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2 – 8, 28
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SPORT | Page 12
Qatar Insurance
Company profit
jumps 33% to QR1bn
QATAR | Aviation
QA cancels NY and
Philadelphia flights
Qatar Airways cancelled its New
York and Philadelphia flights
yesterday as a major winter storm
swept the northeast United States,
throwing normal life out of gear.
Flight QR701 to New York, which
was scheduled to leave Doha at
8.05am yesterday was cancelled,
the airline said in its website.
Similarly, QR727 to Philadelphia,
which was scheduled to leave
Doha at 1-05pm, was also cancelled
yesterday. As per the website, these
two flights are on schedule today.
Various airlines reacted to the
snowstorm by cancelling more than
7,500 flights through Wednesday,
reports from the US said. Page 13
Gunmen stormed a hotel in Tripoli
popular with diplomats and officials
yesterday in an attack claimed
by the Islamic State group, killing
at least nine people, including
five foreigners, before blowing
themselves up. Page 11
Latest Figures
www. 2 Riyals
Civic council
urges solution to
sewage seepage
By Ayman Adly
Staff Reporter
HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani presenting the sword of honour
to outstanding graduate Mubarak Abdurrahman Mohamed al-Hemaidi during the
passing-out ceremony of the second batch of students of the Leader Mohamed
bin Abdullah al-Attiyah Air College at Al-Udeid Air Base yesterday. The ceremony
was attended by HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Abdullah bin
Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani and senior armed forces and interior ministry officers.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the ceremony, HE the Minister of State for
Defence Affairs Major General Hamad bin Ali al-Attiyah said that work was underway
for the establishment of two naval and military technical colleges in Qatar. Page 2
Free long-term parking
at HIA may be over soon
By Joey Aguilar
Staff Reporter
he Hamad International Airport
(HIA) may start imposing charges
for its long-term parking in the
coming months, it is learnt. Spots for
building the payment booths have been
For now, a large number of passengers and travellers are benefiting from
HIA’s free long-term parking, which
can accommodate some 2,400 vehicles
including those for people with disabilities. Since it is free of charge, many passengers find it more convenient to leave
their cars for several weeks when they are
away from the country.
HIA employees also have a separate
designated parking area with more than
1,000 slots.
A bus comes to the long-term parking area every 15 to 20 minutes to pick up
passengers from six designated air-conditioned kiosks and it takes less than 10
minutes to reach the terminal. Smoking,
sleeping, drinking and eating are prohibited in these kiosks.
The daily fee at the long-term parking at the old Doha International Airport
used to be QR50.
On its website, the HIA noted that its
Vol. XXXV No. 9616
January 28, 2015
Rabia II 8, 1436 AH
The municipal council demands
that a comprehensive study
should be conducted to identify
the quality of plots before any
building activity takes place
LIBYA | Unrest
Gunmen assault
luxury Tripoli hotel
Graduation ceremony
he R
bl TA 978
A 1
Q since
Australia set
up Asian
Cup final
South Korea
he Central Municipal Council (CMC) yesterday urged the
authorities to find solutions to
problems caused by the high levels of
groundwater and the leakage of sewage
water seeping into the basement and
foundation of homes across Qatar.
The issue was originally raised almost three years ago by CMC members
based on public complaints that several house owners are sustaining great
losses due to damages caused by this
The municipal council yesterday
demanded at its regular bi-weekly
session that a comprehensive study
should be conducted to identify the
quality of plots before any building activity takes place.
The council hosted senior officials
from the Ministry of Municipality and
Urban Planning (MMUP), the Ministry of Environment, the Public Works
Authority (Ashghal), and Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation
(Kahramaa) to discuss the issue with
The council also issued a number
of recommendations for
competent entities to address the issue as soon as possible with both
temporary and long-term solutions.
The problem is cropping up in various parts of the country, such as Doha,
Al-Wakrah, Al-Wukair, Ain Khalid,
CMC and government officials during
yesterday’s session.
Abu Hamour and many other areas that still lack a proper and effective network of underground sanitary
drainage system.
“It is the first time at the council that
we revert to an issue in this way; out of
our keenness on public good and to respond to the demands of the residents
who are suffering daily from this issue,
we hosted you today to work out some
effective solutions,” CMC chairman
Saud al-Hinzab told the officials.
CMC member Mohamed bin Saleh
al-Khayarin was of the view that this
problem was the result of defects in
strategic planning. He suggested that
local house owners, who sustained
losses and damages due to sewage leak
or high levels of groundwater, should
be allocated an annual budget by the
government to compensate them for
the damages.
There should also be stricter penalties for building contractors that execute poor quality buildings or infrastructures and force them to repair the
damages, he demanded.
“The Ministry of Municipality and
Urban Planning has already made a
blacklist of such contractors and they
would not be able to take new assignments,” said Abdulaziz al-Ubaidan,
director of MMUP’s technical affairs
“People should also report to us any
violations or issues that need to be
fixed,” he urged.
Nasser Yousef Fakhro, director of
Ashghal’s Department of Sanitary
Drainage networks designs, gave a
comprehensive presentation on Ashghal efforts and plans to address the
issue of high levels of groundwater
around the country.
Comprehensive geological surveys
and studies on the issue have been
conducted throughout the country, including the coastal areas and the outskirts of the country, he explained.
“Besides, there are scheduled
projects to permanently resolve the
issue of sanitary drainage and sewage
systems in the country, but this would
entail some time. Accordingly, temporary solutions are being adopted to
decrease the adverse consequences
and ease the suffering of people,” the
official added.
Jassim al-Mansouri, director of
Kahramaa’s Department of Water Supervision, stressed that the agency
owned and employed the most sophisticated technology in the world to
detect leaks in water pipe connections
and responded quickly to any such reports to avoid adverse outcomes.
Eventually, both CMC members
and the officials agreed that people
should assume more responsibility in
addressing such issues through close
and regular follow-up of the sewage reservoir tanks at their homes and
immediately report any leaks to the
authorities. In addition, they should
inquire about the nature of land before undertaking any private building
projects. Page 7
A large number of passengers benefit
from the free long-term parking at HIA.
short-term car parks offered a covered
and easy access to the passenger terminal
via dedicated walkways.
The first 30 minutes of parking is free
while QR5 fee is charged for the first and
succeeding hours. A lost ticket will cost
It is pointed out that the east shortterm car park is more convenient for passengers flying with Qatar Airways while
the west short-term car park is suited for
passengers travelling with other airlines.
Parking payment machines have been
set up on the bridge connecting the Passenger Terminal Complex and shortterm car park.
One passenger who just arrived from
a holiday praised HIA’s long-term parking, saying it was more convenient to
leave his vehicle there. “It is safe. I hope
HIA will offer affordable rates and give
discounts to regular customers when a
parking fee is levied,” he suggested.
Consumer protection issue taken
seriously, says Vodafone Qatar
odafone Qatar has said it
“takes the issue of customer
protection seriously” and does
not consider the “3 Months Free”
promotion or associated media to be
“confusing or misleading”.
“To date, feedback received on this
promotion has been overwhelmingly
positive,” Vodafone Qatar said in a
statement yesterday.
Earlier, the Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) had found
Vodafone Qatar’s “3 Months Free”
marketing campaign to be “in breach
of” the Code on Advertising, Marketing & Branding, and issued an order to
the service provider to remove all its
advertisements related to this promotional campaign.
According to CRA, the advertisement included “inaccurate and misleading” messages for customers,
leading them to believe that customers subscribing to this offer would
receive three months’ worth of subscription for free.
In response to the CRA order, Vodafone Qatar said: “It understands
that the CRA has investigated this
matter on the basis of a complaint
from its competitor. Vodafone has
had no input into the complaint review process to date despite its request for involvement. Vodafone is
surprised at the approach taken to
this matter as it is not in accordance
with the normal approach taken by
the CRA.”
Vodafone Qatar said that it intended “to pursue the matter further with
the CRA through appropriate channels”.
Qatar specialist wants Gulf states to rethink economic policy
By Martin Dokoupil
ulf Arab oil states may need to
rethink longstanding economic
policies, including their fixed
exchange rates, over the next five to 10
years as economic cycles in the region
and the US diverge, a senior Qatar central bank official said in a research paper.
The six nations in the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) have pegged their
currencies to the US dollar - or in the
case of Kuwait, a peg to a basket of currencies that is believed to be dominated
by the dollar - to stabilise them.
But in recent years the GCC economies have moved more out of sync with
the US, as the pegs press GCC policymakers to mirror the US central bank’s
decisions even if trends at home call for
the contrary.
As long as they have currency pegs
to the dollar, the Gulf states could face
destabilising capital outflows or inflows if they allow large interest rate
gaps to open up with the US - but raising interest rates while Gulf economies
are slowing could hurt growth further.
GCC economies performed well during much of the global financial crisis as
the US economy slumped. Now, the US
economy is expanding strongly as GCC
economies risk slowing because of the
plunge of oil prices.
Markets believe the Federal Reserve
may start raising interest rates this
year, and this “is coming at the wrong
time for the GCC countries. There is
considerable uncertainty here with the
oil price and the Fed,” Khalid al-Khater,
the Qatar Central Bank’s director of research and monetary policy, said in a
research paper seen by Reuters.
“If the low oil price persists in the
medium term and the Fed starts to raise
interest rates, that might contribute to
economic slowdown in the GCC. But it
depends on the pace of the tightening
process, how fast and how persistent
they will be.”
Al-Khater stressed in the paper, presented at the Arab Centre for Research
and Policy Studies in Doha, that it represented his personal academic view as
a monetary policy specialist, and not
the official view of Qatar’s central bank
in any way.
The Brent oil price has tumbled
nearly $70 since June to nearly six-year
lows below $50 per barrel, clouding
the outlook for the GCC states, where
government income from hydrocarbon
sales powers economic growth.
“Low enough oil prices - below the
average break-even price for GCC budgets - for a long enough period - spanning the medium term through 2017 or
beyond - can aggravate the status of the
cycles between the two sides i.e. widen
the potential gap,” al-Khater said.
Markets will watch the Fed’s interest rate-setting meeting this week to
gauge its resolve to start raising rates
mid-way through the year, as consumer prices have dropped despite strong
economic momentum.
“Qatar still has space over the short
run to keep interest rates at the current
level, even after the Fed starts to raise
rates, since it kept its rate much higher
than the Fed policy rate,” al-Khater said.
Qatar’s central bank has kept its key
overnight deposit rate at 0.75% since
August 2011, above the Fed funds target
rate of 0-0.25%.
Al-Khater said, however, that GCC
central banks would ultimately follow
the Fed under any scenario, as they had
always done in the past.
“This more than four-decades-old
uni-instrument, uni-tool macropolicy
framework, in my opinion, is no longer
suitable to manage the economic cycle
in today’s GCC economies, because we
apparently keep missing the cycle. And
it looks like the sync with the US is going to weaken further and further.”
Al-Khater added: “The solution is to
rethink how to reform the macro policy
framework in the region over the medium term to the next decade. That is to
adopt a more flexible monetary policy
framework to allow for a more appropriate policy mix of fiscal, monetary
and exchange rate policies.”
He did not give details of policy reforms that he would like to see.
In 2013, al-Khater cited Singapore’s
currency regime as an example which
Gulf states could consider adopting.
The Qatar central bank governor told
Reuters at the time that the country
might change its dollar peg in the longterm future, when the economy had
become less dependent on hydrocarbons and local financial markets had
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani with ministers, military officials and graduates after the ceremony yesterday.
Emir attends
Air College
H the Emir Sheikh
Tamim bin Hamad alThani yesterday attended the passing out ceremony of
the second batch of students of
the Leader Mohamed bin Abdullah al-Attiyah Air College at AlUdeid Air Base.
The ceremony was attended
by HE the Prime Minister and
Minister of Interior Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa alThani, a number of ministers as
well as senior armed forces and
interior ministry officers.
The Emir reviewed a parade by
the graduating students.
The Emir then honoured the
outstanding graduates of the
The sword of honour was
awarded to Mubarak Abdurrahman Mohamed al-Hemaidi, who
was the overall topper. The second and third toppers were Abdullah Mohsen Andilah al-Marri
(aviation) and Talah Khalid Surour al-Abdullah (military competence and discipline).
Afterwards the flag was
received and handed over to
the third batch. The order for
promotion was then read out
and the graduates took the
At the outset of the ceremony
Commander of the Air College
Brigadier (Pilot) Salim Hamad
al-Nabit gave a speech.
“Today we celebrate the graduation of the second batch of
Leader Mohamed bin Abdullah
al-Attiyah Air College after they
were awarded the Bachelor Degree in air sciences and the military diploma armed with knowledge and defence of the beloved
homeland,” he said.
The Commander of the College underlined that the armed
forces, thanks to the policies
of HH the Emir and the efforts
of the personnel of the forces, is witnessing a remarkable
progress in all fields in terms of
qualifications, training and arming. This development includes
introduction of the best training
aircraft and the most advanced
in the world as the college began effectively to implement the
constituent and advanced training programme on training combat aircraft.
Al-Nabit thanked HH the
Emir for the unlimited support
and also thanked all bodies of
the state for their support which
contributed to the growth of
Leader’s College.
At the close of the ceremony
HH the Emir attended an air
show of a number of the Emiri
Air Force and the Leader’s Air
College aircraft. HH the Emir
then inspected the cockpits of
PC 21 aircraft.
Qatar, Guinea sign pact
The Emir inspects a guard of honour on his arrival at the college.
Individuals with ideas invited
to visit Challenge 22 Roadshow
HE the Minister of Transport Jassim Seif al-Sulaiti and his Guinean counterpart Aliou Diallo,
yesterday signed an aviation agreement. The agreement gives the national carriers of the two
countries the right to operate an unlimited number of passenger and cargo flights. After signing
the agreement, the two ministers discussed means of enhancing co-operation in transport and
Surge in international calls
oredoo has reported a
surge in the number of
international calls made
so far this month, driven by the
popularity of its latest Hala TopUp promotion as well as the high
number of visitors in town.
launched a new promotion for
Hala, Qatar’s most popular
prepaid service, which enables
customers to use the free bonus
Ooredoo local minutes they get
when the top up for international calls also.
Customers enjoy up to 120
local Ooredoo minutes when
they top up their Hala account
with QR30 and above. With
this current promotion, Hala
customers can now use these
local Ooredoo minutes for up
to two hours’ worth of international calls also.
The call minutes, which are
added based upon the amount
that customers top up for, are
valid for ten days. Each denomination enables different
amounts of bonus minutes,
with top-ups of QR200 earning two hours’ call time. The
Hala top-up promotion is valid
until March15.
Qatar has seen a high number
of international visitors in Jan-
uary, drawn by major sporting
events such as the 24th Men’s
World Handball Championships and Qatar ExxonMobil
Open 2015.
Ooredoo sponsored both
events, and had a presence at
each to enable visitors to purchase Hala services and Mobile
Broadband for the Internet.
Hala services are designed
to be easy to sign up for, with
all new customers enjoying
250 local Ooredoo call minutes
and 250MB data valid for seven
days, as well as a three months
free subscription to the Hala
International Saver Key.
he Challenge 22 Roadshow will visit Qatar for
two days starting today.
Initiated by the Supreme
Committee for Delivery &
Legacy (SC), Silatech and Qatar National Research Fund
(QNRF), Challenge 22 is an innovation award that was borne
out of a desire to celebrate the
2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar as
a regional event.
Innovators, entrepreneurs
and individuals with ideas are
invited to visit the Roadshow
and learn more about the competition.
Challenge 22 is seeking applicants within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), with
solution based proposals related to three key themes that address challenges faced by Qatar
and the world, when hosting
major sports events.
The three themes for the inaugural launch of the award are
Sustainability, Event Experi-
ence, and Sports and Health.
Successful applicants have the
opportunity to win a cash prize
of $20,000 during Phase 1 of
the competition and a grant to
further develop their idea into a
proof of concept during Phase
2 of the competition.
While in Qatar the Challenge
22 Roadshow will organise information sessions at Hamad
Bin Khalifa University today
and tomorrow between 12
noon and 1pm in order to meet
with potential applicants and
to provide more information
about this new initiative.
Challenge 22 Ambassadors,
the Kuwaiti entrepreneur Areej
al-Khrafi, well-known Emirati
animation director Mohamed
Saeed Harib and Qatari inventor Mohamed al-Hossani, will
share their inspirational stories
and explain how they overcame
the challenges they faced on
their journey to success.
Fatma al-Nuaimi, Social and
Human Legacy Manager at the
SC spoke about the Challenge
22 Roadshow.
“We’re delighted to be here
in Qatar to inform people about
this wonderful opportunity.
We are proud to be supporting
innovation and we know there
are many innovators in Qatar
and the region waiting to be
discovered. The enthusiasm
and interest we have received
so far has been overwhelming.
We’d like to encourage more
people to attend and find out
how they can be part of Challenge 22.”
The Challenge 22 Roadshow
commenced on January 25 in
Kuwait and will conclude on
February 17 in the UAE. The
next stop on the Challenge 22
Roadshow will be Saudi Arabia from February 1 to 5. A full
schedule of Challenge 22 activities and more information
about the award are available
HBKU hosts Colorado students
Hamad Bin Khalifa University
(HBKU), a member of Qatar
Foundation (QF) for Education,
Science and Community
Development, hosted 25 faculty,
staff and graduate students
from Colorado State University
from January 4 to 16.
It was part of HBKU’s Qatar
Study Tour (QST) and Young
Professionals Institute
(YPI) programmes. These
programmes, which are based
on a partnership with graduate
institutions in the US and which
are delivered by HBKU Student
Affairs’ staff, serve to showcase
how student affairs ideas
transform education in Qatar.
Since their inception in 2010,
the QST and YPI programmes
have enabled participants to
broaden and exchange their
knowledge, while extending
their professional network
and enhancing intercultural
competence. QST participants
gain insight into higher
education and student affairs in
Qatar by engaging with senior
administrators from HBKU, its
partner universities in Education
City, and Qatar University.
Participants are also invited to
explore Education City as well as
visit many of the cultural sites in
Doha during their stay.
The YPI programme, an
intensive four-day learning
experience, encourages
graduate students from the
collaborating institution in the
US to engage with an equal
number of stakeholders from
institutions in Qatar.
Minister invited
to South Korea
HE the Minister of Municipality
and Urban Planning Sheikh
Abdulrahman bin Khalifa bin
Abdulaziz al-Thani yesterday met
Kim Kyung Sik, South Korean
Vice Minister for Land and
Infrastructure and Transport, and
his accompanying delegation.
The two sides discussed ways to
enhance co-operation between
the two countries, notably in
infrastructure and development
projects. They also reviewed
South Korean companies’
contribution to state projects.
Kim Kyung Sik invited the
minister to visit his country to
learn about Korean companies’
contribution in construction of
modern cities.
Al-Kuwari meets
Turkish official
HE the Minister of Culture, Arts
and Heritage Dr Hamad bin
Abdul Aziz al-Kuwari yesterday
met with Turkish Culture and
Tourism Ministry Undersecretary
Professor Ahmet Haluk Dursun
who is currently visiting Qatar at
the head of a cultural delegation
to attend the opening ceremony
of the 2015 Qatar-Turkey Year of
Culture. During the meeting they
discussed aspects of cultural
co-operation between the two
friendly countries.
Service centre in
Al Shahaniya
HE Minister of Administrative
Development Dr Issa Saad
al-Jafali al-Nuaimi yesterday
inaugurated a centre for
government services in Al
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani met yesterday with the City of London Mayor Lord
Alderman Alan Yarrow. During the meeting they discussed means of enhancing economic and investment relations between the two countries.
HE the Minister of Economy and Commerce Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohamed al-Thani met yesterday
with the City of London Mayor Lord Alderman Alan Yarrow, and his accompanying delegation.
British chamber offers to
support Qatar SME sector
By Peter Alagos
Business Reporter
he newly-launched
British Chamber of
Commerce in Qatar
(BCCQ) aims to strengthen
the country’s entrepreneurship and small and mediumsized enterprises (SMEs)
sector to help Qatar diversify
away from the hydrocarbon
industry, the City of London’s Lord Mayor Alderman
Alan Yarrow said yesterday.
“While Qatar has vast
resources of hydrocarbons,
they’ve got to develop their
other industries, particularly SMEs and entrepreneurship. Majority of companies
in the UK are SMEs so we
have a very strong entrepreneurial culture and we’re
very big on driving forward
interest in putting up
businesses in Qatar.
“Most of the companies
the chamber has spoken to
come from almost all sectors
but they are very interested
in pouring their investments
here. This is also reflective of the chamber’s role
in helping Qatari SMEs and
entrepreneurs get in touch
with their UK counterparts,”
he said.
The Lord Mayor added:
“It could not be a better time to begin exporting
and to open up new businesses with Qatar. Not only
is the economy booming
here, but the prospects for
British firms are excellent
with the most recent trade
figures showing UK trade
with Qatar up 40% on the
previous year.”
Cook said trade volume
between Qatar and the UK
small companies because
they are the ones who employ people,” the Lord Mayor
said after the official launch
of the BCCQ at the HSBC
Building in Doha.
The Lord Mayor added
that compared to large
firms, entrepreneurship and
SMEs have a direct role in
increasing the employment
statistics of countries.
“And that’s what we need
out here, we need better
employment. So, that’s why
we’ve come here to support Qatar to look at various issues where we in the
UK have vast experiences
that we could share with the
government,” he said.
This was reiterated by
BCCQ managing director
Peter Cook, who said that
the chamber has already
spoken to 35 UK-based
companies that expressed
last year has reached around
$4bn, $2.5bn of which was
derived from goods and another $1.5bn from services.
“Establishing a British
chamber in Qatar to focus on
supporting UK businesses
could not be more important
or urgent. With the extensive
backing of the British and
Qatari governments and the
British Chambers of Commerce in the UK, the chamber
in Qatar intends to become
one of the leading business support organisations
in the country.
“Any UK or Qatari business, but especially SME
businesses, can look forward to a new organisation
focused on their needs and
able to deliver a wide suite of
business services to smooth
and speed up their path to
business success in Qatar,”
Cook stressed.
Traffic diversion at Umm Slal Mohamed
Public Works Authority
(Ashghal) has announced
a temporary traffic
diversion on 1.4km-stretch
of the south-bound side of
Shamal Expressway near
Interchange N12 at Umm Slal
The traffic diversion, which will
be in place for six months, will
become effective from January
30, Ashghal said.
It said the temporary diversion
has become necessary for
carrying out the construction
of a bridge deck over the
proposed N12 interchange and
also as part of the ongoing
work to improve Shamal
After work is completed the
present three-lane traffic in the
area will be turned to four-lane
traffic as on the opposite side
of the road now.
Ashghal will install road
signs for the attention of the
QA introduces
QVoucher for
Dubai flights
atar Airways is introducing a new scheme
today that will allow travellers on the
popular Doha to Dubai route to save 20%
on the economy class fare price, with the use of
Available from the Qatar Airways website, travel agents, or at any of the airline’s sales offices, a
booklet of two vouchers cost QR200 and could be
redeemed for a 20% discount off the total fare.
The offer runs until February 3. Passengers will
be able to avail of the 20% discount for travel on
flights up until February 28.
Qatar Airways flies to Dubai 18 times daily,
comprising 14 flights to Dubai International Airport and four to Dubai Al Maktoum International
Airport. QVoucher may be redeemed on both the
Privilege Club members also have the additional benefit of being able to utilise the discount
vouchers purchased for redemption on any tickets for family members who are listed under their
Privilege Club membership scheme.
Qatar Airways senior vice president commercial (Qatar) Ehab Amin, said: “We continually look
for ways to respond to regular travel patterns and
provide unique solutions and offers to them.”
Ethiopia seeks Qatari investment
thiopia is exploring
the possibility of attracting investments
from Qatar in diverse areas
of activities in the mainland
East African nation.
A delegation, comprising
Ethiopia’s minister Shibru
Mamo Kedida and Ambassador Mesganu Arga Moach
in Doha, called on Barwa
Group acting CEO Ahmad
Abdullah al-Abdulla.
The Barwa Group said the
delegation’s visit was aimed
at strengthening the economic and investment ties
with Qatar represented by
one of its biggest real estate
and investments companies.
Discussions were held on
the group’s future plans and
the potential of studying
the investment environments in Ethiopia for future
business opportunities.
Ahmad Abdulla al-Abdulla said: “Ethiopia is one of
the most developing countries in Africa in such areas
as industry, agriculture, economic and hospitality fields.
The country maintains an
annual growth rate that has
been increasing for the past
many years, which makes it
a promising business environment for foreign investors. Although, we at Barwa
are focusing on domestic
development projects at the
moment, we realise the importance which lies in the
investment environment in
Ethiopia, and promise to explore the chances of doing
business there.”
Ethiopian Ambassador Mesganu Arga Moach and minister Shibru Mamo Kedida with Barwa Real Estate acting CEO Ahmed
Abdulla al-Abdulla at his office.
Yarrow and Qatari and British dignitaries at the official launch of the BCCQ in Doha. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Students seen during an outdoor activity at the camp.
School pupils attend
Winter Career Camp
atar Career Fair
(QCF), a member of
Qatar Foundation
(QF), has launched its first
Winter Career Camp at the
Qatar National Convention
Centre (QNCC) with 30 preparatory school students.
programme runs until January 29. Designed to engage
Qatari preparatory school
students, the camp is providing participants with a
range of practical skills and
tools to help them choose
the academic path that best
suits their interests and
Through this event, the
Qatar Career Fair supports
QF’s mission of providing world-class education,
work experience, and career opportunities to help
the nation’s drive towards
creating a knowledge-based
The camp also features
a variety of stimulating
career-oriented workshops
that have been tailored to
inspire a strong career culture and help students discover their skills and talents
early on.
The camp also provides
students with a great experience through which they
are able to acquire multiple
skills in a fun, entertaining and interactive way.
They are also visiting different local companies to
gain first hand insight into
their operations and work
culture and help them think
about specific careers after
academic life.
Maryah al-Dafa, acting
director of communications, Qatar Foundation,
said that numerous opportunities and tools are available for the present generation to achieve success
for themselves and their
“Success only comes before work in the dictionary,
but the reality is very different. Success can only be
achieved by working hard
and persevering through all
challenges,” she said.
director, Qatar Career Fair,
said: “Our programmes and
initiatives aim to provide
the Qatari youth with multiple career development
skills, as well as instil in
participants a strong career
ethic. This will help them
face the challenges of the
competitive Qatar labour
“The primary aim of the
workshops is to hone talents
and develop personal skills.
Also, the students will be
directly exposed to different
types of work environments
through various site visits,
ultimately providing them a
clearer vision of their future
career path.”
Every student that successfully completes the
programme, will be awarded with a participation
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
CMC calls for greater
safety on school buses
riority should be given to Qatari
women for the job of local Independent School bus attendants,
followed by other Arabs, the Central
Municipal Council (CMC) recommended yesterday at its regular biweekly session.
The Council approved a number
of recommendations aimed at enhancing safety and security of school
Bus attendants should be given
special training to ensure students’
safety and deal with emergencies,
it was stressed. The CMC recommended that school buses should be
equipped with equipment to show
educational movies and presentations to benefit students.
Mowasalat should introduce more
small buses to allow easy movement
in crowded areas and roads.
The Council highlighted the need
to provide more shaded public areas
by shopping malls, public services
organisations and huge construction
There should be chairs for the
convenience of both the public and
workers, who need to rest during
their duties and more trees ought to
be planted in the open areas. However, signs in Arabic, English and
Urdu should be posted at such places
saying workers should not gather
there during weekends.
The CMC also reviewed and approved the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning’s response to
its recommendation on parking and
banning of trucks on Doha roads during busy hours.
Interior Ministry’s
fingerprints database
‘reaches 5mn’
The number of fingerprints in the
main database of the Ministry of
Interior’s electronic archives have
reached 5mn, according to a report
published by local Arabic daily
Arrayah, quoting Director of Criminal
Investigation Brigadier Khalifa
Abdullah al-Nuami. The Criminal
Evidence and Investigation Department will execute a plan to develop
the fingerprint section through the
expansion of the database, so that
it could reach the 7mn mark soon.
Eventually, it will house 10mn imprints, he said. Brigadier al-Nuaimi
also confirmed in an interview with
the Police Magazine recently that
the Criminal Evidence and Investigation Department is working
under a plan to reduce the crime
rate. Brigadier al-Nuami said the
strategy also aims at the security
enhancement and strengthening
of the capabilities of the policemen
in detecting crimes. The MoI’s
Directorate of Criminal Investigations includes four departments
namely the criminal investigations,
the criminal laboratory, narcotic
combating, apart from the Criminal
Evidence and Information, he said.
The team members during their inspection.
Field tour of eateries held
to ensure health standards
he rehabilitation team of the
Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning (MMUP) joined the
food inspectors in a field tour, that covered many restaurants and hotels across
the country.
The tour targeted specification of the
health requirements to be met by the
restaurants, hotels as well as food preparation and handling venues.
The tour included briefing of the eateries’ health requirements, and ways
to ensure compliance, the inspection
methods to be followed and adopted. It
also included the steps to be initiated
by a food inspector as soon as he steps
into a restaurant, hotel or any other food
establishment and what he needs to do
until he completes the inspection process.
The food workers were also acquainted with the hygiene requirements stipulated by the guidelines of the department concerned.
The field tour was part of the institutional qualification programme, organised by the MMUP in order to help improve the food inspection system.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
ITMA Congress
website launched
The Trump Home collection being launched in Qatar by City Lifestyle customer Fatima as marketing manager Rajgopal,
concept manager Gaurav Kaushik and others look on.
Trump Home debuts in Qatar
T Home Marks International and
City Lifestyle have announced
a new partnership to introduce
the Trump Home brand exclusively
across stores in Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
The collection will include room décor,
bath accessories, lighting, decorative mirrors, and jewellery boxes inspired by the
luxury and sophistication of the Trump
brand. “We are excited to be expanding
the Trump Home global footprint and to
be collaborating with City Lifestyle,” said
Donald J Trump, chairman and president
of The Trump Organisation.
“We chose to collaborate with Trump
Home for an exclusive Middle East
launch keeping in mind the growing
demand of the region’s style conscious
consumer’s need for premium and be-
spoke brands,” said Sachin Mundhwa,
the CEO of Lifestyle.
Highlights of the assortment include
bath accessories with mother of pearl
and chrome detailing, along with luxurious, fashion forward jewellery boxes
made of leather.
The collection was unveiled at a
launch event on Monday at City Lifestyle at Centrepoint, Al Asmakh Mall.
he website of the 24th International Traffic Medicine Association (ITMA) Congress, to be held
later this year in Doha, was launched
at a ceremony yesterday by Secretary General of National Traffic Safety
Committee, Brigadier and senior engineer Mohamed Abdullah al-Malki.
Brigadier al-Malki is the president
of organising committee for hosting
the Congress, slated for November
16-18, under the patronage of HE the
Prime Minister and Interior Minister
Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani.
‘Traffic Medicine and Road Safety
in Fast Developing Countries’ is the
theme of ITMA 2015 Congress and it is
expected to provide a multi-disciplinary network and forum for scientists
and practitioners involved in the traffic
safety to interact with each other and
exchange ideas and information on the
latest issues in this field.
Al-Maliki said the importance of the
Congress stems from the Congress’ title itself as it is a global scientific congress to discuss all issues concerning
traffic medicine including healthcare
services, rescue services, security, legal
measures and educational programmes
integrated into traffic medicine system.
The senior traffic official added the
newly launched website will be considered as a gate through which the outside
world overlooks to get out and recognise
the efforts of Qatar in various fields, particularly in the areas of traffic medicine
and safety as issues of concern and care
of the authorities in the state.
Al-Malki said the website provides
necessary information about Qatar,
the 24th ITMA Congress and its related services such as participation,
registration, visas and hotel bookings
and other services.
Brigadier al-Malki launching the website of the ITMA Congress.
Dr Wafa al-Yazidi, Director of Medical Rehabilitation at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) and member
of Congress Organising Committee
said the Ministry of Interior, National
Traffic Safety Committee, General
Directorate of Traffic, HMC, Public
Works Authority (Ashghal), Ministry of Transport, Qatar University all
are working together for the Congress
where 300-500 experts are expected
to present their papers to bring out
best results in the field of traffic medicine and safety.
Senior engineer Jamal Sharaida alKaabi, director of Central Planning Office at the Ministry of Municipalities
and Urban Planning, said the Congress
is unique as it will cover the topics of
engineering, medicine and its relations
with road safety and accidents which
will further boost efforts in the field of
traffic medicine and road engineering.
The ITMA Congress covers all areas
of traffic medicine and its associated
disciplines. Delegates to the event include medical doctors, physiologists,
psychologists, traffic safety experts,
vehicle designers and manufacturers,
engineers, policy makers, police officers, and insurance experts.
The Congress will focus on the
progress in traffic safety, injury prevention, improvement in treatment
methods in recent years, and will also
bring some well-known traffic medicine experts together to share the most
advanced concepts, theories and techniques.
Their deliberations are expected to
promote traffic crash prevention, traffic safety, first-aid, medical treatment,
and reducing the mortality and disability resulting from traffic injury to
raise the road users health standards
and the quality of life.
Domestic and international manufacturers from the field of traffic safety
and injury treatments will participate
in an exhibition to be held as part of
the Congress.
The newly launched bilingual English/Arabic website
(http://www. provides l
information on the Congress including registration, participation, paper
presentation, travel, lodging and visa
to Qatar.
TAMU-Q research highlighted in journal
research paper written by a
team of Texas A&M University
at Qatar ( TAMU-Q) chemical engineers has been featured on the
cover of the Journal of Chemical Physics.
The paper, ‘Prediction of the Phase
Equilibria of Methane Hydrates Using
the Direct Phase Coexistence Methodology’, describes the naturallyoccurring problem of gas hydrates in
natural gas pipelines and was published in the latest issue of the journal.
The authors of the paper are postdoctoral research associate Dr Vasileios Michalis, master student Joseph
Costandy, visiting researcher Dr Ioannis Tsimpanogiannis, Prof Ioannis
Economou from TAMU-Q Chemical
Engineering Programme; and Dr Athanassios Stubos from the
National Centre for Scientific Research “Demokritos” in Greece.
“Gas hydrates such as
methane hydrates are solids
that form naturally in water
and can block fluid flow in
hydrocarbon pipelines during transportation”, Economou said.
The featured research
paper discusses a method
to predict the pressure and
under which methane hydrates form , which is common in the natural gas industry.
“It’s a flow assurance
problem,” he said. “To deal
with gas hydrates, producers can either operate
in different conditions or
add chemicals such as glycols or alcohols to prohibit
formation of hydrates. But
these chemicals add to the
Knowing exactly how
hydrocarbon and water
molecules interact under different pressure and
temperature conditions to
form gas hydrates can help
industry better deal with
The problem of gas
hydrates is also an environmental issue. Melting
hydrates in the world’s
ocean floor has led to the
release of methane,which
is one of the most important greenhouse gases. In
addition, gas hydrates can
also be used in water desalination to separate salt
and other impurities from
seawater to produce fresh
The research project
began in December 2013
and is funded by a cycle-6 award from Qatar
National Research Fund
(QNRF) National Priorities Research Programme
The goal of the project
is to model and simulate
how gas hydrates form so
that industry can transport
natural gas more safely and
can have significant impact in Qatar and in the oil
and gas industry worldwide.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
free top
aide of
Obama, Saudi
king discuss
IS fight, Iran
nuclear issue
A senior US official says
Obama and Salman discussed
“the campaign against the
Islamic State... the need to
continue providing support
to the opposition in Syria
(and) the need to promote
unity in Iraq”
Obama led a heavyweight delegation to
Saudi Arabia yesterday to meet
new King Salman and discussed
the two countries’ ongoing fight
against the Islamic State group.
The leaders also tackled the
issue of Iran’s nuclear programme and human rights in
the kingdom, a senior US official
Riyadh has been part of the
US-led coalition carrying out air
strikes against IS since last year
and is a long-time regional ally
of Washington.
Members of the 29-member
bipartisan US delegation, which
included former Bush-era officials, said they wanted to show
support for the US-Saudi relationship.
“I believe it is important that
we demonstrate to the Saudis
the importance that they represent to us,” said James Baker,
secretary of state during the first
Gulf War against Iraqi dictator
Saddam Hussain.
“This is an extraordinarily
critical and sensitive time in the
Middle East when everything
seems to be falling apart. And
the kingdom in some way is becoming an island of stability,”
said Baker.
The Americans arrived for
a four-hour stop from India,
where Obama cut short a state
visit following the death on Friday of Salman’s predecessor,
King Abdullah.
Saudi television showed Salman, 79, welcoming Obama and
his wife Michelle at the bottom
of a red-carpeted ramp before a
military band played the US and
Saudi national anthems.
Crown Prince Muqrin and
Mohamed bin Nayef, the interior
minister who is second in line to
the throne, were among those
greeting the Americans.
The US president then boarded a black limousine taking him
for talks and dinner with Salman
at central Riyadh’s Erga Palace,
the king’s private residence.
“Good to see you,” Obama repeatedly said to his Saudi hosts
before they dined on Arabic and
Western dishes including shish
tawook and baked lobster, before
leaving the kingdom.
Obama last visited Saudi Arabia in March, when he held talks
with Abdullah.
A senior US official said
Obama and Salman discussed
“the campaign against the Islamic State... the need to continue providing support to the
opposition in Syria (and) the
need to promote unity in Iraq”.
Several other topics, including
Riyadh’s human rights record
and Iranian nuclear talks, were
also broached during yesterday’s
The US official said Obama
discussed human rights “in
broad terms”, but did not raise
with Salman the case of blogger
Raef Badawi, who was sentenced
to 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam and whose case has attracted international concern.
Former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft and Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state
under George W Bush, joined the
US contingent, which included
current Central Intelligence
Agency director John Brennan
and General Lloyd Austin, head
of US Central Command.
They had all accompanied
Obama stands beside King Salman shortly after his arrival in Riyadh yesterday.
Obama to India but Secretary
of State John Kerry and Senator
John McCain joined the president especially for his Saudi trip.
McCain, a Republican who
chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the kingdom was emerging “as the major
bulwark” against efforts by Iran
to expand its influence in Syria,
Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and Bahrain.
The senior US official, who
spoke anonymously, said that
while Salman had not raised the
topic of nuclear talks, he “did
say Iran should not be allowed to
build a nuclear weapon”.
Obama is the latest leader to
visit Riyadh since Friday.
His reception was the most
elaborate but sheikhs, presidents and prime ministers from
Europe, Asia, Africa and the
Americas all came to pay their
Australia’s Governor General
Peter Cosgrove also arrived yesterday.
hia militiamen freed yesterday a top aide to Yemen’s
president, whose kidnapping deepened the country’s
crippling political crisis, said a
person who helped mediate the
President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s chief of staff Ahmed
Awad bin Mubarak was handed
over to a committee of mediators,
10 days after he was abducted,
Hussam al-Shargabi said.
Mubarak was later taken to the
Sanaa residence of a tribal chief
from Sabwa, the same southern
province from which he hails.
The Shia militia, known as
Houthis, have controlled most of
the Yemeni capital since September 21.
After they seized the presidential palace last week, Hadi
tendered his resignation, saying
he could not stay in office as the
country was in “total deadlock”.
In a televised speech yesterday, militia chief Abdulmalik alHouthi described Hadi’s resignation as a manoeuvre aimed at
imposing certain conditions on
the ground. He did not elaborate.
He also called for an “extraordinary and historical” meeting on
Friday of all political, social, and
tribal forces in Yemen “to review
the political and security situation and come up with important
Mubarak’s release comes a day
after UN envoy Jamel Benomar
met with Houthi leaders, as he
sought to broker an agreement
following Hadi’s offer to resign.
In a statement on Facebook,
Benomar voiced his happiness at
Mubarak’s release.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
UN halts Gaza house
repairs, lacking funds
Gaza City
Iraq’s Transport Minister Bayan Jaboor speaks to media at Baghdad airport yesterday.
Shooting disrupts
Baghdad flights
ix airlines from the
United Arab Emirates,
Turkey and Lebanon
suspended flights to Baghdad yesterday after bullets
hit an airplane operated by
budget carrier Dubai Aviation Corp, known as flydubai, as it was landing at
Baghdad airport.
Iraqi Transport Minister
Bayan Jaboor said the plane
was hit at an altitude of
600m by gunfire from what
he judged was a light machinegun.
He did not rule out that
Monday’s shooting could be
a militant action but said security forces had identified
the source.
A security official said
authorities had rounded up
suspects in farmlands south
of the airport, which lies on
the city’s western outskirts.
An aviation official said
Iraq had briefly suspended
air traffic on Monday following the incident but permitted it to resume yesterday morning.
However, flydubai, Emirates Airlines, Sharjah’s Air
Arabia and Abu Dhabi’s
Etihad Airways suspended
flights yesterday, in line with
a directive from the UAE
civil aviation authority.
The UAE’s state Wam
news agency reported that
the foreign ministry had
summoned the Iraqi ambassador to Abu Dhabi to express serious concern about
the incident.
Turkish Airlines and
Lebanon’s Middle East Airlines (MEA) also suspended
flights without citing the
shooting incident. It was
not clear when the airlines
would resume service.
Company officials said
Iraqi Airways and Iran’s
Caspian Airlines were operating flights to Baghdad on a
normal schedule.
Jaboor said those airlines
had operated nearly 40
flights in and out of Baghdad
he UN agency for Palestinian
refugees said yesterday that it
cannot afford to repair Gaza
homes damaged in last year’s war
with Israel because donors have failed
to pay.
“The agency has exhausted all
funding to support repairs and
rental subsidies,” said the United
Nations Relief and Works Agency
“$5.4bn was pledged at the Cairo
(aid) conference last October and
virtually none of it has reached Gaza.
This is distressing and unacceptable.
“It is unclear why this funding has
not been forthcoming.”
Unrwa said the homes of more
than 96,000 Palestine refugees were
destroyed or damaged during the
They made up the vast majority
of the more than 100,000 homes hit
during the 50-day conflict between
Israel and Gaza’s de facto rulers Hamas.
Hamas denounced the Unrwa decision, saying it would “aggravate the
plight of thousands of families” and
urging it to put pressure on donors to
honour their pledges.
Unrwa said: “Some funds remain
available to begin the reconstruction
of totally destroyed homes.”
The agency said cutting subsidies
to displaced residents now renting
alternative accommodation could
Men work next to destroyed buildings in Gaza City’s Shejaiya neighbourhood yesterday.
force large numbers back to UN
schools and centres which are already sheltering 12,000 people.
“Unrwa in Gaza has so far provided over $77mn to 66,000 Palestine
refugee families to repair their home
or find a temporary alternative,” it
“This is a tremendous achievement; it is also wholly insufficient...
We are talking about thousands
of families who continue to suffer
through this cold winter with inadequate shelter.
“People are literally sleeping
amongst the rubble. Children have
died of hypothermia.”
Two babies died in Gaza this month
as dozens of homes were flooded in
brutal storms that brought freezing
rain and gale-force winds.
An Unrwa spokesman in Gaza yesterday said the ceasefire that halted
the fighting with Israel would be in
jeopardy if rebuilding work were to
“Halting reconstruction will have
dangerous consequences,” Adnan
Abu Hasna said.
“By delaying payment of money
for reconstruction the donors are
putting the ceasefire in danger.”
Reconstruction has barely begun,
with experts saying it will take years
even if Israel significantly eases its
eight-year blockade on Gaza.
Israel, which controls two of the
three crossings into Gaza, maintains
tight curbs on entry of building material, fearing they could be used by
militants to make weapons or attack
Kurds expand fight against IS
urdish fighters battled the Islamic State group in villages
around Kobane yesterday,
a day after expelling the militants
from the strategic Syrian town on
the Turkish border.
The news prompted celebrations
among residents who fled across
the frontier into Turkey, with thousands gathering at the border and
hoping to return, more than four
months after the fighting began.
The town’s recapture marked a
key symbolic and strategic blow
against IS, but officials warned
massive reconstruction was needed
and the fight would continue for the
surrounding villages.
The Kurdish People’s Protection
Units (YPG) announced the “libera-
tion” of Kobane on Monday, depriving IS of a strategic prize to add to its
territory in Syria and Iraq.
“Our forces fulfilled the promise
of victory,” the militia said, cautioning that fighting was not over yet.
“The process to ultimately liberate Kobane canton (region) is ahead
of us. We pledge that we will successfully carry out this promise as
There was fighting in villages
around the town yesterday, both to
the southeast and the southwest,
according to the Syrian Observatory
for Human Rights, a Britain-based
Kobane activist Mustafa Ebdi said
the US-led coalition fighting IS carried out fresh air strikes around the
town on Monday evening and yesterday morning.
In Turkey, thousands of Kurds
among the 200,000 who fled
Rockets fired from Syria hit
Israeli-occupied Golan: army
At least two rockets fired
from Syria hit the Israelioccupied Golan Heights
yesterday prompting Israeli
forces to return fire, the
army said. There were
no immediate reports of
casualties on the Israeli side.
Israeli army spokesman
Peter Lerner said in a text
message the Syrian fire was
“intentional, not spillover
from the Syrian civil war”
as has sometimes been the
case in the past.
In September the army fired
at a Syrian military position
in response to what it said
was stray fire from fighting
between soldiers and Islamist
rebels close to the armistice
line on the Golan.
There has been repeated
fire across the ceasefire line
since the uprising in Syria
erupted in March 2011, not
all of it stray.
In August, five rockets fired
from Syria hit the Israelioccupied sector of the
Golan Heights and, in July,
Israel shelled Syrian army
positions when a rocket
struck its territory.
Kobane and the surrounding area
flocked to the border.
Most went to celebrate, but some
tried to cross the frontier, which remains officially closed.
Turkish security forces used teargas and water cannon to push back
those who approached the barbed
wire separating the two countries.
Only a handful of people were
able to cross, including Idris Nassan, deputy foreign minister for the
Kobane regional government.
“People are very glad. They are
celebrating. Morale is very high,” he
told AFP from the town.
He said the regional government
was urging residents not to return
“There is massive destruction. At
least 50% of the city is destroyed,”
he said.
“We are asking them to wait and
not come immediately because we
don’t have basic necessities for
them. There is no food, no medicine. We don’t have electricity or
Nassan said the regional government would now appeal to the international community for help.
“We need aid. We need experts
for reconstruction. We also need
weaponry to continue to fight,” he
“This is the first stage, the liberation of Kobane. The next stage is the
liberation of the villages.”
As the Kurdish militia raised their
flags over Kobane, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said
his country opposed the idea of a
government in northern Syria.
“We do not want a new Iraq.
What’s this? Northern Iraq,” Erdogan told Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
of child
Nine killed as
gunmen storm
Tripoli hotel
The Tripoli branch of the
Islamic State militant group
claims responsibility for the
unmen stormed a hotel in
Tripoli popular with diplomats and officials yesterday in an attack claimed by
the Islamic State group, killing
at least nine people including
five foreigners before blowing
themselves up.
After setting off a car bomb
outside the luxury Corinthia
Hotel in Libya’s capital, three
armed militants rushed inside
and opened fire, Issam al-Naass,
a spokesman for the security
services, said.
They made it to the 24th floor
of the hotel, which is a major hub
for diplomatic and government
activity in Tripoli, before being
surrounded by security forces
and blowing themselves up, he
The dead included three security guards killed in the initial
attack, five foreigners shot dead
by the gunmen and a hostage
who died when the attackers
blew themselves up, he said.
At least five people were also
wounded during the assault, including two Filipina employees
hurt by broken glass from the car
bomb explosion, he said.
The nationalities of the for-
eigners killed and the person
taken hostage were not immediately known, but Naass said two
of the foreigners were women.
The hotel’s 24th floor is normally used by Qatar’s mission
to Libya but no diplomats or officials were present during the
assault, a security source said.
The head of Libya’s self-declared government, Omar alHassi, was also inside the hotel
at the time of the attack but was
evacuated safely, Naass said.
In a brief statement on Twitter, the Tripoli branch of the
Islamic State militant group
claimed responsibility for the
attack, the SITE Intelligence
monitoring group said.
It said it was carrying out the
attack in honour of Abu Anas alLibi, an Al Qaeda suspect who
died in the United States earlier
this month, days before facing a
trial for bombing US embassies.
Several militant groups in Libya have pledged allegiance to IS,
the extremist organisation that
has seized control of large parts
of Syria and Iraq and declared an
Islamic “caliphate”.
Security forces loyal to Hassi’s
government, which is jostling
for power with the internationally backed authority of Prime
Minister Abdullah al-Thinni,
surrounded the building during
the assault.
The government in Tripoli
said the attack was an assassination attempt on Hassi it blamed
on “enemies of the revolution
and the war criminal Khalifa
Haftar”, a former general who
last year spearheaded an operation against Islamist militias in
second city Benghazi.
Ambulances, armoured vehicles and pick-up trucks with
mounted artillery could be seen
around the hotel during the assault.
Security forces prevented
journalists from entering the
hotel after the assault, saying
work was needed inside to ensure the assailants had not left
behind booby traps.
EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini condemned the
attack, calling it “another reprehensible act of terrorism which
deals a blow to efforts to bring
peace and stability to Libya”.
She expressed “solidarity
with the victims and their families” but made no mention of the
nationalities of the dead.
“Such attacks should not be
allowed to undermine the political process,” Mogherini said in a
A new round of UN-mediated
peace talks between Libya’s rival
factions kicked off in Geneva on
Monday as they seek to implement a road map on forming a
unity government.
The nation has been wracked
by conflict since the overthrow
of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in
a 2011 uprising, with rival governments and powerful militias
battling for control of key cities
and the country’s oil riches.
Security forces surround the Corinthia hotel in Tripoli yesterday.
The Islamist-backed Fajr
Libya (Libya Dawn) militia alliance took control of Tripoli last
summer, forcing Thinni’s government to flee to the remote
The luxurious Corinthia was
long considered a haven in a city
Jail terms for top Egypt
liberal activists upheld
n Egyptian court upheld threeyear jail sentences yesterday for
three prominent liberal activists, judicial sources said, after days
of violence around the anniversary of
the 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat
Hosni Mubarak.
In 2013, a court handed down the
sentences against Ahmed Maher,
Ahmed Douma and Mohamed Adel—
leading figures of the pro-democracy
revolt—for protesting without permission and assaulting police, under a new
law suppressing demonstrations.
A car bomb killed one person and
wounded two near a police station in
Egypt’s second largest city Alexandria yesterday, and police discovered
three other explosive devices, security
sources said, blaming militant Islamists.
Assailants hurled Molotov cocktails
at another police station in Alexandria, setting fire to part of the building.
There were no casualties.
Two bombs planted in front of a
courthouse in Cairo’s Heliopolis district were defused while a bomb in
front of another courthouse in Fayoum
province exploded without causing injuries, the security sources said.
Militants have stepped up attacks
against soldiers and police since the
army toppled president Mohamed
Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in
2013 following mass protests against
his rule.
Critics accuse Abdel Fattah al-Sisi,
the former army chief who was elected
president last year, of returning Egypt
to authoritarian rule. Sisi says he is
committed to democracy.
Security forces have mounted the
biggest crackdown against Islamists
in the country’s history on Sisi’s watch
and liberal activists have also been
The UN human rights chief said
yesterday he was “deeply disturbed”
over the killing of 20 protesters by security forces in clashes over the past
few days.
UN High Commissioner for Human
Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein also demanded in a statement that Cairo “take
urgent measures to bring an end to the
excessive use of force by security personnel”.
Zeid’s comments came after 20 protesters were killed since Friday, including leading left-wing female activist
Shaimaa al-Sabbagh, said to have been
hit in the back by buckshot.
Two members of the security forces
have also been killed.
Zeid said “hundreds of people have
died during protests against successive
governments since January 2011, and
there has been very little in the way of
“The lack of justice for past excesses
by security forces simply encourages
People walk past police standing guard in central Cairo yesterday.
them to continue on the same path,”
he warned, pointing out that this was
“leading to more deaths and injuries,
as we have seen in recent days”.
The statement said Sabbagh’s death
was caught “on video and in photographs posted on the Internet after she
had apparently been shot from behind
during a peaceful protest in central
Zeid’s condemnation came after
the United States, Britain and Human
Rights Watch denounced protesters’
Egypt brushed off the criticism, saying it was “unbalanced... and far from
“These statements overlook acts of
murder, arson and terrorism that supporters of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood have carried out,” a foreign
ministry statement said.
Zeid also decried numerous arrests
over the weekend.
Authorities said more than 500
backers of the blacklisted Brotherhood were arrested, in the biggest daily
sweep since Sisi came to power.
“All those who have been detained
for protesting peacefully must be released,” Zeid said, insisting that the
long-term stability of Egypt is only
possible if fundamental human rights
are respected.
“Otherwise people’s grievances will
fester and feelings of injustice will
grow, creating fertile ground for further social and political unrest.”
beset by unrest, with officials,
diplomats and foreign businessmen crossing paths in its lavish
reception area.
In October 2013, then prime
minister Ali Zeidan was seized
by gunmen from the hotel,
where he was residing. He was
released after several hours.
British Prime Minister David
Cameron and then French president Nicolas Sarkozy held talks
with top officials at the hotel in
September 2011, when they were
the first foreign leaders to visit
Libya after Gaddafi’s ouster.
outh Sudanese rebels yesterday released 280 child
soldiers, the first batch of
some 3,000 to be freed but with
thousands more still fighting, the
UN children’s agency said.
Some 12,000 children, mainly
boys, have been forcibly recruited by armed groups across the
country in the past year alone to
fight, according to Unicef.
Those freed included some as
young as 11, who had been fighting for up to four years and have
never attended school.
“The first group of 280 children were released today, at the
village of Gumuruk in Jonglei
state” in the east of the country,
Unicef said in a statement, calling
it “one of the largest ever demobilisations of children”.
The remaining children will be
released in the weeks ahead.
South Sudan has been locked
in civil war since December 2013
when President Salva Kiir accused his sacked deputy Riek
Machar of attempting a coup.
The fighting in the capital Juba
set off a cycle of retaliatory massacres across the country.
“These children have been
forced to do and see things no
child should ever experience,”
Unicef chief in South Sudan
Jonathan Veitch said.
The children were in a rebel
force led by David Yau Yau, who
heads the South Sudan Democratic Army (SSDA) Cobra Faction
insurgents, a small forced based in
the Pibor region of Jonglei.
Yau Yau launched his rebellion
in 2010 after losing out on a seat
in elections, a year before South
Sudan became independent from
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Plague cases on the rise in Madagascar
Chan: around 8% of cases
progress to the lethal
pneumonic form.
lague has killed 57 people out of 213 known cases
in Madagascar and more
deaths are feared after recent
flooding forced tens of thousands
of people from their homes and
set rats on the run, the World
Health Organisation (WHO) said.
The UN agency’s first update
since late November, when there
were 119 cases including 40
deaths, was based on new figures
from the health ministry.
The outbreak began in August
on the Indian Ocean island, one
of the world’s poorest countries,
where the disease is endemic.
The bacterial disease is mainly
spread from one rodent to another by fleas.
Humans bitten by an infected
flea usually develop a bubonic
form of plague, which swells the
lymph node and can be treated
with antibiotics, according to the
However, if the bacteria reach
the lungs, the patient develops
pneumonia (pneumonic plague),
which is transmissible from person to person through infected
droplets spread by coughing.
It is one of the most deadly
infectious diseases and can kill
people within 24 hours.
“Plague established a foothold in the capital city, affecting
densely populated slums. This is
alarming, as around 8% of cases
progress to the lethal pneumonic
hree people were killed in
northern Mali yesterday
after a second day of demonstrations against the United
Nations military mission in the
restive west African nation, government and hospital sources
Witnesses described how
a huge crowd of angry youths
threw stones and attempted to
storm the MINUSMA headquarters in Gao in protest at the UN
taking control of a troubled area
north of the city.
“Here in the morgue in Gao
we have at least three dead protesters, some killed by gunshot
wounds ... there are also several
serious injuries,” a hospital official told AFP.
An official in the ministry for
security and civil protection
confirmed the deaths, adding
that the situation remained “very
“Our officers were besieged
by protesters this morning, but
I can tell you that no one from
MINUSMA fired on the demonstrators. Absolutely no order was
given to use weapons,” Arnaud
Akodjenou, deputy representative of the MINUSMA force told
“We are in very close contact
with the Malian authorities,” he
An independent source contacted by AFP described how
youths had climbed onto MINUSMA vehicles while others
threw petrol bombs at MINUSMA soldiers.
“It was on the verge of a riot.
It’s very tense, I heard gunshots,”
the source said.
Another witness at the protest
said UN troops started shooting
after initially using tear gas to
try to disperse crowds. He said
he saw a dead protester who had
been shot in the face.
One witness said he saw four
dead and four others who had
been injured taken into Gao hospital.
“UN forces panicked and they
opened fire on the protesters,”
a Malian military source in Gao
told Reuters.
The crowd was protesting
against an agreement concluded
at the weekend to create a “temporary security zone” in the
Tabankort district of the Gao region.
The area is controlled by progovernment militias who have
clashed over recent weeks with
rebels, leading to the deaths of
both fighters and civilians.
The creation of the zone “will
force loyalist armed groups to
disarm or abandon their posts”,
a local government source told
Loyalist armed movements
“strongly encouraged” the demonstration, the source said, referring to the Imghad and Allies
Tuareg Self-Defence Group, as
well as a pro-government wing
of the Arab Movement of Azawad (MAA) and various vigilante
The agreement between MINUSMA and three rebel groups –
the High Council for the Unity of
Azawad, the National Movement
for the Liberation of Azawad and
an anti-government wing of the
MAA – places the zone under exclusive control of UN troops and
guarantees “the free movement
of people and goods”.
The bloodshed comes after
MINUSMA helicopters destroyed
a rebel vehicle near Tabankort,
north of Gao, in “self-defence”
on January 20 following what
it described as “direct fire with
heavy weapons” on its peacekeepers.
resistance to the first-line insecticide, Chan told the WHO Executive Board on Monday.
Madagascar’s president announced the replacement of
eight ministers late on Sunday,
including a new finance minister,
after the government was dissolved earlier this month amid
mounting public frustration over
power cuts and social woes.
Risk of Burundi poll
violence ‘mounting’
Three killed in Mali
protest against UN
form,” WHO director-general
Margaret Chan said.
She said flooding from a tropical storm and a cyclone last week
displaced tens of thousands of
people and untold numbers of
rats, “raising the risk of more
rodent-borne epidemics”.
Adding to the danger, the fleas
that transmit the disease from
rats to humans have developed
Addis Ababa
Rebel groups said the action
violated UN neutrality, adding
that seven militants had been
killed and 20 wounded.
The strikes sparked demonstrations hostile to MINUSMA
in the northeastern rebel stronghold of Kidal.
Algeria and the UN, who are
leading mediation talks between
the government and rebels, said
the violence in Tabankort threatened to jeopardise the peace
UN spokesman Olivier Salgado said that according to information available to the mission
headquarters in Bamako, UN
troops fired only warning shots
after the protesters threw rocks
and lobbed petrol bombs at the
“We are trying to understand
why the Malian security detail
that was with the protest withdrew,” he said, adding two UN
police officers were injured.
urundi is facing a
mounting risk of unrest
ahead of key elections
and African leaders should
stop President Pierre Nkurunziza from running for a third
term, human rights groups
warned yesterday.
Burundi, a small nation in
central Africa’s Great Lakes region, emerged in 2006 from a
brutal 13-year civil war and its
political climate remains fractious ahead of the polls.
“The situation in Burundi is
spiralling out of control, with
hundreds of civilians killed or
disappeared, due to the ongoing political impasse over
moves by President Nkurunziza to run for a third term,”
said a grouping of civil society
organisations from across the
continent, who signed under
the banner “The AU We Want
“Burundi’s path toward conflict and chaos has been deliberate, and gone unquestioned
by the African Union,” said the
statement, released ahead of a
summit meeting of the leaders
of the 54-member African Union (AU) bloc on Friday.
“Evidence that Burundi will
revert to atrocities and ethnic
violence is glaringly present,”
the statement said, and repeated warnings by opposition politicians and critics that
claim that the government is
doing all it can to sideline political challengers ahead of the
Measures include a wave
of arrests, harassment and a
clampdown on free speech.
Elections in Burundi, slated
for May and June, will be discussed at the summit along
with more than a dozen other
polls expected across Africa
this year, many of them considered to be at high risk of
possible violence.
“It is critical that the AU acts
with urgency, considering that
Burundi is at the heart of the
fragile Great Lakes region, and
conflict in the country could
create turmoil across the region,” the statement added.
Nkurunziza, in power since
2005, is expected to run for
a third term in office despite
opponents’ claims that a new
mandate would violate Burundi’s constitution.
Ex-Shebaab chief tells
others to surrender
former top commander from
Somalia’s Al Qaeda-affiliated
Shebaab rebels, Zakariya Ismail Ahmed Hersi, called on his former
comrades yesterday to follow his lead
and surrender to the country’s internationally-backed government.
“I call on and encourage all my
friends to seek out a peaceful way of
resolving all conflicts and towards reconciliation, as ... the Shebaab is now
in total collapse,” Hersi said in his first
public appearance since his surrender
last month.
Hersi, who was the subject of a
$3mn bounty under the US State Department’s “Rewards for Justice” programme, spoke to reporters from the
information ministry in Mogadishu,
where he appeared without guards.
It is not clear if Hersi – described
as a former Shebaab intelligence chief
– will face trial, but Somalia’s government said in a statement that it had offered surrendering militants the “opportunity to reintegrate with Somali
Hersi: the Shebaab is now in total
society, and guarantees their safety”.
It added that it hoped Hersi’s surrender would “inspire others to follow
his example and join the peace process”.
Tanzania suspends major
East African newspaper
anzania has suspended the
publication of a major regional
newspaper, the East African,
with diplomats voicing concern at a
possible crackdown on press freedom
ahead of elections in October.
The Nairobi-based weekly, part of the
regional Nation Media Group, has been
sold in Tanzania for 20 years, but earlier
this month the government ordered its
printing and publication be stopped as
it was not officially registered.
European Union nations, along with
Canada, Norway and Switzerland, said
in a statement yesterday that they were
“concerned” by the decision.
“It is the duty of the media to work
within the law and to make every effort to adopt and adhere to professional
standards,” the statement read. “But
press freedom and freedom to express
opinions are fundamental rights of the
people, which call for circumspection
and proportionality in the application
of the law.”
Tanzania is due to hold parliamentary
and presidential elections in October.
The newspaper’s Tanzanian chief,
Christopher Kidanka, was questioned
by senior information ministry officials, and the Nation Media Group said
he had been accused of “having a negative agenda against Tanzania”.
The government reportedly also objected to a recent cartoon that portrayed
Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete reclining on a sofa being fed grapes from
scantily clad women labelled “cronyism, incompetence and corruption”.
The Nation Media Group has protested against the closure.
“Surely they can’t just wake up now
and declare us illegal,” Nation Media
Group chairman Wilfred Kiboro said,
in a statement printed in Kenya’s Daily
Nation yesterday.
The Shebaab are fighting to overthrow Somalia’s internationallybacked government, but have also carried out a string of revenge attacks in
neighbouring nations.
Hersi surrendered in late December
in the southern Gedo region, where
Somalia borders Kenya and Ethiopia.
He was reportedly once close to
former Shehaab chief Ahmed Abdi
Godane, who was killed by a US air
strike in September. But Hersi suggested he was among a group of commanders who had already fallen out
with Godane prior to his death – some
of whom were killed in a purge.
“There were a number of us who opposed the leadership’s approach and its
flawed doctrine,” Hersi said.
He said current Shebab leadership,
under Godane’s successor Ahmad
Umar Abu Ubaidah, is carrying out
a “distorted form of the holy jihad,
which has resulted in countless innocent Somali citizens being killed”.
