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SPORT | Page 1
Minister highlights
role of private sector
Qatar overcome
Belarus in
Group A of
Handball World
2, 16
14, 15
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5 – 13
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Latest Figures
Suspended sentence for
illegal possession of gun
A Doha court has sentenced a
young man to a year’s suspended
jail term and a fine of QR10,000 for
possessing an AK47 assault rifle and
confiscated the gun, local Arabic
daily Arrayah reported yesterday.
He had earlier posted a photo of
the rifle on his Instagram account,
following which the Criminal
Investigation Department reported
the incident and investigations were
conducted. The youth was arrested
and the rifle taken into custody.
At both the investigations and the
court hearing, the accused admitted
owning and keeping the gun
illegally. No ammunition was found
with the rifle but the forensic tests
affirmed that it was in good working
condition and could be considered
a proper firearm. The accused was
given a suspended sentence in the
hope that he would refrain from
such actions in the future, the daily
REGION | Discussions
Iran-US nuclear
talks resume
Iranian and US diplomats resumed
talks in Switzerland yesterday,
as the pace intensifies towards a
complex deal on Tehran’s nuclear
programme. Two days of meetings
between Iran’s deputy foreign
minister Abbas Araghchi and top
US negotiator Wendy Sherman
began yesterday morning in
Zurich, a US spokesman told AFP.
Page 3
EU approves bid for
Songbird Estates
EU approved a takeover bid for
Songbird Estates, the developer
that controls London’s Canary
Wharf financial district, by Qatar
Investment Authority and Brookfield
Property Partners LP, regulators say
on website yesterday. EU cleared
the deal on January 21 in a simplified
review without identifying antitrust
The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, with HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad alThani, Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah, King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifah of Bahrain and others during the funeral of
King Abdullah in Riyadh yesterday.
H the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin
Hamad al-Thani has mourned
the death of the Custodian of
the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah
bin Abdulaziz al-Saud of Saudi Arabia,
who died yesterday morning.
In a statement issued by the Emiri
Diwan, HH the Emir said King Abdullah was “one of the greatest and best
leaders of our Arab and Islamic nations
who devoted his life to the service of his
homeland and nation”.
“He was one of the most sincere
advocates of its causes, security and
stability, and had a significant role
in strengthening Arab solidarity and
unity of ranks, and calling for dialogue,
just peace in the region and renunciation of violence and extremism.”
HH the Emir prayed Allah the Almighty to bestow his grace and forgiveness on him, make paradise his last
abode, reward him for the good deeds
he made for his country and his nation,
and to grant the royal family, the Saudi
people and both the Arab and Islamic
nations patience and solace.
HH the Emir ordered the declaration
of three days of mourning in Qatar.
The Emir attended the funeral prayer
for King Abdullah that was performed
at Imam Turki bin Abdullah Mosque in
Riyadh yesterday.
He offered condolences to the Cus-
todian of the Two Holy Mosques King
Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, Crown
Prince and Deputy Prime Minister Muqrin bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, Deputy
Crown Prince, Second Deputy Premier
and Minister of Interior Prince Mohamed bin Naif bin Abdulaziz al-Saud
and to the sons of the late King Abdullah as well as to the Saudi royal family.
World leaders also paid tribute to
King Abdullah, praising the late mon-
arch as a key mediator between Muslims and the West.
US President Barack Obama said he
and Abdullah had enjoyed a “genuine
and warm friendship”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin
hailed Abdullah as a “wise politician”.
Iran sent condolences to the Saudi
people and announced its foreign minister would travel to Riyadh for an “official ceremony” this weekend. Page 2
EUROPE | Society
France sees rise
in anti-Muslim acts
Around 128 anti-Muslim acts were
reported in France in the two weeks
after the terrorist attacks in Paris by
militant gunmen, almost as many as
in all of last year, a watchdog said
yesterday. Page 9
SPORT | Football
www. 2 Riyals
audi Arabia’s new King Salman
bin Abdulaziz al-Saud yesterday pledged continuity in energy and foreign policies.
King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz alSaud, who died early yesterday after
a short illness, was buried in an unmarked grave in keeping with religious traditions.
King Salman appointed his youngest half-brother Muqrin, 69, as
crown prince and nephew Mohamed
bin Nayef, 55, as deputy crown prince.
In his first speech as king, shown
live on Saudi television, Salman,
thought to be 79, pledged to maintain the same approach to ruling the
world’s top oil exporter and birthplace
of Islam as his predecessors and called
for unity among Arab states.
“We will continue to abide by the
righteous policy adopted by Saudi
Arabia since it was founded by King
Abdulaziz and his sons who took over
after him,” Salman said.
“The Arab and Muslim nations
today badly need unity and solidarity. We will continue in this country, which God has chosen to be the
birthplace of His message, to take
every step to unify (Muslim) ranks
and defend our nation’s causes,” he
Salman becomes the last Saudi
ruler to be born before the discovery
of commercial quantities of oil in the
world’s top crude exporter.
And Mohamed bin Nayef becomes
the first grandson of the kingdom’s
founding monarch, King Abdulaziz,
known as Ibn Saud, to take an established place in the line of succession.
All Saudi kings since Abdulaziz’s
death in 1953 have been his sons. King
Salman also appointed his son, Mohamed bin Salman, defence minister
and head of the royal court.
US President Barack Obama, moving to cement Washington’s long alli-
ance with Saudi Arabia, was expected
to speak to Salman in the coming days.
King Salman appears unlikely to
change Saudi Arabia’s approach to
foreign affairs or energy sales, according to observers.
Diplomats who have attended
meetings between the new king and
foreign leaders over the past year
have said he has been fully engaged in
talks lasting several hours at a time.
His nominated successor, Crown
Prince Muqrin, is a former fighter pilot.
In a country with a young population, many Saudis will be unable to
recall a time before King Abdullah’s
rule, both as monarch from 2005 and
as de facto regent for a decade before
His legacy was an effort to overhaul
the kingdom’s economic and social
systems to address a looming demographic crisis by creating private
sector jobs and making young Saudis
better prepared to take them.
“I think (Salman) will continue
with Abdullah’s reforms. He realises
the importance of this,” said Jamal
Khashoggi, head of a news channel
owned by a Saudi prince.
King Salman is expected to focus
on creating jobs and big infrastructure projects to prevent falling oil
prices from undermining business
Oil prices jumped in an immediate
reaction as news of Abdullah’s death
added to uncertainty in energy markets. Pages 2, 3
Embassy in Doha to
receive mourners
The Saudi embassy in Doha will receive
mourners offering their condolences
on the death of King Abdullah bin
Abdulaziz al-Saud over three days
starting from today (9am to 3pm). “A
special record will be dedicated to
residing and visiting Saudi citizens to
pledge allegiance during the three days,”
the Qatar News Agency (QNA) quoted
the embassy as saying in a statement
Three days of mourning in Qatar
UAE stun Japan on
penalties at Asian Cup
Japan were sent crashing out of
the Asian Cup yesterday as the
United Arab Emirates shocked
the defending champions 5-4 on
penalties after a pulsating quarterfinal. Sport page 4
January 24, 2015
Rabia II 4, 1436 AH
New Saudi
king vows
King Salman calls for “unity and
solidarity” among Muslims
Emir mourns King Abdullah
QATAR | Investigation
In brief
he R
bl TA 978
A 1
Q since
HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani attended the funeral prayer for King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud that was
performed at Imam Turki bin Abdullah Mosque in Riyadh yesterday.
he Qatar government yesterday announced three days of
mourning over the death of
King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi
Arabia. The national flag will fly at
half-mast for the three days. The For-
eign Ministry said in a statement that
flags at all ministries, government institutions and public facilities would
be put at half-mast. The statement
expressed Qatar’s deep grief on the
death of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz.
Traffic Dept reduces speed limit on February 22nd Street to 80km
he Traffic Department has reduced the speed limit on Doha’s
February 22nd Street to 80km
from 100km, local Arabic daily Arrayah
reported yesterday.
The February 22nd Street is an integral part of Qatar’s first freeway,
the QR15bn Doha Expressway project
launched by the Public Works Authority (Ashghal) in 2007.
The February 22nd/Al Amir Street
Interchange, which opened to traffic in
June 2010, comprises phases one and
two of the project, spanning a 6km,
three-lane dual carriageway between
Gharrafa Interchange and Asiri Interchange.
All the signs indicating the speed
limit have been replaced with new
ones of 80km. A source told Arrayah
that the Traffic Department’s decision to lower the speed limit was
aimed at reducing the number of road
accidents on the street and ease congestion, both of which had become
quite regular.
“The reduction in the maximum
speed to 80km will enable motorists to
be more focused on the road and avoid
causing accidents,” the source explained, while revealing that the change
was on an “experimental basis”.
“The traffic movement on the road
will be monitored for some time and
based on the assessment of the outcome, a decision will be taken whether
to keep the speed limit at 80km or revert to 100km.”
The source explained that it had been
noticed that when an accident happened on the February 22nd Street, up
to five to seven vehicles were involved
on many occasions, holding up traffic
for a long time.
A majority of the accidents on the
busy street could be attributed to motorists not leaving enough space ahead
of them.
The severity of congestion on the
street had prompted the Traffic Department to launch a helicopter patrol
in September 2013 to give guidance to
police on the ground during the rush
Being part of Al Shamal Road, which
links Doha to the extreme north of the
country, February 22nd Street is the
most preferred route of motorists coming to the capital from the northern
side and vice versa and hence one of the
busiest. The Traffic Department is also
exploring the possibility of expanding
the thoroughfare and some of its exits,
it is learnt.
Arrayah also reported that a cross-
section of Qatari motorists expressed
their disapproval of the reduction
of the maximum speed on February
22nd Street, stressing that the sudden
change would perplex motorists and
might lead to even more accidents.
“The Traffic Department should
have given more publicity ahead of the
change to prepare people for it. Rather than reducing the speed limit, the
street should be modified with more
exit points and service lanes expanded,”
a national suggested.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 24, 2015
HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani arriving in Riyadh to attend the funeral of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud. The Emir was
greeted upon arrival at Riyadh Air Base Airport by Prince Majed bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud and Qatar’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia,
Sheikh Abdullah bin Thamer al-Thani. HH the Emir was accompanied by HH the Personal Representative of HH the Emir Sheikh Jassim bin
Hamad al-Thani and HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Thani and a number of Sheikhs and Ministers.
Emir attends funeral
prayer for King Abdullah
H the Emir Sheikh
Tamim bin Hamad alThani attended the funeral prayer for the late King
Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud
that was performed at Imam
Turki bin Abdullah Mosque in
Riyadh yesterday.
jailed for
he Criminal Court has
handed down a threeyear’s jail term and a fine
of QR200,000 to an Asian expatriate found guilty of trying to
smuggle drugs hidden in a pair of
shoes kept in his bag while entering Qatar, local daily Al Sharq
reported. He will be deported
after the completion of the
imprisonment term.
The court found evidence
that the convict was planning
to deliver the Indian hemp to
some customers in the country.
He came to Doha from an Asian
country on a Gulf airline. The
person was caught at an inspection point of the Arrivals Hall
by a customs official, who on
suspicion checked his bag.
The convict claimed he had
no information of the hidden
narcotic and said the shoes were
given to him by someone in his
country to be delivered to a person in Doha. However the court
found enough evidence to prove
that he knew about the narcotic
material hidden in the shoes.
550 environment
reported in 2014
The Ministry of Environment
detected 550 violations in 2014,
said Omar Salim al-Niaimi,
director at the Department of
Environment Protection, local
daily Al-Sharq reported.
He said that patrols on land
and sea in 2014 detected many
violations including camel
grazing, throwing waste in
unauthorised areas, excavation
of land, discharge of sewage
water on the land, cutting down
trees and illegal transport of
dangerous materials such as
diesel or petrol.
Al-Niaimi remarked that marine
violations included excessive
fishing, damage to the coral reef
and excavation of the beach
sand with heavy equipment.
According to the official, the
department patrols work
round the clock in all parts
of the country to ensure
implementation of the laws and
protection of the land and sea
HH the Emir offered condolences to Custodian of the
Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud
and Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister Muqrin
bin Abdulaziz al-Saud and
to Deputy Crown Prince and
Second Deputy Premier and
Minister of Interior Prince
Mohamed bin Naif bin Abdulaziz al-Saud and to the
sons of King Abdullah as well
as to the Saudi royal family.
The funeral prayer was attended by HH the Personal
Representative of HH the Emir
Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad
al-Thani, HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Thani and a
number of Sheikhs and Ministers who also offered their
condolences over the death of
King Abdullah.
Earlier, HH the Emir Sheikh
Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani
had sent cables of condolences
to Custodian of the Two Holy
Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince and
Deputy Prime Minister Muqrin
Abdulaziz on the death of King
Abdullah, praying Allah the
Almighty to bestow his grace
and forgiveness on him, make
paradise his last abode and to
QRC to build 100 houses
for homeless in Gaza
atar Red Crescent
(QRC) has signed a
memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the
Palestinian ministry of public
works and housing to carry out
a new relief project for Gaza
people who lost their houses
during the latest Israeli war.
Under the agreement, 100
temporary housing units
will be built and furnished
for families whose houses were destroyed in Beit
Hanoun, northern Gaza.
The signing ceremony was
attended by Dr Mufeed alHasayna, minister of public
works and Dr Akram Nassar,
director of QRC office in Gaza,
as well as representatives of
the ministry and QRC.
Dr al-Hasayna commended the role played
by Qatar in supporting
QRC Officials meet Palestinian minister of Public Works and Housing.
the Palestinian people, confirming that the new project
would alleviate the suffering
of the homeless families affected by the 50-day Israeli war,
which demolished thousands of
Palestinian houses and facilities.
He pledged full co-operation
with QRC to complete it and protect the homeless during the cold
Dr Nassar said: “This project
is the product of a generous
fundraising initiative by the
Expert allays
Ebola fears
acts about the Ebola virus were outlined in the
latest edition of the Ask
the Expert series by Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar
The Ebola virus has been
making headlines around the
world with the media discussing the possibility of a pandemic. But Dr Ravinder Mamtani,
associate dean for global and
public health at WCMC-Q, said
people had nothing to fear from
the virus, unless they were travelling to one of the affected regions of West Africa.
Dr Mamtani said: “It is true
that the Ebola virus is highly infectious but it is not transmitted
by casual contact. Also, Ebola
cannot be transmitted through
air like influenza, you have to
physically come into contact
with the bodily fluids of someone who is exhibiting symptoms
which means it is unlikely to
spread among populations distant from affected areas.”
It is thought that fruit bats
act as a reservoir for the disease, and they pass the virus
Dr Ravinder Mamtani speaking
at the WCMC-Q talk series.
onto other wildlife. Researchers believe that the virus is introduced into the human population through close contact
with the blood and other bodily fluids of infected animals
such as fruit bats, monkeys,
chimpanzees and gorillas.
Currently there is no cure
or vaccination against the
disease, but Dr Mamtani said
that research is ongoing and
there are two possible candidates for a vaccine. The most
important issue now, though,
is one of disease control; efficiently isolating patients and
then correctly disposing of
bedding and clothes once the
patient has recovered.
Maldivian people during the recent Israeli war. The money was
given to QRC to conduct urgent
relief projects in response to
the deteriorating humanitarian
conditions in the enclave.”
According to him, nearly
$1.5mn were allocated to build
100 temporary housing units for
the displaced in Beit Hanoun.
The project is expected to be
completed and delivered to the
beneficiaries by the end of this
grant the royal family, the Saudi
people and both the Arab and
Islamic nations patience and
HH the Deputy Emir Sheikh
Abdullah bin Hamad al-Thani
and HE the Prime Minister and
Minister of Interior Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa
al-Thani also sent cables of condolences to King Salman and
Crown Prince Muqrin.
HH the Emir offering condolences over the death of King Abdullah.
Dy PM takes part in
Bolivia’s presidential
La Paz, Bolivia
E Ahmed bin Abdullah
bin Zaid al-Mahmoud
the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for
Cabinet Affairs has taken part
as Qatar’s representative in the
inauguration ceremony of Evo
Morales as Bolivian president
at the National Legislative Assembly in La Paz.
He conveyed the greetings of HH the Emir Sheikh
Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani
to President Morales and his
best wishes of further progress
and prosperity for bilateral
For his part, the Bolivian
president entrusted al-Mah-
moud with his thanks and
greetings to the Emir on Qatar’s
participation in the ceremony,
wishing him best of health and
the state further progress and
Al-Mahmoud attended a
dinner hosted by President
Morales honouring the dignitaries who attended the
inauguration ceremony.
The inauguration ceremony
was also attended by Qatar’s
ambassador to Peru, Jamal bin
Nasser al-Bader.
Earlier, al-Mahmoud and
the accompanying delegation were received upon arrival to the La Paz International
Airport by Minister of State
of Productive Development
Teresa Morales, and Qatar’s
ambassador to Peru.
Skills development programme to
prepare students for workplace
atar University’s College
of Engineering (CENG)
has partnered with Silatech and Occidental Petroleum
Qatar (Oxy Qatar) on the creation of Nasmou, a specially-designed four-day personal development programme at helping
Qatari students’ transition into
the workplace. More than 30
CENG senior students will participate in the first pilot workshop on February 8-12.
The agreement was signed
yesterday by QU vice president
and chief academic officer Dr
Mazen Hasna, Silatech CEO Dr
Tarik M Yousef, and Oxy Qatar
president and general manager
Stephen Kelly.
Delivered by the UK-based
leadership development organisation Common Purpose Charitable Trust, Nasmou will take
students out of the classroom to
explore real-life experiences in
the workplace. Students will be
oriented on carefully-designed
techniques and exercises, as
well as mentored by Oxy Qatar
senior executives to develop the
skills, competencies and mindset for a successful career.
The officials at the signing ceremony.
The programme will help
them better understand their
emotions and how to express
themselves, as well as how to
cross cultural divides and thrive
in a multicultural environment.
On completion of the programme, selected students will
be offered an internship opportunity at Oxy Qatar that
will provide an opportunity to
further strengthen and practice
the skills they gained during the
Dr Hasna said: “Qatar University encourages all aspects
of collaboration with public and
private sector entities in a way
that boosts the university’s development, progress and output. Students are our main assets, and this agreement holds
to our resolve to graduate highly-qualified students who meet
industry expectations.”
Dr Yousef said: “A large part
of our focus at Silatech involves
preparing young people for the
workplace by helping to make
them more employable. Nasmou
is designed to give young people
a taste of the working world and
boost their employability.”
Kelly said: “Programmes such
as this provide students the opportunity to prepare for the
workplace. We hope Nasmou will
play a key role in preparing students for their careers as well as
helping to develop future leaders.
We are confident participants
and employers will benefit from
the skills students will acquire
and transfer to the workplace.”
HMC hosts
review course
Hamad Medical Corporation
(HMC) has hosted the second
Qatar Orthopaedic Review
Course bringing together
top international faculty with
orthopaedic professionals in
Qatar and the region.
The course, organised
by HMC’s Bone and Joint
Centre in collaboration with
the Department of Medical
Education, provided highquality education and training
to residents, particularly those
who were planning to take the
upcoming board examinations.
“The course is an excellent
opportunity for residents
who are preparing to take
their board exams such as
Arab Board, examination
for the Fellowship of the
Royal College of Surgeons
of England, Saudi Board, and
Jordanian Board. It is also
beneficial for orthopaedists
who are seeking recertification,
or want to refresh their
knowledge in orthopaedics,”
said Dr Mohammed alKhayarin, senior consultant at
HMC’s Orthopaedic Surgery
Dr AbdulAziz al-Kuwari,
orthopaedic spine consultant
at HMC and a member of the
course organising committee,
said: “By offering the course at
HMC, we have made it possible
for residents to avail of this
high-quality training within
Qatar, instead of having to
travel abroad as I previously did
when preparing for my board
“The course aims to raise the
standards of care in the region
as it attracts residents and
orthopaedic consultants from
the region. Last year, we had 30
participants from Saudi Arabia
and 10 from Kuwait, Bahrain
and Oman. I hope many more
orthopaedic professionals
will take advantage of this
opportunity,” said Dr al-Kuwari.
The faculty included experts
from prestigious institutions
from the United States. They
were: Dr Anish Kadakia from
Northwestern University in
Chicago; Dr Bashir Zikria, Dr
Frank Frassica, Dr John Tis and
Dr Khaled Kebaish from Johns
Hopkins University; Dr Jeffrey
King from Michigan State
University; and Dr Tariq Nayfeh
from Medstar Harbor Hospital
in Baltimore.
Residents, specialists and
consultants in the region who
would like to attend the course
in the future, can send an e-mail
to [email protected]
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Zarif: new
US sanctions
would scuttle
nuclear deal
ran warned the US Congress
yesterday against imposing
new sanctions, saying this
would lead to a collapse of negotiations over Tehran’s controversial nuclear programme.
“We have an agreement that
has the prospect of reaching
a comprehensive agreement,”
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Javad Zarif told a meeting of
political and business leaders in
“If someone comes to torpedo
(the agreement), I believe (the
person or entity) should be isolated by the international community, whether it’s the US Congress or anybody else.
“Now is the time for the international community to stand
firm against (the threat of new
sanctions)that will unravel an
extremely important achievement.”
“Now is the time for
the international
community to stand firm
against (the threat of
new sanctions) that will
unravel an extremely
important achievement”
Republicans controlling Congress are seeking to shape US
policy on Iran by two possible
One tactic envisages adoption of a bill requiring President
Barack Obama to submit any nuclear accord reached with Iran to
Congress for approval.
Another strategy is based on
economic sanctions that would
be activated if Tehran refuses to
sign a final deal or is seen as violating its terms. The Congress
is expected to begin debate on
possible new embargoes within
Obama has threatened to veto
any move by Congress to adopt
new sanctions.
But Zarif warned that Iran’s
president did not have similar
powers over parliament.
“In our constitution, our president does not have the power
to veto parliament (which has)
threatened publicly” to take retaliatory action against any move
by Congress.
“They will adopt something
requiring the government... to
increase our (uranium) enrichment,” said Zarif.
Any resumption of enrichment would essentially flout an
interim accord done between
Iran and major world powers
in November 2013 offering Tehran partial sanctions relief in
exchange for a freeze by Iran of
contentious parts of its nuclear
Iran and the so-called P5+1
group—the United States, Britain, China, France, Germany
and Russia—have been seeking
a comprehensive accord that
would prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb in return for an easing of economic
Iran says its nuclear programme only has civilian aims
and that there is no plan to build
a bomb.
Two earlier deadlines passed
without the final deal and a third
deadline is looming on July 1.
A flurry of talks have been held
since last week, and Iranian and
US diplomats resumed talks in
Switzerland yesterday.
Both Zarif and US Secretary
of States John Kerry are in Davos but it was unclear if another
round of talks is planned.
The Iranian minister said Tehran is still “prepared to go for a
deal” as “confrontation doesn’t
help anyone”.
“There are all sorts of possibilities and I don’t want to entertain
them because I believe there is a
possibility, a very good probability of reaching an agreement and
we should not waste that opportunity.”
Past negotiations have stumbled over Iran’s insistence that
it retain the right to enrich some
uranium—which can in some
cases be used to make an atomic
bomb—for what it says is its civilian nuclear programme.
There has also been disagreement over global sanctions, with
Tehran calling for an end to the
crippling regime while the US
has insisted on a temporary,
gradual suspension.
Zarif yesterday insisted that
“the policy of sanctions has not
produced positive results”.
Saudi King Salman prays during the funeral of King Abdullah in Riyadh yesterday.
Leaders laud Abdullah
as ‘defender of peace’
orld leaders paid tribute to Saudi Arabia’s
King Abdullah yesterday, praising the late monarch as
a key mediator between Muslims and the West.
US President Barack Obama
said he and Abdullah, whose
country has for decades been a
strategic ally of Washington, had
enjoyed a “genuine and warm
Russian President Vladimir
Putin hailed Abdullah as a
“wise politician”.
Iran sent condolences to the
Saudi people and announced its
foreign minister would travel to
Riyadh for an “official ceremony” this weekend.
Ex-president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, known for his
strong personal relations with
the kingdom, called the country a friend and said: “For the
deceased I ask for vast blessings
from God, for his family and
Referring to its new ruler, King Salman, Rafsanjani
added: “For your excellency I
wish success in consolidating
the unity of the Islamic world,
prosperity, co-existence and
brotherhood of the two nations of Iran and Saudi Arabia
under the lofty teachings of
President Hassan Rouhani
also expressed his condolences
in a short statement.
French President Francois
Hollande said Abdullah’s vision
of “a fair and durable peace in
the Middle East remains truer
than ever”.
Canada’s Prime Minister
Stephen Harper praised the late
king as “an ardent defender of
And the foreign ministry in
Spain hailed Abdullah as “a
respected figure throughout
the Middle East for his willingness to help resolve conflicts”.
In London, Prime Minister
David Cameron said the Saudi
ruler would be remembered for
“his commitment to peace and
for strengthening understanding between faiths”.
Prince Charles is to travel to
Riyadh as the Queen’s representative to pay his respects, the
royal’s office said.
German Chancellor Angela
Merkel said Abdullah’s rule had
been “fair and moderate”, praising him for aiding “dialogue between the Muslim world and the
In the Middle East, Lebanon,
which has close ties with Riyadh, spoke of losing “a defender
and a partner” who had stood by
Beirut “in difficult times”.
Tunisia’s President Beji Caid
Essebsi said the king “ensured... support for causes of
justice, peace and development
in the Arab, Muslim and entire
His country joined Algeria
and Mauritania in announcing
three days of mourning, while
Cairo said its official grieving
would run for a whole week.
Several leaders cut short overseas trips to travel to Riyadh and
pay their respects.
Jordan’s King Abdullah II left
the World Economic Forum in
Davos, organisers said, before
declaring 40 days of mourning
for the late Saudi king.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin praised Abdullah as an “exemplary leader... with sound
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared three days
of mourning, describing the late
monarch as a “sage”.
“With much sadness, we received the news of the death of
King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz,
a loss to the Arab and Islamic
world,” Abbas said in a statement.
President Recip Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey said Abdullah
had contributed “to strengthening co-operation and solidarity in the Muslim world,
especially concerning the Palestinian question and the situation
in Syria”.
At the Asian Cup in Australia,
the national football team of the
United Arab Emirates donned
black armbands for their match
against Japan.
Malaysian Prime Minister
Najib Razak called Abdullah a
“great leader for his initiative for
inter-religious dialogue”, and
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani
pointed to Saudi involvement
in his country’s peace negotiations.
Indonesia paid tribute to a
man who “brought prosperity
and reforms to his nation”.
Philippines hails ‘generous’ leader
The Philippines yesterday
hailed deceased Saudi King
Abdullah as a leader who
worked to improve conditions
for Filipino migrant workers in
the kingdom.
“The late King was a courageous, generous, and visionary
leader who introduced policy
changes in education and
infrastructure. He was a champion in fighting extremism,” the
foreign department said in a
Hundreds of thousands of Filipinos work in Saudi Arabia.
“The King’s receptiveness to
the concerns of the Filipino
government helped improve
the welfare and prospects
of our countrymen in Saudi
Arabia,” President Benigno
Aquino’s spokeswoman Abigail
Valte said.
Valte cited the king’s pardoning
of condemned Filipino prisoners and agreeing on a standard
work contract for members of
its imported workforce.
“These actions will be remembered by our government, and
by those who were positively
affected by his decisions and
efforts,” Valte added.
Yemen faces power vacuum after president quits
emen faced a dangerous
power vacuum yesterday
after its president announced his resignation over a
deadly standoff with a Shia militia controlling the capital and
lawmakers called an emergency
weekend session.
President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, a key US ally in the
fight against Al Qaeda, said late
Thursday that he could no longer
stay in office as the country was
in “total deadlock”.
Prime Minister Khaled Bahah
also tendered his resignation,
saying he did want to be part of
the collapse of the country.
The fall of Hadi’s Westernbacked government would raise
fears of complete chaos engulfing Yemen, strategically located
next to Saudi Arabia and on the
key shipping route from the Suez
Canal to the Gulf.
A senior State Department
official said staffing at the US
embassy in the capital Sanaa, already thin after most of the diplomatic personnel were ordered
to leave in September, would be
further reduced.
The country is an important
power base for Al Qaeda in the
Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which
claimed responsibility for this
month’s deadly attack on French
satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.
Parliament is set to hold an
extraordinary meeting to discuss
Supporters of the separatist Southern Movement demonstrate in Aden yesterday.
Hadi’s resignation offer, which
needs to be approved by lawmakers to take effect.
Hadi adviser Sultan al-Atwani
said parliament would meet tomorrow “at the earliest” because
it is in recess and lawmakers need
time to return.
Witnesses and security forces
said that Houthi militiamen had
encircled the parliament building
overnight, having already seized
the presidential palace earlier
this week.
Gunmen have also surrounded
the houses of top officials including Defence Minister Mahmud
al-Subaihi and head of intelligence Ali al-Ahmedi, a security
official said.
The Houthis, who hail from
Yemen’s northern highlands
and who took control of most
of the capital in September, said
the constitution stipulated that
Hadi’s resignation should be approved by an absolute majority in
“As this has not happened, the
resignation remains pending,”
the militia said in a statement.
Yemen has been riven by instability since an uprising forced
strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh
from power in 2012.
Saleh has been accused of
backing the Houthis—who are
from the same Zaidi sect of Shia
Islam as the ex-leader—as has
Shia-dominated Iran.
The Houthis, who have long
complained of marginalisation, called on supporters to
take to the streets yesterday afternoon to show their
“backing for the revolutionary
Thousands of supporters an-
swered the call, staging a rally
north of Sanaa.
Meanwhile, hundreds others
demonstrated near the University of Sanaa against the Houthis
and in support of Hadi, witnesses
Similar protests were staged in
the cities of Taez and Hudaida.
While the situation was generally calm in Sanaa, two small
explosions targeted two houses
belonging to Houthi members
but there were no casualties.
After heavy fighting between
government forces and the
Houthis this week that killed at
least 35 people, the UN Security
Council and Yemen’s Gulf neighbours had all voiced support for
Hadi’s continued rule.
The situation escalated last Saturday when the militiamen seized
top presidential aide Ahmed Awad
bin Mubarak in an apparent bid to
extract changes to a draft constitution opposed by the Houthis because it would divide Yemen into
six federal regions.
The Houthis continue to hold
Mubarak and maintain a tight
grip on the capital despite a deal
struck late on Wednesday to end
what authorities called a coup
In return for concessions over
the disputed draft constitution,
the Houthis pledged to vacate
the presidential palace, free Mubarak, withdraw from areas surrounding the residences of Hadi
and Bahah, and abandon checkpoints across the capital.
Hadi is from Yemen’s formerly
independent south and in recent
days southern officials have taken steps to back his rule, including closing the air and sea ports
in the main city of Aden.
The security and military committee for four of south Yemen’s
provinces, including Aden, said
late Thursday it would not take
orders from Sanaa following Hadi’s resignation.
UN Secretary General Ban
Ki-moon called on all sides “to
exercise maximum restraint and
maintain peace and stability”, his
spokesman said.
His envoy to Yemen, Moroccan
diplomat Jamal Benomar, had arrived in the country on Thursday
for talks with the political rivals,
but they were swiftly overtaken
by events.
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki
said the United States was assessing the fast-moving events.
“We continue to support a
peaceful transition. We’ve urged
all parties and continue to urge
all parties to abide by... the peace
and national partnership agreement,” Psaki told reporters.
Yemen has allowed the United States to carry out repeated
drone attacks on Al Qaeda militants in its territory.
Oxfam warned that 16mn people—more than half the population—were in need of aid in Yemen.
“A humanitarian crisis of extreme proportions is at risk of
unfolding in the country if instability continues,” the aid group
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 24, 2015
boost could
hurt US ties
New Libya
peace talks
next week
new round of peace
talks between Libya’s
warring factions will
possibly take place in Geneva next week, the United
Nations said yesterday.
There is no confirmation yet
where or when the next round
of Libyan peace talks will take
place, but “there is a possibility
that they come back to Geneva
next week”, UN spokeswoman
Corinne Momal-Vanian told
During a first round of UNmediated discussions in the
Swiss city last week, warring
factions from the strife-torn
country agreed on a road map
to form a unity government.
Following the agreement,
Libya’s army and the Islamist-backed Fajr Libya (Libya
Dawn) militia alliance declared a truce.
The UN’s Libya mission
welcomed the ceasefire as a
“significant contribution” to
the country’s peace process
and called on all parties to work
with UNSMIL to “ensure compliance” with the truce.
UNSMIL envoy to Libya,
Bernardino Leon, warned as
the Geneva talks opened last
week that they were a lastditch effort to prevent all-out
Leon also underscored the
threat of Libya becoming a
hotbed of Islamist insurgency, echoing concerns by Libyan officials and world leaders.
The North African nation
has been wracked by conflict
since the overthrow of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in a
2011 uprising, with rival governments and powerful militias battling for control of key
cities and the country’s vast
oil riches.
The internationally-recognised government and
elected parliament decamped
last summer to the country’s
far east after Fajr Libya seized
Tripoli and set up its own administration.
The militia alliance also
holds Misrata and launched a
bloody offensive in December
to seize key oil terminals but
was repelled by the army.
Arab-Israeli parliament members and other candidates join their hands after it was announced that a joint
political slate of all the Arab parties will be running in the upcoming elections, during a news conference in
Nazareth yesterday.
Arab parties in
Israel poll tie-up
Israel’s Arab parties have
joined forces ahead of a snap
election in March
our political parties that
mostly represent Israel’s
Arab minority have decided to run together in elections
on March 17, creating a potential
counter-weight to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his
right-wing allies.
Opinion polls suggest the united
Arab list could secure 11 seats in the
120-seat parliament, around the
same level as they hold individually
but with their political influence increased.
The joint slate, finalised on
Thursday, was in part a bid for electoral survival since the government
has backed legislation raising the
threshold for getting into parliament, leaving two of the four parties
on the brink of extinction.
The four - Raam (United Arab
List), Taal (Arab Movement for Renewal), Balad (National Democratic
Assembly) and Arab-Jewish party
Hadash (Democratic Front for Peace
and Equality) - cover a range of ideology from Islamist to secular to exCommunist.
Despite that, Raam lawmaker
Masud Ganaim said the list was
united in its support for Palestinian statehood and concern about
Netanyahu’s efforts to enshrine
Jewish statehood in law.
“The Arab community in Israel
wants us all to join forces, so we can
have more influence and challenge
the Netanyahu government’s racist
and Judaising policies,” he said.
Pre-election polls put Netanyahu’s Likud party neck-andneck with the centre-left alliance
of Labour leader Isaac Herzog
and former justice minister Tzipi
Livni. Who gets to form the next
government could come down to
who garners more partners.
Ganaim said his four-party list
may back Herzog and Livni.
“It is being considered,” he said.
“We think the political map will
shift toward the centre-left, and in
such a situation we will have an important role. We would tilt the balance.”
Arabs, mostly Muslim, make up
20% of Israel’s population. Ganaim
said some 55% of them take part in
national elections, with more than
80% of votes going to Arab parties
while a minority back mainstream
“Zionist” parties.
Balad leader Jamal Zahalka
deemed the four-party list a rebuke to ultra-nationalist Israeli
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who has sought to sideline
Arab politicians he deems disloyal
to the state.
“Those who didn’t want Arab
parties to have 10 seats in parliament will see them get 15,” Zahalka
told Israel radio.
Lieberman’s Israel Beitenu (Israel
is Our Home) party, hit by corruption probes and high-profile resignations, is seen taking around 6
parliamentary seats - down from its
current 12.
Netanyahu could still find a potent future ally in Economy Minister Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home
party, which is predicted to win
some 15 seats.
Observers see the united Arab
list’s formation as a response to
a March 2014 law that raised the
threshold of minimum votes needed
for any representation at the Knesset.
“This list came in response to
Arab public demand in Israel (for a
united front) and after the Knesset
raised the threshold for representation,” political researcher Dr Asi
Atrash said.
During previous elections, the
threshold was 2% of votes but MPs
passed a law raising it to 3.25% in a
move slammed by the opposition as
an attempt to force Arab parties out
of the Knesset.
A survey carried out by Atrash and published on Thursday
found that the joint list could
boost Arab Israeli voter turnout
to as much as 66%, compared
to a turnout of 56 percent in the
2013 elections.
Israel’s 1.3mn Arab citizens are
the descendants of 160,000 Palestinians who remained on their land
when the state of Israel was established in 1948.
decision to accept an invitation to address the
US Congress just days before
Israel’s parliamentary election
offers him invaluable pre-vote
publicity, but may also have
shaken the balance of US-Israel
John Boehner, the Republican
speaker of the House of Representatives, issued the invitation
without consulting the White
House, a breach of protocol since
it is normally up to a head of state
to invite a foreign leader.
It also does not appear that
Netanyahu, a right-winger who
has a testy relationship with
Barack Obama, let the president
know about the invitation before
accepting it, underscoring their
increasingly tense ties.
The upshot is that Netanyahu
will address a joint session of
Congress on March 3 - the third
time he has had the honour - but
will not meet Obama. He will also
attend the policy conference of
AIPAC, the influential pro-Israel
lobby, a must for any Israeli leader.
From Netanyahu’s point of
view, he achieves several goals,
strutting his stuff in front of an
applauding Republican-led Congress two weeks before Israelis
vote on March 17.
While that may not swing undecided voters, it is the sort of
primetime appearance that can
shore up the base and help Netanyahu, currently neck-and-neck
with his centre-left rivals in most
polls, pip the opposition on the
It also allows the prime minister, a staunch advocate of a
tougher line against Iran, to beat
that drum before a receptive audience and parade his credentials as
a global security hawk, a message
that plays well domestically.
Add the opportunity to sweeten his already close ties with the
Republican leadership before
next year’s US presidential elec-
tion, and the bonus of an AIPAC
gathering, and it looks like a very
worthwhile trip.
Even the fact he will not meet
Obama could play in his favour.
While it is a snub, past meetings
between the two have been frosty
and made Netanyahu look awkward or defensive. With less than
two years of Obama’s presidency
remaining, Netanyahu is hardly
banking on rapprochement.
As his close confidant Defence
Minister Moshe Yaalon said last
month: “This (US) administration
won’t be around forever”, suggesting Israel’s leader is already looking to the next, possibly Republican, president for warmer ties.
Yet while there may be good
reasons for Netanyahu to go to
Washington almost in spite of
Obama - Israel’s Haaretz newspaper quoted an unnamed US official as saying the Israeli leader
had “spat” in the president’s face
- there are risks too.
Obama’s presidency may be
waning, but two years is still a long
time and he has shown a willingness to take bold decisions when
the moment strikes, such as on
Cuba and immigration.
The US administration has
repeatedly expressed frustration with the expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied
West Bank. Further steps in that
direction could draw stronger US
responses, possibly in co-ordination with Europe.
More worrying, say Israeli
commentators, is the way Netanyahu has buddied up to Republicans, creating a party political allegiance rather than one between
two states.
“These relations are the greatest strategic asset that Israel has
had since its establishment,”
former diplomat Alon Pinkas
wrote in Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel’s leading daily.
“Netanyahu has harmed, weakened and finally destroyed the
interpersonal channel (with the
US president) and created an unprecedented rift in the relations
between president and prime
Conservationists to sue
over Tut mask ‘bungle’
killed in
n Egyptian student was
killed yesterday during
clashes between Muslim
Brotherhood protesters and residents in Alexandria, as demonstrations gathered pace two days
before the anniversary of the 2011
The Freedom and Justice Party,
the political wing of the outlawed
Brotherhood, identified the dead
woman on its Facebook page as
17-year-old Sondos Rida Abu Bakr
and accused security forces of
shooting her during a demonstration.
A security official in Alexandria
said several people were wounded yesterday in clashes between
protesters and local residents but
denied that security forces had
opened fire to disperse demonstrators.
Demonstrations took place
in several parts of Egypt yesterday, with Brotherhood supporters calling for protests to mark
four years since the January 25,
2011 revolt that toppled Hosni
Mubarak and led to democratic
Several people were also
wounded in the Faysal suburb
of Cairo yesterday when security forces broke up Brotherhood
demonstrators who clashed
with pro-government locals, the
state-owned Al Ahram newspaper said.
At least 20 people were arrested in Alexandria yesterday
and 68 the previous day, security
sources said, with several protests taking place in the Mediterranean city.
n Egyptian conservation
group said yesterday it
will sue the antiquities
minister over a “botched” repair
of the mask of King Tutankhamun that left a crust of dried glue
on the priceless relic.
The golden funerary mask,
seen yesterday by AFP at the
Egyptian Museum, showed the
sticky aftermath of what appears
to have been overzealous use of
glue to fix the mask’s beard in
A museum official, who spoke
anonymously to avoid repercussions, said the beard had fallen
off accidentally when the mask
was removed from its case last
year to repair the lighting.
Museum head Mahmoud alHelwagy denied that conservation workers had damaged the
“This is illogical and inconceivable,” he said. “These are
conservation workers, not carpenters.”
Antiquities Minister Mahmud
al-Damaty also denied that the
3,000-year-old relic was treated
“The job was done correctly,”
he said, without explaining why
curators needed to fix the mask.
Monica Hanna, an Egyptologist who inspected the mask,
said what she saw had so shocked
her that her group was taking the
matter to the public prosecutor.
“We are presenting a complaint on mismanagement to
the prosecutor tomorrow,” said
Hanna, from Egypt’s Heritage
Task Force, which has long bat-
A picture taken yesterday shows a crust of dried glue on the burial mask of
tled mismanagement and looting of Egypt’s legendary ancient
According to the museum official, “there seems to have been
a lapse in concentration and the
mask hit the case and almost
fell” when it was removed from
its case.
“So (the curator) grabbed it in
his arms to break the fall, and the
beard separated,” he said.
The long braided beard fit into
the mask with a peg, and had
been separated before, the official said.
“This mistake can happen. But
what caused it to get worse? The
curator was scared and he fixed it
The epoxy glue dried very
quickly, said the official.
“You should use material (that
dries slowly) and then support it,
maybe over several hours or 24
hours, so you can fix mistakes,”
he said.
“Renovation work needs an
adhesive that is easy to remove in
case there is any damage, without leaving any traces.”
Museum director Helwagy told
the official Mena news agency
that epoxy glue is used internationally to fix artefacts.
The death mask of the enigmatic boy king is one of the
crown jewels of the museum,
which also houses the mummy of
Pharaoh Ramses II.
The museum used to attract
millions of tourists before a 2011
revolt—centred in nearby Tahrir
Square—brought down president
Hosni Mubarak and unleashed
four years of tumult.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 24, 2015
fter days of deadly protests, the Democratic
Republic of the Congo’s
Senate backed down yesterday
on a hotly-contested electoral
bill enabling President Joseph
Kabila to extend his hold on
Senators voted unanimously
to amend the bill, already passed
by the lower house of parliament last weekend, by dropping
a provision tying 2016 presidential and legislative elections to a
census expected to be years from
The vote came after days of
bloody confrontations between
protesters and police in the capital city Kinshasa, where rights
groups say as many as 42 people
were killed this week.
Vital Kamerhe, president of
the third largest opposition party Union for the Congolese Nation, said he was “satisfied” by
the senate vote.
A joint commission of the
Senate and National Assembly must still meet in an effort to reach a consensus on the
amended bill. If lawmakers cannot come to an agreement, the
National Assembly would have
the final word.
As during the violence earlier
this week, the army remained
in place around the parliament
building. But calm had returned
to Kinshasa and Goma, the main
city in the northeast of the country, where a protester was killed
on Thursday.
The government has acknowledged that the census that
is supposed to begin this year
could delay elections, while regional analysts and diplomats
have estimated the process could
take up to three years.
UN not needed against
Boko Haram: Nigeria
igeria’s top security official yesterday ruled
out the need for a United
Nations (UN) or African Union
(AU)-backed force to fight Boko
Haram, saying that the country
and its partners could handle the
Possible “enhanced interna-
tional support” against Boko
Haram will be discussed on the
sidelines of an AU summit later
this month, given fears about the
group’s threat to regional stability.
But national security adviser
Sambo Dasuki, a former army
colonel, said wider assistance
would not be necessary.
“It’s something that we can
do. It’s absolutely something
we can do,” he told BBC World
S Africa’s disgraced
ex-police chief dies
outh Africa’s former police commissioner Jackie
Selebi, a one-time senior African National Congress
(ANC) official, diplomat and
Interpol president tarnished by
a conviction on serious charges
of graft, died yesterday aged
64, officials said.
“He passed on this morning,” ruling ANC party spokesman Keith Khoza told AFP.
Selebi was jailed in 2011 for
15 years for accepting cash and
gifts from a convicted drug
trafficker but was freed three
years ago on medical parole.
His release on medical
grounds after serving less than
a year was viewed with cyni-
Service radio in an interview. “I
think as it is we are in good shape
to address the issue with those
partners, Niger, Chad and Cameroon.”
Representatives from Nigeria,
Niger, Chad and Cameroon met
this week to thrash out details of
a new regional force to counter
the rising threat from the Islamist militants.
An existing force, made up of
troops from Nigeria, Niger and
cism by many South Africans.
He was sometimes spotted
shopping in Pretoria, driving a
BMW after his release.
Formerly a respected freedom fighter and diplomat,
Selebi fell from grace after
befriending a convicted drug
dealer, leading to his conviction on graft charges.
“He was one individual who
made immense contribution to
the liberation of this country,”
said Khoza, adding his conviction “was a sad point in his life”.
Chadian capital, N’Djamena,
reflecting concern about Boko
Haram’s transnational threat.
Boko Haram has seized dozens of towns and villages in the
northeast in the last six months
and now controls the border of
Borno State with Niger, Chad
and Cameroon.
