THURSDAY | FEBRUARY 5, 2015 | RABEE AL THANI 15, 1436 AH
VOL. 34 NO. 83 | PAGES 32 | BAISAS 200
Chief Executive Ofﬁcer
DR IBRAHIM BIN AHMED AL KINDI
ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI
Oman Establishment for Press, Publication and Advertising
PO Box 974, Postal Code 100, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
FOLLOW US ON:
Deadline for Majlis
election ends today
MUSCAT: The Ministry of Interior
announced that the deadline for
submitting applications for Majlis
Ash’shura 8th term membership will
expire by the end of business day
today. The ministry affirmed that any
applications submitted after this date
will not be entertained by the walis’
offices. The ministry called upon all
applicants who meet the requirements
stipulated to expedite the submission
of their applications to the offices of
the walis in each wilayat they wish to
nominate for election.
BRISBANE: Al Jazeera journalist Peter
Greste arrived home in Australia
yesterday saying he had dreamt of
returning to his family on each of the
400 days of his detention in Egypt.
“I can’t tell you how ecstatic I am to
be here,” said the award-winning
correspondent who was deported on
Sunday from Cairo, where he was held.
“This is a moment that I’ve rehearsed in
my mind at least 400 times over the past,
well, 400 days and it feels absolutely
awesome to be here,” the 49-year-old
said, flashing the victory sign and
holding his arms aloft. REPORT ON P13
World conference on fossil corals Thai PM promises 2016 elections Teen survives 48 hours lost in Alps [email protected]
Oman, Lithuania for stability
in global energy market
MUSCAT: The Government of the
Sultanate of Oman and the Government
of the Republic of Lithuania both
recognise the potential of mutual
benefits, and in pursuit to strengthen
and broaden the friendly relations and
cooperation in fields of trade, economy,
energy, transportation, communication,
and information technology, sciences,
education, innovation and culture,
health protection, tourism and sports,
as well as other fields, resulting from
the quantitative and qualitative
achievements of the Sultanate in
numerous economic and social
sectors under the wise leadership
of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, and
the development and continuous
growth of Lithuania on the eve of the
25th anniversary of restoration of
the Lithuanian Independence, and
on the occasion of the official visit of
Algirdas Butkevicius, Prime Minister
of Lithuania, to the Sultanate during
The MoUs signed
between the two
contribute to the
of economic and cultural
relations. They will provide
a solid base for benefitting
from mutual experiences
Prime Minister of Lithuania
February 2-4, an official session of talks
was held at the Council of Ministers
Headquarters in Muscat yesterday
between His Highness Sayyid Fahd
bin Mahmood al Said, Deputy Prime
Minister for the Council of Ministers,
and Algirdas Butkevicius. Both Parties
reached the following outcome.
The two countries agreed to develop
and expand political, diplomatic,
economic and cultural cooperation for
the benefit of both nations; to cooperate
in international organisations, regional
and international fora, in the context
of the roles and efforts played by both
countries to promote the rule of law,
justice, dialogue and the resolution of
conflict through peaceful means.
changes to HM
Feb. 4: The State Council has referred
amendment in Traffic Law provisions
No 28/93 to His Majesty Sultan
Qaboos in a step to issue it after getting
compliance from the Majlis Ash’shura.
The State bureau earlier hosted
Mohammed bin Ali al Kiyumi, Head
of the Legal Committee, to hear his
comments being introduced during a
The council yesterday held its
fifth meeting for the fourth annual
sitting of the fifth term under the
chairmanship of Dr Yahya bin
Mahfoudh al Mantheri, Chairman of
the State Council.
The members introduced Takaful
Insurance Law referred by the Council
of Ministers and hosted the head of
the Economic Committee to listen
reasons for the amendments carried
out by the committee in the law.
The meeting identified the agenda
of the seventh upcoming regular
session, during which the Takaful
Insurance Law will be discussed.
Confusion over, local taxi fares are now fixed
Feb. 4: Confusion over fares for local
taxi journeys will be a thing of the past
as the authorities have fixed sharing taxi
fares and no more than the prescribed
fares need to be paid, should there be
any misunderstanding over the same in
the Muscat Governorate.
