Sharp rise in number of vehicles, licences

QATAR | Page 27
2 – 7, 26, 27
24, 25
1 – 9, 16 – 20
10 – 16
1 – 12
SPORT | Page 11
Qatar and France yesterday signed
a co-operation agreement on sports
in the presence of HE the Minister of
Youth and Sports, Salah bin Ghanem
al-Ali and French Ambassador Eric
Chevallier. In a press conference
held at the Aspire after signing the
agreement, the minister praised the
“great integration between Qatar
and France at both sports and youth
BUSINESS | Results
MPHC posts
QR1.8bn profit
Mesaieed Petrochemical Holding
Company (MPHC) – an umbrella
entity for Q Chem, Q Chem II and
Qatar Vinyl Company (QVC) – has
reported net profit of QR1.8bn in
2014. The board has suggested
110% or QR1.1 cash dividend; which
is equivalent to 77% of the group’s
profits. Revenue stood at QR4.3bn, a
company spokesman said after the
board meeting. Business page 1
HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani with the French team after presenting the trophy to them. France won the
24th Men’s Handball World Championship title after beating Qatar in the final at the Lusail Multipurpose Hall yesterday.
France beat Qatar to
win world handball title
H the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin
Hamad al-Thani yesterday attended the closing ceremony
of the 24th Men’s Handball World
Championship at the Lusail Multipurpose Hall. HH the Deputy Emir
Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad al-Thani
and the Emir’s Personal Representative, HH Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad alThani, and HH Sheikh Abdullah bin
Khalifa al-Thani were also present.
France became the first team in
handball history to win five world
championships when they beat surprise finalists Qatar 25-22.
The win means France’s are now
world, European and Olympic champions, emphasising their current
dominance of the sport.
It was the country’s first world title
since 2011.
The victory should have been far
more comfortable than it was, but a
dogged Qatar side ensured that France
were pushed all the way to the finish
line, ensuring a nervy finish.
French coach, Claude Onesta said
he could not rank the world championships he has won as a coach - three
in total - and said the Qatari team
would be around for some time.
“They didn’t do one outstanding result, they have improved their
performances, they have a lot of fine
players like (Rafael) Capote, he has
shown real qualities and was exceptional,” he said.
Qatar’s coach Valero Rivera said his
team lost the final in the first 15 minutes.
“Today we played 45 minutes at a
high level but the first 15 minutes the
French team played very good and we
showed we are a new team.”
The game ultimately proved one
match too many for the hosts, who,
for the first time in the tournament,
found themselves outclassed for large
parts of the game, particularly in the
first 30 minutes.
However, there was honour in defeat for the Qataris as lesser teams
would have been swept away by
France’s performance.
Instead, a resolute Qatar side even
at one stage in the final 30 minutes
threatened to overturn a six-goal deficit. Sport pages 1, 2, 3, 4
BUSINESS | Company
QNB Group assembly
okays 75% dividend
The QNB Group’s General Assembly
approved the proposed 75%
cash dividend during yesterday’s
Ordinary General Assembly. QNB
Group chairman Ali Shareef alEmadi said the distribution of a
75% cash dividend of the nominal
share value, amounting to QR7.5
per share, aims to maximise
shareholder return “over the longterm”. Business page 12
Latest Figures
Qatar condemns
hostage’s execution
Agreement boost
for sport links
JAPAN | Terrorism
QATAR | Co-operation
Vol. XXXV No. 9621
February 2, 2015
Rabia II 13, 1436 AH
www. 2 Riyals
Sharp rise
in number
of vehicles,
Qatar has expressed its “strong
condemnation and denunciation”
of the execution of the second
Japanese hostage Kenji Goto,
describing it as an act of terrorism.
In a statement issued yesterday,
the Foreign Ministry denounced
the act, announcing “Qatar’s
solidarity with the government and
people of Japan in condemning
this criminal act”. The statement
reiterated Qatar’s firm position,
“rejecting violence in all its forms
and manifestation whatever its
source and motivation, stressing
that such a crime violates all ethical
and humanitarian principles and
values”. The statement expressed
“condolences and sympathy of
the State of Qatar to the friendly
government of Japan and the
families of the victims who
succumbed due to this heinous
crime”. Page 13
he R
bl TA 978
A 1
Q since
Ashghal keeps up
high safety standard
on Dukhan project
supreme at
Qatar players celebrate after finishing runners-up in the 24th Men’s Handball World Championship with Qatar 2015
Organising Committee chairman HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad al-Thani, the International Handball Federation president Dr
Hassan Moustafa, Qatar 2015 Organising Committee vice president and Qatar Handball Association president Ahmad
al-Shaabi and Olympic Council of Asia president Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah yesterday. PICTURE: Mamdouh
While a total of 9,306 driving
licences were issued in November,
the figure shot up to 10,756 in
here has been a steep increase
in the number of vehicle registrations and driving licences
issued in Qatar in December last year
compared to the previous month,
according to figures released by the
Ministry of Development Planning
and Statistics yesterday
Both the number of new driving
licences and vehicles saw an increase
of more than 15% in December compared to November.
While there was an increase of
23.6% in the number of new licences
given to nationals, the rise among
expatriates was 15.1%. While a total
of 9,306 licences were issued in November, the figure shot up to 10,756
in December.
November saw 501 Qataris and
8,805 expatriates receiving driving
licences. The numbers went up to 619
and 10,137 respectively in December.
Similarly, there was an increase
in vehicle registration in December
compared to November. While there
were 11,743 registrations in December there were only 10,212 registrations in November. In December
more than 7,500 private vehicles and
more than 3,000 public vehicles were
There was a 15% rise in the number
of passenger arrivals at Hamad International Airport (HIA) in December compared to the previous month,
according to the ministry. The rise in
departures was close to 23%.
A total of 3,980 violations were recorded at the country's municipalities in December. Among them, 1,181
pertained to cleaning complaints and
1,160 to food-related issues.
There was a fall of 16.3% in the
generation of electricity and a 2.2%
fall in water in December compared
to the previous month.
There was a slight slump of 0.3%
in the consumer price index (CPI) of
December in comparison with November. While the CPI amounted to
118.6 points in December, in the previous month it was 119.
There was a 11.2% fall in the value
of shares traded in December compared to November .
According to the figures released
by the ministry, Japan was the top-
most destination for Qatari exports. Japan imported goods worth
QR8.7bn from Qatar. South Korea
(QR6.9bn) and India (QR4.4bn) came
second and third.
As far as imports were concerned,
the US topped with QR1.3bn. China
(QR1.2bn) and Germany (QR834mn)
were second and third.
Meanwhile, the country's population has fallen for the second successive month as per the records released by the ministry.
Compared to the figures on December 31, there was a fall of almost
11,000 in the latest count.
While on December 31, there were
2,235,431 people in the country, in
the figures released yesterday the total population fell to 2,224,583.
It is interesting to note there is a
marginal rise of over 7,000 in the
number of males this month compared to the last month's figures.
While there were 1,686,228 men on
December 31, the figure has shot up
to 1,693,455 now. The total population of December was 2,235,431,
which was lower than the previous
month's total of 2,269,672.
The number of women fell by
18,000 now compared to December 31 figures. There were 549,203
females in the country at the end of
2014. As per the latest figures, there
are only 531,128 females now. It is
presumed that a number of Qatari
families are apparently away from
the country owing to the spring vacation for schools. That would effectively mean the ongoing trend of
the migration of the expatriate workforce to the country continued even
in January as is understood from the
latest number of males.
The country's all-time highest
population was recorded on November 30, when there were 2,269,672
people in Qatar, according to the
ministry's statistics. While there
were 1,697,727 males, there were
571,945 females on that date.
The total population, as per the
ministry statistics, contained only
those who are within the country and
not those who are residents, but are
outside the country on the last day of
every month.
However, it is expected that the
population will shoot up to all-time
high in the next two months, as was
seen in the months of February and
March in the previous years.
Jazeera welcomes Greste release but ‘will not rest’ until others are freed
l Jazeera yesterday demanded the
release of its remaining two jailed
journalists after Peter Greste, an
Australian working for the Doha-based
TV network, was freed after 400 days in
detention by Egyptian authorities.
Doha-based Al Jazeera said the campaign to free its journalists in Egypt
would not end until all three had been
“Peter Greste is on his way out of the
country after 400 days in detention, but
Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy
remain behind bars. All three have to be
exonerated, and the convictions against
its other journalists tried in absentia
also have to be lifted” the network said
in a release.
Mostefa Souag, the acting director
general of Al Jazeera Media Network,
said: “We’re pleased for Peter and his
family that they are to be reunited. It has
been an incredible and unjustifiable ordeal for them, and they have coped with
incredible dignity. Peter’s integrity is
not just intact, but has been further enhanced by the fortitude and sacrifice he
has shown for his profession of informing the public.
“We will not rest until Baher and
Mohamed also regain their freedom.
The Egyptian authorities have it in their
power to finish this properly today, and
that is exactly what they must do.”
A security official said Fahmy was
expected to be released from Cairo’s
Tora prison within days. His fiancee said she hoped he would be free
soon and deported to Canada. “His
deportation is in its final stages. We
are hopeful,” Marwa Omara told
Canada’s foreign ministry welcomed
what it called positive developments.
“We remain very hopeful that Mr Fahmy’s case will be resolved shortly,” it
said in a statement.
The Egyptian interior ministry said
on its Facebook page that President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi released Greste under
a decree issued in November authorising the president to approve the deportation of foreign prisoners.
The journalists say they were doing
their jobs when detained in December
2013. They were charged with helping “a
terrorist group”.
The arrest of the three journalists
sparked a global outcry, with Washington and the United Nations leading calls
for their release.
Greste flew to Larnaca in Cyprus accompanied by his brother Michael after
being released from Cairo’s Tora prison
Australian Foreign Minister Julie
Bishop told reporters in Sydney she had
spoken to Greste after his release and
that he had said “he was immensely relieved... and desperate to come home”.
The family of Baher Mohamed pinned
their hopes for his release on a presidential pardon or his acquittal on appeal.
“I congratulate Greste’s family on his
release but I wish my brother Baher was
with him,” said his brother Assem.
Amnesty International said Greste’s release should not overshadow the ongoing
imprisonment of Fahmy and Mohamed.
“All three men are facing trumped
up charges and were forced to endure a
farcical trial marred by irregularities,”
said Amnesty’s Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.
Page 7
A picture taken on June 23, 2014 at the police institute near Cairo’s Tora prison,
shows Al Jazeera news channel’s Australian journalist Peter Greste, left, and his
colleagues, Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fahmy, centre, and Egyptian Baher
Mohamed, listening to the verdict inside the defendants’ cage during their trial.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
Al-Mahmoud meets Croatian deputy prime minister
HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Ahmed bin Abdullah bin Zaid al-Mahmoud holding talks with
Croatia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Ranko Ostojic in Doha yesterday. Talks covered bilateral relations and ways
of enhancing them. The meeting was attended by Croatia’s Ambassador to Qatar Tomislav Bosnjak and officials at the Cabinet General
Qatari trade delegation
concludes visit to US
New York
he Qatari delegation
headed by HE Sheikh
Mohamed bin Hamad alThani concluded its visit to the
United States yesterday.
The delegation, which included HE the Minister of Finance Ali
Sherif al-Emadi, HE the Governor of the Central Bank of Qatar
Sheikh Abdulla bin Saoud alThani and CEO of Qatar Investment Authority Sheikh Abdullah
bin Mohamed bin Saud al-Thani.
The delegation visited Wall
Street and rang Nasdaq’s opening bell.
They also met a number of
ranking officials from Nasdaq.
They discussed the scope of cooperation between Nasdaq and
Qatar Exchange.
The delegation visited Wall
Street and rang Nasdaq’s
opening bell
The delegation then held a
meeting with Business Council
for International Understanding to discuss economic co-
operation between the State of
Qatar and the United States of
They also exchanged views
on how to increase trade and investment by both countries. The
delegation also met with Mayor
of New York Michael Bloomberg.
The delegation visited the
United States last week to attend the US-Qatar Forum for
Investment which was held in
Washington and attended by
200 personalities representing ranking officials in the US
administration, investors and
Armed forces
Qatar Armed Forces General
Command has announced that
the marine shooting range
(O.B.D-28), located east of
Mesaieed near Fasht Al-Hadid,
will be active until 10 February
and from 2 February until 30
April from 6am to 5pm every day.
The Qatari Armed Forces General
Command has advised those
who frequent the area to take
Training course for
media personnel
Qatar News Agency (QNA) is
organising a training course
entitled “Introduction to Media
Law and Copyrights” today.
The course is part of a series
organised by QNA Department
of Foreign Media Affairs for the
training of Qatari cadres working
in the media field.
QGBC annual
to take place
on April 27-28
he Qatar Green Building
Council (QGBC), a member of Qatar Foundation
(QF), will hold its inaugural annual conference on April 27 and
28 at the Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC).
The conference will take a
lead in the debate on sustainability challenges and highlight
research and industry best practice. It will help the construction
and sustainable development
sector to deliver green building solutions to environmental
challenges in Qatar, the region
and the world.
The conference aims to generate innovative and practical
solutions to facilitate the delivery of the Qatar National Vision
2030 and will be themed around
the most pressing sustainability
needs of Qatar and the region.
Participating academics and
industry practitioners will share
their expertise in discussions
around four key themes of relevance to Qatar and the Gulf region.
Upcoming needs for growing
metropolitan areas will be addressed by the ‘Future Sustainable
Cities’ sessions, and maximising
use of existing buildings under the
‘Retrofitting Doha’ theme. Cutting edge sustainable technology
will be the focus of discussion in
the ‘Passivhaus in the Mena region’ session, with ‘Carbon Footprint and Qatar’s National Vision’
presenting a valuable examination
of tackling emissions.
Saad al-Muhannadi, president, Qatar Foundation, highlighted QF’s role in fostering
sustainability in Qatar, by saying: “The Qatar Green Building
Conference will set the benchmark for green building and sustainability research in Qatar and
the region, which is an addition
to Qatar Foundation’s thorough
efforts to help the nation meet
its sustainability challenges. I
look forward to the conference’s
productive outcomes providing
solutions to the environmental
challenges of the years ahead.”
Meshal al-Shamari, QGBC
director, said: “QGBC provides
leadership and encourages collaboration to promote environmentally sustainable practices
for green building design and
development in Qatar. The Qatar
Green Building Conference will
bring together leading academics, researchers and green building practitioners to conduct
in-depth studies of the green
building and sustainability sector in Qatar and beyond.”
Academic researchers and
industry practitioners, including property consultants, urban
planners and landscape architects from Qatar and beyond are
encouraged to attend the conference which will be addressed
by leading national and international sustainability and green
buildings experts.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
RasGas to team up with
Aspire for Sport Day
Bleating beauty!
A sheep with five horns was recently spotted at the Al-Mazrouah Yard, which is a market for local
produce. The ram was offered for a price of QR6,000, which is more than four times the normal
price of such an animal, Arabic daily Arrayah said.
s Qatar prepares for this
year’s National Sport Day
(NSD), RasGas is partnering for the fourth consecutive
year with Aspire Zone Foundation (AZF) to host its annual
National Sport Day celebration
at Aspire’s Warm-Up Track and
“National Sport Day is an opportunity for Qatar’s communities to come together under the
uniting banner of sports. RasGas
has been amongst the first companies to make full use of this
special national holiday to foster
a sporty spirit amongst our employees and we are very pleased
to be hosting our events for the
fourth time at Aspire’s WarmUp Track and Field,” said Ali Zayed al-Marri, RasGas Public Affairs Manager.
Bringing together RasGas employees and their families for a
fun-filled day of activities under
the theme of “Love Sport”, the
2015 event is expected to attract
more than 3,500 participants
and promises to cater for all ages
and sport abilities.
Activities will range from
team tournaments for popular
sports such as football, basketball and cricket as well as indi-
A group of participants from RasGas NSD activities hosted at Aspire’s warm-up track & field last year.
vidual sports activities such as
running, spinning and penalty
kicking. Also on the programme
are sports entertainers performing live acrobatic shows.
“We are proud to partner
with RasGas and be their choice
for the fourth consecutive year
hosting their unique Sport Day
activities dedicated to its staff
and families, ” commented
Nasser Abdullah al-Hajri, AZF
Acting Marketing and Communication Director.
The NSD celebration is part
of the company’s CSR programme’s focus on promoting
an active and healthy lifestyle
among employees and the larger
RasGas is a long-term supporter for AZF’s Step Into Health
programme as well as regular
host to company-wide health
awareness initiatives such as
Healthy Food Week and blood
donation drives.
ABP hosts reception to recognise volunteers
Wakra Hospital to have 500 more beds by 2017
he Al Wakra Hospital will
have 500 more beds by the
middle of 2017, according to
reports in local Arabic dailies.
Quoting sources in the
Supreme Council of Health,
the papers said the hospital
is expected to have 90 more
beds this year itself as part
of an expansion project.
The project includes new
annexe buildings that will
house an additional 500 beds
with all the necessary accompanying medical services.
The project is expected to be
completed in mid 2017. The
development works of the area
surrounding the hospital have
been completed.
Council of Health is expected
to open soon the new Medical
Commission for expatriates in Ras
Laffan area. A modern health centre in Al Khor is also being readied
for opening this year.
atar Foundation’s Academic Bridge Programme
(ABP) recently hosted
a reception to recognise ABP
student volunteers for their efforts in the Adult Arabic Literacy
Programme of Reach Out To Asia
More than 30 people attended
the reception that was held in
the Liberal Arts & Sciences (LAS)
at the Education City. Special
guests in attendance included
Issa al-Mannai, director, Rota,
Hamad al-Baker, director of
Public Relations and Communications for Qatar Petroleum,
Mohamed al-Hajj, representative of Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zeid
Al-Mahmoud Islamic & Cultural
Centre and Rasmeya Aljamali,
Rota community development
ABP student volunteers were
recognised by al-Mannai for their
dedication working with a group
of service employees to complete
More than 30 people
attended the reception
that was held in the Liberal
Arts & Sciences (LAS) at the
Education City
their Arabic language training, as
part of Rota’s Adult Arabic Lit-
eracy Course. The adult service
employees who successfully finished the Rota programme were
also awarded certificates for their
The Rota Adult Arabic Literacy Course is done in collaboration with Qatar Petroleum,
Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zeid AlMahmoud Islamic & Cultural
Centre and the Academic Bridge
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
Qatar Steel extends support
for Ice Hockey tournament
atar Steel (QS) recently signed
an agreement with Qatar Winter Sports Committee for organising the QS Ice Hockey Cup Tournament, to be held at Villaggio in Doha,
from February 7-10.
Ahmed Abdul Aziz al-Ansari, Qatar
Steel’s commercial division manager,
signed the agreement along with Adel
al-Mutlaq, general secretary of Qatar
Winter Sports.
Al-Ansari expressed his delight in
signing the agreement for organising
QS 2015 Ice Hockey Cup tournament.
“We are pleased that we, under the
directives of Ali bin Hassan al-Muraikhi, managing director and general
manager of Qatar Steel, are going to
hold this tournament in co-operation
with Qatar Winter Sports Committee,
the organiser of this event. We are also
excited that this tournament coincides
with the country’s Sports Day celebrations.”
Al-Mutlaq, praised Qatar Steel’s
decision to hold the Ice Hockey tournament and also extended his appreciation to Qatar Steel’s management
for their positive and enthusiastic approach. He also conveyed his wishes
for the success of the tournament.
Qatar Steel has extended it support
Ahmed Abdul Aziz al-Ansari and Adel al-Mutlaq at the signing of the agreement.
for sports in general, owing to the importance and role it plays in the lives of
individuals and communities.
Through this initiative, the com-
pany has reassured its support to most
community events and co-operation in
future with the officials of sports authorities.
Safari outlets launch new promo
he QR10/20/30 promotion will start today at Safari
outlets across the country.
The promotion has been planned with lots of surprising offers and is available for a wide range of products. A
range of choices is available under different categories for the
customers, said a Safari Group spokesman.
Along with this promotion, many other special offers on
high priced items are also going on, he said while adding that
“on the spot” and surprise promotions will also be held.
Director and General Manager of Safari Group of Companies Zainul Abideen, said: “Excellent quality at affordable
prices is our dictum and we follow it to the core. This has
made countless customers remaining loyal to Safari outlets
and this motivates us to strive for better service to our customers.”
Over and above QR10/20/30 promotions, other offers are
also there for a host of household items, footwear as well as
wide range of luggage, among others.
Musical night is being organised for three nights at the
Food Court, Safari Mall, Abu Hamour starting from tomorrow. The programme commences from 6pm onwards and
multifaceted singers will be showcasing their talents. Entry
is free.
Another tempting promotion is also currently on at Safari
Group of Companies. It offers five kilograms of gold to the
winners and is valid until March 7.
During the promotion period, customers who purchase
goods worth QR50 and above, will be eligible to get a raffle
coupon to participate in the mega draw and win five kilograms of gold.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
All-premium class Airbus A319
to join QA corporate jet fleet
atar Airways announced yesterday
that it will add an
all-Premium Class Airbus
A319 to its growing corporate jet fleet to meet the
rising demand for charter
luxury group and incentive
The Premium One A319,
which is identical to the Qatar Airways Business One
product operating on a daily
basis between Doha and
London Heathrow, will be
available for charter starting
17 February through the airline’s corporate jet division,
Qatar Executive.
The Airbus A319 can
be booked to destinations
around the globe with completely customised schedules, allowing for more
flexibility and the option
to reach remote or multiple locations in the shortest
amount of time in ultimate
Passengers are offered an
exclusive private jet experience, award-winning service, spacious and bespoke
cabins, and world-class
The 40-seat Premium
One aircraft, which has a
single aisle, a 2-2 seating
configuration, and a range
of up to 3,700 nm/6,850 km,
can easily connect destinations throughout the Middle
East with major cities in Europe, Africa and South Asia.
The seats recline and
convert into 79-inch long
fully-flat beds, which come
with elegant Italian Frette
linen and duvets. Each seat
further provides generous
space for work or rest, and
comes equipped with power
outlets, WI-FI, GSM services, USB port, audio sockets and LED lighting.
The inflight Oryx enter-
The interior of Airbus A319.
tainment system features
the same options available on Qatar Airways, over
1,000 choices of movies,
music and games.
Personal entertainment
can be enjoyed with the
latest-generation systems
and noise-cancelling headphones.
The chartered Premium
One service also includes
access to executive airport
facilities and concierge
services in both Doha and
The exclusive Premium
One Airbus A319 will be of
interest to tour operators
and wedding groups, who
can design exclusively tailored and experiential travel
journeys for their guests and
In addition, corporations, business delegations,
musicians or sports teams
Another view of the interior of the jet.
can seamlessly travel and
connect their journeys with
maximum comfort.
Qatar Airways Group
Chief Executive, Akbar alBaker, said: “The demand
for charter services continues to grow and therefore we
have introduced this Premium One A319 to our Qatar
Executive fleet to further
strengthen the proposition
of Qatar Executive, which
is providing convenience
and choice in the category of
private travel.”
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
Ooredoo offers free
unlimited data today
o celebrate the fantastic success of the
Qatar team at the
24th Men’s Handball World
Championship, Ooredoo has
announced that all Shahry
Smart and Hala Smart pack
customers will receive free
unlimited data from 6am until 11.59pm today.
The offer has been designed to enable fans to share
their photos and comments
across social media, following last night’s exciting final
against France.
Ooredoo has applauded
the incredible performance of the Qatar national
team which made history by
surpassing all expectations
with the best performance
ever by a team from Asia.
Qatar 2015, which began
on January 15, has attracted
the attention of sport fans
from around the world and
Ooredoo has been proud to
be a prestige partner.
Fatima Sultan al-Kuwari,
Director, Community and
Public Relations, Ooredoo,
said: “Sport has the ability to bring the community
together, and this is what
Qatar 2015 has done. Hosting this Championship is
important for the country
to show the world that we
can put on a great event,
and Ooredoo is pleased and
proud to have supported
Qatar 2015 and our national
team every step of the way.”
Ooredoo was a Prestige
Partner for the event and has
shown its support for the national team via advertising in
Ooredoo Retail Shops, Self
Service Machines and online.
Accessibility key theme
of mobile app challenge
oredoo and the Applied Innovation Institute have announced the regional final
winners of the second Arab Mobile
App Challenge (AMAC) at an event
held in Dubai recently.
Launched in 2013, the Arab Mobile App Challenge enables teams
of up to six members under the
age of 35 to develop mobile apps
designed to make an impact in the
education, health, entertainment
and employability/entrepreneurship sectors.
This year was the first time that
the challenge has been open to
teams from the entire pan-Arab
region, and out of nearly 700 applications - up from 150 applications
last year - 22 teams from 12 Arab
countries were selected to participate at the regional final competition held last month.
The programme aims to introduce and educate young Arabs about
entrepreneurship and the path to
launching a start-up, as well as enhancing their business skills and design abilities.
Speaking as one of the lead sponsors, Dr Nasser Marafih, Group CEO,
Ooredoo said: “What I find most impressive about this year’s regional finalists is that the vast majority of the
applications are all about enriching
people’s lives.”
“Ooredoo began its support for the
Arab Mobile App Challenge because
we believe in helping young people to
realise their potential, improve their
own careers and give back to their
communities, which is exactly what
this pan-Arab edition of the challenge has enabled these young people
to do. I look forward to seeing their
ideas at the 2015 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and wish them all
the very best of luck.”
During the daylong event, participants took part in panel discussions
on entrepreneurship and start-ups,
as well learning about the process for
launching a new app. Teams then had
five minutes to pitch their ideas to a
panel of eco-system providers, technology experts, educationalists and
accessibility specialists.
Four teams took home a financial
prize aimed to set their ideas in motion, while seven teams advanced to
compete at the Global Mobile Challenge, which will be held during the
2015 Mobile World Conference in
A hardware kit that enables kids
and non-technical people invent
technology called “Snowball” took
the first place, winning a prize of
Second place went to “Supermama,” a multiplatform application
that aims to strengthen the special
connection between mothers and
their babies, by providing mothers
with personalised content about the
growth and health of their babies.
The Supermama team, from Algeria,
was awarded $15,000.
Accessibility was a big theme at
this year’s challenge with a number
of special awards going to applications that support people with
special needs. “Learn with Teacher
May,” an educational app for people
with learning disabilities developed
in Saudi Arabia, won the Pearson
Educational Award, while the Mada
Accessibility Award presented by
the Qatar Assistive Technology Centre, went to “Mimix”, an innovative
app that translates speech and typing into animated sign language on a
Ideas advancing to compete on
a global stage at the Mobile World
Congress in Barcelona included
“Messo,” a memory-capturing tool
from Qatar; and “Atahub” from Kuwait, an online hub for volunteer
work and community involvement.
First prize winners at the award ceremony.
Participants attend a session at the AMAC.
Other successful apps included “Hero from the Past” from
Tunisia, an educational 3D game
and “Hadzup,” a high priority
notification platform from Lebanon.
At the end of the second Re-
gional Final for the Arab Mobile
Challenge, Dr Paris Del’etraz of the
Applied Innovation Institute said:
“AMAC has now concluded its
second year of bringing a unique
entrepreneurial mindset and
hope to hundreds of young people
across the Middle East, nothing is
more gratifying than this.”
Ooredoo supports a rich portfolio of youth entrepreneurial initiatives across its footprint, and
is a founding partner of the Arab
Mobile App Challenge.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
Greste stands behind bars during his trial in Cairo in this June 1, 2014 file photo.
Egypt deports jailed
Al Jazeera journalist
Al Jazeera welcomes Egypt’s
decision and expresses hope that
its other two journalists will be
gypt deported Al Jazeera reporter
Peter Greste to his native Australia yesterday after holding him
for more than 400 days despite global
Greste departed on a flight to Larnaca, Cyprus soon after his release
from Cairo’s Tora prison, interior ministry and airport officials said.
The Al Jazeera English reporter
was detained along with two colleagues, Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy and an Egyptian
producer, Baher Mohamed, in December 2013 and charged with aiding the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood movement.
The Qatar-based channel welcomed
Egypt’s decision and expressed hope
that its other two journalists would be
“We’re pleased for Peter and his
family that they are to be reunited,”
Mostefa Souag, acting director general
of Al Jazeera Media Network, said in a
statement for the pan-Arab television
“We will not rest until Baher and
Mohamed also regain their freedom,”
he said.
Fahmy’s relatives also expect him to
be deported under a decree passed by
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi that allows for the transfer of foreigners on
trial. But it was not immediately clear
when he would be released.
The arrest of the three reporters set
off a global outcry, with Washington
and the United Nations leading calls for
their release.
Australia and Canada have piled
pressure on Egypt to release the two
and Sisi had repeatedly said he regretted they had not been deported soon
after their arrest.
Their high-profile trial, in which
Greste and Fahmy were sentenced to
seven years in prison and Mohamed to
10, proved a public relations nightmare
for Sisi, who has cracked down on Islamists since toppling president Mohamed Mursi in July 2013.
The verdict was overturned and a
court in January ordered a retrial for the
three journalists.
“There is a presidential decision to
deport Peter Greste to Australia,” an
interior ministry official told AFP yesterday, minutes before Greste departed
from Cairo airport.
Greste and Fahmy are eligible for deportation under a recent law that stipulates their trial in their home countries.
There is no prospect that Greste or
Fahmy would face trials in their home
countries and Sisi’s decree appears to
have been formulated in a way that allows Egypt’s authorities to save face.
Rights group Amnesty International
said Greste’s release should not overshadow the ongoing imprisonment of
Fahmy and Mohamed.
The two “must not be forgotten as their
colleague Peter Greste is deported from
Egypt”, the group said in a statement.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
Saudi frees
activist close
to blogger:
woman who co-founded
the Saudi Liberal Network Internet discussion group with blogging activist
Raef Badawi has been freed after
about three months in prison, her
daughter said yesterday.
Suad al-Shammari had spent
around 90 days at a women’s
prison in Jeddah, her daughter
Sarah al-Rimaly told AFP.
“She’s released now, thanks be
to God,” Rimaly said.
She added that her mother was
freed three days ago after signing
a pledge “to reduce her activities”.
She was arrested in late October for insulting Islam, activists
said at the time.
Shammari, who had posted
comments on Twitter about religious leaders, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Rimaly said her mother is fine
but has been “suffering from a
lack of nutrients” because she
depends on a special diet.
“She’s recovering now,” her
daughter said.
Saudi Arabia’s new King Salman late on Thursday issued an
amnesty for some prisoners, but
Rimaly said her mother’s release
was unconnected to this.
Rimaly added that she does not
think the amnesty will cover Badawi, who is serving a 10-year jail
sentence for insulting Islam.
He was also ordered to receive
1,000 lashes.
Badawi, 31, received the first 50
lashes of his sentence publicly in
Jeddah on January 9.
Subsequent rounds of flogging
were postponed for the following
two weeks on medical grounds.
A session last Friday was also
deferred, said his wife Ensaf
Haidar, adding that the reason
was not clear.
Speaking to reporters and lawmakers in Canada, where she has
sought asylum with their three
children, she said on Thursday
that Badawi’s health is “bad and
it’s getting worse”.
Shammari has said the charges
against Badawi were levelled after
the Saudi Liberal Network criticised clerics and the kingdom’s
religious police.
Badawi was arrested in June
2012 under cybercrime provisions.
A court in Jeddah sentenced
him the following year to seven
years in jail and 600 lashes for
insulting Islam and setting up the
liberal network.
A judge ordered the website
An appeals court later overturned the original verdict, sending
the case back for a retrial at which a
more severe sentence was imposed.
zSaudi Arabia yesterday beheaded a convicted murderer.
Abdelrahman al-Jahni, a Saudi,
was convicted of shooting another man dead during a dispute, the
interior ministry said in a statement carried by the official Saudi
Press Agency.
The sentence was carried out in
the holy city of Madinah.
Jail for
Kuwait City
Army and police officers loyal to the Houthi movement shout slogans during a gathering in Sanaa yesterday.
Houthis set Yemen
solution deadline
Yemen’s powerful Houthi
rebels give the country’s
factions three days to fill the
political void
he Houthi militia yesterday set a three-day
deadline for political
parties to resolve the power
vacuum in Yemen since the
president and prime minister
offered to resign last month.
The Houthis and their allies
urged parties “to reach a solution and fill the vacuum” within
three days or “the revolutionary
leadership” would “take care of
the situation of the state”.
No measures were specified.
The deadline was set in a
statement issued at the end of
a three-day meeting in a Sanaa
sports hall attended by the
party of ousted president Ali
Abdullah Saleh but boycotted
by Yemen’s other major political movements.
The announcement was
loudly applauded by thousands
who took part in the forum, including tribal chiefs and officers in military uniform.
The Shia militia, which overran Sanaa in September, seized
the presidential palace and key
government buildings on January 20, plunging the country
deeper into crisis and prompt-
ing President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and his premier to
tender their resignations.
The Houthis have been
holding talks with major political factions trying to agree on a
way out of the standoff.
Talks have been revolving
around either persuading Hadi
to rescind his resignation or to
form a presidential council to
run the country for an interim
But no deal has been reached.
Opponents have staged
demonstrations against the
Houthis in several cities under
the slogan: “Revolt until the
overthrow of the coup” forces.
UN envoy Jamal Benomar
has said that Hadi and his cabi-
net are effectively under house
arrest, warning that violence
could erupt at any time.
The crisis has raised fears
that impoverished Yemen
could become a failed state.
In unrest yesterday, gunmen on a motorbike shot dead
a Houthi official, Abu Abdullah al-Ayyani, in Ibb in central
Yemen, a security source said.
In neighbouring Baida province, two soldiers were killed in
an ambush and two assailants
died in a firefight, a military
source said.
And a local official said an
Al Qaeda leader named Abu
Mussab died in a clash between
the militant network and soldiers.
uwait’s lower court yesterday sentenced a stateless activist to five years
in jail for allegedly insulting the
emir, his lawyer said.
Khaled al-Kafeefa told AFP
that defendant Abdullah al-Enezi, who has apparently fled the
country, was not present in court
for the ruling.
Enezi was arrested in February last year for taking part in a
gathering for stateless people,
locally known as bidoons, to demand Kuwaiti citizenship and
charged with insulting the emir.
Criticising the emir in Kuwait
is considered a state security offence, with those found guilty
faced with up to five years behind
Enezi was detained for three
months before being released on
a $1,700 bail and banned from
travel, the lawyer said.
But Kafeefa said he has
learned that Enezi had fled Kuwait and sought political asylum
in a Western country.
The court also acquitted 36
bidoons who had been accused
of taking part in an unlicensed
demonstration and assaulting
police, Kafeefa said.
But a lower court on Thursday
sentenced six stateless men to
one year in jail to be followed by
deportation for allegedly taking
part in an unlicensed gathering
and assaulting police.
The court asked five of them to
pay each $700 to suspend the jail
term, but refused to extend the
exemption to the sixth defendant, leading stateless rights activist Abdulhakim al-Fadhli.
All the rulings can be challenged.
US defence firm’s staff
targeted in gun attack
US defence contractor said yesterday that two of its
American employees came
under fire in the latest attack
against Westerners in Saudi
It was the second time in
recent months that staff of
the contractor Vinnell Arabia
have been targeted.
“We can confirm that two
Vinnell Arabia employees
were involved in an incident
on Friday, in which they were
shot at by assailants in the Al
Ahsa province of Saudi Arabia,” the company said in a
statement issued through a
public relations firm.
“Both employees were injured but are in stable condition at a local hospital,” it
Saudi police said earlier
that one American had been
wounded in a shooting in the
eastern region.
Vinnell Arabia provides
training for the Saudi National Guard.
A source close to the incident told AFP that several
rounds were fired at the Vinnell vehicle from a white car.
The Vinnell driver was
hit several times, the source
said, adding he was not
aware of injuries to the second employee who was able
to drive his wounded colleague to hospital.
The incident occurred just
east of a National Guard base
near Hofuf city.
On Friday, a resident of
Al Ahsa said that police had
blocked off the area around a
National Guard facility.
Asked about a possible
motive for the shooting, interior ministry spokesman
General Mansour al-Turki
said: “We’re still waiting for
the results of the investigation.”
The attack is the fourth
against Westerners in the
kingdom since October. It
comes as Saudi Arabia par-
ticipates in US-led air strikes
against the Islamic State
militant group in Syria, raising concerns about possible
In October, one Vinnell
employee was shot dead and
another wounded at a petrol
garage in Riyadh.
The interior ministry
identified the suspected
shooter as a US-born Saudi
who had been fired from
Vinnell Arabia.
“It was not a terroristrelated incident,” Turki said.
Vinnell’s Facebook page
says it is “dedicated to providing the best in military
training, logistics and support” to the Saudi National
Guard, using expertise from
former US military and government personnel.
The Guard has around
200,000 men whose duties
include combating “terrorism”.
The October shooting was
the first deadly attack on
Westerners in Saudi Arabia
since several were killed in
a wave of Al Qaeda violence
between 2003 and 2007.
Among the targets at that
time was a compound housing Vinnell staff.
The latest attack on Vinnell recalls the wounding of
a Dane in November. He was
driving away from his workplace when he was fired on
from another car.
Last month, security officers arrested three Saudis
on suspicion of involvement
in that attack, saying the
suspects acted “in support
of” IS.
A week after the Dane’s
shooting, someone stabbed
and wounded a Canadian at
a mall on Saudi Arabia’s Gulf
Police arrested a Saudi
suspect but Turki said the
incident was not “terrorist”related.
Saudi Arabia blamed
IS-linked suspects for the
November killing of seven
members of the minority
Shia community in Eastern
Khomeini homecoming anniversary
A young girl holds a portrait of Islamic Republic founder Ayatollah Khomeini during a ceremony marking the 36th
anniversary of his return from exile, at Khomeini’s mausoleum in a suburb of Tehran yesterday. Khomeini’s return in 1979
was the trigger for a revolution.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
Jordan vows
all efforts to
save hostage
The government pledges
to “do everything it can
to save the life and secure
the release” of Maaz alKassasbeh
ordan vowed yesterday to
do all it could to save an airman held by the Islamic State
group after the militants killed
a Japanese journalist they had
been holding.
Safi Kassasbeh, the father of
pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh, denounced the killing of Kenji Goto
and said the Jordanian “government is responsible” for his son’s
“Maaz is our son and a son
of the military, and the government is responsible for him,”
said Safi Kassasbeh, who in
previous days had urged authorities to seek his release “at
any price”.
King Abdullah II said “all efforts in Jordan are being exploited to seek the release of the hero
pilot Maaz Kassasbeh”, captured
by IS after his plane crashed in
Syria in December, a royal court
statement said.
The king, who spoke by telephone with Japanese Prime
Minister Shinzo Abe, denounced
Goto’s murder, branding the
killing a “cowardly, criminal act”,
and offered his condolences to
his family.
Earlier government spokesman Mohamed al-Momeni
pledged that Jordan would “do
everything it can to save the life
and secure the release” of Kassasbeh.
IS has been demanding the
release of an Iraqi militant
on death row in Jordan in exchange for Kassasbeh’s life,
and Amman said it would hand
her over if given proof that he is
still alive.
“All state organisations have
been mobilised to secure the
proof of life that we require so
that he can be freed and returned to his home,” Momeni
told the official Petra news
He condemned the militants’
murder of Goto after days of intensive efforts through intermediaries to save him.
“The group has rejected all
attempts made by the concerned authorities to secure
the release of the Japanese hostage,” he said.
“We spared no effort, in coordination with the Japanese
government, to save his life.”
Goto was the second Japanese hostage in a week to be
executed by the militants in
what they have said is punishment for Tokyo’s pledge
of $200mn in aid to countries
affected by their bloody seizure of swathes of Iraq and
Syria last year.
Last week, IS claimed responsibility for beheading Haruna
Yukawa after the expiry of a 72hour ultimatum.
IS wants the release of
Sajida al-Rishawi, who was
sentenced to death for her
role in the 2005 bombings
of three Amman hotels by Al
Qaeda in Iraq which killed 60
Rishawi’s husband was one of
the three suicide bombers, and
the court found that she would
have been a fourth had her detonator not failed.
Safi Kassasbeh said his family
“feels with (Goto’s) family and
his country”.
Jordan is among a number of
Arab and Western countries that
have joined a US-led air campaign against IS.
After First Lieutenant Maaz
al-Kassasbeh’s F-16 crashed
while on a mission against the
militants over northern Syria,
his father had urged IS to consider him a “guest” and cause
him no harm.
Yesterday’s royal court statement also quotes the Japanese
premier as expressing “gratitude and appreciation” for
Amman’s efforts to seek Goto’s
Abe is also quoted as saying
that he hopes Kassasbeh will
return safely to his family and
King Abdullah, meanwhile,
stressed that the international
community “must unite its efforts to combat terrorism and
Relatives of IS captive Maaz al-Kassasbeh hold his portrait as they take part in a rally in his support in his hometown of Karak yesterday.
King facing public pressure
over fate of pilot held by IS
he fate of a Jordanian pilot held by Islamic State
has raised public pressure
on King Abdullah over his country’s role in the US-led military
campaign against the hardline
group in Syria, fuelling the risk
of broader discontent in the US
After his capture in December, militants released pictures
of the young pilot Maaz alKassasbeh being led out of the
water by fighters. His F-16 jet
had smashed onto the banks of
the Euphrates River in Islamic
State’s stronghold in northern
The images of the young,
newly-wed pilot shocked Jordanians and brought home the
stakes of the country’s involve-
Members of security services and soldiers inspect the wreckage of the bus in Damascus yesterday.
Blast hits pilgrim bus in
Damascus, killing nine
blast ripped through a bus carrying Lebanese Shia pilgrims
in Damascus yesterday, killing
at least nine people, a monitor said, in
an attack claimed by Al Qaeda’s Syrian branch.
The Syrian Observatory for Human
Rights said at least 20 people were
wounded in the explosion near Souq
al-Hamadiyeh district, and that six of
the dead were Lebanese citizens.
The Lebanese agency that organised their trip gave the same death toll.
Syrian state media, which reported
a toll of six dead and 19 wounded, said
the blast was caused by an explosive
device rather than by a suicide bomber.
Officials had found and defused a
second bomb that had been placed inside the bus before it detonated, said
the official Sana news agency.
Al Nusra Front, the affiliate of Al
Qaeda in war-ravaged Syria, claimed
responsibility for the attack in a statement posted online.
Observatory director Rami Abdel
Rahman said the bus was carrying
Shia pilgrims on a tour of religious
In Beirut, an official with the Lebanese group that organised the trip said
the passengers on the bus were Lebanese.
“They set out from Beirut at 5.30am
this morning,” Fadi Khaireddin said,
adding that the bus had space for 52
pilgrims, as well as the driver and trip
“The bus is usually full,” he added,
though he could not confirm how
many people were on the trip this
The bus had made its first stop at
the Sayyida Roqaya shrine and was
heading towards the revered Sayyida
Zeinab shrine in southeast Damascus
when the attack occurred.
The agency had been making regular trips to Syria despite the civil war
there, with groups leaving each weekend for a day-long visit to shrines revered by Shias across the border.
Syrian state television showed
footage from the scene of the blast,
with men in military uniforms picking
through the wreckage of the bus.
Its front half was mostly blown off,
leaving only the metal frame, and bags
of belongings were strewn across the
remaining seats.
The channel also showed images from inside a hospital where the
wounded were treated, including a
woman whose black robes had been
lifted up, revealing a blood-soaked
The Lebanese Shia movement Hezbollah denounced the attack.
This “is part of the series of explosions that targets pilgrims in Syria,
civilians in Iraq, believers in Pakistan”
and “proves the barbarity of the terrorists”, it said in a statement.
Parts of Damascus have remained
relatively unscathed by the fighting
raging across much of Syria since an
uprising erupted in March 2011.
But rebels regularly fire rockets into
the capital from rear bases in the surrounding countryside, and the city
has also been hit by bombings.
Despite the conflict, the road from
the Lebanese border to Damascus remains relatively safe, and Lebanese
Shia pilgrims have continued to visit
religious sites in Syria.
More than 200,000 people have
been killed in Syria since the conflict started, and around half of the
country’s population has been displaced.
ment in the war. King Abdullah
has defended the campaign, saying that moderate Muslims need
to combat a group whose ideology and brutality have insulted
the spirit of Islam.
But in Kassasbeh’s hometown
of Karak dozens of young people
protested, chanting anti-coalition slogans and calling on the
king to pull out of the campaign.
“We will not be a sacrificial
cow for America!” angry youths
chanted last month in a city
whose tribes have long been
a bulwark of support for the
Hashemite monarchy.
Although few believe the crisis
will compel Jordan to withdraw
completely from the campaign,
it may take a more low-key role
like in the past, analysts and diplomats say.
King Abdullah’s father, King
Hussein, did not take part in a
US-led military campaign against
former Iraqi dictator Saddam
Hussain after his invasion of Kuwait in 1990, going along with
public opinion which was against
military involvement.
By contrast, his son has taken
a bolder role in this campaign by
sending its jets to Syria - the first
time Jordan took part in bombing missions abroad rather than
just providing intelligence and
logistical support.
King Abdullah’s stance stems
from his concern about the
heightened threat of militants to
his kingdom. Al Qaeda launched
a series of deadly attacks in Jordan including a bombing on a
hotel in Amman in 2005, killing
60 people.
IS has called for the release of
Sajida al-Rishawi, one of the hotel attackers who was convicted
after her explosive belt failed to
detonate. It has said it will spare
Kassasbeh’s life if she is let go
but has not said it will release the
Seeking to rally his people,
King Abdullah has said concern
about the pilot’s plight united
all Jordanians and his capture
proved the war must be won.
But as he comforted Kassasbeh’s
parents and wife in the royal palace, demonstrations took place.
“There is not an hour in the
day that me and the armed forces
are not working on this, our hero
the pilot. Unfortunately the war
today is one within the Islamic
world and it’s our war,” the king
told a group of tribal elders in a
visit 10 days ago.
The case has polarised Jordanians. Nationalists say it is
not time for recriminations and
have called for rallying behind
the throne while others say they
will lay the blame on the country’s political rulers if the pilot
is killed.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
Boko Haram assault
on Maiduguri foiled
igeria’s military repelled
yesterday a Boko Haram
assault on the key northeastern city of Maiduguri, as violence raged across the region just
two weeks before national elections.
The hours-long attack on the
strategic capital of Borno state
was the Islamists’ second attempt to take Maiduguri in a
Separately, a suicide bomber
killed seven people in Potiskum,
the economic capital of neighbouring Yobe state.
With near-relentless violence
plaguing much of the northeast,
and Boko Haram still in control
of large swathes of territory in the
region, fears are mounting over
the prospect of organising polls
on February 14.
The opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), which
claims to be gaining momentum
in the campaign against President Goodluck Jonathan, has
rejected a call by the national security adviser for the vote to be
But hundreds of thousands of
voters in the northeast, an APC
stronghold, could be disenfranchised by the unrest if the election goes ahead in two weeks.
Heavily-armed gunmen attacked the southern edge of
Jonathan: has repeatedly
sought to assure Nigerians that
Boko Haram could be contained.
Maiduguri at roughly 3am (0200
GMT), setting off explosives as
they tried to enter the city, several residents said.
Repelled in the south by troops
backed by vigilantes, they regrouped and tried to take the city
from the east, where they again
met stiff resistance.
As the gun battles raged, “the
whole city (was) in fear”, said
resident Adam Krenuwa, adding that people were afraid of the
consequences should Boko Haram overrun Maiduguri, where
the extremist group was founded
more than a decade ago.
Defence spokesman Chris
Olukolade said the assault was
“contained” and that “the terrorists incurred massive casualties”.
“The situation is calm as mopping up operation in the affected
area is ongoing,” he wrote in a
text message, a claim consistent
with witness reports.
Despite waves of attacks in the
city in recent months, Maiduguri
has become a place of refuge for
people forced to flee other areas in Borno that have been taken
over by the Islamist rebels.
In Potiskum, a bomber blew
himself up shortly after midday
outside the home of Sabo Garbu,
who is running for a seat in the
lower house of parliament on behalf of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
A bus stopped outside his
home and dropped off the attacker before speeding away,
multiple witnesses said.
Seven people died in the blast
and seven others were injured,
said a police officer at the scene
who requested anonymity, in an
account supported by three witnesses.
Garbu and those attending his
campaign meeting reportedly escaped unhurt.
Boko Haram has carried out
dozens of similar bombings
throughout its six-year uprising,
which has claimed more than
13,000 lives.
But it was not immediately
clear why the Islamists would
have specifically targeted Garbu
and it was possible that another
Above: A truck is seen carrying a boat as people flee the violence
from Boko Haram in the northeast of Nigeria.
Left: A girl carries a sleeping baby yesterday at a camp for displaced
people fleeing violence from Gulak, a border town in the north of
Adamawa state, which was attacked in September.
Below: Smoke is seen after a suicide bomb explosion in Gombe
yesterday, a day ahead of President Jonathan’s visit for an election
campaign rally.
group with a separate political
motive was responsible for the
Election officials have insisted
the vote will go ahead on February 14, but conceded that voting
will be impossible across much of
the northeast.
Foreign observers have said
that they will not even attempt
to monitor polling in the region
because of the unrest.
Jonathan, who is facing a stiff
challenge from former military
ruler Muhammadu Buhari, has
repeatedly sought to assure Nigerians that Boko Haram could
be contained.
But those promises have consistently proved hollow, with the
violence having escalated each
year under his watch and his
management of the crisis being
fiercely criticised, including during the presidential campaign.
Buhari, a former army general
who briefly led the country as
a military dictator in the mid1980s, has told voters that he
will be able to curb the bloodshed but has so far not released
a specific plan to deal with Boko
Haram that he would implement
if elected.
Chad forces bomb militant
positions in Nigeria town
Fotokol, Cameroon
hadian aircraft struck
Boko Haram positions
in the Nigerian border
town of Gamboru for a second
straight day yesterday, an AFP
journalist in a neighbouring
town said.
pounded targets in Gamboru
for about two hours, setting
off loud explosions and sending thick clouds of smoke into
the sky, the journalist said from
the town of Fotokol about 500m
The town in far northeastern Nigeria, on the border with
Cameroon, was already strafed
by two Chadian fighter jets on
Boko Haram overran Gamboru several months ago as part
of its campaign to seize territory in the region and create an
Islamic state.
The uprising has become a
regional crisis.
In January, Chad sent a large
contingent of troops to Cameroon to help fight incursions
by Boko Haram into its territory.
Three Chadian soldiers and
123 Boko Haram fighters were
killed in two days of clashes in
northern Cameroon earlier this
week, according to Chad’s military.
A fourth Chadian soldier
succumbed to his injuries in
hospital, according to the military hospital in Chad’s capital
Yesterday, Chadian and
Cameroonian troops travelling
in armoured vehicles equipped
with artillery had massed in Fotokol.
“Through these air strikes we
aim to neutralise the enemy to
pave the way for Gamboru to be
liberated,” a Chadian army officer, who spoke on condition of
anonymity, told AFP.
Kenyatta says ICC case against deputy will fail
Addis Ababa
Kenyatta: African nations ‘have the
right to chart our own course and
correct our mistakes while staying
accountable to our people’.
enya’s President Uhuru
Kenyatta has told fellow
African leaders that the
International Criminal Court
(ICC)’s crimes against humanity trial of his deputy will collapse, and again levelled fierce
criticism against the tribunal.
Speaking at an African Union summit being held in the
Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa,
Kenyatta said that the Haguebased ICC’s case against Kenyan Vice-President William
Ruto was “exhibiting the same
pattern of weakness as the case
against me”.
“We look forward to its conclusion so that my Deputy can
Mali armed groups clash
at village near Timbuktu
alian rebels fought progovernment militia in the
northern village of Kano
overnight, three security sources
said, firing rockets and briefly kidnapping at least 20 people in the
latest spike of violence between
armed groups.
Two years after a French military intervention to drive out Al
Qaeda-linked Islamists from the
desert north, sporadic attacks
carried out by a medley of armed
groups continue.
Fighting between pro-government militia and Tuareg-led
groups seeking greater freedom
for a region they called Azawad
has intensified in recent weeks.
At least nine people were killed
this week in a suicide attack near
the town of Tabankort.
On Saturday, gunmen from the
Tuareg separatist group MNLA
and the MAA group of Malian Arabs encircled the village of Kano
about 60km east of Timbuktu
and exchanged gunfire with
pro-government fighters hiding
there, according to two sources
in the UN peacekeeping mission
who asked not to be named.
They said one person was killed
by a rocket fired from rebel forces.
Separatist forces kidnapped
at least 20 people at Kano, although they were liberated
overnight after local authorities intervened.
The growing violence in the
north of Mali, a former French
colony, threatens to derail peace
talks in neighbouring Algeria
which aims to settle the decadesold question of the political status
of the region.
The UN, which is struggling
to maintain order and carried
out air strikes on rebel fighters
at Tabankort in January, plans to
hold a meeting on northern Mali
in Algiers on February 5-6.
“Malian militia and agents of
the state keep placing land mines
and creating hate and disorder
among the people of Azawad. We
call on the Malian state not to sabotage the Algeria peace process,”
said Attay Ag Abdallah, spokesman for a pro-Azawad coalition
called CMA.
He confirmed the clashes but
did not immediately comment
on the reports of kidnappings or
rocket fire.
join me in focusing exclusively
on transforming Kenya and
serving our people,” he said in
a speech during the two-day
summit, according to a transcript released on Saturday by
his office.
Both Kenyatta and Ruto were
charged by the ICC over the
country’s 2007-08 post-election violence, the worst in its
history since it won independence from Britain in 1963.
The case against Kenyatta
was dropped in December, with
prosecutors complaining that
their case had been undermined
by a lack of co-operation by the
Kenyan government, as well as
the bribing or intimidation of
Kenyatta, however, accused
the ICC of “bringing weak, po-
liticised cases to court”, and said
that “facts and evidence were
completely disregarded”.
The ICC, he said, “poses a
grave risk to peace and security not only in Africa, but to the
whole world” and was in need of
fundamental reform.
Although he stopped short of
directly calling for a mass pullout from the ICC’s founding
Rome Statute, Kenyatta said African nations “have the right to
chart our own course and correct our mistakes while staying
accountable to our people”.
African leaders, he added,
should accelerate the development of an African Court of
Justice and Human Rights, and
he announced that Kenya was
provide $1mn to help set up the
Several believed killed
in Somalia airstrike
everal people are believed
to have been killed in an
airstrike in southern Somalia apparently targetting a
house used by members of the
Al Qaeda-affiliated Shebaab
militia, officials and witnesses
said yesterday.
A Shebaab source confirmed
a missile hit the Islamist-held
stronghold of Dinsoor, 270km
west of the capital Mogadishu,
late on Saturday, but declined
to give details on who was targeted and how many casualties
there were from the attack.
Abdukadir Mohamed Nur, a
Somali government official in
the lower Shabele region, said
several Shebaab militants died.
“Many Shebaab militants
were killed in the airstrike,” he
said, without giving details on
who was targeted and which
country carried out the attack.
A resident in Dinsoor, Ali
Yare, told AFP by telephone
that four civilians may have
been wounded or killed in the
“We heard a very loud explosion and a few minutes later
I saw cars rushing to the scene,
some of them returned with
casualties. Four civilians were
among the casualties,” he said.
In September last year the
Shebaab’s leader, Ahmed Abdi
Godane, was killed in a US airstrike, and Washington carried
out another strike in December, killing who Somali officials
said was a top Shebaab intelligence official.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
Govt agencies to be built
away from flood areas
Kerry fined for not
shovelling by home
Cancer movie wins
top prize at Sundance
American Sniper top box
office hit for third week
Government buildings and federal highways
planned in the future will be constructed safe
distances away from flood areas that are expected
to worsen due to climate change, the White House
has announced. More than $1tn of property and
structures are at risk of inundation from sea level
rise of two feet above current sea level, the White
House said in a statement, and that level could
be reached as early as 2050. The new policy will
require federal agencies to consider whether
future floods could engulf infrastructure and
imagine how high above sea level they should
build, according to a statement outlining the policy.
The policy is open to public comment.
US Secretary of State John Kerry was slapped
with a $50 fine for failing to have a side street
adjoining his Boston home shovelled following
the blizzard that dropped more than 2ft
(60cm) of snow on Massachusetts this week, a
spokesman said on Friday. The fine was issued
on Thursday after a snow-removal company
hired by Kerry and his neighbours in the city’s
historic Beacon Hill neighbourhood saw yellow
tape blocking the sidewalk alongside the home
and thought it was related to security for the top
US diplomat. The tape had been put up to warn
pedestrians of falling ice and snow, said Kerry’s
spokesman, Glen Johnson.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, a moving drama
about a teenager who befriends a classmate
with cancer, won the top prize at the Sundance
Film Festival on Saturday. Sundance winners
regularly go on to critical and awards success
at Hollywood’s main prize-giving ceremonies.
Last year’s top winner, Whiplash, is nominated
for best picture at this year’s Oscars. The US
documentary award meanwhile went to The
Wolfpack, while in the non-US categories the
main prizes went to a Scottish filmmaker and a
movie about Ukraine’s ongoing struggle. Me and
Earl and the Dying Girl by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
took the Grand Jury Prize for a US drama.
Box office juggernaut American Sniper held the
top spot at US and Canadian box offices over the
weekend with $31.9mn in ticket sales, according
to studio estimates. The Oscar-nominated war
film directed by Clint Eastwood and starring
best actor nominee Bradley Cooper as a Navy
Seal sharpshooter easily triumphed over several
new releases as it closed in on a domestic total
of $250mn since opening on Jan. 16. Family film
Paddington finished in second with $8.5mn for
Friday through Sunday. In a virtual tie, it sold just
$5,000 more in tickets than sci-fi time travel tale
Project Almanac, which debuted this weekend
with $8.5mn.
A plane flies past a mural made from more than
500 highway signs in Phoenix, Arizona. The
mural was created by artist Michael Levine and
others in honour of Arizona’s centennial in 2012.
Nasa launches
Tribune News Service
Los Angeles
mid growing concern
about global weather patterns, a rocket roared into
space on Saturday carrying a Nasa
satellite that will give scientists
new tools to forecast weather,
track drought and monitor climate change.
The liftoff from Vandenberg Air
Force Base in Southern California
was the third attempt to launch
the craft. Upper-level wind shear
above the base near Lompoc had
already prompted Nasa to push
Thursday morning’s launch to Friday.
The second postponement
came after inspections revealed
problems with the booster insulation of the United Launch Alliance
Delta II rocket, according to the
Once fully deployed, the 2,000lb craft will aim two microwaveemitting instruments at the Earth’s
surface and collect data that will
enable the agency to determine
the moisture content of the top
two inches of soil planetwide and
to calculate water depth to about
three feet, said Jared Entin, Nasa’s
Washington-based project scientist for the Soil Moisture Active
Passive, or SMAP, mission.
The radiometer and radar will
work in tandem to pick up subtle
changes in a narrow spectrum of
microwave radiation known as the
L-band, as the microwaves scatter
and reflect from the Earth’s surface, said Entin.
“What we’re measuring is the
dip in the energy coming back from
Earth in this spectrum,” Entin said.
“The more the dip, the more water
is blocking the signal.”
The content of water in soil, and
by extension in plants and crops,
has been a somewhat opaque factor in forecast and climate models.
Scientists have mainly relied on a
relatively sparse array of ground
From an altitude of about 426
miles, the satellite will be able to
sweep all of the Earth’s surface,
regardless of cloud cover, in two to
three days, offering a resolution of
about five or six miles.
Scientists worked for several
years to integrate the two instruments into a best-of-both-worlds
view of the Earth’s surface. One
detects a highly accurate signal but
with much lower resolution, while
the other can home in on smaller
patches, but produce a much
“noisier” signal, Entin said.
Although it will take more than a
year to gather, calibrate, verify and
analyse the information in a way
that is suitable for scientific research, Nasa plans to release early
data sets within several months to
forecasters and planners in such
agencies as the UN World Food
Program, US Department of Agriculture and US Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention.
Eventually, such information
will help predict floods, drought,
famine, crop yields, weather and
climate change.
“This water in the soil is a cog
between three important cycles in
the Earth system_the water cycle,
the carbon cycle and the energy
cycle,” Entin said.
Researchers will be able to fill in
many details about the solar energy involved in evaporation and
movement of water in the atmosphere, and about how plants absorb carbon dioxide.