Some analysts have suggested that it is trying to revive
a defunct 19th century Islamic
caliphate, whose borders corre-
sponded to parts of modern-day
Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
The group’s leader Abubakar
Shekau, however, mocked the
proposed new force in a video
published online on Tuesday,
boasting that his fighters would
take on all comers and that “Nigeria is dead”.
“The kings of Africa ... I challenge you to attack me now. I am
ready,” he said.
Sierra Leone lifts Ebola quarantines
Selebi: a former president of
Chad appears to have collapsed
even before the January 3 attack on its headquarters near the
northeastern town of Baga.
Troops from Niger and Chad
were not present during the raid,
which saw Baga razed and hundreds of civilians, if not more,
killed in what is feared could be
the insurgents’ worst atrocity.
Tuesday’s meeting agreed to
transfer the headquarters of the
new force from Nigeria to the
ierra Leone has lifted crippling nationwide restrictions on movement put in
place at the height of the Ebola
crisis, amid signs that the deadly epidemic was retreating.
The nation of 6mn had restricted travel for around half its
population, sealing off six of its
14 districts and numerous tribal
chiefdoms in response to an
outbreak which has killed more
than 3,000 Sierra Leoneans.
“Restrictions on movement
will be eased to support economic activity. As such, there
will no longer be any district or
chiefdom level restrictions on
movement,” President Ernest
Bai Koroma said in an address to
the nation late on Thursday.
Koroma pointed to a “steady
downward trend” in new cases
in recent weeks, adding that
“victory is in sight” but cautioning against complacency.
The president said restrictions will be eased on Saturday
trading hours in the hard-hit
Western Area, which includes
the capital Freetown.
The move marks huge
progress in a crisis which has
seen commerce grind to a halt,
with travel restrictions hitting
the rural communities particularly hard and sparking warnings of a looming food crisis.
Sierra Leone is targeting zero
new cases by March 31 of the
deadly tropical fever that has
killed around 9,000 west Africans over the past year, according to official data, although the
real toll is thought to be significantly higher.
The country announced on
Thursday that it would end “risk
payments” to healthcare workers dealing with Ebola by that
date and reopen schools, with
teaching expected to resume in
the third week of March.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said in its latest update that 8,626 people had died
as of January 18, among a cumulative total of 21,689 cases.
Liberia, which had a peak of
over 300 new cases a week in
August and September, registered just eight last week,
while there were only 20 confirmed cases in Guinea last week
against 45 the week before.
The figure for Sierra Leone
was 117 last week against 184 the
week before, the WHO said, but
added that the west of the country remained a problem area.
Koroma stressed however
that the crisis would not be over
until all three countries had seen
no new cases for 42 days.
He vowed that anti-Ebola measures such as a ban on
washing bodies of victims of the
highly infectious virus would
remain in place.
“Our records show that this
is now the greatest threat to
our victory over the disease,” he
said. “Law enforcement agencies and chiefs are under instruction to ensure that the full
force of the law is brought to
bear on those who touch or wash
dead bodies.”
He added that while victory
over the epidemic was in sight,
“we must not relent, we must
continue to soldier on”.
British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)
said yesterday that its candidate
Ebola vaccine was expected to
arrive in Liberia later in the day.
The batch of 300 vials will be
the first to arrive in one of the
main Ebola-hit countries and
will be used in trials led by the
US National Institutes of Health
in the coming weeks involving
up to 30,000 people.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Obama won’t be meeting
Netanyahu on US visit
resident Barack Obama
will not meet Israel’s prime
minister when he visits
Washington in March, the White
House said on Thursday, after
being blindsided by the Republicans’ invitation to Benjamin
Netanyahu to address the US
Congress on Iran.
Bernadette Meehan, spokeswoman for the White House
National Security Council, said
Obama was withholding an invitation for Oval Office talks with
Netanyahu because of Israel’s
March 17 elections.
“As a matter of long-standing
practice and principle, we do not
see heads of state or candidates in
close proximity to their elections,
so as to avoid the appearance of
influencing a democratic election
in a foreign country,” Meehan
said in statement. “Accordingly,
the president will not be meeting
with Prime Minister Netanyahu
because of the proximity to the
Israeli election, which is just two
weeks after his planned address
to the US Congress.”
Earlier on Thursday, Netanyahu announced that he would
address Congress in March.
The decision by Obama, whose
relationship with Netanyahu has
often been tense, might be interpreted as a snub because leaders from Israel, a staunch United
States ally, are almost always afforded talks with the American
president on trips to Washington.
Netanyahu has accused Obama
of making too many concessions
to Iran for too little in return in
nuclear talks between Tehran and
world powers, and his visit could
set up a diplomatic showdown on
an issue that has divided Obama
and congressional Republicans.
The White House declined
to say if Netanyahu had sought
a meeting with Obama, but an
Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on
Wednesday that the Israeli prime
minister was looking into the
possibility of talks with the president during the visit.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told a news
briefing that US Secretary of
State John Kerry also would not
be meeting with Netanyahu during the visit, citing the upcoming
Israeli elections.
The White House said on
Wednesday that the invitation to
Netanyahu, issued by Obama’s
Republican congressional opponents without consulting him,
was a breach of diplomatic protocol.
US House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner announced the invitation to Netanyahu on Wednesday, a day after
Obama pledged in his State of the
Union address to veto new Iran
sanctions legislation being developed in Congress.
Netanyahu’s government issued a statement on Thursday
saying that the invitation had
been extended by the “two-
party leadership” of Congress,
but congressional aides said
they knew of no members of the
Democratic party who had been
House Democratic leader
Nancy Pelosi said the invitation
to Netanyahu by Boehner was
“It’s out of the ordinary that
the Speaker would decide that
he would be inviting people to a
joint session without any bipartisan consultation,” she said at a
weekly news conference.
Pelosi said she did not think
Netanyahu’s visit on March 3
was “appropriate and helpful”
two weeks before elections in his
own country and amid delicate
international talks to curb Iran’s
nuclear programme.
Superbug spread through medical
scopes sickened dozens in Seattle
drug-resistant superbug
infected 32 people at a
Seattle hospital over a
two-year period, with the bacteria spreading through contaminated medical scopes that
had been cleaned to the manufacturer’s recommendation, officials said on Thursday.
Eleven of the patients infected at Virginia Mason Medical
Centre between 2012 and 2014
eventually died, the hospital
and city health officials said. But
those patients were critically ill
before being infected and it was
unclear what role, if any, the
bacteria played in their deaths.
The patients were infected
with drug-resistant bacteria,
including the rare Carbapenemresistant
which are difficult to treat because they have high levels of
resistance to antibiotics, said
Dr Jeffrey Duchin, a senior official at Public Health – Seattle &
King County.
The report follows similar incidents in Pittsburgh in 2012 and
Chicago in 2014, where contaminated endoscopes infected dozens of patients, health officials
No fatalities were directly
linked to the infections.
In the Seattle case, public
health officials said the germs
apparently spread from patient
to patient by endoscopes used
to treat liver and pancreatic illnesses.
Duchin said the scopes are
typically used for thousands of
procedures each year in US hospitals.
The scopes at Virginia Mason
Medical Centre were sterilised
to existing standards before
each use, public health officials
and the hospital said.
“This is a national problem,”
Virginia Mason Medical Centre
said in a statement. “We determined that the endoscope manufacturer’s, as well as the federal
government’s, recommended
guidelines for processing the
scopes are inadequate.”
Duchin said it took investigators months to pinpoint the
contamination, and the hospital
has since instituted a rigorous
decontamination process that
exceeds national standards.
There are three major manufacturers of the scopes, called
duodenoscopes: Olympus Corporation, Fujifilm and Pentax.
Their disinfection recommendations were approved by
the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The authority said in a statement that it was actively engaged with manufacturers and
other government agencies to
develop solutions to minimise
patient risk.
Olympus, which supplies
many of the Seattle hospital’s
scopes, said in a statement that
it was “monitoring this issue
It was unclear how many people were exposed to the superbug, officials said.
The bacteria can cause serious infections such as pneumonia, bloodstream infections and
Neither the hospital nor local
health officials notified the public about the outbreak because
“there was not a strong rationale
for doing so,” Duchin said.
Disneyland measles outbreak puts California on alert
Los Angeles
alifornia is battling a
surge of measles cases
clustered around the famous Disneyland theme park,
despite the virus being all but
eliminated in the United States,
authorities said on Thursday.
Fifty-nine cases have been
recorded since the end of December, the California Department of Public Health reported,
urging people to get themselves
vaccinated – in the face of a
movement against the vaccinations over concerns about links
to autism in children.
“Of the confirmed cases, 42
have been linked to Disneyland
or Disney California Adventure
Park in Anaheim, California,”
the health department said. Five
of the cases involved Disney
“Initial exposures occurred
in December, but additional
confirmed cases visited Disney
parks while infectious in January,” the department added on
its website.
Measles is highly contagious
and can be spread through the
air without physical contact.
Infection usually begins with a
fever followed by a cough, runny
nose, conjunctivitis and a rash.
The health department said
the spate of cases underscored
the need for vaccinations
against the illness.
Twenty-eight cases from 34
for which data was available involved individuals who had not
been vaccinated.
Measles has been officially
eradicated from the United
States since 2000 while remaining widespread in other regions
including Europe, Africa and
Eradication means the disease
is no longer native to the US.
up under
ferry dock
dead gray whale floated
underneath a busy commuter ferry terminal in
downtown Seattle, sending a
putrid odour onto the dock on
Thursday and diverting some
passenger ferries to another slip
before it was moved to a nearby
pier, an official said.
Transportation officials had
wanted to move the carcass
away from the ferry terminal
before the busy evening rush
“It’s the smell,” said Susan
Harris, a spokeswoman with
Washington State Ferries. “More
than anything, it’s upsetting for
people to see.”
Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
would move the body again to a
more remote pier to perform a
necropsy and determine cause
of death, she said.
The whale’s body, discovered
late on Wednesday, was esti-
A crew tows the carcass of a dead gray whale in Elliot Bay, after it was discovered under the Colman Ferry dock in Seattle. The whale
floated underneath a busy commuter ferry terminal, sending a putrid odour wafting onto the dock and diverting some passenger ferries to
another slip, a transportation official said.
mated at between 25 and 35 feet
(7.6m and 10.6m) long and apparently drifted in from open
waters, lodging under the busy
Colman Dock in Seattle.
There has been no impact on
ferry service, used by thousands
of commuters each day to reach
jobs in Seattle.
Some ferries to and from up-
scale Bainbridge Island were diverted to a different slip after the
whale was discovered, officials
The gray whale gets its name
from its mottled gray skin, according to local whale research
group, the Orca Network.
The whales live in the Pacific
Ocean, travelling from Baja to
the Pacific Northwest, and generally arrive in the Washington
state area in late winter or early
spring, the group said.
The population is protected
under the US Marine Mammal Protection Act, and because of their migration pattern
along the busy West Coast, gray
whales are vulnerable to colli-
sions with boats, entanglement
in fishing gear and pollution,
NOAA said.
Gray whales were removed
from the US List of Endangered
and Threatened Wildlife in 1994
after it was determined their
once dwindling population had
recovered to near its original
size, NOAA said.
US Senate Democratic leader
Harry Reid said on Thursday that
Republican congressional leaders
had not consulted him on inviting Netanyahu to address a joint
session of Congress, but he said
he would welcome the speech.
Shortly before Netanyahu’s
formal acceptance of the invitation, Israel’s Mossad intelligence
chief publicly closed ranks with
the right-wing prime minister,
denying in a rare press statement reports that he opposed
further sanctions on Iran while
world powers negotiate with the
Islamic Republic on limits to its
disputed nuclear programme.
Meehan said Obama and
Netanyahu had spoken frequently on Iran and would remain in
contact on the issue.
Obama: wants to avoid the
appearance of influencing a
democratic election in a foreign
In his statement, Netanyahu
said he was “honoured to accept the invitation” and that he
would use the speech “to thank
President Barack Obama, Congress and the American people
for their support of Israel”.
On his Twitter page, Boehner
said the Congressional address
was scheduled for March 3, two
weeks before Israel’s general
election in which Netanyahu is
vying for a fourth term.
Netanyahu’s office said the
Israeli leader would also attend
the March 1 to 3 annual policy
conference in Washington of
the prominent pro-Israel AIPAC
New York state
assembly speaker
charged with fraud
New York
Speaker Sheldon Silver,
one of the state’s most
powerful politicians for more
than two decades, was charged
on Thursday with pocketing
$4mn from bribery and kickback
Silver, a Democrat who has
served as the highest-ranking
state assemblyman since 1994,
was accused in a federal criminal
complaint in New York, as authorities moved to seize $3.8mn
in proceeds tied to the alleged
The 70-year-old Silver, a licensed lawyer who represents
Manhattan’s Lower East Side, is
known as one of Albany’s three
most powerful men, alongside
Governor Andrew Cuomo and
Senate Majority Leader Dean
Skelos. He has been a leading
voice in years of negotiations
over state budgets and key legislation.
The Assembly cancelled its
Thursday session following Silver’s arrest, less than two weeks
after the new legislative session
Silver would lose his seat if
convicted of any of five felony
counts and he faces a maximum
of 20 years of prison on each
He became the latest addition
to a long line of New York politicians implicated in corruption
At least 30 New York politicians have faced legal or ethics
charges since 2000.
“As today’s charges make
clear, the show-me-the-money
culture of Albany has been perpetuated and promoted at the
very top of the political food
chain,” Manhattan US Attorney
Preet Bharara told reporters.
At a brief court appearance
on Thursday afternoon, a judge
released Silver on a $200,000
Asked for a comment outside
the courtroom, he said: “I am
confident that after a full hearing
and due process I will be vindicated for these charges.”
Despite some calls for Silver’s
resignation, Albany Democrats
emerged from a private meeting on Thursday to declare their
support for him, with Assembly
Majority Leader Joseph Morelle saying the members “overwhelmingly” stood behind Silver.
Cuomo has not commented
on the arrest, but said in an interview with the New York Daily
News that it was “a bad reflection on government”, adding that
he didn’t know enough to form a
judgment about the case.
Another prominent Democrat,
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, said that he did not think Silver should step down, citing his
“due process rights”.
“In my experience with Shelly
Silver, I’ve seen integrity and
public service,” de Blasio told reporters, according to a transcript
released by his office.
In 2013, Cuomo launched an
anti-corruption panel called the
Moreland Commission to probe
wrongdoing in the state’s capital.
But he abruptly shut the commission down in March, drawing
criticism from Bharara, whose
office took possession of its files
to continue any investigations.
The commission’s work was
merged with an ongoing federal
probe of Silver’s outside income
initiated in June 2013, the criminal complaint said.
Silver had long listed New
York personal injury firm Weitz
& Luxenberg on his financial disclosure forms as a source of income for representing its clients
in cases.
But the complaint said that
more than $3mn of his income
was for referring asbestos sufferers from a doctor whose research had been secretly provided $500,000 in state funds at
Silver’s direction, as well as other
Prosecutors said Silver also
received $700,000 in kickbacks
by steering real estate developers with business before the
legislature to another law firm,
identified by its defence lawyer
as Goldberg & Iryami.
“He simply sat back and collected millions of dollars by
cashing in on his political office,”
Bharara said.
Weitz & Luxenberg in a statement said that it had co-operated with the investigation.
Michael Ross, a lawyer for
Goldberg & Iryami, declined
comment on the allegations.
The complaint did not name
the doctor but said he had created a mesothelioma research
centre at a New York university
Details in the complaint match
those of Robert Taub, a professor
at Columbia University. In 2011,
the assembly passed a resolution,
sponsored by Silver, honouring Taub for his contributions to
mesothelioma treatment.
A spokesman for Columbia
said it had no knowledge of the
allegations and will co-operate
with the investigation.
Fired McDonald’s staff allege racism
A group of former McDonald’s workers is suing the fast-food giant in the
United States for alleged racial discrimination and sexual harassment
after they were fired from several restaurants in Virginia.
According to the civil rights complaint filed on Thursday, workers
at franchised restaurants in the southern state of Virginia were
“subjected to rampant racial and sexual harassment, committed by the
restaurants’ highest-ranking supervisors”.
The lawsuit potentially has broad implications because it contends
that McDonald’s is responsible for the well-being of workers at all its
restaurants, even if they are franchises.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 24, 2015
10 missing in boat
crash off South Korea
China’s smoggy capital to
close 300 companies
University ‘expels student
over genetic blood disease’
Taiwan’s ex-leader faces
money laundering charge
6.8-quake off Vanuatu, no
tsunami threat: USGS
Ten crew members are missing after a Chinese fishing boat collided with an unidentified cargo ship off
South Korea’s southern island of Jeju, coast guards
said yesterday. The cargo ship fled the scene as the
138-tonne Chinese boat sank in the open sea, some
160 kilometres off the resort island. “Ten people are
missing and three others were rescued,” a Jeju coast
guard spokesman told AFP. Three South Korean
rescue boats and two Chinese rescue boats were
searching the area, backed by six Chinese fishing
boats, he said. The collision took place late Thursday
as the Chinese fishing boat was anchoring because
of rough seas.
Beijing plans to shut 300 companies this year to help
reduce choking air pollution in the Chinese capital, the
official Xinhua news agency said yesterday. Beijing
is “determined to migrate the capital’s non-core
functions,” said Xinhua, citing the city’s mayor, Wang
Anshun. The city is actively adopting a co-ordinated
development strategy laid out for the Beijing-TianjinHebei region, it added. Beijing closed 392 manufacturing and polluting firms last year. Beijing taken several
steps to fight air pollution in recent years. In 2013, the
city government limited the number of new vehicles
on the roads and ordered the closure or upgrade of
the facilities at 1,200 companies.
A student in Beijing is suing his university after
he was allegedly expelled for having the rare
hereditary blood disease haemophilia, reports
said yesterday, the latest case in China’s long
history of medical discrimination. The student,
identified by the pseudonym Zheng Qing, is
suing the China Institute of Industrial Relations
after he was officially expelled earlier this month,
the government-run Global Times reported. He
was previously pressured into leaving the school
in September. The 21-year-old journalism major
applied to be excused from mandatory military
training on account of his haemophilia.
Taiwanese prosecutors yesterday indicted convicted
former president Chen Shui-bian on an additional
charge of money laundering, less than three weeks
after he was freed from jail on a medical parole.
Chen, who had been serving a 20-year jail term on
multiple graft and money laundering convictions
relating to his time in office, was released on medical
parole early January after being diagnosed with
severe depression, suspected Parkinson’s disease
and other conditions. Chen was yesterday charged
with laundering Tw$10mn ($322,000)through his
brother-in-law. The money was a bribe offered by a
businesswoman to help her secure a position.
A powerful 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck off the
Pacific nation of Vanuatu yesterday, the US Geological Survey said, but no tsunami threat was detected.
The quake hit at a depth of 218 kilometres about 84
kilometres from Vanuatu’s capital Port Vila, at 5.31pm
local time (0331 GMT), the USGS said. The Pacific
Tsunami Warning Centre said there was no threat of
a tsunami. The USGS originally put the magnitude
at 6.9. Government agency Geoscience Australia
duty seismologist Marco Maldoni said the threshold
for an undersea earthquake that could potentially
generate a tsunami was a magnitude of 6.5 and a
depth of 100 kilometres.
Yingluck banned from
politics for five years
If found guilty on criminal
charges, could face up to
10 years in jail; Ex-Thai PM
says will fight charges; Army
chief asks Thais to respect
parliament’s decision
hai authorities dealt a
double blow to ousted
Prime Minister Yingluck
Shinawatra and her powerful
family yesterday, banning her
from politics for five years and
proceeding with criminal charges for negligence that could put
her in jail.
The moves could stoke tension
in the politically divided country
still living under martial law after the military seized power in
May, toppling the remnants of
Yingluck’s government to end
months of street protests.
The ban and the legal case are
the latest twist in 10 years of turbulent politics that have pitted
Yingluck and her brother Thaksin, himself a former prime minister, against the royalist-military establishment which sees
the Shinawatras as a threat and
reviles their populist policies.
Yingluck will face criminal
charges in the Supreme Court
and if found guilty faces up to 10
years in jail, the Attorney General’s Office said on Friday.
The charges against the country’s first female premier, who
was removed from office for
abuse of power in May days before the coup, concern her role
in a scheme that paid farmers
above market prices for rice and
cost Thailandbns of dollars.
Yingluck vowed to fight the
charges. “Thai democracy has
died along with the rule of law,”
she said in a statement posted on
her Facebook page.
“I will fight until the end to
prove my innocence, no matter what the outcome will be.
And most importantly, I want to
stand alongside the Thai people.
Together we must bring Thailand prosperity, bring back democracy and truly build justice
in Thai society.”
There was no sign of protests
Do you want fries
with that? Too bad,
says KFC Japan
Kentucky Fried Chicken in Japan
has stopped selling fries, as industrial disputes that have crimped
potato exports from the US took
another bite out of the country’s
fast food market. The chain
became the latest casualty of the
chip shortage that has already
forced McDonald’s Japan to ration
its servings. “Due to the prolonged
dockworkers’ disputes on the
US West Coast, it has become
difficult to secure stable supplies
of potatoes,” the firm said in a
statement dated Thursday. “The
company will halt the sales of
potatoes temporarily until a stable
supply becomes available.” Chip
troubles for “The Colonel” came
after McDonald’s in Japan said last
month it had airlifted in more than
1,000 tonnes of potatoes and had
put in place emergency shipment
via an unusual sea route. The
airlift eased the shortage that had
forced the chain to limit customers
to small servings of fries. That
came after the operator of the
Gusto restaurant chain also said
it planned to airlift in around 200
tonNEs of french fries to avoid running short. Dockworkers in the US
are reportedly on a go-slow and
have not been providing full crews
for months in a bid to gain bargaining leverage in labour negotiations
with employers.
Widodo calls
for calm after
arrest of top
graft fighter
Singthong Buachum (centre), a member of ousted Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s legal team, addresses reporters after a press
conference by Yingluck was cancelled at a hotel in Bangkok yesterday.
on the capital’s busy streets yesterday, as residents adhered to
the junta’s ban on public gatherings.
Security was tightened around
the parliament building where
the military-stacked legislature
voted Yingluck guilty in a separate impeachment case for failing to exercise sufficient oversight of the rice subsidy scheme.
The retroactive impeachment
at the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) carries with it a
five-year ban from politics.
Yingluck defended the rice
scheme and disputed the charges in a hearing at the NLA on
Thursday, but did not appear
A vote to impeach required
a three-fifths majority among
NLA members, who were handpicked by the junta of coup leader and Prime Minister Prayuth
Chan-ocha. Around 100 of the
220 members are former or serv-
Yingluck Shinawatra
ing military officers.
Prayuth said he had not ordered the NLA to vote against
Yingluck, who remains popular
among the rural poor that handed her a landslide electoral victory in 2011 and benefited from
the rice scheme.
The impeachment was expected by Yingluck supporters,
who see the courts and NLA as
biased and aligned with an es-
Park names new PM
amid falling support
outh Korean President
Park Geun-Hye yesterday
appointed a new prime
minister in an apparent bid to
bolster her sagging approval
ratings, hit by a scandal involving her aides.
Park named Lee Wan-Koo,
parliamentary floor leader of the
ruling Saenuri Party, to replace
Chung Hong-Won as prime
minister, the presidential Blue
House said in a press statement.
The outgoing prime minister tendered his resignation last
year, holding himself responsible for the mishandling of a ferry
disaster that claimed more than
300 lives in April.
But while Park tried to replace
Chung last year, she was unable
to do so because two candidates
in a row withdrew their nominations amid disputes over their allegedly tainted past.
As a result, Chung has served
in the post throughout.
“I will do my utmost to help
turn around the slowing economy,” Lee told journalists after
being named the new premier,
which though the top cabinet
member remains a largely ceremonial role in South Korea’s
political system where the president has outsized power.
His nomination requires parliamentary approval, but that is
likely to be a matter of formality
as the ruling party has a comfortable majority in the National
Assembly. Park yesterday retained her embattled presidential chief of staff Kim Ki-Choon,
who faces a storm of criticism
over a reported power struggle
among presidential aides that
has gripped the headlines for
months, with allegations they
wielded undue influence.
Park’s approval rating has fallen sharply this month, plunging
from 43% on January 9 to an alltime low of 34% on Thursday,
posing a growing threat to the
government’s drive to resuscitate
the country’s sluggish economy.
The decline in her popularity accelerated after she rejected
calls from critics to dismiss three
long-time aides accused of monopolising access to the president and interfering with government personnel changes.
tablishment intent on blocking
the Shinawatra family from politics. “Yingluck’s case was not
dealt with fairly,” said Thanawut
Wichaidit, a spokesman for the
pro-Yingluck United Front for
Democracy against Dictatorship.
“The intention of these actions is for Yingluck and the
entire Shinawatra family to be
eradicated from Thai politics. I
believe there is an invisible hand
behind Yingluck’s impeachment.”
Around 150 members of the
Shinawatra political movement
have been banned from politics
in the last decade, including four
who had served as prime ministers.
Prayuth’s government has
urged Yingluck’s supporters to
stay out of Bangkok this week over
concerns of trouble, although a
repeat of the protests that have
dogged the country in recent years
appears unlikely.
Authorities have been quick to
stifle dissent, and political meetings are banned under martial law.
In a radio broadcast, Army
Chief General Udomdej Sitabutr
called on the population to respect
the NLA vote, and a spokesman
for the junta said it had seen no
sign of unrest.
“Political gatherings cannot
happen as we are still under martial law,” junta spokesman Winthai Suvaree said.
The government also asked
Yingluck not to hold a press conference after the verdict yesterday,
he said.
Yingluck did not plan to flee,
said Singthong Buachum, a member of the former prime minister’s
team. “She will fight the case head
on,” Singthong said.
Prayuth has promised a return
to democracy after the junta enacts political and social reforms.
His government has said a general
election will take place in February next year at the earliest.
ndonesian president Joko
Widodo urged the national
police and the country’s
most powerful anti-graft
agency to avoid “friction” after the arrest of a prominent
corruption fighter sparked an
outcry yesterday.
The shock arrest of Bambang Widjojanto, deputy
chief at the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK),
comes about a week after
the agency accused a highranking police general of corruption, postponing his appointment as the country’s
new police chief.
Hundreds of activists
gathered for a noisy protest outside the KPK headquarters in Jakarta, claiming
Widjojanto’s arrest for allegedly interfering in a legal
case was police acting out of
Indonesia’s millions of
social media users called on
Widodo, who made combating corruption a cornerstone
of his leadership, to speak out
with #WhereAreYouJokowi
just trailing #SaveKPK as the
top mentions on Twitter.
The president, speaking
after meeting with the KPK
chairman and deputy police
chief, urged both parties to
act objectively.
“As head of state I also
asked the national police and
KPK not to let friction occur
when performing their duties,” Widodo told reporters.
Earlier national police
spokesman Ronny Sompie
said Widjojanto could face
seven years in prison if
found guilty of the allegations.
He was accused of ordering witnesses to give false
evidence during a 2010 constitutional court challenge
to a local election result,
Sompie added.
“We have enough strong
evidence of his suspected
involvement in the case,” he
Sompie insisted the investigation was focused on
Widjojanto and unrelated to
the KPK, an institution that
has butted heads with police in the past.
Hundreds of activists
gathered for a noisy
protest outside the
KPK headquarters
in Jakarta, claiming
Widjojanto’s arrest for
allegedly interfering in
a legal case was police
acting out of revenge
The KPK this month
launched a corruption investigation into three-star general Budi Gunawan, who just
days earlier had been named
the sole pick for national police chief by Widodo.
The president refused to
revoke Gunawan’s nomination, but later postponed his
appointment until the KPK
investigation was complete.
At the protest outside KPK
headquarters, demonstrators
were adamant Widjojanto’s
arrest was retaliation for the
Gunawan case.
“The arrest was symbolic
of what is happening. The
police are trying to kill the
KPK,” 26-year-old lawyer
Veronica Koman said.
Widjojanto was widely
seen as a clean figure in a nation that has seen more than
its share of high-profile graft
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.
‘Training device’ sparked bomb
scare, Sydney harbour closure
n unattended package
left on a Sydney ferry
that sparked a lockdown
of Australia’s iconic harbour
front was yesterday revealed to
be training equipment used by
the transport company.
The incident came just over
a month after Australia was
rocked by a cafe siege in central
Sydney that left two hostages
and a gunman dead, prompting
a huge outpouring of emotion,
and reflected heightened concerns about terrorist activity.
Several wharves at Sydney
Harbour, which was crowded
with tourists and workers, were
shut, an exclusion zone set up
and trains and buses suspended
at lunchtime Thursday while
the New South Wales Police
bomb squad was called out to
The package was finally declared “not suspicious” and
the area reopened to the public
about one-and-a-half hours
Police (left) as well as ferry and harbour staff waiting at Sydney’s iconic
Circular Quay ferry terminal after it was closed due to a “suspicious
package” being found.
later. “We can now confirm that
the unattended package was a
training device which was not
recognised as a typical training
device by staff,” the chief executive of Harbour City Ferries,
Steffen Faurby, said in a statement.
“Our staff followed the correct
procedure and notified police.
“I fully support our staff in
notifying the police in the first
Faurby apologised to passengers for the disruption.
Police would not comment on
the nature of the package, but the
Australian Broadcasting Corp reported that the crew on the ferry
found bottles with protruding
wires and filled with nails and
Interim Deputy Police Commissioner Frank Mennilli told
the ABC there would be a debrief
about the operation, adding that
officers were not involved in security training programmes for
every government department.
“Look, it depends, sometimes
they’re joint exercises, some it’s
about training their own people,”
he said.
“That’s why we ensure that all
communication, not only within
the NSW police force, but all other agencies, either government or
non-government is a two-way
street, and we support each other
in these difficult times.”
In a separate incident yesterday, police set up an exclusion
zone in a western Sydney shopping centre after an “unattended
item” was discovered. It was later
also found to be “non-suspicious”.
Australia on Tuesday raised
the terrorism threat level against
the police force to high for the
first time, saying there were small
but growing numbers of citizens
involved with jihadist groups and
intent on attacks.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Lenders must do more
on cyber defences: BoE
ritain’s banks must do
more to protect themselves and the wider financial system from growing
and evolving cyber crime, the
Bank of England (BoE) said yesterday.
Worried by the increasing
rate of attacks on banks by Internet hacks, the BoE surveyed
36 financial firms and banks in
Britain and found no immediate critical shortcomings in their
“But they did point to areas
for improvement that we will
be following up on with firms,”
Andrew Gracie, an executive
director at the BoE in charge of
winding down failed lenders,
told a Cyber Defence and Security Network conference.
Britain has already conducted
cyber attack simulation exercises such as “Waking Shark” to
test responses.
A joint testing programme
between the US and UK governments and authorities will start
this year.
Gracie suggested that banks
were still fighting the last war to
some extent, such as protecting
physical locations.
“These still matter. But cyber
changes the game. Cyber is a dynamic, intelligent and adaptive
threat. In the cyber arms race,
costs are stacked in favour of
the attacker, not the defender,”
Gracie said.
He said that banks must invest in ways to identify threat
and cyber attacks, a task that
should not be left just to junior
“All parts of an organisation
need to understand cyber risk
and their responsibilities towards improved cyber hygiene.
This includes Board level engagement,” Gracie said.
It was not realistic that banks
and the authorities will ever
build an “impermeable perimeter” but instead focus on hav-
ing the capability to continually
adapt to the cyber threats and
respond to them.
Banks are already spending
significant amounts of money
on building their defences but
they are not testing them on a
regular basis, he said.
To help banks improve their
resilience, the BoE will help
them share information, Gracie
Emma Watson urges men to join gender equality battle
Watson and UN chief Ban are shown the way to the exit following a
photo opportunity promoting the HeForShe campaign in New York in
September last year.
Britain to
take share
in Hinkley
Point plant
ritain will have a “special
share” in the French-led
new Hinkley Point nuclear
power plant consortium to safeguard national security, British
energy officials told a parliamentary hearing this week.
“The UK will have a special
share in the consortium,” energy minister Ed Davey said on
Wednesday when asked about
safeguards for the project, which
is led by French giant EDF and
should include Chinese partners.
The Chinese firms, CGN and
CNNC, are expected to get a
stake of between 30% and 40%.
Stephen Lovegrove, permanent secretary to the energy
department said that the share
“will allow us, under certain circumstances, to step in and make
certain decisions around the
project that would be specifically designed to protect national
“There are other protections
we have designed in association
with other than government, including the agencies, about the
nationality of the people who
are capable of working on the
site and so on,” Lovegrove said,
referring to Britain’s secret services.
Asked by lawmakers whether
he had any concern about possible Chinese involvement, Davey
said: “We have always made
clear there is no bar to Chinese
investment into the UK’s nuclear
Britain has placed nuclear
power at the heart of its lowcarbon energy policy in stark
contrast to Europe’s biggest
economy Germany, which has
vowed to phase out nuclear
power in the wake of Japan’s 2011
Fukushima disaster.
The Hinkley Point contract is
worth £16bn.
Watson has urged young
men to speak out when
women are degraded, husbands
to support wives to pursue their
ambitions and businessmen
who mentor women to share
their experiences, as part of a
drive to get more men to champion women’s rights.
The star, also a goodwill
ambassador for UN Women,
was speaking yesterday at the
World Economic Forum (WEF)
meeting in Davos, Switzerland,
where she helped to launch the
next phase of a campaign to en-
courage men and boys to join the
struggle for equal rights.
Watson said since the HeforShe campaign began in September, it had received an outpouring of support from high-profile
figures such as Hillary Clinton,
Prince Harry and Archbishop
Desmond Tutu.
IMPACT 10X10X10, the initiative launched yesterday, is a
one-year pilot project seeking
concrete commitments from
governments, companies and
universities on women’s empowerment and gender equality.
A girl born this year will be
80 before she lives in a world of
gender equality, unless business
leaders shatter the glass ceiling,
heads of state do more to protect
women and young men stand up
for equal rights, the head of UN
Women Phumzile MlamboNgcuka said.
“Women alone cannot fight
the deeply entrenched stereotypes in our society. But together men and women can turn
the tide of inequality,” MlamboNgcuka said in Davos. “The fight
to end gender-based injustices
has to be time-bound. It cannot
be an open-ended struggle.”
Watson, who rose to fame in
the Harry Potter films, said she
had been encouraged by the response to the campaign so far.
Not only has the HeforShe
conference video been viewed
over 11mn times, but it has also
sparked 1.2bn social media con-
versations and spurred all kinds
of action, she said.
“I’ve had my breath taken
away when a fan told me that
since watching my speech, she
has stopped herself being beaten
up by her father,” Watson said.
UN Secretary General Ban Kimoon said during a visit to India
last week he had recruited Prime
Minister Narendra Modi, Nobel
laureate Kailash Satyarthi and
legendary cricket player Sachin
Tendulkar to join the campaign.
“Our world will not change
until men think differently
about their roles and what it
means to be a man. We can do
that most successfully when
we enlist men to speak to other
men,” Ban said.
Church of England getting its
first female bishop despite split
ibby Lane becomes the
Church of England’s first
female bishop on Monday
despite entrenched opposition
from traditionalists, who say
that the clergy’s top rung is no
place for a woman.
Lane, 48, will go from being
a regular parish priest to taking on one of the trickiest jobs
in the Church of England since
King Henry VIII founded it in
A Manchester United fan
and saxophone player, who has
been praised for her humour
and common sense, Lane was
named as the next Bishop of
Stockport in northwest Eng-
land in December.
Her appointment came five
months after the Church of
England’s General Synod voted
to admit women bishops following a reconciliation process
led by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby after decades
of disagreement.
Lane, who will be consecrated in a ceremony at York
Minster in northern England,
has said that she is “excited
though not a little daunted” by
the prospect.
Church of England moderates are overjoyed at the chance
of moving on from an often obscure theological debate over
gender, which left many ordinary Britons baffled.
“It’s going to be very healing,
actually,” Miranda Threlfall-
Arrests linked to Syria
offences up six-fold
olice in Britain arrested
six times more people
linked to the conflict in
Syria under terrorism legislation last year than in 2013, they
said yesterday.
The total for the whole of
2014 stood at 165 compared to
25 for 2013.
Officials estimate that more
than 500 Britons have travelled
to fight with Islamic State (IS)
jihadists in Syria and Iraq and
fear that some could return and
launch attacks at home.
Britain’s official terrorism
threat level currently stands
at severe, the second-highest
This threat level means that
an attack is thought to be highly likely.
Holmes, a vicar and vice-chair
of WATCH, which campaigns
for gender equality in the
church, told AFP. “Fundamentally, it’s about whether the
church believes that men and
women are equally made in
God’s image and it’s going to be
a really powerful symbol.”
While countries such as the
United States, Canada and
Australia have already appointed Anglican women bishops, Lane’s appointment in the
home of Anglicanism will also
send a strong message to those
which have not, such as Nigeria.
Nevertheless, divisions continue to fester.
In recognition of this, the
Church of England will allow
parishes that do not want to be
led by a female bishop because
of their theological convictions to be tended to by a man
Lane may be more likely to
encounter problems from the
clergy itself than from her parishes, though.
Threlfall-Holmes said that
ordinations conducted by Lane
would probably not be recognised by conservatives who
would see them as tainted by
her gender.
“People are literally keeping
pedigrees from now on,” she
said, highlighting how clergymen associated with female
bishops in religious ceremonies
could face discrimination from
traditionalists throughout their
church careers.
The Christian Today website
reported that the bishops who
perform the traditional laying
of hands on Lane at her consecration will not do the same for
a traditionalist priest becoming
a bishop days later after being
asked to show “gracious restraint”.
“We understand that there
are only about three bishops
who will actually be able to lay
hands on Philip North because
everyone else will have laid
hands on Libby Lane the week
before,” it quoted a source as
Lane’s allies are hopeful she
will be able to handle the extraordinary pressure on her
and moderates are hopeful that
more women will be named to
the six vacant posts currently
Boss of
hedge fund
sent to jail
he former boss of failed
hedge fund Weavering,
the collapse of which cost
investors $536mn, was sent to
jail for 13 years yesterday, one of
the longest for fraud in Britain.
Magnus Peterson, 51, was
found guilty by a London court
this week on eight counts of
fraud, forgery, false accounting
and fraudulent trading but was
acquitted on seven other charges
after a 12-week trial that delved
into the complex world of hedge
fund investing.
Peterson was sentenced by
Justice Smith, who said that “sophisticated dishonesty on this
scale” called for the maximum
possible sentence, a statement
from Britain’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said.
Swedish-born Peterson had
pitched his flagship fund to institutions and wealthy individuals as a low-risk investment offering stable returns.
However, he was found guilty
of covering up rising trading
losses by weaving a web of deception that unravelled in March
2009, six months after the
bankruptcy of Wall Street’s Lehman Brothers induced market
panic that prompted investors
to clamour for redemptions that
Weavering could not meet.
“The length of sentence
handed down reflects the damaging and extended nature of Mr
Peterson’s crime,” Jane de Lozey,
the SFO’s joint head of fraud,
said in the statement. “That the
SFO pursued this case demonstrates its determination to
prosecute the top-most tier of
complex economic crime.”
Peterson’s conviction is a welcome victory for the SFO, which
was lambasted for dropping its
investigation in 2011, citing no
reasonable prospect of conviction. The case was re-opened
after liquidators won a civil suit
against Peterson.
His conviction and 13-year
jail sentence represents one of
the SFO’s biggest wins against a
hedge fund manager.
In 2012 former stockbroker
Nicholas Levene was sentenced
to 13 years in jail for defrauding
investors and Kevin Foster was
jailed for 10 years in 2010 for
running an unauthorised investment business.
Tom Epps, a partner at law
firm Brown Rudnick, said the
case against Peterson can be seen
as part of a series of SFO investigations focusing on the conduct
of the financial services sector
around the time of the financial
Banksy auction
The police say that they
foiled up to five suspected plots
last year.
new legislation being rushed
through by Prime Minister
David Cameron’s government
which would allow the passports of people suspected of
travelling abroad to fight with
groups like IS to be confiscated.
It would also allow suspects
to be banned temporarily from
“Last year’s arrest figures
demonstrate a considerable
increase in the volume, range
and pace of counter-terrorism
activity in the UK,” said Helen
Ball, the senior national co-ordinator for counter-terrorism
policing. “We have been running exceptionally high numbers of investigations, the likes
of which we have not seen for
many years.”
Listing car ferry almost upright and back in port
A car transporter intentionally run aground 19 days
ago after listing when leaving Southampton on
England’s south coast was towed back to port on
“The vessel list is now at five degrees,” the Marine
and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said in a press
The 180m Hoegh Osaka was beached by its captain
less than an hour after leaving Southampton on
January 3 for fear it would capsize when it developed
a 52-degree list.
The Hoegh Osaka was on its way to Bremerhaven,
Germany, with 1,400 mostly Jaguar and Land Rover
cars, when it beached.
It was also carrying over 100 earth movers and other
heavy construction vehicles.
A gallery assistant poses with a collection of 30 Banksy prints owned by the British gallery owner, Steve Lazarides, at Bonhams auction
house in London. The collection is to be auctioned at the contemporary art auction at Bonhams on January 28.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Court: French convict can be stripped of nationality
rance’s top legal body ruled
yesterday that stripping a
binational convicted jihadist of his French nationality was
lawful, just as the country upped
its fight against extremism.
The ruling by the Constitutional Council comes after the
government announced a series
of anti-terror measures in the
wake of the deadly Paris attacks
earlier this month and mulls
whether to use this move more
Ahmed Sahnouni, a Moroccan
naturalised by France in 2003,
was convicted and handed a
seven-year prison term in March
2013 for being part of a terrorist
organisation and was stripped of
his citizenship in May last year.
Born in Casablanca in 1970,
he was convicted of overseeing
recruitment networks of aspiring jihadists to Iraq, Afghanistan,
Somalia, and the Sahel region of
North Africa, raising funds for
them and also of overseeing the
operational co-ordination of
volunteers once on the ground.
Under French law, authorities
can strip people of their naturalised citizenship if they are convicted of “terror acts” – but only
More than half
of Europeans
against rise in
migration: IOM
ore than half of Europeans want less
migration with up to
84% of Greeks against any further rise, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM)
said yesterday.
Releasing the preliminary
findings of a Gallup poll held
across more than 140 nations,
the IOM said the trend in Europe went against the sentiment recorded in other regions
of the world.
Across Europe, which has
been battling to fight an influx
of migrants arriving via often
perilous land and sea routes,
52.1% said migration levels
should drop.
A total of 30.2% Europeans
wanted to maintain the status
quo while 7.5% wanted more
But there was a divide in
the continent in North-South
The majority in Scandinavia
wanted the level of newcomers
to remain constant or increase
but countries in the Mediterranean region, an entry point
for many migrants, wanted a
sharp fall.
Eighty-four per cent Greeks
were against higher immigration.
The figures for other affected countries were also steep
with Italy at 67%, Spain (56%)
and Malta (76%).
An arc of conflict around
Europe’s southern, eastern and
southeastern borders, in Libya,
Ukraine, Syria and Iraq, is one
major reason why so many
people are heading to the continent.
At the same time anti-immigration rhetoric is growing
across the European Union,
fuelled by concerns about faltering economic growth and
prompting calls for tougher
border controls.
But in North America, another coveted region for immigrants, the majority would
like the status quo maintained
(34.2%) or to see the levels increase (22.8%).
“People in Europe are the
most negative toward immigration, but even there just
barely,” said IOM head of research Franck Laczko. “There
is a slim majority saying immigration levels should be decreased.
“By comparison, the corresponding figure for Northern
America is 39.3%.”
The study, which will be
unveiled later this year, also
showed that people in Gulf
countries – which have the
percentage of temporary migrant workers in the world,
were very positive towards immigration.
Worldwide, people wanted
the levels to remain at the
current rate (21.8%) or be increased (21.3%).
This was against 34.5%
who wanted a decrease, said
the study, which was conducted between 2012 and 2014
and based on interviews with
183,772 people.
if they have another nationality
to fall back on.
The measure has been used
eight times since 1973.
The law also states that a person’s nationality can be removed
anytime during a 15-year period after being naturalised, or
15 years after being convicted
of terror acts – up from 10 years
Sahnouni’s lawyer Nurettin
Meseci argued that the law creates inequalities between those
who are French by birth and
those who are naturalised.
“Are there French people who
are more French than others?” he
asked in court.
He also argued that the move
aimed to expel his client to Morocco, “where he risks being sentenced to 20 years in prison”.
Added to this, Meseci said that
increasing the time period during
which a person can be stripped
of their nationality from 10 to 15
years was “disproportionate”.
But the Constitutional Council
ruled that the seriousness of the
fight against extremism justified
the move and did not “violate the
principle of equality”.
Meseci said yesterday that he
regretted the “emotional context” in which the decision had
been taken.
The ruling comes as France
still reels from the January 7-9
attacks in Paris that left 17 people dead, sending shockwaves
around the world.
On Wednesday, the government unveiled a raft of measures
to curb radicalisation and better
monitor jihadists.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls
said the attacks had raised “a
legitimate question” as to what
should be done about those who
attack the country of their birth,
or which gave them citizenship.
Where foreign jihadists were
concerned, Valls said 28 people
had been expelled from France
over the past three years.
For those who are French, he
irst and second generation immigrants now
make up more than a
third of Switzerland’s inhabitants over the age of 15, a significant increase in the past
decade, statistics showed on
Most of the newcomers are
European, with Italians and
Germans making up the largest
percentage at 11% each, followed by people of Portuguese
and French origin.
In 2013, 2.4mn of the 6.8mn
people above the age of 15 living in Switzerland had a migrant background, up from
1.7mn in 2003, according to
data published by the Federal
Statistical Office (FSO).