In the fare chart released by the
Muscat Municipality, fares to important
destinations in Muscat have been
mentioned and the civic authority has
instructed all the taxi drivers to abide by
Accordingly, anyone who takes a cab
from Qurayat to Ruwi will have to pay
RO 2 with the sole discretion of the cab
driver as to the number of passengers
he can carry in one trip. From Ruwi,
a passenger has to pay 400 baisa to
SEA ROAD 0.300
Amerat souq; 500 baisa to Amerat Area
5 and 600 baisa to Amerat Area 6.
“These fares have been unified to avoid bargains,” Ali bin Fadhel al
The other prices from Ruwi to
in order to provide the passengers a Balushi, who officially represents the different destinations are to Qurm
hassle-free travel and for the cab drivers taxi drivers, told the Observer.
roundabout (300bz); Rawasco (400bz);
Wattayah (200bz); Burj Sahwa (700bz);
Ghobrah (400bz); Ghala R/A (400bz);
Athaiba (500bz); Muttrah Sea Road
(300bz); and to Darsait roundabout
Likewise, from Qurm roundabout to
Al Khuwair, one has to pay 400 baisa;
while Ruwi Plaza to Wadi Kabir it is 300
baisa and Muttrah it is 300 baisa.
If one takes a cab from Muttrah Sea
Road to Old Muscat area he has to pay
200 baisa and to Sidab it is 300 baisa, it
Oman flays killing of Jordan pilot
TAIWAN PLANE CAREENS
INTO RIVER, 25 DEAD
WAR OF WORDS AHEAD
OF DELHI POLLS
Jordanians take part in a rally in Amman against the killing of pilot Maaz al
SEE ALSO P13
Kassasbeh. — AFP
MUSCAT: A statement issued by the
Foreign Ministry yesterday said that the
Sultanate received with deep sorrow the
news of IS’s execution of Jordanian pilot
Maaz al Kassasbeh.
The statement reads as follows: “With
deep sorrow and sadness, the Sultanate
has received the news of the execution
of the Jordanian pilot Maaz al Kassasbeh
by the IS group. The Sultanate as it
condemns in the strongest terms this
criminal act which reflects an inherent
malice and organised terrorism against
all Muslims and which goes contrary
to the divine law and the sanctity of
human soul. It reaffirms the importance
of concerted international community’s
efforts in the fight against terrorism and
eradicate its sources, and expresses its
solidarity with the Government of the
sisterly Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
and family of the martyr”.
Meanwhile, Jordan’s King Abdallah
II vowed a “severe” response to the IS
group. “The blood of martyr Maaz al
Kassasbeh will not be in vain and the
response of Jordan and its army after
what happened to our dear son will be
severe,” the King said in a statement
released by the Royal Court.
Abdallah held talks with senior
military and security officials yesterday
after cutting short a trip to Washington
following IS’s release of a video showing
Information Minister Mohammad
al Momani said Amman was “more
determined than ever to fight the
terrorist group. Jordan executed two
fighters yesterday, including would-be
suicide bomber, as it had promised to do
if Kassasbeh were killed. — ONA/AFP
Seventy-ﬁve per cent of construction work on 150,000 square metres utility in Salalah completed
HOSPITAL SHELLED IN
SUNRISE 06.44 AM
Massive public park to be ready by khareef season
Feb. 4: With works going on in advance
for the annual festivity, khareef would
entirely be a different experience in
Salalah this year. The authorities here are
on their toes to get things done before
hand and the results are quite promising
with the completion of 75 per cent of
construction work of a park measuring
150,000 square metres in Salalah’s Iitin
area. The park is likely to be ready for
visitors by April-May this year.
And this is just one highlight of
many other ongoing works to meet the
festival requirements to offer the best
possible facilities and services to the
visitors during the khareef season. There
are works which are visible and there
are many others which are either in the
pipeline or waiting for final approval.
In front of the park are the Majabi
restaurants, which are famous for all
sorts of meat preparations all through
Of course the thin restaurants
become crowded and overcrowded
sometimes during khareef. Keeping
in mind popularity of the place and its
location, the authorities have decided
to develop the area with all possible
recreational and civic facilities.
According to sources in the Ministry
of Tourism, there is a plan to develop
10 restaurants in this area. The matter
is being considered by a high level
committee of the ministry.
