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Vol. XXXV No. 9609
January 21, 2015
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Emir meets French defence minister
Souq Waqif
gets new
car park
QATAR | Health
Legionella bacteria
found in AC systems
A bacteria called Legionella which
causes pneumonia has been found
in the air conditioning systems in
Qatar, local Arabic daily Arrayah
reported yesterday. The finding
has come from a research project
carried out by a group of female
students from the Health Sciences
Section of the College of Arts and
Sciences in Qatar University. “As
many as 55.3% of the collected
samples were contaminated with
Legionella which constitutes a threat
to public health,” the daily explained.
The research, which concluded that
Legionella thrives in the freshwater
used in cooling towers, has called for
further studies and the formulation
of a strategy to counter the threat
to public health. The project was a
part of the Undergraduate Research
Experience Programme by the Qatar
National Research Fund, the daily
The three-level underground
parking garage could
accommodate as many as 2,000
By Joey Aguilar
Staff Reporter
HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani meeting with visiting French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian at the
Emiri Diwan yesterday. During the meeting, attended by the delegation accompanying the French minister, the two sides
reviewed bilateral co-operation and ways to develop it. They also discussed a set of issues of common concern.
SPORT | Swimming
Doha dope test may
cost Brazil team golds
The Brazilian short-course relay
team may lose three gold medals
after swimmer Joao Gomes failed a
dope test from the December 2014
world championships, Brazilian
TV reported yesterday. The urine
test taken at the Doha world
championships directly after a
race, where breast-stroker Gomes
helped win the 200m medley,
400m medley and the 200m mixed
medley relay titles, reportedly
revealed a masking agent. The
Brazilian swimming authority said
they hoped to prove the presence
of the masking agent was due to
accidental contamination, Globo
TV reported. Gomes helped the
team qualify for the finals but didn’t
take part in any of the actual finals
himself. However, the team could be
stripped of the medals concerned
and the culprit could be subject to a
four-year ban.
UN congress in Doha to focus
on emerging security concerns
By Joseph Varghese
Staff Reporter
he 13th UN Congress that is
scheduled to take place in
Doha this April will have four
major topics for discussion, according to a top official.
The congress will discuss ways
to deal with some of the emerging
security concerns such as cybercrime as well as trafficking of wildlife.
Speaking exclusively to Gulf
Times, Dimitri Vlassis, executive
secretary of 13th UN Congress on
Crime Prevention and Criminal
Justice, said that a large number of
world leaders were expected to attend.
He said: “UN secretary general
Ban Ki-moon,
the General Assembly president, the Economic
and Social Council head and the
United Nations Office on Drugs and
Crimes executive director have already confirmed their attendance.
We also expect a number of prime
ministers and ministers of justice
from the participating countries to
take part.”
Vlassis noted that there would
be four major topics for discussion.
“They are: the rule of law and development; the operation of criminal justice system; the policies of its
various institutions; and the police
force, correction and rehabilitation and how to deal with new and
Shia militiamen seize
Yemen presidential palace
efiant Shia militiamen yesterday seized control of Yemen’s
presidential palace and attacked President Abdrabuh Mansur
Hadi’s residence in what officials said
was a bid to overthrow his government.
As the UN Security Council began
an emergency meeting to condemn the
attack and back Hadi, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was “gravely
concerned” and called for an immediate halt to the fighting.
Abdul Malik al-Houthi, leader of
the militia that bears the name of his
late father, was defiant, warning that
“all options” were open against Hadi,
whom he accused of supporting the
“fragmentation” of the country.
He also said his movement was ready
to stand up to any measures the Security Council might adopt.
Information Minister Nadia Saqqaf
said the militia had launched an attack on
Hadi’s residence in western Sanaa, after
witnesses reported clashes in the area.
Hadi was earlier reported to have
been in the building meeting with advisers and security officials. Page 10
Dimitri Vlassis: praises Qatar’s
emerging forms of crime.”
The official remarked that the
congress would focus on several new
forms of crimes that had emerged
as a major threat for safety and security of the people in the last few
years.“Cyber-crimes as well as different forms of trafficking, including of wild life, will be discussed in
detail at the congress. It will also
explore possibilities of public participation, including the private
sector, in crime prevention.”
The UN official said that Qatar
had shown “strong political will and
commitment of the highest level” in
hosting the congress. “HE the Prime
Minister himself is looking after the
activities of the congress. It is gratifying to work with a country like
Qatar that is serious in hosting such
a congress. Political commitment is
very important for the appropriate
solutions to be found.”
Vlassis pointed out that everyone was keenly waiting for the Doha
Declaration as the congress was
held once in every five years.
“We hope that the Doha Declaration is going to give the perspective
and guidance for the UN and the
world leaders on how to work better
together to address certain security
concerns,” he said.
“This will throw light on how to
make sure borders do not become
barriers in law enforcement. Law
enforcement has to make sure that
this is a safe world and the borders
do not become a barrier in this regard.”
The official said that two of his
team mates were dealing with the
logistics of the congress as the
countdown had already started. “It
is going into high gear as we are entering the home stretch. Basically,
we are at the countdown. The congress will take place for eight days
from April 12- 19. Prior to it, there
will be a youth forum that will be
held for three days from April 7 to
newly-built underground car
park, north of Souq Waqif, is
now open, paving the way for
easing traffic congestion in one of the
busiest areas in Doha.
A construction official yesterday told
Gulf Times that the three-level parking
garage could accommodate as many as
2,000 vehicles.
“Initially it was designed to have
2,400 slots but they changed it to 2,000
due to some additions to the project,”
he noted. “It will definitely serve the
growing number of Souq visitors.”
Due to an acute shortage of parking
space, visitors have had to drive around
for a long time, creating long queues
inside and outside Souq Waqif.
The car park’s exits lead to the Corniche road. “Motorists can now avoid
the traffic along Al Matar Street,” the
official said.
One of the two supervisors disclosed
that zones one and two have a total capacity of at least 1,500 vehicles. The
remaining 500 slots are for zone three
which is expected to open today.
Another official said there was no
official announcement for its opening
but many construction workers were
seen making some finishing touches on
some structures and cable connections
yesterday. Other workers were rushing
to install a number of elevators.
“We are doing our best to finish all
remaining works but I guess it will be
fully opened before the weekend,” he
The underground parking can be accessed by turning left from the Corniche (on the way to West Bay) going to
The entrance/exit access along the
Corniche for motorists coming from
West Bay.
Al Matar Street. Then, the first road on
the right, which faces the Emiri Diwan,
leads to the entrance of the three zones.
An entrance/exit has also been built
along the Corniche for motorists coming from West Bay.
A large number of workers were deployed at the new Souq Waqif park
which was constructed above the parking garage.
A signage was put up at the park,
showing the way to the Corniche using a pedestrian tunnel. It also has a
bike station, amphitheatre, kiosk and a
playground for children.
At noon yesterday, some visitors
were seen using staircases going to the
underground park. It was also observed
that lights at zone three were still
switched off.
“They are in the process of completing the electrical installations and
hopefully it will be done in a matter of
two hours or less,” said one supervisor.
The underground car park is equipped
with a number of security features such
as CCTVs and cameras to monitoring
incoming and outgoing vehicles. It also
has pay counters at every exit.
The supervisor said QR3 would be
charged for the first hour and QR1 for
succeeding hours.
Souq Waqif is currently preparing to
host its annual Spring Festival set from
January 23 to February 6. Activities will
include games and attractions for children and a number of shows.
The car park’s zones one and two are now open to visitors. PICTURES: Najeer Feroke.
Qatar ranks second in Mideast in talent competitiveness
atar has been ranked second in
the Middle East and 25th globally in the 2014 edition of the
annual Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI), released yesterday
by INSEAD, the leading international
business school.
The study, which measures a nation’s competitiveness based on the
quality of talent it can produce, attract and retain, was produced in collaboration with the Human Capital
Leadership Institute of Singapore
(HCLI) and Adecco, focusing on the
topic “growing talent for today and
In the Middle East, Qatar is
just behind the UAE and ahead of
Saudi Arabia, which are ranked
22 and 32 respectively globally.
“These three countries combine a
high degree of external openness (the
UAE ranks third in the world, Qatar
fourth and Saudi Arabia ninth) with
a high level of performance on ‘talent
and business enablers’,” underlined
Bruno Lanvin, executive director of
Global Indices at INSEAD, and coauthor of the report.
“All three countries share the same
approach by which their respective
governments have given priority to
making life easier for business and
more attractive for external talents.
This is proving a successful combination”.
Qatar ranks particularly high on the
“Attract” pillar, reflecting the gov-
ernment’s efforts to diversifying its
resource-based economy. As part of
its drive towards becoming a “knowledge economy”, the government has
taken steps to attract foreign talent
and expertise. This is evidenced by
the country’s performance in areas
of External Openness (fourth) with
top ranks on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and Technology Transfer
(fourth). Qatar is heavily biased towards the Input sub-index (20th) .
Paul Evans, the Shell Chaired Professor of Human Resources and Organisational Development, Emeritus,
at INSEAD, and co-editor of the report, said that “in Qatar, the regulatory environment has played a key
role in allowing success in growing
and attracting talent. Efforts to provide life-long learning opportunities
to employees are bearing fruit”.
Evans also noted that “in the longer
run, small economies like those of
Qatar can benefit from the experience of other small economies such as
Switzerland, where the development
of vocational skills has long been a
priority. Economic diversification will
require less dependency on external talent. This applies to the entire
spectrum of skills required in highperformance enterprises and organisations”.
The GTCI top 10 are Switzerland,
Singapore, Luxembourg, the US,
Canada, Sweden, the UK, Denmark,
Australia and Ireland.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Prime Minister meets dignitaries
Deputy PM meets chairperson
of African Union panel
HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Cabinet
Affairs, Ahmed bin Abdullah bin Zaid al-Mahmoud met the
Chairperson of the African Union High-level Implementation
Panel (AUHIP) Thabo Mbeki and AUHIP member Abdulsalami
Abubakar in the presence of the African Union-United
Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) Acting Joint Special
Representative and Joint Chief Mediator Abiodun Oluremi
Talks during the meeting focused on strengthening the peace
process in Darfur and the AUHIP’s efforts aimed to urge the
non-signatory armed movements to join the Doha Document
for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) and involve them in the national
dialogue in Sudan.
HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani holding talks with Lebanon’s Grand Mufti Abdul Latif Darian and (right) Turkish Foreign
Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Doha yesterday. Bilateral relations and means of enhancing them were reviewed.
Cold wave likely to continue today
he intense cold wave that
has been prevailing across
the country’s coast since
last Saturday is likely to continue
today with temperatures expected
to fall further, the Met office has
The country may record temperatures as low as 9 degrees (in
Abu Samra), and the highest is expected to be around 21 degrees.
Similar conditions will prevail
in both the southern and northern
regions of the country, with Mesaieed, Wakrah and Al Khor likely
to record a low of 10 degrees.
As in the last two days, evenings
will be cold across the country.
In Doha, the minimum and
maximum temperatures will be 11
and 21 degrees, respectively.
Strong winds has been forecast
all over the country, although their
intensity is expected to be less
than yesterday’s levels.
The wind direction may turn
northeasterly from northwesterly,
and hence the mornings are expected
to be extremely cold. In the offshore
Municipality workers are active clearing the accumulations of rainwater.
areas the wind speed will be between
12 and 22 knots, while inshore it is
unlikely to go beyond 18 knots.
The general visibility is also expected to be in the region of 5-10
km, somewhat similar to yesterday’s conditions.
The sea height seems to be receding fast from the higher levels
of 10-12 feet on Sunday to 5-7 feet
on the offshore areas.
around the country have been active over the past few days in draining the accumulated rainwater, an
official statement said yesterday.
The rain emergency teams at
these municipalities are conducting comprehensive surveys of the
areas under their jurisdiction to
identify the areas from where rainwater needs to be cleared.
Suction tankers would be sent
immediately to handle the situation. Al Rayyan Municipality could be contacted in this regard by members of the public at
44265883, 44265884, 44266021,
Some 780,381 gallons of rainwater were drained from various locations at Al Rayyan Municipality.
As much as around 1mn gallons of
rainwater were removed at Umm
Salal Municipality and work is still
going on to clear all the areas affected there.
At Al Dayyan, some 310,400
gallons of rainwater were and removed using municipal equipment. Work is going on around the
country to clear the stagnant rainwater accumulation at the byroads,
roundabouts and internal streets.
Minister highlights trade
relations with Slovenia
E the Minister of Economy and Commerce Sheikh Ahmed
bin Jassim bin Mohamed al-Thani has stressed the importance of boosting economic and commercial co-operation
between Qatar and Slovenia.
Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim was speaking during a working dinner
hosted by the Slovenian embassy on the sidelines of the visit of Slovenian President Borut Pahor in the presence of Qatar Businessmen
Association President Sheikh Faisal bin Qassem al-Thani, Slovenian
deputy minister of economy and technology, and representatives
of a number of Slovenian companies, the Ministry of Economy and
Commerce said in a press release.
The Minister hailed the development of ties between the two
countries, noting that they are progressing thanks to the vision and
directives of the two leaderships.
Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim reiterated Qatar’s keenness on more
co-operation with Slovenia in the
public and private sectors through
mutual co-operation and the exchange of expertise.
Indian embassy
to host Republic
Day ceremony
he Indian embassy will host
a flag hoisting ceremony on
January 26 at 8am to celebrate the 66th Republic Day of
The event is to take place at the
embassy [No 19, Street No 828,
Wadi Al Neel, Al Hilal Area, Doha].
Ambassador Sanjiv Arora will hoist
the national flag and read the address of the president to the nation.
Students of Indian schools will
sing patriotic songs in the event.
The embassy has invited all Indian
nationals to attend the flag hoisting
function. Attendees are requested
to show a photo ID at the entrance.
Qatar-India bilateral
relations discussed
Anil Wadhwa, Secretary (East),
Indian Ministry of External Affairs
met Qatar’s Ambassador Ahmed
Ibrahim al-Abdullah in New Delhi
They discussed bilateral relations
and ways of enhancing them in
various fields.
Qatar-France defence ties reviewed
HE the Minister of State for Defence Affairs Major General
Hamad bin Ali al-Attiyah yesterday met the French Defence
Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and his accompanying delegation.
During the meeting, they exchanged views on matters of
common concern, especially the regional developments.
They also discussed ways of enhancing co-operation between
the two countries.
The meeting was attended by the French Ambassador to
Qatar Eric Chevallier and senior armed forces officers.
Message from Nepalese minister
HE the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Dr Abdullah
Saleh Mubarak al-Khulaifi received a written message from
Nepalese Minister for Labour and Employment Tek Bahadur
Gurung containing an invitation to visit Nepal.
The message was delivered by Ganesh Prasad Dhakal, Charge
d’Affaires at Nepalese embassy in Qatar when he met the
Minister in Doha yesterday.
They discussed relations between the two countries and
ways of enhancing them, especially in the field of labour and
workers in addition to issues of common concern.
Envoy meets Umm Al-Quwain ruler
Member of Supreme Council of the United Arab Emirates
and Ruler of Umm Al-Quwain Sheikh Saud bin Rashed alMualla met Qatar’s Consul General in Dubai and the Northern
Emirates Ahmed bin Ali al-Tamimi yesterday.
Al-Mualla welcomed al-Tamimi and wished him success,
stressing the deep-rooted and outstanding bilateral relations.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Qatar-Netherlands tourism ties discussed
Qatar Tourism Authority chairman Issa bin Mohamed al-Mohannadi met the Netherlands ambassador Yvette Van
Eechoud yesterday at his office. They discussed aspects of co-operation between the two countries especially within
the tourism sector, as well as ways to support and develop this partnership to serve the common interests.
Citizens urged to register in
voters’ list for CMC polls
he supervising committee for the fifth Central Municipal Council (CMC) elections has urged all citizens to
register their names in the voters’ list as early as possible, as the voters’ registration ends tomorrow (January 22).
The committee has also said about the contributions
needed to be made by all citizens to ensure the success of democracy, which it said allows one and all to cast the franchise
to elect members of the CMC.
The supervising committee has said 12,557 citizens (7,061
males and 5,496 females) have registered so far in the voters’
list either directly or through Metrash2.
The registration started on January 11.
The electoral headquarters of all 29 constituencies spread
over the country continued to receive voters who completed
18 years on February 5, 2015.
Those who voted in the previous elections can also register
in the list because of the delimitation of some constituencies.
The registration can also be done through Metrash2 service.
All citizens of Qatari origin and those who have completed
15 years after obtaining the Qatari citizenship, and who have
not been convicted in any crime involving moral turpitude or
dishonesty (unless he has been rehabilitated), and all those
employed outside the armed forces and the police are eligible
to vote.
The supervising committee has also advised the applicants
Election officials at one of the constituencies’ headquarters.
to obtain the form concerned for voters’ registration from
their constituency headquarters or complete the formalities
by filling it through Metrash2 service. After completing the
form concerned the applicant has to hand it over to the election committee at the constituency headquarters, who will
then be issued a receipt.
All headquarters of the electoral constituencies have so
far received a large number of citizens who strictly complied
with the electoral rules and regulations for registering their
names in the voters’ list.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Deputy PM reviews Darfur peace process
FM meets Turkish counterpart
Business Minister
to attend Davos
HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Ahmed bin Abdullah bin
Zaid al-Mahmoud met the US Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan Donald Booth yesterday.
Discussions focused on strengthening the peace process in Darfur and efforts being made to urge
non-signatory Darfur armed movements to join the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD)
and involve them in the national dialogue in Sudan.
Forum’s five-day annual
meeting of the global
political and economic elite
begins in the Swiss city of Davos
Qatar’s Minister of Economy and Commerce, HE Sheikh
Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohamed
al-Thani, will take part.
A statement issued yesterday
by the Ministry of Economy and
Commerce said Sheikh Ahmed
bin Jassim would meet with a
number of ministers and heads
of participating delegations and
companies to discuss economic
and trade relations and ways to
develop them.
The forum’s Board of Directors has praised Qatar’s role in
revitalising global and regional
trade. Page 30
HE the Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah with his Turkish counterpart
Mevlut Cavusoglu in Doha yesterday. They reviewed ways to strengthen and develop bilateral
relations and discussed issues of common interest.
Ooredoo service to enable remote
control of car A/C via smartphone
tilising its new Machine to
Machine (M2M) service,
Ooredoo has partnered
with Q3SMART to offer an innovative smart car technology solution that will enable customers to
switch on the air conditioning in
their car via their smartphone, at
any time and any distance.
The initiative is a part of Ooredoo’s on-going work to transform
Qatar into a “smart nation” and
launch a host of pioneering, firstof-their kind services.
The service is made possible
through an innovative partnership with Q3SMART, a leader in
M2M solutions in the automotive
sector. It works by sending data
over Ooredoo’s 4G+ network, so
that customers can remotely control the air conditioner in their car
from any distance.
Using the new service, customers can ensure they always return
to a cool environment in their car,
simply by tapping a button on
their phone.
The Q3SMART START service
works via a secure network and
connects directly with an operator,
protecting the application against
hacking. As well as working on
smartphones, the application can
also be used with selected Smartwatches and can even be used as a
car location tracking system, security car camera controlled via
smartphones and computers.
People interested in the service
can view the Q3SMART company
at, while
businesses in Qatar can contact
their Ooredoo Account Manager.
The Q3SMART START service is
powered by Ooredoo’s “Internet of
Things” (IoT) and M2M connec-
tivity products, demonstrating the
company’s commitment to providing the next generation of services to Qatar’s expanding business
and technology sector.
Ooredoo is working with a range
of companies across many sectors
– including automotive, hospitality and manufacturing companies
– to create a range of new M2M
services, to bring a full range of
smart services to life for the people of Qatar.
Among the bespoke solutions
being developed are services that
enable fleet management, remote
monitoring and full automation.
Ooredoo offers a variety of data
bundles ranging from 100 MB to
50 GB to support M2M, and enable
data-sharing, so that companies
can distribute the data allowance
across as many SIM cards embedded in different machines as they
Customers who want to see
the power and potential of IoT
and M2M services can do so at
Ooredoo’s OASIS Lab, which is
designed to enable and showcase
Ooredoo Smart solutions. Customers can visit the OASIS Lab
during working hours via an appointment with Ooredoo’s business team. More information on
Ooredoo’s business solutions
could be had from www.ooredoo.
Temporary closure of lanes due to road
works near Al Maamoura interchange
s part of the works to carry out
periodic maintenance for the
expansion joints of the two
bridges leading to the D-Ring road in
Al Maamoura, Ashghal has announced
temporary closure of one lane each of
either bridge between January 23 and
February 7.
The maintenance will be carried out
in two stages, of which the works on
the first extending from Al Assiri Interchange to Al Maamoura area will start
on January 23 and it is expected to be
ready after January 30.
The second bridge where maintenance will be carried out extends from
Haloul Street to Al Maamoura. Its
maintenance work will start on January 31 and expected to be completed on
February 7.
According to Ashghal, the maintenance is being implemented in two
stages in order to reduce the likely traffic congestion in the area.
The area where the works will be
carried out in the first phase (January
23 to January 30).
The area where the works will take
place between January 31 and
February 7.
The work in the first stage includes
the closure of the left lane on both the
bridges while their right lane will be
In the second stage, the right lanes
of both the bridges will be closed while
the left lanes will remain open, as
shown in the attached map.
Ashghal will install road signs to inform the motorists of the diversion.
New showroom of Mannai home appliances
and electronics division inaugurated
ome Appliances &
Electronics Division
(HAED) of Mannai
Trading Company, a subsidiary of Mannai Corporation, has relocated yesterday to a new showroom at
Al Emadi Building, C-Ring
Road, Doha.
Alekh Grewal, Group
CEO and director of Mannai Corporation cut the ceremonial ribbon to officially
open the new showroom.
Stephane Ageorges, head of
operations; Ewan Cameron,
chief financial officer; and
Adel Kurdi, general manager, HAED, were present.
“The inauguration of
the customised showroom
comes within HAED’s strategy to diversify and expand
its operations to achieve
maximum coverage and
customer outreach. There
are plans to inaugurate a few
more outlets in future,” said
showroom includes a collection point for quick serv-
ice of home appliances and
A wide range of home
appliances and other products, a new collection of
phones, and gaming gadgets are available. Adequate
customer parking spaces is
a highlight.
The new showroom offers
retail product display along
with actual set up of appliances and a sample built in
kitchen equipment, giving
customers a walk-through
The projects division also
offers professional services
to home builders, contractors and property managers
engaged in residential and
commercial projects.
Mannai’s HAED represents world’s leading brands
such as Electrolux, Toshiba,
Moulinex, Seiko, White
Westinghouse, Bompani,
and TCL, among others.
Mannai’s Home Appliances
showroom is open from
Saturday to Thursday from
9am to 10pm.
Grewal cuts a ribbon to officially open the new showroom as Ageorges, Cameron, Kurdi and other officials look on.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Falcons dash
to finish line
in Dau event
Amlak CEO Abdul Aziz al-Emadi.
A view of the QNCC theatre. PICTURES: Shemeer Rasheed
QNCC gears up for more
big-ticket events in 2015
By Peter Alagos
Business Reporter
he Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC) is
gearing up for a number of
big-ticket events slated this year,
including a soldout live concert
featuring international musician
Ed Sheeran.
Chief executive officer Abdul
Aziz al-Emadi of Amlak, which
operates QNCC, said the centre has been hosting a variety
of major events since December
2011, making it a key contributor to Qatar’s MICE (meetings,
incentives, conferences, and exhibitions) industry.
“When you want to attract international events, it’s not only
the venue that plays a significant
role, especially if you are gunning
for events that have commercial significance. It’s a complete
package,” said al-Emadi during
a roundtable discussion with the
media yesterday.
He noted that the major events
lined up for 2015 at the QNCC
play a significant role in selling
Qatar as a major MICE destination in the Middle East.
“QNCC also works closely
with government entities such
as Qatar Tourism Authority
(QTA) in selling Qatar as a destination. While the venue is a vital
component of MICE, other factors such as ticketing, transportation, and logistics are some of
the dynamics that guarantee the
success of each event,” al-Emadi
QNCC sales manager Govern-
ment & QF Montacer Aouri told
Gulf Times that Ed Sheeran’s
concert slated this coming March
was already sold out.
“We were able to sell 2,200
tickets in just one day after we
opened the box office,” said Aouri, who added that the concert
will be QNCC’s first and largest
live event for an international
He added that during an inspection of the concert venue, Ed
Sheeran’s technical team was impressed with QNCC’s state-ofthe-art audio-visual facilities:
“They said there was no need for
them to bring additional equipment.”
Aouri said QNCC was also
gearing up for the staging of the
13th United Nations Congress on
Crime Prevention and Criminal
Justice from April 12 to 19, which
is expected to gather 7,000 UN
The congress poses as a logistics challenge, according to
Ambassador Ahmed Hassan alHammadi, vice president of the
Preparatory Committee of the
UN Congress, who earlier said
arrangements with QNCC, hotels, and transportation facilities
have been completed.
Aouri added that other top
events to be held at QNCC include Project Qatar 2015 from
May 4 to 7 and Qatar Foundation’s Annual Research Conference on November 18-19, among
“We also compete with
other countries and renowned
tourist destinations in bringing in events to Qatar when
attending international functions and trade shows. And
during these events, what we
sell is not only QNCC but also
brands such as Qatar Airways
and government organisations
like Qatar Tourism Authority.
We sell Qatar as a destination,” Aouri said.
Al-Emadi added that QNCC
has also received distinctions
such as “Middle East’s Leading Exhibition & Convention
Centre” by World Travel Awards
(2014 and 2012), “Best Events
Venue 2013” by Middle East
Event Awards, “Best Congress
and Convention Centre Middle
East” by Business Destinations
Travel Awards 2012, and “Best
Convention Centre in Middle
East” by MICE Report Awards
he Dau event continued
yesterday at the sixth Qatar International Falcons
and Hunting Festival, at Sabkhet
Marmi in the Sealine area of Mesaieed, after being postponed on
Monday due to strong winds.
A large turnout of spectators attended the event’s second
round yesterday, which saw 10
best performing falcons qualifying for the final round.
The Dau event serves to showcase the falconer’s skill at training his falcon for speed. During
the event, each falcon is required
to cross a distance of 400m towards its owner, who is signalling from the finish line, in the
shortest possible time.
Mohamed bin Abdullatif alMisnad, the vice president of
the Gannas Society and deputy
chairman of the festival, said the
performance of the participants
is improving with each passing
On the sideline of the festival,
the organising committee announced that a shooting competition will be held from today, for
members of the festival’s committees. There is a special competition for youth aged 11 to 15
tomorrow and an open shooting
competition on Friday. All will
be held from 9.30am to noon at
the festival grounds in Sabkhet
The festival, being organised
by the Gannas Society under the
patronage of HE Sheikh Joaan
bin Hamad al-Thani, runs until
January 31.
The Dau event in progress yesterday at the festival.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Collaboration ‘key to success for
R&D, educational excellence’
By Denise Marray
GT London Correspondent
he keynote speakers at the
Road Ahead Forum held at
King’s College London on Monday gave insights into the sectors
where collaboration is seen as
especially desirable.
Prof Hilal Ahmed Lashuel,
executive director, Qatar Biomedical Research Institute, said:
“Partnership is critical because
it allows us to leverage the advances that are made, accelerate
the transfer of technology and
knowhow, and apply this to locally relevant challenges today.
“We don’t want to start from
zero; we want to say ‘this is
the point which the world has
reached’, and the challenge is
how to transfer it and accelerate
the application of this knowledge and technology for the
benefit of Qatari society.
“In the R&D community we
are very keen to balance the
long-term goals with shortterm gains because the support
of the public and policy makers
is crucial for the sustainability of
the development of R&D.”
He cited collaborations with
Imperial College on the genetic
molecular basis of diabetes and
the national bio bank as examples of important areas of research that will have a direct and
tangible benefit to Qatar.
“Qatar is very committed to a
leadership position in personalised healthcare. This is an area
where we would like to explore
more opportunities for collaboration. It is an area where we believe Qatar will have a true competitive edge,” he said.
Dr Ahmed Elmagarmid, executive director, Qatar Computing
Research Institute (QCRI), spoke
about the key areas of interest
for QCRI.
“We are looking to co-operate
with UK-based institutions, research and universities, in all areas of our focus: cyber security,
computational linguistics, data
analytics, information retrieval.
Social computing is very big
for us.”
Dr Mohammad Khaleel, executive director, Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute, commented: “What we are
looking for at this event is to find
true partnerships to buy down
scientific, technical and deploy-
Plaque for minister
ment risks associated with two
grand challenges that we have
in Qatar. One is water security
grand challenge; we depend a
lot solely on water from desalination so we want to be able to
reduce the energy usage in desalination, ensure that the water we have in the Gulf is of high
quality and also ensure that we
have strategic reserves for water
in the ground. The other aspect
is part of our diversification of
the energy chain in Qatar. Aside
from oil and gas, we are blessed
by having a lot of solar energy
so we are focusing on solar PV
energy storage technologies and
how to create a smart grid.
“We want to commercialise
our technologies and be a supplier of technologies. We need to
create SMEs; to do it we need to
partner with others to buy down
the risks.”
Dr Mounir Hamdi, dean, College of Science, Engineering and
Technology, Hamad Bin Khalifa University observed: “We
are interested in collaboration
at educational programme levels and research levels. We are
launching new colleges and programmes so we wanted to see
what opportunities we can grasp
for collaboration with UK universities mainly at Masters and
PhD level. Some of these people
are exploring the idea of ‘split’
degrees, also known as ‘dual’ degrees whereby a student would
undertake a programme which is
delivered by two institutions. A
lot of universities are doing this
because it is very beneficial to
the students.”
Martin Hope, country director, British Council, Qatar, observed: “We have seen how much
Qatar has invested already, and
plans to invest in diversification.
The commitment of the senior leadership in Qatar to forging partnerships to work on the
grand challenges is clear for all
to see. I think it looks like investment is there for the long term.
What impresses me is the long
term vision – the 2030 Vision.
My job is to forge partnerships
between the two countries; that
makes it easier to me to speak to
UK institutions, because I can
give a consistent message.”
Dominic McAllister, counsellor, science and innovation, UK
Science and Innovation Network, British embassy in Doha,
said: “Once you start getting a
momentum and people see the
QF and UK participants engaged in discussions at the Qatar Foundation-UK: The Road Ahead Forum in London.
This would contribute to their
own learning about how to collaborate in global teams to address scientific challenges which
are not only multi-disciplinary
but always going to be multi-national in the future because of the
scale of the intellectual resources that need to be deployed to
address them.”
Dr Joanna Newman, viceprincipal (international), King’s
College London, said: “We are
value of it, it starts to flow. Events
like this create awareness of what
the Qatar National Research
Strategy is trying to achieve and
encourage more UK universities
to engage.”
Daniel Shah, assistant director,
policy, UK Higher Education International Unit, said: “It would
be positive to get more students
from the UK to undertake part of
their degree or research in Qatar
or other countries in the Gulf.
QF-UK forum attracts high turnout from universities
By Denise Marray
GT London Correspondent
A delegation from the Qatar Cancer Society called
upon HE Dr Hamad bin Abdul Aziz al-Kuwari,
the Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage. The
delegation was led by QCS director general Mariam
Hamad al-Nuaimi, planning and follow-up head
Abdulaziz al-Break, and public relations director
Abdullah al-Kaabi. They discussed the various
activities of QCS and its leading role in raising
awareness within the community and supporting
cancer patients. The minister was also presented
with an appreciation plaque on the occasion.
encouraging our nine faculties to become involved through
both the Qatar National Research
Fund and the Qatar Foundation.
“In the areas of energy, water and cyber security, we have
common interests in finding new
research solutions.
“The nature of research is
now international; it is impossible to conceive of any project
that doesn’t have international
partners involved in some way.”
he importance of achieving commercially viable
and sustainable results from
R&D that will directly benefit Qatari citizens was emphasised at a
Qatar Foundation-United Kingdom forum held at King’s College
London on Monday. The ‘Road
Ahead’ forum implemented a
memorandum of understanding on
research and education signed in
September 2013 by QF and its UK
partners, the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, the
British Council and Universities
UK International Unit.
Laura Robinson, head of India,
Middle East and Africa Team at Department for Business, Innovation
and Skills, UK, joined leading representatives from the Qatar Foundation and King’s College London
in welcoming the participants.
The event drew the interest of
universities from across the UK.
There were sector specific sessions
and presentations from leading Qatari institutions outlining the kind
of mutually beneficial collaborations
that would be of interest to Qatar.
Speaking to Gulf Times at the
Dr Abdul Sattar al-Taie speaking at the ‘Qatar Foundation-United Kingdom: Road Ahead’ Forum in London.
forum, Dr Abdul Sattar al-Taie,
executive director, Qatar National
Research Fund, commented that
he was impressed by the high
turnout which, he said, “shows
the high commitment from our
UK partners.”
He spoke about a need for investors in R&D to appreciate the
long term commitment required
before the gains can be realised.
“There is a misconception
about research; our industrial
partners might say, ‘OK, I am
ready to invest in research, but will
it improve the performance of the
plant now or next year?’ You reply,
Airport Hotel launches
new service
The Airport Hotel at Hamad International
Airport (HIA) has announced that guests
travelling with Qatar Airways now have
the option of checking in their luggage up
to 12 hours prior to their flight departure.
The new service, launched yesterday,
gives Qatar Airways’ passengers, who
have a pre-paid and non-refundable
reservation at The Airport Hotel, the
added flexibility of arriving at HIA at their
leisure and enjoying the five-star facilities
on offer or relaxing in their room while
they wait for their flight.
Hotel guests can also enjoy the luxury
of a dedicated Qatar Airways counter
located in the check-in hall where they
can drop off their luggage in a relaxed
and hassle-free environment.
The advance baggage drop service gives
passengers who have an early morning
flight the opportunity to check in the
night before, have dinner at one of HIA’s
dining outlets such as Soprafino or Grand
Comptoir, and spend the night at the hotel
knowing they do not have to wake up
hours before their departure.
Qatar Airways Group chief executive
Akbar al-Baker said the newly announced
offering from The Airport Hotel at HIA will
be a popular new service.
The Airport Hotel general manager, Philippe
Anric, added: “We always go the extra
mile to make our guests feel welcome and
comfortable, and the availability of an early
luggage drop will only add a further level of
comfort and flexibility to their experience of
staying with us at HIA.”
Guests can choose from superior, deluxe
and executive rooms or executive suites,
which can be booked for 0-4, 4-8, 8-12 or
12-24 hours, giving them the opportunity
to rest in between flights or to use the
room as a base while they discover the
boutiques and restaurants spread over
40,000sqm at HIA.
‘No, because you need to conduct
the research topic in a methodical
way; after that, you wait for results and then IP or invention disclosures, and then patents. Then
when you have the patent, there
is still a long way ahead of that
because you have to approve the
concept and take it from benchmark to the prototype, and from
the prototype not everything will
pass this stringent screening for
commercialisation,” he said.
He painted a vivid picture of the
kind of patient, far-sighted mindset that is needed in the interval
between making an investment
and seeing the benefits.
“This area, between the granting
of the patent till commercialisation is called ‘The Valley of Death’,
because even if you produce IP it
doesn’t mean you will be on the
road to success. It requires nerve,
a willingness to accept risk, and a
lot of sweat, blood and tears. That’s
why you need the venture capitalists, and this is a bit missing in the
Middle East because in our culture,
being merchants, we want to secure profit for our investment but
this doesn’t work with research
because you are bound to lose a
lot of money but once you succeed
you will get a higher return on your
investment. So, in a way, this is a
different concept and different investment culture,” he observed.
Fundamental to success, he emphasised is the support from the
top leadership in Qatar.“The commitment is from the political leadership of Qatar and is very clear. It’s
not just talk - it’s a commitment of
2.8% of GDP within the framework
of the Qatar Vision 2030,” he said.
Hamad Mohammed al-Kuwari,
managing director, Qatar Science
& Technology Park, also spoke
about the importance of taking a
long view and developing a balanced approach to the inevitable
ups and downs.
“There needs to be more understanding about failure being
acceptable and part of a learning curve. In start-ups – the first
might not be successful, with the
second you are learning from your
mistakes - and you see this pattern
globally. We can learn from other
countries about how they learnt
to overcome a cultural resistance
to failure. It’s all about communication.” Ultimately, he added,
the outcome of the applied research particularly in water, energy and cyber security needs to be
‘commercial and sustainable.’
‘SeeMyDoha’ photo competition opens
aidah Automotive, the exclusive dealers of Chevrolet
vehicles in Qatar, and the
official organiser of the ‘SeeMyDoha’ photography competition, has announced the
contest’s return.
A record number of over
90,000 photos have been submitted since the contest began
in April 2013.
The ‘SeeMyDoha’ photography competition is an offshoot of
‘SeeMyCity’ and has been adopted
by Jaidah Automotive as the way
forward to its annual photography contest. The competition uses
and the social media platform
Instagram, and will run for three
months from January 18.
The competition aims to
portray Doha in a new and inspirational way, reflecting people’s unique experiences. To
enter the competition, all posts
must include the official hashtag #SeeMyDoha2015 as well as
one of the three varying theme
hashtags, which include #DohaInMotion,
and #ColorsOfDoha. A panel of
judges will nominate three finalists per theme category every month to eventually compete
for the final category awards.
All nominated pictures will
be exhibited at the SeeMyDoha
photo exhibition to be held by
Jaidah Automotive in May 2015.
The three award winners will be
announced during the opening
session of the exhibition.
Under the competition’s
rules, entries are to be submitted only via Instagram, only
with images that clearly reflect Qatar. Full details of the
terms and conditions of the
competition can be found on
“We are very pleased to be
bringing back a competition
with such artistic value, and
hope to continue receiving the
same amount of quality images
that this competition keeps
generating,” said Mohamed Jaidah, group executive director,
Jaidah Group.
“Jaidah Automotive’s photography workshop which
kicks off the competition will
An entry for a previous edition
of the ‘SeeMyDoha’ contest.
certainly add to the contestants’ natural talents, maximising the effect of capturing
images using a smartphone for
showcasing purposes.”
Maersk Oil’s centre hosts
35 university students
aersk Oil Research and
(MO-RTC) hosted 35
students from local and international universities, including
Hamad Bin Khalifa University,
Texas A&M University at Qatar
and University of Maryland,
US, offering them an opportunity to meet with scientists and
experts at Maersk Oil.
“The recent visit was tailored to
help students better understand
the role of professional scientists
and researchers in the oil and gas
industry, and to witness some of
the future career paths available
to them,” said Abdulrahman alEmadi, head, MO-RTC.
“As part of our Action for
Qatar, a corporate responsibility programme, and in support
Some of the students during the visit to MO-RTC.
of the Qatar National Vision
2030, we are always looking for
opportunities to develop the capabilities of Qatar’s people and
institutions,” he added.
The visit was part of Maersk
Oil Qatar’s EBDA social investment programme, called GOALS
(Global Opportunities in Ad-
vancing Leadership Symposium).
It is a two-day programme for
students, from Education City
who engage in discussions and
activities around global leadership development with a group
of engineering students who
travel over from the University
of Maryland in the US.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
25 complete programme in diabetes care
total of 25 healthcare professionals graduated from
Accredited Diabetes Educator Certification Programme,
a nine-month learning course.
The programme aims to equip the
professionals with vital insight
into the latest developments in
diabetes care and diabetes education.
The programme was delivered
by the Canadian Michener Institute for Applied Health Science,
in conjunction with Calgary
University-Qatar, and supported
by Action on Diabetes (AoD) and
the Qatar Diabetes Association
Dr Abdulla al-Hamaq, executive director of QDA, said: “It is
our goal to deliver programmes
that are designed to help people affected by diabetes. Having
25 health professionals graduate
Some of the graduates with officials of AoD.
this year puts us one step forward
in increasing awareness among
the community and enabling us
to better support patients living
with the condition.”
Herluf Nis Thomsen of Novo
Nordisk and senior project manager of AoD said: “We continue
to work to support those working
in diabetes care by hosting workshops and facilitating courses
that offer diabetes education and
training, and are committed to
helping prevent diabetes from increasing further in Qatar.”
The Diabetes Educator Graduate Certificate programme is
the first distance learning programme of its kind to be run in
Qatar. The programme includes
six online modules and evaluation through written assignments, presentations and webbased examinations.
Experts discusses
medication safety
atar University College
of Pharmacy (QU-CPH)
and Al Wakra Hospital
of Hamad Medical Corporation
(HMC) held the first symposium
on medication safety recently at
the Sharq Hotel & Spa under the
theme ‘It’s everyone’s concern’.
The event was aimed at engaging the spirit of inter-professional
collaborative care and to involve
input from pharmacists, physicians, nurses and administrators
to cover the full spectrum of patient care.
The one-day event was held
in partnership with the International Society of Pharmacoepidemiology (ISPE) GCC Chapter
and brought together over 150
Dr Ayman El-Kadi
clinically-oriented pharmacists,
healthcare providers, researchers, academia and students from
health-related disciplines.
Guest speakers from CPH,
HMC and King Saud University
covered topics including medication safety policy, adverse event
reporting, assessing medication
quality, and the role of a pharmacist in research. Research, practice
and direct patient care at Al Wakra
Hospital was also discussed.
CPH dean Dr Ayman El-Kadi
said: “This symposium showcases
the importance of medication
safety and the role of the pharmacist in this regard. Discussions
and recommendations emanating from it will serve to raise the
standard of practice in Qatar as
the country moves towards fulfilling the National Health Strategy
2011-2016 with a skilled national
workforce, effective services and
a comprehensive world-class
healthcare system.”
Al Wakra Hospital pharmacy
director Dr Rasha al-Anany stat-
ed: “This symposium is a great
opportunity for senior healthcare providers, researchers, and
aspiring pharmacists in Qatar to
come together and engage in discussions on medication safety to
stimulate enhanced health outcomes.”
Medication safety is a key
area of research currently being
conducted by CPH. A two-year
project by CPH faculty Dr Kerry
Wilbur and Dr Ahmed Awaisu is
exploring medication errors at
HMC practice sites in an NPRPfunded study in collaboration
with HMC and Robert Gordon
University UK, with the aim of
improving prescription safety and
attendant systems.
Qatar Cool appoints al-Jaidah as CEO
atar District Cooling
Company (Qatar Cool)
has announced the appointment of its new chief executive officer, Yasser Salah al-Jaidah, who joined the company on
January 18.
Before joining Qatar Cool, alJaidah was the general manager
and director of South Hook LNG
in the UK, the largest liquefied
natural gas (LNG) terminal of
Western Europe and provider of
20% of the UK’s LNG consumption.
He completed his BS Electrical
Engineering degree from the University of Missouri and also has
an Executive MBA degree from
HEC-Paris in Shanghai. He is also
Qatar Cool’s new CEO, Yasser
Salah al-Jaidah.
a certified Project Management
Professional from the Project
Management Institute (PMI).
Al-Jaidah has over a decade of experience in the energy
sector and has held positions
throughout the field, including
maintenance, operations engineering, project management,
marketing, and venture projects.
He also was general manager at
the RasGas Korea liaison office,
an entity which he set up from the
ground up.
Al-Jaidah and his South Korean
team played a key role in facilitating the signing of the 2012 contract between Qatar and South
Korea for an additional 2mn
tonnes of Qatari LNG per year for
the next 20 years.
He was also Inlet Facilities
Project Lead for the RasGas expansion phase two project and
was seconded to ExxonMobil as
a project execution engineer in
Houston, Texas.
Al-Jaidah has a breadth of
experience in the energy indus-
try and has worked on a range of
worldwide projects in countries
such as Qatar, South Korea, Japan,
France, Norway, US, Italy, Singapore and the UK.
“I am honoured and privileged
to join Qatar Cool as chief executive officer. I am committed to
continuing and building on Qatar Cool’s success by empowering the Qatar Cool team to reach
its full potential as we enter the
next stage of growth, which must
go hand in hand with the expansion of Qatar’s infrastructure. As
a Qatari I feel a sense of responsibility in utilising my worldwide
experience to plant my seed in the
realisation of the Qatari National
Vision,” al-Jaidah said.
Budget Honda’s biggest fleet customer in Qatar
ith the delivery of the latest
batch of 300 new Honda vehicles, Budget Rent-A-Car
has become Honda’s biggest fleet customer in Qatar.
To celebrate this milestone, Faisal
Sharif, managing director of Domasco
and Greig Roffey, head of sales and marketing for Honda in Qatar accompanied
the latest delivery to the Budget office
and presented Ayman Khaled, general
manager of Budget Rent-A-Car Qatar
with a commemoration award.
“We value the support that Budget
has shown to us through the years and
particularly during 2014 with record
purchases,” Roffey said while describing
the company as one of the best known
international rental and leasing brands.
Khaled also praised the relationship
between the two companies.
“For us Domasco represents the highest levels of integrity and always deliver
on their promise of exceptional customer service. The Honda brand offers high
quality products across a range of models that perfectly match our customers’ needs. We look forward to continuing our relationship with Domasco and
Honda long into the future,” Khaled said.
Sharif stated that Domasco is proud
to be associated with Budget and be one
of its top partners in the country.
“We always lay a great emphasis
on trust in a partnership and strive to
provide our customers with the highest standards of service. We will leave
no stone unturned to fortify even further our relationship with Budget,” he
Roffey and Sharif present a commemoration award to Khaled.
The directors of the Municipal Control Departments of the various Municipalities meeting yesterday.
Officials discuss steps to
check property violations
he Directors of the
Municipal Control Departments of various
municipalities met yesterday
to arrive at an agreement on a
common procedural mechanism on the control over state
The mechanism includes
the adoption of common
procedures by the Municipal Control Departments regarding reporting and documentation of the violations
pertinent to state properties.
These include notification to
the violator, instructing him
to report to the concerned
municipality within 24 hours;
issuance of a violation report,
which includes the type of violation and particulars of the
offender; serving notice to the
violator regarding the removal
of the violation; conducting reconciliation procedures
with the offender if he consents to removing the violation; issuance of a decision by
the director of the concerned
municipality on the removal of
the violation; and addressing
the competent security authorities at the ministry concerned for the implementation
of the removal process.
The meeting was attended
by Mohamed Mansour alKhater, director of the department of state properties, Faiqa
Ashkenani, director of quality
control department, and Dr
Ahmed Abu Mustafa, the legal
adviser at the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning.
‘Encroachment rampant in Industrial Area’
ome incidents of encroachments of government lands and properties by companies and garages
in the Industrial Area have been
reported by Arrayah daily.
Speaking to the Arabic
newspaper, some Qatari nationals said the companies and
garages have been using pavements, truck lanes and other
public places for vehicles parking and they are also used as
warehouses for vehicles, heavy
equipment and other goods.
The encroaching is happening at a rampant pace owing to
lack of effective monitoring by
authorities, they said.
They alleged such cornering of lands has resulted in not
only big traffic congestion in
the areas but also rise in traffic
Contracting companies are
also indulging in such activities, they alleged.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Solar plane set for landmark flight around world
Abu Dhabi
The Solar Impulse 2 is seen at its presentation at the Al Bateen
airport in Abu Dhabi yesterday.
plane with the top speed
of a homing pigeon is set
to embark on a landmark
round-the-world flight powered
only by the sun’s energy, organisers said yesterday.
Solar Impulse 2, the first solarpowered plane to be able to fly
for several days and nights, will
land 12 times along its roughly
35,000km trip—including a fiveday stretch above the Pacific
Ocean without a drop of fuel.
“We want to demonstrate that
clean technology and renewable
energy can achieve the impossible,” said Solar Impulse chairman
Bertrand Piccard, the scion of a
dynasty of Swiss scientists-cumadventurers.
“Renewable energy can become an integral part of our lives,
and together we can help save our
planet’s natural resources.”
The plane’s route was unveiled
yesterday in Abu Dhabi, where it
will begin the journey in late February or early March.
It will first stop at Muscat, to
benefit from the Gulf’s low-cloud
conditions, before crossing the
Arabian Sea to India and heading
on to Myanmar, China, Hawaii
and New York.
Landings are also earmarked
for the mid-western United
States and either southern Europe or North Africa, depending
on weather conditions.
The longest single leg will see
a pilot fly the plane non-stop
for five days and nights across
the Pacific between Nanjing in
China and Hawaii—a distance of
It will take around 25 days of
total flying time for Si2 to complete its round-the-world journey.
Although groundbreaking in
distance, the trip will not be undertaken at a lightning pace.
With flight speeds of 50100km per hour, the entire
round-the-world journey is expected to take five months to
The plane is the successor of
Solar Impulse, a pioneering craft
which notched up a 26-hour
flight in 2010, proving its ability
to store enough power in lithium
batteries during the day to keep
flying at night.
This year’s flight marks the
culmination of 12 years of research and testing, organisers say.
Si2, whose makers claim it is
the most energy efficient aircraft
ever built, has a wider wingspan
than a Boeing 747 but, thanks
to its innovative design, weighs
about as much as a family 4x4.
The carbon fibre, single-seater
plane has 17,249 solar cells built
into its wings that will supply
four electric motors and the rechargeable lithium batteries.
Speed at night will be limited
to prevent the batteries from be-
Licence of
Yemen Shia
rebels seize
palace, attack
Hadi’s home
Militia leader Abdul Malik
al-Houthi warns that
“all options are open”
against Hadi, accusing
him of supporting the
“fragmentation” of the
efiant Shia militiamen
seized control of Yemen’s
presidential palace and
attacked President Abd-Rabbu
Mansour Hadi’s residence yesterday in what officials said was
a bid to overthrow his embattled
As the UN Security Council
began an emergency meeting to
condemn the attack and back
Hadi, Secretary General Ban Kimoon said he was “gravely concerned” and called for an immediate halt to the fighting.
Abdul Malik al-Houthi, leader of the militia that bears the
name of his late father, was defiant, warning that “all options”
were open against Hadi, whom
he accused of supporting the
“fragmentation” of the country.
He also said his movement
was ready to stand up to any
measures the Security Council
might adopt.
Violence has escalated in the
capital, raising fears that Hadi, a
key US ally in its fight against Al
Qaeda, will fall and the country
descend into chaos.
Information Minister Nadia Saqqaf said the militia had
launched an attack on Hadi’s
residence in western Sanaa, after witnesses reported clashes
in the area.
Hadi was earlier reported to
have been in the building meeting with advisers and security
“The Yemeni president is under attack by militiamen who
want to overthrow the regime,”
Saqqaf said on Twitter.
Witnesses said the fighting
outside the residence appeared
to have subsided after two soldiers were killed.
A military official said the
militiamen had also seized the
presidential palace in southern
Sanaa, where Hadi’s offices are
located, and were “looting its
arms depots”.
Prominent Houthi member
Ali al-Bukhaiti said on Facebook that the fighters had “taken control of the presidential
In New York, the Security
Council backed Hadi as “the
legitimate authority” and said
“all parties and political actors
in Yemen must stand with” by
the government “to keep the
country on track to stability and
For her part, EU foreign policy
chief Federica Mogherini said
“all parties must step back immediately from conflict”.
But Houthi said “all options
are open in this action”, and
that “no one, the president or
anyone else, will be above our
measures if they stand to implement a conspiracy against this
In a long televised address, he
also warned the Security Council that “you will not benefit
from any measures you wish to
take” against the Houthis.
“We are ready to face the consequences, regardless of what
they are.”
While calling for a full ceasefire and a return to dialogue, the
council did not threaten any
In November, it slapped sanctions on two of the militia’s
commanders, and on ousted
president Ali Abdullah Saleh,
but not on Houthi.
The fresh unrest shattered a
ceasefire agreed after a bloody
day Monday that saw the
Houthis, who overran Sanaa in
September, tighten their grip on
the capital.
Militiamen and troops fought
pitched battles near the presidential palace and in other parts
of Sanaa, leaving at least nine
people dead and 67 wounded.
The militia seized an army
base overlooking the presidential palace, took control of
state media and opened fire on
Kuwait City
Houthi fighters stand near a damaged guard post at a Presidential Guards barracks they took over on a
mountain overlooking the presidential palace in Sanaa yesterday.
a convoy carrying Prime Minister Khaled Bahah from Hadi’s
Bahah escaped to his residence, where he has lived since
taking office in October, and it
was surrounded by the Houthis
late Monday.
Tensions have been running
high in Sanaa since Saturday,
when the Houthis abducted
Hadi’s chief of staff, Ahmed
Awad bin Mubarak, in an apparent move to extract changes
to a draft constitution that he is
Mubarak is in charge of a
national dialogue set up after
Saleh was forced from power in
rominent Shia activist Nabeel Rajab was yesterday
sentenced to six months
in prison after a Bahraini court
found him guilty of insulting
public institutions in his tweets,
a judicial source said.
But Rajab, who was released
from custody one month after
his arrest on October 1, could
stay out of prison on bail if he
pays 200 dinars, the source said,
citing the court ruling.
The decision is subject to appeal, according to the prosecution.
Rajab, a member of Bahrain’s
Shia community which has held
protests against the authorities
since 2011, was arrested after
posting comments on Twitter
about the interior and defence
In one of the messages deemed
offensive, Rajab charged that
many Bahrainis fighting with
Islamist militants in Syria were
former Bahraini security forces
personnel who had developed
extremist views while in service.
Rajab, who has led anti-government marches and heads
the Bahrain Centre for Human
Rights, was freed last May after
serving two years in jail for taking part in unauthorised protests.
His new conviction came one
day after prosecutors charged
Bahrain’s Shia opposition chief
Sheikh Ali Salman with attempting to overthrow the regime and
set a January 28 trial date.
International rights groups
have condemned the trials.
“Nabeel Rajab is being unjustly punished simply for
posting tweets deemed insulting to the authorities. His
conviction is a blow to freedom of expression—it must be
quashed,” said Amnesty International’s Said Boumedouha,
urging his immediate and unconditional release.
“Instead of persecuting activists who dare to speak out
freely the Bahraini authorities
should repeal these repressive
laws and uphold the right to
freedom of expression,” said
February 2012 following a year
of bloody protests.
Saleh has been accused of
backing the Houthis, and a
source in the presidential guard
said some troops still loyal to
the ex-leader had supported the
militia on Monday.
Before his kidnapping, Mubarak had been due to present
a draft constitution dividing
Yemen into a six-region federation, which the Houthis oppose.
The militants, who hail from
the remote north and fought a
decade-long war against the
government, have rejected the
decentralisation plan, claiming
it divides the country into rich
and poor regions.
Since they seized Sanaa, the
Houthis have pressed their
advance south of the capital,
where they have met stiff resistance from Sunnis, including Al
Qaeda loyalists.
Yemen’s branch of the militant network, Al Qaeda in the
Arabian Peninsula, is considered
its most dangerous and claimed
responsibility for this month’s
deadly attack in Paris on French
satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.
Hadi’s government has been
a key ally of the United States,
allowing Washington to carry
out repeated drone attacks on Al
Qaeda militants in its territory.
uwait has scrapped the
commercial licence of
leading newspaper Al Watan, which has been highly critical of the government, citing its
failure to comply with legally required financial terms.
Al Watan said on its website,
which was still operating, that
it had challenged the decision
in court. An urgent hearing had
been set for today, it said.
The decision was issued late
Monday by the ministry of commerce and industry, which said
the newspaper had violated minimum capital requirements.
Under Kuwaiti law, the commercial licences of companies
with losses worth more than 75%
of their capital are cancelled.
The ministry said in a statement yesterday that it had applied
the law on a number of companies after warning them to rectify
their financial position.
The state minister for cabinet
affairs, Sheikh Mohamed Abdullah al-Sabah, told reporters outside parliament yesterday that
the decision was “not politically
Al Watan, one of the largest
dailies in Kuwait, is owned by
former oil minister Sheikh Ali
Khalifa al-Sabah and managed by
his son Sheikh Khalifa.
The newspaper has traditionally supported the government,
except in the past two years when
it adopted a tougher line.
Killler executed
Saudi Arabia yesterday beheaded
one of its citizens for murder in its
12th execution this year.
Mansour bin Awad bin Ziniegih
al-Jabri was sentenced to death
after being convicted of shooting
dead another Saudi in a family
dispute, the interior ministry said.
Russia may give Iran
S-300 missile system
Bahrain activist gets
jail term over tweets
ing run down too quickly.
Designers say the system gives
Si2 “virtually unlimited autonomy”.
Aviation enthusiasts will be
able to watch a live video stream
of the plane’s progress once it
sets off from Abu Dhabi on its
pioneering voyage on the firm’s
“Solar Impulse 2 must accomplish what no other plane
in the history of aviation has
achieved—flying without fuel for
five consecutive days and nights
with only one pilot in the unpressurised cockpit,” said Andre
Borschberg, a former Swiss air
force pilot and the company’s cofounder and chief executive.
Rajab poses with his family and supporters at his home in
Budaiya west of Manama on Monday.
ussia might deliver a
long-overdue S-300 air
defence missile system to
Iran, honouring a contract that
was cancelled in 2010 following
strong pressure from the West,
Iranian and Russian media said
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu is visiting Tehran and
signed an agreement with Iranian Defence Minister Brigadier
General Hossein Dehqan to boost
co-operation, Iran’s Fars semiofficial news agency said.
Fars said the two countries
would resolve problems with the
delivery of the advanced missile
system, while Russia’s RIA state
news confirmed the issue was
once again under discussion.
“A step was taken in the direction of co-operation on the economy and arms technology, at least
for such defensive systems such as
the S-300 and S-400. Probably
we will deliver them,” RIA quoted
Shoigu and Dehqan sign an agreement in Tehran yesterday.
Colonel General Leonid Ivashov
as saying.
Ivashov is the former head of
the defence minister’s department of international co-operation.
No further details were immediately available.
Dmitry Medvedev, then the
Russian president, cancelled a
contract to supply Tehran with
the advanced missile system in
2010 in the wake of UN sanctions
imposed on Iran over its disputed
nuclear programme.
The United States and Israel
heavily lobbied Russia to block
the missile sale, saying it could
be used to shield Iran’s nuclear
facilities from possible future air
strikes. Iran in turn has taken Russia to arbitration to finalise the
Ivashov said that Russia’s ties
with Iran had strengthened recently due to Western sanctions
that they are both now facing and
added that the two countries were
looking to expand their co-operation in other areas.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Modest goals set out for Syria talks in Moscow
Russian moderator for
next week’s talks between
the Syrian government
and a group of opposition figures
set out modest goals for the Moscow meeting, saying he would
consider it a success if the sides
work together and agree to meet
Vitaly Naumkin was speaking ahead of the January 26-29
talks which have been clouded by
the refusal of several prominent
Syrian opposition figures to take
Two rounds of peace talks in
Geneva a year ago failed to halt
the conflict which has killed
200,000 people and there is little sign that the Russian initiative
will fare any better.
“If you are a Syrian patriot
why would you not want to use
even the slightest possibility
to come and talk... even if you
are critical of Russia’s position?” he told a news conference.
The Western-backed National
Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces as well
as prominent opposition figure
Moaz al-Khatib have refused to
take part in a process that does
not envisage the departure of
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
They also distrust Moscow,
which has been a key ally of the
Syrian president throughout the
The limited opposition presence has overshadowed preparations for the Moscow talks, a
diplomatic initiative by Russia at
a time when its ties with the West
have hit new lows over the conflict in Ukraine.
Naumkin, an academic who
speaks Arabic, said Moscow
initially invited 20 representatives of “various opposition
and civil society groups”. It
was now expecting more attendees, although the final
list of participants will only
be clear after an opposition
meeting planned later this
week in Cairo.
He said one person invited was
a member of the Muslim Broth-
erhood, an Islamist group outlawed in Russia as a “terrorist
organisation”, but that radical Islamists “who cut off heads” were
not on the list.
“The idea is that sensible people should make arrangements
together,” Naumkin said. “No one
has too high expectations.”
Asked what he would see as
success of the talks, he said:
“Firstly, if people who do not
accept one another sit down
to talks and discuss matters...
rather than fight over the table.
Secondly, if this process is continued, if they agree to continue
such consultations.”
Naumkin said no Russian government official would be present
during the talks but that UN special envoy for Syria Staffan de
Mistura or his deputy could take
part as monitors if they so agree
with the Russian foreign ministry.
Refugees at
camp long
for ceasefire
Bar Elias, Lebanon
hen a deadly snowstorm hit Lebanon last
week, Syrian refugees
in the Bekaa Valley sheltered in
tents made from plastic sheeting
and shivered through the night.
Nearly four years into the
crisis, people at the snowed-in
settlement near the border said
they would welcome any kind
of solution in Syria between
warring parties so they can go
“There are people here with
no heating, some burning shoes
and even tent materials to keep
warm,” said Ali Abdulaziz, who
said he was worried that smoke
from fires fuelled with synthetic
materials had made people in the
camp sick.
Their suffering underlines the
human cost of a conflict that has
displaced nearly half of all Syrians. With diplomacy to end the
war at a standstill, hopes raised
by the 2011 uprising against
President Bashar al-Assad have
long given way to despair.
Abdulaziz, 45, escaped the Damascus countryside for Lebanon
in April and said neither the government nor opposition fighters
had done anything to stop the
suffering there.
“The political process is stumbling. Parties encourage each
other to fight and these political
games prolong the war,” he said.
“May God calm the situation so
that there is any political solution, we want to go back to our
Storm “Zina” ripped through
the region last week, killing a
refugee child and his father in
Lebanon as they were trying to
cross the border, the UN refugee
agency said. Aid agencies warn
that 7mn displaced children are
at risk from the harsh winter
weather in Syria and neighbouring countries.
The main Syrian political opposition group said 10 Syrian
refugees froze to death in Lebanon during the storm, which
tore trees from the ground and
blocked main roads.
“When you are facing such an
unprecedented snowstorm, yes
there are cracks in the system,
there are limits to what we can
do,” said Fabrizio Carboni, head
of the International Committee
of the Red Cross in Lebanon,
adding that aid had reached
vulnerable people before the
storm and the worst appeared
Lebanon is hosting around
1.5mn Syrians, giving it the highest per capita concentration of
refugees in the world. The government tightened entry requirements this month, saying
it could no longer manage the
Many refugees live in makeshift settlements like the one
at Bar Elias, around 20km from
the border. Some have basic
shelters made from wood and
plastic sheets taken from billboards. Others have rigged up
satellite dishes and have portable ovens.