Hersi also said his appearance yesterday in public was to put to rest those
who said he had been tortured in government custody, or had been handed
over to “foreign countries”.
‘Bomb maker’ for
Boko Haram held
A man suspected of being behind
the manufacture of explosives
used in a series of Boko Haram
suicide attacks has been arrested
in northeast Nigeria, a senior
police officer told AFP yesterday.
The man, identified only as Ba’na,
was held in the Arikime area of
Potiskum after several weeks
of surveillance, said the officer,
who was involved in the Sunday
Potiskum, the commercial capital
of Yobe State, has been hit by
a wave of bombings in recent
months, including a suicide
attack on a secondary school in
November 10 in which 58 people
were killed.
The police officer, who asked not
to be identified because he is not
authorised to speak to the media,
said Ba’na was in his thirties and
had admitted making the bombs.
“He confessed to being
responsible for the manufacture
of the explosives used in at least
three suicide attacks and the car
explosion outside the divisional
police station,” he added.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
FBI arrests alleged
Russian spy in NY
Senator changes course
on Iran sanctions push
Exonerations of criminals
hit record in 2014: study
Stricken plane safely
parachutes into sea
Asteroid that skimmed
Earth has its own moon
Federal agents on Monday arrested an alleged
Russian spy in New York accused of trying to
recruit sources and collect economic intelligence
while working as a Manhattan banker, officials
said. US prosecutors named the alleged covert
intelligence agent as Evgeny Buryakov, 39. He
appeared before Judge Sarah Netburn in a
Manhattan federal court on Monday, a court official
said. Prosecutors said he was assisted in covert
espionage by Russian spies Igor Sporyshev, 40,
and Victor Podobnyy, 27, who had been attached
to the Russian trade and UN missions in New York.
Meanwhile, Russia’s foreign ministry yesterday
dismissed charges against the three men.
A key US senator who had been pushing for fresh
sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme
has said he will no longer seek the measures
while negotiations with Tehran remain underway.
Senator Bob Menendez, a Democrat who has led
the charge for new sanctions along with opposition
Republicans, said at a congressional hearing
yesterday that he will not support passage of a
sanctions bill until after a deadline to reach a deal
with Iran has passed. The move by Menendez,
who authored the sanctions legislation along with
Republican colleague Senator Mark Kirk, will make
it more difficult for Republicans to press forward
with the sanctions.
The number of US criminals exonerated in 2014
climbed to a record high of 125, in part because of
efforts by prosecutors willing to admit their offices
made mistakes, according to a report released
yesterday. The states with the most exonerations
last year were Texas, New York and Illinois,
according to the National Registry of Exonerations,
a project of the University of Michigan Law School.
Evidence that frees a prisoner may include DNA
linking another person to the crime and evidence
of perjury. In one case, Ohio native Ricky Jackson
spent 39 years in prison for murder - making him
the longest-held US prisoner to be exonerated. He
was freed last November.
Video from a US Coast Guard aircraft released on
Monday captured the drama of a single-engine
airplane and its pilot splashing safely onto the
Pacific Ocean thanks to a parachute inside its
fuselage. The factory-new Cirrus SR22 was en
route to Hawaii on Sunday afternoon on a ferry
flight from the San Francisco area when it “ran
out of fuel,” the Coast Guard said in a press
release. Video from the C-130 Hercules rescue
plane showed the ill-starred aircraft deploy its
airframe parachute - standard equipment on
the five-seat aircraft that sells for $725,000 in
its turbocharged version - an estimated 6,000ft
(1,800m) above the sea.
An unusually large asteroid that just skimmed
by Earth had its own moon, Nasa said yesterday
as the US space agency released its first radar
images of the flyby. The asteroid known as 2004
BL86 made its closest approach late Monday at
a distance about three times further than Earth’s
own Moon. Radar images from Nasa’s Deep Space
Network antenna in Goldstone, California show
that the asteroid itself was about 500ft (150m)
smaller than expected, and measured about
1,100ft (325m) across. The asteroid’s small moon
was approximately 230ft (70m) across. Canadian
astronaut Chris Hadfield called the discovery
“strangely delightful.”
Blizzard hits
US northeast,
NY is spared
storm’s brunt
Boston/New York
blizzard swept across the
northeastern US yesterday,
closing schools, cancelling
thousands of flights and leaving
residents in the hardest-hit parts
of Massachusetts and Connecticut digging out as much as 2ft
(60cm) of snow, though New York
City was spared the storm’s brunt.
The governors of New York and
New Jersey lifted travel bans they
had imposed a day earlier and
New York City’s subway system
restarted after being closed for 10
hours, but officials urged people to
stay off snow-covered roadways.
The snow was forecast to continue into early this morning in
eastern New England, which
could set a new snowfall record
in Boston, where 18in (46cm) of
snow was already on the ground
by midday, often piled higher by
strong winds.
“There are drifts now of four,
five and six feet in some places,”
Massachusetts Governor Charlie
Baker told reporters. Boston-area
subways would remain closed for
at least the rest of the day, Baker
Police said a teenager died late
on Monday when he crashed into
a lamppost on a street where he
was snow-tubing on Long Island,
one of the hardest hit areas in New
York state.
The National Weather Service
lifted its blizzard warning for the
New York City area, but throughout the region offices were closed,
schools were shut, some roads
remained impassable, and thousands of flights were cancelled or
A blizzard warning remained in
effect for much of Massachusetts
and Rhode Island, where snow
was expected to fall throughout
the day at a rate as high as 2 to 3in
(5 to 8cm) an hour.
Boston could receive up to 25in
(64cm) of accumulation, approaching the record of 27.5in
(69.85cm) set in February 2003.
Some in New York criticised the
aggressive warnings of officials
including Mayor Bill de Blasio,
who for the first time in history
ordered the city’s round-theclock subways to close for a snowstorm. Officials with vivid memories of disasters including 2012’s
Superstorm Sandy defended their
Stuck at home, Northeasterners spent their energy on social
media, filling Twitter and Facebook with photos of snow drifts
covering the doors of their homes
and what appeared to be a person
in Boston dressed as the Yeti, a
mythical abominable snowman,
on hashtags including “#snowmaggeddon2015” and “#blizzardof2015.”
New Jersey Governor Chris
Christie joked with Twitter followers that it was “too cold” to
wear the fleece jacket he had
sported in photos after Sandy.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker broke with his predecessor’s tradition of wearing a fleece
vest bearing a state emergency
management agency logo, opting instead for a business suit he
called his work uniform.
Some cab drivers in New York
doubled fares and sought to pack
additional passengers into their
vehicles as office workers headed
to their jobs.
The New York Stock Exchange,
owned by Intercontinental Exchange Inc, opened as usual. Nasdaq OMX Group , and BATS Global Markets also expected to stay
open for normal operating hours
New Yorkers were divided on
whether officials had over-reacted
in ordering dramatic shutdowns
ahead of the storm.
“The mayor might have blown
it this time but he was probably
just playing it safe,” said Manny
Martinez, 55, as he salted his
driveway in New York’s Brooklyn
Others were frustrated that de
Blasio had pre-emptively shut the
subway and ordered cabs off the
“This made it a little difficult
to go to my job. I usually take
a taxi, but no taxis today,” said
Greg Noble, 29, as he walked
briskly to his maintenance job
some 30 city blocks from his
Manhattan home.
New York Governor Andrew
Cuomo defended the decisions,
which had included a driving ban
in New York City and its surrounding counties overnight.
“I would rather, if there is a
lean one way or another, lean towards safety because I have seen
the consequences the other way
and it gets very frightening very
quickly ... we have had people die
in storms,” Cuomo told reporters.
“I would rather be in a situation
where we say ‘We got lucky.’”
Christie, his New Jersey counterpart, was less sanguine about
the dire forecasts that preceded
the storm.
“I wasn’t thrilled on my 5:30am
phone call, but it’s the way it
goes,” Christie told Philadelphia’s
WTXF television.
Some of the heaviest snowfall
was recorded in parts of Connecticut and Massachusetts,
with about 20in (50cm) reported
around Worcester, well over the
6in (15cm) reported in New York
City’s Central Park.
Fewer Massachusetts residents
and businesses lost power than
was expected, Governor Baker
said, adding that temperatures
well below freezing had resulted
in light snow. High winds could
yet result in additional outages,
he said.
Obama: Drone
that landed at
White House
available at
Snow plows clear Riverside Drive after a blizzard dumped nearly a half of foot of snow yesterday in
New York City. The city is in the process of cleaning up following the storm which turned out not to
be as severe as predicted.
A man uses a snow blower near Park Avenue after a snowstorm hit New York yesterday.
A boy helps his dad clean snow off their car the morning after a snowstorm yesterday in New
York City.
Koch brothers plan to spend
$889mn for 2016 elections
Former CIA officer is
convicted in leak case
former CIA officer was
convicted in federal court
in Virginia on Monday of
leaking classified information
to a New York Times reporter
about a failed US effort to undermine Iran’s nuclear weapons
programme, the US Justice Department said.
Jeffrey Sterling was found
guilty of nine counts, including six counts of unauthorised
disclosure of national defence
information and one count of
obstruction of justice, the department said. Sentencing for
Sterling, who was indicted in
2010, is scheduled for April 24.
“This is a just and appropriate
outcome,” Attorney General Eric
Holder said in a statement.
“The defendant’s unauthorised disclosures of classified
information compromised operations undertaken in defence
of America’s national security,”
Holder said. “The disclosures
placed lives at risk. And they
constituted an egregious breach
of the public trust by someone
who had sworn to uphold it.”
The trial came after the reporter, James Risen, fought for
years to avoid testifying in the
case as prosecutors had sought.
Risen appeared in court earlier this month before the trial
began and answered a few basic
questions about his book that
discussed the program, but he
declined to discuss specific information about his sources.
The conviction is a victory for
the Justice Department, which
under the Obama administration
has prosecuted a record number
of unauthorised leaks by government employees. Holder came
under fire in 2013 over the Justice
Department’s decision to seize
telephone records of the Associated Press, a move denounced by
critics as a gross intrusion into
press freedom.
he type of small drone
that crashed on the
White House grounds
on Monday is available at a
chain like RadioShack Corp
and illustrates the need for
more regulation over such new
technologies, US President
Barack Obama told CNN.
In an interview broadcast
yesterday, Obama said he had
asked the Federal Aviation
Administration to examine
how the US is managing the
influx of flying devices “because the drone that landed
in the White House you buy in
The device known as a
“quad copter” crashed at the
White House early on Monday
without endangering anyone.
Obama is travelling overseas
with his wife, Michelle.
Asked by CNN if he was
confident that another drone
that was armed could not land
at his residence in the future,
Obama demurred.
“This is a broader problem,”
he said. “I’ll leave the Secret
Service to talk about this particular event.”
Obama said companies such
as Inc were looking at using drones to deliver
packages. The devices can I
am also help farmers manage
crops and conservationists
take stock of wildlife, he said.
He said government agencies were looking at putting a
system in place to make sure
such drones were not dangerous and not violating people’s
“We don’t yet have the legal
structures and the architecture both globally and within
individual countries to manage them the way that we need
to,” Obama said.
“Part of my job over the past
several years and over the next
couple of years that I’m still in
office is seeing if we can start
providing some sort of framework that ensures that we get
the good and minimise the bad.”
White House and Secret
Service officials have said the
drone was used for recreational purposes and did not appear dangerous, and that the
person who flew it had come
onservative political advocacy groups supported
by the billionaire Koch
brothers plan to spend $889mn in
the 2016 US elections, more than
double what they raised in 2012,
the Washington Post reported on
The newspaper said the goal
was announced to donors at a
weekend meeting in Rancho Mirage, California, hosted by Freedom Partners, a business lobby at
the centre of the Koch brothers’
political operation. The Post cited
a person who attended the gathering.
The money will be doled out
by a network of 17 organisations
funded by industrialists Charles
and David Koch, who have become a major force in conservative
politics in recent years, and other
wealthy donors. The network
raised $407mn for the 2012 campaign.
During the 2012 election cycle, the national Republican Party
collectively spent about $675mn,
according to election data com-
Democrats block immediate vote on Keystone
New York Times investigative reporter James Risen, who
has fought for years to avoid testifying in the leaks case as
prosecutors had sought.
US Senate Democrats blocked
immediate consideration of
a Republican-favoured bill on
Monday that would permit the
construction of the Keystone XL
oil pipeline between the US and
Canada. In the latest episode
of partisan bickering triggered
by the controversial project,
Democrats rallied to obstruct a
procedural vote that would have
shortened the debate on the bill.
Fifty-three senators voted for the
motion and 39 voted against.
Sixty votes were required to
move the motion forward.
piled by the Center for Responsive
The Post said the $889mn
would be spent on field operations, technology, policy study
and other expenses.
The Freedom Partners network
spent almost $300mn on November’s congressional elections, in
which Republicans won control of
the Senate and retained their majority in the House of Representatives.
The potential field for the Republican presidential nomination
is fairly crowded and the Post said
the Koch group was still considering whether it would support
candidates in the Republican primaries, which could dramatically
shape the campaign and possible
lead to intraparty conflict.
Senators Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, all of
whom are mentioned as possible
presidential candidates, took part
in the Rancho Mirage meeting, the
Post said.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Police briefly block Myanmar student march to prevent ‘instability’
yanmar police briefly
blocked the path of a
major student protest
march in a remote central region
yesterday as the government
said it wanted to prevent “instability”.
The procession of some 300
people — comprised of students,
monks and other activists — was
eventually allowed to proceed
after a tense stand-off with police trying to halt the unauthorised cross-country march calling for education reforms.
“We are trying to stop them to
avoid further tension and instability,” government spokesman
Ye Htut said, adding the strength
of the security response would
be down to local authorities.
Student activism is a potent
political force in former juntarun Myanmar, with young activists at the forefront of several major uprisings, including
a mass 1988 demonstration that
ended in a bloody military assault on demonstrators.
The group was intercepted in
a remote rural area in the Mandalay region, around 11 kilome-
tres from the nearest village, and
local police said they had been
asked to send personnel to reinforce the roadblock.
They added that the group
had been allowed to pass in the
early evening, but did not give a
Activists earlier said that the
situation was tense but calm.
“If we cannot continue we will
sit and continue our protest,”
Paing Ye Thu, a student in contact with the protesters, said.
Myanmar’s government had
initially appeared wary of acting
against the rallies for education
reform, which erupted briefly
in November and started again
last week when students began a
planned 14-day march from the
second city of Mandalay to the
commercial hub Yangon.
But Ye Htut said authorities
Nature’s bounty
moved in response to continuing protests despite a statement
from the president last week
calling for parliament to rethink
aspects of a controversial new
education bill — a move protesters said fell short of their demands.
State-backed media yesterday reported that some students
were wanted in connection with
an incident at nearby Myingyan
Junta chief defends
cyber law plans
A worker talks on his phone in a nursery selling mandarin orange trees ahead of Chinese New Year in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. Chinese around the world will celebrate the
Year of the Goat on February 19.
Indonesian military calls
off jet wreckage recovery
Pangkalan Bun
he Indonesian military
yesterday called off efforts
to recover the wreckage
of an AirAsia plane that crashed
into the Java Sea last month, after failing to find any more bodies inside the fuselage.
Flight QZ8501 went down on
December 28 in stormy weather
with 162 people on board, during
what was supposed to be a short
trip from the Indonesian city of
Surabaya to Singapore.
Search and rescue teams failed
repeatedly in recent days to lift
the main body of the Airbus
A320-200, where officials had
hoped to find the majority of the
The navy, which has provided much of the personnel and
equipment for the rescue effort,
said yesterday it was withdrawing as the badly damaged fuselage was too difficult to lift and
no more bodies had been located.
“All of our forces are being
Indonesia soldiers and rescue personnel prepare to put a coffin of a
passenger of AirAsia Flight QZ8501 into the cargo compartment of a
Trigana airplane at Iskandar airbase in Pangkalan Bun yesterday.
pulled out,” said Rear Admiral
Widodo, a navy official overseeing the search and rescue operation. “We apologise to the families of the victims.”
So far just 70 bodies have
been recovered, and the national
search and rescue agency said it
would try to find more victims in
smaller-scale operations.
“We will continue to try fulfil
Lawyer hopeful of new appeal
for Australians on death row
lawyer for two Australian drug smugglers facing imminent execution
in Indonesia said yesterday there
were “serious mistakes” in their
convictions that he hoped to
challenge in a fresh legal appeal.
His comments came as Indonesian President Joko Widodo
again insisted he would not grant
clemency for drug traffickers on
death row. Jakarta earlier this
month executed six drug offenders, including five foreigners,
sparking a diplomatic storm.
Myuran Sukumaran and An-
drew Chan, the leaders of the
so-called “Bali Nine” drugtrafficking gang, were arrested in
2005 for attempting to smuggle
eight kilograms of heroin out of
Chan’s appeal for presidential
clemency, typically a death row
convict’s last chance to avoid the
firing squad, was rejected earlier this month, removing the final hurdle to putting him to death
alongside Sukumaran.
Sukumaran’s clemency appeal
had been rejected earlier. Authorities had insisted that both men
had to be executed together, since
they committed their crimes together, and had been waiting for
the result of Chan’s appeal.
Degree College, where activists
removed the national flag and
replaced it with that of the student protest group.
The students say the new law
curbs academic freedom and
want it altered to include free
and compulsory education until
children reach their early teens,
permission to form student and
teacher unions, and teaching in
ethnic minority languages.
the hopes of the victims’ relatives, but the operation will not
be a large-scale one,” the agency’s head Bambang Soelistyo
Military spokesman Fuad
Basya said that the plane’s body
was “destroyed.”
“It was soaked in sea water for
a while so when we lifted it, it
was torn apart,” he said. “We can
no longer find any more bodies.”
Despite the military’s withdrawal from the operation, Shukor Yusof, founder of aviation
research firm Endau Analytics,
said it would be surprising if authorities did not continue to salvage the aircraft.
“I think it would be very surprising if the salvage was not
continued, knowing in fact that
it’s there,” he said.
“I can’t think of any previous
aircraft incidents where they
haven’t tried to retrieve everything.”
Since Saturday, salvage teams
had been using giant inflatable
bags to try to raise the fuselage,
which is lying in the sea at a
depth of around 30 metres (98
At one point, they managed to
lift the main body to the surface
for two minutes before a sling
holding it snapped. The fuselage
then split in two and sank to the
There was a huge international hunt for the AirAsia jet,
involving ships from countries
including the US and China. But
following the discovery of the
fuselage by a Singaporean vessel, most foreign assistance was
pulled out. The jet’s black boxes
— the cockpit voice recorder and
flight data recorder — have been
recovered, and investigators are
analysing them. A preliminary
report into the accident should
be completed this week.
Indonesian Transport Minister Ignasius Jonan said last week
that the plane climbed abnormally fast before stalling and
plunging into the sea.
One crash investigator described how the plane’s warning
alarms were “screaming” in the
moments before the crash as the
pilots desperately sought to stabilise the aircraft.
Just moments before the plane
disappeared off the radar, the pilot had asked to climb to avoid a
major storm but was not immediately granted permission due
to heavy air traffic.
agency has said weather could
have caused the accident, but
only the black boxes will be able
to give definitive answers.
hailand’s junta chief
proposals for a cyber
law that critics say will grant
the government unprecedented surveillance powers with
little judicial oversight.
A new law granting authorities the right to access
e-mails, telephone records,
computers and postal mail
without court approval — if
they suspect national security is at risk — is tabled for
discussion by the country’s
rubber-stamp parliament.
The draft wording of the
legislation has alarmed Internet rights groups in a country
which has already seen press
freedom and free speech severely restricted since the
military imposed martial law
and took over last May after
months of street protests.
But junta chief Prayut
Chan-O-Cha, appointed as
premier three months after
the coup, insisted the National Cyber Security Bill was
a necessary tool to protect the
“We need to have national
security otherwise everybody
does what they want,” he told
reporters in Bangkok yesterday when asked about the bill.
“If there is a threat to national security — a violation,
or someone committing a
crime — we need to empower
state officials to investigate,”
he added.
has yet to publically publish a
draft of the bill.
groups have obtained a copy
and published it online.
“What I am concerned
about is Section 35, which says
there is no need to ask a court
for a warrant. It will just be up
to the authorities to decide,”
Thitima Urapeepathanapong
from the Thai Netizen Network said.
“It will destroy our rights
and freedoms — when we
know someone can watch our
communications and chats,
we will not feel safe,” she
Dhiraphol Suwanprateep,
an Internet law specialist at
the law firm Baker and McKenzie, said the current bill
“is very broad, vague and too
“There is no balance between the national security
and data privacy as the government may exercise its discretion without having judicial review,” he said.
Earlier this week government officials admitted that
they may have rushed the
wording of Section 35 in an indication that the controversial
elements might be rewritten.
But yesterday Prayut said
investigators would not overstep their authority without
giving details on what, if any,
checks and balances would be
put in place.
“The authorities must
have a reason to obtain the
information. It would violate someone’s human rights
to intrude into personal data
(without reason),” he said.
The junta leader has previously reacted testily to scrutiny of the bill.
Last week he abruptly ended a press conference when a
journalist asked how the law
would affect press freedom.
Journalist shot dead
on Sumatra island
newspaper editor on
Indonesia’s Sumatra
island was shot dead by
an unknown assailant, local
media reported yesterday.
Benny Faisal, chief editor of the weekly Fokus Lampung, was killed late Sunday
in Bandar Lampung, the capital of Lampung province, the news website said.
Benny, 42, had complained
about pressure against him
related to his work uncovering corruption in government
projects, said Juniardi, chief
of the provincial Information
Commission, according to
news reports.
“I suspect the incident
was related to his journalistic work,” Juniardi, who like
many Indonesians goes by one
name, was quoted as saying by Bandar Lampung
chief police investigator Deri
Agung Wijaya said the motive
was still unknown.
HK ‘drug lord’ forced to burn meth stash
andcuffed and wearing black masks, a Hong
Kong man accused of
being a drug lord and his gang
were yesterday forced to publicly burn a $136mn stash of crystal
methamphetamine after their
arrests in Indonesia.
Wong Chi-ping and several
other suspects were paraded
in front of the media, before
throwing packets of the drugs
into the flames of a giant incinerator in a town just outside the
capital Jakarta.
“The drugs are garbage, that’s
why we are burning them,” national narcotics agency chief
Arrested members of the international drug syndicate led by major
Hong Kong drug lord Wong Chi-ping (front row, left ) wearing masks sit
next to boxes containing some of the 862 kilograms of crystal
methamphetamine in Tangerang, on the outskirts of Jakarta yesterday.
Anang Iskandar told reporters.
A total of 862 kilograms of drugs
were burnt.
The man alleged to be the
gang’s kingpin, along with three
other Hong Kong residents, a
Malaysian and four Indonesians, were arrested earlier this
month, following a three-year
investigation into a global syndicate. They could all be sentenced to the death if found
guilty of drug trafficking.
Indonesia enforces some of
the world’s toughest anti-drugs
laws and has been stepping up
its campaign against narcotics under new President Joko
Widodo, who is a strong supporter of capital punishment for
traffickers. Earlier this month,
six drugs offenders — including five foreigners — were put to
death by firing squad.
“Indonesia has declared war
on drugs. We want to save the
future generation, our children
and grandchildren,” said Security Minister Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno at yesterday’s event.
The drugs — concealed in
coffee packets — were around
97% pure, and the syndicate
was wanted in more than seven
countries, including China, the
Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore, said Indonesian narcotics agency official Deddy Fauzi
Elhakim. Describing the capture
of the drugs gang as “really
spectacular”, he said authorities
had enough evidence to charge
all nine men with drug smuggling.
“(Wong) will definitely be
sentenced to death. This is an
extraordinary crime,” he added.
Indonesian authorities had
been monitoring Wong since
2012. He was caught after a fishing boat brought the drugs to Jakarta, and he tried to sell them on.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Play time!
Australians slam
Abbott over royal
Lion cubs play at Hangzhou Safari Park in eastern China.
China military parade
to ‘frighten Japan’
South Korea, China warn Japan not to backtrack on apology
hina will this year hold its first largescale military parade since 2009 to
mark the 70th anniversary of the end of
World War II, reports said yesterday, with one
key goal described as being to “frighten Japan”.
China generally shies away from the vast
annual demonstrations of military might that
were a hallmark of the Soviet Union.
But it most recently held National Day parades in 1999 and 2009 to mark the 50th and
60th anniversaries of the October 1 establishment of the People’s Republic of China.
Even now the part played by the People’s
Liberation Army in China’s earlier resistance
against Japanese invasion remains a key element of the Communist Party’s claim to a
right to rule.
On its instant messaging WeChat account
the People’s Daily newspaper, the Party’s official mouthpiece, cited a Hong Kong report
that a parade would be held this year to commemorate the anniversary of the war’s end.
One reason for mounting the parade was
“to frighten Japan and declare to the world
China’s determination to maintain the postwar world order”, said the article, written by
Chinese financial and global affairs commentator Hu Zhanhao.
“Only by showing its military capabilities can (China) show Japan its attitude and
determination and let it know that whoever
dares to challenge the post-war order related
to China and touch China’s core interests is its
enemy and must be psychologically prepared
for China’s strong counterattack,” it said.
Other reasons included showcasing China’s military strength and increasing Chinese
South Korea and China yesterday warned Japan
not to backtrack on its apology issued 20 years
ago over its wartime past when Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe makes a statement on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.
Japan’s ties with South Korea and China have
worsened sharply as Abe has adopted a conservative agenda, including a less apologetic
tone toward the wartime past and bolstering
Japan’s defences.
Abe has said he intends to express remorse
over the war in his statement and his cabinet
upholds past apologies, including the landmark
1995 remarks by then-premier Tomiichi Murayama but suggested he was not going to stick
with the original wording.
“I would like to issue a statement with the
focus not on whether the same terms will be
used but on the Abe government’s thought on
the occasion,” Abe said on public broadcaster
NHK at the weekend.
The anniversary of Japan’s defeat falls on August 15, but no date has been set for the release
of the Abe statement.
South Korea’s Foreign Ministry spokesman
Noh Kwang-il has already accused Japan of
trying to “undermine” a separate 1993 apology
to Asian women it forced to work as wartime
sex slaves in Japanese brothels by conducting a
review of it last year.
The Japanese government must remember “the historic significance of every single
pride. The report did not give a date for the
event but said it would mark the first time it
was not held on National Day.
Several Chinese media outlets yesterday
described the posting of the article by the
passage” used in past apologies by former
premiers, Noh told a news briefing yesterday.
“It should reflect carefully, looking squarely
at history how the international community and
neighbouring countries will react if it takes key
parts out from statements by Murayama on the
50th anniversary and (Junichi) Koizumi on the
Koizumi issued a similar statement in 2005.
Noh added Japan should take lessons
from the consistent position of remorse and
responsibility taken by German leaders about
the Nazi past.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman
Hua Chunying said on Monday Beijing was
concerned about “what type of attitude the
Japanese government and leaders adopt with
respect to the past period of aggression and
the type of information it sends out to the
outside world”.
“Will it play down the history of aggression
and continue to carry that negative asset? Or
will it show profound and sincere remorse over
its history of invasions and travel lightly forward? The international community waits and
sees,” she told a media briefing in Beijing.
Abe has questioned the 1993 statement in
the past and in what many saw as a nod to his
conservative base, asked a panel of experts
to review it. However, mindful of the potential
diplomatic fallout, he has said he would not
revise it.
People’s Daily as a confirmation.
Asked about the reports at a regular briefing,
foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying
said that China was planning a series of celebrations and commemorations related to the
war, but did not offer specific details.
She stressed that China was both a victor and a battlefield during the conflict. “We
have made a huge contribution and sacrifice
to ensure the victory in that war,” she said.
The commemorations were intended “to
evoke in all mankind their memory of history”, she told reporters, and be “a way for us
to safeguard the victory and the outcomes of
World War II and the post-war order”.
The report comes as Beijing has taken an
increasingly hard line towards Tokyo amid
disputes over territory and history.
Ties between Asia’s two biggest economies
have been soured by a tense dispute over control of uninhabited islands in the East China
Sea, administered by Japan but also claimed
by China, and Beijing’s anger over a December 2013 visit by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
to Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine, which honours
Japan’s war dead including convicted war
criminals from World War II.
The countries have taken tentative steps to
reduce tensions, with an agreement in November paving the way for the first formal
bilateral meeting between Abe and Chinese
President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the
Apec Asia-Pacific leaders’ forum in Beijing,
but it took place in a glacial atmosphere.
Beijing, which uses memories of the war
with Japan as a key tool to galvanise nationalist sentiment and deflect any dissatisfaction
with Communist Party rule, remains wary
of moves by Tokyo to raise its military profile
and frequently says its neighbour must face
its wartime history and not repeat it.
Victory over Japan, along with the economic development that has lifted hundreds
of millions of Chinese out of poverty, are key
pillars upon which the Party asserts its legitimacy.
Thousands sue Japan paper over sex slavery reports
ore than 10,000 people are
suing Japan’s leading liberal
newspaper over stories on
Tokyo’s system of wartime sex slavery, which they say have stained their
reputation as Japanese nationals.
The move is the latest salvo in the
battle over Japan’s history, which pits
an increasingly aggressive revisionist
right wing against an ever-more cowed
mainstream that accepts the country’s
guilt over World War II atrocities.
The group of plaintiffs, led by
Sophia University professor emeritus Shoichi Watanabe, is demanding
10,000 yen ($85) in apparently symbolic compensation each, describing themselves as “Japanese citizens
whose honour and credibility were
damaged by the false reports made
by the Asahi Shimbun”, according to
court documents.
They argue that Asahi reports on
the so-called “comfort women”
system “have imposed indescribable humiliation not only on former
soldiers but also on honourable Japanese citizens... who are labelled as
descendants of gang rapists.”
Despite a dearth of official records,
mainstream historians say up to
200,000 women, many from Korea but also from China, Indonesia,
the Philippines and Taiwan, served
Japanese soldiers in military brothels
called “comfort stations”.
Most agree that these women were
not willing participants and that the
Imperial Japanese Army and wartime
government were involved in their
enslavement, tacitly or explicitly.
Right-wingers, however, say the
women were common prostitutes
engaged in a commercial exchange,
and are fighting a vigorous rearguard battle to alter the narrative.
The Asahi has become the focus of
their ire because it published a series of
articles in the 1980s based on the nowdiscredited testimony of a Japanese
man who said he had rounded up Korean women to work in military brothels.
After years of pressure, the paper
retracted the articles, and apologised. The company’s president also
Conservatives leapt on the Asahi’s
climbdown, and nationalist Prime
Minister Shinzo Abe, who wants a
more sympathetic telling of Japan’s
history, took the move as proof of a
“In the post-war period, the Asahi
Shimbun has consistently been haunted by socialistic fantasies, infected by
anti-Japanese, self-degrading ideologies,” the lawsuit alleges.
The paper “never hesitated to humiliate (the men) who so selflessly
staked their lives for Japan’s independence and modernisation.
“The Japanese military complied
with international law and maintained high moral standards, with the
world’s strictest military discipline,”
the document says.
Revisionists typically do not believe the well-documented “Rape of
Nanking”, in which tens of thousands
of Chinese died in a six-week orgy
of rape and violence when the Japanese Imperial Army over-ran China’s
then-capital in 1937. Nor do they accept that their military carried out
experiments, including vivisection,
on live prisoners in China.
The Asahi said it would study the
court document before responding.
ustralia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott was yesterday facing a backlash over his surprise move
to knight Britain’s Prince Philip which has
prompted ridicule and questions about his leadership
even from conservative supporters.
Abbott, whose personal approval rating has plunged
in recent opinion polls, said the decision to make the
Duke of Edinburgh - the 93-year-old husband of
Queen Elizabeth II - a knight of Australia was his own
initiative for Australia Day on Monday.
But it provoked anger within Abbott’s Liberal-National coalition, with unnamed politicians reportedly
describing the move as “stupid” and “near impossible” to explain to ordinary Australians.
Liberal-National parliamentarian Warren Entsch
said: “For the life of me, I can’t understand why” Abbott would knight a British royal.
Entsch said he was “not pushing for a change in
leader, I’m looking for significant change in leadership”.
Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, which dubbed the story
“Abbott’s Knightmare”, quoted a government politician as saying “the feedback is horrendous”.
Another unnamed MP said the move was “a stupid announcement” and “manifestly amazing in the
worst possible way”, the Australian Broadcasting Corp
Government frontbencher Michaelia Cash yesterday defended the call, saying Prince Philip was “extremely deserving” for the contributions he had made
to Australia over many years.
“The backlash will be the backlash. Some people
don’t agree with the decision,” she said.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann agreed Philip
had made significant contributions but did not want
to be drawn on the issue.
“I’m not a commentator,” he said. “That was a decision that was made by the prime minister.”
Those outside conservative politics spoke freely.
“This is a bit like giving Bill Gates an abacus,” independent Senator Nick Xenophon said of the award
to the Duke who already boasts a long list of titles. “I
don’t know what he’s going to do with it.”
Abbott, a life-long admirer of British royalty, faced
accusations of being in a “time warp” when he reintroduced the titles of dame and knight in Australia
last year and has struggled to get his message out and
backtracked on several policies.
“Already vulnerable over his idiosyncratic revival
of British imperial honours... Abbott can ill-afford to
alienate his colleagues right now,” wrote The Sydney
Morning Herald’s chief political correspondent Mark
“Yet his bizarre selection of the husband of the
British monarch for Australia’s top civic award has
done just that. Ridicule abounds.”
The Australian newspaper said in an editorial that
the decision lacked leadership and gave those who
would lampoon Abbott a “right royal charter”.
The fact that Abbott made the announcement on
Australia’s national day stoked emotions further.
“It’s Australia Day, we are not a bunch of tossers,
let’s get it right,” Northern Territory Chief Minister
Adam Giles said.
Australia temperatures rising
faster than rest of the world
ustralia faced a rise in temperature of potentially more than five degrees Celsius by the end
of the century, an increase that would outpace
global warming worldwide, the country’s national
science agency said yesterday.
In its most comprehensive analysis yet of the impacts of climate change, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)
painted a worst-case scenario of a rise of up to 5.1 degrees Celsius by 2090 if there are no actions taken to
cut greenhouse emissions.
“There is a very high confidence that hot days will
become more frequent and hotter,” CSIRO principal
research scientist Kevin Hennessy said. “We also have
very high confidence that sea levels will rise, oceans
will become more acidic, and snow depths will decline.”
The new research by CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology, using some 40 global climate models, has
Australia warming at a greater rate than the rest of the
world. The 5.1 degree Celsius projection for 2090 is at
the top end of a range starting at 2.8 degrees Celsius
and is dependent on how deeply, if at all, greenhouse
gas emissions are cut. The world average is for an increase of between 2.6 degrees Celsius and 4.8 degrees
Celsius. The report said the annual average temperature in Australia would likely be up to 1.3 degrees Celsius warmer in 2030 than the average experienced between 1986 and 2005.
A bus drives through a puddle past pedestrians in Sydney’s central business
district yesterday as heavy rains caused disruptions in ferry services along the
Parramatta River and flooded roads around the city.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Ambulance boss in
warning to public
The strike is likely to hit vulnerable
sections the hardest
Evening Standard
mbulance chiefs yesterday warned
Londoners that a NHS pay strike
tomorrow will be “much more disruptive” than before - with thousands of
people not getting emergency help.
Car crash victims, people with broken
bones, pregnant women in labour and
pensioners who have fallen and cannot get
up will not get a response if their condition
is not life-threatening.
This goes well beyond restrictions introduced during previous walkouts as the
latest dispute is scheduled to last for 24
hours - six times longer than before.
The action, due to start at midnight
today, will place the London Ambulance
Service (LAS) under unprecedented pressure, with soldiers and police driving ambulances and nurses and doctors volunteering as stand-in paramedics. Its effects
are expected to continue well into Friday.
LAS chief executive Dr Fionna Moore
said: “We will be unable to send an ambulance response to some patients with
broken bones, some older people who may
have fallen and cannot get up and some
people in road traffic collisions where their
Patients with non-life threatening injuries
will not get a response from ambulance
services due to strike action.
life is not immediately at risk.
“We’d encourage Londoners to plan
ahead, be sensible about their activities
and be prepared should they need medical
help on Thursday.”
The action is in response to health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s refusal to implement
the findings of an independent pay review
panel for a 1% rise for all NHS staff.
GMB members will be on strike for 24
hours, with Unison and Unite members
protesting for 12 hours, starting at midday
The LAS advised friends and family of
vulnerable people to be ready to take them
to hospital or use other options such as
Urgent Care Centres, pharmacies, their
GP and NHS 111.
People have been told not to wait to
get help if they are feeling unwell before
Thursday, do, but to seek advice from GP
or pharmacist beforehand.
People with a long-term or chronic condition have been advised not to be alone on
the day.
People on regular medication have been
told to collect prescriptions.
Moore said: “Those looking after vulnerable groups - such as older people,
children and people with long-term
conditions - should be prepared to make
alternative arrangements to get medical
help or transport those in their care to
Talks aimed at averting the strike by
health workers are “ongoing”, officials
A two-day strike that threatened to
cause misery for Docklands Light Railway
passengers has been suspended.
Talks between union bosses and operators Keolis/Amey have secured an agreement, the Rail and Maritime Transport
union said.
Members had been due to walk out from
4am today in a dispute over outsourcing
and new human resources policies.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said:
“RMT is delighted to be able to announce
that the determination and solidarity of
our members across Docklands Light Railway has forced the pace in head-to-head
talks with the operators, Keolis/Amey, and
as a result we have secured agreement on
all of the issues the union had put into dispute.
“That means that the union has been
able to suspend the strike action, action
that would have led to a total shutdown of
the Docklands Light Railway from tomorrow morning.
“RMT members voted overwhelmingly
for strike action and have proved that
unity and organisation in the workplace
can deliver positive outcomes that protect
staff and their working conditions.”
Keolis/Amey Docklands said the agreement followed a number of “productive”
Managing Director Kevin Thomas said:
“We are pleased to have reached agreement with the RMT to avoid this strike
“During the dispute all parties have
worked tirelessly to address employees’
concerns and business needs to prevent
unnecessary disruption for our passengers.
“We will continue to work the union to
ensure we provide our passengers with
the best possible travel experience, as well
as continuing our preparations to deliver
even further improvements in this new
State-owned French company Keolis
and Amey took over running the DLR last
month after Serco lost the contract.
Bafta masks
Molds of masks for the British Academy of Film and Television Awards (BAFTA) are pre-fired at the New Pro Foundries in west London yesterday. Designed by US sculptor
Mitzi Cunliffe in 1955, the bronze casts have been made at the foundry since the ceremony began in 1975. The BAFTA’s will be presented in London on February 8,.
UK’s Black
Friday genie
now out of
the bottle
ritons literally fell over
themselves for ‘Black
Friday’ bargains in November, so retailers need to
make the discount day imported from across the Atlantic
work for the industry.
Black Friday took hold in
Britain in a major way for the
first time last year, as store
groups sought to match the
promotions of big US online
retailers such as Amazon and
use the event to kick-start interest in Christmas shopping.
But many were not prepared for the level of demand
on November 28, which saw
shoppers queuing overnight,
scuffles breaking out in stores,
websites crashing and delivery
operations overloaded.
Not only did that frustrate
customers, but it also left many
store groups selling more stock
at a discount than they intended, and then finding there
was less demand for full-price
goods in the following weeks,
hitting their profit margins.
Industry data showed the
extent to which the traditional build up of sales ahead of
Christmas was skewed. While
Black Friday drove November
retail sales growth to a three
month high of 2.2% year-onyear, December’s rise of 1.0%
was the weakest outcome for
that month since 2008.
With customers’ expectations raised, and online retailers
likely to keep up the pressure,
there seems little prospect of
Black Friday—named after the
day of the year when US retailers traditionally become profitable—fading away.
“We do not believe that the
genie can be put back in the
bottle,” said retail researcher
So Britain’s stores are going
to have to do better, and that
may mean learning from those
that coped well, such as electrical goods chain Dixons Carphone.
It carefully planned targeted
promotions with global suppliers on goods such as Samsung TVs, De Longhi coffee
machines and Bose speakers,
allowing it to achieve a sales
boost while maintaining profit
“I think it’s here to stay. It’s
something that we need to plan
for and get used to,” said Dixons Carphone finance director Humphrey Singer of Black
“We pretty much start planning now for this year.”
Dixons Carphone’s success
was in contrast to the experi-
ence of many other general
merchandise retailers on Black
“It caused a huge pull-forward of sales, it strained distribution networks, it undermined consumers’ willingness
to pay full-price at Christmas
and it ruined perceptions of
online delivery reliability,” said
independent retail analyst Nick
While Black Friday drove
November retail sales
growth to a three month
high of 2.2% year-on-year,
December’s rise of 1.0%
was the weakest outcome
for that month since 2008.
Marks & Spencer, Britain’s
biggest clothing retailer, was
the highest profile casualty,
with its huge distribution centre in Castle Donington, central
England, thrown into chaos.
Unable to cope with the spike
in demand, automated picking
and packing failures delayed
the delivery of goods ordered
online. Disappointed customers lambasted the firm on social
media and a subsequent loss of
sales was a major factor in the
firm missing forecasts.
Chief executive Marc Bolland lamented that at any other
time of year “you don’t get that
artificial Christmas tree, wrapping paper and a dress together
in one order”.
But he knows it’s the company that must adjust.
“If consumers like to shop in
that way more, then as retailers
we need to find answers to it,”
he said.
Analysts say this year retailers may put more focus on
spreading the home delivery
of goods ordered on Black Friday over a longer period and on
increasing the appeal of “click
and collect” services, where
ordered goods are picked-up
in store.
Household goods chain Argos missed Christmas sales
forecasts after reining in promotions in the wake of Black
Friday. That protected profit
margins but hurt sales.
Chief executive John Walden, who as an American is a
veteran of Black Friday, reckons retailers will be more selective about what they put on
sale this year—“balancing the
things that make money versus
the things that may not.”
Black Friday delivered the
biggest week of sales in department store John Lewis’ 150year history.
Its boss, Andy Street, says the
event will stay but reckons it
may be tempered this year, perhaps more focused around its
traditional electricals heritage.
Boris clears ‘Crossrail’ bicycle superhighway
Evening Standard
oris Johnson yesterday confirmed
he would build Europe’s longest segregated urban cycle lane
through central London after delays
likely to be suffered by motorists were
The mayor approved the “Crossrail for bikes” protected route through
Parliament Square and along the Victoria Embankment and Upper Thames
Street after it won overwhelming public
A total of 84% of the 21,500 responses backed the plans for the east-west
route that will eventually link Barking
and Acton, and a linked north-south
route between King’s Cross and Elephant and Castle.
Amendments to the scheme mean
that “worst case” delays of 16 minutes
have been cut to six minutes for morning rush-hour motorists driving from
Limehouse Link to Hyde Park Corner.
Johnson said: “We have done one
of the biggest consultation exercises
in TfL’s history. We have listened, and
now we will act. Overwhelmingly,
Londoners wanted these routes, and
wanted them delivered to the high
standard we promised. I intend to keep
that promise. “But I have also listened
to those concerned about the eastwest route’s impact on traffic. Thanks
to the skill of TfL’s engineers and traffic managers, we have made changes to
our original plans which keep the whole
of the segregated cycle track and junctions, while taking out much less of the
route’s motor traffic capacity – and so
causing much shorter delays.”
TfL board papers being published
this afternoon confirmed that the proposals are set to be ratified at a meeting
next week, with “spades in the ground”
from April.
The £41m central part of the route,
between Tower Hill and the A40 Westway flyover at Paddington, is scheduled
to be completed by April 2016 - making good the Mayor’s pledge to deliver a
safer cycling infrastructure in the wake
of a series of cycle fatalities.
TfL board members will next week
also approve an upgrade of the CS2 cycle superhighway between Whitechapel and Bow, with work beginning on
February 9, and the £17mn north-south
new superhighway linking Elephant
and Castle and King’s Cross. Construction will start on this on March 2.
Seven cyclists have been killed in the
last 18 months on roads due to be improved.
The east-west route attracted objec-
tions from the Canary Wharf Group,
the London Chamber of Commerce
and the City of London Corporation
but was supported by hundreds of major employers such as RBS and Unilever.
The NHS trusts running London’s four
major trauma centres backed the routes
on safety grounds.
Projected traffic delays were reduced
by up to 60% by retaining two westbound lanes at three “pinch-points”.
This will be done by narrowing the
“both ways” cycle lane from 4m to 3m
for short sections, at Temple, Tower Hill
and in the Blackfriars underpass. Eastbound traffic will be reduced from two
lanes to one lane as originally planned.
Johnson was keen to reallocate space
on central London roads in response to
their changing use - the amount of vehicle traffic has fallen by 25% in the last
decade while the number of cyclists has
doubled. Cyclists now account for a
quarter of all traffic in central London
in the morning rush hour.
Plans to extend the cycle superhighway between Paddington and Acton by
removing an east-bound lane on the
six-lane A40 Westway will be subject
to a separate consultation later this year.
Crossrail for bikes is the central plank
of the Mayor’s £913mn “cycle revolution for London”.
Mr Johnson said: “I now look forward
How Parliament Square will look.
to the transformation that these routes
will bring – not just for people who cycle now, but for the thousands of new
cyclists they will attract.
“Getting more people on their bikes
will reduce pressure on the road, bus
and rail networks, cut pollution, and
improve life for everyone, whether or
not they cycle themselves.”
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Litvinenko may have
been poisoned twice
Russian president Putin’s name keeps
cropping up in the case
n inquiry into the radiation poisoning of a former Russian spy opened
yesterday with claims that there
may have been an earlier assassination bid
in the most sensational tale of espionage
since the Cold War.
Alexander Litvinenko was killed—apparently via a cup of green tea laced with
hard-to-detect polonium-210 -- in an
upmarket London hotel in 2006.
The inquiry will look into claims of Russian state involvement and yesterday it
heard chilling extracts from Litvinenko’s
interviews with police conducted at his
hospital deathbed.
Russia has refused to extradited the two
men identified by British police as the chief
suspects—Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitri Kovtun—who drank tea with Litvinenko on
November 1, 2006.
Counsel to the inquiry Robin Tam said
yesterday that traces of polonium found
from a previous meeting between the three
on October 16 in the offices of a London
security firm may indicate a previous poisoning attempt.
“One of the most significant things that
the evidence suggests is that Litvinenko
was poisoned with polonium not once but
twice,” he said.
Tam also revealed that a friend of Kovtun from Germany will testify that the
Russian told him he had poison and needed a contact for a cook to kill Litvinenko.
Marina Litvinenko and a solicitor arrive
outside the Royal Courts of Justice, in
“Kovtun said that he had a very expensive poison and that he needed the cook
to put the poison in Litvinenko’s food or
drink,” Tam said.
Litvinenko, who was doing work for
Britain’s MI6 foreign intelligence service,
died on November 23, 2006 -- three weeks
after the poisoning.
A deathbed statement in his name accused president Vladimir Putin directly,
saying that “the howl of protest from
around the world will reverberate, Mr Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life”.
The inquiry’s chairman Robert Owen
said at the start of yesterday’s hearing that
closed-doors hearings would examine intelligence material on “the issue of Russian state responsibility”.
Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper reported at the weekend that communications between London and Moscow intercepted by the US National Security Agency
pointed to Russian state involvement.
At the time, Putin rejected the accusa-
tions as a “political provocation”.
There are other theories about who may
have killed him, given Litvinenko’s investigative work in other European countries
including Italy and Spain and his specialisation in researching organised crime.
Owen was the coroner in a previous inquest into the death but did not have the
power to examine intelligence documents.
He lobbied for an inquiry to be able to do so.
Under English law, such inquiries establish the facts of a case in public but do
not result in convictions.
Britain announced the inquiry in July
2014, just days after the downing of a Malaysian passenger jet over eastern Ukraine—
a tragedy blamed on Russia’s involvement in
the conflict in the region—in what was seen
as a way of punishing Moscow.
Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned on the
direct orders of Russian president Vladimir
Putin - “a common criminal dressed up as
a head of state”, the widow’s lawyer told the
public inquiry this afternoon.
Putin brought “nuclear terrorism to the
streets” of London out of political revenge,
the hearing was told.
In an act of “unspeakable barbarism”
Litvinenko was silenced to prevent him
exposing Putin and “his odious and deadly
It was a “message of lethal deterrence to
others” before Litvinenko could give evidence to a criminal trial in Spain.
The death sentence on the man who fled
Moscow to become a British citizen, could
not have been passed “without the personal knowledge and permission of Putin,”
said Ben Emmerson QC.
“Putin should be unmasked by this inquiry as nothing more or less than a com-
mon criminal dressed up as a head of state.”
He considered Litvinenko such a traitor
that Russian special forces used an image
of him for target practice.
But far from treachery, Litvinenko was a
whistleblower and patriot to his final day,
said Emmerson.
The QC described the scene in November
2006 as “the haunting and iconic image”
went round the world of Mr Litvinenko dying in a green UCH gown over 23 days of agonising pain as “his strength slowly left him
and his organs began to fail.”
“It was the calculated, pre-planned
murder of a British subject on the streets
of our capital city,” he said.
“He had to be eliminated because he had
become an enemy of the close-knit group
of criminals who surround Putin.
“The startling truth which will be revealed by this inquiry is that a significant
part of Russian organised crime is organised directly from the offices of the Kremlin - Putin’s Russia is a Mafia state.”
Litvinenko’s body tissue was so riddled with radiation he had to be buried in
a lead-lined coffin in Highgate Cemetery.
One of Litvinenko’s books, The Gang
from Lubyanka, named Putin as having
links with the Tambov-Malyshev gang
which dominated the St Petersburg underworld in the 1990s, the court heard.
As an expert on organised crime and the
Kremlin, Litvinenko passed information to
British Intelligence.
“His MI6 handler, who was codenamed
Martin, arranged for regular payments to
be made into his bank account,” said Mr
Emmerson. Polonium can only be produced in an industrial setting involving a
nuclear reactor.
PM Cameron, deputy PM and Liberal leader Nick Clegg, Labour
Party leader Ed Miliband and UKIP leader Nigel Farage.
UK braces
for election
that may
see EU exit
Scotland’s Labour Party leader Jim Murphy is heckled by a Yes voter while campaigning in Dundee.
Scottish nationalists tilt at Labour
party for Westminster glory
Dundee, Scotland
mong the social housing
estates of Scotland’s fourth
largest city, Ed Miliband’s
bid to unseat prime minister David
Cameron is in trouble: His opposition Labour party is haemorrhaging support to nationalists.
Though Scots voted to stay part
of the United Kingdom in a September 18 referendum, support
for the Scottish National Party
has since soared amid mistrust the
London government won’t deliver
to Scotland’s parliament the extra
powers it promised to swing the
poll result.
Capitalising on that, the nationalists now aim to turn defeat
into victory by usurping Labour in
Scotland and winning the ultimate
triumph—the balance of power
after Britain’s May 7 national election, that will decide who rules the
world’s sixth-largest economy and
whether voters will get a referendum by 2017 on membership of
the EU.
The battle for Scotland comes
down to just Labour and the SNP;
Cameron’s Conservatives currently hold only one seat while
Labour won 41 out of 59 seats at
the 2010 election. Polls now indicate the SNP could take most
of Labour’s seats, tearing up the
pattern of the last 50 years to become Britain’s third largest party
by lawmakers in what is likely to
be the closest general election for
a generation.
Labour’s unpopularity is not
just linked to a resurgence of nationalism, however. Former supporters say they have been put
off by an impression the party is
increasingly right-wing and London-based, cosy with bankers and
city slickers where once it spoke to
the working class across the United Kingdom.
“My mother and father were
both card-carrying members of
the Labour party, socialists to their
bones,” Morag Lennie, a 70-yearold SNP supporter and retired social care manager, told Reuters in
“I’m glad they’re dead because
it would break their hearts to see
(Labour’s) besuited career politicians who haven’t got the first clue
what most people are struggling
with,” she said.
To pull off the promised rout of
Labour, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon must turn seats such as Dundee West which is nestled on the
estuary of the River Tay on Scot-
land’s North Sea coast.
Dundee’s once mighty shipyards are now closed, and the city
has Scotland’s lowest employment
Besides economic decline, Dundee tells another story: How the
SNP has been stalking the Labour
party over four decades.
The SNP held Dundee East,
one of the city’s two Westminster
seats, between 1974 and 1987. In
2003 it won one of the city’s Scottish parliamentary seats. In 2005 it
recaptured the Dundee East Westminster seat and kept it in 2010. In
2007 and 2010, it won the most local council seats in Dundee.
Now it is gunning for Labour’s
7,000 majority in the other Westminster seat, Dundee West, Labour’s since 1950.
Labour’s main defence is its
new Scottish leader Jim Murphy—
parachuted in after former leader
Johann Lamont quit, accusing the
party of trying to run Scotland
“like a branch office of London.”
As Murphy visited Dundee’s
Ardler social housing estate this
month, one man screamed “Red
Tories” from a car as it sped past,
a reference to Labour’s support
for the union with England in the
referendum. Later, SNP activists
shouted he was a ‘traitor’.
The 47-year-old, who was
raised on a council estate in Glasgow, was calm about the insults.
Against a backdrop of Scottish
flags and blue ‘Yes’ to independence stickers in many windows on
the housing scheme, he insisted
Labour would hold all its Scottish
“The polls are there to be confounded. The Labour party is behind in the polls. Of course we are
behind,” said Murphy. “But I am
determined to win because coming
second is coming last. And I have
no intention of coming last.”
He will have to persuade the
likes of Jacqueline Kerr, 45, who
lives on the Dundee estate and
believes Labour has turned away
from its traditional supporters.
“I am not a member of SNP; I
am a member of my class. I am not
a member of any political parties
but I want independence and I am
totally against the Red Tories,” she
Murphy rose to national prominence in 2013 when he helped
injured people at the scene of a
shocking helicopter crash onto a
Glasgow pub. During the referendum campaign, he toured 100
towns to give an impassioned defence of the union while standing
on an upturned crate of Irn-Bru -
the bright orange beverage known
as Scotland’s other national drink
after whisky.
Campaign chief for the failed
attempt by Ed Miliband’s brother
David to win the Labour leadership, Murphy must rebuild Scottish Labour for Ed by both outmanoeuvring the SNP’s attack on
its leftist principles and striking a
nationalist chord.
In the words of John Curtice,
professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde, the SNP’s
bid for the mantle of social justice
in Scotland means Murphy has
to “win over voters who perceive
themselves as being to the left of
his party, and.. certainly as being
more Scottish than the party.”
While some Scottish voters traditionally used their SNP vote for
local elections and saved Labour
for their general election vote, SNP
activists say that is changing as
their party looks increasingly like
a candidate for the British political stage.
If the SNP wins the balance of
power in Westminster, it is certain
to demand more powers for Scotland—overturning prime minister
David Cameron’s assertion that
September’s referendum result
had settled the issue of independence for a generation.
ritain yesterday marked
100 days until one of
the most unpredictable elections in memory, as
prime minister David Cameron fights to retain power and
call a referendum on European
Union membership.
A fragmented vote in which
no party wins an overall majority is seen as the most likely
result, meaning smaller parties will probably have to prop
up either Cameron’s Conservatives or the main opposition
Labour party.
If the Conservatives win
outright on May 7, Cameron
has said he will seek to renegotiate Britain’s relationship
with the EU before calling an
in-or-out referendum on a
“Brexit” by the end of 2017.
But experts predict that
neither the Conservatives nor
Labour will secure a majority in the 650-seat House of
“Like everyone else, I have
no idea,” professor Tim Bale,
chair in politics at Queen
Mary, University of London,
told AFP.
“The only prediction is that
it’s incredibly unlikely that
any of the main parties will
end up with an overall majority.”
Instead, Britain could face
days of uncertainty, potentially unsettling financial
markets, as the parties hold
talks on how to stitch together
a government.
For the past five years, the
Conservatives have governed
with the centrist Liberal Democrats in Britain’s first coalition government since World
War II.
Opinion polls currently put
the Conservatives and centreleft Labour almost neck-andneck.
The Conservatives are on
32% voter support versus
33% for Labour, according to
an average of leading surveys
calculated by the UK Polling
Report website.
Nigel Farage’s anti-EU
United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) is ranked
third with 15%, while the Liberal Democrats have plunged
to 8%.
Cameron is campaigning
on the economy, telling voters they cannot afford to jeopardise Britain’s recovery—the
strongest among major European nations—by ditching the
showed that the economy
grew by 2.6% last year and
Cameron insisted this showed
that “our long-term economic
plan is working.”
“In 100 days, the country
faces a choice between competence and chaos,” he added
on Twitter.
However, the Conservatives
have struggled to shake off
their “nasty party” label, with
many voters believing austerity measures have slashed
public services such as the
state-run National Health
Service (NHS) too harshly.
Labour says its economic
plan would prove less damaging to the NHS and other public services, while still cutting
a £91.3bn deficit.
Miliband said in a speech
yesterday that Conservative
policies had helped “an evershrinking circle of people do
well while everybody else is
forced to work harder and
But he is dogged by questions about his leadership
skills and an awkward public
With experts predicting
that neither main party will be
able to rule on its own, Cameron or Miliband will likely
have to find allies to form a
This could either materialise in a formal coalition or on
an informal basis where parties back a minority government on key votes in return for
policy concessions.
The Liberal Democrats and
the Scottish National Party
(SNP) look best placed to play
Though support for the Liberal Democrats has dropped
by over two-thirds since 2010,
the party could retain up to 30
seats, according to Bale, down
from 56 currently.
Meanwhile the SNP, which
wants independence for Scotland but lost a referendum on
the issue last year, is set to
make major gains as its membership surges.
It is thought to be targeting
between 12 and 20 seats, up
from six at the moment.
“There’s a pretty sizeable
chance of a scenario where
Labour wins the most seats,
doesn’t have a majority, but
can get through a functioning governing majority with
either the Liberal Democrats
or the SNP,” elections expert
Benjamin Lauderdale of the
London School of Economics
told AFP.
Parties like UKIP may not
win as many seats as their
support in polls suggests,
because under Britain’s firstpast-the-post electoral system, it is only the ability to win
individual seats that counts—
not a party’s nationwide level
of backing.
Professor Steven Fielding of
Nottingham University predicted that UKIP could win “a
handful of seats, probably five
to 10” in the House of Commons.
“I don’t think this election will see UKIP gaining a
lot of seats, but it may give
them sufficient influence
to ensure a referendum,” he
told AFP.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Leaders vow
‘never again’
at Auschwitz
orld leaders appealed
against anti-Semitism
yesterday as they
marked UN Holocaust Remembrance Day, which this year coincides with the 70th anniversary
of the liberation of the Nazi-operated Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.
Addressing the German parliament in Berlin, German President Joachim Gauck said: “The
memory of the Holocaust remains an issue for all Germans.”
There is no German identity
without Auschwitz. It belongs
to the history of this country,”
Gauck told the Bundestag.
Chancellor Angela Merkel
urged Germans not to forget and
hailed the fact that more than
100,000 Jews now live in Germany.
During a meeting with Auschwitz survivors, Merkel said it was
“a disgrace that people in Germany are harassed, threatened or
attacked if they somehow identify as Jews or if they take the side
of the state of Israel.”
This year’s anniversary comes
as Germany’s political leaders
struggle to deal with anti-Islam
and anti-refugee protests.
In her speech, Merkel said
Auschwitz was a warning that
people should not support hateful slogans against refugees and
Speaking in Paris before attending remembrance ceremonies in Poland, French President
Francois Hollande lamented the
growing frequency of anti-Semitic acts as “an intolerable reality”.
A study released yesterday in
France showed that anti-Semitic
acts in France doubled last year
compared to 2013, and violent
acts increased by 130%.
France has Europe’s largest
Jewish population.
Hollande said the government
will next month unveil a plan to
fight anti-Semitism and racism.
The plan would include maintaining heightened security and
cracking down on digital misinformation and propaganda.
Some 76,000 French Jews were
deported – mostly to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death and labour
camps – under the Vichy regime,
which collaborated with Germany’s Nazis.
Speaking nearly three weeks
after a series of terrorist attacks
sharpened social and religious
tensions in France – the gunmen
and two of the victims were of
Muslim background, while four
Jews were shot dead when one
of the gunmen targeted a kosher
market – Hollande decried divisions.
Above: Survivors, officials and other guests sit by the
glass-covered railtracks during the main ceremony to mark
the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death
camp yesterday, at a tent built in front of the entrance of
the former Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in
Oswiecim, Poland.
Left: Putin lighting a candle during a ceremony at the Jewish
Museum and Tolerance Centre in Moscow.
Right: Flowers are seen on one of the concrete steles of the
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, in Berlin,
Below: Rabbis lead a prayer during the main ceremony at
Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim.
“France is your country,” Hollande told French Jews amid reports that the country is experiencing a record exodus of Jewish
US President Barack Obama,
in a statement, said that the Paris
attacks were a “painful reminder
of our obligation to condemn and
combat rising anti-Semitism in
all its forms, including the denial or trivialisation of the Holocaust”.
Reinhard Buetikofer and Monica Frassoni, the co-chairs of the
European Green Party, made a
direct link between this month’s
terrorist attacks in France, the
arrest of Islamic terrorists in
Belgium, and the Shoah, another
word for the Holocaust.
“Anti-Semitism, racism and
xenophobia are not dead in Europe. The killing of Jews in Paris
and Brussels reminds us of this
dark side of European reality.
We pledge to continue fighting
against it and against all types of
prejudice. By doing that we honour the memory of the millions of
victims of the Shoah,” they wrote
in a joint statement.
In Moscow, Russian President
Vladimir Putin marked the liberation of the Nazi camp by Soviet
troops with a tribute to Soviet
Jews who fought in the Red Army,
200,000 of whom were killed.
“Such crimes do not and cannot have an expiry date,” Putin
said of the Holocaust during a
memorial ceremony at Moscow’s
Jewish Museum.
He added that any attempts to
suppress or distort the memory
of the Holocaust are inadmissible.
In the run-up to the ceremony
Poland angered Moscow when
its foreign minister, Grzegorz
Schetyna, said it was Ukrainian
soldiers – rather than the Soviet
army – who liberated the camp.
Moscow blasted Warsaw for
twisting history for political
Putin has repeatedly condemned the West for what he
calls attempts to belittle the Soviet army’s role in the victory
over Nazi Germany in 1945 and to
glorify Nazi collaborators in eastern Europe and ex-Soviet republics such as Ukraine.
At the ceremony, Putin also
drew parallels with the current
Ukraine crisis which has sent
Moscow’s ties with the West to
post-Cold War lows and seen
imposition of punishing Western
sanctions against Russia.
“We all know how dangerous and destructive are double
standards, indifference to and
disregard for another man’s fate
as is the case with the current
tragedy in eastern Ukraine,” the
Kremlin strongman said at the
Jewish Museum and Tolerance
Putin’s absence at the ceremony at Auschwitz-Birkenau,
which is now a museum, raised
eyebrows at home since the camp
was liberated by the Soviet Red
Army on January 27, 1945.
British Prime Minister David
Cameron also stressed the importance of remembering the
Holocaust as a means of fighting
“Part of why remembering
the Holocaust matters so much
is that it reminds people where
anti-Semitism, prejudice and
hatred end. The two things are
very much linked,” he said.
In addition to the commemorations taking place in Poland,
the UN is to mark International
Holocaust Remembrance Day
with a series of initiatives in New
York attended by, among others,
UN Secretary General Ban KiMoon and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.
However, the UN events had to
be postponed to Wednesday due
to heavy snow in New York City.
In Oswiecim, Poland, world
leaders joined around 300
Auschwitz survivors at the site
of the former Nazi death camp
to mark 70 years since its liberation by Soviet troops, an anniversary held in the shadow of
war in Ukraine and a rise in antiSemitism in Europe.
southern Poland marks perhaps
the last major anniversary that
survivors of the camp will be able
to attend in numbers, given the
youngest are now in their 70s.
