa and
Gamal Mubarak pending their
retrial in a corruption case.
Mubarak’s sons, big businessmen in his era of crony
capitalism, were released at
2am. Accompanied by their
lawyer and bodyguards, they
were driven to their home in
Cairo’s upscale Heliopolis area,
security officials said.
Security and medical officials said they had also visited
Mubarak in the military hospital where he is still in detention. Judicial sources have said
Mubarak could soon be freed
pending retrial in a corruption case as the former air force
commander currently has no
convictions against him.
Elected President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the latest man from
the military to rule Egypt, has
restored a degree of stability
after Mubarak’s fall triggered
nearly four years of political
and economic distress.
But signs of discontent,
including rare protests in
downtown Cairo, emerged in
Alaa and Gamal Mubarak:
the run-up to Sunday’s anniversary of the start of the
On Saturday, activist Shaimaa Sabbagh was shot dead during a protest in central Cairo. In
rare criticism of Sisi, a frontpage column in state-run
newspaper Al Ahram blamed
“the excessive use of force” for
her death and called for changes to a law passed on Sisi’s
watch which severely restricts
“Four years after Egypt’s
revolution, police are still killing protesters on a regular basis,” said Sarah Leah Whitson,
Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights
“While President Sisi was at
Davos (at the World Economic
Forum) burnishing his international image, his security forces
were routinely using violence
against Egyptians participating
in peaceful demonstrations.”
At least 25 people were killed
in anti-government demonstrations on Sunday on the
anniversary of the 2011 uprising that raised hopes of greater
freedom and accountability in
Witnesses say security forces with rifles and police armed
with pistols fired at protesters.
Some called for a new uprising.
Security officials said 19
people were killed in the Cairo
suburb of Matariya, a stronghold of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist movement
that then army chief Sisi removed from power in 2013
after mass protests against its
Interior Minister Mohamed
Ibrahim told a news conference
yesterday that members of the
Muslim Brotherhood fired on
crowds in Matariya during the
protests and killed people, including two policemen.
Ibrahim said 516 Brotherhood members were arrested
during the unrest in several
cities and reiterated that Egypt
was “committed to fighting
In November, an Egyptian
court dropped its case against
Mubarak over the killing of
protesters in the revolt of 2011
which raised hopes of greater
freedom and accountability.
Many Egyptians say Mubarak’s rule enriched an elite that
included his sons but neglected
millions of poor in the biggest
Arab nation.
Analysts say Mubarak’s perceived plans to set up his son
Gamal to succeed him alienated the military, which largely
turned a blind eye to the pro-
Police stand guard at a square in central Cairo yesterday. At least 25 people were killed in anti-government
demonstrations on Sunday on the anniversary of the 2011 uprising.
tests that helped end his 30
years of iron-fisted rule.
Critics accuse Sisi of returning Egypt to authoritarian rule,
allegations the government denies.
After toppling elected president Mohamed Mursi of the
Brotherhood in 2013, following mass protests against him,
then army chief Sisi announced
a political road map that he said
would lead to democracy.
Mursi’s removal was followed by one of the toughest
crackdowns in Egypt’s history.
Security forces killed hundreds
of Brotherhood supporters at a
Cairo protest camp and arrested thousands of others.
Hundreds of soldiers and police have been killed by Islamist
militants since Mursi’s ousting.
When liberal activists challenged the government, they
too were jailed on charges of
violating the law restricting
More than a dozen Egyptians
approached by Reuters seemed
too nervous to comment on the
release of Mubarak’s sons. A
few were indifferent.
“Honestly we don’t pay attention to these things any
more. Free them, don’t free
them, it doesn’t matter. Conditions are bad,” said a man who
asked not to be named.
Cairo’s female cyclists challenge prejudice
asmine Mahmoud cuts
a defiant figure as she
through the chaotic streets of
Cairo, a place where few women
dare to pedal.
Every day, like for the past
four years, she takes her bicycle
from her 10th floor apartment
and rides through the Egyptian
capital, to the astonishment of
“Unfortunately, it’s socially
unacceptable in Egypt for a girl
to ride a bicycle in the street,”
said the 31-year-old executive
secretary, as she prepared to
set off from the upscale Cairo
neighbourhood where she lives.
Unlike in many countries,
the two-wheeler is considered
unsafe for travelling in Cairo’s
traffic-clogged roads.
For Egyptian women it is all
the more challenging given the
city’s notorious sexual violence,
and female cyclists in particular
are targeted by passersby.
The majority of cyclists in
Egypt are working class men,
preferring two wheels for run-
Members of the Go Bike group stop to take pictures during a bicycle ride in Cairo.
ning daily errands.
Mahmoud’s family objected
to her cycling initially, but later
started trusting her ability to
cruise through the capital’s traffic bottlenecks.
“I used to ride a bicycle when
I was a kid, either near the beach
where we went for holidays or in
sports clubs,” said Mahmoud,
dressed in a yellow sweater and
blue jeans, and wearing bicycle-
shaped earrings.
“It took me a while to ride
it again, but now it’s my daily
Mahmoud now refuses to
drive her car unless she has to
travel far.
“A bicycle saves both time and
the money required for gas,” she
“This road would have taken
at least half an hour,” she said,
and now President Abdel Fattah
al-Sisi ousted his Islamist predecessor, Mohamed Mursi, in July
Islamist militants like Ansar
Beit al-Maqdis say their attacks
targeting security forces are
in retaliation to a government
crackdown against Mursi’s supporters that has left hundreds
pointing to a queue of crawling
cars at a roundabout, which she
quickly passes on her bicycle.
streets should have separate lanes
for cyclists given the risk of being
mowed down by “scary” microbuses breezing past recklessly.
In addition to traffic hazards,
“verbal sexual harassments and
cynical passersby are big problems too”, said Mahmoud, who
still recalls how a young man
once tried to forcefully jump behind her on her bicycle.
“I just ignore them and ride
on,” she said laughing.
Sexual assaults against women rose following the 2011 uprising that toppled president Hosni
Mubarak, with hundreds of attacks reported, activists say.
But this does not deter Mahmoud, who has taken her passion to a new level. She is a
member of Go Bike, a group that
promotes cycling.
Every Friday morning, the
group arranges cycling tours.
Many participants are women keen to learn the sport and
wanting to follow Mahmoud.
“I am ready for the challenge,”
said Shaimaa Ahmed, a veilwearing 26-year-old pharmacist, as she brushed dust from
her clothes after falling off her
bicycle minutes into her first attempt at cycling.
Fifty-year-old amateur Wafaa
Ahmed is proof that cycling is
not just for the young.
“The only fear is harassment, more than the chaotic
traffic and lack of security on
the streets,” said the motherof-two, who wants to travel to
her workplace by bicycle.
Go Bike founder Mohamed
Samy wants bicycles to replace
cars for travelling short distances.
“But what we need are separate lanes for cyclists,” he said.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
threw his weight behind promoting cycling just days after
coming to office.
In July last year, Sisi took part
in a cycling marathon to encourage people to switch from automobiles.
Go Bike aims to “change society’s perception” about girls
riding bicycles, said the group’s
spokeswoman Hadeer Samy,
wearing a bicycle-shaped necklace.
“We want bicycles to be a
means for Egyptian girls to break
the moulds of customs and traditions.”
For women still hesitating to
ride on their own on the streets,
Mahmoud has some words of
“Try not to be scared. Forget those around you, challenge
yourself and just enjoy,” she said,
hopping onto her bicycle and
pedalling off into Cairo’s busy
he Tunisian parliament
yesterday delayed what
was expected to be a tight
vote of confidence on the first
government since landmark
free elections held last year.
MPs were to convene today to
vote on prime minister designate Habib Essid’s line-up, parliament said on its website, only
to announce later that “the vote
has been put off to a later date”.
The moderate Islamist movement Ennahda, which holds 69
of parliament’s 217 seats, has
said it will vote against the lineup, as have three smaller parties.
Essid, a former interior minister and nominal independent, was charged with forming
a government by anti-Islamist
President Beji Caid Essebsi following his inauguration in late
With 86 seats, Essebsi’s own
party Nidaa Tounes fell short of
a majority in the October parliamentary election, forcing Essid to seek coalition partners.
He handed the tourism and
sports ministries to the Free Patriotic Union party of businessman Slim Riahi, which holds 13
seats, and others to independents.
But Ennahda, which dominated the interim administrations that led Tunisia through
the transition after the Arab
Spring revolution of 2011, was
left out.
Three other parties have
also said they will vote against
the cabinet line-up—the leftist Popular Front with 15 seats,
the liberal Afek Tounes party
with eight and the Moubadara
party of former foreign minister
Kamel Morjane with three.
Tunisia’s politics have been
dominated by negotiations and
compromise deals between
secular and Islamist leaders after the 2011 uprising that ousted
autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben
Ali and brought free elections
and a new constitution.
Ennahda, which governed in
the first Islamist-led government after the 2011 uprising,
had said it was open to a unity
government with Nidaa Tounes
to improve stability.
Nidaa Tounes itself is a coalition of former Ben Ali officials, leftists and independents. But its hardliners were
opposed to joining with Ennahda, which they blame for
unrest when the Islamists were
in government.
Doctor jailed
for fatal female
An Egyptian appeals court
yesterday sentenced a doctor
to more than two years in jail for
performing a female circumcision
that killed a teenage girl,
overturning an acquittal.
A lower court in November
had acquitted the doctor and
the father of 14-year-old Sohair
al-Bataa in the first such case
brought to the courts since the
procedure was banned in 2008.
Despite the ban, female
genital mutilation (FGM) is still
widespread in Egypt, especially
in rural areas. It is practised
among Muslims as well as Egypt’s
minority Christians.
An appeals court in the Nile
Delta city of Mansura sentenced
Dr Raslan Fadl to two years
and three months in jail for
“manslaughter, negligence,
endangering the child’s life ...and
for performing FGM”, a judicial
source said.
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Maiduguri residents
told to stay and fight
city-wide curfew was
lifted yesterday in Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria,
following a weekend Boko Haram
attack that prompted the state
governor to urge the city’s residents to stay and fight any future
The restive capital of Borno
State was locked down on Sunday morning, after the Islamist
militants launched a dawn raid
that was later repelled by the
Nigerian Army spokesman
Colonel Sani Usman announced
the lifting of the curfew from
6am (0500 GMT).
“People can go about their legitimate business,” he said.
The military high command in
Abuja said that “scores” of Boko
Haram fighters were killed as soldiers using heavy weaponry with
air support halted the extremists’
The attack came a day after
President Goodluck Jonathan
visited the city as part of his
campaign for re-election next
month, and again vowed to end
the six-year insurgency.
But with the militants now in
control of swathes of territory
in Borno, fears remain high over
renewed large-scale attacks on
the city.
“It is not over yet,” said security analyst Abdullahi Bawa Wase,
who tracks the Boko Haram conflict. “They will certainly make
another attempt. It is only a matter of when, because Maiduguri
is strategic.”
Borno State governor Kashim
Shettima also recognised the
clear and present danger of another assault on Maiduguri, with
the rebels now in control of the
nearby town of Monguno.
But Shettima told BBC radio’s
Hausa-language service: “I call
on the people of Borno State not
to panic. This is our land. No fear,
no flight, no retreat. We should
not flee. We have a history dating
back 1,000 years and I swear by
Allah we are going to beat (Boko
Despite the success in Maiduguri and in repelling a separate
attack in nearby Konduga, Monguno – which is about 125km (80
miles) north of Maiduguri – fell
into rebel hands on Sunday.
Boko Haram also captured the
town’s military barracks, from
which it is feared it will launch a
fresh strike on Maiduguri.
The group was founded in
LRA leader faces
war crimes judges
The Hague
Maiduguri in 2002, and was driven out in 2013.
Shettima confirmed that the
situation was “bad in Monguno”
and that people had fled to Maiduguri, where the military was
screening them in case any the
militants had infiltrated the displaced population.
In September last year, it was
estimated that more than half
of Borno’s 4.1mn people were in
Maiduguri, but many more have
arrived since then to seek sanc-
tuary from the violence.
Many are living in camps for
internally displaced people.
Security analysts believe Boko
Haram’s capture of Monguno –
after the Lake Chad fishing hub
of Baga was captured earlier this
month – was driven by a need for
food, fuel, medicine and other
Hundreds of people, if not
more, are feared to have been
killed in Baga, where Boko Haram
fighters destroyed much of the
igeria’s opposition said
yesterday that delaying
next month’s election
because of raging Boko Haram
violence would mark “a victory”
for the insurgents, and urged the
government to respect the electoral calendar.
The opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) charged
that the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) with secretly
backing postponement, and of
using the Islamist attacks as justification.
“The truth is that the forthcoming elections terrify the PDP
and the (President Goodluck)
Jonathan administration to such
an extent that they are looking
for ways to postpone or scuttle
the polls,” APC spokesman Lai
Mohammed said in a statement.
“Any postponement on the
basis of the insurgency in the
northeast will represent a victory for the terrorist group Boko
Haram,” he added.
The PDP has not come out in
favour of pushing back the February 14 vote, but National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki
has said election officials needed
more time to distribute voter ID
Violence in Boko Haram’s
northeastern strongholds has
Ongwen waiting yesterday for
the start of court procedures
as he makes his first
appearance at the ICC in The
who is still at large and being
pursued by regional troops and
US special forces.
Ongwen’s surrender dealt a
major blow to the LRA’s threedecade campaign across several central African nations. He
was wanted by ICC on charges
that include murder, enslavement, inhumane acts and directing attacks against civilians.
His capture has been widely
hailed by rights groups and the
ICC’s chief prosecutor Fatou
Bensouda, who said it took the
world “one step closer to ending the LRA’s reign of terror” in
the restive African Great Lakes
Ongwen was abducted by
the LRA as a child while on his
way to school and turned into
a child soldier, before rising
through the ranks to become
one of its top commanders.
Rights groups have pointed
out that the fact Ongwen was
initially himself a victim may
be a mitigating factor, should
he be found guilty and sentenced.
“The ICC has accused him,
in part, of the same crimes
that were initially perpetrated
against him,” said Washington-based independent researcher Ledio Cakaj, who has
researched the LRA extensively.
Over the years the LRA has
moved across the porous borders of the region, shifting
from Uganda to sow terror in
southern Sudan before moving
to the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo,
and finally crossing into the
southeast of the Central African Republic in March 2008.
Combining religious mysticism with astute guerrilla tactics and bloodthirsty ruthlessness, Kony has turned scores of
young girls into his sex slaves
while claiming to be fighting to
impose the Bible’s Ten Commandments.
Ongwen’s troops were notorious for punishment raids,
slicing off the lips and ears of
victims as grim calling cards.
escalated dramatically in recent
months, most recently with the
weekend assault on Borno State
capital Maiduguri that was repelled by armed forces.
Jonathan’s position on a potential delay was left unclear in
a statement released on Sunday
following his meeting with US
Secretary of State John Kerry.
The president said that the
May 29 date for inaugurating the
winner of the election was “sacrosanct”, but he made no specific
comment on the inviolability of
February 14 for voting.
“This is not reassuring
enough,” APC spokesman Mohammed said. “For us, the February 14th and 28th dates (of
state governor and state assembly elections) are as sacrosanct as
the handover date of May 29th.”
Spokesman for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Kayode Idowu, told
AFP yesterday that the body remains firmly committed to holding the election on February 14.
He denied reports published
yesterday in the APC-controlled Nation newspaper that the
national security adviser had
scheduled a meeting with the
election chief to push for a delay.
Regarding Dasuki’s argument
that more time was needed to
distribute voter cards, the APC
said any claim of “INEC not being ready for the elections is
sheer baloney”.
Anti-corruption protest in Kenya’s
Maasai Mara region turns violent
Narok, Kenya
otorious former Lord’s
Resistance Army (LRA)
commander Dominic
Ongwen made his first appearance before the International
Criminal Court (ICC) yesterday, accused of war crimes and
crimes against humanity.
The initial hearing for the
Ugandan child soldier-turnedwarlord came days after he
was transferred to The Haguebased court following his surprise surrender to US troops
earlier this month.
A calm, composed Ongwen
wore a blue suit, white shirt
and blue-and-grey plaid tie as
he identified himself as born
in Gulu in northern Uganda in
“I’d like to thank God for
creating Heaven and Earth, together with everyone that’s on
Earth,” Ongwen said.
“I was abducted in 1988 and
I was taken to the bush when
I was 14 years old,” he said in
“Prior to my arrival at court
I was a soldier in the LRA,” said
Ongwen, with short hair rather
than the trademark dreadlocks
of his time as an LRA commander.
Defence counsel Helene Cisse noted that since his abduction, Ongwen had been “denied any access to education”.
Ongwen is the first leader of
the brutal Ugandan rebel army
led by the fugitive Joseph Kony
to appear before the ICC, created to try the world’s worst
Known as the “White Ant”,
Ongwen was one of the most
senior commanders of the
LRA, which is accused of killing more than 100,000 people
and abducting some 60,000
children in a bloody rebellion
that started in 1987.
He has been wanted for war
crimes for almost a decade by
the ICC, in its oldest-running
case to date.
The US had offered a $5mn
reward for his capture.
Judge Ekaterina Trendafilova
read Ongwen his rights and the
charges were put to him, which
included a deadly attack on a
refugee camp in 2004.
He was not required to respond to the charges at this
stage in the proceedings.
Trendafilova set the date for
Ongwen’s next appearance for
August 24, when hearings will
start to determine if he should
face trial.
Ongwen was a senior aide to
LRA leader and warlord Kony,
A man reads a newspaper headline at a news stand in Abuja
yesterday. Nigeria’s military have repelled multiple attacks by
suspected Boko Haram militants on Borno state capital Maiduguri in
the northeast, security sources said on Sunday, but the insurgents
captured another Borno town.
town and razed at least 16 surrounding settlements.
Residents who fled Baga have
said Boko Haram has enough
supplies from the abandoned
and looted markets to last for
months, but they will eventually
be forced to push south.
Ryan Cummings, chief Africa analysts at risk consultants Red24, suggested that the
Monguno attack was also likely
prompted by the need for weapons to counter eventual offensives by regional armies.
Boko Haram violence has effectively wiped large parts of
northeast Nigeria off the electoral map, making voting impossible in next month’s presidential
and parliamentary poll.
Nigeria is scrambling for a solution to allow displaced people
to vote, but Wase said any successful future attack on Maiduguri would “automatically disrupt
the elections”.
“It means elections will not
be held in Borno state because
the bulk of the voters are now in
Maiduguri,” he added.
Nigeria’s main opposition,
which is in power in much of the
northeast, has said the validity of
the overall result could be questioned if hundreds of thousands
of people are disenfranchised.
Vote delay would
be a Boko Haram
‘victory’: politicians
t least seven people were
clashes between Kenyan
police and protesters from the
Maasai ethnic group who accuse
a local governor of corrupt handling of tourism funds from the
Maasai Mara game reserve, the
Kenya Red Cross said.
Kenya television said at least
one person was killed during
the violence, in which witnesses
said police used teargas and fired
shots as thousands of Maasais
clad in traditional red cloaks
marched to the governor’s office.
Police had no immediate comment on the report and the Red
Cross did not report any deaths.
At the gates of Governor Samuel Tunai’s office in Narok town,
the administrative centre of the
sprawling Maasai Mara game
park, demonstrators chanted:
“Tunai must go.” Some hurled
Visitors to the Maasai Mara,
one of Africa’s biggest tourist
draws, pay $80 per day to roam
an area full of wildlife such as li-
Two more killed in
S Africa looting
Two more people have died as
the week-long looting of foreignowned shops continued in
townships around South Africa’s
economic capital Johannesburg,
police said yesterday.
The men were killed on Sunday
night during a raid on a shop
owned by a Somali immigrant in
central Johannesburg.
“During the commotion, shots
were fired and two males were
killed,” said police spokesman
Lieutenant-General Solomon
Makgale. “It appears that the
looters fired the shots.”
The violence began a week ago
in the township of Soweto after a
foreign businessman shot dead a
local teenager who had allegedly
tried to rob him.
According to reports from the
local daily The Star, another
teenager was killed on
Wednesday night when police
fired into a crowd after a 74-yearold Malawian died at the hands
of looters.
On Friday, a 13-month-old baby
was trampled to death when it
fell from its mother’s arms in the
middle of a looting spree, police
The deaths bring the total
number of deaths linked to the
violence to at least six.
A riot police officer throws a teargas canister to disperse demonstrators during a protest yesterday
against Narok county Governor Samuel Tunai in Narok.
ons, rhinos and giraffes.
Upmarket lodges and luxury
tented camps can charge hundreds of dollars per person per
day for the experience, although
a spate of militant attacks in
Kenya as well as the Ebola epidemic on the other side of Africa
have scared off many tourists.
The dispute began when Tunai’s administration contracted a
company to collect Maasai Mara
park entry fees, a deal the locals
say was suspect.
“(Tunai) cannot account for
billions of shillings from all financial sources including the
Mara. He should be held to ac-
count,” said Senator Stephen ole
Ntutu, who was among the protesters.
Kenya’s Interior Minister
Joseph Nkaissery on Sunday
banned all rallies and demonstrations amid fears of violence
in Narok, where residents often
complain about high unemployment and the poor state of roads
and schools.
Nkaissery said the office of the
Auditor-General and the Ethics
and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) have been sent to
Narok to investigate graft claims
which Tunai has denied.
Local government finance has
come under increased scrutiny
from Kenyans since a newly devolved system was introduced in
2013 under which local governments receive about 43% of the
national budget directly and are
responsible for raising their own
additional revenues.
Devolution was designed to
spread wealth and help local
communities benefit from revenue earned in their areas but
analysts say corruption and other
issues that have blighted national
politics have now also spread to
local bodies.
Zambia leader drops white vice-president
President Edgar Lungu
dropped vice-president
Guy Scott – who was briefly Africa’s only white leader – from
his administration when he announced his cabinet yesterday.
As interim president since the
death in office of Michael Sata in
October, Scott had been the first
white leader on the continent
since the end of apartheid 20
years ago.
He was replaced as vicepresident by Inonge Wina, a
former gender minister and
chairwoman of the ruling Patriotic Front.
Scott had sacked Lungu from
his position as party general
secretary during a power struggle after Sata’s death, but later
reinstated him after rioting by
Scott, who is of Scottish descent, was prevented by the
constitution from standing for
the presidency himself as his
parents were not born in Zambia.
This picture taken on Sunday shows Lungu receiving the instruments of power from then acting
president Scott after being sworn in as Zambia’s president, at the Heroes National Stadium in Lusaka.
He had told local media that
he saw his role as interim president as largely ceremonial and
was looking forward to handing
over power so that he could enjoy his “gin and tonic”.
Lungu made several other
new appointments to the cabinet after winning last week’s
election, but retained Finance
Minister Alexander Chikwanda
and Foreign Affairs Minister
Harry Kalaba.
Ngosa Simbyakula becomes
Justice Minister and is replaced
as Home Affairs Minister by
Davies Mwila.
The new president reiterated
his pledge to serve the people
of Zambia equally regardless of
tribal affiliation: “I love every
part of Zambia and we won’t
look at tribe when it comes to
Lungu, the former defence
minister, takes over the helm
for the remainder of Sata’s term
until a general election scheduled for September 2016.
He has promised to focus on
building the economy of the
continent’s second biggest copper producer, which has been hit
by declining prices.
The new president inherits a
slowing economy and high poverty levels, with the key mining,
tourism and agriculture sectors
all struggling.
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
People walk up 5th Avenue at Central Park as it snows in the Manhattan borough of New York yesterday. Winter storm Juno has brought
blizzard warning for New York and much of the North East US.
Millions brace for
monster blizzard
in US Northeast
New York City was under a
blizzard warning yesterday
ahead of a storm forecast
to dump up to 60 to 75cm
of snow on the densely
populated northeastern US
New York
housands of flights were
cancelled yesterday as
millions of Americans in
the Northeast braced for a winter storm that New York’s mayor
warned could be one of the biggest blizzards in history.
Snow, which was already falling across the region, is expected
to accumulate steadily throughout the day before turning into a
major storm expected to paralyse
parts of New York and New England.
Officials in states along the US
East Coast have urged residents
to stay home as they prepare for
Winter Storm Juno, which could
dump up to 3ft (about a metre) of
snow in some areas.
The National Weather Service has issued blizzard warnings
from New Jersey to the Canadian
border, including New York and
Boston. Coastal flood warnings
are also in effect.
New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo said the National
Guard was on standby in the Big
Apple and Long Island.
More than 5,830 flights have
been cancelled within, to or from
the US yesterday and today, according to
Some airlines have waived
change fees as major delays and
widespread cancellations were
New York and New Jersey governors declared states of emergency, ordered people to leave
work early, roads to close and
said that transit systems would
be severely disrupted today.
“It could be a matter of life
and death, and that’s not being overly dramatic, so caution
is required,” Cuomo told a news
There will be limited service
in the New York subway system
after 8pm, commuter rail services may close at 11pm, and a
travel ban could be imposed if
weather updates merit, Cuomo
Officials said 50% of flights
at New York’s John F. Kennedy
International Airport had been
cancelled, but said JFK and the
city’s LaGuardia airport would
remain open for emergency
Boston’s Logan international
airport will see no flights until
tomorrow afternoon, reports
Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie compared
preparations for Juno with those
for Super-Storm Sandy in October 2012, which killed more than
200 people, affected 650,000
houses and caused months-long
power cuts.
On Sunday, New York mayor Bill de Blasio said Juno was
likely to be one of the largest
snow storms in the history of
the city.
“My message to all New Yorkers is to prepare for something
worse than we have seen before,”
he said. “Don’t underestimate
the storm.”
Meteorologists said the storm
would bring crippling blizzard
conditions and warned that
travelling in the affected areas
would be highly dangerous.
Power outages and falling
trees are likely during the storm
and in its aftermath, meteorologists warned, saying 28mn people were in the possible blizzard
Record snowfall in the city
of New York was 26.9in (68cm)
that accumulated after a 16hour storm in February 2006.
Christie, a potential Republican candidate for the White
House in 2016, said state offices
would be closed for non-essential staff and warned that transit
systems were unlikely to work
“We’ve had Hurricane Irene,
Hurricane Sandy. For better or
for worse, we know how to deal
with these situations,” he said.
Connecticut Governor Dan
Malloy issued a travel ban for the
entire state beginning at 9pm
(0200 GMT today).
The heaviest snow is likely to
be in New England. Thunder and
lightning could also accompany
the heavy snow, meteorologists
Gusts of wind are forecast
to reach up to 55 miles (about
90km) per hour and more than
70mph in eastern Massachusetts, including Cape Cod and
Martha’s Vineyard.
Coastal flooding is also a risk
in the early hours of today.
President Barack Obama, on
a visit to India, has been briefed
about emergency preparations
for the storm.
“White House officials have
been in touch with state and local officials up and down the
eastern seaboard to ensure that
they have the resources necessary to prepare for and immediately respond to the storm,”
White House spokesman Josh
Earnest said.
Residents scrambled to stock
up on storm staples such as groceries, shovels, road salt and ice
Cuomo said the storm would
see 750 snow plows mobilised
and 50,000lb of salt used to
make roads safe.
The National Weather Service said up to three feet of snow
could fall from the New York area
into coastal New England, with
whiteout conditions possible.
“Many roads may become
impassable. Strong winds may
down power lines and tree
limbs,” it warned.
“All unnecessary travel is discouraged beginning Monday afternoon.”
Cars travel into the Holland Tunnel under a sign warning of severe weather conditions yesterday in New
York City.
Snow removal equipment sits on the tarmac at Logan Airport in Boston, Massachusetts yesterday ahead
of a major winter storm predicted to hit the area later in the day.
Shoppers at Woodside ACE Hardware stock up on ice melt and shovels as they prepare for the upcoming
blizzard yesterday in Winthrop, Massachusetts.
Calif. drought could end with
‘atmospheric rivers’ storms
By Tony Barboza/TNS
Los Angeles
Atmospheric rivers could eventually bring enough rain to erase California’s precipitation deficit and
wreak havoc by unleashing floods and landslides.
alifornia’s drought crept
in slowly, but it could end
with a torrent of winter
storms that stream across the
Pacific, dumping much of the
year’s rain and snow in a few
fast-moving and potentially
catastrophic downpours.
Powerful storms known as atmospheric rivers, ribbons of water vapour that extend for thousands of miles, pulling moisture
from the tropics and delivering
it to the West Coast, have broken 40% of California droughts
since 1950, recent research
“These atmospheric rivers
- their absence or their presence - really determine whether
California is in drought or not
and whether floods are going
to occur,” said F. Martin Ralph,
a research meteorologist who
directs the Center for Western
Weather and Water Extremes at
the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of
California, San Diego.
The storms, which flow like
massive rivers in the sky, can
carry 15 times as much water as
the Mississippi and deliver up to
half of the state’s annual precipitation between December and
February, scientists say. Though
atmospheric rivers are unlikely
to end California’s drought this
year, if they bring enough rain to
erase the state’s huge precipitation deficit, they could wreak
havoc by unleashing floods and
Scientists using a new type of
satellite data discovered atmospheric rivers in the 1990s, and
studies since then have revealed
the phenomenon’s strong influence on California’s water supply and extreme weather.
This month, a group of government and university scientists, including Ralph, are
launching a major field experiment to better understand atmospheric rivers as they develop
over the Pacific. Through the end
of February, some researchers
will fly airplanes above storms
as they pass through, while others will monitor them from ships
hundreds of miles off California.
As the storms make landfall, the
scientists will collect data with
ground-based instruments.
“We’re going to measure the
heck out of them,” Ralph said.
Scientists will use the information to try to improve
atmospheric river forecasts,
including where they will hit
hardest and for how long. That
could help communities prepare for flooding and allow water managers to make better use
of storm runoff.
California usually needs about
five good atmospheric rivers each
winter to fill reservoirs, stimulate spring vegetation growth
and build snowpack to healthy
levels, said Michael Anderson, a
climatologist for the California
Department of Water Resources.
But how much the storms boost
the state’s water supply depends
on the characteristics of each
one, including how cold it is,
whether it makes landfall toward
the north or south, and whether
the precipitation falls mostly as
rain near the coast or as snow in
the mountains.
Jay Jasperse, chief engineer
for the Sonoma County Water
Agency, calls atmospheric rivers
“our water supply up in the air.”
The agency, which operates two
reservoirs in the Russian River
Valley, one of the state’s most
flood-prone watersheds, has
been seeking more precise forecasts to make better decisions
about releasing water from reservoirs to accommodate storm
runoff or conserving it to use as
drinking water.
“We want to better handle
these short, intense rainfall
events,” Jasperse said.
If atmospheric rivers fail to
arrive, California could be in serious trouble. That’s what happened last winter, when a ridge
of high pressure lingered off the
West Coast for months, blocking storms and intensifying the
An atmospheric river broke
through last February but didn’t
bring enough rain to make a
big improvement. In December, a strong atmospheric river
drenched Northern California,
but much of it fell as rain near
the coast rather than snow in
the mountains. That means the
state will need several more big
storms by the end of next month
to build up its snowpack, which
in the Sierra Nevada remains at
less than half of normal.
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Mountain-sized asteroid to buzz Earth in a rare flyby
n asteroid the size of a
mountain is about to
shave by Earth, in a rare
type of flyby that will not be seen
for another decade, astronomers
said yesterday.
The asteroid, known as 2004
BL86, runs no risk of a colliding with Earth and will be about
three times farther than the
Moon when it passes.
At the time of its closest approach on January 26, the asteroid will be about 745,000 miles
(1.2mn km) from Earth.
As asteroid events go, this one
is special because the space rock
is so much larger than most,
measuring about a third of a mile
across (0.5km).
The majority of near-Earth
objects are 50 to 100ft (15 to 30m)
in diameter.
“It’s the largest known space
rock predicted to come this
close to us until 2027,” said Sky
and Telescope magazine.
The next large asteroid that
is known to be making a close
approach to Earth will be asteroid 1999 AN10, flying past
in 2027.
In the meantime, astronomers
are excited for the opportunity to
catch a glimpse of 2004 BL86, a
mysterious asteroid that won’t
pass by again for about 200 years.
“At present, we know almost
nothing about the asteroid, so
there are bound to be surprises,”
said radar astronomer Lance
Benner of Nasa’s Jet Propulsion
“When we get our radar data
back the day after the flyby, we
will have the first detailed images.”
Nasa said the asteroid will not
be visible to the naked eye, but
may be seen with the help of
small telescopes and strong binoculars.
The asteroid’s closest approach to Earth is expected
around 11am (1600 GMT), but it
will be dim “because Earth will
see only a portion of its illuminated side,” Sky and Telescope
said, which has published a star
chart to show its path.
As the hours pass, it will gain
in brightness and the best viewing for those in North and South
America, Europe and Africa will
range from 8pm Monday to 1am
Tuesday (0100 GMT-0600 GMT
During that time period, the
asteroid will be heading northward through the constellation
The asteroid orbits the Sun
every 1.84 years, and was discovered 11 years ago by the LINEAR
telescope in New Mexico.
By using observations via telescope and radar mapping by Nasa
scientists at facilities in California and Puerto Rico, astronomers
hope to discover how fast the asteroid spins and learn more about
its size, shape and surface.
“Asteroids are something
special. Not only did asteroids
provide Earth with the building blocks of life and much of
its water, but in the future, they
will become valuable resources
for mineral ores and other vital natural resources,” said Don
Yeomans, retired manager of
Nasa’s Near Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena,
“They will also become the
fuelling stops for humanity as we
continue to explore our solar system. There is something about
asteroids that makes me want to
look up.”
Christie takes
step toward
run in 2016
Chris Christie, the toughtalking governor of New
Jersey, inched closer to
launching a formal White
House bid
ew Jersey Governor Chris
Christie and his supporters have formed a political action committee ahead of a
likely bid for president, according to a source with knowledge of
the matter.
The political action committee, or PAC, called Leadership
Matters for America, is the clearest sign yet that Christie, 52, is
running in the Republican Party
primary for the 2016 presidential
With the PAC formation,
Christie said there are people
who “want to be supportive of
me continuing to look at the
problems in the country.” Christie made the remark during a
press conference about an approaching snowstorm yesterday.
Among those serving on the
PAC are long-time Christie
allies Michael DuHaime
and Bill Palatucci, as
well as Phil Cox, executive director of the
Republican Governors Association, the source
said. Christie was
chairman of the
RGA until he was succeeded in
November by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam.
Paperwork for the leadership
PAC was filed on Friday with the
Federal Election Commission,
the source said. The Wall Street
Journal first reported the establishment of the PAC yesterday.
The move adds a third wellknown Republican figure to the
fight for campaign funds among
the party’s main donors. Christie has struggled to stay relevant
as potential rivals, former Florida
governor Jeb Bush and 2012 nominee Mitt Romney grabbed attention from operatives and donors.
Some observers think Christie is “late to the game” because
Bush established his PACs last
month, but they overlook that
Christie had other sources of
funding for his appearances
across the country, said Patrick
Murray, director of Monmouth
University’s Polling Institute.
Christie has been able to draw
from his stint as the RGA’s chairman and to use money from the
New Jersey GOP to “underwrite
everything from travel to Christmas cards sent to Republican
voters in Iowa,” Murray said.
“The state party’s books are
currently in the red, so it makes
sense to turn to PAC financing
at this
Christie has
not declared a
bid for the presidency, but he has
discussed national
Ohio sues over
Obamacare taxes
he state of Ohio filed a
lawsuit yesterday that
says Obamacare tax assessments against state and local
governments for public employee health plans are unconstitutional.
The suit by Attorney General
Mike DeWine involves the federal government’s ability under
the Affordable Care Act’s Transitional Reinsurance Programme
to levy taxes against health insurance companies and certain
employers who offer self-insured
group health plans.
The US Department of Health
and Human Services (HHS) has
said it is assessing this tax on state
and local governments for their
public employee health plans,
DeWine’s office said. DeWine said
this would destroy the balance of
authority between the federal government and the states.
“This action simply protects
a tradition as old as our republic
that governments do not tax each
other,” DeWine, a Republican, said
in a statement about the lawsuit.
The assessment costs Ohio
$5.3mn, money that could be
used for education, roads and
other local needs, the statement
said. The state wants a refund,
said Dan Tierney, a spokesman
for the attorney general.
Tierney said the ACA does not
include state and local governments as entities that can be taxed
under the reinsurance programme.
The lawsuit was filed in federal
court in the Southern District of
Ohio, and plaintiffs include Warren County, the University of
Akron and three other state universities.
An HHS representative was
not immediately available for
Republicans in Congress, some
state governments and others
have challenged in court all or
part of the Affordable Care Act
since it became law in 2010.
Last week, leading Republican senators introduced a bill to
repeal one of Obamacare’s most
unpopular provisions - the individual mandate that requires
most Americans to obtain health
insurance or pay a penalty.
The mandate survived a 2012
US Supreme Court challenge
seeking to overturn it on constitutional grounds.
themes in speeches and was in
Iowa, an important state in the
primary elections, this weekend
for a summit attended by influential Republican activists.
Christie, who many conservatives see as a moderate, touted
his ability to appeal to a broad
segment of the electorate, from
Hispanics to independent voters.
He said the party needs crossover appeal and made light of his
blunt, direct style that sometimes
draws criticism. “If you want
someone you agree with 100% of
the time, go home and look in the
mirror,” Christie said in Iowa.
According to a poll released
last Thursday, nearly three in five
registered voters in New Jersey
do not think Christie would make
a good US president.
Christie’s popularity was
dented by revelations that officials in his administration ordered closures on the George
Washington Bridge in 2013 in
an apparent political retaliation
against a town mayor who did
not endorse him.
More recently, he’s been immersed in a controversy over
whether he should have gone to
Texas for a Jan. 4 Dallas Cowboys game at the expense of team
owner Jerry Jones.
Polls have consistently shown
Bush ahead of Christie in a potential Republican presidential
primary. Voters would also elect
Democrat Hillary Clinton over
Christie in the general election,
according to the most recent polls.
The US flag flying over the White House yesterday in Washington, DC. A small aerial drone was found on the grounds of the White House but
poses no threat, a spokesman for President Obama said.
Small drone crashes on White
House grounds; no danger seen
Washington/New Delhi
small drone known as a
“quad copter” crashed
on the grounds of the
White House in the early hours
of yesterday but the drone did
not appear to be dangerous, a
White House spokesman said.
A government employee told
the US Secret Service that he
was flying the unmanned aircraft recreationally before he
lost control and accidentally
breached the secure perimeter
of the presidential mansion, The
New York Times reported.
The US Secret Service, the
agency responsible for protect-
Focus on Katrina
ing the president, his family and
the White House, did not confirm that anyone had admitted
to flying the drone.
The device, approximately
2ft (61cm) in diameter, was
spotted flying at a low altitude at 3:08am EST (0808
GMT) before it crashed on
the southeast side of White
House grounds, Secret Service
spokeswoman Nicole Mainor
said in a statement.
“An investigation is underway to determine the origin
of this commercially available
device, motive, and to identify
suspects,” Mainor said.
White House spokesman
Josh Earnest told reporters travelling with President
Barack Obama in India that
“the early indications are that
it does not pose any sort of ongoing threat right now to anybody at the White House.”
Obama is in New Delhi for
three days to forge closer ties
with India, part of a strategy
to “rebalance” US defence and
trade to Asia to counter a more
assertive China.
His wife, Michelle Obama,
accompanied the president.
Their daughters, Sasha and
Malia, and their grandmother,
Michelle Robinson, stayed behind.
“I don’t have any reason to
think at this point that the first
family is in any danger,” Earnest
US regulators are working to
draft new rules for commercial drones used for farming
and news gathering. The small
remote-controlled aircraft also
have become popular as toys,
raising privacy concerns and
safety issues after close calls
with jets.
The Secret Service also has
come under scrutiny after several incidents involving White
House security. Its director resigned in October, and an independent review concluded that
it needs to build a better fence
and hire more officers.
Mainor said there was an
“immediate alert and lockdown
of the complex until the device
was examined and cleared.”
Commercial space rides
to save millions for US
Cape Canaveral, Florida
he US space programme
should save more than
$12mn a seat flying astronauts to and from the International Space Station on commercial space taxis rather than aboard
Russian capsules, the Nasa programme manager said yesterday.
In September, the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration awarded contracts worth
up to a combined $6.8bn to Boeing
and privately owned Space Explo-
ration Technologies, or SpaceX, to
fly crew to the station, a $100bn
research laboratory about 260
miles (418km) above Earth.
Since retiring the space shuttles in 2011, the US has depended
on Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, to ferry astronauts to the
orbital outpost. The service costs
more than $70mn per person.
Nasa expects to pay an average of $58mn a seat when its astronauts begin flying on Boeing’s
CST-100 and SpaceX’s Dragon
capsules in 2017, Kathy Lueders,
manager of Nasa’s Commercial
Crew programme, told report-
ers during a news conference in
Houston and via conference call.
“I don’t ever want to have to
write another check to Roscosmos
after 2017, hopefully,” Nasa Administrator Charles Bolden said.
Both SpaceX and Boeing plan
two test flights to the station, the
first without a crew and the second with a combination of company test pilots and Nasa astronauts aboard.
SpaceX is targeting its unmanned test flight in 2016 and
its piloted flight in early 2017,
said company president Gwynne
Man fatally shoots self outside News Corp building
Ava DuVernay, director of the film Selma, poses in Los
Angeles, in this December 23, 2014 file photo. Ava DuVernay, the director behind the Oscar-nominated Martin
Luther King Jr. biopic Selma, will write, produce and
direct a feature film set in the time of Hurricane Katrina,
the company backing the film said yesterday.
A man shot and killed himself in an
apparent suicide yesterday outside
the News Corp office building in
midtown Manhattan, police said.
The 41-year-old man, whose identity
was not officially released, shot himself in the chest outside 1211 Sixth
Avenue and was taken to Bellevue
Hospital, where he was pronounced
dead, according to the New York
Police Department.
He carried a suicide note, police
said. The Wall Street Journal and
other local media identified the
man as Phillip Perea, a former employee of a Fox television station in
Austin, Texas.
He had been handing out flyers criticising Fox, which is owned by News
Corp, and left messages on Twitter
and a video on YouTube complaining about losing his job, the Journal
and other news outlets reported.
A YouTube video apparently
narrated by Perea said he was
a promotion producer who
had been fired due to what he
called “managerial bullying and
corporate complicity.”
Fox Television Stations Chief
Executive Jack Abernethy sent an
e-mail to employees confirming
that a former employee at the
Austin station committed suicide
outside the company’s headquarters in New York.
“He was employed at our Austin
television station for ten months
and has not been with the station
or FTS since June 2014. We are
deeply saddened by this tragedy,”
Abernethy said.
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Hackers target
Malaysia Airlines,
threaten data dump
Kuala Lumpur
Bambang Widjojanto (centre), deputy chief of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), speaks to the media after his release at the police headquarters in Jakarta on Saturday.
Indonesian anti-graft official
resigns amid row with police
top Indonesian anti-corruption official tendered
his resignation yesterday
after being arrested and warned
of a campaign to “destroy” the
country’s graft-fighting agency,
amid an escalating row with the
Bambang Widjojanto, deputy
chief of the Corruption Eradication Commssion (KPK), was
arrested last week, days after
the body accused a senior police
Anwar to
learn fate
in case
on Feb 10
Kuala Lumpur
leader Anwar Ibrahim
will learn on February 10 whether he will be jailed
for five years on a contentious
sodomy conviction, a judicial
spokesman said yesterday, a decision that imperils his political
“The Federal Court has fixed
February 10 at 0100 GMT to
announce the verdict of Anwar
Ibrahim’s sodomy trial,” said
Mohamed Aizuddin Zolkeply,
spokesman for the nation’s highest court. The Federal Court
heard Anwar’s final appeal in
November against the conviction and five-year jail sentence
that was handed down by a lower
court last March.
It was the second sodomy
conviction in the 67-year-old’s
tumultuous political career.
Anwar has long dismissed the
charge he sodomised a young
male former aide as a fabrication
by the country’s long-ruling regime to thwart opposition gains.
The charge first emerged in
2008, shortly after the Anwarled opposition dealt the government a historic parliamentary
setback. A guilty verdict would
boot Anwar from parliament,
depriving the fractious threeparty opposition alliance of its
central figure.
A lower court initially acquitted Anwar in 2012, but the government appealed and won last
year in a result that the US said
raised doubts about rule of law in
Anwar was previously a rising
star in the ruling United Malays
National Organisation (UMNO)
in the 1990s.
official of graft, prompting his
appointment as national police
chief to be postponed.
Widjojanto’s supporters have
accused the police, regarded as
deeply corrupt, of seeking revenge against the anti-graft
commission, which is popular
among the public but has made
many enemies after years targeting high-profile figures.
New President Joko Widodo
put forward the police official
to be the new chief, and his response to the row is being closely
watched to see whether he lives
up to a pledge to stamp out cor-
ruption in Indonesia.
Announcing that he would
step aside temporarily due to the
police investigation into accusations he interfered in a legal case,
Widjojanto urged the public to
keep up their strong support for
graft-fighting efforts.
“I am convinced that the case
against me is a fabrication and
based on fiction,” he told reporters. “It’s not only to weaken the
KPK, but to destroy it, and in a
very systematic way.”
The heads of the KPK and the
president must still accept his
He was arrested on Friday, accused of ordering witnesses to
give false testimony in a 2010
court case while acting as a lawyer. He was granted a conditional
release early Saturday.
Police say that he could face
seven years in prison if found
Widjojanto’s arrest sparked
a protest last week by hundreds
of anti-corruption activists
outside KPK headquarters in Jakarta, who urged Widodo to take
action to defend the agency.
Widodo had already faced
criticism for putting forward
Budi Gunawan, a three-star police general, as his sole pick for
police chief.
Gunawan was named a corruption suspect shortly after
being nominated. The president
refused to revoke the nomination, but later postponed his appointment until the KPK investigation was complete.
Anti-corruption group Transparency International ranked
Indonesia 107th out of 175 countries in its annual corruption
perceptions index last year. A
number one ranking means the
least corrupt.
he website of Malaysia Airlines was commandeered for several
hours yesterday by hackers
who referenced the Islamic
State jihadists and threatened
to expose data taken from the
carrier’s servers.
The attack, whose motivation remained unclear, was
claimed by the “Lizard Squad”,
a group that has taken credit
previously for denial-of-service attacks around the world.
It was not clear why the
troubled airline was targeted,
but the Lizard Squad said on
its Twitter feed that it was
“Going to dump some loot
found on malaysiaairlines.
com servers soon.”
Visitors to the website were
re-directed to another page
bearing an image of a tuxedowearing lizard and reading
“Hacked by Lizard Squad —
official cyber caliphate.”
It also carried the headline
“404 — Plane Not Found”, an
apparent reference to the airlines’ puzzling loss of flight
MH370 last year with 239
people aboard which tipped
the already struggling carrier
into crisis.
Media reports said versions of the website takeover
in some regions included the
wording “ISIS will prevail”.
Normal access to the site
appeared to be restored later
yesterday, but it marked another bout of bad press for the
beleaguered national carrier.
The unexplained loss of
MH370 and the airline’s poor
handling of the crisis severely
damaged public confidence in
the carrier, sending business
into a tailspin.
It has since been taken over
by a Malaysian government
investment fund seeking to
rescue the company.
A few hours before the website was restored, Malaysia
Airlines had released a statement confirming its Internet
domain name had been compromised, re-directing users
to the dummy page.
At this stage, Malaysia Airlines’ web servers are intact,”
it said.
“Malaysia Airlines assures
customers and clients that its
website was not hacked and
this temporary glitch does not
affect their bookings and that
user data remains secured,” it
However, the hackers disputed that, releasing on Twitter what appeared to be a
screen grab of some airline
data including reservations.
“We would like to point out
that (Malaysia Airlines) is lying about user data not being
compromised,” it said, giving
no further information.
The Lizard Squad is a group
of hackers that has caused
havoc in the online world before, taking credit for attacks
that took down the Sony PlayStation Network and Microsoft’s Xbox Live network last
The extent of any links
with the Islamic State, however, are not known.
The jihadist group has
seized large swathes of Syria
and Iraq in a brutal campaign
and declared an independent Islamic “caliphate”. It
also has used social media in
recruiting and spreading its
The IS group has prompted
world revulsion with its video-taped executions of journalists and other foreigners it
has captured.
On Sunday, it claimed to
have beheaded a Japanese
security contractor. A second Japanese captive has also
been threatened with execution.
Concerns over IS have
spiked in Malaysia after
scores of its citizens were
lured to the Syrian jihad.
Malaysian authorities last
week said they have detained
120 people suspected of having IS sympathies or planning to travel to Syria.
could appear
‘politically driven’
top US diplomat yesterday said Yingluck
Shinawatra’s impeachment could be perceived as
“politically driven” after
meeting the former premier
in Bangkok, the most senior
Washington official to visit
Thailand since the coup.
The US has strongly condemned the May military
takeover and repeatedly called
for a swift return to democracy after the army seized power
following months of protests
against Yingluck’s elected
Yesterday, US Assistant
Secretary of State for East
Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel met Yingluck as part
of the Thai leg of a Southeast
Asia trip in which he also held
talks with government officials and civil society representatives in the capital.
In a speech delivered at
Chulalongkorn University in
Bangkok he said “the perception of fairness is important”,
three days after Yingluck was
impeached by a junta-stacked
parliament and prosecutors
announced corruption charges that could see her jailed for
10 years.
“When an elected leader is
deposed, impeached by the
authorities that implemented
the coup, and then targeted
with criminal charges while
basic democratic processes
and institutions are interrupted, the international community is left with the impression
that these steps could be politically driven,” he said.
Russel stressed that the
US was not picking sides in
Thai politics but advocating a “more inclusive political
process”. He also repeated the
US call for an end to martial
law and restrictions on free
speech and assembly.
Since seizing power the
military has suspended democracy and curtailed freedom of expression in the kingdom, responding aggressively
to any form of protest. Under
martial law, political gatherings are banned. Washington
suspended $4.7mn in security-related aid to Thailand,
roughly half of its annual assistance to the longtime ally,
after the military takeover.
It had also considered moving annual military exercises
outside the kingdom but later
said the US would go-ahead
with a “scaled-down” version
of the Cobra Gold joint drills,
which begin next month.
A US embassy spokeswoman confirmed that Russel did
not meet junta leader Prayut
Chan-O-Cha, who was appointed Thai premier after the
coup, during his official visit.
The diplomat is due to arrive in Phnom Penh later for
the next leg of his regional
Experts say the impeachment and corruption charges
against Yingluck, Thailand’s
first female premier and the
sister of former leader Thaksin
Shinawatra, are the latest attempt by the country’s royalist
elite, and its army backers, to
nullify the political influence
of the Shinawatras.