Many residents were farmers
from the Aleppo countryside and
said their districts back home
had changed hands many times
between armed groups and government forces.
prayed for a ceasefire in Aleppo,
where the United Nations is trying to negotiate between forces
fighting for Assad and insurgents, whose fighting has carved
up the city.
“We are for peace, any hour
they announce they stop the military operations and people can
live in security, trust me there
will be none of us left in Lebanon,” Mohamed said. But he has
little faith in any of the groups
fighting in the war.
“There is no difference between the opposition and the
loyalists. Our country is ruined
and we don’t have any help from
any of them,” he said.
As he spoke, children
scrambled over heaps of snow,
their noses red from the cold.
Some wore plastic boots but
others had only sandals and
no coats. Families swept water
from their tents into muddy
open gullies that ran through
the camp.
A masked militant brandishing a knife stands between hostages Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa in this still image taken from an online video released by the Islamic State group yesterday.
Japan vows not to yield
as IS threatens hostages
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
says Japan will not bow to
extremism and pledges to
honour his promise of aid
to countries affected by IS
he Islamic State group
threatened in a video yesterday to kill two Japanese
hostages within 72 hours unless
it receives a $200mn ransom, but
Tokyo vowed it would not bow to
Shinzo Abe, in Jerusalem on the
latest leg of a Middle East tour,
demanded the militants immediately free the two hostages unharmed.
He flew home several hours
earlier than planned to take
charge of the crisis after meeting
with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who condemned
the threat against the abductees
as “despicable”.
IS has murdered five Western
hostages since August last year,
but it is the first time that the extremist group—which has seized
swathes of Syria and neighbouring Iraq—has threatened Japanese captives.
In footage posted on jihadist
websites, a black-clad militant
brandishing a knife addresses
the camera in English, standing
between hostages Kenji Goto and
Haruna Yukawa who are wearing
orange jumpsuits.
“You now have 72 hours to
pressure your government into
making a wise decision by paying
the $200mn to save the lives of
your citizens,” he says.
The militant says that the ransom demand is to compensate for
non-military aid that the Japanese prime minister pledged to
support countries affected by IS
violence at the start of his Middle
East tour.
But Abe said Japan would not
bow to extremism and pledged to
honour his promise of aid.
“I strongly demand that they
not be harmed and that they be
immediately released,” he told a
news conference in Jerusalem.
“The international community will not give in to any form
of terrorism and we have to make
sure that we work together.”
Abe said the aid he had promised in Cairo on Saturday was
to help the displaced and those
made homeless by the conflict in
Iraq and Syria.
“This position is unshakable,”
he said, describing the assistance
as “absolutely necessary” for the
survival of people who have fled
Since August, IS has murdered
three Americans and two Britons, posting grisly video footage
of their executions.
US journalists James Foley
and Steven Sotloff, American aid
worker Peter Kassig and British
aid workers Alan Henning and
David Haines were all beheaded.
The militant who appeared in
the video threatening the Japanese
hostages spoke with a very similar southern English accent to the
militant who appeared in the footage posted of the executions of the
Britons and Americans.
Goto is a freelance journalist,
born in 1967, who set up a video
Israel did not target
Iran general: source
n Iranian general killed in
an Israeli air strike in Syria
was not its intended target, and Israel believed it was attacking only low-ranking guerrillas, a senior security source
said yesterday.
The remarks by the Israeli
source, who declined to be identified because Israel has not officially confirmed it carried out
the strike, appeared aimed at
containing any escalation with
Iran or the Lebanese Hezbollah
guerrilla group.
Iranian Revolutionary Guard
General Mohamed Allahdadi
was killed with a Hezbollah
commander and the son of the
group’s late military leader,
Imad Mughniyeh, in Sunday’s
attack on a Hezbollah convoy
near the Israeli-occupied Golan
Hezbollah, which is backed
by Iran and fought a 34-day war
with Israel in 2006, said six of its
members died in the strike.
Tehran has vowed to strike
back. “These martyrdoms proved
the need to stick with jihad. The
Zionists must await ruinous
Guards’ chief General Mohamed
Ali Jafari was quoted yesterday as
saying by the Fars news agency.
Asked if Israel expected Iranian or Hezbollah retaliation,
the source said: “They are almost
certain to respond. We are anticipating that, but I think it’s a fair
assumption that a major escalation is not in the interest of either
Troops and civilians in northern Israel are on heightened
alert and Israel has deployed an
Iron Dome rocket interceptor
unit near the Syrian border.
“We did not expect the outcome in terms of the stature of
those killed - certainly not the
Iranian general,” the source said.
“We thought we were hitting an
enemy field unit that was on its
way to carry out an attack on us
at the frontier fence.
“We got the alert, we spotted
the vehicle, identified it was an
enemy vehicle and took the shot.
We saw this as a limited tactical
In an Israeli television interview, Defence Minister Moshe
Yaalon stopped short of claiming responsibility for Sunday’s
air strike while describing those
killed as “bad guys, all of them”.
“We are not fearing, but nevertheless we should be ready for,
any act or any action and even
for any escalation,” Yaalon told
the English-language station i24
production company, named
Independent Press in Tokyo in
1996, feeding video documentaries on the Middle East and
other regions to Japanese television networks, including public
broadcaster NHK.
He had been out of contact
since late October after telling
family that he intended to return
to Japan, NHK reported.
In early November, his wife received e-mail demands for about
1bn yen ($8.5mn) in ransom from
a person claiming to be an Islamic State member, Fuji TV said.
The e-mailed threats were later confirmed to have come from a
sender implicated in the killing of
US journalist Foley, Fuji TV said.
Yukawa is a 42-year-old widower who reportedly has a history of attempted suicide and
self-mutilation after his military
goods business went bankrupt
and his wife died of cancer.
He came to widespread attention in Japan when he appeared
in footage posted last August
in which he was shown being
roughly interrogated by his captors.
He offered brief responses to
questions posed in English about
why he was in Syria and the reason he was carrying a gun.
He replied in stilted English
that he was a “photographer”
and a “journalist, half doctor”.
“I’m no soldier,” he said.
Another video surfaced showing a man believed to be Yukawa
test-firing an AK-47 assault rifle
in Syria.
Japanese nationals’ involvement as combatants in foreign
conflicts is limited, although the
country’s extensive media is usually well-represented in hotspots.
Japan has been relatively isolated from the Islamist violence that
has hit other developed countries,
having tended to stay away from
US-led military interventions.
In 2004, Japanese tourist Shosei Koda was among a series of
foreign hostages beheaded by Al
Qaeda in Iraq in grisly videotaped
He had ignored government
advice to travel to the country in
the midst of the bloody insurgency that followed the US-led
invasion of the previous year.
Syrian air raid kills
at least 65: monitor
The wife and son of senior Hezbollah commander Mohamed Issa,
one of the six Hezbollah fighters killed in an Israeli strike near
Quneitra on the Syrian-controlled side of the Golan Heights, stand
by his casket during his funeral in the southern Lebanese village of
Arab Salim yesterday.
t least 65 people were
killed and dozens wounded yesterday by a Syrian
air force raid on a cattle market
in a village in territory controlled
by the hardline Islamic State, a
monitoring group and a resident
The raid hit the main livestock
market in Khansaa, south of the
Kurdish-held city of Qamishli in
northeastern Syria.
Syrian government officials
were not immediately available for comment. Its military
campaign against IS is being
waged separately from US-led
air strikes on the group, which
has seized around a third of the
“The raids hit part of the market where traders from several
towns and villages in the area
traditionally bring their cattle to
trade and sell in them livestock,”
said resident Khair al-Obeidi,
who spoke by phone from the
“There are at least 65 bodies
mostly charred bodies that were
counted by local medics in Tel
Hamees,” he said.
One of his relatives was
wounded, he added.
Several thousand Bedouin
Arab traders and customers had
gathered in one of the region’s
largest cattle markets.
An opposition activist in
Hassaka province, Abdullah
Bakour, contacted on Skype,
said the Syrian air raid had been
preceded by several raids overnight in the area that lies in the
heartland of territory controlled by IS.
The British-based Observatory for Human Rights, which
tracks violence across the county
through a network of sources on
the ground, said the strike resulted in “tens of dead and injured” but did not say exactly
how many had died.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Libyan Opec representative missing in Tripoli
Libyan senior oil official
who represents his country in Opec is believed to
have been abducted in the militia-held capital Tripoli, a company official said yesterday.
Samir Salim Kamal, an engineer with the National Oil Com-
pany who is also Libya’s governor
for Opec, has not been seen since
Thursday when he left the company’s offices.
“His friends last saw him on
Thursday afternoon as he left the
NOC headquarters” in central
Tripoli, an official at the company, who did not want to be
named, said.
Nobody has claimed responsibility for his apparent abduction
and the family of the engineer
has received no news about him
since his disappearance, the official said.
Libya is one of 12 members
of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries
(Opec), whose current secretary general Abdullah El-Badri
is Libyan.
Kidnappings are common in
Libya, which has been sliding
deeper into chaos since the 2011
overthrow of long-time leader
Muammar Gaddafi, with rival
governments and powerful militias battling for territory.
The internationally recognised
government and elected parliament decamped last year to the
country’s far east after the Fajr
Libya (Libya Dawn) militia alliance seized Tripoli and set up its
own administration.
Oil is Libya’s main natural resource, with a pre-revolt output
capacity of about 1.6mn barrels
per day, accounting for more
than 95% of exports and 75% of
the budget.
But production fell to about
350,000 barrels per day in December as Fajr Libya launched a
bloody offensive to try to seize
control of key eastern terminals.
The army and Fajr Libya this
week declared a ceasefire following an agreement at a meeting in
Geneva over the weekend on a
road map to form a unity government.
But armed factions accused each other on Monday
of launching new attacks near
the country’s largest oil port, Al
Ali al-Hassi, a spokesman for
an oil-protection force in Al Sidra allied to the recognised prime
minister, Abdullah al-Thinni,
said the rival force had launched
an attack.
“We confronted them with
planes,” he said.
Ahmed Hadiya, a spokesman
for the other side, denied there
had been clashes but said Thinni’s troops had killed one of his
men by firing a tank grenade.
Sisi admits
rights abuses,
cites threats
to security
Arab-Israeli protesters carry portraits of Sami al-Jaar, 22, who died of a gunshot wound last week during a police drug raid, as they march in the southern city of Rahat yesterday.
Israel Arabs stage strike
against police violence
Tensions between Israel’s
police and the Arab
community have surged
since a 22-year-old Arab man
was shot dead in the Galilee
last November
Rahat, Israel
srael’s large Arab minority closed shops and schools
from the northern Galilee
to the southern Negev desert
yesterday as part of a day-long
strike to protest against the death
of two Arab men in incidents involving Israeli police.
Sami al-Jaar, 20, was shot
dead by officers during a drugs
raid which triggered protests in
the southern town of Rahat on
Thursday. Police have not said
why Jaar, who was unarmed, was
shot, other than that he took part
in “riots”.
“Police were in danger and
they opened fire,” said police
spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.
At Jaar’s funeral on Sunday,
45-year-old Sami Zayadna died
as police fired teargas and rubber bullets towards thousands
of angry mourners. Locals said
Zayadna died of gas inhalation
and hailed him as a “martyr”.
Police said he had a heart attack.
The results of an autopsy are expected soon.
Arab students at Tel Aviv University staged a protest outside
the campus fence, drawing jeers
and angry retorts from Jewish
passersby, according to Israeli
public radio.
Palestinians risk US
aid cutoff: senator
he Palestinians could lose
annual US aid if they file
a lawsuit against Israel at
the International Criminal Court
which they joined this month over
American and Israeli protests, a
senior US Republican senator said
on Monday.
Lindsey Graham, part of a seven-member delegation of senators visiting Israel, Saudi Arabia
and Qatar, said existing US legislation “would cut off aid to the
Palestinians if they filed a complaint” against Israel.
At a news conference in Jerusalem, Graham called the Palestinian step “a bastardising of the
role of the ICC. I find it incredibly
“We will push back strongly to
register our displeasure. It is already part of our law that would
require us to stop funding if they
actually bring a case,” said Graham, of South Carolina.
US President Barack Obama’s
Democratic administration has
said it does not believe Palestine
is a sovereign state and therefore
does not qualify to be part of the
ICC, but has not explicitly threatened to withhold aid.
Any cut in US funds could make
it hard for the Palestinian selfrule authority in the West Bank
and Gaza to survive. The US supplies more than $400mn annually
to the Palestinian Authority. Israel has frozen a monthly transfer
of some $120mn in tax revenues it
collects for the Palestinians.
UN Secretary General Ban
Ki-moon has confirmed the Palestinians will formally become
a member of the ICC on April 1,
after applying earlier this month.
With jurisdiction dating back to
June 13, 2014, the court’s prosecutor could investigate the 50-day war
between Israel and Hamas in the
Gaza Strip in July and August 2014.
Other media reported a similar
protest by university students in
the northern city of Haifa.
Tensions between Israel’s police and the Arab community,
which at 1.7mn people accounts
for 20% of the population, have
surged since a 22-year-old Arab
man was shot dead in the Galilee
last November moments after
banging on the window of a police vehicle.
Yesterday’s strike is a relatively rare occurrence and represents a show of unity among
the Arab population, which frequently complains of discrimination.
Israel’s three main Arab parties, divided in the past, plan to
run on a joint list in elections on
March 17. Despite that co-ordination, polls indicate they will
still win only around 11 seats in
the 120-member Knesset, as in
the past.
But politicians are buoyed by
the growing unity.
“Every day we’re stronger. A
few years ago if a citizen were
killed here there wouldn’t be this
kind of movement,” Arab Knesset
member Jamal Zahalka said.
“We’re more inspired, the Arabs of the Negev are bound more
closely to those of the Galilee and
the north. We’re more united and
able to defend ourselves,” he said.
Since the deaths, police have
pulled out of Rahat. Squad cars
and a water cannon truck idled
outside its main gate, where red
graffiti reading “Our blood isn’t
cheap!” is scrawled.
Police deny any excessive use
of force in dealing with Arabs and
point to the diversity in Israeli
society, where Arabic is an official language and an Arab serves
on the Supreme Court. Despite
that, poverty rates and joblessness among the Arab population
are far higher than the Israeli average.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who leads a
right-wing government, has
threatened to revoke the citizenship of anyone who calls for
Israel’s destruction. Others in
his government have called for a
“loyalty test” for Arab citizens,
hardening the sense of isolation.
“Because the Jewish street
has become more racist toward
us, the police have too,” said Rahat’s deputy mayor, Alaa Abu
Mudghaim. “It’s ultimately a
failure of the Israeli leadership.”
resident Abdel Fattah alSisi acknowledged yesterday that police committed
rights abuses after the overthrow
of his Islamist predecessor, but
said they were expected given the
“exceptional” security threats
faced by Egypt.
A crackdown overseen by Sisi
against supporters of Mohamed
Mursi has left hundreds dead
since the then army chief toppled
the Islamist in July 2013.
Thousands of Mursi backers
have also been imprisoned, and
dozens sentenced to death after
speedy trials which the United
Nations says is “unprecedented
in recent history”.
Several youth activists who
spearheaded the 2011 revolt
against former autocratic president Hosni Mubarak are also
serving jail terms for protesting
Human rights activists say a
law restricting protests and other security legislation enacted by
Sisi in the absence of a parliament have rolled back freedoms
won in the 2011 uprising.
“Nobody is against human
rights... but today Egypt is in an
exceptional condition... is it possible that there will be no violations?” asked Sisi.
“There will be violations. But
do we approve them? No,” he
said in an address to police officers and ministers ahead of the
annual Police Day on January 25.
On Police Day in 2011, millions launched protests against
Mubarak, expressing their anger
against the then reviled police
Since Mursi’s ouster, the police have been back on the streets
in full force amid accusations
that Sisi’s regime is even more
authoritarian than that of Mubarak, who quit after an 18-day
Sisi has repeatedly said that
ensuring stability in politically
tumultuous Egypt is a top priority rather than promoting democratic freedoms.
“I am more concerned for human rights than anyone else,”
Demolition victims
Palestinian women stand near the remains of their house after it was demolished by the Israeli army south of the West Bank city of
Hebron yesterday. The owners of the house said they were informed by the army that the demolition was carried out because they did
not have Israeli-issued construction permits.
said Sisi, after awarding families
of police officers killed in security operations.
“But come see millions of
families... the modest Egyptians
who live in regions that need to
be improved. What about their
He called on activists to support government efforts to improve health, education and the
lives of the poor, suggesting protests would hinder such efforts.
Egypt has been trying to repair
an economy prostrated by political upheaval, street protests
and militant violence since the
anti-Mubarak revolt. Cairo has
launched economic reforms to
win back foreign investors since
Sisi became president.
“Nobody is against human
rights... but today Egypt
is in an exceptional
condition... is it possible
that there will be no
Egypt will hold a long-awaited
parliamentary election in two
phases starting in March. Sisi
hopes the vote will deliver stability after years of upheaval.
Critics call the vote a sham given
what they say is Sisi’s clampdown on political freedoms.
Sisi defended an ongoing security operation in the Sinai
Peninsula, where he said 208
militants have been killed by the
security forces in more than a
The president said 955 people
had been arrested in the region,
which borders Israel, but more
than half had been released.
“These figures show that...we
make sure that innocent people
are not killed,” he said, adding
that the situation in Sinai would
take a while to resolve.
Militants have stepped up attacks against security forces in
the peninsula since the ouster of
They say their attacks are in
retaliation to the government
crackdown against Mursi supporters.
Officials say militants have
killed scores of policemen and
soldiers in Sinai and other parts
of the country.
Gaza bomb hits
car of Hamas
security official
Unidentified assailants
blew up the car of a
Hamas security official
in Gaza during the night,
the interior ministry said
yesterday, in a sign of
increasing instability in the
Palestinian territory.
“A home-made bomb
damaged a car belonging
to a military police officer
which was parked in front
of his house in Gaza City,
without causing casualties,”
Gaza interior ministry
spokesman Iyad al-Buzum
said in a statement.
Witnesses said the car
belonged to Helmi Khalaf,
administrative and financial
manager of the Hamas-run
military police.
It was unclear who carried
out the alleged attack.
A series of explosions
in November targeted
officials of Hamas’s rivals
Fatah, which is headed
by Palestinian President
Mahmoud Abbas, but caused
no injuries.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
UN staffer
freed after
C African
Children displaced by Boko Haram attacks in the northeast region of Nigeria, at a camp for internally displaced persons (IDP) in Yola, Adamawa state.
Joint action against
Boko Haram falters
There are huge gaps in the
Nigerian security setup
istrust between Nigeria
and neighbouring Cameroon as well as disagreements over how to deploy
troops against Boko Haram have
stalled efforts to set up a regional
force to combat the Islamist militants.
2,800-strong mission as planned
in November has left the insurgents in control of large swathes
of Nigeria’s north east from
where they launch attacks.
The group, which aims to
carve out an Islamist emirate in
northern Nigeria, carried out a
scorched-earth raid this month
on Baga, a town on the shores of
the Lake Chad that was due to
serve as the headquarters for the
regional force.
The fall of Baga and reports of
the slaughter of up to 2,000 inhabitants underscore the risks of
Nigeria and Cameroon failing to
work together.
Amid mounting international
alarm, Ghana’s president John
Mahama, chairman of the West
Africa regional bloc ECOWAS,
said leaders would press the African Union next week to create a
multinational force.
But countries of the Lake Chad
region are still expected to form
the backbone of any mission. Defence and foreign ministers from
the four nations were meeting in
Niamey yesterday but analysts
do not expect a breakthrough on
For joint military action to
succeed, the countries must bury
their differences and pool troops
and intelligence under a unified
command, experts and diplomats said.
“The principal thing that has
been stopping this multi-national force from coming about
has been the historical distrust
and underlying tensions between
the two key players: Nigeria and
Cameroon,” said Imad Mesdoua,
an analyst with the Londonbased Africa Matters consultancy.
The four nations of the Lake
Chad Basin—Cameroon, Chad,
Niger and Nigeria—agreed to
bring their forces together to
fight Boko Haram in October,
together with a contingent from
Benin, which borders Nigeria to
the west.
But disagreements surfaced
over how to deploy the troops.
Cameroon insisted that, because
Boko Haram was an internal
Nigerian issue, foreign troops
should not be sent into the country, diplomats and military officials said.
Yaounde was also concerned
about allowing Nigeria’s army to
chase Boko Haram into its territory because of its soldiers’ poor
human rights record, another
diplomat said.
Nigeria says Cameroon has
been too passive in the fight
against the insurgents and allowed Boko Haram to use its territory as a rear base and supply
That appears to have changed,
with Cameroon’s elite Rapid Intervention Brigade clashing with
the insurgents almost daily.
Ghana’s president Mahama
says the growing threat is forcing
Lake Chad countries towards cooperation.
“Mistrust is one of the obstacles but I think that with the clear
and present danger most countries face if something was not
done about Boko Haram, we have
reached the point where they are
willing to work together,” he said.
However, neighbouring countries blame Nigeria’s military
shortcomings. In October, it
was agreed that regional troops
in Baga would play a defensive
role at the border while Nigerian
forces would attack Boko Haram
within its territory.
But Niamey pulled its troops
from Baga after the Nigerian
army lost town after town to
Boko Haram and its soldiers fled
into Niger.
“Even early on, it became apparent that the Nigerian troops
were somewhat avoiding battles
and were not vigorously taking
on Boko Haram offensives,” a
senior military officer in Niamey
said. “Chad and Niger decided to
withdraw their troops from Baga,
unwilling to serve as cannon fodder.”
Nigerian defence ministry
spokesman general Chris Olukolade, taking questions on
Twitter, denied the military
leadership was “corrupt and incompetent” and said the armed
forces were “highly patriotic and
Following a lull in attacks between late October and early
November, Nigeria announced a
surprise ceasefire with the group,
brokered by Chad. However, it
was rejected by Boko Haram,
which stepped up its attacks.
Ahead of Nigeria’s February 14
presidential election, the army
has been on the back foot rather
than preparing counter offensives, Mesdoua said.
This has allowed Boko Haram
to stage attacks with increased
fire power in Cameroon, angering
officials in Yaounde who accuse
Nigeria of abandoning the fight.
“We’re getting fed up with
the situation. Nigeria has to take
its responsibilities,” Cameroon
army spokesman colonel Didier
Badjeck said. “We cannot continue to support the weight of a
war which we don’t even know
the whys and wherefores.”
Badjeck said Nigerian forces
were abandoning combat and
leaving behind weapons later
used by the militants to attack
across the border.
Nigeria has ordered a brigadier
general and 21 other army officers
to face a court martial over alleged sabotage in the war against
Islamist militant group Boko
Haram, two military sources said
The charges were not specified.
One source said the case
opened on Monday at the Ikeja
Military Cantonment in Lagos
and would last over a week.
Elements of the Nigerian military have long been suspected of
colluding with Boko Haram.
In a separate, unrelated move,
the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The
Hague said she was looking into
alleged mass-killings by Boko
Haram, and promised to charge
those responsible for any atrocities.
Nigerian President Goodluck
Jonathan said last May the Sunni
jihadist group had “infiltrated ...
the armed forces and police” and
this is the first time that senior
army officers have been put on
trial for offences relating to Boko
Besides the brigadier general,
14 colonels, a major, a second
lieutenant and five captains were
“The officers are being prosecuted for offences they committed during the ongoing war
against Boko Haram insurgents
in the northeast of the country,”
a military source said.
In December last year, 54 soldiers were sentenced to death
following a secret trial for conspiracy to commit mutiny. The
army said the soldiers disobeyed
a direct order while facing insurgents in the northeast.
Twelve soldiers were also
sentenced to death for mutiny
in September last year after the
military said they attempted to
kill their commanding officer.
ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said the attack on Baga, as well
as recent suicide attacks, were a
“disturbing escalation”.
“The intentional targeting of
civilians, affecting thousands
of women, children and men,
cannot be tolerated,” she said in
a statement. “Nobody should
doubt my resolve, if need be, to
prosecute those individuals most
Police and protesters face off in
DR Congo over election law
undreds of youths confronted police in the
capital of the Democratic
Republic of Congo yesterday after deadly protests over a draft
law that would enable president
Joseph Kabila to extend his stay
in power.
Opposition parties have called
for mass demonstrations against
the new electoral bill being debated in the senate.
But in an apparent attempt to
keep a lid on the protests, authorities have shut down the Internet in the capital Kinshasa.
The unrest is the latest upheaval to rock the troubled central African county, which has
been plagued by multiple wars
and weakened by ineffectual governance for decades.
Four people were killed Monday, according to the authorities,
when security forces forcibly dis-
Joseph Kabila
persed thousands of protesters in
Kinshasa, a sprawling tropical
city of some 9mn people.
The opposition is demanding that Kabila—who has been in
power for 14 years—quit when his
mandate expires in 2016.
About 350 youths massed
again on Tuesday in the central
district of Lemba, where security
forces put out fires set with blazing tyres, and about 30 riot police
were trying to restore order, an
AFP journalist said.
Police have cordoned off a
broad perimeter around parliament, known as the Palace of
the People, to stop protesters
interrupting the Senate session,
which began studying the controversial bill already passed by
the lower house on Saturday.
The three main opposition
parties jointly called on Kinshasa
residents to “massively to occupy” the premises and stall the
Government spokesman Lambert Mende said two policemen
who died on Monday were killed
by bullets, saying the other two
killed were “looters”.
Witnesses said police had
fired live ammunition to disperse
At least 10 people were admitted to hospital with gunshot
wounds, medical staff reported,
while the opposition and diplomatic sources said the casualty
figures were most likely higher
than the official toll.
A day after the bloodshed,
mobile phone operators said they
had been told to shut down the
“The National Intelligence
Agency gave us the order to block
the Internet in Kinshasa until
further notice,” the manager of
one service provider told AFP.
Many African presidents have
tried, and often succeeded, to
stay in power by reforming their
countries’ constitutions to get rid
of limits on presidential terms.
Kabila, now 43, first came to
power in January 2001 when
Kinshasa politicians rushed to
make the young soldier head of
state after the assassination of
his father, president LaurentDesire Kabila.
In 2006, Kabila was returned
to office in the DRC’s first free
elections since independence
from Belgium in 1960, then he
began his second and last fiveyear constitutional term after a
hotly disputed vote in 2011.
His opponents believe that
Kabila wants to prolong his mandate by making the presidential and parliamentary elections
contingent on a new electoral
roll, after a census across the vast
mineral-rich country set to begin
this year.
The government has acknowledged that the census could delay
elections due at the end of 2016,
but regional analysts and diplomats estimate the process could
take up to three years.
France voiced concern over the
“recurring trouble” accompanying the debate of the election law.
Foreign ministry spokesman
Romain Nadal said Paris was
urging all parties to negotiate on
the proposed reforms “in a consensual fashion, respecting the
Democratic Republic of Congo’s
constitution and civil liberties”.
Last year, Burkina Faso’s
president Blaise Compaore was
chased from power when he tried
to change the constitution to extend his mandate.
rmed men from the
mainly Christian antibalaka militia released
a UN employee in the Central
African Republic after holding
her briefly yesterday, a military spokesman said.
“We have obtained the release of the employee with
MINUSCA (the UN peacekeeping mission) and have
handed her over,” Igor Lamaka
told AFP. A Western source
confirmed the release.
In New York, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the
woman taken hostage “is either
back in the hands of the UN or
on the way back”, adding: “We
are obviously very pleased.”
Yesterday, gunmen captured the MINUSCA employee
from a van driving UN staffers
to work in the capital Bangui not far from the airport, a
mission source said earlier.
The woman was said to be
an expatriate, but her nationality was not immediately
clear. A Ugandan colleague
who was with her at the time
managed to escape.
On Monday, a 67-year-old
French woman and a local
man were kidnapped in central Bangui. All three abductions are being blamed on
anti-balaka militia, who were
angered at the arrest of one
of their leaders by UN peacekeepers on Saturday.
Rodrigue Nagibona, alias
General Andjilo, was accused
of masterminding a massacre
of some 300 minority Muslims in December 2013, and
had been on the run for several
months before being detained
in the country’s northwest.
The anti-balaka militias
protested his arrest on Sunday and Monday in their BoyRabe stronghold in the northeast of the city.
Several witnesses reported
kidnapping attempts and robberies in the neighbourhood,
and UN MINUSCA soldiers
increased the number of foot
patrols in the area.
The archbishop of Bangui,
Dieudonne Nzapalainga, is
negotiating with the kidnappers to secure the release of
the captives.
Violence between rival factions has plunged the country
into an unprecedented political and security crisis. The
conflict began in 2013 and has
claimed thousands of lives.
The anti-balaka are mainly
Christian militias formed to
fight off relentless attacks
from mostly Muslim rebels of
the Seleka coalition. The Seleka seized power in March 2013
but were routed from Bangui
in January last year.
Both groups have been
accused of serious abuses
against civilians.
Anti-balaka means “antimachete” in the local Sango
language and refers to the
weapon of choice wielded by
the Seleka—but also taken up
by the vigilantes.
Three international forces—France’s Sangaris operation, the UN’s MINUSCA
mission and the European
helping maintain peace.
“There is a coordination
problem between the different forces on the ground. The
main routes have not been
sealed off yet, but we hope to
do that during the day. For the
moment, it’s best to stay at
home,” said a security source
on condition of anonymity.
Yesterday the anti-balaka
also refused to enter into
peace negotiations as a another manner of protesting
Nagibona’s arrest.
“A very influential individual of the anti-balaka has
been arrested arbitrarily. This
perverse decision forces us to
rethink our stance,” the group
said in a statement.
Fraud claims as
Zambians vote
ne of the frontrunners
in Zambia’s presidential election cried
fraud just hours after polling
stations opened yesterday in
a tight race to replace Michael
Sata, who died in office last
Hakainde Hichilema, 52, of
the United Party for National
Development (UPND), said
some remote parts of the
country had still not received
ballot papers halfway through
election day.
“Why are there no ballot
papers in our strongholds,
someone is scheming around.
It’s fraud,” Hakainde told reporters after casting his ballot
in Lusaka.
Hichilema is seen as the
main challenger to defence
minister Edgar Lungu, 58, who
represents the ruling Patriotic
Front (PF).
The Electoral Commission of Zambia blamed the
late delivery of ballot papers
on heavy rains pounding the
“We have no control over
the weather and it is far from
our desire that we should
have... late delivery of personnel and ballots which would
result in late commencement
of the polls,” commission director Priscilla Isaacs said.
She said that due to flooded
roads, voting material and personnel were being airlifted via
military helicopter—though
the weather was grounding
some of those flights.
The first counts were expected to begin trickling in
just before midnight (2200
GMT) while the final results
were to be released late Friday.
The interim vote was triggered after Sata died in October last year from an undisclosed illness.
At stake is the remaining
year and a half of his fiveyear term in the copper-rich
southern African nation.
Despite scheduled elections
also due next year, Zambians
braved rains and chilly temperatures in long queues to
cast their vote.
The rivals—Lungu the lawyer and Hichilema the businessman, known as HH—both
drew huge crowds at lastminute rallies. But in the absence of reliable opinion polls,
analysts hedged their bets.
“It’s a two-horse race,” said
Oliver Saasa, CEO of Premier
Consult, a business and economic consultancy firm. “It’s
quite clear this is a very closely
run race.”
In Lusaka’s working class
suburb of Kanyama, excited
voters applauded and ululated when a presiding officer
declared the crowded polling
station open.
“My vote is going to make a
difference, we are going to remove this...(PF) family,” said
55-year old vegetable vendor
Matron Siyasiya. “They can
claim all the good work, but
God’s favour is on my candidate, and that is HH.”
Grace Nyirongo, who runs
a takeaway food business,
said she was satisfied with the
government and echoed the
ruling PF’s campaign slogan
of continuity.
“We want the government
to continue with the projects
started by Sata. Frankly there’s
no need to start afresh,” said
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Justices rule for Muslim inmate over prison beard ban
n Arkansas policy prohibiting inmates from
having beards violated
the religious rights of a prisoner
who had wanted to grow one in
accordance with his Muslim beliefs, a unanimous US Supreme
Court ruled yesterday.
The justices, on a 9-0 vote in
a closely watched case involving
prisoner Gregory Holt, rejected
the state’s reasoning that the
policy was needed for security
reasons to prevent inmates from
concealing contraband.
Holt, who wanted to grow a
half-inch beard (1.3cm), is serving a life sentence for burglary
and domestic battery at the Varner Supermax prison, according
to the Arkansas Department of
Correction. In 2005, he pleaded
guilty to separate charges of
threatening the daughters of
then-President George W Bush.
Holt, without any legal representation at the time, persuaded
the court to hear his case by filing a handwritten petition.
Justice Samuel Alito, writing
on behalf of the court, said the
state already searches clothing and hair and had not given a
valid reason why it could not also
search beards.
Alito wrote that the prison’s
“interest in eliminating contraband cannot sustain its refusal to
allow petitioner to grow a halfinch beard.”
Holt said the state’s prison
grooming policy prohibiting inmates from having facial hair other than a “neatly trimmed moustache” violated his religious rights
under a 2000 federal law called
the Religious Land Use and Institutionalised Persons Act.
His lawyers noted that more
than 40 states and the federal
government allow prison inmates to have similar beards.
Eric Rassbach, a lawyer for the
Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a religious rights legal group
that helped represent Holt,
called the ruling “a huge win for
religious freedom.”
“What the Supreme Court said
today was that government officials cannot impose arbitrary restrictions on religious liberty just
because they think government
knows best,” Rassbach added.
Eighteen states had backed
Arkansas, saying the court
should defer to the judgment of
prison officials.
Judd Deere, spokesman for
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, said: “We are disappointed that the US Supreme
Court reversed the decisions of
the two lower federal courts that
reviewed the Arkansas Department of Correction’s grooming
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
wrote a pointed concurring opinion that recalled the court’s bit-
terly divided 2014 decision allowing for-profit companies to deny
employees contraceptive insurance coverage based on company
owners’ religious beliefs.
“Unlike the exemption this
court approved in Burwell v.
Hobby Lobby Stores,” Ginsburg
said, joined by Justice Sonia
(Holt’s) religious belief in this
case would not detrimentally affect others who do not share (his)
Six missing as
fire destroys
waterfront mansion in
Maryland was completely destroyed by fire and
investigators said yesterday
they were unable to account
for six family members who
lived in the house.
Firefighters were trying
to get inside the burned out
frame of the large-scale home
owned by a cybersecurity industry executive to determine
whether the missing family
members - two adults and four
children - were inside. The
operation was complicated by
concern over the stability of
the structure, the Anne Arundel County Fire Department
said in a news release.
A team of investigators with
the federal Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) joined the search
on Tuesday, news reports said.
They were called in because of
the size of the home and scope
of the damage, officials said.
The property was a “complete loss,” according to an
ATF spokesman. The cause of
the fire is under investigation.
Authorities told reporters at
a news conference yesterday
morning that officials were
engaged in an “active criminal
investigation,” but they said
they had no reason to believe
that it was a suspicious fire.
The fire broke out in the middle of the night Monday at the
home - built to look like a castle
- located near the port city of Annapolis, the county fire department said. Investigators initially
believed the family was away, but
they have not been able to reach
them by mobile phone.
Property records indicate
the home’s value was more
than $6.6mn, according to the
Washington Post.
The owners are listed as cybersecurity executive Donald
Pyle and his wife, Sandra. Don
Pyle is chief operating officer
at ScienceLogic.
Probe into deadly
bridge collapse
S occupational safety authorities have
opened an investigation into the collapse of a
bridge over a busy highway in
Ohio that killed a construction
worker, a spokesman for the
authority said yesterday.
An investigator with the Occupational Safety and Health
Administration (OSHA) is at
the site where the bridge collapsed on to Interstate 75 in
Cincinnati, Ohio, said Scott
Allen, a spokesman for OSHA.
“We are going to be talking
with employees of the company and potential witnesses
and trying to determine what
caused the collapse,” Allen
The southbound lanes of
the highway, a major north-
south interstate that runs from
Michigan to Florida, were
closed indefinitely, the city
said on Twitter.
The bridge collapsed happened about 10:30pm on
Monday (0330 GMT yesterday) as a crew prepared
it for demolition, according
to the city on Twitter. The
city’s emergency services
described it as a “pancake
The construction worker
who died was pinned under a
piece of construction equipment that was moving concrete when the bridge gave
way, Cincinnati Police Captain Doug Wiesman told the
Cincinnati Enquirer.
A tractor-trailer rig crashed
into the rubble immediately
after it fell onto the highway,
authorities said. The driver
was treated in hospital for minor injuries.
A courtroom sketch showing accused murderer James Holmes sitting with Arapahoe County Public
Defender Tamara Brady at the Arapahoe District Courthouse in Centennial, Colorado, yesterday. Holmes is
on trial for murder, attempted murder and other offences in connection with the 20 July 2012 shooting at
the Aurora Century 16 movie theater, which left 12 people dead and 58 wounded.
James Holmes: stunned observers by appearing in court initially with
flaming orange hair.
Cinema gunman in court
as jury selection starts
James Holmes appeared in
court yesterday at the start of
his trial for the 2012 Colorado
cinema killings
he troubled gunman accused of killing 12 cinema-goers at a 2012
premiere of a Batman movie
appeared in court yesterday, as
his long-awaited trial finally got
under way with jury selection.
Looking markedly different from previous appearances,
James Holmes sported a neatlytrimmed beard, dark brown hair
and dark-rimmed glasses as he
sat listening to proceedings in
the court in Centennial, Colorado.
The 27-year-old, wearing
khaki trousers, a blue stripped
shirt and navy blue jacket, has
pleaded not guilty by reason of
insanity but could face the death
penalty if convicted.
He has been in custody since
the night of the mass murder on
July 20, 2012 in Aurora and faces
166 counts of aggravated murder, attempted murder and possession of explosives.
Car wash workers file suit
The trial began with jury selection - likely to last a few
months - to pick 24 jurors and
stand-ins from a selection pool
of over 9,000 Denver-area residents, whittled down to 7,000 by
After some 130-150 possible
jurors on the first day, 500 or so
are expected to be processed per
day from today, until around 150
acceptable jurors are found for
individual questioning.
The jurors will have to fill out
an 18-page questionnaire. The
initial phase is expected to last
3-4 weeks, followed by group
and then individual questioning.
crowded theatre showing The
Dark Knight Rises.
Holmes stunned observers by
appearing in court initially with
flaming orange hair similar to
the Batman character the Joker.
Later, he wore jail scrubs with
brown hair and a heavy beard.
The primary issue at trial will
be whether Holmes was sane at
the time of the massacre.
He has undergone two separate psychiatric examinations
since his arrest and much of the
trial is expected to be devoted to
psychiatric testimony.
“The reality is a successful
insanity defence is a rare bird
indeed,” said Scott Robinson, a
Doctor critically injured in Boston hospital shooting
A doctor was critically injured
when a man opened fire
yesterday at a hospital in
Boston, police in the US city
said, adding the suspected
shooter then killed himself.
The incident occurred
shortly before noon at
Brigham and Women’s
Hospital, where the
situation was now “under
control,” Boston police
chief William Evans said at a
press conference.
Police received several 911 calls
starting around 11:00am (1600
GMT) reporting shots fired
at the prestigious hospital’s
cardiovascular center, across
from the main entrance.
“By 11:07, we received another
call of a doctor being shot and
people barricaded themselves
inside offices,” Evans said.
The doctor injuries are “lifethreatening,” he added.
When police arrived on the
scene, “they found who we
believe to be the suspect inside
the examining room, with what
appears at this time clearly a
self-inflicted gunshot” wound,
Evans said.
“Beside him there was what we
believe to be the weapon used
in this tragedy.”
Denver attorney who has closely
followed the proceedings.
The high-profile trial could
run through September or October in the event of a guilty
verdict. Colorado law requires
a two-phase trial, the first assessing guilt or innocence; the
second focusing on punishment.
“It’s dragged on this long because the prosecutor is seeking
the death penalty,” said Denver
defence attorney David Lane.
Holmes’ parents Robert and
Arlene in December wrote a letter to The Denver Post saying
their son had never harmed anyone prior to the July 2012 shootings.
“We have read postings on the
Internet that have likened him to
a monster. He is not a monster.
He is a human being gripped
by a severe mental illness,” the
couple wrote, in their only comments on the case thus far.
If found not guilty by reason
of insanity, Holmes will be confined to a state mental hospital.
To win release, he would have
to be found free of mental illness
and no longer a danger to himself
or others. Both Lane and Robinson said that is unlikely because
no psychiatrist would be willing
to sign off on releasing Holmes.
‘Canadian psycho’ Magnotta
appeals murder conviction
Workers from the Vegas Auto Spa stand on a picket line in front of the Brooklyn car wash
yesterday in New York City. Eight workers from the popular car wash have filed a federal lawsuit
against their employer and have been on strike for two months over issues of pay, hours, safe
working conditions and the right to join a union. The suit alleges that they were paid less than
minimum wage and it demands $600,000 in overtime and other back wages. The car wash
industry has a long history with issues of worker exploitation in America.
Witnesses said Holmes threw
smoke bomb-type devices before opening fire inside the
Century theater with weapons
including a military-style rifle, a shotgun and a .40-caliber
pistol. Seventy people were also
His one-bedroom apartment
was later found to be boobytrapped with an array of homemade explosive devices which
police had to disarm before entering.
In preliminary hearings prosecutors said Holmes, a neuroscience graduate student, had
in his possession sufficient ammunition to kill everyone in the
anadian Psycho” Luka
Rocco Magnotta will appeal his conviction and
life sentence for murdering a
Chinese student then sexually
abusing and dismembering his
corpse, according to court papers obtained on Monday.
The 32-year-old initially admitted killing Lin Jun in May
2012 but then pleaded not guilty
at trial in one of the most sensational homicide cases in the annals of Canadian justice.
A jury delivered its unanimous
decision on December 23 after
eight days of deliberation, the
culmination of a three-month
trial in which Magnotta’s mental
health was questioned.
Magnotta’s notice of appeal
to the court states the verdict is
“unreasonable and unsupported
by the evidence,” and accuses
the judge of erring in his instructions to the jury.
His lawyers are seeking a retrial.
During the trial, defence lawyers said Magnotta was “insane”
and required psychiatric treatment, not jail.
But prosecutors argued that it
was all an act and that the killing
was planned at least six months
in advance, and rehearsed days
prior to Lin’s grisly death.
“He wanted to be famous or
infamous,” Crown lawyer Louis
Bouthillier told the court.
After killing Lin, Magnotta
posted a video of the heinous act
Days later, Montreal police
discovered the victim’s torso in
a suitcase by the trash outside an
apartment building along a busy
Lin’s severed hands and feet
New Yorker gets 15 years for aiding Qaeda
A New York man was
sentenced to 15 years in jail
yesterday for funnelling
$67,000 to Al Qaeda and
helping to scout out the city’s
Stock Exchange for attack.
US Judge Kimba Wood jailed
39-year-old Wesam el-Hanafi
after he admitted two counts
of supporting the terror
network from 2007 to late
were sent in the mail to federal
political parties in Ottawa and to
two elementary schools in Vancouver. The head was found in a
Montreal park months later.
Magnotta fled Canada but
was arrested in Germany in June
2012, following an international
manhunt, and extradited. He
was arrested in a Berlin Internet
cafe, after stops in France and
elsewhere in Germany.
Born Eric Clinton Newman, the one-time porn actor
changed his name to Magnotta
in 2006 after years of using aliases such as Vladimir Romanov,
or Angel.
The media dubbed him the
“Canadian Psycho” after it was
discovered that the soundtrack
from the movie American Psycho was playing in the background of the video of the murder that was posted online.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
City life may
not be a key
asthma risk
he simple fact of growing
up in a big city may not be
a major factor in whether a
child develops asthma, according
to a new study that contradicts
decades of public health assumptions about the so-called inner
city asthma epidemic.
Instead, researchers at Johns
Hopkins University in Baltimore
found that being poor, black or
Puerto Rican are the most important factors that determine a
child’s asthma risk.
“Our results highlight the
changing face of paediatric
asthma and suggest that living
in an urban area is, by itself, not
a risk factor for asthma,” said Dr.
Corinne Keet, a pediatric allergy
and asthma specialist at Johns
Hopkins, whose study was published yesterday in the Journal of
Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
Although prior studies have
looked at asthma rates within
specific cities, no study has compared asthma rates in inner city
areas across the US, or looked at
how asthma compares in other
types of communities, Keet said.
To arrive at that, the researchers used national survey data on
more than 23,000 children aged
6 to 17 between 2009-2011. The
team looked at rates of asthma
based on population figures as
well as factors such as income,
race and ethnicity.
After adjusting for those factors,
they found no statistically significant difference in the rates of asthma between inner-city children
and those who lived elsewhere.
Instead, they found Black or
Puerto Rican children had far
higher asthma rates, at 17 and
20%, respectively, compared with
white children (10%), other Hispanic children (9%) and Asian
children (8%).
Although the study did not look
at why, the researchers did note
that other studies suggest potential genetic and biologic causes for
these racial and ethnic differences.
Atop tour bus
Tourists pass by the Washington Monument atop a Big Bus double-decker tour bus in this file photo. International tourists to the US
spend more than $200bn annually on travel, hotels, dining and shopping, but growth in 2015 is expected to decelerate as would-be
visitors balk at the stronger dollar and grapple with weaker economies at home.
English spelling needs overhaul to help learning: experts
By Dawn Rhodes/Chicago
oday Sam will plow
through the city’s rough
boroughs in search of artisanal cookie dough, even though
he ought to stay home to nurse his
What’s wrong with that picture? Seven words containing
“ough,” different pronunciations. Oo, uhff, oh, oh, oh, aww,
aww. Isn’t English fun?
A group of experts in the United
Kingdom and US believes the illogical spelling in the English language is more than just annoying
for those who have to memorise
the rules. They propose an International English Spelling Congress to implement a spelling system that makes more sense.
“In some languages like Finnish, Spanish and Italian, there is
a strong correlation between the
written and spoken word,” said
Stephen Linstead, head of the
English Spelling Society. “English is on the entirely other side
of the spectrum.”
Linstead said UK and US English have a one-two punch of incongruity: Words with the same
letter groupings are pronounced
differently and the same sound
can be spelled differently, depending on the word. Linguistic
experts from around the world
would propose a list of new spellings to correct problematic word
groups - see: “ough” - and the
congress would select an alter-
native spelling system. The effort
is not simply to iron out kinks in
the language. Linstead said university studies in the UK have
concluded that English-speaking
children take significantly longer
to learn basic literacy skills than
children in other European countries. He said part of the problem
lies in the spelling.
“One of the members said one
of the reasons he joined us was
because of the frustrations he
felt teaching his children to read
by using phonics,” Linstead said.
“Any time he taught them a rule,
there would be all sorts of exceptions.”
The American Literacy Council also is involved in the endeavor. Linstead acknowledged that
to make any widespread changes
would be a monumental task.
Portugal recently implemented
sweeping changes to switch all
Portuguese-language use in several countries over to the Brazilian system of orthography, which
is more phonetic. That decision,
while in the works for years, has
been widely criticised, according
to various news reports.
There have been similar movements throughout American history.
Col. Robert McCormick, longtime publisher of the Chicago
Tribune, was a major advocate
for simplified spelling, and his
newspaper for a time used “fantom” instead of “phantom” and
“frate” instead of “freight.”
And in the early 20th century,
the Simplified Spelling Board
published a list of 300 words
with more intuitive spellings:
“color” instead of “colour,” “fixt”
for “fixed.” President Theodore
Roosevelt endorsed the changes,
but his executive order was overturned by Congress.
Linstead said the spelling
congress is more of a grassroots
initiative and changes may take
hold more easily if society is able
to decide what to adopt.
“We’re trying to point to this
new research rather than take a
top-down approach,” Linstead
said. – Tribune News Service
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
MPs back direct elections in boost for Widodo
backed direct elections for
local leaders yesterday, reversing an earlier decision to
scrap a key reform of the democratic era and giving a boost to
President Joko Widodo.
The previous parliament voted in its dying days in September to end the system of mayors,
provincial governors and district
heads being chosen by the public
in the world’s third-biggest democracy.
Instead, local parliaments
were given the power to pick
them — a move widely criticised
as an attack on the process of democratisation started after the
downfall of long-serving dictator Suharto in 1998.
It was also a blow to Widodo,
who backed local polls, just
weeks after he was elected Indonesia’s president from outside
the political and military elites,
and was seen as revenge by opponents still hurting from defeat
in the vote.
Supporters of scrapping the
elections argued that the hundreds of polls held every few years
are enormously costly and in reality only allow the wealthy to win
office. Following the vote, outgoing president Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono, who was criticised
for allowing the bill to pass, issued
a decree to reverse the decision.
That decree only stayed in force
for several months. But yesterday,
lawmakers in the lower house voted to make it a permanent law and
maintain direct elections.
Home affairs minister Tjahjo
Kumolo said the decision was
AirAsia ‘aircraft climbed
fast and then stalled’
Government proposes
changes to aviation rules
meteorological agency has said bad weather
may have caused the crash, and
investigators are analysing the
data from the jet’s black boxes
before releasing a preliminary
Just moments before the plane
disappeared off the radar, the pilot had asked to climb to avoid
File photo shows Indonesian search and rescue personnel pull wreckage of AirAsia flight QZ8501 onto the Crest Onyx ship at sea.
the storm. He was not immediately granted permission due to
heavy air traffic.
“In the final minutes, the
plane climbed at a speed which
was beyond normal,” Transport
Minister Ignasius Jonan told reporters, citing radar data.
“The plane suddenly went up
at a speed above the normal limit
that it was able to climb to. Then
it stalled.”
Earlier at a parliamentary
hearing, he said radar data
showed the Airbus A320-200
appeared at one point to be
climbing at a rate of 6,000 feet
a minute before the crash. There
were several other planes in the
area at the time.
“I think it is rare even for a
fighter jet to be able to climb
6,000 feet per minute,” he said.
“For a commercial flight, climbing around 1,000 to 2,000 is
maybe already considered extraordinary, because it is not
meant to climb that fast.”
However, defence aviation
experts said the minister’s statement was incorrect, adding that
a fighter jet flying at an altitude
of 10,000 metres is capable of
climbing 10,000 feet per minute.
The minister’s comments
came after Indonesian investigators said they were focusing
on the possibility of human error
or problems with the plane having caused the crash, following
an initial analysis of the cockpit
voice recorder.
“We didn’t hear any other
person, no explosion,” investigator Nurcahyo Utomo told reporters, explaining why terrorism had been ruled out.
Investigators from the National Transportation Safety
Committee were now looking at
the “possibility of plane dam-
age and human factors”, he said,
without giving further details.
As well as the cockpit voice recorder, the committee is also examining a wealth of information
in the flight data recorder, which
monitors every major part of the
plane. A preliminary report will
be released on January 28.
There was a huge international hunt for the crashed plane,
involving ships from several
countries including the US and
Indonesian search and rescue
teams have so far recovered just
53 bodies from the sea.
coalition that opposed Widodo at
the election is falling apart, despite still having more lawmakers
in parliament.
“It shows the ruling coalition
has the upper hand,” said Tobias
Basuki, a political analyst from Jakarta-based think-tank the Centre for Strategic and International
Thai anti-graft
body charges
over rice deal
n AirAsia plane that
crashed into the Java Sea
last month with 162 people on board climbed faster than
normal and then stalled, the Indonesian transport minister said
Flight QZ8501 went down on
December 28 in stormy weather,
during what was supposed to be
a short trip from the Indonesian
city of Surabaya to Singapore.
Indonesia’s transport minister proposed a number of changes to improve aviation safety standards at
a parliamentary hearing yesterday,
just over three weeks after an AirAsia passenger jet crashed killing
all 162 people on board. Ignasius
Jonan also told the hearing that,
according to radar data, the plane
had ascended faster than normal
in its final minutes, after which it
stalled. He said that a number of
new rules regarding permits and
safety, including health checks for
flight crews and air traffic controllers, have been implemented since
the crash. “It is a habit among
airlines that they sometimes sell
tickets before they have obtained
a route permit,” Jonan said. “Now
route permits must be obtained
four months before the flight and
airlines will not be allowed to sell
tickets before that.”
aimed at “upholding sovereignty
and the democratic spirit of the
Analysts said that the decision
was a boost for Widodo, who was
elected in July and took office in
October, and was a sign his coalition would be able to get muchneeded reforms through parliament. It was also seen as a sign the
former commerce minister and 20 state officials and employees of
private firms will be charged
for alleged graft related to rice
export deals with two Chinese
firms, Thailand’s anti-corruption commission said yesterday.
Boonsong Teriyapirom, a
former commerce minister,
and his deputy in the government of ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, are
accused of falsifying government-to-government
deals between Thailand and
China in 2013.
The Thai government said
at the time it had sold 1.2mn
tonnes of rice from its stockpiles to China to reduce stocks.
“The accused colluded to
violate criminal law. The deal
never happened. There was no
deal,” said Wicha Mahakun, a
member of Thailand’s National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC).
“The NACC has resolved to
charge former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyapirom
and Poom Sarapol, former
deputy commerce minister, a
total of 21 ministers and private sector employees,” Wicha
The decision comes as Thailand’s legislature prepares to
vote this week in a case against
Yingluck over her role in a rice
buying scheme that lost the
state $15bn, according to the
latest finance ministry estimates.
Yingluck faces a separate criminal case over the
scheme. Public prosecutors
and the NACC said yesterday
they would forward the case
against her to the Supreme
Court’s Criminal Division for
Political Office Holders for
NACC member Wicha
said the government-togovernment deal announced
by Boonsong and Pool had
caused “huge losses” and
that this case would also be
forwarded to the Supreme
Court’s Criminal Division for
Political Office Holders.
The NACC said the rice was
sold locally and not exported,
as claimed by the then-government. It said it was sold
to China-based Guandong
Stationery & Sporting Goods
Imp. & Exp. Corp and Hainan Grain and Oil Industrial
Trading Company, who in
turn sold it back to Thailand’s
Siam Indica, a rice trading
company. None of the companies could immediately be
reached for comment.
The two Chinese firms
were in no way acting on behalf of the Chinese government, the NACC said in its
Wicha did not give any indication of the price of the
rice deals, nor how much
money was lost, but said the
NACC would ask the commerce ministry to investigate
the alleged losses.
Yingluck’s government built
up huge stockpiles under the
rice buying scheme, in which it
bought the grain from farmers
at prices way above the market
level, making exports uncompetitive.
Opponents of the scheme,
which ended in February 2014,
say it was riddled with corruption and led to smuggling of
rice from neighbouring countries to take advantage of the
prices on offer.
Firebrand monk
defends slur
against UN envoy
Myanmar’s most high profile radical
nationalist monk yesterday defended calling a UN rights envoy a
“whore” over her objections to controversial draft bills seen as discriminatory to women and minorities.
After joining hundreds of monks
rallying against UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar Yanghee Lee
Friday, firebrand cleric Wirathu told
supporters that the human rights
expert was a “whore in our country”
in a fiery speech shared widely on
social media. The monk, who has
been accused of fanning religious
tensions in Myanmar, said that he
stood by his comments. “That was
the harshest word (I could think of),
so I used it. If I could find a harsher
word, I would have used it. It is
nothing compared to what she did
to our country,” said the monk, who
has accused the UN of trying to
“interfere” in the nation’s affairs. His
speech generated a flurry of comments on social media, with many
people expressing shock at his
language. “It’s very shameful,” said
one Facebook user, while another
blamed Myanmar’s government for
allowing the controversial monk to
carry on his activities unchallenged.
Wirathu declined to respond in
detail to the criticism, only saying
that it was “their right” to comment. In his boisterous address to
supporters on Friday, the monk had
slammed Lee over her criticism of a
set of religious “protection” bills that
have been championed by hardline
clerics. Lee said the draft legislation
-- including curbs on interfaith marriage, religious conversion and birth
rates -- would be a further sign that
Myanmar was “backtracking” in its
democratic reforms.
Vietnam sentences eight
drug traffickers to death
Vietnamese court has
sentenced eight members of a smuggling gang
to death for trafficking heroin
and five others to life in prison,
state media said yesterday
The court in the northern
province of Hoa Binh also jailed
17 other defendants — all Vietnamese members of the same
gang — to between six and 20
years in prison after a twoweek trial that ended Monday,
the state-run Tuoi Tre newspaper said.
The ring had smuggled
more than 200 kilograms (440
pounds) of heroin into Vietnam
before their arrest in 2011, the
report said, without specifying
where the heroin was sourced
or how long the group had operated.
Communist Vietnam has
some of the world’s toughest
anti-drug laws. Anyone found
guilty of possessing more than
600 grams (21 ounces) of heroin, or more than 20 kilograms
of opium, can face the death
penalty. Convictions and sentences are usually revealed only
by local media, which is strictly
under state control.
The Vietnamese rulings
come after Indonesia’s execution of foreign drug offenders
on Sunday triggered international condemnation.
Brazil and the Netherlands
recalled their ambassadors after Jakarta put to death two of
their citizens along with four
other drug offenders from Vietnam, Malawi, Nigeria and
Communist Vietnam
has some of the world’s
toughest anti-drug laws
Vietnamese state media reported that Hanoi had requested clemency for the executed
citizen, but the official reaction
was unclear.
spokeswoman for the UN human rights agency, said she was
concerned by the recent spate
of death penalty sentences for
drug convictions in South East
“We call on Vietnam not to
carry out these executions, to
ensure judicial review of the
sentences, and to consider
elimination of the death penalty for drug-related crimes,”
she added.
In January 2014 authorities in Vietnam sentenced 30
drug smugglers to death in the
country’s largest-ever narcotics case, involving scores of defendants and nearly two tonnes
of heroin. Vietnam has also
sentenced dozens of foreigners to death for drug offences,
but it has been decades since a
foreign national was executed
in the country.
Myanmar students renew
illegal education protest
ozens of Myanmar students began a protest
march in Mandalay
yesterday, vowing to intensify
demonstrations against a new
education bill they see as undemocratic after the government failed to meet their demands.
The rally — which has no permission from the authorities
and will see students march on
the commercial hub Yangon —
is the latest protest over an education law that detractors say
will curb academic freedom.
Young campaigners launched
their noisy unauthorised parade in Mandalay, Myanmar’s
second largest city, calling for
education reforms, in a renewed
challenge to the government’s
legislative plans after previous
demonstrations in November
were halted to allow talks.
But student leaders said they
had been forced to restart protests because the government
had yet to meet their demands.
“We gave the government 60
days. But they did not try to have
any discussion. We told them
we would have strong protest
if they didn’t (talk). We feel the
government has made us choose
this response,” student activist
Dozens of Myanmar students began an unauthorised protest march in Mandalay yesterday, vowing to
restart their campaign against an education bill they see as undemocratic.
Min Thwe Thit said. The protest will see students march in a
meandering route from Mandalay to the commercial hub Yangon some 580km away, stopping
at provincial universities on the
Unauthorised protests are an
arrestable offence in the former
junta-run nation.
“We are not afraid of a crackdown,” said Min Thwe Thit.
“We don’t have any weapons,
not even a needle, so if there is
a crackdown we will just have to
bow our heads and face it.”
Students have been a powerful political force in Myanmar’s
modern history and have been
at the forefront of several uprisings, including mass protests
in 1988 that ended in a bloody
military crackdown.
Authorities appeared reluctant to stop November’s student
rallies even though they lacked
This contrasts to multiple arrests at other unauthorised protests in recent months.
Students plan to take around
two weeks to complete the walk
and then to set up a protest
camp in Yangon.
Critics of the law say it will
give central authorities too
much control over how universities will be run in areas like
curriculum and policy, limiting
academic freedoms.
They are also campaigning
for other key changes, including lifting a ban on student
unions and an increase in the
education budget.
The Action Starts Now
Pro-Am Highlights - 20 January 2015
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Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Aussies raise
terror alert
for police
The risk of lone wolf attacks
on police personnel remains
ustralia yesterday 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.
Australian Federal Police said
the decision had been taken
based on intelligence-gathering
and discussions with partners
and was in line with the broader
threat for the country, also raised
to high in September.
“Recent events in France,
Canada and Australia serve as a
sobering reminder of the risks
associated with policing,” the
federal force said in a statement.
Three police officers were
among the 17 people killed in
France this month during three
days of Islamist attacks, while in
Canada two soldiers were killed
in separate incidents last October, including one shot while
standing guard at the War Memorial in Ottawa.
Australia had its own brush
with terrorism when a lone gunman held customers and staff at
a Sydney cafe hostage in December, in a stand-off that left two
hostages and the gunman dead.
The heightened alert, raised
from medium to high, also comes
after a “known terror suspect”
was shot dead in Melbourne in
September after stabbing two
police officers, a day after the
Islamic State group called for
Muslims to kill Australians indiscriminately. Both policemen
survived the attack.
“While relatively small, there
are increasing numbers of Australians who are connected with
or inspired by overseas terrorist
groups such as the Islamic State
of Iraq and the Levant, with the
intent and capability to conduct
an attack against police,” the
federal police said in a statement.
The factors that had led to
the elevated general terrorism
threat level for Australia to high
in September had persisted and
the security environment was
“increasingly complex and challenging”, it said.
“This is the first time the level
has been at high for Australian
police,” a federal police spokeswoman said.
“This change is not due to any
specific threat but means that a
terrorist attack against police is
assessed as likely.”
Australian state and territory
police forces said the assessment
was a reminder that police, often
the first responders to incidents,
needed to be vigilant about security. “We are easy to target...
you simply call us and we come,”
Western Australia’s acting police
commissioner Stephen Brown
“You’ve seen the way this has
played out across the world; that
either in response or by being
targeted because they’re highly
visible, police are being acted out
Rare animals
A white-tailed sea eagle is silhouetted on a tree as the sun goes down on Notsuke spit in Bekkai, Hokkaido Island, Japan, Some whitetailed sea eagles are resident birds in Japan. The island of Hokkaido hosts a variety of rare animals.