A full 80% were born abroad,
while the remaining 20% were
born in Switzerland to immigrant parents.
More than one-third hold a
Swiss passport, the FSO said.
Getting nationality can be
a lengthy process in Switzerland, and is not guaranteed to
second or even third-generation immigrants, although dis-
cussions are underway to make
it easier for grandchildren of
migrants to receive the coveted
Swiss passport.
Immigrants with no bloodties to Swiss nationals through
birth or marriage are meanwhile required to live in the
country for at least a decade
before applying, and even
then must prove they are wellintegrated and well-versed in
Swiss languages, laws and customs.
The influx is having a clear
impact on demographics in the
wealthy Alpine nation, since
the migrant population is significantly younger than their
native counterparts, the FSO
“This younger population is
slowing down the ageing of the
resident population in Switzerland,” it said.
The statistics did not provide the same break-down for
Switzerland’s 1.2mn children
under the age of 15, due to incomplete data.
The FSO said around 90% of
these children had been born
in Switzerland, but it remained
unclear how many of them
were second generation immigrants.
those we welcomed on our soil
can attack and threaten France,”
Valls said.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, meanwhile, said that
the government would continue
to strip those found guilty of
“acts of terrorism” of their nationality.
The Constitutional Council’s
decision also comes at a time of
serious diplomatic crisis between
France and Morocco over torture
complaints filed against top Moroccan officials last year.
Since then, bilateral judicial
relations have been severed and
anti-terrorism co-operation frozen.
Ukraine separatists
declare truce over
ro-Russian rebels have
vowed to conquer more
territory in eastern Ukraine
and ruled out peace talks after
Kiev retreated from a long-disputed airport, casting aside Europe’s latest push for a truce.
The defiant comments from
Donetsk separatist leader Alexander Zakharchenko came as
Ukraine renewed allegations of
Russian army units fighting with
rebels across the frontline dividing the war-torn country’s industrial east.
Western nations have branded
the gunmen’s recent surge as a
land grab in violation of a September truce, while Washington’s UN envoy dismissed Russian peace efforts as nothing
more than a Moscow “occupation plan”.
Moscow strongly denies sending troops and weapons to help
the rebels who now control
swathes of eastern Ukraine, and
accuses the West of orchestrating the downfall of the country’s
Russian-backed president last
Yesterday Russian President
Vladimir Putin accused the
Ukraine government of ordering
“large-scale combat operations”
and blamed civilian deaths on
“The Kiev authorities have
given an official order to start
large-scale military operations
practically throughout the whole
line of contact. The result is tens
of killed and wounded, not only
among the military on both sides
but... among civilians,” Putin
told senior state officials in televised comments.
“Those who give these criminal orders are responsible.”
Ukraine’s flag flies in front of a new armoured car ‘Makhno’, equipped with Kiborg, an ultra-modern battle
remote control module, during a presentation of the new Ukrainian military equipment, near the city of
Goncharivsk yesterday. Pro-Russian rebels have vowed to conquer more territory in eastern Ukraine and
ruled out peace talks after Kiev retreated from a long-disputed airport, casting aside Europe’s latest push
for a truce.
Putin also chided Ukrainian
President Petro Poroshenko for
not responding to his proposal to
withdraw heavy weapons from
the demarcation line between
government forces and the separatists as a step towards implementing a ceasefire.
The separatist chief of Donetsk, an insurgent stronghold and
main industrial region in the
heavily-Russified east of the exSoviet republic, said he would
no longer pursue peace negotiations.
“Our side will no longer push
for any more truce talks,” Zakharchenko said. “We are going
to advance to the very border of
Donetsk province.”
Sporadic shelling echoed
across the rebel stronghold yes-
terday, and another three soldiers
were killed as well as 50 wounded, the military said. At least one
civilian was also killed, according
to Donetsk city officials.
Ukraine’s National Security
and Defence Council chief Oleksandr Turchynov said “Russian
terrorist groups” had launched a
mass new offensive.
He accused Russia of “trying
not only to establish control over
the occupied territories, but to
destroy the national identity and
independence of Ukraine”.
The fighting came after a wave
of violence on Thursday, including a trolleybus shelling that
killed eight people near Donetsk’s city centre, far from the front
line, underlining the increasing
danger facing civilians. An earlier
Immigrants ‘make
up one-third’ of
Belgian police hunt for possible
Swiss population accomplice of museum shooter
proposed a cross-party debate
on bringing back the offence of
“national disgrace” – used after
World War II against collaborators with the Nazi regime and
abolished in 1951.
Less severe than treason, and
allowing authorities to strip citizens of some rights, Valls said
that reviving the offence would
be a strong symbol of “the consequences of ... committing a
terrorist act”.
Yesterday, he welcomed the
Constitutional Council ruling.
“We must absolutely not deprive ourselves of the means
provided by law to assert our values and say we don’t accept that
elgian police are looking
for a possible accomplice
of the gunman who killed
four people in an attack on the
Jewish museum in Brussels in
May, prosecutors said yesterday.
French national Mehdi Nemmouche, in custody in Belgium,
is suspected of having carried out
the attack after spending most of
2013 fighting in Syria with Islamist rebels.
Authorities are now looking
for a man who was seen walking
beside Nemmouche near Brussels North railway station four
days after the attack.
“We want this person to explain his presence there,” a
spokesman for Belgium’s federal
prosecutors said.
Footage from the museum’s
security cameras showed a man
wearing a dark cap and a blue
jacket enter the building, take
a Kalashnikov rifle out of a bag,
and shoot into a room, before
walking out.
An Israeli couple and a French
woman died on the spot, a fourth
victim, a Belgian man, died later
in hospital.
Nemmouche was caught during a routine check at a bus
station in Marseille, southern
France, and was extradited to
Belgium in July.
On his arrest Nemmouche was
carrying a Kalashnikov, another
gun and ammunition similar to
that used in the shooting, prosecutors said.
The security threat posed by
fighters returning to Europe from
Syria was highlighted last week,
when Belgian police launched
several raids against an Islamist
group which officials said was
about to launch “terrorist attacks
on a grand scale”.
France sees sharp rise in anti-Muslim acts, watchdog says
Around 128 anti-Muslim acts were reported in France
in the two weeks after the terrorist attacks in Paris by
Islamist gunmen, almost as many as in all of last year,
a watchdog said yesterday.
Of those, 33 were acts against mosques and 95
took the form of insults or threats against Muslims,
the National Observatory Against Islamophobia
Last year, the Observatory reported 133 incidents, a
41% decline from 2013.
“These figures, however, do not reflect the reality
of many Muslims, who do not submit complaints
after xenophobic acts because they do not think the
authorities will take action, which is unfortunately
often the case,” French media quoted Observatory
president, Abdallah Zekri, as saying.
Amedy Coulibaly on January 9 killed four people
at the Jewish supermarket. Coulibaly also killed
a policewoman before taking hostages at the
Brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi had two days
earlier killed 12 people the Paris offices of Charlie
Hebdo, which had published cartoons of the Prophet
toll of 13 dead was reduced by officials.
Moscow and Kiev traded bitter blame over the tragedy, which
occurred on the bloodiest day in
the conflict since an increasingly
irrelevant September truce, with
more than 40 people reported
Rebels also captured about
20 soldiers and paraded them in
front of jeering locals at the scene
of the bus shelling, where the
handcuffed men were targeted
with snowballs and glass.
Talks in Berlin on Wednesday
saw the foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine agree to try to arrange new negotiations between
Kiev and separatist commanders
in the coming days to calm the
conflict that has killed more than
5,000 people since it broke out in
But Donetsk militias are riding
a string of recent successes that
include the ouster of Ukrainian
forces from a disputed airport
on the city’s outskirts earlier this
The airport – long stripped of
its strategic importance by heavy
shelling – had become the symbolic prize of the conflict and had
seen some of the heaviest fighting.
One analyst said destruction
of the airport had negated its
importance but that the rebel offensive was raising frightening
questions for Ukrainians.
“We know that the militants
have expanded their territory by
500sq km (since the September
truce),” Kiev’s Razumkov Centre
analyst Oleksiy Melnyk told AFP.
“Now, many are asking: Where is
the point beyond which you cannot retreat?”
The rebel advances comes as
negotiators seek to define the
confines of areas that will remain
under temporary rebel control
once the fighting ends.
Many in Kiev fear that the
demarcation line will soon turn
into an actual border splitting
Ukraine from a resource-rich region that will eventually be folded into Russia.
The violence has threatened to
spiral out of control after a December lull that instilled hope in
EU leaders that the diplomatically and economically damaging
war on the bloc’s eastern frontier
could be drawing to a close.
Moscow is already under heavy
US and EU sanctions over its alleged actions in Ukraine, and
Western diplomats in Kiev linked
the past week’s spike in attacks to
a reported infusion of advanced
Russian artillery and equipment
into the war zone.
Bulgarian customs officials seize 2mn
endangered European baby eels
Bulgarian customs officials said yesterday that they had seized 2mn
endangered European baby eels stashed in containers.
Two alleged Chinese traffickers were detained at Sofia airport for
trying to smuggle the eels in eight Styrofoam containers.
They were travelling from Madrid to Sofia and declared the eels as
food items, officials said.
The European eel is classified as a critically threatened species
of fish protected by the Convention on International Trade in
Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
Trading in the species without a permit is forbidden worldwide.
Eels sell at €500 per kg in Europe but they can fetch up to €1,300 a
kilo in some Asian countries, customs officials said.
Georgia’s interior minister resigns
Georgia’s interior minister resigned yesterday, days after the
murder of a man who had accused him of covering up the
circumstances of the killing of two men by the police.
“Although these allegations are not true, I feel moral responsibility
and quit,” Alexander Tchikaidze said in a statement posted on the
interior ministry’s website.
In 2006, police shot two men in a car who had refused to pull over.
They said the men had fired at them first but Yuri Vazagashvili, the
father of one of the dead men, campaigned against what he said
was a cover-up.
Vazagashvili was killed by a explosive device that went off as he was
visiting his son’s grave on Tuesday, police said.
Man caught with sacks of used undies
Police in Germany say they have caught a thief who had
accumulated six sacks of used women’s underwear in his apartment
after stealing it from garden washing-lines.
A police spokeswoman said yesterday that complaints about
disappearing smalls and leggings in the eastern city of Erfurt had
been coming in for a year.
The man, 31, had been sewing the stolen underwear onto life-sized
dolls and other sex toys. He is expected to be charged with theft.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 24, 2015
‘Stars aligning’ for India-US relations: Obama
resident Barack Obama
said “the stars are aligned”
to enable the United States
and India to forge a global partnership in an interview published
yesterday ahead of his visit to New
Obama, who begins an unprecedented second visit by a
serving US president tomorrow,
told the India Today magazine
that he hoped to make “concrete
progress” with Prime Minister
Narendra Modi on a range of issues.
But while outlining areas where
the world’s two biggest democracies share common goals, Obama
put pressure on Modi to do more
to help secure a global climate
“I firmly believe that the relationship between the United
States and India can be one of the
defining partnerships of the 21st
century,” Obama said in the interview conducted by e-mail.
“We’re natural partners. As two
great democracies, our strength is
rooted in the power and potential
of our citizens. As entrepreneurial
societies, we’re global leaders in
innovation, science and technology.
“That’s why, when I addressed
the Indian Parliament on my last
visit (in 2010), I outlined my vision
for how we could become global
partners meeting global challenges... I’d like to think that the stars
are aligned to finally realise the vision I outlined.”
While observers do not expect
any major policy breakthroughs
on the three-day trip, both sides
say the invitation to Obama for
Monday’s Republic Day celebrations emphasises a new closeness
in sometimes tetchy ties.
Modi was effectively blacklisted
by the US until last February when
it became clear he had a real pros-
pect of winning elections against
the ruling centre-left Congress
The Hindu nationalist was chief
minister of Gujarat when deadly
communal violence erupted in
2002, leading him to be shunned
by Washington and Europe.
But since coming to power, Modi
has displayed no ill feeling towards
Washington with both countries
keen to counter-balance the rise of
Climate change however has
been a source of friction, with India
insisting it will not sign any deal to
cut greenhouse gas emissions that
threatens its growth at UN climate
talks in Paris in December.
It has stuck to its guns even
though China and the US have
unveiled emissions pledges. India,
which suffers regular electricity
cuts, is heavily dependent on coalfired power plants.
“I believe that part of being global partners means working together to meet one of the world’s
change,” said Obama.
“Even as we recognise that our
economies are at different stages
of development, we can come
together with other nations and
achieve a strong global agreement
this year in Paris to fight climate
Speaking to the NDTV network
on Thursday, India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the two sides
had “different approaches to climate change”.
Uber restarts
Delhi service;
govt says firm
still banned
New Delhi
ber, the US-based online
has restarted services in
India’s capital after a ban following rape allegations against
one of its drivers, but a government official said the company
remains blacklisted.
Uber’s app showed taxis available for booking in New Delhi
yesterday. A company spokesman said Uber had applied for a
radio taxi licence. Last month,
the company had said such traditional radio taxi regulations
were incompatible with its business model.
A senior government official
said Uber was still banned in
New Delhi and its taxis would be
“We have already directed enforcement teams to act on this,”
said the senior transport official,
who requested anonymity as he
was not authorised to speak with
Uber declined to comment on
the government’s reaction.
The transport official said
taxis operated by other unregistered operators would also be
In Korea, Uber has already
had to team up with another taxi
firm to comply with local rules.
It is also fighting bans in France,
Spain and South Korea, imposed
because some of its drivers were
not correctly licensed. It has had
to contend with further rape allegations against drivers in Chicago and Boston.
Uber chief executive officer
Travis Kalanick has promised to
create 50,000 jobs in European
cities where Uber can operate.
India is Uber’s largest market
outside of the United States by
number of cities covered, and
the country’s radio taxi market
is estimated to be worth $6bn
to $9bn.
But after the alleged rape last
month, Delhi’s government
banned Uber and other taxihailing app providers from operating in the city.
Uber later said it did not carry out background checks on
drivers in India, and authorities
revealed the suspect was on bail
for sexual assault.
The case triggered protests
and re-ignited debate about
the safety of women in Asia’s
third-largest economy.
Uber, valued at $40bn last
month, said yesterday it would
introduce additional safety
measures including more stringent driver checks and an in-
app emergency button.
“We are setting an even higher standard than current industry requirements,” the company
said in a statement. “Our commitment to make transportation
safe in Indian cities has never
been more absolute.”
Local rival Ola, backed by Japan’s SoftBank Corp, and TaxiForSure have also applied for
licences. The apps of both companies are currently operating in
the city.
Uber is offering its drivers in
Delhi a bonus of 250 rupees for
every trip until January 31. “We
wanted to party after the service restarted, everyone is very
happy in the family,” a driver
The trial began last week of
taxi driver Shiv Kumar Yadav,
who has pleaded not guilty to
claims that he raped a 25-yearold passenger as she was being
driven home from dinner.
The alleged victim has also
hired high-profile US lawyer Douglas Wigdor to sue San
Francisco-based Uber in the
American courts.
The case has once again raised
the issue of women’s safety in
India and particularly in Delhi,
which has been dubbed the
“rape capital” after a string of
high-profile sex assaults.
Rape victim’s lawyer slams company’s ‘audacity’
The American lawyer of a Delhi
woman who was allegedly raped
by an Uber driver has expressed
surprise at the “audacity” of the
company’s reported re-entry
into the Delhi market.
“According to a news report
and an e-mail that they had the
audacity to send directly to my
client, Uber has announced,
just weeks after the tragic
rape of my client and during
the criminal trial of the Uber
driver, that it has re-entered the
market in Delhi,” lawyer Douglas
H Wigdor said in a statement
e-mailed to IANS.
“While we have no doubt that
Uber is focused on its bottomline, we are surprised by this
development as we had made
it clear to Uber that the rape
victim wanted to be part of a
consultation process regarding
safety procedures to ensure
that no other person becomes
a victim at the hands of an Uber
“Most unfortunately, this has
not happened and we have
no confidence that the touted
‘India-specific safety measures’
will prevent another attack.”
A worker cleans a pond inside the grounds of the Taj Mahal ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit.
Taj city gets a makeover
to impress US president
s he scrubs the road to
the Taj Mahal on his
knees for less than $5 a
day, Ramjeet beams with pride
at the thought of US President
Barack Obama admiring his
“If everything is clean then
he will be impressed,” said the
aching man as he took a rest
with another 10km of road still
to be scoured by him and his
“It’s hard on the knees and
back,” admitted the cleaner,
who is being paid just 300 rupees (around $4.80) a day for
his part in a massive makeover.
Ramjeet, who does not have a
last name, is one of 600 cleaners mobilised in the city of Agra
ahead of Tuesday’s visit by the
US president and First Lady
Michelle Obama to the world’s
most famous temple of love.
Apart from cleaning white
lines on the roads, authorities have been rounding up
stray dogs, clearing cows from
the streets, and have ordered a
lockdown around the complex.
female bomber blew herself up and killed a police
officer outside a court in
Bihar yesterday as part of an escape bid by two murder suspects
who are now on the run, police
More than a dozen people
were also injured in the explosion in Bihar’s Bhojpur district
which occurred amid a general
heightened state of alert in India
ahead of a visit by US President
Barack Obama which begins tomorrow.
A senior police officer said that
there was no reason to suspect the
explosion in the eastern state was
the work of militant groups and it
was thought the device went off
“The blast happened at 11.30am
at the civil court when a woman
suspected of carrying a bomb ex-
ploded. The woman and a police
constable died on the spot,” Amrendra Kumar Ambedkar, inspector general of police, said.
“One policewoman is in a critical condition, along with 16 other
people,” he added by phone from
Ambedkar said two prisoners,
who were attending a hearing,
had managed to escape after the
explosion, adding that both men
had staged unsuccessful attempts
to escape while in pre-trial detention.
“The two prisoners escaped
following the blast. We suspect
the blast was carried out to free
them,” he said.
“As of now we don’t see any
terror angle.”
Indian security forces have
been on a general heightened
state of alert ahead of the threeday visit by Obama who is due to
spend time in New Delhi and the
northern city of Agra, home to the
Taj Mahal.
ment, said ongoing beautification work has been halted for 10
days to allow dust to settle before
the guests arrive.
Suresh Chand, who is in
charge of the clean-up, said stray
dogs—a common sight in any
Indian city—have been rounded
up, and more than two tonnes of
rubbish pulled from the nearby
polluted Yamuna river in just two
Another official said cows and
buffaloes roaming the streets
also “would have to go”.
“When a guest comes to our
house then we have to do something better than the normal,”
said Chand, Agra municipal
council’s chief engineer.
Inside the Taj complex, a dozen barefoot women were busy
trimming lawn edges with trowels.
“Obama, Obama,” one lady,
who has worked at the Taj for
more than two decades and earns
100 rupees a day, said with a grin.
Some 3,000 police are on duty
and will conduct boat patrols of
the river, said Agra police senior
superintendent Rajesh Modak.
Tourists will be turned away
while the Obamas are touring the
Locals crowding the alleys
around the Taj said they have
been ordered to stay indoors.
Not everyone is happy about
the lockdown, with some saying
it has made them feel like criminals.
“You can’t go outside, you
can’t go onto the roof, you can’t
go outside to the bathroom—it’s
like a curfew,” grumbled Anil
Kumar Sonkar, who runs a sweet
shop a stone’s throw from the
“We should be open for business and Obama should be allowed to come and sample my
world-famous petha,” said
Sonkar of the sweet made from
sugar and pumpkin.
A similar shutdown occurred
during US president Bill Clinton’s visit in 2000, prompting
him to ask officials if he was visiting a ghost town, according to
“We were (then) rounded up
and made to stand in a line and
Mr Clinton came past in his
car and shook our hands,” said
Sunehri Lal, as he watched children play in a rubbish heap.
“If Obama did something like
that, it would be overwhelming.”
Clashes erupt in
Srinagar over
Prophet cartoons
Two killed by blast in
Bihar prisoner escape
New Delhi
“There are a lot of spit
stains and such that need to be
washed away. The streets need
to be spick and span,” said India’s former chief archaeologist
KK Mohamed, who has guided
world leaders around the white
marbled mausoleum.
“You cannot have a VVVIP of
the world come to the Taj Mahal
and let him see that,” Mohamed
The spruce-up, which comes
after Modi himself launched a
national clean-up campaign last
October, reflects a wider determination to ensure the Obamas
get to see India at its finest.
In Delhi, workers have been
coating buildings and bollards
with fresh paint ahead of the
Obamas’ attendance at a military
parade on Monday.
But the frenzy has been most
intense in Agra, no stranger to
hosting heads of state or royalty
such as Britain’s late Princess
The Obamas’ visit will be covered by a massive press pack and
organisers want to ensure a picture-perfect backdrop.
Pradeep Bhatnagar, chairman
of the Taj Trapezium Zone, a
buffer region around the monu-
Protesters throw stones at police in Srinagar yesterday.
Clashes between protesters
and police erupted in Srinagar
after Friday prayers amid a
general shutdown called over the
publication of cartoons of Prophet
The closure of shops and
businesses was ordered by a
leading Muslim organisation
and several separatist groups
to protest the caricatures in
the French satirical magazine
Charlie Hebdo whose offices were
attacked by gunmen on January 7.
Most businesses remained closed
and the roads were virtually
empty in Srinagar and other towns
in the Kashmir valley, according to
Authorities imposed restrictions
on the movement of people
in some areas of Srinagar’s
congested old town to prevent
protests after Friday prayers.
The clashes broke out when police
fired smoke canisters and shot
into the air to disperse a group of
protesters who began chanting
slogans after emerging from
There were no immediate reports
of injuries.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Saboteurs blow up gas
pipelines in Balochistan
Over 8,000 terror suspects
arrested in KP province
Public ‘transport in Karachi
on the verge of collapse’
Bilawal under treatment for
serious Tonsillitis infection
Pakistan’s manufacturing
expands 4.89% in Nov
Saboteurs blew up two gas pipelines in
Pakistan’s Balochistan province yesterday, media
reported. A senior police official told Dawn on
the condition of anonymity that the saboteurs
blew up an 18-inch gas pipeline near Dera
Murad Jamali city, in Naseerabad district. The
explosion caused suspension of gas supply to
the Uch power plant. The police official said the
saboteurs had planted explosive materials close
to the gas pipeline. “The explosive materials
went off with a big bang,” he added. In another
incident, militants blew up a 6-inch gas pipeline
in the Sohbat Pur district of Balochistan.
Muhammad Akram, a police official, said gas
supply to different villages of the Sohbat
Pur district was suspended as a result of the
Law enforcement agencies in Pakistan’s
northwestern province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa
(KP) have rounded up more than 8,000 suspects
in a fresh crackdown against militants, official
documents revealed, as the province takes
the lead in the implementation of the National
Action Plan against Terrorism. According to the
documents - which the KP government submitted
to the Prime Minister’s Office on Wednesday
- some 8,281 suspects have been arrested in
2,861 fresh operations. These include 22 clerics
accused of delivering hateful speeches. The KP
government has also charged the representatives
of some 222 seminaries with violating loudspeaker
laws. In comparison, the Punjab government has
added the names of more than 2,000 suspects to
the new list of terrorists, officials said.
The public transport sector of Karachi is on
the verge of collapse owing to a history of
negligence, inefficiency and lack of follow
through in both government and public-private
partnership projects, says a report. The 32-page
report paints a bleak picture of the current
position, with transporters crippled by high
fuel costs and limited government support,
and the public caught between rising prices
and a simply inadequate number of available
options. Karachi, a city of an estimated 22mn
people, currently has roughly 9,527 operational
minibuses, as compared to the 22,313 it had in
2011. Karachi Metropolitan Corp says 8,676 more
buses are required to fill the shortfall. Moreover,
of the city’s 329 official bus routes, only 111 are
currently being operated.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, chief of the Pakistan
People’s Party (PPP), is undergoing treatment
for a chronic condition of Tonsillitis infection,
it was learnt yesterday. Speculations have
been rife about Bilawal’s health condition and
his alleged tiff with his father Asif Ali Zardari
coupled with many theories being spun
about Bilawal’s absence from the political
scene, including on Twitter, which Bilawal has
regularly used to express his views. Sources
say that Bilawal has been advised by specialists
in UK to complete the treatment for Tonsilitis
which began around mid-November. He has
not been seen at any public event ever since
and his absence at PPP’s events in Lahore and
Larkana didn’t go down well with the party
rank and file.
Pakistan’s large-scale manufacturing (LSM) posted
a growth of 4.89% year-on-year in November 2014.
However, in the first five months of this fiscal it
expanded by 2.48%. The growth in the industrial
output witnessed a decline in September and
October, but rebounded in November, suggested
data of PBS issued yesterday. Eight sub-sectors led
by iron and steel products (60.82%), followed by
leather products (21.14%), automobiles (19.53%),
non-metallic mineral products (12.52%), electronics
(11.94%), chemicals (8.70%), pharmaceuticals
(4.73%), fertiliser (4.67%) and textile (0.49%)
contributed to positive growth in the LSM during
the period. The manufacturing sector recorded a
growth of 1.14% in the first month (July) of 2014-15,
which rebounded to 5.27% in August. In September
and October it decelerated to 1.82%.
Sharif orders
urgent import
of fuel to tide
over crisis
akistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has
ordered the finance
ministry to urgently arrange
for Rs4,000 crore (nearly
$400mn) to import petrol and
furnace oil for two months in
the wake of the fuel crisis that
has hit the country, a media
report said yesterday.
The Dawn said Sharif asked
the finance ministry on Thursday to arrange for the money to
import at least 10 shiploads of
petrol and furnace oil.
A senior official in the petroleum ministry said the
government’s efforts helped
to normalise petrol supplies in Lahore, Faisalabad
and Rawalpindi but conceded
that smaller towns in Punjab
province and major towns in
Kashmir were still facing acute
“Obviously, the government’s top priority is to minimise the hardship of (the)
large population,” the official
said, adding that it would
take some time to completely
restore supplies across the
A senior official in Lahore
told The Dawn that supplies
in the city were largely normal
because supplies meant for
smaller towns were diverted to
the provincial capital.
Although supplies in the
country’s Islamabad were normal, queues of vehicles were
seen at pumps in Rawalpindi,
where each vehicle was getting
10-15 litres of fuel.
“Supplies in the Lahore
city were largely normal
because supplies meant
for smaller towns were
diverted to the provincial
capital of Punjab
The owner of a Pakistan
State Oil (PSO)-franchised
fuel station in Kashmir’s
Rawalakot said no petrol
tanker had come to the station
since January 17 and almost all
other pumps were facing the
same problem.
According to officials, the
prime minister was informed
that out of nearly $170mn released by the finance ministry
a few days ago, nearly $150mn)
were provided to the PSO
for onward clearance of letter of credit payments by the
Dozens of Afghan
refugees arrested
rackdown on Afghan refugees continues in Bannu
district and other parts of
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province
of Pakistan. In an operation on
Monday, police arrested more
than 50 Afghan refugees from
various spots like markets, refugee camps and urban areas.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, both provinces bordering Afghanistan, hosts most
of the 1.5mn registered Afghan
refugees in camps, refugee settlements and urban areas.
The action comes in the backdrop of the Peshawar tragedy at
the Army Public School where
terrorists killed 140 students on
December 16.
“We have legal documents
with us and our cards are valid
till December 2015 but the police arrested us to extort money,” said Karim Shah Afghani,
a detainee in the jail of the City
Police Station.
Shah, who hails from Takhar
province of Afghanistan, claimed
he had the original proof of registration (PoR) card issued by the
National Database Registration
Authority of Pakistan.
Many other Afghans com-
plained about the police action
saying they were detained illegally.
“I have lived here for the last
25 years and consider this country as my own but the police harass us from time to time,” said
Abdul Haq, 29, an Afghan who
runs a fabrics’ business in the
tea-market of Bannu.
Gul Hameed, a police officer at
the City Police Station, said the
Afghans were taken into custody
following the directions of KP
He said the action was taken to
ensure law and order in the city
where a large number of internally displaced people from the
neighbouring North Waziristan
Agency have sought refuge after a military operation against
terrorists there.
Ehsanullah, an official of
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR),
said at present 4mn Afghans are
living in Pakistan and 2.5mn of
them are based in KP while the
remaining 1.5mn are settled in
other parts of Pakistan like Karachi, Mianwali and Islamabad.
“They are given legal asylum
under a tripartite contract between Pakistan, Afghanistan
and UNHCR in 2005 wherein
these refugees would have proof
of registration (PoR) cards,”
Ehsan said.
National Bank of Pakistan.
This helped the PSO arrange
two ships of petrol, one of
which is due to reach Karachi
on January 26.
The prime minister was also
informed that with sales of
about 190,000 tonnes of petrol expected in February, arrangements have been made
to import 230,000 tonnes, besides local supplies that would
leave around 120,000 tonnes of
closing stock on February 28 enough for a surplus coverage
of over 15 days.
Two PSO shipments of
about 100,000 tonnes of petrol are expected to arrive on
January 26 and 29 respectively. Another ship with 32,000
tonnes would reach Karachi
on January 26. Shell Pakistan’s
ship carrying 29,000 tonnes
of petrol will reach the port on
January 29.
The PSO was also asked to
increase its daily supply of petrol from 7,000 tonnes to 8,500
tonnes from January 26 to February 3 to avoid any recurrence
of shortages.
Acting petroleum secretary
Arshad Mirza said reasonable
stocks of furnace oil have been
arranged to avert any increase
in load shedding.
Afghans protesting the decision by the controversial French magazine, Charlie Hebdo, to publish a depiction of the Prophet Muhammad, in
Kabul yesterday.
Thousands protest against
Charlie Hebdo in Afghanistan
t least 20,000 people
protested in the western Afghan city of Herat
yesterday against French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo
for publishing a cartoon of the
Prophet Muhammad.
The demonstrators burned
French flags, chanted death
slogans against France and demanded Paris apologise to Muslims in Afghanistan’s biggest
rally yet against the weekly.
A smaller protest was held in
the capital Kabul, where a few
Sharif attends funeral
demonstrators threw stones at
the French embassy, prompting guards to fire one or two
warning shots.
“No Muslim can tolerate insults to our beloved Prophet
Muhammad, we demand the
French government apologise
to all Muslims and punish those
who have insulted Islam,” said
one protester in Herat.
There have been small, sporadic protests across Afghanistan since the magazine ran a
cover image of the Prophet with
a tear in his eye, holding a sign
saying “Je suis Charlie”.
That “survivors’ edition” followed an attack on the maga-
zine’s offices in Paris in which
12 people were gunned down by
Islamist militants. The massacre triggered a huge outpouring
of anger and grief on social media, much of it using the hashtag
An AFP reporter at the scene
in Herat and the provincial governor’s spokesman Ehsanullah
Hayat said the crowd was at least
20,000 strong.
In Kabul, several thousand
people rallied in the city centre
chanting “death to France, death
to the enemies of Islam”.
The protesters in Kabul
also held posters depicting a
red heart and the name of the
Pak plan of arming
teachers draws flak
A handout picture released by the Saudi Press Agency
(SPA) shows an unidentified Saudi official, right, welcoming
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, upon his arrival in
Riyadh to attend the funeral of King Abdullah yesterday.
Prophet as they marched on the
streets of Kabul.
“We condemn those who published our prophet’s cartoons
and we curse those who have
done this vicious act,” said Abdul Salam Abid, a leading cleric
in central Kabul mosque among
the protesters.
“This gathering is a slap in the
face of those who have desecrated our beloved prophet,” he said.
Images of the Prophet are
considered blasphemous by
many Muslims and the magazine’s publishing of the cartoon
has trigged protests in many
Muslim countries around the
magine a school in which
teachers enter classrooms
carrying papers, books
and an AK-47 assault rifle.
Such a dystopian scene
might soon be reality in Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province,
where the government last
week announced a plan to arm
teachers to combat Taliban
Last month rebels killed at
least 136 students in an attack
against an army-run school
in the provincial capital Peshawar, causing deep panic by
authorities over the security
of more than 35,000 schools
in the militancy-plagued
“The idea is to enable
teachers to engage the attackers until help arrives,” said
provincial information minister Mushtaq Ghani.
According to the interior
ministry, the Taliban have
killed more than 50,000 people in the past decade, and
there are fears of more attacks against soft targets like
schools after the country’s
armed forces intensified operations following the Peshawar incident.
But the idea of “armed
teachers” has shocked both
the teaching community and
wider civil society.
A convention this week by
an association representing
more than 78,000 male and
female teachers in KhyberPakhtunkhwa province rejected the move.
Dil Muhammad, a primary
school teacher in the northwestern town of Mansehra,
said it was the government’s
responsibility to provide
security to students and
“It is wrong to ask teachers
to carry firearms into school.
The job of teachers is to teach
and not to fight the militants,”
he said.
“If implemented, it would
create more violence in the
society,” said Zehra Arshad
of the Pakistan Coalition
for Education, a non-profit
Psychologist Muhammad
Amjad said displaying weapons in classrooms would have
a negative impact on learning
and the overall environment.
“The government in Pakistan has banned corporal punishment in schools,
and now authorities should
avoid steps that promote the
use of symbols of violence,”
he said.
Instead of arming teachers, some say, the government
should improve infrastructure
by building protective walls.
“At least 4,763 schools are
without a periphery wall, and
the government should provide funds for it,” said Malik
Khalid, a provincial teachers’
Facing mounting criticism,
government might reconsider
the idea of arming the teachers with lethal weapons.
So far, no decision has
been made on the issuing of arms to the teachers,
said Atif Khan, minister for
elementary and secondary
“It was one of many ideas
to deal with militants in the
case of a sudden attack, but
the government in principle is against teachers carrying guns with them to the
schools,” he said.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Beggars taken
off the streets
for papal visit
he Philippines government came under fire
yesterday after admitting that hundreds of homeless people were taken off
Manila’s streets and put into
luxury accommodation during Pope Francis’ recent visit,
when he preached compassion
for the poor.
Members of parliament
demanded an explanation after Social Welfare Secretary
Corazon Soliman revealed 490
beggars and homeless people
were taken to air-conditioned
log cabins at a resort near Manila for the January 15-19 visit.
“The Pope would have
wanted to see the Philippines,
warts and all. Let us not pretend that we are a first-world
country,” said House of Representatives member Terry
Ridon, who is initiating a congressional inquiry.
Soliman said the street
people, many of whom live in
shanties and hammocks tied
to palm trees along the Manila
Bay seafront, were removed
from the capital’s Roxas Boulevard before the visit.
A record crowd of 6mn
flooded the bayside road on
Sunday to hear Pope Francis celebrate mass in a nearby
park, the highlight of his tour
of the Catholic outpost where
he preached “mercy and compassion” for the poor.
But the homeless were instead taken to plush accommodation at a hilltop resort
south of Manila during the
trip, before being deposited
‘Green’ campaign
back on the streets hours after the pontiff ’s departure last
Renato Reyes, secretarygeneral of the left-wing group
Bayan, criticised the decision,
saying the government was
“whitewashing poverty”.
But Soliman said the homeless would have been “vulnerable to syndicates and discriminated (against) a lot” had
they stayed in the area.
The homeless were taken
to plush accommodation
at a hilltop resort south
of Manila during the trip,
before being deposited back
on the streets hours after
the pontiff’s departure
“You cannot hide poverty. When the Pope landed,
the first thing he saw was the
shanties by the river,” she said.
She also said they had
received training as part
of a government scheme
launched last year to provide
11,000 homeless families
with rent-free accommodation for up to a year. So far
the programme has helped
“Part of the orientation
is to familiarise themselves
with a room with a door and
toilets,” Soliman said.
The Chateau Royale resort
where the homeless people stayed offers swimming
pools and rock-climbing facilities, and usually charges
up to 24,000 pesos ($544) for
a room per night, according
to its website. Soliman said
the government did not pay
the full price, without providing details.
A stall owner arranges wares made from recycled materials at the First Philippine Zero Waste Fair held in Quezon City. The fair seeks to urge the public to support
campaigns aimed at preventing resources from turning into waste, that causes pollution and environmental damage.
Blast in south Philippines
kills one and injures 48
French president to
hold talks with
Aquino in February
rench President Francois
Hollande will visit the
typhoon-ravaged Philippines in February to build
momentum for crucial climate
change talks that France is
hosting this year, his environment envoy said yesterday.
Hollande hopes his visit
would give a human face to
climate change, as the Philippines bears the brunt of dozens of deadly storms every
year, including the strongest
on record, Super Typhoon
Haiyan in November 2013,
Nicolas Hulot told reporters.
France and the Philippines
“can send a common message
to the international community, can be symbol, can be
spark to mobilise and bring us
back to our senses and reason,”
said Hulot, who was in Manila
for meetings with Philippine
officials and visits to typhoon
Details of Hollande’s February 26-27 visit, which includes
a meeting with President Benigno Aquino, were still being
worked out, he said.
Haiyan left 7,350 people dead or missing after its
230-kilometre per hour winds
whipped tsunami-like waves
that wiped out entire communities in impoverished central
Philippine islands.
During the bitterly fought
Lima round of climate talks
last December, negotiators
adopted a format for national
pledges to cut Earth-warming
greenhouse gases.
In Paris, negotiators hope
to cut a deal to limit global
warming to no more than two
degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels, averting what
could be potentially catastrophic damage to the Earth’s
climate system by the turn of
the century.
ne person was killed and
48 others injured yesterday as a parked car
exploded in the southern Philippines, with the local authorities
blaming the blast on Al Qaedalinked militants.
Witnesses told police a parked
car went up in flames and was
torn to pieces in a powerful
mid-afternoon blast that shattered glass panels in a commercial section on Zamboanga city’s
“There was a suspected bomb
in the car,” Senior Superintendent Angelito Casimiro, the city
police chief, told reporters.
The explosion occurred in
front of a pub and across the
street from a bus terminal, he
said. No group has claimed responsibility for the blast and the
lone fatality was not immediately identified, he said.
Most of the other casualties
were cut from flying glass shards
and are being treated at nearby
hospitals, Casimiro added.
Zamboanga city Mayor Maria
Isabelle Climaco alleged the
blast was linked to a plan by
the Abu Sayyaf armed group to
spring 57 comrades detained at
the city jail.
She demanded that the national government remove the
prisoners from the city and
Declining trend of migratory birds
A police technician clad in a bomb suit walks past a damaged car at the site of a suspected car bomb
explosion along the highway in Zamboanga City, southern Philippines yesterday.
transfer them to a detention facility elsewhere so the city would
not be targeted by bombings.
“This is an SOS call for the
57 inmates to be removed and
transferred for the safety and
protection of the city,” Climaco
told reporters.
2004 in which more than 100
people died, and repeated kidnappings of foreigners in the
southern Philippines who are
usually ransomed off for huge
Many foreign governments
warn their citizens against trav-
Panel poised to issue arrest order
against Makati mayor, six officials
By Jefferson Antiporda
Manila Times
Migratory birds at the coastal area in Paranaque city, south of Manila yesterday. The lessening
wetland caused by diverse infrastructural and rural improvements has led to falling numbers of
migratory birds going to wintering grounds of the Philippines consistently, reports said.
The Abu Sayyaf, a loose band
of a few hundred militants
founded with seed money from
Al Qaeda, has been blamed for
the worst terror attacks in Philippine history.
These have included the
bombing of a ferry in Manila in
elling to the southern Philippine
areas, including Zamboanga,
which are regarded as strongholds for the Abu Sayyaf and
other militants.
The Abu Sayyaf claims it
is fighting to establish an independent homeland in the
Muslim populated south of the
mainly Catholic Philippines.
The Zamboanga city jail warden, Julius Arro, told reporters
that prison authorities foiled an
attempt by unknown supporters
to slip at least one gun and 100
bullets to Abu Sayyaf detainees
on Monday.
No arrests were made, he
Since 2002, US troops have
been helping train and advise
Filipino troops fighting Abu
Sayyaf militants, and the group
has been mostly contained in recent years.
In September 2013, Zamboanga was attacked by another
armed group loyal to former
rebel leader Nur Misuari.
The attack triggered three
weeks of street battles that left
more than 240 people dead and
large parts of the city of nearly
onemn in smouldering ruins.
During the fighting, in which
the rebels also used civilians as
human shields, about 10,000
homes were destroyed by fires,
forcing 116,000 to flee.
Misuari remains at large and
faces rebellion charges alongside
57 detained attackers.
he Senate blue ribbon
committee is poised to
issue an arrest order for
Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay and six other city officials, if they continue to refuse
to appear at hearings of the
sub-committee headed by Sen.
Aquilino Pimentel.
Committee chairman Teofisto Guingona issued the warning
yesterday as he made a final call
to Binay and the Makati City
officials who have been ignoring the sub-committee’s summons, asking them to attend
the hearings on alleged irregularities in various projects of the
city government.
“I’m making this final call
as an effort on my part to avert
a situation where the Senate
blue ribbon committee would
have to issue an arrest order for
Mayor Binay and other officials
concerned,” Guingona said.
In his ultimatum, the senator warned that the panel will
not tolerate the acts of parties
who continuously ignore its
summons, noting that it has the
power to order their arrest and
“This is a final call. I hope
that the sound counsel of
friends and colleagues would
encourage Mayor Binay and
other parties concerned to heed
the summons of the sub-committee,” he said.
The Makati mayor and the
city officials have been ignoring the sub-committee’s summons for them to appear at the
hearings, demanding that they
be furnished a list of questions
that lawmakers may ask during
the hearings.
Lawyer Claro Certeza insisted that his clients’ request
for advance copies of questions
is in accordance with Senate
The blue ribbon committee
will meet on Monday to decide
on its next move.
Meanwhile, Mayor Binay
yesterday appealed for fairness
in the conduct of the ongoing investigation on the alleged
overpricing of the Makati City
Hall Building 2.
“With all due respect to the
senate, all I am asking is due
process. If you may recall, I appeared before the sub-committee and answered the questions
from the senators for six hours.
However, I was either cut off or
denied the chance to reply. The
senators simply wanted to humiliate me,” he said.
Binay also cited the allegedly
unfair treatment by the subcommittee of the city officials,
considering that other witnesses who were repeatedly caught
lying under oath have gone unpunished.
“All I am requesting is for the
senators in the sub-committee
to accord to all persons summoned to their hearings the
same respect for their rights
based on the Constitution and
jurisprudence. While the senators threaten me with contempt, they have not taken any
action to discipline previous
witnesses who have lied under
oath several times. This is most
unfair,” he said.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Nepal plunges into chaos
as charter deadline passes
Nepalese opposition lawmakers obstructing a meeting of parliament in Kathmandu yesterday.
But six prime ministers and
two elections later, political infighting has crippled efforts to resolve the deadlock,
analysts say.
“Individual leaders are cynically holding the constitution
hostage to their petty interests
... they are basically jockeying
for future positions as PM and
president while negotiating our
future,” said Kunda Dixit, editor
of the Nepali Times weekly.
“Their ambitions have overwhelmed any push for an
agreement ... and they are unable to compromise because of
a ‘winner takes all’ attitude,”
Dixit said.
A key sticking point concerns
internal borders, with the opposition pushing for provinces to
be created along lines that could
favour historically marginalised
Other parties have attacked
this model, calling it too divisive
and a threat to national unity.
The ruling parties and their
allies have the two-thirds parliamentary majority they need
to approve a constitution without Maoist support.
But the former insurgents
have warned of further conflict
if they fail to take opposition
views into account.
A missed deadline will prolong instability and deliver yet
another blow to an economy
which has seen annual GDP
growth plummet from 6.1% in
2008 to 3.6% in 2013, according
to World Bank data.
“How will the country
progress like this?” said Pradeep
Jung Pandey, president of the
Federation of Nepalese Chambers
of Commerce and Industry.
“If there is no new constitution and all we will have are
protests and instability, how
can anyone make new investments or expand existing ones?”
Pandey said.
Police find
missing fleet
ri Lanka’s police yesterday seized a fleet of more
than 50 state-owned vehicles, including bullet-proof
limousines, that were not returned after president Mahinda Rajapakse’s toppling in this
month’s elections.
A police spokesman said 53
vehicles belonging to the presidential secretariat had been
recovered from an open patch
of land in Colombo as part of
efforts to track down 128 vehicles that disappeared after the
January 8 polls.
“We are conducting investigations on how these 53 vehicles ended up at this yard,” Ajith
Rohana said.
Some of the cars were wrecks
while others appeared to have
been hastily abandoned with
bottles of water and food left
More than half the vehicles were bullet-proof, Rohana
Among the vehicles was an
armour-plated BMW that was
wrecked in a claymore mine attack in Colombo in 2006. Its
passenger, the then defence
secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse,
the president’s younger brother,
escaped without injury.
The cars were found a day
after the new government of
President Maithripala Sirisena
pledged to trace billions of dollars in stolen wealth stashed
abroad by members of the
previous regime.
Rajapakse and his powerful
family are accused of syphoning
large sums of money from the
public coffers during his decade
in power, which ended when he
was voted out this month.
The new government yesterday said it will appoint an independent commission to probe
the last stages of the country’s
civil war that ended in 2009, a
minister said.
Cabinet spokesperson and
Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne told Xinhua that the
commission will consist of professionals who would launch a
full inquiry into the alleged human rights violations during the
ri Lanka’s new government
has said it might renegotiate a $1.5bn port city deal
with China Communications
Construction Co, softening its
pre-election threat to scrap the
New Prime Minister Ranil
Wickremesinghe, before last
month’s presidential vote, said
he would cancel the port deal
if his party came to power.
Maithripala Sirisena, backed by
Wickremesinghe’s party, unseated ex-president Mahinda
Rajapakse at the polls.
“We can renegotiate with
China after reassessing the deal,”
Cabinet Spokesman Rajitha
Senarathne told reporters.
“We need to see the feasibility study. We need to see the
environmental impact assessment (EIA) and reassess the tax
concessions given to it and land
ownership issues.”