Some 1,500 attended the 60th
Around 1.5 million people,
mainly European Jews, were
gassed, shot, hanged and burned
at the camp in southern Poland
during World War II, before the
Red Army entered its gates in
winter 1945.
It has become probably the
most poignant symbol of a Holocaust that claimed 6mn Jewish
lives across Europe.
The presidents of Poland, Germany, and France were among
hundreds attending the commemoration in a giant tent erected over the brickwork entrance to
the Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp,
part of the complex that is now a
The railway tracks that bore
Jews in wagons from all across
Europe to their deaths were lit
up gold, the countryside around
covered in deep snow.
The camp’s victims also included, among others, Roma,
homosexuals and all shades of
political opposition to the Nazis.
Notable for his absence was
Putin, whose backing of proRussian rebels in Ukraine has
helped drive West-Russia relations to their lowest ebb since the
Cold War.
Poland has been one of the
most vociferous critics of Russia’s March annexation of
Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and
its support for rebels in eastern
Wary of the domestic political consequences, Poland did not
send a full diplomatic invitation
to Putin, sources have told Reuters.
“It would be hard to imagine,
in this situation, hosting Russia’s president. Albeit informally,
Russia is taking part in this con-
flict,” Polish Justice Minister Cezary Grabarcyk told Polish ZET
Nato says Russia has sent men
and armour to aid the separatists.
Putin denies this, but risks new
sanctions when European Union
foreign ministers meet tomorrow.
Russia was represented at
the commemoration by Putin’s
chief-of-staff, Sergei Ivanov.
David Wisnia, an 88-year-old
survivor of Auschwitz, said on
Monday that the Holocaust was
“almost impossible for a human
mind to comprehend”.
A choir boy as a child at Warsaw’s Great Synagogue, which
was blown up by Nazi forces in
1943, Wisnia sang a memorial
prayer in Hebrew yesterday.
“I pray to God that we as human beings are able to learn
something from it,” he said.
Rebels say Ukraine forces pushed back near Donetsk
A relative mourns Sergey Lobov, who was killed during shelling in Mariupol, during his funeral yesterday.
Kiev-controlled Mariupol is seen as a strategically important link between separatist-occupied territory in
eastern Ukraine and the Black Sea region of Crimea, which was annexed by Russia last year.
krainian separatists said
yesterday that they had
troops out of two districts on the
outskirts of their main stronghold Donetsk and their aim was
to expand their control to the entire region.
A rebel advance launched last
week has dashed a five-month
truce, reignited a war that has
killed 5,000 people and brought
threats of new sanctions on
Moscow, which Nato accuses
of backing the separatists with
money, arms and troops.
The separatists say their initial
aim is to drive back government
forces to push artillery out of
range of their cities and improve
their grip on their strongholds.
Eduard Basurin, deputy commander of rebels in their main
stronghold Donetsk, said that
fighters had pushed government troops out of the suburb of
Maryinka and the centre of the
town of Pesky near Donetsk’s
airport, a constant battlefield.
“They had fully controlled
Maryinka before. Now it is neutral. They are only on the outskirts,” he said by telephone.
The goal would eventually be
to capture the entire Donetsk region, Basurin said.
That would include major population centres in government hands, like the Black
Sea port of Mariupol, a city of
500,000 where Kiev says rebel
shelling killed 30 people on Saturday.
Basurin said there was nevertheless no offensive on Mariupol
under way at present.
Asked if rebels were advancing
on Debaltseve and Vuhlehirsk,
two other government garrisons
where Kiev has reported fighting,
he said: “Why should we have
to advance? It is our land. They
should withdraw.”
Both sides say the rebels are
fighting to encircle Debaltseve, a
small town between the two main
rebel strongholds of Donetsk and
Luhansk which straddles key
road and rail routes linking them.
“The enemy is trying to carry
out an offensive on Ukrainian
units and occupy strategically
advantageous positions for further military operations,” government military spokesman
Andriy Lysenko said in a televised
briefing. Nine Ukrainian servicemen were killed and 30 wounded
in the past day, he said.
He said Debaltseve, Vuhlehirsk
and Mariupol were bearing the
brunt of the offensive.
Shelling has continued all
along the frontline, which weaves
through Donetsk and neighbouring Luhansk provinces.
“They’ve been shooting heavily for 10 days. You sit there and
have no idea who is in control of
the town, who is shooting and
when it will end,” said 60-yearold pensioner Vladimir Saakyan,
who fled his home in the town of
Avdiivka, north of Donetsk, for
Kiev-held territory.
The head of the Kiev-run re-
gional police said three civilians
had been killed in Avdiivka and
nearby overnight.
The new rebel advance has
brought calls from the United
States and Europe for tighter
sanctions against Moscow, which
Kiev and Nato say has sent thousands of troops to fight on behalf
of the rebels.
President Barack Obama has
said Washington would consider
all steps short of military action
to isolate Russia.
European Union leaders asked
their foreign ministers to consider possible new sanctions on
Russia in response to the rebel
A final decision to impose
them is likely to be left to a summit next month.
The separatists, fighting for
the independence of an area
dubbed “New Russia” by the
Kremlin, now control the capitals
and around half of the territory of
Donetsk and Luhansk provinces,
together known as the Donbass
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
party M5S
en lawmakers defected
from Italy’s biggest opposition party yesterday,
dealing a blow to the 5-Star
Movement’s (M5S) chances of
influencing this week’s election
of a new head of state.
The M5S is protest party led
by a former comedian, Beppe
Grillo, which surprised the pundits by winning around 25% of
the votes in the 2013 general
However, it has since struggled to make an impact on national politics, amid a background of internal revolts against
Grillo’s autocratic style.
In a long statement, nine
members of the lower house of
parliament and one senator said
that they were leaving the M5S
because it had become “a sterile
and purely destructive opposition force” led by “a narrow oligarchy which, besides, was never
chosen nor voted by anybody”.
In February 2013, the M5S
elected 109 lawmakers to the
Chamber of Deputies and 54 to
the upper house, the Senate.
With yesterday’s defections,
its parliamentary representation
has shrunk to 91 deputies and 36
The M5S leadership had refused to meet with the Democratic Party (PD) of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to discuss
candidates for Italy’s presidency.
Both houses of parliament will
start voting to fill the position
PD deputy leader Lorenzo
Guerini said his party would
meet with the outgoing M5S
lawmakers after holding talks
with the conservative Forza Italia party of former premier Silvio
As the largest group in parliament, the PD is leading efforts to
find a consensual candidate for
the presidency.
Analysts expect Renzi to strike
a deal with Berlusconi.
However, being able to count
on a handful of M5S dissenters
would widen his options.
On Monday, Italian media
quoted the prime minister as
predicting in a closed-door party
meeting that the new president
would be elected in the fourth
round of voting, expected to take
place on Saturday morning.
In the first three rounds, the
winning candidate has to clear a
two-third majority, but the requirement falls to a simple majority of 50%-plus-one in subsequent rounds.
The presidential election follows the January 14 resignation of Giorgio Napolitano, an
89-year-old who said he was too
tired to go on.
Former premier Giuliano Amato and Economy Minister Pier
Carlo Padoan have been mentioned as possible successors,
but experts say the race remains
wide open.
Premier Tsipras unveils
anti-austerity cabinet
reek Prime Minister
Alexis Tsipras unveiled a
cabinet of anti-austerity
veterans yesterday, signalling
that he has no intention of backing away from election pledges
despite various warning shots
from the eurozone and financial
Greek markets endured a second day of turmoil yesterday,
with bank shares diving and investors fearing the anti-bailout
government might be set on a
collision course with the country’s European Union and International Monetary Fund (IMF)
Promising to reverse budget
cuts and renegotiate Greece’s
huge debts, Tsipras’s leftist
Syriza party stormed to power
in Sunday’s snap election on a
wave of anger against the German-backed austerity policies
that have driven up poverty and
left one in four Greek workers
out of a job.
Among a team spanning the
radical and more pragmatic
wings of Syriza, Tsipras named
academic economist Yanis Varoufakis as his finance minister.
The defence portfolio went to
Panos Kammenos, leader of the
right-wing Independent Greeks
party which is the junior partner
in the Tsipras coalition.
Varoufakis, who left a position at the University of Texas to
enter Greek politics only in the
run-up to the election, stressed
Members of the newly formed government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras are sworn in at the
Presidential Palace in Athens yesterday.
ued access to ECB funding, with
an extension to the country’s
bailout deal with the eurozone
due to expire at the end of this
Bank of Piraeus, Alpha Bank
and National Bank of Greece all
fell between 10% and 12%.
Moody’s credit rating agency
said uncertainty created by the
Syriza victory is negative for
Greece’s credit rating, adding
that it “undermines depositor
confidence and has an adverse
effect on economic growth prospects”.
The government’s plan to negotiate a new debt deal has already run into resistance from its
eurozone peers, which fear allowing Athens to write off some
of its obligations would encourage other troubled countries to
seek similar relief.
German Finance Minister
Wolfgang Schaeuble said Dijsselbloem would visit Athens, but
he would do so without a mandate from his peers.
Europe has shown a willingness to give Athens more time to
pay its debts, but has stressed it
Los Llanos Military Base, Spain
People work yesterday near the wreckage of a Greek F-16 fighter plane that crashed after taking off, inside the Los Llanos military base.
French motorway row escalates
he French government
has postponed an increase in road tolls due
on February 1, moving closer
to a showdown with toll-road
operators over the future of
motorway concessions.
France’s socialist government wants to revise the motorway operators’ contracts
which it regards as too generous, and also plans to create a
new regulator to oversee highway tolls.
Prime Minister Manuel
Valls said the increase would
be postponed to give politicians time to evaluate discussions between the state
and the motorway operators,
whose owners include Australia’s Macquarie, France’s
Vinci and Eiffage, and Spain’s
The French motorway operators’ association ASFA immediately threatened legal action against the state.
It said the state’s decision
would increase uncertainty for
companies on international
ASFA said it was up to its
members to decide whether
to seek legal action to preserve
their rights.
The politicians will look at
two main scenarios, a renegotiation of the concession contracts or their cancellation,
according to the statement
from the prime minister’s office.
Valls reiterated that the
government was determined
to start from scratch on the
concessions to re-balance relations between the state and
the motorway operators.
watchdog released a report in
September saying the motorway operators’ profitability
rates of 20-24% could not be
justified by the costs they have
to bear or the risks they face.
The operators have denied
overcharging. They also say
their returns are not as high
as the competition authority
The government’s room
for manoeuvre is limited as
operators are protected by
agreements stipulating they
must be compensated for any
change in contracts, which in
some cases do not expire until
France sets toll increases
each year based on discussions
with operators, also taking inflation and investment levels
into account.
Turkey detains 26
police officers
Turkish authorities have detained
at least 26 police in the latest
nationwide swoop over the
alleged wiretapping of top
officials including President
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, state
media said.
Police conducted raids in the
western city of Izmir and 12 other
provinces and detained suspects,
including high-ranking officers,
accused of wiretapping key
figures including businessmen,
academics and government
officials, Anatolia news agency
The suspects were facing a series
of charges from forming a crime
ring to forging official documents
and violation of privacy.
It was the latest in a series
of raids since July last year
when dozens of police officers
were arrested on suspicion of
wiretapping Erdogan and other
Jean-Marie Le Pen
hurt in house fire
Belgium arrests three suspected militants
elgian security forces arrested three suspected
militants in fresh counterterror raids after foiling a major
plot to attack police earlier this
month, officials said yesterday.
The three arrests were made
in the western town of Harelbeke, close to the French border,
will not yield to the demands for
debt forgiveness.
On Monday Dijsselbloem
warned Greeks against excessive expectations following their
empathic vote against austerity.
“We all have to realise and the
Greek people have to realise that
the major problems in the Greek
economy have not disappeared
and haven’t even changed overnight because of the simple fact
that an election took place,” he
The new cabinet includes a
number of lawyers, professors
and some former journalists.
Former Communist politician
Yannis Dragasakis – who in the
run-up to the vote demanded
an investigation into Greece’s
bailout – took the deputy prime
minister’s role that is expected
to oversee economic issues.
The government, installed
within 48 hours of Sunday’s win,
is expected to pursue social welfare policies such as handing out
free electricity and food stamps
to the poor and cutting heating
oil prices, alongside a crackdown
on tax evasion.
On the labour front, Tsipras is
expected to reverse a cut to the
minimum wage and restore collective bargaining agreements
abolished under the bailout
out deal, as well as instituting a
€5bn plan of incentives for firms
to hire workers.
Privatisation plans are expected to be reconsidered. Syriza officials have also promised
to take on business tycoons,
though in the run-up to the vote
they said little about whether
they will implement earlier
pledges to slap new taxes on big
Greek shipowners.
Tsipras has also promised that
he will scrap unpopular crisisera taxes, prompting critics to
question how he will be able to
afford his lavish social spending while battling depleting cash
coffers and exasperated foreign
Syriza is also expected to
freeze public sector layoffs as
demanded under the bailout,
and stop an unpopular evaluation process for civil servants.
Probe after 11 die
in Nato training
jet crash in Spain
Grillo: His M5S has been riven
by opposition to his autocratic
leadership style.
that he would keep writing a
blog which he has used to denounce the austerity policies
demanded by Greece’s creditors
in return for €240bn in bailout
“The time to put up or shut up
has, I have been told, arrived,” he
wrote on his blog. “My plan is to
defy such advice.”
Varoufakis has railed against
the bailouts of struggling eurozone states as “fiscal waterboarding” that risked converting Europe into a “Victorian
But speaking to Irish radio, he
said yesterday that he planned to
negotiate a solution with lenders, and that he had already had
an “encouraging and inspiring”
chat with the head of the eurozone finance ministers, Jeroen
“Make no mistake: what is
beginning today is a process of
deliberation with our European
partners,” he said.
On the financial markets,
yields on Greek three-year
bonds jumped above 14%.
This was up four percentage
points since Sunday’s vote although down from 16% at the
beginning of the year, before the
European Central Bank (ECB)
announced plans to stimulate
the eurozone economy by buying debt issued by the bloc’s
A collapse of banking stocks
pushed the Athens bourse down
by 3.69%.
Investors are worried about
Greek banks’ liquidity and
whether they will have contin-
the Belga news agency reported,
citing the prosecutor’s office in
nearby Courtrai.
Belgium has been on high
alert after two suspected militants were shot dead on January
15 in a series of anti-terror raids
carried out in the wake of the
Paris terror attacks.
The prosecutors gave no details of those arrested or of their
possible ties to jihadi groups,
Belga said, adding that reports
of weapons being found could
not be confirmed.
Officials in Courtrai were not
immediately available while in
Brussels, the federal prosecutors
office declined to comment.
Flemish-language daily Het
Laaste Nieuws said the three
men from the Courtrai region had gone to fight in Syria
and that two had made threats
against Belgium on social media.
Belgium was one of a series
of European countries that has
made arrests in the wake of the
Charlie Hebdo and Jewish supermarket attacks in France,
which left 17 people dead.
Two suspected militants who
had just returned from Syria
were killed in a raid in the eastern Belgian town of Verviers,
sparking a nationwide alert
which saw the Belgian government put troops on the streets to
guard sensitive sites.
French far-right leader JeanMarie Le Pen was slightly injured
on Monday in an accidental fire at
his house outside Paris, a police
source told AFP.
The fire at Le Pen’s house in
Rueil-Malmaison is thought to
have started in a chimney where
work was being carried out, the
source said.
“The house burned, my father
was inside,” said Marine Le Pen,
who now leads the National Front
party that her 86-year-old father
founded. “His face was injured,
but it is not serious, nothing to
worry about.”
yesterday how a fighter
jet crashed during Nato
training exercises at an air
force base in Spain, killing 11
military personnel and leaving
others with serious burns.
Nine French and two Greek
personnel died and about
20 people were injured after
the two-seater F-16 crashed
into parked aircraft at the Los
Llanos base in southeastern
The jet lost power as it took
off and crashed on Monday,
damaging five other aircraft,
the Spanish defence ministry
Firefighters rushed to the
scene and battled the flames as
black smoke billowed from the
Two Greek pilots on board
and eight French officers were
confirmed killed on Monday
and the ministry said a ninth
Frenchman died in hospital in
Madrid yesterday.
A judge in the eastern city of
Valencia was leading an investigation into the accident.
A technical commission was
also probing the causes and
was set to examine the wreckage and the plane’s black box
recorders, a defence ministry
source said.
The base, near the city of Albacete, hosts elite exercises run
by Nato to train military personnel from 10 nations to carry
out joint manoeuvres.
Two pilots, a navigator and
five mechanics were among
the French personnel killed,
the head of the French air force
chiefs of staff Denis Mercier
told BFM television.
Nine French personnel and
11 Italians were injured, Spanish officials said.
It was the highest death toll
in a single day for the French
armed forces since an ambush
in Afghanistan in which 10 died
in 2008.
Of those injured, five of the
French were in “serious but
stable condition” in hospital
and four had been discharged,
said defence ministry spokesman Manuel Vazquez.
French President Francois
Hollande “expressed his deep
respect for the commitment”
of the airmen who were preparing for air force missions to
fight “against terrorist groups”
in Iraq and the African Sahel
Spain’s Defence Minister
Pedro Morenes and the chiefof-staff of Spain’s air force,
Francisco Javier Garcia Arnaiz,
arrived late on Monday at the
airbase, about 250km southeast of Madrid.
French Defence Minister
Jean-Yves Le Drian was also
expected to visit the site of the
The Greek F-16 hit two Italian AMX planes and three
French jets – a Mirage 2000
and two Alfa Jets – when it
It was taking part in Nato’s
Programme, which seeks to improve multinational co-operation in air operations.
Nato Secretary General Jens
Stoltenberg said he was “deeply saddened” by the disaster.
“This is a tragedy which affects the whole Nato family. I
express my heartfelt condolences to the loved ones and
the nations of those who lost
their lives, and I wish a speedy
recovery to the injured,” he said
in a statement.
Britain, Germany, the United
States and Spain were also taking part in the exercises but
none of their nationals were
reported injured.
The 10 Nato countries that
take part in the programme are
Belgium, Britain, Denmark,
France, Germany, Greece, Italy,
the Netherlands, Spain, and
the United States.
According to the French defence ministry’s website, it is
“the most renowned and most
demanding” programme for
fighter pilots.
The base has housed the
training centre for Nato pilots
since 2010, according to its
Some 750 personnel were
taking part in the current
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Celebrity chef treats
Dabbawalas to lunch
SRK may feature in
Bengal’s new campaign
SA website to retail
Being Human clothes
Woman, 4 children
murdered in Meerut
MiG 27 crashes,
pilot ejects safely
Celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor, who treated
Mumbai’s famous Dabbawalas to a special
lunch, says their work begins where his work
as a kitchen king ends. “I only make food but
the other part of my job is done by these
Dabbawalas who take our food to the mouths
of people. They don’t just do the role of
delivery, they take the food out of the kitchen
and make it reach the stomach,” Kapoor said.
The Dabbawalas have gained fame globally
for delivering lunch boxes, colloquially known
as dabbas, to over 200,000 customers across
Mumbai everyday. As a gesture of gratitude,
Kapoor arranged lunch for them in Dadar on
Republic Day on Monday.
With West Bengal ambitiously gearing up to
promote tourism in the state with the creation of
five distinct tourism circuits, Bollywood heartthrob
Shah Rukh Khan may feature in the upcoming new
tourism campaign of the state, a senior official
said. “We are working on new advertisements
to promote tourism in the state and attract both
domestic and foreign tourists and may feature
Shah Rukh Khan in this,” tourism department
principal secretary A R Bardhan said. Khan is the
brand ambassador of the state and also co-owns
the Kolkata-based IPL team Kolkata Knight Riders.
According to Bardhan, the proposed new ad
campaign will cost about Rs100mn without any
endorsement from any brand ambassador.
Superstar Salman Khan’s Being Human clothing
brand will now be retailed through South Africa’s
online fashion shop Zando. “#BeingHumanClothing
now available on the South African website,” Khan tweeted yesterday. Besides
its presence in India, the brand is also available
in Europe and the Middle East. It has stores in
cities like Kolkata, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar, Varanasi,
Guwahati, Delhi and Mumbai. The Being Human
foundation was created in 2007 by the star to
support the underprivileged in India. In 2012, Khan
launched Being Human clothing with Mandhana
Industries to finance and develop the foundation’s
activities. Then, Being Human became both a
charitable trust and a clothing brand.
A woman and her four children were among
six people hacked to death in Meerut, police
said yesterday. The murders took place on
Monday. Police said the victims were identified
as Rukhsana, the mother, and her children
- Rinsha, 20, Julie, 8, Goongie, 6, and Suhail,
12. The bodies of the children were found in
pools of blood inside a house. An unidentified
man was also killed. Police said all the six were
murdered by sharp edged weapons. Police first
found the bodies of the man and Rukhsana
at Gujjar chowk after which they went to her
house to seek more details. The team was
shocked when they found the bodies of her four
children inside the house.
A MiG 27 aircraft of the Indian Air Force
yesterday crashed in Rajasthan’s Barmer
district, but the pilot ejected safely, an official
said. Defence spokesman Lt Col Manish Ojha
said the aircraft crashed at 3.10pm in a village
in Barmer. He said the plane had taken off from
Jodhpur on a routine sortie to the Uttarlai air
base in Barmer. Police sources in Barmer said
that the aircraft hit a motorcycle that caused
injuries to the rider, who was admitted to a
hospital. The motorcycle was destroyed. The
defence spokesman, however, said he had no
information about this accident. “A court of
inquiry has been ordered to investigate the
cause of the crash,” he added.
to get a
Bedi sends
legal notice
to Kejriwal
over poster
aharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis
yesterday said the state
government would construct a
memorial in honour of legendary
cartoonist R K Laxman who died
in Pune aged 94.
“Laxman was not just a cartoonist - what he said through
his cartoons will inspire future
governments...Though he is no
more, The Common Man he created will live forever,” Fadnavis
said yesterday while paying
homage to Laxman who died on
In a rare honour, the Maharashtra government accorded a
state funeral to Laxman.
With his body draped ceremoniously, the last rites were performed with full state honours at
Vaikuntha Crematorium here in
the afternoon.
Top political leaders, media
film personalities and others expressed condolences. There was
also an outpouring of grief, affection and love for him on various social networking sites.
Besides Fadnavis, several of
his cabinet colleagues, Shiv Sena
chief Uddhav Thackeray, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj
Thackeray and commoners from
different walks of life attended
an event here to pay tributes to
The brother of late English
novelist R K Narayan, Laxman
is survived by his writer wife
Kamala, retired journalist son
Srinivas and daughter-in-law
Srinivas said that Laxman’s
89-year old wife took the news
of her husband’s demise stoically.
Laxman is renowned for his
creation of The Common Man,
which ran for several decades in
The Times of India under the title
“You Said It”.
New Delhi
A mourner puts a garland on the statue of Common Man, the iconic creation of Laxman, as he pays
tributes to the legendary cartoonist in Mumbai yesterday.
he Bharatiya Janata Party’s
chief ministerial nominee
Kiran Bedi yesterday sent
a legal notice to Aam Aadmi Party
leader Arvind Kejriwal for using her photograph in his party’s
poster campaign without her permission.
“She has sent a notice to Kejriwal. He has been asked to ensure
that the posters are removed,” BJP
media convener Praveen Shankar
Kapoor said.
The AAP has recently put up
posters on numerous auto-rickshaws plying in the national capital, asking the people of Delhi to
choose between Kejriwal and Bedi
for the post of chief minister.
In the posters, the picture of
Kejriwal has the word “imandar”
(honest) printed below it while
that of Bedi has “avsarvadi” (opportunist).
BJP Delhi unit chief Satish
Upadhyay slammed Kejriwal,
saying he had no right to call Bedi
“Who is he to say that Kiran
Bedi is an opportunist? Who has
given him the right to decide?”
Upadhyay told reporters here.
Earlier, BJP leader Jagdish
Mukhi, too, had sent a notice to
Kejriwal for using his photograph
in similar posters, before the party
declared Bedi as its chief ministerial candidate.
The AAP pitted Kejriwal against
Mukhi, even though the BJP had
said it would contest the Delhi
election under Prime Minister
Narendra Modi without naming
a chief ministerial candidate. The
BJP, however, later named Bedi for
the post soon after she joined the
party earlier this month.
Reacting to the notice, AAP
leader Yogendra Yadav said the
BJP had a problem with everything that his party was doing.
“When we used Jagdish Mukhi’s
photo, they raised an objection.
Now that we have pasted their official chief minister’s photo then
again they have sent us a notice.
The BJP has a problem with everything that we do,” he said.
Also yesterday, the BJP urged
the Elecdtion Commission to cancel Kejriwal’s candidature and ban
him from addressing public gatherings, alleging that he has violated the model code of conduct.
“He has been making frivolous
accusations against other parties and individuals so that he
can mislead the people. We have
urged the EC to take immediate
action against him and to cancel
his candidature as well as ban him
from addressing public rallies,”
Upadhyay said.
Kapoor said the complaint to
the Election Commission consisted of “four to five violations”
of the code of conduct that Kejriwal has committed.
“It includes him asking voters
to accept the alleged bribes given
by the BJP and Congress as well as
his pasting pictures of Kiran Bedi
without her permission,” Kapoor
Upadhyay also said the prime
minister would address four rallies in the national capital between January 31 and February 4
ahead of the February 7 assembly
Modi ‘deserted’ wife: Congress leader
Congress leader and former
federal minister Gurudas Kamat
yesterday made a scathing attack
on Narendra Modi, saying the
prime minister was “still married”
and had “deserted” his wife. The
Bharatiya Janata Party promptly
hit back, saying he had “lost his
mental balance.” Kamat termed it
“a shame” that Modi had deserted
his wife of over four decades.
“He is still married, they are not
divorced... he has deserted her.
Jashodaben is a great woman.
She is praying for him in temples,”
he said. Kamat said Modi fought
many elections but kept his marital status secret. For the first time
in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections,
he admitted he was married. The
comments evoked sharp reactions
from various BJP leaders, with legislator Atul Bhatkalkar ticking him
off for losing his “mental balance.”
It’s not too late for Congress to mend its ways
t is an accepted fact that democracy is not the best form
of government. But given the
diversity of history, culture, language, religion, genetics and a
host of other imponderables, a
country like India is best served
by democracy. Despite being poor,
the civil liberties, an independent
judiciary and a free press, among
other things, that are enjoyed by
Indians are the envy of people in
many other countries, foremost
among them China. Or even Singapore, for that matter.
There are many imperfections
in the democratic system, but
Indians accept them with equanimity and a live-and-let-live
attitude. To paraphrase what a
not-so-famous Western tourist said, somewhat tongue-incheek, during a recent interaction: “Traffic in India is the best
advertisement for democracy in
action. It’s all a matter of adjustment. Everywhere you see violations, but everyone adjusts. So
the horse-drawn carriage mingles with the overloaded handcart
and the latest Mercedes and all of
them give way to the helmetless
motorcyclist with three or more
pillion riders heading the wrong
way. It is chaos to begin with, but
slowly a pattern begins to emerge.
There is individual assertion in
the beginning, but in the end collective adjustment prevails.”
The tourist in question, who
reiterated he would never want
to drive on Indian roads, had lit-
tle interest in India’s politics and,
therefore, was blissfully unaware
of the fact that while there may
have been adjustment on India’s
roads, there is little of that in evidence in the nation’s parliament.
Instead, what you get is demonstrations in the well of the house,
shouting matches, disruptions
and walk-outs. All in the name of
democracy, of course.
The government that was in
opposition a few months ago did
it then. The opposition that was
the government then is doing it
now in return. Arun Jaitley, the
all-powerful finance minister in
the present government and the
leader of the opposition in the
Rajya Sabha till May 2014, is on
record saying that though he did
not like it, disrupting parliament
is a “legitimate weapon” for the
opposition in a democracy. (He
said this at the height of the agitation in the wake of what has come
to be known as the “2G scam”).
Anand Sharma, minister for
commerce till May 2014, is now
leading the pack of disrupters in his
new avatar as the Congress Party’s
chief crusader in the Rajya Sabha.
Nobody has yet asked Sharma but
he would also say that he would
not like to disrupt parliament.
But they all do. And they all
claim to be using a “legitimate
weapon” in the larger interest of
democracy. Caught in between
is the hapless Indian who has
learned and practised democracy
day in and day out on the streets
Delhi Diary
By A K B Krishnan
of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkatta and
what have you.
The Congress knows that what
it is doing is wrong. Having been
in power for most of the postindependence period, it is aware
that governance in a democracy
is a matter of co-operation and
adjustment with the opposition.
It also knows that a “responsible”
opposition should never be swayed
by silly, inflated egos, but should
always serve the larger interests of
the nation. But in the scheme of
things that is peculiar to India, the
opposition’s main, nay, one and
only, job is to try and topple the
government at any cost.
There is little chance of that
happening any time in the near
future. So the Congress will do
the next best thing - obstruct
governance and spoil the government’s image. Disrupting parliament any which way is one way of
obstructing governance. And if in
the process the country is the ultimate sufferer, it’s just bad luck.
Try telling an Anand Sharma or
an Ajay Maken that two wrongs
do not make a right and all you get
will be blank stares.
There were many key bills that
should have been cleared in the
winter session of parliament that
ended just before Christmas. Curiously enough, some of these like
the insurance bill which hikes foreign participation to 49% were,
in fact, the brainchildren of the
Manmohan Singh government.
With the world showing renewed
interest in India’s growth story,
these were mainly aimed at bringing the much-needed foreign investment into the country that
could create more jobs and, in
turn, more prosperity.
But the Congress is in no mood
to co-operate or adjust. The obvious conclusion is it doesn’t
want to be seen as facilitating India’s progress because, for some
strange reason, it thinks it won’t
get any credit while Prime Minister Narendra Modi will take away
everything. So you rake up any
small issue and blow it out of proportion with the help of a sensation-mongering 24X7 television.
This is narrow-mindedness of the
worst kind. It is also the mindset
of an era long gone.
With 50% of Indians below the
age of 25, and a good majority of
them skilled and educated, at-
titudinal changes are the need of
the hour for every political party if
it wants to survive. Revolution as
a way of change was never going
to be sustainable. If there is any
doubt, ask the communists. They
refused to change with the times
and now find themselves almost
irrelevant in countries where they
once held sway. In India they are
now relegated to the status of a regional party. If it does not change,
and change quickly, the Congress
too will be looking down that
same barrel very soon.
Rahul Gandhi is being pushed
and prodded to take over the reins
of the Congress from his mother.
But he has been an on-againoff-again Congressman throughout his short political career. He
promised changes that “you cannot even imagine” that will reenergise the Congress. That was
in December 2013 when the Congress was pushed to a distant third
by a fledgling Aam Aadmi Party in
the Delhi assembly elections.
But that was it. Either Indians
have very poor imagination that
they have not seen what Gandhi
has done to his party or Gandhi
has simply not delivered on his
promise. Subsequent elections to
the Lok Sabha and a series of state
assemblies have only proved that
Gandhi’s was a vain boast.
Yes, it could have been unimaginable change if the Congress were
to co-operate with the government and help it pass these important legislations. If Gandhi were to
direct his partymen that all forward-looking laws that could help
improve the economic situation
of the nation must be supported
inside and outside parliament, Indians would have noticed that he is
reforming the party in ways they
had not imagined. They would
have then supported him and his
party if and when the government
were to attempt to bring in controversial legislation like the introduction of a uniform civil code or
abolition of Article 370 and such.
It is not too late for the Congress to mend its ways. Like a new
party in government needs time
to get accustomed to the power
equations, a party that had been
in power for long takes time to
get used to being in the opposition. Democratic evolution too
takes time to mature, as has been
proved in many western democracies. Only, with the advent of
the Internet, the sense of urgency
has hit a peak.
The budget session of parliament beginning next month will
give Gandhi and his party a rare
opportunity to show their maturity. If it’s important for Modi
to prove his pro-reform agenda,
it is perhaps more important for
Gandhi to tell Indians that the
Congress will not stand in the way
of India’s progress. Indians are
The bear-hug that Prime
Minister Modi and President
Obama exchanged was as spontaneous as it was mutual as they
seemed to think that a mere
handshake and elbow-touching
was inadequate.
And strangely enough it may
have never taken place had not
Modi taken the initiative to personally receive the American
president at Delhi airport. Of
course, it could not have come
as a surprise to Obama to see
the Indian prime minister waiting for him at the bottom of the
staircases as he alighted from Air
Force One. That scenario must
have been relayed to him well in
But what was surprising was
how some television channels
went overboard describing Modi’s “gesture” of going to the airport to receive a foreign head of
state as “unprecedented.” In their
hurry to score brownie points
over their rivals, these channels
either forgot or decided to forget
that Modi’s predecessor Manmohan Singh had done precisely
the same thing not just once, but
three times!
Singh had travelled to the airport to receive Obama when he
came to India in 2010 and also his
predecessor George Bush. Singh
had also met King Abdullah at the
airport when the Saudi monarch
came visiting in 2006. But for the
TV channels that wanted “breaking news” by the minute such details were of no consequence.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
‘At times I
am treated
New Delhi
he rise of a cook’s grandson to the presidency of
the United States and
being questioned about his religious beliefs - this and some
other vignettes from his personal
life and history were related by
US President Barack Obama in
his public address yesterday as
he narrated, with a little anguish,
on how he is sometimes “treated
differently” because of the colour of his skin.
Obama, addressing a townhall meeting at the 2,000-seating capacity Siri Fort Auditorium, one of the largest in the
capital that is the venue for
large concerts, said his grandfather “was a cook for the British army in Kenya” and that
“distant branches of Michelle’s
family were slaves.”
“When we were born people
who looked like us still could not
vote in some parts of the country,” said Obama.
Referring to the colour prejudice that continues to exist in
some parts of the US, he said:
“Even as America has blessed us
with the extraordinary opportunity (to be president), there are
moments when I am treated differently because of the colour of
my skin.”
Parts of the US have been
rocked by anger over the fatal shootings of unarmed black
teens and young men by white
policemen. The incidents, including in Ferguson, have led to
loud protests, especially with no
action being taken against the
erring policemen.
Obama said that both he and
Michelle follow the Christian
faith but there have been times
when people have questioned his
“I am also proud to live in a
country where the grandson of
a cook can be president” and
also referred to the opportunities in India where “a Dalit can
write the constitution and a
tea seller can be prime minister,” referring to Dalit icon B R
Ambedkar, who is known as father of the Indian Constitution,
and to Prime Minister Narendra
Modi, who is known to have
sold tea in his youth on the railway platform in his hometown
in Gujarat.
“The aim of our work must be
that everybody has the chance to
dream big and reach those limits,” he said, to loud claps.
Obama struck a personal
chord with the mainly youthful crowd, saying he was very
impressed with the daredevilry of the motorcycle contingent riding Royal Enfield bikes
and wished he could ride a
bike too. “But the Secret Service does not let me ride motor
He said that on his last visit
to Mumbai he and Michelle had
danced with a group of young
people, and that the next day
newspapers had praised her
dancing. But, he said “unfortunately, we were not able to
schedule any dancing on this
Speaking on women’s rights,
he referred to Michelle, who
was in the audience, and said:
“Michelle is a strong and intelligent woman. She is not afraid to
speak her mind or tell me when I
am wrong, which happens very
frequently,” to loud cheers from
the invited audience that comprised youths, students, NGOs
and diplomats.
Obama said he was the proud
father to two strong and beautiful girls, who the couple have
been raising with strong values.
The US first couple later held
hands and walked down and met
the ecstatic audience and shook
hands with them for close to 10
zA sense of relief spread like
crisp mountain air among security personnel in the national
capital, snapping the tension and
fatigue of the past several days as
Obama rounded up his three-day
Obama and the First Lady
reached the VVIP terminal of
Indira Gandhi Airport around
1.45pm in his official car, The
Beast, and took off at 1.55pm in
his Air Force One plane.
India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), Intelligence
Bureau, Special Protection
Group (SPG), National Security Guard (NSG) and paramilitary forces along with over
20,000 Delhi police officers
worked together to ensure
Obama’s safety by maintaining a tight vigil and a multilayer security ring around him
during his visit.
Special forces such as the
quick response teams and fire
service officials were also placed
on high alert through the Obama
“The capital city is already
on high alert following terror
threats. But, yes, there is a sense
of relief now that the US president’s visit is over,” an official
Obama speaks with children’s rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi in New Delhi yesterday. Also seen are Satyarthi’s wife Sumedha, First Lady Michelle Obama
and children with whom Satyarthi works — 8-year-old Deepak and 12-year-old Payal Jangid.
Obama prods India
on religious tolerance
US president wraps visit with
pleas on religion, climate
New Delhi
Obama weighed in on
one of India’s most sensitive topics as he wound up a visit
yesterday, making a plea for freedom of religion to be upheld in a
country with a history of strife
between Hindus and minorities.
Hours before boarding a flight
to Saudi Arabia, Obama warned
India not to stray from its constitutional commitment to allow
people to freely “profess, practice and propagate” religion.
“Every person has the right
to practice their faith how they
choose, or to practice no faith at
all, and to do so free of persecution and fear of discrimination,”
he said.
“Nowhere is that more important than India, nowhere is it going to be more necessary for that
foundational value to be upheld.
“India will succeed so long as
it is not splintered along lines
of religious faith, along lines of
anything, and is unified as one
nation,” he said in a townhall address to mostly young Indians.
Obama’s speech, after three
days in New Delhi aimed at cementing a strategic partnership,
was widely interpreted as a message to Prime Minister Narendra
Modi and his Bharatiya Janata
Party (BJP), whose rise to power
emboldened activists to declare
India a nation of Hindus.
He made no direct reference
to Modi, who was banned from
US travel for nearly a decade until last year after deadly HinduMuslim violence in Gujarat he
ruled in 2002.
Lately, religious conversion has
again become a divisive political
issue, after hardliners with links to
the BJP claimed Hinduism was under threat and started a campaign
to convince Christians and Muslims to change their faith.
About a fifth of India’s 1.27bn
people identify themselves as
belonging to faiths other than
“The message is that India is
a democratic country, it is not
a Hindu country or a Christian
country, it is all together, India has respect for all religions,”
said Imam Umer Ahmed Ilyasi,
a Muslim priest who heads the
All India Imam Organisation,
after the speech. He was standing with a Hindu holy man from
one of India’s pilgrimage towns,
Modi has warned lawmakers
from his own party to stop promoting controversial issues such
as religious conversions and to
focus on economic reforms, but
Obama’s message was quickly
seized by political opponents of
the prime minister.
“I do hope that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was listening to the speech carefully,” said
Manish Tewari of the opposition
Congress Party, criticising Hindu
activists for promoting a “majoritarian ethos that goes against
the grain of liberal democracy.”
Obama and Modi’s relaxed
manner together during the visit
was dubbed a “bromance” in
India media, after the two men
shared tea in a lotus garden, re-
Army officer killed
in Kashmir a day
after getting medal
n army officer died
yesterday in Jammu
and Kashmir, a day after
winning an award for gallantry.
Nath Rai was killed
along with Kashmir police head constable Sanjeev Singh, while two
other soldiers were injured during an encounter with militants in
Pulwama district, police
sources said.
Two militants including
the alleged district commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen militant group were
also killed in the gunfight,
police said.
The colonel is the highest
ranking military officer to
die in fighting in Kashmir in
more than a year.
Rai and his joint team
of soldiers and policemen had converged on
a village near Tral town
after receiving information that militants were
visiting their homes in
the area.
While talking to villagers, Rai, the policeman and
the other soldiers were ambushed by the militants,
police said.
“The militants opened
fire. They were neutralised but the colonel, the
head constable and the
two soldiers were also
injured,” a police official
“The injured colonel and
head constable were airlifted to the Army hospital in Srinagar, where they
breathed their last,” the official said.
Rai of 9 Gorkha Rifles,
seconded to the Rashtriya
Rifles, was awarded a Yudh
Seva Medal on Monday
when India celebrated its
Republic Day for his operations against militants in
Tens of thousands of
troops are deployed in
Kashmir to put down an
insurgency which began in
1989 and has weakened over
the past several years.
India worries that militant groups based in Pakistan will turn their attention to Kashmir as foreign
forces complete their
withdrawal from Afghanistan.
This month alone, 10
militants have been killed in
corded a radio show together,
and spent two hours chatting at a
rain-splashed Republic Day military parade.
In between, they sealed deals
to unlock billions of dollars in
nuclear trade and deepen defence
ties, and Obama pledged $4bn in
financial backing to release the
“untapped potential” of a partnership between the world’s
largest democracies.
Some of that financing is to
help Modi meet his own ambitious
goals to use more renewable energy, especially solar, as fast-growing India’s carbon emissions rise.
However, during the visit,
India did not commit to a peak
emissions target of the kind China and the US agreed to in November.
“Here’s the truth: even if
countries like the US curb our
emissions, if growing countries
like India - with soaring energy needs - don’t also embrace
cleaner fuels, then we don’t stand
a chance against climate change,”
Obama said.
On Monday, he became the
first US president to attend In-
dia’s annual Republic Day parade, a show of military might
long associated with Cold War
Obama’s presence at the parade signalled Modi’s willingness to end India’s traditional
reluctance to get too close to any
big power. Instead, he is seeking
close ties with them all, even as
he pushes back against a more
assertive China and take sides on
other global issues.
A joint US-India policy statement that focused on free navigation in the South China Sea
highlighted this more muscular
Obama said the US would
stand first in line for the trade
and investment opportunities
that will spring from the economic reform drive under Modi.
“America wants to be your
partner in igniting the next wave
of Indian growth. As India pursues reforms to encourage more
trade and investment, we’ll
be the first in line,” he told the
townhall, attended by Michelle
Obama and Nobel peace laureate
Kailash Satyarthi.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Fidel breaks silence
on US-Cuba dialogue
Fidel has chosen to let Raul do the
talking on this issue
uban leader Fidel Castro has broken his silence on a historic rapprochement between Washington
and Havana, implicitly endorsing it even
as he expressed an abiding distrust of his
old foe.
The 88-year-old revolutionary icon had
said nothing since last month’s surprise
agreement, raising questions not only
about where he stood on mending relations with Washington, but also about his
health and political status.
But late Monday, Castro appeared to answer some of those questions with a letter
read out on state television that reflected
both his skepticism and tacit support for
the decision by his brother Raul to normalise ties.
“I don’t trust in the policy of the United States, nor have I exchanged one word
with them, without this representing—far
from it—rejection of a peaceful solution to
conflicts,” he said.
He refrained from criticising the agreement, and said Raul Castro had acted in
keeping with his powers as president.
“We will always defend cooperation
and friendship with all the peoples of the
world, among them our political adversaries. It’s what we are calling for on everyone’s part,” he said.
The text of the letter, which was addressed to the Federation of University
Students, was published yesterday in
the official Communist Party newspa-
Cuba’s president Raul Castro with Costa Rica’s vice president Ana Elena Chacon after
arriving at the Juan Santamaria international airport in Alajuela. Castro is in Costa Rica
for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) summit.
per Granma and other state publications,
under headlines that did not highlight his
comments on the US-Cuba rapprochement.
In his typically loquacious manner,
Castro covered a range of topics in the
letter, touching on Ancient Greece and
Cuba’s military campaigns in Africa in the
1970s and 1980s before coming around to
his comments on the rapprochement with
the United States.
The agreement to begin normalising ties
after more than 50 years of enmity stunned
the world when it was announced December 17 by US President Barack Obama and
Raul Castro, who succeeded an ailing Fidel
as Cuba’s president in 2006.
Last week, the highest-ranking US
delegation in 35 years began negotiations
with Cuban officials in Havana on reopening embassies in their respective capitals.
The agreement will ease trade and travel
restrictions to open the flow of contacts
between the two countries separated by
145km of water but an enormous political
It has been criticised by some US lawmakers and Cuban Americans for not
gaining concessions on human rights and
democratic reforms.
But Latin American leaders across the
political spectrum have hailed it as a long-
overdue end to the US-imposed isolation
of Havana.
What has been missing was word from
Fidel who—though retired—remains the
embodiment of the one-party communist
state he erected in defiance of Washington
after Cuba’s 1959 revolution.
His silence had raised doubts about
whether he was even alive, until visiting
Argentine soccer star Diego Maradona
made public a letter he had received from
The latest letter from “El comandante”
including the comments on Washington
was read by student federation leader Randy Perdomo, on the eve of an annual march
by thousands of university students.
This year’s march will commemorate
the 70th anniversary of Castro’s matriculation in the University of Havana, from
which he graduated as a lawyer in 1950,
three years before launching his revolutionary movement with a failed assault on
an army barracks.
Castro, who did not comment on the
rumours about his health in the letter, was
last seen in public more than a year ago,
when he attended a friend’s art gallery
opening on January 6, 2014.
Fidel had been a frequent contributor to Cuba’s state-run newspapers, but
published his last column in mid-October,
when he proposed that Cuba and the United States co-operate in fighting the Ebola
epidemic in west Africa.
His absence was especially noted on the
return of three Cuban spies, celebrated as
heroes in Havana, as part of the agreement
with Washington. They were swapped for
a Cuban imprisoned as a US spy. Jailed US
contractor Alan Gross also was freed at the
same time.
Labour in pain
Former employees of the Itaipu dam, with their hands nailed to wood, take part in a rally in Asuncion, Paraguay. Four former workers and a mother and wife of one of the
workers of the Itapu dam, shared between Paraguay and Brazil, marched in Asuncion to protest for their labour rights.
President Fernandez speaking during a national broadcast in
Buenos Aires.
to disband
Buenos Aires
resident Cristina Kirchner on Monday said that
she will disband Argentina’s intelligence service
after a prosecutor was found
dead just hours before he was
to make explosive allegations
against her.
Alberto Nisman, 51, was
found in his Buenos Aires
home with a gunshot to the
head on January 18, the day
before he was to go before a
congressional hearing to accuse Kirchner of obstructing
his investigation into a 1994
bombing at a Jewish charities
federation office.
She denies the claims and
says Nisman’s death—which
initially was suspected suicide—was a plot to discredit
Kirchner, who is scrambling
to protect her record and legacy, said Monday: “The plan
is to dissolve the Intelligence
Secretariat, and create a Federal Intelligence Agency.”
The leadership of the agency will be chosen by the president but subject to senate approval.
Kirchner had removed the
leadership of the current intelligence service as recently
as December.
She said she would send her
intelligence system reform bill
to Congress before she leaves
for China next week, and
swiftly scheduled special congressional sessions for it to be
taken up.
Kirchner also took aim at
Diego Lagomarsino, a Nisman
colleague who lent Nisman the
pistol with which the prosecutor was killed. Lagomarsino
on Monday was charged with
giving a gun to someone who
is not its registered owner, officials said.
“Lagomarsino is not just a
staunch opponent of the government,” Kirchner said suggesting his brother’s work on
behalf of Clarin newspaper, in
her view, raised red flags. She
has had a long-running feud
with the paper.
The 1994 attack, which
killed 85 people, has never
been solved.
Nisman had accused Kirchner and her foreign minister
Hector Timerman of shielding
Iranian officials implicated in
the bombing of the ArgentineJewish Mutual Association.
After his death, Kirchner
suggested Nisman had been
manipulated by former intelligence agents who then killed
him to smear her. Kirchner has
offered no evidence to support
her theory, and did not say
who she thought was behind
Nisman’s death.
But aides in recent days
have pointed to former intelligence officials who were
recently fired, including the
former chief of operations of
the Intelligence Secretariate,
Antonio Stiusso, who worked
closely with Nisman.
Investigators have said Nisman’s death appeared to be
suicide, but it has been classified as a “suspicious” death
and homicide or an “induced
suicide” have not been ruled
Nisman contended that
the government had agreed to
swap grain for oil with Tehran
in exchange for withdrawing
“red notices” to Interpol seeking the arrests of the former
and current Iranian officials
accused in the case.
A top Kirchner aide meanwhile offered assurances that
journalists enjoy “full security” in Argentina, after a reporter who revealed the Nisman death fled to Israel saying
he feared for his safety.
Damian Pachter left Argentina on Saturday, saying he
had received threats and was
being followed.
“In Argentina, there is full
security for all journalists,” cabinet chief Jorge Capitanich said.
“There is no obstacle for any
journalist to express whatever
he thinks.”
Pachter, a journalist for
the English-language Buenos
Aires Herald who holds dual
Argentine-Israeli citizenship,
told colleagues his phones had
been tapped.
In a column published by
Israel’s Haaretz daily entitled
‘Why I fled Argentina after
breaking the story of Alberto
Nisman’s death’, Pachter recounted the intimidation that
led him to leave Argentina.
Cubans look to US detente for better Web access
lfredo Castellano travels half
an hour to Havana twice a week
to write e-mails in a computer
centre with a Fidel Castro poster outside and aging machines inside.
Like most Cubans, he lacks Internet
access at home, but many hope this
will change after the United States offered to bolster the communist island’s
telecommunications as part of a historic diplomatic
“I’m very excited because it would
mean lots of changes. What we don’t
know is how long this will take,” said
Castellano, 28, after sending birthday
wishes to a friend in Winnipeg, Canada.
Wearing a baseball cap and sleeveless shirt, the aspiring tour guide sat in
front of a screen in a stuffy room in Old
Havana with a dozen computers that
only offer e-mail service.
Other locations offer Internet connection but it costs $4.50 per hour,
three times more expensive that the email-only stations in a country where
people earn around $20 per month.
“Technology here is a little behind,”
said Castellano, who did not have Internet when he studied computer science 10 years ago and comes to Havana
because service is too slow in his Havana suburb.
“People are very frustrated. There
are a lot of things we don’t know because we lack Internet.”
Cubans are starved for information
in a country where only 3.4% have Internet service at home, which arrives
via a fibre-optic cable from Venezuela,
according to the International Telecommunications Union.
But crafty Cubans have found ways
to skirt the prohibitive prices and restrictions.
They stand outside hotels with
smartphones to sneak into their Wi-Fi
Others sell hours of films, television
shows and computer games that buyers
download into memory sticks for as little as $0.20 for four gigabytes of entertainment.
Young computer whizzes have built
their own intranet network by installing Wi-Fi routers across Havana to
US flags adorn a pedicab in Havana.
share movies and play video games together online.
This month, the US government eased
trade restrictions to allow firms to export
telecommunications technology to Cuba
following the rapprochement announced
by US President Barack Obama and Cuban leader Raul Castro.
But Castellano’s question—when
will US tech companies arrive—is
something US and Cuban officials were
unable to answer after historic talks last
week aimed at normalizing relations.
Cuba’s chief negotiator Josefina Vidal indicated that her country is “willing to receive US telecommunications
companies” to explore business opportunities.
But US assistant secretary of state
Roberta Jacobson said Vidal was short
on specifics and that experts from both
countries would hold further talks.
“Access and the ability for the Cuban people to get information is really
critically important,” Jacobson said in
Havana on Friday.
Analysts say foreign firms eyeing
Cuba face many challenges.
Authorities may be reluctant to allow too much access to information,
the state telecommunications company
ETECSA may resist opening its monopoly and the government may simply
not have enough cash.
“If Cuba really wants to move forward and ETECSA doesn’t want to
block it, they still have the problem that
they don’t have much money,” California State University computer science
professor Larry Press told AFP.
Cuba, Press said, should improve
access right now but also start preparing for the next generation technology that will inevitably appear in
five years.
After visiting Cuba in June, Google
chairman Eric Schmidt said the country’s Internet was “trapped in the
1990s,” and the US embargo would
make it “much harder” to displace the
island’s Asian-built infrastructure.
The authorities tightly control access, which is mainly available to companies, universities and government
institutions. Few individuals are autorised to have expensive home connections. Some dissident blogs are
The government slightly increased
access in June 2013 when the state telecom firm Etecsa opened around 100
Internet “navigation” rooms, but people would prefer to connect at home.
“It limits my business,” said Belkis
Basail, 45, who runs a bed and breakfast
she opened under 2011 reforms allowing small private entrepreneurship.
She wants Internet for her clients
and to create a webpage to advertise her
rooms abroad.
Standing in line to get e-mail service installed on her phone, she said the
rapprochement with the United States
would be good for Cubans.
“It’s better to have friends than enemies,” she said.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Smaller parties to
play key role in
Senate elections
olitical parties with fewer lawmakers in
the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province Assembly are likely to become a liability for
their allies, in opposition and treasury benches
alike, in the upcoming Senate elections.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is the largest
party in the provincial assembly with 56 lawmakers in the 124-member house.
Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) follows
with 17 members, Pakistan Muslim LeagueNawaz (PML-N) with 16, Qaumi Watan Party
(QWP) with 10 while PTI’s coalition partner
Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) has eight seats.
The other coalition partner, Awami Jamhoori Ittehad Pakistan (AJIP), occupies five
seats while opposition parties Pakistan Peoples
Party (PPP) and Awami National Party (ANP)
have five seats each. The two remaining seats
are held by independent MPAs supporting the
It seems smaller parties are likely to play a
crucial role in the Senate polls as all of them
have ambitions to send their representatives to
the Upper House of Parliament.
With a total of 71 provincial seats, PTI and
its allies can win around seven seats in the Senate, including four general and one technocrat,
women and minority seat each.
Meanwhile, the opposition also has enough
strength to win three general seats, a seat for
women and a seat for technocrats.
In case of a disagreement in one or both
camps (treasury and opposition), smaller
parties can switch sides, bolstering the other
group’s chances to win more Senate seats.
If opposition parties reach an agreement,
the larger members PML-N, JUI-F and QWP
can each win a general seat; they can also help
their smaller allies ANP and PPP win a technocrat and women’s seat.
In the case that larger parties decline help,
ANP and PPP can extend their hand to the coalition, increasing its chances of winning another general seat.
The treasury benches can also suffer a similar dilemma if they deny a Senate seat to AJIP;
the coalition partner might decide to side with
the opposition, giving it an upper hand. JI is
also desirous of sending its chief Sirajul Haq to
the Upper House from the provincial legislature and can rebel if its plans are interrupted.
However, there seems to be a general agreement to avoid backdoor dealings in the polls.
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have
hinted that there is nothing wrong with both
sides working out a mutual adjustment in order to discourage purchasing of votes.
“The opposition does not want any horsetrading to take place,” said PML-N parliamentary leader Sardar Aurangzeb Nalotha. He added his party would win two general seats from
the provincial assembly, while joint candidates
will contest for the reserved seats for women
and technocrats.
Reports about possible contact between opposition parties and the government to reach
an adjustment are also doing the rounds. However, PTI’s Shaukat Yousafzai denied these reports. “PTI chief Imran Khan will decide on the
matter,” said Yousafzai, adding his party has
agreed not to allow corruption in the polls.
On the other hand, QWP senior leader Anisa
Zeb Tahirkheli acknowledged some informal
communication has taken place between the
government and opposition through intermediaries. However, she said nothing has been
formalised yet.
Tahirkheli was hopeful that the opposition
would remain united over the Upper House
polls as it has managed to do in the provincial
assembly so far.
Confirming that QWP was hoping to win a
Senate seat, Tahirkehli said, “We want elections to take place in a transparent manner and
do not want a repetition of the unsavoury episodes of the past.”
Taliban rejects China role in talks
he Taliban yesterday confirmed reports
that a delegation travelled to China for
“expanding relations and shedding light
on its policies,” but rejected a mediatory role
for China in any future peace talks.
“The Islamic Emirate is still firm on its previous stance and has not travelled to any country for it to act as a mediator for peace talks and
neither has it responded positively to requests
of mediation by the said country,” the Taliban
said in a statement.
It said it has “always had links with world,
regional and especially neighbouring countries, carries out trips every now and then as
needs arise and neighbouring China is also a
country among this group.” Last month, Afghan media reported that a two-member delegation of Taliban led by Din Mohamed Hanif
held talks with Chinese officials to share the
group’s stance and to explore China’s role in
possible negotiations.
Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman,
said that “the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
has wanted and continues to want good and
beneficial relations with regional and especially its neighbouring countries ... Therefore
the rumours swirling around the media have
no basis.”
Afghan president Ashraf Ghani, who visited
China in October, has said the country’s role is
crucial in helping peace negotiations.
China said it was prepared to mediate in the
Afghan peace process and assist the government in it.
Pakistani Islamists carry placards during a protest against satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo in Lahore yesterday.
Protesters storm
Christian school
undreds of Pakistani students protesting against a
French magazine for publishing cartoons of the Prophet
stormed a Christian boys’ school
demanding it close, officials and
police said yesterday.
Four students were slightly hurt
in the incident in the northwestern town of Bannu on Monday,
which happened as students from
local colleges and schools demonstrated against the cartoons
printed in French satirical weekly
Charlie Hebdo.
“A group of some 200 to 300
protesting students entered Panel
High School after jumping its out-
Teachers get gun training after Peshawar massacre
Pakistani teachers handle firearms during a weapons training session at a police training centre in Peshawar.
Malik Khalid Khan, the president of
the Private Schools Teachers Association, opposed the move to arm teachers.
“How is it possible to teach students
in a class... holding a gun in one hand
and a pen in another?” Khan told AFP.
“It’s not our job, our job is to teach
them books. A teacher holding a gun in
the class will have very negative affect
on his students,” Khan said, adding
that the government should hire more
police if they are short of numbers.
The government and military promised a tough response to the Peshawar
massacre, in which heavily armed mil-
itants scaled the school walls before
going room-to-room mowing down
helpless students and staff.
A six-year moratorium on the death
penalty was ended for terror cases after the attack, and parliament voted to
set up military courts to try terror offenses.
the incident and will re-open today.
District police officer Abdul
Rashid Khan confirmed the incident but said it was not thought to
be an anti-Christian attack.
Under Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws, insulting the prophet can
carry the death penalty, and the
country’s prime minister and parliament have strongly condemned
the publication of the cartoons.
Pakistan, Afghanistan open
border security discussions
eachers in northwest Pakistan
are being given firearms training
and will be allowed to take guns
into the classroom in a bid to strengthen security following a Taliban massacre at a school last month.
Heavily armed militants killed 150
people, 132 of them children, in a
bloody December 16 attack on an army-run school in Peshawar, the main
town in Pakistan’s northwest.
“Carrying firearms for every teacher is not obligatory, but all those who
want to carry firearms to schools willingly will be provided with permits,”
Atif Khan, provincial education minister for the northwestern province of
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, told AFP.
Provincial Information Minister
Mushtaq Ghani confirmed the decision,
adding that the province was unable to
provide police guards for all of its government-run education institutions.
“The number of police in the province is not enough to guard 35,000
schools, colleges and universities that’s why we have allowed teachers to
carry firearms,” Ghani told AFP.
Authorities began training teachers
in how to use guns last week and the
latest batch of female trainees started
learning the ropes yesterday.
“It’s a two-day course. We are training them on gun handling and also on
(the) procedure of using it,” said Mohamed Latif, a trainer at police headquarters in Peshawar.
Pakistan has already strengthened
security for schools across the country, including by building elevated
boundary walls with steel wire fencing
and increasing the number of police.
Private schools have been ordered to
deploy extra security guards.
er walls and forcibly opened the
gates,” said school principal Fredrick Farhan Das.
He said the students who wanted the school to be shut damaged the property and smashed
windows. “This caused kind of a
stampede, which slightly injured
four students,” Das said.
He said the school remained
closed yesterday in protest against
op Pakistani and Afghan commanders have opened talks on
security issues, focusing on
border management amid growing
anti-terror co-operation.
Commander of the Afghan Border Police Shafiq Fazli is leading a
10-member delegation in talks with
Pakistani counterparts.
Fazli, along with his deputy Sher Ali
Shahryar and eight other border police
officials, arrived in Pakistan for a fiveday official visit on Sunday.
“Issues related to border security
will be discussed during the ABP delegation’s visit to Pakistan,” Xinhua
quoted a Pakistan army statement as
saying. The Afghan security officials
are also scheduled to visit some Pakistani military areas.
The Afghan security officials arrived in Islamabad just days after the
visits of two top Pakistani military
commanders to Afghanistan who had
discussed co-operation between the
security forces to effectively manage
the border.
Pakistan and Afghanistan have nearly
a 2,500km porous border and militants
routinely take advantage of the difficult
terrain to cross the border whenever security forces of either country launch
any operation against them on their respective side of the border.
Both countries have now decided
to co-ordinate with the other if they
start security operation on their side of
the border to frustrate attempts by the
militants to escape to the other side.
The Pakistani army is presently battling the Taliban and other militant
groups in North Waziristan tribal region and Afghan forces are fighting the
Taliban in Dangam district in eastern
Kunar province, bordering Pakistan.
Afghanistan’s ambassador to Pakistan Janan Mosazai said last week that
Afghan forces have killed nearly 200
militants in Kunar.
Pakistani officials said Pakistani
Taliban fighters have taken shelter in
Kunar and other Afghan border areas
and launch attacks from there.
The Afghan authorities also complain that Afghan Taliban also cross
into Pakistan whenever they start action against them.
In a sign of growing military-tomilitary co-operation, the two neighbours have now decided to open two
co-ordination centres along the border
to share intelligence and closely monitor the illegal cross-border movement
of the Taliban and other militants.
The savage December 16 attack by
Taliban bombers at the Army Public
School in Peshawar in which over 140
students and teachers were massacred
has led to closer co-operation between
the two countries on tackling terrorist
The Afghan Taliban have also carried out several deadly attacks in Kabul
and other areas following the inauguration of President Ashraf Ghani late
They launched a major offensive in
Kunar’s Dangam district last month.
Dangam borders Pakistan’s northwestern Dir district.
The two countries have also increased co-operation following the
withdrawal of most of the foreign
troops from Afghanistan and end to
the Nato combat mission to avoid any
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
‘High likelihood’
militant killed
in police raid
he Philippines said yesterday there was a “high
likelihood” a Malaysian
militant suspected of being
behind the 2002 Bali bombings
was killed in a chaotic operation in the country’s south that
left 44 police dead.
Sunday’s offensive against
“high-value targets” including
Zulkifli bin Hir - one of the US’
most wanted militants with
a $5mn bounty on his head turned into a bloodbath, with
President Benigno Aquino ordering a probe into the incident.
Nearly 400 highly-trained
Philippine policemen took part
in the operation in the remote
southern farming town of Mamasapano to arrest top militants— including Zulkifli, who
is also known as Marwan —but
were ambushed by fighters.
They managed to escape
but strayed into territory controlled by a different militant
group, sparking another firefight.
“There is a high likelihood
according to the participants
that Marwan was killed in the
operations, but this needs
confirmation,” Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas told a news
While they failed to recover
the body of the main target,
“they were able to take pictures, and these pictures will
undergo a process to determine whether it was Marwan
or not.”
Zulkifli, among the US’s
most wanted militants, is a
bombmaker for the Jemaah
Islamiyah (JI) group which
staged the 2002 bombings in
Bali that claimed 202 lives, and
other deadly attacks in southeast Asia.
A top Malaysian police official on counter-terrorism told
the Malay Mail newspaper that
Kuala Lumpur was still waiting
for information from the Philippine authorities on Zulkifli’s
Zulkifli, described by the
US State Department as a
48-year-old Malaysian militant and a member of JI’s central command who had trained
as an engineer in the US, has
long been sought by the authorities.
Declarations of his death,
however, have proved premature in the past.
In March 2012 Malaysian
counter-terror police denied a
Philippine military claim that
Zulkifli was killed in an air
The potential success of targeting Zulkifli was blighted,
though, by the police casualties, and the controversy is
already testing the 10-monthold accord intended to end a
40-year insurgency that has
claimed tens of thousands of
Out of 392 “special action
force” police commandoes
who took part in the mission,
44 were killed and 12 others
wounded, Roxas said.
The MILF said police did not
co-ordinate the operation as
required under the ceasefire
Aquino has ordered an investigation into the Mamasapano incident, and Roxas said
the head of the force was relieved of his post pending an
According to Roxas, the
Philippine police were leaving the area where the operation was taking place when
they were ambushed by the
Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom
Fighters (BIFF), a group accused of sheltering Zulkifli.