Protest at Canberra’s offshore
refugee camp in PNG broken
protest involving hundreds of asylum seekers at an Australian immigration detention centre in Papua
New Guinea, some of whom had sewn
their lips shut in protest, has ended without serious violence, authorities in both
countries said yesterday.
Australia uses offshore detention centres in Papua New Guinea and the tiny
South Pacific island nation of Nauru to
process would-be refugees trying to reach
the country, often in unsafe boats after
paying people-smugglers in Indonesia.
The detention centre on Manus Island
in Papua New Guinea was the scene of riots in February 2014, in which one asylum
seeker was killed and more than 70 injured
after residents overran the camp, attacking detainees.
The protests began last week after the
refugees were told they would be moved
into new accommodation, which they
feared would make them more vulnerable
to attack by Papua New Guineans opposed
to their presence, and had escalated in recent days.
Journalists are barred from visiting
Manus Island, so information about the
protests cannot be verified independently.
A spokesman for Papua New Guinea’s
Prime minister Tony Abbott
chief migration officer, Mataio Rabura,
told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) that a peaceful end to the protests had been negotiated.
Australian immigration minister Peter
Dutton seemed to contradict that statement after footage smuggled out of the
camp and seen by Reuters appeared to
show riot police forcing their way into the
The footage shows shield-wielding police forcing their way into a compound
that had been barricaded by detainees
during the protest, followed by banging
sounds and shouting from inside.
“There was a degree of force, if you like,
that was used, and I think that’s appropriate, but there wasn’t, it didn’t escalate to
a point where police had to present themselves and be in conflict with the people
that are in the centre,” Dutton told Sky
A group of 58 refugees have been placed
in a nearby prison as punishment for their
involvement in the protests, according to
the Refugee Action Coalition, while others are being held in isolation in the camp’s
medical facilities.
Under Australian prime minister Tony
Abbott’s tough line on people smuggling,
none of the thousands of asylum seekers will ever be eligible for resettlement
in Australia, even if they are found to be
genuine refugees.
Several detainees reportedly swallowed razor blades or detergent as acts
of self-harm, citing the despair of endless detention as a major factor in the
“Every day ... they’re telling us something like ‘tomorrow, we are going to release some people tomorrow, or the day
after tomorrow, the day after now,’ - it’s
almost two years and nothing happened,” a
detainee calling himself Dave told the ABC
on Monday.
Earlier Dutton, who did not respond
to requests for comment, said protesters
could be resettled in Cambodia under a
controversial deal signed last year, but under no circumstances in Australia.
Abbott said yesterday that a protest by
asylum-seekers angry at their detention
at an immigration centre in Papua New
Guinea had been broken.
“There was a well organised, well coordinated protest in some parts of the Manus
centre. It amounted to a blockade,” Abbott
told reporters in Sydney.
“That blockade has now been broken,”
he said, praising the efforts of security staff
backed by PNG police who entered the compound on Monday and reportedly removed
protest ringleaders and allowed dehydrated
protesters access to medical treatment.
“The important thing is that order
has been restored,” Abbott added. “The
blockade of the compound had been lifted.”
Canberra signed a deal with Phnom
Penh in September to allow those granted
refugee status in Nauru to permanently
resettle in Cambodia, one of the poorest nations in Southeast Asia, triggering
widespread criticism including from the
United Nations.
Refugee advocates say asylum-seekers
are not interested in the deal.
Activists threaten to send The
Interview floating into N Korea
outh Korean activists threatened
yesterday to sneak copies of the Hollywood comedy The Interview into
North Korea if Pyongyang rejects Seoul’s
offer of dialogue.
The North has already warned one activist, Park Sang-Hak, that he would
“pay for his crimes in blood” if copies of
the movie about a CIA plot to assassinate
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un made it
across the border.
But Park said his group, Fighters for a
Free North Korea (FFNK), which balloonlaunched 100,000 anti-Pyongyang leaflets over the border Monday night, was
prepared to face down the threats.
“If the North fails to respond sincerely
to Seoul’s offer for talks... we will send
copies of The Interview so feared by Kim
Jong-Un,” Park told reporters in Seoul.
In order to give time for the response,
the activist said he would suspend any
further balloon launches until after the
Lunar New Year on February 19.
Seoul has proposed holding high-level
talks with the North with a view to organising a reunion around the Lunar New Year
period for families divided by the 1950-53
Korean war.
Park said copies of The Interview were
“intentionally” excluded from the leaflet
packages launched overnight Monday in
an unpublicised operation near the border
town of Paju.
The US-based Human Rights Foundation, which supports the FFNK activities,
said the group intended to put 100,000
copies of the movie into the North this
year on a rolling basis.
“Some people think it’s funny. Some
people think it’s not funny... But almost
everyone we’ve spoken to said this film
in North Korea will create a lot of healthy
discussion and debate among North Korean people,” Thor Halvorssen, the head of
the HRF, said.
North Korea, which refers to the activists as “human scum,” has long condemned the ballon launches and in recent
months has stepped up its demands for
Seoul to ban the practice entirely.
In October last year, North Korea border guards attempted to shoot down some
balloons, triggering a brief exchange of
heavy machine gun fire between the two
South Korea insists the activists have a
democratic right to send the leaflets, but
has appealed for restraint to avoid overly
provoking the North.
Local residents living near the launch
sites have complained that the activists
are putting their lives at risk by making
them potential targets for North Korean
The joint press conference by Park and
Halvorssen was temporarily interrupted
by a group of protestors waving banners
reading: “HRF, get out of Korea” and “Park
Sang-Hak the leaflet merchant”.
Any effort to include The Interview
DVDs in the regular leaflet packages would
certainly trigger a furious reaction from
Pyongyang, which had labelled the film “a
wanton act of terror” before its release.
North Korea has denied US accusations
that it was behind a devastating cyberattack on the studio behind the film, Sony
zA North Korean website pounced yesterday on the admission by a high-profile
defector that his harrowing account of
escaping a prison camp contained inaccu-
racies, saying it proved the dishonesty of
UN moves to censure Pyongyang for rights
A signed commentary on the state-run
Uriminzokkiri website highlighted the
“lies and false accusations” of Shin DongHyuk—a North Korean gulag survivor
whose torture and daring escape were detailed in a best-selling book.
Shin admitted Sunday that elements of
his story as told in Escape from Camp 14
were inaccurate, including various locations and chronologies.
Although Shin stressed that most of the
account of his sufferings still stood, his
admission was a blow to the community of
North Korean rights campaigners of which
he has been a prominent member.
As far as North Korean public statements go, a commentary posted on
Uriminzokkiri is low-level stuff, and
experts believe Pyongyang will issue
higher-profile statements as it seeks
to extract maximum mileage out of the
But the commentary provided a taste of
the argument Pyongyang will likely make.
“It is not that some parts of (Shin’s)
statements were inaccurate,” it said.
maid in HK
was ‘slave’
Hong Kong
Hong Kong employer
accused of starving and
beating her Indonesian
maid treated the woman as an
“unpaid slave”, prosecutors
said yesterday on the last day
of hearings in a case which has
shocked the city.
In the course of the six-week
trial, 23-year-old Erwiana Sulistyaningsih described in vivid
detail how she was “tortured”,
living for months on nothing
but bread and rice, sleeping
only four hours a day and being
so badly beaten by her thenemployer Law Wan-tung that
she was knocked unconscious.
Pictures of Sulistyaningsih,
who was admitted to hospital
in Indonesia last January emaciated and in critical condition, sparked widespread anger
in her home country and even
drew comment from the president.
In closing arguments prosecutors admitted it was “difficult to determine” when the
injuries were inflicted but concluded that Sulistyaningsih
was enslaved by Law, 44, who
denies all charges of abuse.
“The defendant was never
satisfied with her work. The
question was why did it take
seven months for her to send
her away? This certainly defies
common sense. The only explantation was that (Sulistyaningsih) was treated like a slave,
an unpaid slave,” said prosecutor Louisa Lai.
Law’s defence accused the
former maid and another two
domestic helpers involved in the
case of being “opportunistic”.
They said that if Sulistyaningsih’s account were true it would
“amount to a horror story”.
“The evidence of Erwiana is
unsatisfactory... so exaggerated as to impact on its truth,”
said defence lawyer Graham
He suggested that her injuries could have been accidental.
“Can you rule out as a reasonable hypothesis that any
scar or any damage might have
been caused by accidental
falls?” he asked the judge.
The case has shone a spotlight on the plight of migrant
domestic helpers in Asia and
the Middle East after reports of
torture and even killings.
In March last year a Malaysian couple were sentenced to
hang for starving their Indonesian maid to death, while in
the same week a Singaporean
couple pleaded guilty to abuse
after their helper lost 20kg in
seven months.
Japan jets scramble
at record pace
apanese air force jets are
scrambling at a record
pace to counter Chinese
fighters intruding into its air
space along its southern flank
and Russian bombers and spy
planes probing its northern
defences, the Defence Ministry
said yesterday.
Chinese fighter flights have
increased in and around the
energy-rich East China Sea,
where Japan and China both
lay claim to a group of islets.
In the nine months ending
December 31, Japanese fighters scrambled 744 times, 32%
more than the same period
the previous year, the ministry
said. Encounters with Chinese
aircraft, which accounted for
half of the nine month total, jumped to 164 in the final
quarter of 2014, the most since
1958, when records began.
At the current pace, scrambles for the year to March 31
would exceed the 944 encounters logged 30 years ago at the
height of the Cold War.
“With only three quarters
of data available, we can’t yet
say whether it will be a record
year,” a spokesman for Japan’s
Air Self-Defence Force told
reporters. In the last three
months, Japanese jest scrambled 369 times to meet Russian
planes, four times the pace of a
decade ago.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
More protection for
dairy farmers sought
London on flu alert as 1,483
cases reported in a week
Package sparks false
alarm in City of London
Labour divided
over mansion tax
Teacher jailed for
affair with pupil
Dairy farmers should be better protected
from falls in the price of milk, lawmakers said
yesterday in a report warning of a crisis which
could damage the country’s dairy industry in the
long-term. A price war between supermarkets has
led to milk being sold at rock-bottom prices, at a
time when lower global demand has also caused
the price to fall, pushing many dairy farmers out
of business. The report said the number of dairy
farmers had fallen below 10,000 for the first time
in recent history, with the BBC reporting that
farmers are being paid 20 pence for a litre of milk
which costs 30p to produce. Around 2 litres of
milk costs around 89p in some supermarkets.
London was placed on flu alert yesterday,
with the capital suffering 1,483 new cases
in a week and a number of boroughs
reporting abnormally high infection rates.
Public Health England issued the warning
and advised parents to vaccinate their
children to guard against the potentially
life-threatening virus as it claimed “flu
season is well under way in the city”. Figures
for the week to January 11 showed 1,483
reports of “influenza-like illness”, with
infection rates highest in boroughs such as
Brent, Greenwich, Tower Hamlets, Islington,
Lambeth and Southwark.
Police said a suspect package found in the City of
London yesterday was declared safe after briefly
closing streets in the financial hub to traffic. City of
London police had earlier cordoned off the area,
where many banks and insurance companies
have their headquarters. A police officer said the
package was safe and the City of London said in a
tweet that the streets - London Wall and Moorgate
- had been reopened. City police earlier said in a
tweet: “Cordons in place in the Moorgate area due
to suspect package found. Officers on scene”. On
social media, several office workers said they had
been asked to remain inside their buildings while
the package was being investigated.
Labour was in turmoil again yesterday over
its flagship mansion tax after Lord Mandelson
attacked it as “crude” and “short-termist”.
The former business secretary said shadow
chancellor Ed Balls’ controversial plan to raise
£1.2bn from an annual levy on £2mn-plus homes
would “clobber people”. Divisions among
London mayoral candidates were highlighted
in a separate intervention by Richard Watts, the
leader of Islington council, who condemned their
attacks on “this progressive measure”. Watts
said: “The mansion tax is about fairness and I’m
surprised at the level of opposition within the
party to this progressive measure.”
A drama head who fathered a child during a
five-year affair with his pupil has been jailed for
12 months. Simon Parsons, 52, had an affair with
the 17-year-old at the school where he taught for
30 years, as well as at hotels and his home. The
relationship continued after the girl, who cannot
be named for legal reasons, left the Castle School
in Thornbury, South Gloucestershire. Parsons’
wife “bore” the affair and forgave her husband,
who returned to the family unit after the girl
ended the relationship in her early 20s. Police
arrested the respected teacher of 30 years after
the girl’s family uncovered the identity of her
child’s father and wanted to protect other pupils.
Pact with
firms ‘vital
to fight
Sophie turns 50
Ukip’s Aker
replaced as
policy chief
before polls
Guardian News and Media
he former head of MI6, Sir
John Sawers, has called for
a new surveillance compact between Internet companies
and the security services in the UK
and US in the wake of the Snowden revelations. In his first speech
since standing down as “C” at the
end of last year, Sawers said the
two could work together as they
had in the past to prevent a repeat of events such as the Charlie
Hebdo attack, the always present
threats from militants in places
such as Yemen, and the advance of
Boko Haram in Nigeria.
In other parts of the speech, he
aligned himself with Pope Francis
in calling for restraint in offending
the religious sensitivities of others after the Paris attack. He also,
surprisingly, distanced MI6 from
the CIA over what he called “lethal” operations. Sawers, who is
going into the private sector after
decades in the Foreign Office and
latterly at MI6, said the Snowden
revelations in 2013 had shattered
the previous informal relationship
between technology companies
and the surveillance agencies.
Companies such as Google and
Microsoft had suffered a consumer backlash as a result of the
revelations and are increasingly
unwilling to co-operate to the
same degree, creating a headache
for the surveillance agencies in the
US and the UK.
“Snowden threw a massive rock
in the pool. The ripples from that
have still not died down,” Sawers
said. “It was certainly a great concern for me that the, if you like, informal co-operation that worked
well between most technology
companies and communication
companies and security services
was broken by the Snowden revelations and has not been repaired.”
A new compact had to be established in order to prevent terrorist
attacks, such as the one in Paris,
occurring more regularly. “We
can’t afford to see that happen,”
he said.
Sophie, Countess of Wessex, stands with her husband Prince Edward before cutting a cake as
she celebrates her 50th birthday while visiting the Tomorrow’s People Social Enterprises, in
Kennington, London, yesterday.
Blair pressured over
high-paid consultancies
lawmaker has launched a
campaign to force former
prime minister Tony Blair
to reveal the sources of his income after reports of the former
leader working for Azerbaijan
and Kazakhstan.
Conservative MP Andrew
Bridge tabled a parliamentary
motion which appeared on the
House of Commons website
yesterday, arguing that rules
that apply to current lawmakers should also hold for former
prime ministers.
“Tony Blair has embarked on
a career of personal enrichment
and has blurred the lines between
his public and private interests,”
the MP for North West Leicestershire told The Sunday Times
“No other former prime minister has gone to work for other
sovereign states. Blair is still in
public life, but is not bound by its
principles, and that needs to be
changed,” he said.
The motion says that Blair remains “in part, a public servant”
even though he is not in parliament but that his conduct since
leaving office is “in breach of the
code of ethics... to regulate public life”.
“No other former prime
minister has gone to work
for other sovereign states.
Blair is still in public life,
but is not bound by its
principles, and that needs
to be changed”
Blair has taken on high-paid
consultancies and has been criticised for his work for authoritarian governments including Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan which
have been widely reported in the
Motions like the one tabled by
Bridge are largely symbolic and
very rarely lead to government
The motion calls for a debate
on the activities of the former
leader of the Labour Party, who
was prime minister from 1997
and 2007, during which he led
Britain into wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It also demands legislation
to restrict the ability of former
prime ministers to work for foreign nations “in the interest of
national security and protecting the reputation of the United
His firm Tony Blair Associates
is reported to receive £7mn a year
for advising Kazakh President
Nursultan Nazarbayev.
Blair has also been criticised
for aiding the government of
Azerbaijan through his work for
a BP-led consortium seeking to
build a gas pipeline from Italy to
According to a report by The
Sunday Times, Blair’s company
held a confidential contract with
Saudi Arabian oil firm PetroSaudi under which it would be paid
2% for any deals it helped set up.
The former British leader
has also set up a foundation to
foster inter-faith dialogue and
an African governance charity working in Rwanda, Sierra
Leone, Liberia, Guinea, Nigeria
and Senegal.
he anti-EU UK Independence Party (Ukip) abruptly
replaced its policy chief
yesterday, less than four months
before a national election, because it said he was too busy to
finish writing the party’s manifesto.
Political rivals have accused
Ukip, which wants Britain to leave
the European Union and sharply
curb immigration, of lacking serious policies on other issues. The
manifesto, eagerly awaited by
critics and supporters alike, is designed to show voters it does.
A Ukip spokesman said outgoing policy chief Tim Aker had
stood down in favour of Suzanne
Evans, the party’s deputy chairman, to focus on other party
Aker is also a Ukip member of
the European Parliament, a local councillor in England and is
campaigning for a seat in the May
7 British parliamentary election.
Ukip sources denied a report
that Aker had been sacked for
failing to deliver a final draft of the
manifesto by the start of January.
“He asked to stand down, it’s definitely not a sacking,” one source
Evans, the new policy chief,
said it was only Aker’s commitments as an MEP that had prevented him from carrying on,
calling him “a tough act to follow”.
Still, Ukip’s failure to set out its
policy ideas before an election in
which it hopes to deliver “a political earthquake” after winning
European elections in Britain and
Water woes
two seats in the parliament, has
exposed it to ridicule from critics.
John Prescott, a member of
the opposition left-wing Labour
party and a former deputy prime
minister, urged people to mock
Ukip on Twitter by using the social media site to post sarcastic
policy ideas under the hashtag
“We will encourage gay marriage (but only during droughts),”
ran a suggestion from one user, a
jokey reference to a former UKIP
councillor who last year blamed
flooding in Britain on the passage
of gay marriage laws.
“He asked to stand down, it’s
definitely not a sacking”
“Rename Britain Bongo Bongo
Land,” quipped another user, referring to a 2013 incident in which
a then Ukip member of the European Parliament used the derogatory expression to refer to African
countries to which Britain gives
foreign aid.
Ukip is expected to unveil its
manifesto at the end of February
at its spring conference. The party
has had problems with manifestos
before. In 2010, Ukip leader Nigel
Farage called that year’s document “486 pages of drivel.”
Pollsters have predicted Ukip
could win around six seats in May
and YouGov yesterday put its
support at 15%, behind Labour
and the ruling Conservatives, who
were on 32% each.
Earlier Nigel Farage said Ukip
is on the road to winning South
Thanet and many other constituencies.
Kicking off his battle to be the
Kent constituency’s next MP, he
Charles is my king,
says Westwood
A man fills a water bag from a tank in the village of
Creagan in Northern Ireland, yesterday. Thousands of
homes are without water in Northern Ireland because of
a dispute with NI Water, local media reported.
appeared on top of a purple Ukipbranded bus at a local rally, claiming his party will hold the balance
of power in Westminster after
May 7 if it gets its campaign right.
He urged hundreds of activists
to go out and “find out who our
supporters are”, but told them not
to be shy of having a pub break at
lunch time.
At the unusually low-key
event, to which the media were
not invited, Farage said Ukip already had the “tide of momentum” with it at the beginning of
the year.
Addressing the crowd, Farage
said: “When I did the debate last
year with Nick Clegg … I looked at
the camera and I said, I’m urging
you to join the people’s army that
will sweep away the establishment that has led us to this mess.
I think what I’m seeing now is the
people’s army - thank you, thank
you, thank you.”
The Ukip leader continued:
“You might have seen the opinion polls. We’re up in the first two
weeks of January. We’ve got the
tide of momentum with us. Today
is about really launching the campaign in South Thanet. Let’s go
out, let’s knock on doors. Let’s find
out who our supporters are. Let’s
find out who our possibles are. But
don’t be shy, at lunch time, of popping into the pubs. In my case of
course, being (dry) January, it will
be a cup of tea in a cafe.
“Let’s go out there today and
make a real splash and let’s put us
on the road to winning this and
many other constituencies on
May 7th this year. If we get this
right, we will hold the balance of
power in Westminster in the next
unk Queen Vivienne Westwood has dedicated her
new menswear collection to
Prince Charles, saying the world
would be a wonderful place if he
been put in charge of it.
Sporting a beret and a typically
wry smile, the face of the heir to
the British throne made a surprise
appearance in Milan, emblazoned
on the T-shirt the veteran designer wore as she took the applause at
the end of her 2015-16 autumn/
winter show.
“I’ve been a big fan of Prince
Charles for a long time and I have
spoken to him and even tried to
help him sometimes with getting
support for his project to save the
rainforests,” Westwood told AFPTV.
“He invited me to come and see
him at (the prince’s country residence) Highgrove, I’ve had quite
long chats with Prince Charles - I
think he’s absolutely wonderful.”
Westwood, whose designs
helped shape the look of British
punks in the 1970s, added: “He’s a
visionary. Right back in the 1970s
as a young man, he realised we
have to live in harmony with the
“And all his charities have made
such a difference, they’ve really
helped people, they’re very practical and solid things, they build
communities, support people. It
really works on a very human way
all his charities. We would have a
wonderful world if he had ruled it
in all that time.
Westwood’s husband, the Austrian designer Andreas Kronthaler,
is also a fan, describing the prince
as both charismatic and stylish.
“I really like his dress sense, his
clothing. He has a very traditional
old English gentleman’s way of
dressing,” Kronthaler said.
“He’d wear jackets with holes
in them, that are moth-eaten and
that are sometimes 20 or 30 years
old; he gets his stuff mended... I
really like that a lot.” Westwood,
now 73, was made a dame for services to fashion by Charles’s mother
Queen Elizabeth II, in 2006.
She said her latest collection
was partly inspired by the heir’s
fondness for the bespoke tailoring
of London’s Savile Row, despite
the conservatism of that look apparently being at odds with her
history of anti-establishment politics and stunts.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Sun drops
Page 3 models
Father jailed over
daughter’s drug death
Pattern led to ‘killer’
nurse being identified
Public consultation on
BBC3 future launched
Coronation Street star
Anne Kirkbride dies
The Sun tabloid, the country’s best-selling newspaper,
has decided to quietly stop publishing photographs
of topless models on page three, ending a contested
44-year-old tradition of the Rupert Murdoch-owned
paper, The Times reported yesterday. The Sun,
owned by a subsidiary of the media tycoon’s News
Corporation, has published photographs of topless
young models on page three since 1970, drawing
criticism from feminists who said the practice
demeaned and objectified women. Without naming
its sources, The Times, which is also part of Murdoch’s
newspaper empire, said it understood that last
Friday’s printed edition of The Sun would be the final
publication to carry a photograph of a topless model.
A father who took ecstasy with his 17-year-old
daughter and failed to get her medical help for
more than an hour after supplying her with the
class A drug has been jailed for five years and four
months. Jason Wilkes was told that although there
was no suggestion that it was ever his intention
to set about a course of conduct that would lead
to Chloe Wilkes’ death there were features of
gross negligence, Maidstone Crown Court heard.
Sentencing Wilkes, 45, judge Philip Statman said:
“You will lead the rest of your life knowing that your
conduct led to the death of your daughter who
in my judgment you loved. That’s an enormous
burden for you to have to carry with you.”
A hospital nurse murdered three patients and
poisoned 18 others by contaminating saline bags
and ampoules with insulin, a court heard. Victorino
Chua, 49, also deliberately altered the dosages on
prescription charts while working as a staff nurse
at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport, Manchester
Crown Court heard. In all 21 patients suffered as
a result of his “handiwork” with three of them
murdered. Chua, a Filipino who first came to the
UK in 2002, sat in the dock listening impassively as
Peter Wright QC, began outlining the prosecution
case against him. Wright said following a police
investigation a “pattern” began to emerge and the
killer was identified.
The BBC Trust yesterday launched a public
consultation into the future of youth-oriented
channel BBC3 as it was confirmed that a pair
of leading independent producers hoped to
buy the channel. BBC bosses have proposed
to drop the digital channel off TV and make it
online-only, as well as through the BBC iPlayer, as
part of its ongoing cost savings. But now major
production firms Hat Trick and Avalon have
confirmed they have made an approach to the
Trust to buy the station, keeping it on TV and
boosting its budget. Their plan would give BBC3
a budget more than three times higher than the
budget proposed if it were to be just online.
Tributes are pouring in for Coronation Street
actress Anne Kirkbride, who has died aged 60.
Fellow Coronation Street actors lined up to pay
their respects to Kirkbride, who played Deirdre in
the ITV soap for 42 years . Kirkbride’s on-screen
daughter Kate Ford wrote: “Heartbroken at the
loss of my friend and beautiful on screen mummy.
The most crazy funny 100% human. My life was
enriched by her.” In a statement William Roache,
who played Anne’s onscreen husband Ken Barlow,
said: “I feel Anne’s loss so personally having worked
closely with her for over 40 years. “She was such
a loving and vibrant person. You always knew she
was there because her laugh was never far away.”
Relatives visa
plea to attend
funeral rejected
Home Office says
Zimbabwean grandparents
cannot attend funeral of
girl killed by car, despite
Cameron promise of review
Guardian News and Media
he Home Office has rejected a family’s plea to
allow the grandparents
of a five-year-old girl to come
to Britain to attend her funeral
despite a personal promise
hours before by David Cameron to intervene in the case.
The Immigration Minister, James Brokenshire, turned
down a public offer by the family’s MP to act as a personal
guarantor that Andrea Gada’s
relatives would return home to
Zimbabwe after her funeral.
The Bishop of Chichester has
condemned Brokenshire’s decision, telling him: “This cannot
be right. It offends at the most
elementary level of human
The Zimbabwean grandparents and aunt of Andrea, who
died after being hit by a car
just before Christmas in Eastbourne, Sussex, have been refused temporary travel visas to
attend her funeral.
“Ever since our beloved
daughter was tragically killed
we have tried in vain to get my
wife’s father, mother and sister
who live in Zimbabwe to attend
her funeral,” said Andrea’s father, Wellington. “This would
give our two remaining children, and our ourselves, much
needed comfort at this grieving
The Eastbourne community, including Andrea’s school,
Shinewater primary, have rallied around her refugee parents,
Wellington and Charity Gada,
to raise more than £5,000 to
enable her relatives to travel.
Andrea’s funeral has had to be
postponed until the situation is
Cameron promised he would
review the case after the fam-
ily’s MP, Stephen Lloyd, raised
it at prime minister’s question time last Wednesday. The
Liberal Democrat MP for Eastbourne told Cameron the entry
visas had been refused because
the Home Office believed the
relatives would abscond, and
offered to personally guarantee
that they would return to Zimbabwe.
Cameron promised to look
into the case, saying it was
heartbreaking when children
were killed in accidents: “I will
certainly look at the case – I was
just discussing it with the home
secretary – and make sure that
the Home Office has a careful
look to see what can be done.”
But a day later, Brokenshire
wrote to Lloyd, telling him: “I
am sure you will understand
that I am often asked to exercise
discretion in individual cases. I
am also frequently offered assurances or guarantees, despite
the tragic circumstances involved.”
The minister said he had
reviewed the case, “taking
into account the tragic circumstances”, but his decision
had to be based “on the full
facts of the case”. As the family members had not provided “evidence to demonstrate
that they meet the requirements of the immigration
rules” he could not overturn
the refusal.
Lloyd said the visas had been
refused for three reasons: they
had not travelled out of Zimbabawe before, they couldn’t
demonstrate a regular income,
and therefore there was a danger they would abscond while
in Britain. But he said it was not
surprising that the three – a
street trader, a hairdresser and a
driver – could not demonstrate
a regular income in Zimbabwe.
The grandparents had also previously travelled to South Africa
and returned home.
He said he was disappointed
that the Home Office had sent
their second rejection letter
within 24 hours of Cameron’s
promise to look at the case.
Toy Fair opens
People dressed as cartoon and game characters pose for pictures at the Toy Fair 2015 in central London yesterday. Toy Fair, the only dedicated toy, game and hobby exhibition
in Britain, features over 260 companies competing for business.
Celebrity chef Ramsay
loses £1.6mn court fight
London Evening Standard
elebrity chef Gordon
Ramsay suffered a courtroom nightmare yesterday after he was left facing an
estimated £1.6 million bill as he
lost a battle over the rent on a
London pub.
A High Court judge ruled
that he must personally pay the
£640,000 annual rent on the pub
after a deal arranged by his fatherin-law allegedly using a ghost
writer machine.
Ramsay, 48, is liable for the
rent and £1mn legal costs because
of the agreement signed when
Christopher Hutcheson ran the
Green party overtakes
LibDems in opinion poll
Guardian News and Media
he Green party has taken a small lead over the
Liberal Democrats in a
new opinion poll, prompting
demands for the broadcasters to acknowledge a “political revolution” under way in
Britain and include the party in
the television general election
As a veteran polling analyst
suggested that Labour’s standing may be inflated by shy Tory
voters, who are reluctant to express support for the Conservatives, an opinion poll by Lord
Ashcroft placed the Greens
up three points on 11%, giving
the party a small lead over the
Liberal Democrats, whose vote
share increased by one point to
Caroline Lucas, the Green
party MP for Brighton Pavilion, said that the poll findings
and the doubling in the party’s
membership in the past two
months showed that her party
should now be included in the
television debates. “There really
is a political revolution going on
here and it just seems so perverse that the broadcasters and
Ofcom seem to be turning their
face against it,” she said.
“They seem to be the only
people in the country with their
fingers in the ears and their
hands over their eyes and simply
not hearing the fact that something big is happening in British
The Greens have stepped up
their campaign to be included in
the debates by releasing a poster,
featuring Lucas and the Green
party leader, Natalie Bennett,
which says: “What are you afraid
of, boys?”
David Cameron has said that
he will not take part in television debates unless the Greens
are included. Tory sources acknowledge in private that the
prime minister’s newfound interest in the Greens is designed
to find him a way of avoiding the
debates without being seen to
kill them off.
The broadcasters are propos-
ing three debates. One would
be between Cameron and Ed
Miliband, one would feature
the two main party leaders plus
Nick Clegg while another debate would feature the three
Westminster leaders plus Nigel
The Greens have not been invited because the broadcasters
anticipated the recent suggestion by Ofcom that Ukip should
count as a major party while the
Greens should be a minor party.
Ofcom makes its judgments
based on the performance of
parties in elections rather than
in opinion polls.
The renewed row over the
debates came as the veteran
polling analyst Rob Hayward
suggested that opinion polls
may be overstating Labour’s
support by as much as four
percentage points.
Hayward, the Tory MP for
Kingswood between 198392 who still advises his party,
reached his conclusion after
comparing opinion polls with
actual election results over the
past year.
TV chef’s business empire.
Ramsay had accused Hutcheson in court of using the ghost
writer machine to forge his
signature. But yesterday justice Morgan ruled that however much Ramsay “regrets” his
business relationship with his
father-in-law he was committed
to guarantee the lease.
Ramsay and Hutcheson had
an acrimonious break-up in
2010 with the chef accusing wife
Tana’s father of “gross misconduct”. Three years earlier a deal
had been signed making Ramsay a personal guarantor for the
£640,000 annual rent of the
York & Albany pub near Regent’s
Park. Ramsay came to court last
year in an attempt to release
himself from the deal because his
signature “was not lawfully authorised” when the 25-year lease
was signed in 2007. He claimed
Hutcheson had used the ghost
writer machine - normally employed by authors to sign books
and photographs automatically
- to forge his signature.
He told the judge he had felt
“like a performing monkey” when
Hutcheson was managing his
Film director Gary Love, who
owns the York & Albany, described Ramsay’s allegation as an
“absurd” attempt to wriggle out
of his rental commitments. Ramsay was ordered to pay Love’s entire bill, in bringing the case.
He must pay £250,000 to Love
Depp in London
within 28 days while the final bill
is confirmed. The judge said that
Ramsay “knew long before” the
lease was signed that the ghost
writer machine was “routinely
used to place his signature on legal
documents.” He added that he believed evidence of Ramsay’s shock
at discovering he was liable for
the rent was “exaggerated.”
The judge refused Ramsay
permission to appeal.
In dramatic evidence Tana
Ramsay told how she had
made the “extremely
discovery that her father and
brother Adam, who
was also sacked from
the business, had been
Spy agency ‘tapped’
journalists’ e-mails
US actor Johnny Depp arrives with fiancee US actress and
model Amber Heard for the UK premiere of the film Mortdecai
in London.
frauding” her husband. She said
she had been aware of the use
of the ghost writer machine but
thought it was for signing merchandise when her husband was
unavailable. “It did not even occur
to me that the machine be used to
sign Gordon’s signature on anything else,” she said.
Tana, who married in 1996
and has four children with
the chef, also spoke about
her “dominating and very
clever” father. She recalled “the shock on
Gordan’s face” and
his horror and disbelief when he found
out that he was a
personal guarantor on
a 25-year lease.
ritain’s electronic spy
agency GCHQ tapped
e-mails of journalists
at some of the world’s biggest media organisations, The
Guardian reported.
The report said GCHQ gathered e-mails from journalists
at the BBC, The Guardian, Le
Monde, NBC, The New York
Times, Reuters, The Sun and The
Washington Post.
The e-mails were among
70,000 gathered in less than
10 minutes in 2008 by the spy
agency, Britain’s equivalent of
the US National Security Agency, according to The Guardian’s
analysis of documents leaked by
former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.
The e-mails were gathered in
one of many taps of the fibreoptic cables that form the Internet’s backbone, and were available for viewing by any cleared
staff on GCHQ’s intranet, according to the report.
The Snowden documents
appeared to show the mes-
sages were collected while testing a new tool designed to sift
through tapped data to identify
relevant chunks.
It is not revealed in the leaked
documents if journalists were
deliberately targeted, the report
A spokesman for GCHQ told
the paper: “All of GCHQ’s work
is carried out in accordance with
a strict legal and policy framework, which ensures that our
activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate, and
that there is rigorous oversight,
including from the secretary of
The spy agency considers journalists as “a potential
threat to security” according to internal security advice
cited by The Guardian, with
investigative journalists listed
as a threat alongside terrorists
and hackers.
The report was published
amid pressure to limit the government’s ability to spy on
journalists’ communications,
after revelations police accessed
phone records to identify journalists’ sources within the police.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Court rejects referendum
over Italy pension reforms
PP ex-treasurer gets bail
in fraud investigation
Croatian politician’s war
crime conviction quashed
Putin’s chief of staff for
Auschwitz anniversary
Mysterious Celtic cult site
discovered in Germany
Italy’s Constitutional Court yesterday rejected
a bid to hold a referendum on the scrapping of
unpopular pension reforms that have postponed
the retirement age. The measures were introduced
in late 2011 by the technocratic government
of Mario Monti, as part of a belt-tightening
emergency package that helped Italy escape
from a near-default situation. “The Constitutional
Court ruled the referendum request related (to the
pension reforms) inadmissible,” the Rome-based
body said. The ruling was a relief for Italy’s cashstrapped finances: According to some estimates,
rolling back the pension reforms would have cost
20bn euros ($23bn).
The former treasurer of Spain’s ruling People’s
Party (PP), in jail awaiting trial on charges
of money-laundering and other crimes, has
been granted provisional liberty with a bail
of 200,000 euros ($231,820), a High Court
spokeswoman said yesterday. Luis Barcenas has
been in jail since June 2013 over a long-running
corruption investigation which is a source of
great embarrassment to the PP, struggling
in opinion polls in an election year. If he pays
the bail and leaves prison, he must report to
the courts three times a week and will have
his passport confiscated, preventing him from
leaving the country, court documents showed.
A former Croatian lawmaker and Bosnian national
was released from a Bosnian prison yesterday
after Croatia’s top court quashed his war crimes
conviction on procedural grounds. Branimir
Glavas was released in the southern Bosnian town
of Mostar, where he was serving an eight-year
sentence for the killing of at least 10 Serb civilians
at the start of the 1990s war in Croatia, FENA
news agency reported. Glavas was released after
Croatia’s Constitutional Court last week cited
procedural reasons for striking down his conviction
by the Supreme Court - namely inappropriate legal
conventions used in previous rulings. The case was
sent back to the Supreme Court for a new trial.
The head of President Vladimir Putin’s
administration will represent Russia at events
commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Soviet
liberation of the Auschwitz death camp in Poland, a
spokesman for the organisers said yesterday. Heads
of state will gather at the site of the Nazi camp near
Krakow on January 27 to remember the estimated
1.5mn people who perished there during World
War II. “The Russian side have confirmed that the
delegation will be led by Sergei Ivanov,” Bartosz
Bartyzel, a spokesman for the museum organising
the commemoration, told Reuters. The presidents of
Germany, France, Poland and Ukraine are expected
to attend the commemoration.
Archaeologists in southern Germany have
discovered a Celtic cult site featuring a 4m high
stone wall that could be 2,600 years old, a state
conservation office announced yesterday. “The
discovery of a sacrificial well with human skeletal
remains shows that this gigantic structure
served as a place of cult worship until the 3rd
century BC,” the Historic Preservation Office
in the state of Badem-Wuerttemberg said in a
statement. Located east of the Black Forest near
Langenenslingen, in the foothills of the Swabian
Alb plateau, the limestone wall had only been
exposed at its edges. No conclusive dating of the
structure had been possible.
Donetsk airport battle rages on
ussian-backed insurgents
yesterday assaulted the
remnants of a Ukrainian force hanging onto a ruined
airport near the rebels’ main
stronghold as Moscow poured
cold water on the prospect of
peace talks.
Blasts of incoming and outgoing artillery echoed all night
across Donetsk - a once bustling
industrial city but now the crucible of one of Europe’s worst humanitarian and diplomatic crises
since the Cold War.
Rebel city administration
member Ivan Prikhodko said two
civilians were killed and eight seriously wounded when a shell hit
a bus stop on the war-wrecked
northwestern edge of town.
“The bus stop itself and a
store nearby have been levelled,”
Prikhodko told AFP by telephone.
The past week’s escalation in
fighting and effective shredding
of a repeatedly violated September truce has been accompanied
by claims from Kiev’s pro-Western government that 700 new
Russian soldiers have deployed
across the border into Ukraine’s
separatist east.
Russia’s defence ministry
called the charges “absolute
nonsense” and once again denied
supporting the rebel cause.
The Kremlin accused Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko
of rejecting a troop withdrawal
proposal submitted last week by
Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
Ukraine meanwhile set in
motion a previously-approved
New talks in Berlin today to dampen flare-up
The foreign ministers of Ukraine,
Russia, Germany and France are
set to meet today in Berlin in a bid
to stem fresh fighting in Ukraine,
Germany said.
“The chief aim now is to prevent a
further deterioration of the military
conflict and a renewed political escalation between Kiev and Moscow.
This is worth every effort,” German
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in a statement.
fourth wave of military call-ups
since the start of hostilities in
The 50,000 new volunteers and
reservists will be mostly deployed
in the war zone in stages stretching over three months. The infusion of additional forces reflects
Ukraine’s increasingly frantic attempt to defend against what it
views as Russian “aggression”.
The blame game between Moscow and Kiev is being watched by
European leaders who hope to see
a quick end to a nine-month conflict that has plunged East-West
relations into crisis and sparked a
damaging sanctions war.
President Vladimir Putin’s
spokesman said the resumption
of what Kiev now says is fullscale war means no peace summit is likely any time soon.
A meeting between Putin and
Poroshenko that would also include the leaders of France and
Germany “can only happen if it is
prepared in a way that guarantees
its success,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russia’s
TASS state news agency.
“At the moment, its prepara-
He said he had called the
meeting at the request of his Russian and Ukrainian counterparts
Sergei Lavrov and Pavlo Klimkin,
and that Laurent Fabius of France
would also take part.
The group last met in Berlin
on January 12 when they
ended their talks without being
able to set a date for a hoped-for
peace summit on ending the
tion does not look as likely as it
was before Ukraine resumed the
hostilities,” Peskov said.
The most bitter fighting focused on the international airport that Ukraine spent nearly
$1bn rebuilding for the Euro 2012
football championship matches
staged in Donetsk.
The rebel militias - armed with
heavy artillery guns and Grad systems that fire up to 40 rockets in
less than a minute - have pulverised the once gleaming structure.
They reported capturing the
airport on Monday after a weekend assault. Ukraine’s army said
it was back in control by yesterday and was checking reports
that a whole floor of the building
had collapsed on defenders late
on Monday.
cleared the area around the airport and destroyed the rebels’
fighting positions,” military
spokesman Vladyslav Seleznyov
told AFP yesterday.
The self-proclaimed Donetsk
People’s Republic’s “defence
minister” in turn accused Kiev’s
units of “shelling residential
Bogdanna Nikonenko holds a portrait of her father Sergiy during the funeral in Kiev’s Independence Square for serviceman killed in fighting
rebels in eastern Ukraine.
districts” across the mostly Russian-speaking war zone.
“And it is the civilians who are
really suffering - not the militia troops,” Eduard Basurin told
the pro-Russian Donetsk News
Kiev says the rebels endanger civilians by stationing their
artillery in residential districts
Drum line!
and forcing Ukrainian forces to
Western leaders have struggled to understand why fighting
has erupted after a month-long
lull that saw Poroshenko offer
talks with Putin aimed at ending
bloodshed that has claimed more
than 4,800 lives.
But the flareup coincided with
International monitors for
their part said combatants must
do more to shield civilians.
“We once again call on all
parties to refrain from harming
civilians and to comply with international humanitarian law,”
International Committee of the
Red Cross (ICRC) Kiev mission
leader Michel Masson said.
Turks and Kurds seek
peace breakthrough
Some of the 5,000 children who took part yesterday in the ‘Tamborrada’ drum festival in San Sebastian, Basque Country,
northern Spain. The festival every year on January 20 honours the town’s patron, Saint Sebastian.
the warring sides’ attempt to
establish a demarcation line between their armies that would
define the confines of rebel-controlled lands.
Moscow insists that the separatists have the right to Donetsk
airport under a prior agreement.
Kiev denies ever accepting such
spate of killings, a looming
general election and war next
door in Syria are complicating
efforts to end the 30-year Kurdish
insurgency in Turkey just as a breakthrough in peace talks looks close.
Jailed militant leader Abdullah
Ocalan may call an end to his Kurdistan Workers Party’s (PKK) armed
struggle in Turkey by March, some
close to the process say. But some
also say unrest in the mainly Kurdish
southeast suggests the PKK is flexing its muscles as it looks to stamp its
authority in the region.
Four months after broad-based,
deadly riots that were provoked by
Kurds’ anger at Ankara’s reluctance
to help defend their kin in Syria, fresh
unrest has broken out in the town of
Cizre near the Syrian and Iraqi frontiers between security forces, PKK
supporters and Kurdish Islamists. A
12-year-old boy shot dead in the street
last week was the sixth person killed.
The violence has added pressure
on EU candidate Turkey to speed
up peace talks, launched with Ocalan more than two years ago to end
a conflict which has killed 40,000
people, stunted development in one
of Turkey’s poorest regions and undermined its democratic progress
and human rights record.
“I think there will be a positive statement in the spring but the
government is moving slowly. This
slowness has annoyed people,” Huseyin Yayman, a professor at Ankara’s Gazi University who recently
visited Cizre, told Reuters.
“The government is behaving like
this both because an election is coming and it fears Turkey’s division,” he
As in the worst days of violence in
the 1990s, Cizre locals are rushing
home before nightfall. Surveillance
cameras have been destroyed and
ditches dug around districts to keep
out security forces.
Yayman described the town as a
pilot project for PKK plans to create
zones under its authority in southeast Turkey along the lines of the
“cantons” which its close ally, the
PYD, has forged in northern Syria.
Turkey’s army is worried that the
peace process has strengthened the
PKK, while Islamist Kurds are using
the unrest to push for their own role
in the talks, Yayman said.
Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdogan, a key figure in the process, is
upbeat. “The light at the end of the
tunnel can be seen more than ever,”
he said in an interview last week.
Ocalan, jailed on the island of Imrali south of Istanbul since 1999, also
appears as committed as ever to the
But PKK commanders at bases in
the mountains of northern Iraq remain hawkish. They described violence in Cizre as “state terror” and
dismissed Ankara’s “fake and twofaced policy”.
“No attack in Kurdistan can remain unanswered. Our people must
respond against every attack, developing their self-defence and legitimate and democratic right to resist,”
they said in a statement after the killing of the boy.
Even a major figure close to the
peace process, co-leader of the proKurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party
(HDP) Selahattin Demirtas, told CNN
Turk on Sunday it was unrealistic to
expect a deal with this government
“even if you negotiated for 50 years”.
The latest violence has revived
memories of the riots in October
which killed dozens and nearly scuppered the peace process as Kurds in
Turkey raged at what they see as Ankara’s support for Islamic State militants fighting Kurds in Syria.
The government responded with
legislation tightening public security, fearing the loss of support for
a peace process in which President
Tayyip Erdogan has invested political capital.
“We will not take any step that society cannot accept,” Yalcin Akdogan
vowed in an interview with TV channel Haberturk.
HDP lawmaker Hasip Kaplan said
the government needed to bite the
bullet and put a peace deal framework in place.
“Because there is an election process ahead of us and the timetable is
limited, we are in a period requiring
important decisions on concepts,
institutions and conditions,” Kaplan
told Reuters, forecasting “important
announcements” by March.
Those involved in talks remain
tight-lipped on details, fearful of undermining prospects for a final deal.
Kurds have been pushing for Ocalan’s release, an amnesty for fighters
and steps towards autonomy.
Ankara’s hopes of a complete end
to the PKK as an armed group have
been frustrated by the role it has
carved out for itself fighting along
with allies in Syria and Iraq against
Islamic State.
“The PKK is not giving up armed
struggle. It is putting down weapons in Turkey and withdrawing its
fighters to Syria and Iraq,” columnist
Abdulkadir Selvi wrote in the progovernment Yeni Safak newspaper.
Events in Cizre showed the group
was also strengthening its urban
wing and maintaining its autonomy
goal, he said.
Some see last week’s shooting as
a swipe - by opponents of the peace
process on one side or the other - at
the authority of Ocalan, who publicly
launched the peace process in March
2013 declaring the time for armed
struggle was over. The boy was killed
as thousands peacefully dispersed in
Cizre following an appeal for calm by
Ocalan, read out at a public meeting.
“If there is just a millimetre of
hope in peace I will not get up from
this table. I will continue talks,” he
said in the appeal.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
France arrests
Russians over
‘attack’ plot
rance yesterday arrested five Russians accused of plotting a new
attack as four men suspected of
helping the gunmen behind the Paris
shootings were brought before antiterrorist judge.
European nations, on high alert after the attacks that shook France to its
core, have launched a wave of raids targeting suspected jihadist cells.
French prosecutors said five Russians
from the restive Muslim republic of
Chechnya had been detained near the
southern city of Montpellier suspected
of plotting an attack. No further details
about their plans were immediately
Meanwhile, prosecutors have called
for charges against four men suspected of
helping supply weapons and vehicles to
the Islamist gunmen who killed 17 people
in three days of carnage around Paris.
The four, who are appearing before a
anti-terrorist judge, would be the first
to face charges over the January 7-9 attacks, the worst in France in decades.
There has been a flurry of activity
by police and prosecutors across a jittery Europe, including raids by some
200 German police hunting a jihadist
network they believed was planning an
attack in Syria.
The Germans yesterday searched 13
apartments in Berlin and other locations, seeking people linked to the alleged leader and financier of the group
who had been detained on Friday.
Greece also ordered the extradition
of a 33-year-old Algerian man with
suspected links to yet another jihadist cell dismantled by Belgian security
forces last week over claims it was plotting to kill police officers.
The suspected mastermind of the
plot, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a 27-yearold Belgian of Moroccan descent, remains at large. And in Bulgaria, a court
ruled that a Frenchman who knew two
of the Paris attackers should be returned to his home country.
France had issued an arrest warrant
for Muslim convert Fritz-Joly Joachin,
29, who denies being an extremist but
was detained after trying to cross from
Bulgaria into Turkey before the attacks.
Joachin, of Haitian origin, has admitted to being “old friends” with the
Kouachi brothers.
Last week he said he used to play
football with the brothers and had a
“business connection” selling clothes
but denied knowing about their plans
to launch an Islamist attack.
Judge Stratimir Dimitrov told the
court in Bulgaria that Joachin “will remain under arrest until his final transfer to the French authorities” and that
“the ruling is final”.
His lawyer Radi Radev told journalists that he expects that the extradition
would take place “without any delay.
Maybe within 24 hours.”
Joachin was again brought to court by
several policemen and in handcuffs. He
told AFP after the hearing: “Yes, I am
happy to be returning to France.” Asked
if he was afraid that he might be convicted, he shook his head and said: “No”.
The attacks in Paris on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket and police officers triggered
global outrage and fears of a resurgence
of Islamist attacks in Europe.
A Muslim employee in the Jewish
supermarket, who was hailed as a hero
for trying to save customers during the
attack in which four people were killed,
yesterday gained French citizenship.
About 273,000 people had signed a
petition calling for France to naturalise
Lassana Bathily, 24, from Mali.
The attacks have forced France to face
up to its failure to integrate poorer, migrant
families, with Prime Minister Manuel
Valls admitting yesterday that the country
suffered “social and ethnic apartheid”.
He also sought to douse the anger
sweeping many Muslim countries after
Charlie Hebdo once again published an
offensive cartoon on its cover.
President Francois Hollande insisted
his country “insults no one when we
defend our ideas, when we proclaim
Austria issues an ultimatum
to Saudi-backed centre
threatened to withdraw support for
a Saudi-financed religious dialogue
centre unless it condemns the public flogging of a Saudi blogger that has sparked an
international outcry.
“An inter-religious dialogue centre that
remains silent when it is time to speak out
clearly for human rights is not worthy of
being called a dialogue centre. It is a silence centre,” Werner Faymann told radio
station Oe1.
“It cannot possibly be that we have a
centre in Austria with the title ‘inter-religious dialogue’ while at the same time
someone who actually engages in this is
in prison and fearing for his life,” Faymann
Saudi blogger and co-founder of the
Saudi Liberal Network, Raef Badawi, has
been jailed since 2012.
This month he received 50 lashes as the
first of 20 weekly floggings that he was
sentenced to in September concurrent
with 10 years in prison for insulting Islam.
Several countries including the US -
along with the UN human rights chief,
rights groups and academics - have
sharply criticised the sentence. Badawi’s
second flogging session was postponed
last week on medical grounds.
The King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and
Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) was
opened in Vienna with great pomp by
UN chief Ban Ki-moon and senior figures
from the world’s main religions in 2012.
Having come under considerable public
pressure of late, the KAICIID has said that
it condemns all forms of violence, but has
not spoken out specifically about Badawi.
It says it does not want to get involved in
the internal affairs of other countries.
Other members of Faymann’s government, notably Foreign Minister Sebastian
Kurz, who is from a different party than
the centre-left chancellor, have been less
Faymann said that he has ordered a report to be completed by March.
“I will wait for the report to see whether
this centre...has achieved anything that
could allow it to be called a dialogue centre. For me, as long as the centre stays silent, it does not perform this function,”
Faymann said.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (second right) and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo (right) pay their respects outside the Paris
headquarters of Charlie Hebdo.
But Valls sought to nuance the message, saying “’Je suis Charlie’ is not our
only message to the world.
“France carries freedom of expression everywhere, but it also defends
other values it holds dear: peace, respect for beliefs, dialogue between religions,” he said.
His words followed giant antiCharlie Hebdo marches in a number of
Europe has seen its own rallies, with
anti-Islamic groups and anti-racist
groups trying to out-number each
The Danish wing of Germany’s antiIslamic Pegida movement staged its
first rallies on Monday night, drawing
several hundred people in the capital
and other cities, but was outnumbered
by counter-demonstrators.
In Germany, too, more than 17,000
anti-racism demonstrators took to the
streets across the country on Monday
in opposition to Pegida, which had been
forced to cancel its own rally following
a terrorist threat.
Belgian ‘mastermind’ shamed family, insists his father
The father of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the
alleged mastermind of a foiled Islamist
plot in Belgium, says his son has shamed
the family and destroyed their lives.
“Why in the name of God, would
he want to kill innocent Belgians? Our
family owes everything to this country,”
Omar Abaaoud, whose family moved to
Belgium 40 years ago from Morocco,
told yesterday’s La Derniere Heure
“We had a wonderful life, yes, even a
fantastic life here. Abdelhamid was not a
difficult child and became a good businessman,” the father was quoted as saying.
“But suddenly he left for Syria. I wondered every day how he became radicalised to this point. I never got an answer,”
said the father of six children who lives
in Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, a working class
neighbourhood of Brussels.
“Abdelhamid has brought shame
on our family. Our lives have been destroyed,” he said.
Belgium’s Flemish-language VTM
channel reported that Abaaoud had
made calls from Greece to the brother of
one of the two heavily-armed suspects
killed in Verviers.
According to Belgian media, Abaaoud
spent time fighting alongside the Islamic
State group in Syria.
He was already known to security
forces after appearing in an Islamic State
video at the wheel of a car transporting
mutilated bodies to a mass grave.
In 2014, Abelhamid convinced his
younger brother Younes, then 13 years
old, to join him in Syria.
“He got himself recruited by Abdelhamid and for that I will never forgive Abdelhamid,” the father told La Derniere Heure.
“Do I still consider Abdelhamid my
son? It’s a very difficult question. Perhaps
the response is the following: I never
want to see him again. But I hope in
return that he makes it so that Younes
returns safe and sound,” he said.
‘French police abused
migrants in Calais’
frican migrants camped in
the northern French port of
Calais in hopes of eventually
reaching Britain are subject to police
beatings and harassment, Human
Rights Watch said yesterday.
The New York-based group (HRW)
called on the French government
to open an investigation into what
it called “routine ill-treatment” by
police towards the approximately
2,400 migrants and asylum seekers
living in the open air or in make-shift
tents near the busy port.
The migrants, many of whom have
crossed into France from Italy, are
escaping humanitarian crises in Africa and the Middle East. Most come
from Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia and
The port has long been a magnet
for illegal migrants trying to reach
Britain, where they believe they
are more likely to find work than in
France, or already have relatives.
“The French government must put
an end to police violence and honour
its pledge to quickly furnish housing to asylum-seekers,” HRW’s Izza
Leghtas said in a statement. “A lasting solution to the crisis in Calais has
been awaited for a long time.”
Flare-ups have occurred in recent
months between the rising number
of migrants, who try to sneak into
cargo trucks passing into Britain,
and security forces. Last September,
hundreds of migrants protested what
they said was police violence.
In the wake of clashes, French
and British authorities announced
heightened security measures, but a
shelter pledged by the French government for 1,500 migrants and asylum seekers to open by January is not
yet fully functional, HRW said.
In its report HRW said it had documented 19 cases of police abuse,
notably beatings, towards migrants,
including two involving children.
Eight people suffered broken bones
or other visible wounds they said
were caused by police.
Another 21 people were sprayed
with tear gas, HRW said.
Most of the migrants are living
without shelter, with no access to
toilets and showers and limited access to running water. Many rely on
meals provided by local volunteer
Under French law, asylum seekers have the right to be housed in a
state-run facility as they await the
processing of their claim.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said HRW’s allegations had
not been properly verified, and the
group should have met with police
heads “about precise facts” before
publishing them.
Over 400 Calais migrants have
asked for asylum since September,
Cazeneuve said in the statement. On
average, housing was found for them
within a month, and their cases were
examined within 45 days, he said.
‘Drone’ spotted
over Elysee
small propeller drone was
spotted flying over the
Elysee Palace, the official
residence of the French president, in the early hours of January 16, the latest in a series of
unexplained drone activity over
sensitive French targets.
While authorities have eliminated the possibility of a terrorist motive, they are stumped as
to its origin, French media reported yesterday.
The Elysee drone, reportedly
resembling a helicopter with
four propellers, was spotted by
police as it flew over the palace
from the direction of the Place
Beauvau - the seat of the Interior Ministry - toward the Place
de la Concorde, French broadcaster iTele reported.
An investigation was ordered
into the craft, which was characterized by authorities as too lightweight to carry explosives but
possibly equipped with a camera.
The drone was not recovered.
The incident comes on the
heels of a wave of mysterious drone flights over most of
France’s nuclear plants during
the past months, in violation
of a ban on airspace above the
Ancient scrolls scorched by Vesuvius may be read again
The harbour of ancient Herculaneum (Ercolano) is illuminated during a night tour called ‘Herculaneum,
Buried Stories’.
recious scrolls blackened
by the eruption of the Vesuvius volcano in AD 79
may become readable again,
thanks to 21st century technology, scientists said yesterday.
Hundreds of papyrus scrolls
believed to have been authored
by Greek philosophers were
found in the Roman town of Herculaneum, which was hit in the
same eruption that destroyed the
town of Pompeii.
Whereas Pompeii was buried
under a thick layer of ash, nearby
Herculaneum met a somewhat
different fate - it was exposed to
a roiling blast of volcanic gas.
The furnace-like heat burned its
citizens alive and turned the writings into pitch-black, brittle rolls.
The carbonised manuscripts,
part of the only library to have
survived from the classical world,
were found 260 years ago in the
ruins of a huge villa believed to
have been owned by a wealthy
Roman statesman, Calpurnius
Piso Caesoninus.
Now stored at the National Library of Naples, they are so fragile that the slightest touch can
cause them to crumble.
Adding to the problem is that
the letters on the papyrus were
written in ink made from soot.
On the blackened background,
they are nearly invisible to the
naked eye.
So many papyri have been
damaged or destroyed in attempts to pierce their secrets
that archaeologists abandoned
the quest in frustration.
But, in a study published in
the journal Nature Communications, Italian researchers offer
hope that the enigmatic texts
may be revealed for the first time
in nearly 2,000 years.
“It’s always hard to make a
precise prediction, but with resources, the scrolls should be
readable within the next decade,”
lead scientist Vito Mocella told
Mocella, who works at the Institute for Microelectronics and
Microsystems (IMM) in Naples,
led a team to probe the scrolls
non-invasively using X-ray
phase-contrast tomography - a
scanner also used in medicine to
image soft tissue.
The technique exploits the fact
that different materials absorb
X-rays differently.
The researchers wrote a purpose-made algorithm to process the signals returned from the
beams, seeking to tease out contrasts between the papyrus and
the inked letters.
They tested their innovation
on pieces of a scroll that had been
unrolled in fragments in 1986.
They then moved onto a far
tougher target - a scrunchedup, sausage-shaped scroll about
20cm long that is more fragile
than old lace.
The scanner was able to pick
out all 24 letters of the Greek alphabet in the rolled-up text and
pinpoint a specific handwriting
style, a potential clue to the identity of the author.
But the team was not able to
read words and had problems
delving into the scroll’s deeper
But, said the authors, the experiment only intended to be a
“proof of concept” - a demonstration that a new technique
works but needs refinement.
A finer X-ray beam and improved algorithm should be able
to get better contrast and definition of each letter, they said.
“It holds out the promise that
many philosophical works from
the library of the ‘Villa dei Papiri’,
the contents of which have so far
remained unknown, may in future be deciphered without damaging the papyrus in any way,”
the study said. If so, this could
unlock other ancient texts.
There is speculation that the
villa in Herculaneum has a second library “at a lower, as yet unexcavated” level, it added.
Mocella said the key to deciphering this extraordinary haul
of literature was not so much
technology as funding. “The
work we did was voluntary - it
was done virtually in our spare
time,” he said.
Technology was fast advancing to enable scientists to read
the scrolls, added Mocella, and
pointed to the potential of another non-invasive tool called
tomo fluorescence.
But using it “depends on getting the means,” he said.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
1977 CASE
3 stowaways discovered on
Dutch navy Ebola aid ship
Far-right Sweden Democrats
fail to rattle government
Macedonia scribe has
sentence suspended
Polanski extradition
request sent to court
Art dealer ordered to pay
$22mn in damages
Dutch sailors discovered three stowaways
aboard the navy’s largest support ship after
returning from a trip to West Africa to drop off
supplies to fight Ebola. “The three men slipped
on board via anchor ropes” after the Karel
Doorman docked in Dakar harbour on its way
back from dropping its cargo, the Dutch defence
ministry said in a statement. “The men hid in
several places including in a lifeboat,” it said.
After being discovered, the men underwent
medical examinations. The three men will be
handed over to border police upon the Karel
Doorman’s return to its home port of Den Helder
in the Netherlands on Saturday.
Swedish far-right party Sweden Democrats
failed yesterday in their second attempt
to topple Prime Minister Stefan Loefven.
The Sweden Democrats struck down
Loefven’s budget in December to signal
discontent with the country’s immigration
policies, forcing the Social Democrat leader to
call snap elections that were later averted in
a deal with the centre-right opposition. With
the Left Party and the centre-right opposition
abstaining, the no-confident vote failed, with
the Sweden Democrats falling more than 130
votes short of the 176 required to bring down the
A Macedonian journalist jailed last week to a
storm of criticism over media freedom had
his two-year prison sentence suspended for
one month on health grounds and pending
a probation request. Tomislav Kezarovski,
a journalist for the Skopje-based daily Nova
Makedonija, was imprisoned for revealing the
identity of a protected witness in a murder case
in a story published in 2008. Kezarovski had
obtained the name from an internal police report
leaked to him. “This is a small victory, but it is not
over. Kezarovski is innocent and the courts must
accept that,” said Tamara Causidis, president of
Macedonia’s Union of Journalists.
Polish prosecutors have sent a request to a
regional court in Krakow for the extradition of
filmmaker Roman Polanski to the US over a 1977
child sex-crime conviction, the Prosecutors’
Office in Krakow said yesterday. “The further
actions in this case will depend on the court,” the
prosecutors’ office said in a statement. According
to Polish law, if the court decides that the US
request should proceed further, the justice minister
will then make the decision on whether to extradite
Polanski. The Oscar-winning filmmaker pleaded
guilty in 1977 to having unlawful sex with 13-yearold Samantha Geimer during a photoshoot in Los
Angeles fuelled by champagne and drugs.