The kingdom’s long-running political conflict broadly
pits Bangkok’s middle class
and royalist elites, backed by
parts of the military, against
rural and working-class voters
loyal to Thaksin.
Cambodian Eng Sokha kisses her mother Nget Khun, a convicted resident of squatter areas in Boeung Kak’s lakeside, beside a police van in the
appeals court in Phnom Penh yesterday.
Court upholds convictions for activists
Phnom Penh
Cambodian court yesterday upheld convictions for 11 land activists
involved in protests last year
while marginally reducing most
of their sentences, as rights
groups decried the latest strike
against freedom of expression.
In November, 10 female activists — including a 75-yearold woman — and a defrocked
Buddhist monk were each sentenced to a year in prison for
blocking traffic or obstructing
the work of officials during protests in Phnom Penh.
Cambodia’s Appeal Court
upheld the guilty verdicts but
reduced eight of the activists’
jail terms to 10 months while
the sentence for the eldest campaigner -- Nget Khun, known
locally as “Mommy” -- was cut
to six months. The one-year
sentences for prominent rights
activist Tep Vanny and the
monk were upheld.
“They are housewives and
mothers who need to take care
of their children, so receive
some reduction (to their sentences),” Judge Nguon Im told
the court.
The tearful campaigners,
wearing orange prison uniforms, repeatedly shouted
“very unjust” in Khmer as they
were led out of the courtroom.
Most of the activists are from
the few dozen families remaining in the capital’s Boeung Kak
neighbourhood -- an area from
which about 4,000 families
were forcibly evicted to make
way for a real-estate development. Seven of the women had
been protesting against flooding in the area when they were
arrested, with the other four
activists sentenced over later
demonstrations for their release.
Rights groups criticised the
court’s decision as an attempt
to stifle legitimate protest.
“It is a signal to other activists who dare to struggle for
freedom of expression” that
they will also face jail, said
Sopheap Chak, executive director of the Cambodian Centre for
Human Rights.
Andrea Giorgetta from the
International Federation for
Human Rights also lambasted
the ruling, describing it as “ludicrous and the foregone conclusion of an ugly trial”.
“It is the latest example of
the Cambodian government’s
repression of human rights defenders and political use of the
courts,” he said.
Land evictions are one of the
foremost human rights issues
in Cambodia today, with residents’ claims over land routinely ignored and villagers protesting against evictions frequently
met with violent crackdowns by
The Khmer Rouge abolished
land ownership during its 19751979 rule and many legal documents were lost during the period, complicating land claims
today. Aid groups estimate that
770,000 people — 6% of Cambodia’s population — have been
evicted since 2000, including
20,000 people in the first three
months of 2014.
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Abbott under fire for
honouring UK royal
ustralian Prime Minister Tony Abbott yesterday marked his country’s national day by honouring
Britain’s Prince Philip with a knighthood,
sparking criticism from the opposition of
being in a “time warp”.
Abbott said Queen Elizabeth II had accepted his recommendation that her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, be awarded
the nation’s highest honour as a Knight of
the Order of Australia.
“This honour recognises the contribution of the Duke of Edinburgh to Australia
throughout the Queen’s sixty-two year
reign,” the conservative leader and keen
monarchist said in a statement.
“Prince Philip’s long life of service and
dedication should be honoured by Australia,” he said, adding that Prince Philip’s
son Charles, the Prince of Wales, was appointed a Knight of the Order of Australia
in 1981.
Abbott reintroduced knights and
dames to the country’s honours list in
2014, prompting ridicule from opposition
Labor lawmakers who said it was proof
the prime minister was behind the times.
Republicans, who are in favour of cutting Australia’s ties to the British monarchy, accused Abbott at the time of “turning the clock back to a colonial frame of
mind that we have outgrown as a nation”.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten, who on
the weekend called for a mature debate
on becoming a republic and having an
Australian head of state, said the surprise
decision was out of step with the public
“I think that on Australia Day - where
we’re talking about Australia, Australian
identity - the government’s managed to
find a British royal to give a medal to, a
knighthood to,” he told Fairfax radio.
“I just think giving our top award to a
British royal is anachronistic. To be honest it’s a bit of a time warp. I wasn’t quite
sure it was serious until I realised it was.”
Shorten said his complaint was not
with Prince Philip, simply the fact he is
a British royal. “Why would we give him
our top Australian honour? He’s already
he largest glacier in East Antarctica,
containing ice equivalent to a 6m
rise in global sea levels, is melting
due to warm ocean water, Australian scientists said yesterday.
The 120km long Totten Glacier, which is
more than 30km wide, had been thought
to be in an area untouched by warmer currents. But a just-returned voyage to the
frozen region found the waters around the
glacier were warmer than expected and
likely melting the ice from below.
“We knew that the glacier was thinning
from the satellite data, and we didn’t know
why,” the voyage’s chief scientist Steve
Rintoul told AFP.
He said that up until recently the East
Antarctica ice sheet had been thought surrounded by cold waters and therefore very
stable and unlikely to change much.
But the voyage found that waters around
the glacier were some 1.5 degrees Celsius
warmer than other areas visited on the
same trip during the southern hemisphere
“We made it to the front of the glacier
and we measured temperatures that were
apanese Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe is to blame for
the death of a hostage at the
hands of the Islamic State group,
an editorial in Chinese state-run
media said yesterday.
The Islamic State group said
on Sunday it had executed Haruna Yukawa, one of two Japanese
hostages it has been holding, in
an apparent beheading that has
been slammed by leaders around
the world.
But China’s Global Times,
which is affiliated with Communist Party mouthpiece the People’s Daily, wrote in an editorial
that the Japanese leader’s support for the US had drawn Tokyo
into the conflict, even though
“East Asian countries are not
supposed to be key targets” of IS
jihadists or global terrorism.
“The killing of the Japanese
hostage is more or less the price
that Japan has paid for its support to Washington,” the newspaper said in the editorial, which
was headlined “Abe strategy
clearer after hostage crisis” and
referred to the Japanese premier
by name five times.
Abe could seek to use the hostage crisis to repeal Japan’s pacifist constitution, first imposed
by the US in the wake of World
War II, the paper suggested.
Beijing and Tokyo have been
at loggerheads over a territorial
dispute in the East China Sea,
and while the world’s secondand third-biggest economies
have close business ties, their
political relationship is heavily
coloured by history.
China’s foreign ministry was
more restrained than the newspaper, with spokeswoman Hua
Chunying telling reporters Beijing “opposes all forms of terrorism and extremist actions targeting innocent civilians”.
Abe himself branded Yukawa’s murder “outrageous and
unforgivable” and called for the
immediate release of the other
Japanese captive, freelance journalist Kenji Goto.
The Islamic State group initially demanded Japan pay a
$200mn ransom within a 72hour deadline announced last
Tuesday, while Abe vowed Tokyo
would never give in to terrorism.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott speaks during the Australia Day celebrations in Canberra yesterday.
got a lot of them,” he said.
Abbott defended his decision, saying
the queen’s husband is the patron of hundreds of Australian organisations and the
“inspiration and wellspring” of the Duke
of Edinburgh awards which have provided leadership training to tens of thousands of young people.
Asked to respond to criticism on social media, much of which has appeared
under the hashtag #jokeknighthood, he
replied: “I’ll leave social media to its own
“Social media is kind of like electronic
graffiti and I think that in the media you
make a big mistake to pay too much attention to social media,” he told reporters.
“The monarchy has been an important part of Australia’s life since 1788 and
Prince Philip has been a great servant of
Australia,” he said.
“I am just really pleased in his 90s, towards the end of a life of service and duty,
we in this country are able to properly acknowledge what he has done for us.”
Prince Philip, who is known for his politically incorrect gaffes, asked an Aboriginal businessman on a 2002 trip to
Australia: “Do you still throw spears at
each other?”
Prince Philip was named a knight along
with retired Air Chief Marshal Angus
Houston, who led Australia’s initial response to the missing Malaysia Airlines
aircraft MH370 and downed flight MH17
in Ukraine.
Houston, who served in the armed
forces for more than 40 years and became
Warmer ocean water melting
Antarctic glacier: report
Hostage killing is Abe’s
fault, says China paper
warm enough to drive significant melt,”
Rintoul said.
“And so the fact that warm water can
reach this glacier is a sign that East Antarctica is potentially more vulnerable to
changes in the ocean driven by climate
change than we used to think.”
Previous expeditions had been unable
to get close to the glacier due to heavy ice,
but Rintoul said the weather had held for
the Aurora Australis icebreaker and a team
of scientists and technicians from the Australian Antarctic Division and other bodies.
Rintoul said the glacier was not about to
melt entirely overnight and cause a 6m rise
in sea levels, but the research was important as scientists try to predict how changes in ocean temperatures will impact on ice
sheets. “This study is a step towards better
understanding of exactly which parts of the
ice sheets are vulnerable to ocean warming
and that is the sort of information that we
can then use to improve our predictions of
future sea level rises,” he said. “East Antarctica is not as protected from change as
we use to think.”
The melt rate of glaciers in the fastestmelting part of Antarctica has tripled over
the past decade, analysis of the past 21
years showed, according to research published last month.
S Korea refuses
to ‘coax’ North
with concessions
South Korea yesterday
rejected North Korean
calls to pave the way for
talks by lifting sanctions.
Seoul has proposed
high-level talks to
discuss a range of issues,
particularly the possibility of holding a reunion
over the Lunar New Year
period next month for
families divided by the
Korean War.
In a response last
week, the North said the
South should first lift
sanctions it imposed in
2010 after an attack on a
South Korean warship.
“We believe that meeting such unfair demands
even before talks begin
is not conducive to fundamental progress in
inter-Korean ties,” said
Lim Byeong-Cheol, the
spokesman for Seoul’s
Unification Ministry.
“Our government has
no plans to pre-emptively take measures to meet
the North’s demands in
order to coax it to the negotiating table,” Lim said.
chief of the Defence Force in 2005 before
retiring in 2011, said he was surprised by
the honour.
“I am still Angus Houston and most
of the things I’ve been involved in have
involved leadership, but I would be very
quick to say that it’s the people I’ve
worked with that have delivered the outcomes that have been achieved,” he told
the ABC. “It’s a great honour to be recognised in this way but I’d like people to still
call me Angus.”
Knights and dames were introduced
into Australia’s system of honours in 1976
by then-prime minister Malcolm Fraser, but abolished a decade later by Bob
Hawke. Previously, Australians had been
honoured through the British Imperial
A pedestrian looks at a TV screen showing a news report about
Japanese journalist Kenji Goto held as a hostage by Islamic militants.
Hong Kong media was manipulated by
officials, claims international watchdog
Hong Kong
report by the International Federation of Journalists warned
yesterday of “intervention behind the scenes” of Hong Kong’s media as fears grow over press freedoms
and interference from Beijing.
It is the second report this month to
flag up concerns over media censorship
and manipulation as well as physical
assaults on journalists in a city which
prides itself on freedom of expression,
compared with severely restricted reporting in mainland China.
“As well as highlighting the pressure
by political forces, the IFJ reminds the
business sectors of the mainland and
Hong Kong that a free and independent press plays an important role in
the business environment,” it said in a
“Press freedom is a human right
and the media must be able to perform
their professional duties without fear
or intimidation.”
Tensions remain high in Hong Kong
after more than two months of mass
protests for fully free leadership elections ended in December, with no concessions on reform.
The IFJ report presented at Hong
Kong’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club
is based on the first-person accounts
of three journalists, all of whom used
pen names.
A Hong Kong journalist using the
name Lam Hei described 2014 as a
“watershed” for the city’s media and
said it had “abandoned editorial independence”.
Sensitivity towards advertisers and
“unusually frequent” contact between
Hong Kong officials and media managers were among pressures publications faced, Lam’s account said.
The journalist said that interference from Beijing was “raw and undisguised” with officials based in Hong
Kong putting pressure on reporters
during the protests.
“Most of the media did not offer resistance... the Hong Kong media have
already half-knelt,” the journalist said.
The report comes less than two
weeks after another from US literary
and human rights group PEN American Center which said the media in
Hong Kong was at “increasing risk”,
with physical assaults and cyber attacks among the threats.
A British colony until 1997, Hong
Kong is ruled under a “one country,
two systems” deal that allows it far
greater civil liberties than those enjoyed on the Chinese mainland, including freedom of speech and the
right to protest.
But there are growing concerns that
those long-held freedoms are being
eroded. A number of high-profile media figures have been attacked, with
the latest two weeks ago, when the
home and office of pro-democracy
media tycoon Jimmy Lai were firebombed. Lai and his outspoken newspaper Apple Daily have been repeatedly targeted.
The former editor of liberal newspaper Ming Pao, Kevin Lau, is still recovering after being attacked with a
cleaver in the street in broad daylight
last February. Two Chinese journalists who contributed to the IFJ report
also told of tightening controls on the
already strictly censored media on the
mainland, describing the situation as
“the darkest days” for 15 years.
UK minister, Taipei mayor in double gaffe over watch
Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je receives a watch as a gift from visiting British Transport Minister Baroness Susan
Kramer during a meeting in Taipei yesterday.
British minister was left
red-faced yesterday after
giving the mayor of Taipei
the gift of a watch —a taboo act
in Chinese culture — only for him
to joke he would “sell it to a scrap
Ko Wen-je, a high-flying surgeon and mayor of Taiwan’s
capital, made the remark after he
was handed the pocket timepiece
by British Transport Minister
Baroness Susan Kramer, who was
visiting Taiwan on a trade exchange.
When asked by a local reporter
to comment on the gift, Ko said
he might give the watch to some-
one else or “sell it to a scrap metal
dealer for some money, because
it would be useless to me.”
Giving someone a clock or
watch as a present is traditionally taboo in Chinese culture due
to the similar pronunciation of
“giving a clock” and “attending
an old person’s funeral”.
Ko, who is a popular figure but
known for his off-the-cuff remarks, drew a barrel of criticism
from across Taiwan’s political
spectrum for his perceived rudeness.
In response, his British guest
tried to play down the embarrassment. “I’m sorry. We learn
something new each day. I had no
idea a gift like this could be seen
as anything other than positive.
In the UK a watch is precious
— because nothing is more important than time,” she said in a
She also highlighted the significance of the watch, which she
termed as a “very unique item”
from the House of Lords.
Rosalia Wu, a city councillor
from the major opposition Democratic Progressive Party, later
lambasted Ko on her Facebook
page, saying “City diplomacy is
critical to Taiwan, as the mayor
of the capital, he should have
taken greater responsibility.”
Ko presented Kramer with a
miniature model of Taipei 101,
once the world’s tallest skyscraper and an iconic feature of
the city’s skyline.
An independent candidate,
Ko, 55, was elected as the mayor
of the capital in the island’s local
elections in November, thrashing
Sean Lien, son of former vicepresident Lien Chan.
Ko sparked multiple controversies while campaigning for
the post, including describing a
female candidate from the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang (KMT)
party as “young and pretty and
just fit to sit behind a (department store) counter”.
Although he was labelled as
“loose cannon” by some critics,
he has been tolerated by supporters despite a string of such gaffes.
A recent survey showed his approval rating one month into office stood at a comfortable 70%,
as staunch supporters hail him
for pledging to battle corruption
and streamline bureaucracy.
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
disk ‘lost
in the post’
Evening Standard
Unidentified clergy arrive at York Minster where Reverend Libby Lane will be consecrated as the 8th Bishop of Stockport during a service in York.
First female bishop
annointed by church
The church has taken a huge leap of
he Church of England ended centuries of male-only leadership yesterday as Libby Lane became its first
female bishop at a grand ceremony in York
cathedral, despite fierce opposition from
Dozens of clergymen crowded around to
lay their hands on the 48-year-old’s head
and pronounced the prayer making her a
new bishop in front of 2,000 people.
The congregation broke into applause
and cheers echoed through the Gothic cathedral in northern England, although a
lone heckler had earlier briefly disrupted
the ceremony.
“Send down the Holy Spirit on your
servant Libby for the office and work of
a bishop in your Church,” archbishop of
York John Sentamu prayed.
Lane, dressed in black, white and violet
vestments, swore oaths of allegiance and
canonical obedience during the two-hour
ceremony also attended by archbishop
of Canterbury Justin Welby, the spiritual
leader of the Church of England.
When asked whether they wanted her
to become bishop, the congregation responded “It is!”, but one man was heard
shouting: “No, it’s not in the Bible!”
Moderates hope the move will be the
start of a new chapter for the Church as it
struggles for relevance in a multi-cultural
society where only 6% of the population
regularly attends an act of worship.
But her appointment is strongly opposed by traditionalists, who believe the
Bible teaches that the clergy’s top rung is
Libby Lane following her consecration service at York Minster in York.
no place for a woman.
Lane admitted she was daunted by the
challenge ahead of her, saying in an interview released by the Church that she was
“aware that what I say and do will be heard
by millions”.
“If my appointment encourages a single
young girl to lift her eyes up a bit and to
realise she has capacity and potential and
that those around her don’t need to dictate what is possible, then I would be really
honoured,” she added.
The Church of England is seen as the
mother church of the worldwide Anglican
Communion, which has some 85mn followers in 165 countries.
Anglican churches in countries including the United States, Canada and Australia have already appointed women bishops.
The General Synod voted five months
ago to allow female bishops, after decades
of disagreement.
But in a careful reconciliation process
led by Welby, parishes which do not want
to be led by a woman because of their the-
ological convictions will be able to vote to
be tended by a man instead.
The scale of the divisions was highlighted when the Christian Today website
reported that the bishops who performed
the traditional laying of hands will be
asked not to do the same for a conservative
priest being made a bishop days later.
The bishops have been asked to show
“gracious restraint” as traditionalists believe that they should not be touched by
those who have touched a woman in a sacramental context.
Moderates in the church hope that
Lane’s appointment will soon be followed
by the appointment of more female bishops.
“Women in senior positions are not in
themselves sufficient to change the church
in all the ways it must change to survive
and even flourish,” the Guardian newspaper wrote in an editorial.
“But their appointment to positions of
visible power and influence is an entirely
necessary precondition for all the other
changes that must come.”
Friends say Lane’s humour and common
sense will stand her in good stead.
The mother of two, whose husband
George is also a priest, is a supporter of
Manchester United football club and plays
the saxophone.
Lane was ordained in 1994, the first year
the church accepted women priests.
She has played several prominent roles,
including becoming one of only eight female clergy to act as observers at meetings
of the Church of England bishops before
the rule change.
“She’s a resilient and well-rooted person so I don’t think she’ll be thrown by
what she faces,” said John Pritchard, a
former bishop of Oxford who was warden
of Cranmer Hall in Durham when Lane
trained for the ministry there in the early
For her part, Lane has said she hopes she
will not remain the only woman in the upper echelons of the Church of England.
“I won’t be the only one for long, God
willing,” she said.
A conservative minority say the Bible
demands male leadership.
The worldwide Anglican community has
been deeply split over the issue of women
clergy. Women already serve as bishops in
the United States, Canada, Australia and
New Zealand, but Anglican churches in
many developing countries, particularly
in Africa, do not ordain women as priests.
After years of debate, an attempt by
the Church of England to bring in women
bishops failed in 2012 when it was narrowly defeated by traditionalist lay members in a vote in the General Synod, the
church’s governing body.
After that setback, the church came up
with new proposals which gained wider
acceptance and were approved by the Synod last year.
Camera outside fire station rakes
in parking fines of nearly £1mn
Evening Standard
single box junction camera in Hackney has raked
in nearly £1mn a year from
motorists for Transport for London.
The yellow box junction, adjacent to Homerton Fire Station
on Homerton High Street, has a
camera permanently trained on
it, put in place to ensure fire engines can exit in case of an emergency.
But angry motorists who have
been issued with a £130 penalty
charge after being caught on the
constantly monitored camera
claim TfL is using the box simply
to make extra revenue.
Figures released thanks to a
The box junction outside the fire station on Homerton High Street.
Freedom of Information request
show that between 1 February
2013 and 31 January 2014 TfL is-
sued 14,412 penalty charge notices from the camera, collecting
£989,533 - an average of around
40 motorists fined every day
and a daily revenue of just over
TfL added that between 1 February and 12 December 2014 a
further 11,816 motorists were issued fines, generating £715,433 in
Anne Kendall, who lives in
Bexhill-on-Sea and uses the
route to visit family in London,
said: “If you’re in traffic you just
don’t see it. A bus pulled out
from a side street stopping traffic, I had no idea I was doing anything wrong.
“When I asked how long I was
in the box for, TfL told me eight
seconds. If they want to provide
access for the firemen they could
just have a ‘keep clear’ sign.”
Mia Barnes, who lives in Hackey, said: “My fine was issued de-
spite the fact I was not actually in
the box. My wheel touched the
paint at the edge of it.”
TfL enforces all of the capital’s
red routes and monitors 450 box
TfL declined to comment on
the camera on Homerton High
Street and Steve Burton, the
organisation’s director of enforcement and on-street operations, said its “overriding focus
is ensuring that we keep London
moving and reduce delays, not
raising revenue through fines”.
He added: “Blocking yellow
box junctions can have a significant impact on road users,
causing delays to motorists and
the emergency services. It is
critical we keep these junctions
clear for the benefit of all road
computer disk containing a secret file about
the fatal shooting of
Mark Duggan by police has
been lost in the post, it has
been reported.
The disk could contain the
name of the police marksman
who killed Duggan and the
identities of the other officers
involved, none of whom have
ever been named publicly.
It is thought to have gone
missing after being sent by the
Ministry of Justice, according
to reports in the Mail on Sunday.
Duggan’s shooting in August 2011 in Tottenham, north
London, sparked riots across
the capital.
Jurors cleared police officers
of killing him unlawfully at an
inquest into his death.
Scotland Yard confirmed it
was examining reports of the
missing disk.
A force spokesman said:
“We have carried out a full risk
assessment on the material
that we have been informed
was on the disc, and have taken the necessary steps.
“Due to the nature of the
material we are not prepared
to discuss what those steps
entail. The Metropolitan Police Service has offered its full
support in attempting to locate the disc.”
A number of Whitehall departments are involved in the
investigation, which is being
led by the Cabinet Office.
A Government spokesman
said: “We take all issues relating to data handling seriously.
As such, an immediate investigation has been launched
and all necessary steps are being taken.
“It would be inappropriate
to comment further until that
investigation has taken place.”
The Information Commissioner’s Office - the UK’s data
watchdog - is also making inquiries into the case.
Mark Duggan’s death sparked the London riots.
Bulger’s killer joins
dating website
Evening Standard
ne of the killers of toddler James Bulger has
joined a dating website using a different name
- leaving him free to message
women who will be unaware
of his past crimes, it has been
Jon Venables, 32, has signed
up to a popular site using an
alias which cannot be revealed
because of a lifelong order
protecting his new identity.
Venables tortured and murdered two-year-old James
along with Robert Thompson
in Liverpool in 1993, when the
pair were both just ten years
He served eight years in
prison for the killing and was
given a new identity when
he was released on licence in
He was re-jailed in 2010 after he admitted downloading
and distributing child abuse
material by posing as a mother
on an online chatroom but
freed again in 2013.
The shocking discovery
about his dating profile was
made as part of a special investigation by the Sunday
Mirror and child protection
expert Mark Williams-Thomas.
He told the newspaper:
“The horrific nature of James’s
murder should mean that his
killers should remain under
constant supervision and be
unable to freely roam the internet. But this is not happening.”
It is not clear whether Venables is using the name which
was assigned to him by police
or another alias, the newspaper reported. The dating website’s name has also not been
Venables reportedly lists
his “sense of humour” as his
most attractive quality on his
dating profile. He also lists
his favourite football team as
Woman attacked at
home in St John’s
Evening Standard
olice are hunting a man
who “may be bleeding”
after a woman was assaulted at home in one of London’s most exclusive areas.
Scotland Yard said a woman
in her 20s suffered head injuries after the assault in St
John’s Wood at around 5am on
Members of the public were
warned to call 999 if they see
the man, who is wanted after
the attack in Grove End Road.
A spokesman for the Met
said: “The suspect, who is be-
lieved to be known to the victim, is described as white, aged
in his late 20s, 5ft 10ins tall,
of slim build with blond hair.
He was wearing a blue jumper,
jeans and a woolly hat.
“It is believed that he might
be bleeding.”
The woman did not require
hospital treatment.
zPolice are hunting for a
man who attacked a woman
and left her with a badly cut
nose at Holborn London Underground station.
The man hit the 34-year-old
woman in the face as they approached the Piccadilly line
escalator on November 19 at
about 10.45pm last year.
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
March into parliament
hopes for
Members of Britain’s armed forces march from Wellington Barracks to The Houses of Parliament during the final ‘March Into Parliament’ for Operation Herrick in London
yesterday. Operation Herrick was responsible for closing down Afghanistan’s Camp Bastion and Kandahar Airfield.
Hoax caller is put
through to the PM
The ease with which a
random ‘drunk’ caller made it
through is embarrassing
ritish prime minister David Cameron said security
would be reviewed, but no
harm had been done, after an
apparently drunk hoaxer claiming to be the director of Britain’s
eavesdropping agency was put
though to his mobile phone.
Cameron had been walking
near his home in central England
on Sunday when his BlackBerry
phone rang and he was told there
would be a conference call with
Robert Hannigan, the head of
Government Communications
Headquarter, or GCHQ.
“A voice came through, a voice
I didn’t recognise. The voice
said he was sorry to wake me up,
which I thought was strange as it
was 11 o’clock in the morning,”
Cameron told reporters.
“So I quite rapidly asked ‘who
is this?’ to which the answer
came ‘it is a hoax call,’ and so I
pushed the red button on the
Prime minister David Cameron delivers a speech at a community
centre in Bursledon, southern England yesterday. Cameron said
voters deserved to be rewarded with tax cuts “after years of sacrifice”,
pledging to reduce taxes if he won a national election in May.
BlackBerry which ended the call.”
Hours earlier, GCHQ was also
tricked into handing over Hannigan’s mobile phone number after
apparently being fooled by the
same hoaxer, although the government said it was not a phone
used to discuss sensitive or confidential information.
Cameron’s spokesman said security procedures would now be
reviewed and all government departments had been put on alert
for further hoax calls.
“No harm was done, no national security was breached, but
it is important when these things
happen to make sure we do everything we can to put in place
systems to weed out hoax calls,”
Cameron said.
The Sun newspaper reported
the unnamed man, who it described as being well-spoken
and in his 20s, had called GCHQ
in the early hours of Sunday pretending to be a Downing Street
aide and saying Hannigan was
required to attend an emergency
He was then given Hannigan’s
private mobile number and hours
later he called Cameron.
“I’ve just made complete monkeys out of GCHQ,” the hoaxer
told the Sun in a phone call afterwards. “What’s more, I am off my
face on booze and cocaine. I had
some spliffs too. I’ve been up all
night. I’m utterly wasted. Hilarious.”
The incident is not the first
time that a hoax caller had been
able to get through to the phone
of a British premier. In 1998, an
impressionist pretending to be
the former Conservative Party
leader, William Hague, was put
through to then-prime minister
Tony Blair.
Blair saw through the hoax
immediately, laughing along as
the hoaxer offered to lend him an
exercise video he had found in a
The hoax caller said he could
“hardly string a sentence together” but added: “I’m definitely going to do it again. It was
so easy.”
Officials insisted no sensitive
data was relayed during Sunday’s calls, but they represent
an embarrassing breach that has
now prompted a review of security procedures.
“In the first instance, a call
was made to GCHQ which resulted in the disclosure of a
mobile phone number for the
director,” a government spokeswoman said.
“The mobile number provided
is never used for calls involving
classified information.
“In the second instance, a
hoax caller claiming to be the
GCHQ director was connected
to the prime minister. The prime
minister ended the call when it
became clear it was a hoax.
“In neither instance was sensitive information disclosed.
“Both GCHQ and Number 10
(Downing Street) take security
seriously and both are currently
reviewing procedures following
these hoax calls to ensure that
the government learns any lessons from this incident.”
bring tears to Marina
Litvinenko’s eyes, over
eight years after the horrific
killing of her former secret
agent husband by radiation
poisoning under the glare of
the world’s media.
As a public inquiry into Alexander Litvinenko’s death is
to begin in London today, his
widow said her campaign for
answers stems from a “sense
of duty” to the man she refers
to by his diminutive “Sasha”.
“This is the last thing I can
do for him,” Litvinenko told
AFP in an interview ahead of
the start of the hearings at the
Royal Courts of Justice.
She said she is nervous but
quietly hopeful that the inquest will reveal what she and
her supporters have believed
all along—that Litvinenko
was murdered on direct orders
from the Russian government.
The inquiry’s chairman
Robert Owen has said that
there is evidence of Russian
involvement, and a report in
Britain’s Daily Telegraph on
Saturday said that US National Security Agency intercepts
of communications between
London and Moscow show
exactly that.
Russia has repeatedly rejected the accusations as a
“political provocations” by
“I have to see this through
to the end. I have to defend his
name and his memory,” said
the 52-year-old Marina, who
fled Moscow with Litvinenko
and their son Anatoly via Turkey after it became increasingly clear he would end up in
The courtroom setting carries a painful echo of that time
for Marina, reminding her of
the Moscow military tribunal that tried and acquitted
Litvinenko in 1999 for abuse
of power and theft of explosives.
She believes those and
other charges were invented
to silence her husband after
he made allegations about
ties between Russia’s FSB
security service and organised crime, and about an FSB
plot to kill the troublesome
oligarch Boris Berezovsky—a
former supporter of president
Vladimir Putin turned bitter
The inquiry was announced
by Britain after the downing of
a Malaysian passenger jet over
eastern Ukraine in July last
year. Marina said Russia’s implication in that deadly conflict validated her own claims
Marina Litvinenko
that Moscow wouldn’t have
had any scruples about murdering an individual opponent
like Litvinenko.
“It means that we were
right from the start. What we
are seeing in Ukraine shows
that it is possible that Russia
could have ordered the killing,” she said.
The fact that there will be
an inquest at all is a source of
consolation for Marina, since
the prospect of a trial of the
two men identified by British
police as the chief suspects—
Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitri
Kovtun—is beyond remote.
Russia has refused repeated
extradition requests issued in
2007 for the pair, and Lugovoi
is now a lawmaker in the Russian parliament.
“The key thing is that the
evidence gathered by the police will be presented and everyone will be able to see it,”
she said.
“The discussion will no
longer be about whether to
believe or not, but about facts.
My struggle has been for the
facts to be made public.”
Whatever the outcome of
the proceedings, which are
expected to last two months,
Marina said she has little hope
of a change of heart in Russia.
She said she bears no resentment of British authorities for delaying the hearing, and does not blame the
police for failing to protect
Litvinenko, who was being
paid as a consultant by Britain’s MI6 foreign intelligence
service at the time.
“In a country with rule of
law, whatever the political situation, whatever the interests
affected, your right to justice
cannot be stopped,” she said.
Marina is unsure what the
future will hold once the inquiry is over for her and her
son, a second-year politics
student in London.
“Will it be an end to this
period of my life or will something new beginning? For me
it is just important to finally
have an official explanation of
Sasha’s death,” she said.
“Maybe these eight years
have been torn from my private life... but I think I have
gained a lot as a person, a lot
of life experience. I know how
I can help others.”
Govt to ban fracking in parks after policy U-turn
ritain said yesterday it would ban
fracking in national parks, reversing a policy announced last year, in a
concession to the opposition Labour Party
which had called for tighter controls to be
written into law.
“We have agreed an outright ban on
fracking in national parks, sites of special
interest and areas of natural beauty,” said
junior energy minister Amber Rudd during
a debate on new laws regulating the extraction process.
Last year the government said fracking—extracting gas and oil by pumping
chemicals, sand and water at high pressure
into underground rocks—would be possible within national parks in exceptional
The government also accepted a Labour
proposal to tighten several other rules governing when and where fracking would be
“This is a huge u-turn,” said Labour energy spokeswoman Caroline Flint. “The
government has been forced to accept that
tough protections and proper safeguards
must be in place before fracking can go
Prime minister David Cameron has
championed fracking as a way to offset a
decline in the country’s North Sea energy
resources and reduce its dependence on gas
But the method has attracted criticism
over its potential environmental impact.
Critics have expressed concerns about
chemical leaks into groundwater resources
and the disposal of waste water produced
in the process.
Last year an application by Londonbased oil and gas exploration firm Celtique Energie to explore for shale oil and
gas within a national park in southern
England, where large reserves are believed
likely to exist, was rejected.
Lawmakers voted down a separate bid to
introduce a moratorium on all fracking.
zA committee of British lawmakers
had demanded a national moratorium on
fracking due to environmental concerns
yesterday, ahead of a crucial vote intended
to boost the shale gas industry.
An inquiry by the cross-party Environmental Audit Committee, which examines the effect of government policy on
the environment, found the extraction and
burning of more fossil fuels was contrary
to Britain’s pledge to cut greenhouse gas
It warned that fracking—in which water, chemicals and sand are pumped at
high pressure underground to extract gas—
posed uncertain risks to public health, air
quality, and water supplies.
“A moratorium on the extraction of
unconventional gas through fracking is
needed to avoid both the inconsistency
with our climate change obligations and
to allow the uncertainty surrounding environmental risks to be fully resolved,” the
report said.
It comes as lawmakers prepare to vote
on the Infrastructure Bill, which contains a
number of measures intended to kick-start
the fledgling British fracking industry.
Britain has pledged to cut greenhouse
emissions by 80% by 2050, and several
MPs on the committee tabled an amendment to the bill to call for a moratorium.
The report was the latest blow to Cameron’s pledge to go “all out” on developing
shale gas and oil, which the government
says will boost the economy, provide employment and help Britain be less reliant on
energy imports.
Last week, a report by Lancaster County
Council recommended rejecting plans by
British energy firm Cuadrilla to drill at two
sites, saying it would have an “adverse affect” on the life of residents.
The report noted public opposition to
fracking, and criticised a provision in the
Infrastructure Bill that would make it easier for energy companies to drill beneath
homes without residents’ permission.
Anti-fracking demonstrators protest outside parliament in London yesterday.
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
rebels move
to encircle
govt troops
Kiev/Saint Petersburg
advanced to encircle a
Ukrainian army garrison
town yesterday in a new offensive
that has again unleashed all-out
war after a five-month ceasefire and brought threats of new
Western sanctions against Moscow.
The United States and the
European Union are considering new measures after accusing
Russia of openly supporting the
latest rebel advance with money,
arms and troops on the ground.
Ambassadors of Nato countries and Ukraine met in Brussels
yesterday to discuss a response
to the fighting, their first such
emergency meeting since August.
Moscow denies playing a
military role. Russian President
Vladimir Putin accused Kiev of
prolonging the conflict by refusing to talk to the rebels.
In a provocative new charge,
Putin also said a “foreign Nato
legion” was fighting alongside
Ukrainian forces.
Nato called the accusation
“nonsense” and said the only
foreign troops in Ukraine were
The government in Kiev ordered a state of emergency across
the two rebel-dominated provinces and placed all Ukrainian
territory on high alert.
Its military said seven Ukrainian soldiers had been killed and 24
wounded in intensified clashes
in the past 24 hours, with heavy
fighting at Debaltseve, a small
town the rebels have vowed to
encircle to safeguard their main
Violence in eastern Ukraine is
at by far its worst since a ceasefire
was agreed last September.
Casualties have mounted, including in the big governmentheld port of Mariupol where Kiev
says 30 civilians were killed in
rebel shelling on Saturday.
After months during which the
truce was punctured by smallscale skirmishes on the front line,
rebels fighting for territory the
Kremlin calls “New Russia” said
Putin, wearing special glasses, is seen during a visit to a laboratory at
the Gornyy National Mineral Resources University in Saint Petersburg
yesterday. He has accused the Ukrainian army of being Nato’s foreign
last week they were left with no
choice but to launch an advance.
Their main aim, they say, is
to push back government forces
that had been shelling rebel-held
The Kiev government sees the
rebel advance as a repudiation
of the ceasefire, restarting a war
in which 5,000 people have been
Kiev and Nato believe thousands of Russian troops are in
eastern Ukraine fighting on the
rebels’ behalf with advanced
weapons, despite Moscow’s denials.
“Rebels are constantly attacking Ukrainian government positions across the conflict zone
with artillery, mortars, grenade
launchers, tanks,” Kiev military
spokesman Volodymyr Polyovy
said at a televised briefing.
The rebels are targetting Debaltseve, a town with a population of around 26,000 that straddles the main road and train line
between the two principal rebel
strongholds, Donetsk and Luhansk.
They say the government garrison there allows Kiev’s guns to
menace civilian areas.
“Look on the map. There is a
so-called ‘Debaltseve tongue’,”
separatist deputy commander
Eduard Basurin told Reuters by
telephone, referring to a kink in
the frontline where the government holds the town.
The rebel goal was “to push
(government forces) further back
from us, from settlements, and
straighten the (front) line”, he
He denied that the rebels had
launched any assault on Mariupol, the port of 500,000 people which is by far the biggest
government-held city in the two
rebel dominated provinces. “We
have no offensive there. On the
city itself – absolutely none.”
Ivan, a 35-year-old who fled
Debaltseve months ago but spoke
Shelling briefly
traps 500 miners
Nearly 500 coal miners in
Ukraine’s war-torn east were
briefly trapped underground
yesterday after their pit lost
power when a shell hit an
electricity substation.
The incident occurred in
rebel-controlled Donetsk city’s
Zasyadko coal mine – one of
eastern Europe’s largest and
scene of a similar incident on
January 11.
“When the power went out, there
were 496 miners underground,”
a Donetsk region emergencies
ministry official said by phone.
“All the Zasyadko miners have
been rescued,” local miners’
union chief Mikhail Volynets told
AFP. “They are all fine.”
More than 300 miners were
trapped in the same pit for a few
hours on January 11.
Above: A member of the State
Emergency Service of Ukraine
discusses with residents on a list
of housing which were damaged
after shelling on January 24, in
Mariupol yesterday.
Right: Ukrainian servicemen
prepare their ammunition at a
position on the frontline near
Mariupol yesterday.
earlier yesterday to relatives inside the town, said it was almost
entirely surrounded by the rebel
“It’s been almost impossible to
get through for the past 48 hours.
The road is being shot up by separatists. There is no electricity, no
water. The hospital is all smashed
up and the shops aren’t working,”
said Ivan, who declined to use his
surname for security reasons.
“Ukrainian troops are still holding on in the town, but the question is how long they can hold on
without more support.”
The military has reported civilian casualties at Debaltseve
without giving any figures.
After months during which
European politicians discussed
whether to start easing sanctions
on Russia, the return of fighting
has suddenly shifted the debate
to how to tighten them.
Sanctions and the falling oil
price have caused serious economic damage to Russia, with
the rouble currency tumbling
over the course of the past two
The European Union has summoned foreign ministers of its 28
member states to an emergency
meeting on Thursday.
US President Barack Obama
said on Sunday that Washington
was considering all options short
of military action to respond to
“the aggression that these sepa-
ratists – with Russian backing,
Russian equipment, Russian financing, Russian training and
Russian troops – are conducting.”
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew
said Washington has “more
tools” to put pressure on Moscow.
Germany’s Foreign Minister
Frank-Walter Steinmeier hinted
at further sanctions, saying an
assault on government-held
Mariupol would demand a European response.
Moscow maintains Kiev is to
blame for the latest fighting for
refusing to pull its heavy weapons from the front and negotiate
directly with the rebels.
“Unfortunately, Ukrainian authorities are refusing a peaceful
solution. They don’t want politi-
cal efforts,” Putin told a group of
students yesterday in Saint Petersburg.
In a new charge, he spoke of a
“Nato foreign legion” fighting
alongside government troops.
“There are official divisions of
the armed forces but to a great
extent there are so-called voluntary nationalist battalions. This
is not even an army, it’s a foreign
legion. In this case it’s a foreign
Nato legion,” Putin said.
NATO Secretary General Jens
Stoltenberg dismissed the accusation as “nonsense”.
“There is no Nato legion,” he
told reporters. “The foreign forces in Ukraine are Russian.”
It remains to be seen how far
the rebels intend to push their
advance. Western governments
that suspect the Kremlin’s hand
is behind the rebels have long
said they believe Putin’s goal
is a stable “frozen conflict” on
Ukrainian territory.
If so, the present advance may
be intended mainly to push government troops further from
Donetsk and Luhansk, to make
those two strongholds more secure.
Mariupol could also be a
tempting prize: capturing it
would link rebel-held Donetsk
with the sea and Crimea, a peninsula annexed by Russia last
But any battle for the large port
would involve urban warfare on a
scale unprecedented so far in the
conflict. Rebels halted at Mariupol’s gates during their last big
offensive, before the ceasefire in
Raid on Crimean Tatar TV channel
Officers of the Russian riot police force OMON stand guard outside
the office of the Crimean Tatar TV channel ATR in Simferopol. A raid
was conducted yesterday at the offices of the television channel.
asked Russian riot police have raided the
office of a television
channel for Crimean Tatars, a
pro-Ukrainian minority group
that opposed Moscow’s seizure
of the peninsula.
Dozens of armed masked men
searched the headquarters of the
ATR channel in the regional centre Simferopol, seizing servers
and other equipment, the broadcaster said.
“This is the first such raid,”
deputy general director of the
channel, Lilya Budzhurova, told
Budzhurova is also a stringer
for Agence France-Presse.
The region’s Investigative
Committee said the raid was to
probe the deaths of two Russian
nationalist activists who were
beaten at a pro-Ukraine rally in
February last year outside the local legislative assembly.
That rally came a day before
armed men seized the assembly
and raised the Russian flag during Moscow’s takeover of Crimea.
The Crimean Tatars are a Muslim people native to the Black Sea
peninsula. Up to half the population was wiped out when they
were deported en masse by Stalin
in 1944, and they were only able
to return in the 1990s after the
breakup of the Soviet Union.
Most of the 300,000-strong
group oppose Russian rule and
boycotted a disputed referendum last March in which voters,
most of them from the Russianspeaking majority, chose to split
from Ukraine.
The new Russian authorities have detained Tatar activists, evicted them from their assembly and accused ATR, which
broadcasts in Russian, Tatar and
Ukrainian, of extremism.
The leader of the Crimean
Tatar minority’s assembly, the
Mejlis, Refat Chubarov, claimed
that the rally was merely being
used as an excuse to muzzle the
“Occupation authorities can-
not put up with the fact that
journalists for whom honour and
dignity trump fear are still working on the peninsula,” he said on
The raid came just days after
a former separatist commander
in eastern Ukraine said Crimea’s
local authorities were loyal to
Kiev during Moscow’s seizure of
the peninsula and lawmakers had
to be “corralled” into parliament
for a vote.
The claims from former separatist defence minister Igor
Strelkov contradict an official
Kremlin narrative that Russia did
not put any pressure on Crimean
authorities and that they sided
with Moscow of their own free
Prosecutors seek 26-year jail sentence for Concordia captain
talian prosecutors have called
for Francesco Schettino,
the captain of the doomed
Costa Concordia, to be jailed for
26 years for a shipwreck which
killed 32 people.
“God have pity on Schettino,
because we cannot have any,”
prosecutor Stefano Pizza said in
a speech which accused the man
dubbed “Captain Coward” of
multiple manslaughter, causing a
shipwreck and abandoning ship.
Co-prosecutor Maria Navarro
told the trial in Grosseto, Tusca-
ny, that it was “not an exaggerated sentence” for a man who “has
lied to everyone, to the press, to
the court, to the maritime authorities”.
“He has never accepted responsibility (and) no elements
have emerged in his favour” since
his trial began in July 2013, she
Schettino, 54, is accused of
delaying sounding the alarm or
calling for help after hitting rocks
off the Italian island of Giglio on
January 13, 2012, during a risky
drive-by manoeuvre – as well as
abandoning ship before many of
the passengers had been rescued.
He claims to have saves lives
by delaying the evacuation, and
blames his crew for failing to
alert him to the rocks.
The vast cruise liner was carrying 4,229 people from more
than 70 countries when disaster
The delayed evacuation made
it impossible to launch many of
the lifeboats on one side of the
listing vessel, forcing people to
throw themselves into the sea to
Navarro said Schettino should
serve 14 years for multiple manslaughter, nine years for causing a
shipwreck, three years for abandoning ship and three months for
lying to maritime authorities.
She also said Schettino was a
flight risk and asked for him to be
jailed immediately if convicted,
rather than waiting for the appeals to be completed.
Schettino’s lawyer Domenico
Pepe said he hoped the court
would remember “we’re talking
about manslaughter, not murder
or a massacre”.
Co-defence lawyer Donato
Laino slammed the prosecution’s
request as “almost a life sentence”.
Pizza described the captain,
who was not present in court, as
a “rash idiot”, a mix of “rash optimist and capable idiot ... who is
so full of himself he causes dan-
ger and harm by over-estimating
his abilities”.
As part of the prosecution’s
three-day closing statement, the
court was shown an underwater video shot by a diver recovery team when they found the
body of a five-year old Italian
girl, Dayana Arlotti, discovered
clasped in the arms of her father
in a submerged part of the ship.
Schettino, who has admitted
to sailing the ship close to shore
to show off, says he delayed calling for help because he knew the
currents would guide the vessel
towards land.
He insists he did not flee the
ship but fell off when it tilted.
He has also said the ship’s
owner Costa Crociere, Europe’s
biggest cruise operator, told him
by telephone not to return to the
stricken liner.
That version of events is contradicted by a widely-quoted recording of a phone call in which
a coast guard official is heard
upbraiding Schettino and ordering him, in vain, to “get back on
board, for f--k’s sake”.
“The 32 deaths were caused by
the cowardly management of the
emergency, not the crash,” prosecutor Alessandro Leopizzi told
the court.
Schettino’s supporters say he
should not be the only one in the
Schettino: dubbed ‘Captain
Coward’ by the media.
dock. The captain claims Costa
Crociere knew their ships routinely went off route to show off
picturesque coastlines.
A verdict in the Schettino trial
is expected by the middle of February.
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Greek leftist sworn in as PM
reek left-wing leader
Alexis Tsipras was sworn
in yesterday as the prime
minister of a new hardline, antibailout government determined
to face down international lenders and end nearly five years of
tough economic measures.
The decisive victory by Tsipras’
Syriza in Sunday’s snap election
reignites fears of new financial
troubles in the country that set
off the regional crisis in 2009.
It is also the first time a member of the 19-nation eurozone
will be led by parties rejecting
German-backed austerity.
Tsipras’ success is likely to
empower Europe’s fringe parties,
including other anti-austerity
movements across the region’s
economically-depressed south.
The trouncing of the conservatives represents a defeat of
Europe’s middle-ground political guard, which has dallied on
a growth-versus-budget discipline debate for five years while
voters suffered.
Sporting his trademark no-tie
look, the 40-year-old former
student Communist Tsipras became the first prime minister
in Greek history to be sworn in
without the traditional oath on
a Bible and blessing of basil and
water from the Greek Archbishop.
At a brief secular ceremony
where he pledged to uphold the
constitution, Tsipras told President Karolos Papoulias: “We
have an uphill road ahead.”
In a symbolic move, Tsipras’s
first action as prime minister was
to commemorate Greek resistance fighters with red roses at a
memorial in Athens to those who
were executed by Nazis.
Defying predictions that he
would turn from populist to
pragmatist after taking power,
Tsipras quickly sealed a coalition
deal with the small Independent Greeks party which also opposes Greece’s EU/IMF aid programme.
Syriza won 149 seats in the
300-seat parliament with its
campaign of “Hope is coming!”,
leaving it just two seats short of
an outright majority and in need
of a coalition partner.
The Independent Greeks, at
odds with Syriza on many social
issues like illegal immigration,
won 13 seats.
The alliance is an unusual one.
The parties, at the opposite
end of the political spectrum,
share only a mutual hatred of
the €240bn bailout programme
keeping Greece afloat at the price
of budget cuts.
“At first sight this looks like a
very strange marriage, but both
parties share a strong opposition
to austerity,” said Diego Iscaro, an
analyst at IHS Global Insight.
The tie-up suggests Tsipras
will keep up his confrontational
stance against Greece’s creditors,
who have dismissed his demands
for a debt write-off and insisted
the country needs reforms and
austerity to get its finances back
on track.
Yanis Varoufakis, an economist and outspoken blogger
crusading against austerity, was
expected to become finance minister when the cabinet is unveiled
today, senior party officials said.
He wrote yesterday that
Greeks had “put an end to a selfreinforcing crisis that produces
indignity in Greece and feeds Europe’s darkest forces”.
Reaction from financial markets to Syriza’s victory was large-
A couple walks near a kiosk in Athens selling newspapers depicting Tsipras, a day after the general
ly muted, with the euro recovering from a tumble to an 11-year
low against the dollar on initial
Greek stocks fell 3%, led lower
by bank stocks including Piraeus
Bank which fell 17.6%. Greek 10year bond yields rose but stayed
below the levels seen in the runup to the vote.
For the first time in more than
40 years, neither the New Democracy party of Samaras nor
the centre-left PASOK, the two
forces that had dominated Greek
politics since the fall of a military
junta in 1974, will be in power,
beaten by a party that has until recently always been at the
Tsipras also intends to talk to
the heads of centrist party To
Potami and the communist KKE
to seek outside support for his
Together with last week’s decision by the ECB to pump billions of euros into the eurozone’s
flagging economy, Syriza’s victory marks a turning point in the
long eurozone crisis.
It signals a move away from the
budgetary rigour championed by
Germany as the accepted approach to dealing with troubled
economies, though it is unclear
to what extent Syriza will be able
to wring concessions and aid
from creditors.
Italian Economy Minister Pier
Carlo Padoan said the message
from the Greek election was the
need for more growth and jobs,
and to find an equilibrium between that and budget rigour.
But Tsipras can expect strong
resistance to his demands from
Germany in particular and a series of European policymakers
urged Syriza not to renege on
previous governments’ commitments.
“There is no room for unilateral action in Europe,” ECB Executive Board member Benoit Coeure told Europe 1 radio, saying
that it was important to play by
the “European rules of the game”.
Tsipras has drawn the ire of
lenders with his pledge to end
Tsipras signs a book as he is sworn in as prime minister at the
Presidential Palace in Athens.
budget cuts and heavy tax rises
that have helped send the jobless
rate over 25% and pushed millions into poverty.
But with Greece unable to
tap the markets because of skyhigh borrowing costs and facing
about €10bn of debt payments
this summer, he may find himself
with limited room to fight creditors.