The police escaped but then
strayed into territory controlled by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), sparking
another firefight, the interior
secretary said.
Regional military spokeswoman Captain Joan Petinglay confirmed press reports
that US servicemen aboard a
helicopter were seen helping
evacuate the wounded police.
But she denied that the
Americans had any part in
planning the operation.
“They were on the scene on
humanitarian grounds,” she
Small groups of US troops
have been rotating through the
southern Philippines for years,
helping train local forces to
hunt extremists.
Philippine authorities have
alleged that some of the Bali
bombers had fled to the southern Philippines and sought
refuge with rebels waging
decades-old armed campaigns against the Manila
Protest over hiding poor during papal visit
Militant groups protest near the Department of Social Welfare and Development head office in Quezon City, to protest against the six-day stay at a resort given to street
dwellers of Manila during the recent papal visit. The “holiday” was allegedly a misuse of government funds to conceal poverty in the country.
Govt won’t dismiss US
Marine’s murder case
US Marine Lance Corporal
Joseph Scott Pemberton
is accused of murdering
Jennifer Laude, 26,
in the port city of
Olongapo in October
request by a US marine
accused of murdering a
Filipino transexual that
the case against him be thrown
Philippines says it was on guard
against Pope ‘suicide attack’
he Philippines investigated a report that
a Malaysian suicide
bomber was planning to try
to kill Pope Francis during
the pontiff’s visit to Manila
this month, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas said yesterday.
Filipino police and soldiers
threw up a massive operation
involving nearly 40,000 personnel to protect the Pope
during the January 15-19
visit, which went off without
any reported security incidents.
“Around the time of the
papal visit, there was unsubstantiated intelligence about
a Malaysian national who
supposedly had a plan, either through a backpack or a
vest, to be a suicide bomber,”
Roxas told reporters.
“But we followed all the
leads and we found no substantiation,” he said without
“Around the time of
the papal visit, there
was unsubstantiated
intelligence about a
Malaysian national who
supposedly had a plan,
either through a
backpack or a vest,
to be a suicide bomber”
The Pope’s visit to Asia’s
Catholic bastion saw the
pontiff draw massive crowds
at every public appearance
despite tight security.
Authorities had previously
said his visit was a “security
He shunned the armoured
“Popemobiles” used by his
to use an open vehicle that
out was dismissed yesterday,
with the Philippine justice ministry saying there was sufficient
evidence to try him. US Marine
Lance Corporal Joseph Scott
Pemberton is accused of murdering Jennifer Laude, 26, in the
port city of Olongapo in October.
“There is no reason to alter,
modify or reverse the resolution” of the charges, said Jose
Vicente Salazar, justice ministry
“The convergence of foregoing circumstances all taken
together, leads to the fair reasonable inference that (the) respondent is probably guilty of
killing Laude, through treachery, abuse of superior strength,
and cruelty,” Salazar said in a
12-page resolution. Pemberton’s
lawyers have argued that the evidence linking him to the killing
is “based on nothing but conjectures and speculations”.
But Salazar cited closed-circuit TV footage of Pemberton
and Laude leaving a club together before the murder, testimony
Polluted river
allowed him to reach out
and touch the masses that
thronged to see him.
Despite the challenges,
including an open-air mass
in Manila that drew a record
6mn people on January 18,
the visit went off without
any serious incident.
The Philippines, which
has suffered bomb attacks
blamed on armed rebel
groups of the country, has
now been visited four times
by three Popes.
On the first papal visit to
the Philippines in 1970, Bolivian painter Benjamin Mendoza donned a fake priest’s
cassock and wounded Pope
Paul VI with a knife as he arrived at Manila airport.
And one week before John
Paul II’s second visit in 1995,
police uncovered a plot by
foreign extremists to kill him
by bombing his Manila motorcade route.
Eight prisoners escape provincial jail
ight prisoners including a rebel escaped
from a jail in the southern Philippines,
police said yesterday.
The escape was discovered during a check on
the inmates at the jail in Isabela City of Basi-
lan province, 1,000 kilometres south of Manila,
municipal police chief Superintendent Albert
Larubis said.
“The inmates managed to escape by climbing
through the ceiling of their cell and jumping to
the concrete fence,” he said.
One of the inmates was identified as Said Usman, a member of the Abu Sayyaf rebel group
who is facing kidnapping charges, Larubis said.
Children walk beside a river filled with garbage in Manila yesterday.
by hotel personnel, and physical evidence allegedly backing
up the prosecutor’s decision to
charge the US serviceman.
Laude’s body was found at a
cheap hotel in Olongapo’s red
light where police say she had
checked in with Pemberton.
The murder case against Pemberton was filed with an Olongapo court which issued a formal
arrest warrant for him in December. The decision by the department now paves the way for
his trial in Olongapo to resume,
though it was unclear yesterday
when hearings would begin.
The high-profile case has inflamed anti-US sentiment in the
Philippines and strained relations between the longtime allies.
Pemberton is currently under
US military guard at a Philippine
military base in Manila and the
US government has refused to
hand over custody to Philippine
authorities. However he has appeared in court for the booking
hot dog of
KFC causes stir
KFC’s currently running a special
creation in the Philippines that
is stirring interest stateside: The
Double Down Dog is a cheesecovered hot dog wrapped in fried
chicken in the shape of a bun.
Each Philippine location only sells
50 Double Down Dogs a day.
Americans on social media
caught wind of the creation Monday, many demanding that KFC
introduce the Double Down Dog
in their US locations, and others
wondering if KFC’s mission is to
ruin the health of its patrons.
Blog sites from Gawker to Perez
Hilton, as well as news outlets
such as the Los Angeles Times
and USA Today, have further
fuelled the conversation.
The LA Times headline says, “Just
stop it,” while Gawker called it,
“KFC’s latest depraved assault on
your digestive track.”
Meanwhile, Foodbeast says, “KFC
has a Double Down Dog, and it’s
as terrifying as it sounds.” points out that KFC
Korea has its own bread-free
diet crusher: The Zinger Double
Down sandwiches a bacon
cheeseburger between two
pieces of fried chicken.
Sources say KFC has no plans to
introduce the foreign concoctions to America, though in 2010
the restaurant chain did offer
a Double Down Sandwich in
the United States that included
bacon, cheese and chicken -- but
no burger or hot dog.
Seems like it’s just a matter
of time before some KFC
somewhere offers a hamburger
topped with hot dog, bacon and
cheese sandwiched between layers of fried chicken. Chili on the
side? — Tribune News Service
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Top banker
calls for
overhaul of
tax system
in arson
angladesh police said
yesterday they have
charged opposition leader Khaleda Zia with “abetting”
an arson attack during a period
of deadly political unrest in the
At least 36 people have died
in anti-government protests
unleashed by Zia’s January 4
call for a nationwide transport
blockade to try to topple the
government of Prime Minister
Sheikh Hasina.
Hundreds more have been
injured and more than 750 vehicles firebombed or vandalised to
keep them off the road, prompting international concern over
the country’s stability.
Zia was one of 32 people accused in the firebombing of a
van on Sunday in the southeastern town of Chouddogram, local
police chief Uttam Chakraborty
“She is the accused number
32 in the case. Initial charges
have been filed against her for
abetting the crime,” he said.
Police also described Zia as
an “instigator” in another arson case in the capital Dhaka in
which dozens of people were
wounded, although her name
has not appeared on a list of
those formally accused.
Nearly 10,000 opposition activists have been detained since
Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its 19 allies
launched the blockade.
The crisis began when police
Furore over
European envoys’
meet with activist
Ambassadors of some European
countries in Kathmandu have
triggered a diplomatic storm in
Nepal following their meeting last
week with controversial Nepalese
activist C K Raut.
The meeting which took place at
a Kathmandu-based European
diplomatic mission, has drawn flak
from multiple quarters in Nepal.
Terming the EU ambassadors’
meeting with Raut as a breach of
diplomatic practice, the Nepalese
government has warned the envoys
against any kind of talks with
activists in separatist movements.
Foreign Minister Mahendra
Bahadur Pandey reminded the
EU envoys that the diplomatic
community should conduct their
activities and show the diplomatic
etiquette under the Vienna
“I also urged the ambassadors to
maintain diplomatic decorum while
working in Nepal in line with the
Diplomatic Code of Conduct issued
by the Nepalese government,”
Pandey told Xinhua yesterday.
The EU envoys made it clear
that they met Raut over certain
human rights issues.
“The ambassadors conveyed
to me that their meeting with
Raut took place at Raut’s request
and they never approached him
earlier,” Pandey said.
Raut, who is known as a
“secessionist leader”, has been
spearheading a movement to
create a separate country in
the southern regions of the
Himalayan nation since 2011.
According to his personal website, Raut got a PhD
degree from the US and worked
as a scientist there. He has been
carrying out the separatist
movement especially in southern
Nepal after returning to his home
country four years ago.
Raut, co-ordinator of the Alliance
for Independent Madhes (AIM),
has been arrested by the police
several times for the antinationalist movement and was
last released on December 29.
confined Zia to her office after
she threatened to lead a mass
rally against her political rival
She wants Hasina to call fresh
polls after last year’s controversial general election, which opposition parties boycotted on
the grounds it 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 Islamist allies were responsible for
firebombings, and has demanded the release of opposition officials and leaders detained over
the violence.
“BNP chief Khaled Zia is
the accused number 32 in
the case. Initial charges
have been filed against
her for abetting the
Hasina has accused Zia of
trying to trigger “anarchy” and
ordered the security agencies to
hunt down the protesters.
Zia and Hasina are known for
their bitter rivalry, which has
poisoned Bangladeshi politics
for nearly three decades.
The renewed political turmoil could cause a delay in
shipments by the country’s
$24bn garment industry, already under pressure after a
string of fatal accidents.
The EU, the nation’s biggest export destination, has
urged Hasina’s government and
the opposition to hold talks to
resolve the crisis.
A crowd including Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) supporters gather to offer funeral prayers for Arafat Rahman Koko, son of former
Bangladeshi president Ziaur Rahman and former prime minister Khaleda Zia, in Dhaka yesterday.
Tens of thousands mourn Zia’s son
ens of thousands of
mourners turned out
yesterday for the funeral
of Bangladesh opposition leader Khaleda Zia’s son in a massive show of support for the
embattled former premier.
Arafat Rahman Koko, 45,
died of a heart attack on Saturday in Malaysia, a devastating
blow to the opposition leader
after she launched fresh protests this month to try to topple bitter rival Prime Minister
Sheikh Hasina.
Police inspector Alamgir,
who uses one name, estimated
the number of mourners at
50,000 to 60,000, while another police officer put the
total at around 100,000.
Traffic ground to a halt in
central Dhaka as crowds spilled
onto roads around a mosque
for the funeral after Koko’s
body arrived home yesterday
“I joined the funeral because
I felt sorry for him. His mother
is confined in her office and
his eldest brother is in exile in
London,” said Mohammad Nu-
Khaleda Zia, right, mourns over the mortal remains of her son Arafat Rahman Koko lying in state at the
BNP office in Dhaka yesterday.
ruzzaman, a supporter of Zia’s
Bangladesh Nationalist Party
Koko, who was not active in
politics, has been living in exile in Thailand and Malaysia
since 2008 after the then army-
backed government launched
corruption cases against him.
He was sentenced to six
years in jail and fined $2.5mn
in June 2011 for laundering
money through accounts in
Singapore between 2004 and
2006, when Zia was in power.
Despite Koko’s death, opposition officials said the BNP
leader was determined to maintain a nationwide transport
blockade she called to force
Hasina from office.
Rajapakse’s son denies mother’s role in gold scam
he son of former Sri
Lankan president Mahinda Rajapakse yesterday
strongly rejected allegations
that his mother was involved in
a gold scam and urged the newly elected government to “leave
them alone”.
Namal Rajapakse, the elder
son of the former president
and a member of parliament,
said his mother and former
first lady Shiranthi Rajapakse
was not involved in any crime
and the accusations levelled
against her were politically
“If political revenge is the
main objective, attack my fa-
ther and myself, and stop making false allegations against my
mother and brothers,” Xinhua
quoted the former president’s
son as telling reporters.
A complaint was lodged
with the Bribery and Corruption Commission on Monday
against Shiranthi Rajapakse for
her alleged involvement in a Sri
Lankan Rs500mn ($3.79mn)
gold scam.
The complaint was lodged by
the wife of a former senior police officer, who alleged that her
husband was arrested under
false charges because he spearheaded an investigation into a
conspiracy to sell 100kg of gold
belonging to the treasury.
“Army Intelligence Unit had
informed my husband, when he
was in the service, that 100kg
of gold worth Rs500mn had
been swindled from the treasury and Shiranthi Rajapakse
was involved in it,” Shayamali
Perera, wife of a former police deputy inspector general,
said outside the commission
However Namal Rajapakse
dismissed such allegations as
completely false, saying the
whole purpose was to sling
mud at his family.
KINGPIN’S LINKS: Sri Lanka’s police said yesterday they
were investigating whether a
man who confessed to smuggling over 1,000kg of heroin to
the island over three years had
political protection.
Samantha Kumara Vithanage was arrested in Paki-
Runway view
stan earlier this month and
taken back to Sri Lanka, police
spokesman Ajith Kumara said.
He told detectives he had
imported about 1,000kg (2,200
pounds) of heroin worth a total
of $75mn since 2012 to Colombo, a key hub for the narcotic
originating in Afghanistan and
Kumara said investigations
showed he had links to lawmaker Duminda Silva, who was
attached to the defence ministry under former president
Mahinda Rajapakse.
“We have information that
MP Duminda Silva received
large sums of money from Samantha Kumara Vithanage,
alias Wele Sudha,” Rohana told
“We secured a court order
today to check all banks and
financial institutions to track
down his money.”
Silva was a key financier of
the former governing coalition
under Rajapaske.
Rohana said the Central
Bank of Sri Lanka had been
asked to track down any foreign
assets of Silva’s in Pakistan and
Silva, who could not be contacted for comment, cannot
leave the country because his
passport has already been impounded in connection with an
unrelated murder case, Rohana
Rajapakse and his powerful
family are accused of largescale corruption during his
decade in office, which ended
earlier this month.
Nepal opposition invited for talks
Nepalese army soldiers stand inside the Tribhuvan International Airport as Air China Airbus
A319 passenger jet lands near the runway where expansion of Nepal’s only international airport
is underway, in Kathmandu yesterday.
day after taking over as
governor of the Central
Bank of Sri Lanka, Arjuna
Mahendran said interest rates
can be reduced below current
record lows once inflationary expectations flatten out, and called
for an overhaul of the tax system
to help businesses.
Mahendran was appointed by
the new government of President Maithripala Sirisena’s New
Democratic Front, which won
an election on January 8, and has
taken over an economy that is
growing strongly, though fuelled
by worrying levels of debt.
Sri Lanka’s economy has been
growing over 6.5% under previous government since 2005 and
has kept key policy interest rates
at record low since January last
year to spur growth.
Following Mahendran’s maiden
policy meeting, the central bank
opted to leave its policy interest rates unchanged, but the new
governor was optimistic that inflation would ease, and the economy would show a “robust performance” in the period ahead.
Economic growth was estimated at 7.8% last year, up from 7.3%
in 2013, and Mahendran expected
2015 to be another strong year.
“I think we can easily maintain the stable 7.5% growth rate
this year,” Mahendran said in an
interview after policy rate announcement yesterday.
Mahendran said the focus
should be shifted to private investment and job creation and
away from government spending.
“The government had grabbed all
the activities and as result, there is
no space for private sector to grow,”
he said, criticising the strategy of
the previous government, led by
president Mahinda Rajapakse.
He expected the new government of Sirisena to exert more
prudence. Finance Minister Ravi
Karunanayake said on Monday that
the new government has inherited
a “scary” economic situation, with
large amounts of debt that has not
been properly accounted for.
“The government this year
will practice very strong austerity. Then the whole government
sector becomes manageable.
Then the private sector will automatically grow.”
Mahendran said he advocated
reducing the number of taxes
from more than 20 to around five,
and would pursue policies that
would encourage private sector
investments and create jobs.
“To me that is the main pillar,”
Mahendran said. “You have to make
taxes simple for the private sector,
so that they can understand and pay
easily and carry out their businesses. At the moment, they are trying
spend more time to avoid taxes.”
Regarding monetary policy,
the central bank is hopeful that
inflation will moderate in the
months ahead.
The central bank hopes last
week’s fuel price cut and expected reductions in administered
prices of some key commodities
in the new government’s supplementary budget, due to be
presented tomorrow, will help
reduce inflation pressures.
Annual inflation jumped to
2.1% in January, after hitting a
more than five-year low of 1.5%
in December.
n a bid to end the stalemate
in the constitution drafting
process in Nepal, the country’s 10-party ruling alliance yesterday appealed to the opposition
parties to come for talks.
The ruling alliance, in a press
statement, said there was no
alternative to consensus and
urged the opposition front to be
part of the questionnaire committee, Xinhua reported.
The constituent assembly on
Sunday formed a 73-member
questionnaire committee to prepare the questionnaire on the disputed issues of the constitution
making process amid ongoing
agitation from opposition parties.
So far, the lawmakers of
ruling Nepali Congress, CPN
(UML), RPP-Nepal, CPN (ML),
RPP, Nepal Pariwar Dal, Bahujan Party and two independent lawmakers have joined the
However, the 19 political parties, including the main opposition UCPN (Maoist), have not
submitted the names of their
lawmakers in the committee.
The opposition bloc, led by
UCPN-M, said it would not sit
for talks until the ruling parties
agreed to dismantle the questionnaire committee which, they
said, was formed with the aim of
initiating a voting process on
contentious issues concerning
the new constitution.
There has been no dialogue between the ruling and opposition
parties since Sunday.
“We always try to resolve the
problems through dialogues
and consensus. We are work-
ing to draft the new constitution
through unanimous consensus, if
not through enough consensus,”
the statement said.
The opposition alliance, however, has announced street protests, saying that there was no
meaning of talks with the ruling
parties. After Nepal missed the
January 22 constitution promulgation deadline, there have been no
talks among the political parties.
The ruling parties are threatening to move ahead on the basis of their majority strength,
while the opposition parties
have said that the constitution
should be drafted on the basis
of consensus.
With the constituent assembly missing the self-imposed
deadline of January 22, the
prospects of a new constitution being drafted in Nepal have
become uncertain.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Chairman: Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Attiyah
Editor-in-Chief : Darwish S Ahmed
Production Editor: C P Ravindran
P.O.Box 2888
Doha, Qatar
[email protected]
Telephone 44350478 (news),
44466404 (sport), 44466636 (home delivery)
Fax 44350474
Stakes are already
high for GCC from
eurozone debt crisis
The European single currency plunged to an 11-year
low against the dollar on Monday after the anti-austerity,
neo-Marxist party Syriza won the Greek election.
The possibility of the country defaulting on its debt
repayments sparked renewed fears Greece could be forced
to leave the eurozone.
Here’s the important question: What is at stake for the
All the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) countries,
except Kuwait, have their currencies pegged to the
US dollar. The eurozone crisis, Japan’s stagnation and
the expected rise in US interest rates have worked to
strengthen the greenback against the euro of late. As
the European Union and Japan together account for an
estimated 50% of the total GCC imports, a strong-dollarweak-euro regime can work in GCC’s favour in cheaper
imported goods. A weakening euro is also good news
for GCC holidaymakers in Europe, who will get more
euros/pounds for their dollars. In a wider sense, a weaker
euro can make European assets look cheaper for GCC
But here are the larger issues.
Riding on the back of consistently higher oil prices
over the last decade, Gulf countries have built massive
fiscal reserves estimated at $2.45tn by the International
Institute of Finance. This
financial cushion has
allowed GCC sovereign
wealth funds (SWFs) to
invest heavily in Europe.
The peculiar
investment pattern of
Gulf SWFs makes it
difficult to take updated
stocks of the assets under
their management.
But between 2002 and
2006, close to $100bn of the $642bn surplus in these
funds was invested in EU countries, especially in the
financial sector, according to a December 2012 estimate.
Gulf SWFs provided emergency financing with a number
of European banks after the crisis in 2008. Between
1995 and 2010, an estimated 30% of their cross-border
investment was made in the EU. As per latest available
data, the total assets acquired by GCC private investors
and SWFs in the EU is estimated at more than €400bn,
making them one of the largest foreign investor groups in
The Gulf investments in Europe are mainly keeping line
with the futuristic strategy of economic diversification.
GCC policy makers are envisaging a non-oil scenario for
future generations and returns from overseas assets are
meant to sustain their economies during the rainy days.
Longer term, to be sure, a consistently weaker euro, will
weigh on the valuation of Gulf assets in Europe as well as
capital returns.
Oil, the main stay of Gulf economies, has fallen over
40% since the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting
Countries maintained its production target at the
November 27 meeting. The Gulf’s fiscal cover will start
shrinking if oil stays low for long, a most likely scenario.
The Syriza party’s victory in Greek elections is seen by
some experts as a welcome snub for the EU and successive
governments in Athens for the way they mishandled the
country’s $240bn debt crisis. Despite growing fears of a
worst-case crisis, it may be too early to conclude that the
country will opt out of the euro. The Syriza does not have a
mandate to leave the euro as three quarters of the Greeks still
want to stay within the currency union.
Whether Greece does it or not, stakes are already high
for the Gulf. And GCC policy makers need to plan for
any crisis arising out of Europe/eurozone to protect their
investments and trade interests.
Politics must replace the glib
triumphalism of economics
If politics is to retake the
field of values from the
fanatics, the charlatans
and the economists, it
must be rebuilt from the
ground up
By Jean-Marie Guéhenno
hroughout the world, it
seems, crisis is gripping
national politics. In election
after election, voter turnout
has hit historic lows. Politicians
are universally reviled. Mainstream
parties, desperate to remain relevant,
are caught in a vice, forced to choose
between pandering to extremism
and the risk of being overwhelmed
by populist, anti-establishment
Meanwhile, not since the end of
World War II has money played such
an important role in politics, trumping
the power of ideas.
In the US, for example, the sound
of billions of dollars flowing into
election-campaign coffers is drowning
out the voices of individual voters.
In parts of the world where the rule
of law is weak, criminal networks
and corruption displace democratic
processes. In short, the pursuit of the
collective good looks sadly quaint.
The trouble began at the end of
the Cold War, when the collapse
of a bankrupt communist ideology
was complacently interpreted
as the triumph of the market. As
communism was discarded, so was the
concept of the state as an agent around
which our collective interests and
ambitions could be organised.
The individual became the ultimate
agent of change – an individual
conceived as the type of rational actor
that populates economists’ models.
Such an individual’s identity is not
derived from class interests or other
sociological characteristics, but
from the logic of the market, which
dictates maximisation of self-interest,
whether as a producer, a consumer, or
a voter.
Politics begins where
economics ends
Indeed, economics has been
placed on a pedestal and enshrined
in institutions like central banks and
competition authorities, which have
been intentionally separated and made
independent from politics.
As a result, governments have been
confined to tinkering at the margins of
markets’ allocation of resources.
The 2008 global financial crisis,
the resulting recession and rapidly
widening income and wealth
inequality have punctured the glib
triumphalism of economics.
But politics, far from rising to take
its place, continues to be discredited,
as mainstream leaders – particularly
in North America and Europe – call
on economic theories to justify their
policy choices.
The pursuit of individual
attainment is the hallmark of our time,
eclipsing the collective dimension
of human destiny. And yet the deep
human need to be part of a group has
yet to disappear. It lingers, but without
a credible outlet.
National projects ring hollow,
and the so-called international
community remains an abstraction.
This unfulfilled desire for community
may be felt particularly acutely
by young people – including, for
example, young militants.
Indeed, nationalist politicians and
religious leaders have been the first to
spot the vacuum, and they are rapidly
filling it. Pope Francis, Vladimir
Putin, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and
Marine Le Pen have little in common.
But they share one insight: There
is a deep longing for the creation of
communities defined by shared values,
not functional needs.
The crisis of national politics has
consequences that echo far beyond
the borders of individual countries.
National chauvinism and religious
fundamentalism are here to stay, and
with them the terrorism that extremists
of all stripes embrace, because both
phenomena are ideally suited to the
age of the individual: they provide
imaginary answers to personal angst,
instead of political answers to collective
challenges. These movements’
amorphous nature – often channelled
through charismatic leaders – allows
each individual to project onto them his
or her dreams, making them difficult
to counter within the framework of
traditional politics.
But this strength can also be
a weakness. When tasked with
managing territories and governing
populations, these movements begin
to face the same bothersome logistical
and organisational constraints as their
As a result, bureaucracy is
constantly at their heels, leaving them
in perpetual need of upheaval and
If politics is to retake the field
of values from the fanatics, the
charlatans and the economists, it must
be rebuilt from the ground up.
More than half of the world’s
population now lives in cities
and any political renaissance
must counterbalance the appeal
of vast virtual communities with
resilient urban societies. Citizens
must become re-engaged with the
political process, educated in public
affairs and provided with real (not
merely virtual) platforms to air their
differences and debate alternative
Furthermore, institutions that
provide bridges between states
and the global community, such
as the European Union, must be
strengthened and refocused. In
particular, their technical functions
must be clearly distinguished from
their political roles.
But, above all, politicians must stop
trying to shore up their diminished
credibility with the pretense of
economic science. Politics begins
where contemporary economics ends
– with ethics and the attempt to create
a justly ordered society. - Project
zJean-Marie Guéhenno, former
under-secretary-general for
peacekeeping at the UN, is president
and CEO of the International
Crisis Group and the author of
the forthcoming book The Fog of
Peace: A Memoir of International
Peacekeeping in the 21st Century.
GCC policy
makers need
to plan for any
crisis arising
out of Europe/
To Advertise
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Telephone 44466621 Fax 44418811
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A Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres, MSF) agent preparing to burn pieces of a dismantled tent yesterday after the first section of the ELWA III Ebola
Management Centre in Monrovia was decomissioned. Liberia’s president on Monday announced the closure of an Ebola treatment facility which lay at the epicentre of
the virus’s worst outbreak in history, as the disease’s spread has slowed in the country.
Scientists ask if Ebola immunises as well as kills
By Kate Kelland and Emma Farge
recent sharp drop in
new Ebola infections in
West Africa is prompting
scientists to wonder
whether the virus may be silently
immunising some people at the
same time as brutally killing their
So-called “asymptomatic” Ebola
cases - in which someone is exposed
to the virus, develops antibodies, but
doesn’t get sick or suffer symptoms are hotly disputed among scientists,
with some saying their existence is
little more than a pipe dream.
Yet if, as some studies suggest,
such cases do occur in epidemics
of the deadly disease, they may be a
key factor in ending outbreaks more
swiftly by giving secret protection to
those lucky enough to be able to bat
the infection away.
“We wonder whether ‘herd
immunity’ is secretly coming up when you get a critical mass of people
who are protected, because if they are
asymptomatic they are then immune,”
Philippe Maughan, senior operations
administrator for the humanitarian
branch of the European Commission,
told Reuters. “The virus may be
bumping into people it can’t infect any
Latest World Health Organisation
data show new cases of infection in
West Africa’s unprecedented Ebola
epidemic dropping dramatically in
Guinea, Sierra Leone and particularly
in Liberia.
Most experts are sure the main driver
is better control measures reducing
direct contact with contagious patients
and corpses, but there may also be other
factors at work.
“The virus may be
bumping into people
it can’t infect any
So-called herd immunity is a feature
of many infectious diseases and can,
in some cases, dampen an outbreak
if enough people get asymptomatic,
or “sub-clinical” cases and acquire
protective antibodies. After a while,
the virus - be it flu, measles, polio can’t find non-immune people to be
its hosts.
But some specialists with wide
experience of disease outbreaks are
highly sceptical about whether this
phenomenon happens in Ebola, or
whether it could affect an epidemic.
“There is some suggestion there
may be cases that are less severe...
and there may even be some that are
asymptomatic,” said David Heymann,
an infectious disease expert and head
of global health security at Chatham
“But herd immunity is just the
wrong term. There could be household
immunity developing, but even that is
only hypothesis.”
Others are more hopeful and
are urging researchers in West
Africa to seek out and test possible
asymptomatic cases with a view
to using the secrets of their silent
Steve Bellan of the University
of Texas in the US argues that if
scientists can reliably identify
asymptomatic people, they could help
with disease-control tasks like caring
for patients and conducting burials,
reducing the number of non-immune
people exposed in these risky jobs.
Bellan points to two studies in
particular. One, conducted after an
Ebola outbreak in Gabon in 1997,
found that 71% of “seropositive”
people - those with traces of the Ebola
virus in their blood - did not have the
disease. The other, published in April
2002, found 46% of asymptomatic
close contacts of patients with Ebola
were seropositive.
With the largest Ebola epidemic
on record raging through three of
Africa’s most under-resourced
countries, scientists and medics have,
understandably, focused all efforts on
the sick and dying and not on testing
people with no symptoms.
If they do, however, and if they were
to find what Bellan and some others
suspect, it could prompt a reappraisal
of what jolted a relatively sudden
downturn in new cases.
Some researchers say they have
identified a few cases in the current
outbreak with mild symptoms and
low concentrations of Ebola virus in
the blood. One was a Guinean student
who travelled to Senegal and is not
known to have infected anyone else,
despite having contact with dozens of
Ian MacKay, a virologist at
Australia’s University of Queensland,
agrees that possible sub-clinicallyacquired immunity is one of many
unexplored mysteries of the Ebola
“One thing that this particular
outbreak shows is that we really don’t
know an awful lot about these kinds
of infectious diseases,” he said. “We
tend to think we can answer all the
questions, but this is one of those
things we may end up being taught by
the virus itself.”
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Breaking barriers to Internet adoption
The imperative to address
the formidable challenges to
further expansion of Internet
usage is clear
By James Manyika and
Helen Margetts
ver the last decade, the
number of new Internet
users tripled. But, though a
large majority of the world’s
population remains offline, the pace
of expansion has slowed sharply in
recent years. Is the Internet revolution
losing steam?
From 2005 to 2008, the number
of Internet users increased at a
compound annual rate of 15.1%,
bringing the number of people online
to some 2.7bn. But, according to a
new report by the McKinsey Global
Institute, the growth rate fell to 10.4%
in 2010-2013. Given the enormous
economic benefits of connectivity,
finding ways to provide Internet
access to the world’s remaining 4bn
people should be a high priority.
Of course, that is easier said than
done. Around three-quarters of the
unconnected – 3.4bn people – live in
just 20 countries.
In 2012, about 64% lived in rural
areas, compared with only 24% of
Internet users, while about half live
below their country’s poverty line and
median income. Some 18% are older
than 54, compared with about 7% of
the online population, and roughly
28% are illiterate, whereas the literacy
rate for Internet users is close to 100%.
Finally, women comprise 52% of the
offline population and only 42% of the
online population.
These groups face particularly high
barriers to Internet connectivity,
beginning with inadequate
infrastructure, including poor mobile
Internet coverage or network access
and unreliable electricity supply.
Indeed, 1.1-2.8bn people cannot get
online via a mobile network, because
their area lacks sufficient coverage.
Another barrier is affordability:
Internet access is simply too costly
for many low-income people. Beyond
the need to address insufficient
competition, inadequate regulation,
and high taxes on Internet-enabled
devices and service plans, there is the
fundamental challenge of supplying
cost-effective access to the most
remote regions. In 10 countries, largely
in Africa and the Asia-Pacific region,
fixed broadband prices exceed per
capita GDP.
The third major barrier to Internet
adoption is user capability. The
high level of illiteracy among those
who remain offline often implies an
inability not only to read and write,
but also to use digital technology. An
estimated 43% of India’s unconnected
citizens are illiterate.
Without technological solutions,
such as user interfaces that feature
text-to-speech and voice-recognition
capabilities, people who have not
attained basic language proficiency
will struggle to engage with Internet
content. The lack of relevant locallanguage content may also limit use.
Making matters worse,
misperceptions of the Internet – for
example, that it is a security risk or
solely for the wealthy – mean that
many people will remain reluctant
to use it, even if affordable access
becomes available. In many emerging
economies, a lack of trust in the
system has fuelled resistance to doing
business online.
The final barrier to Internet
adoption is a lack of incentives. As
research by the Oxford Internet
Institute on broadband in East Africa
has shown, many poor people in rural
areas may know little, if anything,
about the Internet, or may not be
offered it.
Given that tailoring content to such
potential customers is expensive,
Internet service providers are unlikely
to do so without clear incentives like
government support or high profit
margins. Advertisers are not interested
in reaching such markets.
McKinsey has developed a new
Internet Barriers Index that ranks 25
developed and developing countries
on their performance in the face
of these challenges. The top five
countries are the US, Germany, South
Korea, Japan and Spain. The bottom
five are Nigeria, Pakistan, Bangladesh,
Tanzania, and Ethiopia.
Nearly half of the world’s offline
population lives in 10 countries that
face a significant struggle to overcome
all four barriers. In the bottom five
countries in the McKinsey index,
the average Internet penetration rate
was only 15% in 2013. The offline
population was largely young and
rural, with low literacy rates.
Five other countries – Egypt,
India, Indonesia, the Philippines
and Thailand – face medium to high
barriers across the board, especially
when it comes to infrastructure and
incentives. With an offline population
of more than 1.4bn people, these
countries had an average Internet
penetration rate of 19% in 2013.
Another 1.1bn people live in countries
where a single barrier – especially a
lack of awareness of the Internet, weak
purchasing power, or low levels of
digital literacy – dominates.
Identifying the particular barriers
affecting a country or region enables
the development of effective solutions
– not least because some barriers,
such as awareness, are far cheaper to
tackle than others, like infrastructure.
That is the purpose of the Internet
Barriers Index. By mapping the major
social, political and economic obstacles
to Internet adoption, the index can
help make efforts by governments
and network and service providers as
targeted and efficient as possible.
The imperative to address the
formidable challenges to further
expansion of Internet usage is clear.
Doing so would create considerable
potential for economic growth.
Many governments have recognised
this to some extent, setting ambitious
goals for mobile Internet coverage,
broadband infrastructure and public
Wi-Fi access. But investment in
infrastructure is not enough.
Only comprehensive, targeted
and nationally tailored strategies,
backed by a strong commitment from
policymakers, can bring the next 1bn
people online. Project Syndicate
zJames Manyika is a director of
McKinsey and the McKinsey Global
Institute. Helen Margetts is director of
the Oxford Internet Institute.
Weather report
Three-day forecast
Dear Sir,
It is great to know that Aslam
Ali (“Regular updates on rule
changes”, Gulf Times, January 27)
and many others like him are really
keeping a close watch on updates
of the proposed changes in Qatar’s
sponsorship rule. But Ali seems to
have misread my earlier letter, “Right
time for rule changes” (Gulf Times,
January 25). I was not complaining
about the lack of coverage in Gulf
Times at all. I was writing about
the apparent delay in unveiling the
changes by the authorities after their
original announcement in May last
Almost eight months have passed
since then. One just wants to know
the progress made in the proposals
so far.
Proposals to change rules are fine
but if they are not implemented, they
are of no benefit to the community at
The question is: can an employee
change jobs freely in Qatar now? The
answer today is: no
(Full name and address supplied)
Days of strife
and violence
Dear Sir,
The Middle East region is being
wracked by civil wars and sectarian
strife. Ever since Saddam Hussain’s
invasion of Kuwait in 1990, guns
never fell silent in this historically
rich part of the world, it seems.
The economic progress in the
Middle East is being severely affected
by the ongoing violence in many
Civil wars and naked power
struggles are having their impact on
the young generation. Women and
children are the most affected.
There has been a massive flood of
weapons to several countries into
the region, disturbing the peaceful
atmosphere in the region.
It is sad that there have been
no serious efforts on the part of
countries that have influence in the
region and the United Nations to
bring about amity and peace in the
strife-torn countries in the Middle
Ramachandran Nair
PO Box 740
Ruwi 112
Sultanate of Oman
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Live issues
Kuwait City
When process matters more than the outcome
By Oliver Burkeman
hen I realised, the
other day, my bank had
charged me an utterly
outrageous £20 fee for
something that wasn’t my fault, I
did what any sensible person would
do: spent half the morning raging
inwardly, composing the monologue,
polite yet unyielding, with which I’d
make my case.
I pictured myself fighting my way
up the bank’s bureaucracy, even into
the courts, before finally achieving
justice, all the sweeter for being hard
won. Then I rang my bank. They
immediately removed the charge. “Is
there anything else I can help you
with?” the friendly woman asked.
Perhaps I should have demanded that
she tell me what to do with all the
righteous indignation now surplus to
requirements. Instead, I said no and
hung up in a disoriented daze.
One interpretation of this is that
I’m an irritable bastard who should
spend less time in imaginary disputes.
Another – the one I’m going with – is
that I’d run into what psychologists
call the fair process effect. I’d got what
I wanted, but not because the bank
judiciously weighed my arguments.
Their response seemed capricious, or
just part of a policy to placate moaners
like me.
The standard assumption among
economists is that people seek certain
outcomes in life – money, power,
opportunity – and don’t much care
how they get them. But modern
research shows that process matters,
too. One rather obvious consequence
is that we’re more easily reconciled
to not getting our way when we feel
that a decision has been reached fairly
and transparently. A less obvious one
is that we’re liable to feel annoyed by
opaque or arbitrary processes, even
when the result’s in our favour.
This isn’t news to political
scientists, who know people respect
legal and electoral systems they
consider legitimate, even when rulings
or elections go against them. But it’s
surprisingly relevant to anyone who
makes decisions affecting others –
bosses, people in customer services,
teachers, parents, maybe all of us.
The management scholars W Chan
Kim and Renée Mauborgne tell the
cautionary tale of Elco, a US elevator
maker that nearly destroyed itself
by bungling fair process. The chief
executive brought in consultants, who
wore dark suits, “spoke in low tones
to one another” and steered clear of
The changes that followed triggered
mutiny, even though they involved no
cuts and gave workers more autonomy
– because almost no one had a clue
how they’d been arrived at. This
reaction isn’t just a needy desire to
feel involved. It’s concretely rational:
if decisions seem flung down from on
high, how can you trust that the next
one won’t be “You’re fired”?
Similar effects crop up in unlikely
places. When a misbehaving public
figure gives an apology that feels a
little too abject and rapid, or when
someone you’re arguing with suddenly
concedes your point, there’s a palpable
sense that something’s amiss: a
crucial process has been skipped.
I don’t really think the woman at
the bank should have argued with me
more. Yet I suspect if she’d listened to
my points, put me on hold, checked
Facebook for three minutes, then
returned, I’d have gone off happier.
Honestly, sometimes I even exasperate
myself..- Guardian News and Media
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Around the world
Cape Town
Hong Kong
New Delhi
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Sao Paulo
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Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Qatari team begins visit to US
E Sheikh Mohamed bin
Hamad bin Khalifa alThani visited the venue
of the city centre project in
Washington DC and was given a
detailed explanation by the officials of Qatari Diar in the US.
HE Sheikh Mohamed, who is
leading a Qatari delegation currently paying a visit to the US,
was accompanied during the
visit by the CEO of Qatar Investment Authority, HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohamed bin Saud
HE Sheikh Mohamed also paid
a visit to Georgetown University,
where he met the president of
the university. The meeting was
attended by HE the Minister of
Finance Ali Sherif al-Emadi, HE
the Governor of Qatar Central
Bank Sheikh Abdullah bin Saud
al-Thani and Sheikh Abdullah
bin Mohamed bin Saud al-Thani.
HE Sheikh Mohamed along
with the Qatari delegation also
attended a dinner hosted by the
American Chamber of Commerce and the US-Qatar Business Council with more than 250
guests in attendance, including
members of the US Congress,
senior business officials and Qatar’s Ambassador to the US Mo-
HE the Governor of Qatar Central Bank Sheikh Abdullah bin Saud
al-Thani and CEO of Qatar Investment Authority HE Sheikh Abdullah
bin Mohamed bin Saud al-Thani (right) speak at the US Chamber of
Commerce in Washington, DC, yesterday.
hamed bin Jaham al-Kuwari.
In a welcome speech, HE alEmadi stressed Qatar’s keenness
on establishing strong partnerships with US companies to enhance the implementation of a
range of development projects in
HE the Minister of Finance
noted Qatar’s commitment to
the implementation of development goals in infrastructure,
education and health sectors,
saying: “Despite the decline in
oil prices, Qatar will continue the
path of development and there
will be no change in fiscal policy
on spending or investment in
infrastructure”. Nearly $200bn
have been approved for various
development projects until 2022,
he added.
He explained that these allocations would focus on transportation projects and infrastructure, including the railway
network, the new port, health,
education and sports facilities,
including the establishment of
2022 FIFA World Cup stadiums.
HE Sheikh Mohamed bin Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani during his visit to the US.
Qatar has important investments in the US and has plans to
increase these investments over
the next five years to exceed $35bn,
HE al-Emadi said, adding that
these investments are aimed at
various economic fields such as
energy, technology and real estate.
In the meantime, HE the Minister of Finance met a number of
students and officials at Georgetown University and the American
University in Washington, where
he provided an overview of the
future vision of the State of Qatar
as well as answered their queries.
Maersk Oil funds ‘Action
on Diabetes’ screening bus
All-new BMW models will be unveiled at the fifth edition of the Qatar Motor Show next month.
Regional debut of
new BMW models at
Qatar Motor Show
lfardan Automobiles, the
official BMW Group Importer in Qatar, is set to
unveil the all-new BMW X6M
and X5M at the fifth edition of
the Qatar Motor Show taking
place from February 6 to 10 at
the Qatar National Convention
Besides the regional debut
of the two high-performance
vehicles, the all-new BMW 2
Series Convertible will also be
launched during the event.
Regardless whether the location is a racetrack, city street
or a desert road, the X6M and
X5M, the newest additions to the
BMW M GmbH stable, set the
benchmark in terms of driving
dynamics and outstanding efficiency in the high-performance
Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV)
and Sports Activity Coupé (SAC)
Armed with a striking M design and distinctive high-class
interior for a potent and dynamic presence, both the X6M
and X5M are powered by the
latest-generation 4.4-litre V8 M
TwinPower Turbo engine, using
innovative M TwinPower Turbo
technology to push torque and
output to even higher performance levels, with both the X5M
and X6M sprinting from 0 to 100
km/h in 4.2 seconds.
“Thanks to their superior
power and precision, the all-new
BMW X6M and all-new X5M
deliver an unprecedented level of
performance in every situation. I
am confident that they will stand
out from the crowd,” said Mohamed Kandeel, chief operating
officer, Alfardan Group – Automotive Operations.
The Qatar Motor Show will also highlight some of BMW Group’s other
The X5M and X6M have been
designed for use on the road,
combining the raised seating
position of an all-wheel-drive X
model with the sporting appeal
of the BMW M automobile.
These elite sports machines
cut a low-slung figure on the
road, while mixed tyres showcase
their sporty track width.
The X6M and X5M hold
high-quality interior combining
sporty features, exclusive materials and flawless workmanship.
With the new M TwinPower
Turbo engine, the X5M and X6M
have the most powerful unit ever
developed by BMW for an allwheel-drive vehicle. Boasting
innovative M TwinPower Turbo
technology with a pair of TwinScroll turbochargers, cross-bank
exhaust manifolds, VALVETRONIC and High Precision Direct
Petrol Injection, the 4.4-litre V8
produces maximum output of
423 kW/575 hp.
From 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph)
in 4.2 seconds through the
standard eight speed M Steptronic transmission with Drivelogic, top speed is limited to
250kmph (155mph). At the same
time, the fuel consumption and
CO levels of both models has
been cut by 20%.
The Qatar Motor Show will
also be the venue for the unveiling of the all-new BMW 2 Series
Offering an ultra-intense opentop driving experience, its sporty
and elegant lines outstrip that of
its premium compact rivals.
The 2 Series will be available
in three engine variants including the BMW 220i, two-litre
four-cylinder petrol engine, and
BMW 228i Convertible two-litre
four-cylinder petrol engine. The
third model is the first open-top
M performance automobile the
M235i Convertible, with a 326 hp
six-cylinder in-line M Performance TwinPower Turbo engine
delivering a 0 to 100kmph in just
5.2 seconds.
The Qatar Motor Show will
also highlight some of BMW
Group’s other models, including
the BMW M3, M4 and M6 Gran
Coupé from the M model lineup, in addition to the BMW 5
Series, X4 and 7 Series Pearl. Another model present at the Motor
Show that is sure to turn heads is
the world’s most progressive 2+2
seater sports car, the BMW i8.
ports fans from around
the world have been
screened for diabetes at
the Action on Diabetes (AoD)
screening bus, which is funded
by Maersk Oil Qatar and stationed at the Lusail Multipurpose Hall during the 24th
World Men’s Handball Championship in Qatar.
Lewis Affleck, managing
director of Maersk Oil Qatar,
said: “With operations in more
than 130 countries, Maersk is
proud to sponsor an important
local event that will be seen
globally. We are also pleased
to use the event to spread local awareness about diabetes,
which is one of Qatar’s greatest health challenges. Maersk
Oil Qatar – one of five Maersk
businesses in Qatar – supports
Action on Diabetes through its
local social investment programme.”
Maersk Oil, Maersk Line,
Safmarine, Svitzer and Damco
are all part of the Maersk Group
with operations in Qatar, dating back 22 years when Maersk
Oil first began operations in the
The bespoke AoD screening
A sports fan in the Action on Diabetes (AoD) screening bus.
bus, is the only one of its kind in
Qatar and is staffed by healthcare professionals from Hamad
Medical Corporation and the
Qatar Diabetes Association.
The bus is fitted with a range of
testing equipment to facilitate
the analysis of random blood
glucose, HBA1C, cholesterol,
BMI, and blood pressure.
Herluf Nis Thomsen, senior
project manager at AoD, said:
“The World Men’s Handball
Championship is an important
milestone for Qatar and illustrates the power of physical exercise and sport in encouraging
a healthy population. A healthy
lifestyle is a key factor in avoiding diabetes and young people
are encouraged by successful
sports people.”
Diabetes is one of Qatar’s
greatest health challenges. According to a recent Qatar STEPwise report, the proportion of
people with diabetes in Qatar is
among the highest in the world
– 16.7% of Qataris have the
Six falconers winners of Dau event
total of six winners
emerged from the final
rounds of the Dau event
yesterday at the sixth Qatar International Falcons and Hunting Festival at Sabkhet Marmi
near Sealine, Mesaieed.
The winners were Ali Rashed
Abdullah al-Nuaimi (UAE),
Team Marmi (a group of Qatari competitors), Mohamed
Ibrahim Abdullah al-Oyouni
al-Bouanain and Rumaizan
al-Dosari (Saudi Arabia), and
Khaled Rashed Aba al-Zamat
and Mohamed Saleh al-Qumra
al-Marri (Qatar).
The Dau event serves to
showcase the falconer’s skill at
training his falcon for speed.
A falcon is required to cross, in
the shortest time, a distance of
400m toward its owner, who
is signalling to approach at the
event’s finish line.
The 16th round of the Hudud
Al Tahaddi challenge, which includes 33 participants and is the
last round before the finals, is
set for today.
The Hudud Al Tahaddi challenge is a competition in which
falcons seek to obstruct the
flight of homing pigeons which
are trained to fly to another
point, many kilometres away.
The Emirati winner al-Nuaimi said the current edition of
the Qatar Falcons and Hunting Festival has been enjoyable
A section of spectators at the festival yesterday.
across all its events.
“I wanted to compete this
year hoping to gain some valuable experience in falconry, to get
a feel of how such competitions
are today,” he added.
One of the Qatari winners, alZamat, dedicated his victory to
the festival’s patron, HE Sheikh
Joaan bin Hamad bin Khalifa alThani and the organising committee for their contributions
toward making the festival such
a resounding success.
“I’ve been competing in
falconry events for some time
now, and I’ve participated in
a number of local and international championships, but
this edition of the festival has
a special place for me, as it was
Khaled Rashed al-Zamat
Ali Rashed Abdullah al-Nuaimi
very competitive, featuring
some of the finest falconers in
the Gulf region,” he added. The
festival, organised by the Gannas Society, runs until Saturday.
FARES RISE | Page 13
Asian airlines
slash fuel
US goods data
signal weaker
business spend
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Rabia II 8, 1436 AH
Commercial Bank
gains market share,
sees ‘substantial
growth’ across all
the units in 2014
QIC ’14 profit jumps 33% to QR1bn
QIC has grown its asset base to QR16bn from
QR11.6bn in 2013.
iversification of underwriting and
strong investment earnings helped
Qatar Insurance Company (QIC)
report 33% jump in net profit to QR1bn in
The country’s dominant risk cover
provider also recommended distribution
of cash dividends of 25% (QR2.5 for each
share) and bonus shares of 15% (three new
shares for each 20 shares held), which will
have to be approved by shareholders at
the annual general assembly scheduled to
be held on February 17.
“This impressive result reflects the
group’s continued growth and stability, arising from ongoing diversification
of its underwriting operations, and the
strong investment performance achieved
in 2014,” according to Khalifa Abdulla
Turki al-Subaey, QIC Group President
and CEO.
The group aims to capitalise on this
excellent result and the momentum
achieved in 2014 to further its goal of becoming one of the world’s leading insurance groups, he said.
Gross written premiums grew 59%
year-on-year to QR5.61bn, net underwriting by 37% to QR664mn and invest-
ment income and other revenues by 43%
to QR1.03bn. The year 2014 was marked
by the successful expansion of the group’s
international business, which currently
accounts for approximately 60% of its
overall gross written premiums.
QIC has grown its asset base to QR16bn
from QR11.6bn in 2013, while maintaining
robust levels of profitability, liquidity and
market capitalisation.
Through the acquisition of Antares
Holdings, specialist insurance and reinsurance group operating in the Lloyd’s
insurance market, and the establishment
of a fully-owned Malta-based subsidiary,
QIC Europe, the insurance group expanded its global footprint.
QIC Europe is also well-poised to become a strategic platform for the group
for the underwriting of risks situated
throughout the European Economic Area.
In 2014, global credit rating agencies
Standard & Poor’s and A M Best reaffirmed QIC’s ratings of ‘A/Stable’ and ‘A
(Excellent)’, reflecting the insurer’s well
established presence in the Gulf Co-operation Council region and wider Middle
East and North Africa and its expanding
international operations.
QIC has recommended cash dividends of 25% (QR2.5 for each share) and bonus shares of 15% (three new shares
for each 20 shares held).
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Dubai ousts Heathrow as
the busiest global air hub
Emirates warns
of currency
shifts eating
into fuel-cost
Dubai’s Emirates airline expects currency fluctuations in Europe and Russia to limit the profitability
boost from lower oil prices, a senior executive said
Emirates President Tim Clark was quoted this week
as saying that the drop in oil prices—down by about
60% since last June—would be “a huge boost” to the
airline’s 2014 earnings and would offset disruption
from runway work at its home airport and a decline
in business with Russia.
The Dubai carrier is one of the few major airlines
that does not hedge its fuel bill by buying future
stocks of jet fuel to minimise the effect of price
spikes, meaning that it benefits from price falls
“We don’t hedge and that’s helping us a lot in the
short term,” Sheikh Majid al-Mualla, the airline’s
divisional senior vice president of commercial operations, said at a conference in Dubai.
However, al-Mualla said that the benefits will be
partially offset by currency fluctuations in the rouble
and the euro over the longer term, without offering
any specific forecasts.
The rouble has almost halved against the dollar since
July as oil prices fell and the West imposed sanctions
on Russia over its role in the Ukraine crisis.
Meanwhile, the European Central Bank’s introduction of a massive bond-buying programme to
stimulate the eurozone economy and worries over
whether Greece’s new government will stick to the
terms of the country’s bailout, pushed the euro
to an 11-year low against the dollar at $1.1098 on
“We’ve definitely been hit by the rouble, hit by the
euro as well. Now we expect the euro might go lower
than the dollar in the coming weeks or months,
which would be a huge impact for us,” al-Mualla said.
The lower oil price wasn’t a complete boon for Emirates either, al-Mualla said, because it reduces the
money going into the Gulf economies, which could
hold back consumer spending.
“It’s good, but we won’t get the passengers,” he said.
“We would like to keep oil in the $60 to $70 range,
which will be reasonable for both us and economic
ubai ended London Heathrow airport’s decades of
dominance as the world’s
top international air hub last year,
buoyed by surging passenger numbers at local carrier Emirates with its
record-breaking fleet of wide-body
boosted passenger numbers 6.1% to
70.5mn in 2014, almost all of them
travelling to or from locations outside the UAE, according to a statement yesterday. That took it past
Heathrow, which attracted 68.09mn
international travellers in 2014.
Dubai has used its location at a
geographical crossroads between
Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle
East to establish itself as a base for
inter-continental transfer flights,
with Emirates already the world’s
No 1 carrier by international traffic.
Dubai is building a new hub at Al
Maktoum airport which could one
day handle 240mn passengers, just
as growth at Heathrow is stymied by
the constraints of its two runways
and political wrangling over whether to add a third.
“We’re planning to overtake ourselves,” Paul Griffiths, chief executive officer of Dubai Airports, which
owns both bases, told Bloomberg
Television, adding that the bigger
challenge may be to carry on growing volumes while providing “the
level of service on the ground that
passengers on Emirates experience
in the air.”
Emirates has transformed Dubai’s
role in the aviation industry with
the world’s biggest twin-aisle fleet,
built around orders for 140 Airbus
Group A380 superjumbos.
Still, runway repairs clipped
A plane is seen beside the new terminal dedicated for A380 aircraft at the concourse in Dubai International Airport (file). Dubai airport boosted passenger
numbers 6.1% to 70.5mn in 2014, almost all of them travelling to or from locations outside the UAE, according to a statement yesterday. That took it past
Heathrow, which attracted 68.09mn international travellers in 2014.
Dubai International’s capacity by
about one-quarter for 80 days last
summer, limiting expansion to the
extent that the airport failed to
overtake Heathrow’s overall tally
of 73.4mn passengers, including
5.3mn who travelled on domestic
That should be rectified this year,
Griffiths said in an interview, with
an anticipated passenger total of
79mn eclipsing Europe’s busiest
airport by all metrics. The opening
of Concourse D later this year will
lift Dubai International’s capacity to
90mn people, allowing for further
growth before the main expansion
of the Al Maktoum site.
Measured by total customers, the
two hubs continue to lag behind
Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson, home
base to Delta Air Lines Inc, which
recorded 96.2mn travellers in the 12
months through November, based
on the latest figures on its website,
and Beijing Capital, which lured
86.1mn in 2014. The US and Chinese
airports get most passengers from
domestic flights.
Heathrow, where British Airways
is based, ranked third in the world
behind Atlanta and Beijing in 2013,
according to Airports Council Inter-
national, with Dubai seventh after
Tokyo Haneda, Chicago O’Hare and
Los Angeles International. ACI has
yet to publish a full set of data for
At Dubai’s neighbour Abu Dhabi
International airport, home base to
Etihad Airways, the third-biggest
Gulf carrier, passenger numbers rose
20% last year to 20mn, with a total
of 24mn projected for 2015.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Saudi stocks jump on bets crude prices have bottomed out; other markets down
audi Arabia’s petrochemicals sector surged yesterday after Opec’s secretarygeneral said oil prices might have
bottomed out and warned of a
jump to $200 a barrel if invest-
ment in new supplies became
too low.
The main Saudi stock index
jumped 2.4% in the heaviest
trade this month, as shares in
petrochemicals giant Saudi Basic Industries surged 6.4% to
84riyals. All other stocks in the
beaten-down sector also rose.
Banks also did well after Ku-
wait’s Global brokerage issued
a bullish report on the Saudi
banking sector on Monday, saying recent regulations restricting
consumer-related fees would
have only a short-term negative
impact on banks’ profitability.
Other Gulf markets were
weaker. Kuwait edged down
0.7% after the country’s finance
ministry revealed a draft budget
for the next fiscal year starting in
April, which projects a big deficit and a 17.8% drop in spending
from the original plan for the
current 2014/15 year.
Bourses in Dubai and Abu
Dhabi slipped 0.1% each. Dubai developer Union Properties tumbled 5.8% after its 2014
profit fell 45.6% and revenues
more than halved.
Egypt stocks rose 1.1% to a
fresh 6-1/2-year closing high
of 9,947 points. Property firms
Medinet Nasr Housing and Development and Heliopolis Housing led gains, surging 4.7% and
3.9% respectively as Egypt’s
central bank continued its grad-
ual depreciation of the pound.
The pound slipped to 7.43
per dollar from 7.39 at a central bank auction on Monday,
to the weakest level it has been
allowed to reach since auctions
began in December 2012. It was
the sixth consecutive official
depreciation in the past week,
prompted by the gap between
the black market and the official
Investors are betting that
Egyptians will turn to property
as a hedge against a weaker currency, analysts have said.
Elsewhere in the Gulf, Oman’s
index fell 0.8% to 6,592 points,
while Bahrain’s measure fell
0.8% to 1,417 points.
Qatar shares eye 12,000 mark
on foreign buying interest
By Santhosh V Perumal
Business Reporter
Al-Mansoori addresses the seminar in the presence of other officials from QSE, QFMA and QCSD.
QSE calls for technology
edge to ease information
access to companies
By Santhosh V Perumal
Business Reporter
he Qatar Stock Exchange (QSE)
has asked the country’s corporate
sector to further embrace technology in its social media and website
to enhance smooth flow information
as part of the concerted efforts to instil
investor’s confidence in the financial
“What matters to investors primarily is the access to information, and
the best way to do that is to invest in
modern technology through developing
the websites and social media outlets
of listed companies in order to achieve
their corporate objectives in the long
term and enhance confidence in the financial market among the various categories of investors,” QSE chief executive
Rashid bin Ali al-Mansoori said.
Addressing a seminar jointly organised by the QSE, the Qatar Financial
Market Authority (QFMA) and the Qatar
Central Securities Depository (QCSD),
al-Mansoori stressed on the importance
of disclosure and transparency in the financial market and considered them a
vital necessity on which investors build
their investment decisions.
Highlighting the support of the
bourse to the companies in their efforts
to develop the services provided to investors, he asked the corporate sector
to take advantage of modern technology
of websites and social networks to gain
access not only to their existing investors, but also to reach and attract new
The clarion call to instil more investors’ confidence comes in the wake of
Qatar being upgraded by both Morgan
Stanley Composite Index and Standard
& Poor’s-Dow Jones to emerging market
from the frontier status.
The companies listed on the QSE
have made great strides in the implementation of international standards
in terms of disclosure and transparency
and the development of dedicated investor relations departments and websites, al-Mansoori said, noting that
such measures have great impact on the
companies’ success in gaining investors’
confidence and ensuring healthy, trans-
parent and fair trading environment.
“The best way to reach this objective
is through exchanging views and listening to suggestions from the participants
in order to overcome the difficulties
encountered in the application of the
best disclosure practices in the market,”
according to Nasser Abdul Ghani, QSE
market and operations control director.
A representative of the regulatory authority responded to some queries from
the communication officers representing the participating listed companies
and listened to their recommendations
and suggestions to promote the disclosure practices and strengthen cooperation among listed companies, the
QFMA, the QCSD, and the QSE for the
best interest of investors.
Egypt subsidy cut ‘first step’
in broader strategy: UAE
he UAE, which is backing
Egypt with billions of dollars in aid, said Egypt’s decision to raise fuel prices is the “first
step” in a broader energy strategy
to reduce subsidies and the budget
Sultan al-Jaber, the UAE minister overseeing assistance to Egypt,
said the government of President
Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi was also
seeking to expand “the tax base and
the reduction in wasteful expenditure, while protecting spending on
social sectors.” The government is
planning to introduce value-added
taxes before June, he said in an emailed answer to questions.
El-Sisi, a former army chief
who was elected after leading the
ouster of his Islamist predecessor, is struggling to reduce one of
the highest budget deficits in the
Middle East and revive an economy
battered by more than three years
of turmoil. He raised the prices of
fuel and natural gas by more than
70% last year, going a step further
than previous governments, which
had shied away from tackling subsidies to avoid a public backlash.
The UAE, the second-biggest
Arab economy, stepped in to back
El-Sisi, spending about $10bn on
projects from schools to wheat silos as well as supporting the central
bank’s foreign-currency reserves.
Al-Jaber urged the government
in June last year to shore up public finances while investing in in-
A man carries a cooking gas cylinder at a selling depot in Cairo. President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi is struggling to
reduce one of the highest budget deficits in the Middle East and revive an economy battered by more than three
years of turmoil. He raised the prices of fuel and natural gas by more than 70% last year, going a step further than
previous governments, which had shied away from tackling subsidies to avoid a public backlash.
frastructure to boost economic
“On the fiscal side, the government has taken courageous actions
to reduce fiscal imbalances, and in
particular reform energy pricing,
as a first step in implementing a
broader energy subsidies reform,”
al-Jaber said last week by e-mail.
El-Sisi inherited an economy
stuck in the worst slowdown in
two decades. The budget deficit
is expected to widen to more than
11% of economic output in 2015,
according to the median estimate
of eight economists on Bloomberg. Al-Jaber said that UAE’s aid
to Egypt has helped to create more
than 900,000 jobs in little over a
Signs of economic recovery are
in the offing. Gross domestic product may expand 3.4% in 2015, according to the median estimate of
nine economists on Bloomberg,
compared with 2.2% in 2014. Fitch
Ratings raised the country’s credit
worthiness one level in December
to B, five levels below investment
grade. The government said it
plans to tap the international bond
market in the first quarter this year
for the first time since 2010.
Low global borrowing costs as
well as “Egypt’s improving credit
story and a very low stock of ex-
ternal debt will be sufficient for the
country to regain access to international capital markets at affordable
interest rates,” al-Jaber said.
The UAE is also helping Egypt
prepare for an investment conference in March to mobilise aid
needed to stem the decline in currency reserves and lure foreign investments. Reserves fell to $15.3bn
in December as the pick-up in economic activity boosted demand for
The conference shouldn’t be
viewed as a “silver bullet” for the
economy, al-Jaber said. “It is part
of a multi-year” process to ensure
sustainable recovery, he said.
Foreign institutions’ strong
buying interests overcame
the selling pressure from
local retail and institutional
investors as the Qatar Stock
Exchange inched towards the
12,000 mark.
Industrials stocks largely
propelled the 20-stock Qatar
Index (based on price data)
0.71% to 11,920.48 points
amid fall in trade volumes.
Islamic stocks were seen
gaining faster in the bourse,
which is, however, down
2.97% year-to-date.
Non-Qatari retail investors
were marginally bullish in
the market, where telecom,
banks, industrials and realty
stocks cornered more than
93% of the total trading
Market capitalisation rose
0.6%, or about QR4bn, to
QR650.14bn with mid, small,
large and micro cap equities
gaining 0.68%, 0.61%, 0.46%
and 0.37% respectively.
The Total Return Index
gained 0.71% to 17,779.29
points, the All Share Index by
0.65% to 3,064.68 points and
the Al Rayan Islamic Index by
0.9% to 4,052.12 points.
Industrials stocks
appreciated 1.42%, followed
by real estate (0.66%),
banks and financial services
(0.46%), consumer goods
(0.42%), transport (0.33%)
and insurance (0.18%); while
telecom fell 0.47%.
As much as 65% of the stocks
extended gains with major
movers being Industries
Qatar, Aamal Company,
Gulf International Services,
Ezdan, Mazaya Qatar, Barwa,
Commercial Bank, Doha Bank,
Vodafone Qatar and Nakilat;
but Ooredoo, Alijarah Holding
and Islamic Holding Group
bucked the trend.
Foreign institutions’ net
buying soared to QR33.77mn
against QR15.38mn the
previous day. Non-Qatari
individual investors turned
net buyers to the tune of
QR2.65mn compared with
net sellers of QR17.18mn on
However, Qatari retail
investors turned net profittakers to the extent of
QR11.47mn against net buyers
of QR4.22mn on Monday.