A German court yesterday ordered an art
dealer to pay more than 19mn euros ($22mn)
in damages to one of the country’s richest
families over the sales of paintings and vintage
cars. Helge Achenbach, 62, had added spurious
charges during the sale to the late Berthold
Albrecht, heir to the Aldi Nord supermarket
empire, the court in the western city of
Dusseldorf said. Albrecht paid around 97mn
euros in total for 21 artworks and 11 vintage cars some 19.3mn euros too much, the court found in
its ruling on a civil claim. A criminal case against
Achenbach for fraud is also currently underway
in a court in Essen. He denies the charges.
raids target
Erdogan foes
urkish police yesterday
detained 23 people suspected of a role in illegal
wiretapping in a move local media said was aimed at supporters
of President Tayyip Erdogan’s
ally-turned-foe, US-based cleric
Fethullah Gulen.
Ankara prosecutors are investigating claims of wiretapping
targeting Erdogan, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, the head
of the armed forces and other top
officials. The prosecutor’s office
was not available for comment.
Separately, the interior ministry replaced police chiefs in 21
provinces, according to an announcement published in Turkey’s Official Gazette. It was not
immediately clear why they were
being replaced.
Broadcasters including CNN
Turk said the raids, in four provinces including Ankara, were
against the “parallel structure”,
the term Erdogan uses to refer to
Gulen’s supporters in the judiciary, police and other institutions.
Arrest warrants were issued
for 28 people at the TIB telecommunications authority and
at TUBITAK, Turkey’s Scientific and Technological Research
Council, local media said.
Transport Minister Lutfi Elvan
said yesterday’s operation was
part of three investigations being
carried out against TIB officials
accused of involvement in illegal
A corruption investigation
targeting Erdogan’s inner circle
which became public in December 2013 was based in part on
wiretapped conversations, many
of which were subsequently
leaked on the Internet.
The government says Gulen
was behind that investigation
and had instigated it in an attempt to overthrow the government.
A Turkish court issued an arrest warrant in December for the
Muslim cleric, who has lived in
self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999.
Erdogan responded to the investigation with a purge of the
state apparatus, reassigning
thousands of police and hundreds of judges and prosecutors
deemed loyal to Gulen, in what
his supporters said was a cleansing of the cleric’s influence.
Turkey’s Western allies have
reacted with alarm to what they
see as signs of erosion of the rule
of law. Four prosecutors who
initiated the graft inquiries have
been suspended, the court cases
dropped and government influence over the judiciary tightened.
Alarm as Baikal water levels drop
ussia yesterday sounded
the alarm as water levels
in Lake Baikal, the world’s
largest freshwater lake, dropped
to record lows, with environmentalists blaming dry weather
and overuse by local industry.
The regional emergency
ministry in Buryatia region on
the lake’s shores announced a
state of high alert as villages
surrounding the lake were reportedly hit by water shortages.
The water level in the lake is
just 8cm above the minimum
456m above sea level allowed by
the Russian government. The
lake has been at its lowest levels
in 60 years, according to Buryatia
natural resources minister Yury
Environmentalists, fishermen
and industry that relies on hy-
droelectric power stations fed by
Baikal haggle over the lake year
after year.
The Irkutsk hydroelectric
power station on the Angara
River flowing from Lake Baikal
serves the large city of Irkutsk
with electricity and water. It also
feeds an enormous aluminium
plant in the region with electricity. There are several other hydroelectric power plants on the
Lake Baikal - one of Russia’s
most striking landmarks which
contains around one-fifth of the
Earth’s fresh water - is also a
bone of contention between big
industry and local populations
thirsty for its water.
In Buryatia, a region that borders Lake Baikal and Mongolia,
the governor Vyacheslav Nagovitsyn said there were already
reports of underground springs
drying up, fish disappearing and
wild fires increasing.
“Every year, energy workers
want to lower the level of Baikal
to produce more power,” said Alexander Kolotov, a coordinator
for Rivers Without Boundaries,
a coalition of environmentalists
in Russia, China, Mongolia and
the US.
“But that is detrimental to the
ecosystem,” he told AFP.
A special meeting of the Russian government will decide next
week whether to allow Baikal
to drop below the current legal
minimum level to feed the hydroelectric power plants, he said.
Last spring Baikal’s levels were
lowered as everyone expected a
rainy year, but the year turned
out to be dry and the lake’s level
stayed low, said Arkady Ivanov of
Greenpeace’s Baikal programme.
“Now the energy industry
wants to drop it even further the more the level drops the more
money is made,” Ivanov said,
cautioning that lower levels disrupt fish spawning and increase
algae growth.
‘Love lock’
A tourist attaches a ‘love lock’ on a fence on the access ramp to the Pont des Arts, over the River Seine in Paris, which is covered with
thousands of padlocks.
Norway moves Arctic ice
edge north, eyes oil bids
Oslo/Sandefjord, Norway
orway yesterday invited firms to
drill for oil and gas further inside the
Arctic Circle, putting the government at loggerheads with opposition parties
as it seeks to open up new fields at a time of
declining production.
Launching a new licensing round, Oslo
said it would offer 57 blocks in the previously unexplored eastern part of the Barents
Sea, which had been free of ice since 2004.
“When the ice has moved, and satellites
show it has moved further north, then we
have to take care of nature in this area. What
we are doing will ensure that,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg told NRK public radio.
The government said it planned to award
the blocks in the new zone, where Norway
settled a 40-year border dispute with Russia in 2010, in the first half of 2016.
The sector lies 60km to the north of areas
currently accessible to the oil industry. It is
being opened up on the basis of a new 1984-
2013 benchmark for the spread of sea ice,
which supersedes measurements collated
between 1967 and 1989.
The government also awarded 54 blocks
in mature areas to 43 companies, with Statoil gaining the right to operate eight, Lundin Petroleum six and Total five.
Oil Minister Tord Lien said that, despite
industry cutbacks expected this year, the
government would carry on awarding large
numbers of new licences.
Norway’s oil directorate said last week
its oil industry would shrink this year and
might decline faster thereafter unless crude
prices recovered.
Statoil chief executive Eldar Saetre said
current market conditions would not determine whether the firm bid for any of the
eastern Barents Sea blocks. “We are not going to apply current oil prices as the basis for
long-term decisions,” he told Reuters.
But the government may struggle to win
parliamentary approval for that licensing
round. Two small opposition parties - the
Liberals and Christian Democrats - which
have helped pass legislation since a deal in
2012 including that oil and gas exploration
would not take place near ice, said they did not
support the northward extension in its current
form. They fear risks of oil spills, which are
harder to clear up when mixed into ice.
Norway is one of several oil-producing
nations with access to Arctic waters that
have gradually moved further north as existing wells have started to run dry.
But it has been more active in the Arctic than most, with its energy firms, led by
Statoil, having started drilling there decades ago as its waters, warmed by the Gulf
Stream, are relatively ice free.
Arctic ice has shrunk significantly over
the same period, in a trend scientists link to
climate change.
The Norwegian Polar Institute, which
said last year some blocks in the eastern
Barents Sea should be off limits, supported
the government’s overall evaluation, its
head Jan-Gunnar Winther said.
Truls Gulowsen of Greenpeace urged Oslo
to take the maximum extent of ice as a guide,
but said the debate about staying clear of ice
set a good example for other Arctic states.
Hungarian ‘space-age piano’ scales new heights
By Marton Dunai, Reuters
Szigethalom, Hungary
Award-winning Hungarian pianist Gergely Boganyi plays his new concept piano at a recording studio in Budapest.
n the 19th century, piano
makers competed to make
special instruments for
Hungarian virtuoso Franz Liszt,
the world’s first piano superstar.
Now Hungary is returning
the favour with a space-age piano named for its creator, pianist Gergely Boganyi.
“The Boganyi”, unveiled yesterday, has two legs, uses carbon composite as well as wood
and employs wild curves to get
a more powerful and balanced
sound than that of similarsized conventional models.
“What we created will enrich
piano history,” Boganyi, 41, told
Reuters in his team’s workshop
loft at a crumbling communistera factory.
“It is said that old pianos
sound friendly, velvety, while
new ones are stronger and more
powerful. I was hoping for both.”
Nearly all 18,000 components were rethought. The
two wide, curved legs double
as sound deflectors. Thanks to
an intricate mechanism, the
strings apply minimal pressure
on the sound board, made of
over 20 carbon composite layers. The cast-iron frame boasts
an all-new design.
Although Boganyi does not
yet know the price, he said that,
given the materials, “it cannot
be cheap”.
Three experts told Reuters
the piano could well be worth
Karoly Reisinger, CEO of the
New York piano repair shop
Klavierhaus, was “mesmerised” at a sound he said brought
lyrical qualities back to the piano after a century of powerfocused development.
“In this design you will be
able to hear the 1850-1860 era
qualities, lyrical, bell-like, precise - and also the modern instrument that our time is used
to, which is clarity,” he said.
Four-time Grammy-nominated jazz pianist Gerald Clayton felt he had played a slick
new type of instrument.
“The sound almost feels as if
you’re in a bubble, it’s so clear,”
he said. “It’s a new sensation.”
Without the traditional
rear leg, Peter Uveges’s design
seems poised to start a race. He
has had to draw alternatives for
clients with more conservative
“It excited me to create a visible unity between the upper
body and the legs that departs
from the traditional table look,”
he said.
Boganyi was so committed to his dream that he had
his cherished old piano, a gift
from the Hungarian master
Dezso Ranki, refitted with carbon fibre sounding board to
test it out.
“When it first came back into
my small apartment and I began to play ... the first moment
was shocking,” he said. “I felt a
whole new spectrum of sound.”
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Policemen suspended
over Muzaffarpur riots
Judge summons Koda
in coal block case
Rs500bn outlay
for roads upgrade
Religious leaders
hacked to death
Toyota to help train
Kerala’s technical students
Five police officials were suspended in Bihar’s
Muzaffarpur district yesterday after four people were
killed in an arson attack in a village that later turned
into a communal clash, police said. The incident
took place in Muslim-dominated Ajitpur Bahilwara
village after a 20-year-old Hindu boy’s body was
found on Sunday. He was allegedly abducted and
killed over his affair with a Muslim girl. Muzaffarpur’s
Senior Superintendent of Police Ranjit Kumar
Mishra suspended five police officials, including the
Saraiya police station chief. Chief Minister Jitan Ram
Manjhi has already ordered the immediate arrest
and speedy trial of culprits involved in the incident.
Muzaffarpur district magistrate Anupam Kumar said
normality has returned to the village.
A New Delhi court yesterday issued summons
to former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu
Koda and seven others in a coal block
allocation case involving Vini Iron and Steel
Udyog Ltd. Special Judge Bharat Parashar
issued the summons based on a charge-sheet
filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation
(CBI) last month. The CBI has accused Koda
and the others of cheating and criminal
conspiracy. The case involves the allocation
of coal blocks to Vini in Jharkhand’s Rajhara
town. The CBI alleged that the firm had
applied for allocation of coal blocks although
Vini was not recommended by either steel
ministry or the Jharkhand government.
Minister for Road Transport, Highways and
Shipping Nitin Gadkari yesterday announced that
the central government would spend Rs500bn to
improve roads in Uttar Pradesh. A major overhaul
of roads is a pre-requisite for the development
and progress of Uttar Pradesh, Gadkari said in
Basti district, while laying the foundation stone
for widening the Lumbini-Duddhi road. The
minister said the Bharatiya Janata Party has a
good record of improving road infrastructure
in the country. He also announced that the Ram
Janki road would be upgraded to a national
highway and the work would begin within the
next four months. Gadkari said a peripheral ring
road would be built in Basti.
A Hindu religious leader was yesterday
murdered at the Magh Mela in Allahabad on the
banks of Sangam, the confluence of Ganges,
Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati, police said.
Identified as Rakteshwaranand, the middle-aged
man was found hacked to death, investigating
officers said. A complaint has been lodged
against unidentified people and the police
are probing the case, an officer said adding
Rakteshwaranand was residing in Manav Utthan
Samiti camp. Agitated over the murder, many
religious leaders camping in the mela premises
lodged a protest with the police, seeking more
security in the area as millions of devotees were
camping there for the 44-day religious fair.
Toyota Kirloskar Motor Pvt Ltd, in collaboration
with Toyota Motor Corporation, yesterday
announced the launch of its distinctive training
model - Body & Paint Technician Toyota-Technical
Education Programme (T-TEP) at Government ITI
Chalakudy in Kerala. T-TEP is a one-year training
module in which Toyota has tied up with industrial
training institutes. It was launched in 2006 in India
and is the first such programme to be launched in
Kerala. With this, Toyota Kirloskar Motor intends to
enhance the technical abilities and employability
of Industrial Training Institute (ITI) students. Toyota
will provide all necessary support to the institute in
the form of training consumables, visiting faculty,
training materials, tools and equipment.
India’s tiger
jumps 30%,
says survey
Over 10mn
take part in
Kerala run
Run Kerala Run’, the curtain
raiser to the 35th National
Games, ‘ran’ into history
when every third Keralite took
part in the race held all across the
state yesterday morning.
Cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar
was the chief guest of the event
which started from the state secretariat.
Even Chief Minister Oommen
Chandy and Governor P Sathasivam found it difficult to rub
shoulders with the cricket legend as thousands were in waiting
to have a glimpse of the icon and
to run alongside him.
At 10.30am, Sathasivam read
out a pledge in English and then
raised the flag signalling the
start of the run.
Chandy and his cabinet colleagues turned up in track suits
while Tendulkar stood out in a
red T-shirt with sunglasses.
Due to security reasons and
the huge crowd, eminent personalities, including Chandy
and Tendulkar, found it impossible to run and instead walked
200m and then hopped into a
car to reach the Central Stadium
Addressing the public meeting, Sports Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan said
this was a world record - more
than 10mn people took part in
the run that took place in more
than 10,000 locations across the
Chandy said with this, Kerala
has written itself into the record
books and this showed that
nothing is impossible for the
state to achieve.
“If Kerala stands united as we
did in this event, there is nothing
that Kerala cannot achieve. We
should stand united in all our efforts,” Chandy said.
However, the biggest cheer
was reserved for Tendulkar who
is also the goodwill ambassador
for the upcoming 35th National
Games that begins here on January 31.
Some 9,700 hidden cameras
were used in known tiger
habitats to take photos of the
animals for the count
New Delhi
Tendulkar waves to fans as he and Chief Minister Oommen Chandy take part in the ‘Run Kerala Run’
event in Thiruvananthapuram yesterday.
ndia, home to most of the
world’s wild tigers, yesterday
reported a 30% jump in the
animal’s numbers in a rare piece
of good news for conservationists.
A census found 2,226 tigers
in India last year compared
with 1,706 in 2010, officials announced, with most of the beasts
individually identified around
the country.
Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar hailed the rise as
a “huge success” as India battles
to save the endangered big cats
from poachers and smugglers as
well as destruction of their natural habitat.
“While the tiger population
is falling in the world, it is rising
in India. We have increased by
30% from the last count. That is
a huge success story,” Javadekar
said at the release of the census.
The minister cited improved
management of India’s more
than 40 tiger reserves, which are
spread from Assam and Rajasthan to Maharashtra.
He said the government was
working to reduce deadly encounters between tigers and
people, as farmers and others encroach on forest land and the cats
leave reserves to search for water
and food.
“This is the result of combined
efforts of passionate officers,
forest guards, community participation and our scientific approach. That’s why we want to
create more tiger reserves,” Javadekar said.
Some 9,700 hidden cameras
were used in known tiger habitats to take photos of the animals
for the count. Officials said some
70% of the tigers were snapped
and individually identified using
computer software.
Wright said the methodology
used was “scientifically robust”
with officials, NGOs and others
involved in surveying the animals
over a 300,000 sq km area.
“The information (in the census) is as accurate as you can get.
So it’s very good news for the tigers,” Wright, from the Wildlife
Protection Society of India, said
in Delhi.
“The loss of wildlife corridors
for tigers is a big concern at the
moment as the land is increasingly used for development,” she
“Hopefully this will send a
signal to the new government (of
Prime Minister Narendra Modi)
to protect these corridors” as tigers are known to move from one
reserve to another.
Better protection has helped
the tigers to breed at the reserves, officials from the National Tiger Conservation Authority said.
More than half of the world’s
rapidly dwindling wild tiger
population lives in India, but
the country’s conservation programme has been working to halt
their decline.
Numbers have been rising
since they hit 1,411 in 2006, but
the current population still remains a long way off 2002 when
some 3,700 tigers were estimated
to be alive in the country.
There were thought to be
around 40,000 tigers in India at
the time of independence in 1947.
Authorities across Asia are
waging a major battle against
poachers, who often sell tiger
body parts to the lucrative traditional Chinese medicine market,
as well as other man-made problems such as habitat loss.
Thousands of tribal people
were allegedly evicted from a tiger reserve in the central state
of Madhya Pradesh last year in
an attempt to better protect the
An indigenous rights group
has claimed the 3,000-odd people were neither resettled nor
adequately compensated for the
loss of their ancestral lands.
Project Tiger, the government’s conservation programme,
was launched in 1973 to arrest
the decline in the country’s tiger
Controversy over CJI’s ‘endorsement’ of PM
I rate him as a good leader,
good human being and a
man with a foresight and one
who wants good governance.”
If you have not guessed it already, the object of such wholesome praise is none other than
Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
And if such glowing approval
was coming from one of the apparatchiks of the ‘SanghParivaar’
or a minister in the Modi government or even a head of state of
a foreign country that has commercial or strategic interests in
India, then it would have been par
for the course. You don’t expect
anything else from such quarters
But these were words spoken by
none other than the Chief Justice
of India! And there is more. “In
my four-month tenure, I have interacted with him four times and
the response from his side has
been very positive. The incumbent government has so far met all
the demands made by the judiciary,” said Chief Justice Handyala
Lakshminarayanaswamy Dattu.
That’s the sort of gold-framed
endorsement any prime minister would want to have on his ego
wall. But Justice Dattu’s remarks,
although made during an informal chat with reporters, have
turned into a major topic of discussion and even controversy.
Leading the pack is the opposition Congress Party. “We have
the highest respect for the judiciary and the Chief Justice of India.
However, it was an unnecessary
certificate that the CJI gave to
the PM. It is difficult to guess if a
person has foresight or not,” said
Congress spokesman Rashid Alvi.
Communist Party of India
leader and member of the Rajya
Sabha D Raja said it was surprising that the CJI made such a remark: “The CJI is entitled for personal opinions but he shouldn’t
make such utterances in public. It
raises many questions about the
independence and impartiality of
the judiciary.”
Senior lawyer and Nationalist Congress Party leader Majeed
Memon echoed Raja: “What he
(the CJI) has done has created unnecessary suspicion in the minds
of the people that probably he is
leaning towards the government
or a leader.”
Even respected lawyer Fali Nariman felt that the CJI’s comments
were “inappropriate and ill-advised.” “He should have simply
said ‘no comments’ when the reporters asked him about the prime
minister,” Nariman said.
The BJP, of course, has a different view on the matter. Party
spokesman Aman Sinha, also a
Supreme Court lawyer, was of the
view that the CJI, like any ordinary citizen of the country, is perfectly within his rights to comment on politicians and issues
related to politics.
But is the Chief Justice of India
“any ordinary citizen”? Can he
make his personal opinion of an-
Delhi Diary
By A K B Krishnan
other constitutional functionary
public? A judge should express his
views through his judgments, not
in any other forum. That has been
the accepted wisdom. Agreed that
the three arms of the government
in a democracy - the legislature,
the executive and the judiciary must work in tandem. However a
certain amount of friction among
the three is only to be expected between the first two it happens
most of the time in parliament
and outside of it - and, in fact, can
only add to the robustness of the
democracy. Justice Dattu himself
said during the same interaction
that “some tension between judiciary and executive is good.”
During his 12-year reign as
chief minister of Gujarat Modi
had faced several criminal cases
related to the riots of 2002. Although he has not been found
guilty in any of these despite repeated inquiries and investigations - one even monitored by the
Supreme Court - a question mark
had always hung over Modi’s acceptability. Leave alone his political opponents, even many neutral
observers and editorial writers
have not given Modi the sort of
endorsement that Justice Dattu
has now gone public with.
Politics, after all, is mostly
swayed by public perception.
Modi has won several elections
after the riots, culminating in
last year’s resounding triumph
that took him and his party to
the seat of power in New Delhi.
But despite all that, even today
if someone raises the question of
the riots, most BJP spokespersons
go on the defensive and for good
reason too.
Justice Dattu, though, is not the
first CJI to pay such encomium
to a prime minister with a “past”.
The then chief justice of India P N
Bhagwati wrote to Indira Gandhi
after her victory in the 1980 general elections thus: “May I offer
you my heartiest congratulations
on your resounding victory in the
elections and your triumphant
return as the Prime Minister of
India...I am sure that with your
iron will and firm determination,
uncanny insight and dynamic
vision, great administrative capacity and vast experience, overwhelming love and affection of
the people and above all, a heart
which is identified with the mis-
ery of the poor and the weak, you
will be able to steer the ship of
the nation safely to its cherished
Dattu’s three short sentences
about Modi, in comparison, is as
harmless as a nursery rhyme.
Bhagwati lived to regret it
though. Some 30 years later he
apologised for his indiscretion.
According to noted lawyer Soli
Sorabjee, Justice Dattu will never
have to face such a situation. Because, says Sorabjee, if the CJI
were to find the government’s
next case before him unconvincing, “for sure Justice Dattu will
come down on the government
with a heavy hand.”
We will take Sorabjee for his
word. But the problem is from
now on every one of Justice Dattu’s judgements in cases involving
the government would get scrutinised ever more closely. And that’s
not a very happy situation to be in
for a chief justice. As Nariman
said, if only Justice Dattu had said
“No comments”!
and politics
The BJP government in Rajasthan has promulgated an ordinance by which those contesting
elections to the local governing
bodies like village and municipal
councils must have a minimum
educational qualification of success in class 8 examination.
It may be beyond belief for
some that in this day and age
there has got be laws to make
sure that those who govern have
at least minimum schooling, but
India, despite boasting several
Nobel laureates, mission to Mars
and such, is still a very backward
country when it comes to education. So the Vasundhara Raje-led
government’s initiative must be
seen as a forward-looking one.
But the Congress Prty, and
surprisingly some editorial writers too, have a different opinion.
They say that such a law - once
the ordinance is passed by the
state assembly and is not challenged in court, it will become law
- could disqualify the majority of
contestants. The ordinance was
indeed challenged in the Supreme
Court by some NGOs but the
court promptly sent them back to
the state high court without giving any verdict.
The Congress has ruled the
country - and the state of Rajasthan, for that matter - for most
of the seven decades post-independence and still cannot claim
to have brought this minimum
level of education to the masses.
And now when laws are being
introduced to give the educated
an advantage, and in the process,
perhaps, encourage the uneducated to get educated, the Congress is crying foul. Sachin Pilot,
who heads the state unit of the
Congress, says the government’s
intentions are mala fide.
But how can education or efforts at educating people be mala
fide? If it is the local body today,
it could be the state assembly
and parliament tomorrow that
will have only educated people
as members. That’s progress. But
the Congress seems to look at the
short-term, as has been its wont
be it on its policy on reservation or
minorities or even land reforms,
But something very ironical is
being played out elsewhere and
the Congress is blissfully unaware of the connection. A rebellion is brewing within the youth
wing of the Congress. A section
of the party in Punjab is upset
at the appointment of Amrinder
Singh Raja Warring as president
of the Indian Youth Congress
Warring was handpicked by
Rahul Gandhi to head the youth
wing of the party after his giant
killing feat of defeating Manpreet
Badal in the assembly elections
in 2012. But partymen in the state
are not enthused. The affidavit he
filed for the elections shows his
educational qualification as Class
10 dropout! Now Congress workers are demanding that Warring’s
appointment be cancelled as he
lacks the kind of education one
might expect of a Youth Congress
president. Somehow one gets the
feeling that the Congress is seeking to prove right what Samuel
Johnson said about patriotism
(read politics)?
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Govt slammed
for appointing
Modi ‘loyalists’
to censor board
oliticians, writers and
filmmakers linked to the
ruling Bharatiya Janata
Party have been named to the
country’s censorship panel,
battling allegations they were
hand-picked by a pro-Hindu
government with a partisan
Pahlaj Nihalani, a movie
producer, was chosen as chairman of the Central Board of
Film Certification on Monday
along with nine new members
to replace incumbents who
quit last week citing government interference.
Nihalani, the producer
of Bollywood hits such as
Aankhen in the 1990s, created
a promotional campaign video
for the May 2014 election that
saw Prime Minister Narendra
Modi come to power.
The appointments invited
ridicule on social media, with
Twitter users questioning the
merits of picking well-known
sympathisers of Modi and his
Newcomers on the panel include politicians, actors and a
writer who wrote a script for a
film about Modi.
Filmmaker Ashoke Pandit,
one of the new members, said
individual political leanings
would not affect their work.
“I’m a big fan of Mr Modi
Nihalani: new censor board
and his vision ... but when it
comes to passing films, there
is a constitution and you have
to follow that,” Pandit said,
adding last week’s mass resignations were a political move
to discredit the ruling party.
Nihalani was not available
for comment.
Last week’s censor panel
resignations were prompted
by the impending release of
the controversial film MSG:
The Messenger of God. The
panel had kept the film out of
cinemas on the grounds that it
was a promotional film about
the leader of a religious sect
and would encourage superstition.
The decision was overturned by an appellate tribunal that gave the go-ahead to
the film starring Gurmeet Ram
Rahim Singh, a self-styled
spiritual leader with several
million followers. Singh’s sect
had supported BJP candidates
in state elections last year.
Yesterday, the opposition
Congress accused the government of keeping the ministries
for human resources and information and broadcasting
under the sway of Modi’s proHindu platform.
“Good luck, Bollywood!
Rest assured, there will be no
sequel to PK,” Congress Party
spokesman Sanjay Jha said on
PK has grossed over Rs3bn
($48.54mn) since December to
become Indian cinema’s biggest hit, but the film nettled
several Hindu groups over its
depiction of religious rituals
and a corrupt spiritual guru.
“When PK released, we
faced so much criticism, but
we stood our ground,” Leela
Samson said last week after
quitting as censor board chief.
“It’s ridiculous that as a
country, we cannot even laugh
at ourselves any more.”
Asaram’s bail plea rejected
The Supreme Court yesterday
rejected an appeal for bail by
self-styled godman Asaram
Bapu who is accused of
sexually assaulting a 16-yearold girl at his ashram in
Jodhpur. The court however
permitted him to make a fresh
appeal after all witnesses,
including the girl and her
father, were examined by the
trial court. Earlier, Asaram’s
lawyer Vikas Singh pressed
for bail, saying all the material
witnesses in the case were
examined by the trial court on
Monday and he should now be
set free. However, Additional
Solicitor General Pinki Anand,
appearing for the Rajasthan
government, wondered how
the plea for regular bail was
being raised as the hearing
was limited to the medical
condition of Asaram. Lawyer
Kamini Jaiswal, appearing for
the girl’s family, too raised the
same objection.
Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal waves to supporters during a road show ahead of assembly elections in New Delhi yesterday. Also seen are party leaders Manish Sisodia,
Ashutosh and Sanjay Singh.
BJP rejects Kejriwal’s
call for debate with Bedi
The battle for Delhi
intensifies following clarity
about the campaign leaders
of the BJP, the AAP and the
New Delhi
haratiya Janata Party’s
chief ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi yesterday sidestepped Aam Aadmi
Party leader Arvind Kejriwal’s
challenge for a debate on issues facing the national capital
but Congress general secretary Ajay Maken expressed his
willingness for a structured
discussion among the three
politicians who are leading the
campaign of their parties for
the Delhi assembly elections.
Kejriwal threw the challenge
for a debate a day after Bedi was
named the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate.
The BJP retorted by terming
Kejriwal “I run man” and Bedi
“Iron Lady.”
The battle for Delhi intensified yesterday, following clarity
about the campaign leaders of
the BJP, the AAP and the Congress.
Kejriwal, a former Delhi chief
minister, led a road show in central Delhi but could not file his
nomination papers as he could
not reach the district magistrate’s office on time.
Bedi held a rally in Krishna
Nagar, the seat she is contesting
Kejriwal said an informed
debate between the three
contenders to the post of chief
minister will help the people
of Delhi make an informed
“Ajay Maken, Kiran Bedi and
I, all three should have a debate
so that people can make an informed choice about selecting
their chief minister,” he told reporters.
He had earlier conveyed his
challenge to Bedi for a debate
through a tweet.
“Congrats 4 being nominated
as BJP’s CM candidate. I invite u
4 a public debate moderated by
neutral person and telecast by
all,” Kejriwal said.
Kejriwal, who is leading the
AAP campaign, also said Bedi
has blocked him on social networking site Twitter.
Bedi said she was willing to
take part in a debate but in the
Delhi assembly as her focus was
on “delivery” and not on just
“I accept the challenge but
I will do it only in the Delhi assembly. Right now, I am focusing
on delivery, while debate is all he
(Kejriwal) has been doing,” Bedi
told reporters.
BJP spokesman Sambit Patra
called Kejriwal’s move a publicity gimmick.
“The battle in Delhi is between Iron Lady and I-run-man
- a man who has been on the
run for (the post of) CM to PM,”
Patra said, referring to Kejriwal’s
defeat in Varanasi to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
He said Kejriwal stands for
“drama, dharna (demonstration)
and debate,” while the BJP stands
for “development, democracy
and delivery.”
Patra said the people of Delhi
will decide if they want another
dramatic debate or development
and delivery.
“This debate is a gimmick to
gain some cheap publicity. The
AAP is all about publicity, they
want to use Kiran ji for their
publicity,” Patra said.
Referring to Kejriwal speaking about Bedi blocking him on
Twitter, Patra said: “Kiran ji
blocked Kejriwal on Twitter one
EU lifts ban on
Indian mango
Music director felicitated
Tamil superstar Rajinikanth felicitates music director Ilaiyaraaja as actors Sridevi and Kamal
Haasan look on during the music launch of the new film Shamitabh in Mumbai yesterday. The
film is set for release on February 6.
The EU yesterday lifted an import ban on
Indian mangoes after nine months.
Brussels outlawed the mangoes in May after
saying it had found pests which could harm
European crops in 207 Indian consignments
of fruits and vegetables.
But a European Union inspection found that
India has since tightened controls and also
promised measures to keep bugs out of the
“The measures will allow the import of
mango fruits before the start of the next
import season in March 2015,” the European
Commission said in a statement.
A ban on bitter gourds, eggplants and snake
gourds from India will however remain in
place pending evidence of steps to prevent
infestation, the EU’s executive said.
India, the world’s largest mango exporter, had
threatened to drag the 28-nation EU to the
World Trade Organisation over the “arbitrary”
Court orders govt to unlock Greenpeace cash
New Delhi
court in New Delhi yesterday
ordered the government to
unblock thousands of dollars of Greenpeace India’s funds
after they were frozen following
accusations that foreign-funded
campaign groups were hurting India’s economy.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government tightened controls on foreign fund transfers to
Greenpeace India in June following an intelligence report accusing activist groups of “stalling development projects” by protesting
against power projects, mining
and genetically modified food.
“We are glad that the court ruled
that the government’s actions were
malafide and had absolutely no
basis in law,” Greenpeace India executive director Samit Aich said in
a statement.
“This is a strong signal from the
judiciary that the government must
cease its campaign of harassment of
civil society.”
“This is a vindication of our work
and the role that credible NGOs
(non-governmental organisations)
play in support of India’s development,” Aich said.
Greenpeace India said that the
latest court order meant that the
funds must be released with immediate effect.
Yesterday’s ruling came four
months after the Delhi High Court
directed the home ministry to unblock the funds totalling more than
$272,000 but Greenpeace India
said it had not received any money
since the order.
Greenpeace chief Kumi Naidoo
had personally appealed to Modi in
November to release funds.
New Delhi airport officials have
imposed travel bans on Greenpeace staff members in recent
months, which the group has described as “bullying” by Indian
India has clamped down on activist groups over the past two years
and has restricted direct transfers
of foreign donations, following
campaigns that delayed important
industrial projects.
Greenpeace India took its case
to the Delhi High Court last year
after its bank denied it funds
from Greenpeace International,
citing lack of home ministry
India’s biggest corporate groups
have flocked behind businessfriendly Modi, whose Bharatiya Janata Party swept to power in May
elections on a pledge to revive India’s ailing economy.
But activists have expressed
concern that the BJP’s dash for
growth will mean a watering down
of environmental standards and
land acquisition laws to favour
year back. He (Kejriwal) should
have approached her then.”
Maken, who is the chief of
the Congress campaign, said he
was prepared for a structured
debate among the three leaders.
“This is not Kejriwal’s idea,
a TV channel had invited us for
debate. I welcome the idea of
such a debate,” Maken said.
Bedi, 65, joined the BJP on
January 15 and was named its
chief ministerial nominee on
Monday night.
Both Kejriwal and Bedi were
part of the anti-corruption
movement led by social activist
Anna Hazare.
Kejriwal will contest from
New Delhi and Maken from Sadar Bazar.
In the 2013 elections, the AAP
won 28 seats and finished a close
second to the BJP which bagged
31 seats. The Congress could win
only eight seats.
Elections to the 70-member
Delhi assembly will be held on
February 7.
BJP leaders’ supporters protest
Supporters of some Bharatiya
Janata Party leaders, including
Delhi unit chief Satish
Upadhyay, yesterday staged
protests after they were not
nominated for the assembly
elections. At the headquarters
of the state unit of the party,
supporters of Upadhyay and
party leaders Shikha Rai and
Abhay Verma staged protests
as the leaders did not figure
in the list of 62 candidates
released late Monday. Rai had
contested the 2013 polls from
Kasturba Nagar but had lost.
This time, the BJP has chosen
Ravinder Chaudhari for the
seat. Similarly, Verma too had
fought from Laxmi Nagar in
2013 but was defeated by
former Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)
leader Vinod Kumar Binny.
While the BJP has selected its
councillor B B Tyagi to contest
from the seat this time, Binny,
who recently joined the BJP,
was shifted to the Patparganj
seat. According to reports,
Upadhyay expressed his desire
to contest from Malviya Nagar
but did not get a ticket.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Rousseff vetoes decree
cutting income tax revenues
Farc ceasefire holds one
month on: Colombia
Two killed, 29 hurt
in prison riot
Ceren returns to Cuba
for medical treatment
Russian spy ship in Havana
on eve of US-Cuba talks
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has vetoed a
decree that exempted more workers from income
tax this year, according to the official gazette
published yesterday, in another move to save
cash to meet a key fiscal target. Rousseff, a leftist
who recently began her second presidential term,
vetoed an increase of 6.5% in the income tax
brackets, which would have raised the take-home
pay for more middle-class workers. In May, Rousseff issued a decree to raise the brackets by 4.5% in
2015, effectively cutting taxes for Brazilians ahead
of the October presidential elections. Congress
later raised the adjustment to 6.5%
A month-long ceasefire by Farc guerrillas is holding
in Colombia, officials said yesterday, as the two sides
continue to seek a negotiated end to a half-century
of civil war. “We haven’t confirmed any offensive
armed action by the Farc in that time that could be
seen as a breach or violation of the ceasefire,” the
office of the Colombian government ombudsman.
The ombudsman’s office said isolated incidents of violence have been reported in areas where the Farc
is active, but the group’s involvement could not be
established. The Farc on December 20 announced
it would observe an indefinite, unilateral truce so
long as its forces do not come under attack.
A police officer and an inmate were killed and 29
prisoners wounded in the latest riot to hit Brazil’s
overcrowded prison system, authorities said. The
violence erupted in a Recife jail when an orderly
protest broke down, and was brought under control
only after police arrived. One officer died of a bullet
wound in hospital, while details surrounding the
inmate’s death were not released. The death and
injury toll was confirmed by the secretary of public
safety for Pernambuco state, whose capital is Recife.
Gunfire and explosions were heard coming from
inside the prison, and G1 Globo newsportal showed
a helicopter with an armed official flying overhead.
El Salvadoran President Salvador Sanchez Ceren
has travelled to Cuba for a third time to receive
medical treatment, an official said. The 70-year-old
former Marxist guerrilla leader travelled to Havana
on Saturday to complete a medical checkup,
according to Antonio Rivera, a spokesman for the
president’s office. “The president is fine. At the end
of last year, he suspended the checkup to continue
with the agenda that finished this Saturday, but
the doctors have recommended that he finish the
checkup that he was doing,” Rivera said. Sanchez
Ceren was treated for an unspecified illness in Cuba
last April shortly after winning elections in March.
A Russian intelligence warship docked in Havana
yesterday on the eve of historic US-Cuba talks
aimed at normalising diplomatic relations. The
Viktor Leonov CCB-175 was moored to a pier in Old
Havana where cruise ships often dock, but its arrival
was not announced by Cuban authorities. The Vishnya or Meridian-class intelligence ship, which has a
crew of around 200, went into service in the Black
Sea in 1988 before it was transferred seven years
later to the northern fleet, according to Russian
media. The vessel previously docked in Havana in
February and March last year, staying there for a few
days. Those visits were also unannounced.
Brazil Cup
stadium to
be paid off around 3014
Lopez trial
Govt backs
probe as fury
at prosecutor
death grows
razilian taxpayers hoping
to see the Mane Garrincha stadium, expensively
renovated in the capital Brasilia
for last year’s World Cup paid
off, needn’t hold their breath as
it won’t happen in their lifetime,
authorities say.
According to the capital’s public accounts office (TCDF), footing
the bill for the publicly-funded
stadium, refurbishing an original
structure built in 1974 for some
1.9bn reais ($900mn), will take
centuries rather than decades.
O Globo daily reported the
stadium earned just 1.3mn reais
of rental income in the first year
following renovation completed
some three times over budget
just ahead of the 2013 Fifa Confederations Cup.
The spiraling costs made the
venue the world’s second most expensive soccer stadium after English sporting stadium Wembley.
The Tribunal confirmed to
AFP the tiny fraction of cash
raised over the year when asked
to comment on a Globo report
signalling that the overall bill
would at that rate not be paid off
for 1,000 years.
The stadium, named after
1960s superstar Garrincha and
also known as the National Stadium, is set to become a white
elephant given the city’s lack of
a top league team.
Gil Castelo Branco, spokesman for pressure group Contas
Abertas, said he was pessimistic.
“Brazil made a mistake in insisting on too many World Cup
venues. There are no teams in
venues such as Brasilia — so it is
liable to end up, as we warned all
along, as a white elephant. There
is almost zero chance of viability,” Castelo Branco said.
“You may get a Paul McCartney once in a blue moon — but
most acts will play Rio or Sao
Paulo,” added Gastelo Branco,
though the former Beatle did
play the Mane Garrincha last
year on his latest tour.
Local authorities hope clubs
from other cities use the ground
— as Rio side Flamengo did sporadically last season — providing
one revenue stream.
Buenos Aires
Wife of Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, Lilian Tintori (centre), arrives at the
Justice Palace where the trial against Lopez is taking place, in Caracas, Venezuela. Lopez
is accused of being responsible for the violence unleashed during protests against the
Venezuelan government in 2014.
Rolling blackouts in
Brazil as demand spikes
Sao Paulo
olling blackouts swept
across parts of Brazil as
the grid operator ordered
select power cuts to avoid a
larger crisis, drawing attention
to a fragile electric system that
is buckling under the strains of
record-breaking heat and dryness.
Grid operator ONS said it
orchestrated 2,200 megawatts
of controlled outages in eight
states as the hottest day of the
year in Sao Paulo, where the
temperature hit 36.5 Celsius
(97.7 Fahrenheit), and other
southeastern cities led to surging demand from air conditioners and other power-hungry
Eletronuclear, a unit of staterun power company Eletrobras,
said nuclear reactor Angra I
powered down automatically at
2.49pm local time (1649GMT)
due to a drop in frequency on the
national grid. The company said
there were no risks to workers or
the environment due to the stoppage.
Brazilian officials have repeatedly denied the need for energy
rationing, even as the driest spell
in more than 80 years drains hydropower reserves and forces
the use of more costly thermal
Power firms have already
been struggling under
President Dilma Rousseff,
who rattled investors by
unexpectedly forcing
down electric rates in an
effort to fight inflation
The drought has also raised the
spectre of water rationing in Sao
Paulo, Brazil’s business hub and
South America’s largest metropolitan area.
Shares of electric companies
tumbled on the Sao Paulo stock
exchange, dragging an industry
index nearly 5% lower as news of
the power cuts spread. CPFL Energia SA fell more than 7%, while
AES Eletropaulo, Light SA and
Copel each lost around 6%.
A privately run subway con-
cession in Sao Paulo, ViaQuatro,
said it suffered an electric failure at 2.35pm. After 90 minutes
ViaQuatro said it had restored
service to part of the subway line,
but two downtown stations remained closed.
ONS said the national grid was
back to normal by 3.45pm after
controlled outages affecting less
than 5% of the system’s total demand.
Power companies have already
been struggling under President
Dilma Rousseff, who rattled investors by unexpectedly forcing
down electric rates in an effort to
fight inflation.
Rousseff ’s new economic
team, which took office at the
start of her second term this
month, has said utilities will be
able to raise power rates this year.
A government source said on Friday that rates could rise as much
as 60% this year.
Separately, Finance Minister
Joaquim Levy laid out a series
of tax increases on fuel, imports
and consumer loans, but he held
off major announcements for the
electric sector.
mid a public uproar, President Cristina Kirchner’s
pledged full backing of a probe
into the suspicious death of a
prosecutor who had accused her
of obstructing his investigation
of the 1994 bombing of a Jewish
community centre.
Alberto Nisman, 51, was found
dead at his home on Monday from
a gunshot to his temple in what
authorities have said appeared to
be a suicide the day before he was
to present evidence against Kirchner at a congressional hearing.
The mystery deepened yesterday as the prosecutor leading
the death investigation disclosed
that no residue of gunpowder has
been found on Nisman’s hands.
“This does not rule out that he
shot himself. Nobody is ruling that
out,” Viviana Fein, the prosecutor,
told local station Radio Mitre.
She said an autopsy had found
no evidence that another person
fired the shot, and the negative
result of the residue test was “not
Powder residues are often undetectable in .22-calibre handguns of the kind that fired the
shot that killed Nisman, she said.
Protests erupted on Monday
night outside the presidential
palace and several other cities,
where demonstrators called for
an end to “impunity K,” a reference to the president.
Kirchner, meanwhile, broke her
silence on the case, posting a letter
on Facebook critical of Nisman’s
decade-long probe into the bombing, which has blamed Iran for the
Mexico unrest
bombing of the Argentine Jewish
Charities Federation, AMIA, that
killed 85 people and injured more
than 300.
“AMIA. Once again: tragedy,
confusion, lies and questions,”
Kirchner’s letter was titled.
She said the investigation into
an alleged cover-up should not
suffer the same fate as the inconclusive probe into the AMIA
bombing, the worst attack of its
kind in Argentina’s history.
Jorge Capitanich, Kirchner’s
cabinet chief, yesterday said
the Nisman death investigation
would be pursued “to its ultimate
consequences” and would have
“every institutional support.”
Alberto Nisman, 51,
was found dead at his
home on Monday from
a gunshot to his temple
in what authorities have
said appeared to be a
Judge Ariel Lijo, who received
Nisman’s complaints about the
alleged presidential obstruction,
took emergency measures to preserve evidence in the case.
They included 300 CDs of
conversations recorded from
wiretaps on the telephones of an
Iranian citizen and men close to
the government.
While prosecutors said Nisman appeared to have committed
suicide, they have classified the
case as a “doubtful death.”
“I do not rule out instigation.
We do not say that the case has
been solved,” Fein said.
The mystery has fired up the
opposition and drawn speculation and questions from all sides,
including Kirchner’s supporters.
Panama Canal works
‘will go over budget’
Panama City
Demonstrators destroy a police patrol vehicle during a
protest by relatives of the 43 missing students from the
Ayotzinapa Teacher Training College outside the federal
court in Chilpancingo, in the Mexican state of Guerrero.
The protest was held to urge the federal court to bring
charges of enforced disappearance and murder against
the former mayor of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca, and his wife
Maria de los Angeles Pineda Villa, for the massacre of the
43 students in September 2014.
Ruling party deputy Andres Larroque, who was implicated in the
cover-up allegations, said investigators must look at “who pushed the
prosecutor” to commit suicide.
Other Kirchner aides questioned why Nisman had abruptly
cut short a vacation last week to
rush back to Buenos Aires and
lodge a 350-page complaint implicating the president.
“Why did he come back 12 days
early? Why did he leave is 12-yeardaughter alone for three hours at
the Barajas airport to wait for her
mother? Why the anxiousness to
return? I would love to know,” Anibal Fernandez, the secretary general of the presidency, told reporters as he entered the presidential
palace yesterday.
At the heart of Nisman’s obstruction charge is a claim that
Kirchner hampered the inquiry
to curry favour with Iran and gain
access to its oil.
Kirchner cut a deal with Tehran in January 2013 agreeing to
establish an international “truth
commission” to investigate the
bombing and issue recommendations on how to proceed.
The memorandum of understanding was sharply opposed by
leaders of the country’s Jewish
organisations as unconstitutional.
Since 2006, Argentine courts
have demanded the extradition of eight Iranians, including
former president Akbar Hashemi
Rafsanjani, over the bombing.
The memorandum would have
allowed Argentine prosecutors to
question them in Iran.
Nisman had also accused
former president Carlos Menem
(1989-99) of helping obstruct
the investigation into the bombing, which has never been solved.
idening the Panama
Canal will cost more
than budgeted due to
billions of dollars in overruns by
the consortium carrying out the
work, the canal’s administrator
Grupo Unidos por el Canal
(GUPC), which is overseeing
upgrades to the canal’s locks,
has incurred overruns totaling
So far, one of the items has
been approved by a mediating
panel, worth $227mn.
So “ultimately yes it will cost
us more than we had originally
planned,” Canal administrator
Jorge Quijano told journalists,
during installation of a first Pacific lock-gate.
Widening project manager
Ilya Espino said “we know we are
going over budget, what we don’t
know yet is how far.”
The expansion, already a year
behind schedule, had been forecast to cost $5.25bn.
The project has already been
plagued by delays, strikes and
bitter disputes over cost overruns with the consortium, which
is led by Spanish construction
firm Sacyr.
Initially scheduled for completion in 2014, the project’s due
date has been pushed back to
early 2016.
Work began in 2007 to expand
the canal with a third set of locks
to enable it to handle the modern mega-freighters that global
shipping companies prefer.
An estimated five percent of
global maritime trade passes
through the canal, whose main
users are the US and China.
Nearby Nicaragua, meanwhile, launched construction
last month on a rival canal, a
$50bn project that the Chinese
firm behind it plans to complete
in five years.
In Nicaragua, both ports and
the canal will be designed to
handle the modern mega-ships
favoured by global shipping
firms, which can carry up to
25,000 containers.
Even after completion of widening, the century-old waterway in Panama will only be able
to handle ships carrying up to
12,000 containers.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Pakistan’s former chief
justice sues Imran Khan
Lawmakers’ phones not
tapped: Pakistani official
Govt implements nuclear
safeguards agreement
Afghan leader introduces
cabinet to parliament
Former Pakistan chief justice Iftikhar Mohamed
Chaudhry filed a Pakistani Rs20bn defamation
suit against cricketer-turned- politician Imran
Khan yesterday. In August last year Khan had
accused Chaudhry of being involved in rigging
the 2013 general election, Last year, Chaudhary
had sent a legal notice to Imran over the
defamatory remarks made against him. Khan’s
counsel had issued a clarification in response,
following which Chaudhry had withdrawn the
notice. However, on Tuesday Chaudhry filed
a defamation suit against Khan. Justice Nazir
Ahmed Gajana sought Khan’s reply and directed
him to appear before the court Jan 29.
Pakistan’s top civilian intelligence agency
- Intelligence Bureau (IB) - has said that the
phone calls of lawmakers and politicians are not
being tapped, media reported yesterday. The
intelligence agency said this following reports
that surveillance is being carried out. Appearing
before the Senate standing committee on
rules and privileges, headed by Tahir Hussain
Mashhadi of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement,
IB Director General Aftab Sultan said his agency
required a prior permission of the prime
minister for tapping the telephones of a person,
including parliamentarians, Dawn reported
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
has said that Pakistan has implemented the
nuclear safeguards agreement, media reported
yesterday. The Foreign Office (FO) in a statement
said on Monday that IAEA’s Deputy Director
General (Safeguards) Tero Varjoranta conveyed
the IAEA’s satisfaction over the implementation
of the safeguard agreement, Dawn online
“The DDG appreciated Pakistan-IAEA cooperation and conveyed the agency’s
satisfaction at implementation of safeguard
measures by Pakistan,” the Foreign Office
statement said.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani yesterday presented
his cabinet nominees to parliament for a vote of
confidence. “We have tried our best to introduce
a proper cabinet, responsible and accountable
before the people,” Ghani told the lawmakers. “Now
it is your turn to give vote of confidence or reject
them.” The nominees consisted of 24 ministers,
and the heads of the intelligence agency and the
central bank. During his televised speech, Ghani
vowed to tackle corruption, bring peace and reform,
ensure good governance. The delay since Ghani’s
September inauguration was due to wrangling
for key positions between him and CEO Abdullah
Peshawar schools start
getting arms licences
he district administration of Pakistan’s northwestern provincial capital
of Peshawar has started issuing
licences of non-prohibited bore
weapons to the educational institutions in the city following
the terrorist attack at the armyrun public school.
“The process of getting licence of non-prohibited bore
weapons can be completed easily,” Deputy Commissioner Zahirul Islam said.
When asked how many licences could be issued to a school, he
said that he would issue even 10
licences to the administration of
a school if it required the same
number of licences for its security guards.
Sources said that provincial
home department issued instructions to the district administration to award licences of nonprohibited bore to the educational
institutions immediately.
“The process of awarding licences to the applicants has
been made very simple and can
be completed within in a day,”
sources said.
Normally it takes 15 to 20 days to
get a computerised arms licence.
In the wake of massacre of 150
persons including 134 students
in Army Public School and College on December 16, the provincial government instructed all
A student (2nd R) who was injured during an attack by Pakistan’s Taliban gunmen on Army Public School
(APS), walks along with his family while visiting the official residence of Pervez Khattak, chief minister of
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, to attend a commemoration ceremony of the victims of the attack in Peshawar
public and private educational
institutions to take measure for
guarding their institutions.
The security guidelines, issued by the government, include
raising the boundary walls of
educational institutions up to 10
or 13 feet, fixing barbed wire on
the walls, installation of close
circuit television cameras and
walkthrough gates.
A few days ago Information
Minister Mushtaq Ahmed Ghani
told a press conference that
teachers could bring licenced
arms to educational institutions
to engage the terrorists, in case
of attack, for some time till arrival of law enforcers and security personnel.
Sources said that around 40
licences of different bores were
issued to the administrations
of different schools during the
last few days. So far only private schools were issued licences
because the administrations of
government schools didn’t apply
for getting licences, they added.
Sources said that district administration was issuing manual
licences to the school administrations as the computerised one
took two to three weeks. Mostly,
sources said, the headmasters of
the schools applied for getting
licences of 12 bore repeaters, pistols and .22 rifles.
Police and district administration have formed different
teams to visit schools to check
security measures. However, a
large number of schools, particularly the government schools,
have not followed the security
guidelines issued to them by the
provincial government.
A senior police officer said
that so far police issued ‘no objection certificate’ to only 118
government and private schools
as rest of institutions had not
followed the security guidelines.
He said that the SHOs were issuing warnings to those schools,
which had not taken security
The issuance of NOC to only
118 schools out of 3,900 including 1,400 government and 2,500
private schools was very discouraging, the official said.
SSP Dr Mian Mohamed Saeed,
when contacted, said that police
issued reminders to the administration of the schools about
making proper security arrangements. “I have set January 22 as
deadline for implementation of
security guidelines,” he said.
After the expiry of the deadline, he said, FIR would be registered against the headmasters
of the schools for not following
the government directives about
security arrangements.
Pak mission approaches India over closure notice to PIA office
New Delhi/Islamabad
he Pakistan high commission has approached the
Indian government over
closure notice to PIA properties
in the Indian capital, officials said.
spokesperson Tasneem Aslam
said in Islamabad that Pakistan
International Airlines has been
directed to initiate litigation
over the property row.
India has asked PIA to shut its
office in New Delhi, alleging that
the property in Connaught Place
was bought without the mandatory clearance of the Reserve
Bank of India (RBI).
“We approached the external
affairs ministry today (Monday),” a Pakistani official said.
He said the move to close
down the offices of PIA was “unfair” and would harm peopleto-people contacts and business
between the two countries.
He said many Pakistani patients used the airline to seek
healthcare in India.
External affairs ministry
spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin
denied that the Pakistani high
commission had approached the
ministry over the closure notice
and termed the issue a “storm in
a tea cup”.
According to the Pakistani official, PIA purchased the property in 2005 and intimated it
to RBI within 90 days, and that
PIA had been paying taxes on the
In Lahore, Pakistani Civil Aviation Authority spokesman Sher Ali
Khan told Geo News that PIA would
not close its office in New Delhi.
Khan said all legal formalities
had been completed when the
property was purchased and that
the matter would be resolved
“according to law”.
On the issue of renewal of visas of senior PIA staff, India has
said the process was on.
Indian laws state that no national of Pakistan among some
other countries can acquire or
transfer immovable property in
India other than lease, not exceeding five years without prior
permission of the RBI.
Three PIA executives were
called for questioning over the
alleged illegal purchase and notice were issued to PIA to shut
down the properties in New
Chief Executive Officer of Afghanistan, Abdullah
Abdullah, holding talks with Iran’s Foreign
Minister, Mohamed Javad Zarif, during their
meeting in Kabul, Afghanistan, yesterday.
US warning
reports in Indian
media ‘baseless’
akistan ambassador to
the US Jalil Abbas Jilani denounced Indian
media reports which alleged
a warning, concerning President Obama’s visit to India,
was issued by the US to the
“The Indian media has a
tendency to invent and exaggerate things,” said Ambassador Jilani, Dawn reported
“As a matter of fact, US
Secretary of State John Kerry,
who visited Islamabad last
week, had deeply appreciated
the steps taken by Pakistan
against terrorism and extremism.”
Jilani said Pakistan has
already launched a major
military operation in north
Waziristan and was also taking
similar actions in other parts
of the country.
“These actions are meant to
purge our country of all such
elements. These actions are
also in pursuance of our policy
not to allow anyone to use our
territory against other countries,” he added.
An Indian news agency
reported from Washington:
“Pakistan has been subtly
warned of the consequences
of any terrorist attack during
President Obama’s trip if that
is traced back to their country.”
Another report from Islamabad claimed that “hours
after receiving the warning,
Pakistan assured the US”
that no such attack would
take place.
Quoting unnamed “sources” in Washington, the news
agency said that the warning
was issued “keeping the track
record of Pakistan-based militant groups that have carried
out attacks in India coinciding
with high-profile visits from
the US”.
Washington, however, view
these reports as part of a propaganda war aimed at scoring points before President
Obama’s visit.
“It is a strange warning. It
seems as if the Americans are
saying it is ‘ok’ to carry out
attacks before and after the
president’s visit. Just don’t do
it while he is there,” said a diplomatic source.
President Barack Obama
arrives in India Jan 25 for a
three-day visit during which
he would attend the Republic Day parade Jan 26 as the
chief guest and in the evening
he would attend a reception
hosted by Indian President
Pranab Mukherjee.
Hundreds killed in Afghan army offensive
Afghan security forces killed
hundreds of Taliban militants
during a month-long military
operation in the country’s
east, the defence ministry
said yesterday.
“Some 261 insurgents,
including foreigners, were
killed and 147 others were
injured in the fighting with
the national security forces,”
a ministry statement said.
The operation was launched
after Taliban insurgents
attacked Dangam district in
the eastern province of Kunar
in December, forcing the
civilians to take up arms in an
uprising against the Islamic
The government took more
that a week to deploy security
forces to the area.
“The security forces launched
the operation from all
directions on the insurgents
in the district,” the statement
The operation targeted
Taliban fighters in Dangam,
a district that borders
Pakistan’s lawless tribal
region from where the
militants are said to enter
the country to attack Afghan
security forces.
Seventeen Afghan troops
were killed and 45 others
injured in the operation, the
ministry said.
Deadly attacks drive Pakistan coffin boom
orthwest Pakistan has
been gripped by a raging
insurgency for more than
a decade, but a grim economic
lifeline has emerged from the
tragedy for some enterprising
locals — a boom in coffin sales.
Coffins are not part of traditional Islamic death rites in Pakistan, where corpses are normally bound in a funeral shroud
and laid upon a rope-cord bed at
the time of burial.
But when it comes to the mutilated victims of gun, suicide
bomb and IED attacks, whose
bodies are often in pieces, there
is often little choice but to gather
the remains in a box.
Jehanzeb Khan, a 60-year-old
former hardware store owner in
the city of Peshawar, was a pioneer of the industry.
“I used to sell two to three coffins in the early days of the business,” Khan, who began making
in coffins in the 1980s, told AFP
at his workshop.
Back then, his clients were
mostly Afghan refugees from the
Soviet invasion who needed coffins to take bodies back on long
road journeys home, or ultrareligious families who wanted
the corpses of their women to
remain in purdah, away from the
eyes of unrelated men.
But business began to pick up
after a homegrown Islamist insurgency centred in the northwest began to take root in 2004
following the US invasion of Afghanistan, with militants seeking shelter in Pakistan’s restive
tribal areas.
The Pakistani government
says more than 50,000 people
have since been killed in gun,
bomb and suicide attacks, and
Peshawar’s coffin-sellers are
struggling to keep up with demand.
“People see coffins being used
for dead bodies in hospitals after blasts, but now they’re buying them even for those who die
peacefully at home,” said Khan.
Khan, who now has competition from around 40 other vendors in this city of 4.5mn, sells
around 15 coffins a day.
He aims to keep a reserve stock
This photograph taken on January 6, 2015, shows a Pakistani carpenter making a coffin at a workshop in
of 80 in case of major attacks, like
last month’s Taliban massacre at a
military-run school in Peshawar
which killed 150 people, mostly
children. Khan’s shop handled 60
orders after the attack.
Other vendors like 23-yearold Shehryar Khan cater more to
the army and paramilitary forc-
es, for whom the trend has also
caught on.
“We make special coffins for
the military. They demand good
material, better wood and handles on the coffin,” said Khan,
explaining that while an ordinary model costs $30, his deluxe
units cost around $100.
“Twice or three times a year
we have to manufacture a very
special coffin when a senior
military officer dies. We use expensive cedar wood, good quality foam and velvet cloth for
this piece, and sell it for around
Rs35,000,” he added.
Islamic teachings stipulate
that a burial must take place as
soon as possible, normally by
sunset the same day.
As such, Shehryar Khan keeps
staff on duty at all hours.
“I sleep in the shop in night,”
his salesman Niaz Ali Shah said.
“The ambulance drivers know
this, and whenever somebody
needs a coffin they drive straight
to our shop.”
Sporting a black beard and a
round cap on his head, 31-yearold Shah has been working with
Khan for four years and says he
sees his job as a religious obligation.
“We share others’ grief. They
come to us crying. We sell them
coffins and it reminds us that we
also have to die. This life is temporary,” he said.
Jehanzeb Khan admits the
business can take a depressing
toll on those who profit from it.
The horrific Taliban school
assault left him “devastated”, he
“There have been attacks in
this city which broke my heart in
the past, but this was much more
terrible and worrying. They were
all our own children, our young
The Al Khidmat trust, an Islamic charity which provides
coffins to the poor and unknown
victims of attacks, says not all of
the vendors are as scrupulous.
“There are businessmen who
increase prices of coffins in
emergencies whenever there is a
big attack in the city,” said Khalid
Waqas, the charity’s vice-president.
“Some people get unjustified
profits, even in the most tragic of
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Supreme Court ‘unlikely to
oust’ Estrada as Manila mayor
By Jomar Canlas
Manila Times
anila Mayor Joseph
“Erap” Estrada will
virtually get the green
light to run again for public office in 2016, once he hurdles
a disqualification case lodged
against him at the Supreme
Court (SC).
Legal pundits aired this opinion yesterday, a day before SC
justices rule on the case seeking to unseat Estrada as Manila
Unimpeachable sources at
the High Court told Manila
Times that Estrada has “the sufficient number of SC justices
who will allow him to stay as
city mayor of Manila.”
“If Erap is not disqualified,
he can run again for president
in the May 2016 elections. As
to the issue whether a former
president is constitutionally
barred to seek again the presidency is another story,” the
sources said.
They pointed out that the
issue at the High Court is
whether Estrada can seek elective office after his conviction
Joseph Estrada: under scrutiny
for the crime of plunder.
The sources said the country’s former leader will likely
remain as Manila mayor because as many as nine justices
may rule in his favour.
Estrada had expressed confidence that the tribunal will
not invalidate his victory as
mayor of Manila in the 2010
He said he received from
then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo an absolute pardon,
faces pressure
to cancel
train fare hike
By Neil A Alcober
Manila Times
ommuter group Riles
Laan sa Sambayanan
(Riles) Network yesterday called on the Aquino
administration to junk recent
fare increases in Metro Rail
Transit 3 (MRT 3), Light Rail
Transit 1 and LRT 2, describing the adjustments as “antipoor” and contrary to teachings of Pope Francis.
“If the Aquino government
learned anything from Pope
Francis’ visit, it should immediately junk its anti-poor
MRT and LRT fare hikes. It is
against the Pope’s teachings
to further burden the poor just
to fill the pockets of private
big businesses and corrupt
government officials” Sammy
Malunes, the group’s spokesman, said.
Holding a system-wide
noise barrage protest in different stations of MRT 3 and LRT
1 and 2, Riles Network claimed
that the new fares that took effect on January 4, would only
go to the guaranteed profits of
private contractors.
The fare increases are “burdensome to us commuters
who have long been impoverished by extremely low wages
and high prices of goods and
services. They are also unjust
as they would only be used to
guarantee the profits of private
contractors as promised under
onerous contracts,” Malunes
The network also claimed
that proceeds from the fare increases would be used to fund
President Aquino’s candidates
in the 2016 elections.
It also called on train users
to continue protesting against
the new MRT and LRT fares
as part of living by Pope Francis’ teachings on “rejecting all
forms of corruption which diverts resources from the poor”
and “to break the bonds of injustice and oppression” that
causes “scandalous social inequalities.”
which fully restored his civil and
political rights.