Climate models agree that the
Earth is warming, but they differ
about such fundamental issues as
which areas will get more precipitation and which will be drier, Entin said.
Obama plans
19% tax on
firms’ foreign
A 127-ft (39m) rocket built and flown by United Launch Alliance
blasts off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California on Saturday.
The Delta 2 rocket is carrying a Nasa satellite to measure how
much water is in Earth’s soil, information that will help weather
forecasting and tracking of global climate change.
Romney’s exit spurs
scramble for 2016 nod
By Pat Reber/DPA
ow that Republican Mitt
Romney has decided that
he will not, after all, bid
for his party’s presidential nomination in 2016, what’s next?
It could give a leg-up to the
large field of lesser-known, more
conservative candidates chomping at the bit to run, some pundits
Or it could shore up the moderate Republican support base for
former Florida governor Jeb Bush
- son of one president and brother
to another. Bush has been moving
around the country aggressively
for months with “flashes of readiness,” as the Washington Post’s
Dan Balz put it.
Romney, 67, a multimillionaire, told his financial supporters
and country-wide party leaders in a conference call on Friday
that he had decided it was best “to
give other leaders in the party” a
chance - even though he still felt
he could win the nomination and
was ahead of the next closest contender in the polls.
But he made clear that Bush
was the farthest thing in his mind
when he said “others.”
“I believe that one of our next
generation of Republican leaders, one who may not be as well
known as I am today, one who has
Mitt Romney
not yet taken their message across
the country ... may well emerge
as being better able to defeat the
Democrat nominee,” Romney told
his supporters.
The intraparty elections start
in January 2016 in Iowa. The big
question is which Republican will
be able to take on likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in
the general elections in November
Just last week, a number of Republican hopefuls flocked to a talk
fest at the Iowa Freedom Forum,
including Governors Chris Christie of New Jersey and Scott Walker
of Wisconsin; former governors
Rick Perry of Texas and Mike
Huckabee of Arkansas; Senator
Ted Cruz of Texas.
Notably absent were Bush and
Romney, who met privately elsewhere in the country. Little has
leaked from that meeting. Was it a
wrestling match or a love fest?
Bush on Friday left little doubt
that it was the former, sounding
very presidential in his reaction
posted immediately after Romney’s phone call to supporters.
“Though I’m sure today’s decision was not easy, I know that
Mitt Romney will never stop advocating for renewing America’s
promise through upward mobility,
encouraging free enterprise and
strengthening our national defence,” Bush wrote.
Bush said he hoped Romney’s
“days of serving our nation”
were not over, adding: “Columba
[Bush’s Mexican-born wife] and
I wish Mitt, Ann and their entire
family the very best.”
Of all the hopefuls, Bush, 61,
is the first to take formal steps
toward running, launching in
early January two political action
committees. He is known as an
advocate of education and immigration reforms, and his marriage
to a woman of Hispanic origin is
seen as a plus in the bid for the
growing Latino electorate in the
Yet even his own mother,
former first lady Barbara Bush,
last year considered it absurd that
a third Bush would run for president. If either Clinton or Bush
wins in 2016 and serves a second term, it would mean the two
families would have occupied the
White House for 28 of the 36 years
since 1988.
resident Barack Obama’s
fiscal 2016 budget proposes
a 19% tax on US companies
future foreign earnings and a onetime 14% tax on roughly $2tn of
profits being held offshore, the
White House said yesterday.
Revenues from the one-time
tax would be used to fund infrastructure projects and fill a projected shortfall in the Highway
Trust Fund.
The budget, which is set for release today, is as much a political
document as a fiscal roadmap. It
requires approval from Congress
to take effect and full approval by
the Republican-controlled legislature is very unlikely.
The White House has long been
critical of practices by US companies that it views as avoiding tax
responsibilities at home. The proposals are part of a broader tax reform package that the Obama administration hopes will re-focus
tax advantages toward middleincome Americans.
“This transition tax would
mean that companies have to pay
US tax right now on the $2tn they
already have overseas, rather than
being able to delay paying any US
tax indefinitely,” a White House
official said.
“Unlike a voluntary repatria-
Toddler shoots
dad, pregnant
mother at New
Mexico motel
three-year-old boy shot and wounded his father and pregnant mother
with a 9mm handgun that he pulled
out of the woman’s purse while searching
for an iPad, police in New Mexico said yesterday.
Both parents needed hospital treatment for non-life threatening injuries after
the bullet went through his father’s buttocks and into his mother’s shoulder, Albuquerque Police Department Officer Simon
Drobik said.
The woman is being kept at the hospital
for observation. The man has been released,
said Drobik, who was first to arrive at the
scene of the incident at an Albuquerque motel on Saturday afternoon.
“On the kid’s side, it’s a horrible accident
that happened, but the parents are still culpable,” Drobik said. “They should have secured the gun.”
The couple could face felony negligence
The woman told police she purchased
the gun the day before the incident, Drobik
said. The man is not legally allowed to have a
firearm because he has previously been convicted of a felony crime.
The family, including a two-year-old girl
and the children’s grandmother, had been
living in an America’s Best Value Inn for
about a week with their two pit bulls when
the incident occurred.
tion holiday, which the president
opposes and which would lose
revenue, the president’s proposed
transition tax is a one-time, mandatory tax on previously untaxed
foreign earnings, regardless of
whether the earnings are repatriated.”
Obama’s proposal is aimed at
closing a tax loophole that lets
multinationals avoid paying taxes
on profits earned abroad, or that
they shift into foreign countries
from the US to reduce their US
taxable income.
Corps have been pushing for
years for a tax holiday that would
let them repatriate such earnings at a discounted tax rate. This
was tried in 2004 under former
Republican President George W
Bush. Framed as an economic
stimulus, the Bush measure did
result in a substantial portion of
deferred profits being repatriated,
but studies showed it did little for
the economy.
The Obama budget also proposes that US companies pay a
19% tax on all foreign earnings as
they are earned, while a tax credit
would be issued for foreign taxes
“After this initial payment, foreign earnings could be reinvested
in the US without additional tax,
which would level the playing
field, and encourage firms to create jobs here at home,” the official
The corporate tax rate is 35%
but abundant loopholes allow
many major corporations to avoid
paying altogether.
Republicans have said tax
reform is one area where they
hope to find compromises with
Democrats and the White House,
though Obama’s proposals have
so far received a lukewarm reception.
“We want to work with this
administration to see if we can
find common ground on certain aspects of tax reform and we
want to exhaust that possibility,”
Republican Representative Paul
Ryan, chairman of the House of
Representatives’ Ways and Means
Committee, said on NBC’s Meet
the Press yesterday.
“If and when that possibility is
exhausted, then we will put out
what we think ought to be done.”
Foreign corporate earnings can
be held offshore for years if they
are classified as indefinitely invested abroad.
Research firm Audit Analytics
said in April 2014 that the total of
such earnings exceeded $2.1tn, up
93% from 2008 to 2013.
At that time, General Electric
Co had the most stored abroad,
at $110bn, the research firm said.
Next were Microsoft Corp, with
$76.4bn, Pfizer Inc, with $69bn,
Merck & Co Inc with $57.1bn and
high-tech group Apple Inc with
$54.4bn, it said.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
Bombs at luxury mall
rattle tense Bangkok
wo pipe bombs exploded
outside a luxury shopping mall in Bangkok
yesterday in an attack which
Thai police said was aimed at
raising tension in a city living
under martial law.
The bombs caused little
damage but were the first to
shake the Thai capital since
the military seized power in
May to end months of sometimes deadly street protests.
“There were improvised
explosive devices detonated
by a digital clock,” said Police
Lieutenant General Prawut
Thawonrsiri, a spokesman for
the Royal Thai Police.
The motive behind the attack appeared to be to create
panic rather than take lives,
Prawut said. The police have
yet to identify the bombers, he
added. Two improvised explosive devices were placed behind power transformers on an
elevated walkway linking the
overhead rail line to the upmarket Siam Paragon mall in
central Bangkok, police said.
Political tension in Thailand has been high since a
handpicked by the junta last month
banned former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra from
politics for five years.
The same day, the country’s Attorney General said
she would face charges and a
possible jail sentence for negligence.
The decisions angered supporters of Yingluck and her exiled brother Thaksin, although
there has been little sign of a
return to the street protests
that have dogged Thailand for
the past ten years.
Military repression has
snuffed out dissent since the
coup. The junta last week
summoned senior politicians
critical of the government’s
handling of Yingluck’s cases
for a dressing down.
Ten years of turbulent politics in Thailand have pitted
Yingluck and Thaksin, himself a former prime minister,
and their rural support base
against the Bangkok royalistmilitary establishment that
sees the Shinawatras as a
threat and reviles their populist policies. This was the first
bomb in the Thai capital since
before the coup, Army Lieutenant General Kampanart
Ruddit told reporters.
Sporadic violence during
the six months of street protests that preceded the May 22
coup claimed almost 30 lives,
with scores more injured.
The explosions yesterday
showed that martial law could
not yet be lifted, said Kampanart, who is responsible for
the Bangkok area.
Tough life
search back
on for aircraft
crash victims
he weather improved
yesterday as Indonesian
search and rescue crews
returned to the waters of the Java
Sea to retrieve passengers’ bodies from last month’s AirAsia
plane crash.
Suryadi Supriyadi, operational chief of the National Search
and Rescue Agency, said the
agency’s crews are back at sea
after the search operation was
suspended for two days. The
rest days were ordered after the
crews had spent the previous
month searching for bodies, often in bad weather.
AirAsia flight QZ8510 was flying from Surabaya, Indonesia,
to Singapore on December 28
with 162 people on board when it
crashed into the Java Sea.
“We are still focused on finding the bodies that are still missing,” Supriyadi said.
So far, 76 bodies and body
parts have been found and 64
have been identified.
Navy divers were withdrawn
from the operation on January 27
and are no longer involved, Supriyadi said.
“We are deploying our own
divers as well as (those) from
diving clubs and traditional
ones,” he said.
The search operation is based
in the coastal town of Pangkalan
Bun in Indonesia’s Central Kalimantan province.
The agency is also deploying
a separate crew to scour the waters in the Makassar Straits near
South and West Sulawesi provinces, where plane debris and
several bodies have been found.
“We are conducting the search
for the next seven days,” Supriyadi said.
Local news website
reported that a fisherman yesterday found the remains of a
body believed to be a victim of
the AirAsia crash in the waters
off Majene, located in West Sulawesi province.
There have been six bodies
and body parts found in Majene
believed to be victims of the
crashed plane.
Tourist train catches
fire in Thailand
fire broke out on a luxury
tourist train in Thailand
yesterday as it headed
towards a region known for inspiring the film The Bridge on
the River Kwai, but no one was
injured, police said.
The front locomotive of the
plush Eastern & Oriental Express caught fire shortly after
leaving Kanchanaburi, a town in
western Thailand famous for its
World War II-era bridge spanning the River Kwai and nearby
national park.
“Around 160 tourists were onboard and nobody was injured,”
said local police officer Sukon
Ras-Iam, adding that the driver
disconnected the burning locomotive after spotting the flames.
A woman works at a brick kiln on the outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar yesterday.
It took firefighters around 30
minutes to put out the blaze and
the train resumed its journey,
said Sukon. Police investigations
are under way to determine the
cause of the fire.
The Eastern & Oriental Express is run by the British hotel
and leisure firm Belmond, formerly known as Orient-Express
The train is due to travel onwards to Malaysia and Singapore
after departing Thailand.
Tourists flock to Kanchanaburi to see a bridge spanning the
River Kwai that was constructed
by prisoners of war who endured
brutal treatment at the hands of
their Japanese overlords.
Their experiences building
what came to be known as the
Death Railway were later captured in the 1950s classic movie
The Bridge on the River Kwai.
Myanmar coffee scene fuelled by middle class caffeine high
ehind a wooden counter in
downtown Yangon’s Coffee Club, the unmistakable hiss of a barista steaming
milk briefly drowns out a funky
soundtrack piped through a
store filled with students glued
to their smartphones.
In any other Asian capital it
would be a ubiquitous sight.
But in Yangon, this is something
Long absent from the region’s
booming cafe culture, Myanmar’s commercial capital is now
witnessing a surge in swish coffee bars providing an alternative to the treacly instant coffee
served by thousands of street
It is a trend that points both
to the changing tastes of Myanmar’s emerging middle-class but
also the widening gap between
them and the nation’s poor.
Nyi Nyi Tun, a doctor, is
typical of the newly aspirant
customers relishing consumer
goods that were either far beyond their reach or simply unavailable under Myanmar’s brutal
and economically incompetent
military dictatorship.
“I came here to read,” he
said, sipping an americano and
perusing the web on a tablet.
“With friends, a streetside tea
shop is better. But if you want to
be somewhere alone and quiet,
then this kind of coffee shop is
To escape the noisy onslaught
An employee preparing coffee at the Coffee Club in downtown Yangon, one of around two dozen speciality coffee shops that have opened up in Myanmar’s biggest city in the last
few years since the end of outright military rule in 2011. Right: Customers enjoying their drinks at a coffee shop.
of Yangon’s increasingly vehicle-clogged streets, Nyi Nyi Tun
is willing to fork out as much as
$2 — ten times what a traditional
Myanmar coffee made from premixed sachets and condensed
milk costs at roadside stalls.
In the last few years since the
end of outright military rule in
2011, around two dozen speciality coffee shops have opened up
in Yangon alone.
“You will witness exponential
growth of the coffee industry in
the next three years,” predicts Ye
Naing Wynn, managing director of the Nervin Cafe chain —
Myanmar’s oldest — which now
boasts five outlets including in
Mandalay and the capital Naypyidaw.
“A country like Myanmar has
newly opened up. People have
been closed up for so many
years. The natural human reaction is they want to experience
new things,” he adds.
Initially it was the large influx of expats and tourists that
helped foster Yangon’s nascent
coffee scene. But owners say locals now make up the majority of
drinkers. “That’s my target audience going forward to be honest... because any food and beverage business that relies 70%
on locals ought to do well in the
long run,” says Thura Ko Ko, who
returned to Myanmar from overseas four years ago and opened
The Coffee Club above another
of his businesses — a mobile
phone shop.
It helps, he adds, that speciality coffee is seen as something
aspirational and trendy.
“Sometimes I sit in and I
overhear some new local customers try and they’re not quite
sure what a cappuccino is —
but they’ve seen it (on) the TV,
they’ve seen it online and that’s
been a big influence in lifestyle
as well. Everything from Korean
soaps to films,” he says.
The economic potential of
Myanmar’s growing middle class
is not lost on international companies who are scrambling to access one of Asia’s last untapped
markets. In 2013 Starbucks CEO
Howard Schultz hinted during a
trip to Thailand that he was eyeing Myanmar while Carlsberg
is also hoping to break into the
beer market —an area currently
monopolised by the country’s
Management consulting giant McKinsey believes up to a
quarter of Myanmar’s population could be living in large cities
by 2030 — up from 13% in 2010
— while the economy, if managed properly, could quadruple
from $45bn in 2010 to $200bn
by 2030.
“The size of the urban middle
class is expected to double over
the next decade, with annual
double-digit growth in middle
class incomes over the next five
years,” says Rajiv Biswas, AsiaPacific chief economist at IHS.
“This will generate very rapid
growth in urban consumer demand for retail goods, including consumer durables such as
autos, motorcycles, refrigerators
and air conditioners, consumer
electronics such as mobile telephones and tablets, and basic
consumer goods such as food
and beverages,” he adds.
But Sean Turnell, an expert
on Myanmar’s economy at Macquarie University in Australia,
warns against overhyping the
potential of the middle class in a
country where the vast majority
of its 60mn population are the
rural poor. “Serious consumption usually starts for people
with disposable incomes above
around $5,000. There would be
few in Myanmar with this sort of
spending power,” he says.
However much buzz is created
by the opening of the next hip coffee joint, for people like Ko Phyo,
who runs a photography shop in
Yangon, a latte will likely remain
far outside his budget.
“It’s too expensive for ordinary
people,” the 33-year-old says
while sipping a sweet brew in one
of Yangon’s many traditional,
cheaper teashops.
“It’s ten times more expensive
in those places. Only the middle
classes can afford that.”
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
Late winter blizzard
pounds northern Japan
New China rural policy eyes
food safety, modern farms
N Korea says US rejects
invite to Pyongyang
Taipei mayor under fire
over China comments
New Japan spy satellite to
provide backup cover
A blizzard barrelled yesterday into the northern
Japanese island of Hokkaido with heavy snow
burying some cities and strong winds disrupting
traffic, local media reported. A low-pressure system
had already dumped up to 50cm of snow in the
eastern part of the island and some locations
in north-eastern Japan with the Meteorological
Agency warning of high waves and strong winds in
the regions, broadcaster NHK reported. More than
50 train services and dozens of flights have been
cancelled on Hokkaido yesterday , while major
highways were closed in many parts of the island,
Hokkaido newspaper reported. Up to 50cm of
snow is expected on Hokkaido by noon today.
China has listed food safety and modernising
farms as among key priorities this year, its 2015
rural policy outline showed, as it tackles falling
agricultural productivity that has raised concerns
about its future food supply. The “number one
document”, issued every January and released
yesterday by Xinhua, showed China will also
protect farmland and lend more to farmers to
narrow a wealth gap between rural and urban
areas. “Permanent farmland” that is off-limit to
industrial and urban development will be created,
the document said. Modern farms will be set up,
and regulation of the quality of food and other
farm products will be enhanced, it said.
North Korea said yesterday the US had rejected
an invitation to send one of its top diplomats to
Pyongyang, accusing Washington of trying to shift
the blame for the deadlock in denuclearisation
talks on the North. “(We) invited (US diplomat)
Kim Sung to visit Pyongyang as he expressed
willingness to meet with his (North) counterpart
during his visit to Asia this time,” the North’s KCNA
news agency quoted a foreign ministry spokesman
as saying. “However, the US, in disregard of this, is
working hard to shift the blame onto the (North),
misleading public opinion by creating impression
that dialogue and contacts are not realised due to
the latter’s insincere attitude.”
Taipei’s maverick mayor Ko Wen-je, one of Taiwan’s
most senior and popular politicians, sparked heavy
criticism yesterday after saying China should
recognise the island as an independent democracy.
Taiwan split from the mainland in 1949 after a civil
war but China still considers the island part of its
territory. Politicians still tend to tread a diplomatic
line, recognising that Beijing is an essential trading
partner. Ko broke with that etiquette in an interview
with the US-based magazine Foreign Policy. “If
reunification is achieved without co-operation, it
will be meaningless,” he said. “We have to convince
mainland China that a free and democratic Taiwan is
more in China’s interest than reunification.”
Japan yesterday successfully launched a backup spy satellite, its aerospace agency said, after
cancelling an earlier lift-off due to bad weather.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
(JAXA) and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries delayed
Thursday’s planned launch of the H-2A rocket from
Tanegashima Space Center in southwestern Japan,
due to the possibility of lightning during lift-off. The
launch at 10.21am (0121 GMT) was successful, JAXA
and Mitsubishi Heavy said, adding: “We confirmed
the rocket launched normally.” Four Japanese
intelligence satellites are currently in orbit - two
optical satellites and two radar satellites. The backup
satellite will supplement the two radar satellites.
Horrified Japan slams
‘despicable’ beheading
rime Minister Shinzo Abe yesterday denounced as “heinous
and despicable” the apparent beheading of a second Japanese
hostage by the Islamic State group,
as global leaders denounced the jihadists.
IS claimed in a video released online that it had killed 47-year-old
Kenji Goto - the second purported
beheading of a Japanese hostage in
a week - but made no mention of a
Jordanian pilot it had also threatened to kill.
Goto, a respected war correspondent, is seen in an orange outfit
- similar to those worn by Guantanamo Bay inmates - kneeling next to a
standing masked man dressed headto-toe in black with his face covered.
The man, who speaks with a British accent, appears to be the same IS
militant who has featured in previous execution videos.
He directly addresses Abe, saying
the killing was the result of “reckless” decisions by the Japanese government - a possible reference to
aid money that Tokyo gave to help
refugees fleeing IS-controlled areas
in Syria and Iraq - and would mark
the beginning of a “nightmare for
The brief video, whose content
has not been verified, ends with the
image of a body and a decapitated
head on top of it.
“After an extensive review, we believe it’s highly probable” the video
is authentic, government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told reporters.
Japan’s premier, who appeared
on the verge of tears, pledged not to
back down and said his government
would increase humanitarian aid to
the Middle East.
“I am extremely angry about these
heinous and despicable terrorist
acts. We will never forgive terrorists,” he told reporters at his office.
“We will co-operate with the international community to make
them atone for their crimes.”
“I can’t find the words to describe
how I feel about my son’s very sad
death,” a sobbing Junko Ishido,
Goto’s mother, told reporters.
Shocking state
election rout
piles pressure
on Aussie PM
Junko Ishido, mother of Kenji Goto, speaks to reporters as her husband Yukio looks on at their home in Tokyo.
His brother Junichi Goto said he
had been holding out hope, “but
that’s not possible any more”.
Officially pacifist Japan has long
avoided getting embroiled in Middle
East conflicts and is rarely the target
of religious extremism.
So the hostage crisis has been especially shocking for the country.
Many braved Tokyo’s chilly streets
to pick up the Yomiuri newspaper’s
special supplement about the Goto
“It’s scary - they (the militants)
are saying they’ll target Japanese
people now,” said 21-year-old university student Kyosuke Kamogawa.
“That sends chills down my spine.”
US President Barack Obama led
international condemnation of the
“heinous murder”.
“Through his reporting, Mr Goto
courageously sought to convey the
plight of the Syrian people to the
outside world,” Obama said.
A spokesman for UN chief Ban Kimoon said the “barbaric murder...
underscores the violence that so
many have been subjected to in Iraq
and Syria”.
Paris and London also denounced
the video, with British Prime Minister David Cameron saying it was “a
further reminder that (IS) is the em-
bodiment of evil, with no regard for
human life”.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the apparent killing an
“abhorrent, inhuman” act.
“The government has been working with the utmost efforts on the issue - I deeply regret that this is the
result,” Abe said.
But “Japan will never yield to terrorism... (and) is firmly resolved to
fulfil its responsibility in the international community’s fight against
Last week IS claimed responsibility for the beheading of another
hostage, self-described contractor
Haruna Yukawa, after the expiration
of a 72-hour deadline during which
it had asked Tokyo to pay a $200mn
ransom. It was the same sum that
Tokyo had pledged to the region in
non-military aid.
Goto’s wife Rinko broke her silence last week to plead for her husband’s return. The couple had a second child just weeks before Goto left
for Syria late last year, in a bid to find
his friend Yukawa. He was later captured himself.
The Council of Arab Ambassadors
to Japan said in a statement it “deplores that such a barbaric act was the name of Islam”.
ustralian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said
yesterday his government had “lessons to
learn” from a state election rout in Queensland, amid growing leadership questions after his
unpopular move to knight Britain’s Prince Philip.
Rumours of challenges to Abbott’s position as
prime minister have emerged over the past week
after the knighthood decision. But the demise of
the Liberal-National coalition (LNP) in Queensland elections held on Saturday has piled further
pressure on him.
The LNP, which is also the ruling coalition
nationally, swept to victory in Queensland three
years ago to record the state’s biggest ever parliamentary triumph when it took 78 of 89 seats.
But in one of the most startling turnarounds in
the nation’s political history, the opposition Labor party - written off after the last election - appeared close to returning to power in the northeastern state as vote-counting continued.
“There are obviously lessons in the election result last night and we’re determined to learn them in
Canberra,” Abbott told reporters, adding that he regretted the “distraction” of the knighthood debate.
“I accept that we’ve had some difficulties. I
accept that we need to learn from the difficulties
that we’ve had, but in the end, government is not
a popularity contest, it is a competence contest.”
Abbott’s government has seen its support plunge
in opinion polls over the past year, coming under
fire for its attempts to push through widespread
spending cuts to rein in a growing budget deficit.
The latest poll published in yesterday’s Sunday
Telegraph showed the government would be heading for defeat if it called an election now. Support
has dropped to 43% from 53.5% when they won the
2013 election, compared to Labor’s 57%. Support
for Abbott slipped to 27% compared to 44% for opposition Labor leader Bill Shorten, the poll found.
Abbott, an enthusiastic royalist, reintroduced
the titles of dame and knight in Australia last year
but the move was criticised as being out of step
with the public. His decision to knight Queen
Elizabeth II’s husband Philip attracted widespread ridicule, with even unnamed politicians
within Abbott’s own LNP reportedly describing
the move as “stupid”.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull have been
mooted as possible contenders for the prime
minister’s job, although both have publicly declared their support for Abbott.
Speaking from the US, Turnbull - who once lost
a tussle for leadership of the Liberal Party to Abbott by one vote - told the Australian Broadcasting
Corp: “The prime minister has my support. I’m a
member of the government, (he) has the support
of the government.” Bishop, in Sydney, would only
repeat in response to questions from reporters:
“The prime minister has my support.”
Pro-democracy marchers are back on HK streets
Hong Kong
protesters took to the streets of
Hong Kong yesterday for the first
time since mass demonstrations shut
down parts of the city for more than two
A sea of yellow umbrellas - the symbol
of the campaign - moved slowly through
central Hong Kong with crowds shouting
for “true universal suffrage”.
But numbers were well below expectations with 13,000 attending according
to organisers - just over a quarter of the
50,000 they had hoped for.
“Today’s protest wasn’t a small one.
It was smaller than we expected, but it’s
wrong to say Hong Kongers have given in
to fake democracy,” said organiser Daisy
Police said up to 8,800 people had
joined the march, a fraction of the tens
of thousands who gathered at the peak of
the protests.
Authorities have made no concessions
to activists’ demands and tensions remain high in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.
Police warned ahead of the rally that
demonstrators were likely to once again
try to occupy some of Hong Kong’s main
roads, which were cleared of tented
camps in December.
But by late afternoon the march remained peaceful, with no sign that the
crowds - including many people carrying
yellow balloons - planned to take back the
streets. “We don’t have a plan (to reoccupy). If others want to do it, they will have
to do it themselves,” student leader Alex
Chow told AFP.
Despite the disappointing turnout,
there was a sense of determination among
demonstrators. “We just want to express
our frustration with the government in
Hong Kong,” said protester Ronnie Chan,
who is in his 40s and works in sales and
marketing. “We understand there is very
little we can do, but if we don’t speak out
nothing will change.”
The pro-democracy rallies drew
around 100,000 at their height and saw
intermittent violent clashes with police,
but public support faded as the weeks
dragged by.
China has promised Hong Kongers the
right for the first time to vote for their
next chief executive in 2017. But it ruled
that nominees must be vetted by a proBeijing committee, a proposal which has
been heavily criticised by activists.
The founders of the pro-democracy
movement including Benny Tai, along with
teenage activist Joshua Wong and other
student leaders, urged residents to keep
fighting as they joined yesterday’s rally.
“If we don’t dream, we don’t have
hope. We should persist then we will succeed,” said Tai.
Wong warned against accepting universal suffrage within the restrictions of
Beijing’s framework. “I hope people understand that if we take that now, it will
be forever,” he said.
But political analyst Sonny Lo said residents were exhausted from protests over
political reform.
“At this moment, members of the public are tired of politics. The democrats
have to strategise very carefully,” said Lo,
head of the social sciences department at
the Hong Kong Institute of Education.
Hong Kong’s government is urging the
public to support Beijing’s electoral plan,
which needs the backing of two-thirds of
the city’s legislature to be passed.
Lam Woon-kwong, convenor of the
Executive Council or cabinet, warned
campaigners to accept Beijing’s offer.
“You can’t threaten the central authorities,” he told a radio programme yesterday.
“If we can have consensus to have universal suffrage in 2017 first and democratise further later, it would be a more pragmatic approach.”
But for some protesters, backing down
is not an option. “I’m just doing my bit.
Some people may have compromised, but
I definitely will not,” said one father of
two who gave his name as Alvin.
Protests in Hong Kong pre-date the
Occupy movement - last July hundreds of
thousands demonstrated a month before
Beijing ruled on political reform.
Demonstrators march for democracy on a street in Hong Kong yesterday.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
British mosques
hold open day
London offers course
in selfie studies
Actor Robbins ‘doing
well’ after collapse
Much of Kobe beef sold
in capital fake, claims chef
20mph speed limit sought
on Westminster streets
Some 20 mosques in Britain opened their
doors to the public in an unprecedented
gesture of reassurance following last month’s
attacks in Paris. Visitors were served tea and
cakes by members of the community who
answered questions about Islam, the Muslim
Council of Britain (MCB), the umbrella group
which organised the initiative said in a statement. Participating mosques included the
Finsbury Park in north London which stresses
community relations and interfaith dialogue.
Around 5% of people in England and Wales are
Muslim, according to a 2011 census, and there
are around 1,700 mosques across Britain.
Not even the awkward, embarrassing selfie can
escape the attention of experts who want to refine
and improve you. The Art of Self Portraiture, a foursession evening course now offered in London, will
not only teach you how to set your lovely face in
scene in the most perfect and irresistible selfies, but
also to “develop your ideas to produce a coherent
body of work.” The course at City Lit, a continuing
education institution in posh Covent Garden, costs
£132 and provides an introduction to the theory and
practice of photographic self-portraiture. The course
is aimed at beginners, but they are expected to
already know how to operate the manual controls
on their camera apps.
Comic actor Ted Robbins is “doing well” in hospital and will be “fit and healthy soon” following his
collapse on stage during a live show, his wife said.
Robbins, 59, slumped during the opening night of
a revival of Peter Kay’s Phoenix Nights at the Manchester Arena on Sunday night. The curtain was
closed immediately as staff rushed to the stage
with medical equipment before the show was
cancelled. In a message to fans on his Facebook
page yesterday, Robbins’ wife Judy said he was in
some pain but doing well in hospital. She praised
the treatment of the NHS and appealed for help
in tracing a doctor in the audience who came to
her husband’s aid.
A top chef has claimed much of the expensive
Kobe beef being sold in London is fake. The Japanese beef, from a regional wagyu cow, is famed
for its high fat content and tenderness, and can
sell for up to £1,000 a kilo. But Claudio Cardoso,
executive chef at Sushisamba, claims much of the
Kobe sold in London is cheaper wagyu. “People
will use the name Kobe even if they know they
are not serving Kobe, as the word sells better,”
Cardoso, 31, said. He was backed up by Martin
Williams, boss of M restaurant which sells a 150g
Kobe steak for £149, who said: “Real Kobe is still
rare in London. A lot of what is perceived as Kobe
is wagyu — and there is a big difference.”
Westminster council has come under attack
over its road safety record, with protesters
claiming it does too little to protect residents
and visitors. Campaign groups Westminster
Living Streets and 20s Plenty For Us are both
demanding that the borough imposes 20mph
limits. They claim that it suffers almost 30%
more road casualties than any other in the capital. Drawing on Transport for London statistics,
they say “far more” people are killed or injured
on Westminster streets. The borough had 1,732
road casualties — including 177 fatalities or serious injuries — in 2013, the latest year for which
full figures are available.
clubbers to
face alcohol
breath test
London Evening Standard
lubbers face being breathalysed before they are allowed entry into London
venues as part of a crackdown on
drink-related violence.
Police and clubs are launching
a pilot scheme that will enable
doormen to breath-test people
they suspect are intoxicated — so
they can bar drunks from entry.
The limit for testing positive will be set at about twice
the drink-driving level. Officers
hope the scheme will cut down
on binge drinking and “preloading”, where young people get
drunk on cheap booze before going out.
The measure is one of several
initiatives being launched by the
Metropolitan Police in an effort
to tackle rising rates of violent
crime in London. The force’s
Operation Equinox targets pubs,
nightclubs and fast-food outlets.
“Most violence in clubs
is from people who’ve
drunk too much and
this will create a level
playing field”
The drink checks were tested
in a small number of clubs in
Croydon and the Met now plans
a more organised pilot scheme in
six London boroughs.
Chief inspector Gary Taylor
said anecdotal evidence from
Croydon clubs showed that the
test was a success. “They have
told us that the move did help to
reduce violence and confrontations involving door staff,” he
“The breathalysers helped to
stop people persistently trying to
get into clubs when they’d clearly
drunk too much.
“The devices help reduce the
number of arguments when door
staff refuse entry to someone
who is intoxicated. In the past,
door staff would get involved in
long arguments with people who
were refused entry. People arguing with staff were more likely to
accept the results of the breathalyser.”
Nightclub impresario Mark
Fuller, who runs the Embassy in
Mayfair, welcomed the breathalyser initiative in principle but
advised police not to set the test
limit too low.
“It’s an excellent idea,” he
said. “Most violence in clubs
is from people who’ve drunk
too much and this will create a
level playing field. It is a bit Big
Brother-ish but it will be one
rule for all.
“If you get someone with loads
of money who is completely pissed then they don’t get it.
“But the opinion of the authorities on alcohol levels compared with what an average person consumes in a night is quite
“Clubbing is meant to be a fun
night out so I hope they don’t try
to take the fun out of it.”
Figures show that while most
crime in London is falling, the
number of violent offences is rising rapidly — with increases of
up to 39% across some boroughs.
Senior police officers believe
some of the rise is explained by
more thorough recording of offences but admit there has been
an increase in drink-related violence in town centres.
The B-test initiative also follows concerns on safety in some
London clubs. Fabric in Farringdon was saved from the
threat of closure last year over
four drug-related deaths after
bosses had to bring in tough entry conditions, including the hire
of seven sniffer dogs. A similar
scheme has been run in Norwich, where signs saying “Are
you trollied? #DeepBreath” are
displayed in venues, explaining
that clubbers may be required to
take a breath test as a condition
of entry.
Austerity policies decried
People gather to protest against austerity policies and increases in water bills, in central Dublin.
UK diplomat suspended
over prisoner affair claim
ritain’s senior diplomat in
Bali has been suspended,
the Foreign Office confirmed yesterday, after a report
of an affair with a drugs prisoner.
The Mail on Sunday newspaper reported that Alys Harahap
was suspended over a relationship with Julian Ponder, a Briton
serving time in the Indonesian
island’s notorious Kerobokan
prison for possession of cocaine.
“We can confirm that a member of staff has been suspended
pending the outcome of an investigation into these allega-
tions, which we take extremely
seriously,” a spokesman for the
Foreign Office in London said,
declining to comment further.
Vice-consul Alys Harahap,
30, was allegedly caught kissing
Ponder during a duty visit in the
prison governor’s office at Kerobokan Prison.
The Mail on Sunday reported
that prison officers walked in as
the vice-consul, a mother-oftwo who is married to an Indonesian, was locked in what appeared to be ‘intimate embrace’
with 44-year-old Ponder, the
alleged ringleader of a syndicate
that smuggled cocaine into Bali.
The extraordinary alleged
liaison between the Cam-
ince Cable said the damage suffered by his party
after its U-turn on tuition
fees was a “price worth paying”,
after new figures showed a record
number of teenagers from disadvantaged backgrounds are applying to university.
The Liberal Democrat business
secretary hailed a further narrowing of the gap between the
number of rich and poor students
wanting to go to higher education.
The LibDems suffered a dramatic
slump in popularity after joining
the Tories in Coalition, and going
back on their 2010 election pledge
to oppose tuition fees of up to
The party has still not recovered from its loss in public support.
Cable has now described the
new system as “better, affordable and fair”, telling the Standard: “We have paid a price for this
policy more than any other party.
But the success of these reforms,
with more students from disadvantaged backgrounds applying
to university than ever before,
shows it was a price worth paying.” His comments echo the remark in 1991 by Tory chancellor
Norman Lamont that rising unemployment and the recession
were a “price well worth paying”
to get inflation down.
But Cable said: “Regardless
of family circumstances, all students can now obtain university
level education as long as they
meet academic requirements.
This is a good legacy.”
The figures, from university
admissions service Ucas, show
21% of 18-year-olds from disadvantaged backgrounds in England applied this year — a small
rise from the previous year.
Overall, the richest 18-yearolds in the UK are 2.4 times more
likely to want to go to university
than the poorest. But in 2006,
the wealthiest were 3.7 times
more likely to want to apply.
The figures also show 44% of
18-year-olds in London are applying to go to university. This
is 4% more than a year ago, said
Cable - the highest rate of any
UK region.
But he warned of a growing gap
between the sexes, as girls were
now 36% more likely to apply
than boys. While this was “positive for narrowing the gender gap
in the professions”, it suggested a
problem in boys’ performance at
Cable also highlighted a big
increase in applications to study
science, engineering, and maths,
especially among girls.
Overall, university applications
rose 2% to 592,290 compared to
the same point last year. Ucas chief
executive Mary Curnock Cook
said demand for university places
was continuing to increase but
growth had slowed this year. “It is
heartening to see the gap between
rich and poor continue to narrow,”
she added.
Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of
social mobility charity the Sutton Trust, said: “The continuing
growth in disadvantaged applicants is welcome. Nevertheless
there is still a significant gap,
particularly to the most selective
extremely bright and capable
young vice-consul who only
joined the diplomatic service
in January - of inappropriate
behaviour for a representative
of a foreign government and of
breaching prison rules and regulations.
The news comes amid growing concern over another British
prisoner in Bali, Lindsay Sandiford, a 58-year-old grandmother
sentenced to death in 2013 after
being caught trying to smuggle
cocaine on to the island.
Despite his image as a reformist, Indonesia’s new President
Joko Widodo has been a vocal
supporter of capital punishment
for drug offenders.
The attorney-general’s office
said last week it was ready to
execute seven foreign drug convicts on death row after their appeals for presidential clemency
were rejected.
Human rights group Amnesty
International has urged clemency for Sandiford. It also wants
Indonesia to commute all existing death sentences and impose
a moratorium on executions.
Kate Allen, director of Amnesty UK, said: “Indonesia must
stop the killing spree.
“Placing a middle-aged woman in front of a firing squad for
carrying drugs—apparently under coercion—is simple brutality.”
Cystic fibrosis patients
‘let down by hospital’
Cable defends LibDems’
stance over tuition fee
London Evening Standard
bridge and University College
and the thuggish drugs convict
Ponder is said by prison insiders to stretch back more than
two months and to have blossomed as she visited him after
he was put into solitary confinement over a prison brawl.
They spent time alone together in the prison clinic where he
was treated for his injuries and
in the prison governor’s office,
loaned as a courtesy to allow the
diplomat to discuss his case in
private, before allegedly being
caught in a clinch on April 28.
Prison officials accused multi-lingual Harahap – described
by friends and colleagues as an
London Evening Standard
Cable: ‘price worth paying’
leading charity has accused King’s College
Hospital of reneging on a
commitment to build a specialist adult ward for cystic fibrosis
The Cystic Fibrosis Trust
raised £432,000 for the hospital in south-east London so that
patients - who are prone to cross
infection - could be treated on a
permanent dedicated ward.
However, hospital chiefs have
yet to draw up a timetable for
construction and the trust has
now issued them with an ultimatum to make a commitment
by the end of March or risk losing
the funding.
About 2,600 people have
signed a petition urging King’s to
draw up a timetable.
In response, King’s has said
they want to improve services but
cannot meet the demand because
of other improvement works.
This leaves patients in temporary accommodation which does
not meet their needs.
Cystic fibrosis affects the
lungs and digestive system, leaving them clogged with sticky
mucus, and people with the genetic disorder cannot mix with
other patients.
James Barrow, head of public
affairs at the trust, said: “People with cystic fibrosis receiving
their care at King’s have been let
down time and time again. They
have been promised improved
facilities and yet still no decision
has been taken to honour the
commitments made.
“Many people with cystic fibrosis view hospital as a second
home and they have a right to be
treated in facilities that minimise
the risk of cross infection.”
King’s said that patients no
longer have to share bathrooms
as they did on the previous ward.
A spokesman added that
King’s remained committed to
finding a permanent home for CF
He said: “We are currently unable to provide the charity with a
timetable for when this work will
be carried out. This is because we
have a programme of vital improvement works to deliver, all
of which are designed to improve
patient care.”
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
Mansion sells for £33mn
on ‘Billionaires’ Row’
Stabbed teen’s coach sets
up appeal to pay for funeral
‘Prison-like’ apartment
block scheme attacked
Body found in lake had
head, neck injuries: police
Climber dies in
Highlands avalanche
A mansion on ‘Billionaires’ Row’ in north London
has sold for £33.7mn. Jersey House is a 20,000 sq
ft new-build in The Bishops Avenue, Hampstead,
a street known for its super-rich residents as
well as for empty, decaying “ghost homes”. The
property has eight bedroom suites, a leisure
complex with a 10.5-metre mosaic-lined indoor
swimming pool, a massage room, two-bedroom
staff accommodation and 1.2 acres of land. It was
originally put on the market for £39 million, but
was reduced last year to just under £35 million. It
has now been sold for £33.7 million, making it the
most expensive sale of December recorded by the
Land Registry and the third highest of the year.
The coach of a promising teenage footballer who
was knifed to death last month has launched an
appeal to help pay for his funeral. Ricky Downes,
55, has set up the Joel Adesina’s Family Fund to
raise £2,000 for a send-off for the 15-year-old, who
died in hospital after he was stabbed in Bethnal
Green on December 5. Downes described Joel, a
winger for the Bardag Yellows under-16s team, as
a “natural” and said he wanted to help his mother.
The Echo League, which Joel played in, and other
teams have donated to the £5,000 costs of the
service on February 6 but it is hoped the appeal,
at, will pay for much
of the rest.
Residents told of their “betrayal” after councillors
approved a “prison-like” block of flats on the site
of the old Highgate police station and magistrates’
court. Haringey council planning committee gave
planning permission this week for 82 flats, in a
scheme including a seven-storey tower, at the site
where serial killer Dennis Nilsen stood in the dock.
Bellway Homes will demolish the Fifties buildings
in Archway Road, sold by the ministry of justice
and Metropolitan police for about £15mn last year.
Elspeth Clements of the Highgate Society said: “We
feel betrayed.” Bunty Schrager, 66, added: “It looks
like a prison.” James McConnell of Bellway Homes
said the community would benefit.
A post-mortem examination on the body of a
woman, believed to be missing mother-of-four
Samantha Henderson, shows she was violently
attacked around the head and neck.
Detective inspector Neil Devoto, of Dorset Police’s
major crime investigation team, said detectives
are “confident” the body is that of 25-year-old
Henderson. She has not been seen since leaving
Corfe Castle Primary School in Dorset on January
21 at 3pm. The body was discovered in a lake
at Ham Common in Poole on Friday at around
1pm. Her boyfriend Dominic Isom, 27, of Corfe
Castle, pleaded not guilty to her murder when he
appeared at Winchester Crown Court on Friday.
A climber has died in an avalanche in the
Scottish Highlands. He was one of two men
from Suffolk reported missing after they failed
to return from a climb on Coireag Dubh Mor
in the Torridon area of the western Highlands.
Mountain rescue teams and the Stornoway
coastguard helicopter were earlier forced to call
off the search because the weather was so bad.
Once the search resumed one of the climbers
was found walking out to find assistance for the
other man. The two climbers had been caught
up in an avalanche, police said. The mountain
rescue team found the other man but he had
already died.
New split
in Labour
over NHS
Spectacular display
Senior Tory
Shapps rules
out post-poll
deal with Ukip
d Miliband faced fresh divisions over NHS reform as a
senior London surgeon and
Labour peer insisted there was
nothing wrong with using the private sector.
Lord Darzi, the former health
minister, said the NHS should
pick providers who deliver the best
care, whether “public, private or
His comments came after Andy
Burnham, the shadow health secretary, stepped up his claims that
the Conservatives would privatise
chunks of the NHS and said the
private market was “not the answer”.
But Lord Darzi told BBC Newsnight: “If the debate doesn’t focus
on the quality of care, then every
patient and every clinician will
know that the real argument about
what matters has already been
A string of New Labour grandees have challenged Burnham in
recent days. Former health secretary Alan Milburn and ex-Cabinet
minister Lord Hutton warned
against promising extra money
without committing to reform.
Waiting times in accident
and emergency departments in
England have improved for the
third week in succession, figures
showed. But the health service is
still missing its target of seeing
95% of patients within four hours.
Meanwhile, the head of an international pharmacy chain said
yesterday Labour Party’s policies
are unhelpful for business and a
Labour win at the May election
would be a “catastrophe”.
Stefano Pessina, acting chief
executive of Walgreens Boots Alliance, which operates Britain’s
largest chain of chemists, made
the outspoken comments in an
interview with the Sunday Telegraph newspaper.
Labour leader Ed Miliband, bidding to unseat Conservative Prime
Minister David Cameron, has announced a series of policies taking aim at what he calls capitalist
‘predators’ across a range of industries from energy suppliers to
private landlords.
Comments put him at odds
with David Cameron, who
has repeatedly refused to say
whether he would consider
such a tie-up
Guardian News and Media
Thousands of starlings fly over marshes with a wind turbine seen behind as they return to
roost at dusk near Glastonbury in Somerset, south west England. The daily display at dawn
and dusk during winter months, known as ‘murmurations’, is particularly spectacular in this
part of the south west of England and on the England-Scotland border near Gretna.
he Conservative party
chairman, Grant Shapps,
has ruled out any kind of
deal with Ukip after the election,
putting him at odds with David
Cameron who has repeatedly refused to do so.
Shapps made the comments at
the launch of a document pouring scorn on Labour’s first 30
days of campaigning. He was
mostly grilled about the Tories’
policies and the potential for a
future relationship with Nigel
Farage’s party.
Asked about the Conservatives’ failure to take the lead in
the polls, which many in the party had privately been predicting
would happen in the new year,
Shapps said voters would only
start to engage a bit closer to the
“Actually, we have seen the
opinion polls close, but I’m the
first to concede this is going to
be an incredibly close election,”
he said.
Pressed then on the possibility of a tie-up with Ukip, Shapps
said: “I can rule out – we are not
going to do pacts and deals with
Ukip responded by saying it
was not interested in promising
a coalition pact with anyone, but
could be interested in a confidence and supply arrangement.
A spokesman said: “For us,
Govt urged to allow
‘3-parent’ IVF babies
urged lawmakers to seize
a chance to become the
first in the world to allow threeway fertility treatments to families who want to avoid passing
on incurable diseases to their
In an open letter ahead of a
parliamentary vote scheduled
for tomorrow, charities and
advocacy groups said the opportunity “offers families the
first glimmer of hope that they
might be able to have a baby
that will live without pain and
The technique under debate
is known as mitochondrial donation and is often referred to
as three-parent in vitro fertilisation (IVF) because the offspring would have genes from
a mother, a father and from a
female donor.
The process, still only at the
research stage in Britain and the
US, involves intervening in the
fertilisation process to remove
faulty mitochondrial DNA,
which can cause inherited conditions such as fatal heart problems, liver failure, brain disorders, blindness and muscular
It is feared by critics who say
it effectively allows “designer
babies” because it would involve implanting genetically
modified embryos into women.
The government last February set out draft legislation
that, if passed, would make it
the first country to allow the
In their letter, groups including the US-based United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation,
the Australian Mitochondrial
Disease Foundation and groups
from France, Germany, Britain
and Spain, described mitochondrial disease as “unimaginably cruel”.
“It strips our children of the
skills they have learned, inflicts
pain that cannot be managed
and tires their organs one by one
until their little bodies cannot
go on any more,” they wrote.
They said they were aware
“that no novel medical procedure is without risk”, but had
“absolute confidence” in scientific panels that have examined
the technique.
The issue of mitochondrial
donation has been scrutinised
by several expert panels in
Britain, including the Human
Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and the Nuffield
Council on Bioethics.
Many scientists and medics have welcomed the government’s decision to push ahead.
Jeremy Farrar, director of the
Wellcome Trust, said it would
“allow the law to catch up with
public and scientific opinion”.
“Parents who know what it
means to care for a sick and
suffering child with mitochondrial disease are the people best
placed to decide ... whether mitochondrial donation is right
for them,” he said. “It is time
to allow them to make that
politics is about getting something done, not about stitching
up deals to get jobs for the boys...
For that reason we will drive for
a confidence and supply agreement to ensure the big issues
that matter to the public are on
the table and that voters have a
powerful voice.
“It looks increasingly likely
that we will have a hung parliament after May, so now is the
time for voters to back the party
that really represents them and
will make sure that their concerns are addressed and not
brushed under the carpet for another five years by a cosy cartel of
establishment parties.”
Since the beginning of the
year, Cameron has repeatedly
refused to comment on whether
he would consider a tie-up with
Ukip after May, saying only that
he is fighting to win the election.
Asked twice on BBC1’s Andrew
Marr Show this month whether
he would ever align with Ukip,
Cameron dodged the question,
saying he did not want pacts or
deals with anyone as he was aiming for a Tory-majority government. “I want a modern, compassionate Conservative party
elected to run the government of
this country,” he said.
Cameron suggested that a
Tory-led government could try
to hold an early referendum on
Britain’s membership of the
European Union – a move that
would satisfy the Eurosceptic
right of the Conservatives and
potentially smooth the path for a
deal with Ukip.
Shapps also defended the defection of the Ukip MEP Amjad Bashir to the Conservatives,
saying he was happy to welcome
anyone as long as they were not
from an extremist party. Ukip
has claimed the politician only
jumped ship after running into
trouble. Shapps said: “Suddenly
they rush out of the door all of
the stuff that’s already been there
for years. It’s pretty desperate
stuff to be perfectly honest.”
Parties cautioned over anti-immigration rhetoric
Former equalities watchdog
Trevor Phillips warned David
Cameron and Ed Miliband to beware mimicking the anti-immigration rhetoric of Ukip as research
showed foreign-born voters could
decide a string of London seats
at the general election. For the
first time, people born overseas
will make up more than half
of those eligible to vote in two
London constituencies — East
Ham and Brent North — according to academics. With a record
4mn eligible on the electoral roll,
their votes could swing the result
in London marginals including
Harrow East, Croydon Central and
Ealing Central & Acton, said the
study by Manchester University.
Speaking of the growing number
of migrant voters, Phillips, former
head of the Equality and Human
Rights Commission, said: “They
will be very sensitive to any shift
in Labour’s position, for example,
if it feels Labour is not standing
up to the Ukip message.” Labour
recently came under fire for
circulating leaflets that appear to
be designed to counter the Ukip
Mayor unveils guide
to cut pollution deaths
London Evening Standard
Boris Johnson: public awareness campaign
oris Johnson has urged
Londoners to act to protect
their families from air pollution which leads to thousands
of premature deaths a year in the
The Mayor launched City Hall’s
first major public awareness campaign on the health risks of dirty
air, which spells out steps people
can take to limit its impact. Key
advice includes:
O Walk or cycle for short journeys, as recent research has shown
air inside cars can be worse than
O Use quieter side-streets
rather than busy roads, as air you
breathe could be up to 50% cleaner.
O Walk on the pavement further
away from traffic on busy roads as
air there will be less polluted.
O Motorists should switch off
their engine when parked or stationary for a long period rather
than leave it idling.
have accused City Hall of not doing enough to make Londoners
aware of the risks from air pollution and dragging its feet over action to tackle it.
The capital has a series of pollution hotspots, with Oxford Street
one of the worst, having breached
the legal EU limit for nitrogen dioxide fumes for the whole of 2015
after just four days, according to
But Johnson unveiled the
Breathe Better Together campaign — with an animated version
of himself appearing in a video
— which encourages Londoners
to receive text alerts and e-mails
about pollution levels.
“This is about promoting small
simple steps we can all make to
help improve air quality, protect
ourselves from pollutants and indeed breathe better together,” he
Dr Yvonne Doyle from Public
Health England added: “The major effect of long-term exposure
to air pollution is on deaths from
cardio-respiratory disease.”
As part of the campaign, hundreds of posters will be put up on
the Tube and experts will go into
schools and businesses to explain
the risks from NO2 and pollution
from tiny fuel particles.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
EU must stop ‘spasmodic’ moves
on Russia, says Greek minister
he European Union must
halt “spasmodic” action
against Russia, the new
Greek foreign minister said yesterday, adding that Greece could
not be ignored in EU affairs simply because it owes money.
“The EU must finally consider
what it wants to do with Russia
on a long-term basis ... instead
of reacting in a morally direct,
correct, but spasmodic fashion,”
Nikos Kotzias told the semi-state
Athens News Agency.
Upon coming to power last
week, the hard-left Greek government refused to approve an
EU statement threatening new
sanctions against Russia, following deadly fighting in the key
port city of Mariupol between
Ukrainian forces and Moscowbacked rebels.
A more conciliatory EU state-
ment was eventually adopted at
a meeting of foreign ministers in
Brussels on Thursday.
Kotzias has been invited by
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to visit Russia and
“Greece cannot sever its historic ties to Russia, but it can play
a role to mediate and develop negotiations between” Russia and
Ukraine, said Kotzias, who was
a senior member of the Greek
Communist party until 1989.
He warned that the EU risked
further “destabilising” the region with its actions.
“This destabilisation will cross
the Russian-Ukrainian border,
reach the Middle East and cross
into North Africa, a sort of sickle
through which tens of thousands of refugees, jihadists, diseases and all sorts of dangers will
emerge,” he said.
Kotzias stressed that Greece
should not be treated as a “pariah
state” because of its debts.
Death toll rises
in Ukraine after
peace talks fail
hirteen government soldiers and at least as many
civilians have been killed
in the past 24 hours in eastern
Ukraine’s separatist conflict after
the collapse of peace talks, Kiev
authorities said.
Hopes of easing the situation
evaporated on Saturday with
Ukraine’s representative and
separatist envoys accusing the
other of sabotaging negotiations.
“Fighting continues across all
sections of the frontline,” Kiev
military spokesman Volodymyr
Polyovy said in a briefing.
The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe
(OSCE), which took part in the
talks in Minsk, Belarus, along
with envoys from Ukraine and
Russia, said that rebel delegates
had not been ready to discuss key
points of a peace plan.
“In fact, they were not even
prepared to discuss implementation of a ceasefire and withdrawal
of heavy weapons,” said the Serbian foreign ministry, which
currently chairs the OSCE, in a
It said rebels had instead
pushed for a revision of a ceasefire plan agreed in Minsk last
The rebels say they now want
to redraw the demarcation line
between the two sides to include
gains they have made since ripping up a shaky truce and pushing into Ukrainian territory.
Kiev has rebuffed this demand
and said that the rebels’ position
has thrown any future peace talks
into doubt.
“Unfortunately the peace
process is now under threat,”
Valeriy Chaly, the deputy head
of Ukraine’s presidential administration wrote on his Facebook
The terms of that 12-point
protocol have been repeatedly violated but Kiev and foreign governments see it as the only viable
roadmap to end the nine-monthlong conflict in which more than
5,000 people have been killed.
In eastern Ukraine, the Kiev
military reported no let-up in
rebel attacks on government positions.
Clashes are intense around the
town of Debaltseve, Polyyovy
said, referring to a Kiev-held
transport hub connecting the
two main rebel strongholds that
separatists aim to cut off.
“There is no question of encirclement or cutting off of the main
communication lines. The situation is under control,” he said.
The rebel advance has succeeded in seizing part of nearby
Vuhlehirsk from Kiev troops,
Polyovy said.
Yesterday the town was being
pounded by near-constant shelling, a Reuters witness reported.
The interior ministry said yesterday that seven civilians had
been killed in shelling on Debaltseve, while the Luhansk regional
administration said three civilians had been killed in shelling
across the region overnight.
Residents are being encouraged to abandon the areas of
fiercest fighting, where many
have been living in makeshift
bomb shelters, waiting for breaks
in the bombardment to make
quick trips for food and water.
In Kiev-controlled Sloviansk,
refugees arrived in buses from
Debaltseve and other frontline
Pensioner Vyacheslav Gurov
said half of his town of Avdiivka
had been completely destroyed.
“At the last European council
(of foreign ministers), my colleagues understood that they
cannot behave towards Greece as
if it were a pariah state because it
owes money,” he said.
“Owing money is one thing,
and abandoning one’s rights in
the EU is quite another,” Kotzias
A professor of political theory
at Piraeus University who has
also taught at Harvard, Oxford
and Magdeburg, Kotzias has au-
Kotzias: EU risked further ‘destabilising’ the region with its actions.
thored books titled Greece, a Debt
Colony and A Policy of Salvation
Against the Troika – the European Commission, International
Monetary Fund and European
Central Bank trio of creditors
that plied severe austerity measures on Athens.
A pro-Russian fighter watches as a woman enters her house after it was damaged by shelling on Saturday
in Makiivka, in the suburbs of Donetsk.
Fleeing civilians
dodge artillery
By Laetitia Peron, AFP
Debaltseve, Ukraine
A man stands next to his car yesterday after it was destroyed by shelling in Donetsk, which is controlled
by pro-Russian rebels.
“We don’t even know who’s
shooting. Both the rebels and the
national guard are at it ... there’s
no water, no electricity, no heating, nothing,” he said.
In the rebel stronghold of
Donetsk, the regional administration reported the deaths of at
least three civilians in shelling
yesterday, describing the situation as “extremely tense”.
A Reuters witness saw the
body of a young man stretched
out on a street in the city centre,
killed when a shell struck a wall
Nadezhda Petrovna, 68, a
neighbour, said the man was trying to run away from the attack
when a shell landed in front of
“It is like this every day, people
are getting killed, we are sleeping
fully dressed so we can run into
the cellar, this is becoming unbearable,” she said.
Following the collapse of Saturday’s talks, there was no word
on when renewed negotiations
might take place.
Western governments and
Ukraine have accused Russia of
sending regular troops and arms
to bolster the rebels and spearhead the latest offensive – claims
that Moscow has repeatedly denied.
The rebels, however, are
equipped with the heavy weaponry of a regular army, hardware
that they claim to have captured
from fleeing Ukrainian forces.
Russian President Vladimir
Putin, French President Francois
Police guard the Russian embassy in Kiev during a protest action yesterday. Protesters set 30 crosses with the names of the 30 civilian people
killed in shelling on January 24 in Mariupol.
Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel talked to each
other by phone ahead of the
peace meeting on Saturday, urging the warring factions to agree
a truce in fighting that has left at
least 5,100 people dead.
Moscow – suffering the economic impact of harsh Western
sanctions over the Ukraine crisis – reacted cautiously to the
collapse of the talks, saying that
they “needed time to evaluate
The 28-nation EU on Thursday extended through September a first wave of targeted sanctions it had slapped on Moscow
and Crimean leaders in the wake
of Russia’s March seizure of
the Black Sea peninsula from
US Secretary of State John
Kerry is set to jet into Kiev on
Thursday to pledge Washington’s
support for the war-torn nation
during talks with President Petro
Poroshenko and Prime Minister
Arseniy Yatseniuk.
mounted a protest outside the
Russian embassy to demonstrate
what they perceive as Moscow’s
role in the death of 31 people during a rocket attack in a residential
area in Mariupol last month, the
Tass news agency reported.
Moscow blames the Ukrainian
government for the casualties.
ivilians fleeing the besieged east Ukrainian
town of Debaltseve came
under withering artillery fire
from pro-Russian separatists
yesterday, with security forces
vowing to fight to the end to defend the key transport hub.
A punishing barrage of shells
fell around a three-vehicle convoy entering the town, which the
rebels claim to have surrounded,
blowing out the windows of one
bus and lightly wounding two
drivers, an AFP correspondent
“Sixty civilians have been
evacuated since this morning,” said police officer Yevgen
Lukhaniv, 38, commanding a
checkpoint on the only road into
the town that is still open and
under the control of the Ukrainian army.
“People are fleeing because
the shelling is non-stop. There’s
no water, electricity or heating,”
he said of the town that was previously home to around 25,000
The strategic hub is roughly
halfway between the main rebel
strongholds of Donetsk and Luhansk.
A train line connecting the
three towns would be vital for
any separatist economy that
might emerge from the fighting.
But for now, with rebels pushing a renewed offensive in recent
weeks and a September truce in
tatters, angry residents can see
no end to the trauma of life in
the current epicentre of a ninemonth conflict that has killed at
least 5,100 people, according to
the United Nations.
The town’s streets are almost
empty of civilians, but troops are
“We’ve evacuated around 40
people, we didn’t keep a precise
count,” volunteer Natalia Voronkeva said.
“A shell landed close to one of
A boy looks out the window of a bus leaving Debaltseve.
our buses. People were inside but
thank God they could get out between explosions. A 14-year-old
girl and two drivers were wounded,” she said, adding that one bus
had been destroyed.