Due to many houses coming up in
Itin and Auqad areas,
OMAN OIL PRICE RISES $1.73
T H U R S DAY l F E B R U A R Y 5 l 2 0 1 5
Sayyid Badr bin Saud bin al Busaidi, Minister Responsible for Defence Affairs received in his Office at Mu’askar Bait Al Falaj on
Wednesday Ali Akbar Sibeveih, Ambassador of Iran to the Sultanate. The meeting reviewed the good relations and fields of
the existing cooperation between the two friendly countries. It also discussed a number of issues of common concern. — ONA
MSM GAINS 75.26 POINTS
Dubai Mercantile Exchange (DME)
said that Oman oil price (April
delivery) has reached $55.50. The
DME statement said that the price of
Oman oil rose $1.73 from the price
of Tuesday, which was $53.77. The
average price of Oman oil (February
Delivery 2015) has stabilised at $61
and one cent, thus $17.23 per barrel
lower than January delivery 2015.
Muscat Securities Market general index on
Wednesday added 75.26 points, comprising
a rise by 1.13 per cent to close at 8,724.10
points, compared to the last session, which
stood at 6,648.84 points. The trading value
stood at RO 14,759,600, comprising a rise by
9.93 per cent compared to the last session,
which stood at RO 13,426,543. The report
released by MSM pointed out that the market
value rose by 0.56 per cent)
Seminar on industry
day themes organised
MUSCAT: The Ministry of Commerce
and Industry organised on Wednesday a
seminar titled “Themes of Industry Day”
at the Inter-Continental Hotel under
the auspices of Ahmed bin Hassan al
Dheeb, Undersecretary of the Ministry
of Commerce and Industry.
He added that the themes of the
seminar revolved around the role of the
industrial sector in the light of falling
oil prices and government incentives
provided to the industrial sector,
Omanisation and industrial licensing
procedures and improvement of the
industrial sector performance, industrial
strategy and finally approve the final
Al Dheeb said that the contribution
of the industrial sector in GDP over
The themes revolved around
the role of the industrial
sector in the light of falling
oil prices and government
incentives provided to the
the past four years ranged from 10 to
11 per cent, which is a good rate as the
Future Vision of the Omani Economy
2020 was put on the grounds that the
contribution of the industrial sector will
be15 per cent of GDP. He explained that
the seminar came through the vision of
the Ministry of Commerce and Industry
to meet a group of industrialists to
assess the previous period, especially
since the government on the verge of a
new five-year plan in order to stand on
what has been achieved and to know
the appropriate mechanisms to support
the industrial sector, noting that all the
proposals and ideas will be discussed
during the meeting of the Minister
of Commerce and Industry with
industrialists on February 9.
With regard to quick response
Undersecretary of the Ministry of
Commerce and Industry pointed out
that it will be through the Internet, where
it will be distributed to all stakeholders
in the same period and the reply will
also be via the Internet, as some of the
services have activated to help applying
through the Internet.
Boney M to rock Muscat with evergreen songs
MUSCAT: A delegation from the
Zanzibar Water Authority (ZAWA)
currently visiting the Sultanate on
Wednesday visited the Public Authority
for Electricity and Water (PAEW)
during which the delegation was
briefed on PAEW experience in the
implementation and management
of projects related to water supply in
Feb 4: Boney M, the band that took the music
lovers across the world with storm of evergreen
songs in the 70s and 80s, is all set to perform at
Oman Automobile Association Club in Muscat on
For music lovers, this is one name that will make
their hearts skip more than a beat.
Maizie Williams, Original band member who will
lead an 11-member troupe told the Observer. The
event will see the nostalgic numbers of Rivers of
Babylon, Daddy Cool, Ma Baker, Brown Girl and
many more being rendered live to the audience.
Boney M came together in 1976 and has since
Maizie Williams at the press conference in Muscat
then occupied a special place in the hearts of music
“I am excited to be performing for the Omani lovers the world over.
Boney M have sold over 159 million CDs
audience today. My troupe and I are going to take
how the beautiful memories from Oman for sure” worldwide, garnering 18 Platinum and 15 Gold
Albums and over 200 Gold and Platinum Singles.
Their chart domination included three more top
Australian singles, Mary’s Boy Child, the yuletide
classic Hooray! Hooray! It’s a Holi-Holiday and
Gotta Go Home songs make them the most iconic
European disco act of the era. Though Boney M
made modest beginnings, they soon turned in their
songs had distinctive soul soothing melodies and
foot tapping beats that made it a sensational hit and
remains so till today.