The former president added
that the SC must affirm findings
of the Commission on Elections on April 1, 2013 and April
23, 2013, which recognised his
eligibility and qualifications as
mayor of Manila.
Alicia Risos-Vidal, the lawyer
of former Manila Mayor Alfredo
Lim, who also intervened in the
case, filed the disqualification
case against the Manila mayor.
Estrada won in the May 1998
elections as president and was
ousted on January 20, 2001.
He ran again for president in
the May 2010 polls and placed
second to then-Sen. Benigno
Aquino,who won the presidency.
To win the case, Estrada
needs the votes of seven justices
since there are only 14 magistrates who will participate in
the voting.
Associate Justice Francis
Jardeleza has recused himself
because he handled Estrada’s
case when he was the solicitor
general before it was elevated to
the SC. Under the rules, once
the SC voting is tied at 7-7,
a re-voting shall be made. If
the votes are still tied on the
second voting, the petition
against Estrada shall be dismissed.
The sources said there are at
least seven justices who are inclined not to disqualify Estrada.Two of them have submitted their dissenting opinions
to Associate Justice Marvic
Leonen, who wants to unseat
Leonen was designated to
study whether Estrada should
be disqualified, and he opined
that the Manila mayor should
be disqualified because of his
conviction for the crime of
plunder by the Sandiganbayan.
He also opined that the pardon bestowed on him by Arroyo was conditional.
But Associate Justice Jose Catral Mendoza, who submitted a
dissenting opinion to the SC en
banc, said Estrada should not be
disqualified because the pardon
bestowed by Arroyo was an “absolute pardon.”
He added that Estrada’s
“civil and political rights”
have been fully restored.Associate Justice Arturo Brion
has also circulated his dissenting opinion against the Leonen
draft, the sources added.
A source said Estrada has a
big chance of winning the disqualification case because as
many as nine justices may decide in his favour.
Meanwhile, Manila Vice
Mayor Isko Moreno told Manila Times in a phone interview that he is confident that
the SC will junk Estrada’s disqualification case.
Moreno said the pardon that
Estrada got from former Presi-
11 dead in concrete wall collapse
hilippine police arrested
three people for cracking
jokes about a bomb while
on their way to attend Pope
Francis’ mass in Manila, an official said yesterday.
The man and two women were
arrested at a police checkpoint
on Sunday while heading to the
mass in Rizal Park which attracted a record 6mn people, said officer Alberto de Guzman of Manila police radio control office.
As they went through the
checkpoint, witnesses heard one
of the three saying “Hey, I’ve got
a bomb. Why didn’t you detect
it?” de Guzman said.
His companions then joked
about carrying guns, de Guzman
“They were making fun of
the police officers. If people had
heard them, it could have caused
a stampede,” he said.
The three are being held under
a law that penalises “pranksters”
who make false reports about
bombs. The crime is punishable
up to five years in jail or a fine of
40,000 pesos ($894) or both.
Security was tight during the
five-day visit of Pope Francis to
the devoutly Catholic Philippines, with police and soldiers
on alert to control the massive
Manila Times
Eleven people were killed in the Philippines when a concrete wall of a warehouse under construction collapsed, a civil defence
official said yesterday. The victims were 10 construction workers and a seven-year-old son of one of them who was playing nearby
when the accident happened Monday in Guiguinto town in Bulacan province, 30 kilometres north of Manila. Four workers were also
injured and still confined in hospital, regional civil defence official Josefina Timoteo said.
By Giovanni A Nilles
Manila Times
Members of the National Transformation Council hold a rally in front of the Manila Cathedral, seeking the
junking of PCOS machines.
polls, the Comelec reported that
Grace Poe, a candidate for senator, had more than 20mn votes.
The figure was later whittled
down to 16mn.
Ernie del Rosario, former
Comelec IT director, agreed with
Kilayko, saying the reduction by
Trash heap
at park
Call to scrap automated machines for 2016 polls
ore than 3,000 members of the multi-sectoral group National
Transformation Council (NTC)
held a rally in front of the Manila
Cathedral yesterday, to press
their call for the government to
ditch the use of Precinct Count
Optical Scan (PCOS) machines
in the 2016 elections.
The cathedral, where Pope
Francis said his first mass in the
country last week, is just across
the Commission on Elections
(Comelec) office in Intramuros,
Evelyn Kilayko, Tanggulang
Demokrasya chairperson, said
the poll body should listen to the
call of the masses and stop insisting on the use of the counting
machines if they are meant to rig
election results.
“The Comelec often gets away
with electoral fraud and all (its)
lies because the majority of us
Filipinos are not tech-savvy. We
have always questioned where
did our votes go because we saw
in the past elections (in 2013)
that votes disappeared,” Kilayko
She claimed that in the 2013
dent Arroyo was absolute.
“My law professor, former
justice Edilberto Sandoval,
said when the pardon is absolute, it is as if you were born
again. Meaning, you have acquired the right to vote and be
voted upon,” he added.
Estrada and Moreno won
against the tandem of former
Lim and Lou Veloso in the May
2013 polls.
Estrada’s son, Sen. Joseph
Victor Ejercito also expressed
hope that the High Court will
decide based on the merits of
the case, saying “there seems
to be a concerted effort to get
rid of us.”
Ejercito cited the case of his
cousin, former Laguna Governor Emilio Ramon “ER” Ejercito, who was disqualified by
the Commission on Elections
(Comelec) for campaign overspending.The senator said he
is facing a similar case at the
“It is too much of a coincidence, it appears that there is
an effort against us because
despite the thousands of cases
filed before the Comelec, it is
our case that is being given
priority,” he added.
Police arrest
three for
bomb joke
papal mass
4mn votes had to be done because 20mn is more than the actual votes cast.
“Everything is wrong with
the PCOS machines. The digital
signature, fake ballot detection,
everything is not working . . .
the source code review was tam-
pered (with). It just didn’t work,”
del Rosario said.He maintained
that manual elections are better because cheats can easily be
checked and questioned.
Kilayko said more forums and
rallies are being organised to
raise awareness among Filipinos
on the threat of another rigged
balloting in 2016 if the automated machines are used.
“The threat is so real that
even some Catholic bishops
and leaders of other religious
sects have joined the frontline
to register their opposition,”
she added.
Archbishop Fernando Capalla, archbishop emeritus of
the Archdiocese of Davao and
Archbishop Ramon Arguelles
of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Lipa in Batangas led the
celebration of a mass outside
the Manila Cathedral yesterday. Fr Benny Tuazon, executive director for the Ministry
on Ecology of the Archdiocese
of Manila, was also present.
Kilayko said the NTC is an
umbrella organisation of several community, inter-faith and
cause-oriented clusters that will
continue to call for the scrapping
of the Comelec deal with Smartmatic, provider of the PCOS machines.
Her group questioned the lack
of proper bidding for the procurement and use of the PCOS
machines, the “massive and
magic 60-30-10” cheating, the
lack of receipt of votes and the
lack of security monitoring during the conduct of elections.
EcoWaste Coalition yesterday decried the massive
trashing of Rizal Park on Sunday
when Pope Francis held a historic
EcoWaste co-ordinator Aileen
Lucero said concern for the environment, one of the key messages
of the pontiff in the country, “has
yet to sink in the hearts and minds
of Catholic Filipinos.” The group
said Rizal Park was awash with
trash after the papal mass.
“We are sad to see such a low
regard for the environment at
a Holy Mass officiated by Pope
Francis, the ‘green Pope’ and participated in bymns of Filipinos
led by President Aquino who, the
irony of it all, had proclaimed the
month of January as the first-ever
‘Zero Waste Month,’” Lucero said.
Survey reveals drop in
Aquino govt’s ratings
By Joel M Sy Egco
Manila Times
hile hovering within
the “good” territory, public satisfaction with the administration
of President Benigno Aquino
dipped from +35 to +34 in the
last quarter of 2014, according
to a new survey report by the
Social Weather Stations (SWS).
The pollster said 58% of
adults nationwide were satisfied, 24% were dissatisfied and
17% were ambivalent with the
Gross satisfaction rating in September was at 59%.
The steepest decline was in
Metro Manila, where the administration’s net satisfaction
rating fell to a “moderate” +21
from “good” +36 in the previous quarter.
Despite a similar loss in both
areas, the government’s satisfaction rating stayed “good” in
the Visayas and Mindanao. On
the other hand, the figure rose
to “good” from “moderate” in
Balance Luzon.
The SWS reported that sat-
isfaction in the Visayas stayed
“good” despite the 14-point
drop to +31 from the third quarter’s +45. In Mindanao, satisfaction also stayed “good,” despite a three-percentage point
loss, from +46 in the third quarter to +43 in the fourth.
In contrast, satisfaction in
“Balance Luzon” was up 11
points to +35 in the fourth quarter, from +24 in the third quarter. In Malacanang, Presidential
Herminio Coloma Jr yesterday
said results of the latest survey
will guide their future actions,
especially in areas of concern
where the administration fared
not as good as in the third quarter of 2014.
“In the remaining months
of the administration, we shall
continue to ramp up the implementation of vital plans, activities and programmes in order
to achieve our goals of inclusive
growth especially in the areas
of peace and order, job security
and livelihood, strengthening
the purchasing power of consumers and providing justice to
the victims of the Maguindanao
massacre,” Coloma added.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Nepal lawmakers brawl
over new constitution
ighting broke out in Nepal’s parliament yesterday, with Maoist lawmakers throwing chairs and
injuring four security officers
as tensions ran high before a
deadline to approve a post-war
Hours after parliament descended into chaos, police arrested 50 protesters who set
fire to buses and taxis to try
to enforce a nationwide strike
called by the Maoists in protest
at moves to finalise the charter.
The opposition Maoist party
is trying to prevent the ruling
coalition from pushing proposals through parliament without
agreement before tomorrow’s
The Maoists say discussions
should continue until final
agreement is reached — even if
that means missing the deadline to approve and publish the
Yesterday’s strike shut down
factories, shops, schools and
public transport in the Himalayan nation, which has endured prolonged political limbo
since 2006 when the Maoists
streets of Kathmandu remained
clear during morning rush hour
as many people heeded the
Maoist call to stay home in the
capital, where authorities had
deployed 6,000 police.
Despite extensive discussions, lawmakers have failed to
agree on a charter and are widely expected to miss tomorrow’s
cut-off, further deepening disillusionment with the political
process in the young republic.
Disagreements persist on
crucial issues, with the opposition calling for new provinces to
be created along lines that could
favour historically marginalised
communities such as the “untouchable” Dalit caste and the
Madhesi ethnic minority.
Other parties say such a move
would be divisive and a threat to
national unity.
With just two days left to
draft the charter, the constituent assembly met late into the
night. But Speaker Subash
Nembang was forced to halt the
debate after Maoist and Madhesi lawmakers scuffled with
ruling party politicians.
A lawmaker with the ruling Unified Marxist-Leninist
(UML) party, Rajan Bhattarai,
said two fellow MPs had been
struck by flying microphones
and blamed the Maoists for the
The speaker had to adjourn
a second meeting yesterday
afternoon, as opposition lawmakers screamed slogans and
paralysed proceedings.
The ruling parties and their
allies have the two-thirds majority in parliament that they
need to approve a constitution
without Maoist support.
But the former rebels have
warned of further conflict if the
parties fail to take opposition
views into account.
Baburam Bhattarai told cheering supporters in Kathmandu
that his party was prepared
for a long fight to ensure “a
progressive constitution”.
“Weren’t (these parties)
the forces we fought against?
They didn’t need a constituent assembly, they didn’t need
a republic... they didn’t need
A Nepalese constituent assembly member breaks a chair as tensions flare at parliament in Kathmandu yesterday.
federalism or secularism or an
inclusive democracy,” he said.
“We fought 10 years for it...
we will never give up,” he said.
Yesterday’s shutdown saw
several people injured in two
districts when angry shopkeepers defied the strike order, local
police said.
In the southern district of
Saptari, arsonists torched UML
offices and destroyed files and
furniture. UML lawmaker Bhim
Rawal said an investigation was
underway but said it appeared to
be the work of people involved in
the strike.
Akhilesh Upadhyay, editorin-chief of The Kathmandu
Post, said a unilateral move
towards a vote would result
in “a constitution that has no
Furthermore, it would likely
marginalised communities across the
country, from the Madhesis
in the southern plains to the
Limbu minority in the east,
Upadhyay said.
“A constitution at any cost,
accompanied by a serious risk of
unrest, would be a pyrrhic victory for Nepal,” he said.
Nepal has had two elections
and six prime ministers since
2008, when parliament voted
to abolish a 240-year-old monarchy and usher in a secular
But its warring political parties have failed to make headway
on many disputed issues and
conclude the peace process.
The political instability has
deterred investment and annual growth has plunged from
6.1% in 2008 to 3.6% in 2013,
according to World Bank data.
There are also growing signs
of popular unrest. Last week police arrested more than 70 protesters for attacking vehicles or
coercing shopkeepers to close
their stores during a Maoist-led
strike in Kathmandu.
Bangladesh opposition calls
for 48-hour strike from today
he Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) called a
48-hour strike in Dhaka
and Khulna divisions of the
country from today, alongside
the ongoing transport strike.
“The strike will begin at 6am
Wednesday and continue until 6am Friday,” said the party’s
joint secretary general Ruhul
Kabir Rizvi,
“The joint forces are tor-
Lankan jailed in
Dubai for trying to
force ex-girlfriend
into marriage
A Sri Lankan man in United Arab
Emirates (UAE) has been jailed
for six months for attempting to
force his former Indian girlfriend
into marriage after blackmailing
her with nude photos.
The Dubai Court of First Instance
convicted Sri Lankan swimming
instructor, AP, 34, of blackmailing
and threatening to publish the
23-year-old woman’s nude photos
for financial gains, the Gulf News
reported yesterday.
AP had an affair with the woman
during which he took her pictures
in compromising positions.
He blackmailed the woman and
tried to coerce her to marry him
after threatening to show the
photos to her family.
The defendant posted the photos on
her uncle’s Facebook timeline and
sent them to her sister on WhatsApp.
The woman testified in court
that she paid AP 2,000 Dirhams
(about $540) and when she failed
to pay him more, he sent the
photos to her uncle and sister.
Presiding Judge Ezzat Abdul
Lat said the defendant will
be deported following the
completion of his jail term.
The judge yesterday said the
woman’s photos will be seized by
the court.
The ruling remains subject to
appeal within 15 days.
menting our leaders through
their operations. Several Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal (studentwing of BNP) leaders have been
killed in the past few days.”
Rizvi urged party workers to
enforce the strike peacefully to
protest the abuse.
He said the shutdown will be
held alongside the road blockade.
On Monday, BNP chief Khaleda Zia announced that her party
will continue the blockade of the
country, ending hopes of a quick
solution to the two-week crisis
in the country that began with
her being confined to her office
Col Mohamed Nazim ... Sacked
and which has now been lifted.
The BNP chief, who was confined to her Gulshan office for
15 days, called the blockade on
January 5 when police barred her
from leaving her office to lead
anti-government agitations.
The BNP-led opposition alliance had boycotted the general election in Bangladesh in
January, last year and has been
pressing for fresh elections
since then.
Zia’s 20-party opposition
alliance has been observing
a non-stop blockade across
the country demanding fresh
BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia addressing a press conference after police lifted the siege on her Gulshan
office in Dhaka on Monday.
elections under a non-party
caretaker government system.
According to a Xinhua report,
the wave of violence has so far
left 27 people dead and several
hundred injured as anti-government protesters battled with
law enforcers, attacked rivals,
Arms found in private office
torched vehicles and targeted
railway since January 6 when
Zia’s BNP-led opposition alliance enforced a nationwide,
non-stop rail-road-waterway
On Monday, Zia welcomed
the government’s withdrawal of
police from her office, but said:
“The government forced (us) to
call the blockade.”
Zia urged her supporters
and the people of Bangladesh
to continue with the agitation.
“It will continue until further
announcement,” she added.
Lanka premier promises
Tamils more autonomy
Police inspect a cache of arms found at a conference venue, where the former government had allowed a
private company to maintain an office, in Colombo yesterday. Police are investigating how a private firm
came to possess automatic assault rifles and if the weapons had been used against political opponents in
the run up to January 8 election where former strongman Mahinda Rajapakse lost.
he Maldivian president
yesterday announced the
sacking of his defence
minister Mohamed Nazim, days
after police carried out a predawn raid on the former army
officer’s home.
“President Abdulla Yameen
has today dismissed ... Col Mohamed Nazim from the post of
minister of defence and national
security,” the presidency said in
a statement, without giving any
reason for Nazim’s removal.
Yameen had appointed retired
army general Moosa Ali Jaleel,
54, as the new defence minister,
the statement said.
Nazim’s sacking comes after
police were seen taking away
unspecified documents during a raid early on Sunday, after
reportedly obtaining a search
warrant on suspicion that he
was “harbouring weapons and
The sacked minister played a
key role in toppling the country’s first democratically elected
leader, Mohamed Nasheed, who
claimed he was the victim of a
coup in February 2012.
Nazim, then a retired officer,
sided with mutinous police and
troops who forced Nasheed to
step down. Nasheed later said
he resigned because he feared
Speaking to reporters after his
sacking, Nazim insisted there
was no basis for the police to raid
his home.
“In which country of the world
do police kick down the door to
a defence minister’s home and
proceed to destroy all doors and
conduct a raid at 3:30am while
the defence minister is asleep,”
the local Haveeru news service
quoted him as saying.
Nazim said he would not give up
politics, and would hold the government to account by working
with opposition parties.
The Maldives is known for
pristine beaches and secluded coral islands popular with
honeymooners, but the nation of 330,000 Sunni Muslims
is plagued by rising religious
intolerance and political unrest.
ri Lanka’s new government pledged yesterday
to devolve power to the
country’s Tamil minority, in a
step towards national reconciliation six years after a controversial military offensive
crushed a separatist rebellion.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his first address
to parliament since taking office, said lawmakers needed to
bring a political conclusion to
the conflict between government troops and Tamil Tiger
rebels that ended in 2009.
Critics say the previous regime failed to deal with the
ethnic divisions that led to
conflict on the island, whose
Sinhalese majority has traditionally dominated positions of
Wickremesinghe said his
government would revive a
1987 constitutional amendment that promised a de facto
federal arrangement for the
northern and eastern regions.
Ranil Wickramasinghe: “We will
implement the 13th amendment
within a unitary state.”
“We will implement the 13th
amendment within a unitary
state,” said Wickremesinghe.
failed to implement the controversial 13th amendment
due to pressure from the Sinhalese population, who saw
it as a sell-out to the minority
The country’s main Tamil
political party, the Tamil National Alliance, has distanced
itself from demands for a
separate homeland and said it
accepts power-sharing.
Sri Lanka’s former president, Mahinda Rajapakse, was
a hardline Sinhala national-
ist who came to power in 2005
promising an “honourable
peace” with Tamil rebels, but
ended up fighting against them.
Rajapakse ordered a noholds-barred military offensive
that ended the 37-year-old separatist war, but his forces were
subsequently accused of killing
up to 40,000 Tamil civilians — a
charge he has denied.
Wickremesinghe told parliament during its first session
since the January 8 presidential
election that he hoped to push
through several pieces of legislation to make key institutions
He said the government
would establish independent
commissions to run the police,
the public service, the judiciary
and the elections department.
A right to information act will
also be passed and many of the
executive powers currently held
by the president will be transferred to parliament, in line
with new President Maithripala
Sirisena’s election pledge.
The current parliament is
due to be dissolved by April,
clearing the way for a fresh
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Chairman: Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Attiyah
Editor-in-Chief : Darwish S Ahmed
Production Editor: C P Ravindran
P.O.Box 2888
Doha, Qatar
[email protected]
Telephone 44350478 (news),
44466404 (sport), 44466636 (home delivery)
Fax 44350474
No crisis yet for
Qatar but fiscal
discipline is vital
As Gulf countries are devising strategies to tackle over
the 60% plunge in oil prices year-to-date, Qatar may see
budget deficit of $5bn-$10bn in 2015 if crude remains
at $50 for the entire year, Amwal has said. However, the
country, which has the second lowest breakeven oil price
among GCC countries after Kuwait, can easily manage
the deficit with its huge sovereign wealth fund (SWF)
assets and fiscal reserves to support its massive capital
spending on infrastructure, according to Amwal.
Oil has fallen over 40% since the Organisation
of Petroleum Exporting Countries maintained its
production target at the November 27 meeting.
If Brent crude averages $60 a barrel this year, Gulf
Co-operation Council (GCC) states are estimated
to run a combined current account deficit of $60bn.
Understandably, the plunge in oil prices might be
expected to usher in an age of subsidy cuts and fiscal
austerity in the Gulf.
Qatar’s budget deficit at $50 oil will be easily
manageable with an estimated $115bn worth SWF assets;
at $57, it will be breakeven, Afa Boran, Amwal’s head of
asset management, said in a recent report.
Driven by the FIFA 2022 and the Qatar National Vision
2030, the country’s
“active projects market”
has been estimated at
$285bn by Meed. Qatar,
which posted a fiscal
and current account
surpluses of 15.6%
and 30.9% of GDP
respectively in 2013, has
the buffers to finance its
infrastructure upgrade despite oil’s plunge, QNB said in
an earlier report.
According to estimates published in an exclusive
column for Gulf Times by Doha Bank Group CEO Dr R
Seetharaman, Qatar’s budget of 2014-15 had revenue
of $62bn compared with $60bn expenditure: a fiscal
surplus of $2bn was based on a conservative estimate of
$65 a barrel.
Longer term, however, the Gulf’s fiscal cover will
start shrinking if oil stays low. And prices are generally
expected to stabilise in the $70-$80 range in the next
12-18 months. In a wider sense, the $100 level, which
many Gulf countries said in early 2014 was a fair price for
both producers and consumers, is highly unlikely in the
foreseeable future, according to experts.
Qatar’s “economic outlook for 2014–2016 is still
generally favourable, although falling oil prices could be
a key downside external risk if they persist for long”, the
Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics said
in its Qatar Economic Outlook (QEO) 2014-16 update.
However, the impact of falling oil prices on the wider
economy is likely to be shielded by the available fiscal
headroom, it said, referring to the breakeven prices of
$42 and $55 in 2014 and 2015.
In 2016, the breakeven price is expected to be around
$71 as government expenditure continues to grow,
oil production declines and QP’s financial surplus
moderates, the QEO said. “Yet…if required the state’s
large financial reserves could be deployed to shore up
planned spending,” the report added.
To be sure, it’s not crisis time yet for the well-managed
Qatari economy. Longer term, however, falling oil prices
could create pressure on economic planning in Qatar,
which has an oil-linked pricing mechanism for its LNG
supplies. The country’s monetary policy, to an extent, is
also constrained by its currency peg to the US dollar. So
fiscal discipline is the need of the hour for Qatar as well
as other GCC economies, according to Seetharaman.
A grown-up theme
for a grown-up Davos
From economics to politics
to security, today’s world
is a spider’s web of fraying
strands, swaying in the wind
of change
By Richard Quest
theme actually
makes sense. For years I have railed
against the annual game of “guess
what the Davos theme actually
means”. I have suffered through “Great
transformations – shaping new
models”, “Rethink, Redesign, Rebuild”,
and my favourite bit of Davosian
nonsense, “Resilient Dynamism”.
Finally the message seems to have
got through; for the first time in a
decade, the theme is in plain English,
and might actually mean something.
Davos will be discussing “The New
Global Context”. Klaus Schwab and
his World Economic Forum (EEF) have
seen the light.
The WEF’s explanation here is
that the new world order is fraught
with “complexity, fragility, and
uncertainty” (Davos was always good
at stating the obvious). Many of those
attending the WEF are charged with
taking on these issues on behalf of the
rest of us.
The context of this year’s Davos
is, of course, very different to that of
recent years. Profound quandaries
are everywhere. Even if they are not
technically new paradigms they are,
in blunt terms, bloody difficult to
Naturally, events in Paris will be
on everyone’s minds. In the most
simplistic sense, how can journalists
go about their daily business as usual?
A march in Dresden illustrates the
rising tide of Islamophobia; and what
of Hungary’s prime minister railing
against immigration? One hopes
someone in Davos can at least give
Mr Orban a lesson in the dangers of
reckless rhetoric.
The context of this
year’s Davos is very
different to that of
recent years
Economically, we have the
seemingly endless cycle of eurozone
misery. As President Draghi readies
the Euro printing presses in a bid to
get growth moving and create a bit of
inflation, the USA and UK are thinking
about tightening policy to – they hope
– curtail potential inflation.
China faces a slowdown, the
effects of which no-one truly
understands (because no one truly
understands China’s economy), while
emerging nations wait to see if they
get clobbered by one superpower’s
policies or another.
Then there is oil: down more
than 60% since June. This fall
might be a boon to consumers and
oil-importing nations, but such
dramatic movement in such a short
time is deeply destabilising to an
entrenched system. A fresh oil war is
underway between the Opec nations
and the newly flush shale producers
in the US. Who will blink and cut
production first?
There are countries like Nigeria
and Venezuela, which face serious
economic problems from lost
revenue. There is the tectonic shift in
the industry as Saudi Arabia declares
that it will no longer be the swing
producer, propping up prices by
cutting production when things get
Cheap oil is here to stay, and that
creates a wealth of problems of its
Expect, also, hot air about the
two Trans-trade deals the US is
negotiating, one with Asia, the
other with the EU. The Asian deal
might get done before I retire; I am
less optimistic about the EU deal. It
certainly won’t be signed before 2016
US presidential election.
Even if signed, the Transatlantic
Trade and Investment Partnership
has an inbuilt self-destruct button,
in the form of protectionist France’s
insistence on l’Exception Culturelle.
This concept is anathema to those on
the other side of l’océan Atlantique,
and always will be.
The geopolitical picture is
at its murkiest for decades.
Russia, enfeebled economically,
emboldened militarily, belligerent
politically, stands on a precipice of
unpredictability. An assertive China
is grappling with the problem of a
truculent Hong Kong. The vortex of
Syria and Iraq continues to draw its
neighbours into peril.
From economics to politics to
security, today’s world is a spider’s
web of fraying strands, swaying
in the wind of change, sticking
uncomfortably together, or ripping
themselves loose in an unruly tangle.
If that doesn’t constitute a “New
Global Context” I don’t know what
Tidying up this mess is beyond
the capabilities of the WEF in one
short week. So the issue is, as always,
what contribution can Davos make
to putting us on the right road? If
delegates come prepared to face up
to the unpleasant reality we stand a
chance of at least making a start. If
they come to pat each other on the
back, tut-tut at the state of the world,
and then blame everyone else, they are
wasting our time.
In a video ahead of the WEF, Klaus
Schwabb announced that this is all
about leadership. “Trust means a
leadership responsibility, where you
respond to the needs of those who
have trusted you with leadership, and
here we have to start in Davos.” He
added: “We are leaders in Davos, so
we should show our trustworthiness
in caring for those who are outside the
Congress hall.”
True, Professor Schwab, the leaders
are in Davos. But many are the same
leaders who got us into these various
messes in the first place. The onus
is on them to show why they can be
trusted to lead us through any New
Global Context.
That Davos has abandoned froth
and frolic in its theme and given us
something that we can understand and
use is a sign of serious times. The New
Global Context is real and, perhaps,
Davos has grown up.
zRichard Quest is CNN international
business correspondent.
To be sure, it’s
not crisis time
yet for the
Qatari economy
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Workers setting up logos of the World Economic Forum (WEF) at the congress centre in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos yesterday. More than 1,500 business
leaders and 40 heads of state or government will attend the January 21-24 meeting of the WEF to network and discuss big themes, from the price of oil to the future of
the Internet. This year they are meeting in the midst of upheaval, with security forces on heightened alert after attacks in Paris, the European Central Bank considering
a radical government bond-buying programme and the safe-haven Swiss franc rocketing.
Year of disasters sinks trust in business and govts
year of disasters and
mismanagement that
included mystery air crashes,
data hacks, foreign exchange
rate rigging and the worst ever Ebola
outbreak has torpedoed global trust in
public bodies and business, according
to a survey yesterday.
The annual Edelman Trust
Barometer, released in Davos, showed
a sharp decline in trust across the
board with faith in governments,
business, media and nongovernmental organisations (NGOs)
below 50% in two-thirds of countries.
The list of places where distrust
among the general population is now
dominant includes the US, Japan,
Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Russia
and Turkey.
The picture is particularly stark for
the 1,500 business leaders convening
for the January 21-24 World Economic
Forum’s talkfest in the Swiss Alps.
Not only has overall trust in
business fallen, after clawing back
some ground following the 2008
financial crash, but belief in chief
Members of Swiss special police forces standing on the roof of the Kongress
Hotel next to the Congress Centre, on the eve of the opening of the 45th Annual
Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos.
executives as credible spokespeople
has slumped for the third consecutive
Richard Edelman, head of the US
public relations firm Edelman, which
commissioned the study, said the
decrease in trust was startling and
was driven by the “unpredictable and
unimaginable” events of 2014.
“In reacting to these events, the
world’s major institutions have looked
out of synch,” he said. “It’s not really
related to economic performance
because there’s nothing catastrophic
on the economic front like there was in
The survey painted a mixed picture
for technology, which is playing an
increasingly central role in people’s
A majority of respondents believe
technological innovation is happening
too quickly, driven by greed among
business rather than a desire to make
the world a better place.
But, in a worrying signal for “old
media”, online search engines are now
more trusted as a source for general
news and information than traditional
Across all major industries,
consumers want stronger regulation
of businesses but have little
confidence that policymakers will
develop and implement appropriate
The survey took the opinions of
27,000 people in 27 countries and was
conducted between October13 and
November 24.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
The Russian threat runs out of fuel
When oil prices rise, Russia
expresses its latent
resentments more
aggressively, often
employing its military
By Daniel Gros
or Europe, the defining
event of 2014 was Russia’s
annexation of Crimea and
military intervention in
eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region. The
Kremlin’s actions directly challenged
key principles that have guided Europe
for more than six decades, particularly
the renunciation of the use of force to
alter national borders. But Russia is in
no position to sustain its aggressive
foreign policy.
It has often been argued that
Russia was reacting to the perceived
encroachment on its “near abroad”
by the European Union and Nato.
But history suggests a simpler
explanation: A decade of steadily
rising oil prices had emboldened
Russia, leaving it ready to seize any
opportunity to deploy its military
Indeed, the Soviet Union had a
similar experience 40 years ago,
when a protracted period of rising
oil revenues fuelled an increasingly
assertive foreign policy, which
culminated in the 1979 invasion of
Oil prices quadrupled following
the first oil embargo in 1973, and the
discovery of large reserves in the
1970s underpinned a massive increase
in Soviet output. As a result, from
1965 to 1980, the value of Soviet
oil production soared by a factor of
almost 20.
Burgeoning oil wealth bolstered
the regime’s credibility – not least
Russian President Vladimir Putin chairing a meeting of the country’s Military-Industrial Commission at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence, outside Moscow, yesterday.
by enabling a significant increase
in military spending – and rising
economic and military strength gave
the Soviet Union’s geriatric leadership
a rejuvenated sense of invulnerability.
The invasion of Afghanistan was not
merely an improvised response to a
local development (a putsch in Kabul);
it was also a direct result of this trend.
Putin’s reaction to the Euromaidan
demonstrations in Ukraine followed
a similar pattern. In both cases, a
seemingly low-cost opportunity was
viewed as yielding a large strategic
gain – at least in the short run.
Indeed, while the devastating
consequences of the Soviet Union’s
Afghan adventure are now well known,
at the time the invasion was viewed as
a major defeat for the West.
The Soviet army’s retreat in 1988
is usually ascribed to the Afghan
insurgency, led by mujahedeen with
support from the US.
But the decline in oil prices during
the 1980s, which cut the value of
Soviet output to one-third of its peak
level, undoubtedly played a role.
Indeed, it led to a period of extreme
economic weakness – a key factor in
the Soviet Union’s dissolution just
three years after its withdrawal from
During the 1990s, Russia was too
preoccupied with its own post-Soviet
political turmoil to object to EU or
Nato enlargement to the east. Nor did
it have the wherewithal, as its own
production and oil prices continued
to decline, hitting a trough of $10 per
barrel in 1999-2000.
Russia’s stance changed gradually
during the early 2000s, as world
oil prices – and Russian output –
recovered, reinvigorating the country’s
economic base at a time when its
leadership was becoming increasingly
autocratic. Only then did Russia start
to claim that the US and its European
allies had offered some implicit pledge
not to expand Nato eastward.
With oil prices steadily rising,
the value of Russian oil production
reached a new peak, roughly ten times
the 1999 level, in 2008; Russia invaded
Georgia the same year. Though prices
collapsed during the Great Recession
of 2009, they quickly recovered, with
the value of Russian output reaching
another peak in 2012-2013 – precisely
when Russia’s position on the
EU-Ukraine association agreement
Given that the EU and Ukraine had
already been negotiating the deal for
more than two years, without much
reaction from Russia, the EU was
blindsided by the Kremlin’s sudden
sharp objections.
Clearly, Russia’s attitude toward its
near abroad is not quite as erratic as it
may seem. When oil prices rise, Russia
expresses its latent resentments more
aggressively, often employing its
military. Moreover, at higher prices,
the oil industry crowds out other
export sectors that support open
markets and a less aggressive foreign
The Soviet war in Afghanistan was
followed by a long-term decline in
oil prices. The recent price slide – to
$50-60 per barrel, halving the value of
Russia’s oil production – suggests that
history is about to repeat itself.
And oil prices are not Russia’s only
problem. Western sanctions, which
seemed to constitute only a pinprick
a few months ago, appear to have
inflicted serious damage, with the
ruble having lost nearly half its value
against the US dollar last year.
Though financial markets will calm
down when the ruble’s exchange
rate settles into its new equilibrium,
Russia’s economy will remain weak,
forcing the country’s leaders to make
tough choices.
Against this background, a
stalemate in the Donbas seems more
likely than an outright offensive aimed
at occupying the remainder of the
region and establishing a land corridor
to Crimea – the outcome that many
in the West initially feared. President
Vladimir Putin’s new Novorossya
project simply cannot progress with
oil prices at their current level.
To be sure, Russia will continue to
challenge Europe. But no amount of
posturing can offset the disintegration
of the economy’s material base caused
by the new equilibrium in the oil
market. In this sense, the US has come
to Europe’s rescue in a different way:
Its production of shale oil and gas
might is likely to play a greater role in
keeping Russia at bay than Nato troops
on Europe’s eastern borders. - Project
zDaniel Gros is Director of the Centre
for European Policy Studies.
Weather report
Three-day forecast
efforts by QE
Dear Sir,
Though I am pursuing my medical
course in India, I was pleasantly
surprised to read the news item “QU’s
medical college woos prospective
students” (Gulf Times, January 20).
I had my schooling in Qatar at the
reputable and reliable MES School and
with the support and encouragement
given by all concerned, notably my
faculty, my dream of becoming a
doctor is nearing reality.
Qatar University’s commendable
efforts to establish and impart medical
education to more than 400 aspirants
are a big morale booster to the country’s
present multinational student
community. I’m glad that there is an
excellent opportunity awaiting them to
pursue this noble profession in Qatar
itself and render their services to that
wonderful country by practising there
itself as a doctor.
I wish and look forward to returning
to Qatar after acquiring my MBBS
degree to contribute my mite.
Kalyan Rajeshwari
(e-mail address supplied)
Unease over
company move
Dear Sir,
The Tata Group in India has an
impeccable and enviable track
record of providing employment
opportunities to several thousands
over the last several decades. Tatas
have also been pioneers in introducing
and implementing innumerable
welfare measures even before
legislations were enacted in the Indian
Nevertheless, there is reported
to be a disturbing trend emerging
now with Tata Consultancy Services
(TCS). As per media reports, several
thousand TCS employees have
been sacked, citing reasons like
“inefficiency, failing to meet with
the expectations”, etc.
TSC describes itself as “the worldleading information technology
consulting, services, and businessprocess-outsourcing organisation
that envisioned and pioneered
the adoption of the flexible global
business practices that today enable
companies to operate more efficiently
and produce more value”.
It is true that the software sector is
quite dynamic, unlike manufacturing,
and subject to volatile situations
and circumstances including,
foreign exchange fluctuations and
overseas market clients’ exigencies,
contingencies among others.
Still the sacking of employees,
especially those who were employed
by TCS for the past several years, is
not a good sign for such a reputable
and reliable group like Tatas. The
aggrieved employees are reported to be
seeking judicial intervention.
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Kuwait City
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It’s time to dust off the word weltschmerz
By Oliver Burkeman
uring one of those weeks of
exceptionally depressing
news headlines, towards the
end of last year, a former
Obama administration staffer named
Ari Ratner published an essay arguing
that it was time to dust off an old
German word, weltschmerz, which
translates as “world pain”.
The Germans, as you know,
have a word for everything.
(They presumably feel plenty of
schadenfreude about the fact that the
rest of us don’t.) But weltschmerz was
the one we needed now, Ratner wrote,
because it encapsulates a sense of grief
at how the world keeps falling short of
The special awfulness of the news
in recent months has taken varying
forms: not much may connect the
horrific shootings at Charlie Hebdo,
IS killings or CIA torture to US police
brutality or Twitter misogynists, let
alone to those infinitely more minor
tales, such as Emily Thornberry’s
resignation, where it’s the very
triviality that’s so depressing. But all
of them trigger a feeling that humanity
never fails to disappoint.
Of course, it’s hardly the most
important thing about any given
atrocity that it makes people like me,
and others not directly affected, feel
despair. Nor was that quite the original
meaning of weltschmerz among the
19th-century Romantics who coined
it: they were more concerned with
how the world frustrated their own
Still, we need some name for what
we’re feeling, and weltschmerz works
better than some other famous foreign
words for everything being wrong,
such as angst (too inward-looking) or
ennui (too resigned).
When Ratner explained
weltschmerz to two ex-colleagues, one
agreed that for the idealists around
Obama, his first term had been all
weltschmerz. “The second term has
just been schmerz,” said the other.
A major problem here is that we’ve
created a world in which weltschmerz
is almost inevitable: if anyone,
anywhere on the planet, is being
appalling enough, the media will let us
know, where previously we might not
have heard.
Then there’s the irony that Steven
Pinker identifies in his book The Better
Angels Of Our Nature: life’s getting
less and less violent, he insists, but
our moral norms are improving even
faster, outpacing reality, so we’re
constantly affronted by things we’d
once have accepted.
The CIA torture report was so
sickening largely because torture’s no
longer a daily part of public life.
One irritatingly glib response is
“just stop watching the news!”: if
things are getting better overall, why
bring yourself down by focusing on the
negative? But it doesn’t follow from
Pinker’s arguments that we’re wrong
or irrational to feel weltschmerz.
Indeed, as Ratner notes, it’s what
drives progressive change: unlike
angst or ennui, weltschmerz springs
precisely from seeing that things could
and should be better.
The capacity to be disappointed
is a good thing. There’s a parallel
here with physical pain: though it’s
unpleasant, the inability to feel it is
an extremely dangerous disorder.
World pain is bad – but numbness
to world pain would be worse.Guardian News and Media
Around the world
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outlook for 13
oil exporters
IMF slashes
2015-2016 world
growth forecast
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Rabia II 1, 1436 AH
25% DIVIDEND: Page 3
Ahlibank 2014
profit jumps 14%
to QR601.3mn
‘Risks minimal for Qatar’
Doha Bank posts QR1.35bn profit
ided by robust expansion in fee
and commission earnings, Doha
Bank has reported 3% growth in
net profit to QR1.35bn in 2014.
The lender, which is focusing on
overseas markets (especially India) to
scale up its operations as part of the
broad strategy, has declared a 40%
cash dividend to shareholders, Doha
Bank Group CEO R Seetharaman told
reporters after the board meeting.
Otherwise, the bank reported about
13% increase in net operating income
to QR2.9bn with fee and commission
income showing an impressive 27%
expansion to QR516mn.
Although the bank maintained a
consistent path in net profitability,
growth was rather slower compared
to net operating income because of
higher provisioning towards bad book,
Seetharaman said.
The bank had made 111% provision coverage towards non-performing loans, which entailed more than
QR100mn. “Otherwise, our (net) profit
would have been higher by 8% to 9%,”
he said.
“The bank’s core revenue streams
have shown strong growth over the
Seetharaman, along with other management team, announcing the 2014 results of Doha Bank.
prior year, reflecting the intrinsic
strength towards recurring earning capacity and also on the bank’s productive operational performance,” Doha
Bank managing director Sheikh Abdul
Rehman bin Mohamed bin Jabor alThani said.
Doha Bank, which has reported 3.1%
bad loans as of December 31, 2014, is
planning to bring it down to less than
2% in the near term through prudent
measures and better recoveries.
About the interest earnings,
Seetharaman said net margins have
been coming down in view of the increased competition and the trend is
expected to continue.
Going forward, the bank expects
foreign assets to grow faster and make
larger contribution as it is now concentrating on growth markets such as
Dubai, Abu Dhabi and India. Seethara-
man said plans are also afoot to convert
some of its representative offices into
full-scale operations.
Total assets increased 13% to
QR75.5bn with net loans and advances
rising 18% to QR48.6bn in the year
ended December 31, 2014.
The bank has achieved a very high
return on average assets of 1.93% as
of December 31, 2014, which is a clear
demonstration of the effective utilisa-
tion of shareholders’ funds, he said.
Through an efficient asset allocation
model, the return on average shareholders’ equity was 16.4%, one of the
best in the industry.
Deposits grew 8% to QR45.9bn,
which shows the strong liquidity position of the bank, he said.
The bank has laid out a three-year
strategy to build up its brand equity as
it scales up its operations, he added.
“Downward risks are minimal” for
Qatar although oil prices have fallen
more than 50% since last June and the
banking sector ought to grow 14% to
15% against an estimated 7% economic
growth in the country, according to
Doha Bank Group CEO R Seetharaman.
Although the challenge (in view of
weak crude) will be financial stability,
he said Qatar has adopted well-calibrated diversification strategy and that its
sovereign wealth fund has invested in
multiple markets and across multiple
“In terms of 2015, the banking model is
changing and financial market is highly
volatile,” he said.
The Ministry of Development Planning
and Statistics, in its updated Qatar Economic Outlook for 2014-16, had found
that the country’s non-hydrocarbon
sector now constitute more than 50%
share in the total economy.
Quoting the latest International Monetary Fund data (after factoring in the
weak energy market), Seetharaman
said Qatar’s gross domestic product is
expected to grow by 7%.
“The banking sector should grow in the
range of 14% to 15%, which is normally
double the growth of the country’s economic expansion,” he said, adding the
banking sector will need more capital
requirements in order to comply with
the Basel III accord.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
QFB buys 49% in home-grown Food Services Company
atar First Bank (QFB) has
acquired a 49% stake
in Food Services Company (FSC), which operates a
16-branch network across the
The country-wide FSC network of five leading brands includes Opera Patisserie, Opera
Café, Opera Catering, Take Away
and Kanafji.
The acquisition marks QFB’s
second investment in the food
and beverages sector and the
fourth in the Qatari market demonstrating QFB’s dedication to
sectoral and geographical diversification.
Ahmad Meshari, QFB acting
CEO said, “From the outset, our
investment strategy focuses on
sectors that are expected to bene-
fit from macroeconomic growth.
The F&B sector in the Qatar is
projected to maintain its historical growth driven by robust
macroeconomic fundamentals
and population growth. We look
forward to working with FSC and
assisting them in implementing
their ambitious expansion plan.”
Ihab Asali, head, QFB’s Private
Equity Department said, “We
are pleased to be partnering with
FSC, which has a proven track
record of growth and innovation.
We believe that FSC is well positioned to capitalise on the future
growth expected to take place.”
Established in 1997 in Doha by
Qais al-Saleh, FSC is one of the
first home-grown and branded
F&B concepts that still exist today.
Al-Saleh said, “We are very
pleased to welcome QFB as a
shareholder in FSC. We are confident that QFB will be able to unlock value, streamline operations
and be a catalyst of future growth”
founder, partner and general
manager of FSC said, “We are
very proud of the historical
growth that FSC has been able to
achieve. Furthermore, FSC will
leverage upon its leading market
position to further roll-out new
branches of its various brands
across Qatar.”
Deloitte acted as the exclusive
sell side financial adviser to the
The F&B sector is experiencing
rapid growth in the Mena region
in general and Qatar in specific
driven by growth in population
and disposable income.
Qatar’s food consumption
increased at a CAGR of 8.8%
between 2004 and 2010, having the highest rate among GCC
countries. Furthermore, Qatar’s
population is expected to grow
at a CAGR of 4% between 2012
and 2017, the highest among GCC
QSE extends losing run
to 3rd day despite buying
interests in Islamic stocks
By Santhosh V Perumal
Business Reporter
A man looks on as he sits next to a screen showing stock prices at the FALCOM investment bank in Riyadh (file). The Saudi index ended nearly flat yesterday as petrochemicals
giant Saudi Basic Industries, whose earnings are correlated with oil prices, rose 0.9%.
Gulf markets slide again
but property buoys Egypt
ost Gulf stock markets closed either flat
or lower yesterday as
oil prices remained volatile and
local companies delivered no
positive fourth-quarter earnings
Brent crude oil fell in early
trade yesterday after the International Monetary Fund cut its
forecast for global economic
growth in 2015, implying lower
demand for fuel.
However, the commodity’s
price rose above $49 per barrel later in the day, supporting
Saudi Arabia’s bourse which,
unlike other Gulf markets, was
still open.
The main Saudi index was
nearly flat as petrochemicals
giant Saudi Basic Industries,
whose earnings are correlated
with oil prices, rose 0.9%.
But shares in Saudi Telecom
Co (STC) tumbled 5.2%. The
company’s fourth-quarter net
profit slumped 32.6% to 2.44bn
riyals ($650mn), missing analysts’ average forecast of 3.32bn
Another stock in the sector,
Etihad Etisalat (Mobily), fell
3.6% while the third major local
operator, Zain Saudi, was flat.
National Industrialisation Co
(Tasnee) dropped 2.5% after it
said fourth-quarter net profit
dropped 46.5% on lower petrochemical prices. The company
made 160.7mn riyals, while analysts at Saudi Fransi Capital had
expected 295.0mn riyals.
Most other Gulf markets
pulled back. Dubai’s index
slipped 0.4% as most stocks declined. However, low-cost carrier Air Arabia, which stands to
benefit from cheaper oil, gained
QFCA, QU join
hands to boost
finance research,
business skills
he Qatar Financial Centre Authority
(QFCA) and Qatar University (QU) have
entered into an agreement to promote
mutual interests in finance research and education and to boost financial and business skills.
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was
signed by Yousuf Mohamed al-Jaida, deputy
CEO of the QFCA and Professor Sheikha Abdulla al-Misnad, president of Qatar University.
The MoU enhances collaboration in three main
areas, comprising MBA graduation projects,
QFCA research grants, and faculty awards.
Each year, MBA students from the College of
Business and Economics (CBE) at Qatar University will be eligible to participate in one project
with the QFCA, which will provide funding and
set the topic, aligning it with students’ interests
and experience.
Additionally, two research grants will be
given to CBE faculty members annually by the
QFCA to conduct research of mutual interest.
The research topics, based on criteria previously
selected by CBE faculty members, will be selected by both parties.
Also, the QFCA will create ‘The Faculty Award
in Finance Research’, aimed at recognising a CBE
faculty member conducting research in an area
of finance which is deemed to best contribute
to the economic development of Qatar and the
Gulf Co-operation Council. The award, funded
by the QFCA, will be given annually, based on
criteria and a selection process agreed by both
“Enlarging the talent pool available to the
commercial and financial sector in Qatar
through education is a key imperative for the
QFCA. It is part of our strategy to develop a
first-class international financial services industry and business sector in Qatar,” al-Jaida
“The signing of this MoU is a further step
in growing that relationship and represents a
significant commitment by both of our organisations in shared endeavours to build a strong
local talent base, whilst contributing through
relevant research and education to the development of a vibrant financial services sector,” according to al-Misnad.
Logistics firm Aramex, which
could also see its fuel costs go
down, added 1.0%.
Abu Dhabi’s bourse fell 0.9%
as large lenders Abu Dhabi
Commercial Bank and First Gulf
Bank lost 1.2 and 2.1% respectively.
Egypt’s bourse jumped 2.1%,
largely on the back of property
stocks such as Talaat Moustafa
Holding, which added 2.4%,
and Palm Hills Development, up
Egypt’s central bank started
allowing some depreciation of
the pound this week, a move
which analysts said aimed to
stamp out a thriving black currency market as inflation concerns eased following the slump
in oil prices.
“Conventionally under such
situations, real estate stocks
should continue performing
well, as investors would look to
buffer their risks by investing
in land and property,” Cairobased Naeem brokerage said in
a note.
Elsewhere in the region, Kuwait’s index edged up 0.3%
to 6,646 points; Oman’s index inched down 0.1% to 6,652
points, while Bahrain’s index
added 0.3% to 1,436 points.
Buying interests in Islamic
stocks notwithstanding,
the Qatar Stock Exchange
yesterday entered the third day
of bearish spell.
Selling pressure in banking
and transport stocks masked
the buying interests, especially
in the real estate, consumer
goods and telecom sectors
as the 20-stock Qatar Index
(based on price data) fell 0.25%
to 11,862.32 points amid higher
trade volumes.
Foreign institutions turned
profit-takers and local retail
investors’ net buying weakened
substantially in the bourse,
which is, down 3.45% year-todate.
However, domestic institutions
were seen bullish in the market,
where realty, banking and
industrials stocks cornered
about 81% of the total trading
Market capitalisation was
down 0.13%, or QR85mn, to
QR647.01bn with large-cap
equities melting 0.78%; while
mid caps rose 0.57%.
The Total Return Index fell
0.25% to 17,692.54 points and
the All Share Index by 0.11%
to 3,046.31 points but the Al
Rayan Islamic Index rose 0.62%
to 4,036.46 points.
Banks and financial services
stocks fell 1.17% and transport
0.51%; whereas realty gained
1.53%, insurance 1.27%,
consumer goods 1.21%, telecom
0.53% and industrials rose
Major losers included QNB,
Qatar Islamic Bank, Doha Bank,
Gulf International Services,
Gulf Warehousing and Milaha;
even as Mazaya Qatar, United
Development Company, Barwa,
Vodafone Qatar and Islamic
Holding Group bucked the
Foreign institutions turned
net sellers to the tune of
QR38.05mn against net buyers
of QR23.24mn the previous day.
Qatari retail investors’ net
buying sunk to QR17.13mn
compared to QR64.45mn on
January 19.
Non-Qatari individual investors’
net buying fell to QR3.31mn
against QR4.01mn on Monday.
Domestic institutions turned
net buyers to the extent of
QR17.54mn compared with net
profit-takers of QR91.69mn the
previous day.
Total trade volume rose 22% to
16.03mn shares, value by 10%
to QR690.6n and transactions
by 22% to 7,555.
The telecom sector’s trade
volume almost quadrupled to
1.82mn stocks and value more
than doubled to QR32.73mn on
a 27% jump in deals to 481.
The insurance sector’s trade
volume tripled to 0.21mn
equities and value more than
quadrupled to QR16.82mn on a
93% rise in transactions to 139.
The consumer goods sector
saw its trade volume more than
double to 0.45mn shares, value
soar 97% to QR17.84mn and
deals by 53% to 330.
The banks and financial
services reported a 21%
surge in trade volume to
Selling pressure in
banking and transport
stocks masked the
buying interests,
especially in the real
estate, consumer goods
and telecom sectors as
the 20-stock Qatar Index
(based on price data)
fell 0.25% to 11,862.32
points amid higher
trade volumes. Market
capitalisation was down
0.13%, or QR85mn, to
2.46mn stocks, 26% in value
to QR174.99mn and 34% in
transactions to 1,955.
The real estate sector’s trade
volume expanded 15% to
9.04mn equities but value fell
1% to QR301.2mn. Deals gained
12% to 2,629.
However, the transport sector’s
trade volume plummeted 40%
to 0.64mn shares and value
by 13% to QR25.7mn while
transactions rose 5% to 335.
The market witnessed a 2%
decline in the industrials
sector’s trade volume to 1.41mn
stocks and 3% in value to
QR121.32mn but deals were up
19% to 1,686.
In the debt market, there was
no trading of treasury bills and
government bonds.
Women now have more
opportunities in GCC
family businesses: study
s family businesses in the
GCC seek to address new
challenges and transition
to future generations, women
have the opportunity to take on
more active roles than before,
according to a new study.
The joint study undertaken
by Al-Sayedah Khadijah Bint
Khawilid Center and Strategy&
(formerly Booz & Company) investigates the role of women in
family businesses across the Gulf
Cooperation Council region. The
comprehensive study is based
on insights from extensive client
work, publicly available information, and interviews conducted with stakeholders in 30 leading family businesses in the GCC
in the past 12 months.
According to the study, in
the next five to 10 years, a large
number of GCC family businesses are expected to face a transition to the third generation.
Succession planning is one of the
most critical challenges family
businesses face but it can also be
a great opportunity to draw from
the entire talent pool, not only
the male members of the family.
As female family members become shareholders via inheritance, they tend to request a role
in the governance and oversight
of the business.
Dr Basmah M Omair, CEO, AlSayedah Khadijah Bint Khawilid
Centre said: “This is a propitious
time for family businesses as all
of the GCC countries have made
female economic inclusion a top
priority. The value of diverse
perspectives from all members
of the family is gaining more
widespread recognition as most
family businesses in the GCC are
facing transition from the second to the third generation of
ownership. As a result, there is a
supportive environment for family businesses to take advantage
of the contribution that their
women can make. GCC family businesses are also looking at
global best practices and finding that female family members
are increasingly becoming a vital
force within their foreign counterparts.”
“A number of other trends
have contributed to women’s
growing leadership over the
past two decades, which include
changing social conditions, such
as smaller family sizes and higher
average age of marriage; increasing efforts from women to acquire the skills that would make
them eligible for a wider spectrum of roles in business; and
growing social acceptance that
encourages women to be more
involved in the family business,”
Dr Omair added.
The study reveals the major
obstacles to women’s participation in family businesses, which
include the cultural perceptions
of a patriarchal society, misalignment between the requirements of the business and the
extent of women’s education or
training, women’s lack of interest
or motivation to be active in the
family business and fierce com-
petition within large families for
a limited number of senior roles,
in which women are at a disadvantage as they must develop
comparable skills to their male
Ramy Sfeir, partner with
Strategy& leading the family
business platform in the Middle
East, said: “In order for these
companies to access their female talent pool, there is an urgent need for male family members to understand women’s
aspirations and for female family members to calibrate the expectations of male members of
the family. GCC women’s roles
in family businesses tend to exist in two spheres: core business
activities, such as management
and corporate governance, and
enabling business activities,
such as promoting family values
and preparing the next generation to join the business. Within
each of these spheres, women
are already playing clearly defined roles.”
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
First Finance Company gets award for ‘best personal finance’
First Finance Company (FFC), a Barwa Bank subsidiary, has been
recognised at the Banker Middle East Product Awards 2014 for
“Best Personal Finance”.
FFC received the awards from CPI Financial in Doha recently.
FFC was represented by Eslah Assem Awad, chief executive officer
and Yousif al-Subeai, deputy chief executive officer.
The awards were established by CPI Financial, publishers of Banker
Middle East, in 2005 to recognise banking products and services
that are either exceptionally innovative or have generated excellent financial results and growth in market share. The awards are
based on a peer-vote process.
FFC said, “We are delighted to receive this award and we congratulate the entire FFC team for their outstanding contribution
to our success in positioning FFC as a leader not only in the Qatari
financial sector, but across the Middle East.”
Since inception, FFC has focused on delivering a comprehensive
and innovative range of market-leading consumer finance services, including auto- and home finance that offer great value and
outstanding features. To support Qatar’s booming economy, FFC
also offers a range of Shariah-complaint financing for SMEs that
provide flexible down payment, instalments for up to 48 months,
fast and simple performance and flexible payment scheme. To empower entrepreneurs, FFC’s SME product also provides financing to
startups, which have been operational for more than six months.
First Finance Company executives with the award.
Ahlibank profit jumps
14% to QR601.3mn;
offers 25% dividend
hlibank has reported a 14% growth in net
profit to QR601.3mn in 2014 compared with
QR525.7mn in 2013. The bank declared a total dividend of 25% for shareholders in 2014.
In view of the profitability, the board recommended 15% cash dividend (QR1.5 per share) and
10% bonus stocks (1 new share for every 10 shares
held); which will have to be approved by the general
Gross operating income recorded a strong 10%
growth to QR933.9mn, a spokesman said in a communiqué to the Qatar Stock Exchange.
Net interest and fees and commission incomes
rose 10% and 13% respectively, driven by growth in
assets and investments.
Total assets grew by a significant 20% and registered a historical high of QR31.38bn.
Loans and advances grew by a healthy 23% to
QR21.31bn, witnessing a steady growth in market
share, the spokesman said.
“Our business banking division has succeeded in
realising the opportunities generated across Qatar,
with steady momentum in business and growth
in market share, without compromising on asset
quality,” Ahlibank Qatar chairman and managing
director Sheikh Faisal bin Abdul-Aziz bin Jassim alThani, said.
Non-performing loans ratio continued to improve to 1.20% in December 2014 from 1.43% in
December 2013, reflecting the bank’s sound asset
The return on average equity and assets were
strong at 15.5% and 2.2% respectively and capital
adequacy ratio remained strong at 16.6% with Tier
I capital at 16.1% at December 2014 (prior to any
dividend distribution for the year 2014).
On the proposed dividend, Sheikh Faisal said
the “proposal intends to maximise shareholders’
wealth, at the same time generating internal capital
to meet the bank’s growth aspirations.”
Al-Shaibei during the Second Career Day hosted by International
Islamic at the Sheraton yesterday.
Qatar strong
enough to
tackle global
atar’s economy remains
stable and strong enough
to face the current global
economic challenges, said International Islamic CEO Abdulbasit
A al-Shaibei. “Qatar is implementing major projects as part
of its broader economic vision,”
al-Shaibei said on the sidelines
of the Second Career Day at the
Sheraton yesterday.
He said the government’s policies attached top priority to development projects across various sectors in the country. The
ongoing development projects
would keep the national economy active, the International Islamic CEO said.
The local market presented
promising opportunities; there
were many ongoing projects and
the general environment was
very favourable.
On the current global economic challenges, al-Shaibei
said, “Its impact will be limited
on Qatar. Our economy remains
stable and we are on the fast
track of development.”
He said International Islamic
would announce its 2014 financial results shortly.
Al-Shaibei said International
Islamic’s policies and robust risk
management procedures ensured that the bank’s non-performing finance remained “very
The bank’s capital adequacy
was at very comfortable level,
which al-Shaibei said “reflects
the wise policies being pursued
by the bank within the realm of
risk management.”
International Islamic is in
strong compliance of the Basel
II international standard that
requires financial institutions to
maintain enough cash reserves
to cover risks incurred by operations, he said.
International Islamic in Qatarisation push
International Islamic was keen
to recruit more Qataris and
place them in appropriate
positions at various levels in the
bank, said CEO Abdulbasit A
“Currently we have a
Qatarisation rate of about
40% in the top management
level and an overall 20%. We
wish to increase this further,”
he said on the sidelines of the
second ‘Career Day’ hosted
by International Islamic at the
Sheraton yesterday.
“Recruiting Qatari males and
females is a strategic decision
taken by our human resources
department and we ensure
that recruited candidates are
provided with appropriate
training and they benefit from
career enhancement and
suitable promotions, al-Shaibei
Al-Shaibei said International
Islamic was inviting Qataris
with a General Certificate of
Education and a university
degree to attend the event at
the Sheraton from 8am to 3pm
until tomorrow.
During ‘Career Day’, job
seekers will be interviewed
by a screening committee,
which will shortlist qualified
candidates for the available
Last year, al-Shaibei said more
than 60 Qatari males and
females were hired through the
“We expect to sign up more
Qataris this year,” he said.
Sheikh Faisal: Steady momentum in business and growth in market share.
Ibrahim on panel to choose ‘Al Attiyah Awards’ winners
E Dr Ibrahim Ibrahim,
Economic Advisor to HH
the Emir and Dr Daniel Yergin, vice-chairman, IHS,
will lead a distinguished international selection committee of
experts responsible for selecting
the winners of the 2015 Abdullah
bin Hamad Al Attiyah International Energy Awards for ‘Lifetime Achievement’.
Founded in 2012, the awards
celebrate the outstanding legacy
of HE Abdullah bin Hamad alAttiyah, Qatar’s former Deputy
Premier and Minister of Energy
and Industry, by recognising individuals for their achievements
over the course of a whole career
in their respective fields of work.
Previous recipients of the
Al Attiyah Awards, including
Nobuo Tanaka, former executive director, International Energy Agency, and Professor Tan
Chorh Chuan, president of the
National University of Singapore, will also join the 2015
Higher Selection Committee.
The third edition of the annual
Al Attiyah International Energy
Awards will be presented at a
gala dinner hosted at the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha on May
5 with Total as the Industry Gold
Sponsor Partner.
“The volunteer selection
committee and its international
make-up are critical to ensure
that a transparent and robust selection process delivers the most
worthy winners each year,” said
HE Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah, President of the Administrative Control and Transparency Authority.
“We are honoured and grateful
that such a distinguished group
of recognised thought leaders
in the international energy industry have given their time and
expertise on this assignment,” he
The 2015 award winners will
be recognised in five categories
for their lifetime achievement
in the advancement of the Qatar Energy Industry; Opec, producer–consumer dialogue, education of future energy leaders
and international energy journalism.
The alumni of the Al Attiyah
awards already comprise a distinguished group of visionary
energy leaders including HE the
Minister of Energy and Industry,
Dr Mohamed bin Saleh al-Sada,
and Abdalla Salem el-Badri,
Opec secretary general.