Domestic institutions’ net
selling surged to QR24.95mn
compared to QR2.47mn the
previous day.
Total trade volume was down
8% to 8.02mn shares, value
by 9% to QR378.63mn and
transactions by 14% to 5,314.
The transport sector’s trade
volume plummeted 67% to
0.14mn stocks, value by 65%
to QR4.71mn and deals by
48% to 155.
The insurance sector saw its
trade volume plunge 60%
to 0.04mn equities, value
by 44% to QR2.87mn and
transactions by 60% to 44.
The real estate sector’s trade
volume tanked 57% to 1.26mn
shares, value by 57% to
QR35.1mn and deals by 47%
to 618.
The market witnessed a 55%
decline in the consumer
goods sector’s trade volume
to 0.35mn stocks, 63% in
value to QR10.66mn and 49%
in transactions to 232.
The industrials sector saw
its trade volume fall 12% to
1.3mn equities but value was
up 1% to QR103mn. Deals
were down 10% to 1,286.
However, the telecom
sector’s trade volume more
than tripled to 2.08mn
shares and value more than
quadrupled to QR43.04mn
on more-than-tripled
transactions to 914.
The banks and financial
services reported an 18%
surge in trade volume to
2.85mn stocks and value by
1% to QR179.26mn but on 17%
fall in deals to 2,065.
In the debt market, there was
no trading of treasury bills
and government bonds.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Iraq lowers oil
price forecast in
budget proposal
alling oil prices forced Iraq’s cabinet
yesterday to revise its draft 2015 budget, trimming its forecast for oil to $55
a barrel from $60. It trimmed spending to
119tn Iraqi dinars ($105bn) for 2015. Even so,
the budget deficit will rise to 25tn dinars.
The decision to lower the forecast oil price
may satisfy some MPs who saw the previous
estimate as unrealistic, but Brent crude is
trading still lower at under $50, down from
$115 in June.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said last
week he feared lower revenues from falling
global oil prices could hurt Iraq’s military
campaign against Islamic State, which swept
across northern Iraq last summer.
Speaking after a meeting of the US-led
coalition which has launched air strikes
against IS in northern Iraq and Syria, alAbadi said allies could help by potentially
allowing Baghdad to defer payment for ammunition and weapons.
It was not immediately clear what areas
would be affected by spending cuts in the
revised budget, which still needs to be approved by parliament. A vote is expected on
The government of former Prime Minister
Nuri al-Maliki failed to pass a 2014 budget.
The 2015 budget has become a measure of
growing goodwill between Baghdad and the
Kurdish region as they both fight Islamic
State militants.
The budget has been delayed for months
by sliding oil prices; it originally assumed an
average oil price of $70 a barrel.
The drop in oil prices will curb investment in the industry worldwide, says Khalid al-Falih, chief executive officer of Saudi Aramco.
Saudi will not ‘singlehandedly’
balance crude market: Aramco
audi Arabia won’t balance global crude
markets on its own even as prices fall “too
low for everybody” and threaten the investment needed to meet long-term demand, the
head of Saudi Arabian Oil Co said.
The world’s biggest oil exporter, Saudi Arabia
has the most spare capacity in Opec and has historically played the role of swing producer, cutting its output to raise prices and pumping more
barrels to lower them. Oil prices have dropped
55% in the past year as rising production from
the US and Russia helped global output exceed
“Supply and demand and the rules of economics will govern. It will take time for the current
glut to be removed,” chief executive officer Khalid al-Falih said at a conference in Riyadh. “Saudi
Arabia will not singlehandedly balance the market in a downturn,” he said, reiterating government policy.
The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting
Countries kept its production target unchanged
at a November 27 meeting, seeking to defend
market share rather than support prices as it
keeps pumping close to 30mn bpd. Saudi Arabia
resisted calls from fellow Opec members Venezuela and Iran to trim output. Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi has said producers outside of the
group should trim their output first.
Brent crude has averaged at least $99 each
year since 2011, according to data compiled by
Oil at close to $100 a barrel brought new production sources, like shale oil, to the market,
pushing supply ahead of demand as growth in developing countries slowed, al-Falih said yesterday. The country is maintaining its output capacity while its exports are declining, so “imbalance
in the market absolutely has nothing to do with
Saudi Arabia,” he said.
Saudi Aramco is producing 9.8mn bpd, he said.
That’s the most since at least October, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
The drop in prices will curb investment in the
industry worldwide, al-Falih said. Saudi Aramco, as his company is known, will cut planned
spending this year to less than its initial target,
he said. State-owned Aramco plans to invest
$30bn to $50bn a year to maintain crude output,
transform itself into the world’s largest refiner
and expand its trading and chemical businesses,
al-Falih said.
“To do that we need a price that is very, very
healthy,” al-Falih said. “It’s not a matter of recov-
Gulf Bank profit climbs,
recovers from crisis
Kuwait’s Gulf Bank, the country’s fourth-largest lender by
assets, reported a 10.7% rise in fourth-quarter net profit yesterday, and said it had recovered from the global financial
The bank received a 375mn dinar ($1.27bn) emergency capital
injection from the Kuwait Investment Authority in January
2009 after a derivatives loss of the same amount, one of the
only occasions that a Gulf government had to step in with
direct support for a bank due to the financial crisis.
Gulf Bank undertook a major restructuring and its profits
have strengthened in recent quarters, helped by a more
buoyant local economy that has replenished deposits and
bolstered lending growth.
“Gulf Bank has culminated its transition and has started a new
path after completing its recovery,” chairman Omar Kutayba
Alghanim said in the bank’s 2014 earnings statement.
“Far seem today the difficult times when our NPLs (non-performing loans) reached 30%. Now we have all the elements in
place to grow better and faster.”
The bank’s NPL ratio—the amount of bad loans as a percentage of its total lending—dropped to 3.2% at the end of 2014
and its coverage ratio, which signifies how much cash the
bank set aside to cover those bad loans, stood at 266%, the
statement said.
Net profit for the three months to the end of December was
8.97mn dinars ($30.4mn), compared with 8.1mn dinars in the
year-earlier period, according to Reuters calculations.
Gulf Bank did not provide a quarterly break down so Reuters
calculated the figures based on the bank’s financial statements.
Net profit for 2014 was 35.5mn dinars, up 10% from the previous year, a statement from the bank said.
Union National Bank
Union National Bank, 50% owned by the Abu Dhabi government, posted a 42% rise in fourth-quarter net profit yesterday,
just missing analysts’ forecasts.
The fifth-largest lender in the emirate by assets reported a net
profit of 436mn dirhams ($118.7mn) in the final three months
of 2014, up from 306mn dirhams a year earlier, a bourse filing
said. Four analysts polled by Reuters forecast an average
profit of 442.7mn dirhams. Full-year net profit for 2014 was
2.02bn dirhams, a rise of 16% from 2013.
ering what we spent. It’s a matter of fuelling an
investment plan.”
Saudi Aramco’s cost to produce a barrel of oil
is in the low single digits, he said. “Whether the
price is $40 or $100, we’re not only covering our
costs. We’re recovering the capital we invested.”
Opec and the International Energy Agency, an
adviser to 29 nations on energy policy, warn that
a sharp decline in oil-industry investment will
leave supply insufficient to meet demand. Opec
secretary general Abdalla El-Badri said on Monday that crude prices could reach $200 a barrel if
spending dries up. IEA executive director Maria
Van Der Hoeven said last week that producers
must invest more to satisfy a forecast need for
14mn barrels a day of additional crude by 2040.
Abu Dhabi in the neighbouring UAE is spending $90bn to boost crude production and increase
natural gas output. Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia need more gas to meet industrial demand and
burn as fuel in power plants.
Saudi Aramco plans to more than double investment in unconventional sources of natural
gas, which are harder to find and extract than
more typical deposits of the fuel, al-Falih said.
Aramco has invested $3bn to develop unconventional gas and plans to spend an additional $7bn,
he said, without specifying dates for the actual or
planned spending.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Dubai house prices to fall 10% in 2015, says JLL
Dubai house prices will fall by up to 10% in 2015
after rising almost 60% in two years, with the
emirate’s robust economy helping it avoid a
repeat of a crash in 2008-09 despite a slump
in oil prices, property consultants JLL said
The real estate sector in Dubai, one of seven
emirates in the UAE, has been among the most
volatile globally over the past decade as it
turned from boom to bust to boom again.
Jones Lang Lasalle (JLL) estimates house prices
rose 56% in the two years to June 2014, but
have since stabilised and now face a relatively
minor correction this year.
“This time we think it will be more of a
measured downturn,” Craig Plumb, JLL head of
research for the Middle East and North Africa,
told a news conference.
He forecast Dubai house prices on average will
decline by up to 10% in 2015. Rents will fall in
parallel. About 25,000 residential properties
will be ready in 2015, equivalent to about 7% of
Dubai’s present housing stock.
“It’s manageable - with the population and
incomes growing you’d expect to absorb (that),”
said Plumb. “It’s not supply that’s causing the
correction, it’s more that prices got a bit too
Dubai’s economy likely grew about 4.5% in
2014 and growth will rise above that level in the
coming years, a senior government official said
in December.
The UAE is a major oil exporter, but Dubai itself
is a negligible producer, and JLL said the slump
in crude prices would have scant direct impact
on the emirate’s property sector, at least for
But Dubai’s stock market slump — the index has
fallen 30% from June’s 2014 high — would have
dented investors’ confidence, Plumb said.
The oil price fall has coincided with the dollar
strengthening against major currencies. The
UAE dirham is pegged to the greenback, so
Dubai has become more expensive for many
foreign visitors and investors.
“That could have a small impact on the make-up
of foreign property buyers in the UAE, but the
bigger picture won’t change,” Plumb said.
Buyers from India, Britain and Pakistan were the
biggest purchasers of Dubai property last year,
official data shows.
Turkey bank
signals early
policy meet,
rate cut plan
Investors monitor stocks at the newly opened exchange market department at the National Commercial Bank (NCB) in Riyadh in this November 12, 2014 file picture. Opening the
market may prompt MSCI to include the bourse in its emerging market gauge by 2017, luring as much as $40bn of foreign cash, Schroders said in July.
Saudi stock market set
to open to foreigners
in first half as planned
audi Arabia said it’s on
track to open the Arab
world’s biggest stock
market to foreigners in the first
half of the year, confirming no
change of policy since a the new
king ascended to the throne following King Abdullah’s death.
The Capital Markets Authority has issued draft laws and is
assessing investor feedback before it approves the regulations
and sets an official date for the
lessening of restrictions on the
about $485bn exchange, governor Mohammed al-Sheikh said at
a conference in Riyadh yesterday.
King Salman pledged on Friday
to maintain the oil-rich nation’s
current policies and asserted all
ministers will stay in their posts.
Abdullah, who on January 23
passed away aged about 90, helped
drive a 27% stock rally in the past
four years with a $130bn spending plan. The market regulator’s
comments yesterday underscore
the kingdom’s commitment to its
economic plans as it seeks to boost
non-oil industries amid plunging crude prices. The Tadawul All
Share Index rose 0.7% in its first
day of trading following the late
king’s death, the largest increase
among Gulf stock markets.
The feedback process “indicates that there is genuine and
significant demand and interest
in the Saudi market,” al-Sheikh
said at the Riyadh conference.
Investors from outside the sixnation Gulf Cooperation Council
aren’t allowed to invest directly
in stocks and have to get access to
the market through equity swaps
and exchange-traded funds.
Saudis accounted for 95.05% of
the value of Saudi shares traded
in December, with other GCC
nations at 2.08% and others
2.87%, according to bourse data.
The largest Arab economy is
seeking to open the stock exchange in April, three people
briefed on the country’s plans
said in December. Opening the
market may prompt MSCI to include the bourse in its emerging
market gauge by 2017, luring as
much as $40bn of foreign cash,
Schroders said in July.
“Markets can hence expect
continuity from Saudi Arabia in
the near term,” VTB Capital said
in an e-mailed note on January
LVMH’s private
equity arm said to
seek stake in Bateel
VMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s private-equity arm is in talks to acquire a stake in Saudi Arabian
gourmet confectionery producer and restaurant chain
Bateel, four people with knowledge of the matter said.
L Capital, backed by LVMH Group and billionaire chairman Bernard Arnault’s family holding company, is seeking
a minority stake in the Riyadh-based firm, the people said,
asking not to be identified as talks are private. Bateel has a
presence in 14 countries across Africa, Europe, Asia and the
Middle East.
Accelerating economic growth and a rising population in
the Gulf region is driving increased investment in the consumer industry from companies and private-equity firms.
KKR & Co is teaming up with Dubai-based Fajr Capital to
bid for a 25% stake in Azadea Group, the franchise operator of clothing chain Zara in the Middle East, people with
knowledge of the matter said earlier this month.
L Capital, based in Paris, was formed in 2001 and focuses
on investments in retail and luxury industries among others.
Ata Atmar, managing director of Bateel International,
declined to comment when contacted by phone. L Capital
didn’t return calls seeking comment.
Samba proposes 8bn riyal bonus share issue
Saudi Arabia’s Samba Financial Group said yesterday its board
had proposed increasing the bank’s capital by 8bn riyals
($2.13bn) through issuing bonus shares to help support future
growth. The kingdom’s fourth-largest lender by assets will
increase its capital to 20bn riyals from retained earnings by
issuing two shares for every three shares held, the lender said
in a bourse statement, subject to the approval of shareholders
and regulators.
urkey’s central bank
may hold an early monetary policy meeting
next week and discuss an interest rate cut if inflation continues to fall sharply, Governor
Erdem Basci said yesterday.
Basci, under pressure from
the government to lower rates
ahead of a June parliamentary election, said the bank
could act as early as February
4 if data due a day earlier show
January inflation slowing by
more than 1 percentage point.
The lira weakened to 2.36
against the dollar on his comments, reversing earlier gains
after he announced a cut in the
bank’s forecast for inflation
this year to 5.5% from a previous 6.1%.
“We could hold a meeting to take a rapid decision,”
Basci told a news conference
called to announce the bank’s
quarterly inflation report. “If
January inflation falls more
than one (percentage) point
and core (inflation) is good,
we could even make an assessment on February 4,” he added. The next monetary policy
committee meeting is scheduled for February 24.
Narain said Basci’s comments
were “very dovish” and called
talk of an emergency meeting “premature” with inflation still above the bank’s 5%
target. “It does create some
medium-term risks,” he said.
The central bank cut its
main one-week repo rate last
week by 50 basis points but
drew a rebuke from government ministers who said it was
not enough to support growth.
President Tayyip Erdogan,
a vociferous advocate of lower
rates, kept up the pressure,
yesterday reiterating his assertion that high interest rates
cause high inflation.
“Look at the world’s developed countries. There’s no
rates policy like ours. In Japan
interest rates are negative and
inflation very low. If we want
investment we must achieve
this,” he said.
The central bank cut its
main one-week repo rate
last week by 50 basis
points but drew a rebuke
from government
Basci said inflation could
drop to its lowest in 45 years
this year and said the decline
was expected to accelerate
from this month, approaching
the 5% target by mid-year.
He said the midpoint of the
bank’s 2016 year-end inflation
forecast was 5%.
The lira initially firmed to
below 2.34 against the dollar
following Basci’s comments
on inflation, from 2.3520 beforehand. But it eased back
to 2.3600 by 1203 GMT after
he raised the possibility of an
early policy meeting.
Consumer prices fell 0.44%
month-on-month in December for an annual rise of 8.17%
and are expected to end this
year at 6.82%, according to
the latest central bank survey
of business leaders and economists.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Company Name
Company Name
Zad Holding Co
Widam Food Co
Vodafone Qatar
United Development Co
Salam International Investme
Qatar & Oman Investment Co
Qatar Navigation
Qatar National Cement Co
Qatar National Bank
Qatar Islamic Insurance
Qatar Industrial Manufactur
Qatar International Islamic
Qatari Investors Group
Qatar Islamic Bank
Qatar Gas Transport(Nakilat)
Qatar General Insurance & Re
Qatar German Co For Medical
Qatar Fuel Co
Qatar Electricity & Water Co
Qatar Cinema & Film Distrib
Qatar Insurance Co
Ooredoo Qsc
National Leasing
Mazaya Qatar Real Estate Dev
Mesaieed Petrochemical Holdi
Al Meera Consumer Goods Co
Medicare Group
Mannai Corporation Qsc
Masraf Al Rayan
Al Khalij Commercial Bank
Industries Qatar
Islamic Holding Group
Gulf Warehousing Company
Gulf International Services
Ezdan Holding Group
Doha Insurance Co
Doha Bank Qsc
Dlala Holding
Commercial Bank Of Qatar Qsc
Barwa Real Estate Co
Al Khaleej Takaful Group
Aamal Co
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Saudi Hollandi Bank
Al-Ahsa Development Co.
Al-Baha Development & Invest
Ace Arabia Cooperative Insur
Allied Cooperative Insurance
Arriyadh Development Company
Fitaihi Holding Group
Arabia Insurance Cooperative
Al Abdullatif Industrial Inv
Al-Ahlia Cooperative Insuran
Al Alamiya Cooperative Insur
Dar Al Arkan Real Estate Dev
Al Babtain Power & Telecommu
Bank Albilad
Alujain Corporation (Alco)
Aldrees Petroleum And Transp
Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair & C
Alinma Bank
Alinma Tokio Marine
Al Khaleej Training And Educ
Abdullah A.M. Al-Khodari Son
Allianz Saudi Fransi Coopera
Almarai Co
Saudi Integrated Telecom Co
Alsorayai Group
Al Tayyar Travel Group
Amana Cooperative Insurance
Anaam International Holding
Abdullah Al Othaim Markets
Arabian Pipes Co
Advanced Petrochemicals Co
Al Rajhi Co For Co-Operative
Arabian Cement
Arab National Bank
Ash-Sharqiyah Development Co
United Wire Factories Compan
Astra Industrial Group
Alahli Takaful Co
Axa Cooperative Insurance
Basic Chemical Industries
Bishah Agriculture
Bank Al-Jazira
Banque Saudi Fransi
United International Transpo
Bupa Arabia For Cooperative
Buruj Cooperative Insurance
Saudi Airlines Catering Co
Methanol Chemicals Co
City Cement Co
Eastern Cement
Etihad Atheeb Telecommunicat
Etihad Etisalat Co
Emaar Economic City
Saudi Enaya Cooperative Insu
United Electronics Co
Falcom Saudi Equity Etf
Filing & Packing Materials M
Wafrah For Industry And Deve
Falcom Petrochemical Etf
Gulf General Cooperative Ins
Jazan Development Co
Gulf Union Cooperative Insur
Halwani Bros Co
Hail Cement
Herfy Food Services Co
Al Jouf Agriculture Developm
Jarir Marketing Co
Jabal Omar Development Co
Al Jouf Cement
Saudi Kayan Petrochemical Co
Knowledge Economic City
Kingdom Holding Co
Saudi Arabian Mining Co
Malath Cooperative & Reinsur
Makkah Construction & Devepl
Mediterranean & Gulf Insuran
Middle East Specialized Cabl
Mohammad Al Mojil Group Co
Al Mouwasat Medical Services
The National Agriculture Dev
Najran Cement Co
Nama Chemicals Co
National Gypsum
National Gas & Industrializa
National Industrialization C
National Shipping Co Of/The
National Petrochemical Co
Rabigh Refining And Petroche
Al Qassim Agricultural Co
Qassim Cement/The
Red Sea Housing Services Co
Saudi Research And Marketing
Riyad Bank
Al Rajhi Bank
Saudi Arabian Amiantit Co
Lt Price
% Chg
Saudi British Bank
Sabb Takaful
Saudi Basic Industries Corp
Saudi Cement
Saudi Dairy & Foodstuff Co
Saudi Arabian Fertilizer Co
Al Sagr Co-Operative Insuran
Saudi Advanced Industries
Saudi Arabian Coop Ins Co
Salama Cooperative Insurance
Samba Financial Group
Sanad Cooperative Insurance
Saudi Public Transport Co
Saudi Arabia Refineries Co
Hsbc Amanah Saudi 20 Etf
Saudi Re For Cooperative Rei
Saudi Cable Co
Saudi Chemical Company
Saudi Ceramic
Saudi Electricity Co
Saudi Fisheries
Al-Hassan G.I. Shaker Co
Dur Hospitality Co
Arabian Shield Cooperative
Saudi Investment Bank/The
Saudi Industrial Development
Saudi Industrial Export Co
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Securities Group Co
Viva Kuwait Telecom Co
Sultan Center Food Products
Kuwait Foundry Co Sak
Kuwait Financial Centre Sak
Ajial Real Estate Entmt
Gulf Glass Manuf Co -Kscc
Kuwait Finance & Investment
National Industries Co
Kuwait Real Estate Holding C
Securities House/The
Boubyan Petrochemicals Co
Al Ahli Bank Of Kuwait
Ahli United Bank (Almutahed)
National Bank Of Kuwait
Commercial Bank Of Kuwait
Kuwait International Bank
Gulf Bank
Al-Massaleh Real Estate Co
Al Arabiya Real Estate Co
Kuwait Remal Real Estate Co
Alkout Industrial Projects C
A’ayan Real Estate Co
Investors Holding Group Co.K
Markaz Real Estate Fund
Al-Mazaya Holding Co
Al-Madar Finance & Invt Co
Gulf Petroleum Investment
Mabanee Co Sakc
City Group
Inovest Co Bsc
Kuwait Gypsum Manufacturing
Al-Deera Holding Co
Alshamel International Hold
Mena Real Estate Co
National Slaughter House
Amar Finance & Leasing Co
United Projects Group Kscc
National Consumer Holding Co
Amwal International Investme
Jeeran Holdings
Equipment Holding Co K.S.C.C
Nafais Holding
Safwan Trading & Contracting
Arkan Al Kuwait Real Estate
Gulf Finance House Ec
Energy House Holding Co Kscc
Kuwait Slaughter House Co
Kuwait Co For Process Plant
Al Maidan Dental Clinic Co K
National Ranges Company
Kuwait Pipes Indus & Oil Ser
Al-Themar Real International
Al Ahleia Insurance Co Sak
Wethaq Takaful Insurance Co
Salbookh Trading Co K.S.C.C
Aqar Real Estate Investments
Hayat Communications
Kuwait Packing Materials Mfg
Soor Fuel Marketing Co Ksc
Alargan International Real
Burgan Co For Well Drilling
Kuwait Resorts Co Kscc
Oula Fuel Marketing Co
Palms Agro Production Co
Ikarus Petroleum Industries
Mubarrad Transport Co
Al Mowasat Health Care Co
Shuaiba Industrial Co
Kuwait Invest Co Holding
Hits Telecom Holding
First Takaful Insurance Co
Kuwaiti Syrian Holding Co
National Cleaning Company
Eyas For High & Technical Ed
United Real Estate Company
Kuwait & Middle East Fin Inv
Fujairah Cement Industries
Livestock Transport & Tradng
International Resorts Co
National Industries Grp Hold
Marine Services Co
Warba Insurance Co
Kuwait United Poultry Co
First Dubai Real Estate Deve
Al Arabi Group Holding Co
Kuwait Hotels Co
Mobile Telecommunications Co
Al Safat Real Estate Co
Tamdeen Real Estate Co Ksc
Al Mudon Intl Real Estate Co
Kuwait Cement Co Ksc
Sharjah Cement & Indus Devel
Kuwait Portland Cement Co
Educational Holding Group
Bahrain Kuwait Insurance
Kuwait China Investment Co
Kuwait Investment Co
Burgan Bank
Kuwait Projects Co Holdings
Al Madina For Finance And In
Kuwait Insurance Co
Al Masaken Intl Real Estate
Intl Financial Advisors
First Investment Co Kscc
Al Mal Investment Company
Bayan Investment Co Kscc
Egypt Kuwait Holding Co Sae
Coast Investment Development
Privatization Holding Compan
Kuwait Medical Services Co
Injazzat Real State Company
Kuwait Cable Vision Sak
Sanam Real Estate Co Kscc
Ithmaar Bank Bsc
Aviation Lease And Finance C
Arzan Financial Group For Fi
Ajwan Gulf Real Estate Co
Manafae Investment Co
Kuwait Business Town Real Es
Future Kid Entertainment And
Specialities Group Holding C
Abyaar Real Eastate Developm
Dar Al Thuraya Real Estate C
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Al-Dar National Real Estate
Kgl Logistics Company Kscc
Combined Group Contracting
Zima Holding Co Ksc
Qurain Holding Co
Boubyan Intl Industries Hold
Gulf Investment House
Boubyan Bank K.S.C
Ahli United Bank B.S.C
Al-Safat Tec Holding Co
Al-Eid Food Co
Al-Qurain Petrochemicals Co
Advanced Technology Co
Ekttitab Holding Co S.A.K.C
Kout Food Group Ksc
Real Estate Trade Centers Co
Acico Industries Co Kscc
Kipco Asset Management Co
National Petroleum Services
Alimtiaz Investment Co Kscc
Ras Al Khaimah White Cement
Kuwait Reinsurance Co Ksc
Kuwait & Gulf Link Transport
Human Soft Holding Co Ksc
Automated Systems Co
Metal & Recycling Co
Gulf Franchising Holding Co
Al-Enma’a Real Estate Co
National Mobile Telecommuni
Al Bareeq Holding Co Kscc
Union Real Estate Co
Housing Finance Co Sak
Al Salam Group Holding Co
United Foodstuff Industries
Al Aman Investment Company
Mashaer Holdings Co Ksc
Manazel Holding
Mushrif Trading & Contractin
Tijara And Real Estate Inves
Kuwait Building Materials
Jazeera Airways
Commercial Real Estate Co
Future Communications Co
National International Co
Taameer Real Estate Invest C
Gulf Cement Co
Heavy Engineering And Ship B
Refrigeration Industries & S
National Real Estate Co
Al Safat Energy Holding Comp
Kuwait National Cinema Co
Danah Alsafat Foodstuff Co
Independent Petroleum Group
Kuwait Real Estate Co Ksc
Salhia Real Estate Co Ksc
Gulf Cable & Electrical Ind
Al Nawadi Holding Co Ksc
Kuwait Finance House
Gulf North Africa Holding Co
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Voltamp Energy Saog
United Finance Co
United Power Co
United Power/Energy Co- Pref
Al Madina Investment Co
Taageer Finance
Salalah Port Services
A’saffa Foods Saog
Sohar Poultry
Shell Oman Marketing
Shell Oman Marketing - Pref
Smn Power Holding Saog
Al Shurooq Inv Ser
Al Sharqiya Invest Holding
Sohar Power Co
Salalah Beach Resort Saog
Salalah Mills Co
Sahara Hospitality
Renaissance Services Saog
Raysut Cement Co
Port Service Corporation
Packaging Co Ltd
Oman United Insurance Co
Oman Textile Holding Co Saog
Oman Telecommunications Co
Sweets Of Oman
Oman Orix Leasing Co.
Oman Refreshment Co
Oman Packaging
Oman Oil Marketing Company
0Man Oil Marketing Co-Pref
Oman National Investment Co
Oman National Engineering An
Oman National Dairy Products
Oman Medical Projects
Oman Ceramic Com
Oman Intl Marketing
Oman Investment & Finance
Hsbc Bank Oman
Oman Hotels & Tourism Co
Oman Holding International
Oman Fiber Optics
Oman Flour Mills
Oman Filters Industry
Oman Fisheries Co
Oman Education & Training In
Oman & Emirates Inv(Om)50%
Oman & Emirates Inv(Emir)50%
Oman Europe Foods Industries
Oman Cement Co
Oman Chlorine
Oman Chromite
Oman Cables Industry
Oman Agricultural Dev
Omani Qatari Telecommunicati
National Securities
Oman Foods International Soa
National Pharmaceutical-Rts
National Pharmaceutical
National Packaging Fac
National Mineral Water
National Hospitality Institu
National Gas Co
National Finance Co
National Detergents/The
National Carpet Factory
National Bank Of Oman Saog
National Biscuit Industries
National Real Estate Develop
Natl Aluminium Products
Muscat Thread Mills Co
Muscat Insurance Company
Modern Poultry Farms
Muscat National Holding
Musandam Marketing & Invest
Al Maha Petroleum Products M
Muscat Gases Company Saog
Majan Glass Company
Muscat Finance
Al Kamil Power Co
Interior Hotels
Hotels Management Co Interna
Al-Hassan Engineering Co
Gulf Stone
Gulf Mushroom Company
Gulf Invest. Serv. Pref-Shar
Gulf Investments Services
Gulf International Chemicals
Gulf Hotels (Oman) Co Ltd
Global Fin Investment
Galfar Engineering&Contract
Galfar Engineering -Prefer
Financial Services Co.
Flexible Ind Packages
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Financial Corp/The
Dhofar Tourism
Dhofar Poultry
Aloula Co
Dhofar Intl Development
Dhofar Insurance
Dhofar University
Dhofar Power Co
Dhofar Power Co-Pfd
Dhofar Fisheries & Food Indu
Dhofar Cattlefeed
Al Batinah Dev & Inv
Dhofar Beverages Co
Computer Stationery Inds
Construction Materials Ind
Cement & Gypsum Pro
Marine Bander Al-Rowdha
Bank Sohar
Bankmuscat Saog
Bank Dhofar Saog
Al Batinah Hotels
Majan College
Areej Vegetable Oils
Al Jazeera Steel Products Co
Al Sallan Food Industry
Acwa Power Barka Saog
Al-Omaniya Financial Service
Taghleef Industries Saog
Gulf Plastic Industries Co
Al Jazeera Services
Al Jazerah Services -Pfd
Al-Fajar Al-Alamia Co
Ahli Bank
Abrasives Manufacturing Co S
Al-Batinah Intl Saog
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
National Takaful Company
Waha Capital Pjsc
Union Insurance Co
Union National Bank/Abu Dhab
United Insurance Company
Union Cement Co
United Arab Bank
Abu Dhabi National Takaful C
Abu Dhabi National Energy Co
#N/A Invalid Security
Sorouh Real Estate Company
Sharjah Insurance Company
Sharjah Cement & Indus Devel
Ras Al Khaima Poultry
Ras Al Khaimah White Cement
Rak Properties
Ras Al-Khaimah National Insu
Ras Al Khaimah Ceramics
Ras Al Khaimah Cement Co
National Bank Of Ras Al-Khai
Ooredoo Qsc
Umm Al Qaiwain Cement Indust
Oman & Emirates Inv(Emir)50%
National Marine Dredging Co
National Corp Tourism & Hote
Sharjah Islamic Bank
National Bank Of Umm Al Qaiw
National Bank Of Fujairah
National Bank Of Abu Dhabi
Methaq Takaful Insurance
#N/A Invalid Security
Gulf Pharmaceutical Ind-Julp
Invest Bank
Insurance House
Gulf Medical Projects
Gulf Livestock Co
Green Crescent Insurance Co
Gulf Cement Co
Foodco Holding
Finance House
First Gulf Bank
Fujairah Cement Industries
Fujairah Building Industries
Emirates Telecom Corporation
Eshraq Properties Co Pjsc
Emirates Insurance Co. (Psc)
Emirates Driving Company
Al Dhafra Insurance Co. P.S.
Dana Gas
Commercial Bank Internationa
Bank Of Sharjah
Abu Dhabi Natl Co For Buildi
Al Wathba National Insurance
Intl Fish Farming Co Pjsc
Arkan Building Materials Co
Aldar Properties Pjsc
Al Ain Ahlia Ins. Co.
Al Khazna Insurance Co
Agthia Group Pjsc
Al Fujairah National Insuran
Abu Dhabi Ship Building Co
Abu Dhabi National Insurance
Abu Dhabi National Hotels
Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank
Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank
Abu Dhabi Aviation
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
United Paper Industries Bsc
United Gulf Investment Corp
United Gulf Bank
United Finance Co
Trafco Group Bsc
Takaful International Co
Taib Bank -$Us
Securities & Investment Co
Seef Properties
#N/A Invalid Security
Al-Salam Bank
Delmon Poultry Co
National Hotels Co
National Bank Of Bahrain
Nass Corp Bsc
Khaleeji Commercial Bank
Ithmaar Bank Bsc
Investcorp Bank -$Us
Inovest Co Bsc
Intl Investment Group-Kuwait
Gulf Monetary Group
Global Investment House Kpsc
Gulf Finance House Ec
Bahrain Family Leisure Co
Esterad Investment Co B.S.C.
Bahrain Duty Free Complex
Bahrain Car Park Co
Bahrain Cinema Co
Bahrain Tourism Co
Bahraini Saudi Bank/The
Bahrain National Holding
Bankmuscat Saog
Bmmi Bsc
Bmb Investment Bank
Bahrain Kuwait Insurance
Bahrain Islamic Bank
Gulf Hotel Group B.S.C
Bahrain Flour Mills Co
Bahrain Commercial Facilitie
Bbk Bsc
Bahrain Telecom Co
Bahrain Ship Repair & Engin
Albaraka Banking Group
Banader Hotels Co
Ahli United Bank B.S.C
Lt Price
% Chg
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Company Name
Microsoft Corp
Exxon Mobil Corp
Johnson & Johnson
Wal-Mart Stores Inc
General Electric Co
Procter & Gamble Co/The
Jpmorgan Chase & Co
Pfizer Inc
Chevron Corp
Verizon Communications Inc
Coca-Cola Co/The
Merck & Co. Inc.
Intel Corp
At&T Inc
Walt Disney Co/The
Visa Inc-Class A Shares
Intl Business Machines Corp
Cisco Systems Inc
Home Depot Inc
United Technologies Corp
Unitedhealth Group Inc
3M Co
Boeing Co/The
Mcdonald’s Corp
American Express Co
Nike Inc -Cl B
Goldman Sachs Group Inc
Du Pont (E.I.) De Nemours
Caterpillar Inc
Travelers Cos Inc/The
Lt Price
% Chg
FTSE 100
Company Name
Wpp Plc
Wolseley Plc
Wm Morrison Supermarkets
Whitbread Plc
Weir Group Plc/The
Vodafone Group Plc
United Utilities Group Plc
Unilever Plc
Tullow Oil Plc
Tui Ag-New
Tui Ag-Di
Travis Perkins Plc
Tesco Plc
Taylor Wimpey Plc
Standard Life Plc
Standard Chartered Plc
St James’s Place Plc
Sse Plc
Sports Direct International
Smiths Group Plc
Smith & Nephew Plc
Sky Plc
Shire Plc
Severn Trent Plc
Schroders Plc
Sainsbury (J) Plc
Sage Group Plc/The
Sabmiller Plc
Rsa Insurance Group Plc
Royal Mail Plc
Royal Dutch Shell Plc-B Shs
Royal Dutch Shell Plc-A Shs
Royal Bank Of Scotland Group
Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc
Rio Tinto Plc
Reed Elsevier Plc
Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc
Randgold Resources Ltd
Prudential Plc
Persimmon Plc
Pearson Plc
Old Mutual Plc
Next Plc
National Grid Plc
Mondi Plc
Meggitt Plc
Marks & Spencer Group Plc
London Stock Exchange Group
Lloyds Banking Group Plc
Legal & General Group Plc
Land Securities Group Plc
Kingfisher Plc
Johnson Matthey Plc
Itv Plc
Intu Properties Plc
Intl Consolidated Airline-Di
Intertek Group Plc
Intercontinental Hotels Grou
Imperial Tobacco Group Plc
Hsbc Holdings Plc
Hargreaves Lansdown Plc
Hammerson Plc
Glencore Plc
Glaxosmithkline Plc
Gkn Plc
G4s Plc
Friends Life Group Ltd
Fresnillo Plc
Experian Plc
Easyjet Plc
Dixons Carphone Plc
Direct Line Insurance Group
Diageo Plc
Crh Plc
Compass Group Plc
Coca-Cola Hbc Ag-Cdi
Centrica Plc
Carnival Plc
Capita Plc
Burberry Group Plc
Bunzl Plc
Bt Group Plc
British Land Co Plc
British American Tobacco Plc
Bp Plc
Bhp Billiton Plc
Bg Group Plc
Barratt Developments Plc
Barclays Plc
Bae Systems Plc
Babcock Intl Group Plc
Aviva Plc
Astrazeneca Plc
Associated British Foods Plc
Ashtead Group Plc
Arm Holdings Plc
Antofagasta Plc
Anglo American Plc
Aggreko Plc
Admiral Group Plc
Aberdeen Asset Mgmt Plc
3I Group Plc
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Inpex Corp
Daiwa House Industry Co Ltd
Sekisui House Ltd
Kirin Holdings Co Ltd
Japan Tobacco Inc
Seven & I Holdings Co Ltd
Toray Industries Inc
Asahi Kasei Corp
Sumitomo Chemical Co Ltd
Shin-Etsu Chemical Co Ltd
Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings
Kao Corp
Takeda Pharmaceutical Co Ltd
Astellas Pharma Inc
Eisai Co Ltd
Daiichi Sankyo Co Ltd
Fujifilm Holdings Corp
Shiseido Co Ltd
Jx Holdings Inc
Lt Price
% Chg
Lt Price
Dow Jones Indus. Avg
S&P 500 Index
Nasdaq Composite Index
S&P/Tsx Composite Index
Mexico Bolsa Index
Brazil Bovespa Stock Idx
Ftse 100 Index
Cac 40 Index
Dax Index
Ibex 35 Tr
Nikkei 225
Japan Topix
Hang Seng Index
All Ordinaries Indx
Nzx All Index
Bse Sensex 30 Index
Nse S&P Cnx Nifty Index
Straits Times Index
Karachi All Share Index
Jakarta Composite Index
Company Name
Bridgestone Corp
Asahi Glass Co Ltd
Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Meta
Sumitomo Metal Industries
Kobe Steel Ltd
Jfe Holdings Inc
Sumitomo Metal Mining Co Ltd
Sumitomo Electric Industries
Smc Corp
Komatsu Ltd
Kubota Corp
Daikin Industries Ltd
Hitachi Ltd
Toshiba Corp
Mitsubishi Electric Corp
Nidec Corp
Nec Corp
Fujitsu Ltd
Panasonic Corp
Sharp Corp
Sony Corp
Tdk Corp
Keyence Corp
Denso Corp
Fanuc Corp
Rohm Co Ltd
Kyocera Corp
Murata Manufacturing Co Ltd
Nitto Denko Corp
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
Nissan Motor Co Ltd
Toyota Motor Corp
Honda Motor Co Ltd
Suzuki Motor Corp
Nikon Corp
Hoya Corp
Canon Inc
Ricoh Co Ltd
Dai Nippon Printing Co Ltd
Nintendo Co Ltd
Itochu Corp
Marubeni Corp
Mitsui & Co Ltd
Tokyo Electron Ltd
Sumitomo Corp
Mitsubishi Corp
Aeon Co Ltd
Mitsubishi Ufj Financial Gro
Resona Holdings Inc
Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdin
Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Gr
Bank Of Yokohama Ltd/The
Mizuho Financial Group Inc
Orix Corp
Daiwa Securities Group Inc
Nomura Holdings Inc
Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Holdin
Ms&Ad Insurance Group Holdin
Dai-Ichi Life Insurance
Tokio Marine Holdings Inc
T&D Holdings Inc
Mitsui Fudosan Co Ltd
Mitsubishi Estate Co Ltd
Sumitomo Realty & Developmen
East Japan Railway Co
West Japan Railway Co
Central Japan Railway Co
Ana Holdings Inc
Nippon Telegraph & Telephone
Kddi Corp
Ntt Docomo Inc
Tokyo Electric Power Co Inc
Chubu Electric Power Co Inc
Kansai Electric Power Co Inc
Tohoku Electric Power Co Inc
Kyushu Electric Power Co Inc
Tokyo Gas Co Ltd
Secom Co Ltd
Yamada Denki Co Ltd
Fast Retailing Co Ltd
Softbank Corp
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Zee Entertainment Enterprise
Wipro Ltd
Ultratech Cement Ltd
Tech Mahindra Ltd
Tata Steel Ltd
Tata Power Co Ltd
Tata Motors Ltd
Tata Consultancy Svcs Ltd
Sun Pharmaceutical Indus
State Bank Of India
Sesa Sterlite Ltd
Reliance Industries Ltd
Punjab National Bank
Power Grid Corp Of India Ltd
Oil & Natural Gas Corp Ltd
Ntpc Ltd
Nmdc Ltd
Maruti Suzuki India Ltd
Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd
Lupin Ltd
Larsen & Toubro Ltd
Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd
Jindal Steel & Power Ltd
Itc Ltd
Infosys Ltd
Indusind Bank Ltd
Idfc Ltd
Icici Bank Ltd
Housing Development Finance
Hindustan Unilever Ltd
Hindalco Industries Ltd
Hero Motocorp Ltd
Hdfc Bank Limited
Hcl Technologies Ltd
Grasim Industries Ltd
Gail India Ltd
Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories
Dlf Ltd
Coal India Ltd
Cipla Ltd
Cairn India Ltd
Bharti Airtel Ltd
Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd
Bharat Heavy Electricals
Bank Of Baroda
Bajaj Auto Ltd
Axis Bank Ltd
Asian Paints Ltd
Ambuja Cements Ltd
Acc Ltd
Lt Price
% Chg
Employees pass share prices on display in the reception area of the Athens Stock Exchange (file). The market plunged more
than 6% yesterday before recovering slightly at the close.
Greek fears, US data
dampen Europe stocks
nxiety over Greece’s new antiausterity leadership and unexpectedly poor US performance
data weighed down European stock
markets yesterday, analysts said.
Frankfurt’s DAX 30 index sank 1.57%
to close at 10,628.58 points, while
in Paris the CAC 40 shed 1.09% to
4,624.21 points.
London’s benchmark FTSE 100
index of top companies edged down
0.6% to end the day at 6,811.61 points,
as investors also digested data showing
Britain’s economic growth slowed to
0.5% in the fourth quarter of 2014.
The Athens stock market plunged
more than 6% before recovering
slightly at the close as investors fretted
over whether the new radical left government will renege on Greece’s international bailout.
The main Athex index had tumbled
3.2% the previous day on news that
anti-austerity party Syriza had won
the Greek election.
“Gravity took hold... after several days
of huge gains inspired by the beginning
of a quantitative easing program by the
European Central Bank,” said Jasper
Lawler, an analyst at CMC Markets UK.
“Banking stocks led the declines in
a delayed reaction to the risk posed
by their Greek counterparts on a possible Grexit,” he added, referring to the
spectre of Greece being forced to leave
the eurozone.
Shares in Germany’s Deutsche Bank
plunged 3.39%, while in France Societe
Generale lost 2.3% and Britain’s RBS
was off 1.77%.
New Greek Prime Minister Alexis
Tsipras unveiled his anti-austerity
coalition administration, bringing together his radical left-wing party with
a small party on the nationalist right,
after a stunning election win that sent
shockwaves through Europe.
The appointment of radical leftwing economist Yanis Varoufakis
as his finance minister was seen as
a signal that the new government
will take a hard line in haggling over
Greece’s €240bn ($269bn) EU-IMF
Tsipras declared on Sunday that
Greece is “leaving behind disastrous
austerity” and the so-called troika of
creditors “is finished”, in reference to
the country’s international lenders
the European Union, the International
Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank.
Syriza are the first anti-austerity
party to govern in Europe, but they fell
Company Name
Aluminum Corp Of China Ltd-H
Bank Of East Asia
Bank Of China Ltd-H
Bank Of Communications Co-H
Belle International Holdings
Boc Hong Kong Holdings Ltd
Cathay Pacific Airways
Cheung Kong Holdings Ltd
China Coal Energy Co-H
China Construction Bank-H
China Life Insurance Co-H
China Merchants Hldgs Intl
China Mobile Ltd
China Overseas Land & Invest
China Petroleum & Chemical-H
China Resources Enterprise
China Resources Land Ltd
China Resources Power Holdin
China Shenhua Energy Co-H
China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd
Citic Ltd
Clp Holdings Ltd
Cnooc Ltd
Cosco Pacific Ltd
Esprit Holdings Ltd
Fih Mobile Ltd
Hang Lung Properties Ltd
Hang Seng Bank Ltd
Henderson Land Development
two seats short of a 151-seat majority
in parliament and were thus forced to
forge the coalition with the small nationalist Independent Greeks (ANEL)
In New York, the Dow slumped more
than 2% in mid-morning trade following a raft of mostly weak earnings
reports from big companies and a surprising drop in durable goods orders.
Near 1600 GMT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 17,320.29,
down 2.03%.
The broad-based S&P 500 sank
1.60% to 2,024.24, while the tech-rich
Nasdaq Composite Index plummeted
2.09% to 4,671.83.
New orders for long-lasting industrial goods fell 3.4% in December, signalling some persistent weakness in
the manufacturing sector, according to
Commerce Department data.
“A Greek election was supposed to
cause market ructions but as usual it
was an entirely unforeseen development—namely a slump in US economic
performance—that has created greater
excitement,” said Chris Beauchamp, a
market analyst with IG.
In foreign exchange activity yesterday, the European single currency
bounced to $1.1368, having hit Monday
an 11-year low of $1.1098 on fears that
Greece could leave the eurozone.
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Hong Kong & China Gas
Hong Kong Exchanges & Clear
Hsbc Holdings Plc
Hutchison Whampoa Ltd
Ind & Comm Bk Of China-H
Li & Fung Ltd
Mtr Corp
New World Development
Petrochina Co Ltd-H
Ping An Insurance Group Co-H
Power Assets Holdings Ltd
Sino Land Co
Sun Hung Kai Properties
Swire Pacific Ltd-A
Tencent Holdings Ltd
Wharf Holdings Ltd
Lt Price
% Chg
Doha Securities Market
Saudi Tadawul
Kuwait Stocks Exchange
Bahrain Stock Exchage
Oman Stock Market
Abudhabi Stock Market
Dubai Financial Market
Lt Price
“Information contained herein is believed to be reliable and had been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. The
accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. This publication is for providing information only and is not intended
as an offer or solicitation for a purchase or sale of any of the financial instruments mentioned. Gulf Times and Doha Bank
or any of their employees shall not be held accountable and will not accept any losses or liabilities for actions based on
this data.”
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Asia will be resilient to external shocks, says Moody’s
Global credit rating agency Moody’s
Investor Services yesterday said Asia
will be resilient to global macroeconomic challenges in 2015.
In a statement, Moody’s said Asia was
less vulnerability to external shocks
than other emerging economies
and with sound fundamentals that
compare well with many regions in
the world.
“As global growth remains subdued
with brighter prospects in the US
offset by lacklustre growth in the
Euro Area and Japan, and China’s
ongoing slowdown, Asia’s resilience
will become increasingly evident,”
said Michael Taylor, a Moody’s chief
credit officer.
Moody’s views were presented at
Moody’s 2015 Outlooks for Asian
sovereigns, corporates and banks
briefing held yesterday in Hong Kong.
According to Moody’s, global
challenges for 2015 include the US
Federal Reserve taking the first
steps to normalise monetary policy,
sustained low commodities prices
and China’s rebalancing.
But Asia is supported by healthy
external vulnerability metrics and
the policy space to support growth
through accommodative domestic
monetary and fiscal policies, said
While Moody’s expects capital
inflows to Asia Pacific to moderate
in 2015, offshore borrowing costs
will remain below historical norms,
reflecting Asia’s sound fundamentals.
“The region’s status as a net oil
importer and the opportunity for
governments to pare back subsidies
mean that falling crude prices will
be credit positive for much of the
region,” the rating agency said.
However, Moody’s identifies four key
risks for the year ahead; a deeperthan-expected property downturn
in China, high leverage in certain
sectors, renewed eurozone concerns
and a spike in global financial market
A 10% fall in property sales volumes,
accompanied by a 10% fall in prices,
could shave up to 2.25 percentage
points off Moody’s baseline growth
assumptions for China, said the rating
Elevated household debt to GDP
ratios in certain areas in AsiaMalaysia, Thailand, and Singapore,
among others – could become a
concern if interest rates spike during
the year, notes Moody’s.
The ratings agency also points to
the rising leverage in the corporate
sector throughout much of the
Asian airlines slash fuel
surcharges, fares to rise
sian airlines are slashing fuel
surcharges as oil prices hover
at six-year lows, but passengers hoping for cheaper tickets will be
disappointed as carriers are likely to
bump up fares to maintain margins.
Australia’s Qantas Airways became
the latest airline to eliminate the surcharge yesterday, but at the same time
said it was raising base fares as oil was
not cheap enough to offset the impact
of competition on international routes.
Aviation experts say other airlines
are likely to follow suit, because any
drop in ticket prices would erode profit
margins which, globally, are as low as
$6 a passenger.
“During the 2008 financial crisis,
for example, low demand meant that
airlines lost money despite the fuel
costs,” said Brendan Sobie of aviation
consultancy CAPA.
“Last year in Southeast Asia, airlines
faced an unsustainable situation with
low fares and high fuel prices. Fuel
costs may have come down but fares
remain low. Ticket prices need to be
higher for airlines to make money.”
Airlines started adding fuel surcharges onto fares in 2004 in response
to rising oil prices. Brent crude oil futures , however, have fallen some 60%
since mid-2014 and Singapore jet fuel
prices, a key regional benchmark, have
dropped by about half from a year
Cheaper oil could result in airline
profits increasing by $5bn to $25bn
this year, but profit per passenger will
rise by just $1 to $7, showed estimates
from the International Air Transport Association, because of intense
At least two consumer groups are
crying foul.
Earlier this month, the Australian
Competition and Consumer Commission said it would investigate airlines
suspected of misleading consumers
through fuel surcharges. Choice Australia also criticised airlines for what it
called “dodgy surcharges”.
“Most people would expect the
cost of fuel to be included in the base
price of a ticket. Stripping out part of
the fuel cost and calling it a surcharge
Qantas Airways became the latest airline to eliminate the surcharge yesterday, but at the same time said it was raising base fares as oil was not cheap enough to offset
the impact of competition on international routes.
was little more than a communications
ploy during the discounting airfare
war,” Choice Australia said. Qantas’
decision to axe fuel surcharges came
a day after Malaysia’s AirAsia Bhd,
Asia’s largest low-cost group, said
“removing fuel surcharges and reducing travel costs will be a huge boost to
the tourism industry.”
Philippine Airlines Inc and Cebu
Air Inc also removed surcharges last
month, while Taiwan’s China Airlines
Ltd and Eva Airways Corp have cut
surcharges about 40% over the past six
Qatar Airways is planning to cut
surcharges, and Emirates Airline last
week said it was considering likewise.
Singapore Airlines Ltd (SIA), on the
other hand, said it would continue to
levy its surcharge, which is among the
highest in Asia. “It should be noted
that while fuel prices have come down
in recent months, the fuel surcharge
continues to provide only partial relief
against SIA’s high operating costs from
the price of jet fuel,” said the airline in
a statement.
Flag carrier PT Garuda Indonesia
(Persero) Tbk is equally determined to
stick to the surcharge. Its chief financial officer said there was little incentive to cut fares when rivals like Singapore Airlines and Korean Air Lines
Co Ltd continue to charge the same,
regardless of oil prices.
“If they set a high price, why should
we reduce? We have to look at the market too,” said Ari Askhara on the sidelines of an industry event.
to shrink
Shenzhen, China
aiwan’s Foxconn Technology Group, the world’s
largest contract electronics
manufacturer, will cut its massive workforce, the company told
Reuters, as the Apple Inc supplier
faces declining revenue growth
and rising wages in China.
Under its flagship unit Hon
Hai Precision Industry Co, the
group currently employs about
1.3mn people during peak production times, making it one of
the largest private employers in
the world.
Special assistant to the chairman and group spokesman Louis
Woo did not specify a timeframe
or target for the reduction, but
noted that labour costs had
more than doubled since 2010,
when the company faced intense
media scrutiny following a spate
of worker suicides. “We’ve basically stabilised (our workforce)
in the last three years,” Woo
said. When asked if the company plans to reduce overall headcount, he responded “yes”.
Revenue growth at the conglomerate tumbled to 1.3% in
2013 and only partially recovered to 6.5% last year after a long
string of double-digit increases
from 2003 to 2012.
That decade saw the firm ride
an explosion of popularity in
PCs, smartphones and tablets,
largely driven by its main client Apple, but now it is feeling
the effects of falling growth and
prices in the gadget markets it
supplies, a trend that is expected
to continue.
Growth in smartphone sales
will halve this year from 26% in
2014, according to researcher
IDC, while PC sales will contract
by 3%.
Similarly, the average smartphone will sell for 19% less in
2018 than last year’s $297.
“Even if technology is improving, the price will still come
down,” Woo said. “We’ve come
to accept that, our customers
have come to accept that.”
Automation will be key to
keeping labour costs under control in the long-term, Woo said,
as the company pushes to have
robotic arms complete mundane
tasks currently done by workers.
India, US to resume bilateral investment treaty
New Delhi
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama shake hands during the India-US Business Summit in
New Delhi on Monday. According to various Indian industry bodies and trade estimates, Indian-American bilateral trade is poised to
reach the $100bn mark by 2018.
ndia and US will resume dialogue on a bilateral investment
treaty as the economic growth in
both countries is becoming stronger and their economic partnership
had strengthening, announced
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and
US President Barack Obama.
“President Obama and I have
agreed that a strong and growing
economic relationship is vital for
the success of our strategic partnership. Economic growth in our
two countries is becoming stronger,” Modi said at a joint press meeting with Obama after their talks.
“Our business climate is improving. In addition we have established
a number of effective bilateral
mechanisms to identify opportunities and also help our business,
trade and investments more.
“We will also resume our dialogue on bilateral investment treaty. We will also start discussions on
social security agreement that is
so important for the hundreds and
thousands of Indians professionals
working in the US,” Modi added.
Obama said: “Our economic
partnership has grown and our
economic partnership will improve
daily lives of our people. We have
identified the bilateral investment
treaty to discuss further.”
“The prime minister has informed me about his missions of
economic prosperity to improve the
lives of rural Indians with bank accounts, clean water and clean air.
We are working on providing assistance to all these,” he added.
Obama welcomed Modi’s recent
reforms to ease doing business in
“Since my last visit here and the
address made to your parliament,
trade has increased and we are cooperating on key global challenges.
In the last few years the trade between our countries have increased
by some 60% and it is going towards $100bn and we want to trade
even more,” he said.
In a press briefing later, Indian
Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh
said: “We have agreed to resume
talks on high standard bilateral investment treaty.”
According to various Indian industry bodies and trade estimates,
Indian-American bilateral trade
is poised to reach $100bn mark by
Commerce ministry data shows
that India’s exports to the US have
risen from $9bn in 2001-02 to
around $39bn in 2014-15, with the
US remaining India’s top export
destination throughout the years.
Import-wise, the US has registered a steep rise from $3bn in
2001-02 to $22bn in 2014-15.
Overall, bilateral trade between
India and the US rose five-fold from
$12bn in 2001-02 to $62bn in 201415.
During 2000 to 2013, the cumulative foreign direct investment
(FDI) flows from the US to India
were estimated at $14bn – constituting nearly six% of the total FDI
into India.
The foreign secretary also said
three MoUs (memorandum of understanding) signed between US
Trade and Development Agency
and the governments of Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar
Pradesh. “These include building
of smart cities in Ajmer, Allahabad
and Vishakhapatnam. The US is
also cooperating with us on Digital
India programme.”
Asked about cooperation on liquified natural gas with the US and
gas imports from Iran, she said: “All
issues of regional and mutual interest have been discussed.”
It was also mentioned that the US
side has shown extreme keenness
in partnering, collaborating and financing India’s goal of 100 GW solar energy initiative.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Winklevoss twins
expect Q1 debut of
bitcoin exchange
Capital, the firm run by
Cameron and Tyler
Winklevoss, expects to get
regulatory approval to launch
a US exchange for investors
to buy and sell the virtual
currency bitcoin in the first
quarter, the twins told Reuters on Monday.
“The information coming
out of the DFS (Department
of Financial Services) is that
Q1 is their goal. And we will
be ready by then,” Cameron
Winklevoss, a principal at
New York-based Winklevoss
Capital, said in an interview
at’s Inside ETFs
Conference in Hollywood,
Any firm seeking to launch
a financial exchange needs
the approval of the state it
wants to operate in.
On Monday, Coinbase Inc
launched the first regulated
US exchange for bitcoin.
The twins want to launch
a regulated US exchange because so many bitcoin exchanges are offshore and unregulated.
“With a bitcoin exchange
you have to build it like you
are a real financial institution,” said Tyler Winklevoss.
The Winklevoss twins are
creating the exchange while
they seek approval from the
Securities and Exchange
Commission to launch a bitcoin exchange-traded fund.
The agency has been review-
ing their filing since 2013.
The twins anticipate that
institutional investors, like
mutual funds and pension
plans, will be interested in
a bitcoin ETF since they are
not permitted to buy the currency itself.
They also believe mom and
pop investors who do not
want to store a large amount
of bitcoin would be interested
in the ETF.
“Most bitcoin losses have
not been due to theft or hacking,” Tyler Winklevoss said.
“It has been due to user error.
It is people forgetting their
passwords or losing their
Still the twins noted that
security is a big issue for bitcoin, as a few exchanges have
been hacked over the years.
Some of the firm’s first
hires for its exchange were
security professionals. And
they insist that security at
exchanges has gotten much
better over time.
“Security shouldn’t be
with this guy in the back office,” said Cameron Winklevoss. “He should be the
most important person in the
Despite bitcoin’s huge drop
since its high of $1,163 in December 2013, the Winklevoss
brothers still think the currency will hit $40,000 per
unit in the future.
On Monday, bitcoin traded
at $274.39, up 7.47% on the
“We have never sold a bitcoin,” Cameron Winklevoss
DuPont plans $4bn
share repurchase
uPont, under pressure
from activist investor
Nelson Peltz to improve
shareholder returns, said it plans
to buy back up to $4bn of its stock
using a dividend expected from a
spinoff of its performance chemicals business.
The company, which has a
$5bn repurchase programme,
also raised its cost reduction target by $300mn to at least $1.3bn,
expected to be realised by 2017.
DuPont forecast 2015 operating earnings of $4.00-$4.20 per
share, including the performance chemicals unit. Analysts
on average were expecting $4.46
per share, according to Thomson
Reuters I/B/E/S.
Shares of the company, which
reported a fourth quarter profit
that was in line with the average analyst estimate, were down
1.5% at $73 in light premarket
trading yesterday.
DuPont’s actions come after Peltz nominated himself and
three other members of his Trian
Fund Management LP to DuPont’s board earlier this month,
stepping up pressure on the company to break itself up.
Trian wants DuPont to separate its agriculture, nutrition and
bio-sciences businesses from its
slower-growing Kevlar body armour, Tyvek construction materials and other chemical divisions.
DuPont, which bought back $2bn of its stock in 2014, is spinning off the performance chemical business, which makes materials such as Teflon.
But DuPont has highlighted
the “competitive advantages” in
keeping its units together.
The company, which bought
back $2bn of its stock in 2014,
is spinning off the performance
chemical business, which makes
materials such as Teflon.
The business named Chemours Co is expected to be listed
on the New York Stock Exchange
under the symbol ‘CC’.
The share repurchases announced yesterday will be made
over 12 to 18 months following
the separation of Chemours Co,
American Airlines for $2bn stock buyback
New York
merican Airlines Group plans to
buy back an additional $2bn of
stock after tumbling fuel prices
helped produce a fourth quarter profit
that beat analysts’ estimates.
The world’s largest carrier is expanding its repurchase programme after
completing the initial $1bn effort a year
ahead of schedule. Yesterday’s earnings
announcement capped the first full year
of the merger between former Ameri-
can parent AMR Corp and US Airways
“It definitely signals their confidence,” said Savanthi Syth, a Raymond
James Financial Inc analyst in St. Petersburg, Florida, who rates American as
“It’s a positive surprise that they announced it today, although given how
management has been showing they
support shareholder value creation, it’s
not surprising from them.” The new
buyback is targeted to be finished by the
end of 2016, American said in a statement. The Fort Worth, Texas-based air-
line, which doesn’t use contracts to protect against swings in jet kerosene, said
it paid 17% less for fuel in the quarter
than a year earlier.
American reversed an earlier gain before regular stock trading, falling 1.8% to
$54.43 at 8:17 am in New York.
US stock-index futures declined amid
weaker-than-expected sales from DuPont Co and Microsoft Corp.
Quarterly profit excluding some items
was $1.1bn, or $1.52 a share, American
said. That exceeded the $1.51-a-share
average of 18 analyst estimates compiled
by Bloomberg. Airlines are benefiting
amid a rout in global crude markets that
sent jet fuel plunging 43% in 2014.
Carriers including American, Delta
Air Lines Inc and United Continental
Holdings Inc have used repurchases,
dividends or both since 2013 to share
cash with investors after bankruptcies,
consolidation and nine years of losses
through 2009 that totalled $58bn.
American’s board approved its first
buyback plan in July, as financial benefits accrued faster than expected after
the US Airways tie-up in December 2013.
The airline also said then that it would
pay a dividend, its first since 1980.
American Airlines said yesterday it is expanding repurchase programme after completing the initial $1bn effort a year ahead of schedule.
DuPont said. Net income attributable to DuPont rose to $683mn,
or 74 cents per share, in the quarter ended December 31, from
$185mn, or 20 cents per share, a
year earlier.
Operating earnings were 71
cents per share, matching the
average analyst estimate. Net
sales fell 5% to $7.38bn, missing
the average analyst estimate of
Up to Monday’s close of $74.11,
DuPont’s shares had risen nearly
24% in the past 12 months on the
New York Stock Exchange.
Sensex scales
new highs
ositive global and domestic cues led the two major indices of
the Indian equities markets to scale new highs in yesterday’s
trade session.
Bullish sentiments prevailed, a day after US and India reaffirmed to take the economic partnership further and announced
key initiatives. Last week’s European Central Bank (ECB) bond
buying programme too had a positive effect on the markets.
The 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) of the S&P Mumbai
Stock Exchange (BSE) touched a new high of 29,618.59 points in
the intra-day trade yesterday – surpassing its previous high of
29,408.73 points touched on January 23.
The Sensex closed the day’s trade up 292.20 points or 1% at
29,571.04 points. The wider 50-scrip Nifty of the National Stock
Exchange (NSE) too scaled a new high in the day’s trade. It touched
8,925.05 points during the day’s trade surpassing its previous
record of 8,866.40 points reached on January 23.
It closed higher by 74.90 points or 0.85% at 8,910.50 points.
The S&P BSE Sensex which opened at 29,451.65 points closed
the day’s trade 29,571.04 points, up 292.20 points or 1% from the
previous day’s close at 29,278.84 points.
The Sensex touched a high of 29,618.59 points and a low of
29,286.09 points in the intra-day trade.
“Sensex ended at record high led by mainly banks. Strong global
cues also aided the investor sentiment,” said Sanjeev Zarbade, vice
president, private client group research, Kotak Securities.
The S&P BSE Bank index was up 527.76 points, followed by
capital goods index which rose 312.95 points and automobile index which gained 249 points. However, IT index was down 186.02
points, TECK index was lower by 66.28 points and metal index
slipped by 62.97 points.
Meanwhile, the rupee depreciated by 9 paise to 61.51 in early
trade yesterday at the Interbank Foreign Exchange market on fresh
demand for the American currency from importers.
Dealers said fresh demand for the American currency from importers mainly put pressure on the rupee.
Asia stocks gain on Greece deal hopes
The euro extended its gains
against the dollar yesterday while
most Asian equities climbed on
hopes Greece’s new government
will be able to negotiate a bailout
deal that will stop it leaving the
Regional dealers were given a
lift from advances in Europe and
New York, where news of Sunday’s
Greek election win for antiausterity party Syriza had been
largely factored in, analysts said.
However, Hong Kong and Shanghai
suffered heavy losses as traders
booked profits after a rally over the
past week.