T H U R S DAY
FEBRUARY 5 l 2015
Ramadhan contest winners awarded Bank Muscat to host
SME workshop for
women from Saturday
MUSCAT: Oman Establishment for
Press, Publications and Advertising on
Wednesday honoured the winners of
two cars in the Ramadhan Contest for
the year 1435 AH. The award ceremony
held at OEPPA premises was presided
over by Dr Ibrahim bin Ahmed al Kindi,
CEO of OEPPA. Said al Hidaifi won the
Toyota Rav4 Car from the Oman Daily
and Zuwaina al Shuali won Toyota
Corolla from the Oman Daily Observer.
Around 18,000 people participated in
the contest last year organised by Al
Omaneya for Advertising and Public
Relations of OEPPA.
local taxi fares
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1
These fares are for rides on sharing
basis to and fro regular routes and
the taxi driver reserves the right to
the number of people he can carry,
but within the rule which governs
the maximum number of passengers.
However, this rule doesn’t apply if
you are hiring a cab to a destination
of your choice.
Following various complaints
on price disparities, the Muscat
Municipality has earlier announced
that it had plans to introduce taxi
metres in the city.
The plan is expected to bring
uniformed prices and remove the
need to negotiate.
Al Wadi al Kabeer
Al Sahwa R/A
MUSCAT: Bank Muscat, the
flagship financial services provider
in the Sultanate, is hosting a twoday workshop on ‘How to run and
manage your business’ for women
entrepreneurs at the bank’s head office
on February 7 and 8.
The workshop is organised by
Al Wathbah, Bank Muscat’s SME
Department, as part of activities
aimed at expanding and strengthening
avenues for SME development in the
Expert trainers will lead the
workshop aimed at serving
as a platform for existing and
prospective women entrepreneurs
to familiarise themselves with
the various aspects of running
successful SME ventures.
Topics to be covered include
market analysis and marketing plan,
operation plan, financial plan and
writing a business plan etc.
Bank Muscat regularly organises
workshops and seminars to facilitate
unique learning opportunities to
address the challenges faced by
entrepreneurs and thereby create
an environment favourable for SME
Sohar Port to
take part in
Feb 4: Sohar Port and
Freezone can become an
important conduit through
which food manufacturers
can reach booming Middle
East markets at a fraction of
the cost, according to CEO
His remarks come as
Sohar Port prepares to
exhibit the benefits of its
unique position outside
of the Strait of Hormuz at
Gulfood 2015, and follows a
deal with Sohar Flour Mills
to construct a new flour mill
at the Omani port.
and a 90 per cent dependence
on food imports is a perfect
recipe for growth; the value
of regional food markets
will hit $53 billion in 2020.
This offers great returns for
the industry, but it is also
increasing the region’s food
bill. Part of the challenge is
operating costs in big cities,
and our aim is to harness
our location, connectivity,
and rates to cut the cost
of putting food on tables,”
“On top of not having to
pay the additional costs of
passing through the Strait
of Hormuz, land and energy
rates at Sohar Port are very
competitive when compared
with other ports and
distribution centres across
Oman’s Free Trade
Agreements with the US
and Singapore also offer
potential savings that are not
so readily available in some
other parts of the region,
especially its FTA with the
US,” he continued.
Food exports were
expected to account for
$150 billion and supported
1 million jobs in 2014. Like
the Middle East, Singapore
is heavily dependent on food
imports, and Toet added
that in addition to creating
supply chains, revenue,
and jobs serving regional
markets, there is a very
real possibility of creating a
transhipment hub for food
transiting between East and
West. (OEPPA Business
Over the years, Bank Muscat has
launched several initiatives as part of
its commitment to SME development
in the Sultanate.
Serving as building blocks for
entrepreneurs, these initiatives assume
importance in the backdrop of the
priority accorded by the government
to develop the SME sector in the
Aimed at strengthening the SME
sector and creating a successful
generation of entrepreneurs, Al
Wathbah is committed to facilitating
such unique initiatives.
In step with the directives
of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin
Said to support the SME sector and
strengthen its role in the economic
development of the Sultanate,
Bank Muscat has taken the lead
to develop the SME sector in
Aimed at strengthening the
SME sector, Bank Muscat offers a
comprehensive suite of tailor-made
finance solutions, including Al
Wathbah non-collateral finance.