The 2015 Al Attiyah Gala Dinner event will have Dolphin
Energy and Qatar Petroleum
as silver partner sponsors, and
ExxonMobil Qatar as bronze
The winners of the 2014 Abdullah bin Hamad Al Attiyah International Energy Awards with HE Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Qatar boosts
Mideast M&A
to highest level
since early ’08
ergers and acquisitions with Middle Eastern involvement last quarter hit their highest level since
early 2008, boosted by outbound investment by
wealthy Gulf funds and companies, according to a Thomson
Reuters study.
The value of announced M&A deals with any Middle Eastern involvement jumped to $22.7bn in the fourth quarter of
2014, more than double the value in the previous quarter and
the highest total since the first quarter of 2008.
The calculation includes a $9.1bn offer for Songbird Estates, owner of London’s Canary Wharf financial district, by
the Qatar Investment Authority and US investor Brookfield
Property Partners. That deal has not so far been completed
and some major shareholders in Songbird are still evaluating
the offer.
The data suggested signs of a US economic recovery encouraged Gulf investors to become more active last year. For
2014 as a whole, M&A with Middle Eastern involvement
climbed 23% to $50.3bn, the highest total since 2010.
Outbound M&A surged 74% to $26.0bn, the highest annual total since 2009. Qatar’s overseas acquisitions accounted for 65% of all Middle Eastern outbound M&A, while
acquisitions by UAE companies provided 15% and Saudi Arabian firms, 9%.
However, acquisitions into and within the Middle East remained sluggish, reflecting political uncertainties, legal and
cultural barriers to takeovers, and, towards the end of the
year, the plunge of oil prices.
M&A that originated and occurred inside the region fell
12% to $14.0bn during 2014, while inbound M&A that originated outside the Middle East shrank 30% to $4.2bn.
Middle Eastern equity and equity-related issuance totalled
$11.4bn last year, a 173% leap that was largely due to the $6bn
Women walk out of a branch of HSBC at Dubai Internet City
(file). HSBC earned the most investment banking fees in the
Middle East during 2014, a total of $56.9mn.
initial public offer of Saudi Arabia’s National Commercial
Bank, the biggest IPO ever conducted in the Arab world.
Debt sales were curbed by instability in emerging markets
and the approach of US interest rate hikes; Middle Eastern
bond issuance in 2014 decreased 6% to $37.0bn.
Investment banking fees ticked up during the last quarter but for 2014 as a whole, they fell 3% to $751.7mn. Equity
capital markets underwriting fees soared but fees from debt
capital markets and syndicated lending slumped; fees from
completed M&A deals totalled $159.2mn, down 5%.
HSBC earned the most investment banking fees in the
Middle East during 2014, a total of $56.9mn. Lazard topped
the Middle Eastern completed M&A fee table, while HSBC
was first in the ECM and DCM rankings. Mizuho Financial
Group took top spot in Middle Eastern loan fees.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
HSBC trims GDP outlook for 13
oil exporters as price plunges
he plunge in oil prices prompted HSBC Holdings to cut this
year’s economic outlook for 13
crude exporters across central, Eastern Europe and the Middle East, while
singling out Turkey as the biggest
winner from the slump.
Economic growth in the grouping will slow to 1.8%, compared with
an estimate of 2.6% in October, the
London- based bank said in a report
on Monday. Russia’s gross domestic
product may shrink 3.5%, compared
with an October forecast of a 1% contraction, the bank said.
“With the lower oil price, we are
looking for an across-the-board
squeeze,” Simon Williams, chief
CEEMEA economist, said in a phone
interview from London. “Oil-funded
public spending will slow, public and
private investment will moderate, and
consumption will ease as confidence
falls. Governments as borrowers rather than creditors will also put pressure
on liquidity.”
Oil exporters in the region, especially in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, have used oil wealth
over the past decade to transform
their cities, building finance centres,
airports and ports that turned the
Arabian Gulf region into a banking
and travel hub. Crude sank almost
50% last year as the US pumped oil
at the fastest rate in more than three
decades while the Organisation of
Petroleum Exporting Countries re-
sisted calls to cut supply. Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter,
may post a budget deficit at 11% of
gross domestic product this year,
HSBC said. In October, the bank projected that the kingdom would post a
The Saudi economy may grow 2.8%
this year, HSBC said, the slowest pace
since 2009. Economic growth in the
UAE, the second-biggest Arab economy, will slow to 3.1% this year from an
estimated 4.9% in 2014.
The bank doesn’t expect a repeat of
the recession in 2008 that sent Dubai to the brink of default a year later.
“We don’t have the same excesses,
particularly in the credit market and
especially in the GCC,” Williams said.
Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share
Index for equities has declined 13%
in the past six months, while Dubai’s
gauge has dropped 16%.
HSBC’s forecasts are based on an
average oil price “in the low $60s”
this year and next, Williams said.
Of oil importers in eastern Europe and the Middle East, Turkey is
the biggest beneficiary “in the short
term,” Williams said. “It is benefiting from lower energy prices, which
means a lower current account deficit
and lower inflationary pressures,” he
Turkey’s consumer inflation rate
may fall below 6% by the end of the
year from 8.2% last month, Finance
Minister Mehmet Simsek said on
January 7. HSBC expects Turkey’s inflation to be 6.2% this year, compared
with a forecast of 7.2% in its October
Oil exporters in the Gulf have used oil wealth over the past decade to transform their
cities, building finance centres, airports and ports that turned the Arabian Gulf region
into a banking and travel hub.
Turkey central bank in firing line
as govt demands deeper rate cuts
urkey’s central bank lowered its
main interest rate yesterday and
drew a swift rebuke from government ministers who said the 50 basis
point cut, five months ahead of a parliamentary election, was not enough to
support economic growth.
The barrage of complaints from Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus,
Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci and
presidential adviser Yigit Bulut sent the
lira to a two-week low amid concerns
over growing political pressure on monetary policy.
The bank trimmed its main one-week
repo rate by 50 basis points to 7.75% in
response to slowing inflation, a sharper
cut than many economists had expected,
but left other interest rates on hold.
Hours later, Kurtulmus took to Twitter to say the bank’s move was “at odds”
with the government’s economic vision.
“With this decision it has unfortunately become more difficult to achieve
growth, employment and inflation targets,” he wrote.
Last week, President Tayyip Erdogan
warned he might summon central bank
officials if they did not respond to his
repeated calls for lower rates to boost
The lira initially firmed after the rate
cut as traders voiced relief that the bank
had not yielded to political pressure with
a deeper reduction. After the ministers’
comments, it dropped to 2.35 to the dol-
Turkey’s central bank headquarters is seen in Ankara. The bank yesterday trimmed
its main one-week repo rate by 50 basis points to 7.75% in response to slowing
inflation, a sharper cut than many economists had expected, but left other interest
rates on hold.
lar, its weakest since January 5.
“It’s hard to say (the rate cut) is just
due to political pressure because there
was a downside surprise in inflation
in December,” Finansbank economist
Gokce Celik said.
“But the comments from government are damaging the credibility of
the central bank. Even if they (the bank)
did it for economic reasons, that’s not
what it looks like from outside.” Bolstering economic growth would improve the ruling AK Party’s prospects
of winning a two-thirds majority in the
June election and thereby help Erdogan
in his drive to build a strong executive
Economic growth slowed to 1.7%
year-on-year in the third quarter, below
a Reuters forecast of 3%, indicating the
government will not meet its 4% fullyear target.
The central bank’s battle against inflation, even as the economy slows and
conflict continues in neighbouring
countries, has been helped by the slide in
global oil and commodity prices.
Yesterday’s decision came after data
showed annual consumer price inflation
eased to 8.17% in December from 9.15%
in November. The latest central bank
survey of business leaders pointed to
end-2015 inflation of 6.82%, still above
the 5% target.
Of 20 economists polled by Reuters, 11
had expected a cut in the main rate, with
eight forecasting a quarter of a percentage point reduction and three anticipating a 50 basis point cut.
The bank described the rate cut as
“measured” and said it would keep its
overall monetary policy tight until there
was a significant improvement in the inflation outlook.
But with Economy Minister Zeybekci
already calling for cuts in other interest rates and presidential adviser Bulut
suggesting it take further action at an
extraordinary meeting, that aim could
prove increasingly difficult.
“The fact that the central bank opted
to cut rates—and fairly aggressively at
that—despite an inflation rate that remains way above its target says much
about the conduct of Turkish monetary
policy,” said Nicholas Spiro of Spiro Sovereign Strategy in London.
“Once again, questions will be raised
about the independence of Turkey’s central bank.”
Kuwait’s NBK profit jumps
National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) reported a 46.4% rise in fourthquarter net profit yesterday, but fell short of analyst forecasts
after it failed to book a gain from its sale of a stake in International Bank of Qatar (IBQ).
The Gulf Arab state’s largest commercial lender sold a 30%
stake in the Qatari bank at the beginning of October, saying at
the time it would book a gain of 25mn dinars ($85mn) on the
sale in its 2014 accounts.
But NBK said in its financial report the deal had yet to be
recognised in its income statement, adding the sale would be
concluded after completion of “procedural formalities”.
Net profit was 57.9mn dinars in the three months ended NBK’s
fourth-quarter earnings were boosted by a 2.8% rise in net
interest income to 103.8mn dinars from the same period a
year earlier. Net fees and commission reached 30.7mn dinars,
up 12.5%.
Net profit for 2014 was 261.8mn dinars, up 10% year on year,
the bank added.
The new chief executive of Saudi Arabia’s National Industrialisation Co (Tasnee) said yesterday that slumping oil and petrochemical prices were creating a difficult near-term outlook for
the industry. Mutlaq al-Morished spoke after the firm reported
a 46.5% tumble in fourth-quarter net profit because of lower
prices for its petrochemical products, as well as for titanium
dioxide and acrylic acid.
The result was the latest disappointing earnings update from
the Saudi petrochemical sector, led by a 29% slump in the
net profit of Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC), one of the
world’s largest petrochemical firms. Weak oil prices tend to
push down profit margins at petrochemical producers.
Saudi Arabian Mining Co (Ma’aden), the Gulf’s largest miner,
swung to a fourth-quarter net profit yesterday as sales of
most of its products grew, but its earnings fell short of analysts’ forecasts.
Ma’aden is regarded as a key example of the kingdom’s attempts to diversify its economy away from oil and gas. The
company reported a net profit for the three months to December 31 of 376mn riyals ($100mn) versus a loss of 29.2mn
riyals a year earlier, it said in a bourse filing. Ma’aden added
in a separate statement it would not distribute a dividend
for 2014 because it was still in the process of developing and
financing its major projects.
‘Saudi Aramco to cut drilling
costs, hold rig count steady’
State oil giant Saudi Aramco has
asked oilfield service companies
for discounts due to tumbling
crude prices and is expected to
keep its overall rig count steady
this year, industry sources said
Aramco deployed 210 oil and gas
rigs in 2014, marking an exceptionally busy year.
But global oil prices have fallen
steeply since June last year, losing
60% of their value on oversupply and weakening demand.
The collapse of crude prices has
prompted some oil service companies to cut spending.
“(Aramco) are asking for 20% (discounts); some complied, others
negotiated, (it’s) part of a plan to
reduce cost,” an industry source,
who like others declined to be
identified, told Reuters.
“Saudi Aramco is optimising costs
to maintain the current production,” another industry source
said. “Will service companies be
able to offer more discounts? If oil
prices remain low, this could result
Industry sources in
Saudi Arabia said it
remains unclear how
Aramco’s drilling
plans for this year
would look but that
there was more focus
on drilling for gas as
domestic demand is
in releasing some rigs.”
Saudi Aramco declined to comment on this report.
Industry sources in Saudi Arabia
said it remains unclear how Aramco’s drilling plans for this year
would look but that there was
more focus on drilling for gas as
domestic demand is rising.
One source said he had already
seen a few rigs moving to gas.
“Gas demand in the kingdom has
not changed, consumption is high
and getting higher,” said another
A third source said: “There will be
more rigs on the gas side based
on gas requirements and internal
demand ... Most of the oil rigs will
be kept to maintain potential (oil
Aramco will continue looking for
unconventional gas in 2015 including exploration for tight and shale
gas, the source said.
“Aramco has 2mn barrels of
spare capacity so a reduction in
oil drilling rigs does not mean a
near-term reduction in oil production,” said Sadad al-Husseini,
a former senior executive at
Saudi Aramco and now an energy consultant.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Company Name
Company Name
Zad Holding Co
Widam Food Co
Vodafone Qatar
United Development Co
Salam International Investme
Qatar & Oman Investment Co
Qatar Navigation
Qatar National Cement Co
Qatar National Bank
Qatar Islamic Insurance
Qatar Industrial Manufactur
Qatar International Islamic
Qatari Investors Group
Qatar Islamic Bank
Qatar Gas Transport(Nakilat)
Qatar General Insurance & Re
Qatar German Co For Medical
Qatar Fuel Co
Qatar Electricity & Water Co
Qatar Cinema & Film Distrib
Qatar Insurance Co
Ooredoo Qsc
National Leasing
Mazaya Qatar Real Estate Dev
Mesaieed Petrochemical Holdi
Al Meera Consumer Goods Co
Medicare Group
Mannai Corporation Qsc
Masraf Al Rayan
Al Khalij Commercial Bank
Industries Qatar
Islamic Holding Group
Gulf Warehousing Company
Gulf International Services
Ezdan Holding Group
Doha Insurance Co
Doha Bank Qsc
Dlala Holding
Commercial Bank Of Qatar Qsc
Barwa Real Estate Co
Al Khaleej Takaful Group
Aamal Co
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Saudi Hollandi Bank
Al-Ahsa Development Co.
Al-Baha Development & Invest
Ace Arabia Cooperative Insur
Allied Cooperative Insurance
Arriyadh Development Company
Fitaihi Holding Group
Arabia Insurance Cooperative
Al Abdullatif Industrial Inv
Al-Ahlia Cooperative Insuran
Al Alamiya Cooperative Insur
Dar Al Arkan Real Estate Dev
Al Babtain Power & Telecommu
Bank Albilad
Alujain Corporation (Alco)
Aldrees Petroleum And Transp
Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair & C
Alinma Bank
Alinma Tokio Marine
Al Khaleej Training And Educ
Abdullah A.M. Al-Khodari Son
Allianz Saudi Fransi Coopera
Almarai Co
Saudi Integrated Telecom Co
Alsorayai Group
Al Tayyar
Amana Cooperative Insurance
Anaam International Holding
Abdullah Al Othaim Markets
Arabian Pipes Co
Advanced Petrochemicals Co
Al Rajhi Co For Co-Operative
Arabian Cement
Arab National Bank
Ash-Sharqiyah Development Co
United Wire Factories Compan
Astra Industrial Group
Alahli Takaful Co
Axa Cooperative Insurance
Basic Chemical Industries
Bishah Agriculture
Bank Al-Jazira
Banque Saudi Fransi
United International Transpo
Bupa Arabia For Cooperative
Buruj Cooperative Insurance
Saudi Airlines Catering Co
Methanol Chemicals Co
City Cement Co
Eastern Cement
Etihad Atheeb Telecommunicat
Etihad Etisalat Co
Emaar Economic City
Saudi Enaya Cooperative Insu
United Electronics Co
Falcom Saudi Equity Etf
Filing & Packing Materials M
Wafrah For Industry And Deve
Falcom Petrochemical Etf
Gulf General Cooperative Ins
Jazan Development Co
Gulf Union Cooperative Insur
Halwani Bros Co
Hail Cement
Herfy Food Services Co
Al Jouf Agriculture Developm
Jarir Marketing Co
Jabal Omar Development Co
Al Jouf Cement
Saudi Kayan Petrochemical Co
Knowledge Economic City
Kingdom Holding Co
Saudi Arabian Mining Co
Malath Cooperative & Reinsur
Makkah Construction & Devepl
Mediterranean & Gulf Insuran
Middle East Specialized Cabl
Mohammad Al Mojil Group Co
Al Mouwasat Medical Services
The National Agriculture Dev
Najran Cement Co
Nama Chemicals Co
National Gypsum
National Gas & Industrializa
National Industrialization C
National Shipping Co Of/The
National Petrochemical Co
Rabigh Refining And Petroche
Al Qassim Agricultural Co
Qassim Cement/The
Red Sea Housing Services Co
Saudi Research And Marketing
Riyad Bank
Al Rajhi Bank
Saudi Arabian Amiantit Co
Lt Price
% Chg
Saudi British Bank
Sabb Takaful
Saudi Basic Industries Corp
Saudi Cement
Saudi Dairy & Foodstuff Co
Saudi Arabian Fertilizer Co
Al Sagr Co-Operative Insuran
Saudi Advanced Industries
Saudi Arabian Coop Ins Co
Salama Cooperative Insurance
Samba Financial Group
Sanad Cooperative Insurance
Saudi Public Transport Co
Saudi Arabia Refineries Co
Hsbc Amanah Saudi 20 Etf
Saudi Re For Cooperative Rei
Saudi Cable Co
Saudi Chemical Company
Saudi Ceramic
Saudi Electricity Co
Saudi Fisheries
Al-Hassan G.I. Shaker Co
Dur Hospitality Co
Arabian Shield Cooperative
Saudi Investment Bank/The
Saudi Industrial Development
Saudi Industrial Export Co
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Securities Group Co
Viva Kuwait Telecom Co
Sultan Center Food Products
Kuwait Foundry Co Sak
Kuwait Financial Centre Sak
Ajial Real Estate Entmt
Gulf Glass Manuf Co -Kscc
Kuwait Finance & Investment
National Industries Co
Kuwait Real Estate Holding C
Securities House/The
Boubyan Petrochemicals Co
Al Ahli Bank Of Kuwait
Ahli United Bank (Almutahed)
National Bank Of Kuwait
Commercial Bank Of Kuwait
Kuwait International Bank
Gulf Bank
Al-Massaleh Real Estate Co
Al Arabiya Real Estate Co
Kuwait Remal Real Estate Co
Alkout Industrial Projects C
A’ayan Real Estate Co
Investors Holding Group Co.K
Markaz Real Estate Fund
Al-Mazaya Holding Co
Al-Madar Finance & Invt Co
Gulf Petroleum Investment
Mabanee Co Sakc
City Group
Inovest Co Bsc
Kuwait Gypsum Manufacturing
Al-Deera Holding Co
Alshamel International Hold
Mena Real Estate Co
National Slaughter House
Amar Finance & Leasing Co
United Projects Group Kscc
National Consumer Holding Co
Amwal International Investme
Jeeran Holdings
Equipment Holding Co K.S.C.C
Nafais Holding
Safwan Trading & Contracting
Arkan Al Kuwait Real Estate
Gulf Finance House Ec
Energy House Holding Co Kscc
Kuwait Slaughter House Co
Kuwait Co For Process Plant
Al Maidan Dental Clinic Co K
National Ranges Company
Kuwait Pipes Indus & Oil Ser
Al-Themar Real International
Al Ahleia Insurance Co Sak
Wethaq Takaful Insurance Co
Salbookh Trading Co K.S.C.C
Aqar Real Estate Investments
Hayat Communications
Kuwait Packing Materials Mfg
Soor Fuel Marketing Co Ksc
Alargan International Real
Burgan Co For Well Drilling
Kuwait Resorts Co Kscc
Oula Fuel Marketing Co
Palms Agro Production Co
Ikarus Petroleum Industries
Mubarrad Transport Co
Al Mowasat Health Care Co
Shuaiba Industrial Co
Kuwait Invest Co Holding
Hits Telecom Holding
First Takaful Insurance Co
Kuwaiti Syrian Holding Co
National Cleaning Company
Eyas For High & Technical Ed
United Real Estate Company
Kuwait & Middle East Fin Inv
Fujairah Cement Industries
Livestock Transport & Tradng
International Resorts Co
National Industries Grp Hold
Marine Services Co
Pearl Of Kuwait Real Estate
Warba Insurance Co
Kuwait United Poultry Co
First Dubai Real Estate Deve
Al Arabi Group Holding Co
Kuwait Hotels Co
Mobile Telecommunications Co
Al Safat Real Estate Co
Tamdeen Real Estate Co Ksc
Al Mudon Intl Real Estate Co
Kuwait Cement Co Ksc
Sharjah Cement & Indus Devel
Kuwait Portland Cement Co
Educational Holding Group
Bahrain Kuwait Insurance
Kuwait China Investment Co
Kuwait Investment Co
Burgan Bank
Kuwait Projects Co Holdings
Al Madina For Finance And In
Kuwait Insurance Co
Al Masaken Intl Real Estate
Intl Financial Advisors
First Investment Co Kscc
Al Mal Investment Company
Bayan Investment Co Kscc
Egypt Kuwait Holding Co Sae
Coast Investment Development
Privatization Holding Compan
Kuwait Medical Services Co
Injazzat Real State Company
Kuwait Cable Vision Sak
Sanam Real Estate Co Kscc
Ithmaar Bank Bsc
Aviation Lease And Finance C
Arzan Financial Group For Fi
Ajwan Gulf Real Estate Co
Manafae Investment Co
Kuwait Business Town Real Es
Future Kid Entertainment And
Specialities Group Holding C
Abyaar Real Eastate Developm
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Dar Al Thuraya Real Estate C
Al-Dar National Real Estate
Kgl Logistics Company Kscc
Combined Group Contracting
Zima Holding Co Ksc
Qurain Holding Co
Boubyan Intl Industries Hold
Gulf Investment House
Boubyan Bank K.S.C
Ahli United Bank B.S.C
Al-Safat Tec Holding Co
Al-Eid Food Co
Al-Qurain Petrochemicals Co
Advanced Technology Co
Ekttitab Holding Co S.A.K.C
Kout Food Group Ksc
Real Estate Trade Centers Co
Acico Industries Co Kscc
Kipco Asset Management Co
National Petroleum Services
Alimtiaz Investment Co Kscc
Ras Al Khaimah White Cement
Kuwait Reinsurance Co Ksc
Kuwait & Gulf Link Transport
Human Soft Holding Co Ksc
Automated Systems Co
Metal & Recycling Co
Gulf Franchising Holding Co
Al-Enma’a Real Estate Co
National Mobile Telecommuni
Al Bareeq Holding Co Kscc
Union Real Estate Co
Housing Finance Co Sak
Al Salam Group Holding Co
United Foodstuff Industries
Al Aman Investment Company
Mashaer Holdings Co Ksc
Manazel Holding
Mushrif Trading & Contractin
Tijara And Real Estate Inves
Kuwait Building Materials
Jazeera Airways
Commercial Real Estate Co
Future Communications Co
National International Co
Taameer Real Estate Invest C
Gulf Cement Co
Heavy Engineering And Ship B
Refrigeration Industries & S
National Real Estate Co
Al Safat Energy Holding Comp
Kuwait National Cinema Co
Danah Alsafat Foodstuff Co
Independent Petroleum Group
Kuwait Real Estate Co Ksc
Salhia Real Estate Co Ksc
Gulf Cable & Electrical Ind
Al Nawadi Holding Co Ksc
Kuwait Finance House
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Voltamp Energy Saog
United Finance Co
United Power Co
United Power/Energy Co- Pref
Al Madina Investment Co
Taageer Finance
Salalah Port Services
A’saffa Foods Saog
Sohar Poultry
Shell Oman Marketing
Shell Oman Marketing - Pref
Smn Power Holding Saog
Al Shurooq Inv Ser
Al Sharqiya Invest Holding
Sohar Power Co
Salalah Beach Resort Saog
Salalah Mills Co
Sahara Hospitality
Renaissance Services Saog
Raysut Cement Co
Port Service Corporation
Packaging Co Ltd
Oman United Insurance Co
Oman Textile Holding Co Saog
Oman Telecommunications Co
Sweets Of Oman
Oman Orix Leasing Co.
Oman Refreshment Co
Oman Packaging
Oman Oil Marketing Company
0Man Oil Marketing Co-Pref
Oman National Investment Co
Oman National Engineering An
Oman National Dairy Products
Oman Medical Projects
Oman Ceramic Com
Oman Intl Marketing
Oman Investment & Finance
Hsbc Bank Oman
Oman Hotels & Tourism Co
Oman Holding International
Oman Fiber Optics
Oman Flour Mills
Oman Filters Industry
Oman Fisheries Co
Oman Education & Training In
Oman & Emirates Inv(Om)50%
Oman & Emirates Inv(Emir)50%
Oman Europe Foods Industries
Oman Cement Co
Oman Chlorine
Oman Chromite
Oman Cables Industry
Oman Agricultural Dev
Omani Qatari Telecommunicati
National Securities
Oman Foods International Soa
National Pharmaceutical-Rts
National Pharmaceutical
National Packaging Fac
National Mineral Water
National Hospitality Institu
National Gas Co
National Finance Co
National Detergents/The
National Carpet Factory
National Bank Of Oman Saog
National Biscuit Industries
National Real Estate Develop
Natl Aluminium Products
Muscat Thread Mills Co
Muscat Insurance Company
Modern Poultry Farms
Muscat National Holding
Musandam Marketing & Invest
Al Maha Petroleum Products M
Muscat Gases Company Saog
Majan Glass Company
Muscat Finance
Al Kamil Power Co
Interior Hotels
Hotels Management Co Interna
Al-Hassan Engineering Co
Gulf Stone
Gulf Mushroom Company
Gulf Invest. Serv. Pref-Shar
Gulf Investments Services
Gulf International Chemicals
Gulf Hotels (Oman) Co Ltd
Global Fin Investment
Galfar Engineering&Contract
Galfar Engineering -Prefer
Financial Services Co.
Flexible Ind Packages
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Financial Corp/The
Dhofar Tourism
Dhofar Poultry
Aloula Co
Dhofar Intl Development
Dhofar Insurance
Dhofar University
Dhofar Power Co
Dhofar Power Co-Pfd
Dhofar Fisheries & Food Indu
Dhofar Cattlefeed
Al Batinah Dev & Inv
Dhofar Beverages Co
Computer Stationery Inds
Construction Materials Ind
Cement & Gypsum Pro
Marine Bander Al-Rowdha
Bank Sohar
Bankmuscat Saog
Bank Dhofar Saog
Al Batinah Hotels
Majan College
Areej Vegetable Oils
Al Jazeera Steel Products Co
Al Sallan Food Industry
Acwa Power Barka Saog
Al-Omaniya Financial Service
Taghleef Industries Saog
Gulf Plastic Industries Co
Al Jazeera Services
Al Jazerah Services -Pfd
Al-Fajar Al-Alamia Co
Ahli Bank
Abrasives Manufacturing Co S
Al-Batinah Intl Saog
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
National Takaful Company
Waha Capital Pjsc
Union Insurance Co
Union National Bank/Abu Dhab
United Insurance Company
Union Cement Co
United Arab Bank
Abu Dhabi National Takaful C
Abu Dhabi National Energy Co
#N/A Invalid Security
Sorouh Real Estate Company
Sharjah Insurance Company
Sharjah Cement & Indus Devel
Ras Al Khaima Poultry
Ras Al Khaimah White Cement
Rak Properties
Ras Al-Khaimah National Insu
Ras Al Khaimah Ceramics
Ras Al Khaimah Cement Co
National Bank Of Ras Al-Khai
Ooredoo Qsc
Umm Al Qaiwain Cement Indust
Oman & Emirates Inv(Emir)50%
National Marine Dredging Co
National Corp Tourism & Hote
Sharjah Islamic Bank
National Bank Of Umm Al Qaiw
National Bank Of Fujairah
National Bank Of Abu Dhabi
Methaq Takaful Insurance
#N/A Invalid Security
Gulf Pharmaceutical Ind-Julp
Invest Bank
Insurance House
Gulf Medical Projects
Gulf Livestock Co
Green Crescent Insurance Co
Gulf Cement Co
Foodco Holding
Finance House
First Gulf Bank
Fujairah Cement Industries
Fujairah Building Industries
Emirates Telecom Corporation
Eshraq Properties Co Pjsc
Emirates Insurance Co. (Psc)
Emirates Driving Company
Al Dhafra Insurance Co. P.S.
Dana Gas
Commercial Bank Internationa
Bank Of Sharjah
Abu Dhabi Natl Co For Buildi
Al Wathba National Insurance
Intl Fish Farming Co Pjsc
Arkan Building Materials Co
Aldar Properties Pjsc
Al Ain Ahlia Ins. Co.
Al Khazna Insurance Co
Agthia Group Pjsc
Al Fujairah National Insuran
Abu Dhabi Ship Building Co
Abu Dhabi National Insurance
Abu Dhabi National Hotels
Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank
Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank
Abu Dhabi Aviation
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
United Paper Industries Bsc
United Gulf Investment Corp
United Gulf Bank
United Finance Co
Trafco Group Bsc
Takaful International Co
Taib Bank -$Us
Securities & Investment Co
Seef Properties
#N/A Invalid Security
Al-Salam Bank
Delmon Poultry Co
National Hotels Co
National Bank Of Bahrain
Nass Corp Bsc
Khaleeji Commercial Bank
Ithmaar Bank Bsc
Investcorp Bank -$Us
Inovest Co Bsc
Intl Investment Group-Kuwait
Gulf Monetary Group
Global Investment House Kpsc
Gulf Finance House Ec
Bahrain Family Leisure Co
Esterad Investment Co B.S.C.
Bahrain Duty Free Complex
Bahrain Car Park Co
Bahrain Cinema Co
Bahrain Tourism Co
Bahraini Saudi Bank/The
Bahrain National Holding
Bankmuscat Saog
Bmmi Bsc
Bmb Investment Bank
Bahrain Kuwait Insurance
Bahrain Islamic Bank
Gulf Hotel Group B.S.C
Bahrain Flour Mills Co
Bahrain Commercial Facilitie
Bbk Bsc
Bahrain Telecom Co
Bahrain Ship Repair & Engin
Albaraka Banking Group
Banader Hotels Co
Ahli United Bank B.S.C
Lt Price
% Chg
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 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
Verizon Communications Inc
Chevron Corp
Coca-Cola Co/The
Merck & Co. Inc.
Intel Corp
At&T Inc
Walt Disney Co/The
Visa Inc-Class A Shares
Intl Business Machines Corp
Cisco Systems Inc
Home Depot Inc
United Technologies Corp
3M Co
Unitedhealth Group Inc
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
An employee at the State Central Bank in Hanover, northern Germany, holding a bunch of euro notes. The euro retreated to
$1.1568 from $1.1606 late in New York on Monday.
Europe stock markets get
a boost from German data
urope’s leading stock markets
gained yesterday, winning a
boost from German data and expectations of ECB stimulus, as investors also await key elections in Greece.
London’s FTSE 100 index closed up
0.52% to 6,620.10 points, as investors
looked ahead to a meeting of the European Central Bank (ECB) tomorrow
with the markets now firmly expecting
it will begin a sovereign bond-buying
Frankfurt’s DAX 30 index hit a
new record close, climbing 0.14%
to 10,257.13 points, and the CAC 40
in Paris rose 1.16% to end the day at
4,446.02 points.
The euro retreated to $1.1568 from
$1.1606 late in New York on Monday as
traders nervously awaited a close weekend election in Greece, where an antiausterity party is leading in opinion polls.
Investment sentiment in Germany
rose for the third month in a row in
January, shrugging off the market turmoil sparked by the Greek political crisis and the Swiss franc shock, a survey
found yesterday.
The widely watched investor confidence index calculated by the ZEW
economic institute jumped 13.5 points
to 48.4 points in January, its highest
level in 11 months.
“January’s rise in ZEW investor sentiment suggests that confidence in the
German economy is holding up well
despite fears for Greece,” said Jennifer
McKeown, senior European economist
at consultants Capital Economics.
“Presumably any worries about the
effect of the Greek crisis on the German economy were offset by expectations of ECB quantitative easing and
hopes of a boost to exports from the
weakening euro,” she added.
Stock indices have risen since late
last week on fresh signals that the ECB
will launch a bond-buying stimulus
programme, known as quantitative
easing or QE, at its monetary policy
meeting tomorrow, news that has
weighed heavily on the euro.
QE expectations have also been
fuelled by concerns over the chronically low level of inflation across the
single currency bloc and fears that the
region could slip into deflation – a sustained and widespread drop in prices.
While falling prices may sound good
for consumers, deflation can trigger a
vicious spiral in which businesses and
households delay purchases, throttling
demand and causing companies to lay
off workers.
In Greece meanwhile, the country
will never recover without a gener-
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
ous debt cut, the politician likely to
become the next finance minister said
“To promote reforms one must settle the debt issue,” Giannis Dragasakis,
the senior economist at anti-austerity
party Syriza which is favoured to win
Sunday’s general election, told AFP in
an interview.
Syriza, which has a steady lead of
around three percentage points in preelection polls, is trying to strike a delicate balance between fiscal diligence
and debt forgiveness.
The left-wing party’s plan to renegotiate Greece’s multibillion bailout
with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund is already
raising hackles among the country’s
IMF chief Christine Lagarde on
Monday warned of “consequences” if
European countries try to renegotiate
their debts.
Wall Street markets fell in early trade
yesterday, as investors dumped oilfield
stocks after a further decline in crude
Around mid-day in New York, the
Dow Jones Industrial Average fell
0.72% to 17,385.03 points.
The broad-based S&P 500 dropped
1.32% to 1,992.67 points, while the
tech-rich Nasdaq Composite gave up
0.51% to stand at 4,610.54
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Hong Kong & China Gas
Hong Kong Exchanges & Clear
Hsbc Holdings Plc
Hutchison Whampoa Ltd
Ind & Comm Bk Of China-H
Li & Fung Ltd
Mtr Corp
New World Development
Petrochina Co Ltd-H
Ping An Insurance Group Co-H
Power Assets Holdings Ltd
Sino Land Co
Sun Hung Kai Properties
Swire Pacific Ltd-A
Tencent Holdings Ltd
Wharf Holdings Ltd
Lt Price
% Chg
Doha Securities Market
Saudi Tadawul
Kuwait Stocks Exchange
Bahrain Stock Exchage
Oman Stock Market
Abudhabi Stock Market
Dubai Financial Market
Lt Price
“Information contained herein is believed to be reliable and had been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. The
accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. This publication is for providing information only and is not intended
as an offer or solicitation for a purchase or sale of any of the financial instruments mentioned. Gulf Times and Doha Bank
or any of their employees shall not be held accountable and will not accept any losses or liabilities for actions based on
this data.”
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
China GDP growth misses
target, hits 24-yr low in ’14
China economy grows 7.4% in 2014;
Q4 growth slightly better than
expected at 7.3% year-on-year;
sends signal Beijing can tolerate
slower growth; more easing still
expected, property remains key
New Delhi
hina’s economy grew at its slowest pace in 24 years in 2014 as
property prices cooled and companies and local governments struggled under heavy debt burdens, keeping
pressure on Beijing to take aggressive
steps to avoid a sharper downturn.
European and Asian shares in fact
rose on relief that the news was not
worse; the Shanghai Composite index
gained 1.85%, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index
saw its biggest one-day gain in a month
and European markets rallied.
But for investors worried about
growth in China and the world this year,
the data poses two questions:
Will the soft numbers and expectations of further weakness force the
central bank to pump hundreds of billions of dollars into banks system-wide
to prop up growth? And if so, what does
that mean for Beijing’s attempts to reform its economy?
The world’s second-largest economy
grew 7.4% in 2014, official data showed
yesterday, barely missing its official
7.5% target but still the slowest since
1990, when it was hit by sanctions in
the wake of the Tiananmen Square
crackdown. It expanded 7.7% in 2013.
Fourth quarter growth held steady at
7.3% from a year earlier, slightly better
than expectations.
Few had expected China to meet its
7.5% full-year target, but the performance was better than some had feared
after a rough few months raised concerns the economy may be heading for
a hard landing.
“The country’s period of miraculous
break-neck growth is over, but let’s get
over it,” said a commentary on the official Xinhua news service, referring to a
long string of double-digit expansion.
“The end of the high-speed growth
era does not spell an end for China’s
Modest support measures from the
government over the year helped stave
Twitter to
Chinese shoppers going about selecting items at a furniture store in Beijing. China’s gross domestic product rose 7.4% in 2014, official data showed yesterday.
off a more dramatic slowdown, while
Beijing’s tolerance of somewhat slower
growth sent a message that reform remains a priority.
“This is the best possible miss you
could have from a messaging standpoint,” said Andrew Polk, economist at
the Conference Board in Beijing.
“The government is saying, ‘we’re
not married to this specific target, we
missed it and we’re okay.’ That seems to
me a quite positive development.”
Still, a further slowdown in China
could hinder the chances of a revival in
global growth in 2015, given the major
role it plays, in particular for commodities and high-tech.
Indeed, Polk said the GDP figure was
difficult to square with other negative signs. China’s property market - a
major driver of demand across a range
of industries – has proven stubbornly
unresponsive to policy support, and
lending data from the banking system
shows both enduring weakness and a
resurgence in the shadow banking sys-
tem, which Beijing has been struggling
to rein in.
Policymakers also are concerned
about the potential onset of a deflationary cycle, aggravated by plummeting
energy prices, industrial overcapacity
and sluggish demand.
Systemic deflation, an economically
toxic cycle in which investors and consumers hold off on fresh spending on
the assumption prices will drop further in the future, could leave China in
a similar condition to Japan, and is cited
as a major reason why Beijing will need
to put more money into the system.
At the same time, there may be a
looming fiscal crisis among debt-sodden local governments, which depend on
land sales for most of their revenue. And
more companies, especially small property developers, could flirt with default.
Nevertheless, the International Monetary Fund’s chief economist Olivier
Blanchard said slower growth seen for
2015 reflects a welcome decision by the
Chinese government to rebalance the
economy away from a heavy reliance on
investment and exports to a more consumption-based growth model.
The IMF predicts China’s economy
will grow 6.8% in 2015, while the median forecast in a Reuters poll of economists sees an expansion of around 7%.
December data posted numerous upside surprises after a weak November.
Factory output rose 7.9%, while retail
sales rose 11.9%, both above market expectations.
However, growth in fixed asset investment, a key growth driver, eased to
15.7% in the whole of 2014 from the previous year, hovering near a 13-year low.
Investment growth in real estate
slowed to a five-year low and new construction slumped, even as home sales
improved at the end of the year.
With China’s growth seen cooling
further this year, more support measures are still expected, though economists are divided over what tools policymakers will use and when.
“The overall numbers lower the need
for further stimulus, although there remains some room for easing as risks are
still skewed to the downside,” said Dariusz Kowalczyk, economist at Credit
Agricole in Hong Kong.
He expected the central bank to cut
interest rates again in the first quarter,
after a surprise move in November, and
slash banks’ required reserve ratio (RRR)
by 100 basis points in the first half of
2015 in a bid to spur more lending.
Others, however, think Beijing may
have to get more aggressive, even at risk
of reinflating asset bubbles, given the
need to reduce debt burdens at Chinese
companies which are inhibiting them
from fresh investments.
“I don’t expect monetary policy to
accelerate growth, though,” said Wang
of UBS.
“Final demand in the economy is very
weak and it’s unlikely that the corporate
sector will take this credit and invest in
new projects, so containing financial
risk and stabilising growth is the trend
for this year.”
witter yesterday said
it will buy Indian mobile phone marketing
start-up ZipDial, reportedly
for $30mn to $40mn, as the US
microblogging service looks to
expand in the world’s secondbiggest mobile market.
gives clients phone numbers
for use in marketing campaigns.
Consumers call the numbers
and hang up before connecting
and incurring charges, and then
receive promotion-related text
The start-up’s clients include
International Business Machines Corp, Yum! Brands Inc’s
KFC and Procter & Gamble Co’s
The service capitalises on a
local tradition of communicating through so-called missed
calls. A person may give a friend
a missed call to signal arrival at
an agreed destination, for instance, without having to pay
the cost of a phone call.
Such “unique behaviour” was
behind ZipDial, the start-up
said in a statement announcing
the Twitter deal.
Twitter did not disclose terms
of the purchase. Techcrunch,
citing unidentified sources,
reported the deal at $30mn to
“This acquisition significantly increases our investment in India, one of the countries where we’re seeing great
growth,” Twitter said in a statement.
The acquisition is the latest
in India by global tech giants
who have snapped up companies in a fledgling startup scene,
concentrated in the tech hub of
Bengaluru in southern India.
Last year, Facebook bought
Little Eye Labs, a start-up that
builds performance analysis
and monitoring tools for mobile apps. Yahoo! Inc bought
Bookpad, whose service allows
developers to add document
viewing and editing to their
own applications.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Hochstein: Cheaper oil prices
won’t stop development of
alternative energy sources.
‘US won’t
in market
amid oil
price slump’
New York
he US won’t intervene
in the oil market amid
falling crude prices, according to Amos Hochstein, the
US State Department’s energy
The US will let “the market”
decide what happens, Hochstein
said in an interview at a conference in Abu Dhabi on Monday.
Hochstein is special envoy and
coordinator for international affairs at the State Department’s
Bureau of Energy Resources.
“When people ask the question ‘what will the US do?,’ it’s
really the market that’s going to
have to decide what happens,”
Hochstein said. “This is about
a global market that is addressing the supply-demand curve.”
Asked what the US could do
about falling prices and instability in oil markets, he said: “We
do have mechanisms to work
with our partners around the
world if something extreme happens, but that’s not where I think
we are and I think the markets so
far can adjust themselves.” Oil
prices have dropped 53% in the
past year as growing production
from the US, Russia and the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries overwhelmed demand. The International Energy
said last week that the effects on
US production are so far “marginal.” West Texas Intermediate
was $1.32 lower at $47.37 a barrel
in electronic trading on the New
York Mercantile Exchange at
11:32 am Singapore time, compared with the close of January
Brent lost 9 cents to $48.75.
“One of the most remarkable
aspects of this recent period has
been the resilience of the American energy market,” Hochstein
said. US oil production growth
has swelled to its fastest pace in
more than three decades, driven
by output from shale deposits.
Cheaper oil prices won’t stop
development of alternative energy sources, he said. “We have
really switched paradigms here
where renewable energy really
can continue to grow, even when
there are low oil prices,” he said.
“That’s true globally.”
Sensex jumps to record
on upbeat IMF report
ndia’s benchmark stock-index rallied to an all-time high, led by metal
producers and banks, after the International Monetary Fund said the
nation will be world’s fastest-growing
major economy in the year through
March 2017.
Tata Steel had the biggest advance
in three months, helping a gauge of
metalmakers gain the most among 13
sector indexes complied by the BSE.
Housing Development Finance Corp
climbed to a record, while State Bank
of India increased for the first time in
three days. Oil & Natural Gas Corp, the
largest explorer, headed for a fifth day
of gains, the longest run since March.
The S&P BSE Sensex jumped 1.9% to
28,784.67 at the close. While China’s
growth is forecast to slow to 6.3% in
2016, the IMF estimates India’s growth
accelerating to 6.5% in the fiscal year
through March 2017. The Sensex has
risen every day after the central bank
cut interest rates for the first time in
20 months on January 15 as oil’s rout
cooled consumer prices.
“We are at the start of a multi-year
cycle in India of higher growth, lower
inflation and much higher equity prices,” Madhav Dhar, a Delhi-based managing partner at GTI Capital Group, an
India-focused investment firm, said in
an interview with Bloomberg TV India
Traders at the Bombay Stock Exchange. The Sensex jumped 1.9% to 28,784.67 yesterday led by metal producers and banks.
yesterday. “The world is getting more
turbulent and complex, but India is
about as well positioned as it can be as a
major investment destination.”
Tata Steel gained 4.5%, while Sesa
Sterlite, the nation’s largest copper
producer, jumped 5.7%, the most since
June 5. Hindustan Zinc added 1% after the company’s third-quarter profit
climbed 38% to Rs23.8bn ($386mn),
Foreign investors eager to tap into
the next generation of Chinese
firms should soon be able to directly
trade stocks in Shenzhen, but
the high valuations and extreme
volatility of the country’s secondlargest exchange may limit early
The debut in November of the
landmark Stock Connect trading
platform between Hong Kong and
Shanghai, although marred by
technical problems, has been hailed
by foreign funds as a fundamental
step in the opening up of China’s
capital account.
Officials at the China Securities
Regulatory Commission have said
creating an investment channel into
fast-growing Shenzhen, which hosts
China’s version of the US Nasdaq
and ranks in the top 10 exchanges
globally by market capitalisation, is
the next move.
Industry insiders say an
announcement is imminent of a
start date for Shenzhen, which they
expect in the first half of this year,
although sources at the Shenzhen
stock exchange say nothing has
been formally approved.
“Investors would love to see
Shenzhen come online,” said Nick
Ronalds, head of equities at the Asia
Securities Industry and Financial
Markets Association. “Shenzhen
beating the Rs21.7bn median estimate
of analysts. Earnings were posted after
markets closed on Monday.
climbed 5.9% and was the biggest gain-
Asian markets rise, Shanghai up 1.82%
sian markets mostly rose yesterday
after China released data showing
its economy grew a little faster
than expected, while speculation swirled
that the European Central Bank would
embark on a huge stimulus programme.
The euro retreated against the dollar
after a minor rally on Monday as traders
also nervously awaited a close weekend
election in Greece, where a far-left antiausterity party is leading the polls.
Tokyo shares jumped 2.07%, or 352.01
points, to 17,366.30 and Seoul closed
0.82% higher, adding 15.69 points to
Shanghai gained 1.82%, or 56.70
points, to 3,173.05 – a day after slumping 7.7% in response to an official crackdown on margin trading. Hong Kong rose
0.90%, or 212.67 points, to 23,951.16.
Sydney was flat, edging down 1.47
points to end at 5,307.67.
Beijing’s statistics bureau said yesterday the world’s second-biggest economy
expanded 7.4% in 2014.
While the figure is down from 7.7% the
previous year and is the weakest since
1990, a year after the Tiananmen Square
A man walks past an electric quotation board flashing the Nikkei key index in
front of a securities company in Tokyo. Tokyo stocks closed up 2.07% yesterday
as a weakening yen lifted exporters.
crackdown, it beat the median forecast of
7.3% in an AFP survey.
“The 2014 GDP result is better than
market expectations and barely missed
the target,” ANZ economist Liu Li-Gang
said. “This result is not too bad.”
Investors to get taste of ‘new trading link’
Shanghai/Hong Kong
er on the 30-stock Sensex. State Bank
of India advanced 1.6%, while Axis
Bank, the Sensex’s biggest gainer in
2014, rallied 4.2% to an all-time high.
Kotak Mahindra Bank yesterday reported third quarter net income rose
21% to Rs7.17bn. That missed the
Rs7.6bn estimated by analysts. The
shares rose 0.5%.
Five out of six Sensex members
that have so far announced results for
the December quarter have beaten
or matched analyst estimates. Profits at 67% of the 30 Sensex firms beat
or matched estimates in the September quarter, versus 46% in the three
months ended June and 60% in March,
data compiled by Bloomberg show.
Oil & Natural Gas added 0.8%. ITC,
India’s biggest cigarette company, increased 3.4%.
Foreigners have bought a net $156mn of
Indian shares so far this year. The Sensex
has gained 3.3% this month and trades at
15.8 times projected 12-month earnings,
compared with the MSCI Emerging Markets Index’s multiple of 10.6.
Meanwhile, the Indian rupee yesterday gained 2 paise against the dollar at
61.69 with banks and exporters selling
the US currency amid sustained capital
inflows in view of strong equity markets, extending gains for the forth day
in succession. The rupee resumed lower
at 61.82 per dollar as against the Monday’s closing level of 61.71 per dollar at
the Interbank Foreign Exchange (Forex)
Market on initial dollar demand.
is home to smaller, newer, more
exciting companies.”
Undeterred by the slow start of
Stock Connect, Beijing policymakers
are rushing to get the new
connection in place as quickly as
possible to boost the chances of
having Chinese shares included in
the MSCI emerging market index,
the main benchmark for emerging
market stocks.
If China were to be included
following the MSCI bi-annual
index review due in June, billions
of foreign dollars would flow into
Chinese stocks from fund managers
who model their portfolios on the
Shenzhen, a metropolis of 14mns
within commuting distance of Hong
Kong, is best known for being at the
centre of Deng Xiaoping’s 1980s
experiment with capitalism.
Since then, the port city – a centre
of the salt trade in imperial China –
has positioned itself at the bleeding
edge of financial market reform,
culminating in 2009 with the launch
of the ChiNext growth board for
high-growth companies.
The index, which boasts industrial
robotics champion Siasun, movie
studio Huayi Brothers and a
host of dynamic biotechnology,
aviation and software companies,
has outperformed the Shanghai
Composite Index in 11 out of 18
quarters since 2010.
That could attract foreign funds
wary of investing in the state-owned
financial giants that dominate
larger rival Shanghai, said Ding
Yuan, an accounting professor at
China Europe International Business
School in Shanghai who also runs a
hedge fund.
Shanghai stocks, which surged
more than 40% in the last quarter
of 2014, tumbled nearly 8% on
Monday as financial shares took a
beating after regulators tightened
rules on trading with borrowed
cash. The ChiNext fell 0.5%, while
the broader Shenzhen market
dipped more than 3%.
Despite its attractions, the
Shenzhen stock market, home
to some of the most speculative
Chinese investors, is not for the
For one thing, the smaller size of
most of the companies makes them
intrinsically more volatile on a price
basis than big blue chips - one
reason domestic speculators prefer
This volatility is aggravated by
constant rumour-mongering and
“leaks” intended to manipulate
the market, despite repeated
crackdowns by regulators.
Chinext’s average intraday price
volatility was almost twice that of
the NASDAQ Composite Index in the
fourth quarter.
There are also bigger challenges
with corporate governance in
Shenzhen, said Professor Ding,
because, while Shanghai’s stable
of blue chip SOEs may be “boring”,
their largest stakeholder is the
central government.
“The probability of extreme
wrongdoing (in state-owned firms)
is lower as well, compared with
Shenzhen,” he said.
The Shenzhen exchange does
still features many “old economy”
heavyweights, including China’s
biggest real estate developer Vanke,
Ping An Bank, telecommunications
giant ZTE, and a slew of smaller
manufacturing players in sectors
such as textiles and chemicals.
Beijing could restrict foreign
investment to those blue chips
in the first phase – as it did in
Shanghai – which would reduce
the governance risk for foreign
investors but also lock them out of
the high-growth firms they are most
interested in.
Finally, there is the simple question
of how much foreigners will be
willing to pay for these growth
companies, some of which are
dramatically overpriced compared
with their peers.
The average price-to-earnings ratio
for the Shanghai Composite Index
stood at 14.55 at the end of last
week, compared with an average
PE of 21.35 for NASDAQ and 31.38
for Shenzhen’s all-share index.
ChiNext’s PE was a staggering 59.85.
“It’s a very exciting opportunity, but
investors will be torn,” said Francis
Cheung, head of China-HK strategy
at asset manager CLSA in Hong
However, the country’s National Bureau of Statistics chief Ma Jiantang told
reporters that “we should also be aware
that the domestic and international situations are still complicated and economic
development is facing difficulties and
challenges”. A soft result was widely expected as the economy was hit last year by
a slowdown in manufacturing and trade
as well as declining prices for real estate,
which has sent a shock through the property sector.
The news provided the catalyst for
pick-up in Shanghai’s stocks. On Monday
they suffered their heaviest fall in more
than six years after regulators last week
suspended three brokerages from opening new margin trading customer accounts for three months because of rule
“Sentiment improved today with the
better than expected economic data and
a stabilising stock market,” Banny Lam,
co-head of research at Agricultural Bank
of China International Securities in Hong
Kong, told Bloomberg News.
Eyes are now on the ECB, with policymakers holding their next meeting
tomorrow and analysts broadly expecting them to announce a bond-buying
scheme aimed at kickstarting lending in
the struggling eurozone.
Those expectations have hammered
the euro, which last week fell below
$1.1500 for the first time in more than 11
years before recovering slightly.
The focus will turn to Greece at the
weekend where there are fears a general
election could see the anti-austerity Syriza party win. Some analysts say this could
lead to the country eventually exiting the
On oil markets, US benchmark West
Texas Intermediate for delivery in February fell $1.41 to $47.28 and Brent crude for
March fell 39 cents to $48.45.
WTI shed $1.06 Monday and Brent
sank $1.02 on reports of record daily output in Iraq, adding to worries about a global supply glut that has sent prices plunging more than 50% since June.
Gold fetched $1,291.31 an ounce,
against $1,275.51 late Monday.
In other markets, Bangkok was
flat, slipping 0.02%, or 0.28 points, to
1,535.09; Jakarta closed up 0.27%, or
13.99 points, to 5,166.09; Kuala Lumpur
lost 0.18%, or 3.20 points, to end at
1,750.11; Singapore finished up 0.80%,
or 26.32 points, to 3,334.02; Taipei added
0.85%, or 77.63 points, to 9,251.69; Wellington ended slightly lower, dipping 4.92
points to 5,633.22 and Manila fell 0.43%,
or 32.51 points, to 7,452.81.
Samsung plans stock split
amsung Electronics, the world’s
largest smartphone maker, said yesterday it was considering a stock
split that would placate existing investors
and attract new ones with a more affordable share price.
Head of investor relations Robert Yi
said the South Korean tech giant had been
looking into a possible split “for a while”
but was still debating the benefits of such
a move.
“We know it would have a psychological impact, but need to look further at how
that might affect the company’s long-term
value,” Yi said.
Samsung has been under growing pressure to boost shareholder returns as its
stock price has been battered by a series of
quarterly profit falls.
Yi’s remarks saw Samsung’s share price
jump 2.16% to close yesterday at 1.372mn
won ($1,260) – although that is still way
off a high of 1.470mn won in June last year.
Samsung is currently in the middle of a
$2bn share buyback process announced in
November to appease disgruntled shareholders. With a market capitalisation of
about $185bn, Samsung accounts for nearly 17% of the weighting on South Korea’s
benchmark Kospi composite index.
Samsung Electronics said yesterday it was considering a stock split that would placate
existing investors and attract new ones with a more affordable share price.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Russia’s foreign debt
falls by $130bn in ’14
ussia’s overall foreign debt fell by
nearly $130bn in 2014, central bank
data showed yesterday, with total
debt standing at $599.5bn on January 1,
Foreign debt has been falling rapidly in
recent months as companies pay off foreign
loans. Western sanctions imposed over the
Ukraine conflict are making it harder for
them to borrow aboard and refinance their
However, much of the decline was a
nominal effect. The rouble’s devaluation
has reduced the dollar value of foreign
debts denominated in roubles.
Foreign exchange reserves have also
been falling rapidly, declining last year to
$385.5bn from $509.6bn.
The central bank said external debt of
companies and banks at the start of 2015
stood at $547.6bn, down from $651.2bn a
year earlier and from $659.4bn on July 1.
Government debt fell to $41.5bn from
$61.7bn, with central bank debt falling to
$10.4bn from $16bn. The overall debt, including both the government and private
sector, fell from $728.9bn a year earlier and
from $732.4bn on July 1.
“Overall this is good adjustment,” said
Alfa Bank economist Natalia Orlova.
“When you have oil prices declining and
the economy is making less money on the
trade balance, it’s normal that foreign debt
should go down.”
She added, however, that around 60% of
last year’s $104bn decline in corporate and
bank debt was caused by the weaker rouble reducing rouble-denominated foreign
debts. Russian companies owe around 5tn
roubles ($80bn) in such debts, for example in
the form of rouble-denominated Eurobonds
to buy $1.7bn
stake in
Russian firm
Oil services giant Schlumberger
plans to buy a 45.65% stake in Eurasia
Drilling for about $1.7bn, potentially
paving the way for it to become the
sole owner of Russia’s most active
oilfield services company.
The deal offers the prospect of
financial support for a Russian oil
sector feeling the effects of Western
sanctions over the situation in
Ukraine, including a ban on global oil
groups helping targeted companies
to explore for Arctic, deep water or
shale oil.
Neither Eurasia nor its biggest
shareholders Alexander Djaparidze,
also the firm’s CEO, and Alexander
Putilov are under sanctions.
The multi-stage deal announced by
the companies yesterday will see US
group Schlumberger, which has been
in a strategic alliance with Eurasia
since 2011, offer $22 a share for the
near-46% stake.
Shares in Eurasia, formed about 10
years ago mostly from the drilling
assets of Russia’s second-largest
oil producer Lukoil, jumped 68% to
$20.45 per global depositary receipt
after yesterday’s announcement. The
company, shares of which lost about
60% of their value last year in the face
of the weakening Russian economy
and increased competition from the
likes of state oil producer Rosneft,
intends to go private by delisting from
the London stock market before the
deal is completed. The Schlumberger
transaction and delisting are both
expected to be completed in the first
quarter, Eurasia said.
In a separate statement,
Schlumberger said it has an option to
buy the remaining shares in Eurasia
during a two-year period commencing
three years from the closing of the
initial transaction.
A source close to the deal told Reuters
that the transaction will not result in
any violation of the sanctions imposed
against Russia. Russia is the world’s
leading oil producer, with output
hitting a post-Soviet high at an average
of 10.58mn barrels per day last year,
but the Western sanctions pose an
increasing threat to this key source of
the country’s revenue. The oil services
sector is ripe for consolidation as it
grapples with reduced exploration
investment in response to the
painful 57% slump in global oil prices
to around $49 since June and
Schlumberger’s move would leave it
well placed for any upturn in Russia.
Russia’s overall foreign debt fell by nearly $130bn in 2014, central bank data showed yesterday.
and loans from offshore parent companies.
“There is a very big revaluation effect because the rouble is weaker and part of the
foreign debt is denominated in roubles. It
doesn’t mean that companies and banks
have redeemed this (amount),” Orlova said.
This year, the central bank estimates
that companies will need to pay off around
$100bn in foreign debts, with Western bank
lending not expected to revive until sanc-
tions are lifted. The repayments have been
a major factor weighing on the rouble, with
accumulation of dollars to repay foreign
debts contributing to a shortage of foreign
Deep splits among
EU lawmakers
over shareholder
rights reforms
European Union lawmakers are deeply divided over plans
aimed at encouraging more long-term investment in the
bloc’s companies, fuelling uncertainty about what will be
decided and when.
The European Commission has drafted revisions to the
EU’s shareholder rights law in a bid to promote a long-term
approach among investors that would put companies on a
more stable footing.
But the lawmaker steering the matter through the
European Parliament wants to make significant changes,
sparking a fierce debate within the legislature yesterday.
Centre-left Italian and former labour union leader
Sergio Cofferati wants to give employees and not just
shareholders a view on planned bonuses for executives.
There should also be a “mechanism” giving investors who
agree to hold shares for two years or more benefits such
as additional voting rights, he has proposed.
Centre right and Liberal lawmakers told parliament’s legal
affairs committee yesterday they opposed his suggestions.
“Can anyone really truly claim that marginal changes in
directors salaries is what will determine the performance
of EU companies in a global economy?” said Cecilia
Wikstrom, a Swedish Liberal member.
“We let companies spend their time running their
businesses instead of finding themselves busy filling out
obligations created by over-ambitious politicians and
bureaucrats of Europe.”
Angelika Niebler, a German centre-right member, said it
would be difficult to reach a compromise in parliament.
“I have the impression that in the Cofferati report we
are going to get a lot more bureaucracy rather than a
reduction,” she said.
French Green lawmaker Pascal Durand backed Cofferati,
however, saying his proposals would bring the long-term
back into investor thinking.
The depth of the divide means Cofferati’s plans will
probably have to be watered down to get through the
assembly before a deal with member states, who have
joint say, can be negotiated.
“The opinions I have heard are very far apart,” Cofferati
A European Commission representative advised
the committee not to focus too much on employee
participation in companies.
“We know very well it’s a delicate question, very sensitive
to member states,” she said.
German investor confidence up on ‘QE effect’
nvestment sentiment in Germany hit an
11-month high this month on hopes the
European Central Bank is about to roll out
its heavy anti-deflation artillery, analysts said
The widely watched investor confidence index calculated by the ZEW economic institute
jumped 13.5 points to 48.4 points in January, its
highest level in 11 months, ZEW said in a statement.
It was the third consecutive monthly rise and
beat analyst expectations for a more modest increase to around 40 points.
“The new year started with turmoil in the
capital markets. News of the upcoming parliamentary elections in Greece and the Swiss National Bank’s decision to abandon the euro cap
on the franc’s value have led to strong stock
market fluctuations,” said ZEW president Clemens Fuest.
“However, this seems not to have impressed
ZEW’s financial market experts with regard to
their expectations for the German economy. Instead, decreasing crude oil prices and a depreciating euro have contributed to a further gain of
the indicator,” Fuest explained.
For the survey, ZEW questions analysts and
institutional investors about their current assessment of the economic situation in Germany, as well as their expectations for the coming
months. The sub-index measuring financial
market players’ view of the current economic
situation in Germany jumped by 12.4 points to
22.4 points in January.
While the ZEW is frequently criticised for being volatile and not particularly reliable, analysts nevertheless took heart from this month’s
better-than-expected reading.
“The third increase in a row is a good piece of
good news and adds to signs that the German
economy is about to leave the recent lull behind,” said Natixis economist Johannes Gareis.
“Indeed, with the recent sharp decline in oil
prices and the lower euro exchange rate, a sig-
nificant stimulus is in the pipeline. Obviously,
Germany’s investors and analysts have also
scaled up the expectations for the ECB’s looming QE programme,” he said.
The ECB is scheduled to hold its first policy
meeting of the year tomorrow and market speculation is at fever pitch that its president Mario
Draghi will announce a programme of sovereign
bond purchases, known as quantitative easing or QE, to jump start the eurozone’s morose
economy. QE is regarded as the central bank’s
most powerful tool yet to ward off the threat of
deflation in the single currency area, where consumer prices actually started to fall in December.
BayernLB economist Christiane von Berg
similarly attributed the strong ZEW reading to
the “QE effect”.
The large-scale purchase of government
bonds would help drive the euro down lower
against major currencies “and that will provide
a boost for exports,” she said.
“Today’s ZEW data confirm the positive upturn which has emerged in Germany over the
past couple of months. All the signs are for more
dynamic growth in 2015,” von Berg said. BNP
Paribas economist Evelyn Hermann said expectations of the asset purchase programme “certainly explains part of the ZEW increase.”
The euro’s drop against the Swiss franc would
also help.
“In this context, we expect other January surveys for Germany are likely to show sizeable improvements, too, in line with our expectations of
gradually strengthening quarterly growth rates
in 2015,” the analyst said.