The new prime minister will
Merkel says Germans must
fight anti-Semitism, racism
L’Oreal heiress trial
opens with suicide
attempt revelation
he trial of 10 people
accused of exploiting
France’s richest woman
Liliane Bettencourt opened
yesterday with the revelation
that one of the accused had
tried to kill himself on the eve
of his appearance.
Alain Thurin, 64, a former
nurse for the frail L’Oreal heiress, tried to hang himself in the
woods near his house, said presiding judge Denis Roucou.
A police source said Thurin
was in a critical condition.
He is one of 10 members of
Bettencourt’s entourage accused of taking advantage of
the 92-year-old billionaire’s
growing mental fragility in
an explosive legal and political drama that even dragged
in former president Nicolas
A bitter mother-daughter
feud, a butler’s betrayal, advancing dementia, unscrupulous friends and politicians:
these are only some threads of
the complex web surrounding
the world’s 12th biggest fortune that the court will have to
The intricate tale began with
one of the accused, FrancoisMarie Banier, a celebrity photographer who became a close
confidant of Bettencourt.
The heiress, worth an estimated $39bn (€33bn) according to Forbes magazine, showered Banier with gifts, such as
paintings by Picasso and Matisse, life insurance funds and
millions of euros in cash.
Bettencourt also made him
her sole heir, a move she would
later revoke.
Her daughter Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers filed charges
against Banier in 2007 for exploiting her mother’s growing
mental fragility – which the
matriarch staunchly denied –
a month after the death of her
father Andre.
Enter the butler.
Concerned about his employer, Pascal Bonnefoy in
2009 placed a recorder in her
office, whose explosive contents would reveal her weakened mental state and how
she was being manipulated by
those around her.
n the eve of tomorrow’s 70th anniversary
of the liberation of the
Nazi death camp at Auschwitz,
Chancellor Angela Merkel said
Germans had an everlasting responsibility to fight all forms of
anti-Semitism and racism.
In what appeared to be an
indirect reference to the grassroots
which argues that Germany is
being overrun by Muslims and
refugees, Merkel told a memorial for the victims of Auschwitz: “We’ve got to fight antiSemitism and all racism from
the outset.”
“We’ve got to constantly be
on guard to protect our freedom, democracy and rule of
law,” she said. “We’ve got to expose those who promote prejudices and conjure up bogeymen,
the old ones as well as the new.”
Merkel said it was a disgrace
that some Jews or those expressing support for Israel had
been threatened or attacked in
Germany, which was responsible for the Holocaust, and that
protecting the growing Jewish
community was a national duty.
Last year, German authorities and Jewish leaders blamed a
rise in anti-Semitism mainly on
Muslim extremists and young
German riot police officers line up near a couple of homeless people during a demonstration of
opponents of the PEGIDA movement, in Frankfurt yesterday.
The chancellor, who led a
major rally in support of Jews
in Germany in September,
called it “wonderful” that more
than 100,000 Jews now live in
Germany; the community has
grown steadily in the decades
since the end of the Cold War.
PEGIDA, or “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation
of the West”, was due yester-
day to renew its weekly rallies
around Germany, which were
set to be met by even larger
counter-demonstrations and a
big anti-PEGIDA rock concert
in Dresden.
More than 17,000 protesters
took part in a PEGIDA rally on
Sunday in Dresden, centre of
the anti-Islam rallies, according to police, down from the
roughly 25,000 who attended
the previous demonstration on
January 12.
The anti-PEGIDA concert
and rally, featuring rock star
Herbert Groenemeyer, was expected to bring some 40,000
people to the square in front
of Dresden’s landmark Baroque church, the Frauenkirche
(Church of our Lady).
PEGIDA talks open up divisions in govt
igns of a split emerged in
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition yesterday
over talks with an anti-Islam
group as protesters prepared to
take to the streets in a major test
of the strength of the organisation, which fears Islamisation of
the West.
A spokesman for Merkel said
the chancellor had no plans for
talks with Sigmar Gabriel, the
deputy leader of her government, following his weekend
meeting with supporters of
PEGIDA or Patriotic Europeans
Against the Islamisation of the
Both supporters and opponents of PEGIDA are planning to
hold on Monday a string of protests in a slew of German cities
such as Dresden, Leipzig, Berlin,
Hannover and Frankfurt after
the anti-Islam movement was
thrown into disarray last week
following the dramatic resignation of one of its key leaders.
Lutz Bachmann announced
he was stepping down from his
posts with PEGIDA after a photo
of him posing as Hitler appeared
on the Internet along with several anti-foreigner remarks he
was alleged to have made.
A PEGIDA demonstration on
Sunday in Dresden drew about
17,000 supporters, according to
police estimates.
This was down from the
25,000 who joined a PEGIDA
march earlier this month.
Gabriel, who heads up the
junior member of Merkel’s ruling coalition, the centre-left
Social Democrats, spent an
hour on Saturday talking with
PEGIDA supporters in Dresden,
which has emerged as the centre
of the group’s activities.
German political leaders have
been struggling with how to
deal with PEGIDA, triggering
divisions in Merkel’s coalition
over whether to hold talks with
the group’s supporters.
Interior Minister Thomas de
Maziere and Defence Minister
Ursula von der Leyen, who are
both members of Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats
(CDU), believe political leaders
should agree to hold a dialogue
with PEGIDA.
However, Horst Seehofer,
who heads up the CDU’s Bavarian-based associate party, the
Christian Social Union, has rejected any dialogue with PEGIDA, which has regularly mounted anti-Islam and anti-refugee
demonstrations in Dresden.
Seehofer also expressed
“considerable sceptism” about
Gabriel’s talks with PEGIDA
A key protagonist among the
accused, Patrice de Maistre,
who managed Bettencourt’s
fortune, is heard in the tapes
encouraging her to commit tax
evasion – including hiding the
purchase of a Seychelles island,
according to media accounts of
the recordings.
De Maistre is also accused
of getting Bettencourt to
hand over envelopes of cash
to members of the UMP party,
such as his friend, Eric Woerth,
a former minister and campaign treasurer for Sarkozy in
his 2007 run for office.
The affair tarnished the latter half of Sarkozy’s presidency and when he lost the 2012
election he was placed under
formal investigation for illegal
campaign financing and taking
advantage of Bettencourt.
However the charges against
Sarkozy were dropped in October 2013.
But Woerth is still facing five
years in prison and de Maistre
is charged with money laundering as well as taking advantage of Bettencourt.
The heiress’s former friend,
the photographer Banier, is
facing three years in prison,
and his life partner Martin
d’Orgeval is also in the dock in
the southwestern port city of
As for Bettencourt, she was
in 2011 declared unfit to run
her own affairs after a medical report showed that she
had suffered from “mixed dementia” and “moderately severe” Alzheimer’s disease since
Bettencourt’s fortune and
the cosmetics giant L’Oreal
have been placed under the
guardianship of family members.
The psychologist’s report is
expected to be a key point of
debate in the trial, which is to
last five weeks.
The trial was suspended
yesterday to allow the court to
study a procedural issue raised
by the defence, and will resume
Bettencourt’s father Eugene
Schueller founded L’Oreal in
1909, starting with hair dye
and later branching out to form
the world’s largest cosmetics
company, famous for the advertising slogan “Because I’m
worth it.”
also need a deal to unlock more
than €7bn of outstanding aid to
make debt payments in the summer.
Standard and Poor’s sent an
early warning shot to Greece’s
new government, saying it could
downgrade its credit rating even
before its next planned review in
mid-March if things go badly.
„ See also Page 26
Roussos is pictured performing
at the Edineyat international
festival in Ehden town, northern
Lebanon, in this August 2013 file
dead at 68
he Egyptian-born Greek
singer Demis Roussos, 68,
who sold more than 60mn
records worldwide with a series
of international hits in the 1970s
and 1980s, has died in Athens
after a long illness, media reports
said yesterday.
Roussos, who died on Sunday, was part of the progressive
rock group Aphrodite’s Child
but was best known for his solo
hits, among them Forever and
Ever, Goodbye, Quand je t’aime
and Happy to Be on an Island in
the Sun.
Forever and Ever was used in
British director Mike Leigh’s
1977 television play Abigail’s
Party and Roussos was also the
subject of a British documentary
The Roussos Phenomenon in the
Roussos was born on June 15,
1946, and was raised in Alexandria, Egypt, by his Greek engineer father and his Egyptian
mother of Italian heritage.
Georgia appoints
interior minister
Georgia appointed a former
bodyguard as interior minister
yesterday after his predecessor
resigned following the murder of
a man who had accused him of
covering up the details of another
Vakhtang Gomelauri, 39, was part
of the security detail of Georgia’s
previous prime minister, Bidzina
Ivanishvili, and was serving as
first deputy interior minister in
the South Caucasus country
before his promotion.
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Mamata govt vows to
help ailing gymnast
Family suspects foul play
in death of MLA’s son
20-year-old woman goes
missing from Taj Mahal
Woman allegedly tied
naked to tree, beaten
UDF not to invite
Pillai for meeting
Days after the family of ailing gymnast Soumita
Dey lamented the lack of assistance from the West
Bengal government, state Youth Affairs Minister
Arup Biswas yesterday promised to look into the
matter. The former gymnast and judge in the
2010 Commonwealth Games is suffering from
Neurosarcoidosis since 2012 and the lower half
of her body is paralysed. She is under treatment
at a nursing home. Unable to bear the medical
expenses, the family of the critically ill gymnast
has been seeking assistance. Tamil Nadu’s ruling
All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam party
on Saturday announced Rs500,000 as aid. West
Bengal Olympic Association president Ajit Banerjee
has called for helping out the gymnast.
The family of Debashis Das, son of Trinamool
Congress legislator Kasturi Das, yesterday
alleged foul play after he was found dead a
day before near railway tracks in Bihar. The
body of Debashis Das, also brother-in-law of
Kolkata Mayor Sovan Chatterjee, was found
lying at the railway tracks near Barsoi railway
station in Bihar. He was cremated yesterday.
“Police said he died after failing from a train.
We don’t know if somebody threw him out
of the train. Being a winter night, there was
no reason for him to stand on the train door,”
Debashis Das’s uncle Bablu Das said. “We
are not sure how he died but something is
amiss,” Bablu Das said.
A 20-year-old woman who had come to visit the
Taj Mahal with her parents and younger brother
went missing while standing in a queue at the
monument, police said yesterday. Daughter
of Mumbai realtor Farooq, the woman, a CA
student, was suddenly found to be missing
from the queue. Her family frantically searched
for her but there was no trace of the woman.
“There is still no clue of the missing woman.
We are taking help of CCTV cameras,” a police
officer said. The mother of the missing girl is
said to be the president of the Mumbai Peace
Committee. A police complaint has been
registered but the family members were clearly
disappointed with the tardy progress.
Days after a woman was brutally tortured
by police in West Bengal, another woman
yesterday alleged she was tied naked to a tree
and beaten and branded in the state’s South
24 Parganas district on allegations of stealing.
Police yesterday arrested a man and his wife for
the incident that occurred on Sunday in Kultoli
under Baruipur subdivision of the district. “I was
accused of stealing and a gang lead by Sanjib
Maiti tied me naked to a tree and beat me with
sticks. They also branded me with hot metal,” the
victim said. Police said they arrested Maiti and
his wife. Former state minister and Communist
Party of India (Marxist) leader Kanti Ganguly
alleged the involvement of Trinamool activists.
The Congress-led United Democratic
Front yesterday decided not to invite one
of its founders, R Balakrishna Pillai, to its
meeting tomorrow. The decision appears
to have come after an audio conversation
between him and whistleblower Biju
Ramesh, a bar owner, came out in the
open last week. In it, Pillai is heard asking
Ramesh to go ahead by filing a case in the
Kerala High Court seeking a CBI probe into
the bar graft allegation against Finance
Minister K M Mani. Ramesh said Mani was
given Rs10mn as the first instalment of the
Rs50mn bribe he sought to help reopen
bars in the state.
US sees role
for India in
battle against
Islamic State
Laxman: incisive observer
dies at 94
India has not openly engaged
so far in international efforts
to combat the spread of
Islamic State
New Delhi
K Laxman, one of India’s
best-known cartoonists
and creator of the iconic
‘Common Man,’ died yesterday
at a Pune hospital. He was 94.
Laxman had been hospitalised
with an infection and eventually
suffered multiple organ failure, a
family member said.
Laxman’s elderly, bald-pated,
ragged, bespectacled and constantly bewildered Common
Man appeared in a daily pocket
cartoon - You said it - on the
front page of the Times of India
newspaper for nearly 60 years.
The Common Man never
spoke, but the fine strokes of
the cartoon would take a sly dig
at the country’s politicians and
high and mighty.
The cartoon usually summarised the burning issue of the
day, prompting Laxman to be
called one of the most incisive
observers of post-Independence
Born in Mysore, the brother
of late novelist R K Narayan,
Laxman is survived by his wife
Kamala, retired journalist son
Srinivas and daughter-in-law
He was admitted to a private
hospital 10 days ago for a urinary
tract infection and lung problems.
As there was no improvement
in his condition, he was shifted
to the Dinanath Mangeshkar
Hospital here and put on a ventilator on January 18.
Laxman had suffered multiple
organs failure, but responded
well to treatment and bounced
back. Three days later, he was
removed off the ventilator and
shifted to the intensive care unit.
He had other underlying medical conditions like diabetes and
hypertension. He had suffered a
stroke some years ago, Dhananjay Kelkar, medical director of
the hospital said.
Laxman was born in Mysore.
His father was a headmaster and
he was the youngest of six sons.
Laxman was engrossed by illustrations in magazines such
as The Strand Magazine, Punch,
Bystander, Wide World and
Tit-Bits even before he could
read. Soon he was drawing on
his own, on the floor, walls and
doors of his house and doodling
caricatures of his teachers at
school. Praised by a teacher for
his drawing of a peepal leaf, he
began to think of himself as an
artist in the making.
After high school, Laxman applied to the J J School of Art in
Mumbai hoping to concentrate
on his lifelong interests of drawing and painting, but the dean of
the school wrote to him that his
drawings lacked “the kind of talent to qualify for enrolment in
our institution as a student,” and
refused admission.
He finally graduated with a
Bachelor of Arts from the University of Mysore. In the meantime he continued his freelance
artistic activities and contributed cartoons to Swarajya and
an animated film based on the
mythological character Narada.
US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama arrive for a reception at Rashtrapati
Bhawan, the Presidential Palace, in New Delhi yesterday. At the ‘At Home’ reception Obama shook
hands with and waved to the large number of invitees, which included many prominent faces like
Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former prime minister Manmohan Singh
and cabinet ministers and their spouses. Obama had high tea sitting beside Modi. Those who shared
their table included Michelle, Mukherjee, Ansari, Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur.
ndia could play a role in
battling Islamic State, the
White House said yesterday
during a visit to New Delhi by
President Barack Obama, underlining Washington’s confidence that India is increasingly
prepared to engage on global
security issues.
US Deputy National Security
Adviser Ben Rhodes said India’s
involvement could focus on intelligence on the flow of money
and militants to the radical group
active in Syria and Iraq rather
than deploying troops on the
“When you look at our broader
counter-terrorism co-operation
and how we’re tracking the flow
of fighters and terrorist financing, there I do think we want to
find space for co-operation,” he
told reporters.
The comments came hours
after Obama and Prime Minister
Narendra Modi together watched
a dazzling parade of India’s military might and cultural diversity,
capturing the two countries’ determination to put decades of
brittle relations behind them and
forge a robust strategic partnership.
It rained on the Republic Day
parade through the heart of New
Delhi, but excitement nevertheless ran high over Obama’s visit,
which began on Sunday with a
clutch of deals to unlock billions
of dollars in nuclear trade and
deepen defence ties.
Most significant was an agreement on issues that, despite a
groundbreaking 2006 pact, had
stopped US companies from setting up nuclear reactors in India
and had become one of the major
irritants in bilateral relations.
“Mobama breaks N-deadlock,” ran the front-page headline of the Mail Today newspaper, which carried a photograph
of Modi and Obama hugging each
other warmly.
The bonhomie was a remarkable spectacle given that, until a
year ago, Modi had been banned
from visiting the US after deadly
Hindu-Muslim riots in 2002 in
Gujarat where he was the chief
Obama was the first US president to attend India’s Republic
Day parade, a show of military
prowess that was long associated
with the anti-Americanism of
the Cold War.
Obama’s presence at the parade
— at Modi’s personal invitation —
marks the latest upturn in a roller-coaster relationship that a year
ago was scarred by protectionism
and a fiery diplomatic spat.
The US views India as a vast
market and potential counterweight in Asia to a more assertive
China, but has frequently been
frustrated with the slow pace of
New Delhi’s economic reforms
and unwillingness to side with
Washington in international affairs.
Elected last May, Modi has
injected a new vitality into the
economy and foreign relations
and, to Washington’s delight,
has begun pushing back against
China across Asia.
“The larger goal that the US
should be pursuing here is to
convince India to join a coalition
of democracies to balance China’s rise,” former US ambassador
to Beijing Jon Huntsman and the
South Asia Centre’s acting director, Bharath Gopalaswamy, wrote
in a joint opinion piece.
India, with the world’s thirdlargest population of Muslims,
has not openly engaged so far in
international efforts to combat
the spread of Islamic State. Indian Muslims have largely shunned
radical causes, and police say
only four Indians are known to
have joined the group.
Analysts say that, under Modi,
India appears more willing to engage on issues beyond its borders,
including security in the South
China Sea and Islamist militancy.
Modi and Obama on Sunday
committed to close consultation
on global crises, including in Iraq
and Syria.
“The leaders agreed to exchange information on individuals returning from these
conflict zones and to continue
to co-operate in protecting and
responding to the needs of civilians caught up in these conflicts,” they said in a joint statement.
They also agreed to a 10-year
framework for defence ties and
struck deals on co-operation
that included joint production of
drone aircraft and equipment for
Lockheed Martin Corp’s C-130
military transport plane.
Other deals ranged from an
Obama-Modi hotline — India’s
first at a leadership level — to
financing initiatives aimed at
helping India use renewable energy to lower carbon intensity.
Modi’s latest style: suit
with his name all over
New Delhi
rime Minister Narendra
Modi’s daring fashion
choices have won plaudits in the past, but his decision to wear a suit with his own
name printed all over it sparked
a barrage of mockery on social
The rare sartorial misstep involved a pin-striped suit Modi
wore for his one-on-one meeting with visiting US President
Barack Obama on Sunday.
When images of the prime
minister were enlarged, it became clear that the subtle pink
stripes were made up of the
words “Narendra Damodardas
Modi” printed in tiny letters on
the tailored wool suit.
Close-up images of the suit
have gone viral, triggering sardonic responses from social
media users under the hashtag
“Maybe he was afraid that
someone would steal his
clothes?” Suprateek Chatterjee
tweeted, calling it a “vanitystriped suit.”
jumped at the chance to take
potshots at the prime minister.
“The levels of megalomania
and narcissism are unparalleled...
it reveals a lot about the mindset
of the man,” said Shehzad Poonawalla, a supporter of the main opposition Congress Party.
Modi’s long-time tailor said
the suit was specially made for
Obama’s visit.
“We were told that he had
loved it because it was something exclusive,” said the Gujarat
based designer who has worked
closely in designing Modi’s
wardrobe since 2001. The tailor
declined to be named.
Fashion designers say the finesse with which Modi’s name
features in the fabric requires
special technique, and that the
fabric is most likely hand-woven.
“It’s a very fine jacquard technique of weaving. It’s not embroidery, and its cost would be
dependent on the fibre and technique,” designer Samant Chau-
han said, indicating that developing such a fabric could cost
anything between Rs80,000 to
Designer Raakesh Agarvwal
says it’s “daring” on Modi’s part
to wear it for an important event.
Modi has long been known for
his flair for fashion, often sporting short-sleeved versions of the
The look has become so popular that the “Modi Kurta” has
become its own label in India.
Obama himself lauded Modi’s
style at a state dinner held on
Sunday in New Delhi, comparing it to his wife’s sartorial elegance.
“So he’s tough. And he also
has style,” Obama said.
“One of our newspapers
back home wrote, ‘Move aside,
Michelle Obama. The world has
a new fashion icon.’”
Modi is not the first world
leader to wear his name on his
sleeve. In 2011 former Egyptian
leader Hosni Mubarak was photographed wearing a bespoke
suit with his name printed into
A zoomed-in image of the suit that Modi wore for his talks with Obama on Sunday shows the name
Narendra Damodardas Modi stitched in yellow in vertical stripes on the black-grey background.
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Soldiers march in formation down the ceremonial boulevard Rajpath.
A military band plays while riding camels during the parade.
Rain fails to dampen
spirits at R-Day parade
The parade celebrates the
adoption in 1950 of the Indian
New Delhi
US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi wave as
they leave after attending the Republic Day parade. Obama watched a
dazzling parade of India’s military might and cultural diversity yesterday,
the second day of a visit trumpeted as a chance to establish a robust
strategic partnership between the world’s two largest democracies.
ain failed to dampen spirits at India’s Republic Day
parade yesterday as Barack
Obama became the first US president to attend the spectacular
military and cultural display in
a sign of the nations’ growing
Thousands of cheering spectators braved wet weather and
heavy security to watch the parade, which marks the birth of
modern India and includes everything from tanks and state-ofthe-art weaponry to camels and
traditional dancers.
The invitation to the annual
celebration is one of the biggest
honours the country can bestow
on a foreign leader and underscores the increasing warmth
between Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The leaders smiled and chatted as they watched from behind
a bulletproof glass screen, Modi
sporting a green and orange turban with a pink circular plume
that rivalled the spectacular military headgear on display.
Obama gave a thumbs-up
as stunt-riders on motorbikes
formed their trademark human
pyramid before the grand finale of
the event, a fly-past by fighter jets.
The display of military might
came a day after Obama and
Modi renewed a defence co-operation agreement, with the US
and India both seeking a counterbalance to a rising China.
Much of the hardware on display was Russian-made, a reminder that despite the growing
closeness of the world’s two largest democracies, India still has
strong defence ties with Moscow.
The mounted Border Security
Force on their brightly-decorated camels, a traditional highlight,
drew loud cheers from spectators
who were out in force.
“This day is all about patriotism and I’m lucky to be a part of
it,” said 20-year-old college student Ajith Kumar, attending the
central Delhi event with his parents and younger sister.
“The fact that we have a guest
like Obama has made it all the
more special.”
Obama’s presence as chief
guest represents a remarkable
turnaround in his relationship
with Modi, who only a year ago
was persona non grata in Washington.
He began his visit on Sunday
with a bear hug from Modi, later
saying their new “friendship” reflected a natural affinity between
the two countries.
“I’m honoured to be the first
American president to attend
this celebration, as well as the
first president to visit India
twice,” said Obama.
The parade celebrates the
adoption in 1950 of the Indian
Constitution - the day it became
a republic - after gaining independence from Britain in 1947.
A float representing Modi’s
home state of Gujarat featured a
statue of Sardar Patel, a founding
father of the republic and personal hero of the premier, who is
building the world’s tallest statue
in his honour.
Alongside the carnival floats
and military hardware were reminders of India’s achievements,
including a dance by schoolchildren representing the country’s
Mars mission last year.
Roads were closed around the
area, which has been declared
a no-fly zone, and snipers were
positioned on rooftops along the
route, where 15,000 new CCTV
cameras have been installed.
No cameras were allowed near
the spectacle, with the White
House press pack forced to hand
over phones and even pens.
The growing camaraderie between Modi and Obama comes
after a tense row involving the
arrest and strip-search of an Indian diplomat in New York which
marred relations in late 2013.
The two leaders on Sunday
announced a breakthrough on
an agreement to provide civilian
nuclear technology to India that
was signed in 2008 but had been
held up by US concerns over liability in the event of a nuclear
They also extended a defence
pact and agreed to enhance cooperation on climate change, but
the focus was more on warming ties than specific policy announcements.
Obama also enjoyed a close
friendship with Modi’s predecessor Manmohan Singh, who
staked his premiership on the
controversial nuclear deal that
made India the sixth “legitimate”
atomic power and marked a high
point in Indo-US relations.
The deal failed to deliver on a
promise of business for US compa-
nies because of India’s reluctance
to shield suppliers from liability, a deviation from international
norms that reflects the memory of
the Bhopal industrial disaster.
Sounding a sour note amid the
celebrations, President Pranab
Mukherjee gave a stern assessment of India 65 years after it declared itself a republic, criticising
parliamentary dysfunction and
the overuse of decrees.
In a Republic Day address on
Sunday, the president was also
scathing about rampant violence
against women in the world’s
second most populous nation.
Mukherjee said the opposition
should debate laws responsibly
rather than disrupting the houses
of parliament, and warned Modi’s government against governing by decree.
Women power on display
If the annual Republic Day
parade is known for its pomp and
splendour, the 66th edition will
remain etched in the memory for
two other factors - the women’s
power showcased during the
two-hour event and the presence
of US President Barack Obama as
the chief guest.
Quite appropriately, the honour
of leading the marching contingents was given to the one
drawn from the three services,
while the Indian Army, the
Indian Navy and the Indian Air
Force also fielded all-women’s
A woman led the Indian Navy
contingent while a tableau depicted the success achieved by
an all-women’s team in scaling
the world’s highest mountain,
Mount Everest.
It was also a woman - Captain
Haobam Bella Devi – who unfurled the tricolour at Rajpath.
PM pledges business-friendly
environment to US executives
New Delhi
rime Minister Narendra
Modi yesterday vowed
to banish India’s reputation as a tough place to do business, telling US President Barack
Obama and American CEOs that
he would ease off on taxes and
encourage innovation.
As he promised a more “competitive” tax regime, Modi also
pledged to address concerns
about intellectual property that
have long irked potential investors in Asia’s third-largest economy.
Obama, who is in the middle of
a three-day visit to India, hailed
the new change in tone at the top
of India Inc but said there were
still “too many obstacles” for
businesses wanting to break into
the vast market.
Under the previous Congress
government, investors frequently complained about a hostile
business climate in India, frustrated by bureaucracy and corruption. In the last World Bank
rankings on the ease of doing
business rankings, India placed
142nd out of 189 countries.
But in his speech to a joint
group of US and Indian businessmen, Modi said he aimed to
have his country up in the top 50
and promised his audience that
things would change drastically.
“You will find an environment
that is not only open, but also welcoming,” he said in the address to
executives such as PepsiCo chairman Indra Nooyi and MasterCard
president Ajay Banga.
“We will guide you and walk
with you in your projects.
“You will find a climate that
encourages investment and rewards enterprise. It will nurture
innovation and protect your intellectual property.
“It will make it easy to do
business,” said Modi, who was
elected last May after promising
to transform the Indian economy
after growth rates had tailed off
to their slowest rate in a decade.
One of the main gripes by foreign businesses under Congress
was that the tax regime was both
aggressive and arbitrary.
British mobile giant Vodafone
is currently embroiled in a bitter,
$2.4bn battle with India’s tax authorities, while Finnish company
Nokia had a plant in India seized
over a tax dispute.
Vodafone is battling the demand for back taxes over its
$10.7bn purchase of Indian mobile operations in 2007 from
Hong Kong-based Hutchison
Whampoa, while India’s tax authorities have also locked horns
with Royal Dutch Shell, IBM and
other international companies.
In his speech, Modi acknowledged that the tax rules had been
too harsh and that he planned to
lessen the burden.
“We have removed some of the
excesses of the past. We will soon
address the remaining uncertainties.”
Modi sees attracting more foreign investment as key to putting
India on the path to sustainable
growth and has been extensively
promoting a “Make in India”
campaign designed to turn the
country into a manufacturing
The stark change from Congress has been welcomed by
Obama who outlined investments worth some $4bn, including an announcement that the US
Trade and Development Agency
would provide $2bn for renewable energy projects.
But the US president said there
should be no illusions about the
scale of the task ahead, adding
that their economic relationship
“is defined by so much untapped
“We have to keep working to
make it easier to do business
in both of our countries,” said
“There are still too many barriers, hoops to jump through.
“We hear this consistently
from business leaders such as
you,” Obama added, speaking
alongside Modi.
“We have got to do better.”
Speaking last week, the US
ambassador to New Delhi said
bilateral trade was now running at around $100bn a year five times the level of a decade
But Ambassador Richard Verma also said there was potential
for the levels of bilateral trade to
grow by another five times.
Before becoming prime minister, Modi spent more than a decade as chief minister of Gujarat
which won a reputation under
his stewardship as India’s most
investor-friendly place.
“Everything we wish to do
involves enterprise and investments, but even more -innovation and imagination,” said Modi.
the former prime minister, said.
The meeting, understood to be a
courtesy call, started at 3.05pm
and lasted half-an-hour before
Obama proceeded to attend ‘At
Home’ hosted by President Pranab
Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhawan,
which was attended by Sonia Gan-
dhi and Singh. The details of the
meeting were not known. Singh
was prime minister when Obama
visited India for the first time in
November 2010. The US leader is
known for holding Singh in high
regard and once referred to him as
a “good friend.”
Obama meets Congress Party delegation
US President Barack Obama
met a delegation of the opposition Congress Party yesterday
afternoon, a party leader said.
The delegation included former
prime minister Manmohan Singh,
party president Sonia Gandhi,
vice president Rahul Gandhi, and
former minister Anand Sharma.
They called on the US president
at the ITC Maurya hotel where he
is staying, the party leader said.
“We got a request directly from
the Obama administration that
expressed interest in meeting
with Singh,” the leader, close to
The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station in Mumbai is illuminated on the occasion of the
Republic Day yesterday.
Gallantry award for martyrs
New Delhi
ajor Mukund Varadarajan and Naik Neeraj Kumar Singh were yesterday posthumously awarded the
nation’s highest peacetime gallantry award, the Ashoka Chakra,
at the Republic Day parade.
Both of them laid down their
lives while fighting heavilyarmed terrorists in separate gun
battles in Jammu and Kashmir
last year.
Their widows received the
award from President Pranab
Varadarajan, of the army’s 44
Rashtriya Rifles, died last April
year while leading an anti-terrorist operation in a village in
Shopian district.
A severely-wounded Varadarajan continued fighting the
enemy in the operation that resulted in the elimination of three
top-ranked Hizbul Mujaheddin
terrorists. He later succumbed to
his injuries.
Singh, also from Rashtriya
Rifles, was killed when he came
under heavy fire from terrorists
while on a search operation in the
state’s Kupwara district on August 24, 2014.
A total of 374 gallantry and
other defence decorations to
armed forces personnel have
been announced on the occasion
of the 66th Republic Day.
These include an Ashoka Chakra
(to Singh as Varadarajan’s award
had been announced on Independence Day last year), three Kirti
Chakras, 12 Shaurya Chakras, 48
Sena Medals (Gallantry), two Nao
Sena Medals (Gallantry), 11 Vayu
Sena Medals (Gallantry), 28 Param
Vishisht Seva Medals, three Uttam Yudh Seva Medals, three Bar
to Ati Vishisht Seva Medals, 53 Ati
Vishisht Seva Medals, 13 Yudh Seva
Medals, 42 Sena Medals (Devotion
to Duty), eight Nao Sena Medals
(Devotion to Duty), 19 Vayu Sena
Medals (Devotion to Duty), four
Bars to Vishisht Seva Medals and
124 Vishisht Seva Medals.
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
govt snubs
Lat Am
Miss Colombia Paulina Vega after she was crowned by last year’s Miss Universe, Venezuela’s Gabriela Isler, at the 63rd Annual Miss Universe Pageant in Miami, Florida
Colombia’s Vega wins
Miss Universe title
olombia’s Paulina Vega was
crowned Miss Universe Sunday,
beating out contenders from the
United States, Ukraine, Jamaica and The
Netherlands at the world’s top beauty pageant in Florida.
The 22-year-old model and business
student triumphed over 87 other women
from around the world, and is only the
second beauty queen from Colombia to
take home the prize.
The last time Colombia won the crown
was in 1958 when Luz Marina Zuluaga
scored the title.
Vega, wearing a long silver sequined
gown, was beaming and tearful as she accepted her sash and crown from reigning
Miss Universe, Venezuelan Gabriela Isler.
She edged out first runner-up, Nia
Sanchez from the United States, hugging
her as the win was announced.
London-born Vega dedicated her title to
Colombia and to all her supporters.
“We are proud, this is a triumph, not
only personal, but for all those 47mn Colombians who were dreaming with me and
were part of this whole process,” she told
reporters after the win.
She said the title was “more impor-
tant than the World Cup”, and said beauty
queens are respected around the world.
For Vega, the win was a point of national
pride and she hopes it will put her country
on the map.
“We are persevering people, despite all
the obstacles, we keep fighting for what we
want to achieve. After years of difficulty,
we are leading in several areas on the world
stage,” she said earlier during the question
Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos applauded her, praising the brownhaired beauty on Twitter.
“Colombia today is an example for the
world, congratulations,” he wrote.
The five-foot-nine model from Barranquilla is the granddaughter of legendary
tenor Gaston Vega and 1953 Miss Atlantico, Elvira Castillo.
Vega won highest possible score of 9.9
in every presentation at the Miss Universe
Colombia contest, according to the pageant’s website.
Vega beat out Ukraine’s Diana Harkusha, Yasmin Verheijen from the Netherlands and Miss Jamaica Kaci Fennell, who
were also top five finalists.
Though the programme remained
mostly apolitical, Miss Ukraine spoke
about ongoing turmoil in her nation.
“We have a very difficult situation in our
country direct all of our energies to sup-
port our army and our people we have to
restore schools, we have to restore kindergartens and orphanages,” Harkusha said.
The 63rd edition of the Miss Universe
pageant was held at Florida International
University before a full house of enthusiastic fans.
The contest featured the traditional parade of eye-catching swimsuits and national costumes and performances from
teen idol Nick Jonas and Dominican-born
American singer Prince Royce.
Ten judges were tasked to select this
year’s winner, including Cuban-American
music mogul Emilio Estefan, Cuban soap
opera star William Levy and Philippine
boxing great Manny Pacquiao.
The event is actually the 2014 Miss
Universe pageant. The competition was
scheduled to take place between the Golden Globes and the Super Bowl to try to get
a bigger television audience.
The contest, owned by billionaire business mogul Donald Trump, is watched by
about 600mn worldwide, pageant officials
Trump said he has not yet decided
where the next Miss Universe will be hosted, but did not rule out Colombia as a possible venue.
Controversy emerged ahead of the contest, when Miss Israel took a selfie with
Miss Lebanon. That irritated Lebanon,
which is technically at war with Israel.
Miss Lebanon, who was careful not to be
seen next to her rival, explained that while
she was posing with Miss Japan and Miss
Slovenia, the Israeli beauty queen shoved
her way into the photo op and posted it on
The Miss Universe contest started out
in 1952 as a local “bathing beauty” competition organized by a swimwear company in Long Beach, California.
Today, the competition is more than a
beauty pageant and contestants “compete with hope of advancing their careers, personal and humanitarian goals
and... seek to improve the lives of others,”
according to the Miss Universe website.
Colombian President Juan Manuel
Santos has praised Paulina Vega for her
victory speech at the Miss Universe pageant.
“I just spoke to Paulina Vega. I congratulated her on her win and her inspiring words, which inspire us to work
together and to persevere,” Santos wrote
on Twitter while on a trip to France yesterday.
Santos also said that Vega, a 22-yearold from the Caribbean city of Barranquilla, showed that Colombia has “very
intelligent, very hard-working women
who persevere in the face of adversity and
who are, on top of that, very beautiful”.
enezuela, which has
accused a pair of Latin
ex-presidents of trying to spark a
coup, on Sunday denied them
permission to speak to jailed
opposition leader Leopoldo
“Regrettably, despite all the
effort we made with general
Rall and even the vice president (Jorge Arreaza), we have
been denied a chance to visit
Leopoldo Lopez,” Chilean expresident Sebastian Pinera
said outside the Ramo Verde
military prison.
He was joined by Colombian ex-president Andres
Pastrana, seeking to help
Venezuela—which is facing
economic crisis and political impasses under president
Nicolas Maduro, an elected
The blocked visit came as a
“great surprise. I never imagined that they would not let us
in”, Pastrana said. “This is an
act that we do not understand.
It is not the act of a democrat.”
The entrance to the jail was
guarded by at least 40 National Guard officers with riot gear
and shields.
Another contingent with
about 20 officers blocked off a
secondary access through the
mountainside shantytowns
surrounding the prison.
Pastrana and billionaire
businessman Pinera waited
for over 35 minutes out in
the street. But in the end the
former presidents were told
they would not be allowed to
meet with Lopez or other inmates.
“Prisoners in democratic
countries have the right to
have visitors” on visiting days,
which is Sunday here, Pinera
Lopez “has been detained
for almost a year, and even
the United Nations says there
is no reason for him not to be
free”, Pinera added.
Pinera denied the allegation that the ex-leaders were
trying to foment an uprising
against Maduro.
“We have not come to start
or to support any coup,” he
said, adding “if president Maduro wants to be respected he
needs to learn to respect others”.
On Saturday thousands of
demonstrators against Venezuela’s economic crisis—facing sky-high inflation and
shortages of food and consumer goods—took to the
streets, banging pots and demanding an end to Maduro’s
Some opposition leaders, fed up with shortages of
milk, coffee, sugar, meat, toilet paper, diapers, deodorant
and corn meal, and with Maduro’s refusal to overhaul the
increasingly state-managed
economy, say Maduro must
step aside.
Maduro is facing a dismal
22% approval rating, and three
quarters of the population oppose his government, recent
polls show.
With the precipitous drop of
oil prices, Maduro has traveled
in recent days to Algeria, China, Iran, Qatar, Russia and
Saudi Arabia as he makes an
urgent appeal for cash.
In November, Caracas failed
to convince the Organization
of the Petroleum Exporting
Countries, including top producer Saudi Arabia, to reduce
production in order to halt the
price drop.
Lilian Tintori, wife of jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez,
and former president Sebastian Pinera from Chile walk outside
the military prison of Ramo Verde.
Argentina says journalists safe after one flees
Buenos Aires
rgentina’s cabinet chief yesterday said journalists could
work safely in the country after the reporter who broke the news
of the mysterious death of a state
prosecutor fled to Israel, saying he
feared for his life under the current
On January 18, Damian Pachter
was the first to report that prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who was investigating the deadly 1994 bombing of
a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires, had been found dead in his
apartment from a gunshot wound to
the head.
The death of Nisman the day before he was to testify in Congress
about his findings has rocked Argentina, sparking various conspiracy
The flight of Pachter, who said his
phones were tapped and he was being followed, is the latest twist in the
“In Argentina there is total security for all journalists for them to carry
out their profession in the name of
freedom of expression,” Argentine
cabinet chief Jorge Capitanich told a
regular news conference.
“For sure, there are strong tensions in terms of opinions ... but
with the most absolute freedom of
expression, and there is no type of
obstacle for any reporter to express
whatever he thinks.”
Nisman was found dead late on
January 18, a gunshot wound to his
head and a 22-caliber pistol by his
side along with a single shell casing.
He had been scheduled to appear
before Congress the following day to
answer questions about his allegation that president Cristina Fernandez conspired to derail his investigation of the attack.
The authorities originally said evidence suggested the prosecutor had
killed himself, but Fernandez later
said the death was not a suicide.
She did not say who killed him,
and no one has been arrested. Social
media was seething with conspiracy
theories, some pointing at Fernandez
and her government.
The government says it suspects
rogue agents from its own intelligence services.
Pachter told website Infobae that
he was leaving “because my life is in
“I’m going to come back to this
country when my sources tell me
the conditions have changed. I don’t
think that will be during this government.”
On Sunday he told Israeli daily
Haaretz that he thought he had been
followed last week by an Argentine
intelligence officer and had a photo
of the man.
Capitanich said Pachter should
publish the photo “to see if it is or not
is an agent of intelligence”.
Pachter holds dual ArgentinianIsraeli citizenship.
In a column published by Haaretz
entitled “Why I fled Argentina after
breaking the story of Alberto Nisman’s death,” Pachter recounted the
intimidation that led him to leave
He also criticised the Telam national news agency and the Twitter
account of the Casa Rosada presidential palace for publishing information about his plane tickets,
which included a return date.
Capitanich defended the decision to release Pachter flight information, denying it was an invasion
of privacy.
Since it was being said Pachter
felt threatened and his whereabouts
were not known, Capitanich argued,
“it was very important to publish
the information so there was public
knowledge of his whereabouts.”
Nisman had accused Kirchner and
her foreign minister Hector Timerman of shielding Iranian officials
implicated in the bombing of the
Argentine-Israelite Mutual Association, which killed 84 people.
Investigators have said Nisman’s
death appeared to be a suicide, but it
has been classified as a “suspicious”
death and homicide or an “induced
suicide” have not been ruled out.
Television cameras are seen outside the office of prosecutor Viviana Fein, who is investigating the death of Alberto Nisman.
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Five dead in landmine blast
in southwest Pakistan
Policeman guarding polio
workers is shot dead
Afghans living in Punjab
to be registered
Army offers help to monitor
Karachi’s entry, exit points
2014 was worst year for
Pakistani media: report
At least five people were killed and one injured
when a pick-up truck hit a landmine in the
southwestern province of Baluchistan yesterday.
The incident happened in the Chattar area of
Dera Murad district, around 250km southeast
of the provincial capital of Quetta. “Five people
were killed when a passenger pick-up stumbled
upon a landmine,” local police official Gulab Shah
told AFP. Four people died on the spot while the
fifth was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
Nobody has claimed responsibility but the area
is one of the most restive parts of the province
where separatists have regularly attacked
security personnel and state infrastructure.
Gunmen yesterday killed a policeman guarding a
polio vaccination team in Karachi, police officials
said, the latest blow to efforts to stamp out the
crippling virus in Pakistan. The attackers on a
motorbike shot the policeman in the western
neighbourhood of Papoosh Nagar and then fled,
senior police official Chaudhry Asad told AFP.
The vaccination drive remained unaffected by
the shooting, he added. Pakistan is one of only
three countries where polio remains endemic.
Attempts to eradicate it have been badly hit
by opposition from militants and attacks on
immunisation teams that have claimed 68 lives
since December 2012.
In keeping with Pakistan government’s National
Action Plan to counter terrorism and extremism,
the Special Branch of police has been asked to
conduct search operations in areas populated by
Afghan refugees and those displaced from the
Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) to verify
the immigration status of all Afghans and tribesmen
who reside in each district of North Punjab. Orders
to this effect were circulated to the Rawalpindi city
police officer and district police officers in Attock,
Jhelum and Chakwal. The aim of this verification
exercise, according to official documents, was
to establish whether the people living with such
families were who they said they were.
Already being assisted by the Sindh Rangers in
law enforcement, the Karachi police have been
joined by the Pakistan army for surveillance of the
city’s entry and exit corridors, which will include
round-the-clock patrolling, to prevent terrorists
from entering the metropolis, Internews reports
from Karachi. “The idea is to secure Karachi’s
exit and entrance boundaries,” said additional
inspector general Ghulam Qadir Thebo. “Pakistan
army soldiers have joined the Karachi police and
Sindh Rangers to make a joint team to conduct
surveillance of the three major points Toll Plaza
on the Superhighway, Ghaggar Phatak on the
National Highway and the Hub corridor.”
2014 was the worst ever in the history of Pakistan
for the media, according to a report issued by
Freedom Network, Pakistan. The report says that
14 people related to media including journalists,
media assistants and blogger were killed for
their work and scores were injured, kidnapped
and intimidated in 2014. The report titled ‘State
of Media in Pakistan: Key Trends of 2014 and
Main Challenges in 2015’ says that 2014 came
to be characterised by a number of troubling
developments in the realm of electronic media
when laws were used formally to browbeat and
censure it, according to a press release issued by
Freedom Network, Pakistan.
US forensics
top gun comes
home to help
By Katharine Houreld, Reuters
s one of America’s top forensic scientists, Mohamed Tahir uncovered evidence that
helped jail boxer Mike Tyson for
rape, convict serial killer John Wayne
Gacy and clear doctor Sam Sheppard
of murdering his wife.
Then Tahir took on his toughest
assignment yet - applying his skills
in Pakistan, a poor nation of 180mn
people beset by crime and militancy.
But catching criminals is not Tahir’s biggest problem: it is working
with the country’s antiquated criminal justice system.
The very notion of producing evidence is a new-fangled concept for
many involved in law enforcement
in Pakistan. Cases often rely on witnesses who are easily bribed or intimidated. Terrorism and murder
suspects usually walk free.
So Tahir, a softly spoken man
whose passions are reading and gardening, set out on a quest: to promote forensic science.
“Physical evidence does not lie, it
does not perjure itself as humans do,”
said the dapper 65-year-old. “It is a
silent witness ... We make it speak in
a court of law.”
Tahir, a dual Pakistani and US citizen, has his own forensics lab in the
US. He spent 36 years working with
US police and helped write the FBI
handbook on forensics.
In 2008, with militant attacks rising in Pakistan, Punjab’s chief minister called Tahir and asked for help:
to design a new $31mn forensics lab
in Lahore, handpick its scientists and
try to enforce new standards of crime
The lab was finished in 2012 and at
first, business was slow. But now the
lab, which is funded by Punjab state,
takes around 600 cases a day, Tahir
said. It could easily handle twice that
if more police start sending in evidence or suspects.
“The police are not educated, they
don’t know our capabilities. We have
to teach them,” he said.
The gleaming new lab quickly discovered only a tiny fraction of police
knew how to secure crime scenes and
collect evidence. DNA samples were
mouldy. Guns arrived for analysis,
smeared with officers’ fingerprints.
“If garbage comes in, garbage goes
out,” explained one scientist at the
lab during a recent Reuters visit, as
his masked colleague unwrapped a
bone from a woman’s body found in
a canal.
To change that, Tahir set up localised crime scene investigation units
and began training police. Now the
DNA department says around half
the samples they receive are packaged correctly.
“They are getting better,” Tahir
said. So far 3,100 police out of a force
of 185,000 have been trained.
But progress is slow. Punjab Police
Inspector General Mushtaq Sukhera
said police still secure “very few”
crime scenes.
One detective was even found fingerprinting himself instead of the suspects for dozens of cases, an official
working with the judicial system said.
Some police try to game the system. A prosecutor and a scientist
told Reuters that police sometimes
plant bullets at the crime scene and
the gun on the suspect.
Courts usually treat police as unreliable. Any confession made to
them is legally inadmissible because
suspects are frequently tortured. Police argue they are becoming better
at playing by the book.
“It used to be - you can say - a
quick method of getting disclosure
from the accused,” said Sukhera.
“(But now) I think very rarely the police torture.”
Tahir has banned police from entering the lab to make sure they do
not interfere with the process.
When Reuters visited the lab, police waited patiently in the basement,
some clutching white cloth packages
sealed with twine and red wax.
A dozen of them held bottles that
were to be tested for alcohol, which is
illegal in Pakistan. One had brought a
pistol. Another held a box of body parts.
Once the lab makes a report, it
goes to the prosecutor. But judges,
lawyers and witnesses are often
threatened or killed. Courts have a
backlog of more than a million cases.
As a result, conviction rates are
low. Anti-terrorism courts convict
around a third of cases - about half of
those are overturned on appeal. Fewer than a quarter of murder suspects
are convicted.
But Tahir said that the lab has had
some notable successes. A man who
raped and killed a 5-year-old in a
mosque was identified by his DNA;
seven other suspects were freed.
“On one hand, you have exonerated a man,” said Tahir. “On the other you have found someone who has
actually committed a crime. Nothing
makes you happier.”
Anti-India protest
Pakistani supporters of the Hizbul Mujahideen hold a banner at an anti-India protest in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani-administered Kashmir.
Pakistan fuel crisis
weighs on rating
‘Fuel crises serious governance failure’
akistan’s ongoing fuel shortage
that has led to worsening power
blackouts is weighing on its credit
worthiness and hindering its ability to
meet key reform targets laid out by the
IMF, ratings agency Moody’s warned
The country is currently in the grip
of one of its worst power crises in years
due to a shortfall in imported oil, with
the situation exacerbated Sunday by
an attack on a key powerline in restive
Baluchistan province.
Moody’s said that increasing energy
imports without addressing structural
issues that create so-called circular
debt “will further strain Pakistan’s
budget and balance of payments, a
credit negative”.
“Fuel shortages also reflect the
strained finances of state-owned distribution companies and the fuel importer, Pakistan State Oil Corp, and are
a setback to the sector’s progress on
reforms made so far under Pakistan’s
financial support programme with the
International Monetary Fund.”
The petrol crisis that rocked parts of
Pakistan last week could only have been
prevented, if the government had anticipated and taken early measures according to a fact-sheet released yesterday by
the Institute for Policy Reforms.
“There is another shortage waiting to
happen as the total import of furnace
oil has fallen sharply and the likelihood
of even more power loadshedding is
much higher today,” said the fact-sheet,
terming the petrol crisis `a very serious
governance failure.’
The crisis had been the consequence
of deep structural problems in the
energy sector that spilled over to the
shortage of petrol, Internews reports
from Lahore.
This had been compounded by serious
The IMF granted a $6.6bn loan to Pakistan in September 2013 on the condition that it carry out extensive economic reforms, particularly in the energy
and taxation sectors.
Moody’s, which in July 2014 upgraded Pakistan’s rating outlook from
“negative” to “stable” in a boon for
problems of co-ordination among the
multitude of ministries and agencies
performing different functions within the
The major importer of petroleum
products has been the state-owned
Pakistan State Oil which imports 66% of
petrol with the remainder 34% being imported by other oil marketing companies.
“The crisis could only have been prevented if the government had anticipated
(the crisis) and taken early measures to
import more petrol, prevent a depletion
of stocks and manage demand better.
“Also, it is not surprising that the
crisis first manifested itself in the largest
province due to the additional factor of
closure of CNG stations,” said the IPR
the shaky South Asian economy, said
that structural reforms had been a “key
driver” in its decision last year.
“Circular debt” - brought on by the
dual effect of the government setting
low electricity prices and customers
failing to pay - is at the heart of the crisis.
State utilities lose money, and cannot
pay private power generating companies,
which in turn cannot pay the oil and gas
suppliers, who cut off the supply.
The fuel crisis began last week when
Pakistan State Oil was forced to slash
imports because banks refused to extend any more credit to the government-owned company, which supplies
80% of the country’s oil.
The shortfall led to long queues of
angry motorists at petrol stations,
though these have since dissipated as
fuel supplies have reached the pumps.
But Moody’s warned that the government of Prime Minister Nawaz
Sharif, which made solving the energy
crisis a key campaign pledge, had so far
failed to offer policy solutions and increasing oil supplies would only add to
the fiscal burden.