MUSCAT: The Royal Oman Police
(ROP), in collaboration with other
military and security departments,
last week arrested 73 infiltrators of
different nationalities in a number
of wilayats for entering the Sultanate
The ROP also deported 65
infiltrators after taking the necessary
legal actions, in coordination with
their respective embassies.
of Arab Interior
arrives in Sultanate
MUSCAT: Dr Mohammed bin Ali
Kuman, Secretary-General of the Arab
Interior Ministers Council arrived
here on Wednesday on an official twoday visit to the Sultanate during which
he will meet with a number of officials
in the Sultanate.
He was received by a number of
officials at the Ministry of Interior and
Royal Oman Police (ROP). — ONA
T H U R S DAY
FEBRUARY 5 l 2015
Sultanate, Lithuania ink MoU on IT and telecom
Algirdas Butkevicius, Prime Minister of Lithuania, received at his residence in Al Bustan Palace Hotel yesterday Yusuf
bin Alawi bin Abdallah, Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs. The meeting reviewed means of enhancing
cooperation between the two countries and touched on a number of issues of common concern. The meeting was
attended by Sayyid Badr bin Hamad al Busaidi, Secretary-General of the Foreign Ministry, and a number of officials
at the Foreign Ministry.
Lithuania signed a Memorandum of
Understanding (MoU) at the Al Bustan
Palace Hotel on Wednesday during the
ongoing visit of Algirdas Butkevicius,
Prime Minister of Lithuania to the
The MoU is related to the cooperation
between the two countries in the field
of Information and Communications
Technology (ICT). It was signed on
behalf of the Sultanate’s government by
Dr Salim bin Sultan al Ruzaiqi, CEO of
the Information Technology Authority
(ITA) while it was signed on behalf of
the Lithuanian government by Evaldas
Gustas, Minister of Economy.
Dr al Ruzaiqi told Oman News
Agency (ONA) that the MoU will
contribute attracting the Lithuanian
companies to render their experiences
in the Sultanate as Lithuania is one of
the leading countries in ICT. He added
that the MoU will also contribute in
enhancing cooperation between the
Sultanate and Lithuania and availing
the opportunities for the Lithuanian
companies to invest in the ICT
field in the Sultanate. Dr al Ruzaiqi
explained that the MoU will also
avail the opportunities for the Omani
companies to establish partnerships
and benefit from the expertise of their
Lithuanian counterparts, pointing out
that the MoU included the cooperation
in the field of e-government between
the two countries as the Sultanate seeks
to benefit from the expertise of the
advanced countries in this field.
On his turn, the Lithuanian
Minister of Economy said the MoU
envisaged mutual cooperation in
the field of ICT, the exchange of ICT
uses and experiences, and enhancing
the investments of both sides in this
He stressed in his statement the
keenness of both countries to enhance
scope of cooperation in the political,
cultural and economic areas, as well
as promoting cooperation in the trade,
investment, innovation, tourism,
education and renewable energy fields.
The signing ceremony was attended
by Algirdas Butkevicius, Prime
Minister of the Republic of Lithuania,
Dr Ali bin Masoud al Sunaidy, Minister
of Commerce and Industry (Head of
the Mission of Honour Accompanying
the Lithuanian Prime Minister),
Sayyid Badr bin Hamoud al Busaidi,
Secretary-General of the Foreign
Ministry, Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed
al Futaisi, Minister of Transport and
Communications and a number of
officials in both countries.
Oman, Lithuania for stability
Munich Airport to help
airports expansion in Sultanate in global energy market
CONTINUED FROM P 1
Feb 4: Germany’s Munich Airport, one
of Europe’s busiest gateways, has pledged
to continue contributing Bavarian
expertise in the expansion of Muscat
and Salalah airports, among other hubs
in the Arabian region.
A delegation from Flughafen
München GmbH (FMG), which
operates Munich Airport, was in Muscat
earlier this week to affirm the German
corporation’s continued cooperation
with Oman Airports Management
FMG CEO Dr Michael Kerkloh,
who headed the delegation, signed the
follow-up agreement with Dr Juma Ali
Juma, Chairman of OAMC, during In
a statement, Dr Kerkloh described the
visit as a major success that helped lay
the “cornerstone” for continued and
enhanced cooperation with its partners
in Oman and the GCC.”
To date, Munich Airport has
successfully provided support in 25
airport projects on four continents.