Capital Economics economist Jennifer McKeown said that “presumably any worries about
the effect of the Greek crisis on the German
economy were offset by expectations of ECB
quantitative easing and hopes of a boost to exports from the weakening euro.” “But note that
the ZEW survey has not been a particularly reliable indicator of actual activity in the past and
if the Greek situation deteriorates in the aftermath of this week’s election or ECB QE disappoints, investors may well take a dimmer view of
Germany’s prospects,” she cautioned.
Swedish govt slashes growth forecasts
A view of the Stockholm city. Sweden’s economy will grow more slowly than previously expected, weighed down by weakness in Europe and
around the world, the government said in an updated forecast yesterday.
weden’s economy will grow more slowly than previously expected, weighed down by weakness in
Europe and around the world, the minority Social
Democrat-led government said in an updated forecast
Falling demand, particularly from the eurozone, has
weighed on the pace of recovery in Sweden and economists have been turning more pessimistic about growth
prospects. Even so, Sweden’s economy has been relatively
“The recovery has proved to be a marathon, not a
sprint,” Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson said in a
The government forecast gross domestic product (GDP)
would expand 2.4% this year versus a forecast in October
of 3.0%. It cut its forecast for 2014 to 1.8% from 2.1% previously and predicted slower growth in 2016 too.
“The world economy is expected to pick up somewhat
in the coming years but there is still a significant risk that
growth internationally will be lower than we currently
expect,” Andersson said.
She noted a risk of stagnation in Europe, the biggest
market for Swedish exports.
Yesterday, the International Monetary Fund cut its
forecast for global growth to 3.5% this year from 3.8%
Later yesterday, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven
faces a no confidence motion brought by the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats.
Lofven should easily survive the vote after a deal with
the mainstream centre-right opposition done in December to sideline the Sweden Democrats. However, a few
centre-right lawmakers may vote with the Sweden Democrats, reflecting concern over the December deal under
which the centre-right agreed not to oppose the government’s budget bills.
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Thailand seeks to boost tourism numbers after poor 2014
By Arno Maierbrugger
Gulf Times Correspondent
Commonly referred to as “The Land
of Smiles”, Thailand doesn’t have
much too smile about last year’s
tourism figures. For the first time
since 2009, international arrivals in
the country dropped, and with them
tourism receipts, despite numerous
efforts made by the Tourism Authority
of Thailand to reverse the trend
throughout 2014.
Ranking ten on the list of the world’s
debt cut’
most visited countries, some 24.7mn
tourists arrived in Thailand in 2014,
which is a decline of 6.66% compared
to the previous year, and a 5.8%
reduction in revenue from tourism
to around $35.8bn. The visitor
number was significantly below the
initial target for 2014 of up to 28mn
arrivals, with tour operators and
tourism officials blaming the political
instability in the country and martial
law still being in effect as the main
reason that potential visitors gave the
country a wide berth.
However, there were more
contributing factors to the lousy
European tourists as the value of the
euro against the Thai baht kept falling
due to the prolonged economic crisis
in the eurozone.
The number of Middle East tourists
to Thailand dropped by 5.91% in 2014
to 593,000 visitors. Arrivals from the
UAE slumped by 4.92%, from Kuwait
by 19.26% and from Saudi Arabia a
whopping 40.05%. Qatar and other
Gulf Cooperation Countries are not
specifically listed in the tourism
authority’s statistic.However, it seems
that the curve has bottomed out
towards the end of last year ahead
of the high season, which started in
New York
he International Monetary Fund
yesterday sharply cut its 20152016 world growth forecast of
only six months ago, saying lower oil
prices did not offset pervasive weaknesses around the globe.
The IMF said poorer prospects in
China, Russia, the euro area and Japan
will hold world GDP growth to just 3.5%
this year and 3.7% in 2016.
The forecasts were lower than the
3.8% and 4% growth for 2015 and 2016
respectively given in the previous World
Economic Outlook in October. The cut
underscored the steady deterioration of
the economic picture for many countries, due to sluggish investment, slowing trade and falling commodity prices.
While the US will remain the one
bright spot among major economies,
Europe will continue to struggle with
disinflation, the IMF said.
Meanwhile, China’s growth – which
Beijing said yesterday had slowed to
7.4% in 2014, its weakest for 24 years –
will decelerate further, hit by poor export growth and a real estate slump, the
organisation said.
The IMF forecast that the US, the
world’s largest economy, will expand
by 3.6% this year, up a half-percentage
point from the previous outlook.
But the economy of China, the global
number two, is expected to grow 6.8%
this year, the IMF said – 0.3% slower
than previously expected – and 6.3%
in 2016. The last time Chinese growth
fell below seven% was in the crunch of
1990, when it slowed to 3.8%.
“Lower growth in China will have an
adverse effect on its trade partners, in
particular on the rest of Asia,” Oliver
Blanchard, the IMF’s chief economist,
said at a briefing in Beijing, as the organisation also downgraded growth
prospects for other Asian countries.
For the eurozone and Japan, it said,
“stagnation and low inflation are still
concerns” requiring sustained monetary easing and other measures to keep
interest rates from rising.
In the eurozone, where the region’s
central bank is expected to decide to
boost stimulus this week, low oil prices
and the depreciated euro are a help to
growth. But it will also struggle with
anada’s oil sands companies are perilously close to
operating at a loss after six
months of plunging crude prices,
yet many say they have no plans to
cut production at their vast projects
in northern Alberta.
On the contrary, Syncrude and
Canadian Natural Resources are
planning to boost production, in
the expectation economies of scale
will cut their cost per barrel.
With US crude diving below $45
a barrel last week, companies including Syncrude Canada, Suncor
Energy and Imperial Oil are getting
close to operating costs exceeding
outright Canadian crude prices.
But these oil sands giants, which
have billions of dollars sunk in existing projects, say they have no
intention of shutting down operations, preferring to generate whatever cash they can from sales.
A favourable exchange rate is also
providing some relief, as producers
pay costs in Canadian dollars and
country. One was to promote “the
experience of martial law” as some
sort of tourist attraction under the
slogan “24 Hours Enjoy Thailand”.
Another proposal was to equip
foreign tourists with identification
wristbands to keep them safe in case
they get lost. The latest step was the
“Discover Thainess” campaign that
kicked off last week with a huge street
parade and cultural performances in
Bangkok, which were well received
mostly by locals, but instead of broad
international media attention caused
not much more than a remarkable
traffic jam in the capital.
The IMF said yesterday poorer prospects in China, Russia, the euro area and Japan will hold world GDP growth to just 3.5% this year and 3.7% in 2016.
low investment levels and poorer demand for the region’s exports from
emerging economies.
The region is expected to expand
1.2% in 2015, and 1.4% next year.
Japan’s stimulus has not worked as
well as expected, and the IMF expects
it to expand just 0.6% this year, picking
up to a still-sluggish 0.8% in 2016.
“At this stage potential medium-term
growth in Japan is very very low,” Blanchard said. “So far both private domestic
and foreign demand have disappointed.”
Russia, already pressed by sanctions
over its support for secessionists in
Ukraine, is particularly hurt by lower oil
prices. The IMF now says the Russian
economy will contract 3.0% this year
and 1.0% in 2016. In October the IMF
was still predicting slight growth for
the country.
The world’s crisis lender warned that
continued volatility in markets, partially a product of the US beginning to
tighten monetary policy, pushing the
dollar higher, will challenge governments and central banks around the
world for some time to come.
And while the halving of crude prices
is a net positive for the world, the strong
Oil sands producers in Canada
stay defiant in face of price fall
Calgary, Alberta
December. In that month, the number
of foreign travellers reached 2,84mn
visits, an increase of 11.76% over
December 2013, triggering hope in tour
operators and tourism businesses that
the trend will continue in 2015 and the
sector could eventually recover. It also
seems that the medical tourism sector
is back to normal and growing. But so
far, the foreign visitor arrival target
for 2015 set by the tourism authority
remains at 25.5mn, a revision from the
original target of up to 29mn.
There have been a few inventive
measures by the Tourism Authority
of Thailand to lure tourists back the
IMF slashes 2015-2016
world growth forecast
truggling Greece will
never recover without a
generous debt cut, despite
what the country’s creditors
might think, the politician likely
to become the next finance minister said yesterday.
“To promote reforms one
must settle the debt issue,” Giannis Dragasakis, the senior
economist at anti-austerity
party Syriza who are favourites
to win Sunday’s general election, told AFP in an interview.
“The possibility of recovery
is limited” because Greece is labouring under a debt of nearly
€320bn ($371bn), or 175% of national output, he said.
Syriza, who have a steady
lead of around three points in
pre-election polls, are trying to
strike a delicate balance between
fiscal diligence and debt forgiveness.
The left-wing party’s plan to
renegotiate Greece’s multibillion bailout with the European
Union and the International
Monetary Fund is already raising hackles among the country’s
IMF chief Christine Lagarde
on Monday warned of “consequences” if European countries
try to renegotiate their debts.
“Collective endeavours are
welcome but at the same time
a debt is a debt and it is a contract,” Lagarde told the Irish
Times during a visit to Dublin.
“Defaulting, restructuring,
changing the terms has consequences on the signature and
the confidence in the signature,”
she said.
However the IMF and EU required Greece to restructure
its debt with private creditors
in 2012 as part of its second international bailout, which has
helped Athens repair its public
Greece is now running a
budget surplus if debt service
costs are not considered.
tourism year. There was a drop
in Chinese tourists to Thailand
after Beijing introduced stronger
regulations on outbound travel for
Chinese citizens at the end of 2013.
Another factor was the tanking
Russian rouble and spending cuts by
Russians on overseas holiday travel
which was felt hard in places such
as Pattaya and Phuket, preferred
holiday destinations for Russians.
As a result of the rouble crisis, hotel
reservations by Russians dropped by
70% in Pattaya alone, the Thai Hotel
Association said. As of late, there has
also been a decline in the number of
receive more valuable US dollars for
their crude.
Syncrude forecasts operating
costs at C$45.69 ($38.07) per barrel
in 2015. Oil sands crude trades at a
discount to the West Texas Intermediate benchmark and the outright synthetic price dropped below
$42 a barrel at one point last week.
Siren Fisekci, spokeswoman for
Canadian Oil Sands, the largestinterest owner in the project, said
Syncrude would ramp up rather
than scale back output.
“Syncrude has operated for 35
years and at other prices in the
crude oil cycle,” Fisekci said. “We’ll
put as much production as possible
through the plant.”
CNRL, which produces 128,000
bpd of synthetic crude at its Horizon project, expects oil sands
mining operating costs of C$34$37($28.33-$30.83) a barrel this
year. It is forging ahead with an extra C$6bn of investment to double
capacity at Horizon by late 2017 and
targeting operating costs of C$25$27 a barrel.
Spokeswoman Julie Woo said at
this point it would be more costly
to defer the expansion. Instead the
company has deferred a new thermal project, decreed a hiring freeze
and cut back 2015 spending. Imperial Oil, owner of the 110,000 bpd
Kearl mine, does not upgrade most
of its bitumen and receives an even
deeper discount on its crude. The
outright price of Western Canada
Select, the de facto heavy crude
benchmark, slumped to just above
$33 a barrel last week, nearing Imperial’s 2013 per barrel operating
cost of C$32.30 ($26.91).
Oil sands operating costs are
above those of most conventional
resource plays because of their energy intensity and the spiralling
cost of labor in Canada’s north.
Andrew Leach, professor of energy policy at the University of
Alberta, estimates operating costs
per barrel for mining projects have
quadrupled in the past decade as
producers compete for workers to
build and operate huge facilities in a
sparsely populated region.
In comparison, Saudi Arabia can
produce crude for just a few dollars a
barrel. Leach said oil sands producers tend to assume that operating
costs will come down each quarter
as technology and efficiency improve, another factor discouraging
companies from cutting output.
“Rightly or wrongly the psychology within most operations is
‘Costs are high for now but we will
sort it out’,” Leach said. “You would
need a significantly lower price
with pretty long running expectations that it will continue to see
(production) cuts.”
Thermal projects - which pump
steam into underground reservoirs
to liquefy bitumen so it can flow to
the surface - tend not to upgrade
bitumen and are also feeling the
pinch. Canada’s largest oil and gas
company Suncor Energy lumps operating costs for oil sands mining
and thermal projects together and
C$30.00-$33($25.00$27.50) a barrel in 2015.
Suncor expects to sell 120,000140,000 bpd of bitumen this year
and 285,000 to 315,000 bpd of
synthetic crude. The company
kept 2015 production forecasts
unchanged last week even as it announced 1,000 job cuts and slashed
capital spending by C$1bn.
dollar partially negates that effect for
many oil importers using weakening
currencies. And the impact of slower
growth in trade, low commodity prices
and market turbulence will all but erase
the gains from cheap oil.
“New factors supporting growth lower oil prices, but also depreciation
of euro and yen - are more than offset
by persistent negative forces, including
the lingering legacies of the crisis and
lower potential growth in many countries,” said Blanchard, the IMF’s chief
economist. It meant “good news for oil
importers, bad news for oil exporters”
he added. “Good news for commodity importers, bad news for exporters...
Good news for countries more linked to
the euro and the yen, bad news for those
more linked to the dollar.” The IMF
stressed that countries need to persist
in restructuring, reform and investment despite the weaker conditions.
“Raising actual and potential output
is a policy priority in most economies...
There is an urgent need for structural
reforms in many economies, advanced
and emerging market alike,” even as
they face different choices and needs in
their overall economic policies, it said.
Facebook says it adds over
$200bn to global economy
San Francisco
With 1.35bn users of its Internet social
network, Facebook Inc would rank as the
world’s second-most populous nation if it
were a country.
While its users may populate only a virtual
country, Facebook says it generates a lot
of real economic activity – $227bn worth of
economic impact and 4.5mn jobs in 2014,
according to a new study by consulting
firm Deloitte & Touche that Facebook
The report looks at the businesses that
maintain pages on Facebook as well as the
mobile apps and games that consumers
play on Facebook and measures all the
economic activity that result. It also
considers the demand for gadgets and
online connectivity services that are
generated by Facebook.
When a company advertises to customers
on Facebook, for example, some of the
resulting sales can be directly attributed
to Facebook. When consumers donated
$100mn for research into amyotrophic
lateral sclerosis during this summer’s Ice
Bucket challenge, Facebook’s auto-play
video ads were a key factor.
“People believe that technology creates
jobs in the tech sector and destroys jobs
everywhere else,” Facebook Chief Operating
Officer Sheryl Sandberg told Reuters in
an interview on Friday. “This report shows
that’s not true.”
According to Sandberg, Facebook is helping
create a new wave of small businesses in
everything from fashion to fitness. She cited
a group of young women in Bengaluru,
India, who started a hair accessory business
using Facebook and a mother in North
Carolina who started the Lolly Wolly Doodle
line of clothing, selling to customers
through Facebook.
The report comes as many established
industries are critical of Web startups such
as ride-sharing service Uber and homesharing service Airbnb. Critics contend
that the services circumvent regulations
and threaten established taxis and hotel
businesses. The report’s data will provide
Sandberg with something to talk about
when she travels to the World Economic
Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this week.
On Thursday, Sandberg will be on a panel
alongside Google Inc Executive Chairman
Eric Schmidt and Microsoft Corp Chief
Executive Satya Nadella about the future of
the digital economy.
“We’re no longer in a place where large
companies can create the jobs the world
needs,” Sandberg said.
CRICKET | Page 4
TENNIS | Page 5
Finn helps
thrash India
Serena cruises
as Wozniacki
and Azarenka
face off
Japan, Iraq
storm into
Asian Cup
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Rabia II 1, 1436 AH
Germany, Denmark play out a draw
Poland edge Russia
out, Argentina beat
Saudi Arabia
By Joe Koraith
roup D is turning out to be one of the
most keenly-contested battles of the
24th Men’s Handball World Championship. And yesterday that was on display at the Lusail Multipurpose Hall as Germany
took on Denmark in what was the biggest match
of the day. It ended with both teams having to
share the spoils as the thrilling match ended
30-30. Germany had won both of their matches
while Denmark had a draw and a win in their
It was the German team which was in dominance early on and was constantly in lead till
the 17th minute of the first half which was when
Denmark got their noses ahead for the first
time. Germany took back the advantage and
then stayed ahead till the end of the first half.
In the second half, Germany started with a bang
and had a three-point lead by the 41st minute.
land goalkeeper Piotr Wyszomirski pulled off
some good saves to claw back the deficit later in
the half. Russia went into the break with a onepoint lead at 13-12.
Seven minutes into the second half, Poland
took the lead with the score at 17-16. Russia
wrestled back the control but Poland came back
strongly, despite being three goals down and
then right at the end Wiesniewski flew in from
the left wing to decide the game.
The result leaves Poland with four points and
Russia with two.
Though Denmark fought back to reduce the
deficit to one point, the Germans restored their
three-point advantage in the 50th minute.
But then the Danes found their rhythm and
were able to pull off turnovers and put in a strong
finish to draw level in the 55th minute and then
manage to prevent Germany from scoring in the
final minute of the game for it to finish 30-30.
The Germans were looking like the better team
but the Danes were able to hang on to the coattails of their opponents and force a draw.
Germany now top the group standings with
Denmark in second place. Poland pulled off a
last-gasp 26-25 victory against Russia to climb
up to third. And in the other Group D match,
Argentina easily defeated Saudi Arabia 32-20
to take fourth place. As it stands it looks like
the Russians will lose out on a spot in the prequarterfinals unless they win and other results
go in their favour.
This was probably a match that Russia should
have won. But Poland put in a gritty performance
to sneak in a win. With just one minute and 10
seconds of the match remaining, Poland’s Adam
Wisniewski scored what turned out to be the winner. The Poles were delighted with this victory
considering they led only twice in the match.
“We were expecting a tough match, as Russia
Poland’s Michal Jurecki (centre) tries to get past Russia’s Alexander Pyshkin during their match
yesterday. PICTURE: Othman al-Samaraee
were undoubtedly our second tough opponent in
this tournament. We did not get a good start, but
we came back really well from being down 5-1,”
Poland coach Michael Biegler said after the match.
Russia coach Oleg Kuleshov was left ruing his
team’s lack of intent in the second half. “It was
a very nervous match for us. We played a good
first half, but I need to see the match again in order to decide why we made as many mistakes in
the second half as we did.”
Russia had started well and had taken a 5-1
lead with nine minutes on the clock. But Po-
Saudi Arabia are one of the wild cards in the tournament while Argentina have been a regular feature at this level. But that didn’t stop the newbies
from putting up a strong fight, albeit a short one.
The Saudis were able to stay on level terms till
23 minutes of the first half. The score at this point
was 9-9. The Argentineans had rested their star
player Diego Simonet. And his return in the second half, changed the complexion completely. Argentina began to call the shots and put in a strong
finish for a 12-point win margin.
“We played two different looking halves in
this game. In the second half we concentrated
on attack, resolving the problems which we had.
We are happy with the result,” said Argentina
coach Eduardo Gallardo.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Sweden top group, France
and Iceland share points
Egypt third in Group C standings after thrilling win over Czech Republic
France’s William Accambray (third from left) tries to score past Iceland goalkeeper Bjorgvin Pall Gustavsson during their match yesterday. PICTURE: Shemeer Rasheed
By Joe Koraith
or France it was a chance to top the
group and for Iceland, it was a chance
to climb up the standings. But in the end
there were no victors as match no. 34 of
the 24th Men’s Handball World Championship
ended in a 26-26 stalemate. But what a draw it
This draw meant that Sweden, who had
an easy 27-19 win over Algeria, now top the
group with six points. France are in second
place. And Egypt, who pulled off an exciting
27-24 win over Czech Republic, are in third
place with four points. Iceland are fourth with
three points.
The France-Iceland encounter, a rematch of
the 2008 Beijing Olympics final, was played at
a furious pace. Iceland looked a different side
compared to their earlier games and were very
efficient with their fast breaks. They were constantly in lead and finished the first period 1412 ahead. The French were constantly breathing
down their necks.
But Iceland showed no signs of slowing down
in the second half. France, European and Olympic title holders, then put in a strong run and
drew level with ten minutes to go. The score was
22-22 then. Neither team was able to wrestle
the advantage after that and the match, despite
a few nervous moments for both sets of fans,
ended in a draw.
Egypt celebrated their second win of the tournament to put them one step closer to a spot in
the pre-quarters. The match played at the Ali
Bin Hamad Al Attiya Arena in Al Sadd saw a
huge contingent of Egyptian fans turning up to
cheer their team.
“First of all I want to thank my players for
their performance and our fans, because they
cheered for us with a unique way and they were
once again the pillars of our effort. There is no
doubt that this team keeps the name of Egypt
very high. Czech Republic is a great team, but
tonight we played them in the most effective
manner. We read the situations, our goalkeeper had an outstanding game, we were lucky in
some moments and that’s all,” said Egypt coach
Marwan Ragab.
When asked about the next round Ragab said:
“We are not thinking of the next stage. We have
to play two more games in the first round and
we will give our best to take the highest possible
place. I repeat that we take one game at a time.”
His counterpart, Czech coach Jan Filip conceded that Egypt were a better team. “Tonight
we played a better game than we did against
Sweden, but unfortunately it was not enough
for us to get the win. We didn’t take advantage of
the chances we had to score and our defence was
not so strong in the last and crucial moments.”
For Egypt the biggest stars were their goalkeeper Karim Handawy and right back Ahmed
Elahmar, who put their team three goals up at
6-3 after 14 minutes.
The Czech team were boosted by the return
of their star player Filip Jicha but couldn’t stop
Elahmar who ensured Egypt finished the second
half three points ahead at 13-10.
There was a brief stutter when the Czechs
were able to level the score at the start of the
second half but the Egyptians soon found their
rhythm and went ahead 18-15, and then maintained the pressure for the rest of the second half
to register a strong win. Elahmar was Egypt’s
top-scorer with five goals.
Sweden continued their winning streak, outplaying reigning African champions Algeria 2719 and securing a place in the eight-finals.
Sweden started strong and took a 7-1 lead.
The Algerian offence were found wanting
against a strong Swedish defence which produced numerous fast breaks and easy goals for
the favourites.
Sweden had rested some key players in the
second half but still managed to keep up the
tempo. At one point, they even increased the
lead up to 10 but Algeria managed to slightly
narrow the deficit in the closing minutes.
Tunisian veteran Megannem aims to end on a high
By Sports Reporter
unisia’s experienced playmaker Heykel
Megannem (pictured) commenced his
Men’s Handball World Championship saga
in Egypt in 1999 at age 22. Sixteen years
have passed since his debut game.
The emblematic figure of the Tunisian handball
is polishing his armour for one last time before he
puts an end to his glorious international career in
“I am almost 38 so I guess it is time to call it a
day. I know I said the same after the 2012 Olympics, but when I saw the team losing the African
title, I decided to offer one last helping hand to my
Can a 38-year-old player follow the pace of
modern handball?
Heykel Megannem: It’s not easy. Handball has
evolved rapidly within the last decade. It has become a faster game, more explosive, the players are
stronger and everybody pays extreme attention to
his physical preparation.
I was lucky to play in the French League for many
years and – trust me – you have to try really hard to
stay competitive. I have experienced the change of
the training regimes, the addition of new elements
to the playing style. France’s long spanned domination in handball is not a fluke.
Did Tunisia follow the “French example”, or
do you feel you lost the opportunity to build
on to the success of the 2005 team?
HM: Tunisia is not a big nation like France. In
2005 we were privileged to have a very talented
team. Seven or eight players were already playing
in the French League and 13-14 others were also
But if you really want to stay in touch with the
elite you have to have a strong domestic league and
a tank of at least 22 world class players. The Tunisian federation has to work hard with grassroots
Let us also not forget that in 2005 we surprised
everyone. Everybody has been prepared to confront us ever since, like in 2007 when we had an in
my opinion even better team.
In 2011 our junior team won bronze at the World
Championship and 5-6 players were promoted to
the senior’s team. They seem more talented than
the old guard, but still they have to build character,
acquire handball culture. At the moment they have
the potential to beat Germany or Poland and then
lose to Brazil.
Which memories, good or bad, will you always remember?
HM: The 2005 World Championship will always
stay on my mind. The whole country was backing
us. It took us one hour to get back to the hotel after
we beat Russia and reached the semi-final!
I will never also forget the 2012 Olympics when I
was chosen to bear the Tunisian flag at the opening
ceremony, a great honour. Winning the 2010 African title in Egypt was a fantastic feeling and being
selected twice as French League’s best player were
unforgettable moments as well.
The worst memory I have is the loss to Egypt in
2004 by which we missed the Athens Olympics.
You’ve seen a lot in your career. What may
Qatar add to the World Championships’ history?
HM: I believe this event will be the best ever. The
accommodation and the venues are awesome.
I hope that one Arabic team – Tunisia preferable
– will reach the quarter-finals. It will cause jubilant celebration in the whole Arabic world. Qatar
can also go all the way, as they are really strong.”
MoI invitation
to support and
encourage the
Qatari team
The Public Relations
Department of the Ministry
of Interior has invited the
general public, school
students, workers and employees of government and
private organisations and
their families to support
and encourage the Qatari
team which will play in the
24th World Men’s Handball
Championship at the Lusail
Multipurpose Complex at
Lusail City (between Qatar
University roundabout and
Sumaisma bridge).
Qatar will take on Spain
in today’s match, while on
January 23, the hosts will
face Belarus. Both these
matches start at 7pm.
Those interested can head
to the North Gate (No. 3
and 4) of the complex before 6pm on both the days
to enter the venue freely.
The gates will open at 5pm
for the public.
If children are accompanying the visitors, there are
enough recreational facilities for children outside the
If companies, communities
and schools are interested
to send groups to support
and encourage the Qatari
team in these matches,
register with Aasif Abdul
Samad by e-mail at [email protected]
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
the number of teams that will have
played at least once at a World
Championship, after Iran and Bosnia-Herzegovina secured their first appearances in
the final tournament.
of these nations come from the
European continent. Previous participants, Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, do not exist these days under their
former status and have been split into many
different independent counties, while East
Germany and West Germany have been
unified into one nation.
more countries come from Asia; 4 of
them from Western Asia and 3 from the
Eastern part of the continent.
nations, including Greenland, an autonomous country within the Kingdom of
Denmark, have represented Pan-America.
Brazil and Argentina have been the most
regular entrants.
countries have represented Africa, with
4 of them coming from the Mediterranean coast.
team, Australia, has been the sole representative of Oceania.
co-record appearances have been
registered by Germany and Sweden.
Both have missed the final tournament just
twice (1990, 1997 for Germany and 2007,
2013 for Sweden).
the number of times the recently
crowned African Champions,
Algeria, have qualified, more than any other
non-European nation.
Sweden’s Jonas Kallman tries to score against goalkeeper Abdallah Benmenni of Algeria during their match
at the Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiya Arena yesterday. Kallman scored six goals in his team’s 27-19 win. (EPA)
1995 is the year IHF introduced the 24-team
format. Until then, only 16 teams were competing for the World title with the exception
of 1938 (4 teams), 1954 (6) and 1961 (12).
times, a unique record, the World Championship would have been staged on
German soil after the joint bid of Germany
and Denmark won the right to host the 2019
event. The unified Germany hosted the inaugural event in 1938 and in 2007, the West
side in 1961 and 1982 and the East territory
in 1958 (with a unified team representing
both West and East) and in 1974.
Saudi Arabia’s Hassan Aljanabi (right) in action against Argentina yesterday. Aljanabi
scored five goals but his team lost 20-32. PICTURE: Shemeer Rasheed
countries, plus the short-lived union of
Serbia and Montenegro, that emerged
from Yugoslavia have managed to qualify:
Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, FYR Macedonia,
Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro.
years (from 1958 to 1995) passed
between Brazil’s first and second
participation, the longest absence streak
by a nation. Nevertheless, the Brazilians
haven’t missed qualification since 1995.
former World Champion, Romania, did
not qualify for Qatar 2015.
Players and Coaches
Egypt’s Ahmed Elahmar is tackled by a Czech Republic player during their match yesterday. Elahmar scored
five goals in Egypt’s 27-24 win. PICTURE: Anas Khalid
Fahed, the mascot of the 24th Men’s Handball World Championship, cheers up the crowd
during the match between Egypt and Czech Republic yesterday. PICTURE: Anas Khalid
24th Men’s Handball World Championship Group Standings
Argentina 3
Czech Rep 3
S Arabia
Macedonia 3
Iraqi singer Kadim al-Sahir leaves
spectators at Lusail swooning
By Sports Reporter
atar 2015, 24th Men’s
Handball World Championship, is packed with
On Monday, spectators at the Lusail Multipurpose Hall were treated
to a live concert by multi-award
winning singer Kadim al-Sahir
(pictured) after the Qatar vs Slovenia match.
After Qatar won the match, the
lights went dim and a few minutes
later al-Sahir stepped out of darkness and into the limelight.
“It’s almost like a dream for me.
On any other day, I would have
bought a rather expensive ticket to
watch him sing and today, I am getting to see him live here at throwaway prices. Can anything beat
this?” said a fan, who was at the
venue to watch the Qatar vs Slovenia match.
The 57-year-old iconic singer
from Iraq has established himself as
one of the most successful singers in
the history of Arab world.
Al-Sahir, who started his career
in the 1980s, is not only famous
for his romantic ballads, but he is
also considered as one of the leading singers in Arab and folk pop, and
Arab classical music. His popularity
can be best judged by his official Facebook page (
KadimAlSahir.official) that has
close to 10 million likes.
Among his recent albums to rise up
the charts are ‘Al Rasm Bel Kalimat’
(Drawing with Words), which was
released in 2009 and ‘La Tazeedeeh
Lowa’a’ (Don’t add to him anguish),
which released in 2011.
And it isn’t just the Arab World,
which has been mesmerised by alSahir’s soulful singing and music,
for he has niche audiences across
the globe.
His live concerts in USA, Canada,
France, Germany, Italy, Australia
and England have been hugely popular.
Al-Sahir was also part of the ‘Live
from Rome’s Circus Maximus’ to Italy in 2004. The concert, which was
hosted in Rome, also saw the likes of
Carlos Santana, Alicia Keys, Norah
Jones and Andrea Bocelli. Then, famous international producer Quincy Jones had warmly introduced the
Iraqi singer to 500,000 of those in
Qatar’s Fahad
al-Kubaisi to light
up the Worlds
Doha: Leading Qatari singer
Fahad al-Kubaisi will perform
live at Lusail Multipurpose Hall
today, taking to the stage between
the crucial Chile vs Belarus and
Qatar vs Spain matches at around
A much-loved singer, who has
performed across the region and
released a selection of major
albums, al-Kubaisi will appear at
the special concert as a way to
thank Qatari fans for their support
throughout this exciting contest.
The concert will be the latest in a
series of surprises at Qatar 2015.
Platinum-selling artist Pharrell
Williams will perform tomorrow,
followed by a concert by the
award-winning Gwen Stefani on
former or current IHF World Handball
Players of the Year are expected to
be on court at Qatar 2015: Arpad Sterbik
(Spain, 2005), Nikola Karabatic (France,
2007), Thierry Omeyer (France, 2008),
Slawomir Szmal (Poland, 2009), Filip Jicha
(Czech Republic, 2010), Mikkel Hansen
(Denmark, 2011), Daniel Narcisse (France,
2012) and Domagoj Duvnjak (Croatia, 2013).
players can win their fourth World
Championship gold medal at Qatar 2015:
the Frenchmen Thierry Omeyer and Jerome
Fernandez, who had been in the successful
winners in 2001, 2009 and 2011 already.
players can win their third World Championship gold medal at Qatar 2015: the
Frenchmen Daniel Narcisse (2001, 2009),
Luc Abalo, Michael Guigou, Guillaume Joli,
Nikola Karabatic and Cedric Sorhaindo
(all 2009 and 2011) and the Spaniard Raul
Entrerios (2005, 2013).
coaches of the 24 Qatar 2015 participants have been World Champions as
players: Staffan Olsson, Ola Lindgren (both
Sweden, 1990, 1999 with Sweden), Youri
Chevtsov (Belarus, 1982 with Soviet Union),
Alexander Rymanov (Russia, 1982 with
Soviet Union), Oleg Kuleshov (Russia, 1997
with Russia), Slavko Goluza (Croatia, 2003
with Croatia).
coaches of those 24 Qatar 2015 participants come from Ex-Yugoslavia: Boris
Denic (Slovenia), Slavko Goluza (Croatia),
Dragan Markovic (Bosnia-Herzegovina),
Ivica Obrvan (FYR Macedonia), Sead
Hasanefendic (Tunisia), Borut Macek (Iran),
Goran Dzokic (Saudi Arabia).
coaches of the 24 Qatar 2015 participants are Icelandic born: Aron Kristjansson (Iceland), Gudmundur Gudmundsson
(Denmark), Patrekur Johanesson (Austria),
Dagur Sigurdsson (Germany).
coaches of the 24 Qatar 2015 participants are Spanish born: Valero Rivera
(Qatar), Manuel Cadenas (Spain) and Jordi
Ribera (Brazil).
coaches of the 24 Qatar 2015 participants had been World Champions as
coaches: Claude Onesta (France, 2009,
2011) and Valero Rivera (Qatar, World Champion with Spain 2013).
top scorers of previous World Championships are expected to be on court at
Qatar 2015: Anders Eggert (Denmark, 2013:
55 goals), Mikkel Hansen (Denmark, 2011: 68
goals), Kiril Lazarov (FYR Macedonia, 2009:
92 goals), Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson (Iceland,
2007: 66 goals), Wissem Hmam (Tunisia,
2005: 81 goals).
top scorers of European champions are
expected to be on court at Qatar 2015:
Joan Canellas (Spain, 2014: 50 goals), Kiril
Lazarov (FYR Macedonia, 2012: 61 goals,
Filip Jicha (Czech Republic, 2010: 53 goals),
Siarhei Rutenka (Belarus, 2006: 51 goals).
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
ICC promise ‘sledging’ crackdown at World Cup
nternational Cricket Council chief executive David Richardson said yesterday the
global governing body would
come down hard on players who
‘sledged’ or verbally abused
their opponents at the upcoming
World Cup.
During the course of an extensive interview on the ICC
website, former South Africa
wicketkeeper Richardson also
said officials were determined to
continue their campaign against
illegal bowling actions and added he was confident the World
Cup would not be blighted by
match or spot-fixing.
Several high-profile incidents
in recent months have led former
Australia captain Ian Chappell to
out of
tour of NZ
say he fears it can only be a matter of time before things get so
heated that a physical clash ensues.
Meanwhile New Zealand great
Martin Crowe has called for the
introduction of a yellow and red
card system common to many
other sports in a bid to punish poor on-field behaviour in
cricket, which has traditionally
prided itself on being a “gentlemen’s game”.
India’s ongoing tour of Australia has been marred by numerous verbal spats, with Cricket
Australia chief executive James
Sutherland taking the unusual
step of publicly telling David
Warner to “stop looking for
trouble” after the opener’s latest
flare-up saw him demand India’s
Rohit Sharma “speak English”
during a one-day international
in Melbourne on Sunday.
Richardson said he was confident the existing system, whereby match referees oversee disciplinary punishments at major
international fixtures, could cope
with “disrespectful behaviour”.
However, he insisted the ICC
had been stressing to on-field umpires the need to stop such conduct
at its source, with the World Cup
in Australia and New Zealand now
less than a month away.
Players going too far
“Over the last six months, or
even going back further to the
last Ashes series, there have
been too many examples of player behaviour going too far and
overstepping the boundaries of
acceptability,” Richardson told
“The amount of sledging and
disrespect shown by players to
each other was bad.
“Since then, we have done a
International Cricket Council chief executive David Richardson
lot of work with our umpires and
match referees to ensure they are
much more pro-active in terms
of policing behaviour on the field
and—when players do overstep
the mark—taking appropriate
He added: “Over the last three
or four months, you have seen 12
ICC code of conduct charges laid
against people for exactly that—
disrespectful behaviour on the
“For the ICC Cricket World
Cup 2015, it will be no different—and at all pre-event briefings with the teams, the match
referees will be making sure that
message is delivered loud and
The past year has also seen
a significant increase in the
number of bowlers banned for
suspect actions, with Pakistan
off-spinner Saeed Ajmal the
most high-profile case.
“The game realised we had a
significant problem—and there
were just too many bowlers,
from all teams, bowling with
suspected actions,” said Richardson.
“I think we have made very
good progress in identifying
those bowlers, sending them off
to be tested and, where necessary, suspending them until they
can remedy their actions,” he
As for the scourge of fixing, a
bullish Richardson said: “On the
corruption side, it’s safe to say
we’re the best prepared we’ve
ever been.
“It will be very difficult for
anybody outside of the game to
come and even attempt to try
and corrupt players, umpires or
anybody involved in the World
Cup, to try and fix a match.”
Five-wicket Finn helps
England thrash India
‘It is important to have confidence, not to forget it’s the same players who have put in a lot of effort in the Test series’
akistan’s left-arm paceman Junaid Khan has
been ruled out of the
upcoming one-day series in New Zealand because of a
leg injury, fuelling doubts about
whether he will play in next
month’s World Cup.
The Pakistan team leaves for
New Zealand late on Tuesday to
play two one-day internationals
on January 31 and February 3, with
all-rounder Bilawal Bhatti replacing Junaid in the 15-man squad.
The 25-year-old, who is one
of his country’s most promising
young seamers, sustained his injury during a short training camp
in Lahore last week.
Chief selector Moin Khan said
Bhatti’s inclusion for the World
Cup would depend on his performance and Junaid’s fitness.
“The inclusion of Bhatti for
the World Cup 2015 shall be contingent on his performance in the
scheduled matches in New Zealand as well as Junaid’s recovery,”
Khan said in a statement.
“If Junaid recovers, he will join
the World Cup squad,” he added.
Team physiotherapist Brad
Robinson and the Pakistan
Cricket Board’s medical chief
Sohail Saleem agreed that Junaid
had not recovered well enough
from his thigh injury and recommended recuperation.
Junaid has taken 75 wickets in
his 48 one-day outings at 25.90
Bhatti, 23, has played seven
one-day internationals, the last
in March 2014.
Pakistan will also play two
warm-up matches in Australia
on February 9 and 11. They start
their World Cup campaign with
a highly charged match against
arch-rivals and title-holders India in Adelaide on February 15.
The fall of Rahane, caught by
Taylor off Finn for 33, sparked
the first of two collapses during
the innings.
Finn then claimed Rayudu,
who scored 23, and Virat Kohli,
who managed just four, as India
slumped to 67 for five.
Captain Mahendra Singh
Dhoni and the recalled Binny
put on 70 to revive India’s hopes
briefly, before Finn again struck
twice in quick succession to
turn the match.
He had Dhoni caught behind
by Jos Buttler on 34, the wicketkeeper’s fifth dismissal of the
innings, and India folded—losing their last five wickets for just
16 runs.
Finn picked up his fifth scalp
when he bowled Akshar Patel
for nought.
Anderson ran through the tail
to finish with impressive figures
of four for 18 from 8.3 overs.
esurgent paceman Steven Finn produced a
career-best performance in one-day internationals as England thrashed
India in the triangular one-day
series in Brisbane yesterday.
India’s decision to bat first
backfired when they were dismissed for just 153 in 39.3 overs,
with Finn exploiting the Gabba’s pace and bounce to claim
five wickets for 33.
England cruised to victory
in just 27.3 overs, giving them
a much-needed confidence
boost before the World Cup in
Australia and New Zealand that
kicks off next month.
Their recent one-day form
has been very poor, but they
were never stretched with the
bat as they finished on 156 for
one, with opener Ian Bell unbeaten on 88 and James Taylor
on 56. It was their first win under new one-day captain Eoin
Stuart Binny, who top-scored
for India with 44 in his return to
the side, claimed the only wicket to fall, that of opener Moeen
Ali for eight.
Despite the heavy defeat Indian captain Mahendra Singh
Dhoni said he had not lost confidence in his players, although
he conceded they may be feeling
the effects of the preceding series in Australia.
“When we don’t do well, there
is a lot of criticism,” he said. “I
feel that is part and parcel but
not to forget it was the same
batting line-up that won us the
Champions Trophy, and that
was in England that we played.
England’s Steven Finn (second from left) celebrates the dismissal of India’s Ajinkya Rahane, caught by James Taylor (second from right),
during their One Day International (ODI) tri-series match in Brisbane, yesterday.
“It is important to have confidence, not to forget it’s the same
players who have put in a lot of
effort in the Test series.”
After losing to Australia on
Sunday, the Indian batsmen
struggled to cope with the lively
wicket yesterday.
Finn made the most of it to
claim his first five-wicket haul
in 49 one-day internationals,
including a number of prized
Indian scalps.
The paceman was thrilled
with the performance, having
at times feared for his international future
“It’s just nice to help England
win a game of cricket,” he said.
“A lot has happened in the
last 12 months, it’s pretty much
a year to the day where I went
home from that tour of Australia.
“But that corner has been
turned—I felt like I turned it a
little while ago—and all of that
stuff ’s in the past and I’m really
just looking forward.”
He did most of his damage to
the top order, as India lost their
Williamson ton sees New Zealand to 2-1 series lead
of singles, only reaching the
boundary seven times with six
fours and a six.
But having attained the milestone he was bowled by Thisara
Perera and Anderson vacated
the field soon after.
Nelson, New Zealand
ane Williamson made
a welcome return to
the New Zealand side
with an elegant century to set up a four-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in the fourth
one-day international yesterday.
Backed by lusty hitting from
Corey Anderson and Luke Ronchi, New Zealand overtook Sri
Lanka’s 276 with 11 balls to
spare and move 2-1 ahead in the
seven-match series.
In a tense finish New Zealand
needed 47 off 36 balls when the
24-year-old Williamson was
removed for 103, his fifth ODI
Anderson was run out for 47
with New Zealand needing 32
runs with 26 balls left.
way after being in a sound position at 57-1.
Seamer James Anderson,
returning to the English side
after injury, claimed the first
wicket, removing the struggling Shikhar Dhawan for one,
before Ajinkya Rahane and Ambati Rayudu steadied the Indian
cause with a 56-run stand.
A. Rahane c Taylor b Finn ................. 33
S. Dhawan c Buttler b Anderson.......... 1
A. Rayudu c Buttler b Finn ................. 23
V. Kohli c Buttler b Finn ....................... 4
S. Raina st Buttler b Ali ........................ 1
MS. Dhoni c Buttler b Finn ................. 34
S. Binny c Morgan b Anderson .......... 44
A. Patel b Finn ..................................... 0
B. Kumar b Anderson .......................... 5
M. Shami c Ali b Anderson ................... 1
U. Yadav not out .................................. 0
Extras (lb3, w3, nb1) ........................... 7
Total (all out, 39.3 overs) ................ 153
Fall of wickets: 1-1 (Dhawan), 2-57
(Rahane), 3-64 (Kohli), 4-65 (Raina),
5-67 (Rayudu), 6-137 (Dhoni), 7-137
(Patel), 8-143 (Kumar), 9-153 (Binny),
10-153 (Shami)
Bowling: Anderson 8.3-2-18-4, Woakes
7-0-35-0, Broad 7-0-33-0, Finn 8-0-33-5,
Ali 9-0-31-1
I. Bell not out ...................................... 88
M. Ali c Kohli b Binny ........................... 8
J. Taylor not out ................................. 56
Extras (w3, nb1).................................. 4
Total (1 wicket, 27.3 overs) ............. 156
Fall of wickets: 1-25 (Ali)
Bowling: Binny 7-0-34-1, Kumar 2-0-180, Yadav 6-0-42-0, Shami 4-0-23-0, Patel
7.3-0-32-0, Raina 1-0-7-0
McCullum, on whom New
Zealand rely heavily to get off
to a good start, failed to oblige
this time with a gentle poke at
a Nuwan Kulasekera delivery
and was caught at mid on for
just 11.
New Zealand’s Kane Williamson plays a shot during the fourth day
International match against Sri Lanka in Nelson yesterday.
Up stepped Luke Ronchi to
blast a rapid 32 including three
sixes and Daniel Vettori hit a
four as New Zealand finished
with a flourish.
After losing the early wickets
of Brendon McCullum, Martin
Guptill and Ross Taylor cheaply, an unflustered Williamson
led the rescue mission, first in
partnership with Grant Elliott
and then with Anderson.
He brought up his century
with a steady accumulation
Sri Lanka
D. Karunaratne lbw b Southee ............... 5
T. Dilshan c Guptill b Williamson .......... 44
K. Sangakkara c Guptill b Milne ...........76
M. Jayawardene c Ronchi b Anderson .. 94
A. Mathews c Ronchi b Milne ................. 0
L. Thirimanne b McClenaghan ............. 19
T. Perera c McCullum b Southee ............ 5
J. Mendis c Vettori b Southee ............... 12
N. Kulasekara run out (McCullum/
McClenaghan) ........................................4
S. Senanayake not out ...........................1
R. Herath c Williamson b McClenaghan . 0
Extras (lb 2, w 14) ................................16
Total (for 10 wickets, 49.3 overs) ....... 276
Fall of Wickets: 1-11 (Karunaratne),
2-113 (Dilshan), 3-180 (Sangakkara),
4-180 (Mathews), 5-245 (Thirimanne),
6-253 (Jayawardene), 7-268 (Perera),
8-270 (Mendis), 9-273 (Kulasekara), 10276 (Herath)
Bowling: Southee 10-1-59-3 (4w), Milne
7-0-28-2 (1w), McClenaghan 9.3-0-58-2
(4w), Anderson 3-0-19-1, Elliott 3-0-19-0
(1w), Vettori 10-0-41-0, Williamson 7-050-1
New Zealand
M. Guptill c Sangakkara b Mathews ..... 20
B. McCullum c Perera b Kulasekara..... 11
K. Williamson b Perera ....................... 103
R. Taylor c Sangakkara b Herath............ 8
G. Elliott c Thirimanne b Mendis ...........44
G. Anderson run out (Dilshan) ..............47
L. Ronchi not out .................................. 32
D. Vettori not out ..................................... 7
Extras (lb 1, wd 7) ..................................8
Total (for 6 wickets, 48.1 overs) .........280
Fall of wickets: 1-24 (McCullum), 2-41
(Guptill), 3-63 (Taylor), 4-151 (Elliott),
5-230 (Williamson), 6-245 (Anderson)
Bowling: Kulasekara 9-0-51-1 (3w),
Mathews 4-1-16-1 (1w), Herath 9-1-39-1
(2w), Perera 8-0-58-1, Senanayake 9.10-57-0, Mendis 7-0-40-1 (1w), Dilshan
Smith to lead Australia
against England,
Warner rested
MELBOURNE: Steven Smith will lead Australia in Friday’s tri-series
match against England in absence of suspended George Bailey, Cricket Australia said yesterday.
Opening batsman David Warner has also been rested from the oneday international at Hobart to recover from a sore hamstring, CA
added in a statement.
Shaun Marsh and Cameron White will replace Bailey and Warner
in the squad for Friday’s match, when Australia will target their third
consecutive victory in the tri-series.
The International Cricket Council banned Bailey, who was leading
the side in place of injured regular skipper Michael Clarke, after Sunday’s match against India for a second over-rate offence in 12 months.
“Steven’s appointment was a straightforward decision given the
excellent impression he made in charge of the side during the ... test
series when he stepped in for the injured Michael Clarke,” national selector Rodney Marsh said.
“It is unfortunate for George Bailey that he will miss the match in
his home state but in Steven we have a dynamic player who leads from
the front, by example, and we look forward to him doing so again on
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Serena cruises as Wozniacki
and Azarenka face off
‘If I could get to 19 in Australia that would be beyond amazing, so we’ll see. “I have a lot of work to do but I’m just going to enjoy myself’
“I love the game, I love the
thrill, I love the ‘Go Venus’,” said
Venus Williams.
“It takes a lot of work to get to
this level, so while I can play I’m
going to play, when I can’t I’m
going to watch it on TV.”
Last year’s finalist Cibulkova
of Slovakia recovered from a
slow start to edge past Belgian
veteran Kirsten Flipkens 3-6,
6-3, 6-1.
Cibulkova, who lost in
straight sets to China’s Li Na
in last year’s decider and has
since failed to build on her
Grand Slam run, faces Tsvetana
Pironkova of Bulgaria in the
second round.
ustralian Open top
seed Serena Williams
showed she was back
to her Grand Slam
best yesterday, as former world
number ones Caroline Wozniacki and Victoria Azarenka set
up an enticing second-round
Eighteen-time Grand Slam
champion Williams shook off
her erratic early season form to
sweep into the second round at
Melbourne Park, demolishing
Alison Van Uytvanck of Belgium
6-0, 6-4.
Petra Kvitova, seeded four,
Agnieszka Radwanska (six),
Wozniacki (eight), last year’s finalist Dominika Cibulkova (11),
and Venus Williams (18) were
among the other seeds to advance.
But the upsets that marked
day one of the season-opening
Grand Slam continued with
first-round exits for former
world number one Jelena Jankovic (15), Andrea Petkovic (13) and
Flavia Pennetta (12).
Serena Williams, 33, is chasing
a fifth Australian title that would
take her Grand Slam tally to 19,
placing her outright second on
the all-time Open Era list behind
Steffi Graf’s 22.
“If I could get to 19 in Australia
that would be beyond amazing,
so we’ll see,” she said. “I have a
lot of work to do but I’m just going to enjoy myself.”
The American could lose the
top ranking she has held for 100
consecutive weeks if she falters
in Melbourne but, with characteristic confidence made a
“number one” gesture after her
win, sending a message to her
She faces a potentially tricky
second round tie against Russia’s Vera Zvonareva, a former
world number two with two
career wins over Williams, who
is returning from shoulder surgery.
Serena Williams of the USA plays Alison Van Uytvanck of Belgium in their first round match during the Australian Open Grand Slam at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, yesterday.
But most attention in the second round will be on the mouthwatering showdown between
Wozniacki and Azarenka, a twotime Australian champion unseeded this year after suffering
major injury problems.
Wozniacki, who downed US
teenager Taylor Townsend 7-6
(7-1), 6-2, said she and Azarenka were good friends on tour
although the Belarussian was
more focused on beating her rival.
“I know she’s very dangerous
and we always had some tough
matches. I’d like to just focus on
myself and what I can do to build
my game and prepare,” said the
25-year-old, who defeated America’s Sloane Stephens 6-3, 6-2.
Never easy being favourite
Kvitova ground out a 6-1, 6-4
win over Dutch qualifier Richel
Sharapova sounds
a ranking warning
to Williams
desire still
to win easily,” she said.
Poland’s Radwanska cruised
past Kurumi Nara of Japan 6-3,
6-0 and Venus Williams dispatched Spain’s Maria-Teresa
Torro-Flor 6-2, 6-2, building on
her win at the Auckland Open
last week.
Liverpool fan
Wozniacki laments
Gerrard departure
aria Sharapova has
begun her 2015 season on a winning
note while Serena
Williams has lost two of her
first four singles matches.
The momentum shifts between the top two women could
mean a change at the top of the
WTA rankings by the time the
Australian Open is done in just
under a fortnight.
Sharapova won the Brisbane
title and then reached the second round of the grand slam
with ease this week with the
Russian world number two riding a wave of confidence.
Williams is wondering what
has gone wrong with her big
game after she and John Isner
lost the Hopman Cup final to
Poland this month. In the Perth
final, Williams let her notorious temper flare in a showdown
with the chair umpire over a
perceived hindrance from the
The irate Williams also
smashed a racquet in frustration at one point after putting a
return into the net. The American who won the US Open last
autumn now stands a thin 681
points clear of Sharapova on
number one.
Winner of the first major of
Hogenkamp but admitted she
had to overcome a bout of nerves
caused by memories of last
year’s humiliating first-round
exit at the same venue.
“It’s never easy to be the favourite on the court with everyone expecting that you’re going
Women’s singles: First round: Garbine Muguruza (ESP x24) bt Marina
Erakovic (NZL) 7-5, 6-0 Victoria
Azarenka (BLR) bt Sloane Stephens
(USA) 6-3, 6-2 Samantha Stosur
(AUS x20) bt Monica Niculescu
(ROU) 6-4, 6-1 Chang Kai-Chen
(TPE) bt Zheng Jie (CHN) 6-1, 6-2
Denisa Allertova (CZE) bt Romina
Oprandi (SUI) 6-0, 6-2 Barbora
Zahlavova Strycova (CZE x25) bt
Timea Babos (HUN) 6-4, 6-4 Daniela
Hantuchova (SVK) bt Zheng Saisai
(CHN) 6-4, 6-4 Alize Cornet (FRA
x19) bt Zhang Shuai (CHN) 6-3, 6-2
Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) bt Heather Watson (GBR) 6-4, 6-0 Dominika
Cibulkova (SVK x11) bt Kirsten
Flipkens (BEL) 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 Irina
Falconi (USA) bt Kaia Kanepi (EST)
2-6, 6-4, 7-5 Coco Vandeweghe
(USA) bt Francesca Schiavone (ITA)
6-2, 6-2 Caroline Woziacki (DEN
x8) bt Taylor Townsend (USA) 7-6
(7/1), 6-2 Tereza Smitkova (CZE) bt
Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (CRO) 6-1, 6-1
Elina Svitolina (UKR x26) bt Yulia
Putintseva (KAZ) 6-3, 7-5 Madison
Brengle (USA) bt Andrea Petkovic
(GER x13) 5-7, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 Vera
Zvonareva (RUS) bt Ons Jabeur
(TUN) 6-2, 6-3 Nicole Gibbs (USA)
bt Olivia Rogowska (AUS) 6-4,
6-1 Casey Dellacqua (AUS x29) bt
Yvonne Meusburger (AUT) 6-4, 6-0
Petra Kvitova (CZE x4) bt Richel
Hogenkamp (NED) 6-1, 6-4
Maria Sharapova of Russia reacts after winning a point against
Petra Martic of Croatia during their women’s singles first round
match at the Australian Open 2015 in Melbourne on Monday.
the season at Melbourne Park
earns 2,000 points, with both
women defending fourthround finishes a year ago.
“I’m in a much more comfortable situation than I was
last year,” said Sharapova after
reaching the second round at
the Open.
“My goal last year at this
time was just to play as many
matches as I could to get a good
feeling to see where my shoulder was, where I was physically,
how I would cope with playing
a lot of matches.
“So it’s been a year since that.
It was definitely great to get a
title in last week. I played a few
different matches. I don’t think
I’ve done that in my career,
winning a title to begin the year.
“That was nice. When you
come here everything is new
and fresh. Of course, it’s a nice
feeling to have that victory, but
you have to start from scratch.”
Sharapova held the top ranking spot five times between
2005 and 2012 while Williams
has been in the position for 223
weeks overall.
even-time Grand Slam
champion Venus Williams said her will to win
was undimmed as she
launched her 15th Australian
Open campaign Tuesday with a
victory over Maria-Teresa TorroFlor.
The 34-year-old American,
seeded 18 this year, breezed past
the Spaniard 6-2, 6-2.
Williams said she was feeling match-fit after winning the
Auckland Open warm-up event.
“I love the game, I love the
thrill, I love the ‘Go Venus’,” she
said. “It takes a lot of work to get
to this level, so while I can play
I’m going to play, when I can’t
I’m going to watch it on TV.”
Williams has made the final at
Melbourne Park once, in 2003,
along with one appearance in
the semis and five in the quarters
since she debuted in 1998.
She said she was not looking too far ahead into this year’s
draw. “My whole goal is to win
my match, it’s just that simple,
no one gives it to you,” she said.
She will play either compatriot
Lauren Davis or Serbia’s Aleksandra Krunic in the second round.
orld number eight
and Liverpool fanatic
lamented the departure of another number eight, describing Steven Gerrard’s impending
exit from the Merseyside club
as “sad” as she ponders trips to
Los Angeles to watch him play.
The 34-year-old Liverpool
captain announced earlier this
month he was moving to Major
Soccer League champions Los
Angeles Galaxy after playing
his entire career at Anfield.
Gerrard was quoted by media
as saying he would have stayed
at Liverpool had he been offered
a new contract in the close season and that coach Brendan
Rodgers had informed him he
would not play every game.
“I’m obviously sad. I think
Stevie has done so much for the
team over the years,” Wozniacki
told reporters yesterday after
the Dane opened her Australian
Open campaign with a 7-6 6-2
victory over American Taylor
“He’s a legend. I think if
that’s what he thinks is the right
time, I have to support that.”
The former world number
one, who famously warmed
up in a Liverpool shirt signed
Liverpool fanatic Caroline Wozniacki
by Gerrard before a match at
the 2011 Qatar Open, said she
wanted the player to remain at
the Reds.
“But at the same time he had
a talk with the manager and
said that maybe he wasn’t going to be playing as much,” she
“Yeah, I’m a little sad. I don’t
know. I’m going to have my
Stevie G jerseys hanging somewhere. Unfortunately he won’t
be playing there anymore.
“I’ll have to make a trip probably to L.A. to have a look again.
But, yeah, 17 seasons, 17 years,
it’s a long time.”
Wozniacki has a tough sec-
ond round match against twotime Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka, who
has been on the comeback trail
after injury wiped out most of
her 2014 season.
The unseeded Belarusian was
impressive in her opening 6-3
6-2 win over American Sloane
“Yeah, it’s going to be tough,”
said Wozniacki of the clash
against former world number
one Azarenka, now ranked
“I saw her play a little bit.
Obviously she’s a great player...
She’s definitely going to climb
the ranks.”
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Rafa still a
says, Novak
has been shrugging his
shoulders and suggesting he
may not be ready mentally or physically to win this
year’s Australian Open after
an injury-riddled 2014, but
top seed Novak Djokovic is
having none of it.
“Well, I don’t know what his
intentions are, how he feels,
but he is definitely always
one of the top favourites in
every tournament that he
plays,” said Djokovic, who
beat Slovenian qualifier Aljaz
Bedene 6-3 6-2 6-4 to join
the Spaniard in the second
round on Tuesday.
“There is no question about
“We always talk prior to the
big tournaments, during the
first days of the grand slams,
about who the potential
players are for winning the
trophy (and) more or less the
same names have been going around for the last seven
or eight years.
“So I don’t think there is any
difference in terms of main
favourites for this tournament.”
The 27-year-old Serb is definitively among the favourites
for his fifth title at Melbourne
Park with his main rivals
Nadal and Roger Federer
suggesting as such, having
won his second Wimbledon
and fourth ATP Tour Finals
title last year.
Djokovic also now holds a
44-6 record on Melbourne
Park’s hard courts, having
reached at least the quarterfinals every year since his
first grand slam title here in
He barely raised a sweat in
his victory over the 25-yearold Bedene and won the
match in a shade under two
hours, though he was less
impressed with his performance.
“Obviously the start was a bit
slower performance, weaker
performance, from my side
(and) he had a couple of
break points,” Djokovic said.
“He’s a good player, he felt
confident (and) he had nothing to lose.
“On the other hand, I managed to stay tough and
overcome some challenges
that I faced in the beginning
of the match and played
much more comfortably in
the rest.”
Djokovic, who has been
battling illness for much
of January, said he felt the
worst of it had now passed
and he would be fine to
face either Russia’s Andrey
Kuznetsov or Spain’s Albert
Ramos-Vinolas in the next
“It hasn’t been an ideal
couple of weeks in terms
of health and preparation,”
he said. “But I fought my
way through (and) now it’s
behind me. I’m only looking
“I think I did well in terms of
responding to the slow start
today, feeling a little bit rusty
on the court.
“So hopefully the next one
will be even better.”
Winning Open starts
for Djokovic, Wawrinka
and Kei Nishikori
‘It’s fading away. It hasn’t been an ideal couple of weeks in terms of health and preparation’
ovak Djokovic led a
trail of the top men’s
seeds into the second
round at the Australian Open yesterday as Stan
Wawrinka made a successful return to his life-changing court.
World number one Djokovic, fighting off the effects of a
virus, put paid to Aljaz Bedene
in straight sets as he begun his
quest for a fifth title at Melbourne Park.
The Serb top seed ousted the
116th-ranked Slovenian 6-3,
6-2, 6-4 in 1hr 49min on Rod
Laver Arena and will next play
Russian Andrey Kuznetsov.
Djokovic, who crashed out
to eventual winner Wawrinka
in the quarter-finals of last
year’s event, has been dogged
by illness in the lead-up to
the year’s first major tournament.
But after encountering early problems from the 116thranked Bedene he went on to
secure passage into the next
“It’s fading away. It hasn’t
been an ideal couple of weeks
in terms of health and preparation,” Djokovic said.
“But I fought my way
through. Now it’s behind me.
I’m only looking forward.”
The seven-time Grand Slam
champion broke Bedene’s service four times and only had
three break points against his
serve in the match.
“For a first round performance it was pretty good,
obviously I still need to work
on a few things, I’m still developing my game,” Djokovic
Wawrinka returned to Rod
Laver Arena where his life
changed completely last year
to get his title defence off to the
right start.
The Swiss fourth seed, who
upset Rafael Nadal in the 2014
final, ripped through Turkey’s
Marsel Ilhan 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 to
safely negotiate the first hurdle.
Wawrinka had few problems
breaking the 100th-ranked Ilhan’s serve five times and will
play Romanian Marius Copil
next up.
The big-serving Swiss has
now not lost in the first round in
10 appearances at the Australian Open.
“It was great to be back on
No room for shyness
on tennis tour
oger Federer and Rafael Nadal have won 31
Grand Slams between
them and agree there is
no room for shyness on court if
you want to make it big on the
professional tennis tour.
Swiss great Federer is one of
the most accomplished players to pick up a racquet and
feels that being an extrovert has
helped him achieve his goals—
winning more than 1,000 tour
games and 17 Grand Slams.
He said being outgoing on court
helped make it easier to face the
pressure points, compared to an
introvert who might have to work
a bit harder to succeed.
“It is a good question,” he said.
“You would think an introvert
is not ready to take huge risks,
but then again he might be very
thoughtful and play very wellconstructed points, won’t go for
the silly shot.
“So I guess it really depends
what kind of game you have.
“But I like the idea when
you’re young and you’re fearless,
you give it a shot and just go big
and take it away from your opponent. That’s kind of how I felt,
how I did it sometimes.”