“The government’s targeted fiscal
deficit of 4.5% of GDP in fiscal 2015 from
4.7% in fiscal 2014 is already impeded by
delays in implementing electricity tariff
adjustments and legal challenges related
to tax collections,” it said.
Increasing fuel imports, which currently comprise 35% of total imports
would further weigh on Pakistan’s import bill, it added.
Slow ascent of Afghan air force hits Taliban battle
By Kay Johnson, Reuters
fghanistan’s armed forces
are so short of combatready aircraft that, late
last year, they began fitting machine guns and rockets to Russian-made Mi-17 transport helicopters, dubbed “flying tractors”,
to bolster their air power.
With new planes capable of
engaging Taliban insurgents delayed by over two years, and Nato
air missions backing up troops on
the ground now at a minimum, the
fledgling Afghan Air Force is scrambling to provide even basic support.
That is a worry for 350,000 police, soldiers and other security
personnel fighting militants across
the country and dying at a rate of
around 100 every week in the heaviest fighting of a 13-year conflict.
Without air support they say they
will struggle to defeat the enemy, especially now that tens of thousands
of foreign troops supporting them
have ended their mission.
Nato is training and advising
some 390 Afghan pilots, most
with no tactical combat experience, and a limited number of
planes and helicopters have been
promised to bolster an air force
of around 140 aircraft, mostly
transport helicopters.
As a stopgap measure, the
Afghans began fitting forwardfiring 23mm machine guns and
57mm rockets to some of the 86
Mi-17 transport helicopters to
supplement five larger Mi-35 attack helicopters that were the
only combat aircraft.
“That’s not enough to support
all the missions,” Colonel Abdul
Shafi Noori, the air force’s maintenance group commander, said
of the expanded combat fleet,
which should number about 30.
Nevertheless, it is a start, and,
at the air force training base just
outside the capital Kabul, Afghan
pilots have been putting adapted
Mi-17s through their paces.
Flying fast and low over barren
hills, a helicopter crew zooms its
sights on the target: a group of trucks
parked on a ridge, representing vehicles full of Taliban insurgents.
“You see the threat?” the
American trainer asks the pilot.
“Target at 4 o’clock. Ready the
rockets.” The crew fires off machine guns and a 57mm rocket
that shudders the helicopter as
it’s released, before obliterating
one of the trucks.
This month, a newly modified
Mi-17 came to the rescue in real
combat, helping an Afghan patrol
pinned down by insurgents firing
from a ridge in Badakhshan province in the northeast.
The air force plans to have
about a dozen weaponised Mi-
An Afghan Air Force crew stands
next to a helicopter at the
military airport in Kabul.
17s by the spring fighting season
that typically begins in April.
“Wherever they are going to be
able to get into the fight, it’s going
to make a big difference,” said US
Brigadier General Michael Rothstein, commander of the NATO
air force training mission.
By June, the air force will also
have a dozen more MD-530 helicopters - smaller, swifter machines modified with armour and
.50 calibre machine guns, with
the first six arriving next month.
Rothstein acknowledged that
it was “hard to predict” exactly
how effective the air force would
be in the coming year, “...but I
think they are going to be able to
make an impact.” The air force,
all but wiped out by civil war and
the US-led campaign to topple
the Taliban, has only a fraction of
Nato’s former air power.
At the height of Nato’s engagement in Afghanistan in 2011, the
coalition flew nearly 133,000 flight
missions that year, about 34,000
of those for close air support.
Last year, the Afghan Air Force
flew an estimated 7,000 missions, a small fraction in direct
support of troops on the ground.
The seven-year-old project to
build up the air force has been
fraught with setbacks and delays.
An Afghan Air Force pilot
gunned down nine Americans at
Kabul airport in 2011. The next
year, the US opened an investi-
gation into allegations that some
pilots were transporting narcotics on undocumented flights.
Last year, most of the 20 Italian-made G222 transport planes
the US bought for $486mn were
sold for scrap metal after being
grounded because Afghans could
not maintain them, said the US
Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.
And Afghans are still waiting for 20 A-29 Super Tucano
aircraft capable of dropping
500-pound bombs.
Originally scheduled to arrive
in mid-2012, delivery has been
held up by a legal dispute and is
now expected around December,
too late for this year’s peak fighting season.
Even when Air Force capabilities are expanded, the Nato training mission must teach pilots not
only how to fly new aircraft, but
also use them tactically.
Largely untested younger pilots will have to learn quickly
how to co-ordinate with ground
troops, fly in formation, discern
enemy fighters from Afghan
forces and avoid killing civilians.
“It takes a long time for them
to learn the Western style of
fighting and being organized,”
said Glenn Sands, editor of Air
Forces Monthly.
Beyond engaging the enemy,
the air force’s job is also to save
lives. Many of about 5,000 Afghan
security personnel killed last year
died because they did not reach
medical care fast enough.
For Afghan pilot Azizulla Mohamedi, 26, a first lieutenant who
ferries supplies and helps evacuate wounded in a C-130 transport
plane, the job involves both pride
and frustration. “We can’t support all of Afghanistan with this
few aircraft,” he said. “I feel bad
we can’t help more.”
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Former Iloilo
lawmaker faces
graft charge
By Reina Tolentino
Manila Times
he Office of the Ombudsman has found
probable cause to file
graft and malversation charges against former Iloilo representative Judy Syjuco and
several officials of the Department of Transportation and
Communications (DOTC) for
alleged ghost purchase and
delivery of cellular phones in
The alleged ghost purchase and delivery involved
1,582 units of Nokia 1100 cellular phones amounting to
Judy is the wife of Augusto
Syjuco, a former chief of the
Technical Education and
Skills Development Authority (Tesda).
Carpio-Morales said “the
confluence of facts and
evidence will show that respondents conspired with
each other through seemingly separate but collaborative
acts to defraud the government of P6,248,900.”
Morales approved the filing of charges for malversation through falsification
and violation of the AntiGraft Law against Syjuco
and DOTC Bids and Awards
Committee (BAC) chairman
Domingo Reyes Jr and Vice
Chairman Elmer Soneja.
Also facing criminal complaints are BAC members
Rebecca Cacatian and Ildefonso Patdu Jr, Legal Officer
Geronimo Quintos and Di-
rector Venancio Santidad,
Inspector Marcelo Desiderio
Jr and Technical Inspector
Danilo dela Rosa.
A private respondent, Domingo Samuel Jonathan Ng,
owner of West Island Beverages, will also be charged.
The anti-graft office found
that the public respondents facilitated the release of
money to Ng even when there
was no need to resort to direct contracting.
Morales said that the Government Procurement Law
(Republic Act 9184) explicitly provides that public
bidding is the rule and the
alternative methods of procurement may be resorted to
“only in highly exceptional
West Island, the anti-graft
office said, did not present
a certificate of exclusivity
and was not an authorised
supplier of cellular phones
but was a mere distributor
of Smart Value Credits or
“The 1,582 cellular units
never existed because they
were never delivered,” it said.
The office also found that
the Invoice Receipt for Property contained the lone name
and signature of Santa Barbara (Iloilo) Mayor Isabelo
Maquino when the beneficiaries on several documents
were the eight municipalities
of Iloilo’s second district.
“Records show that Ng
is the President of Nation
Bank Inc where respondent
Judy Syjuco’s sons and Flame
Property Holdings are stockholders,” it said.
Creativity showcase
A mother holding a baby walks past graffiti painted on a wall in Manila yesterday.
More than 40 commandos
killed in clash with rebels
Binay’s arrest ordered
over probe refusal
By Jefferson Antiporda
Manila Times
he Senate blue ribbon
cited Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr and
five others for contempt and
ordered their arrest for continuously refusing to attend
the Senate investigation at the
Makati City Hall Building 2
and other alleged irregularities
involving various infrastructure projects implemented by
the city government.
The ruling of panel chairperson Sen. Teofisto Guingona
was based on a recommendation earlier made by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel, chairman of
the blue ribbon sub-committee, to cite the Makati officials
in contempt for ignoring the
summons issued to them.
But the implementation of
Guingona’s arrest order was
put on hold after acting Minority Leader Vicente Sotto
questioned procedures used
by the blue ribbon committee
in coming up with the decision.
According to Sotto, since
the issue is highly controversial, it would be proper to let
the majority members of the
Guingona panel decide on the
matter instead of only three
Only senators Antonio
Trillanes, Pimentel and Guingona were present yesterday. Sotto cited Senate
Resolution 145 stating that “a
majority of all the members
of the committee may, however, reverse or modify the
aforesaid order of contempt
within seven days.”
Sen. Francis Escudero
asked if the senate will wait
for seven days before the Office of the Sergeant-at-Arms
implements the arrest order.
Senate President Franklin
Drilon tossed the matter to the
committee on rules, which is
headed by Cayetano.
Because the issue is yet to
be decided by the rules panel,
the arrest order against Binay; Eleno Mendoza, Makati
City administrator; Line dela
Pena, assistant city engineer;
Ebeng Baloloy, Vice President
Jejomar Binay’s aide; Marjorie
de Veyra, former Makati City
administrator and Bernadette
Portollano was put on hold.
Cayetano said he will convene the rules committee today to discuss the manifestations raised by Sotto and
ore than 40 Philippine
were killed in an 11hour firefight with rebels which
erupted while they were chasing
one of the region’s most wanted
militants, police said yesterday.
The clash — which broke out
despite a peace pact with the
main rebel group —was “the single largest loss of life in recent
memory by our security forces”,
said interior minister Manuel
A total of 43 commandos were
killed Sunday in the remote town
of Mamasapano, a known rebel
stronghold, on Mindanao island
in the south, the national police
chief Leonardo Espina told a
news conference.
Regional police spokeswoman
Judith Ambong said separately
the bodies of 49 policemen were
Eleven police were injured but
there was no information on any
rebel casualties.
Almost 400 police commandos swooped before dawn on the
hideout of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a
splinter group which rejects the
peace pact, in search of Zulkifli
bin Hir.
Roxas said police claimed to
have killed Zulkifli, a bombmaker for the Jemaah Islamiyah
(JI) group which staged the 2002
Bali bombings and other deadly
He is among the America’s
most wanted militants, with a
$5mn bounty for his capture.
But as the commandos were
leaving they encountered the
Moro Islamic Liberation Front
(MILF), sparking a “misencounter”, he said.
Philippine National Police (PNP) carry a body bag, containing a member of the Special Action Force, to a van
in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao province yesterday.
The 10,000-strong MILF, the
main rebel group in the south,
signed a peace treaty with the
government in March last year.
The BIFF, a breakaway faction
of several hundred gunmen, was
not part of the deal.
President Benigno Aquino ordered an investigation into the
incident, a major test of the accord intended to end a 40-year
insurgency that has claimed tens
of thousands of lives.
The MILF said police did not
co-ordinate the operation as
required under the ceasefire accord.
“There will be an impact but
we are hopeful and confident
that this will not derail the peace
talks,” Roxas said.
He said Zulkifli was believed
killed based on pictures from the
encounter site, but his body had
not been recovered or positively
The Malaysian is the most
prominent of the 10 to 12 foreign JI members believed hiding
in the Philippines. He slipped
into the southern region in 2003
and has since been training local
militants, according to the military.
Roxas said the leader of the
BIFF, Basit Usman, escaped.
He had been blamed for recent
bomb attacks in the south.
“This is going to be a big prob-
lem,” the MILF’s chief peace
negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said
when asked how the fighting
would affect the peace process,
adding that it still stood.
The MILF had agreed to end
its revolt in the mainly Catholic
nation in exchange for a proposed law now being debated in
parliament that would give minority Muslims self-rule in several southern provinces.
The rebels were scheduled to
start disarming at the start of
this year.
“This is the first encounter
between the MILF and (government forces) this year. Hopefully, this will be the last,” Iqbal
“We are committed (to the
peace process). For the MILF, the
ceasefire still holds,” he said.
The rebel group’s vice chairman, Ghazali Jaafar, said the
peace treaty signed last March
was the only solution to the conflict.
Sunday’s bloodbath highlighted “security challenges”
but nonetheless strengthened
the resolve of negotiators, government peace panel chairperson Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said
in a statement.
Over 1,000 people displaced
by the violence have begun returning to their homes after the
fighting stopped Sunday afternoon, Mamasapano town mayor
Tahirodin Benzar Ampatuan
The firefight was only the second since the ceasefire. Two soldiers and 18 gunmen were killed
in a clash on the southern island
of Basilan in April 2014.
Since the peace accord was
signed, authorities have been
hot on the trail of the BIFF. The
group pledged allegiance to Islamic State fighters in Iraq and
Syria last year.
Bishops’ group urges Comelec to cancel deal with Smartmatic
By Robertzon F Ramirez
Manila Times
ublic opposition continues to mount against alleged midnight deals at
the Commission on Elections
(Comelec), after the poll body’s
unilateral move to grant controversial firm Smartmatic an exclusive contract to repair 80,000
Precinct Count Optical Scan
(PCOS) machines for the 2016
Some 23 members of the
Catholic Bishops’ Conference
of the Philippines (CBCP) and
two priests yesterday urged the
Comelec to immediately rescind
its resolution granting an extended warranty to Smartmatic
for the repair of the PCOS machines.
The call came two days after
Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago filed Senate Resolution 1102
seeking an inquiry by the proper
Senate committee into the allegedly illegal P300mn diagnostics
deal between the Comelec and
Smartmatic, for the refurbishment of the old PCOS machines.
A revelation made by Angel
Averia Jr, a member of the poll
body’s advisory council and
head of the Philippine Computer Emergency Response Team,
describing the Comelec-Smartmatic deal as “grossly overpriced,” prompted Santiago to
ask for a Senate inquiry.
In a letter signed by 23 bishops and two priests, the Church
leaders asked Comelec chairman
Sixto Brillantes Jr to recall Resolution 9922 promulgated on December 23.
“As leaders of the Catholic
Church acting in support of the
advocacy for clean elections, and
for transparent and accountable government, we call on the
Comelec to heed the demand to
rescind Resolution 9922 and that
any decision to this effect be deferred until after the retirement
of the three outgoing officials
of the Comelec, led by Chairman Brillantes, on February 2
this year and the appointment of
their replacements,” the bishops
Brillantes, together with senior commissioner Elias Yusoph
and Lucenito Tagle, are set to re-
tire on February 2, 2015.
The bishops said the poll body
should be prudent to wait for the
appointment of the new Comelec chairman.
“We call on the Comelec
to uphold the rule
of law in the interest
of democracy...”
Bishop Broderick Pabillo,
CBCP Public Affairs Committee chairman, explained that the
new Comelec officials should be
given the chance to decide on the
matter to remove doubts on the
retiring officials benefitting from
the contract, which is being described as a “midnight deal.”
“Can they not wait for one
week?” Pabillo asked.
The bishops said they are
concerned that the resolution
favouring Smartmatic will put
the public at a great disadvantage as manifested by numerous
testimonies on the questionable
PCOS results in previous elections.
“We are disturbed that many
contracts have been awarded
to the Venezuelan company,
Smartmatic, since 2010 to automate Philippine national and
local elections now amounting
to billions of pesos of taxpayers’ money despite undisputed
findings by citizens’ election
watchdogs, IT experts and other
concerned groups pointing to
non-compliance by both Comelec and Smartmatic with election and procurement laws that
compromise the transparency,
security, accuracy and trustworthiness of the automated elections system,” the bishops said
in a letter.
Aside from Pabillo, the signatories are Honesto Ongtioco
of Cubao, Quezon City; Roberto
Mallari of Nueva Ecija; Pedro
Arigo of Puerto Princesa, Palawan; Camilo Gregorio of Batanes; Jose Lazo of Antique; Jose
Advincula of Capiz; Leopoldo
Jaucian of Bangued; Angelito
Lampon of Jolo; Jose Cabantan of Malaybalay, Bukidnon;
Bernardino Cortez of Infanta,
Quezon; Sofronio Bancud of
Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija;
Emmanuel Trance of Catarman; Martin Jumoad of Basilan;
Renato Mayugba of Laoag; Em-
manuel Cabajar of Pagadian;
Ricardo Baccay of Tuguegarao;
Patricio Buzon of Kabankalan;
Patrick Daniel Parcon of Talibon; Joel Baylon of Legazpi City;
Isabelo Abarquez of Calbayog;
Crispin Varquez of Borongan;
and Teodoro Bacani of Novaliches, Quezon City.
Pabillo said he believes that
more bishops would have been
able to sign the letter had there
been enough time to circulate
the letter during the CBCP Plenary Assembly at the Pope Pius
Catholic Centre in Manila.
“We call on the Comelec to
uphold the rule of law in the
interest of democracy and Godgiven people’s sovereign rights
of suffrage and good government,” the bishops said.
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Opposition strike hits rail service
Lankan central
bank to scrap lower
repo penalty rate
A woman sits at the platform as she waits for a train during the countrywide strike called by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) at the Kamlapur railway station in Dhaka
yesterday. Violence erupted in different parts of the country after former prime minister Khaleda Zia called a nationwide transport blockade on January 5, the first anniversary
of a controversial election that her BNP and allies boycotted. According to official estimates, at least 30 people have since been killed in firebomb attacks on passenger buses,
cars and trucks as vehicles plied on highways in defiance of the blockade.
Bangladesh aims to be
world’s ‘first solar nation’
esidents of Islampur, a remote village in the northern Bangladeshi district
of Naogaon, were stunned one
night last summer when the
darkness was suddenly illuminated by electric lights coming
from a village home.
Why the surprise? The community has no connection to the
country’s power grid.
The owner of the house,
Rafiqul Islam, is one of around
homes are now powered by solar
home systems, or SHS, under a
government scheme to provide
clean power to communities
with no access to grid electricity.
The Bangladeshi government aims to provide electricity to all of the country’s households by 2021. With financial
India gifts 20
to Nepal
On the occasion of the 66th
Republic Day of India, the Indian
embassy in Kathmandu yesterday
gifted 20 ambulances and four
buses to various hospitals, nonprofit charitable organisations
and educational institutions in 19
districts of Nepal.
In addition to this, Indian
ambassador Ranjit Rae also
presented books to 75 libraries,
educational and training institutions
located in different parts of Nepal.
He also distributed cheques and
blankets to the widows/dependents
of ex-servicemen and disabled
ex-servicemen who served in the
Gorkha Regiment of the Indian army.
According to the Indian embassy
in Kathmandu, since 1994, the
Indian government has gifted
462 ambulances to various
organisations across 73 districts
in Nepal. This has helped in
bringing healthcare services to
the doorstep of thousands of
people who do not have access
to healthcare.
India has also so far gifted 90
buses to various educational and
welfare institutions across 25
districts in Nepal, making access
to education easier for thousands
of students.
Gifting of ambulances and buses
is a part of the larger India-Nepal
Development Partnership with an
overall outlay of over Nepalese
Rs75bn (over $761mn).
The co-operation consists of over
500 large and small projects in
the sectors of health, education
and infrastructure development
which reflects the commitment of
the government and the people
of India to work together with
the people of Nepal in their stride
towards peace and development,
according to the embassy.
assistance from the World
Bank and other development
partners, it plans to generate
220 megawatts of electricity
for around 6mn households by
2017 through the solar home
system programme.
Each solar home system uses a
solar panel installed on the roof
of an individual home. A 250
watt panel can produce up to
1 kilowatt of power a day.
Following Islam’s example,
many villagers in Islampur have
installed solar home systems,
whether to light their homes or
to run irrigation pumps.
“We are more than happy, because we don’t have power cuts
in our system. But for those who
are connected with the national
grid, blackouts are regular,”
Islam said.
Children are as pleased as
their parents. A few years ago,
accessing entertainment such as
cartoons meant renting a televi-
sion and a DVD player along with
a battery, which most people
could afford to do at most twice
a year.
“Now children can have their
own fun time every day,” Islam said. His daughter said
she also can study until late
into the evening thanks to the
electric light.
According to the government-owned
Development Company Limited (IDCOL), which began
the solar home system project
in 2003, 3.5mn households –
about 10% of the country’s total – had installed SHS by the
end of 2014.
50,00060,000 Bangladeshi households are connected with a solar
home system. In May 2014, more
than 80,000 connections were
made,” said Mahmood Malik,
head of IDCOL. The company
runs the scheme with 47 part-
ners, including nongovernmental organisations and businesses.
Dipal C Barua, a solar home
system pioneer in Bangladesh
and president of the Bangladesh
Solar and Renewable Energy Association, said that when the
technology was introduced in
1996, it faced a range of barriers, such as the high cost of solar
panels and a shortage of expertise for installation.
But 18 years on, both barriers have eased and solar home
systems save the country
200,000 tonnes of kerosene annually, worth about $180mn,
Barua said.
“My dream is to empower
75mn Bangladeshis through renewable energy by 2020 and
make Bangladesh the first comprehensive solar nation of the
world,” he said.
The government is providing low-interest loans to private
companies to import and install
solar panels for SHS, while businesses offer households or endusers low down-payments and
the option to repay the cost of
a solar home system over a period of one to three years. A 100
watt panel costs around 50,000
Bangladeshi taka ($640).
In addition to the SHS scheme,
the government has constructed
a 100 kilowatt solar power plant
in Sandwip Island, in the Bay
of Bengal, which began operating in 2010. There are plans to
create 50 more so-called mini
solar grids around the country
by 2017, with the combined capacity to run more than 1,500
irrigation pumps.
The government is encouraging domestic and foreign investment in the plants by offering
grants and low-interest loans to
“We are very much in the process of creating a green Bangladesh,”
said Malik.
ri Lanka’s central bank
is expected to hold key
interest rates steady at
record lows today for a 12th
straight month, but tighten
policy by scrapping the lower
repo rate paid to banks that
use the standing deposit facility more than three times
a month, a Reuters poll
The repurchase, or standing deposit facility rate, is at
6.50% and reverse repurchase
rate or standing lending facility is at 8.00%, while commercial banks’ statutory reserve
ratio (SRR) is at 6.00%.
Eleven out of 12 analysts
expected the central bank to
leave rates unchanged while
one analyst predicted the
monetary authority would
raise both repo and reverse
repo rates by 25 basis points.
Ten out of 12 analysts polled,
however, expect the central
bank to remove the lower repo
rate of 5% paid to commercial
if they use the standing deposit facility more than three
times in one month.
The central bank, in a move
tantamount to an interest rate
cut, said in September said that
it would pay only 5% interest
rate, instead of 6.5%, to commercial banks using its standing
deposit facility for a fourth time
or more in a calendar month.
The limit was imposed
to discourage commercial
banks from parking its deposits in the central bank.
Instead, the central bank
asked banks to lend more
to customers at lower rates.
“Removing the limit is an
indirect signal of rise in market interest rates,” an analyst
told Reuters on condition of
anonymity. “When the central
bank introduced it the market
rates fell more than 1% without a rate cut. If they remove
it, market rates will rise by
more than 1%.”
The central bank, under the
new stewardship of Governor
Arjuna Mahendran, will announce its decision at 7:30 am
(0200 GMT) today.
The government will announce its interim budget on
Between December 2012 and
January 2014, the central bank
cut the repurchase rate, or repo
rate, by 125 basis points (bps)
and the reverse repurchase rate,
the reverse repo, by 175 bps to
stimulate economic growth.
The pace of economic
growth is estimated to have
picked up to 7.8% last year
from 7.3% in 2013. The central
bank has forecast growth at
8% this year.
Sri Lankan rupee forwards
ended a tad weaker yesterday
due to importer dollar demand,
while exporters awaited direction from the monetary policy
and a supplementary budget
later this week, dealers said.
Fears of possible depreciation also kept exporters away
from the market, dealers said.
“Rupee is weaker with diminishing exporter dollar
conversions,” a dealer said.
“The market is expecting depreciation in the short term
with the widening trade balance and in line with global
Funeral prayers for
Zia’s son Koko today
By Mizan Rahman
he body of Arafat Rahman Koko will be flown
in to Dhaka today.
The funeral prayers for
Koko, younger son Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)
chairperson Khaleda Zia, will
be held at Baitul Mukarram
National Mosque after Asar
prayers today.
After the prayers, Koko’s
body will be buried at Banani
Army Graveyard, said BNP
joint secretary general Ruhul
Kabir Rizvi.
Koko, who had been living in Malaysia on parole,
died of cardiac arrest in Kuala
Lumpur on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the first funeral
prayers for Koko were held
on the premises of Malaysian
Mosque after Zohr prayers on
His body has been kept at the
mortuary of the Malaya University Hospital in Malaysia.
End of road for Nepal’s Himalayan ‘caravans’
or generations, traders
and their colourful herds
of mules and yaks were a
lifeline for remote communities in the heart of Nepal’s formidable and often dangerous
The traders bravely plied
an ancient trail, ferrying salt,
grains and other goods between
neighbouring China’s vast
Tibetan plateau and Nepal’s
middle hills, a profession that
endured for centuries.
But the Nepal government’s
plan to build a road through the
isolated border region means
the traders’ livelihood and
their traditional way of life will
almost certainly be lost.
The road will allow cars and
trucks for the first time to transport goods that have been borne
almost exclusively by the traders’ teams of animals known as
“We don’t go where there are
roads, only to places which have
no road access. We can’t even
begin to compete with trucks,”
trader Rachhe Kami said as he
loaded up his mules in Simikot
town, some 3,000m (9,840ft)
above sea level.
“When the road is built, I am
going to have a big problem.
No work will come my way,” he
said of selling his goods to communities in Humla and neighbouring districts, in Nepal’s top
northwest corner.
Not everyone despairs of the
new road. Many of Humla’s
Caravan herders guide their mules and donkey loaded with goods from the China border at Simikot, headquarters of the Humla district,
some 430km northwest of Kathmandu.
50,000-odd residents living
high in the Himalayas hope
tonnes of currently scarce goods
will soon be quickly and cheaply
During trading season, lasting roughly from March until
November, when the weather is
good, Kami spends every night
outdoors on the trail. Herders sleep in shifts, taking turns
to tend a fire and watch out
for snow leopards, wolves and
other predators.
The profession, highlighted
in the 1999 Oscar-nominated
film Himalaya, is risky.
One of Kami’s colleagues fell
into a river and drowned last
year and the 38-year-old nearly
lost his own life when he was
caught in a snowstorm near the
Nepal-China border in 2012.
“I thought then that I should
do something else for a living
but this is the only work I can
do,” the father of four said.
Many traders struggle to
make a decent living in this impoverished corner of the world,
with communities now sourcing some goods from neighbouring India and elsewhere.
But 50 years ago, business
was brisk, profits were high
and the animals decked in bells
and colourful bridles ruled the
snow-capped mountains.
“The caravans used to be the
life force of this region — sup-
plying every household with
rice, grains, salt, whatever they
needed,” 67-year-old Tondhup
Lama said.
Lama was a teenager when he
followed his father and grandfather into the business, bartering locally-grown barley for
Tibetan salt, which he would
then trade for rice from Nepal’s
middle hills.
The fortnight-long journey
to the border revealed a world
untouched by modernity.
“There was nothing there
- we would negotiate with Tibetan nomads living in tents,
who would bring us salt and
wool which we would barter for
grain,” he said.
“Back then, we were the rich
The business suffered its first
serious setback when Nepal introduced subsidised supplies of
iodised salt from India in 1973,
aiming to curb illnesses such as
goitre and cretinism.
The market for Tibetan salt
took a hit but traders adapted
quickly, sourcing cheap clothing from India, which they
would sell for cash within Nepal
or barter for wool and butter at
the China border.
In a good month, Lama’s
family earned up to Rs20,000
($201) - enough to keep them
going during harsh winters
when heavy snowfall blocks
key mountain passes.
“It was a challenging life but
I enjoyed the adventure, the
travel,” he said.
Less than a decade later, the
Nepal government dealt another blow and this time business
would not bounce back.
New rules designed to protect
forests allowed local residents
to charge traders high taxes
for use of traditional grazing
grounds for their animals.
“Policy planners in Kathmandu never considered what
this would mean for us mountain people, they never thought
about our needs,” former Humla
lawmaker Chhakka Bahadur
Lama said.
Unable to make ends meet,
longtime herders like Tondhup
Lama quit the trade, selling his
yaks, sheep and horses to take
up farming.
Today, the few traders left say
they have no other employment
options and although they still
travel to the China border, the
Tibetan nomads have vanished
and the trade has changed.
On sale at the border are
cheap Chinese clothing, agricultural equipment and liquor.
Most agree that modernity
must come to the neglected region, but lament the impending
disappearance of the caravans.
“Our way of life is simply too
primitive to survive in the modern age,” ex-lawmaker Lama
“It’s not just a question of a
traditional economy ending, it’s
a culture melting away, it’s the
end of an era and a sad day in
many ways.”
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Chairman: Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Attiyah
Editor-in-Chief : Darwish S Ahmed
Production Editor: C P Ravindran
P.O.Box 2888
Doha, Qatar
[email protected]
Telephone 44350478 (news),
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Fax 44350474
Age no barrier as
tennis veterans
keep swinging
The Williams sisters and Roger Federer are proof
that being on the wrong side of 30 is no barrier to
success on the tennis court, but they have had to
adjust to stay on top.
More than 40 players at this year’s Australian Open
are over 30, with Japan’s remarkable Kimiko DateKrumm the oldest at 44, playing her first Grand Slam
in 1989.
Others still going strong include Francesa Schiavone,
Vera Zvonareva, Daniela Hantuchova and Zheng Jie.
Among the men, world number two Federer at 33 has
shown time and again that remaining at the pinnacle
in your tennis twilight years is possible.
David Ferrer, Ivo Karlovic, Mikhail Youzhny and
Lleyton Hewitt are all into their thirties and still
earning a living from the game they love.
Two of the longest-serving members of the tour are
the Williams sisters, with Venus making her debut in
1995 and Serena in 1997. Both are still in the fray at
ages 34 and 33 respectively.
Serena remains world number one, proving that age
really is no barrier.
“When you walk on
that court, there is
no such thing as age,
height, any of that
stuff,” said Venus after
winning her third round
match on Saturday.
“It’s really an even
playing field. It’s a
matter of can you get the ball in? Can you win the
point or not.”
The stats back this up with 14 WTA titles last year
claimed by those in the 30s, led by Serena Williams
but also including Venus, Pennetta, Sam Stosur and
the now-retired Li Na.
Thirteen of the men’s titles won last year were by
over 30s.
Perhaps the greatest player of all time, Federer feels
he has more success in him despite a shock exit in the
Australian Open third round on Friday, insisting: “I
don’t feel any different to let’s say four years ago.”
“You maybe pay attention a bit more and listen to
the signs of your body a bit more,” he said ahead of his
“I think that becomes, in my opinion, more
important than the whole body talk that everybody
puts emphasis on.”
Venus agrees that as a player gets older the mental
side becomes more important, with out-thinking an
opponent becoming a key part of her game.
“Even when I’m not playing as well, I think I’m able
tactically to be more strategic than even, let’s say,
Venus of 2000.
“So I think strategically it’s more helpful, even if I
am not on top of my game.
Former US Open champion Stosur is now 31 and
said as long as the desire to win was there, age didn’t
There’s also no age barrier to being a great
competitor, she said, adding if players are fit enough
they can compete no matter their age.
Hopefully, players like the Williams sisters and
Federer are good enough for a few more titles.
Reasons people dump their
communications providers
Fixing the problem early on,
or taking time to create a
great initial experience, goes
a long way toward building
equity with customers
By Tom Springer and
Gregory Garnier
educing customer departures
and defections has become
a chief priority for most
communications service
providers as markets mature and
competition intensifies. So why do
high levels of customer churn persist?
In the past these companies
thrived as customer acquisition
machines, built to grow through rapid
penetration of the digital television,
Internet and voice products they
introduced. They still invest more in
advertising and marketing than they
do in service technicians or set-top
box capabilities that would delight or
at least retain customers.
As a result, churn tends to hover
around 2% to 2.5% per month.
For a wireline company with 5mn
customers, that means an estimated
1.32mn people and $2bn in revenue
walk out the door each year.
We see five common fallacies
about churn that hinder breakout
Fallacy 1: One or two poor
episodes cause churn
Competitors’ promotional offers do
sometimes lure customers to switch,
but it’s typically after a long period
of eroding trust, which results from a
series of misadventures ranging from
a poor installation to spotty network
performance to a faulty bill.
To counteract churn journeys
in progress, some companies are
experimenting with event-triggered
service escalation. For example,
multiple trouble calls within a week
trigger an outbound service call from
an elite troubleshooting unit, which
has the authority to schedule an
immediate service visit if the problem
can’t be resolved quickly over the
Fallacy 2: Intervention at any
point can save the day
After a few negative episodes, it
becomes increasingly difficult and
expensive to intervene successfully.
It’s futile to make an offer of expanded
services or lower prices in an effort to
“save” the customer at the moment
the customer is attempting to quit.
These bribes sometimes avert
defection in the moment, but they’re
ineffective and costly over the longer
Fixing the problem early on, or
taking time to create a great initial
experience, goes a long way toward
building equity with customers.
Verizon, for instance, has learned
that the installation of its FiOS
package in the home is a moment of
Instead of taking the standard
approach of doing the installation
as fast as possible, Verizon’s welltrained staff often spend four to six
hours in a customer’s home, running
through how the system works and
making sure that every application
is functioning well. That makes
the experience memorable for the
customer and also sets up Verizon for
fewer technical troubles later on.
Fallacy 3: One silver bullet will
stop churn
Given that churn results from a
chain of episodes, the chain is only
as strong as its weak links. Fixing
one link at a time merely extends the
time it takes to see results. Instead,
it pays to attack on multiple fronts,
after teasing out the root causes of
a problem. This starts by soliciting
customer feedback about all of the
important episodes they experience
and cataloging any problems by
type and frequency. The company
can then take remedial actions,
which help turn customers into loyal
One provider we worked with had
been focusing its churn-reduction
efforts on back-end saves and price
concessions. After it started to solicit
customer feedback and analyze
the root causes of dissatisfaction,
the provider uncovered issues with
product performance, which it traced
back to a lack of investment in the
network. Using that information,
the company then doubled down on
investing in repair and maintenance of
its physical plant.
Fallacy 4: Satisfying customers
is good enough
For some executives, the lack of
churn among customers suggests
that an unruly few cause most
of the problems. If customer
satisfaction scores are reasonable,
the thinking goes, there’s no
systemic problem.
But the bar for satisfaction is
relatively low. Fixing service defects
might satisfy the customer yet still not
engender active advocacy. Companies
must also emphasise “wow” moments
that delight customers, especially
high-value customers.
For each moment of truth, it’s
critical to take the customer’s point of
view. In a fibre-optic installation, the
field technician can do everything by
the book, but if after the technician’s
departure the customer is not able to
receive e-mail, that will cause major
frustration requiring an expensive
follow-up call.
Taking a customer-centred view,
the technician would sit with the
customer to walk through e-mail and
other applications, making sure they
work as promised.
Fallacy 5: Success hinges on
installing the right technology and
The best infrastructure won’t
be enough to stem the tide of
customer defections. Companies
need highly engaged employee
teams with the right data and
feedback from customers, and
a culture that focuses first on
customers’ priorities.
Such feedback helped a European
telecommunications provider reduce
the excessive flow of customer
inquiries to its call center.
Among the persistent complaints
were confusing bills and product
installation guides, limited call centre
hours and long phone wait times.
Armed with solid data, the company
set about revising each of these areas,
which helped to sharply reduce the
volume of calls and increase customer
loyalty scores.
Most customers will tolerate
mistakes if they perceive the
company acts in good faith. And
they’re willing to give their advocacy
to companies that win them over
early on. For service providers,
improving customers’ overall
experiences will be far more effective
than bribing unhappy customers to
zGregory Garnier is a Middle Eastbased partner and Tom Springer is
a Boston-based partner of Bain &
Company. Follow @BainInsights on
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players at this
year’s Australian
Open are over
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Anti-austerity Syriza party supporters celebrating after victory in the election in Athens.
Eurosceptics hail Greek election
By Alvise Armellini
he triumph of the leftist,
anti-austerity Syriza party
in Greece has emboldened
eurosceptic parties around
Europe, even if some of them are
concerned by demands to renegotiate
the loans Athens received from the
A disparate collection of protest
parties already accounts for about
one third of the seats in the European
Parliament. In countries like France,
Britain and Austria, anti-EU forces are
riding high in opinion polls and could
one day win power.
“I am pleased because I think that
(Syriza’s victory) puts euro-austerity
on trial,” Marine Le Pen, the leader of
France’s hard-right National Front which wants to close national borders
and ditch the euro - told RTL radio.
She hailed the Greek results as
“a huge democratic slap in the
face” for the European Union, and
criticised France and Germany for
vetoing a referendum that the Greek
government wanted to hold in 2011 on
EU-recommended austerity measures.
Anticipating questions on whether
the leftist Syriza made a strange
ideological bedfellow for her party, Le
Pen said: “To be free, is neither rightor left-wing” and “with the European
Union we are no longer free”.
Syriza rejects the eurosceptic tag,
and wants to keep Greece in the euro,
albeit on its terms. The closest ally it
has in Europe is Spain’s Podemos, a
protest movement that also sees itself
as neither left or right, which could
win elections due in November.
Tsipras’ triumph
in Greece has
across the European
“You can already hear the ‘tick
tock’ of change,” Podemos leader
Pablo Iglesias said at a Sunday rally,
criticising the austerity policies that
the EU forced on Greece.
Elsewhere in the eurozone, antiestablishment politicians were less
enthusiastic, fearing the consequences
of Greek debt renegotiation demands.
“We must not allow the money
of European taxpayers to be used
to finance a communist model (in
Greece), even if this reallocation
philosophy seems to be one of the
main skills of Europe’s Left,” said
Austria’s far-right Freedom Party
Its general secretary and chief EU
parliamentarian, Harald Vilimsky,
relaunched the idea of splitting the
European currency into a northern and
a southern euro - a plan that has been
floated by the FPOe in the past.
“I am very happy about the
emerging election result in Greece,”
Beatrix von Storch, a European
Parliament member for the German
anti-euro party Alternative Für
Deutschland (AfD), said in a
But she said that EU leaders had to
react by offering Syriza leader and new
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras
an ultimatum: respect debt repayment
commitments and stay in the euro, or
default and leave the currency bloc.
AfD leader Bernd Lucke said
yesterday: “Syriza doesn’t question
the euro now per se, they just want
their debt cancelled and to get more
credit. These things are incompatible.”
In Italy, Northern League leader
Matteo Salvini - an anti-euro,
anti-migration ally of Le Pen whose
popularity ratings are soaring -
welcomed the “slap” to the EU, but
warned that Italians were “facing a
very grave threat.”
“If Tsipras does what he has
promised, which is to rediscuss
agreements and renegotiate the
debt,” Italy stands to lose the money
it has lent Greece by contributing to
eurozone bailout funds, he told RAI
state television on Sunday.
British eurosceptics also joined the
The United Kingdom
Independence Party (UKIP), which
advocates Britain’s exit from the
EU, characterised Syriza’s victory
as “a desperate cry for help from
the Greek people, millions of whom
have been impoverished by the euro
In the same Sunday statement,
leader Nigel Farage predicted that
Tsipras and Merkel would now engage
in “an extraordinary game of poker”
over the softening of Greece’s bailout
loans, which Berlin firmly opposes.
Separately, conservative Prime
Minister David Cameron, who
has promised a referendum on EU
membership, wrote on Twitter: “The
Greek election will increase economic
uncertainty across Europe. That’s
why (Britain) must stick to our plan,
delivering security at home.”
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Focus — how to get things done
The human mind is
incredibly susceptible to
distraction, especially
when you are trying to be
By Ahmed al-Akber
e are
repeatedly do.
Excellence then, is not an act, but a
habit, so said Aristotle.
How do we make ideas happen?
Have you ever heard someone say they
always wanted to do something, such
as start a business or write a book
(or anything that would positively
improve their marketing results) only
to see them never get around to doing
it? Part of the reason could be that
they are too distracted by other things
that encroach on their daily lives.
The human mind is incredibly
susceptible to distraction, especially
when you are trying to be creative. It is
just so much easier to pick up a phone
call from someone or answer an e-mail
than it is to sit quietly, undistracted,
and to focus on something proactive
until it gets done.
Overcoming distractions: There
are many distractions at our
fingertips today. Social media, instant
messaging, the Internet. All it takes is
a ping or a whistle from one of these
apps and our attention gets diverted
from what we were meant to do. We
tell ourselves that we will take a short
“break” of one or two minutes, but
these can take several minutes to get
your mind focused back on what you
were doing before being distracted.
And being distracted is not only
the problem – so can the process of
resisting the urge to be distracted
also be a problem, research by the
University of Copenhagen found.
Some participants who were asked
to perform a task on a computer
were then exposed to a funny video,
while others were faced with a
play button for the video, but had
to resist playing it. The group was
then asked to perform an additional
task afterward. Those that resisted
watching the video performed worse
in this task than those that were
allowed to watch it.
So it’s not simply a matter of
overcoming distractions as it is to
prevent them in the first place. If you
have to, change your usual place of
work to somewhere where there are
less distractions. I tend to switch off
my devices until I’m done with my
critical assignments and then reward
myself by connecting to social media
and other channels.
The multitasking myth: The
human brain can only concentrate
on one thing at a time. There is a
large amount of evidence that shows
that multitasking is ineffective.
Take writing an email while taking
a phone call. According to John
Medina, author of Brain Rules, It can
take up to 50% longer to accomplish
those tasks than if they were done
separately, and studies show that the
brain makes about four times more
errors switching between tasks than
It certainly does feel productive
to carry out multiple tasks
simultaneously, but to what end if you
are not achieving the right results?
The hangover effect: Letting go
of unfinished challenges is not that
easy to do. Your mind continues
to try to solve them even after you
have stopped working on them.
Dr Chrisitian Jarrett, co-author of
Manage Your Day-To-Day, describes
this as the hangover effect: “They
continue to draw on our mental
Anyone that requests your attention
or presence during those times are
asked to schedule at another date.
During this time, you must resist
distraction: email, phone, social
media, and Internet should be off and
hidden away. Cal Newport, co-author
of Manage Your Day-To-Day has
these tips to ensure you overcome
zStart small, and work your way
up. Start with a small amount of
time, such as an hour, and build from
there. Add 15 minutes every week or
two, till you have enough time in your
daily focus block to do something
significant. If you get distracted
during that time, cancel the whole
block and try again later. Your mind
can never come to believe that even a
little bit of distraction is okay during
these blocks.
zTackle something concrete. Use
the focus block to tackle something
concrete (such as writing an article).
Make sure you know what you want to
achieve by the time the focus block’s
time is up.
zUse different locations. Move
to another room or do something as
simple as closing the door to your
office during the focus block time. If
your online access is off during this
time (such as phone calls and emails),
then your o-ffline access should be the
resources even after we think we’ve
switched focus. What’s more,
attempting to ignore this mental tug
drains us even further.”
Jarrett encourages readers to find a
place to stop at while working on the
project. One that can easily convince
your brain that you are done with the
project for now, until you next have it
scheduled to pick it up again.
Daily focus blocks: To achieve
anything worthwhile, you have to
have the ability to have your mind
focus. There is no better method I
know than to have daily focus blocks.
This technique builds-off of the prescheduled appointment. You simply
block the daily chunks of time you
need to carry out your project in
your calendar, and make sure it is
zAhmed al-Akber is the managing
director of ACK Solutions, a firm
that helps companies to improve
their marketing and sales results by
offering more effective ways attracting
customers and significantly 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 protected]
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By e-mail
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I would like to express my thanks
to Gulf Times for its regular updates
on the proposed changes in Qatar’s
sponsorship rules. That is why I have
to disagree with the remarks of MH in
his letter “Right time for rule changes”
(Gulf Times, January 25) that “it is
more than eight months since the
announcement was made” and
“there have been no reports about any
concrete progress in this regard”.
After the initial report on the Qatar
government’s plan to make changes to
the labour laws in May last year, Gulf
Times has published regular updates
on the development, which I have
been following keenly.
Clippings from Gulf Times
Let me give at least three
examples. There were reports
about this on May 5, 2014, page
1; September 6, 2014, page 1;
and December 28, 2014, page 24.
Maybe there have been more. So it
is not true to say that there have
not been any reports about the
labour rule changes after the first
Incidentally, I also firmly
believe that the proposed changes
in the laws, as published, will
benefit both the employer and the
employee. I am sure that it will be a
vast improvement upon the present
Aslam Ali
(e-mail address supplied)
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Around the region
Live issues
Abu Dhabi
Workouts get smart and streamlined
Kuwait City
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By Dorene Internicola
New York/Reuters
hen 55-year-old Connie
Antoniou visits her
fitness studio, the leg
press knows her name.
“The machines are programmed for
my body so they take the guesswork
out and I’m not worried I’ll injure
myself,” said Antoniou, an Illinois
realtor. “The traditional approach
didn’t work for me. It just took too
An increasing number of gyms
are using high-tech exercise
equipment that can prompt,
respond and adapt to individuals in
what fitness experts say may signal
a future that frees clients from
trying to gauge how fast, how hard
or how long to work out.
Now her trainer at The Exercise
Coach fitness studio punches a code
into the fitness machine, her name
pops up on a screen, and a session
tailored to her personal goals and
strengths begins.
Antoniou said because of the
workout she is stronger and has
improved her golf game with just two
20 minute sessions per week.
The Exercise Coach, a Chicagobased firm that has 30 franchises
nationally, is among the gyms and
fitness studios turning to responsive
machines to improve workouts.
“The paradigm is shifting to
workouts that are briefer, more
challenging, more intense, and less
frequent,” said Bryan Cygan, the
Around the world
founder and chief executive of The
Exercise Coach.
He cited research published in the
journal Preventive Medicine showing
virtually all benefits of resistance
training are likely to be obtained in two
15- to 20-minute training sessions a
“We take individual snapshots of
customers and provide exercises that
are appropriate to them,” he explained.
“Then our software makes intelligent
The coach-led, circuit-style
workouts cost up to $40 each and
typically include leg curls, leg presses,
multiple upper body exercises, and
core work and elliptical trainers.
Ted Vickey, senior consultant on
fitness technology for the American
Council on Exercise, said the big box
gyms are also exploring the benefits of
responsive machines.
“The problem is that people aren’t
exercising, period,” said Vickey,
who is finishing a PhD on the uses of
technology in fitness. “I’m a fan of
small steps.”
Vickey says wearable trackers are
currently the most important fitness
devices. He envisions a future in which
fitness centres resemble fitness hubs,
where clients with stored information
can get professional recommendations.
“I like the fact that we can use that
tech to make a change , but I want
humans to make that change,” he said.
“I don’t want equipment telling me
what to do.”
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Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
HE the Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage Dr Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kuwari, and Indian Ambassador Sanjiv Arora cut a cake as Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ director of protocol Ibrahim
Yousuf Fakhroo and officials of Indian forums look on yesterday at a reception organised in co-operation with the Indian Cultural Centre to celebrate the 66th Republic Day of India.
Indian expatriates
mark Republic Day
By Ramesh Mathew
Staff Reporter
ndian expatriates in Qatar
celebrated their country’s
66th Republic Day at a function held at the Indian embassy
Indian Ambassador Sanjiv
Arora hoisted the national flag,
followed by the rendering of the
national anthem, led by a group
of students from the Indian
schools. Once the anthem concluded, community members
raised the slogan “Vande Mataram,” which means “I praise thee,
Soon after the flag-hoisting,
Arora read out the speech delivered by Indian President Pranab
Mukherjee to the nation on the
eve of the celebrations.
In the speech, the copies of
which were distributed to all, the
ambassador recalled the developments that contributed to the
formation of the Indian Republic
on January 26, 1950. It specifically recalled that the Father of
the Nation Mahatma Gandhi did
not live to see the establishment
of the Indian Republic as he had
been assassinated two years earlier.
“However, the framework
of the Indian constitution that
made India a role model for today’s world was constructed out
of Gandhiji’s philosophy and its
essence lays in the four principles of democracy, freedom of
faith, gender equality and economic upsurge for those trapped
in the curse of dire poverty,” it
was mentioned.
The address also recalled
the roles of Jawaharlal Nehru,
Sardar Vallabhai Patel, Subhash
Chandra Bose, Bhagat Singh,
Rabindranath Tagore and Subramaniya Bharati in raising the
patriotism of the Indians, along
thousands of unsung heroes
who sacrificed their lives during the freedom struggle.
The importance of protecting
the honour of women from violence of any kind was stressed.
“Only a nation that respects and
empowers its women can become a global power”.
India’s achievement of 5%
GDP growth in the first two
quarters of 2014-15 found mention along with the prospect of a
reversion to a high growth of 7 to
8% as witnessed some four years
The address also highlighted
the establishment of a government, giving majority to a single-
party after nearly three decades.
The speech ended with the
mention of an anecdote during Gandhiji’s visit of Kolkata
in 1901 for attending the annual
session of the Indian National
Congress, where he reportedly
took up a broom and cleaned the
surroundings dirtied by fellow
delegates, thus highlighting the
importance of maintaining everywhere clean.
The students rendered patriotic songs, which were well
received by the gathering. The
ambassador and other embassy
officials lauded them and their
teachers. Chhaya Arora, the wife
of the Indian envoy, also presented gifts to the children and
Indian Ambassador Sanjiv Arora hoisting the National Flag at the
Republic Day celebrations yesterday. PICTURES: Jayan Orma
The Indian envoy addressing community members on the occasion.
HBKU hosts students from
Colorado State University
Faculty, staff, and graduate students from Colorado State University at
Hamad Bin Khalifa University.
amad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), a
member of Qatar Foundation (QF), hosted 25 faculty,
staff, and graduate students
from Colorado State University from January 4 to 16 as part
of HBKU’s Qatar Study Tour
(QST) and Young Professionals
Institute (YPI) programmes.
These programmes, which
are based on a partnership
with graduate institutions in
the US and delivered by HBKU
Student Affairs’ staff, serve to
showcase how student affair
ideas transform education in
Since their inception in
2010, the QST and YPI programmes have enabled participants to broaden and exchange
their knowledge, while extending their professional network
and enhancing intercultural
QST participants gain insight into higher education
and student affairs in Qatar by
engaging with senior administrators from HBKU, its partner
universities in Education City,
and Qatar University. Participants are also invited to explore
Education City as well as visiting many of the cultural sites in
Doha during their stay.
The YPI programme, an intensive four-day learning experience, encourages graduate
students from collaborating
institution in the US to engage with an equal number of
stakeholders from institutions
in Qatar. Working in teams,
participants research, discuss
and tackle a wide range of student affairs issues; presenting
their findings to directly contribute to more effective practices.