Ukraine’s defence minister
Stepan Poltorak said on Saturday that insurgent fighters had
“partial” control of the town,
but Kiev denied rebel claims that
they had surrounded around
8,000 Ukrainian troops there.
“There are no separatists in
the town,” officer Lukhaniv said.
“The police and soldiers will
not concede the town, we’ll stay
to the end,” he said, as a mortar
shell landed nearby.
Soldiers huddle in front of a
music school, with one of them
saying that “the situation in the
town is unclear”, declining to give
his name.
Marina and her 15-year-old
daughter seek refuge in a police station as two mortar shells
come crashing down nearby.
“I don’t want to leave, I have
everything here. What would I
do without money?”
Many residents’ fear has been
overtaken by anger.
“I haven’t been able to change
my clothes since January 21,”
Alla, 69, whose current home is
in a cellar, said.
“We can hardly wash our
hands,” she said. “They gave us
a generator but for two days we
had no light at all.”
Emergency services bring
much-needed water, which
handfuls of haggard civilians
emerge to collect.
“I don’t support anyone,” Alla
said. Under (pro-Moscow former
president Viktor) Yanukovych,
there wasn’t all this, and Crimea
was still ours.”
Seeking temporary shelter
from a sudden volley of shells
while on his way to collect water, Sergiy Zelenyev said: “Where
can I go? If I leave my house, then
At least one civilian was killed
and 10 wounded in fighting on
Saturday, but the toll in the town
may well be higher.
“We don’t want the National
Guard, the (separatist) Donetsk
Republic, we don’t want anyone,
we want calm to return,” Lyudmila, 69, who has been living in a
shelter for six months, said.
A 50-year-old mother of four
who identified herself as Nika
has been fighting with the volunteer Donbass battalion since
“My youngest is 15. My son is
also fighting in (strategic coastal
city) Mariupol,” she told AFP.
“I’m fighting for all the children,
not just my own.”
“We didn’t go over there,
to Russia ... Donbass is ours,
Donetsk, Luhansk, this isn’t New
Russia, this is Ukraine. We’re
fighting for peace in our country.”
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
11 killed in off-piste accidents in the Swiss Alps
leven people have died in
off-piste skiing accidents
in the Swiss Alps despite
repeated avalanche warnings
over the past four days, police
said yesterday.
Nine skiers were hit by an avalanche on Saturday on the Piz
Vilan mountain near the eastern
town of Seewis, of whom five
While four were confirmed
dead on Saturday, police said
yesterday that a fifth woman belonging to the team had died in
the snow surface to make it break
and sweep down a slope.
“Avalanches can be easily triggered in both the newly
fallen snow and the accumulated
snowdrift,” Switzerland’s avalanche service warned in a bulletin yesterday.
In western Austria, a man and
a woman were killed in an ava-
the considerable avalanche risk
had not yet subsided.
In most of Switzerland and
Austria, avalanche experts declared a “considerable” avalanche risk, the third highest
level on a five-level avalanche
danger scale.
At this risk level, even a single
skier can add enough pressure to
congress of Germany’s
anti-euro AfD party ending yesterday moved to
streamline its leadership structure in a bid to be more effective
after weeks of dispute within the
fledgling group.
Bernd Lucke, founder of the
Alternative for Germany (AfD),
won broad backing on Saturday
from the around 1,700 party
faithful gathered in the northwestern city of Bremen for his
proposal that one leader head
the party instead of three, which
he called “amateurish”.
The AfD will have two leaders
beginning in April, and then just
one starting in December.
The former economics professor said the pared-down
structure would help make
things more professional, telling
delegates that the two-year-old
party was “not a skittles club
or rabbit breeding association,
which one can lead part-time”.
He also hailed the victory of
Greece’s hard-left SYRIZA party and its new Prime Minister
Alexis Tsipras, to whom Lucke
described himself as being “very
grateful for having stood up to
show everyone in the EU that
things simply can’t continue as
they are”.
The AfD leader also voiced
support for the renegotiation
– or complete forgiveness – of
Greece’s massive debt, saying
that “there was no other solution” that will allow the country
escape its crushing indebtedness.
Lucke, the AfD’s highest profile figure, faces criticism within
the party for allegedly trying to
extend his power through the
structural reform, which will
involve a tandem of two leaders
dropping to a single party chief
in December.
The AfD’s main battle cry
when it was founded in early
2013 in the wake of financial turbulence that almost brought the
eurozone to its knees was for an
orderly dissolution of the euro.
It narrowly missed entering
the German parliament in 2013
general election.
But it made a breakthrough
last year by winning seats in the
European Parliament, followed
by three German state assemblies after the party sought to
widen its appeal by incorporating populist issues such as law
and order, immigration and traditional social values.
It now hopes to enter Hamburg’s city-state assembly in a
February 15 vote.
The party, which invited experts to the Bremen conference
to speak on tax, social and health
issues, plans to finalise its programme of policies in November.
But Lucke made clear that he
wanted to position the party,
which analysts say is made up of
three factions – neo-liberal, national conservative and a hardright populist wing – in the political centre.
He also supported the call
by Greece’s new anti-austerity
government for a debt writedown, saying yesterday that
there was “no way around it” but
that Athens must quit the eurozone in return.
Policies that were debated at
the conference included health
service reforms along the lines
of the Swiss model, personal
taxation and family policy.
The party has made it into the
headlines recently for criticising
immigrants who do not attempt
to integrate into German society
and for considering an alliance
with the troubled anti-Islam
PEGIDA movement.
AfD’s leading candidate for
the Hamburg City Council elections, Joern Kruse, said the conference had given his campaign a
real boost.
Meanwhile, Lucke’s victory in
pushing aside rivals who have a
strong appeal on the far-right
may cost the AfD in the long run,
analysts said, because Lucke’s
scholarly style and criticism of
eurozone bailouts is often lost
on right-wing voters.
“Lucke doesn’t represent
both wings and won’t win over
the national conservatives on
the far-right,” said Gero Neugebauer, a Berlin political scientist.
“But the AfD seems to have stabilised itself for now and will remain a problem for Merkel.”
The strengths and weaknesses
of the two-year-old AfD were on
abundant display at the threeday congress ahead of the regional election on February 15 in
Hamburg, where the AfD hopes
to win seats in a western state
assembly for the first time after
triumphing with about 10% in
three east states in 2014.
A party its opponents disparagingly refer to as a group
of “grumpy old men”, the AfD
spent hours squabbling about
procedures and agenda before
Thousands demonstrate against
the AfD meeting, guarded by
police forces, in Bremen, on
Right: Protesters hold a
banner during the
demonstration against the AfD
finally settling down to vote for
Lucke’s plan to gradually switch
from three leaders to a single
On Saturday, some 3,700
protesters gathered outside the
conference to protest what they
called right-wing populism and
Youth’s tale of life
wins comics award
Angouleme, France
Firefighters work to extinguish a fire at the library of the Academic Institute of Scientific Information on Social Sciences in Moscow on
youngster’s tale of life
torn between France
and the Middle East by
a Charlie Hebdo contributor
scooped the top award at one
of the world’s biggest comics
festivals in France yesterday.
The Angouleme festival,
which draws hundreds of
thousands of visitors to the
city in southwestern France,
was this year dedicated to the
murdered cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo magazine.
The town was full of tributes to the satirical cartoonists
killed in a jihadist attack last
month, with one of the town’s
squares renamed “Place de
A new “Charlie Hebdo award
for freedom of expression” was
also inaugurated yesterday,
this year going to the magazine
The four-day festival climaxed yesterday with its top
prize – for best book of the
year – going to The Arab of
the Future: a childhood in the
Middle East by Riad Sattouf, a
funny and moving look at life
in France and under the dictatorships of Libya and Syria
in the late 1970s and early
Sattouf, who is half-French
and half-Syrian, has also featured regularly in Charlie
Hebdo with a series called The
Secret Life of Youngsters.
achievement award was given
on Thursday to Katsuhiro Otomo, creator of the cult Japanese series Akira – the first
manga cartoonist to win the
Rare papers at risk in Moscow library blaze
fire that ripped through
one of Russia’s largest
university libraries is
believed to have damaged over
one million historic documents,
with some describing the fire as
a cultural “Chernobyl”.
The blaze, which started on
Friday and was still not completely out by Saturday evening,
ravaged 2,000sq m of the Institute of Scientific Information
on Social Sciences (INION) in
Moscow, which was created
lanche while skiing off-piste in
the resort of Damuels.
Several others survived a
number of incidents in Austria,
including a 74-year-old man
who was partially buried by the
snow in the Styrian mountains.
He had to wait eight hours until rescuers dug him out shortly
before midnight.
Anti-euro party agrees
to slim down leadership
hancellor Angela Merkel is the most admired
woman in Germany, according to a survey published
yesterday by the British market
research firm YouGov.
The most admired man among
Germans is former politician
Helmut Schmidt, who was
chancellor of West Germany
from 1974 to 1982 at the height
of the Cold War.
Germans also admire international figures, such as Pakistani
Nobel Peace Prize laureate and
female education campaigner
Malala Yousafzai, who came second to Merkel.
British scientist Stephen
Hawking and US whistleblower
and privacy campaigner Edward
Snowden appeared in the top five
most admired men in Germany.
The opinion poll was part of a
worldwide survey conducted by
People across the globe singled out actress, filmmaker and
human rights campaigner Angelina Jolie as their most admired
She was followed by Malala
and former US secretary of state,
senator and first lady Hillary
Rodham Clinton.
The top three men in the global poll were US businessman
and philanthropist Bill Gates,
US President Barack Obama and
Chinese President Xi Jinping.
YouGov said it surveyed
25,000 people from 23 countries for the poll, including 1,000
people in Germany.
der, a 26-year-old skiing offpiste provoked a snow slide that
sent him over a cliff, the authorities said.
Another three off-piste skiers
died Thursday and Friday.
Up to 1.2m (four feet) of snow
has fallen in the region in recent
Experts warned yesterday that
Also on Saturday, a 31-yearold Swiss man was killed by an
avalanche while he was skiing
off-piste in the Bernese Oberland.
In the same area a 28-year-old
Swiss snowboarder was engulfed
by snow and died.
In another fatal accident, in
Wildhaus near the Austrian bor-
in 1918 and holds 10mn documents with some dating back to
the 16th century.
“It’s a major loss for science.
This is the largest collection of
its kind in the world, probably
equivalent to the (United States)
Library of Congress,” Vladimir
Fortov, president of the Russian Academy of Sciences was
quoted as saying by Russia press
“One can find documents
there that are impossible to find
elsewhere, all the social sciences use this library. What has
happened here is reminiscent of
Chernobyl,” he said referring to
the 1986 nuclear catastrophe.
Fortov said about 15% of the
collection had been damaged at
the library, which includes one
of the world’s richest collections of Slavic language works,
but also documents from Britain, Italy and the US.
Fortov told Kommersant FM
radio that much of the damage
was caused by water from the
firefighting operations.
No one was injured in the inferno.
The fire broke out on Friday
evening on the library’s second
floor and continued burning all
day on Saturday despite 200
firefighters’ efforts to douse the
Library authorities initially
said the documents were not in
danger, but once the fire caused
1,000sq m of the roof to collapse
they were less certain about the
risk to the collection.
A rescue service source told
state-run RIA Novosti news
agency it was impossible to remove the books because of the
intense heat in the building.
According to Russian media,
investigators looking into the
cause of the blaze suspect an
electrical short circuit was to
This picture taken on Saturday shows placards reading ‘No
cartoons without cartoonists’ are pictured before a ‘Marche
des Auteurs’ (‘Authors’ March’) to protest against reforms to
the mandatory retirement plan of authors (regime de retraite
complementaire obligatoire, RAAP) on the sidelines of the 42nd
Angouleme International Comics Festival (Festival international
de la bande dessinee d’Angouleme) in Angouleme.
Bulgaria mourns
president Zhelev
Hundreds of Bulgarians laid
flowers yesterday in the open
coffin of their first democraticallyelected president as they bade
farewell to Zhelyu Zhelev at his
Former king Simeon II and
representatives from other
Balkan countries and the
European Commission also
attended the service for the
former dissident who served
as president from 1990 to 1997,
immediately after the country
transitioned from a communist to
a democratic nation.
Zhelev died on Friday in Sofia at
the age of 79.
A small family burial is planned
today in Boyana outside the
Zhelev was originally a member
of the Bulgarian Communist
Party, but he was expelled from it
in 1965 because of his criticism of
the communist regime and exiled
from Sofia.
Two dead in
storms in Spain
Two people have died in rain and
snowstorms in northern Spain,
officials said yesterday.
A male skier died in an avalanche
following heavy snowfall in the
Pyrenean winter sport resort of
Spanish rescue authorities
reported yesterday that they had
found his body.
A second skier was pulled alive
from the snow on Saturday, they
Both men had been skiing down
a run that had been closed owing
to the risk of avalanches.
In the Navarre region, a 70-yearold man drowned when the
delivery truck he was driving
was washed away after the river
Odron burst its banks.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
Tamil Nadu
By Umaima Shafiq
for robbery
In a disturbing trend, college
graduates are taking to robbery
and chain snatching in the
suburbs of Chennai.
Last week police arrested Bharath
Kumar, an engineer working in a
private firm, with the help of an
identity card that he had left at the
home of a woman he had robbed
at Mogappair.
He admitted to robbing several
women when they were alone at
home in the mornings.
Police also arrested his associates
and recovered gold they had
stolen from homes in Nolambur,
J J Nagar, Thirumangalam and
Anna Nagar. The gang used bikes
for quick escapes and sold the
loot to a goldsmith.
In a separate incident, a 65-yearold bank manager’s house was
burgled by a gang of thieves
who stole 60 sovereigns of gold,
Rs100,000 and silver ornaments
at Nanganallur in Chennai. Police
were astonished that the family
slept even as the robbers daringly
entered through a ventilator and
ransacked cupboards in the house.
Family wants Laxman memorial in Mumbai
he proposed memorial to
legendary cartoonist R K
Laxman, announced by
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in Pune last week, must be
erected in Mumbai, his family has
“The CM was very kind to announce the memorial, but the
location has not been specified. We, especially my daughter
Rimanika and wife Usha, are keen
that it should come up in Mumbai, where Laxman spent over
seven decades of his life and The
Common Man was born,” son
Srinivas Laxman said.
He said it was the vibrant and
never-say-die spirit of the ordinary Mumbaikar that inspired
the image of Laxman’s bespectacled creation - The Common
Man - always silent with a confused and bewildered expression at the antics of politicians,
generally in his trademark check
shirt with dhoti, and a tuft of hair
clinging to the sides of his worrymarked pate.
Srinivas, himself a retired
journalist from The Times of
India and now a specialist writer
on space exploration, said that
his father started his cartooning
career in Mumbai and walked the
streets of the city, saw it developing into a global financial centre
and chronicled it through his
“He had a long, 60-year-old
friendship with another great
Mumbaikar and cartoonist, the
late Bal Thackeray. They used
to have lunch and tea at Chetna
Restaurant those days, laugh and
joke. Before his death, Thackeray had visited my dad in Pune,”
Srinivas said.
During lunch breaks, or on lean
working days, Laxman and other
Sikh warrior remembered
A special court in Chennai
dismissed the bail pleas of three
aides of former federal telecom
minister Dayanidhi Maran
who were arrested in an illegal
telephone exchange case last
Police arrested Maran’s chief
secretary Gowthaman, 50, and
two employees of his Sun TV
cable company - S Kannan and K
S Ravi. The three had reportedly
set up a 323-line high-speed
Integrated Services Digital
Network (ISDN) at Maran’s Boat
Club residence in Chennai when
he was the telecom minister. This
service was used by Sun TV for
transmission purposes.
The court overruled the defence
counsel’s plea of their innocence
saying that there was technical
proof of their guilt. The court also
said that the trio could tamper
with evidence if bailed.
External affairs minister says
India will make it easier for
Chinese companies to do
business in the country
Threat to blow
up theatre
A Sikh devotee holds a sword while riding an elephant during a religious procession from
Gurdwara Shaheed Ganj Sahib in Amritsar in Punjab yesterday. The procession was held to
mark the 333rd birth anniversary of Sikh warrior Shaheed Baba Deep Singh.
Soldier kills wife,
her parents
A soldier and his siblings have
been arrested for murdering his
wife and her family at Sedapatti in
suburban Madurai last week.
Kamalakannan reportedly shot his
wife, her parents and two siblings
while they were waiting to catch
a bus. He also attacked them
with sickles. Though he escaped,
Kamalakannan was arrested
based on eyewitness accounts.
Police learnt that he was
estranged from his wife for some
years and had been paying her
alimony. However he became
angry because she kept writing
complaints to his seniors.
Petrol dealers
stage strike
Over 4,800 retail petrol stations of
the Tamil Nadu Petroleum Dealers
Association struck work on January
31 to highlight business losses.
The association did not purchase
fuel from any of the three public
sector oil companies on that day.
They complained of inventory loss
incurred during the recent fuel
price cuts. They also protested the
federal government’s imposition
of fines on petrol bunks that did
not have toilet facilities.
However the strike did not affect
consumers because the bunks
were stocked for two days.
International drug mafia
active in Kerala: minister
By Ashraf
he international drug
racket is widening its net
in Kerala and the state’s
campuses are a soft target, says
a minister.
“The drug mafia has been very
active in Kerala for quite some
time and hence we launched the
campaign Clean Campus, Safe
Campus last year. I have asked
the police to get tough with the
mafia,” Home Minister Ramesh
Chennithala said yesterday.
He was reacting to the arrest
of up-and-coming actor Shine
Tom Chacko along with four
women from an apartment in
the port city of Kochi on Saturday. The police seized 10g of cocaine worth around Rs200,000
from them.
“We have received clear indications about the deep-rooted
network of the drug mafia working both at the national and in-
ternational levels. Police will
crush them, even if well connected,” the minister said.
Chacko and the women, an
assistant film director, a model,
a student who is a part-time
model and a business executive
with Gulf connections, are in
police custody and they are being interrogated.
The minister said the police
carried out the midnight swoop
after getting clear information
about the activities in the rented
apartment owned by Mohamed
Nisham, who is also in police
custody in a case of attempted
murder last week.
Though minor seizures of
drugs were reported in the past,
this is the first time that the
presence of “international drug
mafia network” in the state gets
official confirmation.
“(They) are looking at Kerala
as a fertile ground for their operations. We are putting up a
strong fight against such elements and we are not going to
- the Mumbai building does
not have a lift - the 86-year old
Laxman shifted to Pune in April
2008. “But, his heart always beat
for Mumbai. He always wanted to
return and live here,” Usha said.
In fact, during his frequent
visits from Pune to Mumbai, Laxman enjoyed going for long drives
in various areas and loved to
watch the crowds at Churchgate,
Marine Lines, the Chowpatty
Beach and the bhelpuriwalas, the
CST and the vicinity of ToI, as
also some other old haunts, and
always appeared pleased and excited.
On a more personal level, the
family would miss Laxman’s delightful annual ‘Happy Birthday
gifts’ in the form of a sketch of
Rimanika or Srinivas, and also
doting daughter-in-law Usha.
“Practically from my birth, he
used to make at least one annual
sketch on my birthday. Later he
did some for Usha, who was very
close to him, and then regularly
for his grand-daughter Rimanika,” Srinivas said.
Once, during a college event,
the young and shy Srinivas was
billed as Laxman’s “Greatest
“But, we took it in our stride...”
he laughs over the incident in a
south Mumbai college over four
decades ago.
According to the family, a Laxman memorial in Mumbai would
be a befitting tribute to both the
great city and its prime resident,
The Common Man, whose statue
is already installed at Worli.
PM to visit
Beijing in
May, says
Court rejects
bail pleas of
Maran aides
Security was stepped up last week
at the popular Udhayam Theatres
in Chennai after it received a letter
threatening to blow up the cinema
against the February 5 release
of actor Ajith Kumar’s Tamil film
Yennai Arindhal.
Bomb disposal squads searched
the theatre and said it was a hoax.
Police also said no other theatre
had received such threats and
suspect it could be somebody’s
personal grouse.
Two days later, classes were
suspended at Loyola College on
Sterling Road due after receiving
a letter threatening a bomb the
institution. However this too
proved to be a hoax.
senior editors of ToI would go for
walks in the old, bustling Dalal
Street (before the 29-storied
Bombay Stock Exchange Building
came up in 1980), Strand Book
Stall, Jehangir Art Gallery, the
Colaba Causeway, Flora Fountain, and other parts which comprised the CBD (central business
district) of Mumbai, Srinivas
said, explaining how his father
got inspired for his works which
became historic creations.
In the 1940s, when Laxman
first came to Mumbai, he lived in
the Mirabelle Hotel - which no
longer exists - at Marine Lines
and then at other smaller places
before moving to his flat in the
posh Breach Candy area, where
he spent 70 years of his life.
Owing to practical reasons
spare anyone,” he said. “The
mafia rings are eyeing Kerala as a
popular tourist destination.”
The arrest of Chacko, considered one of the most promising
“new gen” actors, came in as a
shock to his friends, fans and
well-wishers who insist he is innocent.
Chacko told reporters he had
neither possessed the stuff nor
tried it. Reports said he was under pressure to “drop the names
of celebrities” after being booked
under the Narcotic Drugs and
Psychotropic Substance Act.
“Hope the news is not correct.
He got huge talent,” tweeted N S
Madhavan, a writer and former
Chacko, who hails from
Ponnani in Malappuram, has
worked as an assistant to many
talented directors for more than
a decade before trying his luck in
acting in the 2011 film Gaddama,
directed by his mentor Kamal, in
which he portrayed a shepherd
in the Gulf.
rime Minister Narendra
Modi will visit China in
May, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said yesterday during her own three-day
visit to Beijing.
“Mr Modi is going to come in
May. I will give them dates today.
This is a preparatory visit,” Swaraj
told Indian reporters in Beijing.
Swaraj is holding three-way
talks with her Chinese and Russian counterparts during the trip,
her first official visit since she
took office last year.
Swaraj also said India will make
it easier for Chinese companies
to do business in the country as
it seeks to take bilateral economic
ties with Beijing to “a qualitatively new level.”
She also suggested a six-point
template including “action-oriented approach” to boost mutual
Addressing the launch of the
Second India-China Media Forum, Swaraj also said the Modi’s
government was committed to
exploring an early settlement to
the India-China boundary row.
Noting China was India’s largest partner in trade and goods and
the two economies are moving
to invest in each other, she said:
“Serious discussions on enhancing connectivity have been initiated. On that foundation, we are
now seeking to take our economic
co-operation to a qualitatively
new level.”
“Another major thrust is in establishing industrial parks in two
Indian states that would contribute to the ‘Make in India’ initiative,” she said.
“We will make it easier for Chinese companies to do business
in India and expect that similar
encouragement would be given
to our companies to expand their
business in China.”
Swaraj said that as both countries play a larger international
role, “our contacts and dialogues
must commensurately grow. As
the two major civilizational powers of Asia, we should have confidence in each other, to build on
our shared interests.”
The minister said the media
forum was envisaged as a platform to encourage appreciation
and build understanding of each
other’s societies in their respective media.
“As our strategic and co-operative relationship deepens in
the bilateral domain and expands
in regional and international cooperation, it is vital that or peo-
ple have a good understanding of
each other’s interests and viewpoints.”
Swaraj also appreciated China’s
decision to open an additional
route through Nathula for the
Kailash Manasarovar Yatra.
“Our relationship today has
reached a level where we have interactions in fields that could not
have been imagined some years
“We have made considerable
progress in establishing and expanding defence contacts and
exchanges, including across our
border. They contribute to the
maintenance of peace and tranquility there, a pre-requisite for
the further development of our
The minister underlined that
the Modi government had commenced “a number of key initiatives addressing a wide range of
ambitious goals” which “provide
new opportunities for co-operation insofar as our key international partners are concerned.”
“Where China is concerned,
this is very evident in the frequency of our high-level exchanges
and the widening of our already
substantive bilateral agenda.”
US President Barack Obama
last week paid a high-profile visit
to India aimed at bolstering ties
between the two countries, which
share an interest in curbing China’s growing regional influence.
Gulati wins the Bigg Boss
Bollywood actress and runner-up Karishma Tanna (left), film director Farha Khan (second left),
television actor and winner Gautam Gulati (second right) and radio jockey Pritam Singh pose for
a photograph during the Bigg Boss Season 8 final in Lonavala near Mumbai late Saturday. Gulati
won the prize money of Rs5mn while Singh exited the popular reality show by taking Rs2.5mn.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
Mohanlal’s band flops
at debut performance
Four killed as bus
runs over people
Odisha issues notice to
colleges for land grab
CPM slams Himachal
govt over entrance test
Elephants kill
W Bengal farmer
Malayalam superstar Mohanlal’s new music band
Lalisom has not been disbanded, its director
said yesterday. The band was criticised after its
debut performance at the opening ceremony
of the 35th National Games on Saturday in
Thiruvananthapuram. “Being our first outing and
also because of the big opening ceremony cultural
programme, there was a lack of co-ordination.
What arose yesterday were practical problems
in co-ordination. The reports that the band has
been dissolved are baseless,” the band’s director
Ratheesh Vega said. Mohanlal denied he had taken
Rs20mn for the show adding he had only charged
for the expense while his appearance was free.
Four people were killed and two injured yesterday
when a bus ran over people near Rajahmundry in
Andhra Pradesh, police said. The accident occurred
at the Rajahmundry-Morampudi junction when the
bus - belonging to a private school - was carrying
people to a public meeting of YSR Congress Party
in Tanaku in West Godavari district. A 12-year-old
boy and a woman were among the dead. The
condition of the injured was said to be critical.
The bus driver apparently lost control and the
bus hit a car and crushed three motorbikes. The
bus overturned before coming to a halt. Shocking
images of the accident were captured on CCTV
cameras. The government has ordered a probe.
The Odisha government has issued notice to
25 engineering and management institutes for
encroaching upon government land, an official
said yesterday. The Employment and Technical
Education and Training (ET&T) department asked
the institutes to give a reply within 15 days, a
senior official said. “The revenue and disaster
management department have reported that you
have not converted the agricultural land for nonagricultural purpose in violation to the Odisha
Land Reforms Act and have encroached the
government land,” said the notice. The institutes
include the Kalinga Institute of Technology and
Rajdhani Engineering and Technology.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist)
yesterday condemned the Himachal Pradesh
government’s decision to conduct a separate
entrance test for admission to private
engineering colleges. Himachal Pradesh
Technical University in Hamirpur will hold the
entrance test which will be separated from
the all-India test conducted under the joint
entrance examination, it said. “It’s shocking
to note that the government has acted under
pressure from the private engineering colleges
which want an easy access on to the market of
students, who do not get through the all-India
test,” CPM leader Tikender Panwar said.
A 26-year-old farmer in West Bengal was killed
by a herd of elephants while he was trying to
save his crops, an official said yesterday. The
incident happened on Saturday night near the
Sonamukhi forest in Bankura district, 150km
from Kolkata. “A herd of 12 elephants had come
out of the forest for drinking water from a canal
which is close to a village,” Divisional Forest
Officer Sudhir Chandra Das said. “Fearing that
the elephants may damage their crops, farmers
tried to shoo them away. One of the farmers
Sukanta Adhikari was attacked and killed by the
herd.” A grievously injured Adhikari was shifted
to hospital, where he was declared dead.
BJP is worried
by lukewarm
response to
Bedi road show
New Delhi
roubled by reports that
the voters of Krishna Nagar, the constituency of
Bharatiya Janata Party’s chief
ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi,
are not warming up to her, the
senior leadership has directed
local heavyweight and central
minister Harsh Vardhan to “put
in extra efforts” to ensure that
the former police officer wins
here by a comfortable margin,
party sources said.
Considered to be a “traditional
seat” of the BJP, Harsh Vardhan
- the party’s chief ministerial
candidate in the 2013 assembly
polls and now a minister in Prime
Minister Narendra Modi’s government - held the Krishna Nagar
seat since 1993 before winning the
Chandni Chowk seat in the AprilMay 2014 general elections.
Sources said party workers of
the east Delhi locality, home to
mostly middle-class families,
are “demoralised” that Harsh
Vardhan was replaced by Bedi,
who is being seen as an outsider.
“The response to her road
shows and public meetings in
Krishna Nagar has been lukewarm. We were expecting better,” a party leader, requesting
anonymity, said.
“The party has realised that the
face of the campaigning has to be
Harsh Vardhan whosoever is the
candidate. He has been asked to
put in extra efforts to ensure her
victory,” the leader added.
Reports of a rift between Harsh
Vardhan and Bedi have also been
doing the rounds for some time.
After joining the party on January 15, Bedi had called all the seven
Delhi MPs to her residence for tea
on January 20. As Harsh Vardhan arrived late, Bedi left without
meeting him, reportedly leaving
the minister for science and technology and earth sciences fuming,
the sources said.
Harsh Vardhan however accompanied Bedi on her first road
show in Krishna Nagar on January 21, when she filed her nomination papers, and at subsequent
public meetings.
Again, earlier this week, Harsh
Vardhan was absent from a rally
Bedi addressed in Krishna Nagar,
apparently peeved by her remark
a few days earlier: “Doctor sahib
(Harsh Vardhan) has been taking
care of Krishna Nagar, now I will
also be your doctor.”
The rising differences between
the two have left the top leadership worried and with less than a
week to go for the polls, the party
is desperate to ensure that they
reconcile. “Although it is a safe
seat for Bedi, the party wants her
to win it by an impressive margin. Moreover, she cannot afford
not to have him (Harsh Vardhan)
on board as he is the local popular leader,” the sources said.
“The voters can also make
out if things are not right,” the
sources said.
Angry Bedi stops speech midway
BJP leaders at Prime Minister
Narendra Modi’s rally in New
Delhi yesterday were caught
by surprise when the party’s
chief ministerial candidate
Kiran Bedi threatened to stop
her speech midway as she
was getting disturbed by the
crowd chanting Modi’s name.
Thousands of people gathered
at the DDA ground in Dwarka’s
Sector 14 were waiting eagerly
for Modi, and were raising
slogans praising him and the
BJP at regular intervals. As Bedi
was midway into her speech,
news of the prime minister
reaching the ground sent the
crowds into a tizzy who started
chanting his name. At this point,
Bedi took a long pause and
waited for the crowd to settle
down. However, when that did
not happen, she resumed her
speech but stopped again after
a few seconds.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi, former chief minister Sheila Dikshit and other party leaders wave at supporters during a rally in New Delhi yesterday.
Modi very vocal but
doing nothing: Sonia
The Congress chief says the
BJP and the AAP are being
run by the RSS
New Delhi
ongress president Sonia
Gandhi yesterday accused the Aam Aadmi
Party and the Bharatiya Janata
Party of “doing nothing” for the
people and just being busy in
sloganeering and staging sit-in
“The country cannot be run
by sloganeering. Work, and not
hollow speeches, will take the
nation forward,” Gandhi said.
She indirectly attacked Prime
Minister Narendra Modi for
“only being vocal and doing
PM urged to set up SIT to
reinvestigate Sikh ‘genocide’
New Delhi
unjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal yesterday sought the personal
intervention of Prime Minister
Narendra Modi in setting up a
Special Investigation Team (SIT)
to probe all cases related to the
1984 anti-Sikh riots.
In a letter to Modi, Badal said
the “genocide” of Sikhs was a
“pre-planned” incident at the
behest of Congress leaders.
Badal urged the central government to take an immediate
decision on the recommendations of the Justice G P Mathur
panel, constituted by the central
government in December last
year, to re-investigate several
cases related to anti-Sikh violence that broke out in November 1984 after the assassination
of then prime minister Indira
The chief minister said the
Shiromani Akali Dal has been
struggling to get justice for
the victims of the 1984 riots
in Delhi and other parts of the
He said that on the Akali Dal’s
demand, the Justice Mathur
panel was constituted in December 2014, by the central government to examine the possibility
of setting up of an SIT for re-investigating the 1984 ‘genocide’.
Badal said the panel had, in its
45-page report, suggested setting up of an SIT.
Demanding re-investigation
of many cases where crucial evidence was overlooked and cases
were closed by Delhi police even
without sending them to courts,
Badal said all such cases needed
to be re-opened.
Accusing the previous Congress-led government of pushing the anti-Sikh riots cases
under the carpet, Badal said the
recommendations of the Mathur
panel had given new hope to victims of the riots.
“By doing so, the government
of India will assuage the bruised
psyche of the Sikh community
and help them get justice,” Badal
Hundreds of Sikhs were tar-
geted and killed in Delhi and other places across India by mobs in
the aftermath of Gandhi’s assassination by her two Sikh security
guards in October 1984.
Many Congress leaders were
accused of instigating mobs to
target Sikhs during the riots.
Meanwhile, an Akali Dal delegation yesterday met Home
Minister Rajnath Singh and demanded an SIT to probe the 1984
riots as per recommendations of
the committee.
Stating that justice delayed
was justice denied, party leader
and Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Committee chief Manjit Singh G K
said: “We met the home minister and told him that the government should act on the recommendations of the Justice
Mathur report and the SIT must
be constituted with immediate
He said Rajnath Singh assured
them that justice would be done.
However, the Aam Aadmi Party attacked the government and
described it as a political gimmick to woo voters ahead of the
Addressing a mammoth election rally, attended by over
15,000 people, in Mithapur village near Badarpur in south Delhi, the Congress chief said the
BJP and the AAP were being run
by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak
Sangh and they have only one
aim - to oppose the Congress.
“They left Delhi on its own.
After the previous Delhi election, we supported the AAP for
a stable government but they
ran away. Similarly, the BJP, under President’s Rule, did nothing to improve the law and order
situation and went on working
to achieve its own interest,” she
Reminding people how Delhi
progressed under the Congress
with lots of infrastructure, including the Delhi Metro and
other facilities, Gandhi said the
BJP did not bother to fulfil the
promises it had made before the
general elections.
“Corruption, price rise and
crimes against women are on
the rise but they are not bothered,” she said.
“Delhi was provided the Metro train, CNG, 24-hour supply of power and water... good
healthcare and education was
also ensured under the Congress’ 15-year rule, but the BJP
and the AAP were just trying to
befool people,” she said.
Gandhi raised questions of
how the BJP went on promising
everything to capture power,
and said it has not delivered anything even after being in power
for so many months.
“Where is the black money
which was promised? What are
they doing to arrest price rise?
Rural Olympics
We carried out lots of progressive work under then prime
minister Manmohan Singh but
they just promise and do nothing,” she said.
Gandhi also accused the BJP
of taking away the good work
done by the previous Congressled governments.
“The Food Security Act and
the Land Acquisition Act were
actualised under our government but now these are being
tampered with through the ordinance way. Farmers are not
being given proper minimum
support price for their produce
and they are suffering. Schemes
like these are being destroyed,”
she said.
“Farmers are struggling to
get fertilisers and seeds for their
crops. We took many steps to
empower the poor, but today the
Body parts found in
UP police morgue
Villagers race horse carts during the 79th Kila Raipur Rural
Sports Festival, also known as the Rural Olympics, at Kila
Raipur, some 20km from Ludhiana in Punjab yesterday.
Modi government is weakening
these Acts to take away power
from the poor,” Gandhi said.
The Congress chief also cautioned people to make an informed choice this time, as the
BJP or the AAP, if voted to power, would ruin the city further.
She said Delhi needs development and good governance.
“My appeal to you is to cast
every vote in favour of the Congress to bring back the atmosphere of development.”
Former Delhi chief minister
Sheila Dikshit, Delhi Congress
chief Arvinder Singh Lovely and
Haroon Yusuf were among the
Congress leaders who accompanied Gandhi on stage.
Voting for the 70-member
assembly will take place on
February 7 and results will be
known on February 10.
forensic team has submitted a report on the
gruesome discovery of
dozens of bones and decayed
body parts found in a police
morgue in Uttar Pradesh, police said yesterday.
Police said the human remains, discovered on Friday,
had apparently been left there
after autopsies and had been
stored in a postmortem room
that had been locked since
“Sacks of bones and jars of
(decaying) organs were found
on Friday. The room had not
been used in over six years but
some workers spotted them
through an open window,” senior police official G N Soni said
by phone from Unnao district.
“The expert committee has
already submitted its report to
the district magistrate,” Soni
Soni said he did not know
where the bodies came from
or why they were never cre-
mated, but police have reportedly admitted a lapse in normal
procedures for the disposal of
bodies after postmortems.
Authorities will now conduct DNA tests and investigate
why “100 bones and skulls”some which date back to the
early 1980s - “were left to rot
in the room,” another district
police official, who did not
wished to be named, said.
Dozens of other skeletons
and decayed body parts have
similarly been discovered in
other parts of Uttar Pradesh,
The Times of India and Mail
Today newspapers reported
The latest incidents come
just weeks after some 100 bodies were found floating in Ganges river near a cremation area
in Unnao.
Police say the bodies were
probably given river burials
by families too poor to afford
enough wood and other materials for a proper cremation.
Millions of Hindus practice
open-air cremation, with the
ashes of loved ones scattered
in the revered Ganges.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
Colombian bullfighter El Juli performs a pass
during a bullfighting festival in the La Macarena
bullring in Medellin.
Argentina’s Kirchner out of
wheelchair for China trip
Ship grounding threatens
Galapagos Islands
Scottish climber dies on
Aconcagua mountain
Venezuela official held
on graft charges
Argentine President Cristina Kirchner said
Saturday she may be back on her feet for
her upcoming visit to China, after being
wheelchair-bound for several weeks with an
ankle fracture. Kirchner is due to visit the
Asian powerhouse from tomorrow to Thursday
at the invitation of President Xi Jinping, who
visited Argentina last year. The 61-year-old
Argentine leader has been recovering since
breaking her ankle the day after Christmas.
She said on Twitter she was finally walking
short distances with her cast-bound ankle and
that her doctor said she could be out of her
wheelchair by tomorrow.
Ecuadoran authorities called for a state of
emergency to be declared in the Galapagos
Islands as they aimed to limit damage to the
archipelago’s pristine environment after a
ship ran aground. Galapagos National Park
officials said they are seeking an environmental
emergency declaration to help them deal
with the Floreana since Wednesday’s incident.
The ship was carrying 1,400 tonnes of cargo,
including food and hazardous substances as
well as some 10,000 gallons of fuel. It is at
least the third such incident in the past year.
The Ecuadoran-owned Galapagos Islands are
classified as a Unesco world heritage site.
A Scottish mountain climber has died of a
heart attack attempting to reach the summit
of Aconcagua, an Andean peak in Argentina
that is one of the world’s highest, authorities
said yesterday. Roger Cookson, 58, suffered
a heart attack on Saturday during the ascent
of the 6,962-metre mountain in the Argentine
province of Mendoza, the province’s security
secretariat said. He was taken to a shelter where
he died. A spokesman for Lanko, the trekking
firm which organised the trip, said: “He was an
experienced mountaineer and in good health.
He didn’t have any illnesses.” Aconcagua is the
tallest mountain in the world outside Asia.
Venezuela arrested an oil ministry official in
charge of overseeing the domestic fuel market
on suspicion of corruption, the state prosecutor’s
office said in a statement. The official, Nubia
Parada, was later presented in court, the
statement said, without providing additional
details of what she is accused of. The Opec
nation’s gasoline is so heavily subsidised that one
gallon costs just $0.02 at the strongest official
exchange rate. That has created a lucrative
business for smugglers moving fuel across the
border to neighbouring Colombia. President
Nicolas Maduro this month said Venezuela needs
to raise fuel prices to limit losses to state coffers.
fish to survive
economic crisis
El Yagual, Venezuela
eople in Venezuela’s savannah heartlands struggling
to survive the national economic crisis have found a novel
way to make ends meet: fishsmuggling to Colombia.
While contraband of gasoline
and medicine has been going on
for years, little is known about
the trade in tonnes of fresh-water fish by Venezuelans who pile
them onto long, motorised canoes and traverse dangerous waterways for days into Colombia.
Fishermen and traders in the
border state of Apure, in Venezuela’s “llanos” or agricultural
plains, speak openly of negotiating with Colombian guerrillas
and bribing Venezuelan authorities in a trade that keeps whole
villages fed.
“There’s no other work.
The fish pay for our food,
our clothes, our children’s
studies, everything”
“There’s no other work. The
fish pay for our food, our clothes,
our children’s studies, everything,” said Jesus Rodriguez, 53,
who supplies coporo fish to buyers at the beginning of the smuggling chain.
Working with boats and nets
on the river Arauca in southwestern Venezuela, the fishermen in El Yagual village sell their
catches to traders who load as
much as 3.5 tonnes per canoe for
the trip to Colombia.
The fish are carefully packed
with ice then covered with cloth.
Children can be seen working on
the riverbank, while large wads
of cash change hands at every
The 24-hour journey goes
past military checkpoints on the
river and into territory held by
Colombian guerrillas who for
decades have been straying over
the border.
“There are lots of dangers,”
said Luis Machado, 28, a Colombian boatman. “Whirlpools that
can sink you, branches in the water. Then you bump into soldiers,
the government, the guerrillas,
almost everyone en route!”
In El Yagual, coporo fish go for
70 Venezuelan bolivars per kilogram, but middlemen make four
times that after selling in Colombia for pesos then changing the
money back on a flourishing currency black market on the border.
Venezuela’s strict currency
controls are a main factor driving
a contraband trade that has irked
President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government and sparked
a major crackdown netting hundreds of suspected smugglers.
Venezuela’s three-tiered exchange rate system makes it
tricky to calculate currency conversions. Coropo fish sell for the
equivalent of around $11 per kg
at the strongest official exchange
rate, but just $0.40 at the black
market rate.
Opec member Venezuela is
suffering a recession and the
highest inflation in the Americas. Shortages are widespread.
Critics blame 15 years of socialist
policies, while Maduro says opposition leaders and a wealthy
elite are to blame for an economic “war” including hoarding and
price gouging.
Hector Buitrago, 55, a major
player in the fish business and
known as “the heron”, said the
Arauca river had become a more
popular smuggling route in recent months because authorities were watching roads more
Buitrago estimates that about
80% of the fish trade into Colombia is illegal and that final
profits averaged about 50-65
bolivars per kg after bribes and
other costs.
‘Batman’ protests corruption
An anti-government demonstrator dressed as Batman stands in protest against corruption and against the induction of new members of the National Congress in
Brasilia yesterday. The placard reads ‘Dilma, your time is running out, the Lava-Jato (Jet wash) Wash is coming’. Lava-Jato is the name of an operation of the federal
police investigating allegations of corruption in the Brazilian Petroleum company, Petrobras.
Chile president unveils
plan to ease abortion ban
Michelle Bachelet, unveiled plans to ease a
complete ban on abortions in
the socially conservative South
American country.
In a televised address, leftist
Bachelet said she was sending
Congress a draft bill that would
permit abortion when a mother’s life is at risk, a fetus will not
survive the pregnancy, or in the
case of rape.
The outright ban on terminations was put in place during
Dominican Republic
settles Caracas oil debt
Santo Domingo
he Dominican Republic has paid $1.93bn to
settle a $4bn debt with
Venezuelan state oil company
PDVSA that accrued under the
Petrocaribe energy co-operation
agreement, the island’s finance
minister said.
Petrocaribe, created by late
socialist leader Hugo Chavez in
2005, lets countries in the Caribbean and Central America finance up to 60% of their oil and
fuel purchases at an interest rate
of as little as 1% over 25 years.
The funds may help Venezuela ease concerns in capital
markets that it could default on
its foreign debt amid a recession. President Nicolas Maduro
has dismissed default talk as a
campaign by his adversaries to
weaken his government.
The Dominican Republic was
able to complete the operation
through a $2.5bn bond issue
launched this month, said Fi-
nance Minister Simon Lizardo.
“This week the country has
just closed the largest debt
management transaction in its
economic history,” he said, adding that the agreement cut the
country’s public debt by the
equivalent of 3.3% of gross domestic product.
“The government of
Maduro forgave the
Dominican Republic’s
debt of $2.034bn while
Venezuelans are standing
in line to buy food”
Negotiations began over a
year ago at the initiative of the
Dominican Republic, Lizardo
The arrangement quickly
sparked anger in Venezuela, where Maduro is struggling with soaring inflation, a
shrinking economy and shortages of food and household
goods that have led to swollen
supermarket lines.
“The government of Maduro
forgave the Dominican Repub-
lic’s debt of $2.034bn while
Venezuelans are standing in line
to buy food,” opposition deputy
Elias Matta said on his Twitter
Petrocaribe boosted Venezuela’s diplomatic sway in the
region during the oil boom years,
but has become a drain on its finances by limiting revenue from
crude sales as it struggles to
meet budget needs amid dwindling international reserves.
Opposition leaders have long
described Petrocaribe as an unnecessary financial burden that
was largely designed to boost
Chavez’s influence over the Caribbean region at the expense of
revenue for state coffers.
Supporters say the mechanism is a platform for regional
integration that has helped reduce fuel bills for poor countries
as energy costs spiked.
The Maduro administration insists it will maintain the
programme, though volumes
dropped in 2013 to their lowest
level in five years.
the final days of Augusto Pinochet’s 1973-1990 dictatorship. A
number of attempts since then
to legalise abortion have been
blocked by right-wing legislators.
“I know this is a sensitive issue,” said Bachelet, a trained
pediatrician. “There isn’t always agreement on issues that
relate to each person’s conscience.”
Following her signature on
the draft bill, the document now
goes to Congress. Campaigners
supporting Bachelet’s proposal
say the ban on terminations
forces many women to endure
dangerous back-street abortions
in often-unsafe conditions.
Estimates on how many illegal abortions are carried out
in Chile range from 15,000 to
160,000 per year.
In a country where the Catholic church retains a strong influence, anti-abortion activists
remain a powerful lobby group.
“It astounds me that today
we’re putting the right to liberty before the right to life,” said
senator Jacqueline Van Rysselberghe of the right-wing UDI
Before the total ban, abortions had been permitted under
special circumstances, including when there were serious
Mexico vigilantes
health risks associated with a
Attitudes have been slowly
softening toward abortion in
Chile, in part because of headline-grabbing scandals including the 2013 case of an 11-year
old-girl who became pregnant
after she was raped by her stepfather, according to authorities.
“This is a step in the right direction. But the law also has to
assure that women, regardless
of their economic situation,
can access abortion services,”
said Ana Piquer, head of Amnesty International in Chile,
referring to concerns that public and private health insurance
Footballer hurt as fans
invade dressing room
Rio de Janeiro
Vigilante group members at the community of Petaquillas
attempt to install a checkpoint, in Chilpancingo, Guerrero
state, Mexico.
policies may not cover all costs.
In Latin America, El Salvador
and the Dominican Republic also
show signs of softening their
stringent stance on abortion.
Bachelet has been pushing
legislation through Congress
at a dizzying pace, promising
to upend some of the dictatorship’s longest-lasting legacies
and to bridge Chile’s wide income inequality gap.
She has championed tax reform, a revamping of Chile’s
education system, an overhaul
of Pinochet-era electoral rules
and a law allowing civil unions
for same-sex and unmarried
heterosexual couples.
lamengo fans burst into
the Macae dressing
room, stealing equipment and injuring a player
before the team’s first game of
the season, according to a state
soccer federation official and
the opposing team coach.
Despite the incident, the
match at Macae in the Rio de
Janeiro state championship
went ahead as normal on Saturday evening and ended in a
1-1 draw.
“They invaded the changing
room, took some belongings,
fruits, a bag containing football boots and training shoes
and the (Macae) goalkeeper
was attacked,” Rio de Janeiro
football federation director
Marcelo Viana told the Sportv
cable channel.
“The only injury was the
goalkeeper, who suffered a cut,
but it could have been much
Macae coach Josue Teixeira gave a similar version of
“We were finishing the prematch talk when the Flamengo supporters burst into the
dressing room, stole the players’ equipment, attacked the
players and members of the
coaching staff,” he said.
Macae goalkeeper Ricardo
Berna, who played the match
with a plaster over the cut on
his chin, was furious.
“Brazilian football is a disgrace,” he said. “We need severe punishments for this.”
Asked who the perpetrators
were, he replied: “An organised
Flamengo supporters’ group.”
However, Flamengo president Eduardo Bandeira de Mello said he thought the story was
“strange” and wanted more details before taking action.
“I find it strange that bandits
supposedly entered the changing room in a Rio de Janeiro
championship match by the
front door and left by the front
door without being identified,”
he told Sportv after the match.
“I’m not a security specialist but I find this strange. The
policing is the responsibility of
the home team and I thought
we were in a safe environment.”
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
Rocket attack kills two
policemen in Pakistan
Sindh province collects
$1.57mn WHT on vehicles
Incentives for tax collector
may increase revenue: IGC
Violence claims 108 lives
in Karachi last month
A rocket attack targeting a senior police officer
and his family killed two police escorts in restive
southwestern Pakistan, officials said yesterday.
The incident happened on Saturday evening
when district police chief Asghar Ali Yusufzai
was travelling with his family from Khuzdar
district to the town of Gwadar in Baluchistan
province. “The vehicle carrying Yusufzai and his
family came under rocket attack as they passed
Pasni town,” Baluchistan home secretary Akbar
Durrani said. He said the rocket hit the vehicle
escorting Yusufzai, killing two policemen and
injuring another, while the senior officer and his
family escaped unhurt.
The Sindh province government collected over
Rs157.5mn ($1.57mn) Withholding Tax (WHT)
on motor vehicle registration during the first
half of 2014-15 compared to Rs87mn a year ago.
The considerable year-on-year difference was
due to substantial increase in WHT on vehicle
registration by the Federal Board of Revenue
(FBR) from July 2014. The new schedule requires
motorists to pay WHT on every transfer up to
five years. The FBR imposed the WHT under
section 231(b) of the Finance Bill 2014-15, payable
at the time of registration and under section 234
which requires motorists to pay withholding tax
along with road tax.
Salary incentives for tax collectors in Pakistan
could significantly increase the amount of
taxes, according to a new film released by the
International Growth Centre (IGC). A statement
issued yesterday said the video is of the results of
a “pay for performance” scheme tested in Punjab
by the Excise and Taxation Department and leading
economists from Harvard and MIT. The IGC video
“Taxing Pakistan: How to motivate civil servants”
found that incentivising urban property tax
collectors increased the amount of tax collected
by 30-40%. Public satisfaction in the work of
tax collectors wasn’t affected, and the increased
revenue more than paid for the reward scheme.
Over 108 people have been killed in separate
incidents of target killings based on political,
personal and religious enmities in Pakistan’s
southern port city of Karachi during the month
of January, officials said. Karachi police issued a
report saying that 18 policemen, two paramilitary
troops and five doctors were also among the
people who became a target of unidentified
gunmen in the city since the beginning of New
Year. The report said that people belonging
to various political parties were also killed in
separate incidents of gunfire in the city. Several
people associated with seminaries and religious
groups also became victims of violence.
SC bar to
he Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) has decided to challenge before
the apex court the proposed creation of military courts that will
try terror suspects in Pakistan.
The independent SCBA will
thus become the second bar association after the Lahore High
Court Bar Association (LHCBA)
to appeal against the move.
The government’s initiative to
set up special courts was taken
in the aftermath of the attack on
the Army Public School in Peshawar last month.
“There is a need to improve
the capacity of police and
investigation agencies”
SCBA President Fazle Haq Abbasi said yesterday that the association will request the court to
strike down the 21st Amendment
which is against the very basic
structure of the Constitution.
There is no guarantee of fair trial
in this new legislation, he said.
Earlier on Wednesday, a Supreme Court bench headed by
top judge of the country had
sought a concise statement from
the federal and provincial governments within 15 days while
hearing the LHCBA plea against
the establishment of military
The apex body of the legal fraternity, the Pakistan Bar Council
(PBC), had already announced to
become party in this case against
the new legislation.
Abbasi explained that the 21st
Amendment is diametrically
opposed to several articles and
provisions of the Constitution
including Article 10-A which
guarantees fair trial.
“The establishment of a mili-
tary court means there is no fair
trial,” Abbasi said, while sharing
his own experience of criminal
justice system.
It is wrong that judges are not
ready to hear cases of terrorists,
he said. “The civilian courts gave
death sentences to over 8,000
terrorists. Why the government
is shy of executing them,” he
“There is a need to improve
the capacity of police and investigation agencies,” he added.
“I served as a judge of Peshawar
High Court and heard many cases including those people who
have been dubbed as jet black
terrorists,” Abbasi said.
He said that SCBA during its
meeting on Sunday observed
that authorities can speed up
the trial of terror suspects by
amending the evidence mechanism and enhancing the capacity
of police and intelligence agencies.
There is a need to make strong
the existing Anti-Terrorism
Courts (ATCs) coupled with effective prosecution.
Hamid Khan, counsel for LHCBA in the case against military courts, while referring to
Article 175 of the Constitution,
contended before the bench on
Wednesday that the new constitutional amendment has undermined the independence of the
judiciary as well as separation of
the judiciary from the executive.
He also stated that Article 2A
and 8 of the Constitution have
also been affected through this
amendment, which secured the
independence of the judiciary as
well as the fundamental rights of
the citizens.
“It will be the first time in
39 years that some laws have
been amended to affect the first
schedule of the Constitution,”
Khan had stated before the Supreme Court bench.
Vehicles move during heavy fog in Lahore city.
Heavy fog surrounded Lahore with zero visibility
New system
to tackle
at schools
Pakistani Shias protest against the suicide bombing of a Shia mosque, in Islamabad yesterday. Thousands of Shias rallied on
Saturday to protest against the killing of 61 people in a suicide bombing at a mosque, as southern Pakistan shut down to mourn the
nation’s worst sectarian attack in nearly two years.
Pakistan to send surviving
school students on holiday
o help divert the attention of students who
survived the horrific terrorist attack on Army Public
School (APS), the federal government has decided to send
them on a 10-day foreign trip.
Similarly, bereaved parents
and injured students along
with their parents will be sent
to Saudi Arabia to perform
Umrah at the government’s expense.
In the aftermath of the December 16 carnage which
claimed 150 lives, most of them
students, the government has
taken several steps to ensure
no such attacks take place in
While the provincial government devised comprehensive
security parameters mandatory for schools and colleges,
the federal government lifted
a moratorium on execution of
convicted terrorists and devised the National Action Plan
to combat the scourge of terrorism.
For the rehabilitation of surviving students, the provincial
government also decided to
establish a child trauma centre at Lady Reading Hospital to
offer counselling; this 10-day
foreign trip seems to be yet another step in that direction.
According to a senior official
familiar with the matter, the
federal government has finalised the list of all injured and
slain schoolchildren, and their
families have been directed to
get passports made as soon as
Requesting anonymity as he
was not authorised to speak to
the media, the official said students of grade eight through 12
(first and second year) will have
a choice between China, Hong
Kong and Malaysia. They can
select one country that they
wish to visit.
The official further said parents of deceased students as
well as injured children and
their parents will be sent to
Saudi Arabia for Umrah, adding thus far 30 families have
shown interest in the religious
“The government will bear
all expenditures of the trips and
families have been told to make
relevant arrangements on their
end such as getting passports
made and purchasing winter
clothes,” he said.
According to the official, 10
students have opted to go to
China and they will be received
by Chinese government officials.
Explaining the purpose of
the getaway, he said the aim
is to eliminate fear and terror
from the students’ minds so
that they return with a fresh
mind to sit for their annual exams which begin from March
Tufail Ahmad, father of slain
APS student Sher Shah, confirmed he had received a call
from the government and has
been asked to obtain a passport. He said he, his wife and
surviving son Ahmad Shah will
go for Umrah.
According to Tufail, although the students have
shown a lot of courage and returned to school, fear is not a
distant feeling. He said his son,
eight-grader Ahmad Shah, has
lost interest in studying or going to school.
“Since school reopened, he
has only gone twice and seems
distracted. He lost his elder
brother and around 30 friends
in the attack. He tells me every
time he enters the school he is
reminded of them and cannot
concentrate on lessons,” said
he local education department of Pakistan’s garrison city of Rawalpindi
in collaboration with the police
and a cellular services provider
has introduced an institutional
co-ordinated system to promptly react to possible emergency
situations at schools.
Under the new security system, the cell service provider
will issue special SIMs pre-fed
with the numbers of all emergency departments to the heads
of public and private education institutes, SHOs, superintendents and deputy superintendents of police to efficiently
co-ordinate and respond to
emergencies that may arise at
schools from a possible sabotage activity.
The step is part of security
efforts being made by the local
authorities to response to emergency situations and secure educational institutions after the
Army Public School Peshawar
incident that claimed more than
150 lives.
The District Education Department and the Directorate of
Colleges have directed the heads
of institutes to purchase the
Rs300 Ufone SIMs from their
own school funds.
Under the new system, upon
dialing *55, in case of any emergency, a message and an SOS call
will be received by the police and
other authorities in the loop.
“The new system will help the
police learn the location of any
emergency and respond quickly,”
Rawalpindi Education Executive
District Officer Qazi Zahoorul
Haq said.
The SIMs will be issued to
the heads of 1,900 government schools and 3,000 private
schools and colleges.
Haq said that the system,
which has been put in place by
the Information Technology
Board, the police and the cellular
company, would also be upgraded regularly.
A control room has also been
set up at City Police Officer’s office by the cellular company for
better co-ordination and quick
India a vibrant market for Pakistani art works
New Delhi
akistani works are drawing attention at the ongoing India Art Fair for the
many obvious similarities they
share with the Indian counterparts and for their subtle hint of
sarcasm at the perennial conflict
their country is engaged in.
For “Art Chowk” gallery owner Camilla H. Chaudhary, India
has always welcomed Pakistani
contemporary art and offered
the much-needed support to the
artistic community to sustain it.
“The Indian market is extremely dynamic and I must
say very open to the artists
from neighbouring countries,”
Chaudhary, who has bought the
works of five artists to the fair,
told IANS.
The owner of the Karachibased gallery had participated
in the 2013 fair as well and the
works were well received by the
collectors. This time they have
brought works of five Pakistani
artists whose have used varied
mediums for expression.
But the recurring theme in
most of them is of “politics of
aesthetics and merging of conflict with it”.
“The Indian market is
extremely dynamic and I
must say very open to the
artists from neighbouring
Artist Sadia Jamal’s “Parwaz
Bara-e-Farokht” (Flight for Sale)
has used surgical blades and wire
mesh to create “wings” that reflect upon the irony of today’s
time, where everything is on
sale. Similarly, Atif Khan’s “The
Lost Garden” is a political take
on the colonial hangover and its
implications on modern Pakistani society.
Represented by Latitude 28,
Karachi-based artist Mohamed
Zeeshan has been selling his
works through this Indian gallery. And at the art fair, the
34-year-old artist is capturing
the audience’s attention with the
“brutal reality of art being finite
and focus on the importance of
“Indian exposure is bigger and
at the fair, one gets to see works
from many international artists,
including India,” Zeeshan told
“There are not many collectors
in Pakistan and what is beautiful is that Indian collectors have
shown interest in contemporary
Pakistani art. They like to take
our work back home and proudly
display it,” he added.
Zeeshan had couriered two
works of his that were framed in
the capital. He has put them in a
glass box which is attached to a
pipe running to a tank containing black ink. These works will
slowly start drowning in black
“Here I am playing with the
memory. An artist creates something and then sells it off. So the
time duration is extremely important in art and this is what I
aim to portray here,” he added.
The India Art Fair concluded
In this photograph taken on January 29, visitors walk through the exhibits during the India Art Fair in New Delhi.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
Binay seeks
into deaths
By Reina Tolentino
& Fernan Marasigan
Manila Times
ice President Jejomar
Binay urged Malacanang yesterday to create an independent commission, composed of retired chief
justices and other eminent
and respected personalities,
to investigate the killing of 44
elite members of the Philippine National Police Special
Action Force (PNP-SAF) in
Mamasapano, Maguindanao
last week.
“Investigations conducted
by agencies and entities involved in Mamasapano would
always invite public skepticism, no matter how sincere
the intent might be. The creation of an independent body
would erase any doubts as to
the impartiality of the investigators and the probe results,”
Binay said in a statement.
“We owe the Filipino people the truth. We owe the 44
members of PNP SAF, who offered their lives for the country, the justice they deserve,”
he added.
At the same time, the vice
president reiterated his appeal for suspended PNP chief
Alan Purisima to speak up and
reveal whatever his participation in the operation.
Binay said that Purisima
may be out of the country but
he can at least issue a statement or answer questions
from media.