The approach has worked well
for the 33-year-old, although
he pointed to his old rival and
friend Lleyton Hewitt as a more
introverted player who also
succeeded, winning two Grand
Slams and still going in his 19th
Australian Open.
“If you look at Lleyton, who
wasn’t quite like that, he was
more constructive in his points.
He had much more success early
on. So I don’t know.”
Nadal, a 14-time Grand Slam
winner, confesses to being shy
as a youngster but said he quickly learned that when in front of
the crowd there was no room to
be meek. “I was really shy when
I was a kid. I started on the tour
very early, at 16, and I was very
shy,” he said.
Novak Djokovic of Serbia reaches to hit a return to Aljaz Bedene of Slovenia during their men’s singles first round match at the Australian Open 2015 in Melbourne yesterday.
Rod Laver Arena again, it brings
back so many memories from
last year,” Wawrinka said.
“It was such an amazing two
weeks so it was great to come
back here and I am pleased with
my game in general and I’m excited to start again.”
But Wawrinka said he was not
getting too far ahead of himself with a potential quarterfinal against Japanese star Kei
Nishikori and beyond that a
semi-final with Djokovic.
Close to next level
Nishikori took the first steps
he hopes will lead to Grand Slam
glory with a hard-fought opening win over Spaniard Nicolas
Nishikori, who lost to Marin
Cilic in last year’s US Open final, won a 2hr 7min dogfight
with the former world number
nine before prevailing, 6-4, 7-6
(7/1), 6-2 on Margaret Court
The fifth seed had a battle
with Almagro before winning
a pivotal second-set tiebreaker
and sweeping through the third
and final set for passage into the
second round.
“I’m getting close to next
level. Obviously, it was a really
tough first match,” he said.
“Nicolas could be seeded
player, and I know he was injured, but I was getting more
balls, especially third set, and I
played a much better third set.”
Another of the new breed,
Canada’s boom-serving Milos
Raonic, was taken to two tiebreak sets before overcoming
Ukraine qualifier Illya Marchaneko.
Other seeded winners included Spanish pair David
Ferrer and Feliciano Lopez,
Frenchman Gilles Simon and
American John Isner, while
Australian Lleyton Hewitt,
playing in his 19th straight national open, beat China’s Zhang
Ze in four sets.
First round: Steve Johnson (USA) bt Kyle Edmund (GBR) 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 Santiago Giraldo (COL x30) bt Jan Herntch (CZE) 6-3, 6-2,
6-2 Donald Young (USA) bt Tim Puetz (GER) 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 Feliciano Lopez (ESP x12) bt Denis Kudla (USA) 3-6, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2,
10-8 Stan Wawrinka (SUI x4) bt Marsel Ilhan (TUR) 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 Alejandro Gonzalez (COL) bt Fabio Fognini (ITA x16) 4-6, 6-2,
6-3, 6-4 Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP) bt Peter Gojowczyk (GER) 6-7 (1/7), 7-5, 6-4, 1-0 retired Adrian Mannarino (FRA) bt Blaz
Rola (SLO) 7-6 (9/7), 6-3, 6-2 Kei Nishikori (JPN x6) bt Nicolas Almagro (ESP) 6-4, 7-6 (7/1), 6-2 Ivan Dodig (CRO) bt Joao Souza
(BRA) 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 Gilles Muller (LUX) bt Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) 6-4, 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/3) Andreas Haider-Maurer (AUT) bt
Laurent Lokoli (FRA) 6-4, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 Fernando Verdasco (ESP x31) bt James Ward (GBR) 2-6, 6-0, 7-6 (8/6), 6-3 Gilles Simon
(FRA x18) bt Robin Hasse (NED) 6-1, 6-3, 6-4 John Isner (USA x19) bt Jimmy Wang (TPE) 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 6-4 David Ferrer (ESP x9)
bt Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) 6-7 (2/7), 6-2, 6-0, 6-3 Matthias Bachinger (GER) bt Pablo Cuevas (URU x27) 7-6 (7/1), 6-3, 6-1 Roberto
Bautista Agut (ESP x13) bt Dominic Thiem (AUT) 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 7-6 (7/5) Marcel Granollers (ESP) bt Stephane Robert (FRA) 6-3,
6-4, 6-4 Milos Raonic (CAN x8) bt Illya Marchenko (UKR) 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/3), 6-3 Donald Young (USA) bt Tim Puetz (GER) 6-4,
4-6, 6-3, 6-2 Jarkko Nieminen (FIN) bt Audrey Golubev (KAZ) 6-1, 6-2, 7-6 (8/6) Marius Copil (ROU) bt Pablo Andujar (ESP) 6-2,
6-2, 7-5 Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR) bt Dusna Lajovic (SRB) 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-7 (3/7), 6-4 Paolo Lorenzi (ITA) bt Alexandr Dolgopolov
(UKR x21) 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 Go Soeda (JPN) bt Elias Ymer (SWE) 1-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 Andrey Kuznetsov (RUS) bt Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/3) Benjamin Becker (GER) bt Julien Benneteau (FRA x25) 7-5, 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 Jerzy Janowicz (POL) bt
Hiroki Moriya (JPN) 7-6 (7/5), 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 Lleyton Hewitt (AUS) bt Zhang Ze (CHN) 6-3, 1-6, 6-0, 6-4 Vasek Pospisil (CAN) bt Sam
Querrey (USA) 6-3, 6-7 (5/7), 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 Gael Monfils (FRA x17) bt Lucas Pouille (FRA) 6-7 (3/7), 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-4
Czech tennis professional Tomas Berdych (eight) and his girlfriend model Ester Satorova posing for photographs after they announced their engagement in the Botanic
Gardens during the Australian Open in Melbourne, yesterday.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, Janaury 21, 2015
Cavs stay strong in
victory over Bulls
‘It’s the best I’ve felt all year. I just want it to continue and keep riding this wave’
eBron James scored 26
points and Kyrie Irving added 18 points and
12 assists on Monday as
the Cleveland Cavaliers beat
the short-handed Chicago Bulls
108-94 on Monday.
All five Cleveland starters
scored in double figures and Irving, Kevin Love and Timofey
Mozgov had double-doubles for
the Cavs, who won their third
straight after a six-game NBA
losing streak. Love, back after a
one-game absence because of
back spasms, scored 16 points
and pulled down 12 rebounds,
while Mozgov, a Russian center
acquired this month from Denver,
added 15 points and 15 rebounds.
J.R. Smith chipped in 20
points for Cleveland.
The Cavaliers, who endured
an erratic start to the season
adjusting to the return of fourtime NBA Most Valuable Player
James after four seasons in Miami, never trailed.
They led 24-19 after the first
quarter and 54-39 at halftime.
Cleveland stretched the advantage to as many as 25 points
in the third quarter. The Bulls
managed to narrow the gap to 12
early in the fourth, but Chicago’s miscues doomed any hopes
of a rally. In addition to a dismal
37.5 shooting percentage, the
Bulls saw Spanish center Pau
Gasol drop a rebound out of
bounds and backup guard Tony
Snell throw a pass with no clear
recipient that ended up hitting
Cavs coach David Blatt.
With the win, the Cavaliers
improved to 3-1 since James
returned from a two-week absence with knee and back injuries. “I feel good,” James said.
“It’s the best I’ve felt all year.
I just want it to continue and
keep riding this wave.”
Jimmy Butler scored 20
points and Derrick Rose had
18 points to lead the Bulls, who
have dropped six of their last
eight. Chicago’s Joakim Noah
missed his fourth straight game
with an ankle injury, but the
Bulls got some good news on
that front on Monday as coach
Tom Thibodeau said an MRI on
the French center’s ankle came
back “clean.”
“He’s making progress, so
we’ll see where he is when we
get back,” Thibodeau said, indicating he expected Noah to be
back on court soon.
Cleveland, with James back
in the fold, and Chicago, with
former NBA MVP Rose healthy,
were expected to be the top two
teams in the Eastern Conference
this season. Instead heading
into Monday’s contest the Bulls
were fourth in the East and the
Cavaliers sixth in a conference
topped by the streaking Atlanta
Hawks. The Hawks notched
Coveted hurler
Scherzer reportedly
headed to Nationals
oveted free agent pitcher Max Scherzer is reportedly set for a move
to Washington after
agreeing a seven-year contract
with the Nationals.
Terms of a deal have not been
officially revealed, but
reported the value as $210 million. Last March Scherzer turned
down a $160 million deal that
would have extended his tenure
with the Detroit Tigers.
Over his career, Scherzer has
posted a 91-50 record and a 3.58
earned run average (ERA) in 207
games (198 starts).
The 30-year-old right-hander broke into the major leagues
in 2008 with the Arizona Diamondbacks and also played for
them in 2009 before being dealt
to Detroit.
Scherzer won the 2013 American League Cy Young Award.
That season he compiled a 21-3
mark with a 2.90 ERA. Last season, he went 18-5 with a 3.15
ERA. Scherzer joins an imposing
starting rotation in Washington that also includes Stephen
Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann,
Gio Gonzalez and Doug Fister.
The Nationals had the best
ERA in baseball among starting
staffs last year at 3.04. They are
also coming off a season in which
they won 96 games and finished
first in the National League East
Meanwhile the St. Louis Cardinals will wear patches on their
team jerseys in 2015 to honour
late outfielder Oscar Taveras. The
team announced Sunday that a
black “OT” patch will be added to
the sleeve of the jerseys in memory of Taveras, who died in October at the age of 22 in a car crash
in his native Dominican Republic.
The patches will not feature
Taveras’ No. 18 he wore because
pitcher Carlos Martinez has
decided to wear the number to
honour his late friend.
The Cardinals also announced
the organisation will renovate
and rename a field in honour of
Taveras in his hometown of Sosua, Dominican Republic.
The San Francisco Giants and
outfielder Gregor Blanco avoided arbitration by agreeing to a
two-year, $7.5 million contract,
according to reports.
Blanco, 31, had been offered
$3.3 million from the Giants,
while he countered with $4 million. In 2014, Blanco hit .260
with five home runs and 38 RBIs.
The Chicago Cubs signed
right-hander Daniel Bard to a
one-year minor league contract
with an invitation to spring
training. If Bard makes the major league club, his base salary
reportedly would be $1 million
plus incentives based on appearances. He would likely be used as
a reliever.
LeBron James (Left) of the Cleveland Cavaliers shoots over Taj Gibson of the Chicago Bulls during the first half at Quicken Loans Arena in
Cleveland, Ohio. (AFP)
their 13th straight victory on
Monday, beating the Detroit
Pistons 93-82. Atlanta have
won 27 of their last 29 games
and are one victory shy of tying the longest winning streak
in franchise history set in 1993.
Knicks snap skid with win
over Pelicans
The longest single-season
losing streak in the New York
Knicks’ history is over.
Carmelo Anthony scored 24
points and pulled down nine rebounds as the Knicks snapped
their 16-game NBA skid on
Monday with a 99-92 victory
over the New Orleans Pelicans.
It was a close-run thing, as
the Pelicans cut a 15-point firsthalf deficit to just one point
with less than two minutes to
play. But Spanish guard Jose
Calderon came up with his biggest basket of his first season
in New York when he drained a
three-pointer with 32.7 seconds
remaining to give the Knicks a
four-point lead and they held
on for their first win since December 12. Anthony sealed
the outcome by making three
of four free throws down the
Langston Galloway added 21
points and Amare Stoudemire
chipped in 14 points and six
rebounds off the bench for the
Knicks, who had just four turnovers.
“We didn’t really talk about
how many games we had lost,”
Knicks coach Derek Fisher
said. “We had to act as if we
expected this at some point.
Obviously, we enjoy it ... it feels
good to win.”
New York
Golden State
LA Clippers
LA Lakers
New Orleans 92
Wideman scores late in OT as Flames down Kings
Los Angeles
ennis Wideman scored 4:08
into overtime, and the Calgary
Flames rallied past the Los
Angeles Kings for their fourth
straight victory, 2-1 Monday night.
Sean Monahan tied it with 6:05 left
in regulation for the Flames, who are
unbeaten on their five-game Pacific Division road trip. Joni Ortio stopped 33
shots in his fourth straight win as Calgary moved past Los Angeles into the
final playoff spot in the Western Conference with the victory.
Matt Greene scored midway through
the third period and Jonathan Quick
made 22 saves for the defending Stanley
Cup champions, who wrapped up their
seven-game homestand with a dismal
1-2-4 record and dropped out of the
playoff picture.Wideman’s goal wasn’t
confirmed until video review confirmed
his shot had ricocheted off the camera
inside the net.
Los Angeles dropped to an NHL-
worst 2-12 in overtime and shootout
games this season. The Kings have won
just once since New Year’s Day.
Calgary got another strong effort
from Ortio, the Finnish rookie who has
yielded just five goals in four games.
After 2 1/2 scoreless periods dominated by goaltending and missed opportunities, Greene scored on a long,
screened shot after Trevor Lewis and
Dustin Brown loosed the puck from the
boards. The goal was the third of the
year for Greene, a defence-first blueliner who has never scored more than
four goals in an NHL season.
But the Flames evened it when Alec
Martinez turned over the puck at the
blue line and gave up a breakaway to
Monahan, who beat Quick for his 14th
goal.Los Angeles dominated possession and shots during the first 40
penalty-plagued minutes, but failed to
convert on its three power plays in the
second period. Calgary got a handful of
solid saves from Ortio, but did nothing
with its own advantages, including a
4-minute power play spanning the first
Calgary’s defencemen outshot its
forwards 5-4 in the first two periods,
and the Flames played more than 13
consecutive minutes in the second
without recording a shot on Quick.
Chicago forward Carcillo
suspended six games for illegal hit
Chicago Blackhawks forward Daniel Carcillo has been suspended for six
games without pay for cross-checking
Winnipeg Jets forward Mathieu Perreault, the National Hockey League
announced on Monday.
The incident occurred late in the
second period of Blackhawks 4-2 loss
to the Jets when Carcillo used his stick
to hit Perreault from behind after the
whistle had blown to stop play.
He was assessed a minor penalty for
Perreault left the ice and did not return and missed Winnipeg’s game on
Carcillo has previously been suspended eight times and fined on three
occasions during his 421-game career,
according to the NHL
Dennis Wideman (R) of the Calgary Flames celebrates his overtime goal from the bench with teammates after a video
review to win 2-1 over the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, on Monday. (AFP)
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Japan, Iraq storm
into Asian Cup
‘Now everything starts from zero again. All the eight teams have equal opportunity’
Japan’s Keisuke Honda (L) celebrates with teammate Shinji Okazaki
after scoring a goal against Jordan during their Asian Cup Group D
match at the Rectangular stadium in Melbourne yesterday. (Reuters)
Wilkins wants
to continue as
Jordan coach
ay Wilkins insisted he
wanted to continue as
Jordan coach after his
side were dumped out
of the Asian Cup by defending
champions Japan yesterday.
The Englishman said he had
“no idea” whether Jordan FA
chief Prince Ali bin al-Hussein
would offer him a contract extension after signing a shortterm deal last September, admitting that he could go down as
one of the country’s worst-ever
“I’d love to stay,” Wilkins
told reporters after Jordan’s 2-0
defeat by Japan in Melbourne.
“(But) I’ve no idea. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience,
it’s been first class. But it’s entirely up to Prince Ali.”
The former Fulham and
Queens Park Rangers manager
has failed to arrest an alarming
slide in Jordan’s fortunes and
the 5-1 drubbing of Palestine in
their second Asian Cup game
was their first win in 12, having
scored just three goals in their
previous 11 matches.
“I will speak with Prince Ali
when I arrive back in Jordan,”
said Wilkins. “Unfortunately
my record is not the best. In actual fact, it’s pretty poor. I don’t
know whether I’ll go down as the
worst Jordan coach in history
but I’ve certainly given it a blast
to try and make it work.”
The 58-year-old had a lively
Asian Cup, blasting organisers
after a botched doping test made
one of his players sick, ruling
him out of the clash with Palestine.
He was then involved in a
finger-pointing row with overzealous security officials after
they refused to allow him to
enter the stadium in Melbourne
for his own press conference because he had left his accreditation at the team hotel.
Wilkins refused to rule out
managing in Australia’s ALeague but felt he had unfinished business in Jordan.
“It’s always very pleasant (to
be linked to jobs) but I’ve got to
say if I was offered to stay in Jordan, then I would stay in Jordan,”
he said.
“It’s always nice to work, no
matter where you’re working.
It’s always nice to be involved
with young men because it keeps
you young. Apart from the (bald)
hairline, I feel very young and
youthful and I feel full of energy.”
Wilkins summed up Jordan’s
Asian Cup flop with typical
bluntness, blaming their 1-0 loss
to Iraq in their Group D opener.
“The expectation was to go
further than we’ve ever been
before so that would’ve been the
semi-finals,” he said. “Unfortunately we didn’t reach that. The
Iraq game really killed us. Having
to play Japan last, it was always
going to be a very tall order.”
Jordan’s coach Ray Wilkins reacts during their Asian Cup Group
D match against Japan at the Rectangular stadium in Melbourne
yesterday. (Reuters)
Platini urges Russia to pay
Capello’s wages
olden boys Keisuke
Honda and Shinji Kagawa fired holders
Japan into the Asian
Cup quarter-finals yesterday as
Iraq again owed a debt of gratitude to evergreen striker Younis
AC Milan’s Honda ran riot in
the 2-0 win over Jordan, scoring the opener and hitting the
post late on, while Kagawa got
his first of the tournament late
in the game.
Japan, who have won four
of the last six Asian Cup titles,
reached the last eight without
conceding a goal and they will
face Mahdi Ali’s stylish UAE
side in Sydney on Friday.
“It was an intense game,” Japan coach Javier Aguirre told
reporters. “We had to give maximum effort but we deserved
to win. Now everything starts
from zero again. All the eight
teams in the quarter-finals have
equal opportunity to win the
Iraq, meanwhile, found Palestine a tough nut to crack but
Mahmoud revived memories of
his famous winner in the 2007
final when he climbed to nod the
opener from a corner.
The clubless veteran disappointingly missed a secondhalf spot-kick but Ahmeed Yaseen sealed a 2-0 victory with a
powerful low drive two minutes
from time.
Iraq next take on neighbours
and three-time champions Iran
in Canberra in a quarter-final
which pitches together two of
Asian football’s fiercest rivals.
“Younis is such an experienced player and so positive for
the team,” said Iraq’s caretaker
boss Radhi Shenaishil. “He is the
player that everyone in the team
thinks is a star. I think tonight
was the most time he’s spent on
the pitch this tournament.”
In Melbourne, Japan dominated the first half and Takashi
Inui seemed to have blasted
them ahead early on, but the
ball was ruled to have gone into
touch moments earlier.
But the Blue Samurai went
ahead on 24 minutes when
Shinji Okazaki’s venomous shot
was parried to Honda and the
blond talisman snapped up the
rebound for his third in three
‘Head spinning’
Okazaki blasted into the
side-netting as Aguirre’s
men pressed, but Jordan came
out a side refreshed after the
break, pushing Japan back in
their best spell of the game.
However, the reigning champions soon regained the upper
hand and Yasuhito Endo nearly
marked his 151st cap with a goal,
but his fierce drive fizzed over.
Honda had the ball in the net
in the 58th minute, before it was
chalked off for offside, and he
then tested the busy goalkeeper
Amer Shafi from the edge of the
box. But it was Kagawa who had
the last word for Japan when he
side-footed substitute Yoshinori
Muto’s cross with enough power
to go in off goalkeeper Shafi.
Honda came just inches from
his fourth of the tournament,
which would have made him
joint top-scorer, when he rattled the upright in the dying
“We didn’t have too many
opportunities,” said Jordan
coach Ray Wilkins. “It was very
difficult to get the ball off them.
My head’s still spinning, their
football is of a very, very high
Iraq dominated possession
against Palestine in a boisterous
first half, which saw some tough
tackling and a bloody nose for
Iraqi Saad Abdulamaeer, but
were unable to find a way past
The match came to life at
the start of the second half and
Mahmoud leapt high to bury his
header from a corner and give
Iraq the lead.
The referee then pointed to
the spot for a shove on American-based Justin Meram, but
Mahmoud’s tame spot-kick was
within range for stand-in goalkeeper Tawfiq Abudhammad
who dived correctly to his left.
It was a full-blooded affair,
but Iraq’s number nine Yaseen
put the result beyond doubt
with an unerring finish.
European football chief Michel Platini yesterday urged Russia’s
Football Union (RFU) to pay the wages they owe to national team
manager Fabio Capello after they missed a deadline to settle the
debt. “Capello has never issued any complaints,” UEFA boss Platini
told a news conference in Moscow after meeting with RFU bosses.
“But I don’t think it’s right that the RFU are not paying his wages.
It’s bad publicity for Russian football ahead of the upcoming 2018
World Cup. I recommend that the RFU move to solve this problem.”
The RFU president Nikolai Tolstykh is currently facing a sack threat
over the six-month failure to pay Capello’s wages after a deadline
issued by Russia’s labour agency to pay the manager expired on
Monday. “We haven’t got any information from the RFU concerning
our order to discharge Capello’s contract debts,” the R-Sport news
agency quoted Russia’s labour agency top official Yegor Ivanov
as saying. “The agency is now set to hold an unscheduled inspection of the RFU.” Tolstykh, who has already been fined for Capello’s
payment arrears, may now be discharged from his post and banned
from the sport for up to three years. The Russian football chief
meanwhile told the news conference that the RFU will partially pay
off Capello’s back wages after recently receiving some funding from
world football governing body FIFA. “We’re making every effort to
clear off Capello’s overdue wages,” Tolstykh said. “Two days ago we
received some funding from FIFA and we’re set to use this money
for a partial discharge of Capello’s debt. Unfortunately this sum is
not enough to solve the problem completely.” The 68-year-old Italian manager signed a new lucrative contract with the RFU last year
which covers the 2018 World Cup hosted by Russia.
Sheffield aiming to cut Spurs down to size
heffield United are aiming to
beat a Premier League side
for the fourth time this season
when they meet Tottenham
Hotspur in their Capital One (League)
Cup semi-final today and have no intention of going soft on their rivals.
The League One (third tier) club
knocked West Ham United, Southampton and Queens Park Rangers out in earlier rounds and Spurs
could become their sixth top flight
victims in a year following FA Cup
wins last season over Aston Villa
and Fulham.
Since Nigel Clough—whose father Brian was the losing manager
when Spurs beat Nottingham Forest
in the 1991 FA Cup final—took over
in November 2013, the Blades have
lost just once in 17 Cup matches.
They have not been as successful in
League One where they are battling
for a place in the playoffs, and come
to London for the first leg of the
semi-final having lost 1-0 to Milton
Keynes Dons at the weekend.
Although they are seventh in
the table, 18 points behind leaders Swindon Town, their attacking midfielder Jose Baxter says
the Blades will be out to cut Spurs
down to size from the kick-off.
Baxter, who made seven Premier
League appearances for Everton before leaving in 2012, told reporters:
“Once you beat the big teams your
confidence grows.
“They will be wary because we
have knocked a few big teams out,”
adding Spurs will not relish their
physical approach. “Marc McNulty,
our striker, against Southampton
was a prime example. We were just
clipping the ball down the channels for him to get into their centre
halves and I think they were a bit
shocked by that.
“They don’t really get that in
the Premier League, everything is
into feet and nice. They don’t really touch each other, they aren’t
used to getting barged about, peo-
ple in their faces, kicking them and
not helping them up when they get
kicked. It works for us.
“There’s a lot of ‘matey, matey’ in
the Premier League,” he said. “I’ve
got a couple of mates in football,
but I don’t like it at all—hugging
and kissing each other before games
and all that. They’re nice, they don’t
want to get kicked and they’re all
great, technical players.
“It’s just when they come to play
us and we give them a few kicks,
they don’t like it.”
The second leg is at Bramall Lane
on January 28 with the winners
meeting either Chelsea or Liverpool in the final at Wembley on
March 1.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, December 21, 2015
Barca evoke 1997 Cup thriller before Atletico clash
arcelona have sought inspiration from one of their greatest
King’s Cup nights as the players
prepare for their quarter-final,
first leg at home to Atletico Madrid today.
The La Liga rivals met in a last eight,
second leg in Spain’s domestic Cup
competition on March 12, 1997 after
drawing 2-2 in the first leg at Atletico’s
Calderon stadium.
The return at the Nou Camp, with the
late Bobby Robson in charge of Barca
and current coach Luis Enrique in the
side, started abysmally for the home
side, with Atletico opening a 3-0 halftime lead thanks to a Milinko Pantic
hat-trick. With Barca 5-2 down on aggregate, Robson brought on forwards
Hristo Stoichkov and Juan Antonio Pizzi
at the break and the team began the
fightback with two goals from Ronaldo.
Pantic struck again to make it 4-2 on
the night but another Ronaldo strike
and a stunning Luis Figo volley tied the
score at 4-4 and Barca completed a remarkable turnaround when Pizzi’s late
winner sealed a 7-6 aggregate success.
Barca posted highlights of the game,
played in an electric atmosphere at
Barca’s giant arena, on their website
( on Tuesday under the headline “A 5-4 for the history
Luis Enrique, who took over at the
end of last season after Barca failed to
win major silverware for the first time
in six years, urged the club’s fans to fill
the stadium on Wednesday and said
their contribution would be key.
“I would encourage the supporters
to come to the Nou Camp to get behind
the team,” the former Spain midfielder
told a news conference on Tuesday.
“We will be stronger with them there.”
Barca captain Xavi should be available after shaking off a calf injury but
defender Jeremy Mathieu, who has an
Achilles problem, is out, Luis Enrique
told reporters.
Barca, the record winners with 26
Cups, last triumphed in 2012, while
Atletico, who lost 3-1 at the Nou Camp
in La Liga this month, won most recently in 2013 for their 10th success.
Villarreal or Getafe await in the semifinals, while on the other side of the
draw Malaga play Athletic Bilbao and
Sevilla take on Espanyol.
Goals will come for Suarez, insists Barcelona boss
Barcelona coach Luis Enrique has
backed Luis Suarez to come good in
front of goal despite the Uruguayan’s
paltry record of two league goals
since becoming the most expensive
signing in the club’s history. Suarez
has only made 15 appearances in all
competitions since his reported £75
million ($114 million, 98 million euros)
move from Liverpool in July after
serving a four-month ban for biting
Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini at
the World Cup. However, since his
return he has failed to show the same
form that saw him register 31 Premier
League goals last season. Suarez
missed two glorious chances as Lionel
Messi stole the headlines with his 30th
hat-trick for the club as Barca eased
past Deportivo la Coruna 4-0 on Sunday, but Enrique praised Suarez’s work
rate and insisted his class will ensure
a return to goalscoring form sooner
rather than later. “Luis Suarez looks
fine to me,” Enrique said ahead of his
side’s Copa del Rey quarter-final, first
leg against Atletico Madrid today. “He
is working incredibly hard and helping
us a lot both in attack and defence.
“The goals will come for sure because
he is a goalscorer and has shown that
throughout his career.” One of Suarez’s two La Liga goals came against
Atletico just over a week ago when
Ivory Coast forced
to fight back for 1-1
draw with Guinea
‘But things turn quickly in football and we played well to come back and win’
frican Cup of Nations
title contenders Ivory
Coast had to come
back from a goal and a
man down to pick up a 1-1 draw
against Guinea in yesterday’s
Group D opener.
Mohamed Yattara put the
underdogs ahead in the 36th
minute. And things looked good
for Guinea, who had never beaten Ivory Coast, when Ivorian
star Gervinho was sent off with
a red card in the 57th minute.
But substitute Seydou Doumbia saved a point for The Elephants with his strike in the
72nd minute.
Roma forward Gervinho
nearly gave the favourites the
lead in the 17th minute as his
blast from 12 yards was tipped
off the bar by Guinea keeper
Naby Yattara.
Guinea surprisingly went
ahead in the 36th minute with
Mohamed Yattara blasting
home a wonderful volley after a
cross from the right side for his
seventh goal in 13 caps.
The Ivorians invested more
offensively after the break, but
then went a man down in the
57th minute. Gervinho slapped
Guinea’s Naby Keita and was
then dismissed with the red
card. Guinea nearly finished off
Ivory Coast in the 61st minute,
but Ibrahima Traore’s left foot
shot from 18 yards out clipped
only the crossbar.
Despite being a man down,
the favourites broke through
the Guinean defence in the 72nd
minute as a long ball from Yara
Toure went to Wilfried Bony,
who passed into the run of Doumbia and the CSKA Moscow
striker calmly beat Naby Yattara.
Algeria fight back to beat
South Africa 3-1
South Africa missed a penalty
and conceded an own goal as
top-ranked Algeria came from
behind to win 3-1 in Group C
game on Monday.
After a nightmare in the previous Cup when they were the
first team eliminated despite
also being high up the rankings,
Algeria fought back for a winning start to their campaign.
But it could have been a vastly
different story after South Africa took a 51st minute lead
through Thuso Phala and then
won a penalty minutes later for
a chance to go 2-0 up.
They had already struck the
crossbar in the first half through
Dean Furman and looked to be
in the driving seat after getting
behind the Algerian defence just
before the interval.
But Tokelo Rantie blasted the
58th minute kick against the
Barca turned in arguably their best
performance of the campaign to beat
the Spanish champions 3-1. The pressure had been mounting on Enrique
prior to that game with reports of
Messi leading a dressing room coup
against the former Barca captain.
However, he shrugged off suggestions
that his position could be back under
the spotlight should the Catalans fail
to produce a repeat performance
against Diego Simeone’s men. “I don’t
have the feeling that tomorrow my
job is on the line. All we are playing
for is to get through a tie against an
opponent that will demand we play at
our best level.
Mirallas penalty
miss extends dismal
Everton run
evin Mirallas’ first-half
penalty miss proved
costly as Everton’s dismal run continued with
a 0-0 Premier League draw at
home to West Bromwich Albion
on Monday.
The winger stepped up ahead
of regular spot-kick taker
Leighton Baines but blasted his
effort against the foot of the post
just before halftime after former
Everton defender Joleon Lescott
had been penalised for handball.
Mirallas did not emerge for the
second half with Bryan Oviedo
coming on. Everton manager
Roberto Martinez said the Belgian was replaced after picking
up an injury and he did not have
a problem with him taking the
penalty ahead of Baines.
“He was not feeling 100
percent, he felt his hamstring
straight after the penalty. That
was the reason for the substitution,” the Spaniard told Sky
Sports. “Our penalty taker is
Leighton Baines but in the same
way we had a penalty shootout
against West Ham in the FA Cup,
Kevin Mirallas took the penalty
really well and wanted to take it.”
Martinez said Mirallas had
wanted to take the penalty and
Baines was happy to let him do
“At that moment Kevin felt
really confident and wanted to
take it. For me, Leighton is the
number one penalty taker. At
that point I would have been
happy for the two players to discuss it,” explained the manager.
“There are a few penalty takers in the squad and they could
have stepped up in that moment, the big disappointment is
we missed the penalty, not who
took it.”
Baines, who briefly consulted
Mirallas before allowing the
Belgian to take the penalty, has
missed only one of the 16 spotkicks he has taken in a Premier
League game—the first time
coming in October against Manchester United. Everton moved
up one place to 12th but have
now won one out of their last 13
matches in all competitions.
Not even a halftime video
screen message from Hollywood
great Sylvester Stallone, with
the Goodison Park crowd filmed
in a scene for the new Rocky film,
could inspire Everton.
West Brom, who moved up to
14th and three points above the
drop zone, are unbeaten in three
league games since Tony Pulis
took charge.
Everton’s Belgian striker Kevin Mirallas (R) reacts after sending his
penalty kick against the post during the English Premier League
match against West Bromwich Albion in Liverpool on Monday. (AFP)
Bayern Munich under fire
over Saudi Arabia trip
Mohamed Lamine Yattara of Guinea celebrates
his goal against Ivory Coast during their 2015
African Cup of Nations Group D match in Malabo
yesterday. (Reuters)
crossbar. South African defender Thulani Hlatshwayo then
mistimed a header to concede
an own goal in the 67th minute
to allow Algeria back into the
His attempted clearance of
Yacine Brahimi’s innocuouslooking chip shaved the top of
his head and beat his goalkeeper
Darren Keet. Algeria were ahead
four minutes later when full
back Faouzi Ghoulam blasted
home. Islam Slimani made sure
of the win with a third goal in the
82nd minute as the ball slipped
under Keet’s body in another
error from the South Africans.
“It was an intense game and it
could have been catastrophic.
But things turn quickly in football and we played well to come
back and win,” said Algeria
coach Christian Gourcuff.
Bayern Munich returned from a training camp in the Middle East to
a barrage of criticism over a friendly played in Saudi Arabia, with
some politicians and fans claiming the club had turned a blind eye
to human rights violations.
The German champions, a leading global soccer brand, played a
friendly against Al-Hilal in Saudi Arabia on Saturday.
Bayern’s game in Saudi Arabia also coincided with the uproar over
the flogging in the country of activist and blogger Raif Badawi.
“Sport has a strong voice but it does not use it at the points where
it makes sense and can be helpful,” Social Democratic Party MP and
head of the parliamentary committee on sport Dagmar Freitag told
Sueddeutsche Zeitung yesterday.
“Footballers don’t have to be politicians but they should be aware of
human rights conditions and could set examples.”
The Greens spokesman for sports politics issues, Oezcan Mutlu MP,
said Bayern should never have played the game in Saudi Arabia.
“I find this behaviour shameful. Unnecessary. There is no honour to
have a friendly game in Riyadh when, so to speak, right next to the
stadium the blogger Radawi is flogged 1,000 times and has his skin
pulled off his back,” Mutlu told reporters.
Bayern, one of the richest clubs in the world, with a turnover of
more than 500 million euros ($579.80 million), said the Saudi Arabia
game was a sponsored event by one of its commercial partners.
The trip also caused consternation among some Bayern fans with
one of them sharply criticising the club’s decision to train in the Gulf
during the winter break. “Even if Bayern does not determine the
politics in Saudi Arabia, its presence there legitimises it,” a Bayern
member, signing under the Twitter handle @agitpopblog said in an
open letter sent to club officials.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Meet Nasser, the
‘Prince of Dakar’
‘Definitely, what made my victory even more worthwhile was getting a
phone call from HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani’
Five races,
Australia, to
start earlier
Dakar Rally winner Nasser Saleh al-Attiyah attempts to cut two cakes simultaneously at a reception held at the Hamad International Airport on Monday night. Minister for
Youth and Sports HE Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser al-Ali (to his right) and Qatar Olympic Committee Secretary-General Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman al-Thani (to his left)
help him in the endeavour.
By Anil John
Sports Editor
e know him as the king of
Middle East rallying. Now
he has a new moniker, and a
more formal-sounding one.
“Yes, they call me the ‘Prince of Dakar’
in South America these days,” Nasser
Saleh al-Attiyah beamed on Monday
The Qatar rallying ace had just landed
in Doha after a 13-hour flight from Sao
Paulo. Dressed informally and holding
the Dakar Rally trophy, he was smiling
ear to ear, posing for photographs and
chatting to his close friends and sports
officials at a reception held at the Ministerial Lounge of the Hamad International Airport.
Usually, the publicity-shy al-Attiyah
is not comfortable speaking about his
success, but this time he allowed himself
a bit of leeway by shedding a bit of his
customary modesty.
In fact, he appeared to be enjoying all
the attention.
“This win was much better than my
win in 2011,” said al-Attiyah. “We dominated from the start and did everything
right. The key was to remain ahead every
day and never lose ground.”
Al-Attiyah said his co-driver Mathieu
Baumel had done a “great job”. “And also
experience and training. We were well
trained and well experienced.”
Al-Attiyah, who has also enjoyed suc-
QOC Secretary General Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman al-Thani garlanding Nasser
Saleh al-Attiyah at Monday night’s reception.
cess in the Olympic Games, winning
bronze in skeet shooting at the 2012
Games in London, made his intentions
clear when he posted the quickest time in
the opening stage leaving Buenos Aires.
He was later stripped of the first stage
for speeding, but did not let that play on
his mind as he bounced back in style,
winning five stages in all across some
of the most treacherous terrain nature
could conceive, including the Andes,
Chile’s Atacama desert and the salt flats
of Bolivia before finishing in Buenos
Aires after a whopping 9,000 kilometres.
Friends and well-wishers congratulate Nasser Saleh al-Attiyah.
“It’s a test of mind, body and machine,” the Mini driver said. “We passed
that with flying colours and I look forward to defending my title next year.”
So what is that one thing that made his
win even sweeter, he was asked.
“Definitely, what made my victory
even more worthwhile was getting a
phone call from HH the Emir Sheikh
Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.
“It was great of His Highness to personally call me up and congratulate me.”
Qatar’s Minister of Youth and Sports
HE Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser al-Ali,
who was present at the reception, said
al-Attiyah’s success was the latest addition to the country’s success in the field
of sports.
“Nasser has been a great ambassador
for Qatar for many years and his success in the Dakar Rally proves once again
what a great champion he is,” said al-Ali.
Qatar Olympic Committee SecretaryGeneral Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman al-Thani was also all praise for the
“To win the gruelling Dakar Rally is a
great achievement and would go down
in history as one of the greatest achievements by a Qatari in sports,” said Sheikh
Meanwhile, Qatar Motor and Motorcycling Federation President Nasser
Khalifa al-Attiyah said, the Dakar Rally
win was a great boost for motor sports in
the country.
“Qatar already had a great name in rallying, but Nasser’s win in the Dakar Rally
has enhanced that reputation manifold. Everybody not only in Qatar but
in the entire Middle East is proud of his
The QMMF chief said what made alAttiyah’s victory even more creditable
was the fact that his Mini team planned
the race to perfection and executed it
even better.
“There was a great deal of planning
before and during the race. The strategies were well chalked out and executed
with precision. There was no panic,
there was no unnecessary moves, no
crazy driving,” the QMMF chief said.
ormula One’s Australian season-opener in
Melbourne on March
15 is one of five grands
prix that will start an hour
earlier this year under recommendations made after Jules
Bianchi’s crash in Japan last
Formula One Management
(FOM) detailed the start times
for the 20 race season in a document sent to participants and
broadcasters and seen by Reuters.
Australia’s will start at 1600
local, although Saturday qualifying remains at 1700, while Malaysia is brought forward to 1500.
China, Japan and Russia will all
start at 1400 local.
Mexico, which is returning to
the calendar for the first time
since 1992, was handed a 1300
local start time.
French driver Bianchi suffered
severe brain injuries at Suzuka
when he skidded off track, in
fading light and heavy rain, and
collided with a recovery tractor.
He remains in hospital in France
in critical condition.
The governing International
Automobile Federation (FIA) set
up an accident panel to investigate the crash and one of its recommendations, in a report published last month, was for earlier
“It is proposed that a regulation or guideline be established
such that the start time of an
event shall not be less than four
hours before either sunset or
French driver Bianchi
suffered severe brain
injuries at Suzuka when he
skidded off track, in fading
light and heavy rain, and
collided with a recovery
tractor. He remains in
hospital in France in critical
dusk, except in the case of night
races,” it said.
Formula One has floodlit races
in Singapore, Abu Dhabi and
Bahrain and the trend has been
for later starts in Asia to boost
television viewing figures in Europe.
Malaysian circuit boss Razlan Razali told Reuters last week
that he would welcome an earlier
start for a race that has been affected by late afternoon tropical
downpours in the past.
“We said if you want to go back
to three PM, we fully support it,”
he said. Qualifying for the race at
Sepang will start at 1700 local,
Melbourne organisers had
sounded less keen on the time
change, with Australian Grand
Prix chief executive Andrew
Westacott expressing his reluctance in the Herald Sun newspaper last week.
“The race time will remain at
five PM as per agreement with
the AGPC and Formula One
Management, which means
Melbourne, as the opening race
of the season, airs in Asia at
lunchtime and Europe at breakfast,” he said then.
Russia’s earlier start comes
after talk last year of the race
in Sochi switching to a floodlit
night format.
500 players
sign up for
Qatargas Open
By Sports Reporter
he Qatargas Open Badminton Championship
2015, organised by Qatar
Badminton Association
with Qatargas as the title sponsor, will begin today at the Qatar
Table Tennis Association Center.
The tournament will end on January 28.
As many as 500 players are
expected to compete in the tournament in more than 25 events,
held for various age-groups for
both male and female players.
The tournament brings together
a large number of badminton
players in Qatar right from school
children under the age of 11 up to
Qatargas’ support to the game
comes as part of the company’s
strategy in helping the development of a group of sports activities that are fast gaining popularity in Qatar. This strategy mainly
aims at attracting youngsters to
engage in a diverse range of sporting activities and supporting
their development, thereby contributing to achieving the human
development goals of Qatar National Vision 2030.
Expressing his appreciation for
Qatargas’ support to the tournament, Talal al-Mawlawi, Board
Member of the Qatar Badminton
Association, said:
“We thank Qatargas for its
commendable support to this
championship which, we expect, will help propel Qatar into
the world map of yet another
increasingly popular sporting
event. This initiative from Qatargas clearly demonstrates its commitment to the local community
and helps promote the “Sport for
Life” values we have adopted at
Qatar Olympic Committee with
the aim of providing opportunities for all in the community to
participate in sports and sportsrelated activities. These kinds of
tournament will encourage the
Junior National players to test
their skills and gain competition
He added: “The tournament
brings together almost all badminton players of different nationalities in Qatar under one
roof. This is the biggest badminton tournament in Qatar with a
total of 25 events under various
categories and is open to all resident permit holders in Qatar. We
are also planning to hold several
such tournaments in the coming years with a long term goal
of hosting international tournaments, in line with the State of
Qatar’s strategy to be a prominent player on the World sports
The juniors will play in 20 categories – Under-11, Under-13,
Under-15, Under-17 and Under-19. The seniors will play
in eight categories – Men singles, Men doubles level A and
B, Women Singles and Doubles,
Mix Doubles, Masters’ Doubles
and Veterans’ Doubles. All the
matches will be conducted on a
knock-out basis. The matches
will be held between 2pm to
10pm on Friday & Saturday and
between 4pm to 10pm on other
days. The finals will be held on
28th January.
Apart from laying 5 international level courts for this event,
elaborate arrangements are being
made to host the participating
children, their parents and the
spectators. Winners and runners up will receive trophies and
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Stenson excited
by all-star group
at Qatar Masters
‘It’s now my second week playing with Ernie, and Sergio is back in action, so
we’ll have good fun out there. It’s a good group, so I’m looking forward to it’
By Sports Reporter
Tee Time
orld No. 2 Henrik Stenson is
looking forward to playing
in a “fun” group with 2005
winner Ernie Els and defending champion Sergio Garcia for the
first two rounds of this week’s Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, which begins at
the Doha Golf Club today.
Stenson, 38, finished his 2014 season by
winning the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, after top-three finishes in
three of his previous four European Tour
events, including a third at the US PGA
Championship, the year’s final Major.
However, the tall Swede missed the cut
in Abu Dhabi last week, so is looking to
bounce back quickly as he plays for a second straight week with Els, a four-time
Major champion, while Garcia competes
in his first event of the year.
“I’ve got a strong pairing with Ernie
and Sergio,” said Stenson, who succeeded
Els as the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters champion in 2006. “It’s now my second week playing with Ernie, and Sergio
is back in action, so we’ll have good fun
out there. It’s a good group, so I’m looking forward to it.”
Stenson playfully conceded that he
was happy for Garcia to be considered the
tournament favourite, after the Spaniard
lifted the Mother of Pearl Trophy last
January following a runner-up finish the
previous year.
“Yeah, it would be hard not to put him
in that situation and that takes all the
pressure away from me, so let’s do that,”
quipped Stenson, who’s competing in the
event for a 15th straight year.
“He’s played really well around here
and played this tournament a lot of times
as well, so let’s keep him the favourite,
but as you know it’s always so hard to pick
a winner. You can look among on-form
players and have a rough idea, but it’s really hard to pick one guy out of the field.”
Stenson recovered from an opening
76 in Abu Dhabi to shoot a four-under
68 and now hopes he can kick-start his
season in Doha, where strong winds are
forecast for the opening round.
“It was a little bit of a slow start last
week, but at least I played better on the
second day than the first, so I hope to improve on last week’s performance,” said
Stenson, who also has three runner-up
finishes in Doha.
Henrik Stenson practises
at the DGC yesterday
in Abu Dhabi, especially by a closing 65.
“I’m looking forward to trying to get my
head around this golf course. It’s not one
that’s been the kindest to me and I’ve been
figuring it out the last couple of days. It’s
been more about hopefully getting my
lines off the tee, as I feel like there’s a lot of
run-outs and carries,” Rose said.
“It has been a good couple of days’
work on the back of what turned out to be
a good tournament last week, momentum-wise. I was definitely a little rusty
on the first couple of days, but on Sunday I put together a good round, so it was
nice to finish strongly. A bogey-free 65 is
something that you can definitely feel a
bit of confidence from.”
Rose has been grouped with Ryder Cup
Player 2
Player 3
Oliver FARR
Bradley DREDGE
07:35 Simon KHAN
Jeev Milkha SINGH
Thomas AIKEN
Richard FINCH
Michael HOEY
Morten Ørum MADSEN
Grťgory HAVRET
10 06:35
Benjamin HEBERT
10 06:45
Magnus A CARLSSON Richard GREEN Edouard ESPANA
10 06:55
10 07:05
10 07:15
10 07:25
Y. E. YANG Alexander LEVY Matteo MANASSERO
10 07:35
10 07:45
10 07:55
French pro leads Byrne 1 to victory in the traditional
curtain-raiser to the US$2.5 million European Tour event
By Sports Reporter
uropean Tour star Romain Wattel led the Byrne 1 team to
victory in the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters Pro-Am yesterday. The 24-year-old French pro led his team featuring
amateurs Steve Caygill, Simon Gabelle and Pierre Jean Paumard to a medal score of -23, which secured victory in the traditional
curtain-raiser to the long-standing Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.
Gary Stal, another young French star, led his NeoCasa 3 team to
second place on -17, with the 22-year-old himself showing the form
that earned him a maiden European Tour victory in Abu Dhabi on
Sunday. Thai pro Kiradech Aphibarnrat, 25, led the ProSports team
to third place.
World No. 2 Henrik Stenson finished sixth with his Turkey team,
which included Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Ahmet Agaoglu, President of the Turkish Golf Federation.
The Pro-Am featured 40 pros, each teamed up with three amateurs that included a range of local and international celebrities.
Title sponsor Commercial Bank fielded seven teams in the event.
Famous footballers featured, with former Scotland striker Andy
Gray playing for the second straight year. Glenn Hoddle, the former
England midfielder and manager, and Andrew Cole, the former Manchester United and England striker, joined Gray in Simon Khan’s team.
Sergio Garcia, the 2014 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters champion, headed a team featuring Andrew Stevens, Advisor to the Board,
Commercial Bank, and Hassan al-Nuaimi, President of the Qatar Golf
Association, while Yasmain al-Sharshani, Qatar’s top female golfer,
played in Thomas Aiken’s group.
Rising golf stars also took part, with YE Yang’s team including
13-year-old Christine Scholten-Kool, who was playing in her third
Commercial Bank Qatar Masters Pro-Am and has been playing golf
at Doha Golf Club since she was six.
Prizes were awarded at a lavish Pro-Am Dinner hosted by The St
Regis Doha, the tournament’s Official Hotel.
Branden GRACE Gary STAL
10 08:05
10 08:15
Moritz LAMPERT Dominic FOOS
Craig LEE Chris DOAK
Mikko ILONEN Thongchai JAIDEE Marcel SIEM
Eduardo DE LA RIVA Jorge CAMPILLO Anthony WALL
Jake ROOS Ali Saleh AL KAABI (AM) Toby TREE
10 10:55
“Normally we get our fair share of
wind here, which is part of the course defence and makes it play better.
“It has been a good hunting ground
for me, with the win and three seconds,
so I guess I’ve figured out a decent way
to play the course. I’ve had some good
scores over the years in windy conditions, so it’s down to how well I can play
here this week.”
World No. 5 Justin Rose admitted
he was still getting to grips with the
Doha Golf Club layout as he prepares to
compete at the Commercial Bank Qatar
Masters for the first time since finishing
16th in 2013.
However, the Englishman said he was
boosted by last week’s 12th-place finish
Player 1
Romain Wattel’s team
win Commercial Bank
Qatar Masters Pro-Am
10 11:05
10 11:15
10 11:25
10 11:35
10 11:45
10 11:55
Shiv KAPUR Byeong-hun AN Josť Mar?a OLAZŇBAL
10 12:05
Kristoffer BROBERG Darren FICHARDT Richie RAMSAY
10 12:15
Robert ROCK Niclas FASTH Matthew BALDWIN
10 12:25
Matt FORD Matthew NIXON Jakub HRINDA (AM)
teammate Stephen Gallacher and 2011
Masters champion Charl Schwartzel,
who finished ninth in Abu Dhabi, a week
after finishing runner-up in the South
African Open. Rose, who was born in
South Africa, even has a family connection to Schwartzel.
“It will be fun. It will be a nice group.
Charl has put in a couple of good weeks in
South Africa and was pretty good again in
Abu Dhabi last week. It’s going to be fun
to be with him.
“His wife is on the bag again and she
is actually my second cousin, believe it
or not. Her father is my mum’s cousin,”
Rose said. “I really enjoy Stephen’s company and he’s a very good wind player, so
I’ll just try to follow his lead.”
The Byrne 1 team featuring French pro Romain Wattel (second
right) won the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters Pro-Am yesterday.
Ernie Els prepares for Commercial Bank Qatar Masters Pro-Am.
Qafco renew sponsorship of Family Zone at Qatar Masters
Football legends Glenn Hoddle (left), Andy Gray (centre) and Andrew
Cole (right) played with English pro Simon Khan at the Pro-Am.
Mevlut Cavusoglu,
Turkey’s Minister
of Foreign Affairs,
narrowly misses a putt
during the Pro-Am.
Abdulla Saleh al-Raisi (left), CEO of Commercial Bank; Hamed al-Marwani (centre), Chief Administration Officer, Qafco; and Hassan al-Nuaimi (right), President
of Qatar Golf Association following the announcement that Qafco has renewed its sponsorship of the Family Zone at Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.
Qatar Fertiliser Company (Qafco) has extended its
partnership with the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters,
Qatar’s flagship golf event. Qafco will again sponsor the
popular Family Zone during the four-day European Tour
event, which tees off at the Doha Golf Club today.
Qafco’s continued sponsorship of the Family Zone on
the lawn beside the clubhouse strengthens the event’s
family offerings, encouraging kids of all ages to have fun
trying out golf and other sports.
Hamed al-Marwani, Chief Administration Officer,
Qafco, and Abdulla Raisi, CEO of Commercial Bank,
signed the new agreement as Qafco extended its first
venture into golf sponsorship.
“We are delighted to be involved with this event,” al-Marwani said. “We have strong roots in Qatar and a long history
of sporting sponsorship here, so it is a sincere partnership
between us and one of the Middle East’s most prestigious
sporting events. This is a tournament not only for golf
enthusiasts but one for families, and our involvement in the
Family Zone aims to expand that reputation even further.”
Abdulla Saleh al-Raisi, CEO of Commercial Bank, added:
“With Qafco supporting the Family Zone at Commercial
Bank Qatar Masters, it really is an event for the whole family and reaches out to a wide audience locally, regionally
and globally. We look forward to working together further
to continue to raise Qatar’s profile on the world’s sporting
stage. These are exciting times for both of us.”
Qafco integrates Corporate Social Responsibility
into all aspects of its operations and is keen to actively
strengthen the relationship between the company and
the community. Qafco assumes significant roles in sponsoring social, cultural, environmental, educational and
sporting events held in Qatar.
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Garcia grouped
with Stenson, Els
for first two rounds
‘I came close to winning a few times, so it was nice to get over the line last year. I have some
good memories here, and hopefully they can inspire me to have another successful week’
Defending Commercial Bank Qatar
Masters champion Sergio Garcia during
a practice round at the Doha Golf Club
yesterday. PICTURE: Jayaram
By Satya Rath
ince 1998, when the first edition
of Qatar Masters was staged at the
Doha Golf Club course, we have
seen 15 different players winning
the title. Just two, Adam Scott and Paul
Lawrie, have won it twice—the Australian
in 2002 and 2008, and the Scot in 1999
and 2012.
But no one has yet managed to win the
event—now in its 18th year and with a
strong title sponsor in Commercial Bank
for 10 years now—twice in a row. And defending champion Sergio Garcia, a regular
at the European Tour event for some years
now, is hoping to break the trend this year.
“I just feel very comfortable here. I came
close to winning a few times, so it was nice
to get over the line last year. I played really
well on the last day to get into the playoff,
then had to play really well all over again
to beat Mikko (Finland’s Mikko Ilonen).
So I have some good memories here, and
hopefully they can inspire me to have another successful week,” the Spaniard said
on the eve of the event, which tees off at
the tricky DGC course today.
Garcia knows it won’t be easy. The
126-man field is tough, with World No.
2 Henrik Stenson, playing the tournament for the 15th straight year, and Justin
Rose, who leapfrogged Garcia to become
World No. 5 on Monday, among the other
hopefuls. There are also four-time Major
winner Ernie Els and 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel in fray. Another
name to watch out for over the next four
days would be Gary Stal, whose sensational come-from-behind victory in Abu
Dhabi last week, where the young Frenchman outlasted Rory McIlroy and Martin
Kaymer, is still fresh in the mind.
However, Doha has always been a happy hunting ground for Garcia. Though he
has won the title only once, he has posted
top-10 finishes in his last four appearances. The 11-time European Tour winner
finished seventh in 2008 and 2009, ninth
in 2011, fifth in 2012 and was runner-up to
Chris Wood in 2013 before finally lifting
the Mother of Pearl Trophy last January
after an epic playoff victory over Ilonen.
“I’ve started my season in Qatar for the
last few years, and I always enjoy coming back. The weather’s usually great,
although it’s normally a bit windy. I actually like the wind, it makes everything
that more challenging, it makes it tougher
to control the ball, and I love such occasions,” said the 35-year-old, who will play
the first two rounds in an all-star group
with Stenson and Els.
Garcia, who first played in this tournament as a 19-year-old in 1999 and missed
the cut, has been coming here every year
since 2007. “Last year was one of my most
consistent ones. I began the year by winning the title here, and it turned out to be
a good season for me. So yes, I would love
to do an encore. You can’t win every week,
but as long as I come away feeling I’ve
given it my best shot, I’m happy. I want
to keep improving and keep getting more
consistent, which I managed last year. If
I can build on last season, I should be in
for another good year,” added Garcia, who
is 77 under par at the Doha course since
2007 with a scoring average of 69.5.
Ilonen, who lost out in sudden-death
to Garcia last year despite birdieing the
first two play-off holes, too counts the
Doha course as one of his happy hunting
grounds. The Finn, who has shot 10 consecutive sub-par rounds on this course,
won two titles in 2014 and arrives here
having finished inside the top 25 in his last
five events.
Some other names who could be in title reckoning this weekend are South Africa’s George Coetzee and South African
Branden Grace.
Coetzee has the game to give a fight
to the big names. He is 31 under par here
in the last two years, finishing in the top
five on both occasions, and picked up his
first European Tour victory last year at the
Joburg Open.
Grace, on the other hand, arrives in Qatar with seven straight top 25 finishes. In
Doha, he has finished among the top 15 in
the last two years.
But the dark horse could be two-time
champion Paul Lawrie, The 46-year-old
Scot, who won here in 1999 and added a
second in 2012, is coming off a top 20 finish in Abu Dhabi.
Lawrie has teed it up at the Qatar Masters on 15 occasions and owns a streak of
nine straight under par rounds.
Doha student set
to make history
By Sports Reporter
Doha College student
will make history
when he tees off in the
star-studded Commercial Bank Qatar Masters at
the Doha Golf Club today.
tall Jakub Hrinda, at 14 years
and 305 days as on today, is the
youngest-ever player to compete in the European Tour event.
He will join the likes of Chinese
prodigies Guan Tianlang (2013
Masters Tournament) and Andy
Zhang (2012 US Open) among
the youngest players to compete
in a European Tour event.
The left-handed Hrinda,
who has a handicap of +2.6,
earned his spot in the 126-man
field by winning this month’s
Qatar Open Amateur Tournament at the same venue, winning by a stroke from Thomas
Strandemo, who plays college
golf in Louisiana.
Hrinda won with an evenpar total of 216 (71-73-72), although the towering Slovakian
admits the biggest prize was a
starting place in the 18th edition of the star-studded Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.
“I’ve been watching the
tournament for a long time and
I really wanted to play in it myself. It was really on my mind
at the Qatar Open and I think
that’s why I got off to a shaky
start on the last day. I gave myself a chance, which is what I
really wanted, and to close it
out was great,” said Hrinda,
who has taken a week off school
to compete in this week’s event.
“It was really exhausting
for me, though, because of all
the mental preparation and so
much stress around it. I was just
really happy to win, so I don’t
think it really sank in right away
that I would be playing here.
Two days later I started thinking about it and now to be here,
with new Titleist balls on the
practice range, it’s just great. It’s
awesome,” the Slovak added.
Hrinda has played most of
his golf at Doha Golf Club with
his father Daniel, who will be
his caddie this week, while his
mother Anna and sister Laila
will provide further family support as the family’s tallest member tackles his biggest test so far.
Although he’ll be by far the
youngest player in a strong
field, he admits he knows
the course as well as any pro,
having played the Peter Harradine-designed layout regularly since his family moved to
Qatar when he was eight.
“I know it inside out. I’ve
played here countless times,
so I think that gives me an
advantage. They really step
up the conditions and speed
of the greens for this tournament and for the Qatar Open,
but I think it only helps to have
greens the quality they are
now,” said Hrinda, who was
born and raised in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.
“Being tall, I hit it a long way
for my age, but I really focus
on trying to make everything
strong, not just one thing. My
ball striking right now is pretty
good, so I’m happy with that.”
However, Hrinda is not setting any unrealistic targets as he
prepares to compete in a tournament headlined by defending
champion Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose,
three of the world’s top six,
as well as South African stars
Ernie Els and Charl Schwartzel.
Like Hrinda, Garcia is also
among the top 20 youngest
players to compete on the European Tour, having made his
debut on the circuit in 1995
at the age of 15 years 46 days.
Hrinda thinks the Spaniard
has a good chance of retaining
his title this week.
“Sergio Garcia always plays
well and Henrik Stenson is always a good player. I’m hoping
Ernie (Els) can play well,” said
Hrinda, who plays his first two
rounds with English duo Matt
Ford and Matthew Nixon.
Hrinda admits that Els, a
four-time Major winner, and
South African compatriot
Louis Oosthuizen—not competing in Doha this year—are
his favourite players due to
their smooth, fluid swings and
relaxed on-course manner.
“My favourite player would
be Louis Oosthuizen. He
didn’t come last year or this
year, but he came two years
ago and many times before. I
would really, really love it if he
came back,” Hrinda said.
“Ernie is back and he’s another favourite of mine. Last
year I followed him. I also got to
talk to him when he was playing
in a Pro-Am. He’s a really nice
guy and he took me to the side
and walked with me for a couple of holes. That was an awesome experience for me.
“I just really like the way they
both play, the way they swing.
They’re really relaxed. I think
that’s the way golf should be
played. It’s just great watching
Louis. Every time, I watch him,
the way he plays, it affects you
… I like everything he does.”
Hrinda speaks about the
world’s top players in reverent tones, and despite appearing calm and composed, even
he can’t hide the fact that he’ll
suffer from nerves as he prepares for his European Tour debut. “There’s only so much you
can do. You can tell yourself to
play your own game, but it really is new territory for me. I’ve
never played with pros before,
at this level, so hopefully I can
get through it somehow, by just
not thinking about it too much.”
Qatari due hope to make the halfway cut
By Sports Reporter
mateurs Saleh al-Kaabi and Ali alSharani, both 20, are again aiming
to become the first-ever Qataris to
make the halfway cut at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, which begins at
the Doha Golf Club today.
Both players are making their third appearance in the US$2.5 million European Tour
event, where the top 65 players plus ties after
tomorrow’s second round will make the cut
and play all four days.
The big-hitting al-Kaabi, competing for
the third straight year, opened with a 78 last
year before bouncing back with a two-underpar 70s, a marked improvement on his debut
when he shot rounds of 81 and 78.
Al-Sharani, the taller of the pair, gave himself a chance of making the cut last year with
a first-round 73, but fell away with an 84 on
the second day. He’s now determined to make
it third time lucky, having first competed in
2012 as a 17-year-old.
“Actually, we’ve trained a lot since last
year. We’ve been practising every day, playing a lot of tournaments, going to the training camp, so hopefully we can make the cut
this year,” al-Bishi said. “Last year I played
good on the first day and shot one over, but
I dropped off in the second round, so hopefully I can do it this year. It means a lot for us
to even be playing here and making the cut
would be a huge achievement.”
Like last year, both players qualified for the
Commercial Bank Qatar Masters by finishing
as the top two local players at the Qatar Open
amateur tournament earlier this month,
which was also held at the Doha Golf Club.
“We both played quite well at the Qatar
Open,” al-Sharani said. “I don’t get nervous
at the Qatar Masters, as I’m used to it by now.
The green speed is okay, although the rough
is a bit high, but it’s fine.”
Mike Elliot, Team Qatar coach, has played
a large part in the players’ development and
believes both of his star pupils have stepped
up their game in the past 12 months.
“We’ve worked on quite a few things since
last year. Their timing’s much better, their
rhythm’s much better and their ball striking’s
a lot better,” said the American, who has formerly worked in the US and Germany.
“Now, it’s just a matter of course management and getting used to the changes because
we only have these conditions twice a year,
during the Qatar Open and the Qatar Masters. The course is in the best condition in
four years, since I’ve been here. It’s phenomenal this year. If they get their course management going and stay concentrated, they
should do really well,” Elliot added.
TWO GOOD: Saleh al-Kaabi (left) and Ali al-Bishi are bidding to become the first Qataris to make the halfway cut at the Commercial Bank Qatar
Masters, which begins at the Doha Golf Club today. Both players are making their third appearance in the US$2.5 million European Tour event.
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