Issues discussed this year
included “Student Affairs
Profession: A Job or a Career,”
“Culturally Appropriate Student Activism,” “Challenges of
Working in Start-Ups,” “Student Affairs Practices and Local
Laws” and the “Internationalisation of Higher Education and
Student Affairs in the Arabian
Dr. Khalid al-Khanji, vice
president of Student Affairs at
HBKU, emphasised: “Increasing the breadth of international
understanding among student
affairs, professionals has the
potential to open a new frontier and future for the field.
The 2015 Qatar Study Tour
and Young Professionals Institute was an innovative shared
learning experience where educators from the US and Qatar
came together to understand
student affairs and leadership
at a deeper level.”
Blanche Hughes, vice president of Student Affairs at
Colorado State University,
spoke about his experience
with the initiative: “Colorado
State University values our
partnership and relationships
with staff members at HBKU
and the branch campuses. Our
graduate students, staff, and
faculty have thoroughly enjoyed the numerous cultural
immersion activities, educational sessions, and engaging
shadowing discussions during
the QST and YPI to more effectively work with students in a
global context.”
Winners of one of the events celebrate at the festival.
Dau events at falcons
festival conclude today
he Dau events at the sixth
Qatar International Falcons and Hunting Festival
will conclude today at Sabkhet
Marmi near Sealine, Mesaieed.
The Dau event serves to showcase the falconer’s skill at training his falcon for speed. A falcon
is required to cross, in the shortest time, a distance of 400m toward its owner, who is signalling
to approach at the event’s finish
Visitors from a variety of
backgrounds, including citizens,
residents and tourists have been
attending the festival’s events,
which have become a landmark
event for those with an interest in
cultural heritage, photographers
and falconry fans.
They included the French Ambassador Eric Chevallier, who
visited the festival with family
members, friends and colleagues
from the embassy.
“It is exciting to see not just
the development and growth that
Qatar has achieved, but to see
this in balance with a respect for
its culture and pride in its identity and heritage, and falconry is
a good example here,” he said.
The Tala’a event, which saw its
A contestant launches his falcon.
final round on Saturday, was won
by Mohamed Ali Salem al-Tammam al-Ghaithani, who received
a Toyota Land Cruiser for winning the event. Abdulhadi Hamad Abdulhadi al-Hadwan came
in second, also receiving a Land
Cruiser, while Faisal Mohamed
Rashed al-Ali al-Ma’adhid came
in third place, and received a
prize of QR100,000.
The Tala’a event tested the
falcon’s ability to identify the location of the prey: an electronic
Habari bird (or bustard) was used
in place of a real bird; it resembled a real bird in terms of shape,
size and colour. The Habari was
placed at a distance of 1km and
time counted from the moment
the falcon is released.
The festival, being organised
by the Gannas Society under the
patronage of HE Sheikh Joaan
bin Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani,
runs until January 31.
2014 DATA | Page 5
Japan’s trade
deficit hits
record $109bn
EU open to later
Greek debt
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Rabia II 7, 1436 AH
Qatari businessman
is Italian Chamber of
Commerce Qatar’s
honorary president
Masraf Al Rayan’s 2014 net
profit jumps 18% to QR2bn
asraf Al Rayan has reported an 18% jump in net profit to QR2bn in
2014 and recommended 17.5% cash dividend for shareholders.
Total assets were up 20% to QR80.09bn with financing portfolio
growing 40% to QR57.91bn, a bank spokesman said.
Customers’ deposits grew 30% to QR62.57bn.
Shareholders equity, before distribution, reached QR11.35bn, registering
an 8% growth.
The bank’s return on assets continues to be one of the highest in the market at 2.50% and that on equity was 17.64% at the end of December 31, 2014.
Capital adequacy ratio reached 18.36% using Basel-III standards compared to 20.55% on December 31, 2013 based on Basel-II standards.
Earnings per share for the period reached QR2.67 compared to QR2.27 at
the end of year 2013.
Operational efficiency ratio, as measured by cost to income ratio, stood at
19.16%, which continues to be one of the best in the region.
Non-performing loans (NPL) ratio of 0.09% continues to be one of the
lowest in the banking industry, reflecting a very strong and prudent credit
risk management policies and procedures.
“2014 financial results is a strong testimony of the successful implementation of the thoughtful strategic plans of the bank,” Masraf Al Rayan Group
CEO Adel Mustafawi said.
Bank plans largest ETF, sukuk fund
Masraf Al Rayan is establishing
an exchange traded fund (ETF),
which will be the largest in the
The Shariah-principled lender
is also coming out with a sukuk
trading fund (income generating
fund), for investment in fixed
income markets with target yield
exceeding earnings from deposit
accounts and shall be distributed
annually to investors.
Both the funds would be
managed by Al Rayan
Investment, a subsidiary of the
The proposed ETF would involve
trading Shariah-compliant stocks
on the Qatar Stock Exchange
tracking Al Rayan Islamic Index,
which was introduced last year.
The bank will seek shareholders
approval through its annual
general assembly meeting,
scheduled to be held on March 2.
The local bourse had been toying
with the idea of broadening the
investment universe as it aims
to be a regional hub for capital
markets in the wider Gulf region.
ETFs are mostly (but not
exclusively) index-based
open-ended funds that can
be bought and sold as quickly
and easily as ordinary shares
on a stock exchange. They
provide investors with the
opportunity to access markets
that were previously closed
to them. The bourse’s first
phase saw reforms in the cash
market with an aim to enhance
the liquidity in the market by
introducing liquidity providers
as well as securities lending
and borrowing. A part of the
strategy in this phase includes
the launch of ETFs.
Masraf Al Rayan’s total assets surged 20% to QR80.09bn with its financing portfolio growing 40% to QR57.91bn, a
bank spokesman said.
QPI integrated into
Qatar Petroleum
in growth push
Qatar Petroleum’s board of directors has
decided to integrate Qatar Petroleum
International (QPI) into QP in an effort to
further expand Qatar Petroleum’s growth,
development and international presence.
With this integration, QP will leverage a
combined set of technical, commercial
and financial capabilities, while ensuring
the highest effectiveness and efficiency in
the use and deployment of its human and
financial resources.
The integration will see QPI’s employees,
assets and projects transition into the new
QP organisation commencing in March this
QP president and CEO Saad Sherida alKaabi said: “The integration of QPI into QP
will unquestionably help us enhance our
ability to expand internationally and extract
further value for QP and the State of Qatar
across the oil and gas value chain.”
“QP looks forward with enthusiasm,
confidence and a great sense of pride and
responsibility to deliver on its next phase
of international growth. We are confident
that this integration will further support
QP’s vision to become a world-class oil and
gas corporation, with its roots in Qatar, and
a strong international presence,” al-Kaabi
QPI chief executive officer Nasser Khalil
al-Jaidah said, “As the international
investment arm of QP, QPI has delivered on
its mandate by securing a multibillion dollar
portfolio of global investments with leading
international companies. This strategic
transition combines the strength of both
companies to become a fully integrated
international energy player. We look
forward to the next phase of growth under
the capable leadership of QP and for the full
benefit of Qatar.”
During this transition and before the
full integration, QPI management and
employees will continue to manage QPI’s
day-to-day operations and remain the key
focal points for all QPI partners, customers
and suppliers.
QPI was founded in 2007 with the objective
of establishing QP’s international presence
across different countries.
QPI’s mandate was to fulfil the critical role
of incubator for QP by building a portfolio
of assets and opportunities internationally.
Over the last few years, QPI has partnered
with leading global players to form ten joint
ventures across four continents.
GDI signs deal with GLB
Qatar infrastructure
to provide liftboat services pipeline is ‘most
for Dolphin Energy
robust’ in the Gulf
ulf Drilling International (GDI) has
signed a contract with Gulf LiftBoat
(GLB) for the provision of liftboat
services to Dolphin Energy.
The contract covers services that commenced in January to continue through August this year, said GDI, a Gulf International
Services subsidiary and the largest oilfield
service company in Qatar.
The contract was signed by Ibrahim J alOthman, GDI chief executive officer and
Hans Simons, GLB chairman.
The liftboat is being used by Dolphin Energy (DEL) pursuant to a contract extension
recently awarded to GDI, thereby providing
the latter with the continued use of the liftboat over the same period.
Al-Othman said, “We are pleased to
continue our relationship with GLB and to
be using the Dixie Patriot again. GDI began
using the Dixie Patriot for its first liftboat
job with DEL back in 2013. GDI’s relationship with GLB has endured two years
and will be continuing for another eight
months. GLB has stood side by side with
GDI throughout the DEL contract and I am
glad to say that the relationship has proved
to be durable.
“We also appreciate the confidence that
DEL has placed in GDI and are grateful for
the opportunity to continue providing liftboat services to such a highly valued client.”
By Santhosh V Perumal
Business Reporter
Al-Othman and Simons with senior GDI and GLB executives after signing the deal for the
provision of liftboat services to Dolphin Energy.
Al-Othman also said GDI now has three
liftboats under its “direction”. “They are a
complement to our core business of drilling and represented a diversification into
a business segment that broadens GDI’s
business footprint while enhancing its
prospects for sustainable profitability.”
Simons said, “GLB is thrilled to continue
providing liftboat services to GDI with the
Dixie Patriot. The company is grateful for
the confidence that GDI has shown in GLB
over the past two years and looks forward to
building on the successful cooperation that
has developed between the companies.”
Liftboat services performed under this
contract are providing DEL with vital support to its operations while enabling GDI to
continue serving a growing business segment. The liftboat under this contract will
ultimately be replaced by a new liftboat- ‘Al
Safliya’ that GDI has ordered and is under
construction at NKOM Shipyard.
GDI is scheduled to take delivery of ‘Al
Safliya’ in December this year and the vessel
will immediately go to work for DEL under a
five-year contact that was announced.
atar’s infrastructure pipeline appears
“most robust”; even as persistent weakness in the oil price may precipitate downsizing and consolidation of capital expenditure
(capex) in the Gulf countries, according to Bank
of America Merrill Lynch (BofAML).
“Qatar’s infrastructure pipeline appears most
robust, we think. A third of total investment is
carried directly by the central government, and
there is also a sizeable public sector involvement,”
BofAML said in the report.
Highlighting that the government’s capex is
skewed to urban, utilities, transport projects; it
said a material portion of the capex pipeline is
also anchored by the commitment to deliver the
World Cup 2022 and ancillary projects.
“A prolonged oil price downturn would likely precipitate material GCC (Gulf Cooperation
Countries) capex downsizing and consolidation,
in our view. In the near-term, we expect softening in the cycle as government spending slows
and priority is given to ongoing and strategic
projects,” it said, adding the impact of the central government’s fiscal consolidation would be
acutely felt in Saudi Arabia.
A potential pipeline of $690bn in projects are
set to be awarded over 2015-2018 in the UAE, Qatar, Egypt and Saudi Arabia (equivalent to 47% of
regional gross domestic product), the report said,
quoting MEED contract awards data.
Saudi Arabia remains the largest market as 45%
of awards (equivalent to $310bn or 7.3% of GDP)
are to take place in the latter. Qatar’s pipeline is
the largest with respect to its economy’s size
(9.5% of GDP).
The four economies put together, the total pipeline of construction and infrastructure
project awards is largest and stands at $251bn and
$180bn (36.3% and 26.0% of the total, respectively).
The UAE’s pipeline is most heavily skewed towards construction projects ($95bn or 64% of
total), which “raises risks given oversupply overhang and a softening real estate market”, it said.
In Saudi Arabia, the pipeline of construction and infrastructure project awards stands at
$66bn and $99bn (21% and 32% of total), while
in Qatar, it stands at $37bn and $40bn (35% and
37% of total).
Observing that low oil prices present headwinds;
BofAML said although not fully representative, the
2009 bust episode suggests likely government reprioritisation of projects, mostly away from real
estate, while cancelling or putting on hold of uneconomical projects is to pick up with a delay.
Although total awards increased by 30% yearon-year (y-o-y) to $133bn in 2009, this was due
to large activity in the hydrocarbon sector, which
follows different cycle dynamics than its more
domestic counterparts, the report said.
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Kuwait projects $24bn
deficit despite spend cuts
Aabar gets approval to
tighten grip on Arabtec
Emaar targets Q2 for
$270mn Egypt unit float
Libya producing
363,000 bpd of oil
Abu Dhabi house
prices flat in Q4
Kuwait yesterday projected a $24bn deficit in
its new fiscal year budget despite a massive
spending cut to cope with plunging oil prices.
Revenues for 2015-2016 are projected at $41.1bn,
43.6% down from estimates in the current
year, Finance Minister Anas al-Saleh said. The
budget slashes spending to $65.1bn, 17.8% below
estimates in the current budget. He said the
budget starting on April 1 was approved by the
cabinet yesterday but still needed to be debated
by parliament. Budget projections were drawn
up “to face the consequences of the sharp
decline in oil prices,” al-Saleh said.
A subsidiary of Aabar Investments has received
regulatory approval to buy a further 100mn
shares in Arabtec, strengthening the Abu Dhabi
state-run fund’s hold on the Dubai-listed builder,
according to a bourse filing yesterday. Aabar’s
move to raise its shareholding follows a bitter
struggle with former Arabtec chief executive
Hasan Ismaik, a Jordanian businessman who
took the helm in 2013 as he built up his own
holding. Should Aabar buy the permitted
number of shares, its stake would rise to 37.27%
from 35.6% at present, according to the Dubai
Financial Market.
Dubai’s Emaar Properties will submit plans
to float its Egyptian unit to the North African
country’s regulator “within days” ahead of an
initial share sale earmarked for the second
quarter, two sources aware of the matter told
Reuters. The initial public offering (IPO) of a
portion of Emaar Misr is expected to be worth in
excess of 2bn pounds ($270.3mn), making it the
largest flotation on the Cairo bourse since 2007.
“Within a few days, Emaar Misr will offer the
documents to the stock market. The IPO will be
in the second quarter, God willing,” said one of
the sources, who spoke to Reuters.
Oil output from Libya, where ports and oilfields
have been shut due to fighting, has fallen to
363,000 bpd with exports at about 200,000, the
oil minister appointed by forces in control of the
capital Tripoli told Reuters. Two governments
allied to armed factions are vying for control
of Libya four years after the toppling of leader
Muammar Gaddafi. The UN and Western powers
do not recognise the administration which
controls ministries in Tripoli. Its oil minister,
Mashallah Zwai, told Reuters in an interview that
Libya is producing 362,780 bpd of oil, showing a
report from the National Oil Corp.
Property prices in Abu Dhabi were flat in the
fourth quarter of 2014 due to a fall in oil prices
and equities markets and weaker investor
sentiment, consultants JLL said in a report
yesterday. Like nearby Dubai, Abu Dhabi
suffered a property crash, with house prices
falling about 55% from a peak in the second
quarter of 2008 to the market bottom in fourth
quarter of 2012. JLL estimates Abu Dhabi’s
residential prices rose 25% per year for the two
years to Sept. 30, 2013, providing a compound
increase of 56%. But prices flattened out in the
final three months of 2014.
UAE plans to
keep investing
in energy amid
volatile crude
Abu Dhabi
Saudi businessmen attend the 9th Global Competitiveness Forum (GCF2015) in Riyadh yesterday. The annual event, organised by the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority, brings together high-ranking
Saudi officials with world business leaders.
New Saudi leaders to press
efforts to diversify economy
audi Arabia’s new leadership will
push forward efforts to diversify
the growing but oil-dependent
economy, while easing procedures for
investors, senior officials said yesterday.
“The smooth transition of power to
King Salman is a testament of the stability and the commitment that our
leadership has,” Abdullatif al-Othman,
governor of the Saudi Arabian General
Investment Authority (SAGIA), told a
Salman acceded to the throne of the
world’s leading oil exporter last Friday
after his half-brother King Abdullah
died aged about 90.
“King Salman has been a strong supporter of promoting the kingdom as an
investment destination,” al-Othman
told the Global Competitiveness Forum.
The annual event, organised by SAGIA, brings together high-ranking
Saudi officials with world business
Among those attending is Eric
Schmidt, executive chairman of tech
giant Google.
Oil makes up about 90% of Saudi
government revenues but al-Othman
said the kingdom aims to expand the
health, transport and mining sectors,
along with information and communications technology.
“Already we’ve identified healthcare
and transportation investments valued
at $140bn in the coming five years,” alOthman said.
There is also a plan to “transform”
the financial services, tourism and real
estate sectors while focusing on education and “innovation”, he said.
Critics have complained of the administrative obstacles to doing business in Saudi Arabia but Civil Service Minister Abdulrahman al-Barrak
told the gathering that “fighting red
tape... is a priority.” Al-Othman said
that during King Abdullah’s “transformative” rule, Saudi Arabia joined
the G20 group of major world economies as well as the World Trade Organisation.
“Foreign direct investment grew at
an average rate of 10% (and) increased
by five-fold to reach $220bn,” he said.
A 50% fall in world oil prices since
last June has left Saudi Arabia projecting its first budget deficit since 2011,
emphasising the need to diversify.
The UAE will continue building
and upgrading its oil facilities
to maintain its role as a major
producer amid the decline and
volatility in prices, Energy Minister Suhail al-Mazrouei said.
“Many are saying because of
what’s happening around us in
terms of the commodity prices,
companies should rethink what
they invest in their infrastructure. I disagree with that,”
al-Mazrouei said yesterday at
a conference in Abu Dhabi. “I
think the investment in the infrastructure and the upgrade of
infrastructure has to continue.”
The UAE pumped 2.7mn bpd
of oil in December, making it
the fifth-biggest supplier in
the Organisation of Petroleum
Exporting Countries, according
to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The Gulf nation can produce
3mn bpd, the data shows, and
it plans to boost capacity to
3.5mn bpd in 2017.
Brent crude has dropped 55% in
the last 12 months.
Oil slumped last year by the
most since the 2008 financial
crisis, with the UAE and Qatar
estimating surplus supply at
2mn bpd. Opec is battling a US
shale boom by resisting production cuts, signalling its readiness to let prices fall to a level
that slows US output, which has
risen at its fastest pace in three
“Our investments are on track
to make sure our standing as
a major oil producer stays in
the future,” al-Mazrouei said,
without providing details.
Sultan bin Saeed al-Mansoori,
the UAE economy minister,
said the country has sufficient
financial reserves to weather
the current slump in oil prices
for as long as two years.
“If it extends beyond two to
three years, it becomes an issue
that challenges all of us,” al-Mansoori told reporters yesterday at
a separate event in Abu Dhabi.
“By the middle of this year, we
should see some positive turn
in the prices of oil due to the
expected positive turn in the
economies of the major blocs,”
such as the European Union, the
US and China, he said.
Opec chief sees some Mideast exhibitors to take
price rebound soon part in first Southeast
Asian luxury travel show
il prices at current levels may have reached
a floor and could move higher very soon,
Opec Secretary-General Abdullah al-Badri
said yesterday.
“Now the prices are around $45-$55 and I think
maybe they reached the bottom and will see some
rebound very soon,” al-Badri said in an interview.
Al-Badri warned that any Opec oil supply cut
would lead to spare capacity, a lack of investment
and an eventual shortage and price spike.
“Suppose we cut production, and then we’ll have
spare capacity,” he said in an interview. “Producers
when they have excess capacity they will not invest.
“If they do not invest there will be no more supply, if there is no more supply there will be a shortage in the market after 3-4 years and the price will
go up and we’ll see a repetition of 2008.”
“Maybe we will go to $200 if there is a real shortage of supply because of the lack of investment,”
al-Badri said.
More time was needed before any talk of a change
in Opec output policy, he said.
“It will take some time,” al-Badri told Reuters.
“It will take another 4-5 months and we will not
see some concrete efforts before the end of the first
half of the year due to the reason that we will see
how the market behaves at the end of the first half
of 2015.”
Al-Badri defended the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ November decision
By Arno Maierbrugger
Gulf Times Correspondent
More time is needed before any talk of a change in
Opec output policy, says al-Badri.
to leave its output target unchanged. “It was a collective decision,” he said. “Everybody participated
in the decision, there are some remarks and some
reservation but at the end of the day all the ministers agreed to this.”
Asked about the prospects for Saudi Arabian oil
policy under a new king, al-Badri said: “Saudi Arabia is a stable country, is a stable government, and I
think things will be normal.”
Saudi King Salman was quick to retain veteran
Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi on Friday, in a message
aimed at calming a jittery energy market following
the death of King Abdullah.
he first-ever exhibition in Southeast
Asia solely focusing on luxury tourism in Asia-Pacific, Asia Premium
Travel Mart slated to be held from May 26
to 28 in Manila, Philippines, is targeting
150 to 200 exhibitors of which at least 10%
should be from the Middle East, according
to the organisers.
The event wants to “fill a gap in the AsiaPacific luxury travel sector when it debuts,”
said Simon Ang, corporate secretary of organiser S8 Exhibitions. He sees the “gap” in
the fat that no other show in Southeast Asia
is actually focusing on the luxury segment,
with the closest event being the International Luxury Travel Market held in June
this year Shanghai, but “it doesn’t sell too
much of Asia,” as Ang puts it.
The Asia Premium Travel Mart instead
wants to “spotlight Asian luxury” and, in
addition, showcase the Philippines as a
luxury travel destination, highlighting premium vacation packages at the country’s
most popular tourism spots such as Cebu,
Bohol, Boracay and Palawan, as well as premium trips for those interested in the Philippines’ cultural heritage.
“Premium travel is no longer about
booking into nice hotels and going on picturesque tours. The discerning traveller has
grown into a world quality explorer,” the
organisers say, adding that the new exhibition “through rigid screening and qualifying is committed to bringing together travel
specialists, both buyers and sellers, with
similar ideals on quality and inspiration;
people who look to discover and rediscover;
explore boundaries and indulge in unique
and heart-warming experiences.”
Apart from Middle East premium travel
companies, the event expects exhibitors
from the Asia-Pacific region itself, as well
as from Europe and the Americas. Some 60
business meetings will be held at the show
to bring travel professionals together.
In Southeast Asia, luxury tourism is
mainly defined by individual and bespoke
tours, stylish luxury hideaways, private
cruises, tailor-made culinary trips, private
guided tours and signature trips on culture
and heritage, guided multi-country tours
across Indochina, luxury vacations on a
private island, luxury train journeys, luxury
yacht and scuba tours, as well as luxury
weddings or honeymoons.
There is, however, also a need to define
luxury tourism which is a small, but highly
lucrative niche segment in the international travel industry. According to UK-based
market research firm YouGov, which did an
online survey last year in the Middle East
asking more than 1,000 premium travellers
what their perception of “luxury tourism”
would be, the perceptions are differing. For
some, it was first-class air travel, five-star
accommodation, cruise holidays and high
expense. Others said the best way to describe luxury travel was exclusivity, differentiation, uniqueness, experience and discovery. About a third of the respondents in
the survey actually did not associate luxury
travel with five-star hotels and first-class
air transport, but rather in the pursuit and
experience of places and exploits which
are unattainable for the majority. Other
important things included, for example,
the use of fast-track lanes at airport immigration and quick check-in procedures.
The typical total trip expenditure of the
respondents of this survey was $8,530 for
an average length of 5.1 days of luxury holidays.
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Qatar shares edge down
amid selling pressure
Saudi stocks rise after smooth royal succession
Saudi Arabia’s stock market rose yesterday as it traded
for the first time since King Salman succeeded his brother King Abdullah, who died on Friday. Other bourses in
the region were neutral or negative.
After swiftly assuming power, King Salman pledged
continuity in energy and foreign policies and appointed
younger men as his heirs, appearing to settle the succession issue for years to come.
Investors reacted positively to the smooth succession
and the kingdom’s main index added 0.7% as most
stocks closed higher.
Food makers Savola Group and Almarai were among the
main supports, adding 4.0 and 2.5% respectively.
Shares in major real estate developer Dar Al Arkan
surged their daily 10% limit in their heaviest trade since
July 2012, extending a leg-up which started after the
company published its fourth-quarter results last week.
Its profit fell 26.3% and missed analysts’ forecasts, but
some investors may be looking ahead to stronger results
this year.
Some analysts think the Saudi succession could benefit
the stock market because King Salman may proceed
with state sector wage increases and other populist steps
that could accelerate the consumer spending boom.
Investment bank Exotix said there could be measures
“to renew the social contract” in the form of more state
spending on welfare, infrastructure, defence and overseas aid.
Stocks benefiting from this would include consumeroriented firms Jarir Marketing, United Electronics Co
and Fawaz Alhokair Co, as well as banks such as Al Rajhi
if they are permitted by regulators to loosen consumer
credit, Exotix said.
However, out of those names, only United Electronics
gained strongly yesterday, jumping 2.1%. This suggested
most investors were siding with those analysts who don’t
expect such lavish stimulus at a time of low oil prices and
budget deficits.
The Saudi 2015 state budget, which Salman is believed to
have signed off last month as one of the top leaders running the economy, contained only a marginal increase
in nominal spending and a small decrease in inflationadjusted spending; it pledged to “rationalise” spending
on wages.
A major drag on the index yesterday was telecommunications firm Etihad Etisalat, which tumbled its daily 10%
limit for the second session in a row, extending losses
after its fourth-quarter results widely missed estimates
last week.
Other markets in the region were weak or flat as the
price of Brent crude briefly dipped below $48 per barrel.
Dubai’s stock index tumbled 3.6% in a broad sell-off.
Among the most traded stocks, Dubai Islamic Bank lost
5.7% and Emaar Properties was down 5.3%.
Local investors and those from outside the Arab world
were net sellers in Dubai, according to bourse data.
Market players said oil’s renewed weakness may have
dampened retail investors’ sentiment, even though
Dubai’s diversified economy is relatively insulated from
the negative effects of cheap oil.
“We had a good a rebound in the oil prices (in the last few
weeks), they moved above $50 - and now it seems that
we are again on the way down,” said Sebastien Henin,
head of asset management at The National Investor in
Abu Dhabi.
The market is likely to remain trendless as long as oil’s
volatility persists, he said.
UAE economy minister Sultan bin Saeed al-Mansouri said
yesterday that he expected oil prices to start recovering
by the middle of this year, along with improvement in
major economies.
Abu Dhabi’s index fell 0.8% and shares in Abu Dhabi
Islamic Bank (ADIB) tumbled their daily 10% limit.
On Sunday, ADIB reported results that were broadly in
line with estimates and proposed a nearly flat dividend
payout. But investors may have hoped for a positive
surprise as the stock had gone up 14% this month.
Egypt stocks pulled back 0.7% from a 6-1/2-year high of
9,899 points which it hit at the end of last week.
Most stocks were down and Global Telecom tumbled
4.7% after surging last week on a local media report of
an imminent deal to sell a controlling stake in Algerian
operator Djezzy to the government.
Elsewhere in the Gulf, Kuwait’s index slipped 0.1% to
6,659 points; Oman’s index was flat at 6,645 points, while
Bahrain’s index was flat at 1,429 points.
By Santhosh V Perumal
Business Reporter
elling pressure, notably in consumer goods stocks, yesterday
manoeuvred the Qatar Stock Exchange back onto the negative trajectory.
Islamic stocks weakened faster as the
20-stock Qatar Index (based on price
data) shed 0.1% to 11,836.07 points
amid rise in trade volumes.
Foreign institutions’ increased selling led to an overall bearish momentum
on the bourse, which is down 3.68%
Domestic institutions’ selling intensity, however, weakened in the market,
where realty, banking and industrials
stocks cornered more than 78% of the
total trading volume.
Market capitalisation was down
0.07%, or QR43mn, to QR646.28bn
with small, micro and mid cap equities melting 1.41%, 0.58% and 0.47%
respectively; while large caps were up
The Total Return Index fell 0.1% to
17,653.39 points, the All Share Index
by 0.19% to 3,044.94 points and the Al
Rayan Islamic Index by 0.5% to 4,015.81
Consumer goods stocks plummeted
1.43%, followed by industrials (0.34%),
insurance (0.17%), banks and financial
services (0.08%), real estate (0.05%)
and transport (0.03%), while telecom
gained 0.31%.
About 62% of the stocks were in
the red with major losers being Commercial Bank, Masraf Al Rayan, Qatari
Investors Group, Qatar Electricity and
Water, Gulf International Services, Mazaya Qatar, Barwa and Vodafone Qatar.
However, QNB, Aamal Company,
Ezdan, Gulf Warehousing and Islamic
Holding Group bucked the trend.
Foreign institutions’ net buying plunged to QR15.38mn against
QR46.18mn the previous day. NonQatari individual investors’ net selling rose to QR17.18mn compared to
QR9.6mn on Sunday.
However, Qatari retail investors turned net buyers to the tune
of QR4.22mn against net sellers of
QR16.68mn on Sunday.
Domestic institutions’ net profitbooking sunk to QR2.47mn compared
to QR19.86mn the previous day.
Total trade volume rose 30% to
8.72mn shares, value by 19% to
QR417.98mn and transactions by 30%
to 6,191.
The transport sector’s trade volume
grew more than five-fold to 0.42mn
stocks and value by about six-fold to
QR13.42mn on more-than-quadrupled
deals to 296.
The consumer goods sector’s trade
volume more than doubled to 0.78mn
equities and value almost doubled to
QR28.9mn on a 77% jump in transactions to 456.
The real estate sector’s trade volume more than doubled to 2.94mn
shares and value almost doubled to
QR80.96mn on a 58% expansion in
deals to 1,161.
The industrials sector saw its trade
volume soar 69% to 1.47mn stocks
and value more than doubled to
QR101.83mn on a 58% rise in transactions to 1,434.
However, banks and financial services reported a 23% plunge in trade volume 2.41mn equities and 20% in value
to QR177.25mn but on a 6% gain in deals
to 2,475.
The telecom sector’s trade volume
tanked 23% to 0.6mn shares, value by
27% to QR10.53mn and transactions by
23% to 258.
The insurance sector’s trade volume
was down 9% to 0.1mn stocks, value by
3% to QR5.09mn and deals by 3% to 111.
In the debt market, there was no
trading of treasury bills and government bonds.
Al-Kawari: Expanding capabilities.
QInvest, Pioneer
launch Shariah
fund for Europe
QInvest, along with Pioneer Investments,
has launched a Shariah-compliant European
equities fund that will invest in pan-European
blue-chip, mid and large-cap stocks.
Pioneer Investments, a leading global asset
management firm with over $246bn in assets
under management as on December 31, 2014,
will manage the fund and act as sub adviser.
The fund’s investment strategy will be similar
to the Pioneer European Concentrated Equity
Strategy, which currently has in the region of
$1.3bn under management (as on December
31, 2014) and has been managed by Andrew
Arbuthnot since 2001.
“We believe that the current macroeconomic
environment in Europe, characterised by a
weak euro, low oil prices and the likely onset
of quantitative easing by the European Central
Bank, will be positive for European businesses
and create some compelling investment opportunities over the mid-term,” Dr Ataf Ahmed,
head of asset management at QInvest, said.
Around the world, there is a growing demand
for Shariah-compliant European-focused
products, according to Neal Jenkins, head of
the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa region
at Pioneer Investments.
“This is being driven by not just Islamic investors looking to increase their exposure to European stocks, but also by conventional investors
looking to diversify their portfolios, many of
whom are being drawn to the more ethical
investing principles of Islamic finance,” he said.
QInvest has focused on expanding the capabilities of QInvest Asset Management and in
particular QMAP, the QInvest Managed Account
Platform, QInvest CEO Tamim Hamad al-Kawari
said. The addition of this fund further expands
the product offering available on the platform
to potential equity investors, and offers clients
a portfolio with a dedicated pan-European
exposure, he added.
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
EEX to launch
trading of
Spanish, Swiss,
Nordic power
The European Energy Bourse,
EEX, said yesterday it will
launch exchange trading of
Spanish, Swiss and Nordic
power futures on February
16, upgrading them from
membership of its trade
registration scheme.
The monthly, quarterly
and annual contracts for
electricity – and additionally
weekly ones for Spain – will be
added to the EEX order book,
which already includes power
futures for Germany/Austria,
France, Italy, the Netherlands
and Belgium.
The EEX said the move
responded to clients’ wishes
and would boost liquidity.
“This will bring us a decisive
step closer to our aim of
offering order books for all
the important European
markets,” said chief operating
office Steffen Koehler. The
power exchange, continental
Europe’s biggest, is majorityowned by Deutsche Boerse
derivatives unit Eurex.
It has been adding power
markets by stages, initially
via trade registration that
entailed clearing contracts at
its subsidiary, the European
Commodity Clearing (ECC),
after deals were concluded
bilaterally or via brokers.
From February 17, EEX will
also introduce trading in
location spreads for the
new market areas, enabling
participants to trade in
price differences between
individual delivery areas, it
In addition, EEX will expand
short-term maturities on
its existing contracts. From
February 23, customers can
also trade in day and weekend
futures for French, Italian and
Spanish power futures or
register these for clearing.
Power trading on EEX rose
24% in 2014, it said last week.
GrandVision owners aim to
raise $1.5bn from share sale
he owner of optician GrandVision BV aims to raise as much
as €1.3bn ($1.5bn) through an
initial public offering of up to 23% of
its shares, pricing the company in line
with analyst expectations.
GrandVision, the world’s largest
optical retailer, has more than 5,600
stores in 43 countries in Europe, Latin
America, the Middle East and Asia.
It trades under brands such as Vision
Express in Britain and Apollo-Optik in
The institutional offer period runs
until February 5, the company said in
a statement yesterday. Shares are expected to start trading on the Amsterdam stock exchange the following day
and the company will be valued at up
to €5.4bn.
The pricing values the company between its two closest rivals, Germany’s
Fielmann and Italy’s Luxottica, KBC
analyst Yves Franco said.
“The IPO was postponed amid market turmoil last October amid weak
consumer confidence at the time, but
they had a good start to 2015 with attractive markets in Europe again,”
Franco said.
In its prospectus, the company said
it aimed to pay dividends of 25 to 50%
of profits.
Optical retailers are attracting investor interest because of the growth
opportunities offered by population
ageing. They are shielded from online
competition by the need for an optician to conduct vision tests in person.
The shares are being sold by HAL
Trust, the investment vehicle of the
Dutch Van der Vorm family, which
owns 98% of the shares.
HAL, which is based on the Caribbean island of Curacao, set an indicative price range for the shares of between €17.50 and €21.50.
That values the share sale at between €893mn and €1.1bn, or up to
€1.3bn if an over-allotment option is
fully exercised.
Earlier this month, the company’s
GrandVision, the parent company of Apollo-Optik in Germany, said yesterday it is planning to sell 23% of its shares through an initial public offering.
chief executive Theo Kiesselbach told
Reuters the listing would raise the
company’s profile with suppliers and
customers and help it attract good
employees and give it financial flexibility.
The company has long-term debt of
€794mn. Kiesselbach said earlier that
its debt levels were at an appropriate
level for it to be able to fund future
growth, pursue acquisitions and pay a
China’s overseas property investment to reach $20bn in 2015: study
hinese investors are set to fork out
$20bn on offshore property this
year, up 21% on 2014 as more domestic real estate developers and insurers internationalise their holdings, Jones
Lang LaSalle Inc said yesterday.
Chinese offshore property invest-
ment had increased 46% to $16.5bn
last year on the year before, with nearly 70% going to commercial real estate, the property consultancy said in a
report. Outbound spending on commercial property, including office buildings,
for the first time outpaced domestic investment, the company said.
“The easing of restrictions over the last
a few years by the Chinese government
has (made it) ... much easier for institu-
tions as well as individuals to move money overseas,” said David Green-Morgan,
the Singapore-based head of global research for International Capital Group at
JLL. Big Chinese insurers, including Ping
An Insurance Group Co of China and Anbang Insurance Group Co, have emerged
as major buyers in global markets.
Earlier this month Ping An, China’s
second-biggest insurer, bought the
Tower Place office block in London for
£327mn, having previously bought the
Lloyds of London insurance building.
Last October, Anbang agreed to buy
New York City’s Waldorf Astoria hotel
for $1.95bn. Driving China’s outbound
insurance investments are 2012 rules
changes by the country’s insurance regulator that allowed companies to invest in
real estate outside of the mainland and
Hong Kong. As of the end of 2014, Chinese insurers invested nearly $24bn out-
Asian stocks decline
from two-month high
Asian stocks fell, with the regional benchmark index
retreating from a two-month high, after Greek voters
handed victory to a party that’s pledged to renegotiate
the terms of an international bailout.
Nippon Sheet Glass Co, which counts Europe as its biggest
market for sales, slipped 2.8% in Tokyo. Offshore energy
explorer Cnooc Ltd fell 1.3% in Hong Kong after oil extended
losses after dropping to the lowest in almost six years.
Keppel Land Ltd jumped 25% in Singapore as the developer
resumed trading after parent Keppel Corp offered as much
as S$3.23bn ($2.4bn) to buy shares of its unit.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slid 0.3% to 140.72 in Hong
Kong, retreating from its highest close since November
26. Syriza party leader Alexis Tsipras said Greece’s era
of bowing to international creditors is over after Prime
Minister Antonis Samaras conceded defeat in elections
dominated by a public backlash against years of budget
cuts. The yen gained 0.9% against the euro.
“The consensus until the end of last week was Greece
would extend the duration of its debt and stay in the
euro, but it’s now not easy to predict that they’ll actually
agree to this,” said Shoji Hirakawa, chief equity strategist
at Okasan Securities Co in Tokyo. “But if stocks fall,
there are expectations the Bank of Japan will buy.”
Tsipras has pledged a writedown of Greek debt and to
abandon budget constraints that were imposed in return
for aid, goals which Samaras said would risk Greece’s
exit from the euro bloc. Japan’s Topix index lost 0.1%.
The nation’s December exports rose 12.9% from a year
earlier, compared with the 11.2% increase projected by
economists polled by Bloomberg. Singapore’s Straits
Times Index dropped 0.3%. The Jakarta Composite Index
declined 2.1%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 0.2%.
China’s Shanghai Composite Index climbed 0.9%.
While the Shanghai Composite Index touched a five-year
high on Friday after a 63% gain during the past year,
other gauges of investor enthusiasm for China are
beginning to wane. Turnover sank 47% from its peak in
December, while new equity account openings fell 50%
and purchases using borrowed money dropped 38%.
South Korea’s Kospi index closed little changed.
side China, accounting for 1.4% of the
industry’s total assets, said Zhou Yanli,
vice chairman of the China Insurance
Regulatory Commission at a press briefing last Friday.
Last year, about 20% of insurance investment overseas went to real estate,
Zhou added. Chinese property developers, including Dalian Wanda Group
Co, have also moved to globalise their
portfolios to ensure long-term returns
as China’s property market cools. Dalian Wanda yesterday announced a $1bn
investment to purchase two buildings at
Sydney Harbour, the Chinese conglomerate’s second investment in Australia.
Europe was the most popular destination for Chinese overseas property investment in 2014, raking in $5.5bn, JLL
said. London topped the list of favourite
cities with $4bn capital inflow, followed
by Sydney and New York City.
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Japan trade deficit swells
to record $109bn in 2014
apan’s trade deficit swelled to
a record $109bn in 2014, data
showed yesterday, mostly because
of huge post-Fukushima energy bills,
but analysts said a recent drop in oil
prices would shrink the yawning gap.
The shortfall of ¥12.78tn, Japan’s
fourth-consecutive annual deficit,
was 11.4% wider than 2013 and was
the worst since records began in 1979,
according to the finance ministry.
Fuel costs have weighed heavily on
Japan as the resource-poor country
struggles to plug a huge energy gap
after the 2011 atomic crisis forced the
shutdown of nuclear reactors that
once supplied more than a quarter of
its power.
That problem has been exacerbated
by a sharp fall in the yen, which hiked
the cost of energy imports purchased
in foreign currencies.
In December alone, however, Japan’s trade deficit almost halved over
the previous year to ¥660.7bn, largely
thanks to falling oil prices.
The trade balance last month was
also helped by a better-than-expected 12.9% jump in exports.
Japan’s trade deficit “is set to narrow further as lower energy prices
are still not fully reflected in import
costs”, Capital Economics said in note
after the figures were published.
“The key development for the trade
balance in coming months... remains
the plunge in the price of crude oil
since last summer. So far, this is only
partly reflected in the cost of imported petroleum.
“Lower energy prices may briefly
return the trade balance to surplus in
coming months, before a weaker yen
and a rebound in the oil prices push it
back into deficit,” it said.
Crude prices have lost more than
half their value since June, sitting at
less than $50 a barrel.
The data yesterday showed Japan’s
A trailer truck leaves the international cargo terminal after a container was loaded to an international freighter at a port in Tokyo. Japan’s trade deficit swelled to a
record $109bn in 2014, data showed yesterday.
imports rose 5.7% to a record ¥85.89tn
in 2014, outstripping a 4.8% jump in
exports to ¥73.11tn.
Exports to the European Union
were up 8.3% over the year, while USbound shipments grew 5.6%. Chinabound exports rose 6.0% in 2014, the
data showed.
“There is no doubt that external demand will contribute positively to Japan’s economic growth,” Hiroshi Watanabe, an economist at SMBC Nikko
Securities, told Bloomberg News.
Concerns about Japan’s recovery
have increased since a sales tax rise in
April slammed the brakes on consum-
RBI norms to affect banks’
pricing power: Moody’s
he Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) norms
requiring banks to outline the framework
they use to determine the loan spread
about their benchmark lending rates will reduce
pricing power of the latter, global rating agency
Moody’s Investor Services said yesterday.
An article in Moody’s Credit Outlook yesterday said: “The new requirements are credit
negative because they will reduce banks’ discretion to price loans at higher spreads to correspond to market conditions and each borrower’s credit worthiness.”
The norms are likely to most affect consumer
loan pricing given that retail borrowers tend to
have less pricing power than large industrial
borrowers and banks have been most able to take
advantage of market inefficiencies in the retail
loan segment, Moody’s said.
According to the report, within the retail segment, pricing in the mortgage segment is likely
to be the most affected as it is in this segment
that banks have resorted to differential pricing
the most. Indian banks are required to set a base
lending rate that is a function of the bank’s cost
of funding, operating costs and cost of capital.
“Although banks are not allowed to lend at
rates below their base rate, they have latitude in
how they charge a premium or spread on individual loans, depending on market conditions
and the credit quality of the specific borrower,”
the report stated.
According to Moody’s, RBI’s concern about
the transparency and fairness of how banks determine loan spreads mainly relate to the downward stickiness of lending rates (i.e., lending
rates not declining commensurately with other
interest rates), discriminatory treatment of old
borrowers versus new borrowers and arbitrary
changes in spreads.
Bank spreads are a function of product-specific operating costs, credit risk premium, the
loan tenor and qualitative factors such as competitive intensity and pricing power.
“The regulator has been concerned that arbitrary inclusion of these qualitative factors into
product pricing can lead to spread disparities
among customers. The new norms address this
by requiring banks to have a board-approved
policy delineating the spread components,” the
report noted.
“We expect this to reduce the arbitrariness
in determining spreads for specific customers,”
Moody’s said. According to the rating agency,
the spread charged to an existing borrower may
not be increased except on account of deterioration in the borrower’s risk profile or when market interest rates for that particular loan tenor
have increased.
er spending, plunging the economy
into recession and throwing the success of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s
growth project into question.
That, in turn, has boosted speculation the Bank of Japan will soon
be forced to expand its already huge
asset-buying stimulus scheme, a
scheme similar to the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing programme.
Last week, Japan’s central bank
slashed its inflation outlook, but it
held off fresh easing as policymakers
boosted their growth forecasts and
said the economy was rebounding.
Oil plunge
BoJ officials
A majority of Bank of Japan board
members said slumping oil prices
will weigh on inflation in the shortterm but will accelerate price rises
over the long run by stimulating
the economy, minutes of the
bank’s policy-setting meeting in
December showed.
The minutes suggest the
central bank is in no rush to
expand its massive stimulus
programme again and is likely
to look through short-term dips
in consumer inflation, as long
as the economy is on track for a
solid recovery.
But some members voiced
caution over weak consumer and
business sentiment, according to
the minutes released yesterday,
a sign that a few in the ninemember board did not necessarily
share BoJ governor Haruhiko
Kuroda’s optimism over the
“Many members said consumer
sentiment surveys have shown
relatively weak developments
recently,” while one said there
were signs companies may be
delaying capital expenditure due
to the murky outlook, the minutes
The BoJ has kept monetary
policy steady after expanding
stimulus in October to prevent
falling oil prices, and a subsequent
slowdown in inflation, from
delaying a sustained exit from
Many market players expect
the central bank to ease again
sometime this year as oil prices
continued to fall and push
consumer inflation below 1%,
underlining the challenges of
achieving its ambitious 2% target
in the year beginning in April.
In the December meeting, BoJ
policymakers voiced concern
over how markets were tying
their bets on the timing of further
easing to oil price moves and
their effect on consumer inflation,
the minutes showed.
IMF set for lively debate on
adding yuan to SDR basket
hina is expected to make another push
for the inclusion of the yuan in the International Monetary Fund’s in-house
currency basket in a review later this year – and
this time round its G20 partners may be willing
to listen.
US officials say they will wait for an IMF paper on the issue later this year before taking a
view, but officials in Asian and other G20 capitals say that, unlike in the review five years ago,
the issue will at least be a live discussion.
The yuan, or renminbi, has made huge
strides since Beijing’s last push for more formal international recognition of the currency
as global financial leaders were struggling to
deal with the fallout of the sub-prime and
banking crisis.
The chief argument against its inclusion
then in the Special Drawing Rights, a basket
of yen, dollars, pounds and euro used as the
IMF’s in-house unit of account, was that the
renminbi was far from freely “usable” or convertible.
That argument is gradually weakening as
yuan offshore trading surges. This month leading currency platform EBS ranked it in its top
five most traded currencies.
One Asian G20 source said it would be welcomed by those like South Korea as an encouragement for more investment generally in China. But the source said any decision was likely
to be a roadmap rather than a cut-and-dried
adoption of the yuan.
“I think this could well be the year the yuan
is included,” said a senior official at an Asian
central bank.
The first step in the review of the basket is
an informal board meeting in May, followed by
a formal review in the autumn. Any changes
would come into effect in January 2016 but
would require a 70 or 85% majority on the IMF
Either way, officials say US support will be
Harvard University professor Jeffrey Frankel said it was premature to consider the yuan
“freely usable” but there may be other political
reasons for a change this year.
The Group of 20 major governments agreed
in 2010 to give China and other emerging markets a greater say at the IMF, while reducing the
dominance of Western Europe on its board. But
those changes have not been ratified by the US
Congress. “I think it is important to acknowledge the rise of China, and let them have a fair,
proportionate weight in institutions like the
IMF,” Frankel said.
“If I were at the top of the IMF or the White
House, I might feel that since China cannot be
accommodated (with quotas) then we have to
accommodate them in this other way (through
SDRs), which after all won’t do any harm.”
While China has long met conditions on its
exports forming a large enough percentage of
global trade, the debate is likely to centre on its
capital markets.
Although still tightly government-controlled, offshore yuan trading soared some 350%
on Thomson Reuters trading platforms last
Ten nations now buy Chinese assets via its
“RQFII” scheme, 14 countries have yuan clearing arrangements, and 28 other central banks
have currency swap lines with China.
But David Dollar, a former US Treasury attaché in China now with the Brookings Institution think-tank in Washington, still had his
“My sense is at the moment, the yuan is not
freely usable,” he said.
India turns to corner shops, mobile phones for banking revolution
New Delhi/Mumbai
India is betting that mobile phone
vendors, fuel stations and corner
stores can help it put basic banking
within the grasp of hundreds of
millions of its poor people living
beyond the reach of traditional bank
The clock is ticking down to a February
2 deadline for applications to set up
so-called payments banks under new
rules that would allow successful
bidders to offer services such as
remittances and deposits, but not
The regulations announced by the
central bank, the Reserve Bank
of India (RBI), reflect a realisation
that traditional banks alone can’t
achieve the objective of financial
inclusion championed by Prime
Minister Narendra Modi. In a fourmonth campaign to end “financial
untouchability”, Modi has opened
115mn new bank accounts. Yet of
those, 80mn have no money in them,
underscoring the huge challenge he
faces in delivering on his promise.
Backers of the payments banks say
they could help bring those accounts
to life by bridging the gap from bank
branches in town to India’s 600,000
villages, making it easier to send
money home, collect state benefits or
do business deals.
“There’s an entirely new set of actors,”
said Bindu Ananth, a member of the
RBI committee that designed the
payments banks rules. “We said: Let’s
create a regulatory framework that
allows the participation of non-banks.”
Mobile operators and pre-paid wallet
players are expected to lead the
charge, seeking to add transaction
fees to revenue streams from products
such as phone minutes and bill
Retailers are interested too. Future
Group, one of India’s biggest with a
presence in more than 100 cities, says
it will apply for a permit.
Online players also spy an opportunity
to boost client loyalty and scale up
volumes. Paytm, a platform that is
close to winning backing from China’s
e-commerce king Jack Ma, founder of
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, will bid.
“We are aiming at 100-200mn users
(overall),” said Vijay Shekhar Sharma,
CEO of Paytm, which provides pre-paid
wallet services, helps consumers make
bill payments online and offers coupon
discounts. Paytm now has 20mn users.
In the most important change,
payments banks will be allowed to not
only accept cash, but also pay it out,
boosting their appeal for low-income
savers. Their precursors, Pre-paid
Payment Instrument (PPI) providers,
were not allowed to pay out cash.
Payments banks could cut the use of
cash in an economy where nine out of
10 transactions are still paid in notes
and coins and kick-start the use of lowcost payment forms like mobile money
that have been used by only one in
every 300 Indians.
That compares with 76% of people in
Kenya, Africa’s mobile money pioneer,
where Vodafone’s M-Pesa affiliate
dominates the market.
Payments specialist Oxigen is
applying for a licence and wants to
become a “last-mile” bank, said group
president Rajpal Duggal. Oxigen
would treble its 130,000-strong agent
network to meet a requirement for the
payments banks to have a quarter of
their retail ‘touch points’ in rural India.
For Oxigen agent Gurmukh Singh,
who sells air time, runs an Internet
cafe and offers city tours from his
tiny shop in New Delhi’s Karol Bagh
market, the payments bank model is a
new opportunity.
“Now we can only send money to a
bank account, but if we could pay out
too it would be a good business,” he
said as, with a few computer clicks, he
made a Rs2,000 ($32) bank transfer
for a customer remitting money to
his family in the Himalayan state of
The business model for the payments
banks will be driven by transactions,
rewarding players like Bharti Airtel
that have already built out their
India, a country of 1.25bn people, has
more than 900mn mobile phones. The
cost to a mobile operator of hosting a
payments account would be a tenth of
that to a regular bank, according to RBI
committee member Ananth.