“There are many options
open to him other than leaving
the country at the most inappropriate time,” he pointed
Representative Neri Colmenares, who is
also House Deputy Minority Leader, expressed fears of a
whitewash and backed the call
of Sen. Teofisto Guingona for
an independent commission
to investigate the death of the
44 commandos.
“The PNP Board of Inquiry,
composed of PNP Generals,
is not expected to objectively
investigate the killing of the
44 SAF personnel considering that they will investigate
not just the involvement of
US forces but also President
Benigno Aquino and PNP
chief Alan Purisima who are
their superiors,” Colmenares
He said the commission
should come from independent and credible persons “in
the likes of former Chief Justice Renato Puno if only to
assuage fears that the investigation will not be whitewashed.”
“The commission must
have the independence and
the courage to summon
members of the US forces in
the Philippines and investigate their involvement...
Those PNP personnel who
want to give justice to the
44 slain SAF men must come
out and tell all about the incident, otherwise the case
could be whitewashed with
the blame mainly pinned on
the hapless SAF, ” he added.
Senate determined to
question Purisima
By Jefferson Antiporda
Manila Times
he Senate is determined
to summon suspended
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima
to its inquiry into the police
operation in Maguindanao
that killed 44 commandos.
Senator Grace Poe, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, said the senate
will do everything in its power
to compel Purisima to attend
the investigation, so that he
can shed light on his involvement in the mission.
According to Poe, her committee has sent an invitation to
the suspended PNP chief but
he may not be able to attend
the scheduled hearing on February 4 because he reportedly
flew to Saipan.
“If needed, we will issue a
subpoena for him to appear,”
Poe said in a radio interview
aired over dzBB yesterday.
She scheduled an inquiry
on Wednesday based on four
separate resolutions asking
her committee to conduct an
inquiry into the clash between
members of the PNP’s Special
Action Force and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)
in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. Poe said Purisima’s actions
after the clash bolstered suspicions that he may have been
involved in the confidential
police operation despite his
More than 200 military mourners gather at the gates of the National Police headquarters in Manila yesterday, to pay their respects by offering flowers and prayers to 44 elite police
commandos who died in Mamasapano town in the strife-torn southern island of Mindanao.
Minister says not told in
advance of anti-terror raid
Manuel Roxas, who is in
charge of the national
police, said he had no
foreknowledge of the
January 25 operation
he Philippine interior
minister said yesterday
he did not know in advance of plans for an anti-terror
raid that triggered a bloodbath
in which 44 police commandos
were killed.
Manuel Roxas, who is in
charge of the national police,
said he had no foreknowledge of
the January 25 operation.
The huge losses shocked and
enraged the nation and imperilled a peace pact with the main
rebel group in the southern island of Mindanao.
“They did not tell me about
this... I’m not saying I would
have known better but I also
can’t help feeling I was not given a chance to ensure there was
better coordination,” he told demoralised members of the police
Special Action Force (SAF) at
their headquarters.
The SAF commandos were
Poll watchdog to file petition
against vote machine deal
Manila Times
n election watchdog will
be giving a going away
“present” to Commission on Elections (Comelec)
Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr
and two commissioners who
will be retiring today.
It would be a petition seeking to stop the implementation of the contract awarded
to Smartmatic.
Individual conveners and
members of the citizens’ election watchdog Automated
Election System Watch (AES
Watch) will file before the Supreme Court (SC) a petition
for certiorari and prohibition
with preliminary injunction
nullifying Comelec Resolution 9922.
This resolution has virtually given awards without
any sort of public bidding to
Smartmatic-TIM the P1.2bn
plus contracts for the “diag-
nostics, repair and refurbishment” of 80,000 Precinct
Count Optical Scan (PCOS)
The petitioners include
Bishop Broderick Pabillo of
the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines
(CBCP); Dr Pablo Manalastas, computer science faculty
of Ateneo de Manila University and University of the
Philippines; Leo Querubin,
president of the Philippine
Computer Society; former
Comelec Commissioner Augusto Lagman as ; Concepcion
president of Migrante International.
Among the other petitioners include Dr Jaime DL
Caro of the UP Department
of Computer Science; Marikol Akol, co-organiser of
ph and Evita Jimenez, executive director, Centre for
Governance (CenPEG).
Dr Nelson Celis, AES
Watch spokesperson, called
the Comelec resolution “the
Brillantes midnight deal that
paves the way for the continuing travesty of our elections by defective Smartmatic
PCOS machines and a noncompliant Comelec.”
AES Watch volunteer lead
counsel Manuelito R Luna will
lead the filing in collaboration
with other lawyers.
The petition cites Comelec
commissioners’ grave abuse
of their responsibilities and
discretion in issuing the resolution, in violation of the
Constitutional norms and the
procurement law.
Brillantes had earlier clarified that what it awarded to
Smartmatic was the P300mn
contract to diagnose the
80,000 used PCOS machines.
He explained that the poll
body has yet to award the
P900mn contract for the
repair and maintenance of the
counting machines.
A mourner lights candles and offers prayers to the 44 elite police commandos who died in Mamasapano
town, in the strife-torn southern island of Mindanao.
gunned down while on a mission to capture or kill Malaysian
bombmaker Zulkifli bin Hir,
alias Marwan, a leading member
of the Jemaah Islamiyah group
which staged the 2002 Bali
bombings in Indonesia.
While authorities say Marwan
was killed, the commandos were
later ambushed by armed groups
— including fighters of the Moro
Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)
which signed a peace agreement
with the government last March.
The MILF said the raid should
have been co-ordinated with
them under the terms of the
Jet wreckage
“Your job is tough and dangerous. It is the duty of the state
to give you the full support,
equipment and training and not
to send you into hopeless operations,” an apologetic Roxas said
in a dialogue at SAF headquarters.
However the minister, a close
Australia gives Philippines
two naval landing craft
Soldiers carry the tail of an ill-fated Philippine Air Force
Italian made light aircraft SIAI-Marchetti SF260 that crashed
in the sea off the coast of Nasugbo, Batangas south of
Manila yesterday. Philippine Air Force spokesman Lt Col.
Enrico Canaya said the trainer plane SF-260FH went down,
killing its two pilots, while on a three aircraft formation
training mission near the shoreline.
confidante of President Benigno
Aquino, told the commandos to
await the result of an investigation before jumping to conclusions.
Aquino had previously said
he was informed by top police of
the operation.
“We again appeal to everyone to give peace a chance,” his
spokesman Herminio Coloma
said in a radio address. “Let us
unite under this principle while
seeking justice and accountability over what happened... last
Coloma said a final peace
agreement would require the
12,000-strong MILF to disarm
in exchange for control over an
autonomous region in Mindanao. But public anger threatens to
derail efforts to pass legislation
needed to implement the peace
accord before Aquino steps
down in 2016.
The main gate of national police headquarters in suburban
Manila has become an unofficial
memorial bedecked with flowers, candles and other tokens left
by mourners.
About 200 military veterans
and serving soldiers drove up on
motorcycles yesterday, offering
prayers and lighting candles.
ustralia is donating two
military landing craft to the
Philippines after the archipelago
struggled with relief efforts following Super Typhoon Haiyan,
it was announced yesterday.
The vessels, which were
decommissioned in November, will be refurbished with
modern safety and navigation
equipment before being handed over.
“I expect the vessels will be
refitted and ready for handover
in May 2015,” Australian Defence Minister Kevin Andrews
said in a statement released by
his country’s embassy.
The two 44.5-metre-long
craft, which are designed to
carry heavy supplies, will be
given to the Philippine Navy to
help with humanitarian assistance and relief work.
The Philippines struggled
because of a shortage of such
vessels during relief operations
after Haiyan, the strongest
storm ever recorded on land,
which decimated whole towns
and villages in November 2013.
The two 44.5-metre-long
craft, which are designed to
carry heavy supplies, will be
given to the Philippine Navy
to help with humanitarian
assistance and relief work
The Australian military, including the amphibious vessel HMAS Tobruk, were dispatched to help victims of the
storm, which left more than
7,350 people dead or missing.
The Philippine military is
also considering whether to
purchase three other surplus
Australian landing craft that
were decommissioned in 2012,
the embassy added.
The poorly-equipped Philippine military is one of the
weakest in the region and the
government is looking to foreign allies to help bolster its
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
Nepal excels
at protection
of tigers, say
WWF experts
NATIONWIDE STRIKE: Police stand guard during a nationwide strike called by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led alliance in Dhaka yesterday. Bangladesh restored
power to the office of opposition leader Khaleda Zia, an official said yesterday nearly a day after it was cut in an apparent bid to force her to call off crippling protests.
Power is restored at
Khaleda Zia’s office
angladesh restored power
to the office of opposition leader Khaleda Zia,
an official said yesterday, nearly
a day after it was cut in an apparent bid to force her to call off
crippling protests.
A spokesman for Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)
said power was restored some
20 hours after a technician of
the state-run power agency
cut the lines, sparking a hail of
Internet, satellite television
and mobile phone network at the
office, where Zia has been holed
up since she launched a nationwide transport blockade early
January, remained severed.
“We got back power late Saturday night. But other lines
Probe ordered
into deadly
factory fire
Bangladesh yesterday ordered an
enquiry into a plastics factory fire
which killed 13 workers, the latest
in a series of accidents that have
highlighted appalling conditions
in the country’s workplaces.
A five-man government team will
investigate whether the Nasim
Plastics factory — housed in a
four-storey building in the Dhaka
suburb of Mirpur — had a proper
operating licence, fire equipment
and statutory safety features.
“The probe team will file a report
on their findings in three days. We
want to find out what caused this
accident,” said Syed Ahmed, head of
the factory inspection department.
Police and fire officers believe
Saturday’s blaze started when gas
cylinders exploded in the boiler
room, then raced through the
four-storey building in minutes.
The walls of the factory collapsed
due to the explosion.
Three workers are critically ill in
hospital with burns, police said. The
13 who died were burnt to death or
suffocated after they were trapped
on the upper floors, they said.
More than a dozen people
suffered minor burns.
Factory fires are common in
impoverished Bangladesh, which
is emerging as a new hub for
labour-intensive industries. Many
plants have poor safety standards
and lack fire-fighting equipment.
In November 2012, 111 garment
workers were killed when a blaze
devastated a nine-storey garment
factory outside Dhaka.
In April 2013, the Rana Plaza
garment factory complex
collapsed, leaving 1,138 people
dead and sparking a global outcry
over the country’s workplace
safety standards.
Western retailers such as H&M
and Carrefour, which buy
billions of dollars of clothing
from Bangladesh every year,
launched a campaign to improve
safety standards in the country’s
thousands of garment factories.
including broadband Internet,
fax, cable televisions and mobile
phone remained snapped,” BNP
spokesman Shamsuddin Dider
The power line was cut after a
government minister reportedly
threatened to sever the office’s
electrical supply and force Zia
to starve to death if she did not
call off the nationwide transport
Zia has been confined to her
office in Dhaka’s upmarket
Gulshan district since threatening to rally her supporters
against the government of bitter rival Prime Minister Sheikh
Hasina on January 5, the first anniversary of a disputed general
Her confinement has coincided with the death of her youngest son in Malaysia. Tens of
thousands of mourners turned
out at his funeral on Tuesday in a
massive show of support for the
embattled former premier.
While holed up, Zia has called
a nationwide blockade of roads,
railways and waterways, triggering deadly unrest that has
left at least 42 people dead and
nearly 800 vehicles firebombed
or damaged.
She also called a 72-hour
strike from Sunday, despite nationwide high-school examinations in which about 1.5 million
students are taking part.
Zia wants Hasina, her rival
of nearly three decades, to call
fresh polls after last year’s controversial polls, which opposition parties boycotted on the
grounds they would be rigged.
The boycott meant most
members of the 300-seat parliament were returned unopposed,
handing Hasina another five
years in power.
Zia denies the BNP and its Is-
lamist allies were responsible for
firebombings and has demanded
the release of opposition officials
and leaders detained over the
Hasina has accused Zia of trying to trigger “anarchy” and or-
dered the security agencies to
hunt down the protesters.
The EU, the nation’s biggest export destination, has
urged Hasina’s government and
the opposition to hold talks to
resolve the crisis.
School exams deferred
Bangladesh yesterday
deferred the Secondary
School Certificate (SSC) and
equivalent examinations of
an estimated 1.5mn students
scheduled for today due to
the 72-hour countrywide
shutdown called by the
BNP-led 20-party alliance
Talking to reporters after
attending a meeting with
senior officials of the education
ministry, Education Minister
Nepal festival
Nurul Islam Nahid said: “Now
the postponed examinations of
Bengali language papers will be
held from on Friday (February
Nahid said: “We’ve decided
to reschedule the first day
examinations as we can’t push
our children towards violence
unleashed by the 20-party
The rest of the examinations
will be held as per the schedule,
said the minister.
epal’s success in turning tiger-fearing villagers into their protectors has seen none of the
endangered cats killed for
almost three years, offering key lessons for an antipoaching summit opening in
Kathmandu today.
Experts from conservation
group WWF, which is cohosting the conference with
Nepal’s government, said the
Himalayan nation was a “tiger heavyweight” in the battle
to fight poaching and protect
them from extinction.
“Nepal and India are our tiger heavyweights leading the
region. India excels at recovering tiger numbers and Nepal
at zero poaching,” said Mike
Baltzer of WWF Tigers Alive
India in January reported
a 30% jump in tiger numbers
since 2010, while Nepal saw
numbers rise almost twothirds between 2009 and 2013.
Its last reported poaching incident was in March 2012.
Decades of trafficking and
habitat destruction have
slashed the global tiger population from 100,000 a century
ago to approximately 3,000,
according to the International
Union for the Conservation of
Tikaram Adhikari, director general of Nepal’s department of national parks and
wildlife conservation, said an
initiative to convince villagers
to inform on poachers and pay
them half of tourism revenues
had paid huge dividends.
“Earlier, some villagers even
protected poachers because
they didn’t want tigers attacking them. We heard them
out, built electric fences, focused on increasing tourism
and gave them a big cut of the
revenues,” Adhikari said.
“Now they know the benefits of protecting tigers and
they want to help. The survival of the animal is a matter
of prestige for them,” he said.
Hundreds of young volunteers act as unofficial guards
for Nepal’s national parks,
home to 198 tigers and 534 rhinos — both listed as critically
endangered species by WWF.
A tip-off by local villagers
meant police were able to arrest four poachers less than a
week after they allegedly killed
a tiger in 2012, Adhikari said.
Nepal has twice been recognised for going a full year
with no poaching incidents
involving tigers or rhinos.
“Nepal and India are
our tiger heavyweights
leading the region. India
excels at recovering tiger
numbers and Nepal at
zero poaching”
The impoverished country’s
success in combating wildlife crime sends a clear signal
that “anti-poaching cannot
be left only to conservationists,” WWF Nepal’s Diwakar
Chapagain said.
“We have to involve people
on the ground — volunteers
and local law enforcement must
have a stake in the process.
Otherwise conservation is not
sustainable,” Chapagain said.
“Spending money and running awareness campaigns is
not enough. You need boots on
the ground and that’s where
local communities and law
enforcement play an important role in cracking down on
poachers,” he said.
The five-day anti-poaching
summit, which opens this
evening, will see experts and
officials from 13 countries
meet to launch an Asia-wide
push to fight wildlife crime.
Countries with tiger populations — Bangladesh, Bhutan,
China, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam — in 2010
launched a plan to double their
numbers by 2022.
Sri Lanka shuns
Australian after
resort scrapped
A group of Hindus carrying oil lamps during the Madhav Narayan festival in Lalitpur on the
outskirts of Kathmandu. Married and unmarried women in Nepal are marking a month-long
fast in the hope of a prosperous life and conjugal happiness.
ri Lanka’s new government yesterday declared
James Packer unwelcome in
the country after the gaming
mogul pulled out of building a
luxury resort following a ban
on new casinos.
Packer’s Crown Group on
Friday abandoned plans for
the $350mn development,
which would have included a
casino, after the government
also withdrew generous tax
concessions granted under the
previous regime in efforts to
turn Colombo into a regional
gaming hub.
“Packer says he will not
come. Who asked you to
come?” Prime Minister Ranil
Wickremesinghe said in a
statement released by his of-
fice. “Please don’t come — not
in this lifetime.
“We need only good investors ... we don’t want an economy relying on casinos,” he
said according to a transcript
of a speech released yesterday,
a day after it was delivered.
Sirisena swept to power this
month backed by the country’s
influential main party of Buddhist monks, who had strongly
opposed plans to lure gaming
companies to the Sri Lankan
On Thursday, the new government fulfilled his election
pledges to scrap the 5% tax rate
granted to Packer’s planned
450-room resort — which was
approved more than a year ago
but had not started construction — and two other foreignbacked developments.
Another casino resort given
the go ahead at the same time,
a $650mn development by local conglomerate John Keells
Holdings, will still be built,
only without the casino.
The future of the third
project, a $300mn resort by
local businessman Dhammika
Perera who has sought overseas
funding, was unclear.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe named Perera as a businessman who had received
favoured treatment from the
previous regime and vowed to
take back any ill-gotten assets.
Several local, low-key casinos have been in operation for
decades, exploiting loopholes
in a law that bans such gaming
Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said on Thursday he
would give those existing casinos, thought to number about
five, a deadline of mid-April to
pay a flat fee of Rs1bn ($7.6mn)
to remain in business.
UN concerned over Nepal’s deadlock in drafting constitution
United Nations
he UN has expressed
concern over Nepal’s
deadlock in drafting a
new constitution and Secre-
tary-General Ban Ki-Moon
has called on the nation’s leaders to continue their dialogue,
according to his spokesman
Stéphane Dujarric.
He told reporters on Friday
that assistant secretary-general
for political affairs Jens Toy-
berg-Frandzen “expressed the
UN’s increasing concern about
the diminishing momentum
for inclusive negotiation on the
new constitution to be adopted
by consensus.”
Adopting the new constitution is a vital element of the
2006 peace agreement that
ended a Maoist insurgency. As
the January 22 midnight deadline drew for drafting a new
constitution, a brawl broke out
in Nepal’s parliament and it was
adjourned by Speaker Subash
Dujarric said that at the secretariat’s initiative, ToybergFrandzen briefed the Security
Council on Thursday on the
Nepal situation during closeddoor consultations originally
convened on other topics.
He said that Toyberg-
Frandzen reiterated Ban’s “call
for Nepal leaders to continue dialogue in a spirit of flexibility and
urgency” and emphasized that
the new constitution “should
enjoy wide support of the people” because of its importance
to the peace process.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
Chairman: Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Attiyah
Editor-in-Chief : Darwish S Ahmed
Production Editor: C P Ravindran
P.O.Box 2888
Doha, Qatar
Telephone 44350478 (news),
44466404 (sport), 44466636 (home delivery)
Fax 44350474
Qatar must carry on
with fulfilling its
sporting aspirations
Ever since December 2010 when Qatar won its bid to
host the 2022 World Cup, the country has been dogged
by unwarranted allegations and criticism by the Western
media, human rights bodies and labour organisations.
This is nothing new. Countries which won to host the
FIFA tournament since 1930 have faced criticisms for
one reason or another, be it security concern or unethical
The International Trade Union Confederation and
British newspapers – The Guardian, The Sunday Times
and The Telegraph – focused their criticism of Qatar on
the rights of workers involved in building venues for the
2022 World Cup.
Qatar has vehemently denied accusations that its
successful bid was corrupt and it was mistreating the
workers. It said those reports were riddled with factual
errors and aimed at discrediting the positive work
undertaken by the government.
In February 2014, Qatar published a set of guidelines
aimed at protecting the rights of thousands of expatriate
workers employed on its construction projects.
As far as workers’ rights are concerned we need not be
reminded about them. Qatar is an Islamic country and
knows well the rights of the labourers and the employers.
The Prophet, peace be upon him, instructed employers
to treat their workers well and pay the wages before their
sweat dries out.
Is there a greater
admonition than this?
Qatar is already
considering imposing
penalties against firms
that fail to pay migrant
workers on time. This
was one of the biggest
complaints voiced by
rights groups against
companies in the country.
Under draft legislation now being considered by the
Qatari government, companies who do not pay their
workers on time could lose the ability to hire new staff.
The proposal would also allow the Ministry of Labour
and Social Affairs to halt “all dealings” with businesses
until they pay up.
Earlier last year, Qatar issued new guidelines aimed at
protecting the workers.
The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy,
responsible for organising the tournament, issued
standards it said would ensure workers are properly and
promptly paid, that their housing is adequate and working
conditions up to global standards.
Contractors will be required to set up bank accounts for
their workers, creating a system under which the committee
can verify that workers are paid in full and on time.
If these measures are not enough then there is
something else on the agenda of the detractors as Olympic
Council of Asia President Sheikh Ahmed al-Fahad put
it: 2022 World Cup is being the subject of a racist war,
but the campaign against it will not affect hosting the
tournament. He attributed the citing by Arab media of
negative reports on Qatar’s World Cup in Western media
to mixing politics with sport.
British newspapers’ investigative reporting sometimes
goes a little too far. They have not even spared a member
of the royal family who has been implicated in a “scandal”
lawsuit in the US.
Qatar should ignore this barrage of baseless accusations
and carry on with fulfilling its sporting aspirations. It’s
time for the Middle East to host its first FIFA World Cup.
As the chairman of the Organising Committee for
World Handball Cup 2015, HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad
al-Thani, said yesterday, Qatar is always ready to host any
sporting event.
A Greek burial for German
austerity amid euro crisis
Though Syriza’s victory may
mark the start of the next
chapter in the euro crisis, the
political danger that Europe
faces runs deeper
By Joschka Fischer
ot long ago, German
politicians and journalists
confidently declared that
the euro crisis was over;
Germany and the European Union,
they believed, had weathered the
storm. Today, we know that this was
just another mistake in an ongoing
crisis that has been full of them. The
latest error, as with most of the earlier
ones, stemmed from wishful thinking
– and, once again, it is Greece that has
broken the reverie.
Even before the leftist Syriza
party’s overwhelming victory in
Greece’s recent general election,
it was obvious that, far from being
over, the crisis was threatening to
worsen. Austerity – the policy of
saving your way out of a demand
shortfall – simply does not work. In a
shrinking economy, a country’s debtto-GDP ratio rises rather than falls,
and Europe’s recession-ridden crisis
countries have now saved themselves
into a depression, resulting in mass
unemployment, alarming levels of
poverty, and scant hope.
Warnings of a severe political
backlash went unheeded. Shadowed
by Germany’s deep-seated inflation
taboo, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s
government stubbornly insisted that
the pain of austerity was essential to
economic recovery; the EU had little
choice but to go along. Now, with
Greece’s voters having driven out their
country’s exhausted and corrupt elite
in favour of a party that has vowed to
end austerity, the backlash has arrived.
Nothing but growth
will decide the future
of the euro
But, though Syriza’s victory may
mark the start of the next chapter
in the euro crisis, the political –
and possibly existential – danger
that Europe faces runs deeper. The
Swiss National Bank’s unexpected
abandonment of the franc’s euro
peg on January 15, though posing no
immediate financial threat, was an
enormous psychological blow, one
that reflected and reinforced a massive
loss of confidence.
The euro, as the SNB’s move
implied, remains as fragile as ever.
And the subsequent decision by the
European Central Bank to purchase
more than €1tn ($1.14tn) in eurozone
governments’ bonds, though correct
and necessary, has dimmed confidence
The Greek election outcome was
foreseeable for more than a year. If
negotiations between the “troika”
(the European Commission, the
ECB, and the International Monetary
Fund) and the new Greek government
succeed, the result will be a face-
saving compromise for both sides; if
no agreement is reached, Greece will
Though no one can say what a Greek
default would mean for the euro, it
would certainly entail risks to the
currency’s continued existence. Just as
surely, the mega-disaster that might
result from a eurozone breakup would
not spare Germany.
A compromise would de facto
result in a loosening of austerity,
which entails significant domestic
risks for Merkel (though less than
a failure of the euro would). But, in
view of her immense popularity at
home, including within her own party,
Merkel is underestimating the options
at her disposal. She could do much
more, if only she trusted herself.
In the end, she may have no choice.
Given the impact of the Greek election
outcome on political developments
in Spain, Italy, and France, where
anti-austerity sentiment is similarly
running high, political pressure on
the Eurogroup of eurozone finance
ministers – from both the right and the
left – will increase significantly. It does
not take a prophet to predict that the
latest chapter of the euro crisis will leave
Germany’s austerity policy in tatters –
unless Merkel really wants to take the
enormous risk of letting the euro fail.
There is no indication that
she does. So, regardless of which
side – the troika or the new Greek
government – moves first in the
coming negotiations, Greece’s election
has already produced an unambiguous
defeat for Merkel and her austeritybased strategy for sustaining the euro.
Simultaneous debt reduction and
structural reforms, we now know, will
overextend any democratically elected
government because they overtax its
voters. And, without growth, there
will be no structural reforms, either,
however necessary they may be.
That is Greece’s lesson for Europe.
The question now is not whether the
German government will accept it, but
when. Will it take a similar debacle for
Spain’s conservatives in that country’s
coming election to force Merkel to
come to terms with reality? Nothing
but growth will decide the future of
the euro. Even Germany, the EU’s
biggest economy, faces an enormous
need for infrastructure investment. If
its government stopped seeing “zero
new debt” as the ultimate solutionl,
and instead invested in modernising
the country’s transport, municipal
infrastructure, and digitisation of
households and industry, the euro –
and Europe – would receive a mighty
boost. Moreover, a massive publicinvestment programme could be
financed at exceptionally low (and, for
Germany, conceivably even negative)
interest rates.
The eurozone’s cohesion and the
success of its necessary structural
reforms – and thus its very survival
– now depend on whether it can
overcome its growth deficit. Germany
has room for fiscal manoeuvre. The
message from Greece’s election is that
Merkel should use it, before it is too
late.- Project Syndicate
zJoschka Fischer, Germany’s foreign
minister and vice chancellor from 1998
to 2005, was a leader of the German
Green Party for almost 20 years.
Qatar is an
Islamic country
and knows well
the rights of the
labourers and
the employers
To Advertise
Telephone 44466621 Fax 44418811
Telephone 44466609 Fax 44418811
2014 Gulf Times. All rights reserved
Scientists work in the Protein Sciences company’s laboratory in Meriden, Connecticut. The company has been working to create a vaccine for the Ebola virus.
In pursuit of next-generation Ebola vaccines
By Kate Kelland and Ben Hirschler
s West Africa’s devastating
Ebola outbreak begins to
dwindle, scientists are
looking beyond the endgame
at the kind of next-generation
vaccines needed for a vital stockpile to
hit another epidemic hard and fast.
Determined not to lose scientific
momentum that could make
the world’s first effective Ebola
interventions a reality, researchers say
the shots, as well as being proven to
work, must be cheap, easy to handle
in Africa and able to hit multiple virus
That may mean shifting focus from
the stripped-down, fast-tracked
vaccine development ideas that have
dominated the past six months, but
it mustn’t mean the field gets bogged
down in complexities.
“We need a stockpile because there
will be other outbreaks,” said Seth
Berkley, chief executive of the GAVI
global immunisation alliance, which
helps bulk-buy vaccines for poor
The experimental vaccines now
moving into large clinical trials in West
Africa target the current Ebola Zaire
virus strain, but the next outbreak may
be different.
“We need to work with the
pharmaceutical industry to create
second-generation vaccines that
would cover not just Ebola Zaire
but also Ebola Sudan and perhaps
Marburg, perhaps Lassa. The idea is
to have vaccines that will work across
different places,” Berkley said.
Right now, scientists are grappling
with several tricky issues - partly due
to success in cutting new infections in
the vast Ebola outbreak.
“We need a stockpile
because there will be
other outbreaks”
With relatively few new cases, big
trials in Liberia and Sierra Leone to
test the first generation single-dose
one strain vaccines may not have
the statistical power needed to show
whether the shots work.
And already, early data from safety
trials in humans suggest a single-dose
vaccination with the most advanced
vaccine, from GlaxoSmithKline, may
not provoke an immune response
strong enough to protect people
exposed to the virus.
“We now know you get around 10
times fewer antibodies in humans
(than in monkeys) and probably five
times fewer T-cells,” said Adrian Hill
of Oxford’s Jenner Institute, referring
to two key elements of the immune
This strongly suggests that a twodose regime, or a so-called “primeboost” approach, is the one likely to
prove effective, Hill said.
These and other issues add up
to a sizeable to do list for scientists
focusing on vaccines for future
Producing multi-strain, or
multivalent, vaccines that could
protect against different types of Ebola
and other haemorrhagic fevers will be
more time consuming than making
today’s monovalent shots, but it is by
no means impossible.
In fact, several of the candidate
Ebola vaccines being fast-tracked
through testing started out as
multivalents before being stripped
back to deal with the current
Another challenge is ensuring
vaccines have a long shelf-life and
can be easily transported in the
tropics. At the moment, test shots
are kept at -70 or -80 degrees
Celsius, although Johnson & Johnson
says its Ebola vaccine can be stored
at normal fridge temperature for
many weeks.
Producing adequate volumes,
however, looks manageable. Hopefully,
the next time Ebola emerges from
Africa’s forests it will be spotted
earlier and immunisation will be
needed for perhaps tens of thousands
of people - nothing like the tens of
millions who would need vaccines in a
worldwide flu pandemic.
Finally companies still need a
regulatory green light, which gets
tricky if large-scale trials fail to
produce clear proof that the shots are
both safe and effective in people.
Researchers and drugmakers say,
however, that regulators have made
clear stockpile Ebola vaccines could
be approved on efficacy data from
tests in monkeys or other nonhuman primates plus proof of safety
and immune response in humans,
reflecting contingency plans for
vaccines designed for bioterror
Pursuing tomorrow’s vaccines is
not to say one of today’s monovalent
shots from GSK, Merck or J&J might
not yet have a role in ring-fencing
lingering pockets of infection in the
current epidemic, and perhaps finally
stamping it out.
“I’m pretty optimistic there’s
still a role for vaccination in ending
this outbreak,” said Hill. “And I’m
certainly optimistic that we’ll learn
for the next outbreak which of these
vaccine approaches is the most likely
to work, and be ready to tackle it
early on.”
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
Inside the training revolution
In the US, community
colleges are working
with businesses and
experimenting with ways to
provide practical training for
high-demand occupations
and to fill specialised needs
By Laura D Tyson and Lenny
highly-trained workforce is a
public good, crucial not only
to the prosperity of workers
themselves, but also to the
strength of the entire economy. And,
as with most public goods, the US has
been underinvesting in it for decades,
leaving many American workers
without the skills they need to get
well-paying jobs.
Fortunately, there are signs of
improvement. As the American labour
market tightens and a growing chorus
of companies complains that they
cannot find skilled workers, innovative
partnerships between governments,
employers and educational
institutions are beginning to fill the
Governments bear the primary
responsibility for funding workforce
training. But effective programmes
require more than just money; they
need employers and educators who
can identify the necessary skills, create
the structures to teach them, and
match trained workers with available
jobs. To be successful in achieving
these goals, training programmes
must keep pace with rapid changes
in technology and the consequent
evolution in the labour market.
In short, workforce training requires
both more investment and more
innovation through new kinds of
public-private partnerships, degreegranting institutions, and approaches
to life-long learning and re-skilling.
Innovative approaches can pop up
almost anywhere, and government
has a critical role to play in promoting
them: rigorously evaluating
programmes, scaling up those that
work, and withdrawing funding from
those that do not.
In the US, community colleges
provide the first step toward a good
job for millions of Americans. These
institutions are especially important
for students from less-advantaged
backgrounds and for displaced
workers seeking new opportunities.
Around the country, community
colleges are working with businesses
and experimenting with ways to
provide practical training for highdemand occupations and to fill
specialised needs.
Recognising their importance,
President Barack Obama has proposed
making two years of community college
tuition-free. The proposal would benefit
the roughly 9mn students attending
community college at least half-time,
making steady progress and maintaining
passing grades.
By one careful reckoning,
community colleges are an extremely
good investment. For every dollar
a student pays or gives up to attend
school, his or her future income rises
by about $4.80. For taxpayers, the
lifetime return on investment is better
than six to one.
Community colleges are a classic
example of how US states operate
as “laboratories of democracy”.
Obama based his proposal in part
on the free-tuition programmes
launched by Tennessee and the city
of Chicago. Drawing on the success
of the Tennessee Tech Programme,
he has also proposed a $200mn
federal fund to expand community
college programmes based on their
effectiveness, which is to be measured
A student discussing his project with professors at a community college in the US. Community colleges provide the first
step toward a good job for millions of Americans. These institutions are especially important for students from
less-advantaged backgrounds and for displaced workers seeking new opportunities.
by employer partnerships, work-based
learning opportunities, and student
graduation and job placement rates.
Similarly, California, which boasts
a long tradition of excellence in
public higher education, recently
introduced a $50mn fund to foster
innovative approaches in the sector,
with an emphasis on public-private
collaborations that have demonstrated
their ability to deliver the skills that
employers need.
Community colleges are just one
part of the rapidly changing training
landscape. The purpose of higher
education is evolving. In addition
to traditional tertiary education,
training institutions are offering
targeted modules, certified by
professional industry groups. The
Obama administration, for example,
cooperated with an arm of the National
Association of Manufacturers to launch
a manufacturing skills certification
system based on standards established
by industry groups. That programme
is now operating at 163 colleges and
institutes. Numerous collaborations
among the public sector, non-profit
philanthropies, and businesses
are offering innovations in worker
For example, Western Governors
University, a nonprofit online
institution, offers accredited collegedegree programmes in teaching,
nursing, health-care informatics, and
business. It gets financial support
from more than 20 corporations and
philanthropies, including the Gates
Foundation, along with $10mn from
the US Department of Education.
Advancement is based not on how
long students sit in a classroom, but
on their competence in the topics they
are studying. The cost for six months,
regardless of how many courses a
person takes, is $2,890 (including
books and a mentor) – a bargain,
compared to most state universities.
The Nanodegree programme at
AT&T (where I am a board member)
is another example. The programme,
a collaboration between AT&T and
Udacity, a for-profit provider of online
courses, offers courses and minidegrees in specialised fields such as
front-end website development. The
programme is a component of AT&T’s
in-house training programme, but it
is open to anyone with a broadband
A typical course, the content of
which is designed by AT&T and
other high-tech companies, costs
about $200 a month and takes 6-12
months to complete. AT&T offers
scholarships through partner nonprofit institutions and provides paid
internships for up to 100 graduates.
LearnUp, a San Francisco startup that
has attracted funding from some of
the biggest venture capital firms in
Silicon Valley, establishes partnerships
with employers to offer online training
modules that connect job seekers to
specific jobs, primarily entry-level
positions that do not require college
Employers foot the bill, with
the expectation that LearnUp will
help them recruit higher-quality
applicants. And, indeed, once
candidates have completed the
training, LearnUp helps them to
secure interviews with prospective
employers, which already includes
several large companies. The
California community college system
is already working with LearnUp
to give students access to the skills
required to fill available local jobs.
As these examples illustrate,
though workforce training is a public
good, no single institution or arm of
government has all of the answers
concerning how best to provide it.
Collaboration among government
agencies, companies and trade
associations, educational institutions,
and non-profits can give birth to
effective strategies that can be scaled
with public funding.
Only by working together will they
be able to identify the best recipes for
success. - Project Syndicate
zLaura Tyson, a former chair of the
US President’s Council of Economic
Advisers, is a professor at the Haas
School of Business at the University of
California, Berkeley. Lenny Mendonca
is a former director of McKinsey &
Weather report
Three-day forecast
Dear Sir,
The public health sector in
Qatar faces some major challenges.
Patients often find it difficult to
get consultations at some clinics,
probably because of the rush there. I
visited the men’s health clinic No 21
in Muntazah for three days in a row
but could not see a doctor there as “it
didn’t have any more appointment
numbers”, or so I am told at the
If one wants to get a consultation,
one has to come to this clinic quite
early to get a number so that a doctor
will see you from 7am onwards,
depending on the number of patients.
At the reception I was told during
my visits that there were not enough
doctors at the clinic. What should the
patients do then? I have no idea.
Last year, when I fell sick once and
could not see a doctor at the clinic, I
went to the Hamad Medical Corporation
(HMC) Emergency section at least twice
to get treatment. I am sorry to say
that I could not see a doctor both the
times. The staff there explained to me
that their section would only deal with
“emergency cases”.
I could, of course, go to a private
clinic as I could not see a doctor at
the public health clinic and the HMC
Emergency section, you might say,
but I really could not afford its fee and
its expensive medicines.
Proper healthcare facilities should
be available free to low-income
(Full name and address supplied)
Facilities at
Barwa Village
Dear Sir,
It is great to know that access
to Barwa Village in Wakrah and
its facilities are getting better
day by day (Gulf Times, February
1). As a resident, I am happy
about the services available at
the residential-cum-commercial
complex now.
As more stores open at Barwa
Village, its residents need not have
to come to Doha for their regular
shopping. This means less driving
for them on busy roads and less
(Full name and address supplied)
High: 26 C
Low : 16 C
Please send us
your letters
Strong wind at places
By e-mail
Fax 44350474
Or Post
Letters to the Editor
Gulf Times
P O Box 2888
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to editing, should have the
name of the writer, address
and phone number. The
writer’s name and address
may be withheld by request.
Fishermen’s forecast
Wind: NW 10-16 KT
Waves: 3-5 Feet
Wind: NW 04-10 KT
Waves: 1-3/4 Feet
Around the region
Live issues
Abu Dhabi
Kuwait City
Clear out the clutter in your home
By Rose Colucci
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS
onna Smallin’s book Clear
the Clutter, Find Happiness
(Storey Publishing, $10.95)
is practical. You can open to
any page and find a quick tip that will
help you get a handle on the things you
own - and shouldn’t.
A professional organiser since 1999,
Smallin is the author of seven books
on the subject, all of them filled with
one-minute tips to getting out from
under your belongings and organising
your life. These easy reads are perfect
for people who want to get organised
Smallin believes that the less you
own, the easier it is to maintain and
the more you can enjoy what you have.
“It isn’t about living like a
minimalist,” she said in an interview.
“It is more about that William Morris
said, ‘Have nothing in your house that
you do not know to be useful or believe
to be beautiful’.”
As an example, she says every time
she settles in a new place, she brings
out her antique Japanese teapot for
Smallin says that organising
in small chunks can make a big
difference. Her book shows how 10
minutes a day adds up to 60 hours in
a year, and a lot can be accomplished
in 60 hours.
“One of the easiest ways to tackle
clutter is while watching TV,” she
said. “If you have boxes that you can
organise, watch TV and work your way
through the box.”
She says a good question to keep in
mind is: “What is the worst possible
thing that could happen if I let this
The author’s mantra of living with
less took on a whole new meaning
when she and her husband, Mike
Kuper, purchased an RV (recreational
vehicle) in the autumn of 2012 with the
intent of visiting family and friends
from their home base in Michigan.
Plans changed and now they live fulltime in the 300-square-foot motor
“We finished downsizing in July of
2013 and took to the road full-time,”
she said.
The process of deciding what
she needed forced her to evaluate
everything. “You ask yourself, ‘What
can I not live without?’ It is not a lot of
stuff. We have everything we need. I
feel abundant,” Smallin said.
In fact, she says the RV has bright,
beautiful things that fill their world.
She works from the road, writing
books and running her website, www.
Her husband writes a blog about
life on the road, www.flyingthekoop.
The process of selling her goods led
her to update a previous book, How to
Declutter and Make Money Now.
“So much had changed since I
released the original and did this,”
Smallin said. She’s also updated her
first book Unclutter Your Home, and it
has been re-released for Kindle. “A lot
has changed since 1999.”
Decluttering will leave you renewed,
she believes. “When you make space
in your life, you are refreshing your
life and allowing yourself room to
grow and express yourself instead of
wasting so much energy, taking care of
things,” Smallin said.
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Around the world
Cape Town
Hong Kong
New Delhi
New York
Sao Paulo
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Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
Symposium on machine
learning and data
analytics next month
Staff Major General (Air) Nasser bin Mohamed al-Ali and other officials at the opening session yesterday.
Training for GCC
customs officials on
chemical weapons
epresentatives from the
GCC customs departments
were introduced yesterday
to the technical aspects of transporting chemical materials, especially those for dual use.
The sub-regional training
course for GCC customs authorities was inaugurated yesterday by Staff Major General
(Air) Nasser bin Mohamed alAli, chairman of Qatar National
Committee for the Prohibition
of Weapons (NCPW).
The two-day training has
been organised by Doha Regional Centre for Training on Conventions on Weapons of Mass
Destruction in co-operation
with the Organisation for the
Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) for the seventh
consecutive year. It aims at enhancing the awareness and capabilities of customs officers in
the region on related issues.
Pankaj Sharma, representative of OPCW, briefed the officials about the history of
chemical weapons and their
use in different wars in various
forms. He pointed out that the
world recognised the imminent
risk such weapons pose for human existence and well-being.
atar Computing Research Institute (QCRI)
and Boeing will host the
second edition of the Machine
Learning and Data Analytics
Symposium (MLDAS 2015) on
March 9 and 10, in Doha.
Open to students, researchers and industry experts, the
event will feature top global experts discussing applications,
recent advances and new solutions in the fields of machine
learning and data analytics.
The deadline for submitting
research abstracts is February 7.
Supplementing the two-day
symposium will be a hands-on
machine learning workshop
aimed at secondary school and
university students, which will
take place on March 12, further
helping to demonstrate QCRI’s
long-term commitment to
support Qatar Foundation
(QF) in its mission to build the
country’s innovation and technology capacity.
“We are proud to organise this event for the second
year with our valued partner
Boeing,” said Dr Ahmed K Elmagarmid, executive director,
QCRI. “The positive response
to the first symposium was
telling, and proved the interest
and relevance of data analytics
and machine learning in decision making today. Together,
we have leveraged our expertise
and networks to develop a substantial programme this year.”
With the continuing growth
of big data – in healthcare, science, social media, finance,
transportation and aerospace
as examples – it has become
critical to extract value from
such data in the most efficient
way possible in order to make
sound decisions.
The symposium provides
a tremendous opportunity
to gain insight into advanced
analytics for big data such as
machine learning, by engaging
with leading experts who will
discuss case studies and the
latest research in the field.
“We continue to work closely
with QCRI to bring innovation
to our joint project, and to support efforts that provide university students to have firsthand experiences that help
them develop their skills and
enrich their experience,” said
Jeff Johnson, president of Boeing Middle East.
MLDAS 2015 will serve as a
platform for the exchange of
ideas, identification of important and challenging applications, and discovery of possible
synergies with potential collaborators. The first day of the
symposium will focus on the
area of health and bioinformatics, a developing field that uses
mathematics, statistics and
information technology to extract, analyse and understand
large amounts of data generated from biological experiments.
Day two of the symposium
will focus on the topics of cyber
security and social media. The
symposium programme features presentations by invited
speakers from both industry
and academia, panel discussions and contributed talks by
the authors of accepted papers.
The list of distinguished
speakers for MLDAS 2015 symposium confirmed to date include Rich Caruana, Microsoft
Research; Mark Craven, University of Wisconsin; Christos
Faloutsos, Carnegie Mellon
University; Polo Chau, Georgia
Tech; Jenna Wiens, University
of Michigan; and David Page,
University of Wisconsin.
Maersk Oil hosts trade
delegation from Denmark
Senior officials from GCC customs departments at the opening session yesterday
Accordingly, a convention was
agreed upon to ban such weapons and limit their use.
A presentation was given to
introduce the trainees to dual use
chemicals, which has a potential
of being used to manufacture
chemical weapons, while they
can be also used for common industrial purposes.
The customs inspectors were
briefed on the necessary procedures to be taken when handling
such substances at the various entry points of the country, such as
verifying the documents on source
certificate and the purchase order,
besides ensuring that the targeted destination of any such cargo
would actually use it for the designated industrial purpose.
The concluding day of the
training, which is today, will include training on risk assessment
and management and an open
discussion on the various import
and export scenarios, among
other related topics.
The training is being held under the patronage of Staff Major
General (Air) Ghanim bin Shahin
al-Ghanim, Chief of Staff of the
Qatari Armed Forces.
aersk Oil Qatar has
hosted a Danish business delegation and
delivered a presentation highlighting the company’s success
in the Qatari market.
The trade delegation’s visit coincided with the staging of the Men’s
World Handball Championships,
where Maersk has been a prestige
sponsor of the tournament.
Lewis Affleck, managing director, Maersk Oil Qatar, said:
“Maersk operates in 130 countries
but is headquartered in Denmark,
so it was a pleasure to highlight
our success in Qatar and the role
Maersk is playing in the successful and responsible development
of Qatar’s largest offshore oilfield.
“Given the importance of the
World Handball Championships
to Qatar, the popularity of handball in Qatar and in Denmark, and
the participation of both the Qatar and Danish national handball
Maersk Oil Qatar highlighted its 20-year operations in the country
before a Danish trade delegation.
teams, this was a great event for
us to sponsor and be part of.”
Affleck said more than 50
Danish businesspeople attended
Maersk Oil Qatar’s presentation,
which highlighted its successful
operations in Qatar over the past
20 years, its Qatarisation programme, and social investment
schemes that are supporting
Qatar’s economic and social
development in line the Qatar
National Vision 2030.
He added that Maersk
Group’s long history of operating in Qatar comprises five business units: Maersk Oil, Maersk
Line, Safmarine, Svitzer, and
Damco, which plays key roles in
the country’s development.
Scholars present research papers at arts conference
he third annual Liberal
Arts International Conference hosted by Texas
A&M University at Qatar (TAMU-Q) started at Hamad Bin
Khalifa Student Centre at Education City yesterday. About
70 scholars from more than 20
countries are presenting research papers in a variety of
fields at the conference.
The theme of the conference
is “Looking Forward, Looking
Back: Transnational Perspectives
on Globalisation.” The event will
explore the impacts of globalisation from a variety of disciplinary
lenses. The three-day conference
will feature lectures and panels for
students, faculty and staff of educational institutions and research
centres in Qatar.
Dr Mark H Weichold, dean and
CEO at TAMU-Q, said: “Texas
A&M is recognised globally as a
leader in engineering education
and research. Part of its success
rests on its multidisciplinary approach, which includes a strong
commitment to the social sciences, arts and humanities. Our
substantial social sciences, arts
and humanities faculty include
internationally recognised lead-
ers in their fields, and all of our
students take a variety of these
courses to complement their engineering courses.”
Dr Troy Bickham, liberal arts
programme chair and professor of history at TAMU-Q, said:
“We are gratified by the large
number of participating scholars within Qatar this year. The
conference is a unique opportunity for scholars in the social
sciences, arts and humanities to
engage with each other and colleagues around the globe.”
Opening day keynote speaker
was Dr David Jolliffe, profes-
sor and Brown chair of English
literacy from the University of
Arkansas, USA. His address,
“Global Corporate Decisions,
Local Impacts and the Need for
Economic Literacy,” launched
the conference.
The conference’s second day
features a keynote speech by Dr
Michael Reksulak, director, social sciences, arts and humanities at Qatar National Research
Fund. Keynote speaker on the
conference’s final day is Dr Tim
Winter, professor and research
chair of cultural heritage from
Deakin University, Australia.
An expert speaking at one of the sessions.
Hike in benefits package for Commercial Bank staff
ommercial Bank has
announced that all its
employees will receive
a benefits package increase
“that will significantly enhance their current remuneration,” which included new
benefits and improvements to
existing ones.
“The increase in benefits
applies to all our employees
across all our business units, as
each and every staff is a valued
team member of Commercial
Bank. Increased salaries, together with the bank’s focus
on developing employee talent, will help maintain our position as an employer of choice
and keep us competitive in the
“People are at the heart of
Commercial Bank’s business and
this substantial improvement is
Commercial Bank CEO Abdulla Saleh al-Raisi delivering a speech during the bank’s meeting.
important for attracting and retaining the best employees,” said
Commercial Bank CEO Abdulla
Saleh al-Raisi during a meeting
carrying the theme “It’s all about
Al-Raisi said Commercial
Bank’s profits have grown “despite a fiercely competitive market” with increased market share
in key segments such as retail
banking and enterprise bank-
ing for small and medium-sized
enterprises (SMEs).
“Our financial performance
for 2014 is very positive and there
are improvements on many key
financial measures,” he stressed.
He also highlighted that 2015
marks Commercial Bank’s 40th
anniversary as Qatar’s first
private bank.
“A key objective for 2015 is to
deliver world-class customer
service and two new internal initiatives are now in place
to ensure that Commercial
Bank remains a market leader
for quality of service, understanding the customer and
responsiveness,” he stressed.
Al-Raisi added: “We continue
to invest heavily in human capital in line with Qatar National
Vision 2030 by developing our
employee talent and helping to
make Commercial Bank one of
the best places to work in Qatar.
The enhancements made to benefits are testament to our belief
in growing and developing our
Sharoq al-Malki, executive
general manager and chief human capital officer, Commercial
Bank, said: “Commercial Bank
invests heavily in developing human capital in line with Qatar
National Vision 2030. Our goal
is to be importers and exporters
of employee talent and we will
continue to strive for excellence
towards positioning Commercial
Bank as an employer of choice in
The meeting, moderated by
author and motivational speaker
Chester Elton, provided an open
forum for management and
staff to review last year’s performance, discuss objectives,
and plans for 2015, including
Commercial Bank’s values and
A global expert on workplace
trends and motivation, Elton is
co-author of several leadership
books, including All In, The Carrot Principle, and What Motivates Me, which was a New York
Times and Wall Street Journal
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
DFI to screen
Rocky on
Sport Day
at Katara
Officials from Ashghal and joint venture contractors receive a certification for achieving 30mn man hours without LTI for the Dukhan Highway Central project.
Ashghal keeps up
high safety standard
on Dukhan project
he Public Works Authority
(Ashghal) has announced
that it has achieved 30mn
man-hours without lost time
incident (LTI) for the Dukhan
Highway Central expressway.
Ashghal said the feat was
achieved with the joint venture of Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC) and Teyseer Contracting Company. This
milestone builds on the previous achievement of 25mn manhours without LTI celebrated by
Ashghal and the contractor in
July 2014.
“This significantly demonstrates the ongoing commitment
to the welfare and safety of our
employees and workers in the
workplace through the adoption
of rigorous strategies and processes,” Ashghal said in a statement.
Ashghal Infrastructure Affairs
director Jalal Yousef al-Salhi
awarded the certificate of appreciation to project director Bassam Salem. He also congratulated the project team for its latest
Bassam expressed his thanks
for the recognition and stressed
his company’s keenness in fullyadhering to safety procedures in
completing the project without
To comply with Ashghal’s
health and safety requirements
in work zones, CCC and Teyseer
raised the safety bar by introducing a robust programme of safety
and traffic management.
The programme included the
provision and use of the first
crash cushion, European approved and tested temporary
barriers both metal and concrete,
including accredited installation, specialist road side working
safety training accredited to UK
and European standard and certified accordingly.
These initiatives included intensive health and safety discussions and awareness sessions,
weekly management inspections, access control for subcontractors, emergency support
vehicles, site notice boards, and
other related procedures.
Ashghal’s expressways programme has a set of health and
safety procedures and policies across all projects to ensure
commitment and compliance
from all contractors to achieve
zero per-cent incidents, injuries,
environmental harm, and no security breaches on the expressway projects.
The Dukhan Highway Central
project is an integral part of Ashghal’s expressway programme
that will create “one of the
world’s most impressive” urban
road networks.
The project is managed by
KBR as programme management
consultant and WS Atkins as the
supervision consultant. Substantial section of the Dukhan
Highway Central project has already been opened to traffic.
The Dukhan Highway Central
project includes the construction of a new 15km highway
starting from west of the existing
Al Wajbah Interchange and ending east of the town of Al Sheehaniya.
The project also comprises a
dual carriageway with four lanes
in each direction, service roads,
and multi-level interchanges
to enhance traffic flow between
Dukhan and the centre of Doha.
The new road will also separate
traffic on the expressway from
traffic on local roads.
atara Cultural Village and
Doha Film Institute will
present a free screening
of the classic 1976 sports film,
Rocky, starring Sylvester Stallone on February 10, the National Sport Day. The film will be
screened at Katara’s Marina Park
Area, next to Katara’s Main Entrance and St Regis at 7pm.
Rocky Balboa, a down-andout club fighter from the mean
streets of Philadelphia, gets an
unlikely shot at the world heavyweight championship when
he takes on reigning champion
Apollo Creed. The irresistible
story of the boxer who gives his
all to win the championship title, won the Academy Awards for
Best Picture and Best Director,
and catapulted Sylvester Stallone
to superstardom.
The National Sport Day is a
A still from the movie Rocky.
national holiday in Qatar, held
annually on the second Tuesday
in February, with the main objective of promoting a healthy
lifestyle among its population.
Qatar is one of the few nations to
dedicate a day for sports.
The screening is part of the
Doha Film Institute’s ongoing
Pop-up Cinema, a series of free
outdoor screenings for filmlovers in Qatar taking place
throughout the cooler months,
and featuring DFI’s signature mix of specialty film programming and unique cultural
The film is in English and will
be presented without Arabic
subtitles. For more information
on Pop-up Cinema dates and
timings and other DFI screenings
and events go to
Congratulations to France
on winning the 24th Men’s
Handball World Championship!
Prestige Partners
All ticket proceeds go to
China factory
sector jolts on
January drop
Oil workers in US
begin first major
strike since 1980
Monday, February 2, 2015
Rabia II 13, 1436 AH
MPHC posts QR1.8bn profit,
suggests 110% cash dividend
esaieed Petrochemical Holding Company (MPHC) - an
umbrella entity for Q Chem,
Q Chem II and Qatar Vinyl Company
(QVC) - has reported net profit of
QR1.8bn in 2014.
The board has suggested 110% or
QR1.1 cash dividend, which is equivalent to 77% of the group’s profits.
Revenue stood at QR4.3bn, a company spokesman said after the board
The group continued to maintain
strong Ebitda (earnings before interest
taxes depreciation and amortisation)
margins across all segments, as results
were aided by resilient key product
prices, supply of competitively priced
ethane feedstock and fuel gas under
long-term supply agreements with
Qatar Petroleum (QP) and the recognition of a tax refund from the Public
Revenues and Tax Department.
These commendable results were
achieved despite QVC witnessing
planned maintenance during the first
half of the year, and heightened operating costs.
The board has suggested 110%
or QR1.1 cash dividend, which is
equivalent to 77% of the group’s
MPHC’s liquidity position remained strong during the year on
buoyant cash realisation ratios across
all group companies, with cash held
across the group after distributing the
previous year’s QR439.7mn dividend,
of about QR2.7bn. Total assets closed
the year at QR14.6bn, an increase of
11%, compared to the previous year.
Its Q Chem/Q Chem II segment
recorded revenue of QR3.5bn during
2014, despite a drop in alpha-olefin
sales volume and prices.
In line with the segment’s production and sales strategy, the polyolefin/
alpha-olefin sales mix was adjusted in
order to take advantage of pricing and
market opportunities identified during the quarter.
As a result, during 2014, polyolefins
constituted 71% of revenue, alphaolefins 26% with the remainder attributable to other minor products.
Ebitda for the year was QR2.2bn.
The segment’s commendable quarterly Ebitda margin of 57.9% was
achieved as the companies continued to benefit from excellent operating results and competitively-priced
ethane feedstock supplied by Qatar
Petroleum. Net profit for the year was
QR1.6bn, total combined assets were
QR7bn, and total debt was QR1.5bn.
The entire debt balance was due by Q
Chem II, while the combined companies’ cash realisation ratio was over
QVC registered full year revenue of
QR0.8bn. Results for 2014 were impacted by planned shut-downs of the
company’s EDC (endocrine disrupting chemicals), VCM (vinyl chloride
monomer) and caustic soda facilities,
principally during the first half of the
Net profit for the year was
QR166.6mn. Year to date profit margins were adversely affected by expenditure related to the major shutdown and weak comparative selling
QNB Group General
Assembly approves
75% cash dividend
‘QSE keen on empowering
global partnerships’
The Qatar Stock Exchange (QSE) is
keen on co-operating and empowering partnership in a world of strong
alliances, financial crises, and unstable
regional circumstances.
Considering the need for joint work,
the bourse will host the 55th general
assembly and annual meeting of the
World Federation of Exchanges (WFE)
in October this year.
The WFE is the world’s largest gathering of exchanges as it is the trade
association of 64 publicly regulated
stock, futures and options exchanges
from all over the world, in addition
to other affiliate and correspondent
Highlighting that no country in this
interconnected world can be immune
to the risks and vagaries of the global
economy, QSE chief executive Rashid
bin Ali al-Mansoori (pictured) said all
countries need to build bridges of cooperation and joint coordination.
He called on participating stock exchanges to co-operate and empower
partnership, depicting joint work as an
urgent need.
“We look at this meeting as an opportunity to exchange views in order to
strengthen the
means of
cooperation between the
participating stock
and find
to the difficulties and
that may
face those exchanges, especially in
light of the rapid economic, social and
political changes all over the world,”
he added.
The 2014 WFE General Assembly and
Annual Meeting, held in the Korean
capital, Seoul, saw al-Mansoori being
elected as a board member of the WFE
to represent Europe-Middle East-Africa
region for a three-year term.
The WFE exchanges are home to more
than 45,000 listed companies and the
WFE statistics database covers more
than 350 indicators and 70 years of
data from exchanges worldwide.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
Kingdom Holding
planning IPOs
on investments
ingdom Holding Co, the investment company owned
by Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, is planning to sell shares in a “significant” number of assets.
The firm, through which Prince Alwaleed holds stakes in
companies including Citigroup Inc and Twitter Inc, is considering offerings on the Saudi stock exchange and internationally, chief financial officer Mohammed Fahmy said in an
interview in Riyadh. Flynas, the Saudi budget airline in which
it holds a 34% stake, is among companies planning share
sales, he said, declining to identify others.
“A significant number of our privately held assets are
planning listings starting from 2016 to 2018,” Fahmy said.
“The economic cycle will still be positive and those assets we
have invested for a long time will have reached critical mass
in terms of profitability and size.”
He didn’t elaborate on the number of assets under consideration for share sales.
Kingdom Holding, which owns half of the Savoy hotel in
London and is backing a project to build the world’s tallest
tower in Jeddah, took an early interest in Twitter and Beijingbased online retailer Inc. Those investments have
yielded an internal rate of return of more than 30% and 75%
respectively since they went public in the US last year, Fahmy
Alwaleed is considering an initial public offering or merger
of Four Seasons Holdings Inc and Fairmont Hotels & Resorts
Inc, he told Bloomberg TV in November 2013. The prince,
the world’s 22nd richest man, according to data compiled by
Bloomberg, holds a 95% stake in the Four Seasons chain with
Bill Gates.
Fahmy, previously deputy CFO, took over in late 2013 from
Shadi Sanbar, who retired after more than eight years with
the company. Sanbar still serves as a financial adviser to Alwaleed.
In his first year as CFO, Fahmy renegotiated Kingdom
Holding’s borrowing in a bid to cut interest costs. The efforts will save it almost $15mn a year in interest expenses on
$2.4bn of debt, he said. In addition to cutting interest costs,
Fahmy has also extended the maturity of the company’s
loans. Over half of its debt, obtained from banks including
A pedestrian walks past a Four Seasons Hotel in New York
City (file). Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the
world’s 22nd richest man, according to data compiled by
Bloomberg, holds a 95% stake in the Four Seasons chain
with Bill Gates.
Citigroup, Deutsche Bank AG, Bank of America Corp, Samba
and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, now matures after 2018.
“We realised last year that given the strength of our balance sheet and the interest rate environment that there was a
unique opportunity to lock in low funding costs for the next
few years,” he said.
Low interest rates and high levels of liquidity at the regional banks have encouraged borrowers from Saudi Arabia to the
UAE to renegotiate loans. Emaar Properties cut borrowing
costs on a $500mn syndicated loan by more than a third, two
people with knowledge of the matter said earlier this month,
while Dubai Duty Free cut the pricing of a $1.75bn loan for a
second time last August.
Kingdom Holding reported a 15% increase in profit for the
last quarter after the value of its investments rose and financial costs declined. Profit for the quarter was 266mn riyals
($71mn). The shares gained as much as 4.4% in Riyadh yesterday.
Kingdom Holding, which has $1bn in bank financing available for new investments, is hunting opportunities worldwide in retail, pharmaceuticals and fast-moving consumer
goods, which includes soft drinks and toiletries, Fahmy said.