He said the current government had not seen any EIA or
student leader of Bangladesh Nationalist Party
(BNP) has died of wounds
suffered during an explosion
while “making bombs” in a
house in Dhaka’s Lalbagh.
Mahbubur Rahman Bappi died
around 6am on Thursday, said
Mozammel Haque, sub inspector of the police outpost at Dhaka
Medical College and Hospital.
Bappi was the general secretary
of BNP student front Jatiyatabadi
Chhatra Dal’s New Market unit.
Police said the 25-year old student leader was making bombs at
his brother-in-law’s house on
Wednesday when the explosion
took place.
The BNP-led alliance’s indefinite
countrywide blockade, that began
on January 5, has been marked by
numerous cases of bomb attacks
and arson on vehicles.
ARMS SEIZED: The elite security force Rapid Action Battalion
(RAB) yesterday arrested two
men and recovered about 1kg of
gunpowder and six crude bombs
from their Dhaka house.
The two were arrested during a
raid in Dhaka’s Rayerbazaar around
12:30am. They were identified as
Rubel Alam, 22, and Md Sourav, 28.
In Chuadanga district, police seized 21 sophisticated rifles
from a van yesterday.
A police patrol team signalled
a van to stop in Loknathpur area
at 2am. However, the van driver
ignored the signal and sped away.
In his desperate bid to flee, the
driver also hit a police pickup.
The rifles equipped with lences
were manufactured by an Indian company. Damurhuda police station incharge Kamruzzaman said the rifles
might have been smuggled into the
country through Jibannagar border
and taken to the capital Dhaka.
Lanka’s top
judge grilled
over coup
Sri Lankan police officers standing guard in a vehicle yard found in the capital Colombo yesterday.
last months of the country’s war
against the Liberation Tigers of
Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
He said discussions with all
political party leaders would also
be held regarding the appointment of the commission.
“We will consult other party
leaders as well. The commission
will comprise of professionals
who are capable of conducting
the inquiry. We will appoint the
commission soon,” Senaratne
Following the Jan 8 presidential election, newly elected
President Maithripala Sirisena’s
government pledged to investigate the alleged human rights
violations during the final stages
of the civil war.
Former president Mahinda
Rajapakse and his government
had been under sustained
pressure from the UN and
international human rights
watchdogs to conduct an international probe into the last
stages of the three-decade war.
The Rajapakse government
had stood firm that it would not
allow any international probe,
assuring that no human rights
violations had taken place.
However, in a run-up to the
presidential election, Rajapakse
promised a judicial inquiry into
allegations that his troops had
killed thousands of Tamil civilians in last phase of the war,
as pressure mounted from his
New govt softens stance on China port city deal
rotests by Nepal’s opposition lawmakers threw parliament into chaos yesterday after emergency talks failed
to secure agreement on a new
national constitution before a
midnight deadline expired.
As parliament opened, opposition lawmakers led by former
Maoist rebels shouted slogans
and stormed into the well of the
main chamber, refusing to allow
ruling party politicians to propose a vote on disputed issues in
the charter.
constitution based on consensus,”
lawmakers chanted.
Nepal’s parties have spent
years locked in a stalemate over
the charter while political power
plays have obstructed efforts to
reach an agreement, analysts say.
As political rifts have widened, with lawmakers this week
hurling chairs and scuffling in
parliament, the impoverished
Himalayan nation has sunk
deeper into paralysis and anger
has spilled over on to the streets.
Parliament Speaker Subhash
Nembang told opposition lawmakers yesterday to end their
protests and urged them to hammer out an agreement or be prepared for a vote, before adjourning the assembly until tomorrow.
“People want answers from
us, they are watching us and
they are waiting,” Nembang
The constitution was intended to conclude a peace process
begun in 2006 when Maoist
guerrillas entered politics, ending a decade-long insurgency
that left an estimated 16,000
people dead.
to blast
feasibility study of the project
and it needed to be re-assessed
because of impacts on coastal
Work has already begun on
construction of the port city,
launched by Chinese President
Xi Jinping when he visited in
September last year.
The site is on 233 hectares of
reclaimed land in the capital,
Colombo. Under the proposed
deal, 108 hectares would be given to the Chinese firm, including
20 hectares on an outright basis
and the rest on a 99-year lease.
Sri Lanka’s giant neighbour
India, which has uneasy relations with China, is worried
about the port city project.
Indian diplomats have told
Reuters the 20-hectare plot
is a security concern because
of the large number of Indiabound cargoes that pass through
Colombo port.
Construction Co said in a statement issued on Wednesday
an initial technical feasibility
study and EIA had been carried out and approved by the
previous Rajapakse government.
It said an environmental management plan had been provided by the company “after
monitoring the environmental
impact, especially the erosion
of the beach, according to the
requirement of EIA”.
“We are open to co-operate
with the government authorities and provide all the information required according to the
relevant regulations, believing
on a strong co-operation together to the best success of this
magnificent project,” it said.
ri Lanka’s chief justice was questioned by
criminal investigators
yesterday following allegations that he tried to help the
former president Mahinda Rajapakse retain power illegally, a
minister said.
Chief Justice Mohan Peiris
was interviewed over a complaint that he and the former
president allegedly conspired
to keep the strongman in power in a meeting at Rajapakse’s
home, Public Security Minister
John Amaratunga said.
“The chief justice was
questioned today about the
(alleged) coup and a statement
has been recorded,” the minister told reporters in Colombo.
He added that investigations
were proceeding.
The questioning came after
the chief justice was banned
from a meeting of Asian legal
experts in Colombo on Monday when Sri Lanka’s bar association threatened a boycott if
he was allowed to participate.
Police have opened a criminal
investigation into claims that the
defeated strongman Rajapakse
tried to use military force to stay
in power as early results of the
January 8 election showed he was
headed for defeat.
There has been no public
comment from the chief justice
who had been seen in the company of Rajapakse and is accused
of trying to legitimise a state of
emergency after causing unrest
at vote counting centres.
Rajapakse had appointed
Peiris after impeaching the
previous chief justice Shirani
Bandaranayake in January
2013 when her rulings went
against his administration.
New President Maithripala
Sirisena, who was sworn in on
January 9, has vowed to restore
Bandaranayake to the role.
Foreign Minister Mangala
Samaraweera has lodged a formal complaint that Rajapakse
tried to use military force to
stay in power.
A senior lawyer said yesterday that Chief Justice Peiris
has demanded a diplomatic
post overseas as a condition
for his resignation, drawing
flak from the judiciary.
Bar Association of Sri Lanka
(BASL) president Upul Jayasuriya told Xinhua that emergency meetings would be
held by the association Friday
and Saturday to decide if they
would continue to recognise
Peiris as the chief justice.
“We have urged his resignation as he is one of the suspects in the investigation into
an alleged coup attempt by the
former government. He is unfit
to hold office and we will convene meetings today and tomorrow (Saturday) to discuss
the matter,” Jayasuriya said.
“He has asked for some
diplomatic post overseas as a
condition for his resignation,”
Jayasuriya said, adding that
such a condition has brought
shame to the entire judicial
system in the country.
The chief justice has reportedly asked for a diplomatic
post in Britain, Brazil or Italy.
Though the government
said earlier this week that
Peiris had tendered his resignation, a lawyer told reporters
on Thursday that Peiris has
not resigned.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 24, 2015
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Editor-in-Chief : Darwish S Ahmed
Production Editor: C P Ravindran
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Impeachment move
is a strong message
to Thaksin’s allies
The Thai government’s decision to impeach former
premier Yingluck Shinawatra and ban her from politics
are seen by many as part of the Thai military’s continued
efforts to eradicate the influences of her brother Thaksin
from the country.
Yingluck campaigned as proxy of her older brother, a
divisive figure who garnered popular support but also
made powerful enemies who accused him of corruption
and consolidating power before they ousted him in a
military coup in 2006.
Despite his removal, various proxies of Thaksin have won
every election since 2006. This led to more opposition and
protests, and eventually to a second coup last year against
Yingluck’s government, and the installation of a militarydominated legislature and cabinet.
With her impeachment and additional criminal charges
filed against Yingluck yesterday, the military has delivered
a strong message to Thaksin’s allies.
“They haven’t really been hiding this,” says Saksith
Saiyasombut, a Thai political commentator and journalist.
“The core motivation by the military junta and their
allies (is) to rid Thaksin Shinawatra (from)Thai politics and
everything that’s remotely associated with him.”
The impeachment case is just one of several measures
that the military has employed in its mission against the
In November, coup leader and current Thai premier
Prayuth Chan-ocha ordered media to not report news on
Thaksin in order to end social divisiveness.
In September,
the education
ministry published
new history books
that removed
all references to
Thaksin’s six years as
prime minister.
The ministry
denied they received
orders to do so.
But while the
campaign against Thaksin and Yingluck gathers pace,
commentators worry that such belligerence might have
longer term ramifications for the country.
Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political science professor at
Chulalongkorn University, says that the impeachment
decision “would exacerbate tensions and deepen
divisions” within the country.
“The legal and institutional architecture of Thai politics
is likely to be further weakened. The executive branch of
the future could become even more ineffective,” he feels.
Despite these warnings and the threat of more street
protests in favour of Yingluck, the military and its rubberstamp parliament show few signs of slowing down.
The army chief and various security officials have
reiterated that they will not tolerate protests on the
impeachment decisions and that they will enforce a
standing ban on political gatherings.
The National Anti-Corruption Commission has
also forwarded cases against other Thaksin allies for
deliberation within the legislature for impeachment. The
office of the attorney general has said it will investigate
other malpractices within the Yingluck government.
“It’s not the impeachment itself that will have huge
ramifications,” says Saksith. “It’s rather the military
government’s ‘reforms’ that could permanently damage
the political fabric of the country, in which elected
representatives have less to say than non-elected officials
Address increasing economic
divergence in the eurozone
A Greek exit may serve as
a warning to countries like
Spain, Italy and France,
where strong anti-Europe
or anti-establishment
parties are on the rise
By Yannos Papantoniou
uch is at stake in Greece’s
election tomorrow.
Indeed, the outcome could
determine whether the
country remains in the eurozone, with
far-reaching implications for the rest of
the monetary union.
Syriza, a radical left-wing party
whose popularity has skyrocketed amid
the country’s economic crisis, is the
favourite to win, though it is unlikely
to gain enough parliamentary seats to
govern alone. Instead, it will probably
lead a coalition government, though
with which other parties remains
Fundamental to Syriza’s platform
is its economic programme, designed
to counteract the impact of the
excessively strict austerity that Greeks
have endured for the last four and a
half years, in exchange for bailouts
from the “troika” of the European
Central Bank, the International
Monetary Fund and the European
Pensions have been reduced by 40%,
on average, while the middle class is
suffering under the weight of crippling
new property taxes.
As a result, Greece has fallen into a
deep and prolonged recession, with
output down 25% from pre-crisis levels.
Worse, unemployment stands at nearly
26% – and more than 50% among
young people.
Yet most unemployment benefits are
now being eliminated after 12 months,
with the long-term unemployed often
losing access to the state health-care
Add to this a 30% increase in prices
for prescription drugs, and it is easy to
see why Greek society is unravelling.
Of course, these sacrifices might be
worthwhile were they helping Greece
reduce its public debt to manageable
But, at the end of 2014, public debt
amounted to 175% of GDP, having
increased from its 2009 level of 127%.
Syria plans to
renegotiate Greece’s
debt with lenders
Servicing that debt would require
primary budget surpluses equal to
at least 4% of GDP until 2022 – an
outcome that would require a surge in
Under the weight of relentless fiscal
austerity, however, such growth is out
of the question.
That is why Syriza has promised
to launch a massive new spending
programme – including free electricity
and food coupons for the poor and an
increase in state pensions to pre-crisis
levels – that would cost about 6.5% of
Tax hikes for high-income earners
and large property owners would help
to finance these expenditures, while
increases in the minimum wage would
round out income redistribution efforts.
Syriza has also promised to repeal
labour-market liberalisation and
suspend privatisation. Finally, it plans
to renegotiate Greece’s debt with
lenders, in the hope of writing off the
bulk of its liabilities.
Syriza’s economic programme
neglects the important fact that
fiscal consolidation and structural
measures not only form part of Greece’s
commitments; they also serve the
country’s long-term interest.
Given this, they cannot – and
should not – be abolished. Instead,
the problems in their design
and implementation should be
addressed, in order to improve their
effectiveness within current economic
Such an approach would strengthen
Syriza’s position in debt-relief
negotiations. Nonetheless, official
statements suggest that the troika
would not be inclined to accept Syriza’s
negotiating framework, intending
instead to complete the talks that it had
launched with the outgoing centreright government, the goal being to
securing further budget cuts and
initiate new labour-market and pension
In short, the troika will insist that
Greece honours its prior commitments.
If negotiations stall, financial
and liquidity stress, resulting from
Greece’ inability to borrow at current
interest rates – 10-year bond yields
have reached 9.5 % – will weaken the
fiscal position and banking system
This could lead to a collapse in
confidence, triggering financial
upheaval and, in turn, forcing the
country to seek a third bailout – one
that would require Greece to leave the
eurozone and introduce a new, devalued
In that case, Greece’s geopolitical
position would be weakened, its
economy would sink further into
recession and social tensions would
rise. Moreover, instability would
become chronic, because the eurozone
would no longer offer a backstop for
fiscal and financial laxity.
Eurozone authorities may claim that
a Greek exit no longer poses a systemic
risk, given the introduction in recent
years of various instruments for fighting
financial crises, including governmentbacked rescue funds, a partial banking
union, tougher fiscal controls, and the
European Central Bank’s new role as
lender of last resort.
But a member’s exit would still
indicate that the eurozone’s integrity
is not guaranteed – a message that the
markets are unlikely to miss.
A Greek exit may serve as a warning
to countries like Spain, Italy and France,
where strong anti-Europe or antiestablishment parties are on the rise.
But it would do nothing to address
the real problem: the increasing
economic divergence among eurozone
So long as performance gaps
continue to widen, voters will continue
to challenge European integration.
Only further unification, underpinned
by growth-oriented policies in the
struggling countries, can reverse this
Such an outcome is still possible –
but only if the relevant actors recognise
the risks associated with a Greek exit
from the eurozone.
A Syriza-led government must
moderate its approach and promise
that it will continue to pursue reform
and limit spending in exchange for a
substantial reduction to its debt burden
– a reduction that the troika must be
willing to grant. - Project Syndicate
zYannos Papantoniou, Greece’s former
minister of economy and finance, is
president of the Centre for Progressive
Policy Research.
Despite his
removal, various
proxies of Thaksin
have won every
election since
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The leader of the Syriza leftist party, Alexis Tsipras, waving at supporters after a pre-election meeting in central Athens on Thursday. Fundamental to Syriza’s platform is
its economic programme, designed to counteract the impact of the excessively strict austerity that Greeks have endured for the last four and a half years, in exchange
for bailouts from the “troika” of the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission.
Welcome to a ‘highly interactive’ world
By Richard Carter
Davos /AFP
oogle boss Eric Schmidt has
predicted that the Internet
will soon be so pervasive in
every facet of our lives that
it will effectively “disappear” into the
Speaking to the business and
political elite at the World Economic
Forum at Davos, Schmidt said: “There
will be so many sensors, so many
devices, that you won’t even sense it,
it will be all around you.”
“It will be part of your presence
all the time. Imagine you walk into a
room and... you are interacting with
all the things going on in that room.”
“A highly personalised, highly
interactive and very interesting world
On the sort of high-level panel only
found among the ski slopes of Davos,
a panel bringing together the heads of
Google, Facebook and Microsoft and
Vodafone sought to allay fears that the
rapid pace of technological advance
was killing jobs.
“Everyone’s worried about jobs,”
admitted Sheryl Sandberg, chief
operating officer of Facebook.
With so many changes in the
technology world, “the transformation
is happening faster than ever before”,
she acknowledged.
“But tech creates jobs not only
in the tech space but outside,” she
Schmidt quoted statistics he said
showed that every tech job created
between five and seven jobs in a
different area of the economy.
“Tech empowers
humans to do
great things”
“If there were a single digital market
in Europe, 400mn new and important
new jobs would be created in Europe,”
which is suffering from stubbornly
high levels of unemployment.
The debate about whether
technology is destroying jobs “has
been around for hundreds of years”,
said the Google boss. What is different
is the speed of change.
“It’s the same that happened to
the people who lost their farming
jobs when the tractor came... but
ultimately a globalised solution means
more equality for everyone.”
With one of the main topics at this
year’s World Economic Forum being
how to share out the fruits of global
growth, the tech barons stressed
that the greater connectivity offered
by their companies ultimately helps
reduce inequalities.
“Are the spoils of tech being evenly
spread? That is an issue that we have
to tackle head on,” said Satya Nadella,
chief executive of Microsoft.
“I’m optimistic, there’s no question.
If you are in the tech business, you
have to be optimistic. Ultimately to
me, it’s about human capital. Tech
empowers humans to do great things.”
Facebook boss Sandberg said the
Internet in its early forms was “all
about anonymity” but now everyone
was sharing everything and everyone
was visible.
“Now everyone has a voice... now
everyone can post, everyone can share
and that gives a voice to people who
have historically not had it,” she said.
Schmidt, who said he had recently
come back from the reclusive state
of North Korea, said he believed that
technology forced potentially despotic
and hermetic governments to open
up as their citizens acquired more
knowledge about the outside world.
“It is no longer possible
for a country to step out of
basic assumptions in banking,
communications, morals and the way
people communicate,” the Google boss
“You cannot isolate yourself any
more. It simply doesn’t work.”
Nevertheless, Sandberg told the
assembled elites that even the current
pace of change was only the tip of the
“Today, only 40% of people have
Internet access,” she said, adding: “If
we can do all this with 40%, imagine
what we can do with 50, 60, 70%.”
Even two decades into the global
spread of the Internet, the potential
for opening up and growth was
tremendous, she stressed.
“Around 60% of the Internet is
in English. If that doesn’t tell you
how uninclusive the Internet is, then
nothing will,” said the tycoon.
The World Economic Forum brings
together some 2,500 of the top movers
and shakers in the worlds of politics,
business and finance for a four-day
meeting that ends on Saturday.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 24, 2015
The year of sharing in travel sector
Culture is easier to come by
in Europe, which has chosen
two capitals of culture for
2015: the Belgian medieval
city of Mons and the Czech
Republic’s Pilsen
By Richard Quest
New York/CNN
can be a
especially in the
capricious world of
travel, but here is what I’m expecting
to see this year:
With travellers seeking ways of
trimming their budgets, without
cutting their comforts, this year will
be all about sharing.
When it comes to accommodation,
from crashing on a stranger’s couch
to sleeping in a luxury penthouse,
there are options to suit all pockets.
Now pioneers such as AirBnB are
being joined by some interesting
newcomers: OneFineStay focuses
on upscale properties; while you can
probably work out the propositions of
Couchsurfing and CampInMyGarden.
com yourselves.
Sharing a ride is the next logical
next step. Uber’s growth is matched
only by its notoriety, but it’s not the
only game in town. For the traveller,
the likes of Relay Rides, Flight Car, and
GetAround help you avoid the hassle
of renting a car.
Once you have your room and your
car sorted, you’ll need to eat. Avoid
the chains, and try some home cooked
fare instead, in the company of a
local host: Feastly, Cookening and
EatWithALocal all offer just that.
Then, when you’ve had your fill,
you can meet up with another local to
share their knowledge: from walking
tours of street art in San Francisco, to
night photography in Paris websites
such as Vayable can help you tap into a
rich seam of local insight.
One thing you’ll want to leave to
the professionals, however, is your
aircraft. Airbus and Boeing’s rivalry
is set to soar in 2015, with the launch
of the Airbus A350. Its fuel efficient
carbon wings and fuselage will see it
challenge Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner in
the long haul market.
Japan hasn’t had a commercial
plane of its own for around half a
century, but 2015 will see Mitsubishi
joining the fray, with a spacious, quiet
and efficient new jet to rival Brazil’s
Embraer and Canada’s Bombardier.
And when these shiny new jets have
deposited you on the runway, you’ll
be pleased to hear that technology
is smartening up airports too:
Shanghai, Miami, and Copenhagen
have been testing technology that can
trigger useful information on your
There are some handy things, like
displaying your boarding pass as you
approach check-in, and some nakedly
commercial ploys, such as sending
promotional coupons as you pass
through duty free. It can even send
you updates on boarding gates, or tell
you from which carousel to expect the
arrival of your baggage.
Once free of the airport, sometimes
only the sanctity of the traditional
hotel will do, and there are some
sparkly new ones to look forward to:
from this month, visitors to Beijing
can stay in the spectacular Kempinski
Sunrise; encased within 10,000 glass
panels and lit at night by LEDs, it looks
rather like a rising sun.
Two distinguished hotels – on
opposite sides of the Channel
Tunnel – will reopen after long
refurbishments. In London, The
always the “Poshtel” – a hybrid of
the hostel and hotel. The likes of the
U Hostel – a restored 19th century
palace in Madrid, or the Maverick
Hostel – a former Hapsburg manor
house in Budapest, are just for you.
Technology will continue to
revolutionise the way we book and
stay in hotels. Marriott is trialling
3D headsets for an immersive virtual
reality experience; instant messaging
apps such as WeChat in China
and Line in Japan can now book
rooms; room keys are appearing as
phone apps; and for the ultimate in
technological pampering, Starwood
Group is trialling “the Botler”, a
robotic butler.
If you’re pondering where to go
in 2015, there are one or two new
destinations to consider.
Abu Dhabi wants to be the cultural
capital of the Middle East, and is
spending big to achieve its goal. The
Louvre Abu Dhabi is due to open in
the Emirate’s Saadiyat Island District
in December, while plans for the
Zayed National Museum and the
Guggenheim are hot on its heels.
Culture is easier to come by in Europe,
which has chosen two capitals of culture
for 2015: the Belgian medieval city of
Mons expects to welcome 2mn visitors
to arts events and museum openings;
while the Czech Republic celebrates the
cultural claims of Pilsen.
Meanwhile, cruise liners will be
gliding down South East Asia’s rivers
this year. Companies such as Viking,
Haimark, and Avalon Waterways are
extending their fleets to the Mekong
and Irrawaddy rivers, bringing
passengers to destinations like
Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia.
Lanesborough returns after an 18
month refit; while the long-awaited
revival of an old friend – the Ritz in
Paris – is almost upon us.
The man who practically invented
the boutique hotel, Ian Schrager, is
extending his Edition hotel range in
partnership with Marriott. On the
heels of Istanbul, Miami and London,
New York will join the line-up in 2015.
For travellers with shallow pockets,
but lofty expectations of style, there’s
zRichard Quest is CNN international
business correspondent and is based
in New York. He is the host of “Quest
Means Business” show, which airs
weekdays at 2200 CET (2100 GMT).
Weather report
Three-day forecast
Company debts and liquidation
The liquidator shall, by
registered letter, notify
all creditors of the
commencement of the
By Nizar Kochery
QUESTION: A company owes
money to us for some work done
for it. It seems that the company is
going into liquidation now. How
much time do we have to lodge a
complaint to get the money due to
GT, Doha
ANSWER: Article 303 of the
Commercial Companies Law - Law
No.5 of 2002 states that the due dates
in respect of all company debts shall
expire with effect from the dissolution
of the company.
As per law, the liquidator shall, by
registered letter, notify all creditors of
the commencement of the liquidation,
and shall invite them to submit their
claims against the company.
The notice shall be published in two
local daily Arab newspapers if creditors
or their places are not known.
In all cases, the notice to creditors
for the submission of their claims
shall include a period of grace for such
creditors not less than seventy five days
from the date of such notice to submit
their claims, provided the publication
of the notice shall be repeated during
such period after the expiry of one
month thereof.
Should some creditors fail to submit
their claims, their debts shall be
deposited with the court custodian,
until the claims are received from their
owners or the claims are time barred by
extinctive limitation.
Sick leave
Q: Please clarify if the sick leave
granted to an employee by a doctor
due to a work-related accident can
be deducted from his sick leave
entitlement as per Qatar’s Labour
Law. An employee was given seven
days of rest by the doctor after an
accident, which hurt his elbow,
at the work place. Can the office
deduct these seven days against his
sick leave entitlement for the year?
AM, Doha
A: Sick leave is time off from work that
workers can use to stay home to address
their health needs without losing pay.
Sick leave does not apply to an inability
to work caused by an accident or
occupational diseases.
Normally it is the employment of
the employee that causes the accident
or exposes the worker to the risk of the
An “accident” is defined as “an
accident arising out of and in the
course of an employee’s employment
and resulting in a personal injury,
illness or the death of the employee“.
According to Article 109 of the
Labour Laws, a worker who sustains a
work injury shall be entitled to receive
medical treatment appropriate to his
condition at the cost of the employer
in accordance with the decision of the
competent medical authority.
The worker shall receive his full
wage during the treatment period or
the period of six months whichever
is nearer. If the treatment continues
for a period exceeding six months
the worker shall be paid half of his
wage until his recovery or proof of
his permanent disability or death
whichever is nearer.
Termination and
lease agreement
Q: My lease does not end until
August 31, 2015. Has the landlord
any right to unilaterally terminate
my contract early? After almost
5-1/2 years of staying in a rented
apartment, I have just received a
letter from my landlord, saying
that he wants it back for his own
use. My lease agreement states:
“Renewal of this agreement
should be in accordance with the
provisions of Article 25 of the Law
No 2 of 1975 and amendments there
to. Should either party not wish to
renew, they must advise the other
party in writing not less than 60
days before the end of this present
period or extension thereof.”
BA, Doha
A: As per relevant laws, a lease
agreement will continue for the term
of lease and shall expire only at the end
of its fixed term. However, invoking
Article 19 as amended pursuant to the
provisions of Article 3 of Law No 20
of 2009 the landlord may, request the
Rental Dispute Settlement Committee
to have the leased premises vacated
if he intends to occupy the leased
premises for own/family use, provided
the landlord shall notify the tenant
at least six months prior to such
Regarding renewals, if the tenant
remains in the property with the
landlord’s knowledge and the landlord
does not raise an objection then the
lease agreement is deemed renewed for
the same period and according to the
same terms.
Accordingly, your contract is valid
up to August 31, 2015 and either of the
parties may express intention of nonrenewal by 60 days’ written notice.
The other reasons for termination
of the lease before its expiry includes
non-payment of rentals within the
High: 23 C
Low: 11 C
Hazy to Misty at places at first
becomes moderate temperature
with some clouds later, cold and
hazy at night.
stipulated time, unauthorised sublease
of the premise, violation of lease terms,
demolition of the building on safety
reasons and demolition by the landlord
subject to appropriate approvals.
High: 22 C
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Licence for
a new hotel
High: 21 CC
Low : 15 C
Q: What licenses do we require to
start a hotel and tourism business
in Qatar? We are obtaining a
licence from the Ministry of
Commerce. We plan to have yet
another investor to own the
PT, Doha
A: Law No 6 of 2012 - Tourism Law
regulates travel and tourism agencies,
the hospitality industry, hotels and
resorts, tourism facilities, tourism
activities and tourist guides.
According to the law, all hotels, their
facilities and services to be licensed
by the Qatar Tourism Authority and
the activities pertaining to hotels are
regulated by the Ministry of Economy
and Commerce.
Hotels will be licensed for three-year
periods while tourism facilities will
receive one-year. Article 8 stipulates
that a licensee may not make any
changes to a licensed installation’s
trade name, ownership or management
without first notifying the Authority.
Fishermen’s forecast
Wind: NW-SW 03-10 KT
Waves: 1-2/3 Feet
Wind: SW 3-10 KT
Waves: 1 Feet
Around the region
Abu Dhabi
Kuwait City
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zPlease send your questions by
e-mail to: [email protected]
The Qatar Commercial Code - Law No
27 of 2006, issued on 27/7/2006, is a
branch of the private law that governs
relationships and transactions that
arise from engaging in commercial
activity. Code includes a set of
provisions and rules that aim to
support commercial business and
provide guarantees and controls for it.
The law was published in the
Official Gazette, issue number 10 on
November 13, 2006 and came into
operation effective on May 13, 2007,
with the exception of the provisions
recorded in Article 580 that relate
to a cheque being considered an
instrument for payment, which comes
into operation three years after the
date on which this law comes into
Later by Law No 7 of 2010, the
provision got amended. According to
the amended law, “cheques shall be
encashed immediately on presentation
and any statement contravening this”
shall be deemed null and void.
If a date is mentioned in the cheque
as issuing date, the banks may refuse
to pay its value until the arrival of that
date. If the bank made the encashment
before that date it shall be held
responsible for the harm that results
from the act. The law contains 846
articles divided into six chapters.
Commercial business, in general,
is business performed by a person
with the intention of speculative gain
even though he is not a merchant.
Speculative gain is the anticipation of
profit by means of the negotiation of
The provisions of this law will apply
to commercial matters and if there
is no text, commercial custom will
be applied. Special custom or local
custom will take precedence over
general custom.
If there is no commercial custom,
the provisions of the Civil Law will be
applied. Law No 22 of 2004 is the Civil
Law in practice.
Article 4 prescribes the purchase
of commodities and other moveable
properties, of whatever type, with the
intention of selling them, whether
sold in their existing condition or after
preparation in another form; purchase
of commodities and other moveable
properties, of whatever type, with the
intention of letting them, or leasing
them with the intention of re-letting
them; sale or rent or re-letting of
purchased or leased commodities
in the manner set out above; the
purchase of real property with the
intention of selling it in its original
condition or after dividing it, and the
sale of real property that has been
purchased with this intention; the
formation of commercial companies;
and contracting for works as
commercial business.
Around the world
Cape Town
Hong Kong
New Delhi
New York
Sao Paulo
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Gulf Times
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Spectacular opening
for spring festival
By Joey Aguilar
Staff Reporter
The Souq Waqif park features a small amphitheatre. PICTURES: Joey Aguilar
New parking facilities at
Souq Waqif earn praise
By Joey Aguilar
Staff Reporter
large number of visitors
to Souq Waqif yesterday utilised the newlyopened underground parking,
significantly easing the traffic
and parking woes in the area.
At 3.20pm, Basement One was
already full and incoming vehicles were directed to Basement
Two of both zones one and two.
At 5.30pm, all the three basements were almost full. The two
zones have at least 1,500 slots.
Zone 3 is yet to be opened.
Workers are engaged in finishing touches on elevators, cables, window frames and tiles.
Gulf Times had reported earlier,
quoting some construction officials that the underground parking has a total of 2,000 slots. The
entrances and exits also provide
easy access to the Corniche or
Abdullah Bin Jassim Street.
The Souq Waqif park above the underground parking attracted a large
number of visitors yesterday.
“Terrible traffic and parking problems seem to be over.
Earlier, we had to wait for more
than 30 minutes or even an
hour to find a slot,” said Rudolf
Benson, who was with his family to watch the annual Spring
Festival which began yesterday
at Souq Waqif.
He lauded the project saying
the opening was timely since
many residents now prefer to
spend their weekends at Souq
Waqif particularly because of
the good weather. Benson noted that underground parking
provides a huge relief to regular souq visitors like him. He
used to park at the souq’s south
parking area (which was closed
yesterday) or somewhere near
the Filipino Souq.
While signs are well placed
along the aisles, dozens of staff
Magical works of
art attract crowds
By Peter Alagos
Business Reporter
panish engineers, Marc
Julbe and Patricia Sanz
have a knack for breathing new life into discarded
wooden crates and transforming them into versatile works
of art.
“Oftentimes, I get worried
that our neighbours’ patience
would wear out from all the
racket we make,” said Marc,
referring to the hammering,
sanding and sawing needed to
resurrect old crates to shelves,
tables, bottle and glass racks,
and even small sofas.
“We don’t have a term for the
art that we create but our brand
name is ‘Pat-Let!’ which we
coined from Patricia and palette,” Patricia told Gulf Times
on the sidelines of the eighth
Katara QatArt Handmade Market held yesterday at the Katara
Art Studios Courtyard - Building 19.
Despite having no formal
One-of-a-kind spoons
encourage kids to eat more.
PICTURE: Peter Alagos
training, software engineer
Swapna Namboodiri is able to
create elegant works of art using stained glass technique on
glass and acrylic sheets.
Swapna’s art is evolving.
Today, she has fashioned recycled plastic bottles into stylish pendants and refrigerator
magnets in the form of but-
Frames are a favourite at the QatArt Handmade Market at Katara.
PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
terflies. She also uses old paper
strips to make attractive beads
for necklaces, as well as acrylic
sheets for classy bookmarks.
Egyptian interior designer
Tasbeeh el-Abhar is now a fulltime mom to five-month-old
Farah. In her spare time, she
fuses polymer clay with metal
spoons to create a one-of-akind cutlery that encourages
kids to eat more.
Her designs are mostly
characters from Spider-man,
Monsters Inc, SpongeBob
SquarePants, M&Ms, among
others, as well as cute and colourful animals
Aside from kiddie themes,
her latest designs are cutlery for weddings. “These are
ideal wedding presents for any
bride-to-be,” she said.
Sri Lankan national Janiththri Perera has put her drawing
and embroidery skills to good
use, by creating laidback decor, handmade cards and other
useful decorations.
“My specialty is ribbon and
embroidery, which I think is
quite new here,” she said.
According to Janiththri, the
handmade community has a
bright future in Qatar citing the
strong interest of many Qataris
as well as expatriates in handcrafted products.
QatArt Handmade Community founder Dominika Bozic
said the market is held twice
a month and would run until March this year. The event
features a variety of handmade
products ranging from paintings, home decor, children’s
clothing, assorted jewellery
and other trinkets, embroidery,
frames, among others.
“Katara Art Studios is interested in continuing the market
but we still need to discuss the
schedules, particularly for the
summer months,” she said.
deployed in three levels also
helped in providing directions
to motorists.
“With QR3 for the first hour
and QR1 for every hour thereafter, the parking fee is reasonable enough,” said Benson.
The park above the underground parking attracted a large
number of families yesterday. A
few fitness facilities similar to
those on the Corniche are expected to draw more residents
especially those who love to
exercise outdoors. A small amphitheatre has also been built
in the centre of the park.
Some visitors were seen flying kites given free by Souq
Waqif staff as part of the Spring
Festival celebration.
“It was refreshing to see the
Corniche, the Fanar and the
Emiri Diwan while at the park,”
said Regina Cabiles, who regularly frequents parks at the
Museum of Islamic Art and Aspire Zone.
tilt walkers and a parade
of unique characters led
the opening of the 15-day
Spring Festival 2015 yesterday
afternoon at Souq Waqif in
The Stripes Circus, Palettes
and Roaming Clowns wearing attractive costumes led the
first show at 4pm along the
major street of the traditional
After 30 minutes, another batch of characters – the
8ft Robot and Nomad Street
Drummers – joined the spectacle in the souq alley.
At 5pm, two ‘Penguin’ mascots and Lighting UFO dressed
in silver costume also attracted
many visitors.
Veinte Tres, an expatriate,
said he was happy to see his
two children playing and having photo opportunity with the
“I find the Lighting UFOs really attractive and entertaining
because of their costumes,” he
noted. “This festival provides
wholesome entertainment and
captivating experience to families especially children.”
At 5.30pm, it was Light of
Wonder, Human Robots and
The Birds and the Explorer’s
turn, which also entertained
the crowd. The shows start at
4pm and end at 10pm.
The Dolphin show (behind
Al Rayyan Channel) is also expected to enthrall visitors in the
coming days and is believed to
provide spectacular performances. Other shows include
Shaun the Sheep (until January
28) and Karameesh (February
2-6) at Al Rayyan Theatre.
The Al Ahmed Square also
hosts a number of skill games
and entertainment activities.
The pony and camel rides were
crowd-pullers as many children wanted to experience riding the two animals. Extreme
rides such as the Dynamite and
Crazy Fire were also a big hit for
all ages. There is a QR10 fee to
enter the area.
The festival also hosted art
workshops for children, art
Stilt walkers in colourful costumes entertain the crowd.
Extreme rides are a big hit for thrill seekers. PICTURES: Najeer Feroke
competitions and learning sessions for Qatar’s environment
Some stages were also set up
in conspicuous areas to host a
number of traditional shows.
In view of the three-day
mourning in Qatar following the
death of Saudi King Abdullah,
the shows and activities at the
festival would be suspended today and tomorrow.
Subdued festivities
The Leshtah (Winter) Festival 2015 marked its second day at Katara–Cultural Village on a subdued note, on account of the official
mourning in homage to Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, who died in the early hours of yesterday. While parades were cancelled, some
stage activities for children were held. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam
$15.4BN DEAL | Page 5
Sensex hits
new record;
rupee gains
to buy O2 of
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Rabia II 4, 1436 AH
Saudi plan to open up
stock market seen on
track under new king
Minister highlights Qatar experience
in supporting private sector at WEF
HE Sheikh Ahmed: Co-operation between government and private
sector would contribute in Qatari local market growth.
E the Minister of Economy and
Commerce Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim al-Thani has underlined Qatar’s successful experience in supporting
and activating private sector’s role in the
various projects.
HE the Minister made the remarks during his participation at the World Economic
Forum’s activities, which is currently held
in Davos, Switzerland and will continue
until today.
During an interactive session held here
on Thursday under the theme “Growth of
markets in the Arab world” as part of Davos’s forum activities, HE the Minister said
that the cooperation between government
and private sector would contribute in Qatari local market growth.
The participants discussed the political
and social developments in the Arab world,
the effects of rising unemployment, falling
of oil prices, as well as economic implications
and challenges facing the Arab economies.
He also spoke about the steps that must
be taken in order to achieve growth and
prosperity in the Arab world, especially
with the existence of problems such as unemployment and weak of trade exchange
between Arab countries, which grew from
7% to 14% in recent years but remains
this figure is dwarfed by ambitions to be
HE the Minister highlighted a set of
points to achieve the desired goal, which
is to increase economic co-operation between the Arab countries and the restructuring of the overall economy and provide
more support for the entrepreneurship
sector, small and medium companies as
well as to realise complementarity between
trade and investment.
The Minister of Economy met Saudi
Minister of Commerce and Industry Dr
Tawfiq bin Fawzan al-Rabiah on Thursday
to discuss bilateral relations in trade, economic and investment fields and ways of
developing and taking advantage of experiences and expertise between the two countries in light of the growing trade exchange
between the two countries which reached
8bn riyals. Over 388 Saudi companies are
operating in the Qatari market and contributing to the Saudi capital.
Qatar’s participation in the new version
of the Davos conference comes at a time of
its growing economy due to results diversification of income sources policy adopted
by the state and the non-oil sector continues to stimulate economic growth.
It also seeks to present its vision in the
investment, economic growth as well as
regional and international trade because
of its of global and regional weight and in
terms of earning a high level of income, low
unemployment rates and transparency in-
dicators that put Qatar at the first rank in
the Arab countries.
Meanwhile, oil prices should increase
to an average of $60 a barrel by the end of
this year as demand from Europe increases
because of economic stimulus from the European Central Bank, HE the Minister said.
While crude prices will rise, they won’t
go back to $100 a barrel for two years, HE
Sheikh Ahmed said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, reports
Bloomberg. He expressed support for a
meeting between the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries and oil producers
outside the group to discuss ways bolster
prices, which was suggested by Iraq’s VicePresident Ayad Allawi on January 21.
“I don’t know what will happen in the
next Opec meeting, but Opec and nonOpec normally should tackle this problem,”
he said in an interview yesterday. “It’s always good to have a discussion,” he said
when asked about the Iraqi proposal.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 24, 2015
will show
in 2015’
India economic growth
forecasts pegged back
New Delhi
apan could see some “concrete movement” in its
real economy in 2015, an
economic adviser to Japanese
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said
yesterday, adding that inflation
expectations have been rising
under the Bank of Japan’s monetary stimulus.
The Japanese economy will
show a powerful upward trend
this year, said Etsuro Honda, a
University of Shizuoka professor and a prominent outside
architect of Abe’s reflationary
The real GDP growth rate was
likely to turn positive sometime
in the first half of this year, he
“I’m sure that the 2% inflation targeting policy will be
realised sometime early 2016,”
Honda said, referring to the
Bank of Japan’s inflation goal.
The world’s third-largest
economy slipped into recession
in the third quarter and is only
barely emerging from the doldrums as a hit from a sales tax
hike in April begins to ease.
Expected real interest rates,
or nominal interest rates minus
the expected inflation rate, have
already dramatically become
negative as the BoJ’s quantitative easing has depressed nominal interests rates while raising
inflation expectations, Honda
“In this context, people are
more likely to invest their assets
in stocks or assets denominated
in foreign currencies.”
“In addition, it is expected as
well that the significant internal
reserves of the Japanese enterprises will begin to be mobilised
and to be allocated to investments or increase in wages,” he
Asked about the impact from
sliding oil prices, Honda said
that they would likely benefit
Japan over the longer term, acting as a tailwind for the economy.
“We are importing a lot of
natural gas and oil from the
Middle East, so since we will be
benefitting from lower oil prices, the Japanese real income will
be increased,” Honda added.
Honda was speaking at a seminar held in Singapore by the
Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) and the Japanese
Embassy, titled “Abenomics: Its
Focus and Further Challenges”.
His remarks came after the
Bank of Japan on Wednesday
kept monetary policy steady by
maintaining its pledge to increase base money at an annual
pace of 80tn yen ($678bn) by
buying government bonds and
other securities.
The BoJ also sharply cut its
inflation forecast and the central bank governor conceded it
may take longer than expected
to hit its 2% inflation goal, underlining the challenges of
meeting the target as oil prices
continue to slump.
ndia’s economy will pick up steam
in the fiscal year beginning in April,
but not by as much as analysts
thought just a few months ago due to
disappointment over a delayed revival
in investment, a Reuters poll found.
Tumbling oil prices and easier credit
conditions are likely to boost consumption, but implementing reforms
will also be key to sustaining that momentum.
According to ING Vysya economist
Upasana Bharadwaj, the outlook for
the economy is still good, but the delay
in strong investments in India means
that forecasts for next year have been
pegged back slightly.
The poll of 19 analysts forecast
Asia’s third largest economy to grow
6.2% next fiscal year, a slight downgrade from the October survey’s forecast of 6.4%, but it would still be the
first time that growth has exceeded
6.0% since FY 2011/2012.
The poll also showed that the economy will grow 5.5% the current fiscal
year ending in March, unchanged from
the previous poll result.
India suffered its slowest phase of
economic growth for a quarter century
during the previous two years when it
clocked consecutive growth rates of
sub-5%. The economy is still growing
far too slowly to generate enough jobs
for the increasing number of people
entering the labour force.
Hopes of some acceleration in the
growth rate stemmed partly from last
week’s surprise interest rate cut by the
Reserve Bank of India and a clear signal it would ease policy through 2015
if inflation continued to cool and the
government kept its finances healthy.
Median forecasts showed the economy expanding 5.8% this quarter and
6% next.
“A looser policy should help growth
accelerate over the next 18 months or
so. On top of this, there is the boon
from the drop in oil prices and what
that means for spending,” said Shilan
Shah, India economist at Capital Economics.
A spectacular fall in global crude
oil prices, roughly 60% in the last six
months, has sent inflation tumbling,
reduced India’s import bill, will make
it easier for the government to cut
costly fuel subsidies, and has freed
up more disposable income for India’s middle classes to spend on other
A Reuters poll of 19 analysts forecast India’s economy to grow 6.2% next fiscal year, a slight downgrade from the October survey’s forecast of
6.4%, but it would still be the first time that growth has exceeded 6% since FY 2011/2012
goods and services. The latest poll saw
consumer prices rising 6.5% this fiscal year and 6% in the following year,
sharply down from the 7.5% and 7%
forecasts in October’s poll.
RBI Governor Rajan said last week
more policy easing would take place
if data continued to confirm disinflationary pressures and economists
took that as a sign that further easing
is certain.
All economists surveyed predicted a cut in the repo rate, currently
7.75%, before July while 9 of 20 forecast a cut as early as policy review
meeting on February3. But India requires reforms, and while many have
been promised by the government
few have been implemented.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s
government has sought to push reforms on foreign investment and
manufacturing, but is facing rigid labour markets, poor infrastructure and
political obstruction, despite holding
a strong majority in the lower house
of parliament. Next year’s budget will
be unveiled on February 28 and should
give an indication of what reforms can
be expected.
“We are on the slightly more cautious side in terms of hopes of reform
and we’ve seen the political roadblocks come into play over the past
month or so and it’s going to constrain
the reform agenda,” said Shah.
‘Repo row could hurt Indian airlines’
ndia faces growing pressure over financial uncertainty at budget carrier SpiceJet after leasing company BOC Aviation demanded the
return of three leased aircraft, in what is seen as a
test of global rules on aircraft investments.
The leasing arm of Bank of China warned in an
interview that India’s fast-growing airline industry could struggle to attract funds unless India
upholds a pact designed to protect the owners of
leased jets, widely used across the world.
“SpiceJet is a very frustrating situation,” Chief
Executive Robert Martin told Reuters.
“Obviously when we lease planes we like people
to pay us. And if they don’t pay us, then generally
the way an operating lessor reacts is by moving its
planes to somewhere else in the world.”
India’s Economic Times this week reported lessors wanted permission to retrieve 11 jets.
BOC Aviation said it had asked for three Boeing
737s to be removed from the Indian register, a step
towards repossession.
The Singapore firm is among half a dozen lessors with exposure to SpiceJet, which is trying
to finalise a new shareholder structure and cash
Others involved include Canada’s export credit
agency, which financed 15 Bombardier Q400 turboprops worth $450mn at list prices. A spokes-
man said it had not yet asked for these to be deregistered and was working with the carrier.
SpiceJet said it was trying to resolve any disputes.