Tokyo rallied 1.72%, or 299.78
points, to 17,768.30, Sydney added
0.82%, or 45.38 points, to close at
5,547.2 and Seoul rose 0.86%, or
16.72 points, to close at 1,952.40.
But Shanghai fell 0.89%, or 30.22
points, to 3,352.96 and Hong Kong
eased 0.41%, or 102.62 points, to
Shanghai had rallied more than 8%
since last Monday, when it posted
its biggest loss since mid-2008
in response to a government
crackdown on margin-trading.
Markets have been buoyed by
rhetoric coming out of Athens and
from Greece’s EU and IMF creditors
that raised hopes the two sides can
reach an agreement over repaying
its €240bn ($270bn) bailout.
Syriza had campaigned on
renegotiating terms of the lifeline
– which included spending cuts
and painful tax hikes – and there
are concerns it will default on its
repayments, potentially forcing it
to exit the eurozone.
But International Monetary Fund
head Christine Lagarde said she
was prepared to continue financial
support to the country, while
some European finance ministers
suggested they were willing to talk
– as long as Syriza did not demand
its debt be wiped out.
The euro plunged to $1.1098 at one
point in Asia on Monday, the lowest
level since September 2003, before
recovering later in the day to close
out in New York at $1.1234.
Yesterday in Asia it bought $1.1250.
It also sank to 131.55 yen Monday
in Asia before bouncing to end the
day at 133.12 yen. It bought 132.90
yen in Tokyo yesterday.
The dollar edged down to 118.11 yen
from 118.49 yen in US trade.
Oil prices slipped despite a warning
from the Opec that prices could
punch $200 owing to shrinking
investment in exploration.
US benchmark West Texas
Intermediate for March delivery
fell 10 cents to $45.05, while Brent
crude for March eased 12 cents to
Gold fetched $1,280.38 an ounce,
against $1,281.39 late Monday.
In other markets, Taipei added
0.46%, or 43.92 points, to
9,521.59;Wellington was up 0.69%,
or 39.08 points, at 5,737.74; Manila
closed 0.58% higher, adding 43.90
points to 7,630.57; Bangkok closed
flat, edging up 0.09%, or 1.50
points, to 1,589.81; Jakarta ended
up 0.33%, or 17.13 points, at 5,277.15;
Kuala Lumpur gained 6.73 points,
or 0.37%, to close at 1,803.17 and
Singapore climbed 0.40%, or 13.68
points, to close at 3,412.20.
A businessman walks past an electronic quotation board flashing the Nikkei key index in front of
a securities company in Tokyo. Tokyo stocks closed 1.72% higher yesterday.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
After half a decade apart,
global gas prices converge
bankers in
Hong Kong:
wants you
Hong Kong
t’s not all doom and gloom
for people who lost their jobs
at financial firms in Hong
Kong this year.
Haitong International Securities Group, a unit of China’s
third-biggest brokerage by market value, is talking to workers in
the city who were dismissed by
global banks including Standard
“Those who have been fired
by foreign firms recently are the
people that I need for different
business lines,” Lin Yong, deputy chairman and chief executive
officer of Haitong International,
said in an interview on January
22 in Hong Kong.
“We could take 100 people if
they’re the best, but we may not
increase our headcount if none of
them is suitable for us.” A profit
jump of at least 50% last year
is giving Lin the opportunity to
add investment bankers and research analysts as stricter capital
rules prompt some competitors
to retrench. Chinese securities
firms are taking advantage of
their dominance in the world’s
second-largest equities market
to raise money in Hong Kong that
they can use for expansion.
“We’re interested in talking
to almost all of the finance professionals available in the market,” Lin, 45, said. “We are very
active.” Haitong International
added about 20 employees last
year for operations excluding
the brokerage division, spokeswoman Mimzy Si said. It now
employs about 120 in those businesses, which are corporate finance, asset management, fixed
income, currencies and commodities, structured finance and
equity derivatives, she added.
Andrew Sullivan joined the
firm last week as managing director of sales trading, he said by
e-mail on Monday. Sullivan previously worked at Espirito Santo
Securities Inc in Hong Kong.
Haitong International’s 2014
profit may have increased at
least 50% because of growth
in its corporate-finance, derivatives and margin-financing
businesses, the company told
the Hong Kong stock exchange
on January 21.
Shares of the company, created after Haitong Securities
Co bought Hong Kong’s Taifook
Securities Co in 2009, climbed
25% last year. The stock slipped
0.8% to HK$4.95 at 11:53 am local time. Chinese investment
banks are expanding in Hong
Kong after dominating the
mainland market. Among underwriters of share offerings in
China last year, local firms held
the top 16 spots, data compiled
by Bloomberg show.
Haitong Securities is among
Chinese brokerages that are selling shares in Hong Kong, saying December 21 it plans to raise
HK$29.9bn ($3.9bn) in a private
placement, mainly to develop
its short-selling and marginfinancing operation.
Lin said he wants to advise on
more large initial public offerings in Hong Kong, after Haitong’s ranking slipped to 11th
last year from ninth in 2013,
according to data compiled by
lobal benchmark prices for natural gas
have converged to their closest in five
years, a trajectory created by a supply glut and an oil rout. That spells trouble for
US and Australian projects coming online this
Prices in the natural gas hubs of Europe and
Asia are at their closest to the US benchmark
since 2010 after oil plunged below $50 a barrel and gas supplies from Australia and the US
created a surplus of cargoes.
Asian prices may fall further as new projects
come online in Australia and the US, adding to
the glut and depressing markets to the point
that some of the facilities may not be able to
export profitably.
“Spreads in gas prices between Asian LNG
and US gas have fallen by 50% from $12 to $6
(permn British thermal units). With liquefaction and shipping costs of $6.50, arbitrage
margins are now negative,” Alliance Bernstein
said in a report.
Global prices were all around $5 per mmBtu
before prices started to diverge five years ago.
In North America, the shale gas boom led to
a glut, pulling prices there to less than $2 per
mmBtu. In Europe, dwindling supplies and
unstable flows from a volatile North Africa
pushed prices to $8-10 per mmBtu. The most
dramatic moves were in Asia, where the closure of Japan’s nuclear reactors following the
Fukushima meltdown resulted in a surge in
LNG demand. With Chinese consumption also
growing, Asia prices rose to more than $20 per
Itochu’s $5bn China bet doubles default risk
tochu Corp’s $5bn purchase of a
stake in China’s Citic Ltd has almost doubled the Japanese trading
house’s default risk amid threats of a
rating downgrade.
jumped to 79.5 basis points yesterday from 47 in early-December, when
reports appeared on talks to invest in
the Chinese conglomerate with Thailand’s Charoen Pokphand Group. Yen
corporate credit-default swaps cost
66.5 basis points on average yesterday, down from a two-month high of
76.5 in mid-December, according to
the Markit iTraxx Japan index.
Moody’s Investors Service and
Standard & Poor’s last week placed
Itochu on review for a possible downgrade, saying they may lower its rating by one level on the increasing debt
load as exposure to the Chinese market rises to a fifth of equity.
Details remain scant on how Itochu
and its Thai partner will make a return
on their 20.6% stake in Citic, built on
the base of a Hong Kong unit that has
suffered derivatives losses and business disputes on Australian iron ore
“The worsening debt-to-equity ratios, uncertain business investment
strategy going forward, and the record
outlay for a single investment may
cause some negative sentiment,” said
Hiroki Shibata, an analyst at Standard
& Poor’s in Tokyo. “We still cannot
determine if the companies’ synergies
and profit projections through this
equity investment will be realized.” A
failure to reap timely return on profit
will also raise Itochu’s borrowing
costs, affecting future deals, he said.
Wagering the equivalent of a quar-
Itochu’s credit-default swaps jumped to 79.5 basis points yesterday from 47 in
ter of Itochu’s capital in the biggest
outlay for the 157-year-old company,
President Masahiro Okafuji has said
the investment is key to accessing
Chinese food, water and new energy
Citic Group will sell a 50-50 venture
between Itochu and Charoen 20.6%
of its Hong-Kong listed unit in two
stages, at a total cost of HK$80.3bn
($10.4bn). The unit bought $38bn of
assets from the parent company last
year and now commands China’s biggest securities firm, trust company,
construction equipment manufacturer and real estate operations in 29
cities among other assets.
For Itochu, that will mean an outlay of ¥600bn ($5.1bn) in investments
and loans, according to a presentation by the Tokyo-based company.
The transaction will make it difficult
for Itochu to have positive free cash
flow in the next three years, and will
push its net debt-to-equity ratio to
1.3 times from about 1 as of September
30, it said.
The purchase, which will be its biggest in China, will be financed only
through borrowed funds, Itochu said.
gained,” Okafuji said in a briefing in
Tokyo last week.
While Japan’s top five trading
houses have been shifting focus into
food, retail and transport business
and away from raw industrial materials in recent years, they are still challenged by falling commodity prices.
The five could face as much as $13bn
in writedowns on mining and energy
assets, according to Daiwa Securities
Group Inc Itochu’s bigger competitor,
Marubeni Corp on Monday halved its
forecast for net income this year to
110bn yen after flagging about ¥95bn
in writedowns on oil and gas assets,
including in the North Sea, and about
50bn yen on goodwill at its grain unit.
Not all agree that the deal will
weigh on Itochu’s finances. The ability to strike a partnership with such
a company as Citic is about as good
as you can hope for in China, and
Moody’s and S&P’s concerns may be
overstated, said Fumihiko Tsuchida, a
credit analyst at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities Co. The deal
will help Itochu book about 70bn yen
in additional net income a year, equal
to 23% of the trading house’s net income forecast for this fiscal year ending March 31, Tsuchida said in a report
on January 21.
“We can probably expect Itochu also
to boost asset sales in order to recycle
cash and control further investments
to keep net outlay in check,” he wrote.
The extra yield on Itochu’s 0.785%
notes due in 2024 has risen five basis points since early-December to
26 basis points more than sovereign
debt. Japan’s 10-year government
bond yield has dropped 21 basis points
during the period to 0.23%, while the
yen has gained 1.3% to 118.29 per dollar as of 12:33 pm in Tokyo.
The investment was announced on
the same day Citic said it will write
down as much as $1.8bn on an investment in an Australian iron ore mine
that’s over-budget and was subject to
a royalties dispute with local tycoon
Clive Palmer.
The Hong Kong firm, formerly
known as Citic Pacific, had to be bailed
out by parent Citic Group after wrongway currency bets led to a 2008 annual
loss of HK$12.7bn. Hong Kong’s security regulator last year sued Citic Ltd
and five former directors for allegedly
disclosing false or misleading information over the 2008 losses.
“Concerns could take precedence
in the short term considering Citic’s
volatility from a high weighting for
financial services, the large size of the
investment, slow cash recovery pace
based on Citic’s dividend payout ratio
of 20% to 30%, and time needed for
measures to achieve synergies,” Kazuhisa Mori and Shogo Umeda, analysts at JPMorgan Securities Japan Co,
said in a January 20 report.
China commodity trade data show winners are scarce
By Clyde Russell
Launceston, Australia
China’s detailed commodity trade
figures for 2014 do much to confirm
that the trend has changed to higher
import volumes being dependent on
lower commodity prices, but there are
a few notable exceptions.
Major commodities such as crude
oil, iron ore and copper all showed
increased imports on the back of
falling prices, illustrating the changed
dynamic in commodity markets
whereby supply became the dominant
driver of prices.
Taking away the temporary impact
of the 2008 global financial crisis
on China’s commodity demand, the
trend for the last 10 years had been
demand-led increases in both prices
and volumes of imports.
In 2014 that changed as many
commodities moved into structural
oversupply, meaning prices fell even as
Chinese demand increased.
China imported 13.7% more refined
copper in 2014 from a year earlier, with
prices being 8% lower in December
2014 than the same month in 2013,
according to customs data.
In crude oil, China brought in 9.5%
more in 2014, and iron ore imports
jumped 13.9%, with the prices of both
these commodities plunging during
the year.
Only coal among major commodities
saw falling imports amid lower prices,
with inbound volumes dropping 14.7%
in 2014 from a year earlier.
Coal’s woes are probably related to
China’s efforts to clean up pollution
and new regulations aimed to improve
the quality of imported coal.
However, while there were a few
commodities where volumes increased
as did prices, and these are the real
winners in the story of Chinese
demand for natural resources.
After several years in the doldrums,
last year was a strong one for the raw
materials used to make aluminium,
namely bauxite and alumina.
Alumina imports surged 37.7% to
5.27mn tonnes in 2014, while the
price reported by Chinese customs
in December last year was $382.34 a
tonne, up from $364.97 in December
Bauxite imports dropped by 48.3%
to 36.28mn tonnes, but this has to be
viewed in the context of the massive
78.7% jump in 2013 as Chinese
aluminium smelters stocked up
ahead of Indonesia’s ban on exports,
instituted in January 2014.
The price paid for bauxite in December
2014 was $58.57 a tonne, up from
$55.32 in the same month a year
What alumina and bauxite also show
is that the relative winners in the
commodity space can also shift quite
The major beneficiary from Indonesia’s
decision to ban the export of raw ores
would appear to be Australia, which
boosted exports of bauxite to China by
9.5% to become China’s top supplier.
For nickel ore, another commodity
affected by the Indonesian ban, the
big winner was the Philippines, which
overtook its Southeast Asian rival as
China’s biggest supplier, boosting its
exports by 22.7%, while also receiving
higher prices.
Another winning commodity was
coffee, with Chinese imports growing
by 36.5% in 2014 from 2013, and the
price paid in December last year
jumping almost 15% from the same
month a year earlier.
The strong gain in imports came
despite China’s domestic coffee output
also rising, although much is exported
to Europe for use in blending.
While coffee prices may decline this
year on improved crops from major
producers such as Brazil, the outlook
for Chinese demand remains robust as
the beverage becomes more popular
in the traditionally tea nation, and as
the emerging middle class seeks better
quality coffee.
Coffee, along with bauxite, alumina
and nickel show that the place to be in
meeting China’s commodity needs is
where there is strong demand growth
coupled with constrained supply.
This is a better position than most of
the major commodities are in, where
demand remains robust, but only
because prices are low.
If crude oil suddenly jumped from its
current levels around $48 a barrel for
Brent to closer to $80, then it’s likely
that Chinese imports would soften,
as much of the current demand is
heading into storage tanks.
It’s the same story for iron ore, any
significant rise in price will bring
about a concomitant drop in Chinese
demand. While bauxite’s and alumina’s
strong run of 2014 may be repeated
again, the trick will be to find the next
commodities where Chinese demand
will increase, even if prices go up as
Clyde Russell is a Reuters columnist.
The views expressed are his own.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Asia’s rich show less love for Aussie dollar, says UBS
Asia’s wealthy are falling out of love
with the Aussie dollar as record-low
yields and sustained declines persuade
them to look elsewhere, according to
UBS Group.
Many of the bank’s wealthiest clients
in the region began to abandon the
currency as Australia’s bond yield
premium over the US slid and the
Federal Reserve discussed raising
interest rates, said Simon Smiles,
Zurich-based chief investment officer
for ultra-high-net-worth individuals.
The 10-year yield is 74 basis points
above that of the US, down from 130 a
year ago.
“Two years ago when I came to the
region, in most client meetings, people
were asking about Aussie assets, the
Australian dollar, yield play; when you
talk about it now, there’s almost no
interest,” Smiles said in an interview on
“From the third quarter of last year,
there’s a growing belief that the
US dollar would start a sustained
appreciation trend.” The Aussie has
tumbled 16% in the past six months
to the weakest level since 2009 and
Reserve Bank of Australia Governor
Glenn Stevens has said he expects it
to extend declines. The local dollar
has fallen less than the euro and the
currencies of Denmark, Canada and
Norway this year and “should be the
next domino to fall,” said Olivier Korber,
a strategist at Societe Generale SA in
Australia has been struggling with the
end of a once-in-a- century resources
boom and a slowdown in China, which
buys more than 35% of the South
Pacific nation’s exports. A Deutsche
Bank index tracking the prices of
commodities important to Australia
has tumbled 30% in the past 12 months
with iron ore and thermal coal sliding
to multi-year lows.
China’s economy grew 7.4% in 2014,
the slowest pace in 24 years. The
expansion will weaken to 7% this year,
according to the median estimate in a
Bloomberg News survey.
“The biggest structural concern for
Australia and the currency is probably
the landing of the Chinese economy
amid falling commodity prices,” Societe
Generale’s Korber said in an e-mail
interview on January 23. Australia’s
dollar is set to end the year at 77 US
cents, he said. An earlier-than-expected
decline below this level may accelerate
its descent toward 70 cents, he said.
The Aussie was little changed at 79.24
cents at 12:42 pm in Sydney after
declining on Monday to 78.55 cents, the
weakest since July 2009. Forecasters
see it ending the year at 78 cents,
according to the median estimate in a
Bloomberg survey.
The Bank of Canada’s unexpected
decision to cut interest rates last week
and the European Central Bank’s
announcement of a bond-purchase
program have spurred traders to
increase bets the RBA will also loosen
monetary policy. There’s a 40%
chance it will lower borrowing costs on
February 3, up from about 25% odds on
January 16, interest-rate swaps show.
China firm
to invest
$1bn in
Thailand exports fall in 2014,
adding pressure for rate cut
Hong Kong
alian Wanda Group, China’s biggest commercial
real estate conglomerate,
said on Monday it is investing
$1bn in a prime property development close to Sydney Harbour, its
second large investment in Australia.
The amount includes A$415mn
($327mn) paid to US private equity firm Blackstone Group for
office building Gold Fields House,
an undisclosed sum for an adjacent building, Fairfax House,
as well as the cost to construct
a complex that will consist of
a hotel, apartments and retail
The purchase adds to a string
of deals as Wanda diversifies away
from a weak domestic market and
highlights growing Chinese investment in Australia’s red-hot
property market.
Australia was the third top destination for Chinese property investment after the US and Britain
in the first eleven months of 2014,
with around $2.1bn in inbound investment, according to real estate
consultancy firm Savills.
China’s Country Garden Holdings and state-backed Greenland
Group have also made large investments in Australia.
Wanda is backed by China’s
fourth-richest man Wang Jianlin
and last year a group company
Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties Co raised $3.7bn through a
Hong Kong listing. Shares in the
Dalian Wanda Commercial were
up 3.5% in morning trade after the
“We look forward to creating
a new Sydney landmark,” Wanda
said in a separate statement from
Blackstone, adding that the complex will include a 185-metre tall
The investment is the first in
Sydney for Wanda. The group
announced in August it would
invest $900mn in a joint venture
project on the Gold Coast and develop a luxury hotel and service
hai exports fell for a second
straight year in 2014, a blow for
the military government as it
struggles to get the economy growing
and possibly increasing pressure on the
central bank to cut interest rates today.
Exports are worth more than half
of the country’s gross domestic product. For 2014, exports were 0.4% lower
than the previous year, the commerce
ministry reported yesterday.
The rate of decline was slightly
steeper than the previous year, when
exports contracted 0.3%.
For December, exports rose 1.9%
from a year earlier, well above the 0.5%
gain seen in a Reuters poll.
Imports in the last month of 2014
were down 8.7%, much lower than
poll’s projected fall of 2.45%, while for
the full year they tumbled 9%.
Gundy Cahyadi, economist with
DBS Bank in Singapore, said the “surprisingly” soft imports reflected lower
oil prices but also that domestic demand remains weak.
The Bank of Thailand’s monetary
policy committee holds its first meeting of the year today. Sixteen out of 20
economists polled by Reuters the policy interest rate to be held at 2%.
Four predict a 25 basis point cut,
which would be the first change since
March. Finance Minister Sommai
Phasee said on Friday it was up to the
central bank, but added he felt there
“must” be a cut to help the sputtering
Santitarn Sathirathai, senior economist from Credit Suisse in Singapore,
said it’s tough to call but he expects a
cut today.
“If they don’t do it tomorrow, we expect them to do it next time, so I think
it will be delaying the inevitable,” he
Others say cutting the rate won’t
help growth, and could bring rises
in Thailand’s already-high levels of
household debt, which are curbing
Exports and domestic demand are
the two main engines of Thai growth,
and neither fired well last year. On
February 16, the government is expected to announce the economy grew
by only around 1% in 2014, the weak-
Workers assemble a car at a Mitsubishi Motors plant in Laem Chabang, Thailand. The country’s exports in 2014 were 0.4% lower than the previous year, the commerce
ministry reported yesterday.
est since flood-hit 2011. In May, after
political tensions that began in late
2013, the military took power, saying
this was needed to restore order and
spark a recovery for Southeast Asia’s
second-largest economy.
The coup restored some confidence, but domestic consumption has
remained tepid at best, and government spending has not gotten firmly
on track. At the start of 2014, authorities expected exports to increase
at least 5% that year. Yesterday, the
commerce ministry reiterated its view
that exports can rise 4% in 2015. The
central bank forecasts a 1% increase.
The ministry said shipments to China
were down 19% in December, and off
8% for 2014. Exports to the US rose
4.1% last year.
Kuroda remarks open possibilities for shift in BoJ stimulus
Kuroda: Confident of achieving 2% inflation target.
Governor Haruhiko Kuroda says the Bank
of Japan may need to get creative in any
further monetary stimulus.
Among options analysts highlight: regionalgovernment bonds, a type of security that
could aid public support.
Kuroda, speaking in an interview with
Bloomberg Television on Friday in Davos,
Switzerland, said “there are many options
and I don’t think it’s constructive to say
this or that could be done.” He reiterated
that if inflation expectations are “seriously”
affected by disinflation, policy can be
The bulk of the central bank’s record asset
buying is currently concentrated in debt
issued by the national government, yields
on which have been pulled down toward
zero, even on 10-year notes. BoJ officials had
different views on how much capacity there
was to expand the purchases, people familiar
with the discussions said last month.
“This could be a reflection of his thoughts that
bond purchases are coming close to their limit
because it’s buying almost all of the newly
issued bonds each month,” Takahiro Sekido,
a strategist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi
UFJ who used to work at the BoJ, said after
Kuroda’s remarks. “Options he could take
include derivatives and regional bonds. By
buying regional bonds, the BoJ could say
it’s supporting the government’s efforts to
revitalise regional economies.”
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling Liberal
Democratic Party, facing local elections in
April, has sought to spread the benefits of
the Abenomics programme to regions that
have borne the brunt of Japan’s population
decline and aging. The initiatives so far
have brought the biggest positive impact to
exporters, whose profits have climbed with
a weakening yen, and to investors in stocks,
which have soared.
Exports climbed 12.9% in December from a
year before, a government report showed
on Monday, with shipments to the US
jumping almost 24%. Kuroda said on Friday
that exports should accelerate in coming
months. Japan still posted a record annual
trade gap for 2014, thanks to purchases of
energy and an increase in imports before a
sales-tax hike in April.
Lawmakers last year began questioning
the wisdom of driving down the yen and
making the cost of living more expensive
for households, amid continued stagnation
in wages.
Spreading the BoJ’s asset purchases
to securities issued by prefectures and
municipalities would raise the potential for
added backing for the central bank’s efforts
to spur inflation toward 2%.
The amount of regional bonds outstanding
may reach ¥200tn ($1.7tn) at the end March,
according to a finance ministry report
released in October.
The BoJ could buy shares from banks
directly, or equity in commodity funds
and real estate funds, according to Izumi
Devalier, an HSBC Holdings economist in
Hong Kong. Zaito bonds, used to raise
money for projects at state-run companies,
could be something to look at, said Yuji
Shimanaka, an economist at Mitsubishi
UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities Co While
Kuroda said he was open to considering
derivatives in March 2013, they may be too
complicated, according to Mari Iwashita, a
market economist at SMBC Friend Securities
Co. The purchase is too hard to understand
for people outside the market and that
complexity was a source of US financial
crisis in 2008, she said.
Buying foreign bonds, an idea that’s come
up from time to time stretching back to the
BoJ’s first quantitative-easing experiment
at least early last decade, are probably less
Kuroda said in March 2013 buying foreign
bonds would be like currency intervention
and that foreign exchange rates should
be determined by the market. Kuroda’s
remarks followed repeated a proposal from
former deputy governor Kazumasa Iwata
for a ¥50tn fund to buy the bonds from
Among other central banks, the US Federal
Reserve bought mortgage securities as a
significant part of its asset purchases. The
European Central Bank, which unveiled
its quantitative easing programme on
Thursday, will buy government bonds,
securities issued by public agencies and
asset-backed securities, according to a euroarea official last week.
The ECB action would be “beneficial to the
world economy including the Japanese
economy,” Kuroda said in the interview.
“We very much welcome this action.”
The BoJ’s record purchases of Japanese
government bonds have contributed to the
biggest price swings in this market in a year
and a half.
The 10-year yield was ended at 0.225% on
Monday, after touching a record low of
0.195% last week.
A majority of economists surveyed by
Bloomberg News expect the BoJ will step up
easing by October. Much of the difference
in the outlook between the central bank
and private economists, along with the
International Monetary Fund, may hinge on
the impact of oil on the economy. Kuroda in
the interview repeated his confidence that
over the long run, the slump in oil would
strengthen economic growth and push up
consumer prices.
“In the short run, oil price declines tend to
reduce inflation all over the world,” Kuroda
said. In the medium to long run, lower oil
prices could raise the “real growth rate, and
that would eventually raise the inflation rate
gradually.” If oil falls by 50% from a peak
in June last year, it would boost nominal
gross domestic product by 1.2 percentage
points, or ¥5.6tn, according to a government
estimate cited by Kyodo News.
Japan imports almost all of the oil it
consumes and the price has declined about
60% since June.
“Concerns among households and
companies will be alleviated,” said Yoshiki
Shinke, chief economist at Dai-ichi Life
Research Institute. “Together with the
fading impact of April’s sales tax hike,
spending by consumers and business will
pick up and Japan’s economy will return to a
gradual recovery trend.”
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Siemens profit falls as price pressures hurt power and gas
Siemens missed first-quarter profit forecasts and
announced management overhauls at its power
and gas and healthcare divisions, putting pressure
on chief executive Joe Kaeser ahead of a shareholder meeting yesterday.
Kaeser, a former Siemens finance chief who ousted
Peter Loescher as CEO in a 2013 boardroom coup,
is also expected to come under fire from shareholders over the decision to spend $7.6bn on US oilfield
equipment company Dresser-Rand last year, just
before a steep slide in the oil price.
Siemens, one of Germany’s biggest firms by market
value, said profit from its industrial businesses was
€1.82bn ($2bn) in the first quarter of its financial
year through the end of December, down 4% from
a year earlier.
That missed the €1.87bn average forecast in a
Reuters poll of analysts, pushing Siemens’ stock
3.1% lower to €99.67.
Siemens, whose products range from trains to
turbines, is undergoing the latest in a series of
transformations under Kaeser, a company veteran
who wants to make his mark on the engineering
He has launched a programme called “Vision 2020”
to focus on electrification, automation and digitalisation, and get rid of more consumer-oriented
The results unveiled yesterday disappointed investors. Quarterly profit at the power and gas division
slumped 39% on price pressures for turbines while
healthcare profit fell 13% on weak orders in Asia.
“There is no other business in the house with a
greater need for action than power and gas,” Kaeser told reporters.
Siemens announced late on Monday that the chief
of its power and gas business, Roland Fischer, was
leaving the company at the end of January at his
own request, and named a new team to lead the
healthcare business.
Management also defended the Dresser-Rand deal,
with finance chief Ralf Thomas saying: “There’s no
reason to think there’s a different valuation now
than at the time we agreed it.”
Siemens new orders fell 13% on a comparable basis
to €18.0bn in the quarter, missing the lowest estimate in a Reuters poll. Sales fell 3% to €17.4bn while
net profit fell 25% to €1.10bn.
Siemens said it still expected basic earnings per
share to rise at least 15% in its financial year ending
in September, but warned that the business environment would be “complex” due to geopolitical
tensions, among other things.
US consumer products giant Procter & Gamble yesterday reported a sharp drop in quarterly earnings
and warned of a tough year due to the strengthening dollar.
P&G, which sells Bounty paper towels, Gillette
razors and other consumer staples, said secondquarter earnings were $2.4bn, down about 31%
from last year.
Results, however, were hit hard by the strength of
the dollar.
The US currency has hit multi-year highs against
other major currencies during the quarter, increasing the price of US goods in foreign countries.
Net sales dropped 4% in raw dollars. But when currency effects were stripped out, sales gained 2%.
“The October-December 2014 quarter was a challenging one with unprecedented currency devaluations,” said P&G chief executive A G Lafley.
“Virtually every currency in the world devalued
versus the US dollar, with the Russian Ruble leading
the way.”
Lafley said the outlook for the rest of the year “will
remain challenging” due to the lofty dollar, with
foreign exchange reducing fiscal sales by 5% and
net earnings by 12%, or at least $1.4bn.
P&G’s net earnings for the quarter translated into
$1.06, with the foreign exchange hit at 16 cents per
share. The company had been forecast by analysts
to notch $1.13 per share.
Quarterly revenues were $20.16bn, down 4.4% from
last year.
P&G shares fell 2.5% to $87.25 in pre-market trade.
Swiss drug maker Novartis forecast sales and profits to grow at a faster pace this year as recent drug
successes and its portfolio overhaul help it weather
the impact of generic competition.
Excluding currency moves, the Basel-based firm
yesterday said it expected mid-single digit sales
growth and core operating income to increase at a
high-single digit rate in 2015.
Still, a surge in the Swiss franc following a shock
move by the Swiss central bank to scrap its policy
of capping the currency’s value may complicate
Novartis’ efforts to improve margins.
Novartis, which generates just 2% of sales but
has around 13% of its costs in Switzerland, said
it expected the stronger franc to knock about 12
percentage points off core operating income this
year and 7 percentage points off sales.
Chief executive Joe Jimenez sought to reassure
investors that the franc’s surge would not derail
efforts to increase margins, saying the company
would take a hard look at procurement and other
services that it has in Switzerland.
To eke out further savings Novartis has consolidated some back-office functions, which
were spread across all divisions and account for
over $6bn in expenses, into one shared service
Shares in Novartis, which slumped as much as 16%
on the day the SNB scrapped the cap, were trading
up 0.7% at 0835 GMT at 87.60 francs, while the
European healthcare sector slipped 0.1%.
Novartis unveiled a series of deals last year which
will see it focus on a smaller number of highermargin businesses once it concludes a $20bn asset
swap with GlaxoSmithKline in the first half.
The company hopes the restructuring as well
as the recent approval of its new psoriasis drug
Cosentyx, which could bring in annual sales of
more than $1bn, will help it buffer cheaper copycat
competition to blood pressure medicines Diovan
and Exforge.
The anticipated launch of heart failure treatment
LCZ696 should also generate multibn-dollar revenues. Analysts expect the drug to gain approval in
the US by the middle of this year.
Net sales fell 2% in the fourth quarter to $14.63bn,
slightly ahead of the average forecast for $14.6bn in
a Reuters poll. Core net income rose 1% to $2.9bn in
line with forecasts.
The company said it would raise its dividend to 2.60
Swiss francs per share for 2014, compared to the
2.45 francs it paid out last year. This was below the
average forecast for 2.67 francs in a Reuters poll.
for the current quarter in line with expectations,
helped by growing demand for chips from the auto
The company posted fourth-quarter revenue
of $3.27bn, up 8% from the year-ago period and
slightly above Wall Street forecasts as it deepened
its focus on analog and embedded chips.
The company benefited last year from growing
demand from automakers, telecom companies and
industrial customers.
“We’ve seen increasing penetration of electronics
into automobiles worldwide. That’s a theme you’re
going to hear from us and others for several years
to come,” Texas Instruments chief financial officer
Kevin March told Reuters in a phone interview.
While TI is better known to many consumers for its
calculators, the Dallas-based company is regarded
as a barometer of the chip industry because it
makes components for a variety of markets, including industrial, automotive, consumer electronics
and communications.
Revenue from Texas Instruments’ largest market,
“industrial,” grew a bit in 2014, while revenue from
its communications market expanded as wireless
carriers installed next-generation base stations,
March said.
TI has been winding down its unprofitable wireless
business and refocusing on analog and embedded
chips. Factories that Texas Instruments bought at
relatively attractive prices in recent years and the
chipmaker’s robust sales force give it an advantage
over smaller competitors.
Along with steady stock buybacks and dividends,
that strategy has pushed shares of Texas Instruments 29% higher over the past year, compared
with a 15% increase in the S&P 500 Index.
The company’s fourth-quarter net income rose
61% to $825mn. Earnings per share were 76¢, the
company said in a statement.
Subtracting 7¢ in one-time benefits, the fourthquarter’s EPS was in line with analysts’ expectations
of 69¢.
Texas Instruments forecast first-quarter revenue of
between $3.07bn and $3.33bn. The midpoint of TI’s
revenue guidance is about $3.20bn.
Analysts on average had expected revenue of
$3.26bn for the fourth quarter and $3.19bn for the
first quarter, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The chipmaker said its first-quarter earnings per
share would range from 57¢ to 67¢.
the average analyst estimate of $1.50 per diluted
share, also excluding special items, according to
Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
American along with the rest of the US airline
industry are poised to save hundreds of millions of
dollars from falling fuels costs, with global crude
prices down about 58% since June. Fort Worthbased American has reported the highest net
income among US carriers so far this quarter in
part because it did not hedge its fuel consumption.
American reported its fuel expenses dropped by
17.3% last quarter, year over year.
Excluding fuel and special charges, American’s
mainline cost per available seat mile rose 1.1% last
quarter, year over year.
American declared a new quarterly dividend of 10¢
per share to be paid on February 23, 2015.
Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin Corp, the Pentagon’s largest arms
supplier, reported a better-than-expected 8.6% rise
in quarterly revenue, helped by higher demand
for its F-35 fighter jets. The company said strong
growth in its international businesses also boosted
results in the fourth quarter.
US weapons makers have increased their exposure
outside the US to offset a drop in spending by the
US military.
The Pentagon is trying to cut about $1tn in projected spending from its budget over a decade as
required by a 2011 law.
Lockheed, which also makes satellites and coastal
warships, announced in October a $1bn contract
from General Dynamics Corp to provide turrets for
tanks ordered by Britain’s armed forces.
The company, which got about 17% of its revenue
from international markets in 2013, did not break up
sales by geography yesterday.
Revenue at the company’s aeronautics division
increased 6% to $4.14bn. The business, Lockheed’s
largest, makes the F-35 fighter jets, which is the
world’s most expensive defence programme with
an estimated cost of $400bn.
F-35 production contracts rose by about $260mn in
the quarter ended Dec. 31, the company said.
Total revenue rose to $12.53bn from $11.53bn.
Analysts on average expected revenue of $11.89bn,
according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Net earnings jumped 85% to $904mn, or $2.82
per share, from $488mn, or $1.50 per share, a year
Nucor Corp
Nucor Corp, the No 1 US steelmaker by market capitalization, reported a 23% rise in quarterly profit as
it increased production and shipments grew 2%.
Net profit attributable to Nucor rose to $210mn, or
65¢ per share, for the fourth quarter ended December 31 from $170mn, or 53¢ per share, a year earlier.
Sales increased 2.2% to $5.0bn.
Vienna Insurance Group
Vienna Insurance Group wrote gross premiums of
€9.37bn ($10.5bn) in 2014, down just 0.1% from 2013
despite a hit from the strength of the euro, it said
yesterday, meeting market expectations.
Underlying growth was 2.6% without “special
effects”, it said in a statement. Analysts polled by
Reuters had on average expected gross written premiums of €9.31bn. The company’s direct unconsolidated premiums stood at €9.39bn in 2013.
Property and casualty premiums fell 1.3% to
€4.72bn amid a €105mn hit from foreign exchange
rates and a sharp drop in Italy, where the firm is
scaling back after a disastrous foray into car insurance.
Life insurance premiums rose 1.4% to 4.27bn thanks
primarily to its “remaining markets” segment,
which includes Georgia, Albania, Serbia, Macedonia
and Bosnia.
Health premiums dipped 2.9% to €386mn.
“Although the market environment continues to
be difficult in Romania, the measures taken there
began to show an effect. For the first time in years,
the property and casualty business showed a slight
increase of 0.3% in local currency terms,” it said.
In Ukraine, its four units boosted premiums nearly
16% in local currency terms despite a civil war.
The company said its 2014 growth underscored the
opportunities in Austria and in central and eastern
Europe despite a difficult market environment.
“Vienna Insurance Group has strengthened its
major lead over its competitors with a market share
of around 20% in its core markets,” it said.
PZ Cussons
PZ Cussons, the maker of Imperial Leather soaps,
said first-half profit fell 8.2%, hurt by continued
unrest in northern Nigeria and devaluation of the
currency Naira.
Cussons said it saw continued “challenging trading
conditions” in Nigeria, hurting its revenue from
Africa, which fell 6% to £156.2mn.
Unrest in northeast Nigeria, scene of numerous
attacks by Islamist militants, has made distributors
and customers there more cautious.
Nigeria is Cussons’ biggest market, though it also
sells in Ghana and Kenya. Africa accounted for
about 42% of Cussons’ total revenue in the year
ended May 31.
“There are few indications of a short-term improvement in the environment, with potentially some
further disruption around the forthcoming presidential elections,” Investec Securities analyst Nicola
Mallard writes in a note.
The brokerage has a “hold” rating on the stock with
a target price of 357 pence.
The British soap and shampoo maker said profit
before tax and exceptional items fell to £43.7mn
($65.95mn) for the six months to November 30,
from £47.6mn last year.
The company, which also sells Carex handwash,
Charles Worthington shampoos and St Tropez
spray tan, said revenue fell 10.4% to £386.7mn in
the first half.
PZ Cussons raised its interim dividend to 2.61 pence
from 2.53 pence a year earlier.
Texas Instruments
Texas Instruments reported higher fourth-quarter
results on Monday and gave a revenue outlook
Swedish telecoms giant Ericsson said yesterday
its net profit plunged by over a third in the fourth
quarter, dragged down by falling demand in its key
market North America.
Profits slumped 35% to 4.17bn crowns (€447mn,
$503mn) in the last three months of 2014 as currency hedge losses further eroded earnings.
Net profit for the full year was down 4% to 11.57bn
The group said demand slowed particularly
towards the end of the year in North America,
where telecommunications operators invested at a
“slower pace”.
Other regions like the Middle East, Europe and Asia
however showed “strong sales growth”, helping to
offset the poor showing in North America.
In the fourth quarter, sales rose by 1% to 67.99bn
kronor, although annual sales slid 2% from 2013
adjusted for comparable units and currency.
Stocks in the telecoms group fell 2.14% at open
before recovering by mid-morning. The overall
Stockholm market was trading down 0.30%.
US heavy equipment maker Caterpillar said
yesterday that the plunge in oil prices took a hit
on the company’s earnings in the fourth quarter
of 2014.
It also said it did not expect much of an upturn this
year, with mining commodities still in a slump as
the global economy grows slowly and with sweeping cutbacks in investment by the oil industry.
The company reported a slight decline in fourth
quarter revenues from a year earlier and a sharper
drop in profits, falling short of its own forecasts.
Total revenues were down 1.1% from the fourth
quarter of 2013 to $14.2bn, and net profits dropped
by nearly a quarter to $757mn.
Earnings per share fell to $1.23 from $1.54; EPS
stripped of extraordinary items, like restructuring
costs, were $1.35, down from $1.68.
Analysts had expected adjusted EPS to come in at
Chairman and chief executive Doug Oberhelman
said that despite the profit miss in the fourth quarter, the company had a better year than originally
predicted, and improved on 2013.
“Our emphasis on cost management, operational
execution and cash flow helped us deliver better
profit per share than both 2013 and the 2014 outlook we provided at the start of the year,” he said in
a statement.
For the year, Caterpillar’s revenues came in at
$55.2bn, down just 0.8% from 2013, and broad
profits per share rose 2.3% to $5.88.
The company said it expected revenues in 2015 to
fall 10% to $50bn, for profits of $4.60 a share.
“We expect world economic growth to only improve modestly in 2015. The relatively slow growth
in the world economy and continued weakness in
American Airlines
American Airlines Group yesterday reported a
fourth-quarter profit that topped estimates and
announced a new share buyback program and
quarterly dividend, as the carrier saved hundreds of
millions of dollars from tumbling oil prices.
American, the world’s largest airline by passenger
traffic since its 2013 merger with US Airways, said
it earned $597mn in the fourth quarter. Excluding
$507mn in special costs largely from merger and
bankruptcy-related expenses, it had a profit of
$1.1bn, or $1.52 per diluted share. The result beat
commodity prices — particularly oil, copper, coal
and iron ore — are expected to be negative for our
sales,” the company statement said.
“The recent dramatic decline in the price of oil is
the most significant reason for the year-over-year
decline in our sales and revenues outlook,” said
“We’ve also lowered our expectations for construction equipment sales in China,” he added.
Microsoft on Monday reported that its quarterly
profit dipped but revenue increased in a sign that it
is adapting to lifestyles centred on mobile devices
and cloud services.
Bright spots during the three-month period ending
December 31 included rising sales of Microsoft devices such as Surface tablets, Lumia smartphones,
and Xbox One video game consoles.
Meanwhile, money made from licensing Windows
software to computer makers and businesses
slipped as revenue from subscriptions in the cloud
“The overall goal of having more customers every
quarter moving to the cloud is actually a structural
guide post we have on a multi-year journey,” Microsoft chief financial officer Amy Hood said.
People and businesses renting Microsoft programs
as online services instead of buying software outright means less money up front but the potential
to make more profit over time through subscriptions and sales of premium features.
The US technology titan’s overall quarterly earnings were in line with expectations, but shares lost
Chief executive Satya Nadella touted the quarterly results as evidence Microsoft is on course in
adapting to “cloud first, mobile first” lifestyles after
building its empire on selling packaged software
for computers. “I am encouraged by the progress
we are making in our transformation,” Nadella said
during an earnings call.
Profit fell 10% from a year ago to $5.9bn while
revenue hit $26.5bn in the quarter ended on
December 31.
Microsoft noted that earnings in Japan and China
fell particularly short of expectations. Challenges in
Japan centered on economic conditions there.
Microsoft said it was working through “a set of geopolitical issues” in China but had pockets of growth
in that country.
Microsoft executives forecast that this year it would
see revenue declines in China, Japan, and Russia.
In the recently ended quarter, revenue from business
cloud services including Office 365 and Azure more
than doubled to hit an annualised rate of $5.5bn.
Meanwhile, subscriptions to home versions of
Office 365 and Personal climbed more than 30% to
“We again saw enthusiasm and demand around
our cloud offerings,” said Microsoft chief operating
officer Kevin Turner. “Our sales engagement worldwide continues to focus on helping customers and
partners transition to the cloud.”
Microsoft’s Bing saw its share of the US online
search advertising market grow to just shy of 20%,
and sales of Xbox video game consoles climbed to
a total of 6.6mn units due to strong performance
during the year-end holiday season, according to
Revenue from sales of Surface tablets and accessories rose 24% to $1.1bn in the quarter.
The gains helped offset a 13-percent drop in revenue from licensing of the Windows operating system, which has long been a mainstay at Microsoft.
Microsoft pulled back the curtain last week on the
upcoming Windows 10 operating system focused
on seamlessly connected devices such as computers, tablets and smartphones.
“We are taking bold steps forward across our business, and specifically with Windows 10, to deliver
new experiences, new categories, and new opportunities to our customers,” Nadella said.
Microsoft hopes Windows 10 will renew its relevance in an age of mobile computing dominated
by Apple and Google-backed Android software.
And in order to boost its take-up by the approximately 1.5bn people around the world who use
Windows-powered computers, Microsoft will in a
change of policy allow free upgrades.
The broad vision, Nadella explained, is to make sure
people can get to Microsoft cloud services from
whatever gadgets they wish.
Microsoft also unveiled its virtual reality headgear
called HoloLens that will debut with Windows 10
later this year.
HoloLens was touted as an entry to “the world’s
first holographic computing platform” which enables users to place three-dimensional holograms in
the physical world.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Aston Martin’s plans
to overhaul car lines
get cash backing
Ground crew are seen parking an Aer Lingus Airbus A320 away from the passenger terminals at Dublin Airport. The board of Aer Lingus has recommended a new offer from
International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG) worth €2.55 per share that includes a cash offer of €2.50 per share and a dividend of €0.05.
Board of Aer Lingus
recommends new
$1.5bn offer from IAG
Subject to how shareholder
interests addressed; IAG
would operate Aer Lingus as
separate brand; government
faces calls not to sell ahead
of election; Ryanair CEO says
will examine competition
he board of Irish airline
Aer Lingus has recommended a raised €1.36bn
($1.5bn) takeover offer from the
owner of British Airways, which
must now soothe Irish government concerns to win approval.
The new offer from International Consolidated Airlines
Group (IAG), its third in six
weeks, is worth €2.55 per share,
up from €2.40, and includes a
cash offer of €2.50 per share and
a dividend of €0.05. Aer Lingus said its recommendation is
subject to being satisfied with
how IAG proposes to address
the interests of relevant parties,
including its main shareholders
budget airline Ryanair and the
Irish state.
The Irish government had
sought to sell its 25% stake as
part of the country’s 2010 bailout by the European Union and
International Monetary Fund
but postponed the plan.
It now faces mounting political pressure not to sell from the
two main opposition parties and
the airline’s trade unions, raising
the stakes just over a year before
national elections.
IAG said it intends to operate
Aer Lingus as a separate business
with its own brand, management
and operations.
“IAG recognises the importance of direct air services and
air route connectivity for investment and tourism in Ireland,”
IAG said in a statement.
Shares in Aer Lingus were
1.2% higher at €2.40 at 1400
GMT. IAG rose 2.4% to 562
pence in early trade, the highest
level since the group was formed
four years ago.
“IAG has outlined plans for
Aer Lingus which we believe are
logical, attractive and will likely
alleviate the concerns of the
Irish government,” said David
Holohan of Merrion Stockbrokers. “Our view is that this news
paves the way for the Irish government to support the deal.”
Dublin-born IAG chief executive Willie Walsh started his career as an Aer Lingus pilot before
eventually running the airline,
and is also chairman of Ireland’s
debt agency.
Transport Minister Paschal
Donohoe, who briefed cabinet
on the offer yesterday, has said
they will look at how a merger
would affect Aer Lingus workers,
its brand and both connectivity
and competition for air routes
out of the island nation.
The airline’s main trade unions IMPACT and SIPTU called
on the government to block the
sale unless job guarantees are secured. IMPACT has said a takeover could lead to the loss of up to
1,200 jobs, close to a third of the
Any sale would also have to
be have approved by parliament.
The two-party coalition government has a large majority but
a vote could nevertheless put
pressure on backbench lawmakers, some of whom want similar
job guarantees to be provided.
A successful takeover would
give IAG more take-off and
landing slots at London Heathrow Airport, BA’s home base and
a major European hub for international flights.
It said Aer Lingus would join
the joint business that IAG operates over the North Atlantic with
American Airlines, leveraging
traffic flows between Ireland and
the US.
Ryanair, which holds 29.8%
after its own takeover attempts
were blocked and faces a regulatory order to cut its stake to 5%,
said it would make up its mind
on any formal offer once it’s had
time to consider the price, and
whatever proposals IAG makes
to “get past” competition regulators.
“You can’t address different
issues for different shareholders.
Maybe they’re trying to come up
with things designed to satisfy
the Irish government. I don’t
know,” Ryanair chief executive
Michael O’Leary told a news
conference in Rome.
Aston Martin Lagonda is
considering its first crossover as
the maker of the $184,000 DB9
sports car plans to refresh its
lineup in the biggest investment
plan in the British marque’s
Investindustrial, which
bought a 37.5% stake in the British manufacturer in 2012, has
pledged the resources to carry
out a growth push that could
double Aston Martin’s sales to
as many as 8,000 vehicles a
year from about 4,000 now.
“Aston has an industrial
plan which is growing in its
ambitions and we have always
planned to participate in all
funding needs that Aston has,”
Investindustrial chairman
Andrea Bonomi said yesterday
in Milan. “If Aston needs capital,
we’re there.”
Bonomi helped recruit Andy
Palmer, the former chief planning officer at Nissan Motor Co,
to take over as CEO after Aston
Martin went a year without a
top executive.
The Gaydon, England-based
manufacturer is the only
global luxury-auto brand that’s
not part of a larger group.
That makes it tricky for Aston
Martin to fund the research
and development needed to
compete with Volkswagen’s
Bentley and Fiat Chrysler’s
Still, Investindustrial has
no plans to sell its holding
anytime soon. Bonomi said the
investment was made with the
intention of keeping it for seven
to 10 years, which would give
the brand time to develop a new
generation of vehicles.
More details on Aston Martin’s plans will be revealed at the
Geneva motor show in March.
There, Palmer “will give a clear
indication of where the brand is
going,” including the potential
for an Aston Martin sport-utility
vehicle, Bonomi said. “We’re at
the beginning of the revamp
A crossover could help Aston
Martin broaden its appeal in
markets like China, where models aside from sports cars are in
demand, Bonomi said. Bentley
and Maserati are also developing SUVs.
Buoyed by Investindustrial’s
commitment, Aston Martin’s
£304mn ($458mn) of 9.25%
notes due July 2018 rose for a
12th day, climbing 0.6 pence
on the pound to 99.9 pence,
the highest since November 21,
according to data compiled by
Aside from the Italian privateequity firm, Aston Martin’s other
main shareholders are Kuwaiti
companies Investment Dar and
Adeem Investment Co Daimler’s
Mercedes-Benz has an agreement to acquire a 5% stake
in Aston Martin in exchange
for providing the sports-car
producer with components
such as engines and automotive
SMA Solar to cut 1,600 jobs
as European demand slides
MA Solar, Germany’s
biggest solar company,
is to cut about 1,600
jobs, or about one-third of its
workforce, as it expects no relief in the short-term from an
industry-wide demand slump,
sending its shares to a record
SMA’s core European market
has come under pressure over
the past two years as governments have pared back support
payments on which solar energy still depends.
In addition, Asian rivals
have made inroads into SMA’s
markets, putting pressure on
equipment prices and profit
margins. “We expect to see
high price pressure on the global photovoltaic market still in
the coming years and a further
decline in demand in Europe,
particularly in Germany,” chief
executive Pierre-Pascal Urbon
said in a statement on Monday.
The company, which in December had cut its full-year
forecast for sales and profits
for the second time within five
months, said it would probably
not return to profit in 2015.
About 1,300 of the planned
job cuts, which are to be completed by the end of June, will
be in Germany, SMA said. The
company had said last year it
would cut 600 jobs around the
world. At end December, SMA
had 4,667 employees.
Urbon said SMA would discuss its plans with workers’
representatives in the coming
weeks but warned that it could
not rule out compulsory redundancies.
It said it would provide details of the planned restructuring and its expectations for
2015 at a capital markets day on
The company said it would
be able to finance its restructuring without outside help
thanks to a net cash position of
about €220mn ($248mn).
It still expects to achieve
2014 sales of about €790mn
and a loss of up to €115mn,
excluding provisions for the
planned job cuts.
It is due to publish its 2014
financial results on March 26.
Apple CEO poised to parry questions over iPhones, currency moves
San Francisco
pple Inc chief executive officer
Tim Cook was facing some extra
pressure yesterday. Apple posts
earnings for its quarter that ended in
December today, which is typically
the most lucrative period for the company because of the holiday shopping
season. This year, the scrutiny is even
higher given that the earnings will provide the first official indicator of how
a slew of new products — from largerscreened iPhones to slimmer iPads —
have performed.
“People are looking for a blowout
iPhone quarter,” said Alex Gauna, an
analyst at JMP Securities. “They need
to come in above the high-end of guidance on revenue and they need to have
that driven to a large degree by iPhone
In October, Cook forecast the fiscal first quarter would be the best ever,
with revenue of $63.5bn to $66.5bn.
On average, 38 analysts surveyed by
Bloomberg predict an even higher
$67.5bn, as well as a record profit of
$15.4bn. Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman at Apple, declined to comment.
Here are five things to watch for in
Apple’s results:
1) iPhone 6 versus iPhone 6 Plus
Demand in China for the larger-
Cook: Tough task ahead.
screened iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus
may have helped increase Apple phone
sales 27% to 64.9mn units during the
quarter compared with a year ago, according to the average estimate of 10
Last quarter was the first full period
of sales for the iPhone 6 with a 4.7-inch
display and the 5.5-inch 6 Plus, which
costs $100 more. While UBS had calculated that 20% of sales would be the
6 Plus, Steve Milunovich, an analyst at
UBS, is now estimating it’s more like
The average selling price of iPhones
may have risen to $668 per unit, according to the survey of analysts, from
$637 during the same quarter a year
ago, according to Bloomberg data. The
increase should help profit — Apple
forecast gross margins would widen to
37.5% to 38.5% from 37.9% during the
same period a year ago. Analysts predict 38.5% for the quarter.
2) Apple versus Russia: Chief financial officer Luca Maestri warned in October that the strengthening US dollar
posed a challenge. In December, Apple
briefly halted online sales in Russia on
the day the country’s currency lost as
much as 19%.
Worldwide, the net average selling
price of iPhones may have been hurt
by 2.8% because of the stronger US
dollar during the quarter, according
to estimates by Milunovich, though
that was probably outweighed by
other factors, including a more expensive iPhone 6 Plus. This month, in
one of the company’s broadest global
responses to currency fluctuations
in recent years, Apple changed the
prices of software applications from
Canada to Europe.
“It’s a fact of life if the US dollar
strengthens, that creates a headwind
for us both in revenue and margins for
our business outside of the US,” Maestri has said. More than half of Apple’s
revenue during the past fiscal year came
from outside of the US. In the current
quarter, currency changes provide a
“bigger headwind than recent quarters,” Katy Huberty, an analyst at Morgan Stanley, said in a note to investors.
3) Mac versus iPad
During the fiscal fourth quarter last
year, Apple garnered more revenue
from Mac computers and laptops than
iPads for the first time since mid-2011.
Mac unit sales rose 19% on the strength
of college students buying computers, while iPad sales fell for the third
straight quarter as the tablet market
became more saturated.
The trend may have continued into
the final three months of 2014. Mac
unit sales may have risen 14% while
sales of the iPad, which were updated
to be thinner and faster, may have fallen
15%, according to the average estimates
of analysts as compiled by Bloomberg.
4) Apple Pay versus CVS
Apple in October rolled out its bid
to replace the consumer wallet with
a new mobile-payment system called
Apple Pay — which hit immediate
controversy. CVS Health Corp and Rite
Aid Corp blocked the technology in
their drugstores, underlining a struggle over who controls the mobile-payment world.
Apple has teamed up with major
banks and credit card companies on
Pay, which helps turn the iPhone 6 and
6 Plus into a payment device. CVS, Rite
Aid, Wal-Mart and other retailers have
worked together to create CurrentC,
which offers branded mobile wallets
linked directly to shoppers’ checking
So far, Apple has indicated it’s
pleased with Pay’s progress. Cook in
October said the rollout looked “fantastic” and said more than 1mn activations occurred in the first 72 hours.
In December, researcher ITG said
Apple Pay captured 1% of digital-payment dollars in the first six weeks of
operation. It took Google Wallet three
years to get to 4%.
5) Apple versus expectations for Apple
Apple continues to be caught in
a trap of having to outdo itself each
time it reports earnings. Among those
putting on the pressure: Billionaire
activist investor Carl Icahn, who has
argued that Apple shares are undervalued and should be trading at $203 a
share, which would value the company
at more than $1tn.
The anticipation may intensify as
Apple’s first all-new gadget under
Cook’s leadership as CEO gets closer to
showrooms: the Apple Watch. Revealed
in September and designed to appeal to
both luxury-watch buyers and fitnessdevice enthusiasts, the smartwatch will
go on sale in the US early this year, Apple has said.
That means all eyes will be on Apple’s
forecast. For the fiscal second quarter, which ends in late March, analysts
project revenue may rise to $53.7bn
from $45.7bn a year ago and that the
quarter’s gross margins may be 38.6%.
Apple’s projection could fall short of
estimates because of challenges from
currency and slipping iPad sales and
the smartwatch’s introduction, Huberty said.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
EU bank-separation push falters as lawmakers split on bill
European Union plans to ban proprietary trading
and break up the bloc’s biggest banks are faltering
as lawmakers clash over fundamental principles of
the bill.
The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm,
presented its bank-structure overhaul a year ago to
address the threat posed by too-big-to-fail banks. The
bill has proven divisive in the European Parliament
and among national governments, leading some
legislators to say its days may be numbered.
“The chances of any serious progress on the
proposal for structural reform of the banks are
diminishing rapidly,” Richard Reid, a research
fellow for finance and regulation at the University
of Dundee in Scotland, said by e-mail. “In part
it’s because quite a few governments see no
real need to substantially reshape their banking
The push for an EU-wide law lags behind the
UK, whose so-called Vickers rule will force Britain’s
biggest lenders to split off core consumer banking
from trading activities. Other countries such as
France, Germany and Belgium have also developed
their own measures. The bill would cover banks
that have assets exceeding €30bn ($34bn) in three
consecutive years and trading activities of more
than €70bn or 10% of assets. It specifically captures
the European banks labelled as globally systemic
by the Financial Stability Board, including HSBC
Holdings and Deutsche Bank.
The commission’s blueprint sought to ban the
lenders from certain activities, such as proprietary
trading and investing in hedge funds, while also
forcing supervisors to assess whether the banks
should have to separate off some trading activities
into separately capitalised units.
This separation would take place if the investment banking surpassed certain thresholds and if
the lender couldn’t demonstrate that the move was
The bill requires approval from the EU parliament and the Council of the European Union, the
institution that represents national governments.
Both bodies are currently trying to settle on their
negotiating positions on the draft law.
The lead lawmaker on the file in parliament,
Sweden’s Gunnar Hoekmark, has put forward an
amended version of the law that faced pushback
during a debate last week. In the council, nations
have called for further explanation of proposals put
forward by Latvia, which holds the bloc’s revolving
Hoekmark, a member of the assembly’s largest
centre-right group, proposed giving supervisors
more freedom to decide if separation is necessary,
and to focus the legislation more narrowly around
making sure a bank can be wound down if it fails.
This approach ran into opposition from lawmakers
seeking more far-reaching measures.
Focusing the legislation solely on whether a
bank is resolvable is “problematic,” Jakob von
Weizsaecker, who represents the parliament’s
Socialist group in the discussions, said in the public
debate. Even if a bank can, on paper, be safely
wound down if it fails, this might still “cause a lot of
collateral systemic damage,” he said.
“If we end up with a hung parliament, 50-50, and
a hung council, don’t forget what happens then,
and the commission has already said it — they will
withdraw the proposal,” said Philippe Lamberts,
co-leader of the assembly’s Green group.
Jonathan Hill, the member of the EU commission
responsible for financial-services policy, said last
year in a private letter that “withdrawal could be
an option” if support from national governments
doesn’t pick up.
Hill later said publicly that he supports EU
legislation in this area and urged quick progress in
adopting it.
The Commission will continue talks with the
EU parliament and nations on the law “in order to
fully address the systemic risks of large European
banks,” Vanessa Mock, a spokeswoman for the
institution, said in an e-mail.
“Although differences in views exist, the Commission trusts that a compromise on the main issues will
be found under the Latvian presidency,” she said.
Latvia is currently steering discussions on the
draft law among national governments, as it holds
the EU’s rotating presidency for the first half of
As one of its first steps on the draft law, Latvia
has put forward a plan to national governments
that would replace the ban on proprietary trading
with a mandatory separation requirement, according to documents dated January 19 and obtained
by Bloomberg News.
The revised plan would require further separation measures at banks that are so systemically
important that their risks place them in a “red
zone,” while handing supervisors more discretion
over others.
“Member states’ views on the separation process
differ,” according to the document. “But all agree
that the proposal cannot be accepted unless the
separation process, as elaborated in the commission’s proposal, is changed.”
EU nations are broadly divided into two camps,
according to the document, with one side backing
wide discretion for supervisors and others seeking
a more constraining approach.
A spokesman for Latvia’s EU presidency declined
to comment.
Given that some other EU and international
regulation projects, such as centralized oversight
of euro-area banks and global standards on loss absorbency, are still being put in place, a positive case
can be made for delaying work on the structure
rules, Nicolas Veron, an economist at the Brusselsbased Bruegel research group, said in an interview.
“Having EU legislation on separation makes lots
of sense, but it would make a lot more sense to
have it joined up with all these other initiatives,”
he said. “In any case, it’s not urgent. The US did the
Volcker Rule around five years ago, so it’s not like
Europe is in some kind of a race against time.”
US durable goods data
signal weaker spending
Fed looks
set to stay
in policy
Core capital goods orders fall 0.6%
in December; shipments slip 0.2%;
consumer confidence highest since
2007 in January; new home sales
gauge of US business investment plans fell for a fourth
straight month in December,
a potential sign that slowing global
growth and falling crude oil prices were
starting to weigh on the economy.
Other data yesterday, however, suggested the economy remained on solid
footing. Consumer confidence vaulted
to a near 7-1/2 high in January and new
home sales in December hit their highest level since June 2008.
“The drop in capex will weigh on
growth, though stronger consumer
spending should keep GDP from slowing too much,” said Chris Low, chief
economist at FTN Financial in New
The Commerce Department said
non-defence capital goods orders excluding aircraft, a closely watched
proxy for business spending plans, fell
0.6% last month after a similar decline
in November.
Economists, who had expected a
0.5% gain, said weak overseas demand
for capital equipment as well as declining domestic demand for energyrelated equipment were likely to blame.
They also said a strong dollar was a factor.
The report came as construction and
mining equipment maker Caterpillar
yesterday reported a nearly 25% decline
in fourth-quarter profit and warned
that falling oil prices would hurt its
business in 2015.
Chemicals company DuPont also
forecast lower operating earnings for
Weak capital goods spending is likely
to catch the attention of Federal Reserve officials, who started a two-day
policy meeting yesterday.
“This is ... evidence that the dollar’s
strength is starting to show up in terms
of weaker orders, a new soft spot for
A factory worker installs components for a forklift at the Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing facility in Columbus, Indiana. The Commerce Department
yesterday said non-defence capital goods orders excluding aircraft fell 0.6% last month after a similar decline in November.
manufacturing that perhaps will give
some of the policymakers pause if not
worry as they meet today,” said Chris
Rupkey, chief financial economist at
MUFG Union Bank in New York.
The report and Caterpillar’s weak
earnings helped to knocked down US
stocks. The dollar fell against a basket of currencies while prices for US
Treasury debt rallied.
Shipments of core capital goods,
which are used to calculate equipment
spending in the government’s gross
domestic product measurement, fell
0.2% last month after slipping 0.6% in
November and dropping 0.9% in October.
That suggested a downside risk to
the fourth-quarter GDP estimate, currently around a 3% annual pace. There
is little doubt that spending on equipment took a step back in the fourth
quarter after two quarters of strong
back-to-back increases.
Still, the economy remains on firmer
ground. In a separate report, the Con-
ference Board said its consumer sentiment index jumped to 102.9 in January,
the highest reading since August 2007,
from 93.1 in December.
“It supports our view of continued
strong job growth into the New Year
and that rising wealth levels and lower
gas prices are boosting household purchasing power,” said John Ryding, chief
economist at RDQ Economics in New
In another report, the Commerce
Department said new home sales
jumped in December to their highest
level since 2008.
A strengthening jobs market is expected to stimulate the housing market this year after the sector lagged
growth in the overall economy last
A fourth report showed a deceleration in house price gains. The S&P/
Case Shiller composite index of 20
metropolitan areas rose 4.3% in November from the prior year, the slowest
since October 2012
Greece’s new finance minister says euro is like ‘Hotel California’
Greece’s newly appointed finance
minister Yanis Varoufakis walks along
a street in Athens yesterday. Greece
should have never joined the euro area,
but now that it’s in, a departure would
be like falling from a cliff, he said on his
personal blog yesterday.
It’s no secret what Yanis Varoufakis thinks
Greece should do with its debt.