Africa, in particular, is on its radar this year.
Notice to Shareholders
Mesaieed Petrochemical
Holding Company
We are pleased to invite you to attend the
General Assembly Meetings to be held on Monday,
February 16th, 2015 at 4:30 pm in Le Crillon Ballroom,
La Cigale Hotel - Doha. In the case that a quorum is
not met, a second meeting will be held on Wednesday,
March 4th, 2015 at the same time and location.
Agenda of the Ordinary General Assembly Meeting
31, 2014.
and the future plans of the company.
1.10 per share, representing 11 % of the nominal share value.
approve their remuneration.
Chairman, MPHC
Agenda of the Extraordinary General Assembly Meeting
Approve the amendment of Article 22-2 of the Articles of Association as
Text prior to amendment:
General Assembly. The Special Shareholder shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that at least one-third of
Text after amendment:
General Assembly. In the event that the Special Shareholder considered the suitability to add independent
directors, the Special Shareholder shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that at least one-third of the total
Please bring your identity card and NIN number to the AGAM venue for registration, which will
commence at 3:00 pm.
If you are not able to attend personally, you may wish to authorize another MPHC shareholder to vote
on your behalf in the AGAM. You can do this by using a proxy form which you can download from the
company’s website:
Kindly be advised that one shareholder may act as proxy for one or more shareholders, subject to the
Articles of Association.
No proxy may be appointed to act if, in consequence of such appointment, the proxy shall represent
more than five (5) per cent. of the Company’s issued share capital when the Shares of the person
appointing the proxy are aggregated with the Shares of the person appointed to act as proxy.
For the avoidance of doubt, shareholders are advised that this Notice to Shareholders constitutes good
and valid notice, with no need for distribution by normal post.
Report on the Financial Statements
Consolidated Financial Results
Management’s Responsibility for the Financial Statements
Segmental Financial Results
Q-Chem / Q-Chem II
Auditor’s Responsibility
Other matters
Performance Versus Budget
Proposed Dividend Distribution
Other Legal and Regulatory Requirements
For Deloitte & Touche
Qatar Branch
Muhammad Bahemia
License No. 103
Doha – Qatar
February 1, 2015
F O R M O R E I N F O R M AT I O N P L E A S E V I S I T W W W . M P H C . Q A O R E M A I L U S A T : M P H C @ Q P. C O M . Q A
Mesaieed Petrochemical Holding Company
December 31,
December 31,
Non-current asset
Investment in joint ventures
Current assets
Prepayments and other debit balances
Due from related parties
Cash and bank balances
Total current assets
Share capital
Legal reserve
Retained earnings
Total equity
Current liabilities
Trade payables and accruals
Due to a related party
Total current liabilities
Qatar Chemical Company Limited (Q-Chem I)
Qatar Chemical Company (II) Limited (Q-Chem II)
Qatar Vinyl Company Limited (QVC)
Share of profit from joint ventures
Interest income
Other income
General and administrative expenses
Profit for the year/period
Tax refund
Net income for the year/period
Total comprehensive income for the year/period
An asset is current when:
x It is expected to be realised or intended to sold or consumed in normal operating cycle;
x It is held primarily for the purpose of trading;
x It is expected to be realised within twelve months after the reporting period; or
x It is cash or a cash equivalent unless restricted from being exchanged or used to settle a liability
for at least twelve months after the reporting period.
Qatar Vinyl Company Limited (“QVC”), is a Qatari Shareholding Company incorporated in
the State of Qatar and is a jointly controlled entity among QP, MPHC and Qatar Petrochemical
Company Limited (“QAPCO”). The company is engaged in the production and sale of
petrochemical products such as caustic soda, ethylene dichloride and vinyl chloride monomer.
All other assets are classified as non-current.
A liability is current when:
x It is expected to be settled in normal operating cycle;
x It is held primarily for the purpose of trading;
x It is due to be settled within twelve months after the reporting period; or
x There is no unconditional right to defer the settlement of the liability for at least twelve months
after the reporting period.
2.1 New and revised IFRSs affecting amounts reported in the financial statements
The Company classifies all other liabilities as non-current.
The following are the revised IFRSs that were effective in the current year and have been applied
in the preparation of these financial statements:
Financial assets
All financial assets are recognised and derecognised on trade date where the purchase or sale of a
financial asset is under a contract whose terms require delivery of the financial asset within the
timeframe established by the market concerned, and are initially measured at fair value, plus
transaction costs, except for those financial assets classified as at fair value through profit or loss,
which are initially measured at fair value.
Revised Standards
Trade and other receivables
Trade and other receivables are carried at original invoiced amount less impairment for noncollectability of these receivables. An allowance for impairment is made when there is objective
evidence (such as the probability of insolvency or significant financial difficulties of the debtor)
that the Company will not be able to collect all of the amounts due under the original terms of the
invoice. The carrying amount of the receivable is reduced through use of an allowance account.
Impaired debts are derecognized when they are assessed as uncollectible.
Cash and cash equivalents
Cash and cash equivalents in the statement of cash flows comprise of bank balances and fixed term
deposits with an original maturity of more than three months.
(ii) New Interpretation:
Impairment of financial assets
Financial assets are assessed for indicators of impairment at each reporting date. Financial assets
are impaired where there is objective evidence that, as a result of one or more events that occurred
after the initial recognition of the financial asset, the estimated future cash flows of the investment
have been affected.
Effective for annual periods beginning on or after January 1, 2014
x IFRIC 21
The adoption of these new and revised standards had no significant effect on the financial statements
of the Company for the year ended December 31, 2014, other than certain presentation and
disclosure changes.
Objective evidence of impairment could include:
significant financial difficulty of the issuer or counterparty; or
default or delinquency in interest or principal payments; or
it is becoming probable that the borrower will enter bankruptcy or financial reorganisation; or
the disappearance of an active market for that financial asset because of financial
2.2 New and revised IFRSs in issue but not yet effective (Early adoption allowed)
The Company has not applied the following new and revised IFRSs that have been issued but are
not yet effective:
Other comprehensive income
Current versus non-current classification
The Company presents assets and liabilities based on current/non-current classification.
Qatar Chemical Company II Limited (“Q-Chem II”), is a Qatari Shareholding Company
incorporated in the State of Qatar and is a jointly controlled entity among QP, MPHC and
CPCIQH. The company is engaged in the production, storage and sale of polyethylene, normal
alpha olefins, other ethylene derivatives and other petrochemical products.
Effective for annual periods beginning on or after January 1, 2014
Financial Instruments: Presentation – Amendments to clarify
x IAS 32 (Revised)
existing application issues relating to the offsetting
Amendments to introduce an exception from the requirement to
x IFRS 10, IFRS 12 and IAS
subsidiaries for an investment entity.
27 (Revised)
Amendments arising from recoverable amount disclosures for
x IAS 36 (Revised)
non-financial assets.
Amends IAS 39 Financial Instruments: Recognition and
x IAS 39 (Revised)
Measurement to make it clear that there is no need to
discontinue hedge accounting if a hedging derivative is novated,
provided certain criteria are met.
The financial statements of the Company for the year ended December 31, 2014 were authorised for
issue by the Board of Directors on February 1, 2015.
May 29, 2013
December 31,
Joint venture
Joint venture
Joint venture
The Company commenced commercial activities on September 1, 2013.
Abdulrahman Ahmad Al-Shaibi
Vice Chairman
Year ended
December 31,
ƒ Qatar Chemical Company Limited (“Q-Chem”), is a Qatari Shareholding Company
incorporated in the State of Qatar and is a jointly controlled entity among QP, MPHC and
Chevrons Phillips Chemical International Qatar Holdings L.L.C. (“CPCIQH). The company is
engaged in the production, storage and sale of polyethylene, 1-hexene and other petrochemical
Dr. Mohammed Bin Saleh Al-Sada
Minister of Energy and Industry
Country of
incorporation Relationship
Entity name
The Company discontinues the use of the equity method from the date when the investment ceases
to be a joint venture, or when the investment is classified as held for sale. When the Company
retains an interest in the former joint venture and the retained interest is a financial asset, the
Company measures the retained interest at fair value at that date and the fair value is regarded as
its fair value on initial recognition in accordance with IAS 39. The difference between the carrying
amount of the joint venture at the date the equity method was discontinued, and the fair value of
any retained interest and any proceeds from disposing of a part interest in the joint venture is
included in the determination of the gain or loss on disposal of the joint venture. If a gain or loss
previously recognised in other comprehensive income by that joint venture would be reclassified
to profit or loss on the disposal of the related assets or liabilities, then the Company also reclassifies
the gain or loss from equity to profit or loss (as a reclassification adjustment) when the equity
method is discontinued.
Unrealized gains and losses resulting from transactions between the Company and the joint venture
are eliminated to the extent of the interest in the joint venture.
The joint ventures of the Company, equity accounted for in the financial statements are as follows:
New Standards:
Derecognition of financial assets and liabilities
Effective for annual periods beginning on or after January 1, 2016
Regulatory Deferral Accounts.
x IFRS 14
Effective for annual periods beginning on or after January 1, 2017
Revenue from Contracts with Customers.
x IFRS 15
A financial asset (or, where applicable a part of a financial asset or part of a group of similar
financial assets) is derecognised where:
The rights to receive cash flows from the asset have expired;
The Company retains the right to receive cash flows from the asset, but has assumed an
obligation to pay them in full without material delay to a third party under a ‘pass-through’
arrangement; or
The Company has transferred its rights to receive cash flows from the asset and either (a) has
transferred substantially all the risks and rewards of the asset, or (b) has neither
transferred nor retained substantially all the risks and rewards of the asset, but has
transferred control of the asset.
Financial liabilities
A financial liability is derecognised when the obligation under the liability is discharged, cancelled
or expires. When an existing financial liability is replaced by another from the same lender on
substantially different terms, or the terms of existing financial liability are substantially modified,
such an exchange or modification is treated as a derecognition of original financial liability and
recognition of new liability, and the difference in the respective carrying amounts is recognised in
the statement of profit or loss.
Effective for annual periods beginning on or after January 1, 2018
Basic and diluted earnings per share
Effective for annual periods beginning on or after July 1, 2014
Share capital introduced
Allotment and issuance of additional shares
(Note 10)
Total comprehensive income for the period
Balance at December 31, 2013
Dividends declared (Note 12)
Excess funds over IPO (Note 11)
Social fund contribution (Note 17)
Total comprehensive income for the year
Balance at December 31, 2014
Annual improvements to
IFRSs 2010-2012 cycle
Annual Improvements 2011- Amendments to issue clarifications on IFRSs- IFRS 1, IFRS 3,
IFRS 13 and IAS 40.
2013 Cycle
May 29, 2013
December 31,
Profit for the year/period
Working capital changes:
Prepayments and other debit balances
Due from related parties
Due to a related party
Trade payables and accruals
Cash from operations
Interest received
Net cash generated from operating activities
Dividends received
Increase in term deposits
Net cash generated from investing activities
Share capital introduced
Dividends Paid
Net cash (used in)/ generated from financing activity
Cash and cash equivalents at beginning of the year/period
IAS 38 (Revised)
Amendments regarding the clarification of acceptable methods
of depreciation and amortization.
IAS 41 (Revised)
Amendments bringing bearer plants into the scope of IAS 16.
Financial Instruments Disclosures - Amendments requiring
disclosures about the initial application of IFRS 9
Amendments to permit an entity to elect to continue to apply the
hedge accounting requirements in IAS 39 for a fair value hedge of
the interest rate exposure of a portion of a portfolio of financial
assets or financial liabilities when IFRS 9 is applied, and to extend
the fair value option to certain contracts that meet the 'own use'
scope exception.
Foreign currency translation
In preparing the financial statements of the Company, transactions in currencies other than the
Company’s functional currency (foreign currencies) are recognised at the rates of exchange
prevailing at the dates of the transactions. At the end of each reporting period, monetary items
denominated in foreign currencies are retranslated at the rates prevailing at that date. Non-monetary
items carried at fair value that are denominated in foreign currencies are retranslated at the rates
prevailing at the date when the fair value was determined. Non-monetary items that are measured
in terms of historical cost in a foreign currency are not retranslated. Exchange differences on
monetary items are recognised in profit or loss in the period in which they arise except as otherwise
stated in the Standards.
IFRS 7 (Revised)
IAS 39 (Revised)
Statement of compliance
The financial statements of the Company have been prepared in accordance with International
Financial Reporting Standards (“IFRS”) as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board
(“IASB”), the Company’s Articles of Association, and the applicable requirements of Qatar
Commercial Companies’ Law No. 5 of 2002.
Business combinations and goodwill
The management uses the following criteria to evaluate whether a business combination has
substance to apply the purchase method as described in IFRS 3 – Business Combinations or the
pooling of interest method where the transaction lacks substance:
Mesaieed Petrochemical Holding Company Q.S.C. (the "Company" or “MPHC”) is registered and
incorporated in Qatar with commercial registration number 60843 as a Qatari Shareholding
Company by its founding shareholder, Qatar Petroleum (“QP”). The Company is incorporated
under Article 68 of the Qatar Commercial Companies’ Law No. 5 of 2002. The Company was
incorporated on May 29, 2013 for an initial period of 99 years, following the Decision of H.E. the
Minister of Economy and Commerce No. 22 of 2013, issued on May 21, 2013. The registered
address of the parent company is P.O. Box 3212, Doha, State of Qatar. The Company is listed on
the Qatar Exchange and is a subsidiary of QP.
The principal activity of the Company is to establish, manage, own and/or hold shares, assets and
interests in companies (and their subsidiaries and/or associated undertakings) engaged in all
manner of processing and/or manufacturing petrochemical products, together with any other
company or undertaking which the Company deems beneficial to its business, diversification or
expansion from time to time.
The Company was incorporated with an initial share capital of QR 10 million. QP transferred its
shareholding (“transfer shares”) in the joint venture companies mentioned in the table below to
MPHC based on a Share Swap agreement dated August 4, 2013. The consideration for the transfer
of shares was the allotment and issuance of shares (“swap shares”) by MPHC to QP. The
completion of transfer shares was effective under the agreement upon obtaining the commercial
registration certificates evidencing the transfer shares registered in the name of MPHC, and the
swap shares in the name of QP which occurred on September 9, 2013. Subsequently, an amendment
was made to the Share Swap agreement on January 30, 2014, whereby QP and MPHC agreed the
transfer date to be September 1, 2013 (“acquisition date”). Accordingly, the share of profits in the
joint venture entities was accounted for the period ended December 31, 2013.
In early 2014, Qatar Petroleum offered 323,187,677 existing ordinary shares of the Company
during an initial public offer at an offer price of QR 10.20 per share (including QR 0.20 per share
for offering and listing costs). On February 26, 2014, the Company became the 43rd company to
be listed on Qatar Exchange. The share offer comprised of 25.7312% of the total issued share
capital of the Company. The initial public offer was restricted to individual Qatari citizens and
certain selected Qatari Institutions only. QP continues to hold the remaining 74.2688% of total
issued share capital (including one special share) as on December 31, 2014.
The amount recognised as a provision is the best estimate of the consideration required to settle the
present obligation at the statement of financial position date, taking into account the risks and
uncertainties surrounding the obligation. Where a provision is measured using the cash flows
estimated to settle the present obligation, its carrying amount is the present value of those cash
When some or all of the economic benefits required to settle a provision are expected to be
recovered from a third party, the receivable is recognised as an asset if it is virtually certain that
reimbursement will be received and the amount of the receivable can be measured reliably.
IAS 27 (Revised)
Provisions are recognised when the Company has a present obligation (legal or constructive) as a
result of a past event, it is probable that the Company will be required to settle the obligation and
a reliable estimate can be made of the amount of the obligation.
Amendments reinstating the equity method as an accounting option
for investments in in subsidiaries, joint ventures and associates in
an entity's separate financial statements.
Effective for annual periods beginning on or after January 1, 2018 (on application of IFRS 9)
Accounts payable and accruals
Liabilities are recognized for amounts to be paid in the future for goods or services received,
whether billed by the supplier or not.
Annual Improvements 2012- Amendments to issue clarifications and add additional/specific
guidance to IFRS 5, IFRS 7, IAS 19 and IAS 34.
2014 Cycle
IFRS 10 & IAS 28 (Revised) Amendments regarding the sale or contribution of assets
between an investor and its associate or joint venture
Amendments regarding the accounting for acquisitions of an
IFRS 11 (Revised)
interest in a joint operation.
Amendments regarding the clarification of acceptable methods
IAS 16 (Revised)
of depreciation and amortization and amendments bringing
bearer plants into the scope of IAS 16.
Effective for annual periods beginning on or after January 1, 2016
Adjustments for :
Interest income
Share of profit from joint ventures
Amendments to clarify the requirements that relate to how
contributions from employees or third parties that are linked to
service should be attributed to periods of service.
Amendments to issue clarifications on IFRSs- IFRS 2, IFRS 3,
IFRS 8, IFRS 13, IAS 16, IAS 24 and IAS 38.
IAS 19 (Revised)
Effective for annual periods beginning on or after January 1, 2016
Year ended
December 31,
Revised Standards:
Financial Instruments.
Management anticipates that the adoption of these Standards and Interpretations in future periods
will have no material financial impact on the financial statements of the Company in the period of
initial application, other than certain presentation and disclosure changes.
Fair values
The fair value of financial investments that are actively traded in organized financial markets is
determined by reference to quoted market bid prices for assets and offer prices for liabilities at the
close of business at the end of the reporting period.
Basis of preparation
The financial statements have been prepared on a historical cost basis.
For financial instruments where there is no active market, the fair value is determined by using
valuation techniques. Such techniques include using recent arm’s length transactions, reference to
the current market value of another instrument which is substantially the same and/or discounted
cash flow analysis. For discounted cash flow techniques, estimated future cash flows are based on
management’s best estimates and the discount rate used is a market related rate for a similar
The Company’s functional and presentation currency is Qatari Riyals (“QR”) and the financial
statements have been presented in QR’000, except where otherwise indicated.
If the fair values cannot be measured reliably, these financial instruments are measured at cost.
Dividend distributions
Dividend distributions are at the discretion of the Company. A dividend distribution to the
Company’s shareholders is accounted for as a deduction from retained earnings. A declared
dividend is recognised as a liability in the period in which it is approved in the Annual General
(a) the purpose of the transaction;
(b) the involvement of outside parties in the transaction, such as non- controlling interests or other
third parties;
(c) whether or not the transaction is conducted at fair value;
(d) the existing activities of the entities involved in the transactions;
(e) whether or not it is bringing entities together into a reporting entity that did not exist before; and
(f) where a new company is established, whether it is undertaken in connection with an IPO or spinoff or other change in control and significant change in ownership.
Contribution to Qatar Sports and Social Fund
Pursuant to the Qatar Law No. 13 of 2008 and the related clarifications issued in 2011, which is
applicable for all Qatari listed shareholding companies with publicly traded shares, the Company
has made an appropriation of 2.5% of its net profit to a state social fund.
Earnings per share
The Company presents basic and diluted earnings per share (“EPS”) data for its ordinary shares.
Basic and diluted EPS is calculated by dividing the profit or loss attributable to ordinary
shareholders of the Company by the weighted average number of ordinary shares outstanding
during the year.
Accounting for business combinations involving entities or businesses under common control
Accounting for business combinations involving entities or businesses under common control is
outside the scope of IFRS 3 “Business Combinations”. In the case of an absence of specific
guidance in IFRS, the management uses their judgment in developing and applying an accounting
policy that is relevant and reliable. In making that judgment the management may also consider the
most recent pronouncements of other standard-setting bodies that use a similar conceptual
framework to develop accounting standards, to the extent that these do not conflict with the IFRS.
Use of estimates
The preparation of financial statements in conformity with International Financial Reporting
Standards requires management to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported
amounts of assets and liabilities and disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities at the date of the
financial statements and the reported amounts of revenues and expenses during the reporting
period. Although these estimates are based on management's best knowledge of current events and
actions, actual results may ultimately differ from those estimates.
Management has adopted the purchase method to account for the business combinations of entities
under common control considering the substance of the arrangement. The cost of the business
combination is measured as the aggregate of the fair values (at the date of exchange) of assets
given, liabilities incurred or assumed, and equity instruments issued by the Company in exchange
for control of the acquiree, plus any costs directly attributable to the business combination. The
acquiree’s identifiable assets, liabilities and contingent liabilities that meet the conditions for
recognition under IFRS 3 Business Combinations are recognised at their fair values at the
acquisition date, except for non-current assets (or disposal groups) that are classified as held for
sale in accordance with IFRS 5 “Non-current Assets Held for Sale and Discontinued Operations”,
which are recognised and measured at fair value less costs to sell.
Interest in joint venture
The results and assets and liabilities of joint ventures are incorporated in these financial statements
using the equity method of accounting, except when the investment, or a portion thereof, is
classified as held for sale, in which case it is accounted for in accordance with IFRS 5. Under the
equity method, an investment in a joint venture is initially recognised in the statement of financial
position at cost and adjusted thereafter to recognise the Company's share of the profit or loss of the
joint venture. When the Company's share of losses of a joint venture exceeds the Company's interest
in that joint venture (which includes any long-term interests that, in substance, form part of the
Company's net investment in the joint venture), the Company discontinues recognising its share of
further losses. Additional losses are recognised only to the extent that the Company has incurred
legal or constructive obligations or made payments on behalf of the associate or joint venture.
An investment in a joint venture is accounted for using the equity method from the date on which
the investee becomes a joint venture. On acquisition of the investment in a joint venture, any excess
of the cost of the investment over the Company's share of the net fair value of the identifiable assets
and liabilities of the investee is recognised as goodwill, which is included within the carrying
amount of the investment. Any excess of the Company's share of the net fair value of the
identifiable assets and liabilities over the cost of the investment, after reassessment, is recognised
immediately in profit or loss in the period in which the investment is acquired.
When necessary, the entire carrying amount of the investment (including goodwill) is tested for
impairment in accordance with IAS 36 Impairment of Assets as a single asset by comparing its
recoverable amount (higher of value in use and fair value less costs to sell) with its carrying amount.
The estimates and underlying assumptions are reviewed regularly. Revisions to accounting
estimates are recognized in the period in which the estimate is revised if the revision affects only
that period or in the period of the revision and future periods if the revision affects both current and
On September 1, 2013, QP transferred its shareholding in the joint venture companies (“transaction”)
through a share swap agreement with the Company. The transaction was accounted for as a common
control transaction using the acquisition method of accounting considering the substance of the
transaction. The total consideration was QR.12,553 million which was settled by allotment and issue
of swap shares by MPHC to QP, as detailed in Note 1 to the financial statements.
Q-Chem I
QR ’000
Total consideration
Less: Fair values of net assets acquired
Goodwill arising on acquisition
Q-Chem II
QR ’000
QR ’000
QR ’000
The Company used fair values of net assets acquired in determining its goodwill for the year ended
December 31, 2014. A formal purchase price allocation (“PPA”) exercise was performed during the
year to determine the fair value of net assets acquired, which resulted in the identifiable net assets
being revised and the goodwill being increased by amount of QR. 101.6 million. The PPA did not
result in any impact on the investment in joint venture balance or results of the Company.
F O R M O R E I N F O R M AT I O N P L E A S E V I S I T W W W . M P H C . Q A O R E M A I L U S A T : M P H C @ Q P. C O M . Q A
Mesaieed Petrochemical Holding Company
Q-Chem I
QR ’000
Total consideration
Less: Provisional values of net assets
Goodwill arising on acquisition
Q-Chem II
QR ’000
QR ’000
QR ’000
Current assets
Non-current assets
Current liabilities
Non-current liability
QR ’000
Proportion of the Company’s
Company’s share of net assets in the
joint venture entities
Goodwill (Note 3)
Investment in joint ventures
Q-Chem I
QR ’000
Q-Chem II
QR ’000
Proportion of the Company’s
QR ’000
Investment in joint ventures
Deferred income-tax
Current income-tax
Profit for the year
Company’s share of profit for the year
in joint venture entities
Q-Chem II
QR ’000
QR ’000
QR ’000
Q-Chem II
QR ’000
QR ’000
QR ’000
Cost of sales
Other income
Administrative expenses
Finance income (cost)
Profit before tax
Deferred income-tax
Current income-tax
Profit for the period
Company’s share of profit for the period
in joint venture entities
Interest bearing loans and borrowings
Q-Chem I
QR ’000
Q-Chem II
QR ’000
QR ’000
Tax payable
Dividend declared/received
Q-Chem II
QR ’000
QR ’000
Deferred tax liabilities
Tax payable
Note 1
Dividend declared
Key management remuneration
Board of directors’ remuneration
Dividends payable
Social contribution payable
Authorised, issued and fully paid:
1,256,317,500 shares of QR 10 each
The Articles of Association of the Company provides that prior to recommending any dividend
distribution to the shareholders, the Board shall ensure proper reserves are established in respect
of voluntary and statutory reserves considered by the Board. Such reserves as resolved by the
Board, shall be the only reserves the Company is required to establish. Accordingly, the Board has
resolved not to transfer any amount (2013: Nil) to the legal reserve for this year.
Operating lease commitments:
Future minimum lease payments:
Within one year
After one year but not more than five
More than five years
Contingent liabilities
Capital commitments
Profit attributable to the equity holders of the parent for the
year/period (QR’000)
Weighted average number of shares outstanding during the
year/period (“in thousands”)
Q-Chem II
QR ’000
QR ’000
QR ’000
QR ’000
Basic and diluted earnings per share (expressed in QR per share)
For management purposes, the Company is organized into business units based on their products
and services, and has one reportable operating segment which is the petrochemical segment from
its interest in joint ventures, which produce and sell polyethylene, 1-hexene, normal alpha olefins,
other ethylene derivatives, caustic soda, ethylene dichloride and vinyl chloride monomer and other
petrochemical products.
Geographically, the Company only operates in the State of Qatar.
On February 26, 2014, the Company was listed on Qatar Exchange. The Shares offered to the
public amounted to 25.7312% of the total issued share capital of the Company. Subsequent to a
receipt of clarification from the Public Revenue and Tax Department, the Company is eligible for
a tax refund after fulfilling certain conditions. As of December 31, 2014, the Company’s tax refund
amounted to QR. 133.5 million.
Objective and policies
The Company’s principal financial liabilities, comprise trade accounts payable and due to a related
party. The Company has various financial assets such as amounts due from related parties and bank
balance, which arise directly from its operations.
Tax receivable (Note 19)
Interest receivable
QR ’000
Q-Chem I
QR ’000
QR ’000
Basic and diluted earnings per share (EPS) are calculated by dividing the profit for the year/period
attributable to equity holders of the parent by weighted average number of shares outstanding
during the year/period.
Q-Chem II
QR ’000
QR ’000
In accordance with Law No. 13 of 2008, the Company made an appropriation of profit of QR. 44.9
million (2013: Nil) equivalent to 2.5% of the net income for the year for the support of sports,
cultural, social and charitable activities.
The following reflects the income and share data used in basic and diluted earnings per share
Operating lease commitments:
Future minimum lease payments:
Within one year
After one year but not more than five
More than five years
Contingent liabilities
Q-Chem I
QR ’000
QR ’000
Purchase price allocation
Management performed its purchase price allocation (PPA) exercise relating to acquisition of
interests in Q-Chem, Q-Chem II and QVC and concluded that there is an increase of goodwill
amount of QR. 101.6 million.
May 29, 2013 to
December 31,
QR ’000
QR ’000
Assessment of the investments as joint ventures
Management evaluated the Company’s interest in Q-Chem, Q-Chem II and QVC (together “the
Entities”), and concluded that the joint arrangements are joint ventures where the Entities are jointly
controlled. Hence, Management accounted for these investments under the equity method.
During the year, the Company transferred QR. 17.44 million representing excess funds received
over the IPO cost incurred, to legal reserve.
The below table provides details on the Company’s share in the joint venture entities commitments and
contingent liabilities incurred jointly with other entities:
QR ’000
Going concern
The Company’s management has made an assessment of the Company’s ability to continue as a
going concern and is satisfied that the Company has the resources to continue in business for the
foreseeable future. Furthermore, the management is not aware of any material uncertainties that
may cast significant doubt upon the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern. Therefore,
the financial statements continue to be prepared on a going concern basis.
MPHC was formed in accordance with the provisions of Article 68. As per Article 68 of the Qatar
Commercial Companies’ Law No. 5 of 2002, the Companies covered by the Article shall not be
subject to the provisions of this Law, except to the extent that the provisions of the Law are not in
contradiction with the Articles of Association of the Company.
Impairment of receivable
An estimate of the collectible amount of receivable is made when collection of the full amount is
no longer probable. For individually significant amounts, this estimation is performed on an
individual basis. Amounts which are not individually significant, but which are past due, are
assessed collectively and a provision applied according to the length of time past due.
On April 9, 2014, the shareholders approved to distribute cash dividends of QR. 440 million to all
shareholders for the period extending from September 1, 2013 to December 31, 2013, of which
QR. 384 million was paid during this year.
In the application of the Company’s accounting policies, which are described in note 3,
management is required to make judgments, estimates and assumptions about the carrying amounts
of assets and liabilities that are not readily apparent from other sources. The estimates and
associated assumptions are based on historical experience and other factors that are considered to
be relevant. Actual results may differ from these estimates. The estimates and underlying
assumptions are reviewed on an ongoing basis. Revisions to accounting estimates are recognised
in the period in which the estimate is revised if the revision affects only that period or in the period
of the revision and future periods if the revision affects both current and future periods.
In 2014, 78,788 additional shares have been transferred from QP to the Public on account of
incentive shares transferred due to death of original shareholder(s). As on the closing date, QP
continues to hold 933,051,426 shares (including 1 special share) comprising 74.2688% of total
Capital commitments and contingent liabilities
Capital commitments
December 31,
QR ’000
The Board of Directors has proposed a cash dividend distribution of QR 1.38 billion (QR 1.1 per
share) for the year ended December 31, 2014. This proposed dividend will be submitted for formal
approval at the Annual General Meeting.
Fair values
Bank balances, amounts due from related parties, trade payables, and amounts due to a related party
approximate their carrying amounts largely due to the short-term maturities of these instruments.
As explained in Note 1, pursuant to the share swap agreement, the share capital of the Company
increased from QR 10,000,000 to QR. 12,563,175,000 based on the allocation and subsequent
issuance of additional shares to QP for transferring its shareholding in the joint venture companies.
The fair value of the financial assets and liabilities are included at the amount at which the
instrument could be exchanged in a current transaction between willing parties, other than in a
forced or liquidation sale.
Financial liabilities
Trade payable
Amounts due to related parties
December 31,
QR ’000
December 31,
QR ’000
+/- 25
December 31,
QR ’000
Set out below is a comparison by class of the carrying amounts and fair value of the Company’s
financial instruments that are carried in the financial statements:
December 31,
QR ’000
+/- 25
Capital management
The Company manages its capital structure and makes adjustments to it, in light of changes in
economic and business conditions and shareholders’ expectation. To maintain or adjust the capital
structure, the Company may adjust the dividend payment to shareholders or issue new shares.
Capital comprises share capital and retained earnings and is measured at QR’000 – 14,501,322.
Financial assets
Cash and cash equivalents
Amounts due from related parties
Effect on
profit 2013
Liquidity risk
Liquidity risk is the risk that the Company will not be able to meet financial obligations as they fall
due. The Company’s approach to managing liquidity risk is to ensure, as far as possible, that it will
always have sufficient liquidity to meet its liabilities when due, under both normal and stressed
conditions, without incurring unacceptable losses or risking damage to the Company’s reputation
and is to maintain a balance between continuity of funding and flexibility through the use of bank
facilities. All financial liabilities will mature within 12 months from the end of the reporting period.
December 31,
QR ’000
December 31,
QR ’000
Note 1: Q-Chem II’s income tax liability will be undertaken and settled by QP or an entity owned by QP
for the first 10 years from the commercial operations date of Q-Chem II.
December 31,
QR ’000
Amount due from QP
Dividend due from Q-Chem
Amount due to QP
QR ’000
Interest bearing loans and borrowings
Balances with related parties included in the statement of financial position are as follows:
QR ’000
Cash and cash equivalents
Increase in
basis points
Amounts due from related parties
Cash and cash equivalents
Related party balances
Deferred tax liabilities
Q-Chem I
QR ’000
Annual fee to Qatar Petroleum
Additional disclosures for interest in joint venture entities
Cash and cash equivalents
Dividend income from QVC
Dividend income from Q-Chem I
Dividend income from Q-Chem II
Effect on profit
With respect to credit risk arising from the financial assets of the Company, the exposure to credit
risk arises from default of the counterparty, with a maximum exposure equal to the carrying amount
of these instruments as follows:
December 31, December 31,
QR ’000
QR ’000
Compensation of key management personnel
The remuneration of key management personnel during the year/period was as follows:
Q-Chem I
QR ’000
Q-Chem I
QR ’000
May 29, 2013 to
December 31,
QR ’000
Increase in
basis points
Credit risk
Credit risk is the risk that one party to a financial instrument will fail to discharge an obligation
and cause the other party to incur a financial loss. The Company’s exposure to credit risk is as
indicated by the carrying amount of its financial assets which consist principally of amounts due
from related parties and bank balance.
Year ended
December 31,
QR ’000
Statement of comprehensive income of joint
14 venture entities
Cost of sales
Other income
Administrative expenses
Finance income (cost)
Profit before tax
Fixed deposits
Related party transactions
Transactions with related parties included in the statement of profit or loss and other comprehensive
income for the period ended are as follows:
QR ’000
Company’s share of net assets in the
joint venture entities
Goodwill (Note 3)
These represent the major shareholders, directors and key management personnel of the Company,
and companies of which they are the principal owners. In the ordinary course of business, the Company
enters into transactions with related parties and the pricing policies and terms of these transactions
are approved by the Company’s management.
QR ’000
Current assets
Non-current assets
Current liabilities
Non-current liability
Q-Chem II
QR ’000
Cash at banks earn interest at fixed rates. Term deposits are made for varying periods of between
three months and one year depending on the immediate cash requirements of the Company at interest
varying between of 1.3% and 1.75% (2013: Nil).
i. Statement of financial position of joint venture entities
Q-Chem I
QR ’000
December 31,
QR ’000
December 31,
QR ’000
Cash and cash equivalents
Less: Term deposits maturing after 90 days
The summarised financial information below presents amounts shown in the financial statements
of the joint ventures as of December 31, 2014, which are presented in US$’000 and are translated
using an exchange rate of 3.64 in the below table:
December 31,
QR ’000
December 31,
QR ’000
The main risks arising from the Company’s financial instruments are interest rate risk, credit risk,
liquidity risk and foreign currency risk. The management reviews and agrees policies for managing
each of these risks which are summarized below:
Interest rate risk
Interest rate risk is the risk that the fair value or future cash flows of a financial instrument will
fluctuate because of changes in market interest rates. The Company is not exposed to interest rate
risks as the Company does not hold any floating interest rate bearing financial instruments at the
reporting date.
The following table demonstrates the sensitivity of the statement of profit or loss and other
comprehensive income to reasonably possible changes in interest rates, with all other variables held
F O R M O R E I N F O R M AT I O N P L E A S E V I S I T W W W . M P H C . Q A O R E M A I L U S A T : M P H C @ Q P. C O M . Q A
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
Gulf markets surge on oil
gains, big Saudi payout
Gulf petrochemicals rise
sharply; Saudi Arabia also
boosted by lavish royal
payout; retailers surge, likely
to see stronger sales; Dubai
Investments soars after
hiking dividend; Egypt pulls
back after fresh violence in
audi Arabia’s stock market
rose sharply yesterday after King Salman ordered a
lavish payout to state employees
and oil prices jumped on reports
of declining US drilling activity.
Most other Gulf markets also
The Saudi index jumped 3.0%
in heavy trade to 9,144 points,
breaking above chart resistance
on the late December peak at
8,948 points; the next resistance
is on the 100-day average, now
at 9,436 points.
The longer-term technical
outlook also appears to have improved. A bullish symmetrical
triangle triggered in the last few
days, formed by the highs and
lows since December, indicates
the possibility of a rebound in
coming weeks or months back to
around 10,500 points.
Petrochemicals giant Saudi
Basic Industries, up 7.8%, was
the main support yesterday.
Its surge mirrored that of
Brent crude, which rose 8% to
$52.99 a barrel on Friday after
fresh data showed the number
of rigs drilling for oil in the US
fell by 7% during the week. This
strengthened hopes that oil has
finally bottomed out.
Another key factor was Salman’s order late on Thursday for
the immediate payment of two
months of bonus salary to all
state employees and pension to
retired government workers.
The salary payout alone could
be worth up to around 70bn riyals ($18.6bn) - about 8% of the
original state budget for 2015,
or 2.5% of last year’s gross domestic product. Additional state
spending was allocated to students, civic and professional as-
An investor looks on as he sits next to a screen showing stock prices at the FALCOM investment bank in Riyadh. The Saudi index yesterday
jumped 3.0% in heavy trade to 9,144 points, breaking above chart resistance on the late December peak at 8,948 points; the next resistance
is on the 100-day average, now at 9,436 points.
sociations around the country,
and upgrading electricity and
water services.
The move could boost Saudi
Arabia’s gross domestic product by 0.75% this year, said John
Sfakianakis, regional director
at fund management firm Ashmore Group, adding that retailers would be the first sector to
benefit from it.
Stocks in the sector were
among top gainers yesterday.
Jarir Marketing surged 5.7%,
United Electronics added 8.4%
and Fawaz Alhokair rose its daily
10% limit.
Also on Thursday, Salman
named financial lawyer Mohammed al-Jadaan the new head of
the Capital Market Authority.
Yesterday, Al-Hayat newspaper
quoted al-Jadaan as saying the
kingdom remained on track to
open its $510bn stock market to
direct foreign investment in the
first half of this year.
“The new chairman has been
involved on the side of many of
the clients that have used the
services of his law firm, and
I think he understands very
well how the market functions
and also how the clients function within the umbrella of the
CMA,” Sfakianakis said.
Dubai’s index jumped 4.5% to
close at 3,840 points, its biggest
daily gain in six weeks. Trading
volume also rose in a positive
technical sign.
Conglomerate Dubai Investments led gains and surged
13.8% after it said its board had
proposed a higher dividend for
2014: 12% cash and 6% bonus
shares. This compared with a
7% cash dividend and 7% bonus
shares in the year-earlier period.
The firm’s board also approved the acquisition of a majority stake in investment company Al Mal Capital.
Abu Dhabi’s index jumped
2.2% on the back of large
banks. National Bank of Abu
Dhabi surged 4.3%, First Gulf
Bank rose 2.9% and Abu Dhabi
Commercial Bank added 3.2%.
The sector has reported generally strong fourth-quarter
“The eight UAE banks under coverage have all reported,
with Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank
representing the only one of
the eight to disappoint in terms
of the net profit outturn and
NBAD Securities said in a note
Egypt’s bourse edged down
0.6% after one of the bloodiest attacks on security forces in
years, in which Islamic State’s
Egyptian wing claimed the killing of at least 30 soldiers and
police officers in the Sinai Peninsula on Thursday.
Shares in investment bank
EFG Hermes dropped 2.4% after
it cancelled plans for the sale of
nearly 37mn shares held by its
subsidiary because offers from
the market had not met its expectations.
Elsewhere in the Gulf, Kuwait’s index rose 1.0% to 6,637
points; Oman’s index edged up
0.2% to 6,572 points, while Bahrain’s index edged down 0.5% to
1,418 points.
Industrial, realty
stocks help lift QSE
above 12,000 mark
By Santhosh V Perumal
Business Reporter
Buying interests, especially in
the industrials and real estate
sectors, yesterday lifted the
Qatar Stock Exchange above
12,000 points, gaining as much
as 162 points.
Small and mid caps were seen
the most sought after as the
20-stock Qatar Index (based
on price data) gained 1.37% to
12,062.1 points as trade volumes
also increased.
Islamic stocks were seen
gaining faster in the bourse,
which is, however, down 1.82%
Foreign institutions were
seen bullish amid their lower
exposure in the market, where
banks, realty and telecom
stocks cornered about 69% of
the total trading volume.
Market capitalisation expanded
1.14%, or more than QR7bn, to
QR656.18bn with small, mid,
large and micro cap equities
gaining 1.82%, 1.35%, 1.02% and
1.01% respectively.
The Total Return Index rose
1.37% to 17,990.51 points, the All
Share Index by 1.24% to 3,100.2
points and the Al Rayan Islamic
Index by 1.93% to 4,116.38 points.
Industrial stocks appreciated
1.94%, followed by real estate
(1.58%), banks and financial
services (1.04%), transport
90.77%), insurance 90.61%),
telecom (0.56%) and consumer
goods (0.45%).
More than 82% of the stocks
extended gains with major
movers being Industries Qatar,
Gulf International Services,
Aamal Company, United
Development Company, Mazaya
Qatar, Ezdan, Masraf Al Rayan,
Nakilat and Vodafone Qatar;
even as Alijarah Holding and
Salam International Investment
bucked the trend.
Foreign institutions turned
net buyers to the tune of
QR13.4mn against net sellers of
QR52.92mn the previous trading
Qatari retail investors’ net
buying surged to QR81.44mn
compared to QR57.19mn on
Domestic institutions’ net profitbooking soared to QR81.61mn
against QR14.83mn last
Non-Qatari individual investors
turned net sellers to the extent
of QR13.23mn compared with
net buyers of QR10.56mn the
previous trading day.
Total trade volume rose 20% to
10.2mn shares, value by 11% to
QR417.45mn and transactions
by 5% to 5,079.
The consumer goods sector’s
trade volume grew almost
five-fold to 0.77mn stocks and
value more than doubled to
QR29.17mn on more-thandoubled deals to 376.
The industrials sector’s trade
volume surged 82% to 1.84mn
equities and value more than
doubled to QR163.35mn on a
59% jump in transactions to
The telecom sector saw its trade
volume soar 71% to 2.21mn
shares but value declined 7% to
QR36.02mn and deals by 45%
to 470.
The 20-stock Qatar Index
yesterday gained 1.37% to
12,062.1 points
The banks and financial services
reported a 51% expansion in
trade volume 2.58mn stocks,
even as there was a 23% fall in
value to QR96.96mn and 1% in
deals to 1,300.
However, the transport sector’s
trade volume plummeted 50%
to 0.15mn equities, value by 48%
to QR7.11mn and transactions by
45% to 92.
The real estate sector saw its
trade volume plunge 37% to
2.22mn shares, value by 14% to
QR59.95mn and deals by 7%
to 918.
There was a 9% slippage in the
insurance sector’s trade volume
to 0.43mn stocks and 34% in
value to QR24.89mn but on a
15% rise in transactions to 351.
In the debt market, there was
no trading of treasury bills and
government bonds.
Dubai Investments to pay about $41mn for Al Mal stake
ubai Investments, the company with interests in real
estate and manufacturing,
will buy a 60% stake in investment
bank Al Mal Capital as part of a plan
to boost financial services assets.
The company will pay about
150mn dirhams ($41mn) for the
stake and expects to complete the
purchase by March 15, chief executive officer Khalid Jassim Kalban
said in a phone interview from Dubai yesterday. Al Mal will help manage the about 3bn dirhams of Dubai
Investments’ financial assets, some
of which is currently done by third
‘Aramco stops Red
Sea deepwater
exploration work’
tate oil giant Saudi Aramco has put on hold its deepwater oil and gas exploration and drilling activities in the
Red Sea because of high costs as it economises in an
environment of low crude prices, industry sources said yesterday.
The cost of operations in the Red Sea, a new area for Saudi
Aramco, was around $1mn per day, said two sources, who declined to be identified because they were not authorised to
speak to media. “It is related to budget cost reduction in the
Red Sea offshore,” said one of the sources.
Saudi Aramco declined to comment.
The company’s chief executive Khalid al-Falih said last
week that Saudi Aramco would renegotiate some contracts
and postpone some projects because of the plunge in oil prices over recent months. The firm has suspended plans to build
a $2bn clean fuels plant at its largest oil refinery in Ras Tanura,
sources told Reuters last month.
However, al-Falih also said Saudi Aramco would continue
investing in key projects, and had earmarked $7bn to spend
on unconventional gas in coming years after investing $3bn
in the past.
A second source said deepwater exploration in the Red Sea
had stopped because of several factors, including environmental issues, costs, and the need for further studies to minimise risks. “One of the most expensive offshore (areas) happens to be in the Red Sea - the depth is different from the Gulf
coast. They did discover a lot of oil and gas but they need to
do lots of tests. Now with the current prices, they have put it
on hold until further notice to collect more data,” said a third
parties, he said. The company said
it is acquiring Dubai-based Al Mal
to “strengthen” its asset mix, according to a statement posted on the
website of the Dubai Financial Market. The property segment made up
58% of Dubai Investments’ assets,
investments 22% and manufacturing 20%, according to its ninemonth results.
“The distribution of our activities
is not balanced” with real-estate
making up about half of our assets,
Kalban said. Dubai Investments will
help Al Mal expand its brokerage,
asset management, financial advisory and fund-raising business for
itself and for third parties and may
list the company in the future, he
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
Islamic finance looks to outgrow bad habits as it expands
fter a year of landmark deals
which are opening new markets
for Islamic finance, the industry
is under fresh pressure to address some
of its shortcomings and prove that it is
not just an imitation of conventional
Born in its modern form during the
1970s, Islamic finance has boomed in
the last few years on the back of strong
economic growth in its core markets,
the Gulf and southeast Asia.
Over the past 12 months it has shown
signs of going global, as even nonMuslim countries have promoted it in
the hope of luring cash-rich Islamic
funds. Britain, Hong Kong and South
Africa issued debut sovereign Islamic
bonds; the industry’s worldwide assets
are now estimated to total over $2tn.
But with this success have come
doubts over whether Islamic finance
is living up to all of its principles. After
all, it was launched not merely to make
money, but to promote Muslim values
such as equity, risk-sharing and social
Those values may sometimes be getting lost as financial institutions engineer products which obey the letter
of Islamic law - for example, a ban on
interest payments - while mimicking
conventional finance in many ways.
Top industry bodies such as the Jeddah-based Islamic Deveopment Bank,
a multilateral lending institution with
56 member countries, are leading calls
for Islamic banks to strengthen their
moral foundations and promote real
economic activity instead of monetary
This will require the sector to go
back to the drawing board and develop
genuine Islamic finance products that
are not only profitable but support socioeconomic development, IDB president Ahmad Mohamed Ali said in a
speech in Jakarta in November.
“The potential of Islamic finance is
not fully realised and in practice most
financing is concentrated on a few
modes.” A survey by consultancy PWC,
published last October, found only 52%
of Islamic banking customers in the
Gulf region believed their bank lived up
to their religious values. Ashruff Jamal,
PWC’s global Islamic financial services leader, said Islamic banks were “at
a crossroads” as growth was slowing
and to maintain expansion, they would
need to convince increasingly sophisticated customers that they were different from conventional banks.
One area of controversy is the structures which Islamic banks used for
funding. In Asia and parts of the Gulf,
for example, murabaha - a cost-plusprofit deal where one party buys merchandise for another - is popular. But
scholars criticise it for its resemblance
to a conventional loan, with the pricing
of a murabaha contract effectively acting as an interest payment.
Structures with stronger riskand profit-sharing elements such as
musharaka, a partnership in which two
or more parties agree to provide capital, are rarer.
In some jurisdictions, regulators are
moving to change this, but it remains
to be seen whether they can shift entrenched behaviour among the banks.
In Pakistan, central bank governor
Ashraf Wathra warned Islamic banks
last week to develop ways to reward
their customers in line with a rise in the
sector’s profitability, or face unspecified regulatory action.
In Malaysia, the government plans
to roll out an investment platform this
year to spur wider use of risk-sharing
and equity-based contracts by Islamic
banks. The result of such initiatives
could be to push Islamic banks beyond
their longstanding role as credit providers to become investment interme-
diaries - a shift that would bring them
closer to the spirit of Islamic finance,
some analysts feel.
“Banks will become more of a fullservice, asset manager-type of organisation versus just banking services,”
said Khalid Howladar, Moody’s global
head of Islamic finance.
Also controversial are the “Islamic
windows” of banks and insurers, which
let them operate conventional and
Shariah-compliant businesses side by
side. Funding of the two sides is supposed to be completely separate, but
the arrangement can lead to doubts.
Although Islamic windows are common, they can make it hard for Islamic
institutions to distinguish themselves
from conventional ones in the eyes of
consumers, PWC’s Jamal said.
Iraqi Kurdistan tourism in
tatters as IS war drags on
illboards still read “Welcome to Arbil, 2014
Arab Tourism Capital,”
but most of the visitors Iraq’s
Kurdistan region welcomed last
year were people made homeless by a jihadist offensive.
It was supposed to be tourism’s takeoff year but the Islamic State (IS) group’s June
onslaught dashed those hopes
overnight when it plunged Iraq
into chaos.
“I cannot even talk about a
decline in numbers, it’s more
like everything collapsed,” said
Hearsh Ahmad Karem, the
manager of the Kurdistan Hotels and Restaurants Association. What was a growing $1bn
(€885mn) sector in 2013 came to
a screeching halt when IS fighters took over large parts of Iraq
north and west of Baghdad and
moved within striking distance
of Arbil.
Plans for a new zoo, the renovation of Arbil’s UNESCO-listed citadel and many similarly
ambitious projects have been
halted. “Instead of getting tourists, we got IDPs,” said Karem,
referring to the 900,000 internally displaced persons who fled
conflict in Iraq and found refuge
in Kurdistan.
The autonomous threeprovince region has been spared
most of the violence that tore
Iraq apart but Kurdish peshmerga forces were mobilised
en masse, transport was disrupted and the destination’s
image took a big hit. “After June
A pond with water fountains in front of the clock tower of the City Park in the centre of the northern
regional capital of Arbil in Iraq. The absence of tourists has affected thousands of people who worked
in hotels, restaurants or as taxi drivers.
10, you can’t say we were the
2014 tourism capital anymore.
Tourism was annihilated,” said
Iraq hasn’t been an obvious
tourism destination in recent
decades but Kurdistan has long
been a holiday spot for Iraqi
Arabs and was starting to draw
adventure-seeking foreigners.
While the rest of Iraq mired
itself in sectarian politics and
corruption, Kurdistan lured
investors and built up a region
with most of the trappings of a
functioning state.
Spectacular waterfalls and
snow-capped mountains, archaeological sites and cultural
tours, as well as a no-visa policy for most Westerners meant
Kurdistan could attract a broad
range of visitors.
“Everything was ready, we
spent a lot to welcome them,”
the tourism board’s Nadir Rwsty
said, adding that there were no
reliable figures for visitor numbers last year.
Close to threemn tourists visited Arbil in 2013 and estimates
predicted up to fourmn would
come in 2014. The oil-producing region had hoped to make
tourism the second pillar of its
economy. Now cash is in short
supply, with oil prices at a sixyear low and soaring military
spending. Karem said at least
72 hotels have closed down over
the past six months. He said at
least as many had empty rooms
and only kept their restaurants
The absence of tourists has
affected thousands of people
who worked in hotels, restaurants or as taxi drivers.
Sitting in front of his souvenir shop at the foot of the citadel in Arbil, Burwa Mohamed
Aziz said he would have to close
if business did not pick up soon.
“I could make up to three or
four million dinars (more than
$3,000) a month but now it took
me four months to bring in one
million,” the 22-year-old said.
“Consider that my monthly
rent is 500,000.”
He held up a pair of white
“klash”, the traditional handknitted Kurdish moccasin made
of cotton and cowhide that had
become a hit with foreign tourists. “They used to snap these
things up. The few Westerners I
get now are Arbil residents and
know how to bargain,” Aziz said,
shaking his head.
Baxtiar Sadiq Ahmed runs his
own travel agency in central Arbil and specialises in high-end
customised tours focusing on
the region’s multi-millennial
“Everything was going well,
business was really picking
up... I was expecting up to eight
groups in 2014. I only had time
for two before the crisis,” he
said. His tours included sites
beyond Kurdistan’s official
borders and were popular with
young retirees from Europe eager to escape mass tourism and
discover new cultures.
“I had prepared tours looking
at the Armenian presence in the
region, Jewish heritage, Assyrian history or the Yazidi shrine
town of Lalesh for example,” he
said. “There is so much to do,
there are 700 archaeological
sites in Arbil governorate only.”
Although visiting Kurdistan
remained safe throughout the
crisis, Ahmed said travel agents
and their insurance companies
were worried.
“Now I need to go to Europe
to market my business properly
and reassure them. I am ready to
pay for them to come here and
see for themselves,” he said.
Saudi market-opening plan
on track, says CMA chief
he new head of Saudi
Arabia’s securities
regulator said the
kingdom remained on track
to open its $510bn stock
market to direct foreign investment in the first half of
this year.
Mohammed Al-Jadaan,
founding partner at law
firm Al-Jadaan & Partners in Riyadh, was named
head of the Capital Market
Authority in a cabinet reshuffle by King Salman on
He replaced Mohammed
bin Abdulmalik al-Sheikh,
who also had a lawyer’s
“The CMA is committed to open the market to
foreign investors in the
first half of this year. This
decision is very important and has huge benefits,
and we have institutional
commitment to it,” Jadaan
was quoted as saying in an
interview with the Saudiowned Al-Hayat newspaper yesterday.
He praised the work of
the previous CMA management and said there
would be “no major changes” in the direction of its
“I look forward to increasing the number of
stock market needs a larger
number of listed firms to
cope up with the huge size
of the Saudi economy...The
CMA will exert all possible
efforts to go ahead with
Massar Solutions postpones flotation
Abu Dhabi-based
fleet manager Massar
Solutions has postponed
its initial share sale after
the planned flotation
failed to secure enough
investor backing during
the subscription period,
a report by United Arab
Emirates’ daily The
National said yesterday.
Significantly less than half
of the shares in the 576mn
dirham ($156.8mn) initial
public offering were taken
up by local retail and
institutional investors for
whom they were reserved,
the paper reported,
citing an advisory source
familiar with the matter.
Massar’s listing is now
being reviewed by the
advisers and the markets
regulator, the Securities
and Commodities
Authority, the report
Zain Q4 net profit falls
Zain Group, Kuwait’s No1 telecom operator by subscribers, reported
a 35% drop in fourth-quarter profit yesterday, extending a slump as
foreign currency volatility hurt its earnings once again.
The former monopoly, which operates in eight countries in the Middle
East and Africa, made a net profit of 33mn dinars ($112.2mn) in the three
months to December 31, it said in a statement, without providing a year
earlier figure. The company made 50.8mn dinars in the same period
of 2013, according to Thomson Reuters data. Two analysts polled by
Reuters forecast Zain would make a quarterly profit of between 48.3mn
dinars and 53.7mn dinars.
The firm posted falling profits in seven of the preceding nine quarters
as revenue was dented by intense domestic competition, service interruptions in Iraq and declines in the value of Sudan’s currency, where it is
the biggest operator. The company said currency variations cost it 12mn
dinars in the fourth quarter of 2014, more than the 10mn dinars it cost
them in the same period of 2013.
Arab Bank
Jordan’s largest lender, Arab Bank Group, posted a 15% rise in 2014 net
profit to $577mn, saying its diversified portfolio helped it offset the
impact of foreign exchange falls.
Chairman Sabih al-Masri said deposits rose to $35bn, up by 2% from the
end of 2013. “Despite the challenging environment and devaluation of
several major currencies the bank managed to see growth in loans and
deposits,” said Masri. CEO Nemeh Sabbagh said its diversified model
helped the bank succeed in expanding its operating income.
Waha Capital
Abu Dhabi investment firm Waha Capital plans to invest 3.2bn dirhams
($872mn) in the short-term to grow its energy, healthcare and infrastructure portfolio, its chief executive said.
Salem Rashid al-Noaimi spoke to Reuters after the firm posted an 88%
increase in fourth-quarter net profit to 142.1mn dirhams and a morethan fivefold increase in annual profit to 1.73bn dirhams, bolstered by
deals around its investment in AerCap Holdings. AerCap Holdings, in
which Waha was the largest shareholder, bought American International
Group’s aircraft leasing business in a $5.4bn cash and share deal.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
Company Name
Company Name
Zad Holding Co
Widam Food Co
Vodafone Qatar
United Development Co
Salam International Investme
Qatar & Oman Investment Co
Qatar Navigation
Qatar National Cement Co
Qatar National Bank
Qatar Islamic Insurance
Qatar Industrial Manufactur
Qatar International Islamic
Qatari Investors Group
Qatar Islamic Bank
Qatar Gas Transport(Nakilat)
Qatar General Insurance & Re
Qatar German Co For Medical
Qatar Fuel Co
Qatar Electricity & Water Co
Qatar Cinema & Film Distrib
Qatar Insurance Co
Ooredoo Qsc
National Leasing
Mazaya Qatar Real Estate Dev
Mesaieed Petrochemical Holdi
Al Meera Consumer Goods Co
Medicare Group
Mannai Corporation Qsc
Masraf Al Rayan
Al Khalij Commercial Bank
Industries Qatar
Islamic Holding Group
Gulf Warehousing Company
Gulf International Services
Ezdan Holding Group
Doha Insurance Co
Doha Bank Qsc
Dlala Holding
Commercial Bank Of Qatar Qsc
Barwa Real Estate Co
Al Khaleej Takaful Group
Aamal Co
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Saudi Hollandi Bank
Al-Ahsa Development Co.