“In general with the imminent change of ownership and re-capitalisation, we expect all matters
related to payables to be resolved soon in co-operation with our partners and suppliers, and are in
regular contact with them,” Sanjiv Kapoor, SpiceJet’s Chief Operating Officer, said by e-mail.
It is the second such standoff in as many years
after lessors clashed with now-inactive Kingfisher
Airlines over Airbus jets.
But financiers are watching SpiceJet’s case especially closely because it is the first formal test,
in one of the world’s biggest markets, of the so-
called Cape Town Convention. The 2001 pact is a
key part of efforts to harmonize trade with developing countries that dominate aircraft demand,
but which is only now being implemented in key
markets like India.
In return for 10% cheaper fees, the pact gives
owners clearer rights to pull assets in the event of
Martin said ignoring the pact would hurt other
“It means the industry will be less interested in
leasing planes to India, relative to other jurisdictions,” he said.
Airlines have 60 days to return planes, but officials said SpiceJet still had time to meet this
Analyst-turned fund manager basks in Xiaomi glow
Hong Kong
Just three years after selling its first mobile phone, Beijing-based Xiaomi,
dubbed ‘China’s Apple’, is worth $45bn, making it the most valuable
start-up in the technology sector.
Richard Ji, whose little-known fund was
the biggest investor in leading Chinese
smartphone maker Xiaomi’s $1.1bn
fundraising last month, is a numbers
man looking to spot ‘category killers’ –
start-ups with the power to disrupt.
Ji, a former Morgan Stanley technology
industry analyst, co-founded All-Stars
Investment in Hong Kong last April with
half a dozen colleagues from the Wall
Street bank.
The fund swiftly raised about $750mn
to target China’s vast Internet sector, Ji
told Reuters in an interview at his small
office in Hong Kong’s central business
district. A Xiaomi branded television
hangs on the wall.
Ji declined to name investors in his fund,
but said half the money came from
leading Asian Corps and the rest from
business leaders in the IT, consumer and
financial industries.
“As a fund, we focus on late-stage
opportunities, or companies that are
2-3 years away from potential IPO,”
he said. “If you focus on growth-stage
companies, chances are you’ll pick the
wrong horse.”
Last year’s record $25bn IPO from
Alibaba Group Holding injected new
life into Chinese tech hopefuls. Alibaba
and other Chinese companies raised a
combined $29.3bn through US listings
last year alone, minting millionaires and
fuelling a rush to fund tech start-ups.
Ji reckons only one in every 60,000
Internet start-ups in China makes it to a
public listing.
Ji, whose 11 years as an industry analyst
helped him build close ties with Chinese
tech entrepreneurs including Xiaomi
founder and CEO Lei Jun, says he
targets what he calls ‘category leaders’
and ‘category killers’.
“These companies have a disruptive
product or business model, and they are
the winners of tomorrow,” he said.
Xiaomi fits that bill.
Just three years after selling its first
mobile phone, Beijing-based Xiaomi,
dubbed ‘China’s Apple’, is worth $45bn,
making it the most valuable start-up
in the technology sector. Already, the
world’s No.3 smartphone maker, Xiaomi
has ambitious plans to take on Samsung
Electronics as it expands into home
appliances, televisions and TV content.
“Lei Jun placed extraordinary faith in
Richard by handing him the mandate,”
said one individual who knows both men
and is familiar with the fundraising. “That
trust was built over a period of time, and
Richard did not disappoint him.”
Xiaomi’s reliance on Ji, 46, to drive the
December fundraising underscores the
importance of strong personal ties.
“He’s connected, well regarded,
understands patterns and has learned
that the odds are in his favour when he
has the courage of his convictions - all in
all, a powerful combination,” said Mary
Meeker, general partner at US-based
venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, and
Ji’s mentor at Morgan Stanley.
“He comes from an ordinary
background. The remarkable thing
about Richard is that he’s obsessed with
analysis, even with simple things in life,”
said a former classmate of Ji’s from
Fudan University.
After a first degree from Fudan, Ji went
on to Harvard, where he specialised
in novel cancer therapy. During a brief
stint in the pharmaceuticals industry,
he dabbled in tech stocks and trebled
his money in 1999, only to lose it all the
following year as the bubble
“I was a victim of the previous
technology crash, and so we’re
extremely cautious about the (current)
bubble. But there are key differences
between the 2000 boom and now,” Ji
said. Ji notes that in early 2000 fewer
than 5% of Chinese used the internet.
Today, some 630mn people – around
half the population – log on in some
form, making China the world’s biggest
internet market, and internet companies
don’t just rely on advertising revenues.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 24, 2015
‘Asian economies to grow
at lacklustre pace in 2015’
merging Asian economies will
grow at a lacklustre pace this year
and next, held back by a slowdown in China and weak global demand, while cooling inflation will probably throw open the door for monetary
policy easing, a Reuters poll showed.
Much will depend on how China performs as demand for raw materials from
its vast factory sector and for finished
goods from its massive population
could alter the growth trajectory of regional trade partners.
China’s growth rate will probably
slow further to 7% this year from 7.4%
in 2014, restrained by weak lending and
a housing slump, according to a Reuters quarterly global economic outlook,
published as world leaders meet at the
World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
That slowdown in the world’s
second-largest economy is likely to
prompt more stimulus and interest rate
cuts from China’s central bank later this
stalled for a second straight month in
January, data showed yesterday. Companies had to cut prices at a faster clip
to win new business, adding to worries
about deflationary pressures.
A faltering eurozone and China coupled with disinflation posed the biggest
threat to the global economy this year,
economists in a Reuters poll said last
They predicted global growth was
likely to average 3.5% this year and 3.8%
in 2016, unchanged from October’s
Rapidly cooling inflation around the
world, thanks to a spectacular 60%
drop in global crude oil prices since
June, has forced major central banks to
ease policy.
The European Central Bank announced a quantitative easing programme on Thursday to buy €60bn of
sovereign bonds and private securities each month from March through
September 2016, although economists
polled soon after said that won’t help
bring inflation up to target.
They also predict the ECB will have
to extend the intended timeframe to beyond September next year - something
entirely possible if the Bank of Japan’s
QE programme is any guide.
Japan has spent trillions of yen over
more than a decade with little suc-
Buses wait to be exported in Lianyungang port. China’s economic growth rate will probably slow further to 7% this year from 7.4% in 2014, restrained by weak lending
and a housing slump, according to a Reuters quarterly global economic outlook.
cess so far in raising inflation. Yet more
stimulus is expected later this year.
While economists slightly upgraded
2015 growth projections for most East
Asian economies in the latest poll, weak
consumer demand and credit growth
could thwart a swift recovery.
“The combination of slowing consumer credit growth and, in several
economies, falling property prices
could curb private consumption this
year, trimming the windfall to house-
holds from the sharp decline in oil prices,” said Benjamin Shatil, an economist
at JP Morgan.
Australia is expected to report sharply lower growth this year, owing to steep
falls in prices of its major commodity
exports, notably iron ore.
And inflation is forecast to cool this
year throughout Asia, compared with
expectations just three months ago,
with price rises decelerating to below
2% on an annual basis in New Zealand,
Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.
While that would surely come as good
news to consumers burdened with high
inflation and interest rates for most of
the past half a decade, if sustained it
could hurt factories, hit corporate profits and in turn lead to weak pay growth.
The cooling inflation trend, coupled
with weak growth, has raised prospects
of policy easing from regional central
“With oil prices continuing to tumble
and incoming inflation prints surprising on the downside, the prospects for
monetary easing in emerging Asia have
risen,” said Shatil.
India’s central bank will probably
cut its benchmark repo rate by 50 basis points in the next quarter after a
surprise cut this month. In a year, the
lending rate is predicted to have been
slashed to 7% from 7.75% now.
South Korea is also expected to cut its
key rate by March.
Businesses cut prices to drum up sales
usinesses across Asia and Europe
have slashed prices at the start of
the year to drum up trade, surveys
showed yesterday, a day after the European Central Bank voted to print money
in a bid to revive inflation.
Eurozone firms cut prices at the fastest rate in nearly five years and Chinese
factories cut them for the sixth straight
month, while economic growth in
South Korea slowed sharply, raising the
prospect of more easing from central
banks in Asia.
The ECB took the policy plunge on
Thursday, announcing a government
bond-buying programme which will
CPI seen
in Dec
pump hundreds of billions of euros in
new money into a sagging eurozone
With Chinese factory growth stalling
for a second month, expectations are
high that Beijing will announce fresh
stimulus measures soon.
“2015 is unlikely to be a particularly
fantastic year with regards to global
growth,” said Peter Dixon, an economist at Commerzbank.
“There is no doubt that across the
world central banks are being a little bit
more aggressive. Disinflation has certainly changed the monetary prospects.”
Markit’s Eurozone Composite Flash
Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI),
based on surveys of thousands of companies and seen as a good growth indicator, bounced to a five-month high of
52.2 from December’s 51.4.
That beat the median forecast of 51.8
and marked the 19th month above the
50 line denoting growth.
But Markit said it pointed to firstquarter growth of just 0.2%, slightly
worse than the 0.3% predicted in a Reuters poll last week. “January’s small rise
in the eurozone composite PMI suggests that growth remains very slow,
confirming that the ECB’s latest policy
support is sorely needed,” said Jennifer
McKeown, senior European economist
at Capital Economics.
The index for prices charged slumped
to 46.9, its lowest since February 2010,
and comes after official data showed
consumer prices fell 0.2% in December,
the first negative print since the depths
of the financial crisis in 2009.
Falling prices in Britain gave an unexpected boost to retailers there in December, with sales rising 0.4% on the
month after surging by 1.6% in November, the strongest growth in more than
a decade.
Business surveys due later on Friday
on US manufacturing may highlight
concerns that its economy is the only
engine driving global growth this year.
China’s HSBC/Markit Flash Manufacturing PMI hovered at 49.8 in January, little changed from December, but the input
prices index fell to the lowest since the
global financial crisis, reflecting a tumble
in oil prices that is spreading disinflationary pressure throughout the globe.
Analysts at Nomura saw more downside pressure on China’s producer prices, “enhancing our concerns over defla-
tion”. “This looks like a trend and it will
affect core inflation at some stage. So
the PBoC will very likely react to such
deflation concerns,” said Chang Chun
Hua, an economist at Nomura.
News out of South Korea made for
uncomfortable reading as well. Asia’s
fourth-largest economy grew a seasonally adjusted 0.4% in the October-December period, less than half the 0.9%
expansion in the third quarter.
The Bank of Korea is widely expected
to cut interest rates in the first half of
this year.
In Thailand, the finance minister
urged the central bank to cut rates to
help the sputtering economy and said
he was worried that the strength of the
baht currency will hurt exports, a key
growth engine.
apan’s consumer inflation
likely slowed for a fifth straight
month in December due largely to falling oil prices, a Reuters
poll showed, keeping the Bank of
Japan under pressure to meet its
ambitious 2% inflation target.
More optimistically, for an
economy seeking to emerge from
recession, factory output probably rebounded in December
helped by the electronic parts and
automobile sectors after an unexpected slip the previous month.
Annual export growth was
also seen improving in December from November’s levels, helped by a weak yen and
stronger demand from the US
and some Asian nations.
“December data next week will
be examined for evidence to see
if the economy really hit the bottom and started picking up in the
October-December quarter, as
many people expect,” said Yoshiki
Shinke, chief economist at Daiichi Life Research Institute.
Whilst putting an unwanted dampener on inflation, the
slump in crude oil prices should
benefit consumer spending and
reduce manufacturers’ costs,
Shinke said, unless the weak oil
market destabilised other financial markets.
“Falling oil prices are generally positive for households and
the economy, unless financial
markets become volatile which
leads to turmoil in emerging
The core consumer price index (CPI), which excludes volatile fresh food but includes oil
products, is expected to have
risen 2.6% in December from a
year earlier, the poll of 25 economists showed.
That would follow a 2.7% rise
in November and a 2.9% increase
in October. Excluding the effects
of the sales tax hike, consumer
inflation was estimated at 0.6%
in December, just over a quarter
of the way to achieving the BoJ’s
2% target.
The internal affairs ministry
will announce CPI at 8:30 am
on January30 (2330 GMT January 29). Earlier this week, the BoJ
sharply cut its inflation forecast
to 1.0% for the fiscal year starting in April from 1.7% projected
three months ago. BoJ Governor
Haruhiko Kuroda conceded it
may take longer than expected to
hit 2% inflation.
Japan’s factory output will
likely show a 1.3% gain in December from the previous month
when it fell 0.5%.
Exports are expected to have
risen 11% in December from a
year ago, the poll showed, suggesting a moderate recovery in
overseas demand.
“A slide in oil prices will curb
import values, while exports are
recovering, although at a moderate pace, and the trade deficit probably shrank for a third
straight month compared with
a year ago,” an analyst at Shinkin
Central Bank said in the survey.
Imports probably gained 2.3%
last month, which would result
in a trade deficit of ¥740.3bn,
¥891.9bn, but still the 30th consecutive monthly deficit.
China steelmakers bring forward maintenance, try to dent oversupply
Chinese steel producers are bringing forward maintenance on some facilities as they look to curb oversupply.
Chinese steelmakers are bringing forward
plant maintenance as they look to curb
oversupply that helped knock nearly a
third off prices last year in the world’s top
producer of the alloy, industry sources
Leaner demand in winter, when
construction activity typically slows, has
also forced steel mills to keep low iron ore
inventories, piling more pressure on prices
for the steelmaking ingredient that have
plunged close to their weakest in 5-1/2
Chinese steel producers, including the
biggest private mill Jiangsu Shagang
Group, state-owned Wuhan Iron & Steel
Group and Hebei province-based Tangshan
Iron & Steel, are scheduling maintenance
on some facilities, according to industry
consultancy Custeel. Those companies did
not immediately respond to requests for
comment from Reuters.
“The difference this year is that in order to
trim production, many mills in northern
China have brought forward maintenance
plans, which traditionally happen during
the Lunar New Year, as prices have fallen
too quickly and many rebar producers
have been losing more than 100 yuan ($16)
a tonne,” said Cheng Xubao, an analyst
with Custeel who has spoken to several
The Lunar New Year holiday, also known
as the Spring Festival, this year kicks
off on February 19. Slowing economic
growth in China has hit demand growth
for a raft of commodities, with benchmark
rebar futures on the Shanghai Futures
Exchange shedding 4% so far in January
after tumbling 29% last year. Spot iron ore
prices slumped 47% in 2014.
“We are making a loss of more than 200
yuan a tonne and have had to conduct
maintenance on one blast furnace which
may last until after the Spring Festival,” an
official with a small steel mill in Tangshan
told Reuters.
According to Custeel, 12 large mills will cut
their total output by an estimated 896,000
tonnes during scheduled overhauls over
January and February.
“The figure looks limited, but this is just
a survey of a few mills, and many mills
have also reduced production rates even
without conducting maintenance,” Cheng
China’s total steel output in December
jumped 7.6% from the month before to
around 69mn tonnes, data showed this
Sluggish consumption has led to a big rise
in steel product inventories.
Inventories the five main products,
including rebar and hot-rolled coil, had
surged 8.07% to 10.41mn tonnes by Jan.
16 from the end of 2014, the China Iron
& Steel Association said in a report on
China’s steel production grew at its slowest
rate in more than three decades in 2014,
while consumption fell 3.4%.
The world’s second-largest economy grew
7.4% in 2014, its weakest expansion in 24
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 24, 2015
surge on
ECB move
sian equity markets rallied yesterday after the
European Central Bank
announced a huge cash injection
to kickstart the eurozone economy, while crude prices surged on
news the monarch of oil kingpin
Saudi Arabia had died.
The ECB’s unprecedented decision to pump tens of billions
of dollars a month into financial
markets sent the euro plunging
to 11-year lows against the dollar
and also fuelled a buying spree in
US and European stock markets.
Tokyo jumped 1.05%, or 182.73
points, to 17,511.75 and Sydney
added 1.51%, or 81.90 points, to
5501.80, with energy firms lifted
by the stronger oil prices. Seoul
gained 0.79%, or 15.27 points, to
Hong Kong climbed 1.34%, or
327.82 points to 24,850.45 and
Shanghai added 0.25%, or 8.42
points, to 3,351.76.
After a much-anticipated
policy meeting on Thursday ECB
chief Mario Draghi said it would
buy €60bn ($69bn) a month of
private and public bonds from
March until September 2016,
with the total programme valued
at over €1tn. Analysts had forecast €50bn.
“Market expectations were
high and Draghi managed to
surprise even the highest of
expectations,” Nader Naeimi,
Sydney-based head of dynamic
asset allocation at AMP Capital
Investors, told Bloomberg News.
“It clearly puts the ECB on the
front foot. It should help to stabilise European growth.”
The announcement means the
bank will effectively be printing
more euros, pushing down the
value of the single currency.
It was also at 134.11 yen yesterday, against 134.63 yen in US
trade and well down from 136.80
yen earlier Thursday in Asia.
The two main global crude
contracts surged yesterday following the death of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, the key
member of the Opec that has
refused to lower production despite a supply glut.
In afternoon Asian trade yesterday, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for March delivery was up 83 cents, or 1.79%, at
$47.14 a barrel. Brent crude for
March jumped $1.08, or 2.23%,
to $49.60.
King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz
was replaced by Crown Prince
Salman, the royal court said in a
The jump in prices comes
as a relief to energy firms after
months of sharp falls caused by
weak global demand, an oversupply of the black gold and
Opec’s decision last year to
maintain production levels.
Among Asian energy companies Sydney-listed Woodside
jumped 2.32% and Santos rallied 5.12% by the end of the day,
while in Tokyo Inpex climbed
In Hong Kong trade PetroChina ended 2.76% higher and Sinopec added 1.61%.
Gold fetched $1,294.55 an
ounce, against $1,286.66 late
In other markets, Taipei jumped 1.08%, or 101.43
points, to 9,470.94; Wellington climbed 0.50%, or 28.09
points, to 5,675.24 and Manila
surged 1.79%, or 132.62 points,
to 7,548.93 – a record high.
India shares hit new
record; rupee rallies
ndian stocks advanced to a record
for a fourth day, with the benchmark index completing its biggest
weekly rally in eight months, as the
European Central Bank expanded its
stimulus programme.
Tata Power advanced the most on
the S&P BSE Sensex, while Bharti
Airtel, the largest mobile-phone operator, climbed to a two-month high.
Tata Motors, owner of Jaguar Land
Rover, climbed to an all-time high.
Engineering company Larsen & Toubro increased to its highest level since
July. Sun Pharmaceutical Industries
advanced for a seventh day.
The Sensex rallied 0.9% to
29,278.84 at the close, taking the
week’s increase to 4.1%, the most
since June.
“Much of what we are seeing is on
expectation of what central banks
would be doing going forward,” Atif
Latif, a director of trading at Guardian Stockbrokers in London, told
Bloomberg TV India yesterday. “Risk
appetite is moving up and things are
looking positive.”
Foreigners bought a net $346mn of
local shares on January 21, the most
since December 8, according to data
compiled by Bloomberg. That took this
year’s purchases to $782.5mn, the most
among eight Asian markets tracked by
Bloomberg.Tata Power, the biggest
generator outside state control, surged
6.7%, the most since May 19. Bharti
soared 3.8% to its highest level since
December 2. Housing Development
Finance Corp, the biggest mortgage
lender, added 0.8% to a record. Tata
Motors jumped 3.9%. Larsen increased
2.9%. Sun Pharmaceutical rose to a
The Sensex has climbed 6.5% this
month, the best performer in the world
in dollar terms, after the central bank
lowered its main interest rate for the
first time in 20 months on January 15,
and the International Monetary Fund
said this week that India will be the
world’s fastest-growing major economy in the year ending March 2017.
The gauge’s 50-day historical volatility index rose to the highest since
A view of the Bombay Stock Exchange. The Sensex yesterday rallied 0.9% to 29,278.84 at the close, taking the week’s increase to 4.1%, the most since June.
July. Its 14-day relative strength index, which tracks how rapidly prices
rose or fell during the specified period, was at 72.5. Some investors see
readings of more than 70 as a signal to
sell.The market is closed on January
26 for a public holiday.
The partially convertible ru-
pee ended stronger at 61.42/43 per
dollar versus its previous close of
61.6950/7050 on strong foreign dollar inflows, stocks. Dollar demand by
state-run banks, likely for oil companies, and central bank pulled the rupee off a 2-1/2 month high hit in early
Emerging stocks log biggest
weekly gain in 10 months
headed yesterday for their
biggest weekly gain in 10
months, while bonds and currencies rallied across the board,
thanks to the European Central
Bank’s trillion-euro stimulus
MSCI’s emerging equities index was more than 1% higher
after the ECB on Thursday announced details of its planned
bond-buying scheme, with sharp
gains on Asian bourses such as
Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea
and India. The MSCI Asia ex-Japan index rose 1%.
“The ECB move is supportive
for global stocks and that has also
helped emerging market sentiment. So EM has reacted quite
positively. The near-term call is
in favour of EM but longer-term
there may be risks to that trade,”
said Manik Narain, strategist at
Analysts said the stimulus
could end weeks of outflows from
emerging market funds, though
latest data from EPFR Global,
cited by bankers, shows money
continues to flee the asset class.
Emerging credit funds lost
0.4% of assets, local currency
bonds lost 0.6%, and equity
funds shed 0.4% of assets, bankers said.
In central Europe, the Hungarian forint and Polish zloty hit
5-week highs to the euro. Other
emerging currencies also firmed
against the euro, with the Turkish lira and South African rand at
around 18-month highs. Brazil’s
real touched a four-month high
on Thursday.
“We could easily see 4-5% declines in euro/lira and euro/real
over coming weeks especially if
the Greek political impasse does
not escalate, nor the US Federal
Reserve take material steps towards the first tightening,” ING
Bank said.
Hungary’s $2bn bond due 2023
rose half a cent to trade at 111
cents to the dollar. Poland’s $2bn
2023 bond rose 0.75 cents to 101
cents in the dollar.
Polish and Romanian 10-year
local yields hit new record lows
as investors piled in to take advantage of their yield differential
with the eurozone and expected
rate cuts in Poland and Romania.
Regional stocks too extended
gains, with Prague gaining the
A moderate rise in the oil price
after the death of Saudi King
Abdullah helped Russian assets,
with the rouble gaining 0.6%
against the dollar and Moscow
stocks rising 1%.
Oil price plunge should prompt new fuel taxes in Asia
By Clyde Russell
Launceston, Australia
One worthy side-effect of the plunge
in crude oil prices is that several Asian
governments have ended costly fuel
subsidies, but it’s time to go further
and impose higher taxes.
The 58% drop in Brent crude since
June last year has opened a far bigger
window of opportunity for Asian
countries than just the chance to
dump subsidies.
It’s laudable that the last remaining
major subsidising countries Indonesia,
Malaysia and India have largely ended
their support for fuel.
However, given the prevailing market
view that crude oil is poised to remain
weak for at least a couple of years,
now is the time to start imposing
This would have two positive effects
for Asian countries, firstly to ensure
that fuel demand doesn’t rise too
sharply because consumption is
encouraged by low prices, and
secondly to provide revenues to fund
vital social infrastructure.
Indonesia stopped subsidising
gasoline altogether from the start of
this year, and cut support for diesel to
just 1,000 rupiah (8 US cents) a litre.
This will cut the expected cost to
the government to just 1% of total
expenditures from a previously
estimated 13.5%, according to analyst
Wellian Wiranto of OCBC bank.
This effectively means the Indonesian
government will have at least an extra
$20bn to spend on other areas.
Malaysia also decided to abolish fuel
subsidies, scrapping both gasoline
and diesel support from December
1 last year, a move that will save the
government nearly $6bn a year.
And India ended diesel price controls
last October, having earlier allowed
gasoline prices to be set by the
To be sure, India does levy some taxes
on factory gate prices for fuels, but
these are comparatively low.
Two recent increases took the rate
for unbranded petrol to 8.95 Indian
rupees (14.5 US cents) a litre and 7.96
rupees a litre for diesel.
In contrast, a developed country such
as Australia levies an excise of 38.6
Australian cents (30.8 US cents) a litre
on gasoline and diesel.
Australia also imposes a 10% goods
and services tax (GST) on fuel sales,
which is applied to the excise portion
of the cost as well, leading to criticism
from motorist lobby groups that a tax
is being added to another tax.
Overall, with both the excise and the
GST included, taxes amount to just
under half the current retail price of
gasoline and diesel in Australia, which
is a far cry from the modest amount
levied by India.
Australia’s centre-right Liberal
government last year re-introduced
a policy of indexing the excise to
inflation, which it had scrapped in a
previous term of office in a bid to win
popular support.
The measure still has to gain approval
in the upper house Senate, where the
government lacks a majority, but fuel
costs have faded as a political issue
as prices have declined, raising the
possibility of Senate backing.
Even China, a former fuel subsidiser, is
raising taxes, announcing a third hike
in six weeks on January 12.
The latest increase takes the
consumption tax on gasoline to the
equivalent of about 24.5 US cents a
litre, and for diesel to about 19.3 cents
a litre.
While these are considerably higher
than the taxes imposed in India, they
are about half those in Australia, and
are dwarfed by the roughly 87 cents a
litre British motorists pay in gasoline
It should be clear to Asian
governments that structural shifts
in oil prices, especially downward
movements, don’t come very often
and they should not be wasted.
Countries should decide a minimum
level for fuel prices and impose
taxes to ensure that these levels are
With the current low oil price, the
political pain of doing this may not
be so great, and if populations can
be convinced that the revenue raised
is being used to make meaningful
improvements in their lives, it ends
up being one of those rare win-win
zClyde Russell is a Reuters columnist.
The views expressed are his own.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Alibaba’s Ma unveils global ambitions
Alibaba founder Jack Ma, China’s
richest person, yesterday
expressed ambitions of making
his company into a global
e-commerce platform serving two
billion customers.
The company, which listed on
the New York Stock Exchange
last year, is estimated to hold
over 90% of the Chinese market
for consumer-to-consumer
transactions through its Taobao
Taobao has more than 800mn
The bad debt ratio of Chinese
banks climbed to 1.6% as of the
end of 2014, government data
showed yesterday.
bad debt
ratio rises
to 5-year
high in ’14
he bad debt ratio of Chinese banks climbed to
1.6% as of the end of 2014,
government data showed yesterday, a level not seen since the
global financial crisis and underscoring building financial pressures as China’s economy cools.
The non-performing loan ratio rose to 1.64% in the fourth
quarter, up from 1.16% at the end
of September, the China Banking
Regulatory Commission said.
China’s bad debt ratio stood
at 1.66% in the third quarter of
The rise in the bad debt ratio is
the latest sign of the challenges
faced by the world’s secondlargest economy.
Data this week showed China’s economic growth plumbed a
24-year low in 2014 as a cooling
housing market and a downturn
in investment and manufacturing dragged on activity.
Separate government and
corporate data have shown that
companies are delaying their debt
repayments as business slowed.
Yet, in a bid to shore up economic
activity, Chinese authorities have
been funnelling more cash into
banks to spur lending.
The central bank pumped
50bn yuan ($8.04bn) worth of
short-term loans into banks on
Wednesday, its second cash injection in as many weeks to encourage lending to farmers and
small businesses.
Banks’ capital adequacy ratio,
a measure of the level of protection offered to depositors, stood
at 12.9% at the end of November.
The regulator did not say what
the figure was as of the end of
product listings and around
500mn registered users,
according to the company.
“What I am thinking about: how we
can make Alibaba a platform for
global small business,” Ma told the
World Economic Forum.
He described the vision as an
e-commerce version of the World
Trade Organisation (WTO).
“Today, the Internet can help small
businesses sell things across
the oceans, across nations. And
I hope we can serve two billion
consumers. We can help ten
million small businesses outside
China,” he said, speaking in
In November, Ma said he planned
a “global version” of Taobao,
allowing buyers and sellers in
different countries to connect with
each other.
Taobao’s foreign efforts to date
have focused mainly on overseas
Chinese communities but Alibaba
has launched a US shopping
website, 11 Main.
Alibaba is often described as the
Chinese version of eBay. Like
the US company, it has its own
payments system, called Alipay,
though it puts less emphasis on
online auctions in favour of instant
Alibaba bested eBay in China over
a decade ago, essentially forcing
it to retreat. Ma recounted a
conversation with an executive of
US retail giant Walmart, in which he
suggested Alibaba could become
bigger through the Internet.
“If you want to have 10,000 new
customers, you have to build a
new warehouse, this and that,”
he said, referring to the Walmart
executive. “For me, two servers.”
Ma is China’s richest person with
a net worth of $28.5bn as of
Thursday, according to Bloomberg
billionaires. He vaulted into first
place after Alibaba listed on the
New York Stock Exchange in
Ma: Planning to make Alibaba a global e-commerce platform serving 2bn customers.
Hutchison to buy Telefonica
UK mobile unit for $15.4bn
Telefonica exiting UK to cut debt;
deal set to be Li’s biggest ever M&A;
Li’s revamped his businesses earlier
this month; Hutchison shares jump
more than 4%
Hong Kong/Madrid
i Ka-shing’s Hutchison Whampoa has agreed to buy Telefonica’s
British mobile unit O2 for up to
£10.25bn ($15.4bn), as Asia’s richest
man makes his boldest bet yet to revamp his European telecoms business.
Hutchison already operates the Three
Mobile network in Britain, and buying
second-ranked O2 from the Spanish
group in Li’s biggest ever takeover will
make it the top mobile operator in the
The company made its first forays
into European telecoms markets in
2000, but returns from the business
have lagged other parts of Li’s portsto-property empire.
Li and his chief dealmaker Canning
Fok have doubled down in response,
sinking more money into Europe as they
look to snap up businesses from operators who have been battered by the continent’s debt crisis.
The proposed O2 deal comes just two
weeks after the Hong Kong tycoon undertook a major overhaul of his sprawling operations, which will be split into
two listed companies, one focusing on
property and the second on his other
businesses including telecommunications, ports and infrastructure.
The revamp will boost Hutchison’s
acquisition firepower by about $7bn as
it spins off its property assets to Cheung
Kong Holdings.
“The deal indicates that the group is
continuously eyeing Europe to seek future growth,” said Alex Wong, a director
with Hong Kong-based Ample Finance
The marriage of Three Mobile and
O2 UK would mark the latest move towards telecoms consolidation in Britain, where the market is split between
four mobile network operators and four
separately owned fixed-line and broadband providers.
While the deal will attract scrutiny
from competition authorities, European regulators have allowed the number
of telecoms operators in countries including Austria and Ireland to shrink
from four to three through mergers and
“The European Commission has
taken a positive view of four- to-three
consolidations of mobile in three cases
now...and we believe that the precedents that they have set in those trans-
A pedestrian walks past an O2 mobile phone shop in London. Hutchison has agreed to buy Telefonica’s British mobile unit O2 for up to £10.25bn ($15.4bn), as Li Ka-shing
makes his boldest bet yet to revamp his European telecoms business.
actions will apply for this transaction,”
Frank Sixt, Hutchison’s group finance
director, told reporters.
The deal will mark Li’s biggest ever
acquisition, overtaking Hutchison’s
$7.5bn purchase of Britain’s Northumbrian Water Group in 2011, according to
Thomson Reuters data.
Hutchison shares rose 3%, outpacing
a 1.3% rise in Hong Kong’s benchmark
Hang Seng share index.
Telefonica’s shares gained 2.6% in
early trading in Madrid, in line with the
2.3% rise in the benchmark IBEX index.
Hutchison said in a statement that it
had “agreed to enter into exclusive negotiations with Telefónica SA over a period of several weeks” for the potential
It said it had agreed to pay an indicative price of £9.25bn, with another 1bn
pounds in “interest sharing payments”
should the combined business reach
certain cash flow targets.
Hutchison will fund the deal with a
£6bn bank loan. The company is in talks
with private equity firms and others to
bring in minority partners, who would
be offered not more than a 30% stake,
Sixt added.
In December, former state monopoly BT entered exclusive talks with the
owners of EE, Britain’s biggest mobile
BT had preferred EE over O2, which
was acquired by Telefonica in early
2006 and has about 22mn subscribers.
The Hutchison offer values O2 UK
at 7.9 times EBITDA, in line with BT’s
planned takeover of EE, which was valued at about 8 times.
Reuters reported in November that
Hutchison, whose Three is Britain’s
smallest mobile network, was waiting
in the wings to buy whichever group BT
Moelis is advising Hutchison, while
UBS is advising Telefonica, people fa-
miliar with the matter said.
Three Group Europe reported total
revenue of HK$31bn ($4bn) for the six
months ended June 2014, a 3% rise from
a year ago. Its core earnings, or EBITDA,
rose 15% to HK$6.5bn in the same period.
It operates businesses in Italy, Britain, Sweden, Denmark, Austria and
Ireland. In Asia, Hutchison has mobile
operations in Indonesia, Vietnam and
Sri Lanka.
Analysts expect Hutchison to consolidate its Italian operations next. In
2013, it approached Telecom Italia with
a proposal to merge their mobile businesses whereby Hutchison would have
taken a near 30% stake in Italy’s biggest
phone operator. But the proposal was
rebuffed by Telecom Italia’s core shareholders.
It then tried to merge its Italian unit
3 Italia with Wind, a subsidiary of
Russian telecoms group Vimpelcom,
but talks have stalled. When asked
whether the company could move
quickly to consolidate Italian operations, Sixt said: “I like to think we can
move very quickly in any circumstance. But you have to have achieved
the right deal for all sides for anything
like this to happen, that was the case
in the UK, and that will be the case in
relation to Italy.”
Last year, Hutchison bought Telefonica’s Irish business in a bid to boost
its market share, though it still trails
behind the market leader Vodafone.
Telefonica said in November the British market was a core one for the company, but it had set as higher priority on
reducing its big debt pile and protecting
a fat dividend.
It also needed fresh cash to consider
potential acquisitions in Brazil, its biggest market along with its home country, where it is investing massively to
build an optic fibre network.
South Korea’s economy slows sharply to six-year low in Q4
Hanjin Shipping’s container terminal is seen at the Busan New Port. South Korea’s economy slowed sharply in
the final quarter of 2014, with growth hovering around six-year lows, knocked by weak government spending
and global demand and heaping pressure on the central bank to cut interest rates further.
South Korea’s economy slowed sharply
in the final quarter of 2014, with growth
hovering around six-year lows, knocked
by weak government spending and global
demand and heaping pressure on the central
bank to cut interest rates further.
Asia’s fourth-largest economy grew a
seasonally adjusted 0.4% in the OctoberDecember period on-quarter, central bank
estimates showed yesterday, less than half of
the 0.9% gain in the third quarter.
It matched the same rate in the third quarter
of 2012 and is the worst since early 2009.
The weak quarterly growth rate, which was
in line with forecast from a Reuters survey
of 16 analysts, comes after the European
Central Bank on Thursday launched a
government bond-buying programme to
revive a sagging eurozone economy.
The ECB joins several other global central
banks, including Bank of Canada’s shock
rate cut this week, in pump-priming
their economies and taking preemptive
action to defuse the risk of deflation from
plunging oil prices.
Although the Bank of Korea has
downplayed the risk of deflation, analysts
say the central bank is overly optimistic
about the economic outlook and are
predicting another rate cut to recharge
a faltering recovery. December inflation
dipped to 0.8%, the lowest in over 15 years.
“If (the ECB move) leads to further easing
in South Korea as well, it would boost the
economy here, too,” said Seo Hyang-mi,
fixed-income analyst at HI Investment &
Securities. She expects the BOK to deliver
a cut by April.
In the latest quarter, construction
investment fell by a seasonally adjusted
9.2%, the worst since early 1998 as weak
tax revenue prompted the government to
cut investment in construction projects.
Financial markets showed a relatively
muted reaction as the central bank had
already primed investors last week for the
poor growth figures.
Governor Lee Ju-yeol told reporters on
Thursday that the central bank was “not
pessimistic” about this year’s economic
prospects despite a steep downgrade in its
growth forecast. Analysts largely disagree
with Lee’s sunny view. The 1-year treasury
bond yield stayed below the benchmark
seven-day policy interest rate, indicating
investors are pricing in a high chance of
another rate cut.
At a briefing following the GDP release, a
senior statistics official from the central
bank pointed to the uncertainty facing the
trade-reliant economy, not least from a
slowdown in China, South Korea’s biggest
export market.
The Bank of Korea cut its policy rate in
three steps since the current easing cycle
began in May 2013, with the most recent
easing coming in October last year to a
record-matching low of 2%. It next reviews
policy on February 17.
On an annual basis, the economy grew
2.7% in the December quarter, compared
with a forecast median rise of 2.8% and
slower than a 3.2% increase set in the third
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Company Name
Exxon Mobil Corp
Microsoft Corp
Johnson & Johnson
Wal-Mart Stores Inc
Procter & Gamble Co/The
General Electric Co
Jpmorgan Chase & Co
Pfizer Inc
Chevron Corp
Verizon Communications Inc
Coca-Cola Co/The
Intel Corp
Merck & Co. Inc.
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
Aberdeen Asset Mgmt Plc
3I Group Plc
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Inpex Corp
Daiwa House Industry Co Ltd
Sekisui House Ltd
Kirin Holdings Co Ltd
Japan Tobacco Inc
Seven & I Holdings Co Ltd
Toray Industries Inc
Asahi Kasei Corp
Sumitomo Chemical Co Ltd
Shin-Etsu Chemical Co Ltd
Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings
Kao Corp
Takeda Pharmaceutical Co Ltd
Astellas Pharma Inc
Eisai Co Ltd
Daiichi Sankyo Co Ltd
Fujifilm Holdings Corp
Shiseido Co Ltd
Jx Holdings Inc
Lt Price
% Chg
Lt Price
Dow Jones Indus. Avg
S&P 500 Index
Nasdaq Composite Index
S&P/Tsx Composite Index
Mexico Bolsa Index
Brazil Bovespa Stock Idx
Ftse 100 Index
Cac 40 Index
Dax Index
Ibex 35 Tr
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
Kansai Electric Power Co Inc
Tohoku Electric Power Co Inc
Kyushu Electric Power Co Inc
Tokyo Gas Co Ltd
Secom Co Ltd
Yamada Denki Co Ltd
Fast Retailing Co Ltd
Softbank Corp
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Zee Entertainment Enterprise
Wipro Ltd
Ultratech Cement Ltd
Tech Mahindra Ltd
Tata Steel Ltd
Tata Power Co Ltd
Tata Motors Ltd
Tata Consultancy Svcs Ltd
Sun Pharmaceutical Indus
State Bank Of India
Sesa Sterlite Ltd
Reliance Industries Ltd
Punjab National Bank
Power Grid Corp Of India Ltd
Oil & Natural Gas Corp Ltd
Ntpc Ltd
Nmdc Ltd
Maruti Suzuki India Ltd
Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd
Lupin Ltd
Larsen & Toubro Ltd
Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd
Jindal Steel & Power Ltd
Itc Ltd
Infosys Ltd
Indusind Bank Ltd
Idfc Ltd
Icici Bank Ltd
Housing Development Finance
Hindustan Unilever Ltd
Hindalco Industries Ltd
Hero Motocorp Ltd
Hdfc Bank Limited
Hcl Technologies Ltd
Grasim Industries Ltd
Gail India Ltd
Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories
Dlf Ltd
Coal India Ltd
Cipla Ltd
Cairn India Ltd
Bharti Airtel Ltd
Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd
Bharat Heavy Electricals
Bank Of Baroda
Bajaj Auto Ltd
Axis Bank Ltd
Asian Paints Ltd
Ambuja Cements Ltd
Acc Ltd
Lt Price
% Chg
BMW rose 4.9% to hit a record high yesterday after the European Central Bank’s decision to buy government bonds.
Europe stock markets
gain after ECB boost,
led by Greek shares
uropean stock markets rose
yesterday after the European
Central Bank’s decision to buy
government bonds, with Greek shares
leading the gains before the country’s
election tomorrow.
European shares posted their biggest
weekly gain in more than three years as
investors cheered the quantitative easing programme the ECB announced on
The bond-buying plan helped
Greece’s ATG share index rise 6.1%.
Attica Bank, National Bank of Greece
and Piraeus Bank gained 14% to 8%.
The anti-bailout party Syriza is
leading in opinion polls before Greece’s
election on Sunday. But traders are
starting to see a greater chance that
Syriza will reach a compromise with
Greece’s official lenders if it gains power.
Alexis Tsipras, Syriza’s leader, said
he was “certain” that Greece would be
able to negotiate a “mutually acceptable solution” by July, when Greece will
be eligible for the ECB bond-buying
“The ECB have thrown a carrot
to Syriza, saying that if you complete the review and agree with the
troika (of international lenders), we
will buy Greek bonds,” said Athanasios Vamvakidis, head of G10 forex
strategy at Bank of America Merrill
Lynch. “This increases the incentives for a Syriza-led government
to compromise, and is market-positive.”
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top
European shares closed up 1.8% at
1,479.51 points, a seven-year high.
The index rose 5.1% this week, posting its strongest week since December 2011.
Cyclical stocks such as carmakers,
which are expected to benefit from a
lower euro, featured among the biggest
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
gainers. BMW rose 4.9% to hit a record
high and PSA Peugeot Citroen gained
The prospect of quantitative easing by the ECB knocked the euro to a
low of $1.1113 yesterday from $1.40 in
May, potentially boosting European
corporate earnings. Strategists say a
10% fall by the euro translates into a 6
to 8% rise in earnings for the region’s
“It will be a major boost to exports
and will lift confidence among company executives. Industrials will be
among the top winners,” said Alexandre Baradez, chief market analyst at IG
Adidas rose 3.9% after reporting
better-than-expected sales.
In the STOXX 600, six companies
have reported fourth-quarter earnings, with 67% exceeding analyst estimates. In a typical quarter, 48% of
STOXX 600 companies beat EPS estimates, according to Thomson Reuters
I/B/E/S data.
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
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Gulf Times
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Ryanair’s ascent can’t
be repeated, says former
finance boss Millar
aving been at the financial
controls since Ryanair’s traffic has climbed from under
1mn passengers a year to over 90mn,
Howard Millar is confident no upstart can repeat that performance.
“That (low-cost) train has left the
station a long time ago and I think
it will be increasingly difficult for
start-ups to gain any traction,” he
told Reuters on the sidelines of an
annual aviation finance gathering in
Millar, who stepped down last
month as chief financial officer after nearly 23 years at the company,
where he will still have a role as a
non-executive director, said he cannot see either the continent’s established giants or a newcomer having
the opportunities Ryanair had when
he joined.
Instead the sector will be dominated by a handful of all-powerful
carriers, with Lufthansa, Air FranceKLM and British Airways owner IAG
focusing on long-haul, conceding
the short-haul market to Ryanair
and its nearest rival easyJet.
A new player would struggle to get
financing or planes as cheaply as Ryanair and would struggle to compete
with its huge economies of scale and
market presence, he said.
And the so-called legacy carriers
will ultimately have to concede that
they can’t retroactively transform
their cost base and will therefore
have to focus on lower volume, higher margin businesses.
“These guys are in such a straitjacket that they don’t have that opportunity. They have tried all kinds
of things ... but none have made any
money or reduced their cost base.”
When Millar joined Ryanair as financial controller in 1992 it was still
struggling to compete on its services
between Ireland and Britain against
Aer Lingus and British Airways.
But the then deputy chief executive Michael O’Leary, a fellow
accountant, was already busy reinventing the airline as a low-cost
carrier modelled closely on US pioneer Southwest Airlines, just as the
internal European aviation market
was being opened up to competition.
Huge success followed, but its disdain for frills became an apparent
disdain for customers, due to practices such as charging passengers
Pooch Cafe
Bound And Gagged
Cryptic Clues
Sudoku is a puzzle
based on a 9x9 grid.
The grid is also
divided into nine
(3x3) boxes. You are
given a selection of
values and to complete the puzzle,
you must fill the
grid so that every
column, every row
and every 3x3 box
contains the digits
1 to 9 and none is
Weekly’s Solutions
1. European standard bearer
3. See 9 Across
9, 23Ac & 3Ac. Make a tour
of the firm and attend to
personal affairs (2,5,4,8)
10. Awkwardly bears a
weapon (5)
11. What drummers about to
retire do (4,1,7)
13. One may become an
agricultural freeholder (6)
15. Is the French writer
acutely conscious of this? (6)
17 & 19Dn. Not given the
benefit of a warm reception
20. An exhortation to friends
- they may appear in the ring
21. Man who is engaged
about the end of the session
to provide the wherewithal
22. Bandage covering the
body (8)
23. See 9 Across
Millar: It will be increasingly difficult for start-ups to gain any traction.
for not printing their own boarding
passes and being unduly strict on
hand luggage allowances.
Ryanair only became alarmed two
years ago when it saw its profits falling at the same time as easyJet’s were
“I think we became overly rules
focused ... we put a series of rigid
rules in place that were enforced
even when common sense didn’t apply,” Millar said.
Following a pledge by O’Leary to
stop “unnecessarily pissing people
off,” Ryanair has since changed such
practices while shifting its focus to
also include trying to attract more
business traffic.
As a result Ryanair’s share price
has climbed by 50% in the 16 months
while easyJet’s shares are up 30%.
But Millar insists that unlike
improvements at Southwest, the
changes at the airline have still not
added to the cost base.
“Our cost price was €29 last year
and its going to be 29 euros this year
as well ... not one of the customer
experience improvements has impacted the business.”
Ryanair says this €29 cost per passenger, excluding fuel, compares
with 52 euros at easyJet and 62 euros
at Norwegian Air Shuttle.
Millar, who has left the airline
with 280 new planes on order and
the highest credit rating in the airline
industry, also said he had no regrets
about another legacy — leaving 90%
of fuel needs hedged to March next
year at $93 per barrel — close to double the current price.
Hedging gave certainty on the cost
base to investors and those setting
ticket prices a year in advance.