Airtel and Vodafone declined to
comment but are widely expected to
Modi, meanwhile, is determined to
activate the new accounts opened at
conventional banks under his financial
inclusion drive, linking them to India’s
identity card scheme and paying
welfare benefits into them.
By partnering with mainstream
banks – as Oxigen has with State Bank
of India – the payment banks could
deliver “cash out” welfare payments,
and become a marketing channel for
products like loans and insurance.
Daniel Radcliffe at the Bill & Melinda
Gates Foundation sees payments
banks as the “engine” to push Modi’s
financial inclusion drive over the
finishing line.
Depending on when licences are
issued, the first payments banks could
launch in late 2015 and achieve scale
within a couple of years, said Radcliffe,
senior programme officer at the
foundation’s Financial Services for the
Poor unit.
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Pfizer $33bn question
remains after getting
Teva, Actavis feelers
New York
PartnerRe shareholders will own 51.6% of the new company after the “merger of equals,” while Axis investors hold 48.4%, the firms said in New York on Sunday.
Axis to merge with
PartnerRe to create
$11bn reinsurer
xis Capital Holdings
agreed to merge with
two Bermuda-based reinsurers with a total market value of
almost $11bn amid accelerating
consolidation in the industry.
PartnerRe shareholders will
own 51.6% of the new company
after the “merger of equals,”
while Axis investors hold 48.4%,
the firms said late Sunday in
New York. The new company
will be among the world’s five
largest reinsurers, with more
than $10bn in combined policy
sales. Invested assets and cash
will be more than $33bn.
The transaction “will leverage
the complementary strengths
of both companies,” Axis Capital chief executive officer Albert
A Benchimol, who will serve as
CEO of the combined firm, said
in the statement. The deal will
“create an organisation with
the size and breadth to enhance
product and service offerings,
maximize growth opportunities,
optimise portfolios and deliver
both economies of scale and
capital efficiencies.”
Traditional reinsurers have
been seeking deals to diversify
offerings and gain scale amid increased competition from hedge
funds and other investors pushing into their market. XL Group
agreed this month to buy Catlin
Group, a Lloyd’s of London company, for about $4.2bn. RenaissanceRe Holdings struck a deal in
November to purchase Platinum
Underwriters Holdings.
Reinsurers take on risks initiated by primary carriers. They
have also been seeking to add
specialty offerings for commercial clients.
Combining will help Axis and
PartnerRe compete with larger rivals like Warren Buffett’s
Berkshire Hathaway, Munich Re
and Swiss Re AG. The merged
firm also will sell specialty policies to businesses, as well as
life and accident-and-health
coverage. The deal will lead to
at least $200mn of annual cost
savings before tax within the
first 18 months of operations,
the pair said. Competition and
a glut of money in the industry
has pushed down reinsurance
prices and eaten into providers’
margins. Rates for property-catastrophe coverage fell 11% for
policies that renewed on January 1, a major date for arranging
the coverage, according to Guy
Carpenter, a division of Marsh
& McLennan Cos. Rival broker
Aon said this month that reinsurer capital reached a record
$575bn at the end of the third
Ace Ltd CEO Evan Greenberg
predicted in October that those
trends would lead to a “frenzy”
of mergers and takeovers in the
industry as companies try to
keep from shrinking.
Axis Capital was founded by
Marsh & McLennan and began operations in 2001 after
the industry was shaken by the
September 11 terrorist attacks.
Its Axis Re Ventures unit helps
investors bet on weather risks
through securities such as catastrophe bonds.
PartnerRe, formed in 1993
after claims from Hurricane
Andrew pressured established
insurers, provides catastrophe
coverage and also guards against
risks in industries including agriculture, aviation and energy.
The company expanded with
the 2009 purchase of Paris Re
Holdings Ltd and backed Essent
Group, the mortgage insurer that
had a public offering in 2013. The
company this month announced
the establishment of PartnerRe
Asia after winning a license from
regulators in Singapore.
Benchimol worked for PartnerRe for about a decade as chief
financial officer until stepping
down in 2010 a few months before Costas Miranthis was set to
become CEO. Benchimol soon
joined Axis Capital as finance
chief, later becoming its CEO.
Miranthis is now stepping
down from that post at PartnerRe and leaving its board as of
Sunday. Another director, David
Zwiener, will serve as interim
CEO until the deal’s expected
completion in the second half of
this year, the companies said.
Seven directors from each
company will constitute the
combined firm’s board, with
PartnerRe Chairman Jean-Paul
L Montupet serving as non-executive chairman. Axis Capital
Chairman Michael A Butt will
become chairman emeritus.
PartnerRe investors will get
2.18 shares of the combined company for each of their shares. The
ratio will be one-to-one for Axis
shareholders. PartnerRe’s stock
climbed 8.3% since the start of
last year to $114.14, while Axis
Capital’s gained 3.7% to $49.33.
Credit Suisse Group is providing financial advice to PartnerRe
on the deal. Davis Polk & Wardwell and Appleby Global are
serving as legal counsel. Goldman Sachs Group is Axis Capital’s financial adviser. Simpson
Thacher & Bartlett and Conyers
Dill & Pearman are acting as legal counsel.
Expansion provides “opportunities in terms of relationship
with clients and brokers,” Catlin
CEO Stephen Catlin said after
agreeing to sell his Bermudabased company to XL. “It’s the
question of being relevant.”
Pfizer has $33bn in cash and
a million potential ways to
use it.
That total on the balance
sheet has been the focus
of speculation among
investors ever since the New
York-based pharmaceutical
company walked away from
an almost $120bn deal to
acquire UK drug maker
AstraZeneca last year.
The use of that cash is likely
to be a topic of discussion
after the biggest US drug
maker reports fourth-quarter
earnings today. In October,
executives announced
an $11bn buyback over an
undefined timeframe, not
enough to keep the company
from doing deals, according
to analysts.
Chief Executive Officer
Ian Read’s search for an
acquisition target has been
far and wide. After the
AstraZeneca deal fell apart,
Pfizer approached Actavis,
people familiar with the
matter said last year. That
company announced a deal
to buy Allergan in November.
Pfizer also reached out
to Teva Pharmaceutical
Industries Ltd last year,
but the Israeli drug maker
quickly rejected the overture,
Bloomberg News reported
on Friday, citing other people
with knowledge of the
The AstraZeneca deal was
attractive to Pfizer in part
because of the UK company’s
oncology pipeline. The
proposed deal would also
have let Pfizer relocate its
legal address overseas,
lowering its US tax bills.
Months after Pfizer dropped
its pursuit, the US Treasury
Department imposed rules
to limit the tax benefits of socalled inversion deals.
Pfizer hasn’t ruled out doing
an inversion in the wake of
those changes. Still, there
could be political hurdles
to an overseas deal from
both domestic and foreign
governments, just as Pfizer
met resistance in the UK
after proposing to buy
Pfizer’s management is also
going to be careful about
how much it pays for its next
target, which could make it
hard to strike a deal at all,
according to David Heupel,
senior healthcare analyst
at Thrivent Financial, which
holds Pfizer shares.
“They’re looking for strategic
assets and they’re taking
a pretty broad stroke as to
what they’re looking at,”
he said. “But I think they’re
going to take a diligent
and disciplined financial
approach, and I don’t think
that’s going to equate to a lot
of opportunity for them.”
In recent months, Pfizer’s
name has been linked to a
range of companies. Analyst
Jeffrey Holford at Jefferies laid
out a range of scenarios for
Pfizer, including deals with the
likes of Mylan, Actavis, Valeant
Pharmaceuticals International
and GlaxoSmithKline.
A Pfizer press representative
declined to comment on
market speculation.
In November, Pfizer
announced a partnership with
Germany’s Merck, boosting
its foothold in oncology
by giving it rights to an
experimental drug that’s
part of an emerging class
of cancer therapies. That
deal makes it less likely that
Pfizer renews its pursuit of
AstraZeneca, analysts have
said, since the UK company’s
oncology products under
development were a large
part of its appeal for Pfizer.
Pfizer also has its own drugs
under development, such
as palbociclib, a potential
blockbuster that has shown
promise in treating a form of
breast cancer.
The company could seek
to bolster its establishedproduct business, which
includes medicine with
expired or expiring patents,
in order to spin off that
division later, Holford said in a
December note to clients.
“Investors overwhelmingly
want Pfizer to take some sort
of corporate action to unlock
value,” said the analyst, who
advises buying the shares.
MeadWestvaco, Rock-Tenn
to merge into $16bn firm
Rock-Tenn Co and
MeadWestvaco Corp plan
to merge into a company
with a combined equity
value of $16bn to expand
in consumer-product and
corrugated packaging.
The merger, which will give
MeadWestvaco shareholders
50.1% of the new company
and Rock-Tenn investors
49.9%, will create a company
with combined net sales
of $15.7bn and generate
$300mn in yearly cost
savings, the companies said
today in a statement.
“We are creating the leading
global provider of consumer
and corrugated packaging
solutions, and generating
significant value for both
companies’ shareholders,”
John A Luke Jr chairman
and chief executive officer
of Richmond, Virginia-based
MeadWestvaco, said in the
MeadWestvaco outlined
plans early this month to
spin off its specialty-chemical
business following criticism
of the manufacturer’s
“conglomerate structure”
from activist investor
Starboard Value.
Aer Lingus mulls higher offer from British Airways owner IAG
An Aer Lingus aircraft taking off from Dublin Airport in Ireland. Aer Lingus is examining a sweetened offer from the British
Airways owner that values the Irish carrier at €1.36bn ($1.52bn).
er Lingus Group showed signs
of dropping its opposition to a
takeover by IAG, saying it was
examining a sweetened offer from the
British Airways owner that values the
Irish carrier at €1.36bn ($1.52bn).
The proposal of 2.55 euros a share
includes a 5¢ cash dividend, Dublinbased Aer Lingus said in a statement,
adding for the first time in the process
that it’s “considering” a deal, which
also requires the backing of Ryanair
Holdings and the Irish government, the
biggest existing shareholders.
Buying Aer Lingus would win IAG
scarce take-off and landing positions
at London Heathrow airport, Europe’s
top hub, where British Airways is the
No. 1 carrier, as well as opening up
trans-Atlantic routes via Ireland. IAG,
which bought BMI in 2011 to gain slots,
has had two prior offers spurned by
the board, forcing it to return with the
sweetened proposal.
“The updated offer moves closer towards the endgame of Aer Lingus being
acquired,” said David Holohan, an analyst at Merrion Capital in Dublin. “Ultimately, we believe that Ryanair and the
government will be willing sellers at the
current price or just north of it.”
Aer Lingus shares rose as much as
4.3% to €2.45 and were trading at 2.39
euros as of 9:37am in Dublin. The stock
has risen 34% since December 17, the
day before IAG’s first proposal was
made public.
The Irish government will only back
a deal if IAG gives reassurances on
flights from regional airports, including Cork and Shannon, the Irish Independent reported yesterday. Transport
Minister Paschal Donohoe said in an
interview with state broadcaster RTE
on Sunday that the government will
consider issues such as maintaining the
Aer Lingus slots at Heathrow.
IAG, led by former Aer Lingus pilot and chief executive officer Willie
Walsh, was created in 2011 through a
merger of British Airways and Iberia
with the aim of consolidating other airlines as opportunities arose.
The company completed the purchase of Deutsche Lufthansa AG’s
BMI unit — previously British Midland
— a year later and added Spanish discounter Vueling in 2013. IAG confirmed
separately that it had submitted an
improved proposal, “subject to certain
pre-conditions,” that did not guarantee
an offer.
“The board is considering the revised proposal,” Aer Lingus said in the
statement. “There can be no certainty
that any offer will be made nor as to the
terms of any offer.”
A purchase might ramp up competition with Ryanair, the largest Aer Lingus shareholder with a 30% stake.
Ryanair gained the holding after
trying itself to buy Aer Lingus several
times, a plan blocked by regulators on
each occasion, and has indicated it’s
prepared to sell at the right price The
Irish government owns about 25% of
Aer Lingus.
Under outgoing CEO Christoph
Mueller, Aer Lingus has cut costs,
streamlined its short-haul business
and targeted a bigger share of the
trans-Atlantic market. Mueller will
become chief at Malaysian Airlines
in March, taking over at a carrier that
suffered the loss of two 777 wide-body
aircraft last year.
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Company Name
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
% Chg
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 Travel Group
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
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
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
% Chg
Saudi British Bank
Sabb Takaful
Saudi Basic Industries Corp
Saudi Cement
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
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
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Securities Group Co
Viva Kuwait Telecom 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
A’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
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
Kuwait & Middle East Fin Inv
Fujairah Cement Industries
Livestock Transport & Tradng
International Resorts Co
National Industries Grp Hold
Marine Services Co
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
Abyaar Real Eastate Developm
Dar Al Thuraya Real Estate C
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
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-Enma’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
Kuwait Finance House
Gulf North Africa Holding Co
Lt Price
% Chg
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
A’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
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
% Chg
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
% Chg
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
#N/A Invalid Security
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 Pjsc
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
% Chg
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
#N/A Invalid Security
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 Kpsc
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
% Chg
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Company Name
Microsoft Corp
Exxon Mobil Corp
Johnson & Johnson
Wal-Mart Stores Inc
General Electric Co
Procter & Gamble Co/The
Jpmorgan Chase & Co
Pfizer Inc
Chevron Corp
Verizon Communications Inc
Coca-Cola Co/The
Merck & Co. Inc.
Intel Corp
At&T Inc
Walt Disney Co/The
Visa Inc-Class A Shares
Intl Business Machines Corp
Cisco Systems Inc
Home Depot Inc
United Technologies Corp
Unitedhealth Group Inc
3M Co
Boeing Co/The
Mcdonald’s Corp
American Express Co
Nike Inc -Cl B
Goldman Sachs Group Inc
Du Pont (E.I.) De Nemours
Caterpillar Inc
Travelers Cos Inc/The
Lt Price
% Chg
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 Ag-New
Tui Ag-Di
Travis Perkins Plc
Tesco Plc
Taylor Wimpey Plc
Standard Life Plc
Standard Chartered Plc
St James’s Place Plc
Sse Plc
Sports Direct International
Smiths Group Plc
Smith & Nephew Plc
Sky 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
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
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 Land Co Plc
British American Tobacco Plc
Bp Plc
Bhp Billiton Plc
Bg Group Plc
Barratt Developments 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
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3I Group Plc
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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
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Dow Jones Indus. Avg
S&P 500 Index
Nasdaq Composite Index
S&P/Tsx Composite Index
Mexico Bolsa Index
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Ftse 100 Index
Cac 40 Index
Dax Index
Ibex 35 Tr
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
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
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Tokyo Gas Co Ltd
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Zee Entertainment Enterprise
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Bharat Heavy Electricals
Bank Of Baroda
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Axis Bank Ltd
Asian Paints Ltd
Ambuja Cements Ltd
Acc Ltd
Lt Price
% Chg
A trader works at the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. The DAX 30 index yesterday jumped 1.40% to a new record close of
10,798.33 points.
Europe stocks gain; euro
slumps to 11-year low
he euro slumped to an 11-year
low against the dollar yesterday
after anti-austerity party Syriza
won the Greek election, sparking fears
the country could end up exiting the
In Asian trading, the European single currency dived to $1.1098 – the
lowest level since September 2003. It
later recovered in European trade to
$1.1283, up from $1.1208 late in New
York on Friday.
Greece awoke to a new era of defiant anti-austerity after voters handed
a decisive victory to radical left party
Syriza, putting the country on a collision course with the EU and international creditors over its bailout.
Yet European stocks nevertheless rose.
“The Greek election results were no
surprise and were largely priced into
markets and alongside improving German business confidence data enabled
the German benchmark DAX stock
index to start the first full week of life
with quantitative easing in the eurozone at fresh all-time highs.” said analyst Jasper Lawler at CMC Markets UK.
Frankfurt’s DAX 30 index jumped
1.40% to a new record close of
10,798.33 points, aided by the Ifo institute’s closely watched business climate
index, which rose to 106.7 in January
from 105.5 points in December.
That was the third monthly rise in a
row and was slightly higher than analysts’ expectations.
Meanwhile in Paris the CAC 40
climbed 0.74% to 4,675.13 points, Madrid rose 1.08% and Milan gained 1.15%.
Not directly benefitting from the
European Central Bank’s plan to inject
over €1tn of stimulus into the eurozone
economy, London’s FTSE 100 rose
0.29% to 6,852.40 points.
However the main stocks index in
Athens dived 3.2% after Syriza and its
40-year-old leader Alexis Tsipras won
149 seats in the 300-seat Greek parliament, just two short of an absolute
majority, with most votes counted.
But there was no spike in the yield
on Greece’s long-term government
bonds, an indication of its borrowing costs. The rate of return on 10year Greek government bonds was at
9.094% late yesterday, up from 8.410%
on Friday.
Syriza campaigned hard on renegotiating the EU-IMF bailout that
imposed strict spending and taxation
rules on Athens.
The possibility of Greece defaulting on its debt repayments could spark
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
renewed fears the country could be
forced to leave the eurozone.
“Syriza’s campaign, based on abandoning Greece’s budget constraints
and negotiating a write-down of Greek
debt, enhances the chances of an exit
from the eurozone unless a compromise is reached,” said analyst Amir
Khan at dealer firm CurrenciesDirect.
“The US dollar continues to remain
the strongest currency in the wake of
economic and political tensions elsewhere.”
Myrto Sokou, an analyst at Sucden
Research, said that “following the
Greek election’s results, the euro came
under heavy pressure initially and
tested an 11-year low at 1.1098 against
the US dollar but rebounded strongly
above 1.1250.”
The single currency had also hit
11-year dollar lows last week after the
ECB unveiled its 1.14tn euro ($1.27tn)
bond-buying programme to stimulate
growth and combat deflation.
However, the stimulus fired global
stock markets higher late last week.
US stocks edged up yesterday, with
the Dow Jones Industrial Average
showing a gain of 0.02% at 17,675.46
points in midday trading.
The broader S&P 500 added 0.10%
to 2,053.96, while the Nasdaq Composite rose 0.14% to 4,764.50.
Lt Price
% Chg
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
% Chg
Doha Securities Market
Saudi Tadawul
Kuwait Stocks Exchange
Bahrain Stock Exchage
Oman Stock Market
Abudhabi Stock Market
Dubai Financial Market
Lt Price
“Information 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.”
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
How Draghi got divided ECB to say ‘yes’ to money-printing
When Mario Draghi announced the European
Central Bank’s trillion-euro scheme to buy government bonds, he acknowledged that in the round of
strategies to revive inflation and boost the economy,
the bank had just played its last hand.
Asked by reporters what would happen if the plan
to purchase €60bn of assets a month for 19 months
failed, Draghi answered: “We have Plan A. Period.”
In fact, the money printing scheme known as
quantitative easing is already a plan “BBB” in the
words of former European Economic and Monetary
Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn, who termed it a
“Belated Big Bazooka.”
For more than a year now, economists and central
bankers have pressed for dramatic action to halt
tumbling inflation, sagging price expectations and a
stagnating economy.
But fierce resistance from German politicians and
the influential Bundesbank meant Draghi could not
move until he had slowly and painstakingly built
overwhelming support in the ECB’s policy-making
governing council for his monetary gamble.
This report shows how the ECB went from being
deeply divided over QE to launching a bolder and
more open-ended version than most investors had
It is based on interviews with half a dozen persons
involved in the decision. All spoke on condition of anonymity because of the confidentiality of ECB deliberations. Other policymakers have chosen to speak
publicly in the aftermath. The Italian ECB chief’s first
tactic was to chop the decision into separate questions, a strategy he thought most likely to construct
as broad a consensus as possible for QE.
He first sought agreement on the principle that
buying sovereign bonds of all eurozone member
states in the secondary market in proportion to their
share in the central bank’s capital was a legitimate
tool of monetary policy.
This not only built a vital foundation, but also
neutralised official German opposition.
“For me, the most important thing was we all
agreed it was legal — including the Germans on the
council,” one participant said.
Having secured unanimous support for the
principle, debate could then move to the timing and
modalities of bond-buying, notably how much risk
was shared among national central banks.
Here, crucially, Draghi offered a compromise —
one that some central bankers and analysts have
said could weaken not just the impact of QE but also
the bank’s credibility.
He suggested that only liability for jointly issued
EU and European Investment Bank bonds be
mutualised, and that the default risk on the other
80% of government debt to be bought should fall on
national central banks.
“Draghi argued that while many of us want to see
a European fiscal and political union with mutualised debt issuance, this requires a political decision,
and unelected central bankers should not do this
through the back door,” one participant said.
This most disputed aspect of the decision — to
ring-fence most of the risk — was a concession
to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the
Bundesbank “designed to allay German hysteria”,
said another source. The source added that it was of
little practical relevance since risks would inevitably
be shared among Euro system central banks if a
eurozone country defaulted.
Draghi briefed Merkel on his intentions at a
private meeting in Berlin on January 14. Despite her
stated concerns about the “sweet poison” of easy
money causing speculative bubbles and loosening
pressure on governments to carry out painful reforms, Merkel indicated she would respect the bank’s
independence, a source briefed on the conversation
said. “The purpose was to let her know what was in
the pipeline so she would not negatively surprised,”
the source said.
Once debt mutualisation was taken off the table,
the governors were able to agree on a bigger and
more front-loaded bond-buying drive than was
initially proposed.
After initially exploring a €500bn programme, the
formal proposal circulated to governors on Jan 21
was for €50bn in monthly purchases over 22 months
or a final bill of €1.1tn.
In the meeting, they raised the amount to €60bn
a month for at least 19 months — a total of 1.14bn.
“The main change was more front-loading to try
to achieve a sense of ‘shock and awe’ in the markets,” another person involved in the decision said.
“And the programme is semi-open-ended. We subtly
kept the door open for more if needed.”
The euro, which had fallen from a high of near
$1.40 last May to around $1.15 just before the decision, slipped below $1.12 afterwards in a move that
will make European exports more competitive and
may eventually help revive inflation.
In building his case, Draghi was supported by a
welter of evidence that downward pressure on prices
and on inflation expectations was accelerating.
The plunge in oil prices, while potentially a
boon for purchasing power in the euro area, risked
depressing wage growth and accelerating a pricecutting war, while making it harder for households
and governments to work off their debt. Market
indicators closely watched at the ECB’s Frankfurt
headquarters suggested inflation might not recover
before 2020.
And just a week before the ECB’s final decision,
Draghi was greatly helped by an opinion issued by
the legal adviser to the European Union’s highest
court giving him a virtual green light.
Advocate-general Pedro Cruz Villalon rebuffed a
German legal challenge to a previous, as yet unused,
bond-buying scheme. He found overwhelmingly in
the ECB’s favour.
That was a much-need counter to a drumbeat
of hostile comment from German politicians,
economists and media, accusing the ECB of robbing
German savers with negative real interest rates and
transferring credit risk from profligate southern
states to German taxpayers. “That opinion made
things much easier. It was very helpful in the process. It made it much harder for the Germans to argue
against QE,” an ECB policymaker said.
Draghi also got his way in part because he had
reassured council members that he could work collaboratively with them.
Last October, seven members of the 24-strong
council voted against the policy of expanding the
bank’s balance sheet without resorting to full QE,
and a couple more voiced reservations about the
ECB chief’s perceived secretive leadership style.
That led to a clearing of the air in which Draghi
promised closer consultation and more debate with
governors outside his Frankfurt inner circle.
“We decided to show our unity, and Mario has
been more forthcoming since then,” a person familiar with the discussion said. “Since November, the
meetings have been better directed and there has
been more transparency.”
No formal vote was taken on the QE decision.
Instead, Draghi summed up after each question,
gaining agreement to announce the council’s unanimous support for the legitimacy of QE within the
bank’s mandate.
An ECB official said the fact that executive board
member Yves Mersch from Luxembourg, a monetary hawk close to Germany, changed his mind and
ultimately backed the decision was helpful.
Yet several governors, including some who voted
for the policy, harbour doubts about whether it will
work. “We were trapped, both by market expectations and by the fact that we couldn’t leave this tool in
our toolbox unused as we slid closer to deflation,” said
one person involved in the decision. Five members
— the German, Dutch, Austrian and Estonian national
central bank governors and the German member of
the ECB’s executive board — opposed the timing.
By upholding the ECB’s independence and refraining from public criticism, Merkel has blunted German
dissent against the decision, which will be reviewed
in September 2016.
EU open to later Greek debt
repayment, not forgiveness
Greece must discuss reforms with
its lenders; eurozone officials see
room for later debt repayment, no
reduction; no eurozone decisions
expected soon, just signal of
readiness to engage with Athens
urope showed a willingness yesterday to give Athens more time
to pay its debts, but little sign
that it would yield to a new Greek government’s demands for debt forgiveness.
European Union leaders and policymakers responded to Greek antibailout party Syriza’s election victory
on Sunday with warnings that a debt
reduction for Greece would be against
eurozone rules and would send the
wrong message to other members of
the single currency.
Before any talks on more time for
Greece to repay its debts can start, Athens must get an extension of its existing
bailout to give itself time for negotiations
on future economic policy and on longer
loan maturity with international lenders.
“My forecast is that an extension of
the (Greek bailout) programme will have
to happen,” Thomas Wieser, who heads
the Euro Working Group that prepares
decisions of eurozone finance ministers,
told Austrian broadcaster ORF.
Eurozone finance ministers are gathering in Brussels to consider how to
deal with Greece after the change of
government, given the existing €240bn
($270bn) Greek bailout programme expires on February 28.
The euro fell to an 11-year low as
Syriza’s victory set Athens on collision
course with international lenders and
potentially threatened its place in the
single currency.
Syriza officials have previously said
their government’s first priority would
be to ask lenders for a few months of
time so both sides can discuss their po-
European Union and Greek flags flutter in front of the Parthenon temple in Athens. European Union leaders and policymakers
responded to Greek anti-bailout party Syriza’s election victory on Sunday with warnings that a debt reduction for Greece would
be against eurozone rules and would send the wrong message to other members of the single currency.
sitions from scratch rather than picking up from where the previous government left off.
They resist the idea of extending a bailout programme that they are
staunchly opposed to. Tsipras last week
dismissed the February 28 deadline
when the bailout expires, saying he had
until July to negotiate with lenders.
“We are asking for more time, not an
extension of the existing programme,”
a senior party official told Reuters last
The extension of the bailout is need-
ed because without it Athens will not
be eligible for the European Central
Bank’s plan of government bond purchases. If Greece refuses to service its
debt owed to the eurozone it would
not get any more money from eurozone governments and private investors would not lend to it either, officials
EU Economic and Monetary Affairs
Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said he
did not expect any decisions on Greece
from eurozone finance ministers later
yesterday, just a signal of readiness
to engage in talks with the new Greek
Even though Syriza won the elections on promises of ending fiscal austerity and demanding debt forgiveness,
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter
Steinmeier said Berlin expected it to
stick to agreements with its eurozone
“We offer to work with the Greek
government, but we expect them to
stand by agreements,” he said.
Finnish Prime Minister Alexander
Stubb said his country was ready to
discuss an extension if the new government can commit to agreed contracts
and promised structural reforms.
“We will not forgive loans but we are
ready to discuss extending the bailout
programme or maturities ... But this
will not change the fact that Greece
must continue economic reforms,”
Stubb told reporters.
The chairman of the group of eurozone finance ministers, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, struck a similar note, saying
there was very little support in Europe
for writing off Greek debt.
European Central Bank board member Benoit Coeure said the ECB would
not take part in any debt cut for Greece,
but changes to the debt maturities were
“There is no room for unilateral action in Europe, that doesn’t exclude
a discussion, for example, on the rescheduling of this debt,” Coeure told
Europe 1 radio.
It was a message echoed across much
of Europe, particularly in Germany, the
biggest contributor to eurozone bailouts whose chancellor has led calls for
budgetary rigour.
Germany’s top-selling Bild newspaper led with “Greeks elect euro nightmare”, the next page showing Syriza
leader Alexis Tsipras punching the air
next to the headline “What is this victory punch going to cost us?”
Guenther Oettinger, said a debt restructuring for Greece would send the
wrong message to other countries in
the eurozone.
“If we cut debt (for Greece), that
would give the wrong signal to Portugal
or Ireland, Cyprus or Spain,” Oettinger
told German radio Deutschlandfunk.
The International Monetary Fund
also said Greece could not demand
special treatment for its debt.
“There are internal eurozone rules
to be respected,” IMF chief Christine
Lagarde told Le Monde daily. “We cannot make special categories for such or
such country.”
morale up
as outlook
erman businesses are
confident about the outlook for Europe’s biggest
economy, a new poll showed
yesterday, as a weaker euro and
falling oil prices are set to boost
the country’s exporters.
Nevertheless, it was too early
to predict the impact on German confidence of the elections
in Greece, where the victory of a
radical left anti-austerity party
could reignite concerns of a euro
break-up, analysts cautioned.
The Ifo institute’s closely
watched business climate index
rose to 106.7 in January month
from 105.5 points in December,
the think tank said in a statement.
It was the third monthly rise
in a row and was slightly higher
than analysts’ expectations.
“Companies were far more
satisfied with their current business situation and the majority
were also optimistic about the
business outlook,” said Ifo president Hans-Werner Sinn.
“The German economy has
gotten off to a good start to the
Ifo calculates its headline index on the basis of companies’
assessments of current business
and the outlook for the next six
The sub-index measuring
current business rose to 111.7
points, the highest level since
July 2014, and the outlook subindex increased by 0.7 point to
102.0 points, the institute said.
Nevertheless, the survey was
conducted before the Greek
elections, and the victory of the
anti-austerity party Syriza there
could soon begin to sour the recovery prospects once again,
analysts warned.
Davos wife to leader: women shrug off forum’s gender gap
When Patricia Villela Marino first
came to Davos, Switzerland, nine
years ago, she’d stay up late to
make an online bid to get into the
World Economic Forum’s panels.
She was accompanying her husband, a Brazilian banker, and there
were no seating guarantees.
This year, as a delegate in her
own right, she attended about 40
panels or sessions connected with
the forum, ranging from leadership
to public policy. With a law degree
from a Brazilian university, Marino
oversees a fund that invests in
social policy initiatives and is working on issues including legalising
marijuana for medical treatment.
“I had two options: be in Zurich
shopping and then hop in with my
husband in his comfy car, or wake
up and hop on the shuttle” in hopes
of getting into early morning sessions, said Marino, 44, gesticulating
to make her point at a table in a hotel near the congress centre, wearing a gray shawl and black leggings.
“It’s up to the women to be willing
to come, leave family behind.”
At about 17%, female attendance
at the annual gathering of the rich
and powerful has mostly stagnated
in recent years, with gender parity
decades away. Marino and other
women in Davos last week said
they were more focused on the
enormous benefit they received
— and gave — than on waiting for
diversity initiatives to bear fruit.
Marino, who lives in Sao Paulo,
said she didn’t see her own role in
Davos as promoting gender parity, though to not acknowledge it
wouldn’t be acceptable either.
“I don’t want to raise the flag that
women are a minority and need to
be treated differently,” she said. “In
Davos, it’s clear that you have to go
to the world and make your mark.”
Parity wasn’t on Tamar Beruchashvili’s mind either. The foreign
minister of Georgia spent her time
holding bilateral meetings on what
she called the threat of her nation’s
annexation by Russia.
“I’m here as a professional with a
lot of responsibility,” said Beruchashvili, a first-time attendee. Women
make up a larger number of
younger leaders than ever before:
54% of the forum’s Global Shapers
community of 50 leaders between
20 and 30 years old were female,
for instance. Marino is a member of
its foundation board.
As the forum’s discussions
wrapped up, the WEF said delegates saw 2015 as a landmark year
for progress in achieving gender
parity, though not enough has been
done. Among government officials
at Davos, only 14% were women,
while one in four academics was
female, according to the WEF.
“The pace of change has been
slow,” Saadia Zahidi, head of the
WEF Women Leaders and Gender
Parity Program, said in an interview
ahead of the event. She noted that
the forum’s research shows there
has been little progress on gender
inequality worldwide.
In the main congress centre as
hundreds of delegates milled about,
Jacqueline Muna Musiitwa, 32, a Nairobi-based lawyer who started Hoja
Law Group in 2008, was preparing
for a session with Eric Schmidt,
Google’s chief executive officer, and
a group of young leaders.
She said she didn’t notice many
women on panels, or she saw a repetition of the same women, though
she was encouraged by the focus
on building female leadership skills.
For the first time this year, the
WEF added a session addressing diversity in general, including
integrating gays and lesbians into
workplace leadership positions.
Such efforts were lauded by
participants including Sheila Lirio
Marcelo, CEO and founder of Care.
com, which matches people looking for domestic help with those
seeking work.
“It’s not just about the debate
between female-male leadership or minority groups in senior
leadership, it’s about the economic
argument for overall diversity,” said
Marcelo, 44.
Progress was less visible on
panels tackling subjects such as
Sara Menker, CEO of a dataanalytics company and a first- time
forum attendee, said one panel on
Africa’s growth markets she took
part in included central bankers
from the region. The participants
were introduced by the moderator
as “five bankers and a lady.”
Menker, 32, said, “Why not ‘five
bankers and a CEO?’”
Musiitwa said she didn’t feel she
was in a minority, in part because
walking around Davos’s congress
center as a woman resembled her
daily life. As she rode on the forum’s
shuttle service to meetings at the
hotels surrounding the main conference hall, men would introduce
themselves as CEOs. The women
would introduce themselves as
wives. “I’d say to the wife, ‘Yes, but
what do you do?’” she said, citing
an example of a wife who’d started
her own business yet was attending
as a spouse.
For Marino, Davos was chance
to promote her own initiatives. She
was involved in raising the subject
of drug policy on a panel at the
forum last year, and some of her
current efforts include shaping
policy around drugs and Brazil’s
high incarceration rate.
“Davos was certainly an impetus
because of the exposure it gives
you and the access,” she said. “It
started as ‘the wife,’ but then in the
years you get to know people and
some of your opinions are heard.”
Nancy Joseph-Ridge, a 56-yearold physician who works at Takeda
Pharmaceuticals International, said
one welcome trend was the growing number of women participating in sessions on science and
“I’d say there were at least 30%
women,” she said. “I was happy to
see that. This is what we need.”
Meanwhile, Marino said that
were it not for her husband, Ricardo
Villela Marino, or his organisation,
Itau Unibanco Holding, she would
never have come to Davos. He is
Latin America CEO for the bank, the
continent’s largest by market value.
Walking through a congress
centre teeming with executives,
politicians and media, Ricardo
marvelled at Patricia’s accomplishments at the forum: “She started as
the wife, but now she’s more active
here than I am!”
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
‘China slowdown may further deflate commodity prices’
Slowing GDP growth in China is leading to weaker
demand for commodities, contributing to lower
global commodity prices, QNB has said in a report.
According to the Chinese National Bureau of
Statistics (NBS), real GDP growth slowed to 7.4% in
2014, below the government target of 7.5% and the
slowest annual growth rate in 24 years.
To boost growth, the government is trying to
push the economy towards a more consumptionled growth model, but this could take some time,
QNB said.
The IMF expects the slowdown to continue,
which could push commodity prices down further
in 2015 and beyond. This will add to the deflationary pressures that are threatening the global
economic recovery.
The slowdown in growth in China is a consequence of past overinvestment that has led to a
build-up of excess capacity in the economy. Overinvestment has contributed to a decline in housing
prices and a build-up of financial vulnerabilities in
the shadow banking system, which are also dragging down growth. The government has provided
a significant package of stimulus measures to support economic growth including tax breaks, financing for social housing, and accelerated investment
spending, particularly high-speed railways.
At the same time, the Chinese central bank has
made large liquidity injections into the banking system and loosened monetary policy to avoid a credit
crunch from the crackdown on shadow banking.
Over the medium term, the government is counting on structural reforms to boost growth through
a shift to a more market-based, consumption-led
growth model as opposed to a public investmentled one. To achieve this, the government plans to
liberalise interest rates and the financial sector
more generally, introduce market-based pricing
of resources and utilities, allow greater private
ownership in state-owned enterprises and ease restrictions on urban migration. Additionally, plans to
introduce pensions and medical insurance should
encourage consumers to spend some of their
savings, while lower taxes and minimum wages are
aimed at increasing consumer income. Over time,
these measures could change the economic model
of Chinese growth, with private consumption as the
dominant contributor, but this will take time.
In the short term, China is struggling to manage
the transition to consumer-led growth. As a share of
GDP, private consumption has been broadly stable
at around 36% since 2007. In advanced economies the share of consumption in GDP is typically
considerably higher, for example it is around 70%
in the US.
Private consumption growth in China has been
falling in line with the broader economic slowdown.
Retail spending growth declined steadily from 19%
in 2010 to 12% in 2014 (on a nominal basis). This
shows the transition will make a growth slowdown
Looking forward, private consumption is likely to
slow further. Consumer confidence could be shaken
by slower GDP growth and potentially higher
unemployment (currently 4.1%). Risks in real estate
could also be a drag. Households have a significant
Qatari businessman elected
honorary president of Italian
Chamber of Commerce
By Peter Alagos
Business Reporter
l-Faisal Holding vice-chairman
Sheikh Mohamed bin Faisal alThani said he aims to boost bilateral trade volume between Qatar and
Italy as honorary president of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Qatar.
Speaking to the media at the offices
of the Qatari Businessmen Association
(QBA) here, Sheikh Mohamed said he
will be exploring business opportunities both here and in Italy, specifically
in the tourism sector.
“I’m trying to enhance Qatar and Italy’s trade relationship by initially hosting
business meetings and trade delegations
in order for these companies to meet
each other. And I am optimistic that we
have a bright future in store for both the
countries,” Sheikh Mohamed told Gulf
Times. He added, “Italy has always been
an important trade partner to Qatar as
bilateral trade between our two countries has reached €2.5bn and we imported almost €1bn worth of Italian goods in
2014. These significant figures show that
products made in Italy are well-appreciated in Qatar.”
He also described Al-Faisal Holding
as a well-diversified company with
international investments in the tourism field. Only recently, its interna-
Italian Ambassador Guido de Sanctis (right) congratulates Al-Faisal Holding
vice-chairman Sheikh Mohamed bin Faisal al-Thani as honorary president of the
Italian Chamber of Commerce in Qatar. Looking on is the chamber’s chairperson,
Palma Libotte. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
tional hospitality subsidiary, Al Rayan
Tourism and Investment (Artic), has
acquired the five-star Boscolo Aleph
Hotel in Rome, Italy.
Sheikh Mohamed said Artic’s luxury
hotel acquisition is the latest premium
property in its portfolio across Europe,
the Middle East, Africa, and North
America, in line with the company’s
expansion strategy focused on high
quality assets.
“As vice-chairman of Al-Faisal
Holding, we have long appreciated the
Italian market’s potential, especially
in the tourism and hospitality fields.
And I am glad to announce that our
prime investment in the Italian market
was the acquisition of Boscolo Aleph
Hotel and we have the appetite for further investments in the same sector,”
he explained.
This was reiterated by Italian Chamber of Commerce in Qatar chairperson
Palma Libotte, who stressed that “one
of Sheikh Mohamed’s strengths is his
being the vice-chairman of a welldiversified company such as Al-Faisal
“Aside from diversified investment strategies, Sheikh Mohamed
DIC reports 15% rise in ’14 profit to QR77.27mn
Robust core earnings and lower impairments
on financial investments helped Doha
Insurance Company report a 15% rise in net
profit to QR77.27mn in 2014 and recommend
10% cash dividend.
However, for policyholders, net surplus
was almost flat at QR1.67bn, according to
its financial statement filed with the Qatar
Stock Exchange. Gross premium rose 3%
to QR533.72mn; while reinsurers’ share of
premium fell 2% to QR403.05mn; leading to
23% jump in net premium to QR121.93mn.
Total underwriting income was up 14% to
QR154.98mn as commissions earned rose
7% to QR30.71mn. However, claims soared
58% to QR150.6mn, but reinsurers’ share of
claims more than doubled to QR95.42mn
and change in outstanding claim reserve
also more than doubled to QR6.72mn.
Nevertheless, net underwriting income was
up 18% to QR84.91mn.
Although divided income fell 14% to
QR17.79mn; interest income more than
doubled to QR5.57mn and rental income
grew 4% to QR5.67mn. Net gain on sale of
financial investments rose 15% to QR30.83mn
and share of results of associates grew about
five-fold to QR4.36mn; while impairment of
financial investments more than halved to
QR3mn. Thus, investment and other income
grew 23% to QR41.67mn.
Total expenses grew 26% to QR67.45mn
with general and administrative expenses
expanding 46% to QR22.73mn and salaries
and other staff costs by 19% to QR41.67mn.
Total assets were valued at QR1.68bn;
comprising financial investments of
QR597.95mn, cash and cash equivalents
of QR467.48mn, reinsurance contracts
of QR366.12mn and insurance and other
receivables of QR144.99mn.
Total equity stood at QR1.07bn on a capital
base of QR500mn and earnings-per-share
was QR1.96 at the end of December 31, 2014.
has a wide range of information that
will be useful for us to fit the SMEs
(Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) that are targeting the Qatari market,” Libotte said. She noted that the
challenge for Italian firms and other
international companies looking to
do business in Qatar is market information, which the chamber helps to
provide. “This is why we are sure that
we have a precious ally on our board
who will give us the right information
to fit in these companies and enable us
to help them target the right projects,”
Libotte stressed.
According to Libotte, while Qatar is
a small country there are many opportunities in several defined sectors.
“Our goal at the chamber is to be a
reliable hub for Qatari businesses for
useful information on Italian firm,
products, and contacts. This is our way
of contributing in the majestic development that Qatar is experiencing,”
she added.
Libotte said the chamber will be
launching the Italian-Qatari businessmen dinner at the residence of Italian
Ambassador Guido de Sanctis on February 9. Also included in the chamber’s
activities for the year are Qatari trade
delegations to Italy and the Back2Business (B2B) event in association with
nine other international business associations and the QBA.
portion of their wealth tied up in real estate and,
with property prices falling across China; this could
lead to greater restraint on private consumption.
With private consumption and investment
both slowing, the growth slowdown is expected
to continue, despite government stimulus
measures. The latest IMF forecasts released last
week are for growth to slow to 6.8% in 2015 and
6.3% in 2016. Based on the historical relationship
between real GDP growth in China and global
commodities, slower growth and weaker demand
from China is likely to lead to lower global commodity prices by around 11% in 2015 and 5% in
2016, broadly in line with the latest IMF commodity price forecasts.
“This could add to the global disinflationary pressures that are contributing to what we have called
the ‘great deflation’ in 2015”, QNB said.
Qatar-Italy bilateral trade
amounts to €2.5bn in 2014
By Peter Alagos
Business Reporter
Qatar-Italy bilateral trade amounted
to €2.5bn in 2014, said Italian
Ambassador Guido De Sanctis.
However, the trade volume saw a
marginal decline last year compared
to figures recorded in 2013, he said.
Nonetheless, Ambassador De Sanctis
said he was optimistic that bilateral
relations between the two countries
would continue to improve in 2015.
Speaking to Gulf Times at the
headquarters of the Qatari
Businessmen Association (QBA)
yesterday, De Sanctis said in 2013 the
total trade volume between Qatar
and Italy amounted to €2.780bn
with Italy exporting €1.07bn worth of
machinery, furniture, helicopters, and
iron works, and gas imports reaching
“There is practically no difference
in the products exchanged last year
except that the total trade volume
saw a very slight decline due to the
oil crisis. But I still see a very bright
future in terms of bilateral trade
relations this year,” the ambassador
De Sanctis, who accompanied a
group of select Italian manufacturing
companies in the electrotechnical
and electronics sector to a business
meeting at the Qatar Chamber (QC)
headquarters, said QC officials have
urged Italian firms to pursue longterm business projects in Qatar.
“It is a suggestion we hear from our
Qatari colleagues and I think this is
the right advice to give. Obviously,
not all Italian companies can be
present in Qatar but we need to
reiterate to them that if they come
to Qatar, they need to ensure their
presence here will be long-term,” he
The Italian firms visited QC
headquarters for a two-day seminar
entitled “Technology Days,” which
was organised by the Italian
Trade Agency (ICE-Italian Trade
Commission, Trade Promotion
Section of the Italian Embassy)
and Anie (Italian Federation of
Electrotechnical and Electronic
“This will inevitably create a choice
between companies but it will be for
the best of both the economies of
Italy and Qatar. We are not speaking
of exclusion but rather co-operation
at a higher level.
“We have many top performing
Italian firms in Qatar but we still need
more. Qatar would like to diversify its
economy and we totally support that
because Italy has a highly-diversified
economy and we would like to share
our experiences with the Qataris,” the
ambassador said.
Italian Chamber of Commerce in
Qatar chairperson Palma Libotte
noted that Italian companies
venturing to Qatar represent
industrial companies and the small
and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
She said that SMEs, mostly suppliers,
pursue short-term projects in Qatar
due to the nature of their businesses.
“We’re talking about two different
calibres of companies but whether
it is an industrial firm or an SME,
both have the support of the Italian
chamber, especially when it comes to
market information or access to the
Qatari market,” Palma said.
QIIB wins Citibank’s ‘Best bank in Qatar award’ for STP for the fourth time
QIIB has won for the fourth time
the “Best bank in Qatar award”
instituted by Citibank New York,
for excellence in ‘Straight Through
Processing’ (STP) related to
customers’ international electronic
payment transfers. The award was
received by QIIB chief operating
officer Ehab Eshehawi from Citibank
region head (financial institutions,
CEE and Mena treasury and trade
solutions) Chafic Haddad at a
ceremony held here recently.
STP is the automated process
of payments without manual
intervention, which increases
processing speed, minimises
routing errors, lowers operation and
transaction costs while resulting in
efficient, rapid payment execution
for the bank and its customers.
QIIB head (International operations),
Asim Mahmoud and head (Banking
operations), Hesham Saad were
Eshehawi (second left) receiving the “Best bank in Qatar award” instituted
by Citibank New York for excellence in ‘Straight Through Processing’ from
Haddad. Also in the picture are Mahmoud and Saad.
among those present. Eshehawi
said, “We are delighted to have
this recognition from Citibank New
York. It is recognition of the bank
efforts in training and equipping
our staff members and enhancing
our technology in line with the STP
He said, “The award confirms that
the bank is a front-runner in the
area of customers’ international
electronic payment transfers, where
the processes involved call for
high degree of accuracy to ensure
direct transfer of payments without
manual intervention. For endcustomers, this means timely and
easy access to their funds. “We are
always keen to provide an efficient,
fast and reliable banking service
to our customers. To this end, we
have invested heavily in processes
and systems, so that our customers
receive maximum benefits.”
Haddad said, “The measures
adopted by QIIB in relation to
‘Straight Through Processing’
(STP) of customers’ international
electronic payment transfers
matched the best criteria adopted
globally. “We are dealing with QIIB
continuously and the efficiency with
which the bank manages its external
payments are totally consistent with
the banking business requirements.”
Haddad hoped to continue the
“strong relationship” between QIIB
and Citibank, enhancing the quality
of services the two banks offer
their customers and improving the
overall business environment in the
countries where they operate.
Prime London developments expected to attract keen bidding in 2015
By Denise Marray
Gulf Times Correspondent
China is the country to watch in
2015 when it comes to investing in
the prime London property market
— with a particular emphasis
on commercial. This is the view
expressed by members of Savills’
London and Middle East teams
who shared their insights with Gulf
Times at a meeting in their West
End headquarters.
There are high expectations
this year for the London market,
both commercial and residential.
Alongside sovereign funds, private
investors are making an impact as
evidenced by last year’s £726mn
purchase of 30 St Mary’s Axe, better known as ‘The Gherkin’, by Syria
born Brazilian billionaire Joseph
Safra. This sale was handled by
Savills and Deloitte Real Estate.
Robert Buchele, director of the
Central London investment team
observed: “We were confident that
we would attract interest from both
institutional and private investors
for The Gherkin, but I don’t think
any of us predicted that we would
get the level of pricing that we did
from a private investor. It was all
equity — a very good result. There
are major private investors from
Russia and Europe and Asia Pacific
looking at London.”
The sale this month of the 80
Fenchurch Street development site
(close to the iconic Lloyds of London
building) is a good illustration of
how much demand there is for a
prime site. It attracted ten bids from
a range of both UK and overseas
investors with the agreed price
rumoured to be in excess of £50mn.
This time last year the vendor came
close to selling at a significantly
lower price but withdrew from
London is still seen as having
considerable investment potential
despite the recent focus on regional
As Rasheed Hassan, director
of the cross border investment
team, put it: “I think last year was
an interesting year for that London
Buchele, Hassan and Farran: Upbeat on London projects.
versus regions argument; the
prices rose quite aggressively last
year in the regions, and I would say
if you start to look at the price differential today between the regions
and London, London is looking
relatively more attractive again
because the amount of money that
has gone into UK wide investment
product has risen over the last two
years and that demand, coupled
with a lack of stock, has meant that
prices have risen.
He added: “The other key part
of the investment market that
happened over the course of 2014,
and also at the start of 2013, was the
quite big return of the UK investors,
particularly the UK pension funds.
The UK pension funds are far more
experienced at buying outside of
London than the typical international
investor. So when you layer them into
the market alongside the international investors there has been a lot of
activity outside of London. So prices
have risen because of that demand
and the price gap has narrowed a lot,
and I think this year will be a good
year for London.”
It is the investor with an appetite
for risk that can expect to see the
biggest returns, particularly when it
comes to investing in estates which
have an inherited additional value
as the landlord can exert more
control over rents, tenants and
future developments. Many Gulf
investors at the moment, however,
prefer to work with established UK
developers and take the income
from specific single assets.
Buchele noted: “Middle East
investors and other investors, once
they have a better understanding
and hold income type assets in central London, may want to diversify
and go up the risk curve, but the
preference for many of them is to
form joint ventures or associations
with local developers to give them
the assurance that they are with
someone who knows the market
and development process such as
planning — rather than taking all
the risk. “The longer these investors
are in a single market, the more
embedded they are and the more
specialist they become and therefore the more risk and complex
assets they will take on.”
He added: “From an overseas
and UK perspective, we have depth
of demand across all markets, all
sectors and all risk types. For the
riskier assets, such as development
projects, we are seeing more appetite as the cycle matures driven
by a strong leasing market and lack
of supply.
Hassan characterised London
as the most desirable location
globally for property investments.
“If you look at the sources and
destinations of cross border capital globally, London is the top city
by a country mile in terms of the
volume of cross border capital that
comes to London. The next city
down is New York. Where London
may have over $20bn of cross
border capital that comes in, the
next one down will have closer to
ten,” he said.