Al-Baha Development & Invest
Ace Arabia Cooperative Insur
Allied Cooperative Insurance
Arriyadh Development Company
Fitaihi Holding Group
Arabia Insurance Cooperative
Al Abdullatif Industrial Inv
Al-Ahlia Cooperative Insuran
Al Alamiya Cooperative Insur
Dar Al Arkan Real Estate Dev
Al Babtain Power & Telecommu
Bank Albilad
Alujain Corporation (Alco)
Aldrees Petroleum And Transp
Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair & C
Alinma Bank
Alinma Tokio Marine
Al Khaleej Training And Educ
Abdullah A.M. Al-Khodari Son
Allianz Saudi Fransi Coopera
Almarai Co
Saudi Integrated Telecom Co
Alsorayai Group
Al Tayyar Travel Group
Amana Cooperative Insurance
Anaam International Holding
Abdullah Al Othaim Markets
Arabian Pipes Co
Advanced Petrochemicals Co
Al Rajhi Co For Co-Operative
Arabian Cement
Arab National Bank
Ash-Sharqiyah Development Co
United Wire Factories Compan
Astra Industrial Group
Alahli Takaful Co
Axa Cooperative Insurance
Basic Chemical Industries
Bishah Agriculture
Bank Al-Jazira
Banque Saudi Fransi
United International Transpo
Bupa Arabia For Cooperative
Buruj Cooperative Insurance
Saudi Airlines Catering Co
Methanol Chemicals Co
City Cement Co
Eastern Province Cement Co
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
Mouwasat Medical Services Co
The National Agriculture Dev
Najran Cement Co
Nama Chemicals Co
National Gypsum
National Gas & Industrializa
National Industrialization C
National Shipping Co Of/The
National Petrochemical Co
Rabigh Refining And Petroche
Al Qassim Agricultural Co
Qassim Cement/The
Red Sea Housing Services Co
Saudi Research And Marketing
Riyad Bank
Al Rajhi Bank
Saudi Arabian Amiantit Co
Lt Price
% Chg
Saudi British Bank
Sabb Takaful
Saudi Basic Industries Corp
Saudi Cement
Saudi Dairy & Foodstuff Co
Saudi Arabian Fertilizer Co
Al Sagr Co-Operative Insuran
Saudi Advanced Industries
Saudi Arabian Coop Ins Co
Salama Cooperative Insurance
Samba Financial Group
Sanad Cooperative Insurance
Saudi Public Transport Co
Saudi Arabia Refineries Co
Hsbc Amanah Saudi 20 Etf
Saudi Re For Cooperative Rei
Saudi Cable Co
Saudi Chemical Company
Saudi Ceramic
Saudi Electricity Co
Saudi Fisheries
Al-Hassan G.I. Shaker Co
Dur Hospitality Co
Arabian Shield Cooperative
Saudi Investment Bank/The
Saudi Industrial Development
Saudi Industrial Export Co
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Securities Group Co
Viva Kuwait Telecom Co
Sultan Center Food Products
Kuwait Foundry Co Sak
Kuwait Financial Centre Sak
Ajial Real Estate Entmt
Gulf Glass Manuf Co -Kscc
Kuwait Finance & Investment
National Industries Co
Kuwait Real Estate Holding C
Securities House/The
Boubyan Petrochemicals Co
Al Ahli Bank Of Kuwait
Ahli United Bank (Almutahed)
National Bank Of Kuwait
Commercial Bank Of Kuwait
Kuwait International Bank
Gulf Bank
Al-Massaleh Real Estate Co
Al Arabiya Real Estate Co
Kuwait Remal Real Estate Co
Alkout Industrial Projects C
A’ayan Real Estate Co
Investors Holding Group Co.K
Markaz Real Estate Fund
Al-Mazaya Holding Co
Al-Madar Finance & Invt Co
Gulf Petroleum Investment
Mabanee Co Sakc
City Group
Inovest Co Bsc
Kuwait Gypsum Manufacturing
Al-Deera Holding Co
Alshamel International Hold
Mena Real Estate Co
National Slaughter House
Amar Finance & Leasing Co
United Projects Group Kscc
National Consumer Holding Co
Amwal International Investme
Jeeran Holdings
Equipment Holding Co K.S.C.C
Nafais Holding
Safwan Trading & Contracting
Arkan Al Kuwait Real Estate
Gulf Finance House Ec
Energy House Holding Co Kscc
Kuwait Slaughter House Co
Kuwait Co For Process Plant
Al Maidan Dental Clinic Co K
National Ranges Company
Kuwait Pipes Indus & Oil Ser
Al-Themar Real International
Al Ahleia Insurance Co Sak
Wethaq Takaful Insurance Co
Salbookh Trading Co K.S.C.C
Aqar Real Estate Investments
Hayat Communications
Kuwait Packing Materials Mfg
Soor Fuel Marketing Co Ksc
Alargan International Real
Burgan Co For Well Drilling
Kuwait Resorts Co Kscc
Oula Fuel Marketing Co
Palms Agro Production Co
Ikarus Petroleum Industries
Mubarrad Transport Co
Al Mowasat Health Care Co
Shuaiba Industrial Co
Kuwait Invest Co Holding
Hits Telecom Holding
First Takaful Insurance Co
Kuwaiti Syrian Holding Co
National Cleaning Company
Eyas For High & Technical Ed
United Real Estate Company
Kuwait & Middle East Fin Inv
Fujairah Cement Industries
Livestock Transport & Tradng
International Resorts Co
National Industries Grp Hold
Marine Services Co
Warba Insurance Co
Kuwait United Poultry Co
First Dubai Real Estate Deve
Al Arabi Group Holding Co
Kuwait Hotels Co
Mobile Telecommunications Co
Al Safat Real Estate Co
Tamdeen Real Estate Co Ksc
Al Mudon Intl Real Estate Co
Kuwait Cement Co Ksc
Sharjah Cement & Indus Devel
Kuwait Portland Cement Co
Educational Holding Group
Bahrain Kuwait Insurance
Kuwait China Investment Co
Kuwait Investment Co
Burgan Bank
Kuwait Projects Co Holdings
Al Madina For Finance And In
Kuwait Insurance Co
Al Masaken Intl Real Estate
Intl Financial Advisors
First Investment Co Kscc
Al Mal Investment Company
Bayan Investment Co Kscc
Egypt Kuwait Holding Co Sae
Coast Investment Development
Privatization Holding Compan
Kuwait Medical Services Co
Injazzat Real State Company
Kuwait Cable Vision Sak
Sanam Real Estate Co Kscc
Ithmaar Bank Bsc
Aviation Lease And Finance C
Arzan Financial Group For Fi
Ajwan Gulf Real Estate Co
Manafae Investment Co
Kuwait Business Town Real Es
Future Kid Entertainment And
Specialities Group Holding C
Abyaar Real Eastate Developm
Dar Al Thuraya Real Estate C
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Al-Dar National Real Estate
Kgl Logistics Company Kscc
Combined Group Contracting
Zima Holding Co Ksc
Qurain Holding Co
Boubyan Intl Industries Hold
Gulf Investment House
Boubyan Bank K.S.C
Ahli United Bank B.S.C
Al-Safat Tec Holding Co
Al-Eid Food Co
Al-Qurain Petrochemicals Co
Advanced Technology Co
Ekttitab Holding Co S.A.K.C
Kout Food Group Ksc
Real Estate Trade Centers Co
Acico Industries Co Kscc
Kipco Asset Management Co
National Petroleum Services
Alimtiaz Investment Co Kscc
Ras Al Khaimah White Cement
Kuwait Reinsurance Co Ksc
Kuwait & Gulf Link Transport
Human Soft Holding Co Ksc
Automated Systems Co
Metal & Recycling Co
Gulf Franchising Holding Co
Al-Enma’a Real Estate Co
National Mobile Telecommuni
Al Bareeq Holding Co Kscc
Union Real Estate Co
Housing Finance Co Sak
Al Salam Group Holding Co
United Foodstuff Industries
Al Aman Investment Company
Mashaer Holdings Co Ksc
Manazel Holding
Mushrif Trading & Contractin
Tijara And Real Estate Inves
Kuwait Building Materials
Jazeera Airways
Commercial Real Estate Co
Future Communications Co
National International Co
Taameer Real Estate Invest C
Gulf Cement Co
Heavy Engineering And Ship B
Refrigeration Industries & S
National Real Estate Co
Al Safat Energy Holding Comp
Kuwait National Cinema Co
Danah Alsafat Foodstuff Co
Independent Petroleum Group
Kuwait Real Estate Co Ksc
Salhia Real Estate Co Ksc
Gulf Cable & Electrical Ind
Al Nawadi Holding Co Ksc
Kuwait Finance House
Gulf North Africa Holding Co
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Voltamp Energy Saog
United Finance Co
United Power Co
United Power/Energy Co- Pref
Al Madina Investment Co
Taageer Finance
Salalah Port Services
A’saffa Foods Saog
Sohar Poultry
Shell Oman Marketing
Shell Oman Marketing - Pref
Smn Power Holding Saog
Al Shurooq Inv Ser
Al Sharqiya Invest Holding
Sohar Power Co
Salalah Beach Resort Saog
Salalah Mills Co
Sahara Hospitality
Renaissance Services Saog
Raysut Cement Co
Port Service Corporation
Packaging Co Ltd
Oman United Insurance Co
Oman Textile Holding Co Saog
Oman Telecommunications Co
Sweets Of Oman
Oman Orix Leasing Co.
Oman Refreshment Co
Oman Packaging
Oman Oil Marketing Company
0Man Oil Marketing Co-Pref
Oman National Investment Co
Oman National Engineering An
Oman National Dairy Products
Oman Medical Projects
Oman Ceramic Com
Oman Intl Marketing
Oman Investment & Finance
Hsbc Bank Oman
Oman Hotels & Tourism Co
Oman Holding International
Oman Fiber Optics
Oman Flour Mills
Oman Filters Industry
Oman Fisheries Co
Oman Education & Training In
Oman & Emirates Inv(Om)50%
Oman & Emirates Inv(Emir)50%
Oman Europe Foods Industries
Oman Cement Co
Oman Chlorine
Oman Chromite
Oman Cables Industry
Oman Agricultural Dev
Omani Qatari Telecommunicati
National Securities
Oman Foods International Soa
National Pharmaceutical-Rts
National Pharmaceutical
National Packaging Fac
National Mineral Water
National Hospitality Institu
National Gas Co
National Finance Co
National Detergents/The
National Carpet Factory
National Bank Of Oman Saog
National Biscuit Industries
National Real Estate Develop
Natl Aluminium Products
Muscat Thread Mills Co
Muscat Insurance Company
Modern Poultry Farms
Muscat National Holding
Musandam Marketing & Invest
Al Maha Petroleum Products M
Muscat Gases Company Saog
Majan Glass Company
Muscat Finance
Al Kamil Power Co
Interior Hotels
Hotels Management Co Interna
Al-Hassan Engineering Co
Gulf Stone
Gulf Mushroom Company
Gulf Invest. Serv. Pref-Shar
Gulf Investments Services
Gulf International Chemicals
Gulf Hotels (Oman) Co Ltd
Global Fin Investment
Galfar Engineering&Contract
Galfar Engineering -Prefer
Financial Services Co.
Flexible Ind Packages
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Financial Corp/The
Dhofar Tourism
Dhofar Poultry
Aloula Co
Dhofar Intl Development
Dhofar Insurance
Dhofar University
Dhofar Power Co
Dhofar Power Co-Pfd
Dhofar Fisheries & Food Indu
Dhofar Cattlefeed
Al Batinah Dev & Inv
Dhofar Beverages Co
Computer Stationery Inds
Construction Materials Ind
Cement & Gypsum Pro
Marine Bander Al-Rowdha
Bank Sohar
Bankmuscat Saog
Bank Dhofar Saog
Al Batinah Hotels
Majan College
Areej Vegetable Oils
Al Jazeera Steel Products Co
Al Sallan Food Industry
Acwa Power Barka Saog
Al-Omaniya Financial Service
Taghleef Industries Saog
Gulf Plastic Industries Co
Al Jazeera Services
Al Jazerah Services -Pfd
Al-Fajar Al-Alamia Co
Ahli Bank
Abrasives Manufacturing Co S
Al-Batinah Intl Saog
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
National Takaful Company
Waha Capital Pjsc
Union Insurance Co
Union National Bank/Abu Dhab
United Insurance Company
Union Cement Co
United Arab Bank
Abu Dhabi National Takaful C
Abu Dhabi National Energy Co
#N/A Invalid Security
Sorouh Real Estate Company
Sharjah Insurance Company
Sharjah Cement & Indus Devel
Ras Al Khaima Poultry
Ras Al Khaimah White Cement
Rak Properties
Ras Al-Khaimah National Insu
Ras Al Khaimah Ceramics
Ras Al Khaimah Cement Co
National Bank Of Ras Al-Khai
Ooredoo Qsc
Umm Al Qaiwain Cement Indust
Oman & Emirates Inv(Emir)50%
National Marine Dredging Co
National Corp Tourism & Hote
Sharjah Islamic Bank
National Bank Of Umm Al Qaiw
National Bank Of Fujairah
National Bank Of Abu Dhabi
Methaq Takaful Insurance
#N/A Invalid Security
Gulf Pharmaceutical Ind-Julp
Invest Bank
Insurance House
Gulf Medical Projects
Gulf Livestock Co
Green Crescent Insurance Co
Gulf Cement Co
Foodco Holding
Finance House
First Gulf Bank
Fujairah Cement Industries
Fujairah Building Industries
Emirates Telecom Corporation
Eshraq Properties Co Pjsc
Emirates Insurance Co. (Psc)
Emirates Driving Company
Al Dhafra Insurance Co. P.S.
Dana Gas
Commercial Bank Internationa
Bank Of Sharjah
Abu Dhabi Natl Co For Buildi
Al Wathba National Insurance
Intl Fish Farming Co Pjsc
Arkan Building Materials Co
Aldar Properties Pjsc
Al Ain Ahlia Ins. Co.
Al Khazna Insurance Co
Agthia Group Pjsc
Al Fujairah National Insuran
Abu Dhabi Ship Building Co
Abu Dhabi National Insurance
Abu Dhabi National Hotels
Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank
Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank
Abu Dhabi Aviation
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
United Paper Industries Bsc
United Gulf Investment Corp
United Gulf Bank
United Finance Co
Trafco Group Bsc
Takaful International Co
Taib Bank -$Us
Securities & Investment Co
Seef Properties
#N/A Invalid Security
Al-Salam Bank
Delmon Poultry Co
National Hotels Co
National Bank Of Bahrain
Nass Corp Bsc
Khaleeji Commercial Bank
Ithmaar Bank Bsc
Investcorp Bank -$Us
Inovest Co Bsc
Intl Investment Group-Kuwait
Gulf Monetary Group
Global Investment House Kpsc
Gulf Finance House Ec
Bahrain Family Leisure Co
Esterad Investment Co B.S.C.
Bahrain Duty Free Complex
Bahrain Car Park Co
Bahrain Cinema Co
Bahrain Tourism Co
Bahraini Saudi Bank/The
Bahrain National Holding
Bankmuscat Saog
Bmmi Bsc
Bmb Investment Bank
Bahrain Kuwait Insurance
Bahrain Islamic Bank
Gulf Hotel Group B.S.C
Bahrain Flour Mills Co
Bahrain Commercial Facilitie
Bbk Bsc
Bahrain Telecom Co
Bahrain Ship Repair & Engin
Albaraka Banking Group
Banader Hotels Co
Ahli United Bank B.S.C
Lt Price
% Chg
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
Oil prices strike lowest level since 2009
World oil prices tumbled close to six-year
lows last week, as record-high US crude
inventories deepened worries over the
global supply glut.
In another blow, official data showed
Friday that the US economy slowed
sharply in the fourth quarter of 2014,
sparking fears over demand in the US,
which is the world’s biggest oil consumer.
OIL: New York crude oil dived Thursday to
$43.58 per barrel, striking a nadir last seen
on March 12, 2009.
Prices plunged after official data showed
Wednesday that US crude stockpiles
surged by 8.9mn barrels to 406.7mn in the
week to January 23.
The overall level of stockpiles was the
highest since the US government began
keeping weekly records in 1982.
Meanwhile, data showed Friday that US
gross domestic product (GDP) grew at an
annual rate of 2.6% in the fourth quarter.
That marked a steep decline from the
brisk 5.0% growth in the third quarter.
“Weaker than expected US GDP numbers
reinforce the perception that we are
seeing a little bit of a slowdown in the
pace of the US recovery,” said CMC
Markets analyst Michael Hewson.
“With oil storage at record levels this
suggests that demand is likely to remain
weak, and thus exert further limitations
on the ability of the oil price to rebound,
suggesting we could well see a gradual
move towards the $40 level,” he warned.
In reaction to the US inventories data,
meanwhile, WTI dropped $1.78 and Brent
lost $1.13 on Wednesday.
Sucden analyst Myrto Sokou added
that the weekly US energy report
“indicated a prolonged deterioration in oil
fundamentals” of supply and demand.
The oil market has lost more than half its
value since June last year when crude was
sitting at more than $100 a barrel due to
a supply glut, boosted largely by robust
US shale oil production, and weak global
The problem was exacerbated in
November after the Opec insisted that
it would maintain output levels despite
plunging prices. The 12-nation group
pumps about 30% of global crude.
By Friday on London’s Intercontinental
Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for
delivery in March edged up to $49.65 a
barrel from $49.55 one week earlier.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange,
West Texas Intermediate or light sweet
crude for March dipped to $45.35 a barrel
compared with $46.91.
PRECIOUS METALS: Gold fell sharply
as the European Central Bank’s recent
stimulus announcement eclipsed the
impact of the Greek election, analysts said.
“The recent softness can be explained
Scant relief seen
for commodities
from European
monetary easing
World oil prices tumbled close to six-year lows last week, as record-high US crude inventories deepened worries over the global
supply glut.
by stronger appetite for riskier assets,
notably European equities, following the
announcement of bolder-than-expected
easing by the ECB and the failure of
the elections in Greece to trigger an
immediate crisis there,” said Capital
Economics analyst Julian Jessop.
Anti-austerity party Syriza won Greece’s
elections last Sunday, sparking fears that
the country could end up exiting the
However, it could lift gold in the longer
term, because the precious metal is
regarded as a safe investment in times of
geopolitical or economic turmoil.
“Whether or not Greece ultimately exits
the euro, we expect the price of gold to
be boosted further this year by the return
of safe-haven demand as the country’s
financial problems drag on,” Jessop
By Friday on the London Bullion Market,
the price of gold slid to $1,260.25 an ounce
from $1,294.75 a week earlier.
Silver sank to $16.92 an ounce from $18.23.
On the London Platinum and Palladium
Market, platinum fell to $1,221 an ounce
from $1,274.
Palladium advanced to $775 an ounce
from $767.
BASE METALS: Copper slumped to
$5,339.50 - the lowest level since July 22,
2009 - as worries intensified over the state
of Chinese demand, dealers said.
“Pressure on copper prices from Chinese
traders remains high,” said Commerzbank
“The selling pressure has doubtless
been triggered by fears that financing
transactions secured by copper may
be wound up. Concerns about China’s
economic slowdown are also likely to have
played their part.”
By Friday on the London Metal Exchange,
copper for delivery in three months slid to
$5,468 a tonne from $5,559 the previous
Three-month aluminium rose to $1,863.50
a tonne from $1,835.50.
Three-month lead was unchanged at
$1,845 per tonne.
Three-month tin declined to $19,250 a
tonne from $19,440.
Three-month nickel firmed to $14,720 a
tonne from $14,500.
COCOA: Cocoa futures hit a one-year low
in New York and a one-month trough in
Sentiment was dented by global demand
concerns for the commodity that is mostly
used to make chocolate.
By Friday on LIFFE, London’s futures
exchange, cocoa for delivery in March
dropped to £1,917 a tonne from £1,939 a
week earlier.
On the ICE Futures US exchange, cocoa for
March slid to $2,707 a tonne from $2,794.
SUGAR: Prices were pushed lower by
abundant global supplies.
“There appears to be plenty of sugar
around in world markets, so there is no
real good reason right now to expect
major rallies in prices,” noted Price Futures
Group analyst Jack Scoville.
By Friday on LIFFE, the price of a tonne of
white sugar for delivery in March slid to
$382.40 from $406.50 a week earlier.
On ICE Futures US, the price of unrefined
sugar for March fell to 14.77 US cents a
pound from 15.75 US cents.
COFFEE: New York prices slid to their
weakest level since July 2014, rocked by
forecasts of rainy weather in key producer
“According to weather forecaster Somar
Meteorologia, the Brazilian coffee growing
areas look set to see their heaviest rainfall
in 50 days at the beginning of February,
which should significantly improve the
growing conditions for this year’s crop,”
said Commerzbank analysts.
By Friday on ICE Futures US, Arabica for
delivery in March dropped to 159.40 US
cents a pound from 160.35 cents a week
On LIFFE, Robusta for March decreased to
$1,934 a tonne from $1,938.
RUBBER: Kuala Lumpur prices retreated
due to weak oil prices and a lack of
interest from buyers. Crude oil is used in
the production of synthetic rubber.
The Malaysian Rubber Board’s benchmark
SMR20 on Friday fell to 138.45 US cents
a kilo from 140.60 US cents the previous
eaten down commodities
prices are unlikely to get
much relief from an expected €1tn of monetary stimulus in Europe, as the plan is very
different from the US version
several years ago that gave raw
materials a huge boost.
The European Central Bank
last week launched a government bond-buying programme
that will pump new money into a
sagging eurozone economy.
This should indirectly buoy
commodities by boosting economic growth and confidence,
stimulating demand for raw
materials used in sectors such as
construction and automobiles.
But the injection of liquidity is also designed to weaken
the euro, indirectly boosting the
dollar, which is largely negative
for commodities priced in the US
currency because it makes them
more expensive for non-dollar
The 19-commodity Thomson
Reuters/Core Commodity CRB
Index rallied by more than 50%
during the 29 months following
the launch of quantitative easing (QE) in the US in November
Since then, the index has
slipped just below levels seen
when the Federal Reserve
launched its QE programme,
with the move down hastened
by tumbling oil and growth concerns. “Overall it’s hard to identify a particularly strong channel whereby this (QE) is going to
boost commodity prices,” said
Julian Jessop, head of commodities research at London-based
financial consultancy Capital
“But at the margin, the effect has to be positive. It’s better
that the ECB did something than
nothing. It does provide a bit of a
lift to confidence.”
Injecting cash into the US
economy had a dramatic impact
in the depths of recession, but
while Europe is struggling, it is
not in such a dire situation, Jes-
sop said. The US exercise also
aimed to unfreeze the US mortgage market, which led to credit
easing, sending floods of cheap
money chasing a range of risky
assets including commodities.
The ECB will buy government
bonds, resulting in financial institutions swapping into very
similar assets – cash instead of
bonds which already had yields
at very low or negative yields.
There is also less confidence in
QE after subsequent bouts of US
stimulus failed to have the same
impact, said Matthew Turner,
analyst at Macquarie in London.
“When the Fed launched the
first QE, people thought it would
lead to inflation but it didn’t so
people are more sceptical this
time around,” he said.
“The ECB is trying to increase economic activity, but
for most commodities, Europe
only accounts for 10, 15, 20%
of demand.” The ECB’s sovereign bond purchase programme
was the latest salvo in its battle
against deflation.
Platinum has the best odds
of being given a shot in the arm
from QE since demand for catalytic converters, one of the precious metal’s main drivers of
consumption, is strongest in Europe, he added.
The government in China, the
powerhouse of commodities demand, is engineering a gradual
slowdown of economic growth,
while a weak oil price is depressing cost curves and weighing on
“China has not, and is unlikely
to subscribe to wholesale money
printing,” said Nomura analyst
Matthew Kates in a note.
QE is likely to push the US dollar even higher, thereby feeding
through to lower commodity
prices.” A stronger dollar makes
commodities priced in the US
currency more expensive for
buyers using other currencies.
Gold is also caught in competing currents, with loose monetary policy positive but success
at boosting the eurozone economy potentially eroding safehaven buying, Jessop said.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
‘East Asia urbanisation an economic game-changer’
By Arno Maierbrugger
Gulf Times Correpondent
apid urbanisation in East Asia is
transforming the region and will
lead to drastic socio-economic
changes in the near future, the World
Bank said in a new report entitled
“East Asia’s Changing Urban Landscape” issued on January 26. The study
found that the population in urban
conglomerates grew an annual average
of three% in the period between 2000
and 2010, which accounts for around
200mn people who settled down in
cities in this period. Of the world’s
top-15 megacities – defined as metropolitan areas exceeding tenmn people
–, seven are now in East Asia, namely
Tokyo, Seoul, Shanghai, Beijing, Jakarta, Osaka and Manila. This is the
highest number of megacities on one
Furthermore, with China experiencing an urbanisation growth rate of 3.1%
and about 80% of the entire regional
growth, the Pearl River Delta in southern China, encompassing cities such
as Hong Kong, Macao, Guangzhou,
Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Jiangmen, Dongguan, Foshan and others grew to an
urban agglomeration of around 42mn
people – more than the population of
Australia, Canada, Malaysia or Saudi
Arabia. The Pearl River Delta also overtook Greater Tokyo as the largest urban
area in the world in terms of size and
In the same period, urban land expansion in East Asia was only 2.4%,
which led to an increasing population density in urban areas, the report
found, combining country statistics,
satellite imagery and geospatial mapping to visualise this transformation.
Urban population density rose from
5,400 to 5,800 people per square kilometre as of 2010, led by Hong Kong’s
32,000 people per square kilometre
and followed by Seoul, Manila and Jakarta. Overall, East Asia’s population
density grew to more than 1.5 times the
average of the world’s urban areas and
more than 50 times the average density
in the US.
And the movement of people into
cities will continue, the World Bank
said. Despite strong migration in the
past, only 36% of people in East Asia
are urbanites yet, and just one% of
the total area is urbanised, indicating
the entire process is just at its beginning. In comparison, the level of urbanisation in North America currently
stands at 81%, in Europa at 72% and
worldwide at 53%.“Urbanisation is a
key process in ending extreme poverty
and boosting shared prosperity. In the
coming decades, urban areas will be
where millions of East Asians will have
the chance to leave extreme poverty
behind and to prosper,” the study said.
Consequently, transformation in the
region is fastest in the poorest countries. The urban population in Laos
and Cambodia grew 7.3% and 4.3%,
respectively, and in Vietnam 2.8% in
the period. It was slowest in wealthier
countries such as Japan and South Korea where urbanisation is already well
The study also noted that urban
population growth will become a huge
challenge for city planners and municipalities in providing adequate public
services, infrastructure, employment
and housing.
“It took Europe more than 50 years
to urbanise the equivalent number of
people that have moved to urban areas
in East Asia in just the past 10 years,”
the study mentions, hinting at huge
investment necessities by noting that
“much of the urban infrastructure
needed in East Asian cities is being
built today, or will be built in the next
20 to 30 years.”
China factory sector jolts
by shrinking in January
hina’s factory sector unexpectedly shrank for the first time in
nearly 2-1/2 years in January
and firms see more gloom ahead, an official survey showed, raising expectations that policymakers will take more
action to forestall a sharper slowdown.
The official Purchasing Managers’
Index (PMI) fell to 49.8 in January, the
National Bureau of Statistics said yesterday, a low last seen in September
2012 and a whisker below the 50-point
level that separates growth from contraction on a monthly basis.
The December level was 50.1, and
a Reuters poll saw a better result, 50.2
for January. Only one of 11 economists
in the poll predicted a January contraction. Most of the PMI indexes “showed
a downward trend, indicating that current economic growth is still in a downtrend,” said Zhang Liqun, an economist
at the Development Research Centre, a
state think-tank.
Some economists said the January
reading was especially downbeat as it
suggested that factories did not enjoy
a usual spike in business before China’s
annual Spring Festival holiday, which
falls in mid-February this year.
The poor January official PMI fueled
bets that more monetary policy loosening was in store in the world’s secondlargest economy.
“China still needs decent growth
to add 100mn new jobs this year, plus
China is entering a rapid disinflation
process,” ANZ economists said in a
note to clients.
“We (think) the People’s Bank of
China will cut the reserve requirement
ratio by 50 basis points and cut the deposit rate by 25 basis points in the first
quarter,” they said.
Marred by a housing slump, erratic
growth in exports and a state-led slowdown in investment, China’s economy
has steadily lost steam in the last year as
growth sunk to a 24-year low of 7.4%.
The US auto giant General Motors Buick cars being assembled at Wuhan auto plant in Wuhan, central China’s Hubei province. China’s manufacturing activity contracted
for the first time in more than two years in January, an official survey showed yesterday.
And the downturn has also broadened into the country’s burgeoning
services sector.
A separate official services PMI, also
released yesterday, showed growth in
the sector cooled to a one-year low in
January. The official non-manufacturing PMI fell to 53.7, the lowest level
since January 2014, from December’s
Accounting for 48% of China’s
$10.2tn economy last year, the services sector has weathered the growth
downturn better than factories, partly
because it depends less on foreign
demand. To revive demand, China’s
central bank unexpectedly cut interest rates in November after unveiling a
stream of stimulus measures.
But despite the steady policy support, analysts polled by Reuters in January still expect economic growth to
sag further this year to around 7%.
In the January factory PMI, all but
one of the sub-indices in the PMI fell
from December, indicating entrenched
weakness. Business expectations fell to
48.7, its lowest since records for that
began in January 2013, while factory
employment dropped to its lowest in
nearly a year at 48.1, compared with the
previous month’s 47.9.
New export orders, a proxy for the
trade industry, fell to 48.4, from 49.1 in
December. In line with recent trends,
the factory PMI showed the smallest
manufacturers which are often privately-owned were the worst hit.
The official PMI looks more at larger,
state-owned firms that a private one
by HSBC/Markit, but it includes small
factories, which in January was 46.4,
versus 50.3 for large manufacturers that
are mostly government run.
The HSBC/Markit final January PMI
will be released on Monday. Its flash
reading was 49.8, compared with 49.6
for December.
Underscoring the challenges faced,
data last week showed China’s factory
profits grew at their weakest rate in two
years in 2014. China’s industrial ministry said last week that it would aim to
grow the manufacturing sector by 8%
this year, down from last year’s actual
expansion of 8.3%.
South Korea
Jan exports
down less
than forecast
outh Korea’s exports in
January fell less than expected, but effects from a
plunge in oil prices, a sustained
slump in Europe and slowdown
in China all clouded prospects
for a turnaround in global demand.
Exports in January edged
down 0.4% from a year earlier to
$45.37bn while imports dropped
11.0% to $39.84bn to produce a
$5.53bn surplus, the trade ministry said yesterday. Exports were
better than forecast but imports
were weaker than anticipated.
A sharp drop in demand from
the European Union and weaker
prices of oil and related products
were mainly to blame for January’s numbers, the ministry said.
Analysts said these factors
would continue to drag on global
trade for a while.
“Europe holds the key for
South Korean exports because
exports by many countries including China will eventually
be influenced by demand from
Europe,” said Park Sang-hyun,
chief economist at HI Investment & Securities in Seoul.
Shipments to the EU market
tumbled 23.0% in January from
a year earlier, the worst in three
years and eclipsing a 5.3% rise
in sales to China, which is South
Korea’s biggest export market.
South Korea is the world’s
seventh-largest exporter and the
first major exporting economy to
report trade data. It is also home
to some of the biggest global
export manufacturers, such as
Samsung Electronics and Hyundai Motor.
Analysts also played down the
better-than-expected January
exports, given there were more
working days in South Korea this
year than last year. The average
export value per working day fell
6.7% in January both from a year
earlier and from December.
GM, China’s SAIC to push into Indonesia with no-frills vans
General Motors and Chinese partner
SAIC Motor Corp will soon announce
a joint push into Indonesia, using their
no-frills Wuling brand to establish a
beachhead in Southeast Asia’s biggest
market and from there tackle other
markets in the region.
They have already made moves to
purchase a property in an industrial
district on the outskirts of Jakarta,
according to two people familiar with
the matter, and are expected to detail
within days what GM China chief Matt
Tsien called an important joint venture
in a country of 240mn people.
For GM, Indonesia will be its second
non-China market in Asia, having
already broken into India with SAIC,
where they co-operate to market
Wuling’s small multi-purpose workhorse
The move points to a thaw in what
industry watchers considered a
creeping chill in the two companies’
partnership over recent years.
GM said SAIC-GM-Wuling, which also
includes Wuling Automobile Co as a
stakeholder, will own 80% of the new
Indonesian venture. SAIC will separately
own the rest.
GM owns 44% of SAIC-GM-Wuling, SAIC
owns 51.1%, and Wuling owns 5.9%, so
GM’s stake in the Indonesian venture
will effectively be 35%.
The venture will manufacture and
market low-cost “people mover”
microvans, based on the same vehicles
that in China, under the Wuling brand,
can sell for just under 30,000 yuan
GM already operates a sales and
manufacturing company in Indonesia
with a range of Chevrolet vehicles that
includes a strategic compact people
mover of its own, the Chevy Spin.
Tsien said GM and SAIC saw the two
brands as complementary, rather than
rivals, as they will be differentiated by
pricing, product quality and features.
Wuling’s focus is “great functionality,
attractive styling and value for money”,
Tsien said. “That’s the basic element
that really works here in China, and we
believe under SGMW’s leadership this
will be quite successful in Indonesia as
The GM China chief said Indonesia had
a large and growing appetite for simple
multi-purpose vans, often with three
rows of seating that can accommodate
seven or eight people.
He declined to say exactly what type
of microvans they are planning for
Indonesia or how they would market or
price them.
Officials from Indonesia’s industry
ministry told state news agency
Antara late on Friday that GM and SAIC
would invest $700mn, with an aim to
commence production in 2017 from
a factory with capacity for 150,000
vehicles a year. A GM spokeswoman
in Shanghai could not confirm those
Stiff competition will come from Toyota
and other Japanese brands, which
control over 90% of the auto market in
James Chao, Asia-Pacific managing
director of consultants IHS Automotive,
said the Wuling multi-purpose
microvans were a good fit for Indonesia,
but there was plenty of work to do.
“Creating brand awareness for a new
entrant, as well as establishing a
widespread and effective distribution
network in a challenging geographic
footprint will also be key success
factors,” Chao said. “The established
players in Indonesia aren’t standing
still, with Toyota and Daihatsu fiercely
defending its dominating share and
Nissan and Honda aggressively
expanding their product line-up.”
The GM-SAIC move has much in
common with the strategy of Japan’s
Nissan, which has revived the Datsun
brand it retired in the 1980s to
market cars affordable to middleclass consumers in countries such
as Indonesia, India, Russia and South
Africa. Nissan began selling a Datsun in
Indonesia last May starting at 87.9mn
rupiah ($6,968).
Daihatsu, a small car specialist affiliated
with Toyota, is scrambling to come
up with $5,000 cars and is trying to
compete in Indonesia with Datsun and
Suzuki, which also focuses on no-frills
mass-market cars.
“There’s plenty of room to play,” said
The new GM-SAIC venture suggests
their global emerging-market strategy
might be building a head of steam.
GM’s top executives including former
chief executive Dan Akerson have
previously said GM and SAIC were likely
to cooperate beyond India.
Tsien said the new joint venture aims
eventually to export out of Indonesia
to neighbouring markets in Southeast
The GM-SAIC partnership went global
in 2010 when China’s biggest carmaker
became a 50-percent partner, but SAIC
nearly reversed that investment in 2012
by cutting its stake to 9% after the joint
venture struggled.
That was widely seen as a cooling of
the relationship, a view compounded
later that year when SAIC formed a joint
venture with a local firm in Thailand
to market cars there without GM
GM officials at the time downplayed
concerns over the health of their
partnership and noted the two were still
looking to cooperate closely in India
and Southeast Asia.
“Our relationship is stronger than ever,”
Tsien told Reuters.
“It’s a very ... mutually respectful
relationship. We understand each
other’s interests. We look for
opportunities to win together.”
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
Austrians rue starting fashion for Swiss franc mortgages
Swiss franc surge swells mortgage
debt in euro; repayment vehicles
often lack returns to repay
loans; nearly a fifth of loans to
households in foreign currency
The surging Swiss franc has dealt a double
blow to homeowners in Austria, home
of the trend for borrowing in the Swiss
currency that has devastated mortgage
holders across eastern Europe.
In the early 1990s, people living in the
west of the country who crossed into
Switzerland to work were lured by the
ultra-low interest rates offered in the safehaven currency.
The idea then spread, crossing a fundamental red line that was barely perceptible at the time: the new borrowers were
not earning Swiss francs but euros.
Foreign-currency loans now account
for nearly a fifth of household debt in
Austria, even though regulators effectively banned them in 2008 for fear of a
looming crisis. Around 150,000 families
still owe around €29bn of Swiss franc
debt, with 4% of loans due within a year.
Banks’ loan books could take a hit if defaults rise. Austrians are relatively wealthy
and have benefited from rises in property
prices, but poorly performing insurance
policies sold alongside many mortgages
present an added twist.
From loans to Austrians, it was a short
step for Austrian banks to start selling
Swiss franc-denominated mortgages
through the large networks they set up in
Poland, Hungary and Romania after communism fell in 1989.
Ratings agency Fitch said four big
banks — Erste, Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI), Bank Austria and Volksbanken — held €30bn of Swiss franc loans
on their books in central and eastern
Back home, it was not relative inexperience of the financial services industry but
proximity to it that caused the biggest
trouble; mortgages were often linked to
investment schemes designed to repay
the loans at maturity.
“You often had a wealth adviser in your
circle of acquaintances or family, and then
you fell into their hands,” said Peter Kolba
of consumer advocate agency VKI.
These fee-hungry consultants often
advised people to borrow twice as much
as they actually needed to buy a home,
and to invest the rest to finance the loan
One woman facing a €50,000 loss on
her loan package, 20,000 of it since the
Swiss central bank suddenly abandoned
its cap on the franc on January 15, said it
was easy to be taken in.
“It looks so great when the financial advisers show you how much cheaper it is,”
she said, asking not to be named. “I wasn’t
aware (of the risk), but admit to a certain
amount of naiveté.”
Accompanying investment schemes
were supposed to easily pay off the
interest-only mortgage at maturity but
were unrealistic, Kolba said.
“It would add up only if a market —
counter to all expectations — only went
up. The model was driven by the provisions paid for the products that were
being sold,” he said, noting brokers could
make €10,000 in fees from the package
of mortgage and investment funds sold to
one client.
Banks have consistently offered to help
customers switch out of Swiss franc loans
into less-risky euro mortgages. But many
clients failed to follow through in hope
they could erase initial currency losses,
only to get nailed again in January.
The rating agencies say the big local
component of Austrian banks’ loan
portfolios means the risks to them are low,
citing rising property prices and relatively
wealthy clients.
“With two-thirds of Swiss franc mortgages held domestically, we expect asset
quality deterioration to be moderate, despite the significant exposure,” Fitch said.
In December, however, the Austrian
central bank called the high share of
foreign-currency loans “a major risk factor
with respect to the financial position of
Austrian households”.
Erste and Bank Austria say they won’t
take big hits from the franc’s rise. RBI has
no Swiss franc retail loans in Austria and
has played down the impact in eastern
Europe. The Association of Volksbanks
says its share of foreign-currency loans
is the Austrian sector’s lowest. The
typical floating-rate FX loan was worth
€100,000 and ran from 15 to 25 years.
Customers usually pay only monthly
interest, with the full amount of capital
due at maturity.
Christian Prantner, an expert on the
mortgages at Austria’s Chamber of Labour, spoke of one colleague who in 2005
took out a 20-year Swiss franc mortgage
for €145,000. She also bought a life
insurance policy linked to two investment
funds that was supposed to pay off the
mortgage when it came due in 2025.
After paying in 70,000 worth of premiums, her account is worth only 50,000
after markets tanked in the financial crisis.
“She is half way through and has 10
years to go. The fund-linked insurance
policy will never cover even the original
loan amount, let alone what you get by
converting the currency at a rate of 1.01”
francs per euro, he said.
Nearly three quarters of foreigncurrency mortgages due at maturity are
backed by such repayment vehicles. Only
a fifth get both interest and principal paid
in regular monthly instalments.
Greece starts drive
to sell new debt deal
Finance minister in Paris to
start diplomatic offensive;
PM Tsipras trying to buy time
to negotiate new debt deal;
collective wage bargaining,
minimum wage hike planned
reece’s leftist government
yesterday began its drive
to persuade a sceptical Europe to accept a new debt agreement while it starts to roll back on
austerity measures imposed under its existing bailout agreement.
After a turbulent first week in
office, the new government has
made clear it wants to end the
existing arrangement with the
European Union, the European
Central Bank and International
Monetary Fund “troika” when
its aid deadline expires on February 28.
Instead, Prime Minister Alexis
Tsipras wants to agree a bridging deal with the troika while a
new agreement is negotiated to
reduce Greece’s unmanageable
public debt burden of more than
175% of its economic output is
worked out.
Finance Minister Yanis Var-
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis looks on during a press conference in Athens. Varoufakis was
due meet his French counterpart Michel Sapin and Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron in Paris later
yesterday as a new agreement is negotiated to reduce Greece’s unmanageable public debt burden.
oufakis, who spoke to US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Friday,
was due to kick off a diplomatic
offensive in Paris later yesterday,
where he meets French counterpart Michel Sapin and Economy
Minister Emmanuel Macron. He
goes to London to see British Finance Minister George Osborne
today and travels to Rome tomorrow.
Before the meeting Sapin repeated that Greece could not
expect its partners to accept a
straight debt write off. But he
left the door open to other options that could include giving
Athens more time for repayment.
“No we will not annul, we can
discuss, we can delay, we can re-
duce its weight, but not annul,”
he told Canal Plus television. He
meets Varoufakis at 5 pm local
time (1600 GMT) before a joint
statement to media at 6.30 pm.
Tsipras himself is due this
week in Rome and Paris, the two
major capitals where his hopes
for a sympathetic hearing are
highest given French and Italian
calls for an easing in rigid eurozone budget austerity.
He is also due to meet European Commission President
Jean-Claude Juncker but has
yet to say if and when he might
meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel or Finance Minister
Wolfgang Schaeuble who refuse
to consider any write-down of
Greek debt.
At home, where Greeks have
seen poverty and hardship reach
levels unmatched anywhere else
in western Europe, the government has wasted little time in
making clear it intends to respect its election promises to
end years of harsh austerity.
It has halted a series of privatisations it says amount to a disposal of strategic national assets
at fire-sale prices and has announced plans to reinstate thousands of public sector workers
laid off by the last government.
One bright note is that residential property prices increased by 45% from early
2007 to mid-2014, or by 24% adjusted for
inflation, central bank data show.
That is good for borrowers and banks,
Prantner said. “But it can also mean
customers who stick with the loan and
wait until the end can have a giant gap
of €30,000, €40,000, €50,000, that they
then may have to sell the house” to pay
the mortgage.
The latest blow is for investors who
took out “stop-loss” orders to convert
Swiss francs to euros should the 1.20 peg
fail, Kolba said. This backfired when the
franc rose so much so fast that banks
could close out positions only much lower.
The woman with the franc loan said her
bank executed her stop-loss order only
when the euro and franc were at 1:1, not
the level just under 1.20 she wanted. “That
was a shock,” she said, adding she had
hired a lawyer to review her options.
Kolba said the best bet for many borrowers would be using a new consumer
arbitration process financed by the government to reach a compromise with their
CRH agrees to buy
assets for $7.3bn
RH Plc, the Irish building-materials company,
entered a binding agreement to buy assets that cement
makers Holcim Ltd and Lafarge
SA need to sell ahead of their
planned merger.
The deal will allow Dublinbased CRH, which is partnering with KKR & Co, to
move into new markets and
expand its presence in existing ones. The builder, which
was formed in 1970 through
the merger of two Irish companies, already operates in 35
countries with about 76,000
people and has about €18bn in
annual sales.
The transaction has an
enterprise value of €6.5bn
($7.3bn) and will be funded by a
combination of cash on balance
sheet, new debt and a 9.99%
equity placing, CRH said in an
e-mailed statement yesterday.
Full details of the acquisition
will be released later.
Holcim and Lafarge needed
to divest businesses with revenue of about €5bn to ensure
regulatory approval for their
merger which will combine cement- and crushed-rock operations with $40bn in annual
revenue. The companies expect
the merger, agreed on in April
2014, to be completed in the
first half of this year.
CRH, which has the advantage that it can cut costs from
overlapping businesses, had
been competing with other
bidders including a group
formed of Cinven and Blackstone Group, people familiar
with the matter said previously.
The plan to merge Jona,
Switzerland-based Holcim and
Paris-based Lafarge to form the
world’s biggest cement maker
was approved last year by the
European Union subject to the
sale of overlapping operations
in more than half a dozen countries.
The EU said at the time that
its decision was conditional
upon the divestments of Lafarge businesses in Germany,
Romania and the UK and of
Holcim units in France, Hungary, Slovakia, Spain and the
Czech Republic.
The merger may allow Holcim and Lafarge to cut costs by
combining operations as some
of the industry’s kilns run at
a loss after the recent global
recession eroded demand. An
acquisition spree before the
financial crisis, including Lafarge’s €10.2bn purchase of
Orascom Cement in 2008 and
Holcim’s $4.1bn deal for Aggregate Industries in 2005,
widened the dominance of both
Portugal property market continues to lure foreigners
ortugal’s property market continues to expand at double digit
rates thanks to foreign buyers,
including China’s new wealthy, despite
a corruption scandal over visas used to
lure in rich non-Europeans.
More than one in five residences sold
in Portugal last year was bought by a
foreigner, according to provisional data
by the Portugese Real Estate Agents Association.
Britons were in top place among the
23,000 buyers, followed by Chinese and
“The property market grew by between 9 and 15% in 2014,” said the head
of the association, Luis Lima.
“If it hadn’t been for the Banco Espirito Santo debacle and the golden visas scandal it would have been 25%,” he
The collapse of BES amid suspicions
of multinational accounting fraud and
the visa scandal that saw senior officials
resign raised concerns about the integrity of the market.
However, Portugal’s warm climate,
low property prices and tax breaks for
European retirees continued to pull in
many buyers.
“We’ve seen a small drop in demand
from the Chinese since the visa scandal
in November, but the number of French
moving into Portugal has exploded,”
said Miguel Poisson, director of the
ERA real estate agency network in Portugal.
In fact Portugal has now dethroned
Morocco as the top foreign destination
for French retirees.
Serge Pasquier, a 75-year-old former
businessman was among the 3,680
French buyers in Portugal last year.
“I sold my furniture store and my
90-square-metre (970-square-feet)
apartment in Saint-Mande outside
Paris and bought a 300-square-metre
apartment with an ocean view near Lisbon for much less,” he said.
“The climate is very nice, the cost
of living is considerably less and you
feel safe. I don’t regret my choice,” said
Pasquier, who is married to a Portuguese woman.
Not only is the climate attractive, but
the prices are as well. Property prices
slumped by a third after Portugal was
tripped up in the eurozone debt crisis
and needed to be bailed out by the EU
and IMF.
The €78bn loan came with unprecedented austerity measures that
slashed public sector salaries and
pensions while raising taxes by 30%.
As unemployment soared to 17.5% in
2013, the property market was in a
morose state.
Foreign retirees are not the only ones
who have taken advantage — Chinese
and Brazilian investors have as well.
But the flood of foreign buyers has
also “helped increase the prices of nice
apartments in Lisbon and the Algarve”
region along the southern coast, said
Pascal Goncalves, head of the Maison
au Portugal real estate agency.
The Chinese, like the French, have
a taste for houses with pools in the
coastal resort town of Cascais just a
short drive from the capital Lisbon, as
well as seaside villas in the south of the
But their tastes diverge when it
comes to Lisbon: the French opt for
renovated apartments, preferably with
a view of the Tagus river, while the Chi-
nese choose new apartments in ultramodern buildings.
Portugal has been trying to lure in
China’s new well-off class by offering them residence permits that allow
them to travel freely throughout most
of Europe.
Under the scheme, foreign investors buying property worth €500,000
($566,000) or more and keeping it for
at least five years receive residency
rights in Portugal.
The residence permits, dubbed
“golden visas”, also allow their holders
to travel without visas throughout the
26 European nations in the borderless
Schengen zone.
Since its launch, the scheme has
raked in more than €1.2bn. A total of
2,022 golden visas have been granted,
mostly to Chinese nationals.
However that programme received a
serious setback in November when 11
people including senior officials were
arrested as part of a corruption and
money laundering.
They were suspected of colluding to
inflate prices so properties would qualify for the golden visas. Several Chinese
filed complaints they were duped.
“When there is a lot of money in
play the temptation to enrich oneself is
great,” said Domingos Amaral, an economics professor at the Catholic University of Portugal.
He doesn’t believe the scandal will
damage property investment in the
long term, a view shared by real estate
“The visa scandal has certainly
slowed the recovery of the market and
harmed investor confidence, but real
estate should continue to stimulate
the Portuguese economy in 2015,” said
Construction workers mounting a truss on a building in downtown Lisbon. More than one dwelling house in five was sold
to foreigners in Portugal during 2014, first the British, followed by Chinese and French, according to a provisional report
provided by the Portuguese Real Estate Agents’ association.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
Obama said to seek 19% global minimum tax to aid road fund
President Barack Obama will
propose that US-based companies
pay a minimum 19% tax on their
future foreign earnings, capturing
profits that are now often beyond
the government’s reach.
Obama will also seek a 14%
mandatory tax on about $2tn in
stockpiled offshore profits, said
two people familiar with his budget
proposals, declining to be named
because the document won’t be
made public until February 2.
Companies would pay that tax
regardless of whether they bring
the money back to the US, the two
said, creating a revenue stream
the president would use to pay for
roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects.
Obama’s latest proposals add
new details to the administration’s
efforts to revamp the US business tax system. The issue has
been stalled in Congress, though
lawmakers of both parties say they
see potential room for agreement
on business taxes.
In one sense, Obama is offering
US companies the kind of system
they have sought — one with lower
corporate marginal tax rates and
with future foreign profits subject
to little or no extra US tax when
brought home.
However, he’s offering to do so
on terms that are less favourable
than companies would want, with
rates that could mean significant
tax increases for companies that
have been shifting profits to
jurisdictions such as Bermuda and
Ireland and paying less than 10% on
their foreign profits.
“The basic outline of a deal on
the most important component
of corporate tax reform is falling
into place,” said Ed Kleinbard, a
tax law professor at the University
of Southern California who has
criticised the current system that
often lets companies avoid paying
taxes anywhere.
A proposal last year from Dave
Camp, then the Republican chairman of the House Ways and Means
Committee, would have taxed the
one-time profits at 8.75% for cash
and 3.5% for other assets. Camp
didn’t use a pure minimum-tax
system for future profits, and still,
his plan didn’t get universal acclaim
from US multinational Corps.
Even though Obama’s proposed
rates are higher, “that’s what negotiations are for,” Kleinbard said.
The president will unveil the
proposals as part of a $3.99tn
budget designed to help lower- and
middle-class Americans. The plan
would yield $565bn over 10 years,
according to one of the people. The
one-time tax on stockpiled profits
would produce $238bn, according
to an administration document.
Under current law, US companies
owe the full 35% US tax on income
they earn around the world. They
get tax credits for payments to foreign governments and don’t have
to pay the US tax until they bring
the money home.
That system gives companies an
incentive to push profits outside
the US and leave them there. Apple
and Google are among the many
US companies doing that, and companies’ disclosures indicate how
little foreign tax they pay.
Microsoft Corp, for example,
holds $92.9bn in profits outside
the US If that money were brought
home, the company would owe
$29.6bn in US taxes — or a 31.9%
Because tax rules call for paying
the difference between the foreign
tax rate and the 35% corporate levy,
that means the company could
have paid as little as 3.1% in foreign
taxes on that income.
Obama wants to lower the corporate tax rate to 28%, and 25% for
manufacturers. Republicans want a
25% rate for all Corps.
A 19% minimum tax on foreign
earnings — without an extra layer of
tax upon repatriation — could give
companies an incentive to move
profits overseas.
It would also mean that US
companies operating in most major
industrialised countries would owe
little or no US tax on those profits.
The exception would be places
such as Ireland, with its 12.5%
corporate tax rate.
Obama’s proposal, however, will
include rules that would make it
harder for US companies to shift
profits overseas or to change their
addresses through inversion trans-
Oil workers in US begin first
large-scale strike since 1980
San Francisco
he United Steelworkers union,
which represents employees at
more than 200 US oil refineries, terminals, pipelines and chemical
plants, began a strike at nine sites yesterday, the biggest walkout called since
The USW started the work stoppage
after failing to reach agreement on a
labour contract that expired yesterday,
saying in a statement that it “had no
choice.” The union rejected five contract offers made by Royal Dutch Shell
on behalf of oil companies since negotiations began on January 21.
The United Steelworkers union
hasn’t called a strike nationally since
1980, when a stoppage lasted three
months. A full walkout of USW workers would threaten to disrupt as much
as 64% of US fuel production. Shell and
union representatives began negotiations amid the biggest collapse in US oil
prices since 2008.
“Shell refused to provide us with a
counteroffer and left the bargaining table,” USW International President Leo
Gerard said in a statement early yesterday. “We had no choice but to give notice of a work stoppage.”
Ray Fisher, a spokesman for The
Hague, Netherlands-based Shell, said
by e-mail on Saturday that the company remained “committed to resolving our differences with USW at the
negotiating table and hope to resume
negotiations as early as possible.”
The USW asked employers, which
include Exxon Mobil Corp and Chevron
Corp, for “substantial” pay increases,
stronger rules to prevent fatigue and
measures to keep union workers rather
than contract employees on the job,
Gary Beevers, the USW international
vice president who manages the union’s oil sector, said in an interview in
Pittsburgh in October.
The refineries called on to strike span
the US, from Tesoro Corp’s plants in
Martinez, California, Carson, California,
and Anacortes, Washington, to Marathon
Petroleum Corp’s Catlettsburg complex
in Kentucky to three sites in Texas, according to the USW’s statement.
The sites in Texas are Shell’s Deer
Park complex, Marathon’s Galveston
Bay plant and LyondellBasell Industries’ Houston facility, the statement
shows. The walkout also includes Marathon’s Houston Green cogeneration
plant in Texas and Shell’s Deer Park
chemical plant.
United Steelworkers of America president Leo Gerard at his Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania office. The USW started a work stoppage yesterday after failing to reach agreement
on a labour contract that expired yesterday. “Shell refused to provide us with a counteroffer and left the bargaining table. We had no choice but to give notice of a work
stoppage,” Gerard said.
More refineries are standing by to
join the sites on strike, according to two
people familiar with the plan who asked
not to be identified because the information isn’t public. The remaining
USW-represented sites are operating
under rolling, 24-hour contract extensions, the USW said.
Shell activated a “contingency plan”
to continue operations at the Deer Park
refinery, Fisher said on Saturday.
Beevers said in October that he was
expecting “the most difficult negotia-
tions that I’ve seen” as workers fought
for better pay and benefits. Local USW
units established funds to help compensate workers during a strike for the
first time in at least 20 years.
Refiners’ shares on the Standard &
Poor’s 500 have more than doubled
since the beginning of 2012, when the
steelworkers last negotiated an agreement. Marathon and Tesoro Corp went
on that year to take their place among
the 10 best performers in the S&P 500
US fuel producers have been cashing in on the biggest-ever domestic
oil boom, driven largely by volumes
extracted from shale formations using hydraulic fracturing and horizontal
drilling. The surge in output has lowered US oil prices by 55% since June 20
and contributed to a global supply glut
that has also sent international prices
During the last bargaining year, United Steelworkers and Shell took about a
month to reach a national agreement.
The USW rejected at least four offers
that year before agreeing to a contract
that called for pay increases of 2.5% in
the first year and 3% in the second and
third years.
The national agreement, which addresses wages, benefits and health and
safety, serves as the pattern that companies use to negotiate local contracts.
Individual USW units may still decide
to strike if the terms they’re offered locally don’t mirror those in the national
actions, according to the administration document.
The president’s taxing and
spending plans, which will meet
stiff resistance from the Republican-led Congress, would result in a
deficit of $474bn for the fiscal year
that begins October 1, according to
the administration’s projection.
While that number is a little
above estimates for the current
fiscal year — 2015 — it gives Obama
much more flexibility than the
$1.4tn deficit that racked up in the
wake of the 2008 financial crisis.
The deficit as a percentage of gross
domestic product would be 2.5%,
down from 3.2% in fiscal 2015. Over
the next decade, the budget estimates it wouldn’t rise above 2.6%
in any year.
Google’s profit
cut by spending
as competition in
mobile hits sales
San Francisco
oogle is ramping up
spending to invest in new
technologies and fend off
competition on mobile devices,
even as its maturing Web-advertising business posted quarterly profit and sales that fell
short of estimates.
Fourth-quarter profit, excluding some items, was $6.88
a share on revenue of $14.5bn,
Google said in a statement,
compared with analysts’ average projections for $7.11 and
$14.7bn. Expenses jumped as
Google added more staff and real
estate, while currency fluctuations dented revenue.
While Facebook and other Internet companies are seeking to
lure away users and advertisers on
tablets and smartphones, Google’s shares were buoyed on Friday amid signs of strength in the
search provider’s main businesses
and optimism that the company
will use its cash pile to enter new
markets to secure future growth.
“They didn’t do anything that
was dramatically inconsistent
with what they’ve been doing,”
said Brian Wieser, an analyst at
Pivotal Research Group. “You’ve
got top-line growth that overall
is reasonably solid and you have
margin erosion, largely due to
Foreign currency fluctuations
also weighed on results. Google
said total revenue would have
been higher by $541mn from the
prior quarter without the impact
of a stronger dollar, which reduces
the amount of overseas income
that can be counted back home.
Marketers also paid less for mobile ads, driving down the average
price of spots by 3% in the quarter.
Google said in a statement on
Friday that it will change its privacy policy in the UK, following an
investigation by Britain’s watchdog Information Commissioner’s Office. The company is “too
vague” about how it uses people’s
data and has until June 30 to make
the changes, Steve Eckersley, head
of enforcement at the ICO, said in
a separate statement.
Chief executive officer Larry
Page stepped up spending, as
Google invests in areas outside
of the company’s main searchad business, from high-speed
Internet service and driverless
cars to digital-payments systems and Web-linked glasses.
Bullard says markets wrong not to expect mid-year rate rise
Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis
President James Bullard said investors are wrong to expect the Fed to
postpone an interest-rate increase
beyond midyear, with the US
economy leading global growth and
unemployment dropping.
“The market has a more dovish
view of what the Fed is going to do
than the Fed itself,” Bullard said in
an interview on Friday in New York.
“Markets should take it at face value”
from the Fed’s rate projections,
and it’s “reasonable” to expect an
increase in June or July.
Unemployment could fall below
5% by the third quarter, he said,
adding that both policy makers and
private economists have been overly
pessimistic in their forecasts for
joblessness. The jobless rate was last
below 5% in February 2008, when it
fell to 4.9%.
The Federal Open Market Committee said two days ago it would be
“patient” in its plans to raise rates,
which Chair Janet Yellen said in
December meant no tightening “for
at least the next couple of meetings.”
The central bank described the expansion as “solid,” while cautioning
that inflation could decline further
“in the near term.”
The “patient” language could
be removed at one of the next two
meetings, setting up a discussion
on rate increases by midyear, said
Bullard, who isn’t a voting member of
the FOMC this year.
“Zero is not the right number
for this economy,” Bullard said in a
reference to the benchmark federal
funds rate, which has been kept near
that level since December 2008. “It
is hard to rationalise a zero policy
rate” because the economy has “a lot
of momentum.” Investors see only
a 15% chance that the Fed will raise
its benchmark federal funds rate in
June, down from 30% a month ago,
according to fed funds futures. The
odds that the Fed will have raised
rates by December are 55%, down
from 58% a month ago.
Fed officials expect the benchmark funds rate rise to 1.125% by the
end of 2015, according to the median
estimate of their quarterly forecasts
in December. These will be updated
at the FOMC meeting on March 17-18.
Bullard said low oil prices and low
interest rates are “two important tailwinds” for the US economy. He said
the European Central Bank’s decision
on January 22 to embark on a €1.1tn
($1.2tn) bond purchase program is
also a plus, because it helps to keep
borrowing costs low in the US.
“It’s lower rates that are just coming over to us for free,” he said of the
impact of ECB policies on the US.
US 10-year yields fell to a
20-month low as a report showed
the US economy expanded less than
forecast in the fourth quarter. The 10year yield declined eight basis points,
or 0.08 percentage point, to 1.68% as
of 10:06am New York time, according
to Bloomberg Bond Trader data.
Gross domestic product expanded
at a 2.6% annual pace, less than the
3% median forecast in a Bloomberg
survey of economists. Bullard said
the pace of growth was in line with
the St Louis Fed bank’s expectations.
The 2.6% GDP reading “is fine,” he
said. “We will see revisions move it
higher or not in the coming month.
I think there is a lot of underlying
momentum in the US economy and
that shows up in the jobs numbers,
which have been strong.’’
Bullard also spelled out why he’s
optimistic about the US economy’s
long-term prospects.
“There are a lot of good things go-
ing on,” he said. “You look at the leadership in tech, leadership in energy
technology. I still think, you know,
despite everything that’s happened in
the US economy, that it’s more adaptable, more market-oriented, more
innovative, than most economies
around the world. And I think that
puts us in a leadership position.”
Bullard, 53, has been seen as a
bellwether because his views have
sometimes foreshadowed policy
changes. He published a paper in
2010 entitled “Seven Faces of the
Peril,” which called on the central
bank to avert deflation by purchasing
Treasury notes. That was followed by
a second round of bond buying.
Bullard joined the St Louis Fed’s
research department in 1990 and
became president of the regional
bank in 2008. His district includes all
of Arkansas and parts of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri
and Tennessee.
Bullard: It’s “reasonable” to expect an increase in June or July.
Monday, February 2, 2015
Qatar hospitality sector vibrant on strong growth in rooms’ yield: EY
By Santhosh V Perumal
Business Reporter
A quick expansion in occupancy helped
Doha’s hotels report a strong-double-digit increase in the rooms’ yield in the first
11 months of 2014; indicating vibrancy
in the Qatar’s hospitality industry visà-vis not that rosy picture elsewhere in
the Gulf region, according to Ernst and
Young (EY).
Occupancy in Doha hotels rose to 71%
year-to-date ended November 2014 from
68% in the year-ago period, EY said in its
Middle East Hotel Benchmark Survey.
The surge in occupancy and 0.9% increase in the average room rate to $234
translated as a healthy 14.2% in rooms
yield to $168 in January-November 2014.
In November alone, Doha hotels’ rooms’
yield soared 23.2% year-on-year to $204
owing to 12% increase in average room
rate to $247 and 7% in occupancy to 82%.
Elsewhere in the GCC; EY found that
hotels in Manama (Bahrain) witnessed
13.4% jump in rooms’ yield to $99 on the
back of 6% rise in occupancy to 48%;
even as average room rate fell 1.2% to
$203 year-to-date in November. In the
case of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh witnessed
12.7% expansion in hotel rooms’ yield
to $143 owing to 9% jump in occupancy
66%. Average room rate, otherwise,
declined 2.4% to $214.