“It’s not a regret at all... We’ve
been using this strategy since the
early 90s and it’s worked incredibly
well for us. You can’t run a long term
business on short term decisions.”
Quick Clues
1. They hold up the train on the
way to the match (4-4)
2. Fasten up a trailing plant (5)
4. In a variety of tunes one
dispenses with the strings (6)
5. Orders teaching before the
start of school (12)
6. Welcome a mining engineer
returning with a tool used for
drilling (7)
7. Notices a palindrome (4)
8. Near the capital of Belgium,
partisans to get mixed up with
Napoleon’s men (12)
12. Increases some inclination
14. Perform major work in the
theatre? (7)
16. Bird showin’ shortness of
breath (6)
18. Saw a musical group on the
rise (5)
19. See 17 Across
1. Stitched (4)
3. Wretched (8)
9. Renew (7)
10. Tine (5)
11. Carrying out (12)
13. Contaminate (6)
15. Fatal (6)
17. Foreboding (12)
20. Indian garment (5)
21. Wander (7)
22. Curiosity (8)
23. Region (4)
1. Angelic (8)
2. Biscuit (5)
4. On land (6)
5. Suppositional (12)
6. Double (7)
7. Cautious (4)
8. Echo (12)
12. Extreme excitement (8)
14. Enraged (7)
16. Spite (6)
18. Senior (5)
19. Paradise (4)
Weekly’s Solutions
Across: 6 Strange; 7 Divan;
9 Druid; 10 Gladden; 12
Shortcoming; 14 Impregnable;
18 Miracle; 19 Snack; 21 Enjoy; 22
Down: 1 Story; 2 Lavish; 3 Ago; 4
Wisdom; 5 Pageant; 8 Glacial; 11
Fragile; 13 Ambient; 15 Reason;
16 Lonely; 17 Scant; 20 Fen.
Across: 6 Galleon; 7 Cover;
9 Pop up; 10 Frantic; 12
Reservation; 14 Balloonists; 18
Precise; 19 Mimic; 21 Under; 22
Down: 1 Bacon; 2 Clause; 3 Ton;
4 Bonnet; 5 Lexicon; 8 Travail; 11
Remorse; 13 Pairing; 15 Locker;
16 Things; 17 Rigid; 20 Car.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 24, 2015
GE profit tops expectations despite flagging oil unit sales
General Electric Co’s quarterly earnings
topped Wall Street’s estimate yesterday
as its business of selling power-generating turbines drove a 9% increase in
industrial profit despite weak sales in its
oil and gas unit.
The US conglomerate said its fourthquarter net income rose 61% to $5.15bn,
or 51¢ per share, from a year earlier.
Excluding pension-related costs, earnings of 56¢ per share were 1 cent ahead
of the analysts’ average estimate, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Revenue rose 4% to $42bn. GE’s organic
industrial revenue, which excludes the
impact of foreign exchange fluctuations
and deals, rose 9%. Sales in the power
and water unit, which sells a variety of
turbines and is GE’s biggest industrial
segment, rose 22%, while the aviation
division’s sales increased 4%.
Revenue at the oil and gas division
slumped 6%, although it was flat on an
organic basis. Orders at the unit, which
sells oil and gas equipment and services,
fell 4% on an organic basis.
Investors have been concerned about
flagging oil prices, which could lead the
unit’s customers to slash spending.
Honeywell International Inc reported a
better-than-expected quarterly profit,
as an improving US economy helped
boost sales at the company’s division
that makes sensors, safety systems and
airconditioning equipment.
But total revenue fell 1.1% to $10.27bn in
the fourth quarter ended December 31
as sales in the company’s aerospace division fell 5.8% to $3.84bn.
Sales in Honeywell’s automation and
control business increased 2.8% to
$3.85bn. Net income attributable to
Honeywell rose to $956mn, or $1.20 per
share, from $947mn, or $1.19 per share, a
year earlier.
Excluding items, the company earned
$1.43 per share.
Analysts on average had expected
$1.42 per share, according to Thomson
Reuters I/B/E/S.
PKN Orlen
Poland’s largest oil company PKN Orlen
posted a quarterly net loss twice as
large as expected, due to impairments,
a slump in the value of oil reserves and
higher financial costs.
Despite growing refining margins, the
state-controlled refiner reported a 1.22bn
zloty ($325mn) net loss in the fourth
quarter compared with the 631mn zloty
loss forecast by analysts in a Reuters
poll. The company made a loss of 421mn
in the same period the year before.
PKN also reported a record full-year
loss of 5.81bn zlotys, including impairment charges of 311mn for its Canadian
upstream unit TriOil.
“The results are worse than expected
mainly due to impairments,” DM BZ WBK
analyst Tomasz Kasowicz said.
Falling crude oil prices also resulted in
PKN’s inventory valuation declining by
1.59bn zlotys in the fourth quarter.
PKN’s operating profit, when adjusted for
the negative impact of oil prices on its
inventories, rose to 775mn zlotys from
49mn a year earlier.
The company said it saw its refining
margin growing to $5.6 at the beginning of the year from $5 in the fourth
quarter, adding it planned to keep 2015
investments at last year’s level of 3.8bn
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Watchdog to
review rule
on zero-risk
weighting for
sovereign debt
An employee works at a logistics centre in Huaibei, Anhui province. China’s manufacturing growth stalled for the second straight month in January and companies had to cut prices at a faster clip to win new
business, adding to worries about growing deflationary pressures in the economy, a private survey showed.
Evaporating inflation, growth
put pressure on central banks
Global disinflation pressures
building; eurozone
business growth picks up
marginally; China factory
activity contracts for 2nd
month; South Korea GDP
slows sharply in Q4; Japan
manufacturing lone bright
spot so far in 2015
usinesses across Asia
and Europe have slashed
prices at the start of the
year to drum up trade, surveys
showed yesterday, a day after the European Central Bank
voted to print money in a bid to
revive inflation.
Eurozone firms cut prices
at the fastest rate in nearly five
years and Chinese factories
cut them for the sixth straight
month, while economic growth
in South Korea slowed sharply,
raising the prospect of more
easing from central banks in
Asia. The ECB took the policy
plunge on Thursday, announcing a government bond-buying
programme which will pump
hundreds of billions of euros in
new money into a sagging eurozone economy.
With Chinese factory growth
stalling for a second month, expectations are high that Beijing
will announce fresh stimulus
measures soon.
“2015 is unlikely to be a particularly fantastic year with
regards to global growth,” said
Peter Dixon, an economist at
“There is no doubt that
across the world central banks
are being a little bit more aggressive. Disinflation has certainly changed the monetary
Markit’s Eurozone Composite Flash Purchasing Managers’
Index (PMI), based on surveys
of thousands of companies and
seen as a good growth indicator,
bounced to a five-month high of
52.2 from December’s 51.4.
That beat the median forecast of 51.8 and marked the 19th
month above the 50 line denoting growth.
But Markit said it pointed
to first-quarter growth of just
0.2%, slightly worse than the
0.3% predicted in a Reuters poll
last week.
“January’s small rise in the
eurozone composite PMI suggests that growth remains very
slow, confirming that the ECB’s
latest policy support is sorely
needed,” said Jennifer McKeown, senior European economist at Capital Economics.
The index for prices charged
slumped to 46.9, its lowest since
February 2010, and comes after
official data showed consumer
prices fell 0.2% in December,
the first negative print since the
depths of the financial crisis in
Falling prices in Britain gave
an unexpected boost to retailers
there in December, with sales
rising 0.4% on the month after
surging by 1.6% in November,
the strongest growth in more
than a decade.
Business surveys due later
on Friday on US manufacturing may highlight concerns
that its economy is the only
engine driving global growth
this year.
Emerging Asian economies
will grow at a lacklustre pace
this year and next, held back by
a slowdown in China and weak
global demand, while cooling
inflation will probably throw
open the door for monetary
policy easing, a Reuters poll
showed yesterday.
China’s HSBC/Markit Flash
Manufacturing PMI hovered at
49.8 in January, little changed
from December, but the input
prices index fell to the lowest
since the global financial crisis,
reflecting a tumble in oil prices
that is spreading disinflationary pressure throughout the
Analysts at Nomura saw more
downside pressure on China’s
producer prices, “enhancing
our concerns over deflation”.
“This looks like a trend and
it will affect core inflation at
some stage. So the PBOC will
very likely react to such deflation concerns,” said Chang
Chun Hua, an economist at
News out of South Korea
made for uncomfortable reading as well. Asia’s fourth-largest
economy grew a seasonally adjusted 0.4% in the OctoberDecember period, less than half
the 0.9% expansion in the third
The Bank of Korea is widely
expected to cut interest rates in
the first half of this year.
In Thailand, the finance minister urged the central bank to
cut rates to help the sputtering
economy and said he was worried that the strength of the
baht currency will hurt exports,
a key growth engine.
Australian investors now see
a bigger chance of a rate cut after surprise easing from Canada
earlier this week, while India
last week cut rates earlier than
expected and hinted at more to
The lone bright spot in Asia
was Japan, where manufacturers saw a pickup in domestic
and overseas orders this month
and hired more staff.
But even there the central
bank is struggling to reach its
2% inflation target two years
into so-called ‘Abenomics’ —
a mix of aggressive monetary
and fiscal policy and structural reform aimed at pulling
the country out of decades of
deflation, a fate other global
policymakers are desperate to
“With very low inflation,
or even negative inflation and
some slack remaining, we expect that advanced economy
monetary policy will continue
to loosen overall,” analysts at
Citi wrote in a note to clients.
“ECB QE will probably be
scaled up further over time. We
also expect the BoJ to expand QE
further around mid-year.”
Global banking supervisors are
reviewing a rule that allows
banks to hold little or no capital
against risky sovereign debt
held on their books.
The so-called zero-risk weighting rule was heavily criticised
during the eurozone debt crisis
when several countries in the
single currency area had to be
bailed out. Even though the
ratings on these countries’ debt
sank to junk status in some
cases, banks were allowed to
hold little or no capital.
The rule requires banks to hold
capital commensurate with the
underlying credit risk but European regulators allow banks
to hold no capital against debt
held in their currency.
The reasoning is that a country
can always print money to pay
interest on its debt even when
in trouble, though this is not
possible for eurozone countries,
including Greece and Ireland
who had to be rescued.
The eurozone debt crisis
triggered calls for a review of
the global rule written by the
Basel Committee of banking
supervisors, but the issue had
been too politically sensitive to
tackle until now. “The Committee has initiated a review of the
existing regulatory treatment of
sovereign risk and will consider
potential policy options,” the
Basel Committee said in a statement yesterday. “The review
will be conducted in a careful,
holistic and gradual manner.”
No time frame was given.
Hard-pressed national treasuries like the existing rule because
it encourages banks to buy their
debt, and some countries fear
that change would mean a twotier debt market emerging as
lenders opt for low-risk bonds
like German Bunds to save on
capital requirements.
Capital on debt at a time of
record low interest rates could
encourage banks to cut holdings,
just when regulators put pressure
on them to buy more debt to
fill out liquidity buffers required
under another Basel rule.
“The overall result is therefore
further downward pressure
on lending capacity to the real
economy, possibly not what
is required at this point in the
cycle,” said Simon Gleeson, a
lawyer at Clifford Chance.
Bank of Italy statistics show that
Italian banks held €411bn of the
government’s bonds at the end
of November, up from €209bn
at the end of 2011.
The review of the rule was
announced as part of Basel’s
work programme, published
yesterday, which will include assessing the combined impact of
its new rules since the financial
crisis. That is a step banks have
long called for in the hope that
some capital charges will be
reduced to encourage more
lending to the economy.
British retail sales show surprise gain in December on food, fuel
ritish retail sales unexpectedly
rose in December as shoppers
flocked to supermarkets and
bought more fuel as oil prices fell, providing a boost for the country’s economic recovery that has shown signs of
Economists had expected sales to be
weaker after a US-style Black Friday
sales bonanza sent shoppers scurrying
for bargains in November.
But retail sales volumes rose 0.4%
on the month, confounding a Reuters
poll forecast for a 0.6% fall after a 1.6%
surge in November.
Sterling hit a seven-year high against
the euro after the data and British government bond prices edged down.
Britain needs consumers to keep
spending as manufacturing growth has
weakened and the services sector saw
the lowest growth in December since
mid-2013, indicating the economic recovery is slowing. Prime Minister David Cameron is also counting on a solid
economy to lure voters to his Conservative party as the country goes to the
polls in May.
With shop prices falling in December at the fastest pace since mid-2002,
Britons stocked up on food as well as
petrol, taking advantage of oil prices
that have more than halved in the last
six months. Store prices fell by an annual 2.2% in December. Food store
prices fell 0.9%, probably reflecting
a price war between supermarkets as
well as falling global commodity prices.
Although consumer price inflation
has slumped to its lowest level in more
than 14 years, consumer confidence
in Britain appears strong enough for
the country to avoid succumbing to a
deflationary spiral that some econo-
mists fear could emerge in the eurozone.
Rob Wood, an economist at Berenberg, said yesterday’s figures covered
more post-Christmas sales days than in
2013, explaining the strength of the figures even after seasonal adjustments.
“Notwithstanding data concerns,
what these data show is that there are
good reasons for optimism about the
UK outlook.”
For the fourth quarter as a whole,
sales jumped 5.0% compared with the
same period a year ago — the sharpest quarterly increase in more than 10
Consumers have driven the economic recovery which began in mid2013 and are likely to continue as its
main engine, with a slowing global
economy looking like the biggest risk
to Britain.
Wages are picking up after growing by less than inflation for much of
the period since the financial crisis,
and consumer prices are barely rising,
which should bode well for spending
Sales rose 4.3% in December in yearly terms, stronger than a Reuters poll
forecast of 3.0%.
But there were signs of some impact
of November’s Black Friday sales in the
December data.
Department stores said sales volumes fell by 4.5% on the month, the
worst performance since January
1996, and they reported their first decline in online sales, in year-in-year
terms, since records began in January
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 24, 2015
US airlines
expect big
fuel savings,
steady fares
New York
US airlines gave bullish guidance this week for their firstquarter results, buoyed largely
by plummeting fuel prices.
Four airlines said they will save
hundreds of millions of dollars
in fuel costs starting this year,
with global oil prices down
more than 57% since June. Fuel
is the biggest variable cost for
airlines, often representing a
third or more of total operating
Fourth-quarter results did
not fully reflect the windfall,
because many airlines failed
to anticipate the steep oil price
slide, and made fuel hedges
months ago that ended up
costing the carriers hundreds of
millions of dollars.
Yesterday, Alaska Airlines projected a group low of $1.85 per
gallon for the first quarter, down
from $2.64 in the fourth quarter
of 2014. United Airlines said
it will pay between $1.96 and
$2.01 per gallon for the quarter,
down from $2.83 in the prior
quarter. Southwest Airlines said
it will pay $1.90 per gallon in the
first quarter, down from $2.62
the previous quarter.
Southwest said that will
represent savings of about half
a billion dollars from the first
quarter of 2014.
CRT Capital Group analyst
Michael Derchin said United’s
forecast to have a pre-tax
profit margin between 5% and
7% was the “biggest surprise”
“I can’t even remember when
they made this much money in
the first quarter because of the
seasonality of their operations,”
he added. Chicago-based
United has limited the impact
of winter storms and reduced
the need for flight cancellations
because of an emphasis on
capacity discipline.
Southwest projected lower unit
costs as well, and Alaska said
50% of its fuel consumption in
the first quarter is covered by
hedge contracts. Derchin said
this suggests the carrier has
added new hedges since the oil
price drop to arrive at its low
fuel cost projection.
“We anticipate another strong
day for airline equities, largely
coming on the back of a triumvirate of bolstered guides, offering continued evidence that
fuel cost savings are winding up
in shareholders’ pockets, where
they rightfully belong, in our
view,” JPMorgan analyst Jamie
Baker said in a research note.
Still, settling losing hedges cost
United $225mn last quarter,
pushing results below analysts’
expectations. On Tuesday, Delta
Air Lines reported a loss of
$712mn last quarter largely due
to a $1.2bn charge for hedge
In yesterday’s morning trading,
United’s shares rose about
4.54%, Southwest’s shares were
up about 6.41% and Alaska’s
shares were up about 3.18%.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) logo is seen outside the Congress Centre in Davos during the organisation’s annual meeting yesterday. Officials at the gathering said they expected US companies to take
advantage of a rising dollar and robust growth at home to strengthen their position in global markets.
Dealmakers in Davos see more
M&A despite geopolitical risks
M&A volumes surged to 7-year high
in 2014; CEOs, bankers, investors
see another strong year in 2015,
driven by US companies and some
cost cutting in Europe
ow borrowing costs, currency
shifts and the hunt for both cost
savings and growth opportunities will drive a steady flow of merger
and acquisition deals this year despite
geopolitical tensions, according to
business leaders meeting this week.
Chief executives, bankers and investors gathering at the World Economic
Forum in Davos, Switzerland, said
they expected US companies to take
advantage of a rising dollar and robust
growth at home to strengthen their position in global markets.
On the other side of the Atlantic,
sluggish growth will encourage European firms to buy revenues overseas
and tie up with rivals to cut costs.
“There are always great opportunities in the aftermath of a crisis,” said
Federico Ghizzoni, chief executive of
Italian bank Unicredit. “The key is to be
in a position that allows (you) to seize
However, an unstable economic
backdrop with divergent monetary
policies among leading nations, and
the possible flare up of conflict zones
and diplomatic tensions, pose big
“2015 and 2016 are going to be very
volatile, economically but also politically and socially,” said John Studzinski, vice chairman of private equity
firm Blackstone.
“We are a little bit too complacent at
the moment,” he told Reuters Insider
TV, adding he nonetheless expected a
strong year for mergers and acquisitions (M&A), mostly in the US and also
in specific European sectors, such as
telecommunications, media and technology (TMT).
Despite geopolitical shocks such as
conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle
East, global M&A deal volumes surged
40% in the year to December 11, 2014,
compared with the year before - the
highest level since 2007.
Many CEOs and bankers advising
them expect an equally good harvest
this year, in large part driven by inbound and outbound activity in the US.
Companies in the chemicals, industrials, healthcare, technology and
oil and gas sectors are expected to use
their cash reserves to consolidate their
industries and buy undervalued companies overseas.
“It’s going to be bargain hunting,”
predicted Bill McDermott, CEO of
software group SAP.
Some US firms could also seek to
benefit from a loophole allowing them
to redomicile in Europe and use their
overseas cash without having to pay US
Fears over retaliation from US Congress have killed some of these socalled “tax inversion” deals last year,
such as Abbvie’s ‘s $55bn bid for London-listed rare diseases drugmaker
But tax-driven deals could still hap-
pen in industries that do not depend on
government spending, business leaders
In Europe, meanwhile, there will be a
division between struggling companies
looking at deals as a way to cut costs
and stronger ones paying up to tap
faster-growing markets abroad.
According to credit rating agency
Moody’s, companies in the Europe,
Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region
had built up a combined cash pile of
$1.06tn in 2014.
Martin Sorrell, CEO of advertising
group WPP, said the European Central
Bank’s decision to launch a so-called
quantitative easing (QE) policy to kickstart eurozone growth could encourage companies to loosen their purse
“QE will boost short-term returns
and help people focus on the long term
and invest,” he said.
One space to watch in particular this
year could be the chemicals industry.
“Our industry is very capital-intensive,” said Tony Will, CEO of US group
CF Industries, which last year came
close to merging with Norwegian fertiliser rival Yara in a deal partly motivated by tax advantages.
“Scale and cost-base do matter a lot.
So if you can lower your tax bill through
a deal that creates value for shareholders, there is a very compelling case to
pull the trigger.”
Monsanto, the world’s largest seeds
company, could also see an opportunity to revive its attempt to snap up
Swiss rival Syngenta after the Swiss
central bank’s decision to lift its cap on
the franc hit local stocks. That move
was in part motivated by tax benefits
Syngenta shares are down 10.5% this
year, though a surge in the franc could
offset this for a foreign bidder.
Analysts are expecting other deals in
the sector as players such as Monsanto,
Bayer and BASF look to broaden their
reach in crop protection and seeds.
Canada’s Agrium could also see
some action “one way or another”, said
Will, after activist hedge fund Value
Act bought a 5.7% stake in the company
last October.
Fed’s solo act gets tougher with ECB, others in stimulus mode
ederal Reserve policymakers, already struggling to assure investors that they remain on track for
a mid-year interest rate rise, will find
the task has just become harder with
their peers in Europe and elsewhere
headed in the opposite direction.
The swelling ranks of central banks
cutting rates and ramping up stimulus
make it more difficult and riskier for the
Fed to proceed with plans to end crisisera policies, according to Fed analysts
and former staffers.
It is not unusual for central banks
to be out of synch at times, but the
deepening divide between the Fed and
much of the rest of the world is unprecedented, heightening the risks and uncertainty surrounding the Fed’s plans,
economists say.
The European Central Bank’s decision
on Thursday to pump €60bn ($68.17bn)
a month into the faltering eurozone
economy just deepened the divide. The
stimulus rivals the size of the quantitative easing program the Fed ended only
three months ago in a sign of confidence
about US economic recovery.
The euro fell below $1.14 after the
ECB announcement, its lowest level
since July 2003, while interest rates on
long term US bonds continued their recent nosedive.
“The foreign outlook...has darkened.
And that will make this decision - lift
off, the path of interest rates thereafter,
how you communicate it - harder,” said
Jon Faust, director of the Center for Financial Economics at Johns Hopkins
University in Baltimore and a former
adviser to Fed chair Janet Yellen.
“It will be doubly important for the
(Fed’s policy setting committee) to
communicate how it is thinking about
risks flowing from abroad, because we
are facing a truly unique constellation
of circumstances.”
The Federal Open Market Committee
meets next week, and is expected to repeat that those risks from abroad have
yet to throw the US recovery or their
rate plans off track. US central bankers
have been adamant on that point over
the past several months despite tumbling oil prices, ebbing global growth,
and market expectations that the Fed
will eventually capitulate and delay its
first rate increase since 2006.
US policymakers have insisted that as
long as the economy continues generating jobs, growth will remain on track
and inflation eventually would begin to
rise towards the Fed’s 2% target.
But next week will test whether, in
fact, they are willing to swim against
the current in conditions that get
The US Federal Reserve building in Washington. The swelling ranks of central
banks cutting rates and ramping up stimulus make it more difficult for the Fed
to proceed with plans to end crisis-era policies, according to Fed analysts and
former staffers.
tougher by the week, and also if they
can make their case convincingly.
The ECB is not the only one pulling in
the other direction.
The Bank of Japan and a host of important secondary players — Canada,
India, Turkey, China, Denmark, and
Switzerland among them — have cut
interest rates recently, often surprising
markets and showing how unpredictable conditions have become.
The steps those banks are taking will
make the mechanics of raising US rates
more challenging: lower rates and massive new liquidity overseas will lure
investors to US assets as the higheryielding safe haven of choice, pushing
down the very rates the Fed will try to
increase, and driving up the value of the
They could also hurt US jobs and
growth, the indicators the Fed arguably
cares most about. Fed officials have
downplayed the dollar’s strength, not-
ing that the US is less reliant on trade
than other developed nations, and able
to count more on domestic demand.
Yet the impact could be significant.
Bank of Canada’s surprise rate cut on
Wednesday knocked down the Canadian dollar against the US currency below 81¢, adding to a drop of 15% since
mid-2014. Canada is the United State’s
largest trading partner. It also shares
supply chains in the auto and other industries that allow jobs and investment
to shift to the cheapest source.
Other countries may follow along
soon, driving up the value of the dollar further and making US goods more
expensive. “The pressure on other
commodity-dependent central banks to
follow suit will likely rise in the coming
months as they wipe the dust off their
competitive devaluation playbook,” said
TD Securities analyst Millan Mulraine.
The Fed will also now have to contend with a potential flood of money
from investors looking to the US as the
global economy’s sole bright spot.
US bond rates have been falling in
recent months. Hundreds of billions of
dollars that will be created by the ECB
and potentially other banks in coming
months may be headed this way, meaning even more downward pressure on
market rates and dollar strengthening
that the Fed will have to deal with when
it decides to hike. There are other risks
as well. If Europe, Japan, China and
other economies fail to respond to more
stimulus, it would reinforce the notion
that the world has moved into a permanently lower gear, so called “secular
stagnation” — a bad omen for US wages
and growth.
The World Bank also warned last
week that developing countries “may
be tested” in coming months if investors decide to shift from emerging market stocks, bonds and businesses into
US assets.
In the tidal struggle that is developing over the direction of global interest rates, investors last year already
pulled a quarter of a trillion dollars out
of emerging markets, according to a
recent report by the Institute of International Finance. Cross-border investment is expected to fall again in 2015 as
a Fed policy shift approaches, according to the IIF.
“We have not lived through a period
of such wide monetary policy divergence...We don’t have a good roadmap
for how this plays out,” said IIF chief
economist Charles Collyns.
If Fed tightening proceeds, it could
lead to market turmoil, potentially undermining global growth and, in the
extreme, the US recovery. “The markets
could wake up one day and make a substantial and abrupt move and it could
have quite a negative impact.”
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Key index settles below 11,700 mark on external negativities
By Santhosh V Perumal
Business Reporter
External negativities weakened the Qatar
Stock Exchange, whose key index settled
below the 11,700 mark during the week,
making it the worst performer among the
Gulf bourses.
Mainly dragged by large cap scrips,
the Qatari bourse was on a weak run with
its key index melting 1.38% during the
week that saw the International Monetary
Fund downgrades global growth forecast,
further compounding the worries in the
world energy market.
Muscat gained (1.93%), Dubai (1.05%),
Abu Dhabi (1.02%), Kuwait (0.97%) and
Bahrain (0.01%), while Saudi Arabia fell
0.44% during the week that saw Mazaya
Qatar decide not to proceed with the
merger with Mackeen Holding.
The QSE has fallen 4.78% year-to-date
compared to 4.75% gains in Muscat,
2.89% in Dubai, 1.94% in Kuwait, 1.06%
in Saudi Arabia and 0.15% in Bahrain;
whereas Abu Dhabi was down 0.04%.
Banking and transport counters
witnessed the maximum selling pressure
during the week, which witnessed global
credit rating agency Moody’s affirmed its
‘A2’ long-term issuer rating of Ooredoo,
‘A2’ ratings of Ooredoo International
Finance and ‘A2’ ratings of Ooredoo
Tamweel but downgrade their outlook to
“negative” from “stable”.
Domestic institutions turned net profit
takers during the week that saw Doha
Bank Group CEO R Seetharaman say that
“downward risks are minimal” for Qatar
although oil prices have kept weakening.
“The abrupt and severe sell-off in oil
markets has added to rising volatility in
equity markets in our part of the world,
but at the same time it has offered a silver
lining,” Amr Hussein Elalfy, the managing
director and global head of research at
Mubasher Financial Services, had said.
Crude oil prices have corrected by
more than 50% from their highs in 2014
owing to excess supply, driven by higher
US shale oil output and a fall in demand
because of slowdown in many major
Local retail investors, however, turned
bullish and their non-Qatari counterparts’
net buying also strengthened in the
market, where real estate, industrials and
banking stocks dominated the trading
ring with them constituting about 83% of
the total trade volume.
Banks and financial services stocks
plunged 3.13%, transport (1.86%), telecom
(0.88%) and industrials (0.54%); whereas
real estate soared 2.63%, consumer
goods (2.14%) and insurance (0.01%) during the week that saw Doha Bank chief
say the banking sector ought to grow 14%
to 15% against an estimated 7% economic
The 20-stock Total Return Index shed
1.38% and All Share Index (comprising
wider constituents) by 1.08%, while Al
Rayan Islamic Index rose 0.59% during
the week that featured Barwa appoints
Erga Qatar and starts designing the biggest residential project in Fox Hills.
Of the 43 stocks, 23 gained, while 19
declined and one was unchanged. Five of
the 12 banks and financial services; seven
of the nine industrials; all of the three
transport; two of the eight consumer
goods; and one each of the five insurers
and the two telecom stocks close lower
during the week.
Major shakers included QNB, Gulf
Warehousing Company, Gulf International
Services, Qatar Islamic Bank, Commercial
Bank, Ooredoo, Mesaieed Petrochemical Holding, Milaha and Nakilat during
the week that saw Barwa Real Estate
Company completes the sale of two plots
with a combined value of QR5.34bn to the
Qatari company for land reclamation and
However, Doha Bank, Islamic Holding
Group, Barwa, Alijarah Holding, Dlala, Woqod, Mazaya Qatar, United Development
Company and Vodafone Qatar bucked
the trend.
Market capitalisation eroded 1.55% or
more than QR10bn to QR637.74bn with
large cap equities notably melting 3.26%;
even as mid and micro caps rose 1.24%
and 1.16% respectively during the week.
Large, mid and small cap stocks have
fallen 6.77%, 0.85% and 0.48% respectively year-to-date; while micro caps rose
Domestic institutions turned net sellers
to the tune of QR131.8mn against net
buyers of QR187.18mn the week ended
January 15.
However, local retail investors turned
net buyers to the extent of QR122.62mn
compared with net sellers of QR55.61mn
the previous week.
Non-Qatari retail investors’ net buying
rose to QR21.13mn against QR2.01mn the
week ended January 15.
Foreign institutions’ net profit booking
plummeted to QR11.68mn compared to
QR133.29mn the previous week.
A total of 58.44mn shares valued at
QR2.78bn changed hands across 31,964
Saudi plan to open up
stock market seen on
track under new king
audi Arabia’s plan to open
up the region’s biggest
stock market to foreigners
is not under threat by the royal
transition as the late King Abdullah’s successor signals he will
continue the nation’s economic
The former monarch — who
died yesterday at the age of 90 —
helped drive a 26% stock rally in
the past four years with a $130bn
spending plan to boost non-oil
industries. King Salman, Saudi
Arabia’s new ruler, said he will
maintain the policies of his
predecessor, while a royal decree
affirmed the country’s oil minister won’t be replaced.
“We expect a smooth transition and we don’t think this will
affect the market opening at all,”
Viktor Broczko, a London-based
senior money manager at Advance Emerging Capital, said by
“Given the drop in oil prices,
the Saudis will probably want to
be more constructive than ever
to keep things progressing as
smoothly as possible.”
The world’s biggest oil exporter said in July it will open
its $484bn equities market to
foreigners in the first half of the
year, paving the way for inclusion of its stocks in MSCI indexes. The plan coincides with
a surge in volatility to a five-year
high after the benchmark index
swung from a bear market to
bull market late last year amid a
plunge in oil prices.
transactions. The real estate sector
saw a total of 29mn equities worth
QR972.31mn change hands across 9,460
The banks and financial sector witnessed as many as 13.61mn stocks valued
at QR945.46mn change hands across
9,856 transactions.
As many as 5.93mn industrials stocks
valued at QR516.5mn trade across 7,289
deals and the telecom sector saw 4.3mn
equities worth QR90.85mn trade in 2,164
The market saw a total of 1.15mn
consumer goods stocks worth QR71.51mn
change hands across 1,284 deals.
The transport segment recorded
3.66mn shares valued at QR123.08mn
trade in 1,499 transactions.
The insurance saw a total of 0.8mn
equities worth QR60.87mn trade across
412 deals.
In the debt market, there was no trading of government bonds and treasury
bills during the week.
Yemen declares
force majeure
on LNG exports
emen has declared force
majeure on liquefied
natural gas (LNG) deliveries from its Balhaf plant due
to deteriorating security following the collapse of the government, trading sources said.
The 6.7mn tonne per year
Balhaf gas export terminal is
run by France’s Total and ships
LNG, primarily to Asia and to
some European countries.
Total was not immediately
available to comment.
Earlier in the week Yemeni
President Abd-Rabbu Mansour
Hadi resigned, after Houthi
rebels battled their way into
his presidential palace, plunging the unstable Arab country
deeper into chaos.
“Due to the political circumstances, on Monday there
were skirmishes around the
presidential palace and the
government instructed Yemen LNG not to shut down the
plant but to prepare to lower
production and ... declare
force majeure,” a source famil-
iar with the matter said. Asian
LNG prices were not impacted
by the issue as it was expected
it could be quickly resolved if a
new government were to be installed in the next few days, the
source said.
The terminal delivers gas
under long-term contracts
to South Korea’s Kogas and
France’s Total and GDF Suez.
“When you reduce your production, the next cargoes will
be delayed. Then you reschedule your offtakes with your
buyers, Kogas did that already,”
the source said.
Force majeure is a clause in
contracts that allows buyers or
sellers to renege on commitments due to events beyond
their control.
Oil and gas generate the vast
majority of government revenue in one of the poorest Arab
“The crude oil and natural
gas business is crucial to the
government coffers, that’s why
they look at (monitor) what’s
happening, they want the best
safety and security for the people working in their country,”
the source added.
Traders look at screens inside the offices of the Tadawul All Share Index in Riyadh (file). Saudi Arabia’s plan to open up its stock market to
foreigners is not under threat by the royal transition as the late king’s successor signals he will continue the nation’s economic policies.
The Saudi riyal, which is
pegged to the US dollar, fell to
the lowest level since October
2008, and forwards weakened.
The depreciation may be temporary as the succession plans are
expected to be smooth, Bloomberg strategist Mark Cudmore
“As long as the economy
shows evidence of growth in the
non-oil sector, I don’t think foreign investors will be perturbed,”
Yong Wei Lee, head of equities at
Emirates NBD Asset Management in Dubai, said by phone.
“There may be an initial kneejerk reaction in the market over
how smoothly the transition
will progress, but it will be nothing alarming. I don’t think there
will be any change to the plans to
open up the stock market to foreign investors this year.”
Investors from outside the
six-nation Gulf Co-operation
EU court annuls sanctions on
Iranian bank, shipping firms
The European Union’s second highest court on
Thursday annulled EU sanctions on an Iranian
bank and 40 shipping companies hit with asset
freezes as part of pressure on Tehran over its
nuclear programme.
But they will remain under sanctions for now
after the General Court gave the EU time to
appeal or to decide whether to re-impose
sanctions using different legal grounds.
The court’s rulings were handed down as six
major powers and Iran strive to meet an endJune deadline for a long-term agreement to
curb Tehran’s nuclear activities in exchange for
relief from economic sanctions.
The EU put Bank Tejarat, an Iranian commercial
bank, under sanctions in 2012, saying it had
helped Iran’s nuclear efforts.
The General Court struck down the sanctions,
saying the Council of EU governments had
failed to prove that Bank Tejarat had provided
support for nuclear proliferation or had
helped others to avoid sanctions. It also said
the bank was partially privatised in 2009 and
the Iranian state was no longer its majority
The General Court also struck down EU
sanctions on 40 shipping companies, including
Hamburg-based Ocean Capital Administration
The companies were placed on the EU sanctions
list because it said they were controlled or
otherwise linked to Islamic Republic of Iran
Shipping Lines, which had previously been put
under sanctions.
The court found that at the time the 40
companies were placed on the sanctions list
the EU had not given valid reasons for saying
that Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines was
supporting nuclear proliferation.
It therefore annulled the sanctions against the
40 companies but again gave the EU time either
to appeal or to reinstate the sanctions using
new legal grounds.
The Council of EU governments could not
immediately be reached for comment.
The decisions were the latest in a number of
legal reverses the EU has suffered over the
validity of its sanctions. It has responded to
similar court decisions by relisting Iranian
companies using different criteria.
Council aren’t allowed to buy
shares directly and have to get
access to the market through equity swaps and exchange-traded
funds. MSCI resumed coverage of the stock market in 2012,
stoking bets the nation may get
emerging-market status at the
index provider.
Under Oil Minister Ali alNaimi, Saudi Arabia maintained
its crude output to preserve the
kingdom’s market share, even
as prices plunged by half in 2014
amid a supply glut.
The benchmark stock index
has gained 1.1% this month, after four months of losses. The
market was closed yesterday for
the weekend.
“We remain positive in the
long term, but we still need to
see what Salman will do,” Broczko of Advance Emerging said.
“We don’t think this will have an
effect on MSCI inclusion.”
The 6.7mn tonne per year Balhaf gas export terminal is run
by France’s Total and ships LNG, primarily to Asia and to some
European countries.
Egypt official sees 80% chance
of reaching FDI targets for 2015
New York
gypt has an 80% chance of reaching its
goal for foreign direct investments in
2015, said Ashraf Salman, the minister
overseeing new business ventures in North
Africa’s largest economy.
Salman is targeting $8bn to $10bn in outside investments during this fiscal year, up
from $4.2bn in 2014, as he tries to sell Egypt
as an attractive destination for global money after the turmoil that followed the Arab
Spring protests of 2011. While the benchmark
EGX 30 stock index has jumped almost 40%
over the past 12 months on optimism President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s policies will spur
growth, Egypt is struggling with high debt
and political uncertainty which led to the army’s ousting of Islamist president Mohamed
Mursi in July 2013.
“I am comfortable with a probability of
80%” that the country will achieve its target
by the end of fiscal year 2015, Salman, who is
minister for investment, said in an interview
at Bloomberg’s headquarters in New York on
January 22. We need “to make the investment
climate more attractive,” he said. “We need a
serious legislation reform that was started by
trying to scrutinise the laws that have relation
with investment.”
Foreign direct investments climbed to
about $1.8bn in the first quarter of the current fiscal year compared with $745mn a year
earlier, and tourism revenue rose to $2.1bn
from $931mn, according to the central bank.
The country has the second-largest debt burden relative to gross domestic product in the
Middle East and Africa region, according to
data compiled by Bloomberg.
Egypt’s economy has been stuck in its deepest slump for two decades since the uprising
that ousted president Hosni Mubarak as persistent turmoil deterred investments and tourism, one of the country’s largest industries.
The Egyptian pound declined to a record
this week after the central bank cut interest
rates. The country’s foreign reserves dropped
to $15.3bn in December from $15.9bn in the
previous month. That’s less than half of their
level before the revolt against Mubarak four
years ago, even after billions of dollars of aid
from Gulf Arab allies.
Gross domestic product will expand about
4% this fiscal year, up from 2.2% in 2014,
the minister said. That still compares with
growth of more than 5% prior to the 2011
uprising. Economists are on average forecasting an expansion of 3.4%, according to a
Bloomberg survey. Egypt’s stock market was
the world’s fourth-best performer in the past
year among 93 indexes tracked by Bloomberg.
“The market was very receptive to the
economic and social reform programme that
was undertaken by the government since the
election of the president,” Salman said.
“You have to work very hard on changing
culture and this will not come tomorrow,”
Salman said. “You have to work on education
and you have to work on awareness and you
have to work on culture exchange.”
TENNIS | Page 8
NBA | Page 7
Iraq and UAE
on night of
Seppi stuns
Nadal sails
Bulls respond
to Rose
call, defeat
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Rabia II 4, 1436 AH
Qatar overcome Belarus;
Spain make it five in five
Hosts beat Belarus 26-22 to set up pre-quarterfinals match
with Austria; Spain post 30-26 victory over Slovenia
24th Men’s Handball World Championship Group Standings
Qatar players including Zarko Markovic (right), Hadi Hamdoon (second from right), Hamad Madadi (centre) and Rafael
Capote (left) thank the crowd for their support after the win over Belarus yesterday. PICTURE: Othman al-Samaraee
By Yash Mudgal
efending champions Spain
and hosts Qatar registered
victories to finish first and
second in Group A of the 24th
Men’s Handball World Championship
Qatar overcame spirited Belarus
26-22 in its final group outing at Lusail Multipurpose Arena and will take
on Austria in the pre-quarterfinals on
January 25, while Spain defeated Slovenia 30-26 for its fifth win a row and
would take on Tunisia in their prequarter-final clash same day.
Qatar had qualified for the prequarterfinals and was sure to finish
second in the group after Spain, while
Belarus had lost their last hope of
reaching the last 16 with Brazil’s win
against Chile earlier in the evening.
“Congratulations to Belarus who
played very well in spite of no longer
having the chance to finish among the
four best teams in the group. That is
never easy. We were not a team in the
first half, but we were in the second
half, and I am happy that we won even
though we were sure to finish second
no matter if we won or lost,” Qatar
coach Valero Rivera said.
“The match was not unimportant,
though, as it is important for us, to our
country and to our fans that we do our
best every time. Today we did not do
that in the first half, but we did in the
second,” he said.
In a game, where only the honours
were at stake for both sides, the home
team looked a bit shaky in the first half,
trailing by five goals as Belarus got a
better start and went up 4-2 followed
by several further two-goal leads.
Towards half-time, the Belarusians
even increased their lead to five goals
at 11-6 which made Qatar coach Rivera
take his second time out with two and
a half minutes left for the break.
This did not prevent Belarus from
going into the break with a five-goal
lead at 12-7.
The aggressive Belarusian defence
with left wing Ivan Brouka pushing
forward in a 5-1 formation frustrated
the Qataris who had difficulties in attack in the first 30 minutes.
In the second half, Qatar played
much more like their previous matches
and it only took them 10 minutes and
10 seconds to catch up with the Belarusian’s five-goal lead from half-time
Exactly one minute later, the hosts
even took the lead for the first time
since 1-0, at 15-14.
The one-goal lead was extended to
four, and even though Belarus managed to reduce the distance to two
goals a couple of times, they never got
any closer and at the end, Qatar took a
four-goal win.
Right back Zarko Markovic, who
is second in the leading goal-scorer
list for the tournament, scored nine
times for Qatar, while Dzianis Rutenka
scored seven for Belarus.
“In the first half we stuck to what
we had agreed upon. We did not in the
second half, where too many players
fell out of place and position, and that
was the main reason why Qatar could
take the win in the end,” Belarus coach
Iorui Chevtsov said.
Earlier, both teams stood for a
minute’s silence in respect of Saudi
Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz
al-Saud, who passed away yesterday.
At Duhail Sports Hall, the scoreboard did not tick till the fifth minute
when Spain scored their opening goal
through the efforts of Cristian Ugalde
against Slovenia. The Slovenes replied
almost instantly with the equaliser.
From there onwards the teams were
exchanging goals at regular intervals.
One of the Slovenian goals was
awarded to them through video technology, a first in the tournament.
The Spain’s second choice goal-
keeper Perez de Vargas was brilliant in
goal and was certainly the best player
in the Spanish shirt in the initial stages
of the match.
His Slovenian counterpart Primoz
Prost, who initially was Slovenia’s
second choice, was also quite good at
repelling all those Spanish shots from
every angle.
Spain increased their lead midway
through the first half. However, the
Slovenes showed their resilience and
determination putting in a lot of efforts to reduce the gap.
At half-time, the Spanish, looking
the better team with precise shooting,
had a four-goal advantage at 14-10.
In the second period, the layout of
the game didn’t see any radical changes with Spain leading and Slovenia
trying to catch up.
Closer to the middle of the second
half, Spain’s Gedeon Guardiola saw a
straight red card for hitting Slovenia’s
Dean Bombac in the face.
However, Spain kept a healthy fourgoal advantage and maintained their
superiority. Valero Rivera Jr., son of
Qatar coach Rivera, was Spain’s topscorer with six goals, while Gajic,
Natek, Dolenec and Bezjak were the
best in scoring for Slovenia with four
goals each.
“Spain had better concentration and
their goalkeeper was very good. Basically Spain won because of their individual qualities,” Slovenia coach Boris
Denic said.
“We are satisfied as we know it is
difficult to play against Slovenia. We
were good in defence and scoring. Our
goalkeeper was fantastic. I am happy with all the players,” Spain coach
Manuel Cadenas said.
In a late match FYRO Macedonia
claimed second place in Group B as
the Balkan team celebrated a 36-31
win over Austria in the battle for the
position behind Croatia, which will
pit them against Slovenia in the prequarters.
Czech Rep.
Saudi Arabia
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Brazil hand Chile
their fifth loss to
reach knockouts
A humble goal
machine named
Dragan Gajic
Tunisia make it to the eighth-finals with a win over Iran
Dragan Gajic of Slovenia has scored 43 times in the five games at 24th
Men’s Handball World Championship so far. (EPA)
Brazil’s Fernando Pacheco (centre) in action against Chile during their 24th Men’s Handball World Championship match at the Lusail Multipurpose Hall yesterday. (EPA)
By Yash Mudgal
razil and Tunisia entered the prequarterfinals of the 24th Men’s
Handball World Championship
At Lusail Multipurpose Arena, Brazil
defeated Chile 30-22 in the South American derby to secure last 16 spot from
Group A, while Tunisia defeated Iran 3023 in their last Group B match to advance.
Brazil needed a win in order to be sure
of proceeding to the pre-quarterfinals,
while Chile was playing for pride.
“Fernando (Chile coach) knew how my
team plays and that made things difficult
for us at the start. We had a very nervous start, especially in the attack, and we
did not get the opportunity to counterattack. In the second-half, Chile became
tired and we had plenty of counter-attacks which helped us a lot,” Brazil coach
Jordi Ribera said.
Brazil had big problems getting their
attacking game going from the start and
Chile shocked them by taking an early
three-goal lead at 5-2. That lead was
defended up until 8-5 after which Brazil
managed to catch up and pull it level at
Still, the Brazilians never managed to
take the lead in the first-half with Chile,
holding onto the initiative, were ahead by
one or two goals right up until half-time
Chile also opened the second-half going one goal up, but in the 32nd minute,
Brazil got their first lead in the game at
Chile were far from being beaten,
though, taking the lead on several occasions through the second-half. Brazil got
their first two-goal lead at 21-19 14 minutes into the half, and with eight minutes
left they went three goals ahead at 25-22.
That was the beginning of the end for
Chile, as Brazil who went on increasing their lead in the last minutes of the
match. Right back Fernando Pacheco
scored seven goals for Brazil, while four
players scored three each for Chile.
For Chile, it was their fifth defeat out of
five matches and they will play for President’s Cup.