The biggest global investor in
London is the US followed by Asia
Pacific (notably China and Taiwan),
and the Middle East. Any possible
drop in investment activity from the
Gulf due to the crash in oil prices
is seen as having only a marginal
effect on the market due to the high
demand from countries with plenty
of ready money, appetite for risk
and a desire to put their cash into a
safe haven.
Among the Gulf investors,
where traditionally there has
been strong, consistent interest
from Kuwait and the UAE, Qatar
is regarded as the most active
with investments not just in major
commercial and residential developments, but also expressions
of interest in key infrastructure
projects such as the new railway
line HS2. This kind of large scale
investment, commented Hassan
Farran, a member of the Cross
Border Investment team based in
Dubai, is recognised as being critical to the UK which needs overseas money to fund such costly
projects. He believes that going
forward, capital from the Gulf will
be an important contributor to
such projects in the UK, not least
given the UK’s historical ties and
strong relationships with many of
the Gulf countries.
TENNIS | Page 4
CRICKET | Page 6
FOOTBALL | Page 11
Djoko in his
eighth straight
Open quarters
helps India
keep final
hopes alive
dreaming of
against Barca
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Rabia II 7, 1436 AH
Hosting Olympics part of plan but no
decision on time yet: Sheikh Saoud
By Yash Mudgal
hile hosting the Olympic Games
is definitely a part of Qatar’s
massive future sports development plan, no final decision has
been made on bidding for the 2024 Games.
Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) secretary general HE Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman al-Thani (pictured) was talking
at a press conference announcing the GSAS
4 Stars recognition for the Lusail Multipurpose Hall and Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiya Arena
“It is not a matter of Qatar wanting to bid
for the Olympics or not. It’s the time when
Qatar has to decide when to go for it. No decision has been made about the 2024 Olympic bidding as yet,” he said.
“Qatar had shown interest for the 2016
and 2020 Olympic Games and the commitment that Qatar had for the world champi-
onships in the past will continue in future as
well,” he said.
Sheikh Saoud added: “On January 15, the
International Olympic Committee sent a
circular to all NOCs and said the members
have to decide for the Olympic bidding by
September. So there is still time and everybody will know about our interest for the
2024 Olympics.
“In the last few years, we have hosted several world championships and many more
are lined up now. The World Boxing Championship will be held later this year followed
by the World Road Cycling Race Championship. We are also hosting World Athletics
Championships in 2019.
He said, “Holding the Olympic Games is
part of our huge future sports development
plan. We understand the value and benefits
of sports, so we’ll continue to have international events in Qatar.”
He also said Qatar was organising over
40 international events every year and the
strategy is to increase the number by 2020.
“Right now, we’re holding 43 international
tournaments and championships each year.
But this is not enough for us. We plan to increase the number soon and we’ll like to have
52 international events by 2020. This number
will average one international event each week
for the year. Also, we’re looking from the sustainability point of view,” he added.
Sheikh Saoud was delighted with Qatar’s
remarkable show in the on-going World
Men’s Handball Championship.
“It’s been a great tournament so far. When
the host team is playing well, the event becomes all the more interesting. We have seen
handball at a high level.
“We all were delighted when Qatar
reached quarterfinals yesterday. Defending champions Spain, Olympic champions
France, Croatia and Slovenia are all great
teams. So it has been an excellent event not
just from the organising point of view, but
also from the competition angle. This is
something we’re all delighted about,” Sheikh
Saoud said.
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Germany to meet Qatar in
quarters, Poland through
‘We were a little unlucky this time, but I must admit their goalkeeper was very very good’
By Yash Mudgal
ild card entrant Germany thrashed
Egypt 23-16 to set up a quarterfinal clash with hosts Qatar in the
24th Men’s Handball World Championship yesterday.
Poland also marched in to the quarter-finals
defeating Sweden 24-20 at Ali Bin Hamad Al
Attiya Arena.
One of the strongest teams in the tournament,
Germany cruised to the next stage by dominating the Egyptians from start to finish, in front of
their supporters.
“It was a good game. Our defence was fantastic today and we played like a team. It was difficult to play against big Egyptian fans, but we
are happy with our show. Now we are looking
forward to meet Qatar in quarter-finals,” Uwe
Gensheimer, who scored six goals for the winners, said.
Towering over their Egyptian counterparts,
the Germans steamed ahead taking a 6-1 lead
within just seven minutes of action at Lusail
Multipurpose Hall. By the interval, the Germans
had a six-goal advantage (12-8).
Germany’s starting seven looked almost the
same from the last group matches against Saudi
Arabia with goal-keeper Carsten Lichtlein once
again in superb touch.
Egypt was lacking in fire-power as they failed
to cross German’s 5-1 defense led by superb Lichtlein. Egypt took eight minutes to score their
first goal in the second half and by that point
Germany had already scored five.
The 34-year-old Lichtlein was superb between the posts as he saved three penalty shots
and six out of seven shots from six-metre distance. Lichtlein’s saving percentage was 60 in
the first 30 minutes and 56 in the second half.
And the points continued to pour in for Germany as they went on to win 23-16.
“It is one of my most memorable performances and I’m quite proud to help my team reach
the quarter-finals. Our defence was very aggressive and made my life easy. They hustled the
Egyptians into taking quick shots and I managed
to come up with more than 50 percent blocks,”
Lichtlein said.
“The team that lost to Poland in last June was
different from the team playing here. We are
happy that we got a chance and we’re now taking advantage of it. Hopefully, we can play at the
same level against Qatar and win the match to
get into the next level,” said the goalkeeper.
German coach Dagur Sigurdsson was also
happy with the win as he said: “Of course, we
are very happy with this win. Our goalkeeper
and our defence were the keys to the victory, but
we also controlled the game through our attack.
I think it was a deserving win. Now we are look-
German goalkeeper Carsten Lichtlein (left) tries to block a shot by Egypt’s Mohamed Hashem (second from right) during their match yesterday. PICTURE: Mamdouh
ing forward to play Qatar in the quarter-final.”
Eslam Issa and Ahmed Elahmar hit the net
four times each for Egypt.
“Maybe we were a little unlucky this time,
but I must admit their goalkeeper was very very
good. The fact that we kept Germany to 23 goals
shows that our defence was good, I think, but we
were unlucky with our shots,” Egypt coach Marwan Ragab said.
The Polish team outplayed Sweden in the second-half, promising another great match in
their upcoming quarter-final against Croatia.
Fantastic goalkeeping from both the sides and
the defensive lines in front of them were much
more impressive than the shooting skills of the
players in the first 30 minutes of the game.
Only six goals in the first 10 minutes (3-3)
was a clear sign of the quality of defence in action. The Polish team had more to offer from
the 9-metre line, as 202cm-tall left back Karol
Bielecki scored three goals in a row to put his
team into a 5- 4 lead for the first time after 16
Sweden didn’t have the services of injured
right back Kim Andersson, which turned out
to be a serious blow for the Scandinavians, who
made a lot of mistakes shooting from the back.
The Jurecki brothers — Bartosz and Michal
— were the top scorers with five goals each for
Poland, while Fredrik Petersen netted the same
number of goals for Sweden.
“It was a hard and tough game. We didn’t play
well and had a lot of difficulties to score while
6 on 6. We lost this game in our mind,” Sweden
coach Staffan Olsson said.
Denmark sets up Spain clash, France advances
By Yash Mudgal
lympic Champions France and
two-time runners-up Denmark entered the quarterfinals
of the 24th Men’s Handball
World Championship yesterday.
France defeated Argentina 33-20 at Ali
Bin Hamad Al Attiya Arena, while Denmark defeated Iceland 30-25 at Lusail
Multipurpose Hall.
France probably played their best first
half in the tournament so far against
Argentina. French goalkeeper Thierry
Omeyer once again proved what a key
factor he is and has been in all major successes of the reigning Olympic and European champions.
After 30 minutes, ‘Titi’ had a save percentage of 60, putting pressure on the
Argentinian gunners who had underlined
their quality in the clashes against strong
European sides like Denmark, Poland and
Russia in the group stages.
Energy and courage of the Sebastian
and Diego, Juan Pablo Fernandez, Federico Vieyra and other South Americans
was simply not at par with the French
The Argentinians scored their fourth
goal in the 21st minute, trailing Claude
Onesta’s boys by six goals at 10-4.
The successful French coach Onesta,
who is going for his third World Championship gold after 2009 and 2011, let a
majority of his players play today, given
his confidence in the half-time score of
Argentina had to wait till the 43rd
minute for their 10th goal (23-10). Five
minutes before the final whistle, France
was leading by 15 goals (31-16).
Valentin Porte with 6 goals was the
top-scorer of the winning team, while
Gonzalo Carou netted one less for Argentina.
The Danes, who are poised to end their
World Cup gold medal drought, got off to
a good start and were up 5-0 after only
six minutes.
The Danish defence was extremely
solid in front of a well-playing Niklas
Landin in goal, and consequently the
counter-attacks rolled successful towards the Icelandic goal.
It took Iceland seven minutes to get
their first goal.
Iceland played without their playmaker Aron Palmarsson, who had suffered from brain concussion, but that
was far from enough to explain the huge
performance gap between the two teams.
Iceland tried a man to man defence
against Mikkel Hansen, but that did not
help much either, and they soon abandoned the idea.
Right back Alexander Petersson was
the only real Icelandic threat against the
Danish defence in the first half, while
Bjorgvin Pall Gustavsson in goal did his
best to keep the Danish score down with
a good performance.
Pettersson scored seven times for Iceland, while playmaker Rasmus Lauge
Schmidt pumped in six goals for Denmark.
The Danes have been among the top
teams in the world for the past 12 years or
so, racking up six European Championship medals (two golds, a silver and three
bronzes), but so far the World Championship title has remained elusive. They
finished third in 2007 before losing two
consecutive finals in 2011 and 2013. They
will play defending champions Spain in
quarters, while France will meet Slovenia.
Germany 23 Egypt 16
Poland 24 Sweden 20
Iceland 25 Denmark 30
France 33 Argentina 20
Croatia v Poland
Qatar v Germany
Denmark v Spain
Slovenia v France
Denmark’s Rasmus Lauge (second from left) in action against Iceland during their pre-quarterfinal match yesterday. PICTURE: Mamdouh
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
QOC stadiums
recognised for
GSAS 4 Stars rating
Handball Worlds
show that ‘Qatar
hosts world-class
sporting events’
Slovenia and Croatia are the other teams to advance to the next round
By Sports Reporter
s an institution that is working
tirelessly to promote environmentally-responsible
and resource-efficient building practices in the MENA region, Qatar
Olympic Committee (QOC) and Gulf Organization for Research & Development
(GORD) announced recognition of Ali Bin
Hamad Al-Attiya Arena and Lusail Sports
Arena as the first in the MENA region to
achieve 4 stars in sustainability standards
based on GSAS rating system.
The recognition was announced by
QOC secretary general HE Sheikh Saoud
bin Abdulrahman al-Thani and GORD’s
founding chairman Dr. Yousef Mohamed
Alhorr at the Ali Bin Hamad Al-Attiya
Arena yesterday.
GORD assessed detailed designs and
audited the construction of the facilities to ensure accomplishment of GSAS 4
Stars rating for the venues.
GSAS Sports is used to rate sports facilities of all types and sizes during multiple phases including design, construction, operations and legacy use.
On this occasion, Sheikh Saoud said:
“We are proud of this achievement,
considering it is the first time the ratings have been achieved in sports facilities in the Middle East, and that in turn
promotes Qatar’s National Vision 2030.
The perception stands for preserving
the basic environmental values, with a
clear message to the international community that the State of Qatar seeks to
harness all the possibilities to promote
sport with protection of environment
in mind.’’
Dr. Alhorr said: “Qatar Olympic Committee stadiums achieving GSAS 4 stars
was a great challenge since we had to take
into consideration many stringent standards such as reducing energy and water
usage, preserving natural resources, indoor environment, and management and
Sheikh Saoud added: “We would like to
thank design firms, construction companies and GORD for their great efforts to
achieve these high sustainability standards. We’d like to dedicate this success to
the sports community locally and internationally.”
The various types of sport facilities include outdoor stadiums, indoor arenas,
and outdoor courses. There are specific
components and factors to be taken into
considering, including, outdoor and indoor competition area, swimming pool,
ice rink, fitness suites, locker facilities,
retail spaces, offices, restaurants, com-
Qatar 2015 Organising Committee assistant director general
Mohamed Jabor al-Mulla.
QOC secretary general HE Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman al-Thani and GORD’s founding chairman Dr. Yousef Mohamed Alhorr at
the press conference yesterday. PICTURE: Shemeer Rasheed
Some features of the project
Pedestrian walkways and cycleways
have been provided. They are adequately lit in evenings and nights.
Efficient envelope is designed to reduce cooling demand by using fritting,
shading and bright coloured finishes to
minimise heat island effect.
Efficient chillers, fans and water
pumps consuming less energy are used
in comparison with compared conventional units
Lighting energy is reduced through
the use of long life bulbs, LED lighting
and occupancy sensors (Ali Bin Hamad
Al-Attiya Arena only). Lighting power
density has been reduced by 36% com-
mon areas, laundry, public bathrooms,
animal facilities, competition venue
and sports facility related landscaping,
among other things.
pared to conventional buildings
Renewable energy photovoltaic
panels with total area of 515m2 are
installed to produce 45,000kWh/annum
Greywater system captures and
treats the water from hand-basins and
showers to reuse it as the water supply
for toilet flushing
Leak detection sensors are installed
in public toilets on each floor and in the
pump rooms
Rainwater runoff from the building roof is captured and collected into
storm water tanks and used in the irrigation system
GSAS Sports measurements were determined through detailed evaluation
of the building type, functional components, operational considerations, and
Irrigation system uses drippers
instead of sprinklers to minimise water
Landscape plans use native plants
and adaptive plant species to reduce
the irrigation water
20 percent of construction materials
constitute recycled content materials
The facade and structural systems
are designed to be easily disassembled
in case of decommissioning so that they
can be recycled or reused
Use of Intelligent Building Control
System to control and monitor cooling,
ventilation, lighting and smart meters, etc.
scale considerations. Additionally, the
ratings were also based on the facilities’
original design intent and the intended
legacy use.
By Sports Reporter
he Qatar 2015 Organising
Committee has received
overwhelmingly positive feedback from participating delegations at the 24th
Men’s Handball World Championship, as the tournament moves
into the final week.
Speaking on the sidelines of
the event, Qatar 2015 Organising
Committee assistant director general Mohamed Jabor al-Mulla said:
“We have received positive feedback from the delegations, and the
testimonials from the participants
and the International Handball
Federation speak highly about Qatar’s capacity to host truly impressive sporting events.
“This Championship has
shown that Qatar is ready and we
are able to host the most prestigious sporting events. We are
receiving strong support from
all the international delegations
present. I would like to pay tribute to the commitment of Qa-
tar 2015 Organising Committee
president HE Sheikh Joaan bin
Hamad al-Thani, who has made
this event such a success.”
One of the key talking points
of the contest has been the success of Arab nations so far. Three
out of the five teams from the
MENA region progressed beyond
the preliminary rounds, and alMulla believes this augurs well
for the future of handball.
The support of the fans – and
the growing crowds that have
swelled the stadiums as the
Championship has progressed –
is another positive factor for the
“The Qatari fans have enabled
the national team to achieve its
remarkable success so far, and
we hope the support continues
throughout the tournament.
Coach Valero has demonstrated
remarkable qualities as a leader
and we believe, with the people’s support, we will continue to
progress in this contest.”
The eighth-finals are currently
underway leading to the quarterfinals that begin on Wednesday.
First steps of a hopefully long journey for Spain: Tomas
ive wins from five matches
– Spain cruised through
the preliminary round at
the 24th Men’s Handball
World Championship in Qatar.
Yesterday, the defending champions were scheduled to begin their
knockout stage campaign against
Tunisia in an eighth-final match.
Going into the intercontinental match for the quarterfinals, right wing Victor Tomas
spoke about his confidence going all the way again like two
years ago. Tomas (world champion in 2013 and double EHF
Champions League winner with
FC Barcelona) has good memories of Doha: In 2013 and 2014
the Barcelona team captain received the trophy as the IHF Super Globe winner.
After five wins in the first stage
you must be satisfied with the
Spanish performances?
Victor Tomas: I am absolutely
satisfied! It was our clear goal to
finish top of our group and to have
a perfect base for the rest of the
event. The first part of our hopefully long road is over and we have
taken confident first steps.
Do you agree that your team
has improved match by match?
VT: Definitely our final group
match against Slovenia was our
best. For 60 minutes we stood
strong in defence and were efficient in attack. I hope this was
a good signal for the rest of the
Spain has to cope with the situation that your number one
goalkeeper Arpad Sterbik is out
due to injury. How is this affecting the team?
VT: I don’t see it as a problem so
far. Three times in five matches
our goalkeepers Jose Manuel Sierra
and Gonzalo Perez de Varga were
awarded man of the match, this says
it all. Of course Arpad is one of the
best goalkeepers in the world, but
our current goalkeepers give our
defence great confidence. So we do
not have to worry about this at all.
How tough will the clash
against Tunisia be in the
eighth-finals ?
VT: We are very aware of the class
of the Tunisian team. They are really strong, with a great defence and
dangerous shooters. So we have to be
on 100 percent to proceed.
Two years ago Spain became
World Champions on home
ground. Do you dream of another final in Doha?
VT: This final in Barcelona was one
of the greatest moments in my career. There’s nothing compared to
winning a trophy like this cheered
on by your fans on home ground.
Of course, we hope to go all the way
again but still we need some more
victories and the knock-out stage
is really dangerous.
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
No stopping
Rafael Nadal of Spain jubilates after beating
Kevin Anderson of South Africa in their fourth
round match at the Australian Open yesterday.
Novak Djokovic of Serbia scampers to play a
shot against Gilles Muller of Luxembourg in
Melbourne yesterday.
ovak Djokovic powered into his eighth
consecutive quarter-final at the Australian Open as Stan Wawrinka kept his title
defence on track yesterday.
The Serb world number one was too strong for unseeded Gilles Muller of Luxembourg, winning 6-4,
7-5, 7-5 in the night match on Rod Laver Arena.
The four-time champion did not have his service
broken as he powered through to play Canada’s
Milos Raonic for a place in the semi-finals.
Djokovic was outstanding on service, winning a
high 82 percent of first serves and fighting off four
break points. The Serb top seed hit 47 winners
and only 16 unforced errors in a masterly perform-
ance against the left-handed Muller.
“I got the crucial three breaks at the important
moments, especially in the second and third at
5-all, managed to play some good passing shots,”
Djokovic said.
“I was fortunate to serve very well in important
moments in the third set and not allow him to
capitalise on his break point opportunities.”
Raonic became the first Canadian man to reach
the Australian Open quarter-finals in 47 years in a
five-set battle with Feliciano Lopez.
The eighth seed thundered down 30 aces as he
made the last eight with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-7 (7/9) 6-3
win over the 12th-seed in 3hr5min on Hisense Arena.
Raonic created Canadian tennis history by becoming the first man since Michael Belkin in 1968 to win
through to the quarters at the Australian Open.
He also equalled countryman Robert Powell’s feat
of playing in three Grand Slam quarter-finals set
back at the 1908, 1910 and 1912 Wimbledons.
“It’s great to be doing what I’m doing and that it is
making a difference,” Raonic said.
“It is, I guess, part of some history, if you look
really deep. But at the end of the day, at the same
time, I’m always pushing myself for what I want to
Wawrinka clinched a thrilling fourth set tiebreaker
to down Spain’s Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.
The fourth seed prevailed 7-6 (7/2), 6-4, 4-6, 7-6
(10/8) in just over three hours and will play Japan’s
Kei Nishikori in the last eight.
Garcia-Lopez, who knocked Wawrinka out in the
first round at last year’s French Open, held four set
points at 6-2 in the tiebreaker to take the match
into a fifth set before the Swiss star roared back.
Wawrinka had match point at 7-6 before the Span-
iard got a fifth set point only to again be denied.
He then clinched it on his second match point.
“At 6-2 I knew it was close to come back because I
had the wind with me,” the Swiss said.
“I had to focus on every point. I knew if I was
going to come back at 6-5, he was going to get
nervous. I did a good passing shot, along the line.
I just focused point after point.” Nishikori swept
into the last eight with a relatively comfortable
6-3, 6-3, 6-3 win over Spanish terrier David Ferrer
to advance to his third Grand Slam quarter-final.
The US Open finalist expected a longer match
with the tenacious Ferrer, but now has beaten the
Spanish ninth seed and former Australian semifinalist at their last five encounters.
“It actually felt a little bit weird on the court because I usually play longer matches against him,”
Nishikori said.
Nadal out to tighten Berdych
grip, Murray the Aussie slayer
afael Nadal is looking
to extend his superiority over Tomas Berdych
while Andy Murray
plans to break local hearts again
against exciting teenager Nick
Krygios in today’s Australian
Open men’s quarter-finals.
Nadal, a 14-time Grand Slam
champion, squeezed through in
five sets over American qualifier
Tim Smyczek battling cramps
and dizziness in the second
round, but looked close to his
best in ousting Kevin Anderson
on Sunday to reach the last eight.
The Spanish world number
three has an imposing 18-3 record
over seventh seeded Czech Berdych as he chases his second Australian Open crown after beating
Roger Federer in the 2009 final.
Berdych, under new coach Dani
Vallverdu, is treating it as a fresh
slate after serving his way into the
last eight without dropping a set.
He says he not Rafa’s bunny.
“Every slam is different. Every
opponent, even if is the same one,
then the match is different,” said
Berdych, a semi-finalist last year.
“So, no. It’s going to start from
0-0. That’s how it is. No comparing with the past. Just trying to be
in this time and looking forward
to it.
ilos Raonic became
the first Canadian
man to reach the Australian Open quarterfinals in 47 years with a five-set
win over Feliciano Lopez yesterday.
The eighth seed thundered
down 30 aces as he made the last
eight with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-7
(7/9) 6-3 win over 12th-seeded
Lopez in 3hr5min on Hisense
Arena. Next up will be a quarterfinal against world number one
and four-time champion Novak
Djokovic tomorrow.
Raonic created Canadian tennis
history by becoming the first man
since Michael Belkin in 1968 to
win through to the quarters at the
Australian Open.
He also equalled countryman
Robert Powell’s feat of playing in
three Grand Slam quarter-finals
set back at the 1908, 1910 and 1912
“It’s great to be doing what I’m
doing and that it is making a difference,” Raonic said.
“It is, I guess, part of some history, if you look really deep. But
at the end of the day, at the same
time, I’m always pushing myself
for what I want to achieve.”
The big-serving 24-year-old,
who reached the semi-finals at
last year’s Wimbledon, had two
match points saved when he was
serving for victory in the fourth
set. Lopez took it to a fifth set,
but Raonic broke the Spaniard in
the eighth game and then blasted
three straight aces on the way
to serving it out in the following
“I’m happy with the sort of attitude that got me through,” he said.
“I stayed calm even though
things weren’t always panning out
how I would have liked.
“I came up with the right play
on my first match point. He came
up with a great shot. Missed a lot
of break point opportunities, but
overall I can’t complain too much.
“I fought my way through to
the second week.” Raonic hit an
extraordinary 81 winners and first
served at 75 percent, winning 79
percent. His monster serve was
only broken once by Lopez.
“I’m moving better. I feel like
I have it within myself. I just got
to bring it out,” Raonic said of his
chances of progressing further in
the tournament.
“I’m going to always focus on
myself first, make sure that I get
my things in order, get my things
organised, play my game, then
throughout the match make the
adjustments I have to.”
Spain’s Rafael Nadal is a massive hit with fans at the Australian Open.
“There is no question that he’s
one of the best of our sport, in
all our eras of sport. But I’m just
ready for it.”
Nadal is respectful of his opponent even though he has won
their last 17 matches and taken 37
of the last 40 sets.
“It doesn’t matter what happened in the past, it’s a different
story this time. Different moment for me, different moment
for him,” he said.
“He’s a great player. I have had
success against him, but I have
had chances to lose against him.”
Nadal highlighted his four-set
win over Berdych in the semifinals of the 2012 Australian Open
when he prevailed in four sets.
“I remember 2012, I had a very,
very tough match against him
here. It was close to be two sets
to love down. He’s a player that is
top level,” Nadal said.
Murray, a two-time Grand
Slam champion but luckless in
Melbourne in three losing finals, will have the crowd against
him when he takes on mercurial
19-year-old Kyrgios in today’s
other men’s quarter-final.
The Scot holds a 10-0 winning
record over Australian players
and is poised to go deeper into the
tournament after fighting back to
oust Bulgarian star Grigor Dimitrov on four sets on Sunday.
“I’m not planning on trying to
break anybody’s hearts. This is
tennis. This is sport. All I’m trying to do is beat the guy on the
other side of the net,” Murray said
of his intriguing match-up with
“Obviously, the crowd will be
right behind him. Understandably so. They’re probably going to
watch him play a lot of matches
like this over the next 10, 15 years.
“That’s just something that
I’ll have to deal with in my way.
I’ve played a lot of matches. I’ve
played in French Open against
French players where the crowd
can be very difficult.
“I’ve experienced it before, so
hopefully I’ll deal with it well.”
Kyrgios lit up the Australian
Open with his dramatic five-set
fourth round win over Italian
Andreas Seppi, who knocked out
Roger Federer in a major boilover
in the previous round.
Confidence is in no short supply with Kyrgios, who is playing
in his second Grand Slam quarter-final after beating Nadal and
Richard Gasquet before he went
out to Milos Raonic at last year’s
“I definitely believe that I can
do it,” he said of his chances of
becoming the first Australian to
win his home Grand Slam since
Mark Edmondson in 1976.
“I think Andy’s one of the
greatest athletes on the tour. He’s
going to make me play a lot of
balls,” Kyrgios said.
Swiss Wawrinka
dismisses notions
of vengeance
aving dispatched one
of his 2014 grand slam
vanquishers to reach
the Australian Open
quarter-finals, Stan Wawrinka
is now getting ready to face another tomorrow.
Wawrinka avenged his early
exit at last year’s French Open
with a 7-6(2) 6-4 4-6 7-6(8)
victory over Guillermo GarciaLopez yesterday to book his
place in the last eight and now
must face his US Open nemesis
Kei Nishikori.
“It’s always tough to play
against him. He’s a great shot
maker. He’s always taking the
ball really early and doesn’t give
you a lot of time,” Wawrinka
said about Nishikori, who followed him into the quarter-finals with a 6-3 6-3 6-3 win over
David Ferrer. “He’s a tough,
tough player.”
The fourth-seeded Wawrinka has adopted a low-key approach to his title defence at
Melbourne Park, swatting away
questions about how last year’s
experience could help him
with a polite, but standard response—that was last year.
The approach was evident
again yesterday when asked if
the five-set loss to Nishikori in
the quarter-finals at Flushing
Meadows would have any influence in tomorrow’s clash.
“(We) start (at) zero again.
It’s a new year,” he said. “Different conditions if I have to play
“If I can play heavy, if I can
play my game, it’s tough for him
to always take the ball early.
“We’ll see how I’m going to
deal with that.”
While the 29-year-old Swiss
was keen to put the past behind
him, at least his performance
against Garcia-Lopez buried
the memories of Roland Garros.
Wawrinka became the first
Australian Open champion to
lose in the first round at Roland
Garros since Petr Korda in 1998
when Garcia-Lopez dumped
him out last year and he did not
have it easy against the 31-yearold this time around either.
Wawrinka had a two-set lead
and a break in the third when
he lost his focus and then had
to overcome a 5-0 deficit in the
fourth-set tiebreak before he
saved five set points with some
booming backhand drives.
Those lessons, he said, were
something he would take into
the next round.
“(This) level, it can change
quickly. I made maybe two mistakes, then he started to play a
little bit faster, a little bit more
flat,” added Wawrinka. “I started to be defensive a little bit too
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Battle of the
golden girls
Venus Williams of the US hits a return against
Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska during their
women’s singles match on day eight of the 2015
Australian Open yesterday.
Williams siblings
surge as Azarenka
meets her match
ennis superstar Maria
Sharapova takes on the
game’s much-hyped
“next big thing”, Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard in a
blockbuster Australian Open
quarter-final today.
Sharapova, the second seed,
is the world’s highest-paid female athlete with five Grand
Slams to her name, while
20-year-old Bouchard appears
certain to become a household
name if she can snare a breakthrough major.
In contrast to the celebrity
wattage on show in the Sharapova-Bouchard clash, today’s
other quarter-final features
two no-nonsense professionals in third seed Simona Halep
of Romania and Russian 10th
seed Ekaterina Makarova.
Both players have ghosted
through the draw on their way
to the last eight, efficiently
disposing of opponents while
shunning the spotlight.
Sharapova, 27, won the Australian title in 2008 and can
snatch the world number one
ranking off arch-rival Serena
Williams if she repeats the feat
this year.
She has defeated seventh
seed Bouchard in their previous three meetings but had
to come from behind in their
most recent clash at the French
Open semi-finals last year.
“It was a really tough three
setter. She’s been playing incredibly well—confident aggressive tennis,” the Russian
“She’s a big competitor. An
aggressive player that likes to
take the ball early and dictate
Bouchard was the tour’s
most consistent player at
Grand Slams last year, making
the final at Wimbledon and the
semis at the Australian Open
and Roland Garros, where she
lost to Sharapova.
She said her game had progressed since then and vowed
to maintain her trademark
aggression and power hitting
against Sharapova, who she
idolised as a child.
“I definitely want to keep
playing my game no matter
what. Really kind of take it to
her, go for my shots,” she said.
“That’s what I want to do on
the court. And it’s more fun
when I play that way too.”
The glamour pair have
reached the final eight in vastly different styles, with Sharapova building momentum
after an early scare to concede
only five games in her last two
She has eliminated two
seeds while Bouchard has been
erratic even though she is yet
to encounter a top-ranked
player at Melbourne Park.
The Canadian has been
scintillating in patches but
also struggled with her serve
Halep, 23, has also not faced
a seed on her way to the quarters, She has struggled at times
to impose herself on lesser opponents, shouting at herself on
court, but is still yet to drop a
set. The nuggety Romanian
reached the quarters last year
and can go one better this year
if she reproduces the form that
delivered her ninth WTA title at the Shenzhen Open this
Halep said she was full of
self-belief after reaching the
final at Roland Garros and the
semis at Wimbledon last year.
She defeated Makarova in their
only previous meeting at New
Haven in 2013
“I have confidence I can
beat her again but it’s a quarter-finals and it will be a tough
match,” she said.
The enigmatic Makarova
has also not dropped a set
but all her victories, including against Czech 22nd seed
Karolina Pliskova, have come
in convincing fashion.
It is the third time the
26-year-old, who broke into
the top 20 last year, has made
the quarters at Melbourne
Park after strong runs in 2012
and 2013.
She has also appeared in
the last 16 in 2013 and in 2011,
making the Australian Open
her most consistent Grand
“I don’t know what it is,
something special for me, but
I’m really happy to be here,”
said the Russian, who also
make the US Open semi-finals
last year.
Venus will meet Keys, a player 15 years her junior, in the last 8
op seed Serena Williams again
left it late before storming into
the Australian Open quarterfinals yesterday, as sister Venus
returned to the big time and Dominika
Cibulkova crashed Victoria Azarenka’s
comeback party.
American teenager Madison Keys,
mentored by Venus’ old sparring partner
Lindsay Davenport, also earned a spot in
the women’s last eight, the latest of the
so-called new generation to knock on the
door of Grand Slam success.
Keys will meet Venus, a player 15 years
her senior, in the quarters, while Serena
lines up against last year’s Australian finalist Cibulkova of Slovakia.
The world number one snuffed out
a spirited challenge from 24th seeded
Spaniard Garbine Muguruza to stay on
track in her quest for a sixth Australian
major, which would also guarantee she retains the top ranking.
The 33-year-old won 2-6, 6-3, 6-2,
admitting “I didn’t start out so well” as
she dropped her second opening set in as
many matches.
However, the reigning US Open champion is so supremely confident that she
said she could always find another gear,
even against a player who bounced her out
of last year’s French Open.
“I’ve been playing for a long time.
When I have to go up a level, I have to,” she
With the job done against Muguruza,
Serena took time out to cheer from the
stands during Venus’ roller-coaster 6-3,
2-6, 6-1 win against sixth seed Agnieszka
The elder Williams sister is shaping
as the feelgood story of the tournament
as she continues to roll back the years,
reaching the quarter-finals of a Grand
Slam for the first time in five years.
“Obviously she didn’t really look like a
34-year-old,” a stunned Radwanska said.
“She was quick. She was fresh, playing
very well.”
The win takes her 2015 record to 9-0,
including winning the Auckland Classic
lead-up event, but took its toll on Venus,
who said she “went into a trance” during
the third set.
It continues a remarkable comeback
from injury and a long battle with the energy-sapping Sjogren’s Syndrome, which
was diagnosed in 2011.
“Now is my moment and I want to keep
this moment going,” she said.
Another player seen as out of the reckoning for honours before the tournament
started was 11th seed Cibulkova, who has
struggled at Grand Slams since losing last
year’s decider to China’s Li Na.
She was expected to fall to two-time
champion Azarenka of Belarus, who
was unseeded this year after an injury-
plagued 2014 but expected to go deep into
the tournament she once dominated.
Instead it was the diminutive Cibulkova
who drew inspiration from Rod laver Arena, winning 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 as she zipped
around the court chasing lost causes and
firing them back at Azarenka with interest.
“I just walked on the court and all the
great memories came to my mind and I
was just thinking ‘I’m a great player, I can
do it, I just have to believe in myself’,” she
Keys racked up the only straight sets
victory of the day in her all-American
clash with Madison Brengle.
Long touted as the rising star of American tennis, Keys said she was finally ready
to step up under the guidance of Davenport, a three-time Grand Slam champion
who won the Australian title in 2000.
“I think I’ve matured a little bit and just
got my game together a little bit more. It’s
kind of just come together,” she said.
Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard will take on Russia’s Maria
Sharapova today.
Azarenka happy despite Aussie Open defeat
wo-time champion Victoria Azarenka
might be out of the Australian Open but
she is not upset, happy that her comeback from injury and depression has gone
so well.
The former world number one, who won the
title in 2012 and 2103, was unseeded at Melbourne Park after a horror injury-plagued 2014
and fell yesterday to last year’s finalist Dominika
Cibulkova in three tough sets.
But she reminded people of her credentials,
counting eighth seed Caroline Wozniacki and
dangerous American Sloane Stephens among her
conquests on the road to the fourth round.
“I take it as progress. I think there are a lot of
the positive things to take from here,” said the Belarusian after losing 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.
“It’s a good start. There was some good quality
of tennis today, even though the result is not the
one that I wanted and not what I was looking for.
“But I need to be realistic a little bit and keep
working hard and try to sharpen my game. I need
to be more consistent and I need to be able to take
my opportunities when I have them.
“But overall, I can be pretty happy. But I’m such
a perfectionist that I don’t want to be satisfied.”
Azarenka’s trials last year included a string of foot
injuries and a broken romance with musician and
reality television personality Redfoo that left her
at a low point, admitting she suffered depression.
She has seemed far more relaxed this year after appearing her intense and introverted at Melbourne Park previously and admitted to having
more fun.
“Definitely compared to last year it’s a big difference,” she said.
“But just overall, I think my attitude and
my approach to matches, to tournaments, has
“That’s more satisfying for me. I feel that I’m
very honest with myself on my effort and I’m
working really hard.
“I’m just trying to do my best, so there are
things I can be pleased with.”
Despite the more relaxed attitude there is still
fire in her belly and she is determined to get her
ranking back up from its current 44 and to start
getting into the business end of more tournaments this year.
“I don’t want to stop here and be, okay, this
was a good match. I want to strive for much better,” she said.
“I’m just going to work hard, try to analyse
this match, this tournament, and keep working. I
think that the direction where I’m heading is the
right way. I just need to go there step by step.”
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Fans blast
decision to
move ODI
from Adelaide
to Sydney
SYDNEY: South Australia’s
cricket fans blasted the decision to move yesterday’s
One-day International
(ODI) between Australia
and India to Sydney after
the game was stopped just
15 minutes because of rain.
Fans took to social media
to vent their frustration
at Cricket Australia (CA)
over the decision to move
the match from Adelaide,
where the weather was
fine, to Sydney, which
resulted in play being
stopped almost immediately due to the weather,
There were only 2.4 overs
played in Monday’s match
between Australia and
India before rain forced a
halt to proceedings, and
the covers were rushed out
over the pitch.
Australia had won the toss
and decided to bowl and
India’s score was six for
no loss at the time of the
The Australia Day match
has traditionally been
played in Adelaide before it
was stripped from the city
by the sport’s governing
body in June last year.
Former transport department boss Rod Hook took
aim at Cricket Australia’s
decision to shift the game
to Sydney.
Other Twitter users joined
in the chorus of condemnation for the decision to
switch venues for the game.
The decision to move the
match to Sydney looks even
more dubious after 52,633
fans packed the Adelaide
Oval to watch the Big Bash
League semi-final between
the Adelaide Strikers and
Sydney Sixers Saturday.
“The cricket would be
underway with a full
house, if Cricket Australia
had scheduled it where it
should have been played.
#farce,” Kate Bartlett
Another cricket fan Brian
Finnigan said CA shouldn’t
have moved out the match
from Adelaide.
“#AustraliaDay Cricket
should of stayed in
Adelaide...... NO RAIN
HERE!!!,” Finnigan wrote
on Twitter.
Washout helps India
keep final hopes alive
The two points earned with the abandonment were India’s first points in the tournament
ndia received two precious
points that kept their ambitions of advancing to the
final of the One-Day International (ODI) tri-series cricket
tournament alive after their
match against Australia was
called off due to a downpour
here yesterday.
Earlier, Australia captain
George Bailey won the toss and
put India in to bat at the Sydney
Cricket Ground (SCG).
The visitors struggled to post
69 for two after 16 overs, losing
out-of-form opener Shikhar
Dhawan (8) and Ambati Rayadu
Opener Ajinkya Rahane (batting 28) and Virat Kohli (batting
3) were at the crease when rain
stopped play.
For Australia, Mitchell Starc
and Mitchell Marsh were the
two bowlers to claim the wickets that fell.
After a lengthy halt, the umpires decided to call off the
The match had already been
reduced to a 44-over affair after rain delayed the start of the
The two points earned with
the abandonment were India’s
first points in the tournament,
after having lost their first two
matches against Australia and
England, respectively.
They are still third on the
points table with England on
five and Australia having al-
India innings
A. Rahane not out ............................. 28
S. Dhawan c Finch b Starc .................. 8
A. Rayudu c Warner b Marsh ............ 23
V. Kohli not out ................................... 3
Extras (w7) ........................................ 7
Total (2 wickets, 16 overs) ................ 69
Fall of wickets: 1-24 (Dhawan), 2-62
Bowling: Starc 4-0-11-1, Hazlewood
5-0-25-0, Marsh 3-0-21-1, Doherty 3-010-0, Faulkner 1-0-2-0
India’s Ajinkya Rahane knicks one off the bowling of Australia’s Josh Hazlewood but is dropped by wicketkeeper Brad Haddin during their One Day International (ODI) at the
Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) yesterday.
ready booked a final berth with
15 points.
The washout made India’s
last league match against England at Perth Friday a virtual
semi-final with the winner
qualifying to play against Aus-
tralia in the final.
India named two of their injured players, Ishant Sharma
and Ravindra Jadeja in the team
yesterday but were forced to
leave out batsman Rohit Sharma
with a sore hamstring.
Australia included fast bowler Josh Hazlewood, all-rounder
Mitchell Marsh and left-arm
spinner Xavier Doherty in their
After the cancellation, South
Australia’s cricket fans blasted
the decision to move the match
to Sydney.
Fans took to social media to
vent their frustration at Cricket
Australia (CA) over the decision
to move the match from Adelaide -- where the weather was
fine -- to Sydney.
The Australia Day match has
traditionally been played in
Adelaide before it was stripped
from the city by the sportÂ’s
governing body in June last
Clarke powers through wet Wright rues New
training session at SCG
Zealand’s 1979
World Cup miss
skipper Michael Clarke
braved the pouring rain, powering
through a wet training session
at the Sydney Cricket Ground
(SCG) here yesterday to continue his race against the clock
to be fit for the ICC Cricket
World Cup.
According to Cricket Australia (CA) website, the inured
skipper ran lap after lap at a
good pace and appeared unimpeded on his surgically repaired
Clarke must be fit and available for selection for Australia’s
second World Cup group stage
clash against Bangladesh Feb 21
or he will be replaced in the 15man squad for the remainder of
the tournament.
“I don’t think it’s about any
individual. There’s roles to
play for every player. You
know your strengths.”
But signs are looking good for
the 33-year-old.
Clarke is said to be ahead
of schedule, batting in the
SCG nets and bowling this
week, and has joined Australia’s training sessions in
the lead-up to yesterday’s
match between India and
Australia, albeit in the role
as spectator.
Clarke injured his right
hamstring during the first Test
against India in Adelaide, and
underwent surgery Dec 16.
Australian model and presenter Kyly Clarke and Michael Clarke arrive
for the global launch of Heidi Klum Intimates at Bondi Icebergs in
Sydney, Australia, yesterday.
Meanwhile, Clarke has hinted at the possibility of both
him and Steven Smith featuring together in the World Cup
despite having similar roles in
the team.
Clarke has been given a Feb
21 deadline by Cricket Australia (CA) to make himself
available to captain the team
for the mega event, starting
Feb 14.
Clarke’s recent international
activity has been hampered by
prolonged fitness problems that
forced him to partially miss the
India-Australia Test series recently. Smith led the side in his
“It’s about trying to pick
the best 11 players,” Clarke was
quoted as saying by
au yesterday.
“I don’t think it’s about any
individual. There’s roles to play
for every player. You know your
Earlier, critics and experts
had questioned how Clarke
and Smith could be in the side
together, if Clarke declares
himself fit, as they had similar batting styles and roles
in the team. Both are right
handed middle-order batsmen.
Clarke, however, said his
only concern right now was
to get fit as quickly as possible and get on the field of
“Right now, for me it’s
about getting fit, about getting back on the park. Once
I’ve done that, the selectors
will work out what’s the best
XI and we’ll go with that,” he
ormer New Zealand
captain John Wright
said yesterday 1979 was
the closest they got to a
World Cup final having lost the
semi-final to England only by
nine runs.
“New Zealand lost the semifinal to England by a very low
margin - nine runs, at Old Trafford. Now that I look back at
that game, it was perhaps the
closest we ever got to the final,”
Wright was quoted as saying by
He further reflected on his
performance saying had he
stayed back at the crease the
outcome could have been different.
“I got run out. My god, what
a nightmare it was! I don’t like
to remember that. I think I was
looking for two and was sent
back,” he said.
“I’d got a decent score (69)
and if I had stayed there, maybe we would have got past. We
played the full 60 overs and
nine runs was not much.”
England rode on No.4 batsman Graham Gooch’s 71 to
score 221 for eight in 60 overs
batting first and then restricted
New Zealand to 212 for nine to
clinch the narrow win.
The 60-year-old also said
watching the West IndiesEngland final made him realise
Former New Zealand captain John Wright
how close they were to playing
in the game.
The West Indies’ premier
batsman Vivian Richards and
Collis King took the England
bowling attack apart to help the
Caribbean side to their second
consecutive World Cup triumph.
Wright said on watching Richards at his punitive best on
television, he wished to bat like
“I watched the final on television after I’d gone back to
Derby, as Viv Richards and Collis King smashed the England
batsmen. I remember thinking
about how it should have been
us in the final and then wishing that I could bat like Viv,” he
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
for World
Cup after
aniel Vettori, who
played his 280th ODI
Sunday against Sri
Lanka to become New
Zealand’s most capped player,
yesterday said he was feeling
confident and fit ahead of the
ICC Cricket World Cup that
bowls off in Australia and New
Zealand February 14.
The left-arm spinner passed
former captain Stephen Fleming
to become the most-capped ODI
player for New Zealand.
Fittingly, Vettori earned his
first ODI cap against the same
opposition in 1997, with figures
of none for 21 from his two overs.
Since then he has earned a
reputation as one of classiest,
wiliest ODI bowlers around, as a
career economy rate of 4.11 testifies.
His game also developed into
a long-serving captain and batsman who has saved his side many
a time, joining the exclusive 200
wicket and 2,000 ODI runs club
in the process.
“To play for such a long period of time and to put those
milestones together (Dan recently became New Zealand’s
most-capped Test player also) is
pleasing, particularly as a spin
bowler in New Zealand, where
conditions aren’t always conducive to bowling spin because
of the grounds and the nature of
the wickets, so to be able to hold
the record for Test matches and
one-dayers is very pleasing,” said
After being ever present in
the side for well over a decade,
the wear and tear of professional
cricket meant that from 2013 Vettori declined a contract in an effort
to get his body right with a view to
playing the World Cup 2015.
“I think the main concern
for me and everyone was being
able to get through the games
of cricket, and it’s been nearly
four months of nearly non-stop
cricket, I’ve played a lot of games
and bowled a lot of overs and I’m
feeling pretty good, the body’s
feeling good, there haven’t been
any niggles, and with still a fair
amount of cricket to go including
the World Cup, I’m fairly confident I’ll get through it.”
World Cup to showcase
both elite and paupers
India start their campaign against bitter rivals Pakistan in Adelaide on February 15
ustralia will look to become just the second
team to win a World
Cup final on their own
soil when a tournament rich in
sub-plots featuring serial under-achievers South Africa and
Afghanistan’s fairytale debut
starts next month.
Champions in 1987, 1999,
2003 and 2007, Australia are
amongst the favourites to lift
the trophy at the Melbourne
Cricket Ground on March 29 at
the end of an exhausting sixweek event.
The 14-nation competition
gets underway on February 14
and is being played at seven
venues in Australia and seven
in New Zealand. The top four in
each group qualify for the quarter-finals.
Now in its 40th year, the
World Cup has only once been
won by a team playing in front
of a home crowd, with India shrugging off the crushing
pressure of mass expectation in
The Australians have only
lost one of their last 11 one-day
internationals and accounted
for South Africa 4-1 in a home
series in November.
Australia can boast a strong
core of key players—David
Warner, Steve Smith, Mitchell Johnson and possibly skipper Michael Clarke, depending
upon his fitness.
Given Smith’s phenomenal
form with the bat—three ODI
centuries since October—there
are those who say Australia may
not even miss Clarke’s leadership and batting.
Despite their smooth progress
to the final of the ongoing TriNations series, there remain
question marks over Australia’s
on-field behaviour.
Warner has come in for widespread criticism following his
oafish “speak English” rant at
India batsman Rohit Sharma.
Dashing De Villiers
South Africa’s hopes of ending their World Cup hoodoo
will rest with some of the finest
players currently active.
Proteas captain AB de Vil-
South Africa captain AB de Villiers is the number-one ranked ODI batsman and will
arrive at the tournament after displaying dazzling form in a recent home series
against the West Indies, including the fastest one-day international century, made
off just 31 balls.
liers is the number-one ranked
ODI batsman and will arrive at
the tournament after displaying
dazzling form in a recent home
series against the West Indies,
including the fastest one-day
international century, made off
just 31 balls.
Hashim Amla has reached
a succession of milestones in
fewer innings than anyone else
- 2,000, 3,000, 4,000 and most
recently 5,000 ODI runs.
In Dale Steyn and Morne
Morkel, South Africa have two
of the most potent fast bowlers in the world, while new ball
bowler Vernon Philander has
has the accuracy to exploit any
life in a pitch.
With Sharma, the only batsman with two 200s in one-day
internationals, Virat Kohli,
Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina
and skipper Mahendra Singh
Dhoni, India possess destructive batting firepower.
But the champions’ frail
bowling attack remains a
worry, as was evident during
the recent Test series in Australia where the hosts piled
up 500-plus totals in each of
the four matches during a 2-0
Ajmal absence
India start their campaign
against bitter rivals Pakistan in
Adelaide on February 15.
Pakistan, who won their
only World Cup in Australia in
1992, have endured a chaotic
build-up with match-winning
spinner Saeed Ajmal suspended because of a suspect action, while Misbah-ul Haq and
Pakistan will miss the services of match-winning spinner Saeed Ajmal suspended because
of a suspect action
Shahid Afridi have vied for the
Misbah knows his attack will
miss Ajmal but believes giant
seamer Mohammad Irfan—the
tallest-ever bowler to play international cricket at 7 feet,
one inch—could provide the Xfactor.
Australia and England will
meet on the first day in Melbourne just as New Zealand
start their campaign against
1996 champions Sri Lanka in
England’s ODI record has
been poor in recent times, with
series defeats in Sri Lanka and
against India at home.
West Indies won the first two
World Cups in 1975 and 1979
and were runners-up in 1983.
Since then, their best perform-
shared a world record 267-run
sixth wicket stand.
Afghanistan will be many
‘neutrals’ choice to progress
out of the pool stages even if
that scenario appears unlikely.
Making their debut at the
World Cup, it has been an incredible journey for Afghanistan whose players learnt the
game as a refugees while their
beloved sport was once banned
by the Taliban.
As with all major sports
events, there will be a focus
on security and New Zealand
World Cup chief executive
Therese Walsh has warned of
strict measures.
“There will be security profiling, there’ll be random pat
downs, there will be bag searches,” she said.
Afridi set for English T20 stint
Pakistan board, players
hold negotiations
over contract row
Shahid Afridi is to play
for Northamptonshire
in the first six rounds of
English cricket’s 2015 T20 Blast
competition, the Midlands
county announced yesterday.
One of the most spectacular
hitters of a cricket ball the game
has known, the 34-year-old Afridi—nicknamed ‘Boom Boom’
for his dynamism with the bat—
holds the record for the most
sixes in one-day internationals
with 342 to his credit.
Renowned for his rapid runscoring, Afridi - also an effective leg-spinner—has a strikerate of 116.29 from 389 ODIs
and 145.29 from 77 T20 games
for Pakistan.
“He doesn’t need a big introduction. He is one of the top
one-day cricketers of the last
coach David Ripley told BBC
Radio Northampton.
“I think we were in the right
place at the right time to get
a bit of dialogue going,” the
wicketkeeper added.
“It’s a very exciting signing.
It’s for the start of the competition so hopefully we can come
out of the blocks quickly.
“We might not be able to finance another player further
down the line, but we haven’t
given up hope on that.”
Afridi, who has also played
ance was a run to the semi-finals in 1996.
The Caribbean side will be led
by 23-year-old Barbados fast
bowler Jason Holder who has
taken over from Dwayne Bravo,
axed for his role in the abandoned tour of India last year.