Madina saw its hotel room’ yield gain
8.5% to $144 on the back of 11% surge
in occupancy to 75%; while the average
room rate shrank 6.4% to $191.
Jeddah witnessed 7.6% gain in hotel
rooms’ yield to $210 as there was 9.6%
increase in the average room rate to $274;
whereas occupancy fell 2% to 76%.
An 18% plunge in average room rate
to $221 brought with it a 14.1% decline in
Makkah hotel rooms’ yield to $133 despite
3% jump in occupancy to 60%.
Kuwait also saw its hotel rooms’ yield
drop 11.5% to $146 on the back of 11% fall in
occupancy to 48%; even as average room
rate increased 7.8% to $299.
The UAE’s hospitality industry rather
witnessed mixed performance with Abu
Dhabi reporting 3% fall in hotel rooms’
yield to $154 as average room rates shrank
4.5% to $197 despite 1% rise in occupancy
to 78%.
Dubai City saw its hotel rooms’ yield
tank 3.1% to $162 on 3% fall in occupancy
to 79%; although average room rate was
up 0.4% to $204.
However, Dubai beach hotels witnessed 1.8% increase in rooms’ yield to
$312 on the back of 2% jump in occupancy to 79%; whereas average room rate
QNB Group General
Assembly approves
75% cash dividend
By Peter Alagos
Business Reporter
he QNB Group’s General
Assembly approved the
proposed 75% cash dividend during yesterday’s Ordinary General Assembly held in
QNB Group chairman HE Ali
Shareef al-Emadi said the distribution of a 75% cash dividend of the nominal share value,
amounting to QR7.5 per share,
aims to maximise shareholder
return “over the long-term.”
Al-Emadi added that the General Assembly ratified all items
on its agenda, including the appointment of Ernst & Young as
external auditors for 2015.
During the meeting, al-Emadi
stressed that QNB’s “primary
focus” for 2015 is to retain its
“leading position” in the market
through continued diversification of income sources.
He added that the bank also
aims to expand its range of
products across the QNB Group,
continue to meet shareholders’
expectations, and maintain or
surpass its Qatarisation level
beyond 50%. Al-Emadi emphasised that the QNB Group has
posted a net profit of QR10.5bn
in 2014 or a 10.3% increase
compared to the previous year.
He added that total equity increased by 7.9% from December 2013 to reach QR58bn as on
December 31 last year. Earnings
per share (EPS) reached QR14.9
compared to QR13.5 in December 2013.
“QNB Group’s growth across
all its activities was mirrored
in the 2014 strong financial results. I am pleased to announce
an increase of 10.3% in net
profit to QR10.5bn, the highest ever achieved, with total
assets up by 9.7% to QR486bn.
These results substantiate the
Vodafone Qatar
becomes fully
Shariah compliant
rofessor Dr Ali Qaradaghi,
commissioned by Vodafone Qatar’s Board of Directors with the responsibility
of transforming the company
to become fully Shariah compliant, has released a statement
that summarises this task and
all the steps and procedures
taken so far towards achieving
the intended goal.
Following several meetings during 2014 and extensive
discussions conducted by Dr
Qaradaghi, who spearheaded
the transformation process as
Shariah adviser, the endeavour
led to the following results:
1. Vodafone Qatar successfully refinanced its conventional interest-bearing borrowings with a Shariah-compliant
‘wakala’ investment agreement last December 2014. The
transition was completed in
accordance with the current,
effective laws that do not contradict Shariah rules.
2. A Shariah compliance review was conducted by the Islamic Finance consultant. This
included the following:
• Bank accounts, deposits,
investments, current debts,
secured agreements and cash
• Accounts receivable, debts
deducted and employee loans;
• Other agreements and contracts including rent, oversight
bodies and service franchises,
• Other commercial matters
All these activities have been
performed under the supervision of Dr Qaradaghi, followed
by a comments review and the
arrangement of Shariah-compliant alternatives when necessary. Furthermore, all noncompliant activities have been
discontinued. “Based on all the
above briefly mentioned description, Vodafone Qatar has
become qualified to commit to
the Shariah rules and start its
Shariah-compliant operations
starting with 1 January 2015. As
of this date, Vodafone Qatar is
a Shariah-compliant company
whose shares can be traded –
bought and sold – without religious disconcertment or the
need for money purification,”
said Dr Qaradaghi.
Dr Qaradaghi expressed his
sincere gratitude to HE Sheikh
Dr Khalid Bin Thani al-Thani,
chairman of Vodafone Qatar, and the esteemed board of
directors for their landmark
decision, and the Executive
Management team for their cooperation and diligent efforts.
Alijarah reports 47% plunge in ’14 profit
HE Al-Emadi: Leading position. PICTURE: Noushad Thekkayil.
Group’s success in achieving its objectives and meeting
shareholders’ and customers’
expectations,” al-Emadi said in
his speech.
QNB Group CEO Ahmed alKuwari said loan portfolio recorded an 8.8% growth in 2014
to reach QR338bn “while maintaining its high quality.”
“The ratio of non-perform-
ing loans to total loans stood at
1.6%, one of the lowest levels in
the Mena region. Operating income increased to QR15.8bn, up
by 7.3%, the highest level ever
achieved by the Group, along
with a favourable efficiency ratio
maintained at 20.8%,” al-Kuwari noted.
Al-Emadi also said QNB acquired a 19.4% stake in Ecobank
Dolphin Energy
achieves major
safety milestone
olphin Energy Limited
reaching an important
milestone in its offshore operations programme by achieving
seven years without a lost time
incident since operations began
in 2007.
A celebration to mark the occasion was held on one of the
company’s offshore platforms,
DOL2, and was attended by
members of Dolphin Energy’s
senior management team, including Adel Ahmed Albuainain, general manager; Mohammed Alsulaiti, deputy general
manager; and Hassan al-Emadi,
chief operating officer.
Albuainain, said, “This is a
significant milestone to reach in
was down 0.4% to $395. Overall, Dubai
recorded 1.2% fall in hotel rooms’ yield
to $216 with average room rate gaining
0.2% to $273; while occupancy fell 1% to
The Middle East and North Africa
region’s hospitality industry witnessed
“significant” growth across key performance indicators in November 2014, as the
market continued to enter the region’s
peak winter and tourism season, according to Yousef Wahbah, Mena Head of
Transaction Real Estate at EY.
our short history, for which we
are very proud. It demonstrates
that we have a strong and robust
safety culture, which is evident
in the conduct and behaviour
of our employees, our contractors and partners. It also ensures
that we maintain our commitments to our customers.”
A celebration to mark the
occasion was held on one
of the company’s offshore
platforms, DOL2, and was
attended by members of
Dolphin Energy’s senior
management team
Since first gas was delivered
in 2007, Dolphin Energy has
focused on developing policies
and programmes to enhance its
safety track record.
Over the years, it has enjoyed
much success in the area of
safety and security and in 2014,
the company achieved more
than 40mn man hours without
a lost time incident and introduced a brand new Stop and
Think Campaign that encouraged further improvements to
safety commitments.
“Continuous improvement
is critical to maintaining the
highest possible standards and
helps avoid any risks caused by
complacency. We have launched
Stop and Think again this year
and look forward to making
more improvements where we
can,” Albuainain concluded.
(Ecobank) in the second half of
“QNB Group acquired a
19.4% stake in Ecobank, a leading pan-African bank with a
presence in 36 countries across
the African continent. This
strategic partnership is another
fundamental step in QNB’s international expansion plans,”
al-Emadi said. He added that
QNB Group has continued to
attract Qatari employees using
a range of recruitment initiatives.
“The Qatarisation ratio exceeded 50% in 2014, with
strong representation of nationals at all levels, which includes senior leadership positions,” al-Emadi said.
Substantial slippage in core
earnings led Alijarah Holding
report 47% plunge in net profit
to QR42.97mn in 2014 but
suggested 8.5% cash dividend.
Overall, net profit margin stood
at 19.2% in 2014 compared
to 29.3% in the previous
year, a company spokesman
Income from core business
plummeted 41% to QR143.2mn,
according to its financial
statement filed with the Qatar
Stock Exchange.
Although income from
investments and deposits more
than doubled to QR71.18mn
and other income grew about
seven-fold to QR9.02mn; the
company reported 20% fall in
total income to QR223.39mn.
Total expenses fell 22% to
QR180.43mn with operating
costs plunging 22% to
QR143.83mn, general and
administrative expenses by 23%
to QR31.8 and finance costs by
14% to QR4.8mn.
With income falling faster than
expenses, Alijarah Holding saw
its net operating income fall 8%
to QR42.96mn.
Recovery of impairment on
installments and due from
customers plummeted almost
100% to mere QR8,570.
Total assets were valued at
QR1.6bn comprising cash
and cash equivalents of
QR719.84mn, installments and
dues from customers valued
at QR396.72mn, property and
equipment worth QR141.82mn,
property investments of
QR130mn and available-for-sale
financial assets of QR124.3mn.
Total equity stood at QR1.24bn
on a capital base of QR494.8mn
and earnings-per-share was
QR0.87 at the end of December
31, 2014.
QC panel’s stress on insurance sector development
The Insurance Committee of Qatar Chamber (QC) has recently held its first meeting, headed by Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim bin Mohamed
al-Thani, QC chairman and head of the committee. Representatives of the insurance companies attended the meeting, which discussed
a variety of related issues and topics. In particular, the meeting stressed the need to find effective ways to further develop the insurance
sector in the country and devising an effective mechanism to address the challenges facing the full growth of such an important
economic sector. “The Insurance Committee is working hard to identify the difficulties and challenges that make insurance companies in
the country fall short of performing their full duty in the society. We want to help them improve their services and proceed forward with
better performance in the market,” pointed out Sheikh Khalifa. Accordingly, the participants at the meeting affirmed that more efforts
should be exerted to increase public awareness about their insurance rights and liabilities. Besides, insurance companies should clarify
their regulations and systems to the public and make their services more readily accessible through easing the involved procedures.
CRICKET | Page 5
GOLF | Page 6
FOOTBALL | Page 11
Johnson star
as Australia
win tri-series
wins second
Dubai Desert
Classic title
Arsenal close
on top four as
Monday, February 2, 2015
Rabia II 13, 1436 AH
Qatar ready to host any sporting
event: Sheikh Joaan
By Sports Reporter
he Organising Committee for
Qatar 2015 HE Sheikh Joaan
bin Hamad al-Thani (pictured) has said that Qatar is
ready to host any sporting event.
Addressing a press conference at
the close of the 24th Handball World
Championship yesterday, Sheikh Joaan
said, “Qatar is ready to host Olympics
or any other sporting event.”
Sheikh Joaan said Qatar Handball
Association (QHA) has a clear strategy aimed at improving handball and to
continue achieving successes that have
occurred during the current championship in which it reached the finals to
compete for the title.
“Qatari team’s great achievement in
this championship is not only for the
State of Qatar but for the Arab world at
large,” he said.
Meanwhile, International Handball
Federation (IHF) president said that
there are no immediate plans to change
the nationality rule for players.
IHF chief Dr. Hassan Moustafa said
the power to bring amendments and
changes in rules vests with the IHF
Congress. IHF permits players to play
for any other country even if they have
represented their national team earlier.
“Till now, no association has sought
a change in rules regarding the nationality of players. If any association plans
to bring about any amendments to the
prevailing rules, then they will have to
go through the Congress, which will be
put to vote,” said Moustafa.
“The IHF Executive Council has
nothing to do with this issue. It belongs
to the rules and regulations of the IHF
and it is decided by the IHF Congress.
During the last IHF Congress, there
was no motion by any member federation on this particular matter. I want to
make it clear to all,” he said.
While defending Qatar’s decision to
include European-born players in the
team he said: “The system doesn’t belong
to Qatar only. Qatar used the facility that
has been provided by the Congress. It is
all for 200 IHF members. Anyone can use
this and become strong.”
In the World Championship, Poland also played a player who had earlier played for Germany. Qatar has used
four players from Europe and they became the first non-European team to
enter the final.
Dr Moustafa also clarified that Qatar has filed only four European-born
players in the championship.
“As per the information provided
to me Qatar has only four players who
have born in Europe and grew up there,
while rest of the players were born in
Qatar or their parents are working in
Qatar. They are based in Qatar,” he said.
He then added: “We need Kuwait,
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and other
countries in this region. We need to help
them in the development of our sport and
they are very important countries for us.”
Qatar 2015 Organizing Committee
director general Dr Thani Abdulrahman al-Kuwari thanked the IHF and all
those who contributed to the success of
the 24th Men’s Handball World Championship, stressing that the success
was due to joint efforts of all parties
who worked together as one team in order to ensure successful championship.
“The proceeds of the tournament
would be directed to charities involved
in education, pointing out the proceeds
of ticket sales, amounting to about QR
9 million, will be given to the ‘Educate a
Child’ initiative,” he said.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
France end Qatar’s dream
run to win fifth world title
Reigning Olympic and European champions book a spot at 2016 Rio, while the hosts make it to Olympic qualifiers
By Yash Mudgal
eigning Olympic and European champions France ended
Qatar’s dream run in the 24th
Men’s Handball World Championship to win their fifth world championships title yesterday.
Driven by vocal fans at Lusail Multipurpose Hall, Qatar gave a good fight to
the mighty French before going down
22-25 in the final.
It was a memorable double, having
won the World and European gold in a
row, for coach Claude Onesta and his
boys, who won the Olympic gold in 2012.
The team, under extremely experienced Onesta, played consistently
throughout the tournament and remained undefeated.
“This is a tournament organised to
the highest level imaginable. We didn’t
come across any problems. We had top
teams from all around the world and it
was very stimulating,” Onesta said.
France had earlier won the world
championship in 1995, 2001, 2009 and
With the win, France also booked a
spot at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games,
while hosts Qatar, who wrote a new
chapter in the history of handball by
becoming the first non-European team
to reach the world championship final,
have qualified for the Olympic Qualification Tournaments which will be held
in April 2016.
The two powerful defensive zones provided an electrifying experience in the
noisy atmosphere of the sold-out arena.
The real spectacle began with the French
domination as ‘Les Blues’ managed to
stop the host team’s two most dangerous
shooters – Zarko Markovic and Rafael
Capote. The two top scorers of the squad
coached by Valero Rivera netted only one
goal each until the 17th minute, the main
reason for France’s 9-5 lead.
The outstanding quality of the players Nikola Karabatic and Daniel Narcisse gave a clear advantage to the
French side.
The highest French lead in the domination was seen in the 23rd minute
at 13-7, but after that Markovic and
Capote scored four goals in the last
six minutes of the first half to signal a
Together with a brilliant Danijel Saric
between the posts they provided a ray of
hope to their fans going into half time.
France went into the break with a
three-goal lead (14-11), but it was Qatar
who came out stronger when the second half began. The hosts scored two
quick breakthroughs to put them just
one behind their opponents. France did
not take long to respond, also scoring
two consecutive goals for a three-goal
Things got a little close for comfort
for France around the 40-minute mark,
when a series of Qatari goals coupled
with a two-minute suspension for Cedric Sorhaindo enabled Qatar to come
within one goal (17-18).
Qatar’s more agile defence troubled
the French, but Xavier Barachet, who
stepped on the court for the first time
in the second half, scored two goals in
succession to keep his side ahead.
Six minutes later, Qatar playmaker
Kamalaldin Mallash had a chance to level
the score, but an experienced Thierry
Omeyer saved it as the score read 19-20.
Heroic saves from Omeyer and fast-
France’s players celebrate winning against Qatar in the 24th Men’s Handball World Championship final at the Lusail Multipurpose Hall in Doha yesterday. (Reuters)
Qatar’s Zarko Markovic (centre) in action in yesterday’s final against France. PICTURE: Mamdouh
paced counter-attacks helped France
create a three-goal advantage (19-22),
which they retained as the clock ticked
into the final five minutes (21-24).
A tense few minutes followed, but
when Narcisse scored a breakthrough
shot in the 58th minute to keep France’s
lead at three (22-25) and Omeyer made
an important save in the next Qatari attack, the European side began to see the
glint of the trophy.
When France had possession with 15
seconds left, it was all over.
French goalkeeper Thierry Omeyer
said: “We are world champions once
again and this gold medal makes me
very happy and proud. Qatar have been
tough opponents, but we managed to
control the rhythm of the final and to
always keep a margin.
“I believe that we played a fantastic
tournament here and deserved to get
the gold medal and return to the top.
We are a great team, but a great family
as well. To be like a family is the most
important factor for a team to have success. We worked hard to be on top and
stay on a high level.”
Qatar coach Rivera said: “I am proud
of my team for their performance in
the championship. They played good
handball for 60 minutes today, but to
beat a team like France you need to play
well throughout the match. I am very
happy for everything. This country, this
association and this team deserve this
silver medal. I dedicate this achievement to the Qatar Handball Federation
and to my three grandchildren.”
Speaking about the spectator support at the championship, Qatar’s right
back Hadi Hamdoon, said: “I have never played in front of so many enthusiastic supporters in my life before. It was
awesome, a unique experience for me.”
Qatar 2015 Organising Committee chairman HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad al-Thani
(left) hands over the IHF flag to president Dr Hassan Moustafa. PICTURE: Jayan Orma
Poland edge Spain out in extra time for bronze
By Yash Mudgal
ormer runners-up Poland won
bronze medal defeating defending champions Spain 29-28
in extra time at the 24th Men’s
Handball World Championship yesterday.
The teams were tied 24-24 after the
stipulated 60 minutes at Lusail Multipurpose Hall.
“I am happy for my team. I didn’t
want to see my players going home
without medals. We proved that this
team can fight back. We have done a
good job,” Poland coach Michael Biegler said.
Spain’s coach Manuel Cadenas gave
credit to Poland for playing better at
crucial times.
“The Poland team was better in extra time. We had our opportunities but
didn’t use them to achieve victory. Our
defence was very bad as we let Poland
score in the last seconds,” he said.
Both teams had scoring problems at
the beginning of the match, but Poland
were the first team to strike and went up
3-0 within five minutes forcing Cadenas to call an early time-out.
The Polish defence and goalkeeper
Slawomir Szmal continued to do very
well, though, and it took Spain seven
minutes and 11 seconds to score their
first goal, as Albert Rocas reduced the
margin to 3-1 on a counter-attack.
However, Poland continued to dominate, much to the joy of their many fans
in the hall, and increased their lead to
A more offensive Spanish defence
and an improved performance by
Gonzalo Perez de Varga in the goal
brought Spain back into the game, and
after 22 minutes left back Antonio Garcia equalised with 11-11.
A first half with a relatively large
number of technical mistakes on both
sides also ended on level terms, as the
score read 13-13 after the first 30 minutes.
This Spaniards broke the tie in the
first minute of the second half, though,
as their huge line player Julen Aguinagalde gave them their first lead of the
match at 14-13.
Spain continued to have a one-goal
lead, right up until right wing Victor
Tomas made use of a counter-attack to
put them ahead at 19-17 12 minutes into
the second-half.
Tomas gave Spain a three-goal lead
at 21-18 with less than 14 minutes left
in the game, which forced Biegler to call
his last time-out.
Poland managed to come back from
a four goal deficit and draw 24-24 before winning by one goal after two fiveSpain’s Joan Canellas reacts to his
team’s loss to Poland in the bronze
medal match at Lusail Multipurpose
Hall yesterday. PICTURE: Mamdouh
minute sessions of extra time
“All the players were fantastic today.
We had been mentally prepared for this
match, despite losing in the semifinal.
It was difficult to maintain focus, but
I am proud of how we did,” Poland’s
Michal Daszek said.
“We didn’t expect such a good result
especially after our preliminary round.
We had a tough schedule - Sweden and
Croatia on our way to the semis. That
makes this result even bigger.”
Talking about the 2016 European
championship in Poland, he said: “This
is the best preparation for our home
tournament. I hope that we can win
gold medal in front of home fans.”
Poland’s Michal Szyba, who scored
eight goals, said, “It’s like a dream for
me. It’s like a dream for all of our team.
This game was the best game in my
career. We believed we could win the
bronze medal and we did it.”
Victor Tomas scored seven goals for
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
Teams, fans create perfect
ending for Qatar 2015
From exciting handball action to boisterous fans, the final day of the Handball World Championship had it all
By Joe Koraith
hat makes for a perfect setting at
the final of a sporting event?
You need two strong teams, both
keen to make history. So you had
France, looking to get a triple crown - Olympic, European and world championship - for
the second time ever. And Qatar, looking to win
their first-ever world championship title.
But most of all you need passionate spectators. Fans, who will compete to the loudest,
putting their lungs to the utmost test. And yesterday, during the final of the 24th Men’s Handball World Championship, the Lusail Multipurpose hall - all three tiers of it - was full of such
and more boisterous fans.
The home side fans were fully equipped with
drums and trumpets blaring away to glory. The
Spanish supporters group Furia Conquense,
brought in to cheer for Qatar, were also helping
the home side’s cause in loud measure.
The French fans too had turned up in large
numbers, dressed in the team’s colours, dressed
up in costumes, faces painted and all of them eager to be as loud as possible.
The mood for the final was set up with a prematch show which started 15 minutes before
the game. It began with a light and sound show
where the entire court was covered with white
sheets on which videos and graphics commemorating the Qatar 2015 tournament were projected onto.
Then it was the turn of teams to come onto the
court, accompanied by drummers. First team on
to the court were France and they received a raucous reception from the French fans with Nikola
Karabatic receiving the loudest cheer of the lot.
For Qatar, it was Danijel Saric who got a loud
cheer. But the loudest cheer was reserved for
coach Valero Rivera. The fans knew that Rivera
had played a huge role in this team’s success.
The cheering from both sets of fans didn’t go
down in volume at any point in the match. Both
sets were competing to be the loudest when their
team scored a goal. There was a brief decrease in
decibel count from the home fans when their team
were trailing by more than a five-goal margin in
the first half. But then the Qatar team came back
strongly and so did the volume of the home fans.
There were many mini-events to keep the fans
interested, like the crowd decibel level checker
where the spectators were urged to be as loud as
Children perform during the closing ceremony yesterday.
possible. For the record, the crowd managed 96
decibels. There were Mexican waves started by
the event MC.
Half time break saw a ‘tag Fahed’ contest
where two fans, one each from Qatar and France
were blindfolded and then asked to find Fahed,
the tournament mascot, who had a drummer to
indicate his position. After a lot of comic relief,
courtesy the French fan who seemed to not hear
the drums at all, it was the Qatari fan who finally
got hold of Fahed.
There were all sorts of fans who were making their presence felt. This one French fan, for
instance, had an air horn which he would play
using his stomach. His stomach must have some
serious muscle because he would be at it for long
bursts of time. He would not even stop when
everybody in front of him would turn around
and glare at him.
The second half was an intense one with Qatar clawing back the deficit and had their sets of
fan egging them on. Goalkeeper Saric made a
lot of saves to keep his team in the hunt but in
the end it was the lack of goals that proved to
be their downfall in the final. And so it was the
French that emerged victorious. But keeping
Qatar’s run in this tournament in perspective,
it is a tremendous achievement and the fans acknowledged it.
“I wish they could have done better. I was here
for the game against Poland and I feel they had
a better game that day. But I am still extremely
proud of my team’s performance. Coming second on the world stage is a huge achievement for
Qatar,” said Mohamed Jassim Ma al-Kuwari, an
avid Qatar fan.
After the match, Qatar coach Rivera was seen
hugging each one of his players and applauding
their efforts. The players too were congratulating each other and even did a celebratory huddle. They had fought against the best, defeated
most of them and came up short in the end - but
only just.
After the intense final, it was time for the
closing ceremony. It began with an emotional
rendition of the national anthem of Qatar per-
Qatar players and officials celebrate with their silver medals and bouquets after they finished runners-up behind France in the 24th Men’s
Handball World Championship at the Lusail Multipurpose Arena yesterday. PICTURES: Jayan Orma, Mamdouh, Anas Khalid
formed by children of the Siwar Choir and was
followed by a range of traditional performances
that showcased the Qatari culture.
Championship mascot Fahed waved to the
crowds, and was joined by a group of French
children for the Official Song of the Championship, ‘Live it’, which has now been seen more
than six million times on YouTube.
Also, in an interesting use of technology, the
spectators were given a LED device which changed
colours and flashing patterns according to the
rhythm that was showcased during a song called
the ‘Heartbeat of the Championship’.
During the ceremony, Dr. Hassan Moustafa,
president of the International Handball Federation (IHF) delivered a speech thanking the Qatar
2015 Organising Committee for the hugely successful event and thanked visiting teams and
delegations for their participation in the championship.
“I would like to thank the state of Qatar
for hosting this event which is the best world
championship ever held. I also thank the Qatar
Handball Association for the outstanding performance of the Qatar team who have achieved
a historical milestone,” said Moustafa.
At the awards ceremony, HH the Emir Sheikh
Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and Moustafa presented the new world champions France with
their gold medals and the newly-unveiled
championship trophy that has been designed
and conceptualised in Qatar.
The replacement of the trophy is a championship first and has been presented by the State of
Qatar to the IHF as a new trophy for all future
tournaments. The old trophy will be kept at a
museum at the IHF Headquarters.
Second place winner, Qatar was awarded silver medals and bouquets by Olympic Council
of Asia president Sheikh Ahmed al-Fahad alSabah and International Handball Federation
1st vice president Miguel Roca Mas.
There was a standing ovation from the crowd
when the Qatar team came to receive their silver
medals. The players were dancing and cheering as other team members got their medals. A
happy bunch they were and deservedly so.
The Emir made it a point to hug and congratulate every member of the Qatar team for their
outstanding run in the tournament. It was a nice
gesture which will go a long way in making the
players feel proud of what they achieved in this
Qatar 2015 Organising Committee president
HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad al-Thani and IHF
executive committee member Frantisek Taborsky presented the bronze medals to Poland.
Following the awards ceremony, in a symbolic handover to France, Sheikh Joaan handed
the IHF flag to Moustafa marking the end of the
The IHF chief in turn handed the flag over to
Joel Delplanque, President of the French Handball Federation as they prepare to host the next
edition of the tournament in 2017.
The closing ceremony finished with performances by international music artists Kylie
Minogue, Taio Cruz and Mani Hoffman. Spectators were also treated to an incredible firework
display, as Lusail Multipurpose Hall was illuminated for the night. And it was a great show.
In the end, sadly for the home fans, Qatar lost
the match but it was a night that they will remember. Their team had managed to, against all
odds, carve their way right up to the higher echelons of the handball world and deservedly so.
The spectators were part of this journey - one
that they will remember for a lifetime.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
Delegates of France
2017 take a tour of
Qatar 2015 facilities
France ready to
take the World
baton from Qatar
Visiting delegates express admiration of venue facilities and services
French Ambassador to Qatar Eric Chevallier (right) looks on as IHF
president Dr Hassan Moustafa addresses a reception at the French
Embassy in Doha yesterday. PICTURE: Jayaram
By Sports Reporter
Lusail Multipurpose Hall has been at the heart of the 24th Men’s Handball World Championship.
By Sports Reporter
delegation from the 2017 Men’s
Handball World Championship
visited the Lusail Multipurpose
Hall in Qatar, to view the standards of organisation and facilities needed for the next Men’s Handball World
Championship, which takes place in 2017
in France.
The team, which included members
of the France 2017 Committee — general
manager Edouard Donnelly, Sports and
Competition manager Olivier Krumbholz, Marketing and Communication
head David Donnelly, Operations head
Adrien Guy, Planning and Coordination
head Jad Zoghbi — visited the newly-built
Lusail Multipurpose Hall to see the services and equipment available to players
and spectators, as France begins preparations to host the next championships.
Exploring the stadium, facilities and
surrounding areas, the delegation was
offered a behind-the-scenes VIP tour to
review the operations and plans implemented daily and to show the in-depth
workings of the 15,300 spectator building that has been at the heart of the 24th
Men’s Handball World Championship.
The Lusail Multipurpose Hall is one
of the most “spectator-friendly” venues in the world and is surrounded by
a massive landscape of 350,000 square
metres, decorated with walking/jogging
and bicycling tracks, an outdoor covered
gym, as well as covered and uncovered
kids playgrounds. The Lusail Multipurpose Hall has demonstrated not only the
future capacity needed for the growing
sport, but the resource that a country can
leave behind for its people.
The tour provided a full overview of
the world-class venue, as well as the departments required to host the sporting
mega-event. Starting at the Main Operations Centre, the visitors were taken
through the different zones of the venue
and had the opportunity to learn about
the processes that have made this year’s
Championship such a success.
After learning about the work of the
Main Operations Centre, which operates
as a central management hub to followup on the daily processes and address
urgent matters that need to be solved by
a team that includes representatives from
the different committees, they were taken
through the common and main spectator areas which have hosted thousands of
fans during the event.
They also checked all the available services and activities prepared for
Handball fans during the Championship.
The delegation was then taken to the
Main Media Centre (MMC) where media
from around the world operate and they
explored all the facilities provided for
their work, including the Media Lounge,
Services Centre, Press Conference Room,
Mixed Zone, Studios, Media tribune
and the dedicated area for broadcasting,
which have enabled the matches to be
broadcast and featured in news coverage
around the world.
The visiting delegates expressed their
admiration of the design of the venue facilities and the high level of services and
they praised the efforts to build this stateof-the-art venue within 24 months, as
they were particularly impressed by Lusail Multipurpose Hall’s VIP areas.
The delegation also reviewed the players’ facilities and checked the way the
venue has been sectionalised and how the
different areas and facilities are connected, which facilitate smooth operations
to achieve the goals and plans set for the
Handball Championship to be a unique
experience for all. In addition, they were
able to speak with the venue operations
manager, who explained how the flow
of visitors and traffic has been managed
during the busy Championship.
As part of the tour, the France 2017
Committee also visited the Accreditation Centre to gain an understanding
of the accreditation process. At the end
of the tour, the France 2017 Committee thanked and congratulated the Qatar 2015 Organising Committee for its
rance will host the 25th
Men’s Handball World
Championship in 2017
and the road to France
has already started in Qatar.
Both finalists — France and Qatar — are the first two teams to
be confirmed participants of this
event, which will be staged from
January 16 to 29, 2017, in ten cities throughout France.
Yesterday morning the Organising Committee and the
French Ambassador to Qatar,
Eric Chevallier, hosted a reception in the French embassy,
attended by IHF president Dr
Hassan Moustafa, European
Handball Federation president
Jean Brihault, French Secretary of State for Sports Thierry
Braillard and Organising Committee of France 2017 chairman
Joel Delplanque.
Delplanque praised the Organising Committee of the 24th
Men’s Handball World Championship in Doha.
“The organisers did a great job,
now it is our joy and responsibility to take the baton from Doha.
The 2017 World Championship
is a great opportunity to promote
handball in France and all over
the world.”
Delplanque hopes for sold-out
venues in all cities, and IHF president Dr Hassan Moustafa is even
confident to break the spectator
record for World Championships
in France.
“In 2007 in Germany, 750,000
tickets were sold. I believe in
France we can break the one million mark.”
France will host a handball
World Championship for the
fourth time after two men’s
events in 1970 and 2001 and the
women’s event in 2007.
“All those World Championships had been milestones for
handball. The 2007 event is still
the record holder for women’s
events in terms of ticket sales,”
Moustafa said, praising the
French Handball Federation.
“You are well known as excellent
The 2017 World Championship will take place in Aix-enProvence, Albertville, Brest,
Lille, Metz, Montpellier, Nancy,
Nantes, Paris and Rouen including the football stadium in
Lille and the Arena Paris-Bercy,
where the final weekend will be
staged as in 2001 and 2007.
Like in Doha, 24 teams will
compete for the medals in the
same playing system with preliminary round, knock-outstage and President’s Cup. The
qualification will start in January
2016 with the European, African
and Asian championships, followed by the European play-offs
and the Pan-American championships in June 2016.
In March 2015, the organisers of France 2017 will unveil
the logo and the website for this
event. The French Federation
was awarded the right to host
this event in Sao Paolo, Brazil,
in December 2011. France will
also host the Women’s European
Championship in 2018.
After France, the next Men’s
Handball World Championship
will be organised jointly by Germany and Denmark in 2019 after
the decision of the IHF Council
in Doha in October 2014.
Volunteers, the real heroes at the Handball World Championship
By Sports Reporter
he 24th Men’s Handball World Championship has received great reviews
from participants and spectators alike,
and, helping the Qatar 2015 Organising
Committee deliver part of its success is a team of
over 1500 volunteers supporting several aspects
of the championship.
Since the start of the tournament, a network
of volunteers has been working across the three
competition venues — Lusail Multipurpose
Hall, Duhail Sports Hall, Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiya Arena — and non-competition venues such
as hotels and the airport. They have helped ensure that queries pertaining to the championship are met with reliable information and visitors are greeted with hospitality and assistance.
Representing the State of Qatar is a group of
420 Qatari volunteers who have offered their
efforts and services towards the 24th Men’s
Handball World Championship. The Qatar 2015
Volunteers Programme has worked closely with
local organisations such as the Qatar Centre for
Voluntary Activities (QCVA), universities and
schools such as Jassim Bin Hamad Independent
School, as well as sport clubs and local communities. These collaborations have helped
interested Qatari nationals to have a chance to
showcase their culture, hospitality and sense of
sporting spirit by signing up for the programme.
A Qatari volunteer with the Media and Broadcasting team, Saleh Abdullah al-Yazidi said: “I
enjoy volunteering and supporting my country
to show the whole world the Qatari hospitality
and culture. As a News Assistant, I support Media Representatives with various queries, under
Saleh Abdullah al-Yazidi (left) and Mohamed Jassim al-Abduljabber work with the Media and Broadcasting team, while Alaa Ali Soliman (right) is a volunteer
with the Spectator Services team.
strict deadlines. My best moment is when I see
the stadium full of fans supporting and cheering
for their teams.”
Applications for the Qatar 2015 Volunteers
Programme began as early as June 2014 and
the team also boasts of a diverse set of members from 46 countries across the world. This
structure has helped bring together people of
different cultural, linguistic and professional
backgrounds to make the Programme reflective
of the global nature of the event itself.
Alaa Ali Soliman, an Egyptian national and
volunteer with the Spectator Services team,
said: “I love being a part of this great event.
Thank you to the Organising Committee. This
has given me a new experience and a better
understanding of handball. I look forward to
checking-in each day for my duty here and being in the Spectators Services, I enjoy the spirit
of teamwork. It is always fun to be in touch with
different people from diverse places worldwide.”
The Qatar 2015 Organising Committee has
also been working hard to make the Qatar 2015
Volunteers Programme truly inclusive, by providing dedicated support for volunteers with
special needs or physical disabilities.
One such Qatari volunteer, Mohamed Jassim
al-Abduljabber, said: “As a Media Assistant, I
ensure printed results are distributed on time to
Media representatives. I am very proud to serve
Qatar. I enjoy taking on volunteering opportunities and being part of such events. My motto:
If there is a will, there is a way.”
The members of the Volunteers Programme
are an extension of the workforce team and act
as the ‘public face’ of the championship providing assistance across the event.
To help keep them motivated, daily newsletters
are published in the venues and a ‘Volunteer of the
Day’ is picked for each day of the championship
recognising individuals that have gone the extra
mile by delivering outstanding service in their
roles, in addition to many other activities.
The volunteers at the 24th Men’s Handball
World Championship have been a crucial element of success and have been offering their
services across a range of functional areas, including Accreditation, Airport Services, Ceremonies, Media & Broadcasting, Protocol,
Spectator Services, Transport, Uniforms, Venue
Operations and Workforce Support.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
what Dhoni
did in 2011:
India’s Mahendra Singh Dhoni
as an example worth emulating, former New Zealand
skipper Stephen Fleming
yesterday said team captains
should emulate what Dhoni
did in the 2011 World Cup final
by leading his pack with good
skills and performances.
“I know that good captains
grasp the nettle. Just look at
the way M S Dhoni pushed
himself up the batting order
in the 2011 final as a prime
example of that idea,” Fleming wrote in a column for the
International Cricket Council
(ICC) website.
Dhoni rose to the occasion
in the 2011 World Cup final
against Sri Lanka in Mumbai by promoting himself
up the batting order and
scoring a match-winning
knock while chasing a challenging total.
The former left-handed batsman said that during his stint
with Chennai Super Kings in
the Indian Premier League
(IPL), Dhoni had told him the
decision was an instinctive
one. The 41-year-old added
that hesitancy in a team can
create havoc.
“Dhoni said it was an instinct
that it was his time to lead
from the front. Positivity and
decisiveness like that can
galvanise a team whereas
hesitancy can flow through
each player and create paralysis,” said Fleming.
“And in World Cups, where
the matches come thick and
fast and momentum and
winning confidence can be
crucial, that is a key point to
Meanwhile, left-arm spinner
Nikita Miller hopes to fill the
void left by off-spinner Sunil
Narine for the West Indies in
the upcoming cricket World
The 32-year-old seasoned
Jamaican replaced Narine
for the prestigious event
which runs from Feb 14 to
March 29 in Australia and
New Zealand. He has not
played for the West Indies
in nearly a year but has the
experience of 45 One-Day
Internationals (ODI) where
he has taken 40 wickets,
reports CMC.
“I’m honoured and happy
to be selected. I’m replacing
Narine but it is unfortunate
he had to pull out because he
has been great for the West
Indies,” said Miller.
Maxwell, Johnson star as
Australia win tri-series
‘One of the tests of defeat is how we come back from it. I’ve got no doubt they’ll bounce back really well’
with bat and ball by
Maxwell helped Australia to a crushing victory over
England in the one-day international tri-series final yesterday.
Maxwell top-scored with 95,
helping Australia recover from a
poor start at the WACA ground
to end on 278 for eight.
He then took four wickets and
a fine catch as England crumbled in the run chase to be dismissed for just 166 in 39.1 overs.
England, who will face Australia in the World Cup opener
later this month, were never in
the hunt after returning paceman Mitchell Johnson (3-27)
claimed three quick wickets to
have them 46 for four.
He was on a hat-trick after
removing Moeen Ali for 26 and
then England skipper Eoin Morgan, who was bowled without
offering a shot.
Australia innings
A. Finch c Root b Anderson ................. 0
D. Warner c Taylor b Anderson .......... 12
S. Smith st Buttler b Ali ...................... 40
G. Bailey c Taylor b Broad ................... 2
G. Maxwell c Buttler b Broad ............. 95
M. Marsh run out (Anderson)............. 60
B. Haddin c Taylor b Broad .................. 9
J. Faulkner not out ............................. 50
M. Johnson c Morgan b Finn ............... 3
M. Starc not out ................................... 0
Extras (b1, lb3, w3) ............................. 7
Total (8 wickets, 50 overs) .............. 278
Fall of wickets: 1-0 (Finch), 2-33
(Warner), 3-46 (Bailey), 4-60 (Smith),
5-201 (Maxwell), 6-217 (Marsh), 7-224
(Haddin), 8-269 (Johnson)
Bowling: Anderson 10-2-38-2, Woakes
10-0-89-0, Broad 10-1-55-3, Finn 10-053-1, Ali 10-0-39-1
England innings
I. Bell c Haddin b Hazlewood............... 8
M. Ali c Finch b Johnson.................... 26
J. Taylor c Maxwell b Hohnson ............ 4
J. Root lbw Faulkner .......................... 25
E. Morgan b Johnson .......................... 0
R. Bopara c Bailey B Maxwell ........... 33
J. Buttler c sub (Cummins) b Maxwell 17
C. Woakes c and b Maxwell ................ 0
S. Broad c sub (Cummins) b Maxwell .. 24
S. Finn b Hazlewood ........................... 6
J. Anderson not out.............................. 5
Extras (lb8, w10) ................................ 18
Total (all out, 39.1 overs) ................ 166
Fall of wickets: 1-18 (Bell), 2-35
(Taylor), 3-46 (Ali), 4-46 (Morgan), 5-71
(Root), 6-98 (Buttler), 7-98 (Woakes),
8-130 (Broad), 9-160 (Bopara), 10-166
Bowling: Starc 7-0-40-0, Hazlewood
6.1-2-13-2, Johnson 7-2-27-3, Marsh
7-0-18-0, Maxwell 9-0-46-4, Faulkner
2.3-1-11-1, Finch 0.3-0-3-0
The Australian team pose with the trophy after defeating England in the tri-series one-day final at the WACA in Perth yesterday.
Maxwell (4-46) also found
himself on a hat-trick after removing Jos Buttler (17) and the
hapless Chris Woakes (0), who
had a match to forget, with successive deliveries.
Morgan conceded his team
had a “poor day”, but denied
suggestions that Johnson—who
destroyed England in the Ashes
whitewash last winter—had reopened old wounds.
“One of the tests of defeat is
how we come back from it,” he
said. “I’ve got no doubt they’ll
bounce back really well.”
Maxwell praised a dominant performance by his team
and was delighted to prove his
“Both aspects of my game
were pretty good today, finally,”
he said. “I knew I had that in me.
I just hadn’t shown it yet.”
After being put in to bat the
home side slumped for 60 for
four against some good early
bowling from James Anderson.
But a 141-run partnership
between Maxwell and local favourite Mitchell Marsh turned
the match.
Maxwell was a marginal selection in Australia’s World
Cup squad after his indifferent
form over the past 12 months.
But he showed his worth with a
typically inventive innings that
combined bewildering and brilliant strokes.
He and Marsh set a new
WACA record for a fifth-wicket
stand in a one-day international, and Maxwell looked set for
his first one-day international
hundred as he passed his previous best score of 93.
However, another audacious stroke brought about his
demise for 95, caught behind
by Buttler after top-edging an
attempted pull shot off Stuart
Broad (3-55). Maxwell hit 15
fours off 98 balls.
Marsh offered great support,
displaying his powerful strokeplay in making 60 from 68 balls,
with seven fours and one six,
before being run out.
The pair came together when
Australia were in trouble after
the loss of Steve Smith for 40,
stumped at the second attempt
by Buttler off the bowling of Ali.
Anderson (2-38) had earlier
made two precious early breakthroughs, removing openers
Aaron Finch (0) and Dave Warner (12).
Stand-in skipper George Bailey’s dry run with the bat continued when he made just two
from 17 balls before popping up
a catch to James Taylor at shortleg off the bowling of Broad.
With much attention on
Michael Clarke will be fit for the
World Cup, Bailey faces a battle
to retain his spot in Australia’s
Rosberg promises ‘maximum attack’ in 2015
Jerez, Spain
Red Bull launch new car
in pursuit of Mercedes
ico Rosberg vowed
‘maximum attack’ in
a new title battle with
Formula One world
champion team mate Lewis
Hamilton yesterday as Mercedes unveiled their 2015 car
before pre-season testing started in Jerez.
“I know the feeling of winning and of fighting for a championship after last year, but I
also know the feeling of not
winning in the end and I don’t
want to repeat that,” said the
“It’s an extra boost and it
gives me so much motivation for
the year ahead.”
Rosberg, son of Finland’s
1982 champion Keke, won five
races last year to Hamilton’s
11 and finished runner-up in a
dominant season for his team
and one that saw the drivers’ relationship tested to the
Mercedes are again expected
to set the pace, even if the cars
have not changed dramatically since last year’s debut of
the new V6 turbo hybrid power
units and rivals hope to have
closed the gap.
“It will be massively tough to
repeat what we achieved in 2014
but we all want to keep that
momentum going and to dominate the sport for many years to
come,” said Rosberg.
“We know the opposition
Mercedes Formula One racing driver Lewis Hamilton (right) of Britain and teammate Nico Rosberg of
Germany unveil the new Mercedes F1 M06 car during its official presentation at the Jerez racetrack in
southern Spain yesterday.
will be right there, so we have
to keep pushing flat out to have
any chance of doing that. Nothing is for certain but, whatever
happens, I know it will be another great battle with Lewis.
“This year is the rematch for
me and I’m massively motivated
for it.”
Hamilton, now a double
world champion after taking his
first title with McLaren in 2008,
agreed that there could be no
The Briton said he was also
fired up for the season which
starts in Australia on March 15.
“You hear about people who
achieve a lot but then lose their
focus and you wonder; at what
point does it fade off? I’m grateful that the fire is still there in
me,” he said.
“I think subconsciously the
taste of success spurs me on.
I like that feeling and I want to
feel it again and again,” added
the 30-year-old.
“I’m glad me and Nico had
the battle we did last year. I love
winning races but it just feels
so much better when you have
to fight for it. I just want to get
back out there, race hard, be the
best I can be and hopefully win
some more.”
LONDON: Red Bull team
principal Christian Horner
wants to give Mercedes more
of a run for their money in
2015 after launching the new
RB11 on the season’s first day
of testing in Jerez yesterday.
Sporting an unusual camouflage livery, the Red Bull
completed more laps in the
first hour on track than they
managed on the first day of
a disastrous first test last
That was a sign of things
to come for the four-time
constructors’ champions as
despite finishing second they
were nearly 300 points behind
Mercedes, for whom Lewis
Hamilton sealed his second
world championship.
“Our target is simple: to close
down the gap to Mercedes yet
further,” said Horner.
“We were the only team other
than Mercedes to win a grand
prix in 2014 and we won three
with Daniel Ricciardo. Our
target is to close the gap down
and put Mercedes under as
much pressure as we possibly
“We know what we’re aiming
at, we know what we need
to achieve and I believe that
with the RB11, with the drivers we have and with the new
structures put in place we
should be able to do that.”
Ricciardo’s debut season
with the team was the bright
spark in 2014 as he beat out
four-time world champion
teammate Sebastian Vettel
to finish third in the drivers’
With Vettel having moved on
to Ferrari, 20-year-old Russian Daniil Kyvat will partner
Ricciardo this season.
“It’s an exciting and dynamic
line-up,” added Horner.
“We know the quality of Daniel following his performances last year and in Daniil we
have an outstanding talent.
The speed, commitment and
determination he demonstrated were all the qualities
we’re looking for.
“They’re young, hungry,
they’re incredibly quick and
I think they are going to push
each other very hard throughout the year.”
Ricciardo was given the honour of driving the new car on
Sunday and is determined to
not rest on his laurels after a
breakthrough year.
“I’m looking forward to driving the RB11 and I’m hanging
out to get behind the wheel
again. I hope it’s going to be a
beast,” he said.
best 11, with just 235 runs at
16.78 in his last 14 ODI innings.
Australia’s total was boosted
by a lusty unbeaten 50 - off
just 24 balls and including four
sixes—by James Faulkner in the
dying overs.
The right-hander took 22
runs off the last four balls of the
49th over by Chris Woakes, who
went wicketless and conceded
89 runs from his 10 overs.
Faulkner then pulled Steven
Finn into the crowd at square
leg to bring up his half-century
from the last ball of the innings.
However, Faulkner was forced
from the field during his third
over in the England innings, with
what appeared to be a side injury.
hopes for
Pacquiao fight
Unbeaten fighter Floyd
Mayweather dampened talk
of a possible mega-fight
agreement with Filipino boxer
Manny Pacquiao on Saturday,
a day after the Asian star’s
promoter said a deal was near.
Mayweather posted a message on his Shots account
that said in part “While they
continue to lie about making
the fight... I’m just going to
continue to travel and explore
the world on my private jet.
#FightNotMadeYet #Jamaica.”
Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum
told the New York Post on
Friday that he was optimistic
a Pacquiao-Mayweather deal
for a May 2 fight in Las Vegas
would be completed in the
next couple of days, with only
a few final details to be settled between rival telecasters
HBO and Showtime, the rights
holders for Pacquiao and
Mayweather respectively.
Mayweather, who turns 38
on February 24, left England’s Amir Khan hanging
for months until announcing
on his birthday last year that
he would fight Argentina’s
Marcos Maidana instead.
Mayweather wound up beating
the South American twice in
2014, but has yet to test himself
against Pacquiao or Khan.
Filipino southpaw Pacquiao
is 57-5 with two drawn and 38
knockouts while Mayweather
is 47-0 with 26 knockouts.
Fans have sought a showdown between the two for
five years, thus far in vain.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
McIlroy hits record-equalling
score to win second Dubai title
‘It’s been a fantastic week for everyone who played here this week and it’s just nice to get my name on that trophy again’
Quiros thrives
in Dubai after
11,000 kilometre
return trip
orld number one
Rory McIlroy produced a masterclass
of how to protect a
lead on the final day as he won
his second Dubai Desert Classic title yesterday, matching the
lowest winning score in the history of the tournament.
At the Majlis course of Emirates Golf Club on Sunday, the
Northern Irishman was solid in
his final-round two-under par
And even though it was his
worst round in four days, it was
enough for his 10th European
Tour title. It was his fourth win
in his last seven starts on the
European Tour. The other three
finishes were second places.
McIlroy tallied 22-under par
266, matching the four-day efforts of Thomas Bjorn in beating Tiger Woods in 2001 and
Stephen Gallacher in 2013.
Starting the day four shots
ahead, McIlroy finally won by
three shots over Sweden’s Alexander Noren (65), who is on a
medical exemption after playing just two tournaments in 2014
because of a tendonitis of wrist.
Gallacher made a spirited
defence of his title, eventually
finishing third at 16-under par,
while there was a five-way tie
for fourth place at 273, including
world number 12 Martin Kaymer
and France’s Gary Stal, the man
who took full advantage of the
German’s final round collapse in
Abu Dhabi a couple of weeks ago.
McIlroy, who is now expected
to take to the stands in a Dublin
court next week in his ongoing legal battle with his former
management company, did not
let anything waver his focus.
His only mistake of the day
came on the par-3 seventh hole,
where he pulled his tee shot left
of the green, and then hit a poor
chip 15 feet short of the hole and
missed the putt.
Cruise control
But apart from that, the world
number one never got into much
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland (left) receives the winner’s trophy from Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum after winning the final round of the 2015 Omega
Dubai Desert Classic yesterday in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
trouble, kept his ball in play and
one solid par followed the other.
“It’s been a fantastic week for
everyone who played here this
week and it’s just nice to get my
name on that trophy again,”
“It was a bit of a cruise control out there. I knew if I just
went out there and played a solid
round of golf, especially getting
here today and seeing that the
breeze was up, it was going to be
difficult for anyone to really put
together a low score, especially
on that front nine,.
“So, I just wanted to keep my
ball in play and not really make
any mistakes and try and pick off
some birdies when I could on the
par 5s and stuck to my game plan
very well. Made good, committed, aggressive swings to where I
wanted to hit it.”
The victory is expected to take
McIlroy to 11.66 points on top of
the world rankings, and would
extend his lead over secondplaced Henrik Stenson by almost
four average points.
Noren was absolutely thrilled
with his performance, which
comes at the back of a ninth
place finish in Doha last week.
“I started well but didn’t really
play that well around nine. And
then I got a birdie on 10, which
felt nice. A little bit slower after
that but then really got it going.
So it was just a lovely day, lovely finish and lovely start,” said
Noren, who closed with three
birdies in his last four holes.
“It was an amazing day, amazing week. I missed it so much,
this feeling of some pulse and
the nervousness.”
The European Tour next heads
to Kuala Lumpur for the Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur next
DUBAI: Spain’s Alvaro Quiros
undertook an 11,000 kilometre (6,800 mile) round trip
for a sinus surgery and then
recorded his lowest round
in 16 months, thanks to the
fifth hole-in-one of his career
on the final day of the Dubai
Desert Classic yesterday.
Quiros, who turned 32 on January 21, found the bottom of the
cup at the par-three, 172 metre
(188 yards) fourth hole en route
to an eight-under-par 64 and
the clubhouse lead at 12-under
on the Emirates Course.
“Anthony Wall was hitting before
me and we saw the ball land a
meter away from the hole and
when I hit my shot, a 150 metre
three-quarter 8-iron, we saw the
ball pitch but didn’t see the ball,”
Quiros told reporters.
“Because there was no people
around, given we were out
early this morning, and also
the sun was into our faces we
didn’t know it was in the hole
until I walked onto the green.
“That’s what happens when
you don’t play that good in the
first three rounds and they put
you out early, so there was no
people to clap,” he quipped.
A week ago, Quiros battled
continuing nose bleeding
in sharing 23rd place in
the Qatar Masters and was
observed with tissue paper in
his nostrils and also a small
clamp-like device over the
bridge of his nose.
“I had to fly back from Qatar to
Spain on Saturday night after
the event and I had nasal surgery on Sunday, and I left Spain
on Tuesday and arrived here
in Dubai Tuesday afternoon. “I
was just struggling to breathe
properly and that’s why my
nose was bleeding so much.”
“I am still having a lot of liquid
coming out of my nose but
the bleeding has stopped.”
Teen Ko loses title but
Scotland’s Laird
takes historic top ranking stretches lead at
Phoenix Open
ew Zealand teen star
Lydia Ko became golf’s
youngest-ever world
number one Saturday
even though she only settled for
a share of second at the seasonopening LPGA Coates Championship.
The South Korean-born prodigy took the top spot at 17 years,
nine months and seven days.
“It’s a big honor to be the
world number one,” Ko said. “To
have that honor by my name, I
can’t believe it.”
Ko eclipsed the age marks of
South Korean Shin Ji-Yai, who
was the youngest prior women’s
world number one at age 22 in
2010, and US star Tiger Woods,
who was 21 when he ascended to
number one for the first time in
“Tiger Woods, he’s amazing,”
Ko said. “I just try to have fun
out there and I just came into
the ranking. I’ll just try to keep
focused and not worry about the
ranking and learn from this season.”
Ko squandered a four-stroke
lead and struggled on the final holes to help South Korean
Choi Na-Yeon capture the title
on 16-under par 272 with Ko,
American Jessica Korda and
South Korean Jang Ha-Na sharing second on 273.
Despite a double bogey at 17
and a struggle just to close with
Lydia Ko of New Zealand watches her tee shot on the 11th hole at the
Coates Golf Championship Final Round at the Golden Ocala Golf &
Equestrian Club on Saturday in Ocala, Florida.
a par, Ko did just enough to
overtake Park In-Bee for the top
ranking after the South Korean
shared 13th on 284.
“When I heard the news I kind
of went, ‘Really?’ and made a
face,” Ko said. “It was tough finishing with the last two holes
like that.”
Ko fired a 71 Saturday while
Choi fired a 68 in the final round,
staged a day earlier than usual
to avoid a last-day conflict with
American football’s Super Bowl.
“I played so well for so long,”
Choi said. “I was really nervous.”
It was another taste of history
for Ko, who won the 2012 and
2013 LPGA Canadian Women’s
Open titles as an amateur, the
first of those at age 15 making her
the youngest winner in LPGA
That success prompted Ko to
turn professional and the LPGA
to allow Ko to join the tour in
2014, when she won three titles,
was named LPGA Rookie of the
Year and captured the seasonending Tour Championship and
the season points prize for a
record $1.5mn payday last November.
Choi fights back to win
Ko began the final round with
a one-stroke lead and opened
with back-to-back birdies to
seize a four-stroke lead on the
Choi answered the challenge
and took her first victory since
Choi birdied three holes in a
row starting at the third. While
Ko birdied the par-5 fifth hole
but took a bogey at the eighth,
Choi birdied the par-5 seventh
but closed her front nine with a
Choi birdied the par-5 12th
and another birdie at the 14th
put her on 17-under, one stroke
ahead of Ko, who missed an
eight-foot birdie putt at 14 and
settled for her sixth par in a row.
Ko responded with a birdie
putt from halfway across the
green at the par-3 15th, raising
her right fist in celebration with
a look of surprise on her face after watching the ball roll in.
When Choi missed a threefooter for par, Ko was alone in
the lead at 17-under with two
holes to play.
At the 17th, Ko found a bunker
and sent her second shot into the
trees, then chipped into the fairway.
Her fourth shot rolled off the
front right edge of the green. She
chipped 15 feet shy of the cup
but hit a tension-packed putt
for double bogey and only fell
to 15-under, one back of leader
Choi as they walked to the par-5
18th tee.
Choi put her approach 20
feet past the pin while Ko was
in rough left of the green, then
chipped over the green and into a
bunker and blasted out two feet
from the cup.
Ko tapped in for history while
Choi two-putted for the triumph.
Arizona, Scottsdale
cotsman Martin Laird
fired a three-under par
68 and stretched his
PGA Phoenix Open lead
to three shots despite a charge
from Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama
in Saturday’s third round.
Laird, who began the day with
a two-shot cushion, fired six
birdies against three bogeys to
stand on 13-under 200 after 54
holes with Matsuyama, who fired
a bogey-free 63 sharing second
on 203 with Americans Brooks
Koepka and Zach Johnson.
Spanish amateur Jon Rahm
shared fifth on 204 with Americans Justin Thomas and Ryan
Laird opened with a bogey,
rallied with a five-foot birdie
putt at the third and a sevenfoot birdie putt at the fourth
but found an unplayable lie off
the fifth tee and rescued bogey
with a 25-foot putt.
After closing the front nine
with a 15-foot birdie putt, Laird
sank a 47-foot birdie putt on 11,
followed with tense 12-footer
to avoid dropping a shot at the
par-3 12th and holed a nine-foot
birdie putt at the par-5 13th.
Laird made bogey at the par5 15th then sandwiched 10-foot
Martin Laird of Scotland leaves 18 green after finishing his third
round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale
on Saturday in Scottsdale, Arizona.
par putts at 16 and 18 around a
four-foot birdie putt at 17.
“It was an interesting day,”
Laird said. “I hit a few unbelievable shots and a few bad ones. I
made a lot of putts. Hopefully I
can keep putting well and stay
where I am.”
Laird is seeking his fourth
PGA title, having won the 2009
Shriners Childrens Hospitals
Open, the 2011 Arnold Palmer
Invitational at Bay Hill and the
2013 Texas Open.
“I’d like to hit it well tomorrow and post a good number,”
Laird said. “I’d like to go out
and play a little more solid.
I’d like not to have to rely on
10-footers for par going down
the back nine.”
Laird has led entering the final round three prior times in
PGA events, his Bay Hill win,
his runnerup effort in defending his Shriners crown and in
a playoff loss at the 2010 Barclays.
Matsuyama birdied the second from 11 feet and put his approach at the par-5 third inches
from the pin. A 23-foot birdie
putt at the eighth and an approach to two feet to set up a
birdie at the par-5 13th followed.
Then the Asian star closed
with four birdies in a row, capping the run with a 16-foot
birdie putt after a two-putt
birdie from 25 feet at the par-5
15th and short birdie putts at
the par-3 16th and par-4 17th.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
Al-Attiyah, UAE’s
al-Qassimi lock
horns in Qatar
Aspire Zone to Host
4th Edition of Aspire
Torch Staircase Run
Ford Fiestas dominate entry list as 2015 Middle East championship begins
By Sports Reporter
By Sports Reporter
efending FIA Middle East rally
champion and recent Dakar
Rally winner, Nasser Saleh alAttiyah, will lock horns with
Abu Dhabi Racing’s Sheikh Khalid alQassimi and Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed alRajhi when the QMMF Qatar International Rally gets the 2015 FIA Middle East
rally series underway this week.
The Qatar Motor and Motorcycle
Federation (QMMF) released the entry
list for the three-day event at the weekend and the trio top a high-quality field
of competitors from Qatar, the UAE,
Saudi Arabia, Oman, Germany, Kuwait,
Great Britain, Ireland, Greece, France
and Iran.
Al-Attiyah will be partnered by
Frenchman Matthieu Baumel, with
whom he won the recent Dakar Rally.
Baumel replaces the diminutive Italian
Giovanni Bernacchini, who has worked
alongside al-Attiyah for several years in
special stage rallies.
Ford Fiestas dominate the upper
reaches of the entry list. With the exception of a solitary Citroën DS3 RRC for the
UAE’s al-Qassimi, al-Attiyah, al-Rajhi
and the Qatari quartet of Abdulaziz and
Abdullah al-Kuwari and Khalifa al-Attiyah and Khalid al-Sowaidi have all been
entered in British-built Ford Fiestas.
The remainder of the field drive a selection of Mitsubishi Lancer Evolutions,
with the Kuwaiti duo of Saleh bin Eidan and Meshari al-Thafiri heading the
group. A two-car Tehran Rally Team has
entered the Qatar event for the first time
Dakar winner Nasser Saleh al-Attiyah is the
favourite to win the rally on his home turf.
on the back of the new Iran Rally joining
the regional rally championship for the
first time in May this year. Laleh Seddigh
and Elaheh Karim crew one of the cars
and Ali Mesgarha and Yahidreza Vahdatinkzad occupy the second entry.