“As emphatically demonstrated by
the agreements we have now signed,
our expertise will continue to be eagerly
sought after in the future, in particular in
the Arabian Gulf region,” he said.
In Muscat, an extensive expansion
programme is slated to quadruple the
annual passenger handling capacity
The two parties acknowledge the
importance of maintaining stability in
the global energy market, and of the need
to secure sustainable energy supplies, as
well as economic diversification for the
purpose of long-term development and
The development of the cooperation
in the following areas including
industry, energy, transport, science,
technologies, innovations, information
industries, environment protection,
agriculture, tourism, education and
The parties stressed the importance
of areas of culture and science and
the exchange of experience, building
skillsets, the participation in scientific
forums and conferences and the
development of direct relations between
the institutions of higher education of
The two sides are convinced of the
expedience for taking measures in
promotion of investment of state and
private enterprises, considering that
such investments are the most important
and substantial factor in development of
long term bilateral economic relations.
Oman and Lithuania stressed the
FMG CEO Dr Michael Kerkloh (right) with signed the follow-up agreement with
Dr Juma Ali Juma, Chairman of OAMC, in Muscat.
to 48 million. All of the expansion
measures, including the new terminal,
are scheduled for completion at the end
A new runway and control tower
went into operation in December 2014.
The expansion work at Salalah
Airport in the south of Oman also
includes a new runway, a new tower and
an additional terminal.
At both locations the FMG consultants
will support the local partners in
particular with the preparations to open
the terminals, including the testing of
the baggage systems. In addition, the
Munich experts will help to prepare the
relocation and provide training at both
airports, the German corporation said.
Dr Markus Söder, the Bavarian
minister of finance and chairman of
the FMG Supervisory Board, welcomed
FMG’s latest commitment.”Munich
Airport is Bavaria’s calling card for the
As an international air transportation
hub, it is enormously important for the
The skills of our experts have
been in demand around the globe for
many years. That’s something Bavaria
can be proud of.” (OEPPA Business
Oman and Lithuania stressed the necessity of
strengthening trade relations in all levels. In this
regard, the two sides aspire to beneﬁt from exchanging
of business delegations, organising of trade fairs and
exhibitions and developing further their business
contacts. Beneﬁting from the considerable opportunities
in developing business relations between business
representatives, in establishing joint ventures, taking
into consideration the importance of small and medium
enterprises in economic development.
necessity of strengthening trade relations
in all levels. In this regard, the two sides
aspire to benefit from exchanging of
business delegations, organising of trade
fairs and exhibitions and developing
further their business contacts.
Benefiting from the considerable
business relations between business
representatives, in establishing joint
ventures, taking into consideration
the importance of small and medium
enterprises in economic development.
The parties underline the importance
of cooperation between chambers of
trade and commerce of both parties, as
well as the development of cooperation of
other associate business structures with
the aim of exchanging all that is related
to trade and investment opportunities.
The establishment of a joint Intergovernmental
Economic Cooperation as in important
factor in developing cooperation, as well
as believing in expedience of regular
consultations between other ministries
and state institutions between both the
concerning avoidance of double
taxation, investment promotion and
protection, air services and economic
cooperation in the future.
The two parties acknowledge their
intention to further consult regularly on
various bilateral issues of mutual interest,
as well as regional and international
matters of common concern.
T H U R S DAY
FEBRUARY 5 l 2015
GCC regulators size up
union of capital markets
The National Ferries Company (NFC) organized an experimental journey on board of Souqarah Ferry from Khasab Port in the
Governorate of Musandam to Bahman Port in Qasham Island in Iran. Technical team of the National Ferries Company
highlighted the technical requirements for docking the Omani ferryboats at Bahman Port in Iran. NFC’s delegation were
briefed on the work system at Bahman Port in Qasham Island and the facilities at the port. The delegation toured the port, its
facilities and were familiarized with the available investment opportunities for the private sector.
Public park coming up in Salalah
the upcoming park in Itin would serve the dual purpose of
khareef and day-to-day visits by the people residing in this
area. “It would also suit to those who go up at Ain Jarjij and
adjoining areas where the impact of the monsoon season
remains the maximum all through the season. Either way
while going up or while coming down they can have a break
in the park which is to be fitted with toilets and sitting areas,”
said a local resident Fahad.