Sri Lanka, runners-up in the
last two World Cups, go into
the event with their confidence
battered by a 4-1 series loss to
New Zealand.
The Kiwis, meanwhile, are
six-time semi-finalists but
will fancy their chances of a
first final appearance with
all of their pool games being played on familiar home
They are also in form. In the
fifth ODI in Dunedin on Friday,
Luke Ronchi and Grant Elliott
Shahid Afridi
county cricket for Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Kent and
Hampshire, has said he will retire from ODI cricket following
this year’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, which
starts next month.
Northamptonshire, who won
English county cricket’s T20
title in 2013, hope to have Afridi available in time for their
opening match of this season’s
competition, away to Durham
on May 15.
KARACHI: Pakistan cricket
authorities and players yesterday said they were working at resolving a potentially
destabilising contract row a
month away from the World
The Pakistan Cricket Board
(PCB) earlier this month
announced it would extend
existing annual contracts
for another three months,
apparently wanting to give
the next set of long-term
contracts on the basis
of performances during
cricket’s premier tournament, which is this year
hosted by Australia and
New Zealand.
But the players, including
skipper Misbah-ul Haq,
have refused to go along
with the makeshift arrangement.
Speaking on the condition of
anonymity, a senior player
told AFP: “First the board has
drafted a short-term contract
and secondly the incentives
given to the players have been
changed, so we are in talks
with the board to solve the
A PCB spokesman confirmed
the matter was being negoti-
ated and said that it had acted
in line with its own rules.
“There were some reservations which we are sure will be
resolved in the next couple of
days,” said the spokesman.
“As per the rules these contracts are extendable by 180
days which is what has been
The PCB had added newcomers Sohail Khan, a mediumpacer, and leg spinner Yasir
Shah to the existing list of 31
players who were awarded
central contracts in A, B and
C category on the basis of
performance and seniority
last year.
Former players and officials
have termed the central
contract row as “damaging”
with the World Cup just three
weeks away.
The 11th edition of the 50-over
mega event runs from February 14 to March 29.
Pakistan will fly to Australia on
February 5 to play two World
Cup warm-up matches on February 9 and 11. They start their
World Cup campaign with a
highly charged match against
arch-rivals and defending
champions India in Adelaide
on February 15.
WICB chief must go,
says regional leader
Bridgetown, Barbados
ong serving St. Vincent
and Grenadines Prime
Minister Ralph Gonsalves has blasted the
leadership of West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) president Dave
Cameron as “poor” and “embarrassing”, and said the Jamaican executive needs to be axed
or resign as head of the regional
The regional leader was Sunday speaking in reference to
Cameron’s handling of the recent players contracts impasse,
which resulted from a disputed
Memorandum of Understanding
(MoU) and the subsequent abandonment of the India tour by the
West Indies team, reports CMC.
More significantly, his comments come just six weeks ahead
of the WICB annual general
meeting when Cameron will be
up for re-election.
“I hope the respective boards
in the territories tell him to take
a break and come back at a later
date, perhaps with more mature,
renewed skills of leadership,”
Gonsalves told the Nation newspaper here.
“I think his leadership in this
regard has been extremely poor
and has embarrassed us before
the world. I happen to know
certain facts which draw me to
the conclusion that it is his sole
leadership that led to the premature end of the tour of India.
WICB president Dave Cameron
“And I believe he bears heavy
responsibility and really he
should withdraw himself from
any consideration for any leadership or from his term.”
The outspoken Gonsalves has
played a central role in trying to
resolve the impasse that ensued
when the West Indies players
walked off the one-day tour of
India, following the fourth ODI
in Dharamsala last October.
Their move scuppered the remaining one-dayer, the one-off
Twenty20 International and the
three-Test series that had been
The Board of Control for
Cricket in India (BCCI) blamed
the WICB for the abandonment,
and subsequently lodged a claim
of nearly $42 million in damages.
Only last week, the BCCI gave
the WICB a deadline of Tuesday,
to indicate how it planned to settle or face legal action.
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
New commissioner
wants to promote
sport to youth
New Major League Baseball commissioner Rob
Manfred wants to increase
participation in the sport
among America’s youth and
modernize the game without
interfering with its history
and traditions.
In a letter to fans published on on Sunday, his first day
on the job, Manfred outlined his
ambitions for the sport.
MLB’s former chief operating
officer, Manfred, 56, takes
over the top post from Bud
Selig, who stepped down after 22 years as commissioner.
The change comes at a time
when baseball’s national TV
ratings are in decline amid
concerns the game is too
slow to interest today’s youth.
Games last year took an average of three hours and eight
minutes, almost 30 minutes
slower than three decades ago.
Manfred plans to focus on
promoting the game in economically deprived areas and
teaming with youth leagues
to produce a new generation
of fans and players.
“Giving more kids the opportunity to play will inspire a
new generation to fall in love
with baseball just as we did
when we were kids,” he wrote.
The new commissioner said
he also wanted to look for
ways to modernize the game.
“Last season’s expanded
instant replay improved the
game’s quality and addressed
concerns shared by fans and
players. We made a dramatic
change without altering the
game’s fundamentals.”
Before 2014, instant review
was limited to checking home
runs, and was instigated by
the umpires. Last year it was
expanded to most plays,
excluding balls and strikes,
with each manager allowed
to dispute one call per game,
which carried over if he was
proven correct. But instant replay contributed to the slow
pace of games last season.
Manfred also has said he will
continue to internationalize
the game.
In an interview with The New
York Times, he said an international draft is inevitable because it is the most “efficient
way to promote competitive
Tavares powers Team
Toews to all-star win
Rivals engage in fake fight to lighten mood; Hometown favourite Johansen wins MVP
Columbus, Ohio
ohn Tavares tied an NHL
All-Star Game record
with four goals and Team
Toews set a scoring mark
of their own in a 17-12 triumph
over Team Foligno on Sunday.
Captains Jonathan Toews and
Nick Foligno selected their sides
on Friday and neither team disappointed in the highest scoring
NHL All-Star Game ever.
The 29-goal total at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio,
topped the previous mark of 26
set in 2001.
Tavares, the 24-year-old
New York Islanders standout,
stole the headlines but it was
hometown favourite Ryan Johansen of the Columbus Blue
Jackets who took MVP honours
through a fan vote on Twitter.
“It’s pretty cool,” Tavares told
reporters of his milestone performance. “It’s something you
don’t really think about going
into a game like this.
“It’s pretty special, and certainly one (game) I won’t forget.”
Johansen finished with two
goals in a losing effort for Team
Jakub Voracek added three
goals for the winning team as he
played for former coach Peter
The game maintained a brisk
pace throughout and after the
contest was tied at 6-6 in the second period, Team Toews pulled
away with four straight goals and
never allowed their opponents to
close within three thereafter.
The free-scoring nature of
the game ensured it was a bad
Marc Andre-Fleury of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Team Foligno gives up a goal against Team Toews during the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game at Nationwide Arena on Sunday
in Columbus, Ohio.
night for the goaltenders, especially Team Foligno’s Marc Andre-Fleury, who stopped only
nine of 16 shots in the second
“It was so long, probably the
longest 20 minutes of my career,” Fleury said. “We are at
this game to have fun, but at one
time, it was frustrating.”
Hawks extend franchise
record win streak
New York
aul Millsap tallied 20
points and six assists as
the Atlanta Hawks won
their 16th straight game
with a 112-100 victory over the
Minnesota Timberwolves on
Atlanta established a franchise
record with their 15th consecutive
win on Friday night and have won
29 of their last 31 NBA games.
“We made a couple of big
plays down the stretch and
found a way to win when we
didn’t play our best. That is a
good sign,” said Hawks coach
Mike Budenholzer.
Millsap also had five boards
and four steals in the win. Al
Horford tallied 19 points, six
boards and four assists, while
Jeff Teague added 15 points and
seven helpers for Atlanta, who
hasn’t lost since being routed
by the Milwaukee Bucks on December 26.
The Hawks previously won
14 in a row from November 16 to
December 14, 1993, the last time
they won a division title.
Thaddeus Young finished
with 26 points, seven assists and
six rebounds to lead the Wolves,
who have dropped four consecutive contests and 20 of their
last 22.
Minnesota have the worst
LA Clippers
New Orleans
San Antonio
Golden State
Oklahoma City 98
LA Lakers
Atlanta Hawks guard Kent Bazemore (right) goes to the basket against Minnesota Timberwolves
forward Chase Budinger during the second half of their game at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia, on
Sunday. The Hawks defeated the Timberwolves for the team’s 16th consecutive win.
record in the league with just
seven wins.
The Hawks offence has been
superb during the historic
streak, scoring 100 or more
points a dozen times.
Dennis Schroder’s layup in the
final seconds of the first quarter
staked Atlanta to a 25-24 lead go-
ing into the second, where Atlanta started to pull away in front of a
crowd of 18,000 at Philips Arena.
The Hawks began the second
on a 12-2 surge, in which Mike
Scott’s three-point play preceded a Kyle Korver free throw
which capped the surge for a 3726 lead at the 8:47 mark.
Teague drained a pair of free
throws just before the half to
stake Atlanta to a 61-47 lead going into the break.
The Hawks were up 86-77 after three quarters and the Timberwolves were unable to get
any closer than six the rest of the
Boston’s Patrice Bergeron
and Toews each had one goal
and four assists as team mates,
while Chicago’s Patrick Kane
and Tampa Bay’s Steven Stam-
kos netted two goals apiece for
Team Foligno.
The friendly showcase even
featured a fake fight late in
the second period when Alex
Ovechkin and Foligno pretended to get into an exchange with
Mark Giordano and Brent Seabrook, much to the delight of the
Sherman gets
shot in against
With Super Bowl 49 still a
week away, Seattle Seahawks
defensive standout Richard
Sherman was already getting
his shots in against the New
England Patriots on Sunday.
The outspoken quarterback
was skeptical that the Patriots
would ever be punished, even
if the NFL finds they purposely
underinflated the footballs used
in the playoff win over Indianapolis that sent them into the
Super Bowl—where they’ll take
on reigning champions Seattle.
“Will they be punished? Probably not,” Sherman said as
selected Seahawks players
met the press shortly after
arriving in Phoenix.
Sherman says Patriots owner
Robert Kraft and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell are too
close for the league to take
strong action against the club.
“Not as long as Robert Kraft
and Goodell are taking
pictures at their respective
homes... Talk about conflict
of interest,” Sherman said, a
reference to pictures posted
on social media of Goodell
attending a party at Kraft’s
home on the eve of last weekend’s game at Foxborough.
The suggestion that the
Patriots intentionally deflated
footballs—possibly making
them easier for quarterback
Tom Brady to grip and throw—
isn’t the first scandal to touch
the Pats.
Coach Bill Belichick was fined
$500,000 in 2007, when they
were caught videotaping the
hand signals of opposing
teams, in contravention of
NFL rules.
“I think the perception is the
reality,” Sherman said. “Their
resume speaks for itself. You talk
about getting close to the line.”
With their championship
extravaganza just a week
away, the NFL said Saturday
it is looking into how balls
used by New England in the
first half of their 45-7 romp
over Indianapolis in the AFC
championship contest lost air
between a pre-game inspection and halftime.
Team Irvin alumni captain Michael Irvin and Team Irvin alumni
co-captain Darren Woodson hold the Pro Bowl trophy after the
2015 Pro Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday.
Ryan gamble pays
off as Team Irvin
wins Pro Bowl
att Ryan threw the
winning score on
a fourth down to
give Team Irvin a
dramatic 32-28 victory over
Team Carter in the NFL Pro
Bowl on Sunday.
In the second year of a revised
format that saw Hall of Fame receivers Michael Irvin and Chris
Carter draft teams, fans were
treated to an exciting conclusion
at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
Team Irvin trailed 28-25
with a little more than three
minutes remaining and faced
a fourth-and-one on the goal
line before Ryan found Jimmy Graham for the winning
touchdown at the venue hosting next week’s Super Bowl.
On Team Carter’s final possession they drove down to
Irvin’s 19-yard line but Andy
Dalton’s fourth down pass was
Ryan finished with two
touchdown passes and team
mate Matthew Stafford also
added two while throwing for
316 yards to claim Offensive
MVP honors.
“I put a lot of trust in those
guys and threw a couple passes
in spots and they came down
with it,” Stafford told reporters.
“When you have a bunch of talent you let them do their thing.”
Drew Brees and Andrew
Luck each tossed a pair of
touchdowns for Team Carter.
Greg Olsen caught two scores
in the loss.
Lineman J.J. Watt was
named Defensive MVP after
deflecting four passes, recording an interception and a fumble recovery for Team Carter.
Rookie wide receiver Odell
Beckham Jr., who made waves
with the New York Giants,
again flashed his one-handed
catching skills and had five
receptions and 89 yards for
Team Irvin.
“(Those catches) came from
my brother and I throwing
balls at each other - practicing and practicing,” Beckham
Jr. said. “Being able to meet all
these guys, it’s such an amazing experience and a blessing
to be here.”
In a close game throughout Team Carter grabbed the
largest lead of the night when
they went up 28-19 early in
the third quarter before Irvin
stormed back.
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
No takers
for Asian
Cup in India
Bill Haas survives
scare, wins Humana
La Quinta, California
ill Haas survived a scare
at the final hole to earn a
one-stroke victory over
five players at the $5.7
million Humana Challenge in
the California desert on Sunday.
Haas took the sole lead with a
10-foot birdie at the 16th hole at
the PGA West Palmer course at
La Quinta on his way to his second victory in the event formerly
known as the Bob Hope Classic.
He carded a 67 to finish at
22-under-par 266 for his sixth
PGA Tour victory, leaving the
32-year-old only three short of
catching his father, Jay Haas.
Fellow Americans Matt Kuchar (67), Charley Hoffman
(64), Brendan Steele (64), Steve
Wheatcroft (67) and South Korean Park Sung Joon (65) tied for
second on 21-under.
Kuchar had the best chance to
get to 22-under, but he missed
a 10-foot birdie at the par-five
Haas parred the final hole but
it was anything but routine after
he pushed his drive and his ball
stopped in the short rough just a
couple of inches above the lip of
a bunker.
He took an awkward stance
in the sand with the ball above
his feet, almost at waist height,
which left him needing to execute almost perfect contact to
avoid potential disaster.
“I could have whiffed (missed)
that shot,” Haas told Golf Channel after choking down on an
iron and successfully punching
the ball 80 yards forward.
He eventually tapped in to secure the $1.026 million first prize
in front of a gallery that included
former U.S. President Bill Clinton, whose foundation is a partner in the tournament.
Haas was as surprised as anyone with his success in his first
event since early November.
He suffered a fractured left
wrist when he fell down stairs
last April, which hindered his
2014 campaign.
“I didn’t think I’d be able to
score this week,” he said. “I was
really struggling hitting it where
I wanted to hit it (but the) putter
was unbelievably hot the first
few days.
“Today, still I was fighting (my
swing). I was grinding it out until
the end. This is unbelievable.”
The Asian Cup is a big hit with
fans but has been largely ignored
in cricket-mad India.
Bill Haas of the United States poses with former president Bill Clinton
after winning the Humana Challenge in partnership with The Clinton
Foundation on the Arnold Palmer Private Course in La Quinta,
Lotus expect huge step forward
London: Lotus expect to be far
more competitive this season
with a new Formula One car that
they hailed as a massive step
forward yesterday.
Pictures of the Mercedes-powered E23 were released on the
team website (www.lotusf1team.
com) with a standard nose replacing the ‘twin-tusk’ solution that
failed to deliver results last year.
Technical director Nick Chester
said the car was “a massive
step forward” for the team, who
finished fourth overall in 2013 but
dropped to eighth last year with
10 points.
“It’s no secret that we struggled
with last year’s car so we’ve
targeted every area that caused
us an issue. We’ve made strong
progress in the wind tunnel as
well as in areas such as packaging and cooling,” he added.
“We expect the E23 to perform
far, far better than its predecessor.”
hile the cream of Asian football
fights for glory in the region’s biggest tournament, the indifference
of Indian broadcasters to the Asian
Cup is a major setback to those hoping to develop
the game in the world’s second-most populous
Described by FIFA President Sepp Blatter as a
“sleeping giant” of world football, India, with is
population of 1.2 billion, has no shortage of potential players.
However, the national side is languishing at
a worst-ever ranking of 171 and the cricket-obsessed country has shown few signs of waking
from its soccer slumber.
That is not to say there is no interest in the
There is huge appetite for England’s Premier
League and Spain’s La Liga, while the franchise-based Indian Super League, with its cast
of celebrity owners, foreign managers and a
sprinkling of high-profile players, was very well
The ISL, which had its inaugural season last
year, reached the television screens of 170 million
Indians in its first week and many hoped its success would be a platform to build on.
However, with India failing to qualify for the
showpiece Asian Cup, currently being held in
Australia this month, the momentum has been
Subrata Dutta, vice president of the All India
Football Federation, told Reuters that the tourna-
ment held little interest for broadcasters without
an Indian presence.
“The relevance is not there for the channels,”
he said. “The Asian Cup is now of little importance to us because India are not playing.”
While Rupert Murdoch’s Star Sports packaged
the ISL with the right mix of promotion and presentation to grab viewers, the tournament also
packed out stadiums and enjoyed a strong presence on social media.
The ISL semi-final second leg between FC Goa
and Atletico de Kolkata last month was played at
a sold-out 27,000-capacity Fatorda Stadium in
Goa. In stark contrast, last weekend’s domestic
football league opener at the same stadium sold
125 tickets.
India qualified for the last edition of the Asian
Cup in Qatar four years ago by virtue of winning
the AFC Challenge Cup, a tournament organised
to allow lower-ranked countries play in continental competition.
The games were shown live and while India lost
all their group matches they earned high praise
for the fight they showed against higher-ranked
Asian competition.
Instead of building on that, however, the national team’s performances have nosedived and
broadcasters showed no interest in buying television rights for this year’s Asian Cup, instead
hedging on the safety of cricket and Australian
Open tennis.
“It is a setback, there’s no doubt about it,”
Dutta added.
“For the commercialisation of the game and for
funds to support development, the visibility is of
prime importance.
“The performance and participation of the na-
tional team in international tournaments is very
important for the development and promotion of
the game.”
While India’s fortunes in the world’s most
popular sport continue to spiral downward,
neighbouring China is beginning to show green
shoots of recovery after years of underachievement and a string of match-fixing scandals
plaguing the game.
The Chinese Super League is attracting top
players and managers from around the world
while spectators are flocking back to stadiums.
China’s national side, which went into decline
after the 2002 World Cup, have performed above
expectations in Australia, winning all three of
their group matches before falling to the hosts in
the quarter-finals.
“China played the World Cup a few years back,
so they have risen to a certain standard and it’s
not too difficult to get to that standard,” Dutta
added. “We are targeting that level through our
youth and grassroots development.”
Eager to shake India out of its malaise, FIFA
has put a development strategy in place, part
of which will see the country host the under-17
World Cup in 2017, which they hope will improve
the infrastructure and develop youth football.
Some in India blame clubs for the lack of focus
on grassroots development.
“We have missed the bus several times,” football writer Jaydeep Basu said. “It’s the clubs who
are responsible for this state.
“From (David) Beckham to (Lionel) Messi, it’s
always been the clubs who have unearthed talent
and brought up players from the age groups.
“The major clubs in India have always neglected this aspect.”
Lotus, who have had financial
difficulties, have switched from
Renault to Mercedes power
and retained their line-up of
Frenchman Romain Grosjean
and Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado.
Chester said the engine change
was likely to bring the biggest
performance gain as well as
greater reliability and driveability.
“The E22 did deliver good figures
in the wind tunnel, even if it was
difficult to unlock its potential,
so we’ve paid more attention to
making the characteristics of the
car more adaptable,” he said.
“We know we’ve made a big step.
We won’t know how our car will
fare in relative terms until we’re
out in action at a Grand Prix, but
we certainly expect to be much
more competitive than last year.”
Chief executive Matthew Carter
said Lotus aimed to run the car
at the opening pre-season test in
Jerez on Feb 1.
Street steps down
as coach of England
women’s team
orld Cup-winning
coach Gary Street
has left his position in charge of the
England women’s side, the Rugby
Football Union announced yesterday. Street, 46, took charge
of the team in 2007 and led them
to five successive Six Nations
crowns until 2012 and back-toback World Cup finals in 2010 and
The second of those finals saw
England win the World Cup for
the first time in 20 years when
they beat Canada 21-9 in Paris in
Street said now was the “right
time” to step down and “explore
new challenges” in his career.
“I have been part of an incredible journey for the last 14 years,
and I am extremely proud of the
part that I played in growing the
women’s game to where it is now,”
Street explained in a RFU statement.
“The pinnacle has to be winning the Rugby World Cup in
France last year. However, huge
credit must go to all the people involved in making that happen, not
just the players but the backroom
staff too and the many players and
staff before that.
“It is a moment I will cherish
“I now feel that I have achieved
everything that I set out to do, and
this is the right time to explore
new challenges in my career,” he
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Equatorial Guinea success flies in face of convention
Ebibeyin, Equatorial Guinea
osts Equatorial Guinea have
reached the African Nations Cup
quarter-finals on a wave of popular support having thrown away
most of the game’s conventional wisdoms
in their patchy preparations.
A motley collection of players, mainly
from the lower leagues in Spain, galvanised by two former teenage talents now
at a crossroads in their club careers and an
Argentine-born manager who had been
coaching women’s football, have upset
the odds to book a place in the last eight,
spurred on by their passionate fans in one
of Africa’s smallest countries.
Sunday’s 2-0 win over Gabon, which
came through second-half goals from a
Javier Balboa penalty and Iban after their
more fancied opponents missed several
chances, ensured an unbeaten run, a total
of five points and second place in Group A.
Five months ago, Equatorial Guinea had
been kicked out of the Nations Cup preliminaries for using an ineligible player as the
Confederation of African Football finally
took action against a country who have
blatantly flouted rules on player eligibility
and previously reinforced their national
team with Brazilians, Colombians and other nationalities over the years.
This approach was quietly dispensed with
two months ago when Equatorial Guinea
were suddenly elevated into the finals after
agreeing to host the tournament in place of
Morocco, who wanted it postponed because
of fears over the Ebola virus.
The team had just two months to prepare, going on a training camp to Portugal
after identifying a new batch of recruits
with Equatorial Guinea family connections
in the former colonial power Spain.
But to muddy the waters, an election
at the country’s football federation saw a
change in leadership that prompted the firing of coach Andoni Goikoetxea, the former
Spanish international defender known as
the ‘Butcher of Bilbao’ in his playing days.
With two weeks to kick off, Esteban
Becker took over as manager, moving
across from his job as coach of the Equatorial Guinea women’s team.
The unheralded Argentine, who previously had jobs as a physical trainer at lower
league Spanish clubs, is now the toast of
the country after leading the side into the
knockout stage.
“It’s a magnificent Cinderella story, the
poor team beating the rich team on merit,
thanks to their sacrifice, their commitment, their pride and their passion,” Becker trumpeted after Sunday’s success.
Heroes for the Equatorial Guineans have
been Javier Balboa and Emilio Nsue, two
players who had been young prodigies
but whose careers have not lived up to
expectation. Nsue is a former Spanish
under-23 international who switched allegiance to the country of his father after
being left out the Spanish squad for the
London Olympics. He moved to English
second-tier club Middlesbrough last season on a free transfer.
Balboa was on the books of Real Madrid
as a junior and made seven first team appearances as a substitute but has faded
somewhat since and now plays for Estoril in
Equatorial Guinea now have six days to
soak up their achievement and prepare for
their next test in Saturday’s quarter-final
against the winners of Group B. “We are
proud of our achievements but we want to
do more,” said Nsue.
Hosts in safety dilemma after
reaching Nations Cup knockouts
Ebibeyin, Equatorial Guinea
ualification of hosts Equatorial Guinea for
the knockout phase of the African Nations
Cup has created a potential safety dilemma
for the Confederation of African Football
and local organisers. The home team beat Gabon 2-0
on Sunday to finish second in Group B and will now
play their quarter-final at Ebibeyin on Saturday.
But the recently-built 5,000-seater stadium is patently too small for the expected turnout as the small
country rides a euphoric wave after their surprise
victory over their neighbours.
The Nations Cup has already seen spectators
breaking through fences at the opening game in Bata
on Jan. 17 with the 35,000-capcity stadium there
overflowing. At other venues, segregated areas for
VIPS and media have also been overrun at times by
supporters, who poorly trained police have been
unable to control. In Ebibeyin, organisers are using
recruits from a nearby police college to provide security with assistance from police from Angola.
A force of 350 has come from Luanda to help Equatorial Guinea in an admission of the shortcomings of
the capacity of domestic security forces.
Moving the quarter-final to a bigger venue to avoid
a potential disaster would be unprecedented but is
likely to be discussed by CAF and the organisers on
Monday, officials told Reuters.
Equatorial Guinea are due to play the winner of
Group B, which will be decided on Monday, at the
Estadio de Ebibeyin at 1900GMT on Saturday.
That is after the first quarter-final between Congo
and the runners-up in Group B at Bata at 1600.
Authorities could now be looking to play the two
matches as a double header in Bata, which is the
largest venue in the country and where Equatorial
Guinea have played their three group games in front
of packed crowds. Bata also hosts the final of the Nations Cup on February 8.
Lampard, Terry
turned my career
around: Drogba
‘Being around players like Frank and John and to see the way Frank
was dealing with the press, always clean, a gentleman, I think it helps.
You have to take it as an example and for me he was a big example’
Blues need quick
rebound to avoid
another Cup exit
helsea need to rebound quickly if they
are to avoid a second
consecutive Cup exit.
The Blues host Liverpool in
the second leg of their League
Cup semi-final today following last week’s 1-1 draw.
It comes just four days after a shock 4-2 FA Cup loss to
League One minnows Bradford
and manger Jose Mourinho welcomes the quick turnaround.
“It’s the good thing about
playing consecutive matches
without many days in between,” he said. “It’s the good
thing that, when you lose, you
have to focus immediately on
the next game.
“You don’t have a lot of
time to be moaning or analysing what happened in the bad
one. Let’s move and let’s think
about the next one.”
While no one outside of
Bradford would have predicted
their victory, the way in which
it happened was equally as
Chelsea led 2-0 in the first
half at home then suffered a
monumental collapse by allowing three goals in the final
15 minutes.
Having lost one chance to
play in a Wembley Stadium
final, Mourinho admits that
all focus must now be on the
League Cup. “The next game is
the most important one,” he said
on the club’s website. “At the
end of May, beginning of June,
we don’t go to Wembley to play
the FA Cup final, that’s for sure.
“To go there—and I think
that should mean a lot to everyone—the last chance we
have is this one, to play there in
the Capital One Cup final. We
need to forget this one (Bradford) and start the next game
in a different competition, and
I know we are one victory away
from playing a final.”
Liverpool must also overcome a weekend blip after being held to a goalless draw by
Bolton in the FA Cup.
Midfielder Jordan Henderson knows the Reds have
a great chance to reach their
record-extending 12th League
Cup final.
“It’s a big opportunity for
us going there on Tuesday,”
he told the club’s website. “It
would mean everything to get
to a Wembley final.
“One of our big aims this
season was to win a trophy and
if we beat Chelsea, we won’t be
far away. We’ve got great team
spirit and if we play the way we
can, then we can get a good result there.”
Tottenham take the slimmest
of leads to Sheffield United for
the other semi-final tomorrow. Spurs won the first leg 1-0
thanks to Andros Townsend’s
74th-minute penalty.
Real say they will
collaborate with
FIFA transfer probe
idier Drogba (pic above) has
paid tribute to the inspirational
way Chelsea teammates Frank
Lampard and John Terry helped
turn his career around after suffering
some difficult times in his early days at
Stamford Bridge.
The powerful Ivorian striker, signed in a
big-money deal from Olympique de Marseille 11 years ago, was frequently criticised by reporters for the theatrical way
he would go to ground but he said Lampard and Terry made him clean up his act.
“I’m very proud because I managed to
push things and also that I learned from my
mistakes,” Drogba said in an interview, his
relationship with the media turning full circle on Sunday night when he was honoured
by the Football Writers’ Association for his
outstanding contribution to the game.
“I tried to learn the culture in order to
know them (the media) better, to change. I
needed to change the way they were looking at me because it was not the real Didier
so I was really sad.
“But I’m really happy because now they
know who I am. They know I’m passionate
and when I do things I give all my heart.
“Being around players like Frank and
John and to see the way Frank was dealing
with the press, always clean, a gentleman,
I think it helps. You have to take it as an
example and for me he was a big example.”
Drogba scored 157 goals in 342 appearances in his first spell at Chelsea, scooping
up silverware along the way.
He left in a blaze of glory by scoring
the equaliser in normal time and then the
penalty shootout winner when the Londoners landed their maiden Champions
League title in 2012 against Bayern Munich at the German club’s Allianz Arena.
After short spells in China and Turkey,
Drogba made an emotional return when
he signed a one-year contract with Chelsea at the start of the season.
While he was returning, his great friend
Lampard was leaving, the club’s all-time
record goalscorer signing a permanent
deal with New York City before going out
on loan to Manchester City.
The former England midfielder will
be back at Stamford Bridge on Saturday
when Chelsea, who have a five-point lead
over the Premier League champions, take
on City in a title showdown.
“He is going to come back as a legend,
the man who helped the club win so many
trophies in the last 11 years,” said Drogba
who had an almost telepathic on-thefield understanding with Lampard.
“I expect the reception will be fantastic
for him. He was involved in more than half
of the goals I I owe him a lot.”
Drogba turns 37 in March but he is not
yet ready to hang up his boots and is hoping to be offered a new contract by Chelsea at the end of the season.
“I will certainly be playing next season,”
said the Ivorian who is also an ambassador
for Turkish Airlines. “I want to compete,
I want to play in the Premier League because it is the best league in the world.”
Of more immediate concern to Drogba, though, is that Chelsea bounce back
quickly from their shock 4-2 home defeat
by third tier Bradford City in the FA Cup
on Saturday. Next up for the Londoners is
the second leg of their League Cup semifinal with Liverpool today and the striker
has Wembley firmly in his thoughts.
Drogba has a remarkable record at the
famous old northwest London venue,
having scored eight goals in eight appearances there. “All I can say is I’ve been
lucky to score every time I have been there
which makes it a very special stadium for
me,” he said with a grin.
eal Madrid director of
institutional relations
has insisted the European champions will collaborate with FIFA over any investigation into their recruiting of
players under the age of 18.
Madrid sports daily AS reported yesterday that football’s governing body had requested information from Real
on any foreign national players
under the age of 18 registered
in 22 youth teams with which
Real Madrid have agreements.
“Firstly, we are in agreement
with FIFA on this matter,” said
Buragueno at yesterday’s unveiling of Brazilian midfielder
Lucas Silva as a Madrid player.
“We are continuing to collaborate with them in everything they ask of us. We have
peace of mind with the procedures at Real Madrid.”
Barcelona are currently
serving a one-year, two transfer window, ban on signing
players handed down by FIFA
due to irregularities in the
signing of non-Spanish mi-
nors between 2009 and 2013.
“FIFA is currently gathering
all the relevant information
and documentation in order
to be in a position to properly assess the matter,” a FIFA
spokesman said. “No formal
disciplinary proceedings have
been opened at this stage.”
Madrid beat off competition
from around Europe to seal
the signature of 16-year-old
Norwegian teen prodigy Martin Odegaard last week from
However, Odegaard’s move
is not likely to fall foul of FIFA’s
rules as European players can
move freely from the age of 16
as long as certain educational
criteria are fulfilled.
Whilst Odegaard is expected
to play out the rest of the season with Madrid’s reserve side,
Real Madrid Castilla, under the
orders of French legend Zinedine Zidane, Silva insisted he is
ready to be called upon immediately by boss Carlo Ancelotti.
The 21-year-old sealed a deal
worth a reported 14 million euros ($15.8 million, £10.5 million)
on Friday and arrives fresh from
winning the Brazilian championship for the second consecutive year with Cruzeiro.
Gulf Times
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
QSL makes significant donation to Qatar Charity
Proceeds from the friendly match between
Bayern and Qatar Stars to help Syrian refugees
By Sports Reporter
he Qatar Stars League, the highest professional
league in Qatari football, has donated the total
amount raised from ticket sales for the friendly
match between FC Bayern Munich and Qatar
Stars team to Qatar Charity to go towards helping the Syrian refugees.
A cheque worth QR121,800 was presented to Qatar
Charity during a handover ceremony held at the Qatar
Charity Headquarters yesterday.
Attending the occasion was Talal al-Balooshi, captain
of Qatar Stars team, Abdulla al-dossari, Executive Director of Collections, Qatar Charity, and Khalifa Saleh alHaroon, Executive Director of Marketing and Communications, Qatar Stars League.
Talal al-Balooshi commented on the occasion: “I
am personally very happy that through the match we
played against Bayern Munich early this month we are
now able to help Syrian refugees. This is not the first
time that the Qatar Stars League has shown support
for good causes, and it certainly won’t be the last.
“Qatar Charity is well known for the great work it does
to help those less fortunate and we look forward to continuing to support these efforts in the future.”
Abdulla al -Dossari went on to say, “I would like to
thank Qatar Stars League for this donation which will go
towards helping Syrian refugees. It comes at a particularly crucial time as we enter the coldest winter months
and our support is most needed to help relieve suffering. We will be collaborating with charities within Syria
to see how best this donation, along with others, can be
The friendly match against Bayern Munich and Qatar
Stars team took place on January 13 and as well as being an
important opportunity for the Qatar Stars to develop their
game, the occasion has also enabled Qatar Stars League to
make this significant donation for Syrian refugees.
Khalifa al Haroon concluded, “The partnership between Qatar Stars League and Qatar Charity is a long one
and this donation demonstrates that the collaboration is
not merely symbolic but effective in helping people who
really need it.
“It is the responsibility of all organisations to do what
they can to support charitable causes and we will continue to do all we can through football to help others. This is a
further testament that football is truly a beautiful game.”
Atletico dreaming
of Cup comeback
against Barcelona
Atletico optimistic despite having lost twice against the in-form Catalans in the past two weeks
Atletico lost 3-1 to Barcelona in La Liga a fortnight ago, a result which consigned them to third place. And they went down again last Wednesday in the Spanish Cup quarter-final first leg.
tletico Madrid are optimistic
about eliminating Barcelona
from the Spanish Cup tomorrow, despite having lost twice
against the in-form Catalans in the past
two weeks.
Atletico crashed 3-1 at the Camp Nou
in La Liga a fortnight ago, a result which
has consigned them to third place. And
they went down again in Barcelona last
Wednesday, 1-0 in a one-sided Cup quarter-final first leg.
Nevertheless, veteran midfielder Tiago—fit again after two matches out injured—is optimistic about the second leg.
“We will be strong on Wednesday. Barca
are flying high at the moment, getting better with every game. But we are not afraid
of them. This is a great opportunity for us
to show that we are still a team to be reckoned with...We are looking forward to it.”
Tiago then paid tribute to French
youngster Antoine Griezmann, who is in
exceptional form and scored twice in Saturday’s 3-1 defeat of Rayo Vallecano.
“We are very pleased with Griezmann.
He is very quick and has a lot of quality...
He has adapted very well to the team and
it is clear that he is enjoying himself on the
pitch. He is going to be a very important
player for us, I have no doubts about that.”
Barca have won their last six matches,
and Neymar is confident that their good
run will continue.
“Our attitude has changed,” the Brazilian idol said. “It is difficult for us to lose
with this attitude and this style of play...
Atletico are a strong team in front of their
own fans, and will make things very difficult for us.”
Luis Suarez is likely to start alongside
Neymar and Lionel Messi, after being
benched for Saturday’s 6-0 romp at Elche.
Meanwhile, Marc-Andre ter Stegen will
be in goal for Barca, as usual in the Cup,
while fellow youngster Jan Oblak will be in
goal for Atletico.
“We will be strong on Wednesday.
Barca are flying high at the moment, getting better with every
game. But we are not afraid of
them. This is a great opportunity
for us to show that we are still a
team to be reckoned with...We are
looking forward to it”
The other quarter-final second legs are
all scheduled for Thursday. Sevilla have
the difficult task of overturning a 3-1 deficit at home to Espanyol, while getafe will
be trying to reverse a 1-0 against Villarreal. Also, troubled Athletic Bilbao will
again take on lively Malaga, just four days
after being held to a 1-1 draw by the southerners in La Liga.
Sunday’s 1-1 draw in Bilbao has put Malaga in good heart ahead of the cup clash.
The first leg was a 0-0 draw in Malaga.
“Maybe today’s draw will help us for
Thursday, but every match in football is
different,” Malaga coach Javi Gracia said.
“We were able to control them today and
get a good result. But I am sure they ate going to pose new problems for us Thursday.”
Life easy next to Messi, says Neymar
Brazilian star Neymar has given four-time
World Player of the Year Lionel Messi the
credit for his upturn in form during his
second season with Barcelona.
Neymar was set up twice by Messi
to bag a double against Elche in a 6-0
rout on Saturday to take his tally for the
season to 19 goals in just 24 games, four
more than he managed in the entirety of
his debut campaign in Spain.
“Of all the players I have seen play,
Messi is the best and I will always have
enormous respect for him,” the 22-yearold said yesterday. We are getting better
all the time and together we can do great
things. If you have a good relationship off
the field it can influence things on it. To
play beside the best is very easy.”
Neymar has yet to win a major trophy
in Barca colours after the Catalan giants
missed out last season for the first time
in six years. On a personal note, his
season was blighted by injuries, as well
the controversy surrounding his transfer
from Santos which led to the club being
accused of tax fraud and the resignation
of president Sandro Rossell.
And the Brazilian captain has bounced
back admirably from seeing his dreams of
World Cup glory on home soil ended by
breaking two vertebrae during his country’s
2-1 quarter-final win over Colombia in July.
“In the first season I had to get to know
everything and I have always said that
I have many things to achieve and I still
feel that. “I have evolved professionally and personally, I have learned from
players I have by my side who are world
icons. It is a pleasure to be able to train
with them.”
NU-Q make semis
By Sports Reporter
College (QAC), Qatar University (QU),
College of the North
Atlantic-Qatar (CNA-Q), and
Northwestern University (NUQ) have qualified to play in the
semi-finals of the University
League 2014-2015, a collaboration between Qatar Foundation for Education, Science
and Community Development
(QF) and Qatar Football Association (QFA).
Matches are set to take place
on Thursday (January 29) at
the Qatar Foundation, Pitch 3,
where the first semi-final will
kick off at 6pm between QAC
and NU-Q and the second will
follow at 7pm between QU and
QAC and QU finished first
in groups A and B with total
points of 13 and 15 respectively,
whereas CNA-Q and NU-Q
came second in groups A and
B with total points of 13 and 12
The University League, a university football competition,
supports Qatar Foundation and
Qatar Football Association’s
mission to foster a progressive
society and encourage healthy
living through sports. It began
in October 2014 with 12 colleges
and universities from across
Qatar taking part.
Mansoor al-Ansari, Secretary General at QFA, commented: “We would like to
congratulate the four teams on
reaching the semi-finals stage
of the league. They are a step
away from winning the league
title this year and we wish all
the teams the best of luck. We
look forward to witnessing the
semi-finals this Thursday.”
Mohamed al-Naimi, Direc-
tor of Community Affairs at
Qatar Foundation, added: “We
are committed to the Qatar
National Vision 2030 in developing the community by
‘Unlocking Human Potential’.
Hosting the Qatar University
League provides each university with the chance to showcase their sporting endeavours
competitively and their involvement truly demonstrates
the community spirit of participating in this well organised tournament.”
This year’s edition had two
groups—Group A and Group B,
each with six teams.
Group A of the league includes Qatar Aeronautical College, Qatar Faculty of Islamic
Studies, Texas A&M University
at Qatar, Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, Weill Cornell
Medical College in Qatar and
College of the North Atlantic
Qatar. Group B includes Northwestern University in Qatar,
Qatar University, Georgetown
University-School of Foreign
Service in Qatar, HEC Paris in
Qatar, the Academic Bridge
Programme and the University
of Calgary Qatar.
Last year’s competition saw
Qatar University win the trophy, while the University of
Calgary and Qatar Aeronautical
College came second and third
Bayern chairman blasts
UEFA over its incoherent
position on FIFA election
Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has criticised
UEFA for lacking a coherent position in the search for a candidate to stand against FIFA president Joseph Blatter in elections
in May. Asked in an interview by Germany’s Kicker magazine
whether the European football union was making a good impression in the candidacy issue, Rummenigge said: “Most of all
not a consistent one, one has to look at that critically.”
Although opposing the reelection of Blatter, UEFA has not
put forward a candidate to challenge his leadership. But Rummenigge said a UEFA candidate would in any case have no
chance against Blatter. “Even (UEFA president) Michel Platini
would have no chance against Blatter,” he said. “As long as he
(Blatter) is a candidate he will win. His power base is too big,
the large majority will vote for him.”
Blatter is seeking a fifth term as president at elections at the
FIFA Congress on May 29 in Zurich. So far three rival candidates—
former FIFA official Jerome Champagne, Prince Ali Bin al-Hussein
of Jordan and former France international David Ginola—have
stated their interest in challenging 78-year-old Blatter.
Platini has said he would not run against Blatter but has
welcomed Prince Ali’s intention to stand.
Blatter was, meanwhile, also critical of UEFA, saying in an
interview that the European body lacked the “courage” to
challenge his leadership. “All this opposition is coming now, it’s
unfortunate to say - but it’s true—it’s coming from UEFA,” he
told CNN World Sport. “They don’t have the courage to come
in. So let me go (on)... be respectful.”
Blatter has massive support from five of the six FIFA confederations, but not from Europe. Under FIFA regulations, each
candidate for the presidential elections requires nominations
from five member federations and must have played an active
role on football in two of the past five years. It is unclear whether
any of the prospective candidates to rival Blatter will receive the
nominations they need to enter the presidential race.
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
South Korea down
Iraq 2-0, advance to
1st final since 1988
Uli Stielike’s side to meet either Australia or the UAE in Saturday’s title clash
outh Korea moved a step closer
to burying their 55-year Asian
Cup hoodoo when they grabbed a
goal in each half to beat Iraq 2-0
yesterday and set up a final against either Australia or the United Arab Emirates, who meet in the second semi-final
Lee Jeong-hyeop gave the Taegeuk
Warriors the lead with a 20th-minute
header and defender Kim Young-gwon
lashed the second into the net five
minutes after the break as the South Koreans reached the final for the first time
since 1988.
Iraq, perhaps emotionally and physically drained by their dramatic quarterfinal victory over Iran last week, played
with plenty of passion but were unable to
become the first side to breach the Korean
defence in five matches in Australia.
Their hopes of another fairytale run to
the title to match their 2007 triumph were
washed away in the Sydney rain and it is
twice champions South Korea who will
return to Stadium Australia this coming
Saturday in search of a first Asian Cup
crown since 1960.
“This semi-final was crucial for us to
get to the final, we know we have not won
this competition for many years,” said
South Korean midfielder Nam Tae-hee,
who was named Man-of-the-Match. “All
the players were together, firm and united,
South Korean players celebrate their victory over Iraq in the semi-final of the AFC
Asian Cup in Sydney yesterday. The Koreans won 2-0. (AFP)
and that’s what gave us the win today.”
South Korea had looked the most likely
to score in a cagey opening to the match
with Son Heung-min, the two-goal hero
of their quarter-final victory over Uzbekistan, drawing a fingertip save out of
Jalal Hassan with a long-range effort.
A minute later and the Koreans were in
front, Kim Jin-su curling a free-kick into
the box and Lee rising above the Iraqi defence to head down and into the net.
Iraq skipper Younis Mahmoud was
making his presence felt up front but
South Korea are not a side to be bullied at
the back and he was more often than not
battling alone in the first half.
The persistent rain that fell on Sydney
all day was not able to dampen the spir-
its of a noisy crowd of just over 36,000,
the South Koreans at one end with inflatable batons and the horde of Iraqis
at the other accompanied by drums and
The Koreans had more to shout about
but Iraq gave their supporters a lift with
a flurry of attacks just before the break
when winger Amjed Kalaf’s raking drive
forced Kim Jin-hyeon to get down low to
push the ball across his goal.
The South Korea goalkeeper gave the
Iraqis the sniff of an equaliser when
he rashly charged out of his area three
minutes after halftime but another two
minutes on and his team’s lead had been
The ball bounced around the area in an
extended bout of aerial ping-pong from
a Son corner before Lee Jeong-hyeop
chested it down for Kim Young-gwon to
hit it first time from the edge of the box
past the despairing dive of Hassan.
Iraq were forced to press forward but
clear-cut opportunities were still few and
far between for them while Hassan had to
be at his sharpest to deny long-range efforts from South Korean skipper Ki Sungyueng and Son inside a minute.
Kalaf continued to cause problems with
his pace on the right flank but there always
seemed to be a South Korean foot or head
to cut out the final ball and prevent a scoring chance.
“The players did a good job,” said Mahmoud. “My team has many young players
and this was their first time (playing in a
big tournament).”
Five games,
five wins
but Stielike
wants more
tatistics suggest South
Korea have strolled to the
final of the Asian Cup by
winning five matches out
of five without conceding a goal
but coach Uli Stielike has warned
an improvement is needed to lift
the trophy for the first time since
The latest victory was a 2-0
semi-final success over Iraq in
which the team never looked
like losing.
“You saw today in the first half
we had a lot of technical problems, we lost too many balls,
gave to many balls away. We also
saw we still have a lot of players
without big experience for playing games today. Nam (Tae Hee),
is a young player, with 10 international games or less, we have a
few players like him.
“You see when players with
lot of experience like Cha (Du
Ri) or Ki (Sung Yueng), it’s another football (game), and we
are quieter on the bench. We
have to improve a lot if we want
to win the final game.”
The final, also in Sydney, is
on Saturday and South Korea will face the winner of the
second semi-final between
Australia and the United Arab
Emirates. Not that Stielike is
unsure of who his side will be
taking on.
“Australia, I have no doubt,
Australia is the strongest team in
the tournament,” he said. “They
play very good and very strong,
each player knows what to do.
“For me, no doubt about
it, Australia will go forward
but I think also a lot of people
thought Federer would be in
semi-final or final (of the Australian Open).”
While Stielike was praising
Australia, a side South Korea have already beaten in the
group stage, he also took the
chance to launch the first strike
in the potential psychological
battle in the run-up to the final.
“You know the Australian
team we beat that day? Jedinak
injured, Leckie on the bench,
Cahill on the bench, Kruse on
the bench. It will not be the
same Australia.
“We have to work to be the
same South Korea. This is our
target, for the rest we have to
take whatever is coming and try
our best. We are realistic in the
first game that we didn’t play
the best Australia team.”
But Stielike claimed that
having an extra day rest compared to the Socceroos could
prove useful—and had been
achieved because of tournament organizers attempting to
favour the hosts.
“For us in this tournament
we had two important games,”
he said. “The first one was Australia because the design of the
tournament, and this (is in) a
legal and normal way, the host
is trying to get the best way to
reach the final,” he said.
That’s Amoory, not Messi,
says Australia boss
ustralia coach Ange Postecoglou said today’s Asian Cup
semi-final in Newcastle between the free-scoring Socceroos and the tournament’s surprise
package United Arab Emirates is not
about the new “Messi or Ronaldo”.
The bushy-haired Omar Abdulrahman has excelled in the Gulf side’s sensational run to the last four, capped by
their stunning knockout of defending
champions Japan, drawing excitable
comparisons with some of the game’s
biggest stars.
But Postecoglou sniffed: “The Chinese had the Chinese Ronaldo, Maradona. Everyone has a Messi or Maradona.
“(Abdulrahman) is a good player, so
is (Ali) Mabkhout up front,” the Socceroos coach added, refusing to single
out the UAE danger man, whose jawdropping “panenka” penalty against
the Blue Samurai in the quarter-finals
underlined his prodigious talent.
The 23-year-old Abdulrahman—
whose idol is France great Zinedine
Zidane—has been one of the standout
performers of the tournament, his
creativity helping forward Mabkhout
to four goals.
Al Jazira sharp-shooter Mabkhout is
in a rich vein of form, with nine goals
in his last eight outings for his country,
and is in with a chance of winning the
Asian Cup’s golden boot.
UAE coach Mahdi Ali has worked
with the bulk of his squad for over 10
years—a fact Postecoglou says makes
the Emiratis, appearing in their first
semi-final since 1996, a formidable
“Every team in Asia has technically
gifted players. The ones who use them
better are the ones who have a really
cohesive team and I think UAE have
one of those squads,” the Socceroos
boss said.
“That is where the danger lies,
rather than with individuals,” he added, adopting a softer line than that of
defender Trent Sainsbury, who suggested Abdulrahman was not a hard
worker and promised to “get in his
Ali dismissed reports that the Al Ain
midfielder, who has previously been
linked with Manchester City, was seen
hobbling as he arrived for a training
session on Sunday. “He was not limping, he was running normally. Every-
UAE midfielder Omar Abdulrahman (left), who has been one of the standout
performers of the Asian Cup, will have to be at his creative best against Australia
in their semi-final clash today. (AFP)
body is ready to play,” said the coach.
captain Mile Jedinak will have the job
of subduing the player nicknamed
“Amoory” in what promises to be one
of the tastiest clashes of the tournament so far. “The focus for myself
is not one player and I don’t think it
should be. They have a lot of potential threat in that team,” Jedinak said
The skipper added that he’d come
through the quarter-final game against
China without any issues after missing
Australia’s win over Oman and loss to
South Korea through injury.
Australia, runners-up to Japan in
2011, have had an extra day’s rest after
the 2-0 win over China, 24 hours before UAE stunned Japan on penalties
on Friday, and the Socceroos will be
hot favourites.
Spiranovic back from suspension
and said he had a full squad to choose
from after there were concerns over
Ivan Franjic and Mathew Leckie, who
were seen with ice packs on their
hamstrings during training Sunday.
“Everyone’s recovered really well
from the quarter-final game,” said the
“We’re really looking forward to
tomorrow, it’s a sell-out, there will be
great atmosphere and we’re expecting
a tough game against a very tough opponent.”
Postecoglou added that he would
continue his policy of tinkering with
his starting line-up for the match
at port city Newcastle’s modest,
23,000-seat stadium.
“We’ll make some changes and
put out a team that we think will be
successful tomorrow night,” he told
reporters, adding that he hoped to
“avoid” penalties.
“My view is we’re going to try to
avoid them if possible,” he told reporters on Monday. “And then if we
have to take them, we have to take
“My view is we’re going to try to
avoid them if possible,” he said. “And
then if we have to take them, we have
to take them.”
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