The Sultanate of Oman has also returned to the MERC calendar in 2015 after a seven-year absence and two Omani
drivers grace the entry list in Qatar for the
first time in several years. The experienced
Khalid Soomar al-Zadjali teams up with
Taha Soomar al-Zadjali in a Mitsubishi
Lancer Evolution VII and Khalid Saleh al-
Minji and Saif al-Aisri crew a second car.
Germany female driver Edith Weiss
will be taking part in her eighth Qatar International Rally, this time at the wheel of
a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX alongside her Greek navigator Vicky Psaraki.
Weiss finished 12th overall, second in
Group N and first of the Ladies’ crews last
“Qatar has one of the most demanding gravel surface rallies in the world and
I always look forward to coming here to
compete,” said Weiss, who first competed
in Qatar in 1992. “The event is profes-
sionally organised by the QMMF and it’s
always a pleasure to be here.”
The three days of desert rallying will
also play host to the Qatar Misfer National Rally Championship, held in memory of the late Misfer al-Marri. Round
one will take place over Thursday’s and
Friday’s stages and the second round will
be fought out over Saturday’s timed tests.
Crews begin their reconnaissance of
the special stages today and the special
stage action gets underway with a short
street stage after the ceremonial start on
Doha Corniche on Thursday evening.
fter successfully organising the Aspire Torch
Staircase Run for the
last three years, Aspire
Zone has announced this year’s
edition of the Aspire Torch Staircase Run at The Torch Hotel to be
held on March 27 and 28.
The fourth edition of this
unique event will also feature the
inaugural Towerrunning World
Championships 2015.
The Aspire Torch Staircase
Run is being lauded as a landmark
event on the international tower
runners’ calendar and includes
a two-day race programme with
three heats comprising of different distances and competition
modes. The first gruelling route
for all competitors will consist of
1,304 steps as runners will have
to make their way to the top of
the 300 metre tower on the 51st
The Towerunning World
Championships 2015 is considered to be the highlight of
the event as it is an opportunity for the best Towerruning
all-rounder to be crowned the
sport’s first Global Champion.
In addition, this is the first time
that the Towerrunning World
Association (TWA) has brought
such a world class event to the
Middle East.
Abdulla al-Khater, Events
Manager at Aspire Zone said:
“We are honoured to be hosting
the fourth edition of the Aspire
Torch Staircase Run in March
and delighted that Aspires was
awarded the Towerrunning
World Championships 2015. By
having prestigious events such
as this one in the country, it also
helps to raise Qatar’s profile as a
sporting nation.”
The first heat of the Aspire
Torch Staircase Run will take
place on the morning of March
27 with 500 local competitors
and international athletes racing to the 51st floor of The Torch.
Meanwhile, the second heat
will take place that same afternoon with the top 30 male and
30 female competitors moving
through to this round based on
an individual time trial sprint
that will also be held on March
27. And the Towerrunning World
Championships, or the third
heat, will take place on March 28
with the top 30 male and female
athletes racing to the top of The
Torch in separate finals.
Sebastian Wurster, President
of the TWA said: “I would like
to congratulate Aspire Zone on
being awarded the Towerrunning World Championships 2015
which is already shaping up to
be a fantastic event. Aspire Zone
is well equipped to organise this
year’s event, especially as they
have hosted and organised the
Aspire Torch Staircase Run for
the last three years.”
More than 500 participants
are expected to take part in this
edition of Aspire Torch Staircase Run including 100 athletes
from across the world. The 2014
Aspire Torch Staircase Run was
awarded official Grand Prix status and attracted 350 runners
along with some of the finest
international stair runners from
across Europe, the US and Australia.
Towerrunning is one of the
fastest growing sports and a
striking trend in the running
scene. Throughout 2014, more
than 110,000 athletes and running enthusiasts climbed towers,
skyscrapers and outdoor stairs
to experience this special challenge. Aspire Zone invites Towerruning enthusiasts and stair
runners who are over 18 years of
age to register for this land mark
local event by logging on to:
HE Sheikh Thani bin Hamad al-Thani presents HH The Emir’s Sword to an Al Sadd representative at the Qatar Equestruan Federation yesterday. Al Sadd won HH The Emir
Sword Endurance Ride which was conducted by the Qatar Equestrian Federation (QEF) on Saturday. QEF president Hamad bin Abdulraham al-Attiyah was also
present during the awards ceremony. At right, Mariya Capdevila De Chopitea exults after riding Moondrra Maya to victory in the Ladies Endurance Ride.
jump title
Willingen, Germany
The winners pose with HE Sheikh Thani bin Hamad al-Thani. At right, men’s winner Khalifa Ali Khalifa al-Attiyah leads in his horse Sur Mabrook.
ermany’s Severin Freund edged Rune Velta
of Norway to win the
12th World Cup ski
jump of his career before home
fans in Willingen yesterday.
The ski-flying world champion had jumps of 149.5 and
146 metres for 270.3 points, one
more than Velta (145m/143m).
Roman Koudelka of the Czech
Republic was third, with 252.4
points (146m/139m).
Austria’s Stefan Kraft continues to lead the overall standings on 1,083 points, ahead of
Peter Prevc of Slovenia (1054),
Koudelka (916) and Freund (913).
In Val di Fiemme, Italy, Joergen Graabak of Norway won the
Nordic combined event after
World Cup leader Eric Frenzel of
Germany was disqualified.
Olympic 10-kilometre sprint
champion Graabak finished in 25
minutes 58.7 seconds after the
ski-jump and 10km cross-coun-
try portion, 3.8 seconds ahead of
Austrian Bernhard Gruber.
Germany’s Fabian Riessle was
third, 4.1 behind Graabak.
Olympic individual gold medallist Frenzel was disqualified
after winning the ski-jump leg
because of an open zip on the
sleeve of his ski suit.
Frenzel was looking for a win
to clinch the overall World Cup
title for a third successive season.
“It shouldn’t happen but happens to everyone once,” Frenzel
“Just stupid when it comes in
competition and I was looking so
German team coach Hermann
Weinbuch said Frenzel was unfortunate to be disqualified.
“A yellow card would have
been enough because an open
zip on the sleeve does not give
you any advantage,” he said.
“But it’s a decision the jury can
After 14 of 17 events, Frenzel
tops the standings on 861 points,
ahead of Gruber on 620 and
Norway’s Jan Schmid on 578.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
Schroder shines as
Hawks down 76ers
for 19th straight win
‘I’m on him a lot to attack. I’m on him to collapse the defense. I’m on him to find his open
teammates. But we believe when you’re open, you can take what the game gives you’
Atlanta Hawks guard Kent
Bazemore attempts a shot
during their NBA game
against Philadelphia 76ers.
The Hawks won 91-85. (Jason
Getz-USA TODAY Sports)
Los Angeles
he Atlanta Hawks were in big
trouble. Then Dennis Schroder
made a big shot.
Schroder sank the go-ahead
three-pointer with 1:35 remaining on
Saturday night as hosts Hawks extended
their franchise-record winning streak to
19 games with a 91-85 victory over the
Philadelphia 76ers.
Dominican Republic native Al Horford
totaled 23 points and 11 rebounds for the
Hawks (40-8), who squandered a 21-point
lead against one of the NBA’s worst teams
but remained unbeaten since Dec. 26. Atlanta has matched the fifth-longest streak
in league history. “We had to pull it out,”
Hawks guard Jeff Teague said. “I don’t
know how we did it, but we did it.”
Atlanta trailed, 83-81, with 2:51 remaining after a dunk by Philadelphia
rookie Nerlens Noel, who had 11 points
and 10 rebounds. Horford made a tough
baseline shot to tie it before Schroder
buried a three-pointer from the top of the
circle to give the Hawks the lead for good.
“Dennis hit a big shot,” Hawks coach
Mike Budenholzer said.
A second-year point guard from Germany, Schroder usually relies on his
quickness to create offense for himself
and teammates. But he made two triples
and finished with 15 points and six assists
off the bench.
“I’m on him a lot to attack,” Budenholzer said. “I’m on him to get to the paint. I’m
on him to collapse the defense. I’m on him
to find his open teammates. But we believe
when you’re open, you can take what the
game gives you.”
“Schroder is only 26 percent from
the three-point line and he stepped up
and made a big three,” 76ers coach Brett
Brown said. “That’s where the game kind
of turned.”
Horford drilled a long jumper for an 8883 lead with 47 seconds left. He added a
free throw and Kyle Korver sank two more
from the line to give the Hawks their 33rd
win in 35 games.
Paul Millsap scored 15 points and Korver added 14 for the Hawks, who were held
to their lowest total since the first game of
the streak.
Michael Carter-Williams had 13 points
and eight assists and rookie Jerami Grant
scored 13 points for the Sixers (10-38),
who were denied a season-high third
straight win.
“We showed a lot of heart tonight,”
Carter-Williams said. “We didn’t get the
win, but we showed a lot of people we can
play with the best teams in the league.”
Cleveland Cavaliers 106, Minnesota
Timberwolves 90: LeBron James scored
16 of his 36 points in the fourth quarter
to lift the visiting Cavaliers to their 10th
straight victory. Kevin Love, traded by
Minnesota to Cleveland in the offseason,
collected 14 points and 17 rebounds and
was booed heavily in his return. Top overall draft pick Andrew Wiggins, acquired
in the Love deal, scored a season-high 33
points for the Timberwolves, who have
lost seven of eight.
Detroit Pistons 114, Houston Rockets 101: DJ Augustin and Kentavious
Caldwell-Pope scored 28 points apiece
for the host Pistons, who stopped a fourgame skid. James Harden scored 26 points
for the Rockets, who had a four-game
winning streak snapped. Houston forward Josh Smith—waived by Detroit last
month—was soundly booed in his return
and scored just seven points.
Golden State Warriors 106, Phoenix
Suns 87: Stephen Curry scored 25 points
as the Western Conference-leading Warriors held the visiting Suns to a season low
in points and ended a two-game slide.
Toronto Raptors 120, Washington
Wizards 116 (OT): Kyle Lowry scored
seven of his 23 points in overtime as the
visiting Raptors held on for their sixth
straight win. John Wall had 28 points and
12 assists for the Wizards.
Memphis Grizzlies 85, Oklahoma
City Thunder 74: Zach Randolph had 21
points and 18 rebounds as the host Grizzlies rolled to their sixth consecutive win.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook totaled just 29 points for the Thunder, losers
of four of five.
Los Angeles Clippers 105, San Antonio Spurs 85: Blake Griffin had 31 points
and 13 rebounds for ther visiting Clippers,
who have won seven of eight. The Spurs
had won three in a row.
Dallas Mavericks 108, Orlando Magic
93: Monta Ellis had 25 points and 13 assists for the visiting Mavericks, who lost
Rajon Rondo to a head injury in the first
quarter but handed the Magic their eighth
straight setback.
Milwaukee Bucks 95, Portland Trail
Blazers 88: Jared Dudley scored 18 points
as the host Bucks won their third straight
contest and dealt the Trail Blazers their
eighth loss in 10 games.
Charlotte Hornets 104, Denver Nuggets 86: Cody Zeller scored a seasonhigh 21 points as the visiting Hornets won
for the 10th time in 13 games. The Nuggets
have dropped nine of 10.
Sacramento Kings 99, Indiana Pacers 94: Rudy Gay scored 31 points as the
visiting Kings ended an eight-game slide.
The Pacers have lost nine of 11.
devoured by
the Sharks
By David Pollak
San Jose Mercury News (TNS)
he San Jose Sharks
were set up for a statement game Saturday
Beat the Chicago Blackhawks and they would have
three consecutive victories
over the Western Conference
elite after defeating the Los
Angeles Kings and Anaheim
Ducks. Lose and they fall to a
so-so 3-2-1 on their seasonlong, seven-game homestand.
San Jose ended up skating
off with a 2-0 victory as Sharks
goalie Antti Niemi made 31
saves for his fourth shutout of
the season while rookie Melker
Karlsson scored in the first period and Joe Thornton hit an
empty net with 70 seconds left
in the game.
Despite the chance for a
three-game winning streak,
players didn’t want to look at
the bigger picture as they prepared for Chicago.
“We’re not looking at what
we’ve done in the past or what
our schedule’s like in the future.
It’s got to be about tonight,”
Joe Pavelski said. “We’ve got
to play hard and continue our
game. That’s the only way. If
we look ahead or look back it
will go away from us.”
Unlike the first game between the teams this season
in early November when the
Sharks played the previous
night in Dallas and went on to
lose 5-2 at the United Center,
the NHL schedule-maker did
San Jose a favor as Chicago was
the team on the second half of
a back-to-back after a 4-1 win
in Anaheim on Friday night.
“Hopefully we can take advantage of them, get on them
early,” Logan Couture said before the game.
Although the Sharks were
outshot 8-7 in the first period,
they did seem to have more
jump in their game as the period
progressed and had the only goal
before the first intermission.
That came when Karlsson
crashed the net and got his own
rebound when Antti Raanta
fumbled the original shot and
the puck caromed around the
crease, finding its way into the
Chicago net at 5:09.
The Blackhawks dominated
the second period, outshooting San Jose 16-6, but neither
team could score. Chicago
came closest while shorthanded when captain Jonathan Toews headed toward Niemi on a breakaway started up
the ice by Raanta.
Toews did get three shots off
starting at 14:26, but both Niemi and defenseman Brent Burns
ended up on their backs, filling
the crease and somehow managing to keep the puck out of the
net long enough to get a whistle.
The Sharks got their own
breakaway early in the third
period, but Raanta closed
the five-hole before Barclay
Goodrow could guide the puck
between the netminder’s pads.
And Raanta came up big about
three minutes later when
Couture set up Matt Nieto for
a one-timer in the slot and
Raanta made the save.
Injured Sharks forward
Tyler Kennedy skated Saturday morning for the first time
since Tuesday as he deals with
muscle spasms suffered in the
initial practice after the AllStar break. This is the fourth
injury Kennedy has had to deal
with this season.
“What am I going to do? I
think I’m doing everything
I can to try to stay healthy,”
Kennedy said. “It’s a little step
back, but I’m starting to feel
good again. I’m glad it’s nothing too serious.”
NY Islanders
Los Angeles
Mark Giordano (left) congratulates Sean Monahan (23) after he
scored against the Edmonton Oilers during their NHL game in
Calgary on Saturday. The Flames defeated the Oilers 4-2. (AFP)
Phil has yet to show his knack with woeful Knicks
By Mike Bresnahan
Los Angeles Times (TNS)
he elderly woman approaches
cautiously, like most people
who come to his table in the
upscale Italian restaurant.
She tells Phil Jackson he knows her
son, which, as it turns out, he does.
Then she leans in and lowers her voice.
“Good luck,” she tells the most successful NBA coach of all time. “I hope
things get better.”
“Things” would be the New York
Knicks, the franchise Jackson was
hired to turn around. He was given
about $60 million over five years to do
so, but the first season has been a New
York state of grind.
The roster is lousy, the cornerstone
player limps around on a balky knee
after signing a huge contract, and the
triangle offense looks more like a circle
on many nights. Or, really, a zero.
The man who lobbed barbs over the
years at David Stern (expensively),
Kobe Bryant (bravely), Mark Cuban
(amusingly) and a still-on-the-job
Donald Sterling many, many years ago
(prophetically?) had to sling a few at
someone else—himself.
Jackson issued a mea culpa a couple
of weeks ago, a surreal development for
someone who used to chuckle at losses
to Milwaukee as simply being part of
the learning process.
Losing to the Bucks by 16 points
wasn’t as fun a couple of weeks ago, the
Knicks somehow falling for the 26th
time in a 27-game span.
“Obviously I didn’t do the right thing
in picking the group of guys that were
here,” Jackson said. “Now I have to do
the job that I was brought here to do.”
It’s been a rough start as the Knicks
(9-38) prepare to face his old team, the
slightly-less-ragged Lakers.
Carmelo Anthony hasn’t yet lived
up to the five-year, $124-million contract he signed as a free agent last July.
Slowed by a troublesome left knee, one
that will probably require surgery, his
numbers are down across the board.
Point guard Jose Calderon has been a
bust since being acquired from Dallas,
while the Mavericks have prospered
with the player they got in the trade,
rim-protector and rebounder Tyson
The Knicks, coached by Jackson protege and former Lakers Derek Fisher,
can’t even win in their own watereddown conference—they are 6-23
against the East—so they waved the
white flag a few weeks ago by salarydumping JR Smith and Iman Shumpert.
“When he came here, Knick fans
were so desperate for anything good to
happen, they were forming a parade in
the street that Phil Jackson was here,”
said Frank Isola, a longtime Knicks
and basketball writer for The New York
Daily News.
“None of them ever really sat back
and said, ‘Well, they are getting the
greatest coach in NBA history but he’s
not coaching the team.’ He’s doing
something that he’s never done before
and it’s not an easy job. And now it’s
really going to be hard work.”
Sure enough, Jackson is greeted as
“Coach” more often than not around
the city, be it restaurant maitre d’s
or 30-somethings with bewildered
smiles who see him walking near Central Park.
Shortly after Jackson’s “blame me”
dialogue with reporters, the Knicks
won four of five, briefly energizing fans
perhaps too eager to realize the victories came against New Orleans without
Anthony Davis, bottom-dwellers Philadelphia and Orlando, and Oklahoma
City without Kevin Durant.
Then the Knicks lost to Indiana,
103-82, scoring 12 points in the third
quarter and reminding everyone they
were 28th in the NBA in scoring average (92.7 points a game).
Former players have rallied around
Jackson, almost predictably.
“It’s the first year and the next couple years, I guess, we’ll see if he can
make a successful run for himself,” said
Pau Gasol, who won two championships while playing for Jackson with
the Lakers.
“I’m sure it’s frustrating. He’s just
got to stay patient. He’s a guy that’s so
intelligent and so cerebral that I think
he’ll make the right moves.”
One of the players who could help
Jackson is Gasol’s brother, Marc, a free
agent after this season. Maybe he’ll be
the first prize Jackson swipes from another team. “Maybe,” Pau Gasol said
coyly. “Maybe not.”
It can only get easier. Perhaps.
Amare Stoudemire’s contract finally
comes off the books, freeing up $23
million more to spend in free agency
this summer. The Knicks will also get a
top draft pick in June.
Isola wasn’t convinced it would get
better soon, but he predicted a captivating development—Jackson vs his
fiancee, Jeanie Buss, the president of
the Lakers, who are projected to have
about $24 million to spend on free
agents in July and perhaps even more
the following year when Kobe Bryant
comes off their books.
“The next few summers it’s really
going to be Phil and Jeanie going headto-head to get players on some level,”
Isola said. “I think Phil would probably admit that the Lakers have an advantage because there is more history
there, they have won more titles and it
is LA. I think that he is probably going
up against his girlfriend, realizing that
she has a bit of an advantage.”
For now, the Knicks are nowhere
near winning a playoff series, nothing
new for a team that’s advanced past
the first round once since 2000, one of
many crags in the mountain for Jackson when he took the job.
He was a rough-hewn forward for
the Knicks when they last won the
NBA title in 1973. What he faces now
will take all the guile he employed back
then. And then some.
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
Comebacks, clashes in mixed day for African game
Bata, Equatorial Guinea
frican football hit dizzying
heights before descending
into violent farce on Saturday with the referee attacked
after tiny Equatorial Guinea shocked
Tunisia in a controversy-mired African
Nations Cup quarter-final.
A stunning opening tie between the
two Congos, which produced six goals
at Estadio de Bata, set up an evening of
much promise, but the on-field drama
of the second quarter-final was overshadowed by ugly scenes as the referee
was punched and kicked by incensed
Tunisian players.
They were livid with perceived referee injustice after Equatorial Guinea,
one of the continent’s smallest countries and emergency hosts of the tournament, produced one of the great upsets in Nations Cup history by claiming
a 2-1 win after extra time.
They moved into the last four with
Democratic Republic of Congo, who
came from two goals down to beat
northern neighbours Congo 4-2 in a
sparkling first quarter-final.
But Equatorial Guinea’s win was
clouded by the manner of their victory
and the violent reaction of the Tunisians, who were runaway favourites
against a motley collection of mostly
lower league players from Spain and
looked to be on course when they broke
the deadlock on 70 minutes.
But Ahmed Akaichi’s goal was
cancelled out in stoppage time as the
home side were handed a soft penalty
by Mauritius referee Seechurn Rajindraparsad, which was converted by
Javier Balboa.
It came at the end of a niggling
match that descended further into an
abyss as the rival benches threw bottles of water at each other and traded
insults before embarking on a full out
a brawl just before the end of the game.
By that stage Equatorial Guinea had
taken a 2-1 lead after a stunning 102nd
minute free kick from Balboa, a former
Real Madrid junior.
Clashes on the sideline were
matched by continuing spats on
the pitch and when the final whistle
sounded the referee was rushed off the
field by a police escort, but not before
being chased by Tunisian players who
kicked and punched at him.
Heavy sanctions are likely to follow.
It all contrasted starkly with the
superb drama of the opening game
where Dieumerci Mbokani scored
twice to lead a thrilling come back for
DR Congo.
Ferebory Dore opened the scoring in
the 55th minute and Thievy Bifouma
made it two seven minutes later but DR
Congo roared back, scoring four times
in the last 25 minutes.
Mbokani opened and finished the
scoring, with Jeremy Bokila and Joel
Kimwaki adding the second and third
goals to send DR Congo into the last
four for the first time since 1998.
They will meet either the Ivory
Coast or Algeria in Bata in Wednesday’s semi-final.
Equatorial Guinea will next play in
Malabo on Thursday against either
Ghana or Guinea.
Tunisia players confront referee Rajindraparsad Seechurn after losing their quarter-final match of the 2015 African Cup of
Nations against Equatorial Guinea in Bata on Saturday. Hosts Equatorial Guinea won 2-1. (Reuters)
Great tournament
but Asia still fighting
the credibility gap
‘The goal for this confederation should be to break the European and South American monopoly
on the World Cup. It’s a great achievement but it’s not the end of the journey. It’s the beginning’
SO NEAR YET SO FAR: South Korea’s Kwak Tae-Hwi stands dejected following his team’s defeat against Australia in the final of the AFC Asian Cup in Sydney on Saturday. (AFP)
here is no doubt that to some jaundiced
eyes, Australia winning the Asian Cup
at their third attempt will be just further
evidence of the weakness of the game on
the world’s most populous continent.
The Socceroos became the eighth different
winners of the title in the 16th edition of the continental tournament with their 2-1 victory over
South Korea after extra time in front of 76,000
fans at Stadium Australia.
It was a Saturday night thriller worthy of
bringing a close to a tournament that was organised with usual Australian efficiency and embraced by a nation normally in thrall to cricket
and tennis at this time of year.
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I thought
it was a beautiful game. It’s what football is all
about,” Australia coach Ange Postecoglou told
reporters after a pulsating match.
“It’s a final. It’s two teams going at it, giving
everything they’ve got because they know what’s
on the line. No team took a backward step.”
Postecoglou had joked earlier in the tournament about his team giving headaches to FIFA
statisticians trying to figure out how such a lowly
ranked team could be playing such good football.
The fact is though, for all the anomalies of the
ranking system, Saturday night’s final matched
the 100th-ranked hosts against the 69th ranked
Taegeuk Warriors.
Both countries were among a four-strong
Asian contingent that returned from last year’s
World Cup in Brazil without a win between them.
Player of the Tournament, Australia midfielder Massimo Luongo, will fly back to Europe this
week to rejoin Swindon’s campaign for promotion from England’s third tier.
The energetic 22-year-old may not be stuck in
Wiltshire for too long, though, after he sealed a
breakthrough campaign with a well-struck goal
to give Australia the lead in the final.
That goal undoubtedly helped him edge out
Omar Abdulrahman for the top player award
despite the 23-year-old Emirati leaving a bigger
stamp on the tournament with his exquisite ball
skills and imagination.
Another of the standout players of the tournament, attacking midfielder Son Heung-min, recovered from illness early in his stay in Australia
to take South Korea very close to ending their 55year wait for a third Asian title.
There was plenty of quality goalkeeping on
show as well with Australia’s 22-year-old Mat
Ryan taking the award for the top shotstopper
and also perhaps destined for a bigger European
league than Belgium’s top flight.
Kim Jin-hyeon might have claimed the award
had South Korea won the final having helped his
team keep clean sheets in all their matches until the final, while Uzbekistan custodian Ignatiy
Nesterov also deserved a mention.
Ali Makhbout was the top goalscorer of the
tournament with five and his combination in attack with Abdulrahman and Ahmed Khalili made
United Arab Emirates a threat to any side.
Of the bigger names to coming into the tournament, Tim Cahill’s brace in the quarter-final
defeat of China took his tally to 39 goals in 80
internationals and proved there was plenty of life
yet in the 35-year-old.
AC Milan striker Keisuke Honda’s disappointing campaign reflected that of Japan with their
continuing problem of converting well-worked
approach play into goals.
It was perhaps summed up when he blasted
the opening penalty in the shootout against the
UAE, that saw the defending champions crash
out in the quarter-finals, high over the bar.
That came on the same night as the match of the
tournament, when Iraq overcame Iran in a twoand-a-half hour rollercoaster ride played out in
a sensational atmosphere in Canberra that ended
with a 7-6 shootout victory to the 2007 champions.
That the match probably turned on the controversial dismissal of Iran’s Mehrdad Pooladi by
Australian referee Ben Williams was a reminder
that Asia still has plenty of work to do to improve
the quality of officiating in the region.
Qatar’s early departure does not augur well
for their hopes of qualifying at least once for
the World Cup in 2018 before hosting the finals in 2022, while the decline of three-times
champions Saudi Arabia continued as they were
bounced out in the group stage for the second
tournament in a row.
Carlos Queiroz’s work with Iran proved the
value of quality coaching to mould raw Asian talent, while Postecoglou, South Korea’s Uli Stielike, Alain Perrin with a fast-improving China
and Emirati Mahdi Ali also had good tournaments.
Postecoglou and German Stielike are at different stages in rejuvenation projects but after their experiences in the Asian Cup, will be
confident of taking much stronger sides to represent the continent at the 2018 World Cup in
“The goal for this confederation should be to
break the European and South American monopoly on the World Cup,” Postecoglou said.
“It’s a great achievement but it’s not the end of
the journey. It’s the beginning for us.”
No angel but
not guilty, says
banned Chelsea
striker Costa
helsea striker Diego Costa
has denied he deliberately
stamped on Liverpool’s Emre
Can but admitted to being no
angel on the field.
The Brazilian-born Spain international missed Saturday’s top-of-thetable 1-1 draw with Manchester City
after serving the first of a three-game
ban for the incident during Tuesday’s
League Cup semi-final, second leg victory at Stamford Bridge.
“As far as what happened on Tuesday, the main thing is when I get home
I can go home and I can go to sleep
knowing that I’ve not done anything
wrong, because I never meant to
do that and it was not on purpose,”
he told British newspaper The Daily
“And you can clearly see that on the
video. But it is a suspension. Obviously
I feel sad because I’m not going to be
able to help the team, to play. But I
have accept it and respect it.
“I’m not saying I’m an angel. I’m no
angel. You can see that. But every time
I play I will play the same way because
that’s the way I am. That’s what I need
to do in order to support my family.
“That’s my bread and butter, also
that’s what I need to do for this club
and for the fans of this club, for the
supporters and for all the people
involved in this club.”
The 26-year-old has proved an
instant hit since joining from Spanish champions Atletico Madrid last
year, scoring 17 league goals to help
Chelsea open up a five-point lead after
23 matches in the English Premier
He has, though, received heavy
criticism for Tuesday’s actions, which
followed accusations of diving on
more than one occasion.
Costa was also involved in a spat
with American goalkeeper Tim
Howard in August after Everton boss
Roberto Martinez accused him of
taunting Seamus Coleman following a
Chelsea goal.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
has accused television pundits of tarnishing his striker’s reputation and has
shunned talking to the media since
the club failed to overturn the violent
conduct suspension on Friday.
Costa, who will also miss fixtures at
Aston Villa and home to Everton, defended his actions and said he would
not change his competitive streak.
“On the pitch I transform myself, I
really, really want to win,” said Costa,
who is named after Argentine World
Cup-winning great Diego Maradona.
“You have to see how many times
have I injured someone. Never. I’ve
never injured another colleague, another player on purpose. I’m not going
to change the way I play because I got
banned for a few games now.”
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
Pellegrini remains hopeful as Mourinho sulks
helsea manager Jose Mourinho kept
his thoughts to himself after his side
consolidated their position atop the
Premier League with a 1-1 home draw
against nearest rivals Manchester City.
Aggrieved by striker Diego Costa’s threegame ban for treading on Liverpool’s Emre
Can—an incident he felt was unfairly amplified
by the media—Mourinho has imposed a personal press blackout at Stamford Bridge.
Having cancelled his weekly press conference on Friday, he refused to speak on television
either before or after Saturday’s game, while in
contravention of Premier League rules, reporters attending his post-match press conference
were greeted by the sight of an empty blue chair.
The Portuguese appears to be attempting to
create a siege mentality at Chelsea and while his
no-show drew scorn from fans on social media,
it is a tactic that does not appear to have done
his players any harm.
Saturday’s draw, in which City midfielder
David Silva cancelled out Loic Remy’s opener,
left Chelsea five points above City, the defending champions, with 15 matches of the season
City captain Vincent Kompany claimed af-
terwards that “five points is nothing”, but although an eight-point lead would have seemed
insurmountable, his side still remain dependent on Chelsea faltering.
Visiting manager Manuel Pellegrini sent on
strikers Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic, as well
as former Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard, in
the closing stages as City went in search of the
goal that would have taken them to within two
points of the summit.
But although the Chilean admitted he was
“not happy” with a point, he declared that there
was plenty of time for his side to engineer a repeat of their surge to the title last season.
“Of course it was important to try to close the
gap,” Pellegrini told reporters during his own
press conference.
“We tried, but we couldn’t. We still have 45
points more to play (for). I said before the game
also that this was a very important game, (but)
it was not a final. So we have time to try to recover those five points. In the way we continue playing, the way we did today (Saturday), I
think it will be more easy.”
Silva’s 45th-minute equaliser stemmed from
an error by usually unflappable Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who came for Jesus
Navas’s right-wing cross and missed the ball
Sergio Aguero’s drilled follow-up looked to
be flying wide of the right-hand post, but Silva
flew in to stab it home.
Remy, deputising for the suspended Costa,
had put Chelsea ahead four minutes earlier,
tapping in from close range after Branislav
Ivanovic’s deep cross was volleyed back across
goal by Eden Hazard.
Chelsea mustered only three attempts at goal,
the fewest by a home team in the English top
flight this season and their lowest total in a Premier League game since the 2003-04 campaign.
But although Pellegrini felt that his side had
done more to win the game, he stopped short of
saying Chelsea had played for a draw.
“I don’t know what happened with Chelsea,”
he said. “I think that from the first minute, we
came for the three points.
“We made some changes to continue trying
to create space against a team who defend very
well very near their box, that is very dangerous
also on the counter-attack, so we cannot just
think (about) attacking.
“That was the most important thing, although they didn’t have any chance to have the
fast counter-attack that they always do.
“I’m not saying Chelsea played for a draw.
I’m saying our team played to win.”
Mourinho’s decision to duck his press
conference meant that there was no news about
the condition of Chelsea’s Brazilian midfielder
Willian, who was forced off by injury in the latter stages.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho (right) and his Manchester City counterpart Manuel Pellegrini.
Roma’s scudetto
hopes drift further
after Empoli draw
‘We need to grit our teeth and get back to winning. Tonight we should have been
attacking more but unfortunatley we just didn’t do that at the start of the game’
Van Gaal ready
to welcome back
West Ham-bound
Darren Fletcher
anchester United
van Gaal will welcome back Darren Fletcher to Old Trafford if
the Scotland international’s
proposed move to West Ham
collapses before the end of the
transfer window.
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce announced on Saturday that a deal which looked to
have been on the verge of completion 24 hours earlier had
fallen down due to a disagreement between the clubs over
whether the United veteran
would make the move on loan
or on a permanent basis.
“I don’t know what’s happening,” said van Gaal, speaking after his team had beaten
bottom-of-the-table Leicester 3-1 at Old Trafford to move
up into third place in the Premier League ahead.
“When you allow your
player to go to London for the
medical and there is no problem, then in the end there is no
agreement...that’s strange.
“I want to help Fletcher and
that’s my only concern. I am
very happy as a manager that
he is coming back.
“He is my third (choice)
captain but because of the
competition here he is not
playing so much. That is why I
want to help him.
“I don’t know what is happening there. But on Friday the
agreement was definite and on
Saturday it was off.”
Van Gaal was highly delighted by United’s performance in which first-half goals
from Robin van Persie, Rad-
amel Falcao and a Wes Morgan own-goal gave his side a
commanding lead before a late
consolation effort from Marcin
Given that United squandered a 2-0 lead to lose 5-3 in
the corresponding fixture at
Leicester in September, van
Gaal was especially pleased
with the manner in which his
side killed off the contest in the
second half.
“I asked my players to play
like a team in all the main moments of football,” said the
United manager.
“So not only in ball possession, but also when the opponent has the ball and also
in transition. I have given my
team a compliment for that.
“At half-time there was not
much to say so I asked them to
kill the game off because if you
remember the game at Leicester, we didn’t kill the game.
“But I think we killed the
game too much! A lack of concentration meant they scored
but it was still a very good result. They have scored but we
could have scored two or three
more in the second half.”
Leicester manager Nigel
Pearson was pleased with aspects of his team’s performance. But he conceded that
the visit to Old Trafford was
unlikely to have had a major
bearing on whether his club
would remain in the Premier
League this season.
“Games like this game today
are bonus games for us,” Pearson said. “Our season will be
defined by how we play against
sides around us. We don’t feel
we gave ourselves the best
chance of getting something
out of it because we didn’t do
enough with the ball.”
Furious Genoa claim refs
protecting higher interests
Empoli defender Marinho vies with Roma midfielder Seydou Keita (2nd left) during their Italian Serie A match at the Olympic stadium in Rome on Saturday. The game ended 1-1. (AFP)
oma’s hopes of a first Serie A title faded further on Saturday
after a fourth consecutive draw,
1-1 at home to Empoli, to leave
Juventus six points clear before their trip
to Udinese.
The Giallorossi’s dreams of a first scudetto since 2001 were dented significantly
by last week’s draw away to Fiorentina
which allowed Juve to open up a sevenpoint gap on Rudi Garcia’s men.
Three-time consecutive and defending
champions Juve will take their lead to nine
points if they beat Udinese on Sunday.
“Conceding a fourth draw in a row
isn’t ideal from a side that is supposed
to be challenging for the title,” Brazilian
defender Maicon told Sky Sport imme-
diately after the rain-soaked Stadio Olimpico clash.
Coach Rudi Garcia looked glum as he
called for his side, who lost midfielder
Kevin Strootman to injury last week
and have striker Gervinho still at the
Africa Cup of Nations, to end their winless streak.
“We need to grit our teeth and get back
to winning, starting with our (semi-final)
Cup tie against Fiorentina on Tuesday,”
he told Sky.
“Tonight we should have been attacking more but unfortunatley we just didn’t
do that at the start of the game.”
Roma loaned striker Mattia Destro to AC
Milan in midweek and the hosts suffered
a blow before the half-hour when Juan
Iturbe was forced off with a twisted ankle
and replaced with Alessandro Florenzi.
Minutes later, Florenzi set up by Adem
Ljajic to the left of the Empoli goal but
switched to his right foot and saw his effort blocked.
However, the hosts were stunned minutes before the interval when Kostas
Manolas was shown a straight red card after racing back to foul Riccardo Saponara
as he teed up to shot from close range.
The referee pointed to the spot and
Massimo Maccarone sent Morgan De
Sanctis the wrong way to give the visitors
a 39th minute lead.
Ageing Roma captain Francesco Totti
had given up possession more than once
in the opening half and the 38-year-old
made way immediately for defender Davide Astori.
Empoli’s joy, however, was tempered on
the stroke of half-time after Saponara was
cautioned for a second time after appearing to handle in the box, although replays
suggested the ball came off his shoulder
and upper arm.
When Roma finally equalised, it came
thanks to a superb curling shot from Maicon just before the hour.
Roma came close again on 62 minutes when Astori fired a header off the
crossbar from a corner and minutes later
Florenzi was sent through on goal only to
be thwarted by a saving tackle from Mario
Empoli striker Manuel Pucciarelli had
penalty appeals waved away after a nononsense challenge from Mapou YangaMbiwa and tensions boiled over soon after
when Rui fell to the ground claiming Miralem Pjanic punched him in the ribs.
Earlier, 10-man Genoa had to settle for
a point after being held 1-1 at home by
Genoa broke the deadlock on 14 minutes when Stefano Sturaro’s shot hit the
inside of the far post and came off the back
of goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu’s head.
Serie A side Genoa have accused referees of protecting
the interests of the league’s
biggest sides after a 1-1 draw
with Fiorentina that again
shone the spotlight on the
officials of Italy’s top flight.
Days after Napoli moved
up to third place with a 2-1
win over Genoa thanks to two
controversial goals by Argentinian striker Gonzalo Higuain,
Genoa club president Enrico
Preziosi lashed out.
Speaking after the game,
he called for a stop to the decisions which, he suggested,
promotes an established
league order to the detriment
of smaller clubs like Genoa.
“These refereeing errors
count, because there are interests and league standings
to respect,” Preziosi said.
“In football it’s not always
the team that plays the best
football that wins, but the
subject of refereeing errors
can’t just be swept aside.
“When these decisions
happen to Genoa, they’re
played down. But because
we end up drawing or losing
games we should be winning,
team morale goes out the
window. There are games we
should have won recently
that we didn’t because of
refereeing errors.”
Genoa striker Diego Perotti
complained: “Decisions are
always against us. Today we
conceded a goal that was
offside and a red card that
shouldn’t have been given.”
Normally calm and
composed, Genoa coach
Giampiero Gasperini lost his
cool after the game, telling
Mediaset: “It’s really a shame
about the refereeing decisions... We’re putting in some
great performances... but
enough is enough, all this is
stopping us from being much
higher up in the table.”
Gulf Times
Monday, February 2, 2015
eltic cruised into the
Scottish League Cup final with a comfortable
2-0 victory over rivals
Rangers in the first Old Firm derby in nearly three years.
It wasn’t the record rout that
many predicted before the match,
but it was an entirely uneven contest with the Scottish Premiership leaders lording it over their
city rivals to claim victory in the
400th competitive outing of one
of the world’s fiercest rivalries.
Leigh Griffiths headed home
the opener after just 10 minutes
and Kris Commons, one of four
Celtic players in the starting 11
who had featured in the fixture
previously, rifled home a second
in the 31st minute as the Hoops
threatened to run riot.
The Celtic supporters smelt
blood but their side failed to go for
the jugular as they seemed content to play within themselves in
the second half as Rangers failed
to test ‘keeper Craig Gordon.
Celtic will now face Dundee United in the final on March
15 while Rangers, who are still
plagued by financial problems
and boardroom battles, will refocus their attention on trying to
catch Hearts in the race for the
Scottish Championship.
The match at Hampden was
the first meeting of the Old Firm
since April 2012 with Rangers
subsequently forced to start life
again in the country’s bottom
tier following liquidation in June
The match, which was televised live in 54 countries around
the world, had been keenly anticipated by supporters of both
clubs but the atmosphere around
the stadium prior to kick-off was
strangely subdued, as if the fans
had forgotten what to do in the
absence of the fixture.
However, the noise levels were
soon cranked up as the teams
emerged, with the Celtic fans
goading their rivals throughout
the match with chants of ‘You’re
not Rangers anymore’ in reference to the controversial and divisive debate over whether the
Ibrox side are a new club following liquidation three years ago,
Both sets of players showed
signs of nervousness in the opening exchanges as they tried to get
to grips with the pace and the
churned up Hampden pitch.
As expected Celtic looked
more comfortable in their surroundings and opened the scoring with their first effort on target in the 10th minute. Johansen
sent a dangerous delivery to the
back post where Griffiths popped
up between Richard Forster and
Darren McGregor to send a header looping over the helpless Steve
Simonsen in goal.
Griffiths had a chance to repeat
his feat minutes later when he
was given time and space in the
box again but this time he glanced
his header from Mikel Lustig’s
cross wide.
Ghana into
semi-finals with
Atsu at double
Arsenal close
on top four as
Saints slip up
Wenger: You cannot fault anyone’s performance
Results & Standings
livier Giroud, Mesut
Ozil and Santi Cazorla sparkled as Arsenal
closed on the Premier
League’s top four by crushing
goal-shy Aston Villa 5-0 at the
Emirates Stadium yesterday.
Ozil freed Giroud to open the
scoring in the eighth minute
and the France striker returned
the favour in the second half
before goals from Theo Walcott, Cazorla and Hector Bellerin completed a one-sided
It was a fifth consecutive win
in all competitions for Arsene
Wenger’s men and took them
level on points with fourthplace Southampton, who saw
Ryan Bertrand sent off in a 1-0
loss at home to Swansea City.
“You cannot fault anyone’s
performance,” Wenger told
Sky Sports. “Mesut did well. It
takes a while to get that sharpness back.
5 Aston Villa
0 Swansea City
1 Manchester City 1
Crystal Palace
0 Everton
Hull City
0 Newcastle
2 West Ham
Man United
3 Leicester City
Stoke City
2 Burnley
West Brom
0 Tottenham
P W D L F A Pts
1 Chelsea
23 16 5 2 52 20 53
2 Man City
23 14 6 3 46 23 48
3 Man United
23 12 7 4 39 22 43
4 Southampton 23 13 3 7 37 17 42
5 Arsenal
23 12 6 5 44 25 42
6 Tott Hotspur 23 12 4 7 35 30 40
7 Liverpool
23 11 5 7 33 27 38
8 West Ham Utd 23 10 6 7 35 27 36
It was a fifth consecutive
win in all competitions for
Arsene Wenger’s men and
took them level on points
with fourth-place Southampton, who saw Ryan
Bertrand sent off in a 1-0
loss at home to Swansea
“We had a rigorous attitude defensively. Even at 4-0,
5-0 up, people were willing to
work back. We want to play
collectively and offensively to
the end.” The defeat saw Paul
Lambert’s Villa—three points
above the relegation zone in
16th place—set an unwanted
club record of six consecutive
league games without scoring.
The Midlands club, who host
leaders Chelsea next weekend,
have gone 10 hours and 12 minutes since Christian Benteke
found the net against Manchester United on December
“It is difficult. When you
don’t score, you don’t win
games,” Lambert said.
“You have to keep working
hard in training and hopefully it
turns around. We had chances
to score, but you have to take
Ozil was making his first
league start since October 5
and he immediately made an
impact by cleverly using the
outside of his left foot to flick a
Asamoah Gyan (R) of Ghana fights for the ball with Guinea’s Djibril
Paye during their African Cup of Nations quarter-final in Malabo
9 Swansea
23 9 6 8 27 30 33
10 Stoke
23 9 5 9 26 28 32
11 Newcastle Utd 23 8
12 Everton
6 9 29 35 30
23 6 8 9 31 34 26
13 Crystal Palace 23 5
8 10 25 34 23
14 Sunderland 23 4 11 8 21 33 23
15 West Brom Alb 23 5
7 11 20 32 22
16 Aston Villa
23 5
7 11 11 30 22
17 Burnley
23 4 8 11 21 38 20
18 Hull City
23 4 7 12 20 33 19
19 QPR
23 5
pass through to Giroud.
The Frenchman had only
Brad Guzan to beat and after
briefly getting ahead of the ball,
he calmly chipped the Villa
goalkeeper to register his fifth
goal in his last six league appearances.
After Cazorla had hit the
post, Ozil doubled Arsenal’s
lead 11 minutes into the second
half, gliding onto an elegant,
piercing pass from Giroud and
trundling a shot into the bottom-right corner.
Walcott had had to wait even
longer for a league start, having last started on New Year’s
Day 2014 due to a serious knee
injury, and he marked the occasion by gathering Cazorla’s
pass and curling home in the
63rd minute.
meant that Alexis Sanchez’s
absence with a hamstring
problem was barely felt by Arsenal and after Giroud had hit
the bar with a header, Cazorla
added a fourth goal from the
penalty spot.
Guzan was penalised for
tripping substitute Chuba
Akpom and despite getting a
firm hand to Cazorla’s powerful spot-kick, which was hit
straight at him, the American
could not keep it out.
Young full-back Bellerin got
in on the act in injury time,
meeting Cazorla’s lay-off with
a precise, side-foot shot from
20 yards that went in via the
base of the left-hand post.
Buoyed by recent wins over
Arsenal and Manchester Unit-
ed, Southampton made an enterprising start against Swansea at St Mary’s, with Nathaniel
Clyne teeing up James WardProwse for a shot that Lukasz
Fabianski saved.
But after hitting the post
from long range early in the
second half, Jonjo Shelvey
gave Swansea a smash-andgrab win in the 83rd minute
by crashing a shot inside Fraser Forster’s right-hand post
from 25 yards. Swansea captain
Ashley Williams produced two
goal-line blocks in quick succession to deny Sadio Mane
an equaliser before Bertrand
saw red for an ugly challenge
on Modou Barrow, who was
stretchered off.
Shelvey’s goal lifted Swansea
to ninth place and left Southampton above Arsenal on goal
difference alone in the fourth
and final Champions League
qualifying berth.
Juve spurn chance for 9-pt lead
Juventus forward Carlos Tevez vies with Udinese midfielder Marques
Loureiro Allan during the Serie A match at Friuli Stadium in Udine
yesterday. (Saturday report on page 10)
uventus spurned the
chance to go nine points
clear of title challengers
Roma in a scoreless draw
away to Udinese yesterday, as
Napoli crept closer to second
place in Serie A.
On a day of several surprises
in Italy’s top flight, Juve failed
to capitalise after Roma’s fourth
consecutive draw on Saturday
as Udinese held on to end a sixgame losing streak to the Turin
giants to leave them seven points
in front of Roma.
Juventus coach Massimiliano
Allegri lamented his side’s poor
first-half display, but admitted
they were ultimately lucky to escape with a point.
“In the first half we played
badly, gave possession away far
too often and they put up a wall
in defence and tried to hit us on
the counter-attack,” he told Sky
“There was improvement in
Atalanta Bergamo 2 Cagliari
2 Lazio
Chievo Verona
1 Napoli
2 Verona
3 Inter Milan
5 Sampdoria
0 Juventus
AS Roma
1 Empoli
1 Fiorentina
the second half but it wasn’t easy
because Udinese were playing
with a lot of intensity. It was a
fair result because we also risked
losing this game.”
Rafael Benitez’s Napoli held
on for a precious 2-1 win at
Chievo to finish the weekend as
the only top-five side to take all
three points, tightening their
grip on third place to now sit
just four behind Roma, who were
held 1-1 by Empoli on Saturday.
Both Sampdoria and Lazio
saw their respective bids for a
third-place finish dented by re-
hristian Atsu scored
twice as Ghana beat
Guinea 3-0 yesterday to
ease into their fifth successive Africa Cup of Nations
Atsu set the Black Stars on
their way to a comfortable quarter-final victory when he opened
the scoring in the fourth minute
in Equatorial Guinea’s capital,
before Kwesi Appiah increased
their advantage a minute before
the interval.
And Atsu, the winger on loan
at Everton from their English
Premier League rivals Chelsea,
then saw his cross-cum-shot
find the net on 61 minutes to take
Ghana through to a last-four
showdown with the hosts on
Thursday. While Avram Grant’s
side keep alive their hopes of
a first continental crown since
1982, Guinea’s Cup of Nations
adventure ends without them
winning a game at the finals.
They also ended the match
with 10 men after goalkeeper
Naby Yattara was sent off just
before the final whistle.
The Syli Nationale only made
it into the knockout stage at
Mali’s expense via a drawing of
lots after drawing all three of
their group games, and Michel
Dussuyer’s side never looked like
causing an upset here.
Ghana took the lead from their
first attack, working the ball into
the area from the left before Andre Ayew’s backheel allowed
Atsu to apply an easy finish.
The onus was now on Guinea
to try and find a way back into the
match, but they created next to
nothing, with stand-in captain
Ibrahima Traore unable to influence proceedings from the right
flank as he had in the group stage.
With half-time approaching,
Yattara in the Guinea goal saved
from Asamoah Gyan, but Ghana
made it 2-0 shortly after with the
help of some dreadful defending.
Appiah, who was preferred to
Jordan Ayew in attack, pounced
on a poor clearance by Baissama
Sankoh and slotted home under
Yattara. There was a clear gulf
in class between the teams and
Ghana put any doubts as to the
final outcome to bed when Atsu
struck again just after the hour
Collecting possession wide
on the right, he shuffled the ball
onto his left foot before whipping
what looked to be a cross towards
the far post only to see it drop
under the bar and into the net.
Guinea’s misery was compounded right at the death when
goalkeeper Yattara was shown
a straight red card for bringing
down Gyan.
4 14 24 42 19
20 Leicester City 23 4 5 14 21 37 17
Arsenal’s Theo Walcott celebrates his goal against Aston Villa
during their English Premier League match at the Emirates
Stadium in London yesterday.
spective defeats to Torino and
Samuel Eto’o’s debut for
Sampdoria, the Cameroonian
replacing Eder on 71 minutes,
ended in a chastening 5-1 defeat
away to Torino, with former Juventus striker Fabio Quagliarella
notably hitting a hat-trick to
send Giampiero Ventura’s side
up to ninth in the table.
Humbled Sampdoria coach
Sinisa Mihajlovic told Sky Sport:
“I want to say sorry to the fans,
I hold my hands up for this terrible performance today. I’m the
one who is responsible.
“But the players should be
taking a long hard look at themselves. It was embarrassing but...
I would always prefer to lose 5-1
once than five games 1-0.
“I can only take my hat off to
Ventura and to his team. They
were superior on all fronts.”
Samp’s slip proved costly, especially in the light of Napoli’s
2-1 away win over Chievo which
tightened their grip on the last
Champions League qualifying
Ajax must forget title for now, says angry coach
Amsterdam: Ajax Amsterdam
must forget about winning a
record fifth Dutch championship in a row for the moment
said coach Frank de Boer after
they lost 1-0 at Vitesse Arnhem
yesterday to fall further behind in
the title race.
Uros Durdevic’s goal has left Ajax
nine points behind leaders PSV
Eindhoven and De Boer seething.
“We must first make our play
sparkle again and then we can
worry about the championship.
But at the moment we must not
be thinking about the title,” he
told Fox Sports.
The Serbian striker marked his
first goal in the Dutch league six
minutes from time with some
aplomb, taking the ball on his
chest and looping it over defender Niklas Moisander before
firing home.
Ajax remain in second place,
five points ahead of third-placed
Feyenoord who won 2-1 at home
to struggling ADO Den Haag.
Lex Immers and Jens Toornstra
put Feyenoord ahead after 20
minutes but they allowed Den
Haag back into the match when
Mike van Duinen scored and had
to hold on for the victory.
PEC Zwolle moved back into
fourth place after a 2-0 win at
Utrecht with goals from Thomas
Lam and Stef Nijland.
Almeria, Bilbao
win to stay above
danger zone
lmeria and Athletic
Bilbao managed to
lift themselves above
the danger zone in the
Spanish Liga yesterday, with
defeats of fellow strugglers
Getafe and Levante.
Almeria beat Getafe 1-0 for
their first home win of the season, on a goal from Edgar Mendez just before half-time, after
being cleverly set up by Tomer
Getafe had left-back Sergio
Escudero sent off on the hour
for an ugly foul on Almeria’s
Wellington Silva. Things were
evened up when Hemed was
sent off five minutes from the
end for a second yellow cardc
The tight win took Almeria
up to fifth from bottom, just
one point and one place below
Earlier Sunday, Athletic Bilbao enjoyed their first win since
November, 2-0 at bottom team
Levante, on a brace from veteran
Aritz Aduriz.
Aduriz, 33, is enjoying a veritable Indian Summer to his career. He scored Bilbao’s only
goal in Wednesday’s cup defeat
of Malaga.
“We really needed to win today in order to end our bad run,”
Aduriz said.
“I know I am going to be
praised for scoring the goals but
this really was an excellent team
performance, with everybody
pulling their weight and giving
their all.”
Bilbao are now in comfortable
11th place, unlike rock bottom
“We are being punished for
scoring so few goals,” Levante
boss Lucas Alcaraz said.
“We worked hard today, but
if we don’t start to score goals
then it will be very difficult to
change this situation.”
Later Sunday, fifth-placed
Sevilla were to host Espanyol,
who knocked them out of the
cup Thursday, then secondplaced Barcelona were to face
Villarreal, who are sixth.
Barca are four points behind leaders Real Madrid, who
crushed Real Sociedad 4-1 Saturday.
Monday, February 2, 2015
Djokovic reigns supreme
at Australian Open
‘Being mentioned in the elite group of legends in our sport is a huge privilege and honour’
ovak Djokovic may have
garnered a reputation
as the crown prince of
pranksters in tennis but
yesterday he firmly established
him as the king of Melbourne’s
blue hardcourts with his fifth
Australian Open title.
The 27-year-old Serb, limping
from two slips on court, breathing heavily and battling a “physical crisis”, overcame a fired-up
Andy Murray 7-6(5) 6-7(4) 6-3
6-0 to clinch his fourth Australian title in the past five years.
It was his eighth grand slam
title overall.
He also overcame a slight shift
in momentum in the second set
when security staff had to remove
a group of people, two of whom
managed to jump on court but did
not get near the players, protesting Australia’s policy on refugees.
“We both, of course, went
through some tough moments
physically,” Djokovic said. “I went
through the physical crisis in the
matter of 20 minutes... end of the
second, beginning of the third.
“Just felt very exhausted and
I needed some time to regroup
and recharge and get back on
track. That’s what I did.”
Since Djokovic won his first
grand slam title in 2008 he has
compiled a 47-3 record in Melbourne. His reign means he has
the record for most Australian
Novak Djokovic of Serbia poses with the winner’s trophy at the awards ceremony following his victory over Andy Murray of Britain in their
men’s singles final match on day 14 of the 2015 Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne yesterday.
Open titles in the Open era, one
behind Australia’s Roy Emerson
who dominated in the 1960s.
“This tournament by far has
been my most successful tournament in my life, in my career. I
enjoy playing here, enjoy coming
back,” he said.
“Being mentioned in the elite
group of legends in our sport is a
huge privilege and honour.”
Despite Murray’s poor record
against the Serb—he had lost
seven of their past eight encounters—he had arguably entered
the final as the slight favourite.
Djokovic had struggled in his
semi-final against defending
champion Stan Wawrinka, while
Murray played superbly to beat
seventh seed Tomas Berdych in a
tempestuous clash.
Murray’s celebrations in the
victory over Berdych highlighted the raging competitiveness
that exists inside the 27-yearold boxing fan as he repeatedly
mimicked punching an imaginary opponent into the ground.
Fittingly, Murray and Djokovic were involved in a tense boxing match on Sunday, examining each other for any weakness,
landing a body blow, taking one
themselves, or counter punching
as they scrambled around trying
to stay alive. Several times, Murray had Djokovic wobbling and
down on one knee, ready to be
finished off and he knew it.
But the knockout blow never
came and Murray felt afterwards
Djokovic’s problems on court
may have had an element of
gamesmanship, lulling him into
a false sense of anticipation that
he could be on the verge of his
third grand slam title.
That gave the Serb the chances
he needed, which accounted for
Murray’s yawps of anguished
pain and lengthy monologues
consisting mostly of the AngloSaxon vernacular his fiancee Kim
Sears uttered during the Berdych
semi-final, the video of which
went viral on social media.
By the end of the third set, after
Djokovic had found himself 2-0
down and then won six of the next
seven games, Murray’s frustrations boiled over as he slammed
his racquet into the ground, causing the crowd to turn on him.
“If someone’s cramping in the
final of a slam, with such a long
way to go, you’re feeling pretty
good about yourself,” Murray
said of Djokovic’s limping at 3-3
in the third set. “Yeah, maybe,
I dropped off for 10, 15 minutes
there, and he got back into it.”
The fight appeared gone from
Murray and when Djokovic
jumped to a 3-0 lead in the fourth,
he buried his head beneath a towel, and while he appeared to metaphorically throw it in, he insisted
the top seed had simply thrown
caution to the wind.
“He played fantastically well
after the first few games of the
fourth set. He was going for
everything and hitting the lines
(and) there’s not much you can
do in that situation.”
Hingis-Paes win
mixed doubles title
omeback queen Martina
Hingis rolled back the years
to claim her first Grand Slam
title since 2006 yesterday,
clinching the Australian Open mixed
doubles crown with fellow veteran Leander Paes.
The old stagers, seeded seven, were
in their first major outing as a pairing
and drew on all their experience to
down the third seeds, France’s Kristina Mladenovic and Canadian Daniel
Nester, 6-4, 6-3.
Hingis’ win comes 20 years after making her Melbourne debut as a
14-year-old and less than a year after
coming out of retirement.
“Not even in my wildest dreams
would I have believed that 20 years
later I’d be standing here again,” said
the Swiss star, who spent 209 weeks as
the world’s number one singles player
in her heyday.
“It’s not even like the cherry on top,
it’s more than that to be there and to
be able to hold another trophy with
“It’s more than I could ever dream
of.” Hingis, the holder of five Grand
Slam singles titles, now has 11 major
doubles crowns—nine women’s and
two mixed.
Martina Hingis of Switzerland and
partner Leander Paes of India
celebrate their victory in the mixed
doubles final yesterday.
Her last major success was in the
mixed doubles at Melbourne Park with
another Indian, Mahesh Bhupathi, in
2006. Paes, 41, has won eight men’s
doubles and seven mixed doubles
Grand Slams and said he planned to
aim for more, with retirement not on
his mind.
“My dad, as soon as we won I called
him, he goes, ‘Okay, now you have to
focus on the next one’. I said, ‘Dad, it
hasn’t even been five minutes’.
“But I love the game of tennis. To
play with this champion who I keep
learning from every day is a lot of fun.
I look forward to being back soon.”
Hingis, 34, came out of six years’
retirement last year, partnering Italy’s
Flavia Pennetta to make the US Open
women’s doubles final.
She said she had never really been
away from the game.
“I was never really completely out
of the picture, away from tennis. It
was always part of my life one way or
another,” she said.
“I was playing some exhibitions,
then I was coaching a little bit. The
coaching probably got me more into
it because I was playing with the girls,
hitting, being face-to-face to the best
players in the world.
“So that felt like maybe I can play
with them.”
While she has no plans to get back
into singles at this stage, she is keen to
keep playing doubles, and is even considering the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
“Right now we’re very far away.
We’re really enjoying the moment to
be here, to have the title,” she said.
“I mean, it’s out there, definitely
(Rio). It’s something that would be
probably—I mean, I haven’t played
Olympics since ‘96, so ...”
India’s Mirza to play Qatar Open doubles
opular Indian tennis star Sania Mirza has confirmed she will play in the doubles tournament
at the 2015 Qatar Total Open starting on February 23.
Mirza has a current WTA doubles ranking of No.5 and
23 doubles titles to her credit as well as 13 finals including
Roland Garros in 2011 with Elena Vesnina.
The two-time Indian Olympian is regarded as her nation’s top sportswoman and has a huge following. The
official Sania Mirza facebook fan page has well over 8mn
people liking it and her twitter account well over 2.3mn
“Sania has such a strong presence wherever she goes
around the world, but in Doha that support is even more
prominent. She has proved herself on the court with some
fantastic results and is a true quality player,” said Qatar
Total Open Tournament Director Saad al-Mohannadi.
The QTF is extremely happy to have her attend the Qatar Total Open. We know plenty of people will want to
watch her play,”
In 2014 Mirza played with Cara Black all year and won
the titles in Tokyo, Estoril and the Year-End Championship and was a finalist at four other events — Indian Wells,
Stuttgart, Montreal and Beijing.
So far this year significant results have seen Mirza reach
the semi-finals in Brisbane with Su-Wei Hsieh (Chinese
Taipei) and the final in Sydney with Bethanie MattekSands (US).
She also has three Grand Slam mixed doubles titles to
her name and over the weekend made the semi-finals
of the Australian Open mixed draw with Brazil’s Bruno
There are 14 nations represented in the 20 player direct
entry singles list making the tournament a truly international event where members of the public will almost certainly find a player they can support as their own.
Also confirmed as an entry as a singles wildcard is No.8
Caroline Wozniacki from Denmark.
Tickets are now available at City Center, Landmark, Lagoona, Villaggio, on-site at the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex and on