“It was a difficult match for my players as it was their third in a row, but under
the circumstances, I think my players did
well, especially for the first 50 minutes.
In the last 10 minutes, Jordi changed his
defence, and that made it difficult for us
and that decided the game,” Chile coach
Fernando Capurro said.
2014 African Championship finalist Tunisia secured their place in the eighthfinal after a 30-23 win over Iran in their
last match in Group B at Ali Bin Hamad Al
Attiya Stadium.
Talking about their qualification Tunisia center back Heykel Megannem said:
“It was hard to lose the first match and
to have good results after (that). We have
good players and good goalkeepers, and
we won two matches and a draw to qualify
for the second round. Now the important
match is the eighth-final. We are here to
do our best and win the championship,
not just to participate.”
After an early 2-0 lead, Tunisians took
up their expected role of match favourites
with a 7-1 run through the 13th minute.
The Iranians began the play much
stronger in defence, levelling the score
in the 10th minute thanks to line-player
Mojtaba Karamian, who scored four goals
in eight minutes.
Iran took the lead only a minute before
the halftime buzzer with a goal by Masaeli to make it 12-11, but Tunisian hopes for
the knock-out stage remained high after
an equaliser by Megannem in the last attack of the first-half.
The crucial part of the match was the
start of the second-half. The charisma of
Tunisian star Wissem Hmam, who began
to play in both directions, was a motivating factor for his teammates, to crush the
Iranians earlier than expected.
Like in their first match against Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran lost all their
chances after a 7-0 series by the rival.
Iran finally scored for the first-time in
second-half after eight minutes of play to
make it 19-13.
The Iranians decreased the gap in the
50th minute to five (23-18), but it was
clear that they didn’t have the power for
a dramatic finish.
Tunisian right wing Jaleleddine Touati
was the top-scorer of the match with
seven goals. Iran will continue to compete
in the President’s Cup, while Tunisia is
awaiting of their pre-quarters opponent.
“I am very happy because we managed to
bring the situation under control and make
it to the knock-out stage, which was our
minimum target. The first-half was tough,
because Iran has fast and explosive players
who took advantage of our mistakes, scored
and tied the game, after we took a five-goal
lead. We forced ourselves to play much better in the second-half, in which fortunately
we kept our concentration and discipline.
We improved our defence, became effective
and made the break needed,” Tunisia coach
Sead Hasanefendic said.
ragan Gajic is currently
the top shooter at the
24th Men’s Handball
World Championship
in Qatar. The Slovenian right
wing netted 43 times in only five
matches, an average of almost
nine goals per game.
But the 30-year-old Gajic,
contracted by French top side
Montpellier MAHB, remains
humble when talking about his
performances which helped
secure Slovenia’s spot in the
eighth-finals after only three
matches. Gajic shared his hopes
and dreams before his team
played defending champions
Spain in a Group A match yesterday. Slovenia lost 20-26.
What is the secret behind all
your goals?
Dragan Gajic: I arrived here full
of confidence and my teammates
help me a lot. Without their
passes I would not be able to
score, so their assists are crucial.
In addition, it is the tactics of
our team, which is related to the
fact that we do not have those tall
shooters in our squad. We play fast
and we play with the full width of
the field, so there are a lot of gaps
which I can use to go through. But I
am not the focal point of our team.
Handball is a team sport, so everybody has his role.
Thanks to your 12 goals, Slovenia managed to beat Brazil.
What are your hopes for the
last match of the preliminary
round against Spain
DG: If we beat Spain by four or
more goals difference, we fin-
ish on top of the group, which
would be the perfect base for the
knock-out stage. Otherwise we
will finish in the second or third
position. In this case the task
would be tougher in the eighthfinal, but it is our clear goal to
proceed to the quarter-finals.
In 2013 Slovenia sensationally reached the semi-final at
the World Championship in
Spain. Is this a realistic target
also in Doha?
DG: Why not? A dream would
come true, if we would again end
up among the best four teams.
But to be honest, we don’t think
so far. We have the match against
Spain ahead, and this is what
counts most. Then we go step by
step. And we know that we need
to improve.
Is it an advantage for the
Slovenian team that four key
players -including you – play
together at Montpellier?
DG: In the national team we play
a different system in attack and
defence compared to Montpellier, but in general we know exactly
what the others like Vid Kavticnik and Jure Dolenec are doing or
planning. So we have a blind faith.
Two years ago at the IHF Super Globe in Doha you were
awarded Most Valuable Player.
Is the top scorer’s crown another personal goal for you?
DG: It is the team which counts,
not me. I would exchange all
goals and all watches I received
as “Man of the Match” for a spot
in the semi-final.
Macedonian Borko dreams of playing under the five rings
orko Ristovski is a globetrotter. Starting his career in
Skopje, the Macedonian goalkeeper first moved to Spain,
where he played for Algeciras BM and
SD Teucro, then returned to his home
city of Skopje, where he joined the two
top dogs Vardar and Metalurg.
After that 32-year-old Ristovski
moved to Germany for one and a half
year, playing for VfL Gummersbach,
and after a short intermission at Doha-bound Al-Ahly Club he joined the
French club US Creteil at the start of
this season in the summer of 2014.
He has been the top choice between
the posts for the Macedonian team for
almost a decade and has one big dream
— to play under the five Olympic rings
in Rio de Janeiro. “This is our great
goal, and in Doha we want to get as
close as possible to our dream destination, Rio.”
After becoming the 2012 European
Championship sensations by finishing
fifth, Macedonia failed to qualify for the
2012 Olympic Games in London, as they
were defeated by Sweden and Hungary
in the qualification tournament.
So at the 24th Men’s Handball
World Championship in Doha their
highly experienced team are making
their next attempt to become Olympic
athletes. “We have a great team here,
and our level of performance is really
high. We won our first three matches
and gave Croatia a tough fight, which
makes us feel very confident to win our
last group stage match against Austria
and to finish second,” Ristovski says.
He estimates Slovenia to potentially
become Macedonia’s opponents in the
eighth-finals. “To get closer to Rio de
Janeiro, we at least need to reach the
quarter-finals, but our team is in a
good playing mood to complete this
mission successfully,” said the goalkeeper.
Only teams finishing the World
Championship on places two to seven
in the final ranking are qualified for the
Olympic Qualification Tournaments.
Ristovski is satisfied with his own
performance in Doha – and statistics
underline his important role for his
team: Ristovski saved every third shot
on the Macedonian goal, relying on the
hard working defenders before him and
playing with a great deal of confidence.
“We are a well-rehearsed team. At
last year’s European Championship
we were hit hard by injuries, but at this
tournament we weren’t. On our bench
we have strong alternatives to put the
responsibility of the game on more
Macedonian goalkeeper Borko
Ristovski. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Qatar fans cheer ahead of the match against Belarus yesterday.
PICTURE: Othman al-Samaraee
Spain’s Joan Canellas (second from right) in action against Slovenia during their match yesterday. Spain beat Slovenia 30-26. PICTURE: Shemeer Rasheed
Fahed, the Qatar 2015 24th Men’s Handball World Championship
mascot, plays with a fan during half-time of the Macedonia-Austria
match yesterday. PICTURE: Jayan Orma
Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Mohamed Toromanovic (foreground) in action
against Croatia yesterday. Toromanovic scored seven goals but that
wasn’t enough as Croatia won 28-22. PICTURE: Shemeer Rasheed
Macedonia’s Kiril Lazarov (right) attempts a shot on goal as Austria’s Roland Schlinger looks on during
their match yesterday. Lazarov scored nine goals in his team’s 36-31 win. (AFP)
Young fan enjoys the 24th Men’s Handball World Championship
matches yesterday. PICTURE: Shemeer Rasheed
Tunisian players celebrate their 32-23 win over Iran in their match yesterday. PICTURE: Jayan Orma
Fans enjoy the handball Worlds yesterday.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Does referee
sleep at
Queiroz asks
CANBERRA: Carlos Queiroz
asked how referee Ben Williams can sleep at night and
said he was considering his
future in the game after 10man Iran crashed out of the
Asian Cup yesterday.
The coach had to be held
back by his players after
Mehrdad Pooladi’s controversial dismissal and he was
furious as he faced media
following the penalties loss
to arch-rivals Iraq.
Queiroz was earlier fined
$3,000 for an outburst
against Australian ref Williams and he unsuccessfully
tried to bite his tongue as he
contemplated the ruins of
Iran’s campaign.
“Can he (the referee) sleep
tonight?” Queiroz asked after
Iran went out 7-6 on penalties, after twice coming from
behind to make it 3-3 after
extra time.
“It’s just a question. If it’s necessary I put my knees to the
ground to show my respect
and humble attitude to ask
him how we understand this
decision, you tell me.
“I want to emphasise this
one, two, three, four times,
it’s just a question. I ask you
to make the judgement because now we go home.”
Sardar Azmoun scored on 24
minutes but things turned
sour for Iran when Pooladi
was cautioned for simulation—and then sent off when
Williams realised it was his
second yellow card.
Iraq levelled through Ahmed
Yaseen and they twice went
ahead in extra-time—only
for Iran to claw back equalisers through Morteza Pouraliganji and Reza Ghoochannejhad.
But their exertions were
in vain as in a marathon
shoot-out, Iran’s Vahid Amiry
struck the post and Salam
Shakir stepped up to fire the
winning penalty.
“I don’t have many comments about Mr. Williams
because if I make comments
today I finish my career and
I don’t think after 34 years
that I deserve to finish my
career here,” he said.
“I’m very proud of the way
my team played and the fight
but unfortunately I cannot
my express my opinion
about the referee and what
happened because if I do
somebody says I’ve insulted
(him) and I’m fined.
“So you tell me in your opinion if the goalkeeper pushed
my player, it’s a question not
an opinion, if it is a correct
decision to give the yellow
The former Real Madrid
boss, who signed a new fouryear-deal with the Iranian FA
last year, replied philosophically when asked about his
“I really don’t know, sometimes you come to moments
in football where you don’t
know if it makes sense to
keep going in this job. I really
don’t know.”
Iraq and UAE triumph
on night of upsets
‘When the game goes to penalties, it is a 50% chance of winning’
he United Arab Emirates shocked holders
Japan and Iraq sent
their arch-rivals Iran
crashing out as a stunning night
of upsets turned the Asian Cup
on its head yesterday.
A double-header of quarter-finals ended in two penalty shoot-outs in Canberra
and Sydney, with UAE and Iraq
surviving moments of intense
drama to come out on top.
Their stars shone with UAE
wizard Omar Abdulrahman and
Iraq’s Younis Mahmoud, hero
of their 2007 title run, both
slotting outrageous “panenka”
penalties in the shoot-outs.
But Japan’s leading lights
Keisuke Honda and Shinji Kagawa had a night to forget, and
10-man Iran were left cursing
Australian referee Ben Williams.
UAE’s 5-4 win on penalties,
after it finished 1-1 after extratime, puts Mahdi Ali’s men into
a semi-final against hosts Australia in Newcastle.
Iraq will play South Korea as
they bid to repeat their astonishing 2007 win and bring joy
to their homeland, where thousands of fans blasted celebratory gunfire on Friday.
Iraq outlasted Iran 7-6 on
penalties after a match of
scarcely believable drama ended
1-1 on 90 minutes and 3-3 after
the extra periods.
Iran’s coach Carlos Queiroz was incensed at Mehrdad
Pooladi’s first-half sending-off
when he received a second yellow card from referee Williams
for simulation.
“Can he (Williams) sleep
tonight? It’s just a question,”
said Queiroz, who had to be restrained by his players after the
“If it’s necessary I put my
knees to the ground to show my
respect and humble attitude to
ask him how we understand this
decision, you tell me.”
‘Panenka’ double - There was
no sign of the fireworks to come
when talented young striker
Sardar Azmoun nodded Iran in
front on 24 minutes.
But sparks flew when Pooladi
was cautioned for simulation,
and then sent off when Williams
realised it was his second yellow.
A furious Queiroz, fined
$3,000 for criticising Williams
after Iran’s win against Bahrain,
had to be held back as the teams
and officials came off at halftime.
And the dismissal turned
out to be critical as Iraq lev-
UAE’s Ismail Ahmed (right) scores the match winning penalty past Japan’s goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima during the penalty shootout in their Asian Cup quarter-final match at the
Stadium Australia in Sydney yesterday.
elled through Ahmed Yaseen to
force extra-time, and then went
ahead via the head of captain
Iran levelled through Morteza
Pouraliganji—but the defender
then conceded a penalty by
clattering into Yaser Kasim,
which Dhurgham Ismael dispatched.
Iraq seemed to have it won,
but Iranian substitute Reza
Ghoochannejhad dramatically
headed in at the death of extratime to force penalties.
Both sides missed their first
kicks but then scored six each,
including Mahmoud’s brilliant
“panenka”, before Iran’s Vahid
Amiry hit the post and Salam
Shakir smashed the winner.
The later kick-off in Sydney
got off to a sombre start with the
UAE wearing black armbands to
make the death of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, and Ali
Mabkhout refused to celebrate
when he opened the scoring in
the seventh minute.
Mabkhout walked away with
his arms by his sides when he
blasted home a fierce volley to
give his side a shock lead against
the four-time champions.
Japan, looking leggy in their
fourth game with an unchanged
without reward until the 81st
minute, when substitute Gaku
Shibasaki rifled in the equaliser.
The Blue Samurai almost
snatched the winner when Shibasaki’s free kick flashed wide,
but the UAE hung on to force the
sudden death shoot-out.
And while Abdulrahman
chipped the second “panenka”
of the night, Japanese stars
Honda and Kagawa both missed
before Ismail Ahmed thumped
the crucial kick home.
“I am very proud of my
team’s performance,” said Japan’s coach Javier Aguirre, who
is battling a match-fixing claim
from his time working in Spain.
“We gave everything we had
over 120 minutes. When the
game goes to penalties, it is a
50% chance of winning.”
Iraqi players celebrate after the penalty shootout of the AFC Asian Cup 2015 quarter-final soccer match
against Iran in Canberra, Australia, yesterday. Iraq won 7-6 on penalties.
Japan coach Aguirre happy
with everything but the result
apan coach Javier Aguirre
said he was happy with
pretty much everything
but the result after the
holders crashed out of the Asian
Cup on penalties in the quarterfinals yesterday.
Taking the “accentuate the
positive” philosophy to the
extreme, the Mexican praised
the efforts of the Blue Samurai even though they trailed
underdogs United Arab Emirates for 81 minutes of the contest before losing the shootout 5-4.
“I’m very proud of my team’s
performance,” he said. “We gave
everything in this 120 minutes.
When the game goes to penalties, you have a 50% chance of
“We were the better team
in all aspects of the game in-
Japan coach Javier Aguirre (right) gives instructions to players
during the quarter-final match against UAE at the AFC Asian Cup in
Sydney yesterday.
cluding attack. We were careless at the start of the game
which caused us to concede a
goal. Then we had to fight for
“I think the UAE played
the match of their lives to get
that result and I congratulate
Aguirre took over after Japan’s disappointing World
Cup campaign last year and
the same inability to turn
and chances into goals that
dogged them in Brazil was on
show last night.
Japan had 32 shots in the
90 minutes of normal time,
the most of any team in any
match at the tournament, but
scored just one and two of their
best attacking players, Shinji
Kagawa and Keisuke Honda,
missed penalties in the shootout.
“Football is a game of scoring
goals and we only managed one
which is why it finished 1-1,”
Aguirre added.
“I am happy with the
number of chances we created, sometimes we missed
and sometimes they stopped
it. I would have been less happy
if we hadn’t created so many
Aguirre came into the tournament under something of a
cloud after allegations that he
was involved in matchfixing,
which he has strongly denied,
surfaced in Spain.
He looks likely to retain his
job for the first round of World
Cup qualifying later this year,
though, and said the team had
shown some character yesterday.
“They won, but I think we
played better football and had a
more attacking mentality than
them,” he said.
“We showed a fighting mentality today. We need to keep
this attitude in the future.”
AFC ‘broad-minded’ on
Iranian women ban
CANBERRA: Asia’s football
body does not oppose Iranian
laws banning women from
stadiums, a senior official told
AFP yesterday, after thousands
flocked to watch the team at
the Asian Cup.
Enthusiastic male and female
Iranian fans have provided
a colourful spectacle at the
tournament in Australia, in
scenes which are forbidden in
the Islamic republic.
Asian Football Confederation
(AFC) general secretary Alex
Soosay said the body respects
Iranian rules banning women
from watching male athletes, an
increasing source of controversy.
“We’re very broad-minded,”
Soosay said in an interview in
“In Australia there’s a big
Iranian community and you
can’t stop them from coming to
the stadium because there’s no
restrictions here.
“Whereas in Iran, there has
been some restrictions of
women entering the stadium
and watching a football match.”
He added the AFC was “happy”
to respect Iranian laws.
The divide between the situation in Iran and Australia was
laid bare when Iranian players
were warned against taking
“selfie” pictures with women
The head of the Iranian Football
Federation’s moral committee
said players risked being used
as a “political tool” after some
photos circulated on social
“National team players
should be aware that they
won’t be used as a political
tool so that those who take
pictures with them don’t use
these photos against the
players,” Ali Akbar Mohamedzade told Iran’s Shahrvand
Iran’s Portuguese coach Carlos
Queiroz steered clear of the
subject when he responded
with a firm, “no comment”
when asked to comment on the
presence of women fans.
Iran’s restrictions on women
fans have been in the spotlight
since a British-Iranian law
graduate was jailed after she
tried to attend a men’s volleyball match.
Ghoncheh Ghavami, 25, was
detained in June and she twice
went on hunger strike before
being released on bail last week
pending a court verdict.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 24, 2015
New sponsors ready to replace old, says FIFA
IFA have rejected suggestions that major
sponsors were cutting
their ties with the organisation because it was a “toxic
brand”, saying yesterday that
they were in advanced negotiations with new sponsors eager to
replace the old.
Britain’s Daily Telegraph revealed on Friday that three major
eye Real
scalp after
to take their place.
“Rotations at the end of a
sponsorship cycle are commonplace in the sports industry
and have continuously occurred
since the commercialisation of
the FIFA World Cup began,” Weil
“It is natural that as brands’
strategies evolve they reassess their sponsorship properties. The contracts were always
planned to run until the end of
“As in previous FIFA World
sponsors, Continental, Castrol
and Johnson & Johnson, were
not renewing their contracts
with world soccer’s governing
Emirates Airlines and Sony
announced last year that they
were also severing their ties with
But FIFA’s marketing director
Thierry Weil told Reuters on Friday that those companies contracts with FIFA were always due
to expire at the end of last year
and new ones were negotiating
Cup cycles, we are now in advanced negotiations with a
number of companies related to
sponsorship agreements in all
three of our categories.
But not everyone is convinced
that FIFA, who have been buffeted by one crisis after another
over the last few years, is still a
name sponsors want to be associated with.
Damian Collins, the British
MP and the guiding light behind
the pressure group New FIFA
Now which was launched in
Brussels on Wednesday, said he
believed sponsors were cutting
ties as a result of the scandals
and controversies that continually surround FIFA.
“FIFA is a toxic brand,” Collins
was quoted as saying in the Daily
“I think that’s why companies
who care about their reputation
don’t want to be considered with it.”
Sponsors bring in at least
$1.5bn in revenue over each fouryear cycle.
Balotelli agent Raiola latest to enter FIFA race
LONDON: Another wildcard has
entered the pack of candidates
challenging Sepp Blatter for the
presidency of FIFA in May’s election—Mino Raiola, a soccer agent
whose clients include Mario
Balotelli and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The 47-year-old Dutchman with
Italian roots needs to prove five
football associations support his
bid and that he has been active
in football for at least two of the
Don’t get caught cold,
Pellegrini warns City
‘Maybe they are not in the Premier League but they are fighting to get promoted’
nka said: “We showed with our
display against Liverpool earlier
this season that we can do well
against the big sides.
“We’ll have a lot of fans there
behind us and we’ll look to put
on a good show for them.”
Middlesbrough’s priority remains regaining the top flight
place they surrendered in 2009
after relegation to the Championship.
They are on course for promotion under Karanka, pulling to within a point of leaders Bournemouth after a 2-1
midweek victory over Cardiff
Middlesbrough have lost just
once in their last 15 games and
Karanka added: “We’ve had
some important league games in
the run-up to facing Manchester City, but now we can focus
all our attention on what’s a big
challenge for us against a very
impressive side.”
ordoba play host to Real
Madrid today for the
first time in 44 years
hoping to continue a fine
start to 2015.
The Andalusians started the
new year firmly rooted in the
relegation zone following a 5-0
drubbing at the hands of Barcelona after which boss Miroslav
Djukic slammed his players’ lack
of fight.
However, the Serbian has got
the reaction he wanted with a run
of seven points from nine lifting
them up to 14th.
“It is not a different week, we
just need to work hard and do
everything we can to get something positive from the game,”
Algerian forward Nabil Ghilas
said on Thursday.
“I hope that Real Madrid will
attack a lot and we can try to
take advantage on the counterattack.
“The fans are always with us
no matter who the opponent is. I
love the fans, what ever the result
they support us.”
Madrid have enjoyed a free
midweek having been dumped
out of the Copa del Rey by Atletico Madrid in the round of 16 and
added teenage sensation Martin Odegaard to their star-laden
However, the 16-year-old
Norwegian is expected to only
feature for the club’s reserve
side, Real Madrid Castilla, for
the rest of the season under the
orders of French legend Zinedine
Pepe’s continued absence
through injury means another
Frenchman Rafael Varane will
maintain his place alongside Sergio Ramos in defence as Carlo
Ancelotti is expected to name the
same side that beat Getafe 3-0
last weekend.
Elche will also have their
sights set on an unlikely giantkilling when they host Barcelona
at the Martinez Valero.
A 0-0 draw between the sides
in the penultimate game of the
campaign last season damaged
Barca’s title challenge as they
lost out on the last day of the
season to Atletico Madrid.
However, the Catalans gained
some measure of revenge with a
9-0 aggregate thrashing of Elche
in the Cup earlier this month,
which included a 4-0 away win
without any of Barca’s star names.
Lionel Messi scored for the
sixth time in his last four games
as Barca edged the first leg of
their Copa del Rey quarter-final,
first leg against Atletico in midweek.
The Argentine is sure to start,
but Luis Enrique may be tempted
into making a few changes with
Wednesday’s second leg at the
Vicente Calderon in mind.
(all times GMT)
Today’s matches
Cordoba v Real Madrid (1500),
Elche v Barcelona (1700), Atletico
Madrid v Rayo Vallecano (1900),
Real Sociedad v Eibar (2100), Villarreal v Levante (2100)
Tomorrow’s matches
Deportivo la Coruna v Granada
(1100), Athletic Bilbao v Malaga
last five years before the deadline for submitting bids expires
at midnight next Friday, Jan. 29.
“I’m getting violently sick when
I think that Blatter could be reelected,” he is quoted as saying
by the Daily Telegraph.
Jerome Champagne of France
and FIFA’s Asian vice-president
Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein of
Jordan are considered the only
serious contenders,
anuel Pellegrini admits
City cannot afford
to be caught cold if
they are to avoid an FA Cup upset against Championship club
Middlesbrough today.
City have spent the week enjoying a warm weather training
camp in Abu Dhabi, home of
the club’s owners, before flying
back into freezing England late
on Friday.
Less than 24 hours later they
will face Aitor Karanka’s Middlesbrough in the fourth round
of the Cup at Eastlands and City
boss Pellegrini says the 2011
winners will have to be at their
best to go through.
“I expect a tough game. They
are in a very good position in
the Championship and they are
managed by a good manager
who I know,” Pellegrini said.
“I am sure that if we don’t
play with 100% intensity and
concentration we are going to
have problems to qualify for the
next stage of the cup so we need
to play a good game against a
good team.
“Maybe they are not in the
Premier League but they are
fighting to get promoted.”
City are looking to bounce
back from a 2-0 home defeat
to Arsenal in their last game,
which left them five points behind Premier League leaders
Chelsea, who they face next
Pellegrini’s side will therefore
be looking for a confidenceboosting result against a side
challenging for promotion under Karanka, who moved to Real
Madrid as assistant manager to
Jose Mourinho after Pellegrini
Manchester City coach Manuel Pellegrini
was sacked by Real in 2010.
City may be without midfielder Frank Lampard, who
sustained a hip injury in the
warm-up to their midweek
friendly against German side
Hamburg and lasted just 20
minutes of the 2-0 win.
Caballero wants cup
run However, Edin Dzeko, who
scored in that game, could start
his first game for a month following injury and goalkeeper
Willy Caballero is targeting an-
other decent run in the competition.
Caballero, who has played in
all of City’s domestic cup ties
this season after signing from
Malaga last year, said: “Every
trophy is important to us and we
know that if we can beat Middlesbrough on Saturday, we will
already be in the last 16 of the FA
“This is a trophy we have
done very well in over the past
three or four years, winning the
cup, reaching the final and mak-
ing the quarter-finals in the past
four years.
“We know we made hard
work of the 2-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday in the previous
round and that Middlesbrough
are playing very well at the moment.
“Sheffield Wednesday played
very well and worked hard to
make it a difficult match for us.
We expect nothing less from
Karanka, meanwhile, has
urged Middlesbrough to recre-
Gyan goal helps
Ghana pip Algeria
he returning Asamoah Gyan struck
a dramatic stoppage-time winner as Ghana kickstarted
their Africa Cup of Nations campaign with a 1-0
Group C victory against
Algeria in Mongomo yesterday.
Gyan missed his side’s
opening 2-1 defeat to
Senegal on Monday after contracting a mild
bout of malaria, but he
was brought back into the
starting line-up by coach
Avram Grant for a mustwin encounter against the
Algerians and snatched all
three points in the second
minute of injury time.
His goal lit up what
had been a dire contest
on a bobbly surface and
allowed Ghana to move
level with Algeria and
Senegal on three points in
the group before the Lions
of Teranga face pointless
South Africa later.
Along with the return
of talisman Gyan, the only
other change for the Black
Stars at kick-off saw Afriyie Acquah come into the
For Algeria, meanwhile, Madjid Bougherra
came into the centre of
the defence and took the
captain’s armband, while
Ishak Belfodil was rewarded for an impressive
showing from the bench
in the win against South
Africa with a start at the
expense of Islam Slimani,
who had a foot problem.
Nevertheless, this was
ate the spirit of Anfield as they
look to give another impressive
account of themselves against
high-profile Premier League
The Teesside club won plaudits after pushing Liverpool all
the way in the League Cup in
September, eventually bowing out 14-13 on penalties after
more than playing their part in a
thrilling 2-2 draw.
backed by more than 5,000 supporters at Eastlands and Kara-
(1500 GMT unless otherwise
Today’s matches
Birmingham City v West Bromwich
Albion, Blackburn Rovers v
Swansea City (1245 GMT), Cardiff
City v Reading, Chelsea v Bradford
City, Derby County v Chesterfield,
Liverpool v Bolton Wanderers
(1730 GMT), Manchester City v
Middlesbrough, Preston North End
v Sheffield United, Southampton
v Crystal Palace, Sunderland v
Fulham, Tottenham Hotspur v
Leicester City
Tomorrow’s matches:
Aston Villa v Bournemouth (1500
GMT), Brighton and Hove Albion v
Arsenal (1600 GMT), Bristol City v
West Ham United (1400 GMT)
Monday (2000 GMT):
Rochdale v Stoke City
not a game for attacking
players, with the first half
in particular a scrappy affair marred by crunching
Andre Ayew was caught
above the ankle from one
high tackle, while Algeria star Yacine Brahimi
was himself the victim of
a bruising interception in
The Black Stars sought
to take the game to their
opponents after the restart, and Jordan Ayew
dribbled into the box from
the left only for his final
shot to lack power and
cause Rais Mbolhi in goal
few problems.
Harrison Afful then dug
out a cross from the right
which was headed across
goal and wide by Gyan at
the near post, before Jordan Ayew flicked a driven
ball from his brother Andre just over from close
took 66 minutes to really
threaten, Sofiane Feghouli
breaking into the Ghana
box from the left and drilling a shot across goal, only
for the ball to flash wide of
the far post.
Both sides made changes in an effort to find
the breakthrough in the
closing stages, although
Ghana coach Grant opted
to leave the clearly tiring
Gyan on.
And Gyan rewarded his
coach with the winner
right at the death, latching
onto a hopeful long ball
downfield from Wakasu
Mubarak and outpacing
Carl Medjani before firing
across Mbolhi and into the
net from a tight angle.
Ferrero hints at Eto’o arrival
ampdoria president Massimo Ferrero has hinted that Samuel Eto’o
could finally complete his move
to the Serie A side after two weeks
of negotiations with Premier League club
Eto’o has been tipped to join the Genoabased side since Everton manager Roberto
Martinez indicated the Cameroonian striker would be allowed to leave Goodison Park.
Ferrero unveiled four new signings yesterday including Colombian striker Luis
Muriel from Udinese, but the flamboyant
film producer hinted he could add Eto’o to
his winter transfer haul within the next 24
“Today I have brought you four pearls
and maybe tomorrow there will be another,” said Ferrero referring to Eto’o.
Eto’o is said to be keen for a return to
Italy where he enjoyed huge success with
Inter Milan during his spell with the club in
2009-2011, including winning the treble of
league, Cup and Champions League in 2010
under former coach Jose Mourinho.
Sampdoria are 10 points behind leaders
Juventus ahead of the defending champions’ home game against Verona on Sunday
and level with Napoli in the third and last
Champions League qualifying place.
Samuel Eto’o
Reports in Italy on Friday said the
33-year-old is expected to undergo a medical at the northern Italian city on Saturday.
Sampdoria, coached by Serbian Sinisa
Mihajlovic, sit fourth in Serie A, level on
points with third-placed Napoli and 13
points behind leaders and champions Juventus.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Ronchi, Elliott record stand
sets up New Zealand win
‘Ronchi doesn’t get a lot of time at the end so it was nice for him to come in early and show how destructive he can be’
record batting blitz by
Luke Ronchi and Grant
Elliott set New Zealand
up for an overwhelming 108-run win over Sri Lanka
in their fifth one-day international in Dunedin yesterday.
In a stunning display of power
hitting, Ronchi (170 not out) and
Elliott (104 not out) bludgeoned
an unbeaten 267 to lift New Zealand from 93-5 to 360-5 in their
50 overs in a world record sixthwicket stand.
Sri Lanka had their own
century-maker in Tillakaratne
Dilshan and looked to be in with
a chance as long as he was at the
But when Dilshan fell for 116 it
sparked a spectacular collapse in
which Sri Lanka lost eight wickets for just 41 runs in eight overs.
The end came with more than
six overs remaining as, for the
second game in a row, Sri Lanka
showed little fight in the lower
order to let New Zealand go 3-1
up in the series.
In the fourth ODI in Nelson
on Tuesday, their last six wick-
New Zealand
M. Guptill c Sangakkara b Kulasekara .................0
B. McCullum lbw Kulasekara .................................25
Williamson c Sangakkara b Perera .................26
Taylor c Karunaratne b Thirimanne ..............20
G. Elliott not out ............................................................... 104
C. Anderson lbw Thirimanne ...................................8
L Ronchi not out .............................................................170
Extras: (lb 1, w 6) .................................................................7
Total: (for 5 wickets, 50 overs) 360
Fall of wickets: 1-0 (Guptill), 2-51
(McCullum), 3-60 (Williamson), 4-82 (Taylor),
5-93 (Anderson)
Bowling: Kulasekara 10-0-71-2 (1w), Lakmal
10-0-93-0, Perera 10-0-49-1 (2w), Thirimanne
7-0-36-2 (3w), Senanayake 7-0-58-0, Mendis
2-0-21-0, Dilshan 4-0-31-0
Sri Lanka
L. Thirimanne c Taylor b Elliott ........................... 45
T. Dilshan c N. McCullum b McClenaghan116
K. Sangakkara c McCullum b Elliott ....................9
M. Jayawardene b Boult................................................30
N. Kulasekara c Ronchi b Boult ................................3
J. Mendis b Boult......................................................................18
D. Chandimal c Ronchi b McClenaghan.......0
T. Perera c Williamson b Boult .................................0
Karunaratne c McCullum b Southee .............12
S. Senanayake not out.........................................................3
S. Lakmal b Southee .............................................................0
Extras: (b 4, lb 2, wd 10)................................................16
Total: (for 10 wickets, 43.4 overs) 252
Fall of wickets: 1-93
2-141 (Sangakkara), 3-211 (Jayawardene),
4-215 (Dilshan), 5-224 (Kulasekara), 6-233
(Chandimal), 7-234 (Perera), 8-245 (Mendis),
9-252-Karunaratne), 10-252 (Lakmal).
Bowling: Southee 7.4-0-42-2 (1w), Boult
10-0-44-4 (2w), N. McCullum 4-0-21-0,
McClenaghan 8-0-56-2 (1w), Elliott 9-0-42-2
(1w), Anderson 5-0-41-0 (1w)
New Zealand’s Luke Ronchi walks off field at the end of the New Zealand innings with teammate Grant Elliott during the fifth one day International against Sri Lanka in Dunedin at University Oval yesterday.
ets were whittled out for just 31
Faced with a daunting target
of 361 to win in Dunedin, Sri
Lanka confidently progressed to
93 before losing their first wicket
when stand-in captain Lahiru
Thirimanne was removed for 45.
After Kumar Sangakkara went
cheaply for nine, Mahela Jayawardene (30) joined Dilshan to
lift the momentum as the tourists reached 211 in the 36th over
a drive on a slower delivery and
was well held by Nathan McCullum at extra cover.
Boult was New Zealand’s chief
destroyer with four for 44 while
McClenaghan, Elliott and Tim
Southee took two wickets each.
Thirimanne, deputising for
skipper Angelo Mathews who
sat out the game with a slight
calf strain, won the toss and sent
New Zealand to bat with immediate reward.
On a green-tinged seaming wicket, Martin Guptill was
gone first ball and the rest of
the New Zealand top order followed quickly as the hosts fell
to 93-5.
Enter Ronchi to partner Elliott and they mounted an aggressive assault on the Sri
Lankan attack.
Ronchi whacked his 170 from
99 balls, smacking nine sixes
and 14 fours while setting several
milestones along the way.
In addition to the worldrecord partnership with Elliott,
his unbeaten 170 was his maiden
ODI century and the highest ODI
score by a number seven batsman.
Elliott, who took 96 balls for
his 104 - his second century—
showed more restraint at the
crease, and like Ronchi he offered few chances.
“We worked off each other,
and we tried to be as relaxed as
we could. Once things started
flowing along we began to
relax and have good fun out
there,” Elliott said at the presentation.
“Ronchi doesn’t get a lot of
time at the end so it was nice for
him to come in early and show
how destructive he can be.”
Thirimanne had the best figures for Sri Lanka with two for
36 off seven overs.
Banned Aamer set
for first-class return
isgraced Pakistan paceman Mohammad Aamer (pictured) could
return to first-class
cricket as early as next month
after a relaxation of the conditions of his ban for spot-fixing,
an official said yesterday.
Aamer, 22, was banned for five
years along with Salman Butt
and Mohammad Asif in a spot
fixing case in England in 2010,
and the trio were jailed by a UK
court in 2011.
The paceman was interviewed
in Lahore Friday by the International Cricket Council (ICC) after
the governing body revised the
players’ code of conduct in November last year, adding a provision that allows a banned player to
play in domestic games a certain
period prior to the end of the ban.
The change of rules prompted
the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB)
to file an appeal with the ICC to
relax certain conditions of Aamer’s ban last year.
A final decision on Aamer’s
appeal will be taken in ICC Board
meeting in Dubai next week.
A PCB spokesman confirmed
Aamer’s potential return.
“It is most likely that Aamer
will get reprieve to play domestic cricket,” said the spokesman
Agha Akber.
But the game turned when
strike bowler Trent Boult was
brought back into the attack
with immediate success bowling
Jayawardene to start the slide.
Four balls later Mitchell McClenaghan claimed the prized
wicket of Dilshan and the Sri
Lankan fight was over.
Dilshan had posted his 20th
ODI century and the third in his
past five innings in an unflustered display until he mistimed
Captain Smith takes Australia
to victory over England with ton
the fifth to take Australia closer.
Smith, who hit six fours and
a six, and Haddin then batted
sensibly during their 81-run
stand and took the attack to the
bowlers once the victory was in
Earlier, put in to bat by Australia, Bell and Moeen Ali (46)
added 113 for the opening wicket to give England a flying start.
An aggressive Bell, who hit 15
fours and one six in his 125-ball
innings, appeared in good touch
and took a firm step towards securing the opener’s role for the
Feb. 19-March 29 World Cup
ahead of Alex Hales.
He timed the ball sweetly,
reaching his half-century in 42
PCB chairman Shaharyar
Khan last week said Aamer
will be monitored in first-class
cricket before returning to international cricket.
His five year ban expires in
August this year.
PCB has said that since the
other two banned players—Butt
and Asif—took time to plead
guilty and have not completed a
mandatory rehabilitation, their
cases will not be taken up with
the ICC.
Before the ban Aamer was
described as cricket’s “hottest
property” by legendary Pakistan
pace-man Imran Khan.
teven Smith maintained
his purple patch to hit a
brilliant unbeaten 102 to
secure Australia’s threewicket victory against England
in a high-scoring tri-series
match at Hobart yesterday.
Brad Haddin also chipped in
with a quickfire 42 off 29 balls
as the hosts chased down the
daunting 304-run target with
one ball to spare to pick up their
third consecutive win and reach
the final of the tournament, also
featuring India.
Ian Bell’s career-best 141 had
powered England to 303-8 but
they were left to rue their inability to score freely during the
closing stages, which Australia
used superbly to claim victory.
Stand-in captain Smith, who
scored four centuries against
India during their recent 2-0
test series win, continued his
rich vein of form to complete
another ton on his one-day international captaincy debut, his
third in the 50-over format.
Shaun Marsh (45), who replaced the injured David Warner, and Aaron Finch (32) gave
Australia the ideal platform for
balls and then the three-figure
mark in 92 balls with a pulled
single off paceman Pat Cummins.
Cummins was punished by
Moeen early on when the lefthander pulled the bowler for
three consecutive sixes.
Bell also added 121 for the
third wicket with Joe Root (69)
but medium pacer Gurinder
Sandhu pulled things back for
Australia by dismissing the
centurion and England captain
Eoin Morgan for a golden duck
in three balls.
England lost six wickets in
the last nine overs, including
three in the last three deliveries
of their innings.
Australia’s Steven Smith (right) shakes the hand of England’s Ravi
Bopara after winning the one-day international (ODI) against
England at Bellerive Oval in Hobart yesterday.
the chase with a brisk opening
stand of 76.
England fast bowler Steven
Finn, who took five wickets on
Tuesday to destroy India, dismissed Marsh and Cameron
White (0) in three deliveries
leaving it to Smith to resurrect
Australia from 92-3.
The 25-year-old Smith
looked unperturbed, adding
69 with Glenn Maxwell (37) for
the fourth wicket and another
55 with James Faulkner (35) for
A. Finch b Ali ...............................................................................32
S. Marsh c Bell b Finn ...................................................... 45
S. Smith not out ...................................................................102
C. White lbw Finn ....................................................................0
G. Maxwell c Root b Ali ..................................................37
J. Faulkner c Bell b Woakes .......................................35
B. Haddin c Bell b Woakes ........................................ 42
M. Henriques run out ..........................................................4
M. Starc not out ...........................................................................1
Extras: (lb3, w3) ......................................................................6
Total: (7 wickets, 49.5 overs) ............................304
Fall of wicket: 1-76 (Finch) 2-92 (Marsh), 3-92
(White), 4-161 (Maxwell), 5-216 (Faulkner), 6-297
(Haddin), 7-302 (Henriques)
Bowling: Woakes 9.5-0-58-2, Anderson
10-0-56-0, Broad 9-0-61-0, Ali 10-0-50-2, Finn
10-0-65-2, Bopara 1-0-11-0
M. Ali c sub (Doherty) b Faulkner .....................46
I. Bell c Starc b Sandhu ..................................................141
J. Taylor c Faulkner b Henriques ...........................5
J. Root c Finch b Cummins ......................................69
E. Morgan c Haddin b Sandhu ...............................0
J. Buttler run out ....................................................................25
R. Bopara b Starc .....................................................................7
C. Woakes run out .................................................................0
S. Broad not out ........................................................................0
Extras: (b 1, lb 4, w 5) .....................................................10
Total: (for eight wickets, 50 overs) ........... 303
Fall of wickets: 1-113 (Ali), 2-132 (Taylor), 3-253
(Bell), 4-254 (Morgan), 5-275 (Root), 6-303
(Bopara), 7-303 (Buttler), 8-303 (Woakes)
Bowling: Starc 10-0-60-1, Cummins 10-0-74-1,
Sandhu 10-0-49-2, Maxwell 3-0-22-0, Faulkner
10-0-59-1, Henriques 7-0-34-1
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Bryant gets
all-star nod
LOS ANGELES: Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe
Bryant was named to his
17th NBA All-Star Game on
Thursday, the same day his
club announced he had a torn
rotator cuff.
Bryant garnered one of the
Western Conference starting
guard spots over league-leading scorer James Harden.
But before the voting results
were announced the Lakers
had revealed the veteran had
suffered a torn rotator cuff
in Wednesday night’s game,
making it unlikely he will be
able to play in the February
15 mid-season showcase at
Madison Square Garden.
Bryant received 1.15 million
votes -- 83,000 more than
Bryant was also a surprise
pick for the Western Conference team last year because
of injuries and was eventually
replaced by Harden.
The other starting guard for
the West is Golden State’s
Stephen Curry, who overcame LeBron James over the
past week to earn the most
overall votes with 1.51 million
to James’ 1.47 million in global
fan voting.
Besides having a new top
overall vote getter, this
season’s event will feature a
number of first-time starters,
including New Orleans Pelicans power forward Anthony
Clippers forward Blake Griffin
and Grizzlies centre Marc
Gasol make up the West’s
New York forward Carmelo
Anthony and Chicago big
man Pau Gasol will join James
in the frontcourt for the
Eastern Conference, while
Washington point guard John
Wall and Toronto’s Kyle Lowry
comprise the backcourt.
Lowry vaulted past Miami’s
Dwyane Wade for the final
guard spot.
The selection of Marc and
Pau Gasol mark the first time
that brothers will start in the
NBA All-Star Game. Brothers
Tom and Dick Van Arsdale
both played in the 1970 and
1971 games, but they weren’t
both starters.
“Incredibly special, overwhelming, huge honour,
memorable, historic, thrilled,
happy and thankful,” Pau said
on Thursday.
Atlanta’s Mike Budenholzer
and Golden State’s Steve Kerr
will be the head coaches for
the game. The head coaches
will select their reserves, to
be announced on January 29.
Bulls respond to Rose
call, spank Spurs
‘We came out and really competed against a very good team and took the challenge’
Los Angeles
rustrated over the recent lack of intensity,
Chicago Bulls star guard
Derek Rose called out his
teammates and they responded
in style on Thursday.
Rose scored 22 points while
Spaniard Pau Gasol added 12
with 17 rebounds - just hours
after being voted to his fifth
All-Star Game - and the Bulls
spanked the visiting San Antonio Spurs 104-81.
At a 20-minute team meeting, Rose had criticised the
Bulls saying they weren’t on the
same page in the wake of Monday’s lackadaisical 108-94 road
loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers
- their sixth in the last eight
It seemed to work as the Bulls
came together. They limited the
Spurs to a frosty 37-per-cent
field goal shooting and handed
the reigning NBA Champs their
most-lopsided loss of the season.
“I talked a little bit and said
what I had to say and my teammates took it to heart,” Rose
said. “It helped a lot. We came
out and really competed against
a very good team and took the
Gasol said the Bulls must sustain the effort.
“Actions speak louder than
words and unless we bring it like
we brought it tonight it’s meaningless,” he explained. “But it
definitely helped. When you go
through situations like we are it
does make a difference.”
Jimmy Butler scored 17
points, Taj Gibson and reserve
Aaron Brooks added 15 apiece
for Chicago (28-16), which halted a three-game home slide.
Despite playing without
starting centre Joakim Noah
(right ankle sprain) for a fourth
straight game, the Bulls raced
out to a 46-40 halftime advantage behind 15 points from an
aggressive Rose.
The Bulls took control with a
27-8 third-quarter blitz. Butler
led the way with seven points
Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose (R) drives by San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker during the third quarter of their game at the United Center in Chicago on Thursday.
and Rose had six, as the lead
ballooned to 73-48 with four
minutes left in the period.
Chicago carried a 77-60 advantage into the final frame and
coasted home with the muchneeded victory.
“The concentration was better and the effort was better,”
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau
Kawhi Leonard had 16 points
but went scoreless in the second
half for the Spurs (27-17) whose
four-game winning streak
ended. “We stunk, we were not
committed,” Spurs coach Gregg
Popovich said. “We played em-
barrassing basketball. I want my
money back.”
Elsewhere, Evan Turner
three-pointer from the right
corner out of a broken play with
one second left, and the Celtics (14-26) snapped a 24-game
road slide against the West af-
ter stunning the short-handed
Trail Blazers 90-89.
Damien Lillard scored 21
points for Portland (31-13),
which announced before gametime, that three-time All-Star
forward LaMarcus Aldridge
is expected to miss up to two
months to repair a torn ligament
in his left thumb.
Chicago.................... 104
Utah ...............................101
Boston ......................... 90
LA Clippers.............123
San Antonio....81
Milwaukee ...... 99
Portland ............ 89
Brooklyn ............84
Patriots defiant over
Seattle defenders
‘deflategate’ controversy Wagner, Bennett
shrug off-ball debate
he New England Patriots hit back at cheating
claims on Thursday,
with star quarterback
Tom Brady denying the club
had deflated balls to help them
reach the Super Bowl.