The economics professor at the
University of Athens, who announced
his appointment as the country’s finance
minister in a posting on his personal blog
yesterday, has been arguing since the
beginning of the crisis that Greece should
default while staying a member of the
euro area. As well as on his website, Varoufakis shares his opinions with 128,000
Twitter followers.
Greece should have never joined the
euro area, but now that it’s in, a departure
would be like falling from a cliff, he said.
“The last line in Hotel California explains
where we are: you can check out any
time, but you can never leave,” he told
Bloomberg Radio in May 2012.
Now he gets to take demands for a
radically different approach to Greece to
European capitals as the new government in Athens tries to implement its
pre-election pledges. At the core of
them is to rewrite the agreements with
the euro area and the International
Monetary Fund for the country’s €240bn
($271bn) financial rescue program,
though Syriza’s official party line is not
to default.
“The problem with the bailout is that
it wasn’t really a bailout,” Varoufakis, 53,
said in a Bloomberg Television interview
on January 26. “It was an extend and pretend, it was a vicious cycle, a debt-deflationary trap, which not only destroyed
our social economy but also showed that
the cost of our so-called bailout for the
average German, the average Italian, the
average Slovak was maximised.”
Greek stocks and bonds tumbled
before the cabinet was officially named
yesterday. Alpha Bank fell as much as
19%, while the yield on three-year government bonds surged almost two percentage points to 13.9%.
Also a visiting professor at the University of Texas in Austin, where Prime
Minister Alexis Tsipras pledged allegiance
to the euro in a November 2013 speech,
Varoufakis is a career academic. He
started as a teaching and research assistant at the University of Essex in England,
where he earned his doctorate.
One of his research interests is game
theory, and he later worked as a consultant for a video game company.
When it comes to politics, Varoufakis
was an adviser to former Prime Minister
George Papandreou before the Pasok
leader assumed power and took Greece
into its bailout in 2010.
A staunch opponent of spending cuts
and tax increases and an advocate of
a “haircut” on Greek public debt, he is
a relative newcomer to Syriza. In 2012,
he urged readers of his blog to vote
for the party, while also telling them its
manifesto was “not worth the paper it is
written on.”
“Just ignore it,” he wrote on June 3,
between the two elections in six weeks
that propelled Syriza into the international spotlight that year. “While replete
with good intentions, it is short on detail,
full of promises that cannot, and will not
be fulfilled,” he continued, adding that
“the greatest one is that austerity will be
Spin forward two and a half years and
he ended up getting more votes than any
other candidate in last Sunday’s election.
Like Tsipras, Varoufakis also says that
Syriza’s opposition to austerity and vows
for debt relief won’t lead Greece out of
the euro, known as “Grexit,” because the
cost for region would be too much to
bear. Greece already executed the largest
writedown of debt in history.
“It takes a degree of silliness, which
is unprecedented to believe that you
can talk about Grexit and then contain
the after effects, as if this is something
which can be done in an orderly way,”
Varoufakis told Bloomberg in a January
13 interview.
As well as his blog, Varoufakis has
Twitter followers including economist
Nouriel Roubini and David Blanchflower, a
former member of the Bank of England’s
monetary policy committee now in the
US In a post dated January 27, Varoufakis
said he would continue to air his views,
albeit less frequently.
he Federal Reserve today
begins its first monetary
policy meeting of the
year to take the pulse of the US
economy as it mulls an interest
rate hike.
The Federal Open Market
Committee, the central bank’s
policy arm, is widely expected
to signal no significant policy
changes after it wraps up the
meeting tomorrow.
But the FOMC post-meeting
statement will be pored over for
clues to the central bank’s thinking on the timing for the first interest rate hike since 2006.
The Fed has kept its key federal funds rate pegged between
zero and 0.25% since late 2008
to support the economy’s recovery from the deep 2008-2009
In October, the Fed ended its
massive asset-purchase programme, or quantitive easing,
and has signalled that a rate hike
would be coming this year. Most
analysts expect the increase will
arrive by June.
Since the December FOMC
meeting, the rapid slide in oil
prices has pulled weak inflation
even lower, corporate earnings
season has gotten off to a bumpy
start, and the ailing eurozone
was dealt a blow by Sunday’s
resounding victory of a leftist,
anti-austerity party in Greece.
The European Central Bank’s
announcement last week of fullscale QE to stimulate growth
and avert deflation in the 19-nation eurozone, was expected to
at least help the huge US trade
partner in the short term.
After months of mostly positive data — in December, the
US unemployment rate fell
to 5.6% and consumer confidence rebounded — some weak
spots have emerged. Job growth
slowed but remained solid;
wages sagged, barely keeping up
with inflation; and retail sales
plunged broadly in a critical
month for stores in the holiday
shopping season.
Data released yesterday sent
mixed signals on the health of
the US economy. Consumer
confidence, an indicator of how
willing consumers are to opening their wallets, soared in January to its highest level since
2007, according to the Conference Board.
In the housing sector, the
Commerce Department reported new-home sales picked up
sharply in December from November, and were up 8.8% from
a year ago.
The underlying trend in the
housing market, however, pointed to a continued slowdown in
price gains. The Case-Shiller
20-city price index rose 4.3%
year-over-year in November,
compared to 4.5% in October.
A steep, broad fall in new orders for long-lasting manufactured goods in December signalled weakness. Durable goods
orders fell 3.4%, and November’s revised decline was more
than double the prior estimate.
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Qafac to launch world’s largest CO2 capture facility on Feb 9
atar Fuel Additives
Company (Qafac) will
formally launch the
world’s largest commercialscale carbon dioxide (CO2)
capture facility on February 9.
The state-of-the-art plant
in Mesaieed is capable of
recovering and reprocessing about 500 tonnes of carbon dioxide a day, which will
be a major “environmental
achievement” for Qatar’s energy sector.
The facility will capture carbon dioxide from combustion
exhaust gas emitted from the
methanol reformer process,
and inject it into its existing
methanol plant to enhance the
production capacity. As a result, the plant will reprocess
the equivalent of CO2 emitted
from 32,000 cars a year, on a
daily basis. HE the Minister of
Energy and Industry, Dr Mohamed bin Saleh al-Sada, and
Qafac chairman Hamad Rashid
al-Mohannadi will be among
the dignitaries who will attend
the celebrations marking the
formal launch of the Qafac facility at Katara Village on February 9.
On the significant milestone, Qafac chief executive
officer Nasser Jeham al-Kuwari said: “We remain steadfast in achieving the sustainable development goals as
outlined in the Qatar’s National Vision 2030 (QNV 2030) and
Qatar’s National Development
“Through pursuit of excellence in technology and innovation, we are proud to launch
our state-of-the-art carbon
dioxide recovery plant. This
achievement will advance the
country’s development in the
energy sector while providing
a sustainable environment for
future generations to thrive.”
Established in 1991, Qafac
continues to “uphold its mission” to be an international
producer of methanol, its
high-value derivatives and butane sub-products, in a “safe
and environmentally friendly”
Qafac is a joint venture
among Industries Qatar, OPIC
Middle East Corporation, International Octane and LCY
Middle East Corporation.
The Qafac plant is designed
to produce 982,350tonnes
per year of methanol and
610,000tpy of Methyl tertiary
butyl ether (MTBE).
price index
18.3% in
Al-Raisi (third right, front row) and members of the Commercial Bank’s Executive Committee following their strategy meeting in Doha.
Commercial Bank sees
‘substantial growth’ in ’14
ommercial Bank has seen
“substantial growth” across
various business units and
gained market share in vital segments
such as Retail Banking and Enterprise
Banking for SMEs in 2014, Qatar’s first
private bank said after the Executive
Committee strategy meeting here.
The meeting discussed the bank’s
three to five year strategy and reviewed 2014 achievements.
Led by Commercial Bank CEO
Abdulla Saleh al-Raisi, the meeting explored opportunities inherent
within the context of Qatar’s robust
economic growth and focused on local market sectors experiencing rapid
development such as infrastructure,
education, healthcare and telecommunications.
The Executive Committee also reflected on Commercial Bank’s success
in 2014, with growth and significant
improvements on several key financial
indicators despite a fiercely competitive market.
Al-Raisi said, “Commercial Bank
performed strongly in 2014 and I
would like to thank the Executive
Committee and all our staff for their
notable contributions to a successful
year. Commercial Bank’s Executive
Committee meetings are important
for the coherent and efficient implementation of our strategy across all
business units to maximise opportunities for the current year and the
medium term. As a Qatari bank, Commercial Bank will continue to support the development of the economy
and the National Vision 2030 across
all our business units, from financing large-scale projects to supporting
Commercial Bank has a range of
diverse business units and regular Executive Committee strategy meetings
allow these units to collectively work
together to assist the overall growth of
the Bank in a unified and effective way.
The meetings provide an opportunity for the entire full executive team
to share updates on recent performance, identify business opportunities
and debate emerging issues.
Made in Qatar exhibition to be held from May 19 to 22
The “Made in Qatar” exhibition will be
held from May 19 to 22 at the Doha
Exhibition Centre, with free stalls of
space up to12 sqm for local producers
and manufactures, Qatar Chamber
(QC) said here yesterday.
The 4th edition of the exhibition
is being organised by the Qatar
Chamber under the patronage of HH
the Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad
al-Thani, and in co-operation with the
Ministry of Energy and Industry.
QC will provide local industrial
companies free stalls of up to12 sqm,
which, however, can be extended
when needed to display their locally
made products.
“The exhibition is aimed at
attracting more investments in the
manufacturing sectors and boost the
locally produced products to ease
dependency on imported items. It
would be also a good opportunity
to encourage local companies to do
their best to improve and develop
their products, which would in turn
Sheikh Khalifa (centre) and others at the press conference. Right: The logo of ‘Made in Qatar’ exhibition.
make Qatari products able to be more
competitive globally,” QC said.
“Throughout the previous three years,
the ‘Made in Qatar’ exhibition has
gained a special importance and it’s
a good model of collaboration with
other entities in the country that we
hope to be emulated by other,” said
Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani,
QC chairman. He also thanked Qatar
Tourism Authority (QTA) and Qatar
Development Bank for their great
support to make the previous three
editions of the exhibition a great
success. He stressed that with the
falling oil prices, the need for more
and diversified economic alternatives
has become more pressing. Small- and
medium-sized projects could be an
ideal option in this respect, he pointed
On the sidelines of the exhibition, a
market for the sale of Qatari products
will be held, where local companies
only would be allowed sell their
products to the visitors.
Sheikh Khalifa further affirmed that
QC would assume its responsibility
in boosting local production and
trade and encourage Qatari business
community to invest more in this vital
and important sector.
ersistent weakness in crude oil
painted a gloomy picture for domestic producers in Qatar with
the country’s producer price index
(PPI) plummeting 18.3% year-on-year
(y-o-y) in November 20014, according
to official figures.
Substantial fall in the price of
crude, refined petroleum products,
basic chemicals and utilities dragged
the PPI for the industrial sector,
which is calculated using the average of 2006 prices as base. The latest
figures were yesterday released by the
Ministry of Development Planning
and Statistics.
The PPI, which measures average
changes in prices received by domestic producers for their output, fell 5.3%
against October 2014 on lower prices
for refined petroleum goods, basic
chemicals and crude.
The PPI for mining, which carries
the maximum weight of 77% in the
basket, tanked 19.8% y-o-y in November due to a similar decline in the
price of crude petroleum and natural
gas; while that of stone, sand and clay
was up 0.4%.
The mining sector PPI reported 5.1%
shrinkage month-on-month due to a
similar fall in the prices of crude petroleum and natural gas.
The manufacturing sector, with a
weight of 21% in the PPI basket, reported 13.3% plunge y-o-y in November 2014, explained by a 18.9%
decline in the price of refined petroleum goods, 7.4% in basic chemicals
and 1% in beverages; whereas dairy
products became costlier by 5.3%,
basic metals by 1.6%, grain mill and
other products by 0.6% and cement
and other non-metallic products by
The manufacturing sector witnessed 7% decline on account of 8.9%
fall in the price of refined petroleum
products, 7.3% in basic chemicals,
1.9% in cement and other non-metallic products and 0.1% in dairy products.
The electricity and water group,
which has a 2% weight in the PPI basket, saw its index fall 2.9% y-o-y in
November with electricity and water
prices falling 3.8% and 1.5% respectively.
The index had, however, risen 1.8%
against the previous month mainly on
2.9% increase in the price of electricity.
Qatar Airways chosen ‘Business Airline of the Year’ at UK Business Travel Awards
atar Airways has been
awarded ‘Business Airline
of the Year’ for the second
consecutive year at the UK Business Travel Awards 2015 held in
London last week.
The 20th annual Business
Travel Awards, hosted by Buying
Business Travel, celebrated the
achievements of travel industry leaders. Over 70 companies,
teams and individuals were shortlisted across 21 categories.
In May 2014, Qatar Airways became the first carrier to fly an allBusiness Class service from London Heathrow. The daily Airbus
A319 service to Doha is configured
with a single aisle, 2-2 seating
configuration offering 40 seats.
The service departs from Terminal 4 at 21:55, arriving into
Doha at 6.40am the following day.
The A319 Business Class seat has
one of the highest specifications
for business class travel of any
airline with wide seats that recline
into fully flat beds.
Also in May, Qatar Airways
moved to its new home and hub,
Hamad International Airport, the
aviation industry’s latest greenfield airport showcasing marked
features, including the acclaimed
10,000sqm Al Mourjan Business
Class lounge.
Qatar Airways Group chief executive Akbar al-Baker, said: “It
has been an incredible year for
Qatar Airways, with not only a
number of new routes but the
expansion of our fleet to include
the A350 and A380, both of which
represent the latest in aviation
engineering and technology. This
award reiterates the quality of our
renowned 5-star service and it
is an honour to have been recognised in this category again.”
The airline celebrated a dramatic increase to its fleet in 2014,
taking delivery of three new aircraft types: the A319 all-Business
Class; the Airbus A380, and was
the Global Launch Customer of
the A350.
In addition to the 80 A350s
it has on order, the airline has a
current Airbus fleet comprising of the A320, A330 Freighter,
A319LR, A321, A330, A340 and
A380 families.
With a modern fleet of 146
aircraft, Qatar Airways connects
businesses and travellers to more
than 146 destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia
Pacific and The Americas.
In the past 12 months Qatar
Airways has welcomed its first
A380 to its fleet, followed by its
first A350 as the global launch
customer and begun services between Heathrow and Doha on an
all-Business Class A319 aircraft.
In 2014, Qatar Airways also
launched services to Sharjah International Airport, Al Maktoum
International Airport, Dubai
World Central, UAE; Philadelphia, US; Larnaca, Cyprus; Sabiha
Gokcen, Istanbul; Edinburgh, UK;
Miami International Airport and
Dallas Fort Worth, US.
From May this year, Qatar Airways will operate 63 direct services a week from the UK to Doha,
with 42 from Heathrow, seven
from Edinburgh and a further 14
departing from Manchester.
Qatar Airways country manager UK & Ireland Richard Oliver receiving the ‘Business Airline of the Year’ award on behalf of the airline.
TENNIS | Page 5
NBA | Page 8
with ease
Kobe Bryant
set for
Korean star
Park ‘shocked’
by failed
dope test
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Rabia II 8, 1436 AH
Qatar 2015 ‘huge step’ for country: Sheikha Asmaa
ith the Preliminary Round
and Eighth-Finals finished, Qatar 2015 has already had its fair share of
Qatar 2015 threw-off not only with a
win for the hosts but with a spectacular
opening ceremony at the Lusail Multipurpose Hall featuring breath-taking
lighting displays, the Qatar Army Military Sport Parachute Team, fireworks, a
live performance of the official song of
the Championship ‘Live It’ by 24 artists
representing each of the participating
countries, and much more.
“Timing – making sure things happening on time,” replies Sheikha Asmaa
Thani al-Thani, Head of Marketing and
Communications, when asked if there
were any challenges during the ceremony. “It was just these little things
that happen at the last minute, but we
were all ready for it.
“Throughout the whole ceremony, we
were micro-scanning every move, every
single segment that took place to make
sure we were working to plan and on the
right track. It was great for me to see the
long hours and the hard work come to
life. But to tell you the truth, what was
more amazing for me was to see people’s
smiling faces during the ceremony; it was
an unforgettable experience.”
Yet, it is not all bright lights and fireworks for Sheikha Asmaa. She is quick
to praise her team: 45 people spread
across three venues and one main office, who work “24 hours, with a little
rest to keep going”. They are responsible
for ticketing, branding, sport presentation, shows, fan zones, entertainment
and everything else that completes the
Qatar 2015 ‘experience’ for the fans.
“We didn’t want to go through the
traditional marketing and promotional
ways to attract people to come to the
Championship. We wanted it to be
something for the long-term, a legacy
that we could draw upon for future
events,” explains Sheikha Asmaa.
Part of the marketing and promotion
included developing the Qatar 2015
mascot, Fahed, who Sheikha Asmaa
describes as the “cheeky little kid within all of us - a leader in his own nature”.
Fahed has been the focal point of
the Qatar 2015 Education Programme,
which worked with 53 schools in Qatar.
“It was very important to get the community involved and to engage children
to whom the Championship has been
dedicated to,” she explains.
Sheikha Asmaa Thani al-Thani, head of Marketing and Communications Qatar 2015.
“By community, we mean everyone
living in Qatar. We already have the
handball community but we also have
a wider range of people who might not
have experienced the game before,
yet they might be interested about the
championship or they might be interested to support their team.
“We didn’t want to use a traditional
campaign that just tells people to go buy
their tickets. We wanted people to show
their support for their teams, to show
how proud they are of their nations and
that was where Fahed stepped in.”
“We travelled around different
schools with Fahed and introduced
handball to the children. We created
mini-tournaments and competitions
where each school was given one of the
participating countries to represent
and compete with.
“We wanted to create a cross-cultural engagement with children. We
wanted them to learn more about the
24 participating countries. It was spectacular to see Qatari kids supporting
different teams in addition to the Qatari team. We had different schools who
actually wanted to attend the games for
the teams they learnt about,” she said.
One of the most satisfying aspects of
the Championship so far has been the diverse mix of spectators in the crowds and
Qatar 2015’s success in reaching out to
families and young people in particular.
“We’ve had everyone at the venues –
mums, dads, kids and grandparents. It’s
been great to have such a multicultural
mix of people enjoying the matches together. It’s created a wonderful atmosphere for everyone.
“Seeing the range of people who’ve
attended the games gives us a lot of
optimism for the future. Qatar loves
sport, and we’ve shown that when we
host these events, people will come and
cheer – particularly the children, who
will be the fans of the future.”
Many of the visiting fans have been
surprised and delighted by the range of
performers who have appeared during
the Championship. From the ‘Live It’
signers on the opening night, to popular Arab artists such as Kadim al-Sahir
and Fahad al-Kubaisi, and through to
internationally-renowned acts Pharrell
Williams and Gwen Stefani, the Organ-
ising Committee has arranged a run of
incredible “surprises” for fans.
“Once the singers knew that the
ticket sales were going to “Educate a
Child,” a charity that helps educate kids
around the world, they were more than
happy to be part of the Championship.”
For Sheikha Asmaa, the whole experience has been a great opportunity to
show that Qatar can organise worldclass events, and a chance for everyone
to develop their professional skills.
“Working together as a team, we’ve
been able to achieve wonders over the
past few months, and the results have
shone through at the Championship. I
think we’ve all learned from each other,
and grown and developed together,” she
So, following such a grand opening
ceremony, how can Sheikha Asmaa and
her team top that experience when Qatar 2015 closes on Sunday?
“Before the closing ceremony, we
may have a couple more surprises,” she
says with a smile. “However, the closing ceremony is our last opportunity to
make sure people leave with a positive
impression, both locally and internationally, so we are planning something
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Proud Qatar
hungry for success
against Germany
It’s the character
that counts, says
Croatian veteran
Igor Vori
‘We are all proud of what we have achieved so far’
Croatian player Igor Vori (left) in action against Brazil in Doha on
Sunday. (EPA)
Qatar is only the second Asian team ever to reach the quarter-finals of the handball Worlds after South Korea in 1997; (below) Qatar coach Valero Rivera. PICTURES: Anas Khalid
By Yash Mudgal
osts Qatar need to master the
art of overcoming the odds as
they lock horns with former
champions Germany in the
quarterfinals of the 24th Men’s World
Handball Championship at the Lusail
Multipurpose Hall today.
Victory over Austria in the prequarterfinals and a superb show in the
group matches must have rejuvenated
the Asian Games champions as they are
keen to see off the strong German side,
which only made it to the championships via a wildcard, in order to make
their maiden semifinals entry in the
The 2007 world champions Germany had initially failed to qualify for this
year’s tournament but were given a reprieve after the Oceania region failed to
send a team.
Germany is one of just five unbeaten
teams left in the competition, along with
Spain, France, Croatia and Denmark,
while Qatar is the last non-European
team in the competition.
Guided by coach Valero Rivera, Qatar
has lost only once in the championship
— a close affair against defending champions Spain.
Qatar defenders would need to keep
their nerves to stay unruffled till the end
against Germans, who are capable of
forcing their way into the rival half at an
alarming pace with amazing consistency.
Germany’s 30-year-old keeper Carsten
Lichtlein, who was adjudged man-ofthe-match after an inspired display
against Egypt in the pre-quarterfinals,
will test the hosts’ attack.
However, the Germans admit that it
will be difficult to beat Rivera boys in
front of a huge excited crowd.
“The Qatar fans will be even louder than
the Egyptian fans. I hope that we take the
lead very fast so that the superiority of the
other fans won’t be a decisive factor,” said
German team captain Uwe Gensheimer.
Since winning the 2007 World Championship on home ground, his team never
made it to world championship’s last four
Qatar have already reached their main
goal of finishing among the best 16 teams,
their best finish at the world championships, but backed by their fans and fantastic goalkeepers Danjel Saric and Goran
Stojanovic, the hosts hope to continue
flying on the wings of success.
“We are all proud of what we have
achieved so far. It is a tournament that
will always be remembered. Now we want
to go on fighting with the same hunger
against Germany also,” said Qatar’s top
scorer (49 goals) Zarko Markovic, who
stands second in the overall scorers’ tally.
After the victory over Austria in pre-
quarters, Qatar’s coach Valero Rivera said
the result made him “very happy for all
the people of Qatar”.
Asked which team he would prefer to
face in the last eight, Germany or Egypt,
Rivera said he had no preference but
would concentrate on his own team.
“Qatar is doing well so far. You have to
have a good team to reach the quarterfinals. I believe the chances are 50-50 and
hopefully we will be the winners,” Germany’s right back Steffen Weinhold said.
Qatar is the second Asian team to reach
world championships quarterfinals after
South Korea (in 1997) and will be meeting
Germany for the first time in an international competition.
Defending champions Spain will take
on twice runners-up Denmark at Lusail,
while at Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiya Arena
Olympic champions France will meet
Slovenia and Poland will lock horns with
At Lusail Multipurpose Hall
6:30pm: Qatar vs Germany
9pm: Denmark vs Spain
At Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiya Arena
6:30pm: Croatia vs Poland
9pm: Slovenia vs France
hen Croatia won its
only world title after
back in 2003 in Portugal, Igor Vori was already on
the court. When the Croats battle Poland for a semi-final spot at
the 24th Men’s Handball World
Championship in Qatar a dozen
years later, the 34-year-old line
player is still part of the squad as
the “last survivor” of the “Golden Generation”.
After gaining his biggest club
level success ever by winning the
EHF Champions League in June
2013 with HSV Hamburg, Vori
took his fifth individual “country
point” by transferring to French
champions PSG Paris after playing in Croatia (RK Zagreb), Italy
(Conversano), Spain (FC Barcelona) and Germany (Hamburg).
And despite becoming world
champion in 2003 and Olympic
champions in 2004, Vori is still
missing one major medal: gold
from the European championship.
Since Slovenia hosted the continental championship in 2004,
the Croats (along with Vori) have
advanced to the Euro semi-finals
and for three World Championship semis (2005, 2009, 2013),
but never celebrated later on the
winners’ podium.
After their lucky eighth-final
win on Sunday against Brazil,
Vori talked about his expectations in Doha and his future.
Did you expect such a close
eighth-final against Brazil?
Igor Vori: Yes, it was a really
tough job, but in the end it was
an awesome feeling to celebrate
the victory. We have made it,
that’s all that counts after a really strange match. We missed
so many chances, we failed four
times from the penalty line, but
in the end we were through to the
next round.
But winning matches like
those often end in trophies.
IV: Yes, indeed. On dark days
the true character of a team appears. And we showed character,
we acted as a team in the crucial
moments, we have the experience to finish even a weak match
What are your expectations
for the quarter-final?
IV: We will face a tough opponent, this is for sure. But we have
this great objective in our heads
to make it to another semi-final, to get closer to the Olympic
Games, to fight for a medal.
Croatia have won all six
matches in Qatar – how many
more victories will follow?
IV: (Smiling) It’s three, or? I hope
for three yes. But in this tournament anything can happen.
So how high do you estimate
the chances to be part of the
Olympic handball tournament in Rio de Janeiro?
IV: I have no idea at the moment. We are in Qatar, we have
a quarter-final ahead, so I think
that it’s too early to start talking
about Rio.
Zorman wants to pay respect to his country and jersey
ack in 2004, Slovenia hosted
the 6th Men’s European Handball Championship and managed to reach the final, where
they lost 30-25 to Germany. This has
been and still is a historical moment for
the whole country having never managed to reach the podium before this in
any major handball event.
Because of this monumental medal,
and, in addition to the fourth place they
got at the 2013 World Championship
in Zaragoza, Slovenian handball has
been the breadwinner for team sports
in Slovenia. Thus their celebrations and
how they spoke about what it means to
them and their country to beat FYRO
Macedonia (30-28) are reasonable.
While entering the mixed zone, Uros
Zorman howled, “Come on, how could
I stay cool, after such a great victory? It
was the most important game up until
now and it has opened our path to the
quarter-finals. It is all about redemption which we were searching for after
a couple of bad games like our losses to
Qatar and to Spain, and also we wanted
to get over the negative comments from
the media.”
The Slovenian centre back who
turned 35 in January is the long-time
teammate of Vid Kavticnik and Gorazd
Skof; they are the only three survivors from that 2004 team. Four games
away from reaching 200 international
caps, Zorman is the captain of the team
and has a special reason to play at full
strength. “As a captain I don’t have
the right to deny my responsibilities,”
he said. “I was feeling guilty about our
performances here and I had the duty
to play better and lead my teammates.
Fortunately, it has worked out and I am
very happy and proud of what we have
done here today.”
Not only Zorman, who is now playing for KS Vive Targi Kielce in Poland,
but the whole team was playing under
huge pressure before this “do-or-die”
match against Macedonia.
“For various reasons we had lots of
pressure and this affected our performance. Maybe we feared something; I
don’t know what that was exactly. The
day before the game we all sat together
at the hotel and had a long conversation
about what we were going to be facing.
It was an extremely useful talk which
helped us to play much better and make
it to the quarter-finals.”
Apart from the tactics, the quality and the experience of their side,
Zorman believes that they had other
“weapons” at their disposal in this
crucial battle against Macedonia. “Hot
hearts, clear minds, fighting spirits,
good egoism and pride all helped us
and they came from deep inside of us. I
would say that rather than being a team
victory, it was a family victory!”
From the tactical point of view, Zorman pointed out that “we played a
very effective defence, scored with fast
breaks and since we are a short team,
we got great help from the previously
injured Klemen Cehte, who is a very
good shooter from the back court and
has recently come back into the team”.
After beating FYRO Macedonia, the
Slovenians are looking forward to playing France.
“We have accomplished our first objective, to play in the quarter-finals, but
this is not enough. Probably France will
be the team to beat and I strongly believe that we can give them a surprise.
Right now our self-confidence and optimism are at the highest point. We feel
that we can enter the court and fly.”
After all, Zorman feels that he needs to
pay respect not only to his 16-year career
with the national team, but to his jersey number as well. The so-called “Zut”
wears number 23, “so I can stand next to
Michael Jordan, Lebron James and David
Beckham” he said with a laugh.
Slovenia’s Uros Zorman in action against Macedonia during their Eighth-Final match in Doha on Sunday. (AFP)
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Czechs lift President’s
Cup in shootout thriller
‘It was a really interesting and dramatic game. I think we were a little bit luckier’
By Yash Mudgal
he Czech Republic won the President’s
Cup after defeating Belarus 32-31 in the
final at Duhail Sports Complex yesterday.
The match was only decided in a
shootout, as both the teams had ended regulation
time at 28-all.
With the victory, the Czechs finished 17th
in the overall ranking at the 24th Men’s World
Handball Championship.
“It was a really interesting and dramatic game.
I think we were a little bit luckier,” Czech Republic coach Jan Filip said.
Belarus started with a 5-1 defence, pushing
left wing Ivan Brouka forward to the right side,
almost in a man-to-man formation against the
Czech left back Pavel Horak.
It was the Czech Republic who got the better
start going ahead 3-1, 4-2 and 6-3.
Belarus managed to catch up at (6-6) mainly
due to four goals from Siarhei Rutenka.
It was Rutenka who also benefited from a penalty shot taking the Belarusians into lead at 7-6 a
few minutes later.
Belarus went two up at 8-6 and 9-7, but despite Rutenka’s eight goals in the first half alone,
the Czechs got back into the driver’s seat and
went ahead by two again.
At half-time, the Czech Republic were leading
by one (14-13).
In the second half, Brouka moved further towards the centre of the court, but that did not
stop the Czechs from going three goals ahead.
Even as Rutenka’s scoring frequency went
down — he even missed two penalty shots — Belarus kept fighting back.
In the last 15 minutes, there was never more
than one goal separating the two teams. And
when it came to the shootout, the Czechs scored
four out of five attempts from the seven-meter
spot, while Belarus only managed to score thrice.
Rutenka was the top-scorer for Belarus in
the match with 12 goals, while Filip Jicha, Jakub
Hrstka and Ondrej Zdrahala scored six each for
the Czech Republic.
“I am happy because I helped my team to win
a trophy, but I don’t feel like a hero. I have to remind everybody that my teammate Martin Galia
made three extraordinary saves during the regular match. Both of us made our contributions,”
Czech goalkeeper Petr Stochl said.
“For me it was the best world championship
ever. I really enjoyed it. I have never experienced
such high quality of services. You could call it an
Olympic-style organisation. I would like to thank
the people of Qatar 2015 for all they have provided us with over the past few weeks and months,”
Belarus’ left back Rutenka said.
In the earlier match, Russia defeated Bosnia
and Herzegovina 42-28 to finish 19th and Iran
finished in 21st spot after defeating Saudi Arabia
“I see a bright future for handball in my country. We showed that we have the talent to progress
and we are looking forward to taking part at other
major international events,” Saudi Arabia’s left
back Mohamed Alzaer said.
Chile defeated Algeria 30-28 to clinch their
third-ever win in history of world championship
to finish in 23rd place.
Jason Derulo
is the latest
music star to
perform at
Qatar 2015
Doha: The Qatar 2015
Organising Committee has
announced that American
singer-songwriter Jason
Derulo is the next big act
to hit the stage as part of
the post-match entertainment lined up at the 24th
Men’s Handball World
The performance is set
to take place today at the
Lusail Multipurpose Hall
following the final match
of the evening between
Denmark and Spain at 9pm
and is free for all match
ticket holders. For those
without tickets, venue
passes for the performance can be purchased, at
the ticket box office, from
8pm onwards, based on
available seating for the
The Florida-born artist has
sold over 30 million copies
as a solo recording artist
and has produced records
and written songs for several others as well. He has
achieved six Top 5 singles
which include his popular
debut single ‘Whatcha Say’.
Derulo’s performance is
the latest in an amazing
line-up of regional and
international artists that
have delighted handball
fans with their performances at the 24th Men’s
Handball World Championship.
Czech Republic players celebrate with the winner’s trophy after beating Belarus in the President’s Cup final in a penalty shootout in Doha yesterday. (EPA)
Czech player Filip Jicha receives the President’s Cup trophy from IHF president Dr. Hassan
Moustafa after winning the final against Belarus at the Duhail Handball Sports Hall. (EPA)
Germany’s Drux is a star to watch out for
Czech Republic goalkeeper Petr Stochl receives the man of the
match award yesterday. (EPA)
Tonino Lamborghini Lounge launches at Qatar 2015
he French may have brought three of
their 2001 world champions (Daniel
Narcisse, Jerome Fernandez and Thierry Omeyer) to Doha, but one can
barely find a player from the 2007 gold medal-winning German team: the lone exception
is then back-up goalkeeper Carsten Lichtlein.
The Germans opted to invest in a new generation of players and fielded a renewed team
which hit the headlines with their impressive
group stage run.
One of the players who surprised the specialists with his performance during the
opening stage was 19-year-old Paul Drux, the
youngest member of the nationalmannschaft.
The Fuchse Berlin left back was Dagur Sigurdsson’s regular choice, staying on the court
for almost three hours in the first five games,
fourth among the Germans. He found the net
nine times and served six assists. Everyone
who saw the youngster from Gummersbach
in action offered words of praise for his talent
and potential.
Drux began playing handball at age five in
SSV Marienheide, joined giants VfL Gummersbach in 2007 and made a huge leap in
2011 when he signed a contract with Berlin’s
Following his heroics with Germany’s
youth team which won gold at the 2012 European Championship and a DHB Cup with
Fuchse, he surprisingly received a call-up by
Sigurdsson for the first time last September
for a friendly game against Switzerland, after
only 21 Bundesliga appearances to his tally.
“I was surprised as well, I didn’t expect to
play that soon for the national team,” Drux
admits. “I said to myself though, ‘here is your
chance’, and I promise do my best to help our
national team rise again.”
Drux, who studies industrial engineering,
believes that there is life besides sports and
Paul Drux (left) of Germany attempts to score past of Mahmoud Khalil of Egypt during their
round of 16 match in Doha on Monday. (Reuters)
holds that although handball at that level is
very demanding and competitive, one will
never enjoy it if he never tries to discover its
joyous side as well.
Germany’s mostly young players are surely
having the time of their life in Doha and enjoying early success, although few expected
them to reach that level of play.
“I don’t know what people believed, but we
came here counting that we would definitely
beat Argentina and Saudi Arabia and that we
would have serious chances to defeat Russia
and Poland. The game in which we pushed
ourselves beyond our limits was that against
After four wins and a draw at the group stage,
Drux is longing for the start of the next challenge, the knock-out games.
“I feel really excited with what I have seen so
far. I will try my best to help my team progress
and reach the highest possible ranking.”
The first obstacle for Germany at the
knock-out stage were the Pharaohs, who despite finishing fourth in their group, held off
Sweden and had a large contingent of fans
cheering for them every game. Germany got
past them 23-16 to set up a clash with hosts
Qatar in the quarter-finals.
GulfSTAR Group of companies - exclusive
dealers for Tonino Lamborghini Officina Gastronomica luxury products, Italy, in Qatar and
the UAE - as official sponsors of the 24thMen’s
World Handball Championship Qatar 2015,
introduced the exclusive Tonino Lamborghini
Lounge at the event through STAR Hospitality
(a subsidiary of the GulfSTAR Group).
The prototype and Premium Lounge are located in the VIP areas at the three stadia.
“The launch of the Lounges for us is very timely
considering the 24th Men’s World Handball
Championship is the first ever world sporting
event to be hosted in Qatar after the World Cup
announcement,” said Naveed Abdulla, business
director of GulfSTAR Group.
The Lounges have been well received by
participants, spectators and VIPs alike and have
their own Italian baristas, Italian service crew,
products and merchandise of Tonino Lamborghini on display.
“With the success of the Lounge, the GulfSTAR
Group hopes to introduce this luxury concept
to Qatar and the UAE, partnering with different
hotels,” said Abdulla.
GulfSTAR Group subsidiary Doha Rocks Cafe
(DRC), which recently celebrated its 40th
anniversary in Qatar, was also present at the
Handball Championship with nine DRC outlets
– one in each stadium, and six outlets in the
fanzone – providing international as well as
Arabic healthy cuisine to fans at the event. “Our
aim is to continue supporting sporting events
in Qatar and in keeping with this, over the last
two years Doha Rocks has signed contracts
with several internationally recognized brands
to introduce new and notable products to all
our clients,” said Abdulla.
Doha Rocks Café is associated with many of the
sporting events in Qatar, including the IHF 2014
Super Globe Qatar, the 2014 Qatar National
Sports Day celebration at Aspire Park, the
Female University Football tournament 2014,
the Middle East Shuttle Badminton tournament
2014, the Gulf Cricket tournament 2014 and the
Rugby Ramadan League 2014.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Berdych ends his
eight-year losing
run to stun Nadal
Nadal disappointed
with exit but content
with his comeback
‘We set up the right tactics. Then I was able to execute that on the court. That’s what
I’m really happy about... I need to look forward. The tournament is still long way to go’
Rafael Nadal reacts after losing to Tomas Berdych yesterday.
Czech Republic’s Tomas Berdych celebrates after victory in his men’s singles match against Spain’s Rafael Nadal on day nine of the 2015 Australian Open in Melbourne.
zech Tomas Berdych ended a demoralising run of outs to dump
a struggling Rafael Nadal out of
the Australian Open in a straight
sets triumph to reach the semi-finals
The seventh seed finally mastered the
Spanish 14-time Grand Slam champion
6-2, 6-0, 7-6 (7/5) in 2hr 13min and will
face Britain’s Andy Murray for a place in
the final.
It ended a record-equalling 17-match
winning run Nadal had over Berdych,
who claimed his second consecutive
semi-final appearance in Melbourne after losing to Stan Wawrinka last year.
Only Bjorn Borg over Vitas Gerulaitis
and Ivan Lendl against Tim Mayotte had
chalked up 17-match head-to-head winning streaks on the ATP Tour.
“I was definitely ready for it and set up
my plan pretty well and I stuck with that
through those three sets,” Berdych said.
“I was expecting a very tough battle
but I was ready for everything and I think
that was the biggest thing from the past
matches with Rafa.
“I started pretty well, but you are playing Rafa and you have to keep going until
the last point.”
Nadal’s miserable performance was
just statistically better than his worst
Grand Slam result. He won only eight
games, two more than the six games
he took off Juan Martin del Potro in the
semi-final at the 2009 US Open.
The world number three also failed to
win a game in the second set for his first
‘bagel’ at a Grand Slam since against
Roger Federer in the 2006 Wimbledon
final and Andy Roddick in the second
round at the 2004 US Open.
It was a big start to the new season for
Berdych and his new coach Dani Vallverdu, who formerly was part of the Andy
Murray team.
“We set up the right tactics. Then I was
able to execute that on the court. That’s
Collated Results
Collated results from day nine of the
Australian Open at Melbourne Park
Tomas Berdych (CZE x7) bt Rafael
Nadal (ESP x3) 6-2, 6-0, 7-6 (7/5)
Andy Murray (GBR x6) bt Nick Kyrgios
(AUS) 6-3, 7-6 (7/5), 6-3
Ekaterina Makarova (RUS x10) bt
Simona Halep (ROU x3) 6-4, 6-0
Maria Sharapova (RUS x2) bt Eugenie
Bouchard (CAN x7) 6-3, 6-2
what I’m really happy about,” said Berdych, who hit 46 winners and won 82
percent of his first serves.
“I was playing a really good game. But
I just need to look forward. The tourna-
ment is still long way to go.”
Nadal, who won the Australian title in
2009 and was a beaten finalist last year,
looked out of sorts and his serve was broken five times to fall behind two sets to love.
Berdych swooped on the misfiring
Spaniard, reeling off a backhand return
winner for the second set after just one
hour on court.
Nadal lost nine straight games before
he held service in the second game of the
third set, with plenty of concerned looks
in his player box courtside as the errors
kept flowing off his racquet.
“I am feeling okay, it was just not my
day. I didn’t play with the right intensity,
with the right rhythm, and the opponent
played better than me,” Nadal said.
“I helped him a lot in the beginning.
It’s easier to play well when you are up
in the score, one break up, two breaks up
from the beginning of every set. That’s a
big deal, big difference.”
Nadal competed more in the third set
which went to a tiebreaker but Berdych’s
sledgehammer forehand was decisive.
fourth-round thrashing of big-serving South
African Kevin Anderson
had given Rafa Nadal
hope he might be back to his best,
but the Spaniard’s limited preparations came back to haunt him
against Tomas Berdych at the Australian Open yesterday.
The rangy Czech played majestically to reach his second
semi-final at Melbourne Park,
upsetting Nadal 6-2 6-0 7-6(5)
to snap a record 17-match losing streak against the 14-times
grand slam champion.
Nadal battled hard to keep in
touch in the third set and nervelessly saved two match-points to
take the decider into a tiebreak.
But the horse had well and truly bolted when Berdych wrapped
up the first two sets in a breathtaking hour of clean hitting.
“The third was the right set,
the right game that I have to play.
But it is obvious that before I
didn’t play with the right confidence, with the right intensity,
losing court, playing very short,”
Nadal told reporters.
“I make him play very easy. So
you cannot expect to win matches in quarter-finals of grand
slams helping the opponent to
play well. That’s what I did.”
Nadal played only seven
matches in the second half of
2014 after being dumped out of
Wimbledon by Australian teenager Nick Kyrgios as he struggled
to recover from a wrist injury and
then appendicitis.
His one lead-up match to his
four at Melbourne Park was a
first-round loss to German journeyman Michael Berrer at the
Qatar Open.
Following a straight sets
win over first-round opponent
Mikhail Youzhny, Nadal suffered heavy cramping in his body
against American Tim Smyczek,
needing to summon every ounce
of his will to get through the fivesetter.
Against Berdych, he appeared
to be troubled by a leg problem
early and was seen taking a pill in
the third set.
He refused to blame fitness
problems for his slow start, however, with the Czech having kept
him pinned behind the baseline
and outpointed with a series of
imperious winners.
“As I said when I arrived here,
the process always is not easy,”
said Nadal, who wrote off his
chances of winning the tournament in the leadup.
“When you have injuries, it’s
difficult the comebacks. There
are so many examples around
the world of sport that have been
tough to be back.
“For me, I’m not an exception
on that, no? I have to take the
positive things. Without being at
my top level of tennis I was able
to be here in quarterfinals.
“It’s not a bad result at all for
me arriving here the way I arrived: only with one match,
only with five matches in seven
months. So taking the positive
part, that’s the thing that I have
to take.”
Kyrgios bows out
with good memories
Calm Murray ends Kyrgios run
ndy Murray’s used his
greater experience to
master exciting Australian teenager Nick
Kyrgios and reach the Australian Open semi-finals yesterday, with the Scot content with
where his game is at.
The British sixth seed, a
three-time runner-up, downed
the unseeded 19-year-old 6-3,
7-6 (7/5), 6-3 in 2hr 5min and
will face seventh seed Czech Tomas Berdych for a place in Sunday’s final.
The Scot was far too composed and steady for the mercurial Kyrgios and took his record
over Australian players to 11-0
before a partisan home crowd.
Murray grabbed three service breaks and only conceded a
service break deep in the final set
to underline his dominance over
the 53rd-ranked Kyrgios.
He hit 48 winners and just 28
unforced errors, while serving 13
Andy Murray of Britain celebrates his victory over Nick Kyrgios of
Australia in their men’s singles match on day nine.
aces and winning 80 percent of
his first serves.
Kyrgios played at his usual
high tempo and made 38 errors,
22 of them off his forehand, while
winning 65 percent first serves.
“It was a tricky match in
windy conditions and I tried to
start as quickly as possible because I know how dangerous
Nick is,” Murray said.
“Against Nick he is a huge
hitter of the ball so I tried to
keep it out of his strike zone
as much as possible, but in the
wind if you can use the slice and
keep the ball low it is difficult to
“I played a slightly different
style tonight and thankfully it
Murray reached the semifinals of the Australian Open for
the fifth time where he will take
on Berdych, who holds a 6-4
winning record over the Scot.
“It’s nice to be in the latter
stages of a slam again,” Murray
“I’m happy with that. All you
can do is prepare as best you can,
which I certainly did over the
last few weeks and months, and
have given myself an opportunity.”
Murray, who also dealt with
the enormous pressure of home
expectation when he was a
younger player, spoke highly of
“I’ve spent a little bit of time
with him and I think he’s a good
person,” Murray said.
“I don’t think he’s a bad guy.
He’s nice. He’s always been polite and respectful.
“Maybe he does the odd thing
on the court that might annoy
some people, but I don’t think he
does anything with bad intent.
“He’s only going to continue
to mature and improve in that
respect as he gets older. He just
needs to be allowed to grow up.
Everyone makes mistakes when
they’re that age.”
Kyrgios, who received a code
violation warning from the chair
umpire for an audible obscenity
in the eighth game of the opening set, relished the chance to
play on the big stage at the Australian Open.
“It was a really good experience. That was my first Aussie
Open Grand Slam match playing
on Rod Laver, so that was really
cool,” Kyrgios said.
eenager Nick Kyrgios
bowed out of the Australian Open yesterday
having shown further
proof of his prodigious talent but
he leaves Melbourne Park with
three smashed racquets, code
violations and concerns about
his on-court histrionics.
The 19-year-old Australian
was handed a code violation for
an audible obscenity in his 6-3,
7-6(5), 6-3 quarter-final loss
to Andy Murray and was lucky
not to receive another when he
smashed his racquet during the
second set tiebreak.
A second code violation would
have meant a docked point, handing Murray the set, but it went unpunished like a number of transgressions during Kyrgios’s tense
five-set win over Andreas Seppi in
the previous round.
Though officials were slack,
Australian media were less forgiving, criticising the mohawked
player for swearing at fans, abusing linesmen and show-boating
after outrageous shots.
Murray appeared irked by the
Australian at times, and wore a
face of thunder when Kyrgios,
nicknamed ‘Wild Thing’, stuck
his racquet over the net in a mock
attempt to block a smash from
the Scot.
The sixth seed was far more
magnanimous in victory, however, urging the Rod Laver Arena
crowd and Australia, desperate
for a new men’s champion but
intolerant of ‘show-offs’, to cut
the player some slack.
“I actually think he’s quite
respectful on the court in many
ways,” Murray told reporters.
“Yeah, he gets frustrated with
himself and sometimes says
things he shouldn’t, but everyone, I would think, has done that
in some way when they’re 19.
“It just happens that when
he’s doing it he’s playing in front
of a large audience and it gets
picked up on.”
The match against Murray was
a wake-up call for Kyrgios.
“They all have their positives.
Murray, it’s incredible how many
balls he gets back into play,” said
Kyrgios, who upset Rafa Nadal at
Wimbledon last year on the way
to the quarter-finals.
“There were points I’d be winning five times over, he’d be making me play an extra ball. Those
guys are unbelievable athletes.
They’re another level. I think
that’s what stands out most.”
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Sharapova defeats
heir apparent
Bouchard with ease
Bouchard full of
regrets as Grand Slam
chance goes begging
‘I felt pretty good from the start. I kept my focus throughout the whole match’
Eugenie Bouchard reacts during her match against Maria Sharapova.
anadian seventh seed
Eugenie Bouchard admitted she was full of
regrets yesterday after
blowing the chance to make a
Grand Slam statement against
second seed Maria Sharapova at
the Australian Open.
The 20-year-old, hyped as the
rising star of a new generation
destined for glory at the majors,
was seeded seventh at Melbourne
Park but looked outclassed in her
quarter-final against the Russian
five-time Slam champion.
Bouchard lost 6-3, 6-2 in her
fourth straight defeat to Sharapova, including a semi-final loss
at the French open last year.
She went into the match vowing to take the fight to the world
number two but made too many
mistakes going for big winners,
conceding a break in the first
game from which she never recovered.
“I felt under pressure the
whole time, a bit on my back
foot,” she said “I mean, that’s
not how I want to play. I feel like I
didn’t start well, and it kind of all
went downhill from there.
“It’s definitely easier when you
have a good start to the match.”
Bouchard insisted she had
chances to win the match, including two break points in the
first set, but failed to seize them.
“I know I could have done better for sure, so I’m disappointed
with that, with not taking the
few chances I got here and there,”
she said.
“Against great players, you
have to take every little chance
you can get. Disappointed I
couldn’t do better with those.”
Bouchard was the most consistent player at Grand Slams
last year, making the Australian
and French semis along with the
Wimbledon final.
She said her dream of a maiden
Grand Slam was still alive.
“I’m never happy with losing.
I wanted to obviously win today,
win the tournament,” she said.
“I always want to do better, especially than the year before. I’m
always trying to aim for that.”
Russia’s Maria Sharapova celebrates after victory in her women’s singles match against Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard on day nine of the 2015 Australian Open.
ennis’ reigning superstar Maria
Sharapova flicked aside heir apparent Eugenie Bouchard in the
Australian Open quarter-finals
yesterday, hitting peak form as the tournament progresses.
The Russian five-time Grand Slam
champion, seeded second, crushed the Canadian seventh seed 6-3, 6-2 to see off the
challenge from a new generation and sound
a warning to rivals at Melbourne Park.
The win sets up an all-Russian final four clash tomorrow with Ekaterina
Makarova, the 10th seed.
Sharapova, 27, won the Australian title
in 2008 and can seize the world number
one ranking off arch-rival Serena Williams if she repeats the feat this year.
She was never troubled against Bouchard, 20, the photogenic rising star who
has constantly been compared to Shara-
pova and touted as the leading light of a
group of young guns destined for Grand
Slam success
“I felt pretty good from the start. I
thought I had a really good start. I kept
my focus throughout the whole match,”
the Russian said.
“I didn’t feel that I had too many let
downs, which is important. When I did
have a few slips I was able to come out
with great first serves or really powerful returns. Overall really happy with the
way the match went.”
Bouchard conceded an early break in
her quest for big winner and never recovered, admitting: “I didn’t start well
and it kind of all went downhill from
Sharapova said she was steadily improving after surviving a major scare
in the second round, when she was one
point away from an early cab to Melbourne airport.
“Am I happy that I was able to lift my
game after having a couple of matches
where I wasn’t satisfied? Yeah, absolutely,” she said.
“But the toughest is what’s to come. I
hope that I’ll be able to take that and play
even better.”
Sharapova has a 5-0 record over the lefthanded Makarova, whose previous best
results in Australia came when she reached
the quarter-finals in 2012 and 2013.
“I’m also facing an opponent that
wasn’t necessarily a favourite coming
into that stage. That’s always a tricky situation because she’s going to come into
that match free and almost happy to be in
that situation, and that’s dangerous.
“I haven’t faced a lefty in this tournament yet. She’s been using her lefty serve
extremely well from what I’ve seen.”
Sharapova drew first blood against
Bouchard with a break in the opening
game as the Canadian fired a backhand
wide, with the Russian going on to easily
hold serve.
Bouchard, playing her childhood idol,
looked nervous and was in danger of conceding another break when she double
faulted in the fifth game before steadying
and forcing a mistake from Sharapova.
She went into the match vowing to
play her shots and was true to her word,
putting the pressure on with two break
points in the next, only to overcook her
backhand both times and send both
chances long.
Sharapova’s composure never wavered
and she brought up two set points on
Bouchard’s serve at 5-3, hitting the first
in the net but clinching the second when
the Canadian’s attempt to go down the
line went wide.
Bouchard’s error rate continued to
climb as she went for big winners in the
second set and Sharapova seized a decisive break in the fourth game.
The seventh seed never recovered,
burying her head in her hands at the
changeover before her misery ended after
one hour 17 minutes.
Venus Williams of USA celebrates her win against Agnieszka
Radwanska of Poland during the Australian Open at Melbourne Park.
Dark horse Makarova into semis
sitting here and you’re asking
me questions.
“But over there, yeah, I’m
showing my best tennis. That’s
what I’m really love to do and for
what I’m living actually. It’s really enjoyable time out there.”
ustralian Open dark
Makarova of Russia
raced into the semifinals yesterday as opponent
Simona Halep admitted she was
stressed and froze on the big
Makarova, seeded 10, easily overcame the Romanian third
seed 6-4, 6-0 to set up an allRussian final four showdown
with world number two Maria
The 26-year-old has made
the quarter-finals at Melbourne
Park twice previously but never
before advanced to the semis in
seven attempts.
“I love it, it’s a great feeling
that I came through,” she said.
“She’s a tough opponent. I
lost to her two years ago (in New
Haven). I’m used to being in the
quarters, so now I have to get
used to being in the semis.”
Halep, renowned as one of the
Williams sisters look
to turn back clock in
quarter-finals today
Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova celebrates after defeating Romania’s
Simona Halep in their quarter-final match at the Australian Open.
toughest fighters on tour, admitted she froze when it mattered
most, allowing Makarova to
serve up a dreaded 6-0 “bagel”
to the world number three.
In contrast, Makarova said
she was uncomfortable with the
media hype that surrounds some
players but felt at home on centre court.
“I’m not shy on the tennis
court. It’s a big stage,” she said
told reporters. “It’s a different
situation, maybe, to when I’m
Halep made a nightmare start,
trailing 3-0 on the back of two
early breaks, thanks to two double faults and a rash of unforced
She broke back in the fourth
game and had her chances in the
eighth but struggled as the taller
Makarova went for tight angles,
forcing Halep wide of the baseline.
“I was expecting she would hit
more stronger, but she didn’t.
She played very soft tennis today,” Halep said.
“She opened the angles very
well, so was a different game.
She played well. She served very
well. Her lefty slice is not easy to
give the ball back.”
The nuggety Romanian said
she was not herself on court.
“It was not really pressure,
just a little bit stressed. I don’t
know why,” she said.
She survived one set point
with an ace at 5-3 and another
with a blistering forehand return as Makarova served in
the next game, but the Russian
took it on the third attempt after 39 minutes.
Makarova, her right thigh
heavily strapped, showed no sign
of impaired movement, pouncing
on a weak Halep return to pressure her opponent in the opening
game of the second set.
Halep double faulted again,
going on to lose her third service
game of the match.
She again had chances with
four break points in the next
game but Makarova held on
and proceeded to score another
break of her own as Halep’s returns failed to find their mark.
By this stage Halep’s trademark fighting qualities had
deserted her and the world
number three meekly handed
Makarova another break to
concede the match.
erena and Venus Williams will be looking to
turn back the clock almost six years when they
play their quarter-finals at the
Australian Open today.
The American sisters face the
possibility of meeting each other
in a grand slam for the first time
since the 2009 Wimbledon final
if they can first overcome tricky
opponents on Rod Laver Arena,
with Venus having the toughest
The 34-year-old will have to
deal with teenage compatriot
Madison Keys, who is widely
considered one of the cleanest
strikers of a tennis ball in both
the men’s and women’s game.
Keys blasted the hard-hitting
two-times Wimbledon champion
Petra Kvitova off the court in the
third round, with the Czech stating she had been under immense
pressure from the Lindsay Davenport-coached 19-year-old.
“Yeah, definitely some similarities,” Venus said when asked
about the influence Davenport
may be having on Keys. “Madison hits a clean ball, goes for it.
“Lindsay used to hit a clean
ball. She was so fun to watch
play. I loved watching her play. Of
course, didn’t love watching her
hit those clean balls against you.
“So it looks like it’s a good
Serena, who had a shaky start
to her fourth round match with
Garbine Muguruza will need
to be at her best from the start
against last year’s beaten finalist
Dominika Cibulkova, who beat
two-times champion Victoria
Men’s top seed Novak Djokovic, will also be on court in the
last match of the day on Rod
Laver Arena against Canada’s
Milos Raonic.
Djokovic, who is yet to drop
a set during the tournament,
met Raonic three times on tour
last year and during the Davis
Cup with the Serb winning each
Raonic, however, has improved his fitness and Djokovic
said the Canadian’s big serve
would be a concern.
Wawrinka will also face a stiff
challenge against Japan’s Kei
Nishikori in the other match.
Today’s order of play
Order of play on the main
showcourt on day nine of the
Australian Open today
(prefix denotes seeding; play
begins at 0000 GMT).
Rod Laver Arena
Madison Keys (U.S.) v 18-Venus Williams (U.S.)
Not before 0130 1-Serena
Williams (U.S.) v 11-Dominika
Cibulkova (Slovakia)
Not before 0300 4-Stan
Wawrinka (Switzerland) v
5-Kei Nishikori (Japan)
From 0815
1-Novak Djokovic (Serbia) v
8-Milos Raonic (Canada)
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
hit for six
by ghost
Pakistani cricketer on
tour in New Zealand
was hit for six when he
saw what he believed
was a ghost haunting him in his
hotel room, the team manager
said yesterday.
Haris Sohail was convinced
a “supernatural” presence was
haunting him when he awoke
Saturday night to find his bed
moving, team manager Naveed
Akram Cheema said.
Cheema told Fairfax media
that Sohail called a member of
the coaching staff who arrived to
find the 26-year-old all-rounder
“visibly shaken”.
Sohail, a left-arm spinner and
middle-order batsman, spent
the rest of the night in the coach’s
room at the Rydges Latimer hotel in Christchurch before being
moved to another room.
The cricketer tweeted on Sunday,
“Allah always answers your duas”. A
dua is a form of Muslim prayer.
One of his followers tweeted
back: “It’s nice to hear that you recovered from that incident in New
Zealand. May Allah protect you.”
Another replied: “You’ve
faced down Shaitaan (the devil),
the Kiwis should be easy. Best
The hotel’s management declined to comment on the incident, referring enquiries to Pakistan team officials who explained
that the cricketer was suffering
from a fever at the time.
“We think it was the fever
that caused it (but) the player
still believes his bed was shaken
by something and it was a supernatural something,” Cheema
said, adding that Sohail had been
examined by the team doctor and
was found to be in good health.
Sohail was reportedly unable
to train for two days after the
incident and scored six when
batting at number four Tuesday
against a New Zealand President’s XI.
The 4.5-star Rydges Latimer has
been rebuilt since the 2011 earthquake that devastated Christchurch and claimed 185 lives.
There have been no overnight earthquakes recorded in
Christchurch since the Pakistan
team arrived.
It is not the first time an international cricketer has complained of ghostly goings-on in
the night.
In 2005 several of the Australian party complained of paranormal activity at Lumley Castle
hotel, which looms over Durham
county’s Riverside ground.
The 600-year-old castle is rumoured to be haunted by Lily, an
aristocratic lady murdered in the
14th century.
Watson to raise
money for charity
during World Cup
Apart from winning the World
Cup, star Australian all-rounder Shane Watson has added
motivation to be fit for the
One-Day International (ODI)
showpiece, where he’ll be raising money for research into
motor neuron disease (MND).
Watson has pledged to donate $200 for every boundary he hits, $300 for each six
and the same amount per a
wicket, reports
“No extra motivation is
needed during a World Cup
but this certainly provides
it, to know that every time
I find the middle of the bat
and score runs ... means I
continue to raise money for
such an important cause,”
he said.
The 33-year-old said he was
inspired by MND sufferer and
founder of Cure 4 MND, Dr
Ian Davis, whom he met a few
months ago.
“From that day onwards, (I
was) blown away by Ian’s
courage and how tireless he’s
working to try and make a
difference,” he said.
“After talking to him I realised
this was a way I could have
some impact in a worldrenowned tournament so
hopefully we can continue to
get (the message) out there.”
Pietersen’s England
hopes hit again as
Surrey rule out return
‘I think playing once a week doesn’t work in the UK, especially if you want to get good players in the teams’
By Chris Stocks
The Guardian
evin Pietersen’s hopes
of playing Test cricket
for England again have
been handed another
major blow after Surrey decided
not to re-sign the controversial
The county de-registered
Pietersen just days before the
release of his controversial autobiography last October. Now
the Guardian understands Surrey have completely ruled out
bringing him back.
Speaking last October, Pietersen said: “I am in contact
with Surrey because I love Surrey and Graham Ford, my mentor, is the coach there.”
Surrey’s recent recruitment
of the Sri Lanka great Kumar
Sangakkara for next summer
indicated there would be no way
back for Pietersen. And his high
market value combined with the
recent reduction in the salary
cap for counties from £2.19mn
to £1.97mn has killed off any
prospect of a return.
It brings to an end Pietersen’s
four-year association with Surrey and, unless another county
offers him a deal, raises the very
real prospect that he will have
no future involvement in English cricket.
Without a county deal, it is
unlikely Pietersen would play
any red ball cricket, making a
Test return all but impossible.
Pietersen was sacked by England last February in the aftermath of the team’s humiliating
Ashes whitewash in Australia.
But his return to Australia in
the past few weeks to play for
Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash
League has been an unbridled
triumph. Improved form, including three half-centuries,
and a well-executed charm offensive has seen Pietersen win
over team-mates and a previously sceptical Australian public.
His involvement in the T20
Kevin Pietersen’s four-year association with Surrey comes to an end.
competition came to an end at
the semi-final stage on Sunday
when the Stars lost by 18 runs
at Perth Scorchers, leaving the
34-year-old’s immediate future
in limbo. Although he has another year to run on his Big Bash
deal, Pietersen’s playing com-
mitments elsewhere appear thin
on the ground.
As well as Surrey, Delhi
Daredevils, the Indian Premier
England are steadily
improving: assistant coach
League franchise who paid him
£880,000 last year to captain
the side, released him in December.
Somerset, coached by Pietersen’s good friend Matthew Maynard, are one English
county who could offer him a
home. Yet the reduced salary
cap, which put off a far wealthier county in Surrey, and Pietersen’s reluctance to base himself away from his west London
home for any prolonged period
would make that move appear a
Instead, he is more likely to
continue attempting to play as
a T20 gun for hire. Pietersen has
the option of putting himself
forward in this year’s IPL auction and if he were not to commit to an English county, could
play a full season in the Caribbean Premier League following
his brief spell with the St Lucia
Zouks last year.
Speaking before Sunday’s Big
Bash semi-final, Pietersen did
not endear himself to any potential county employer when
he advocated the adoption of
a franchise system for English
cricket and when criticising
the salary cap, branded jobbing
professionals on the domestic
circuit “muppets”.
“They can learn because the
franchise system does work,”
he said. “Everybody has made
it work. I think playing once a
week doesn’t work in the UK,
especially if you want to get
good players in the teams. I tried
it last year and found it very
hard playing once a week.
“What’s frustrating is they
say they want to help homegrown players. But the best way
to make them become better is
to play against better players.
Find a way to franchise county cricket. You would have 10
counties or franchises who play
each other in Twenty20 or oneday cricket.
“All the muppets who are on
£18 grand, £15 grand, either you
become better or you go and do
something else. The best players would play against each other week in week out. That’s how
you become better. You don’t do
that by reducing salary caps.”
Spinner Narine withdraws
from Windies World Cup squad
ngland cricket team’s
assistant coach Paul
Farbrace yesterday said
the Eoin Morgan-led
team is working hard and improving all the time to give
themselves the best chance of
winning the World Cup which
has eluded them from the beginning.
The Englishman who was
instrumental in Sri Lanka’s
success last year, when they
clinched both the Asia Cup and
World Twenty20 titles, said
anything was possible if they
make it through to the knockout stages of the quadrennial
“I wouldn’t sit here now
and say we’re going to win the
World Cup. What I would say is
if you get through to the knockout stages anything is possible,”
Farbrace was quoted as saying
“The aim is to get to the
quarter-final and once you do
then literally anything can happen. We know we’re improving all the time, we know we’re
working really hard and we
want to give ourselves the best
chance we possibly can.”
England cricket team’s assistant coach Paul Farbrace
The 47-year-old also added
that the team’s progress is exciting and they would be treating the knockout game against
India this Friday in the tri-series
as a great opportunity to test the
squad in a pressure game.
“I’d be foolish to say we’re
developing that well we’re going to win the World Cup. But I
do think there’s a lot of signs of
really exciting progression,” he
pointed out.
“There are three games of
knock-out [in the World Cup]
once you get to that quarterfinal. That’s why Friday’s
such a great opportunity to
put the boys under real pressure in a semi-final game,” he
Off-spinner Sunil Narine has
withdrawn from the West
Indies World Cup squad while
he continues to work on his
controversial bowling action,
the West Indies Cricket Board
(WICB) said yesterday.
Narine was reported for a
suspect action twice during the
Champions League Twenty20
tournament in September and
was unable to play in the final
for his team Kolkata Knight
Although not banned from international competition he was
withdrawn from the West Indies
squad for their tour of India and
is not with the team currently
playing in South Africa.
He was named as part of the
15-man World Cup squad however and has been playing in
regional cricket.
“Narine has undergone intense
remedial work on his bowling
action and preliminary tests
have shown him bowling all his
deliveries under the 15 degrees
flexion allowance,” the WICB
said in a statement.
“However, he requires more
time to be able to confidently
bowl for a sustained period in
international cricket with his
new action.”
Narine indicated he needed
more games and practice to get
fully adjusted to his new action.
“Going in to the World Cup is
a little too much too soon and,
after consulting the WICB, for
both West Indies and my sake
we have decided to delay my
return to international cricket
until I am 100% confident in all
that I do,” Narine said.
Narine would have been West
Indies’ main spin bowler in the
tournament. Slow left-armer
Sulieman Benn is also in the
squad and the WICB is expected to name a replacement
for Narine soon.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Sri Lanka bank on Sanga-Mahela hit show
umar Sangakkara and
Mahela Jayawardene
will join hands for the
last time in their brilliant careers to plot Sri Lanka’s
World Cup campaign, hoping to
make amends for two successive
The missing link in the enduring partnership between the
two 37-year-olds that started
at the turn of the century is the
absence of a World Cup triumph
despite coming so near.
Jayawardene was captain
when Sri Lanka reached the final of the 2007 World Cup in the
Caribbean, only to see Australia
cruise to a 53-run win in neardarkness in Barbados.
Four years later in India, Sangakkara was at the helm in the
title clash when Mahendra Singh
Dhoni’s home team inflicted a
six-wicket defeat despite a magnificent 103 off 88 balls by Jayawardene.
The two veterans, who go into
the World Cup as the leading
run-getters in one-day cricket
among those still playing, took
the setbacks in their stride and
looked positively ahead at the
“We may not have won those
two tournaments, but reaching
two successive finals showed we
played consistently well,” said
Jayawardene. “Hopefully we can
cross the line this time.”
Jayawardene will hang his
boots after the World Cup, having already retired from Test and
Twenty20 cricket last year to
concentrate on his fifth appearance in the showpiece event.
Sangakkara will also bid farewell to limited-overs cricket after the World Cup, but remains
undecided about prolonging his
Test career after enjoying a tremendous run with the bat in recent months.
The World Cup gives both a
last chance to bow out in a blaze
of glory and the signs are already
encouraging that this could be
Sri Lanka’s year in Australia and
New Zealand.
In Sangakkara and Jayawardene’s final T20 appearance
last April, Sri Lanka won the
World Twenty20 in Bangladesh
to end a drought of major titles
since they took the World Cup
in 1996.
Angelo Mathews’ men won
more one-dayers (20 out of 32)
than any other team in 2014, including the Asia Cup title that
also featured defending World
Cup champions India and Pakistan.
Sri Lankans dominate the
run-getters’ list for the year
gone by with left-handed Sangakkara leading the pack with
Mahela Jayawardene (left) and Kumar Sangakkara.
1,256 runs, followed by Mathews
in second place with 1,244 and
opener Tillakaratne Dilshan in
fourth with 990.
Unorthodox spinner Ajantha Mendis topped the bowling
charts with 38 wickets, but still
failed to make the World Cup
squad as the selectors went with
left-armer Rangana Herath and
off-spinner Sachithra Senanayake instead.
Sri Lanka will sweat over the
fitness of pace spearhead Lasith
Malinga, who was picked for the
World Cup in a gamble by the
selectors despite being sidelined
following an ankle surgery in
The devastating sling-armer,
31, who is the only bowler in history to claim three hat-tricks in
one-day internationals, is expected to be fit by the tournament
opener against New Zealand on
February 14, but is not guaranteed a place in the side yet.
wins Allan
teve Smith yesterday
capped a remarkable season by sweeping the main
awards at the annual Allan Border Medal ceremony, including Australian player of the
The prolific batsman, who
was promoted to national captain in the absence of the injured
Michael Clarke, also took out the
one-day and Test player awards.
He was a runaway winner for
the Allan Border Medal—judged
on performances in Tests and
one-dayers throughout the season—by polling 243 votes, ahead
of David Warner (175) and Mitchell Johnson (126).
He is only the third player to
win the trifecta in the 10 years it
has been running, following in
the footsteps of Ricky Ponting in
2007 and Shane Watson in 2011.
Other Allan Border Medal
winners include Glenn McGrath,
Steve Waugh, Adam Gilchrist,
and Clarke.
The 25-year-old smashed
1,756 runs in 22 matches last year
at an average of 67.54 including
eight 50s and seven hundreds.
He narrowly held off Warner as
Test player of the year and Aaron
Finch for the one-day honour.
Glenn Maxwell was rewarded
for his efforts with bat and ball to
win Twenty20 player of the year.
The emotional high-point of
the night came when Sean Abbott was named the Bradman
Young Cricketer of the Year.
The New South Wales allrounder has shown courage
and maturity to bounce back
from the tragic death of Phillip
Hughes during a Sheffield Shield
match in November.
Abbott bowled the ball that
killed Hughes and there were initially fears that the 22-year-old
may be too traumatised to continue his career.
But he quickly returned to play
a key role for his state team and
also performed well for the Sixers’ in the domestic Big Bash
Twenty20 competition.
“I feel privileged to receive
such an award, especially after a
couple of good seasons in a row
on the field and some tough off
seasons pushing myself to continually improve,” Abbott was
quoted as saying by the Cricket
Australia website Tuesday.
The 22-year-old added that
the prize was a reward for his
hard work and that he was hopeful of a place in the Australian
squad in the future.
“I feel that this is a reward for a
lot of good work and finally putting
some consistent good performances together,” added Abbott.
Pakistan hope to lurch
from disaster to triumph
‘It would be the icing on the cake if I end my one-day career with the trophy’
f there is one team among
the top eight at the World
Cup which could either
crash out embarrassingly
in the first round or romp to the
title, it’s Pakistan.
The talented yet unpredictable side are haunted by injuries to their fast bowlers, the
suspension of match-winning
spinner Saeed Ajmal and a tussle for the captaincy between
Misbah-ul Haq and Shahid Afridi.
All seems to have settled
down as Misbah’s men embark
on a mission to match Imran
Khan’s World Cup triumph—
Pakistan’s only win—in Australia some 23 years ago.
“This team has the spirit of
cornered tigers,” said chief selector and former captain Moin
Khan, a key member of 1992
winning team. “If they play to
their potential this team can
surprise the world.”
Captain Misbah, who has
recovered from a hamstring injury, is also confident of the best
“The format of this World
Cup is such that teams have a
lot of opportunities,” said Misbah, who will retire from oneday cricket after the World Cup.
“It would be the icing on the
cake if I end my one-day career
with the trophy.”
But Misbah knows his bowling will miss Ajmal, who has
single-handedly won matches
for Pakistan before being suspended for an illegal bowling
Pakistan cricket team captain Misbah-ul Haq will retire from one-day cricket after the World Cup.
action last September.
Spinning all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez—suspended in
November last year also over an
illegal bowling action—needs
to clear a reassessment test to
allow the right combination to
“It will be important that Hafeez clears the test because he
is two-in-one and his bowling
gives us the right combination,”
Victory shows Windies
can stack up: Holder
Port Elizabeth, South Africa
aptain Jason Holder
believes the West
Indies’ triumph in
the fourth One-Day
International (ODI) against
South Africa was a reminder it
can compete strongly with top
sides in the world.
Trailing 0-3 in the series, the West Indies Sunday bounced back to beat the
Proteas by one wicket at St.
George’s Park, after chasing
down 263 with nine balls to
spare, reports CMC.
“We have known it from the
start, that we have the ability
to win cricket games. It’s just
one or two mistakes that have
cost us games - losing wickets
in clusters, a dropped chance
or even one or two big overs
when we bowled,” said Holder
“We just had a little
blemishes in the field here
and there but apart from
that, I thought we played a
really good game of cricket”
“It’s all about putting together the complete game.
Fortunately … we were able to
get over the line even though
I don’t think we played the
complete the game in that we
let it get down to number 11.
“Having said that, it’s just
good to get across the line, it
does a lot for our morale.”
Holder was the best bowler with four for 53 as the
West Indies strung together a disciplined performance to limit the Proteas to
262 for eight, despite David
Miller’s splendid unbeaten
The West Indies then fought
their way out of trouble thanks
to half-centuries from Andre
Russell (64 not out), Marlon
Samuels (68) and Darren Sammy (51).
“I’m obviously very pleased.
It’s been a tough tour so far and
we’ve already lost the series
but as I said before, it’s just
about salvaging some pride
and I was just very pleased
to see how the guys came out
and won this game …,” Holder
pointed out.
“Being three-nil down is
not a good note but it was
very fitting how the guys
came out to this game and
performed. They were always
up for it, the attitude was
very good.
“We just had a little blemishes in the field here and there
but apart from that, I thought
we played a really good game
of cricket.”
said the captain.
Lanky paceman Mohammad
Irfan—the tallest man to ever
play international cricket at 7
feet, one inch—is expected to be
the X-factor in an otherwise inexperienced pace attack which
will miss Umar Gul, not fit
enough for the event after knee
and ankle problems.
“To me the X-factor in our
team is Irfan. With his height
I think he can be dangerous,”
said coach Waqar Younis, who
missed Pakistan’s World Cup
win in 1992 with a back problem.
In Ajmal’s absence, leg-spinner Yasir Shah, along with allrounder Afridi, will handle the
spin department.
Afridi, who will also quit
one-day cricket after the World
Cup, will be important too as a
batsman in the slog overs as will
be Umar Akmal, Misbah and
Sohaib Maqsood.
Pakistan’s top-order problem
persists and will continue to
haunt them as Hafeez opening
the innings with Ahmed Shehzad doesn’t always guarantee a
trouble-free start.
They will hope experienced
the Younis Khan and Misbah
provide stability to the batting,
for which the main problem lies
in playing too many dot balls.
Pakistan has the worst run-rate
among the top ten teams in playing dot balls from over 11 to 40.
Pakistan must win one of
their first two matches—against
arch-rivals India and the West
Indies—in order to have easier
passage into the last eight.
If not, their qualification will
rely on their last group B match
against a dangerous Ireland team,
the same opponents who ousted
them in the first round of the 2007
World Cup in the Caribbean.
Defeat no reason for panic,
assures de Villiers
South African captain AB de
Villiers has downplayed the
significance of the defeat
against the West Indies, as the
side gears up for next month’s
ICC World Cup.
“It’s certainly not a wake-up
call. We were wide awake and
there is no doubt about the
fact that we weren’t complacent,” de Villiers was quick
to point out Monday, reports
“We were on the money the
whole time, we were fighting.
After every wicket we spoke
about being humble and working hard.
“It came down to a bit of pressure towards the end and we
lost. It’s a painful affair but we
move on and we will try and finish on a high at Centurion.”
South Africa Sunday rattled
up 262 for eight after they
were sent in, with David Miller
slamming an unbeaten 130 - his
maiden ODI century.
In reply, the West Indies recovered from 73 for five in the 21st
over, to chase down their target
with nine balls to spare, thanks
to Andre Russell’s unbeaten 64
from 40 deliveries.
De Villiers said, however,
there were areas were South
Africa needed to improve going forward to the final ODI in
Centurion starting today.
“There were too many extras …
which hurt me quite a bit,” he
“It was unfortunate that we
leaked the extras; the no-balls
and wides. If you are going to
play close games of cricket it
comes down to the little things
like that. The one dropped
catch by me, a couple of fumbles in the field.
“All in all it was a great fight by
us and I’m proud of the way we
stuck to our plans and fought
South Africa lead the five-match
series 3-1.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Thunder roll over
struggling T-Wolves
‘Our second unit was good tonight. They were attacking and making plays’
Kobe Bryant has opted to have surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in
his right shoulder that is expected to sideline him for the rest of the
New York
Bryant set for
torn rotator
cuff surgery
Los Angeles
os Angeles Lakers star
guard Kobe Bryant Monday, opted to have surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder that
is expected to sideline him for
the rest of the season, the club
Surgery is set for Wednesday,
and a firm timetable will not be
provided until after the procedure.
Bryant made his decision after meeting on Monday with
sports-medicine specialist, Dr
Neal ElAtrache of the Kerlan
Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic, who
advised the surgery.
On Friday, Bryant visited with
team doctor Steve Lombardo
who confirmed the earlier torn
rotator cuff diagnosis. The Lakers star weighed his options over
the weekend.
Bryant’s last three seasons
have been cut short by injuries.
The banged up 36-yearold tore an Achilles tendon in
April 2013. He then fractured
games for
illegal hit
his left knee last season before suffering the most-recent shoulder tear Wednesday
following a dunk against New
Voted a Western Conference
All Star starter last Thursday for
a record 17th consecutive year,
Bryant finished his 19th campaign averaging 22.3 points on a
career-low 37.3% shooting in 35
Bryant has financial incentives
to return. He earned 23.5mn dollars this season, and the future
Hall of Famer has one more year
left on his contract with the Lakers for 25mn dollars for the 201516 campaign.
Meanwhile, Charlotte Hornets star guard Kemba Walker is
to have surgery in New York to
repair a torn lateral meniscus in
his left knee, the club announced
A timetable for his recovery
will be determined following the
procedure for the Hornets’ top
scorer, who has missed three of
the last five games with a cyst on
the knee.
In his fourth NBA season,
Walker is averaging 18.8 points,
5.2 assists and 3.8 rebounds.
ussell Westbrook drove
the lane for some huge
field goals and Reggie Jackson nailed key
second half free throws as the
Oklahoma City Thunder easily beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 92-84 on Monday.
The Thunder cruised to the
victory despite missing superstar forward Kevin Durant, who
sat out with a sprained toe. Durant injured his left big toe in the
fourth quarter of Sunday’s NBA
contest against Cleveland.
This was the 24th game Durant has missed this season after
not playing in just 16 contests
over his first seven seasons.
Westbrook tallied 18 points
and five assists and Serge Ibaka
had 13 points and pulled down
19 rebounds as the Thunder
won for the fourth time in their
last six contests. Westbrook
shot just seven-of-22 from the
field in front of the crowd of
18,200 at Chesapeake Energy
Arena but he battled through
his shooting difficulties.
Thaddeus Young finished
with 22 points and eight rebounds, Andrew Wiggins provided 23 points and Gorgui Dieng snatched 18 rebounds for
Minnesota, which has dropped
five consecutive games.
The Thunder led 21-19 late
in the opening quarter before creating some breathing
room following a 17-5 surge
that stretched into the second.
Anthony Morrow and Jackson
jump-started the run with baskets and Oklahoma City led 2519 after the first quarter.
Dion Waiters banked in a
fadeaway jumper and then
drained a thee-pointer before
finding Jackson on an alley-oop
dunk to cap the run and give the
Thunder a 38-24 cushion half-
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Dion Waiters dribbles the ball as Minnesota Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine defends during the third
quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Monday.
way through the second quarter.
Perry Jones’ reverse layup
at the first half buzzer gave the
Thunder a 48-40 lead at halftime.
Consecutive Young baskets
finished off a 10-2 flurry to help
Minnesota pull within 57-54
midway through the third quarter.
Oklahoma City answered by
closing the third on an 8-2 run.
Jackson sank three free throws
to help extend the lead and give
the Thunder a 65-56 margin after three.
Minnesota never got closer
hiladelphia Flyers forward Zac Rinaldo has
been slapped with an
suspension for a check from behind on
Pittsburgh star defenceman Kris
Letang, the National Hockey
League announced Monday.
Rinaldo, of Canada, was given
a five-minute penalty on the play
after he charged towards and
then jumped in the air before hitting an unsuspecting Letang who
was trying to make a play along
the side boards. Rinaldo was also
thrown out of the game.
Letang left last week’s contest
and did not return. He also sat
out the Penguins’ game Wednesday against Chicago.
Rinaldo is a repeat offender.
He was handed a four-game ban
last April for an illegal check on
Buffalo defenceman Chad Ruhwedel.
Rinaldo was also suspended
two games in 2012 for an illegal
check on Detroit defenceman
Jonathan Ericsson.
power the New Orleans Pelicans
to an easy 99-74 home victory over the lowly Philadelphia
It was the 12th time this season Davis has scored at least 30
points, and his 12-of-19 shooting sparked the Pelicans (24-21)
to a fourth consecutive win and
elevated them to three games
above .500 for the first time
since the 2010-11 season.
Forward Zach Randolph and
center Marc Gasol combined for
40 points, 20 rebounds and 10
assists as the Memphis Grizzlies
beat the Orlando Magic 103-94.
Randolph notched his ninth
with a game-high 24 points
and 10 rebounds. Gasol finished
with 16 points and 10 rebounds
as the Grizzlies (32-12) earned
their eighth consecutive victory
over Orlando.
New Orleans 99
Oklahoma City 92
LA Clippers
Pats owner defends
Impartial staff
Brady, coach Belichick to handle
Los Angeles
than seven points in the final
quarter. “Our second unit was
good tonight,” Thunder coach
Scott Brooks said. “They were
attacking and making plays.”
Elsewhere, Jamal Crawford
led a fourth quarter comeback
as the Los Angeles Clippers beat
the Denver Nuggets 102-98.
Crawford scored 21 of his
23 points in the final period as
the Clippers recovered from a
10-point deficit to post their
fifth consecutive victory.
Forward Anthony Davis
scored a game-high 32 points
and grabbed 10 rebounds to
ew England Patriots
owner Robert Kraft
defiantly defended
his team, coach Bill
Belichick and quarterback
Tom Brady on Monday as they
opened Super Bowl week amid
the football deflating controversy.
Kraft said that if the NFL’s
investigation into the affair
clears the Patriots of wrongdoing, the league will owe the
team, and in particular Brady
and Belichick, an apology.
“I’m disappointed with the
way this entire matter has
been handled and reported
upon,” Kraft said. “We expect
hard facts as opposed to circumstantial, leaked evidence
to drive the conclusions of this
Kraft said he composed his
unexpected statement on the
flight from Massachusetts
to Phoenix, where the Patriots will take on reigning NFL
champions Seattle in Super
Bowl 49 on Sunday.
As the team traveled, Fox
Sports reported that the NFL
had obtained surveillance
video of a Patriots locker room
attendant, who took the Patriots’ footballs from the officials’
locker room to another room
before bringing them onto the
field for the AFC Championship game, in which the Patriots routed Indianapolis 45-7 to
book their Super Bowl berth.
Belichick and Brady have
insisted they have no idea how
footballs used by the team
in the first half of the game
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft
came to be under-inflated after meeting league inflation
requirements in a pre-game
Less inflated balls in cold
and wet conditions such as
those during the game with the
Colts could make the “pigskin”
easier to grip, throw and catch.
Person of interest
According to the Fox Sports
report, citing an unnamed
league source, the league was
trying to determine if there
was wrongdoing by the locker
room attendant, who is considered a “person of interest.”
But Ted Wells, the lawyer
hired to lead the probe along
with NFL executive vice president Jeff Pash, on Monday
warned against jumping to
conclusions during an investigation he expects to take several more weeks.
“We are following customary investigative procedures
and no one should draw any
conclusions about the se-
quence of interviews or any
other steps, all of which are
part of the process of doing a
thorough and fair investigation,” Wells said in a statement.
Wells added that in the
meantime “it would be best if
everyone involved or potentially involved in this matter
avoids public comment concerning the matter until the
investigation is concluded.”
That was just the tack that
Belichick and Brady took, after
both fielded questions about
the matter back in Foxborough
last week.
“I’ve spent quite a bit of
time and had two lengthy
press conferences about that,”
Belichick said. “My attention
has turned now to the Seattle
Seahawks and our game Sunday. And that’s where it’s going
to stay this week.”
Twice more Belichick was
asked about the affair dubbed
“Deflategate” and both times
he politely declined to discuss
Brady said he had moved
past his initial feelings of hurt
at the suggestion he cheated.
Now, the three-time Super
Bowl winner, who will become
the first quarterback to start
six Super Bowls, said he hopes
the team can focus on “important things” and “eliminate the
Locker room worker eyed in ‘Deflategate’: report
The NFL is looking at a
New England Patriots
locker room attendant as it
probes improperly inflated
footballs used by the team
in their playoff victory
over Indianapolis, a report
Fox Sports reported
Monday on the latest twist
in the scandal dubbed
“Deflategate” even as the
Patriots were flying into
Phoenix for the Super Bowl,
where they will face reign-
ing champions Seattle on
Sunday in the 49th edition
of the NFL’s championship
According to the report, the
NFL has interviewed the “person of interest” and is “trying
to determine whether any
wrongdoing by this individual
occurred” after surveillance
video showed the attendant
taking the footballs from
the officials’ locker room to
another room before bringing
them onto the field.
game-day balls
Los Angeles
ike nearly everyone else
in America, Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll
knows more about footballs than he did a week ago as
a controversy over deflated balls
continued to dominate the Super
Bowl buildup on Monday.
Until the New England Patriots’ blowout victory in the
AFC championship, game-day
balls were seldom given a second
thought but are now the subject
of an NFL investigation.
Everything from who has access to the balls, to the process
for selecting them and the inflation figures have been debated.
“Maybe everyone would
think you should have seen it
before but I never checked on
how the whole process of how
our footballs were handled until this week,” Carroll told reporters.
“This one has not been looked
at as maybe intently as it is now.
I know every step of it now. ... So
my awareness is up. It will never
be the same because of what just
Each year, 700,000 footballs
are produced for official NFL
use, including 72 that will be
used in Sunday’s Super Bowl in
Glendale, Arizona, between New
England and Seattle.
Given the current scandal,
those 72 balls are likely to come
under intense scrutiny.
As is custom, the NFL’s pro-
cedure for selecting Super Bowl
balls, which must be inflated to
between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds
per square inch, will differ from
other games during the season.
Both teams’ quarterbacks will
still be allowed to select the balls
they want to use but, after that,
independent equipment managers and ball attendants will handle the footballs.
“Like many aspects of our
policies and procedures, there
are modifications for the Super
Bowl,” NFL spokesman Michael
Signora said in a statement.
“Maybe everyone would
think you should have
seen it before but I never
checked on how the
whole process of how our
footballs were handled
until this week
“At the Super Bowl, the
equipment manager of another
team (Bears, Tony Medlin) is in
charge of the game balls and arranging for the ball attendant
crews, which are hired before
the Super Bowl teams are determined.
“The officials will maintain
strict control of the game balls
for the Super Bowl.”
Seattle quarterback Russell
Wilson only concerns when it
comes to footballs is that he has
one to throw.
“In terms of the football
pregame, I just want to have
a football out there to throw.
That’s all I look forward to,”
said Wilson.
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Korea’s star Park
left ‘shocked’ by
his failed dope test
‘As a world-class swimmer for the last 10 years, Park Tae-hwan hasn’t taken so much as
cold medicine, that’s how careful he’s been due to concerns about doping problems’
China’s anti-graft
unit pledges to drop
gold medal fever
hina’s sports regulator
has pledged to drop the
nation’s obsession with
gold medals after the
ruling Communist Party’s antigraft watchdog warned of the
damaging extent of match-fixing
and cheating in sports.
China’s General Administration
of Sport said the desire for gold
medals has led to “a small number
of athletes and coaches who will
stop at nothing to achieve good results in competitions”.
“The unscrupulous, illegal and
fraudulent pursuit of gold medals not only distorts the spirit of
sport, but also hurts career development and national interests, the agency said in a statement issued on Monday.
“It undermines the image of
sport and is contrary to its value.
We must resolutely oppose this
and effectively eliminate it,” it
The sports regulator compiled
the report in response to findings
made by the Central Commission
for Discipline Inspection, the
party’s anti-corruption agency,
which had discovered fraud and
China will scrap awards to
provinces whose athletes win
Olympic and Asian Games gold
medals, as well as the ranking of
provinces and cities by golds won
at National Games that are held
every four years, the agency said.
Chinese sport, in particular
soccer, has long been beset by
corruption and match-fixing
scandals. The anti-corruption
drive since 2009 has jailed or
punished at least nine officials,
four judges, 13 footballers or
coaches and 17 club workers.
President Xi Jinping, an avid
football fan, has bemoaned the
corruption-blighted game in China as a national embarrassment.
Last year, news emerged that
Sun Yang, China’s most successful
male swimmer, had been secretly
banned from swimming after he
tested positive for the stimulant
trimetazidine, sparking an outcry.
During the London Olympics
in 2012, Chinese bloggers expressed their disgust after media reported that the parents of
Olympic diver Wu Minxia had
concealed her mother’s long battle with breast cancer for fear of
disturbing her training.
Clarke or Jimenez
for captain’s role
In this file photo, South Korea’s Park Tae-hwan prepares to compete in the final for the men’s 400m freestyle event during the 17th Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.
outh Korean swim star Park Taehwan has been left “shocked” by
a failed doping test, which local
media said was a result of a local
hospital injecting him with testosterone.
Yonhap News agency quoted Seoul
prosecutors as saying yesterday the hospital had testified it gave Park the shot
but did not realise it was against World
Anti-Doping Agency regulations.
The report said Park had already been
questioned by prosecutors, and that the
doctor who gave him the injection could
face charges of negligence.
A two-time world champion, Park
became the first South Korean to win an
Olympic swimming medal when he powered to gold in the 400 metres freestyle at
the 2008 Beijing Games.
His wholesome, clean-cut image and
poster-boy looks have made him one of
the most celebrated athletes in South Korea, where he is known affectionately as
‘Marine Boy’, and while his performances
in the pool have dipped in recent years his
popularity has never wavered.
The smiling face of endorsements for
milk, headache pills, air conditioners,
and communications equipment, Park
was also a goodwill ambassador for the
‘Dynamic Korea’ promotion aimed at
boosting Korea’s image abroad.
Under the strict rules applied by doping
authorities, Park could still face punishment even if he was unaware that he had
been injected with a banned substance,
and a lengthy ban could derail his hopes of
swimming at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
An official from the Korea Swimming
Federation, who asked not to be named,
told Reuters that the test had been conducted in early September, before the
Asian Games.
The federation and Park had been informed of the result in late October or
early November, the official said, adding
that the swimmer would have to attend a
hearing with swimming’ s world governing body FINA on Feb. 27 to answer the
doping charge.
The official said other details would be
revealed at a news conference after the
prosecution had wrapped up its probe.
Park’s agency, Team GMP, said the swimmer had repeatedly asked the hospital if
the injection contained illegal substances
but had been assured it was safe.
Park had been offered free treatment at
a local hospital two months ahead of the
Sept. 19-Oct. 4 Asian Games in Incheon,
the South Korean city west of Seoul
which named its aquatics venue after the
“As a world-class swimmer for the last
10 years, Park Tae-hwan hasn’t taken so
much as cold medicine, that’s how careful he’s been due to concerns about doping problems and illegal substances,”
Team GMP said in a statement.
“Park is more shocked by this result
than anyone else.”
The statement said the 25-year-old
had passed several doping tests conducted during the Asian Games.
South Korean athletes have been rela-
tively free of drugs scandals, though top
badminton player Lee Yong-dae was almost suspended for the Asian Games after administrative errors led to him missing doping tests.
A one-year ban imposed by the Badminton World Federation was wiped out
after the country’s governing body said it
had failed to keep the federation apprised
of the player’s whereabouts.
The news also comes just months after
Park’s great rival, China’s Sun Yang, was
found to have failed a doping test.
Sun, winner of two gold medals at the
2012 London Olympics, served a threemonth suspension in 2014 after testing
positive for the banned stimulant trimetazidine during the national swimming championships last May.
The China Anti-Doping Agency
could have imposed a longer ban but
said it decided on three months because Sun had been given medication,
normally used to combat angina, by
a doctor to treat a heart issue and was
unaware it had been added to WADA’s
banned list this year.
he captain of the European side that will
defend the Ryder Cup
States in Minnesota in 2016 will
be Darren Clarke or Miguel Angel Jimenez, two stalwarts of
the team said yesterday.
World number two Henrik
Stenson and sixth-ranked Sergio Garcia both believe it will
be a straight fight between the
Northern Irishman and the
Spaniard over who replaces 2014
skipper Paul McGinley.
“Most likely we’re going to
see a race between Darren and
Miguel,” Stenson told reporters
on Tuesday ahead of this week’s
Dubai Desert Classic.
“That’s the beauty of being
part of the Tournament Players Committee that no longer
votes for it. I don’t have to put
any thought into it, I just have to
wait like everybody else until the
result comes out.”
The captain used to be decided by the players but it is
now down to a five-man panel
that includes former skippers
McGinley, Jose Maria Olazabal
and Colin Montgomerie.
“They have got enough experience between them to come
up with a good decision,” said
Swede Stenson who has played
in the biennial team event three
“I believe they haven’t met
yet. They haven’t managed to
get that meeting together so I
don’t know when it’s scheduled
to happen.”
Asked if Clarke or Jimenez
would be the next captain, Garcia replied: “It looks like that.
“I think those are the two big
candidates and I think we are all
excited to see how it turns out,”
added Garcia who has made seven Ryder Cup appearances.
Burgess could benefit
from injury crisis
Armstrong says he would race R
clean now but not back in 1995
anned cyclist Lance
Armstrong says he
would not have needed
to resort to doping in
the sport’s current era and what
happened years ago should be
seen in the context of the times.
“If I was racing in 2015, no,
I wouldn’t do it again because
I don’t think you have to,” the
Texan told the BBC in an interview on Monday.
“If you take me back to 1995,
when doping was completely
pervasive, I would probably do
it again.”
A cancer survivor and once
a hero to millions, Armstrong
was stripped of his seven Tour
de France victories and banned
for life from racing in 2012 by
the US Anti-Doping Agency af-
File picture of Lance Armstrong.
ter it accused him in a report of
engineering one of the most sophisticated doping schemes in
Following his return from
cancer in the late 1990s, Arm-
strong was regularly subjected
to claims of doping, which he
stoutly refuted until the release
of USADA’s “reasoned decision”.
The 200-page document—
supported by a further 1,000
pages of evidence—finally led
to Armstrong’s confession in an
interview with US chat-show
host Oprah Winfrey in January
“When I made the decision
(to dope in 1995), when my team
made that decision, when the
whole peloton made that decision, it was a bad decision and
an imperfect time,” he said.
“But it happened. And I know
what happened because of that.
I know what happened to the
sport, I saw its growth.”
Armstrong said he regretted
the “unacceptable and inexcusable” behaviour with which
he subjected other riders and
figures within the sport during
numerous attempts to rubbish
their allegations of doping.
“I would want to change the
man that did those things, maybe not the decision, but the way
he acted,” he continued.
“The way he treated people,
the way he couldn’t stop fighting. It was unacceptable, inexcusable.”
His seven Tour victories between 1999 and 2005 have been
rescinded but not assigned to
anyone else because of the prevalence of doping at the time. The
American was resolute when
asked about the titles.
“I think there has to be a winner, I’m just saying that as a fan.
I don’t think it sits empty... I feel
like I won those Tours,” he said.
He is pondering reengaging with the cancer charity he
stepped away from at the height
of the scandal and is still lobbying to have his ban decreased
so he can compete in sports like
Asked if people were ready for
his return to public life, he said:
“Selfishly, I would say ‘yeah,
we’re getting close to that time’.
ugby League convert
Sam Burgess could see
his bid to gain a place in
England’s World Cup
squad given a boost by the injury
crisis engulfing Stuart Lancaster’s back division just weeks before the Six Nations starts.
Now at English Premiership
side Bath, where he has been
played at centre, Burgess is set to
play for the reserve England Saxons against the Irish Wolfhounds
in Cork on Friday.
Burgess, who returned home
from Australia with the aim of
being selected for the hosts’
World Cup squad, has made only
a handful of first-team appearances for Bath since his switch
from National Rugby League
champions South Sydney Rabbitohs.
However, the senior England
midfield is struggling with several injury problems.
Saracens centre Brad Barritt
has a knee injury while Northampton counterpart Luther Burrell suffered concussion in the
Saints’ 32-8 European Champions Cup thrashing by Racing
Metro last weekend.
Meanwhile, Burgess’s Bath
colleague Kyle Eastmond (shoulder) and fly-half/centre Owen
Farrell (knee) are also battling to
be fit for England’s Six Nations
opener against Wales in Cardiff
on February 6.
Jonathan Joseph and Billy
Twelvetrees are the only fit centres currently in the England
senior squad and while Lancaster has said it would be a “big, big
ask” for the 26-year-old Burgess
to feature in the Six Nations, a
few more injuries could change
the picture significantly.
“Sam is certainly more than
capable, his performance against
Wasps at The Rec (Bath’s home
ground) suggests he’s more than
capable of playing international
rugby,” said Saxons coach Jon
“We’ll know probably a little
more after Friday night.
“I would have thought if I was
a betting man, the seniors would
want him to start (against the
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Ivorian striker Ya Konan
returns to Hanover
Eto’o signs two-and-a-half
year deal with Sampdoria
Milan’s Mexes banned for 4,
Udinese’s Kone for 3 games
Arsenal forward Campbell
joins Villarreal on loan
Rayo mourn death of
former goalkeeper Wilfred
Hanover 96 have re-signed Didier Ya Konan
until the end of the season, with the option of an
extra 12 months at the club beyond that, after the
striker spent a short spell in Saudi Arabia. “I am
coming home,” a beaming Ya Konan told reporters. “It is a great feeling, I am proud to be wearing
the Hanover shirt again and playing in front of
such fans.” The 30-year-old Ivorian, who scored 45
goals in 153 games in all competitions for the German club between 2009-14, left for Al-Ittihad last
summer. Hanover are eighth in the Bundesliga
which restarts on Friday after a winter break.
Cameroonian striker Samuel Eto’o has joined Serie
A side Sampdoria from Everton, the Premier League
club said yesterday. The four-times African Footballer of the Year, who moved to Everton in August and
scored four goals in 20 appearances, has signed a
two-and-a-half year contract with Sampdoria. Eto’o,
33, helped Barcelona win the Champions League in
2009 and lifted the trophy again as an Inter Milan
player the following year. He moved to Russian club
Anzhi Makhachkala in 2011 in a deal that reportedly
made him the highest paid footballer in the world
before joining Chelsea in 2013.
AC Milan defender Philippe Mexes has been
handed a four-game ban over his assault on Lazio
captain Stefano Mauri during a weekend game,
the Lega Serie A said yesterday. Mexes was redcarded on Saturday in Rome for grabbing Mauri
by the neck after a collision. He repeated his assault before leaving the pitch as other footballers
intervened in the brawl. Greek forward Panagiotis
Kone of Udinese was suspended for three games
for pushing the referee in the chest after a
second booking he received on Monday in a
game against Empoli.
Arsenal forward Joel Campbell has joined Villarreal
on loan for the rest of the season, the Spanish club
said yesterday. The Costa Rican’s move to Spain
is part of a deal in which Arsenal are set to sign
Villarreal’s Brazilian defender Gabriel Paulista, who
has passed a medical in London. “Thanks to the
whole family of Arsenal for their messages. I hope
to make them proud,” Campbell said on Twitter
alongside a photograph of him wearing a Villarreal
scarf. The 24-year-old Paulista is poised to become
Arsenal’s second signing of the January transfer
window after Polish teenager Krystian Bielik.
Rayo Vallecano’s former Nigerian goalkeeper Wilfred Agbonavbare passed away yesterday at the
age of 48, the Spanish Liga club said. He died in
hospital in the town of Alcala de Henares, close to
Madrid, after a long battle against cancer. Wilfred
started his career at Nigerian clubs New Nigeria
Bank and BCC Liones, then played for Rayo
between 1990 and 1996 before winding down his
career with Spanish third division side Ecija. He
was reserve goalkeeper for Nigeria at the 1994
World Cup. His most recent work was as a porter
at Madrid’s Barajas airport.
Tunisia, Congo make
quarter-finals; 2012
champs Zambia out
Tunisia finish on top of Group B with five points, while Congo advance on goal difference
Ahmed Akaichi of Tunisia celebrates his goal
against the Democratic Republic of Congo
during their 2015 African Cup of Nations
Group B match, in Bata on Monday. (Reuters)
Bata, Equatorial Guinea
unisia and Democratic Republic of Congo both advanced to
the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations on Monday
with a 1-1 draw while 2012 champions
Zambia and Cape Verde were eliminated after their 0-0 draw.
Tunisia finished top of Group B with
five points as Ahmed Akaichi scored for
the 2004 champions in the 31st minute
and Congo DR substitute Jeremy Bokila
equalised after 66 minutes at the Estadio de Bata.
Congo DR grabbed second place in
the group with three and advanced on
goal difference.
Cape Verde picked up their third
draw for three points in playing to a
scoreless draw in Ebebiyin against
Zambia, who finished last with two
points. But both teams needed a victory to advance.
In Saturday’s quarter-finals, Group
A winners Congo will face off against
Congo DR and Tunisia will play hosts
Equatorial Guinea.
Senegal face Algeria and South Africa take on Ghana in what are the final
round of Group C matches.
Tunisia missed two golden chances
after 10 minutes as Ferjani Sassi had his
This weekend’s African Nations Cup
quarter-finals have been moved away
from the small Equatorial Guinea towns
of Ebebiyin and Mongomo due to
concerns over the pitches.
Saturday’s quarter-final between
the host nation and Tunisia, scheduled
for the 5,000-capacity Estadio de
Ebebiyín, has been shifted to Bata, the
Confederation of African Football said
It will be played as the second match
in a double-header also involving the
derby between Congo and Democratic
Republic of Congo.
Sunday’s quarter-final in Mongomo
between the winners of Group C and
runners-up in Group D, will now be
played as the opening match of two at
the Estadio de Malabo.
The first games will kick off at
1600 GMT with the second moved 30
minutes later than originally scheduled
at 1930 GMT. CAF cited concerns that
the pitches in Ebebiyin and Mongomo
would struggle to hold up beyond the
pool phase, especially after torrential
rain in the country on Monday.
“The newly-installed pitches in Ebebiyin and Mongomo have been very
satisfactory, allowing free flowing play
during the group stages, and this despite having been installed only about
one month ago,” a CAF statement read.
“However, these two pitches have
been adversely affected by a combination of wear and tear from the six
games played or to be played in each
of them and the unstable weather
conditions seen lately.
“Consequently, the CAF Executive Committee feels that the eight
teams qualified for the quarter-final
stages onwards should be given
the opportunity to play on grounds
that provide the highest standards,
specifically those of Bata and Malabo,
to ensure the quality of play remains
shot cleared at the line by Congo DR’s
Joel Kimwaki, and Yassine Chikhaoui
shot the rebound wide from six yards
out. Congo DR finally threatened in the
28th minute but Tunisia keeper Aymen
Mathlouthi did a good job saving Jean
Kasusula’s curling free kick over the
wall from 20 yards out.
Tunisia jumped ahead after 31 minutes with Chikhaoui chipping the ball
over the backline to Akaichi, who headed home.
at the highest possible level.”
CAF had said it would discuss a
change of venue when it became clear
that hosts Equatorial Guinea would
play their quarter-final in Ebebiyin.
The recently-built stadium there is
patently too small for the expected
turnout as the country rides a euphoric
wave after their surprise victory over
their neighbours Gabon in the last
group game on Sunday.
Spectators broke through fences at
the opening Nations Cup game in Bata
on January 17.
In other venues, segregated areas
for VIPS and media have been overrun
by supporters with poorly trained
police unable to control them.
Equatorial Guinea stepped in to
host the tournament after Morocco
was ruled out in November because it
called for the tournament to be postponed over fears about the spread of
the deadly Ebola virus.
Georges Leekens’ team nearly doubled the lead just two minutes later but
Chikhaoui’s goal was disallowed as the
Zurich midfielder was ruled offside.
Chikhaoui scored again a minute after
the re-start but again was ruled offside.
Wahbi Khazri should have doubled
the advantage in the 64th minute but
blasted it well over the bar with plenty
of space.
Congo DR made Tunisia pay for their
inefficient play and scored the equaliser two minutes later. A long ball went to
Dieumerci Mbokani for a header to the
charging Bokila, who needed one touch
before firing past Mathlouthi.
Congo DR keeper Robert Kidiaba
made a great save with 15 minutes left
as Ali Maaloul crossed from the left
side to Hamza Younes, whose shot was
deflected over the bar.
Heavy rains in Ebibeyin kept both
Cape Verde and Zambia from creating a
lot of chances.
Zambia were close after 22 minutes
but captain Rainford Kalaba had his
shot deflected wide while Garry Rodrigues’s attempt went wide of the near
post in the 35th minute for Cape Verde.
The islanders had another opportunity just before the break but Toni
Varela’s header went just over the bar.
Zambia keeper Kennedy Mweene
made a fine save against Djaniny in the
66th minute.
Knowing that one goal would be
enough to advance, Zambia pressed
forward looking for the winner and
missed a great chance with 12 minutes
left as Evens Kangwa sliced his attempt
wide from 10 yards out.
Renard plays
down Toure
Getting Yaya Toure to reproduce
his club form at international
level is a near impossible task,
Ivory Coast coach Herve Renard
admitted yesterday.
The reigning African Footballer
of the Year was deployed deep
in midfield in the Elephants’ 1-1
draw with Mali in Malabo at the
weekend, far away from the position in which he so often hurts
opponents when starring for English champions Manchester City.
The younger of the Toure brothers has not had the hoped for influence on the Ivory Coast side so
far at this Cup of Nations, leaving
the Elephants to contemplate a
decisive match against Cameroon
today in which qualification for the
quarter-finals is at stake.
But when asked about the
positioning of his captain, Renard
said: “The team of Ivory Coast is
not Manchester City. The potential of the player is not the same.
“At City there are a lot of players able to defend very well and
bring the ball and build the game,
notably Fernandinho who works
like a madman alongside him.
“For us it is a bit different,
which is why we ask him to do
a different job, although he was
very comfortable because he was
used to doing that earlier in his
career, especially at Barcelona.”
However, Renard insisted that
there have been no disagreements within the camp about
how best to approach a match
in which a defeat will see them
eliminated, and a draw may not
be enough either depending on
the result of the other Group D
game between Mali and Guinea.
“Players like him and Kolo
(Toure) are not difficult to manage. You ask them to play somewhere and they do it, because
they are thinking about the team,”
added the Frenchman. “Other
players who don’t have the same
experience think they know it all
and won’t understand.”
Renard has brought a young
squad to these finals in Equatorial
Guinea, albeit one that includes
a sprinkling of more established
European-based stars.
But he has continually insisted
that there can only be modest expectations of a team that scraped
through qualifying behind a Cameroon team also in transition.
“Even if you are in a transition
situation it is very important for
the likes of the Ivory Coast and
Cameroon to reach the quarterfinals,” the former Zambia coach
said while preaching patience.
“But Nigeria and Egypt are
not even here. Cameroon were
not there in 2012 and 2013 but
life went on. In football you can’t
panic when something is not
very good.
“I was lucky in Zambia because
I had a fantastic president. If you
are under pressure and want
to change coach every three
months I don’t think you can
achieve something very good.”
Of the game itself he added: “It
might not be the most beautiful
spectacle at a Cup of Nations, but
it’s always easier to play against
Cameroon than to go to a country who are not so renowned on a
difficult pitch.”
Gulf Times
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
African countries to overwhelmingly back Blatter
Mongomo, Equatorial Guinea
frican countries will vote
overwhelmingly for Sepp
Blatter (pictured right) in this
year’s FIFA elections, senior
officials said yesterday.
“Africa is solidly behind Blatter. You
will find he is very popular on the continent,” said Kwesi Nyantakyi, president of Ghana Football Association and
a Confederation of African Football executive committee member.
Blatter faces four challengers in his
bid for re-election on May 29, when he
seeks a fifth term as president that will
take him past his 80th birthday.
Dutch football association (KNVB)
president Michael van Praag announced on Monday his intention to
run following similar moves by former
FIFA deputy secretary general Jerome
Champagne and Prince Ali Bin al-Hussein of Jordan.
Former France international David
Ginola is also standing in what is widely
regarded as being a publicity stunt.
But Blatter’s prospective opponents
are likely to get little support from the
53 African voters.
“The continent is united behind
him,” added former South African
Football Association president Molefi
Oliphant, who still serves on the CAF
executive. “We made a formal endorsement of his candidacy last year at our
meeting in Rio de Janeiro already.”
Previous endorsements from CAF,
however, have not necessarily translated into votes.
African football’s controlling body
promised Lennart Johansson a block
of votes in 1998 but member associations took no heed and helped Blatter to
In 2002, CAF president Issa
Hayatou failed to muster significant
support from his own continent and
lost heavily by 139-56 votes at the FIFA
Congress in Seoul.
Affection for Blatter stems from the
generous financial assistance he has
given Africa during his 17-year tenure.
“He has done a lot for the continent.
It is he who has set up the financial assistance programmes and who through
the Goal project has built infra structure in all of the countries,” added
“The Europeans don’t understand
that. They say it is not his own money
but FIFA’s but that’s not the point. He
is the one who set up all the assistance
programmes that have helped boost
African football.”
Goal is Blatter’s pet project, inaugurated not long after he came to power
in 1998 that has built training centres,
accommodation, pitches and offices for
cash-strapped associations.
Under FIFA’s Financial Assistance
Programme, introduced in 2001, each
of the ruling body’s 209 member associations receive generous grants with
more than $1 billion paid out during
Blatter’s tenure.
Prince Ali welcomes van Praag’s FIFA bid
Prince Ali Bin al-Hussein of Jordan
has welcomed Dutchman Michael
van Praag’s decision to enter the
FIFA presidential race, describing
him as a “credible candidate” who
will add to the debate about
the future of world soccer’s governing body.
Van Praag, the 67-year-old head
of the Dutch FA, entered the race
on Monday saying he had the
necessary backing of five national
associations to qualify as an official
“We welcome other credible colleagues from the football family who
want to join a genuine debate about
the future of FIFA,” Prince Ali said in
a statement yesterday.
“This election campaign is not
about personalities, it is about what
is in the best interests of football
and the world governing body of the
game going forward. It is good for
democracy that Michael van Praag
has made this announcement.”
Prince Ali and van Praag are
among five men hoping to challenge
incumbent Sepp Blatter when the
deadline for nominations closes
Prince Ali, who is currently a
member of the FIFA executive
committee and is FIFA’s Asian vicepresident, declared his candidacy
this month and although he does
not have the full support of his own
Asian confederation he does have
backing elsewhere which should
enable him to stand.
Blatter, 78, who has been
president since 1998, remains the
overwhelming favourite to win a
fifth term.
Cameroon take
on Ivory Coast in
tense Group D tie
‘It is a match that will be decided by little details. Concentration, an ability to take chances and
defensive rigour will all be important. Whichever team shows a little less of these things will go home’
Talks over transfer
system break down
alks aimed at reforming football’s transfer
system have broken
down after European
clubs and leagues refused to
accept proposals to protect
unpaid players, the players union FIFPro said yesterday.
The negotiations, which
opened last March, have come
to a standstill and FIFPro has
called an extraordinary meeting of its Europe division in
Athens today to further discuss the issue.
FIFPro said the European
Clubs’ Association (ECA) and
the European Professional
Football Leagues (EPFL) had
failed to accept four key proposals to ensure contractual
These included a proposal to
allow a player to terminate his
contract at 10 days’ notice if he
is unpaid for more than 30 days,
and another entitling the player
to financial compensation if his
contract is terminated without
just cause.
In such cases, players should
be allowed to join another club
without the restriction of any
transfer window, FIFPro said.
ECA and the EPFL were not immediate available for comment.
“These reforms would make
the contract of a professional
player a two-way street,” FIFPro secretary general Theo van
Seggelen said in a statement.
“The situation can be contrasted to the rights of a club
where a player breaches a contract, which would see him often responsible to pay his own
transfer value and subject to a
mandatory ban.
“Transfer values have, of
course, spiralled out of control and can see players liable
for the payment of millions of
dollars, something no other
employee would have to bear.
The transfer system is failing
football and its players.”
Van Seggelen described the
issue as the biggest problem in
professional football.
“Every year, around 4,000
players file cases with FIFA
either because their club has
not paid them or the club has
unjustly terminated the contract,” he said.
“Due to the volume of cases,
players have to wait several
years for a hearing which, in
over 90 percent of matters, is
decided in favour of the player.
“Given the short-term and
precarious nature of a player’s
career, these delays cannot
be tolerated. Clubs have now
taken to exploiting the delays
through tactics such as heavy
handedness and vexatious litigation to ensure that compensation payments are avoided
or minimised.”
More controversy
as Higuain brace
lifts Napoli to third
Ivory Coast have scored in 13 of their previous 14 Cup of Nations matches. The only time they drew a blank was when losing the 2012 final to Zambia on penalties after a goalless draw.
Bata, Equatorial Guinea
he old adage that everything will
be decided on the pitch may not
prove to be true in the case of
Group D at this year’s Africa Cup
of Nations.
All four matches in the group have ended in 1-1 draws, leaving the Ivory Coast,
Cameroon, Guinea and Mali absolutely
even ahead of today’s final games in Malabo and Mongomo.
Two more identical draws will mean the
drawing of lots will be required to decide
who progresses to the quarter-finals and
in which order.
That would not be unprecedented, with
the drawing of lots required at the 1988
Cup of Nations to send Algeria through to
the knockout stage at the expense of the
Ivory Coast, who had drawn all three of
their matches.
The 2015 version of the Elephants will
hope to win and thereby avoid a similar
fate as they face Cameroon at the Estadio
de Malabo.
Coach Herve Renard will again be without forward Gervinho, who completes a
two-match suspension following his sending-off against Guinea, while midfielder
„Cameroon have won five of the seven
previous Cup of Nations match-ups with
Ivory Coast and drawn the other two. The
widest winning margin was 3-0 in a 2000
group game.
„The Ivorian Elephants are ranked third
in Africa by FIFA and the Cameroonian
Indomitable Lions eighth. The gap between the nations in the world rankings
is 14 places.
„While the Ivory Coast squad includes
four English Premier League stars—broth-
ers Kolo and Yaya Toure, Cheick Tiote and
Wilfried Bony—Cameroon do not have any.
„Ivory Coast have scored in 13 of their
previous 14 Cup of Nations matches. The
only time they drew a blank was when
losing the 2012 final to Zambia on penalties after a goalless draw.
„Cameroon have won seven, drawn
six and lost two of 15 matchday 3 group
games at the Cup of Nations with the
most decisive victories being 3-0 against
Togo in 2002 and Sudan six years later.
Cheick Tiote will serve a one-game ban
after being booked in both matches to date.
Meanwhile, Max-Alain Gradel could
start after coming off the bench to grab
the late equaliser against Mali.
“Cameroon have experienced players in
every department. For us, except for Kolo
Toure, we have no other experienced defender,” said Renard. “It is a match that
will be decided by little details. Concentration, an ability to take our chances and
defensive rigour will all be important.
Whichever team shows a little less of
these things will go home.”
Salomon Kalou, who will also be hop-
ing to be recalled after being dropped to
the bench against Mali, called it “the final before the real final”. “Cameroon is a
great football nation and so is the Ivory
Coast. All we want is to get through to the
last eight, and now we have 90 minutes to
show who wants it more.”
Recent history suggests Cameroon are
best placed to win this encounter, though.
After all, the Indomitable Lions won their
qualifying group ahead of the Ivorians,
trouncing the Elephants 4-1 in Yaounde in
September before drawing 0-0 in the return match in Abidjan in November.
However, Cameroon are set to once
again be without midfielder Eyong Enoh,
who injured his left thigh in the opening
match against Mali. At the same time,
west African neighbours Mali and Guinea,
the supposed outsiders before the tournament began, clash in Mongomo.
Both have impressed observers with
their displays so far, although Mali have
twice failed to see out leads in their games
while Guinea could live to regret not seeing off the Ivory Coast after leading and
having a one-man advantage.
Nevertheless, winger Ibrahima Traore,
who scored against Cameroon at the
weekend and has been one of the players of the tournament so far, said: “We are
progressing. We have played against two of
the tournament favourites and nobody expected us to take anything from them. It’s
not over, we have a final to come and we’ll
do everything to get the three points.”
Guinea coach Michel Dussuyer has defensive problems, however, with a calf
problem having kept captain Kamil Zayatte on the sidelines so far while Florentin
Pogba came off against Cameroon with a
groin injury.
Germain Berthe is set to start in goal for
Mali after Soumaila Diakite was ruled out
for the rest of the competition with the
groin injury that forced him off against
the Ivorians.
scored two goals,
both of them controversial, to give Napoli
a 2-1 win over angry Genoa
which lifted them into third
place in Serie A on Monday.
Higuain headed the hosts
in front after seven minutes
from a rebound but replays
suggested he was just offside
when Jose Callejon fired in a
shot which Genoa goalkeeper
Mattia Perin parried into the
Argentine’s path.
Iago Falque levelled for
Genoa in the 56th minute but
Napoli regained the lead with a
controversial penalty awarded
for an alleged push by Juraj
Kucka on Higuain.
Contact appeared to be
minimal but Higuain, oblivious to the Genoa protests, fired
home from the penalty spot
with 15 minutes left for his 12th
league goal of the season.
Italian football has been hit
by a rash of controversial refereeing decisions since the
mid-season break and Napoli
themselves were furious after
a 3-1 home defeat by leaders
Napoli went into third place,
the Champions League playoff
spot, with 36 points from 20
games, six behind secondplaced Roma.
Silvan Widmer scored an
unusual goal to give mid-table
Udinese a 2-1 win at Empoli
when his cross from the right
caught goalkeeper Luigi Sepe
napping and went into the goal
off the inside of the post.
Veteran Antonio Di Natale put Udinese in front, the
37-year-old’s ninth goal of the
season, and Riccardo Saponara
levelled for the strugglers with
a penalty before halftime.
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Australia set up
Asian Cup final
with South Korea
Hosts end UAE’s title hopes with 2-0 win in semi-final
Newcastle, Australia
ustralia proved way too
strong for the United
Arab Emirates in the
Asian Cup semi-final
yesterday and a comfortable 2-0
win booked the host nation a
place in Saturday’s final against
South Korea in Sydney.
There was no question of the
UAE producing a repeat of their
quarter-final shock against Japan as they fell behind to defender Trent Sainsbury’s header
after only three minutes.
smacked the post as the UAE
looked for an equalizer, Jason Davidson struck in the 14th
minute to double the Australian
advantage. And despite occasional resistance, Australia had
few problems in seeing out the
“In big games such as semifinals, it’s not good to concede
two goals by mistakes in the first
15 minutes, especially against
the host team with fans behind them,” UAE coach Mahdi
Ali said. “It was very difficult
to come back, this affected us a
lot.” The Socceroos, runnersup in 2011, are looking to win
the region’s top honour for the
first time after joining the Asian
confederation from Oceania in
South Korea, who have already defeated Australia in
the group stage, hope to end a
drought dating back to 1960.
“It was a semi-final with everything on the line,” coach Ange
Postecoglou said.
“You get to this point and you
know one moment could change
everything and deny you the opportunity to play for the title.
We had a great start, I thought
we were dangerous at set pieces
all night, and followed it up with
a second.”
And man of the match Massimo Luongo said the team could be
thrilled with their progress so far.
“We’re over the moon and really proud of everyone,” he said.
“It was not our best performance but each and everyone
worked so hard so deep down
we know we deserve to be in the
“I think that’s behind the celebration in changing room.”
Finishing second in the group
meant Australia were playing
the semi-final at the small stadium in Newcastle rather than
the 84,000-capacity ground in
Sydney where South Korea beat
Iraq 2-0 Monday.
But though the setting was
somewhat quaint for such a tie,
Australia’s performance was extremely professional.
A quick start provided an immediate opener as Luongo’s
corner was met by Sainsbury
who directed a powerful header
into the corner of the net to delight the majority of the sell-out
crowd of just over 21,000.
Moments later the UAE had
their best chance in the game as
Abdelaziz Sanqour hit the byline
and crossed for Khalil but, with
keeper Mat Ryan completely
beaten, his shot struck the outside of the post and went wide.
It proved to be a crucial miss
as Australia soon increased their
lead with Luongo again the provider. The Swindon midfielder
was alert in a scramble to poke
the ball on to Davidson who
finished sweetly beyond Majed
The goals from Sainsbury and
Davidson were their first for the
national team and they became
the ninth and 10th Australia
scorers at the tournament.
The UAE looked to inspirational midfielder Omar Abdulrahman to create a way back
into the game but the Australian
defence worked diligently to cut
out his delicate chips and flicks.
Instead it was the more direct Khalil who was the danger,
flashing a powerful shot over
early in the second period and
being half a step shy of turning
in Ali Mabkhout’s cross.
But despite the UAE enjoying
an increased share of possession, Ryan was never tested and
the referee waving away Walid
Abbas’ optimistic penalty shout
confirmed they would be remaining in Newcastle to meet
Iraq in the third-place match on
Australia, who substituted
a quiet Tim Cahill midway
through the second half, missed
a half-chances to increase their
lead late on.
ustralia boss Ange Postecoglou said
the Socceroos were not popping champagne corks yet after they sank United
Arab Emirates 2-0 yesterday to set up an
Asian Cup final against South Korea.
“In the dressing room now there are no champagne corks being popped,” Postecoglou told reporters after the match. “The players are already
in recovery mode. Staff are already planning for
the next step.
“That part of my job is really easy. I have good
people around me and the players are absolute
professionals,” added the 49-year-old.
Postecoglou added that the players needed to
quickly “erase” the semi-final victory and concentrate on Saturday’s final against Uli Stielike’s
men in Sydney.
Australia narrowly lost to Japan 1-0 in the final
four years ago and have another shot at their securing their first Asian Cup title.
But they will also be wary of the threat posed
by South Korea after they lost 1-0 to the Taeguk
Warriors—who have yet to concede a goal in the
tournament—in the group stage.
South Korea saw off Iraq 2-0 in the first semifinal on Monday.
Australia’s Massimo Luongo
contests a header during his
team’s Asian Cup semi-final
against the United Arab Emirates
at the Hunter Stadium in
Newcastle yesterday.
Socceroos talisman Tim Cahill echoed his
coach’s comments that the squad’s focus was already fixed on tackling the steadfast Koreans.
“It wasn’t too upbeat,” the former Everton star
said of the atmosphere in the changing rooms
after the game. “No one is really getting carried
“We were straight on the massage tables and in
the ice baths and focusing now on one of the biggest games in Australian soccer history.”
raq icon Younis Mahmoud
dismissed speculation over
his retirement and said he
was targeting a “dream”
World Cup spot after their Asian
Cup campaign came crashing to
a halt.
Mahmoud, famed for his winning goal in the 2007 final, said
he was hoping to lead Iraq’s
young players to the 2018 World
Cup in Russia and end an absence of 32 years.
The 31-year-old striker remained upbeat despite Iraq’s 2-0
semi-final defeat to South Korea, who swamped the Lions of
Mesopotamia at a wet Stadium
Australia in Sydney.
“I know they won and went
to the final but we won also, we
won 20 players—they will benefit the national team for the next
10 years,” Mahmoud told Arabic
press late on Monday.
“I think if the same group
stays together then our dream
will come true and we’ll qualify
for the World Cup.”
Iraq have only ever played one
World Cup, in 1986, and qualification for Russia 2018 would go
down as a major success for the
war-weary country.
Despite going clubless for a
year, Mahmoud starred with
two goals at the Asian Cup and a
cheeky ‘panenka’ penalty under
intense pressure in the quarterfinal shoot-out with Iran.
Mahmoud said he had no
thoughts of retirement, adding
that he had several club offers on
the table and also wanted to help
groom Iraq’s new generation.
“I’m not retiring after this
Cup. We’re now building a new
generation and we need to have
experienced players with them
in the national team,” Mahmoud
“The World Cup qualifiers
start in four or five months.
Hopefully I’ll be with the team in
the World Cup qualifiers.”
“I have several offers, seven
in fact, I’m studying them and
one of them is from Al Wakrah,”
he added, referring to his former
club in Qatar.
Whether Iraq retain the services of temporary coach Radhi
Shenaishil, who has worked miracles since being loaned for the
Asian Cup by Qatar Sports Club,
remains to be seen.
But the 45-year-old, brought
in as a stop-gap after the axing
of Hakim Shakir in November,
did not rule out taking up a permanent role after his club stint
“After my contract ends with
the club, I can’t predict my future, so after that I can sit down
and discuss my future,” said the
He added: “It’s a young group
and we have some talented players. The guys outside of Iraq and
the guys playing in Iraq all have
bright futures and I’m excited to
see what this young group can
Younis Mahmoud (L) celebrates
one of his goals in the Asian Cup.
No celebrations
yet, says Aussie
boss Postecoglou
Iraq icon
World Cup
outh Korea striker Lee
Jeong-Hyeop has credited coach Uli Stielike for
his rapid rise to fame after helping his country reach the
Asian Cup final.
The 23-year-old, a shock
call-up for the tournament,
has gone from rough diamond
to polished gem in less than a
month, scoring in South Korea’s
group stage win over Australia
and heading the team’s first in
Monday’s 2-0 semi-final victory over Iraq.
“The coach told me to just
play my game and relax when
we arrived in Australia,” Lee told
Korean reporters, after netting
his third goal in six internationals.
“(Stielike) told me that he
would assume the responsibility for my performance—good
or bad. He always helps me to
play with a relaxed mind, which
makes it easier for me to play.”
With big-name forwards
Lee Dong-Gook and Kim ShinWook struggling for fitness,
Lee’s cool reaction to his baptism of fire has given Stielike a
huge boost.
We have won
nothing yet, says
South Korea’s Son
he Korean pin-up’s
sparkling performances have put his country
within touching distance of a first Asian Cup title
since 1960 and after Monday’s
2-0 win over Iraq, the pressure
will be on them to finish the job.
With hosts Australia heavy
favourites to beat the United
Arab Emirates in the second semi-final, however, Son
knows it will be a tough ask,
despite having beaten the Socceroos in the group stages.
“It’s far too early for us to be
talking about the title,” the jetheeled Bayer Leverkusen star
told reporters in fluent German. “Every game has such a
different complexion that you
just can’t say.
“We still have a massive
game to play in the final so we
can’t afford to be talking about
lifting the trophy.”
Son, who struck twice in
extra-time to sink Uzbekistan
2-0 in the quarter-finals, tormented Iraq in rainy Sydney as
goals from Lee Jeong-Hyeop
and Kim Young-Gwon swept
South Korea into their first
Asian Cup final since 1988,
when they lost to Saudi Arabia.
“I felt we dominated the
game,” said Son, thanking the
vocal “Red Devils” fans for
their support. “We certainly
gave it everything we could in
order to get the victory. Our
supporters were amazing and
gave us that extra power to see
the game through.”
South Korea have yet to concede in five games on their way
to the final, but coach Uli Stielike—nicknamed the “stopper”
during his playing days for his
dogged defensive qualities—
acknowledged his side’s stinginess could come back to haunt
them in the final.
“This situation can be very
dangerous,” said the former
West German international,
‘We still have a massive
game to play in the final
so we can’t afford to be
talking about the trophy’
who spent eight years at Real
Madrid as a player after joining
the Spanish giants in 1977.
“It’s what happens when you
concede a goal and how you react that is important. You can’t
let the players get their heads
down. You have to be prepared
for that and have a reaction.”
South Korea captain Ki
Sung-Yueng admitted it was
difficult for the players not to
dream of winning the Asian
Cup after more than half-acentury of bitter disappointment.
“Some parts of the game
were a little bit sloppy from us
but it was an amazing win,” the
Swansea City midfielder said
after seeing off Iraq. “This is a
great opportunity to become
champions. As captain I want
to lead my team up to lift the

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