Brady and Patriots coach Bill
Belichick both appeared on nationally televised press conferences to rebut the claims as the
controversy swirling around
America’s biggest sporting
event reached fever pitch.
NFL chiefs are probing allegations that balls used by the
Patriots offense in their 45-7
rout of the Indianapolis Colts
on Sunday were inflated below
standard league levels—giving
Brady and his teammates an advantage by making them easier
to handle.
But Brady, one of the scandal-tainted NFL’s biggest stars,
flatly denied any involvement
in the scandal dubbed ‘deflategate.’
“I didn’t alter the balls in any
way,” said Brady, who is preparing for a record sixth Super
Bowl in Arizona on February 1.
“I feel like I have always
played within the rules. I would
never break the rules,” added
Brady, a three-time Super Bowl
winner and two-time NFL
Most Valuable Player.
Brady’s comments echoed
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady talks to the media at
Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusets on Thursday.
those made earlier in the day
by Belichick, who said he was
“shocked” to learn of the possibly illegal footballs on Monday.
“I have never talked to any
player, staff member about
football air pressure,” Belichick
“To me, the footballs are approved by the league and game
officials pre-game, and we play
with what’s out there.”
Brady had originally laughed
off the suggestion of wrongdoing by the Patriots in a radio appearance on Monday, thinking
it was “sour grapes.”
By Thursday, the 37-yearold superstar was aware of the
magnitude of the issue.
“It’s very serious,” Brady
said. “Obviously, integrity of
the sport is very important.”
However, he added that he
believed he and the Patriots
would get through it.
“Things are going to be fine,”
he said. “This isn’t ISIS. No
one’s dying,” he said, referring
to the militant group waging
war in Iraq and Syria.
Although the league has given no timetable for announcing
its findings, they have reportedly have found that 11 of 12
balls provided by the Patriots for the game did not meet
league standards.
Brady said he had yet to be
contacted by league officials
about the issue, which seems
certain to cloud the build up to
the Super Bowl in Phoenix, Arizona.
The title game and its attendant halftime show draw
millions of viewers, with television advertisers paying as much
as $4 million a slot to reach the
massive audience.
Brady, who also regularly appears in celebrity news magazines due to his marriage to
Brazilian supermodel Gisele
Bundchen, admitted the controversy had soured his preparations for the Super Bowl.
“It’s disappointing that a situation like this happens,” Brady
said. “Obviously I would love
to be up here in a very joyful
mood. These are the best two
weeks of the year if you happen
to be one of the two teams still
The whiff of scandal could
be especially damaging for the
Patriots, who have been sanctioned for infractions in the
Belichick was fined $500,000
and the team docked $250,000
over the 2007 “spygate” affair,
in which the NFL found they
illegally filmed another team’s
hand signals during a game.
If the NFL does find the Patriots purposely under-inflated
the balls, they could be subject
to fines and the loss of draft
As for the Super Bowl, Brady
said he believes whatever the
outcome of the league’s probe,
his team belongs there.
“I feel like we won the game
fair and square,” he said.
eattle All-Pro linebacker
Bobby Wagner is not
fussed by the deflated
ball debate swirling
around the New England Patriots and says it does not diminish
the respect he has for the Seahawks’ Super Bowl opponents.
“I don’t care. They can be flat.
They can be pumped up,” Wagner told reporters on Thursday
about the footballs to be used
in Glendale, Arizona for Super
Bowl 49 on Feb. 1.
“Someone has to hand them
off and someone has to catch
them. I’m the guy who has to
tackle them, so put as much air
as you want in them.”
The NFL is investigating
whether footballs used by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in
the 45-7 NFC title game thumping of the Indianapolis Colts
were softer than regulation levels to make them easier to grip,
and how they were deflated.
Wagner said the ball pressure
“didn’t stop (the Colts) from
missing tackles and didn’t stop
them from not making the plays
that they were making”.
Wagner said his view of the
Patriots was unchanged.
Seattle All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner
“We focus on us and they do
what they do. They’re winners.
They’ve done this for a long
time,” he said about the Patriots,
who won three Super Bowls in
four years from 2002 and are going to their sixth NFL title game.
“I’ve watched them—growing
up—winning. I have respect for
Defensive end Michael Bennett echoed his teammate.
“My opinion (of the Patriots) is the same. Bill Belichick
is one of the greatest coaches to
ever step foot in a building. Tom
Brady is one of the best quarterbacks to play football,” said Bennett.
“The Patriots are one of the
greatest football teams to ever
exist in this football league. My
opinion of them hasn’t changed
at all—it’s still all about playing
the game.
“We’re playing against a great
team so we have to be ready to
play against them.”
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Italy’s Seppi stuns
sluggish Federer,
Nadal sails through
‘Just a bad day, I could have played better, but clearly it was tough losing the first two sets’
Magic match-point
helps Seppi trick
stunned Federer
ndreas Seppi’s stunning upset of Roger Federer at the Australian
Open yesterday was a
three-hour affair but the shot
that ended the Swiss’s 11-year
run to the semi-finals at Melbourne Park will be replayed for
years to come.
Serving at 6-5 on his first
match point of a nerve-jangling
fourth set tiebreaker, the 46thranked Italian had to scramble
hard across court as Federer
rushed to the net with a forehand approach shot that burned
down the line.
Seppi stuck his racquet out in
pure desperation and as he hurtled over the tramlines with inertia, the lofted shot sailed down
the line past Federer, who moved
across but did not take a swing at
the ball.
Whether it was a leave or had
Federer beaten cold, the Swiss
master himself was unsure, but
the ball ultimately dropped on
the baseline and 15,000 spectators inside a packed Rod Laver
Arena roared as 30-year-old
Seppi sealed the match 6-4
7-6(5) 4-6 7-6(5) and toasted
the finest win of his three-title
“I guess maybe if he hits it
normally, maybe yes,” Federer
said when asked if he had a shot
at the volley.
“But the way he hits it you
think, ‘this can’t possibly land
in’. You kind of go and you’re
there and you’re like, ‘No, I’m
going to let it go’. As you’re telling yourself that, you look behind you and you already know
it’s done.
“Because he was also running
into the sun, so I have to cover
cross-court just in case. That’s
where everybody goes. I don’t
know. Ask him how he felt hitting it. It’s clearly a big blow because I actually hit my forehand
pretty good.”
For Seppi, it was a “strange
“At the beginning I thought
I couldn’t even reach the ball.
Then, yeah, when I hit it, I didn’t
see it going there. I just saw
when it bounced in. Was, yeah,
for sure one of the important
shots of my life.”
Seppi ended his perfect
10-match losing record to
Federer and an improbable
23-match losing streak to top10 opposition.
The 17-times grand slam
champion was never at his best
against Seppi but was magnanimous in defeat.
“I can’t remember well. But I
think he said, ‘unbelievable last
point. Congratulations’. Something like that,” said Seppi.
He will bid for his first quarter-final at a major against
young Australian Nick Kyrgios,
who beat Malek Jaziri in straight
sets 6-3 7-6(6) 6-1.
Hewitt hangs
on for now after
latest Slam exit
Italy’s Andreas Seppi plays a shot during his men’s singles match against Switzerland’s Roger Federer on day five of the Australian Open yesterday.
talian Andreas Seppi stunned second
seed Roger Federer 6-4, 7-6 (7-5),
4-6, 7-6 (7-5) in the third round yesterday and sent the four-time champion to his earliest Australian Open defeat
since 2001.
Seppi had lost all 10 of his previous
matches to the Swiss, but announced his
upset intentions early as he won the first
two sets against the 17-time grand slam
winner and overwhelming crowd favourite.
“Just a bad day, I could have played
better, but clearly it was tough losing the
first two set,” said Federer, who now has
a month of rest and training prior to his
next event in late February in Dubai.
“I had chances to get back into it, I let
it slip. I guess I won the wrong points out
there today. I knew how important that
second-set tiebreaker was, so clearly that
hurt, losing that one.
“The end wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t easy
to play with the shadow (on the court).
But it was the same for both of us. Just a
disappointing loss.”
Third seed Rafael Nadal made a recovery after winning with a stomach virus on
Wednesday, re-establishing normal service as he beat Israel’s Dudi Sela 6-1, 6-0,
“I started the match playing well with
not too many mistakes,” said the Spaniard, the 2014 finalist. “I played a lot better than the other day.
“I was feeling the ball better. In the
third set, he had some chances. I was a bit
lucky at the end,” he said after breaking
Sela in the final game.
Federer, who won his last major in 2012,
fought back to take the third set and dug in
for what would have been his 10th fight-
back from two sets down.
But the dream ending was not to be as
Seppi, ranked 46th and past the second
round only once from 10 appearances,
stole the victory.
The 30-year-old Italian from the German-speaking northern Adige region
took the fourth set into a tiebreaker and
recovered after Federer earned a 3-1 lead.
Seppi fired a winning inside-out forehand into the corner for a match point
and sent a passing shot out of reach of the
Swiss to conclude the major upset.
Federer admitted that he had poor sensations going into the match,
“I guess it was just an overall feeling I
had today out on the court that I couldn’t
really get the whole game flowing. Was it
backhand? Was it forehand? Was it serve?
It was a bit of everything.
“It wasn’t all bad. It’s just when it
counted the most somehow it just ended
up going his way. I think that was because
overall I wasn’t feeling it quite as well.
“I had to play it a little bit passively at
times when normally I would play aggressive. You know, it was just a tough match
for me.”
Sixth seed Andy Murray beat Joao Sousa of Portugal 6-1, 6-1, 7-5, while Czech
seventh seed Tomas Berdych advanced
past Serbian Viktor Troicki 6-4, 6-3, 6-4,
and 10th seed Grigor Dimitrov won a marathon over 2006 finalist Marcos Baghdatis 4-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.
“I thought I played well today. I managed to dictate a lot of the points,” said
Murray. “I controlled the baseline very
well. I hit the ball cleanly, it was a good
Australia’s young hopes both won
through with Nick Kyrgios lining up
against Seppi after dispatching Malek
Jaziri 6-3, 7-6 (8-6), 6-1. Bernard Tomic
won an all-Aussie clash over Sam Groth
6-4, 7-6 (10-8), 6-3.
leyton Hewitt is not
quitting tennis just yet
after his latest early
exit from a Grand Slam
tournament, this time in the
second round at his cherished
Australian Open.
The indefatigable warhorse,
who turns 34 next month,
faced the inevitable questions
after he threw away a two sets
lead to go out to fellow journeyman German Benjamin Becker
in five sets on Rod Laver Arena
late Thursday.
It continued a run of outs
for the two-time Grand Slam
champion and former world
number one, winning only
three matches at his last eight
major tournaments.
Significantly, the Becker loss
was Hewitt’s fifth in his last six
matches over five sets at Grand
Given it was his record 19th
consecutive Australian Open
— he lies just three behind
American Jimmy Connors’
record of 22 appearances at a
single Grand Slam (US Open)
— Hewitt is closer to the finish line.
But getting him to admit it is
an altogether different proposition.
“I don’t know. As I said the
whole time, I haven’t been
kidding anyone, really I don’t
know,” he told reporters after
his latest loss.
“I’ve just tried to focus on
what I’ve wanted to do, to get
the best out of myself this year.
I’ll sit back and assess everything after this tournament.”
Hewitt, who has been mentioned as a future captain of
Australia’s Davis Cup team, is
looking to be a mentor for the
country’s three rising young
guns—Nick Krygios, Bernard
Tomic and Thanasi Kokkinakis.
“Obviously the Davis Cup is
the next main thing. Now that
we’ve got some guys playing
really good tennis at the moment, it’s an exciting time,” he
said. Australia have been drawn
to face the Czech Republic in
Ostrava on March 6-8 and
Hewitt is keen on his country’s
chances of victory.
“Yeah, we have a good
chance to possibly pull off an
upset away. That’s the next focus,” he said.
“It would be great to play
when Nick and Bernie and
Thanasi are possibly top 10, 20
players, you get a free ride winning Davis Cups.
Marriage, kids more common for players on tour
ndy Murray says players seem
to be settling down and getting married earlier these
days, and noted it can be
lonely on tour for wives and girlfriends.
The world number six Scot, 27, got
engaged to long-time partner Kim
Sears last November, joining a growing
list of top stars from his generation tying the knot.
Novak Djokovic, 27, got hitched last
year and now has a young child while
Roger Federer, 33, has been married
since 2009 and has two sets of twins.
Lleyton Hewitt is also married with
children while Tomas Berdych announced his engagement to model Ester Satorova at the on-going Australian
“It does seem like all the guys from
my generation are settling down at the
Bec Hewitt, wife of Lleyton Hewitt of Australia, watches her husband play Benjamin Becker of Germany on Thursday.
Hewitt is one of several players whose families are a regular feature at tournaments.
same time but, really, it is just because
things have changed on the tour,” Murray said in a column for The Age newspaper in Melbourne.
“I think in the past, a lot of players
used to wait until they’d retired before
they got married.
“A lot of guys were finishing their
careers at 30 or 32 whereas now, I
think, they are going to be playing a
couple of years longer.
“So, it makes sense to do it now
rather than wait until you’ve finished,
which could be when you are in your
mid-30s. It just seemed like the right
time for me, but everyone’s different.”
Murray has been with girlfriend Kim
since they were 18 and said he relied on
her to help pick him up after bad days.
“The good thing is that she’s not really into fame or anything so she’s not
going out of her way to get pictures
taken of her,” he said.
“She keeps a pretty low profile,
which is obviously nice. And she’s been
around tennis all her life so she understands what’s going to be happening.”
Plenty of players have their partners
with them at the Australian Open but
it can be “a bit of a lonely life for the
wives and girlfriends on tour”.
“As players we have our own routines and things we have to do,” said
“I’m lucky because Kim gets on well
with all the guys we work with. She
will hang out with them, which is a big
positive because if she didn’t then, obviously, being at these events, spending quite a lot of time on your own, is
With people like Federer and Djokovic now fathers, the pitter patter of tiny
feet on tour is becoming more common, although Murray said it was still
rare to see children in the locker room,
although it does happens.
“I’ve seen Roger’s kids a couple of
times here and I’ve seen Hewitt’s kids
also a few times as well,” he said.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Sharapova routs
Diyas while Halep,
Bouchard struggle
‘After such a big challenge... you feel like you have another life’
Bouchard plays
down ‘twirlgate’
ugenie Bouchard yesterday attempted to play
down controversy over
a court-side interviewer
who asked her to ‘give us a twirl’
after it was widely blasted as
sexist on social media and by
legend Billie Jean King.
Most on-court interviews at
the Australian Open deal with
the match and form before getting into some lighter questions,
but with rising star Bouchard,
20, it was more about what she
was wearing.
“Can you give us a twirl and
tell us about your outfit?” asked
Channel Seven’s male on-court
interviewer after her second
round clash late Wednesday.
In her post match press conference Bouchard, who reluctantly did as asked, said the
request had been “very unexpected”.
“I mean, yeah, I don’t know.
An old guy asking you to twirl, it
was funny,” she said.
Yesterday, she attempted to
take some heat out of the controversy after it was dubbed
“twirlgate” by Australian media
and widely reported around the
The Canadian said her friends
had been texting her “saying I
dance and twirl well and stuff as
“I think it was just kind of
funny. You know, I’m fine with
being asked to twirl if they ask
the guys to flex their muscles
and stuff.”
King took to Twitter to blast
the line of on-court questioning.
Bouchard last year was asked
who her ideal date would be, to
which she replied Justin Bieber.
“The Australian Open interviewer asking the women ‘to
twirl’ on court is out of line,” said
“This is truly sexist. If you ask
the women, you have to ask the
“Let’s focus on accomplishments of both genders and not
our looks,” she added.
Asked about King’s comments
calling the courtside questioning
sexist, Bouchard said: “Personally I’m not offended.
“No, I think it was an in-themoment thing and it was funny.
But, yeah, I mean, it’s just funny
how it’s taken a life of its own.
Maria Sharapova of Russia hits a return against Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan during their Australian Open match in Melbourne yesterday. Bottom: Simona Halep of Romania.
econd seed Maria Sharapova sparked her flatlining Australian Open
campaign back to life
yesterday, as rivals Eugenie
Bouchard and Simona Halep
limped into the fourth round.
Five-time Grand Slam champion Sharapova brushed aside
Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan 6-1,
6-1, saying she had learned her
lesson from a massive scare in
her previous match, when she
had to save two match points.
But while the Russian veteran
was re-asserting her authority, young guns Bouchard, the
seventh seed, and third seeded
Halep of Romania had to battle
past against unfancied opponents.
Sharapova, 27, was fired up
after compatriot Alexandra
Panova embarrassed her in the
second round, saying she was
determined not to be caught
out again by another young upand-comer in 31st seed Diyas.
“After such a big challenge...
you feel like you have anoth-
er life,” said Sharapova, who
could seize the world number
one ranking off arch-rival Serena Williams if she takes the
title at Melbourne Park.
“I started really focused, I
knew I had a tough, long match
previously, so I wanted to start
off strong and finish strong, I
think I did a good job of that.”
The Russian, the Australian
Open champion in 2008, faces
a round four showdown against
China’s Peng Shuai, who made
the US Open semi-finals in
Canada’s Bouchard, a semifinalist in Australia last year,
was forced to hang tough
as France’s Caroline Garcia
launched an early onslaught,
but rode out the storm and
finished strongly in a 7-5, 6-0
Cheered on by the “Genie Army”, the 20-year-old it
wasn’t “the prettiest tennis” as
her wobbly service game came
under pressure from the world
number 36, attributing the win
to mental strength.
“I just tried to stay calm,” she
said.” I knew that I would hopefully find my groove at some
point. I kept going... finally, it
clicked a little bit and I was able
to get on a roll.”
Bouchard, who followed up
last year’s Melbourne semi with
appearances in the final four at
Roland Garros and the decider
at Wimbledon, faces Romania’s
Irina-Camelia Begu next up.
Halep, another youngster
tipped for Grand Slam success,
also found the going tougher
than expected against American world number 258 Bethanie
The 23-year-old looked set
for a no-nonsense win after
taking the first set and leading 5-1 in the second but was
unsettled by the never-say-die
Mattek-Sands before eventually triumphing 6-4, 7-5.
“It was a tough match, it was
very hot outside,” a relieved Ha-
lep said, adding that the blip
would not affect her title bid
at the season-opening Grand
“I have more confidence now
during the Grand Slams and I
believe I have my chance at every tournament,”
Halep, who is looking to build
on a breakthrough 2014 which
included an appearance in the
French Open decider, will meet
Belgium’s Yanina Wickmayer in
the fourth round.
Wickmayer, a former world
number 12 and US Open semifinalist, knocked out 14th seeded Italian Sara Errani in three
Czech qualifier Lucie Hradecka, who upset fifth seed Ana
Ivanovic of Serbia in the first
round, fell 7-6 (8/6) 7-5 to Germany’s Julia Goerges.
Goerges faces a fourth-round
match-up with Russia 10th seed
Ekaterina Makarova, who defeated Czech 22nd seed Karolina
Pliskova 6-4, 6-4.
Men’s singles 3rd round: Grigor Dimitrov (BUL x10) bt Marcos
Baghdatis (CYP) 4-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 Tomas Berdych (CZE x7) bt Viktor
Troicki (SRB) 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 Andy Murray (GBR x6) bt Joao Sousa (POR)
6-1, 6-1, 7-5 Andreas Seppi (ITA) bt Roger Federer (SUI x2) 6-4, 7-6 (7/5),
4-6, 7-6 (7/5) Bernard Tomic (AUS) bt Sam Groth (AUS) 6-4, 7-6 (10/8),
6-3 Kevin Anderson (RSA x14) bt Richard Gasquet (FRA x24) 6-4, 7-6
(7/3), 7-6 (8/6) Nick Kyrgios (AUS) bt Malek Jaziri (TUN) 6-3, 7-6 (8/6), 6-1
Rafael Nadal (ESP x3) bt Dudi Sela (ISR) 6-1, 6-0, 7-5
Women’s singles 3rd round: Ekaterina Makarova (RUS x10) bt Karolina Pliskova (CZE x22) 6-4, 6-4 Julia Goerges (GER) bt Lucie Hradecka
(CZE) 7-6 (8/6), 7-5 Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) bt Sara Errani (ITA x14) 4-6,
6-4, 6-3 Peng Shuai (CHN x21) bt Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) 7-6 (9/7),
6-3 Eugenie Bouchard (CAN x7) bt Caroline Garcia (FRA) 7-5, 6-0
Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU) bt Carina Witthoeft (GER) 6-4, 6-4
Simona Halep (ROU x3) bt Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) 6-4, 7-5
Maria Sharapova (RUS x2) bt Zarina Diyas (KAZ x31) 6-1, 6-1
Serena fashions statement as Rafa pulls up short
Serena Williams’ green and pink combination has been the talk of the Australian Open.
erena Williams is using her love of fashion to send a powerful feminist message
at this year’s Australian Open, while Rafael Nadal is more concerned with feeling fresh in his ever-shrinking shorts.
Players of both genders have lit up the tournament with lurid neon outfits supposedly inspired by Melbourne’s graffiti street art but resembling something from a 1980s Wham video.
Women’s top seed Williams again leads the
fashion pack, sporting a green and pink outfit
with a distinctive cut-out back.
The 33-year-old American, who takes her
design work seriously and staged a catwalk parade in New York after last year’s US Open, said
her outfits had been conservative in recent years
so she wanted to create something different.
The 18-time Grand Slam champion has had
fun with moon boots and leopard skin prints
in the past but said the decision to expose her
physique in the backless dress sent a serious
message: “You can be beautiful and powerful at
the same time.”
“A lot of my outfits this year are based on the
beauty of and the shape of the back, which a
lot of people don’t think about,” she said. “But
it’s so beautiful and powerful on ladies, we just
wanted to focus on that.
“This whole year is about the back and
strength and women and power. We wanted to
look at my back all year, so all year you’ll be seeing my back!”
Rising star Eugenie Bouchard is a fan, joking:
“Maybe I should cut a hole in my top and show
off my back like Serena!”
However the men conducting Australian
television’s courtside interviews showed they
were yet to get the memo on female empowerment, pestering both Williams and Bouchard to
“give us a twirl” after their matches.
Elsewhere, players such as Australian twotime champion Victoria Azarenka have taken
the neon trend to glow-in-the-dark extremes.
Sportswear brand Nike, the driving force
behind the luminous livery, said its designers
visited Melbourne last year and saw its bright
street art as a perfect symbol for the city.
“This constantly evolving art, which is in a
perpetual state of change, perfectly reflected
the drive and newness found in the city as a
whole,” a spokeswoman told The Age newspaper.
Hometown hero Thanasi Kokkinakis credited
his brightly coloured clothing with inspiring his
first-round victory, saying it would have been
unthinkable to appear before the Melbourne
crowd in such a distinctive outfit and lose the
“I was out there and I was like ‘surely in this
outfit I’ve got to get the win?’,” he said.
Nadal, notorious for obsessively adjusting
his shorts mid-match, revealed he was experimenting with a less bulky style to increase his
on-court comfort.
“To make the shorts shorter is something
that I like. I feel more comfortable this way,” he
said. “We make it shorter already last year, and
this year a little bit more. I feel more comfortable here, more fresh.”
The Spaniard’s shorts extended down to the
middle of his calf In the first decade of the millennium, but now stop around mid-thigh.
If the current rate of shrinkage continues, he
may well be wearing the tight-fitting “budgie
smuggler” swimming briefs favoured by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott by the time
the 2018 tournament rolls around.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Schmid powers to
victory in Porsche
GT3 Cup Challenge
Doha RFC breeze past
Bahrain at home
‘It’s also great to get the 25 points in the bag’
Action from the rugby match between Doha RFC (in maroon
and white) and Bahrain in Doha yesterday. Doha RFC’s Aaron
McLelland scored three tries in his team’s 45-24 win over the
visitors. PICTURES: Jayan Orma
Clemens Schmid in action at Losail
International Circuit yesterday.
By Sports Reporter
l Nabooda Racing’s Clemens
Schmid led from start to finish
in Race 1 of Round 3 in the region’s most competitive racing
series, the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge
Middle East, at Losail International Circuit in Qatar yesterday, extending his lead
at the top of the drivers’ standings.
Finishing second in the race was Saeed
al-Mehairi of Skydive Dubai Falcons, defending champion Zaid Ashkanani was
third with Qatari resident Charlie Frijns
taking fourth position to the delight of his
home fans in the stands.
In a change of timing, Race 1 of Round
3 took place during daylight hours with
the drivers usually competing under the
floodlights. The earlier start certainly
didn’t mean any less drama as the region’s top drivers took to the track in
search of points and silverware.
After a sensational start in which he
rocketed off the line, Clemens Schmid
was out of reach of nearly all his nearest
competitors for the entire race securing maximum points for the UAE-based
driver which sees him move further ahead
of his closest championship rival, Kuwait’s Zaid Ashkanani. It was a composed
and near-perfect drive from the former
champion who goes into Race 2 of Round
3 as firm favourite after showing his dominance at Losail.
Speaking after Race 1 of Round 3 Clemens Schmid said: “That race probably
looked easier than it was. I had a brilliant start and the guys behind me were
fighting really hard for their positions so
I immediately got away. For the first three
laps I focused on saving the tyres. After
that I began to feel more comfortable and
it was an incredible performance by the
car. I’ve never done a race where every
lap was within two-tenths so I was really
really happy. It’s also great to get the 25
points in the bag which moves me a little bit further ahead in the championship
but there’s a long way to go.”
After starting third on the grid the rapidly emerging talent of Saeed al-Mehairi
from the UAE’s Skydive Dubai Falcons
once again proved he’s a forced to be
reckoned with and followed up his strong
finishes in Round 2 in Dubai by finishing
Al-Mehairi said: “My start wasn’t perfect but I stayed strong into the opening corner and held my position against
Charlie Frijns. That was important. From
that moment I was really on it and started
to put real pressure on Zaid Ashkanani
ahead of me. We’d a good battle and af-
ter a small mistake by Zaid I sneaked past
him and focused in on maintaining second place. We pushed each other and had
some great pace matching Schmid ahead
of us but we couldn’t reel him in as we’d
been fighting too much against ourselves.
“To claim second and overcome the
reigning champion shows we’re improving and becoming more consistent. Personally this is my second favourite track
after Dubai. I feel confident in the car and
confident in our chances for the season
especially in the team title with Skydive
Dubai Falcons. We seemed to be getting
better with every race.”
From the moment the starting lights
went out Clemens Schmid’s acceleration was exceptional as he stormed to the
front of the pack while Zaid Ashkanani
struggled from second. Skydive Dubai’s
Saeed al-Mehairi and Sheikh Hasher alMaktoum both started with al-Mehairi
up one place and al-Maktoum up two.
After a poor first lap Ashkanani found
himself down in fourth place behind
the Skydive Dubai duo with Charlie Frijns also vying for position. As the group
came down the straight for lap two they
were four abreast with pedals on the floor
giving the team managers an anxious moment as they reached the first turn.
As the drivers settled into their rhythm
it was Saeed al-Mehairi who staked his
claim for second with Zaid Ashkanani
third, Sheikh Hasher al-Maktoum fourth
and Charlie Frijns fifth. The battle for
fourth become one of the main excitement points throughout the race as Frijns
pressured and squeezed Al Maktoum at
every opportunity, although the Skydive
driver refused to give an inch.
Further down the pack Ahmad alHarthy suffered the misfortune of running wide at the double right hander
which cost him two valuable places. The
slip also meant his collected a fair amount
of gravel on the tyres and underside which
left him struggling to mount a challenge
from ninth.
Capitalising on al-Harthy’s bad luck
Raed Raffii was quick to pounce and
moved up to seventh were he stayed neat
and tight to close the gap on sixth but
was ultimately unable to improve on his
position as al-Harthy managed to make
up a place and secure eighth. As the race
reached its closing stages Frijns finally
managed to take his chance and make
the most of a rare al-Maktoum mistake
to take fourth, sending the local crowds
into ecstasy as they watched their Qatarbased driver cross the line.
The region’s leading drivers will lineup in the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup again as
the star attractions at Losail International Circuit for Race 2 of Round 3 today.
Nedobity takes QCH pole; al-Hamad fastest in Radical practice
By Sports Reporter
avel Nedobity took
the pole position
for the fourth round
of Qatar Challenge
(QCH) with a time of 2:27.390
in the qualifying session.
At the Losail International
Circuit (LIC), the Lotus driver
dominated all the sessions of
the day and hoped to take his
first win of the season.
Championship leader Mark
Holroyd was second fastest,
going 1.072 seconds slower
than Nedobity.
“I am very happy with the
result today, the second place
is still a good result,” Holroyd
said after yesterday’s qualifying. “Pavel was very quick, so
it is going to be interesting if
he can keep it for the race tomorrow. I am very happy that
now all the drivers are very
close together at the front, it
is very competitive and makes
it exciting. Should be lots of
overtaking tomorrow and I
hope I do good.”
Peter De Vido and Abdullah al-Kharaan were third and
fourth fastest.
The Qatar Challenge race
is scheduled for today at
Qatari driver Amro al-Hamad and Rob Wheldon steered
their Alpha Shell Qatar Racing
team car to the fastest time in
the first practice session of the
Radical Middle East Cup. The
duo posted a time of 1:59.470.
In the second free practice,
Ludo Loffreda and Romain
Lutter from Lucco Racing
team were fastest with a time
of 1:59.948.
The first race of the Radical
Middle East Cup will begin at
1:45pm, while the second one
will be at 4:20pm.
Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation president and
LIC general manager Nasser
Khalifa al-Attiyah said: “It is a
great weekend at Losail International Circuit to run three
racing events. It is a pleasure
to host a round of the Porsche
GT3 Cup Challenge Middle
East for the third time in a
row and Radical Middle East
Cup for the second year. Both
the series have a high reputation and are run to the highest
professional standards giving
more value to our Qatar Challenge round.”
All the podium ceremonies after the races were cancelled to pay respect to Saudi
Arabia’s HRH King Abdullah
bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, who
passed away early yesterday.
QMMF president Nasser Khalifa al-Attiyah (right) with Lechner Racing and
Porsche GT3 Cup Challenger promoter Walter Lechner; (top left) Qatar’s
Amro al-Hamad steers his car around the Losail International Circuit;
(bottom left) Pavel Nedobity drives his Lotus for Qatar Challenge pole.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Not just the spectators, even the
ducks seem to be enjoying the action
at the serene Doha Golf Club course.
Putnam goes
low to seize
one-shot lead
La Quinta, California
Besides the pulsating golfing
action on course, ball trick artists (top left) and Disney characters (right) ensured that spectators had a memorable Friday
outing at the Qatar Masters.
he ‘light switch’ clicked for journeyman Michael Putnam as he
piled up nine birdies in his last
12 holes to seize a one-shot lead
in Thursday’s opening round of the $5.7
million Humana Challenge at La Quinta
in California.
Still seeking his first victory on the
PGA Tour, the 31-year-old American fired
a sparkling nine-under-par 63 in ideal
scoring conditions on the Jack Nicklaus
Private course at PGA West, one of three
venues hosting the pro-am event.
Putnam covered his back nine in a sizzling seven-under 29 to finish a pictureperfect day a stroke in front of compatriots Blake Adams, John Peterson, Scott
Pinckney and 2012 champion Mark Wilson, and Italian Francesco Molinari.
Holder Patrick Reed, who won the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii 10 days ago, launched his title defence
with a 65 while twice former winner Phil
Mickelson, playing his first competitive
round since late September, carded a 71.
“It was like a light switch,” Putnam told
Golf Channel about the transformation in
his game from the seventh hole onwards.
“I said I needed to make some birdies, so
I did. I played decently solid before that,
just made a few mistakes to make bogeys,
but I just lit it up coming in.”
Putnam, a three-times champion on
the lower-tier Tour who has
never finished better than fourth in a
PGA Tour event, was not planning to
dwell on his opening round for long.
“You’ve kind of got to forget about it
because we are playing a totally different
golf course tomorrow ... so kind of put
that out of my memory and now I am focused on the Palmer (course) for tomorrow,” he said. “There were a lot of low
scores shooting out there too so you’ve
still got to make birdies because 25, 27
under (par) wins this thing.”
Five-times major winner Mickelson,
who has not played competitively since
the United States lost to Europe at the
Ryder Cup, mixed four birdies with three
bogeys at La Quinta Country Club.
“Even though this feels like the worst
day I’ve had in months, I am excited about
my game and getting back out tomorrow,” the left-hander said after totalling 31
putts. “I feel like I played a little bit tight
today, kind of steered it a little bit. I’ll loosen up and hopefully the way I am playing
will show in the score. Today it just didn’t.”
Spanish stars try their hand at calligraphy
By Sports Reporter
panish stars Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Pablo Larrazabal sampled a little local culture at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters after receiving a lesson in
Arabic calligraphy at the end of the second round at
Doha Golf Club on Thursday.
“It’s nice to try things like this. It’s fun,” said CabreraBello, who has twice finished third at the tournament, including last year when he missed the playoff by one shot.
Cabrera-Bello explained why he and many other Spanish stars enjoy the US$2.5 million tournament, which sits
at the heart of The European Tour’s desert swing.
“It’s just like back home. It’s sunshine normally, a little breezy, we play in short sleeves and I kind of like that
the fact that there’s sand all around,” said Cabrera-Bello, a
two-time European Tour winner.
The Spaniard considers the Commercial Bank Qatar
Masters one of his favourite tournaments and said he has
always felt at home on the Doha Golf Club’s Peter Harradine-designed layout.
“It’s just like back home. It’s sunshine normally, a
little breezy, we play in short sleeves and I kind
of like that the fact that there’s sand all around”
“I think it’s a long hitter’s course,” he said. “I’m not the
longest hitter, but I would consider myself one of the longer hitters. I also like it because there’s a lot of wedge play
if you’re driving well and my wedge play tends to be good.
As well as those things, the course suits my eye. The first
time I came here, I liked it and I’ve enjoyed myself every
time I’m here.”
Rafa was in second place after his first-round 66 and after a second-round 73, he was just four shots off the lead
before a 70 in yesterday’s third round pushed him down to
tied 15th going intoday’s final round.
“I’ve been close a couple of times, had a couple of topthrees here,” he said. “It’s one of my flagship events.”
Pablo Larrazabal (left), Ali
Fakhri and Rafa CabreraBello are schooled in the art
of Arabic calligraphy during
the Commercial Bank Qatar
Masters at Doha Golf Club
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Four to
the fore
Emiliano Grillo, Marc Warren join
Branden Grace, Bernd Wiesberger
in a four-way tie for the lead
Branden Grace, who carded a topsy-turvy 68 to hang on to his lead, is seeking to become the fourth South African winner of the tournament, following Darren Fichardt (2003), Ernie Els (2005) and Retief Goosen (2007). Pictures: Jayaram
By Satya Rath
he 18th edition of the Commercial
Bank Qatar Masters seems to be turning out to a memorable one for some of
those on-the-fringes players, many of
whom, despite showing a lot of spark early on,
could never quite live up to that early promise.
Despite the presence of a few Major winners,
and several players ranked among the world’s
top 20, it’s the lesser-known names that have
been making the waves at the Doha Golf Course
over the last three days.
After Englishman Oliver Fisher’s opening
day exploits, Day 2 belonged to two South Africans—George Coetzee and Branden Grace—and
Austrian Bernd Wiesberger.
Grace and Wiesberger kept their good work
going yesterday too, on a day defending champion and World No. 6 Sergio ‘El Nino’ Garcia
ruled himself out of title contention with a horrendous round of 77.
After an enthralling and fascinating day’s
play, laced with plenty of leaps and falls, as
many as four players were tied at the top with
Scot Marc Warren and Argentine Emiliano Grillo joining Grace and Wiesberger with 13-under
totals, going into today’s finale.
Following the quartet, at 11-under, were Coetzee, Eddiw Pepperell of England and Spain’s
Alejandro Canizares. First day hero Fisher shot
a 69 to keep himself in contention for a shot at
the title with a three-day tally of nine-under.
Grace, who last month won the Alfred Dunhill Championship, had an inauspicious start
when, after opening with a birdie and saving par
on the second, he dropped back-to-back shots
over the next two holes to go one-over.
On the par-4 fifth, his drive landed among
the trees. With no obvious escape route, Grace
snap-hooked a wedge to six feet for—what undoubtedly was the shot of the day—the most
unlikely of birdies on the fifth, holed from 20
feet at the next and had three more gains to sign
off with an impressive 68.
Three more birdies on the return nine put
the 26-year-old South African alongside playing partner Grillo, Warren and Wiesberger for a
four-way tie at the top of the leaderboard.
“It was nice to start off with a birdie, but I got
a little bit greedy on the third and the fourth,
going for some pins I shouldn’t be going for. You
learn the hard way through that.
“It was nice to bounce back the way I did and
finish off the round with a good birdie on the
18th,” the 26-year-old Grace, whose six birdies
in a courageous 68 helped offset back-to-back
bogeys at three and four, said.
“I still have to play good golf to win. These
guys are good and we all play to win and we are
all there for a reason, so I’m just going to try to
do the same and hopefully be one better.”
Grace is seeking to become the fourth South
African winner of the tournament, following
Darren Fichardt (2003), Ernie Els (2005) and
Retief Goosen (2007).
Warren, playing in the third-last pairing,
followed his second-round 65 with a 67. Grillo
matched Warren’s total with a bogey-free 67,
while Wiesberger birdied the 18th to share the
lead for a second day with Grace.
Coetzee, who played in the last flight with
Wiesberger, carded a 70 to share fifth place on
11-under with Pepperell, who finished with a
hat-trick of birdies for a 65, and Canizares, who
carded a 68 as he continued his remarkable bogey-free fun for a third straight day.
Among the star draws, four-time Major winner Els (70) sits at seven-under, one ahead of
World No. 5 Justin Rose (69), while World No. 2
Henrik Stenson (71) is four-under.
Grillo will play today’s final flight with Warren and is the only one of the leading quartet
without a European Tour title to his name. The
22-year-old believes this could be his week,
almost a year after finishing runner-up to
Stephen Gallacher in Dubai in the third leg of
the Middle East swing.
“We’ve got three great golf courses out here
in the Emirates and here in Qatar, and I think
that makes it way easier to have a good week
and to try to win. I was close in Dubai, one shot
short, but I’m going to try to get my first one
tomorrow,” said Grillo, Argentina’s secondranked player behind Angel Cabrera.
“It’s going to take a lot of patience. I was very
patient today and I had to wait seven holes to
get my first birdie. The course was tougher today, so I obviously played better. I will do all I
can to try and get my first win. This is what I
play for. This is what I’ve practised for my entire life. You have to learn first to win out here
and I think I’ve learned a lot and I think I’m
ready,” Grillo added.
Warren’s second-round 65 remains the tournament’s joint-low round and he again showed
fine form with six birdies and a bogey as he put
himself in position for a fourth European Tour title, having won his third last August in Denmark.
“It was good, really solid today. I missed a few
greens on the back nine, but my short game held
it together and I hit a few good iron shots now
and again. Overall, a really pleasing day,” Warren said. “After a really good round yesterday,
Fast-rising Korean tops
Asian contenders for
the third straight day
I felt as if I got myself back in the tournament,
so the main objective today was to carry that
on and keep my name on the leaderboard. I’ve
definitely done that.
“Tomorrow I’ll really focus on what I’m doing and if someone shoots a lower score than
me, good luck to them, but I’ll certainly be giving it all I can.”
Wiesberger led for much of the day after
birdieing the second and third, and went two
clear when he converted from 15 feet at the
eighth. The Austrian failed to capitalise on the
two par-fives that followed, but curled in a 20foot putt at the 12th and seemed to be in control
until he pulled his tee shot into the desert at the
16th and bogeyed, before a five-footer at the
last for birdie made it a good day for him.
“It’s nice to start the day in the lead and hang
on to it,” said the 29 year old, who won both
his European Tour titles in 2012. “Everybody
seems to be playing really well and I enjoyed it
out there. It was just that bad swing on the 16th
which cost me a bogey, so it’s really a two-shot
swing on a short hole like that. I finished nicely
with a birdie and it gives me a bit of momentum
going into the final round.”
Wiesberger finished sixth in Abu Dhabi last
week and is looking to become the first Austrian
winner of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.
Under-par the leading 54-hole
total, jointly held by four men in Branden
Grace, Emiliano Grillo, Marc Warren and
Bernd Wiesberger
Scoring average for the par-three
third hole as well as the par-four 16th
183 Birdies on the 16th hole this week
along with three eagles (Renato Paratore,
Thomas Pieters and Justin Rose)
By Sports Reporter
‘Big Ben’ An Byeong-hun remained the top
Asian at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters for
a third straight day, but the tall Korean played
down his hopes of victory after an even-par 72
left him eight-under, five shots off the pace.
India’s Shiv Kapur, who played with An for the
first two days, also carded an even-par round
to remain at six-under, while six-time European
Tour winner Thongchai Jaidee shot 69 to move
to five-under at the Doha Golf Club.
Jeev Milkha Singh (73) was three-under after
a 73, while big-hitting Thai Kiradech Aphibarnrat
dropped back to two-under after a 75.
Standing almost six-foot three-inches tall,
the laidback An cut a relaxed figure despite an
unremarkable day at the office that left him in a
share of ninth, still an impressive performance in
his tournament debut.
“It wasn’t very good. I just didn’t get anything
going. I wasn’t hitting it right, my driver wasn’t
going good and I didn’t really hit it close enough
to have any chances. It was just one of those bad
rounds,” said An, who has lived in the USA for the
past decade.
“I enjoyed playing the first two rounds with
Shiv. I’ve known him for two or three years now,
so it was fun to play with someone I know,” the
promising South Korean added.
Now in his rookie season on the European
Tour, An finished 12th in Abu Dhabi last week, but
admitted that he wasn’t putting himself under
undue pressure to become the first Asian winner
of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.
“It won’t happen if I play like I did today, that’s
for sure. If I pull out one of my best rounds of the
year, I might have a chance, but it all depends
on other players and there are too many other
players in front of me,” An said.
“I’d like to get top 10. Right now, I’m ninth, but
I’ll try my best to raise my position. I’ll stay patient. I could have a great day, a bad day, so we’ll
see tomorrow. I just have to be patient.”
An, who won the 2009 US Amateur Championship as a 17-year-old, started last year ranked
World No. 445, but is now No. 166 after an im-
Birdies for Eddie Pepperell during
his fine round of 65, the lowest score of
the day and joint-low score of the week
Nationalities in the top 15 (Scotland, South Africa, Argentina, Austria,
England, Spain, Sweden, France, Italy,
South Korea, Belgium)
Holes without a bogey for Alejandro Cañizares--a run stretching back to the
fourth hole of the final round in Abu Dhabi
1995 The year someone last went
bogey-free for an entire tournament on
the European Tour (Jesper Parnevik,
Scandinavian Open)
Number of places dropped on
the leaderboard by defending champion
Sergio Garcia after a third-round 77
Former Qatar Masters winners
in the top 20 heading into today’s final
round (Darren Fichardt and Ernie Els)
Korea’s Ben An Byeong-hun shot an even-par 72 to go 8-under, five shots off the pace, but remains the top Asian at Qatar Masters for a third straight day
pressive third season on the European Challenge
Tour, where he has developed his game since
turning pro in 2011.
Last July, An was the top Asian finisher at The
Open Championship and a month later became
the first Korean to win on the Challenge Tour, a
victory that helped him finish third in the circuit’s
final standings and earn a European Tour card
for 2015.
“I tried to get on the PGA Tour when I turned
pro, but it didn’t work, but I know The European
Tour is pretty big. It’s great to develop my game.
There are a lot of good players and it’s really
competitive. I played in Q-School and I missed it
so I started on the Challenge Tour,” An said.
“The first two years were honestly a struggle,
but it was just the beginning. I was still young
and I think it was a great choice to play in Europe. Since The Open, I’ve played pretty well.
“It raised my game when I played in The Open
and I’ve been in good form since then, I think.
I played well last week and in South Africa last
An is still happy to base himself in the US
despite a global schedule, but said the lifestyle
suits him.
“I play five to six weeks at a time, then go back
to the US for a week or two. I love my life. I love
travelling. It’s a different country every week, different food. Right now it’s my first time playing
on the European Tour in the Middle East and it’s
quite amazing. The views and course set-ups are
quite amazing.”
Despite the attention heaped on him since
winning the US Amateur as a teenager, An has
modest ambitions and said his main goal for
2015 is to retain his European Tour card, while
keeping one eye on a place in the season-ending
DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
“My first target is to finish in the top 110 (on
the Race to Dubai), to keep my card, then the top
60, and maybe a win, that would be nice, but top
110 is the first goal.
“I’m a rookie, so I don’t expect to play too well.
I think patience is the key for me.”
203: Emiliano Grillo (ARG) 67-69-67,
Branden Grace (RSA) 67-68-68, Marc
Warren (SCO) 71-65-67, Bernd Wiesberger
(AUT) 69-66-68
205: George Coetzee (RSA) 68-67-70,
Alejandro Cañizares (ESP) 67-70-68, Eddie Pepperell (ENG) 69-71-65
207: Oliver Fisher (ENG) 65-73-69
208: Matthew Baldwin (ENG) 70-68-70,
Grégory Bourdy (FRA) 70-68-70, Darren
Fichardt (RSA) 67-70-71, Renato Paratore
(ITA) 69-69-70, Johan Carlsson (SWE)
74-65-69, An Byeong-Hun (KOR) 67-69-72,
Matthew Baldwin (ENG) 70-68-70, Grrgory
Bourdy (FRA) 70-68-70, Darren Fichardt
(RSA) 67-70-71, Renato Paratore (ITA) 6969-70, Johan Carlsson (SWE) 74-65-69
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