According to the plan, the public park in Iitin would
have maximum greenery with coconut, tamarind and neem
trees. There would grass lawns, shaded pavilions, exercise
stations and shaded sitting areas. The first of its kind park
in Salalah would have a wide plaza area with stone paving.
There are designed wadis (culverts) with islands and grass
mounts, bridges, steps and garden gate buildings with wide
parking areas on both the gates. The place would have two
slaughter houses, long asphalt pathway for regular walkers
and children, while there would be four toilets, two each for
men and women visitors.
According some sources, there is a plan to develop auto
cleaning toilets in several parts of Salalah as part of offering
the best possible civic amenities to the Salalah visitors during
khareef and winter seasons.
IEEE conference and
MUSCAT: The 8th Institute of Electrical and Electronics
Engineers (IEEE) GCC Conference and Exhibition
concluded this evening in the Conference Hall at Sultan
Qaboos University (SQU). The 4-day Conference was hosted
by SQU in collaboration with IEEE at Oman Society of
Engineers (OSE) in the Sultanate, under the theme “Towards
Sustainable Smart Solutions” and was attended by 250
engineers from both inside and outside the Sultanate.
Feb. 4: The GCC Capital Market Regulators met yesterday in Saudi Arabia.
The meeting is a follow up on what
was achieved at the 35th session of
the GCC Supreme Council Summit
that was held in Doha in December
The Supreme Council was also
briefed about the functioning of the
GCC Monetary Union, and the measures taken by States to implement the
Gulf common market. The Supreme
importance of continuing the steps
to further the integration among the
and to intensify efforts to implement
its resolutions on joint action with
regard to the areas under the eco-
MUSCAT: Oman Road
(ORSA) donates more
than 200 child restraints
for newborns in Oman.
Funds for those restraints
were raised through the BP
Oman sponsored “Buckle
Up” campaign. They will
be distributed in phases
Dhakhliya, Dhahira and
Sharqiya in 2015.
Amor Nasser Al Matani,
Chairman of ORSA, stated,
“These funds were raised as
part of the recent campaign
of ‘Buckle Up Every Person
in Every Seat on Every Trip’
that was organised by ORSA
in partnership with BP
Oman. Many individuals,
schools and organisations
participated in donating
funds towards this cause.
I thank Oman Oilfields
Supply Centre (OOSC),
Special Technical Service
(STS) Oman, Shell Oman
Marketing and Sports for all
committee of the Ministry of
Health, schools and colleges
and everyone who helped in
raising these funds.”
nomic agreement. However some of
the capital market experts have been
skeptical about the viability because
of the varying level of market performances in all the GCC countries.
Speaking to Observer, one of the ofϐ er because Capital Markets are closely
ϐ cies. “These are not yet integrated nor
coordinated. Moreover, GCC countries
should be open to a progressive and
economic union or integration, and
this need not replace the sovereign
market sector. In other words, the ofϐ
could be where regulators can be coordinated and integrated but leave
being while maintaining competitive
advantage of each sovereign state.
ϐnancial market be achieved has been
a pondering question while another
Ǥϐ tems established is one thing, but to
have them operational and functioning well is a different matter as has
been the case with GCC Common
“For Capital market integration,
it is still very premature. We need to
integration and then perhaps realise
that we do not need for it to be located in one country. It could operate all
over the GCC. Furthermore, the regulatory powers can also continue to
exist as they are and be coordinated
by a committee or rotating chairs. All
options are open at this stage,” he said.
T H U R S DAY
FEBRUARY 5 l 2015
BOOSTER: RO 700,000 worth pacts include buildings which would yield revenue for clubs
Agreements to fund Sohar, Majis
and Al Salam sports clubs signed
SOHAR: Agreements to support
investment projects for Sohar, Majis
and Al Salam Sports Clubs that worth
RO 700,000 were signed at Crowne
Plaza Sohar Hotel in North Al Batinah
Governorate on Wednesday under
the patronage of Shaikh Saad bin
Mohammed al Mardhouf al Saadi,
Minister of Sports Affairs, with a support
from Jusoor Corporation, represented
by Orpic and Sohar Aluminium.
Shaikh Rashad bin Ahmed al Hinai,
Under-Secretary of the Ministry of
Sports Affairs stressed the importance of
these initiatives by the private sector to
support sports that will help these clubs
to provide more sports and cultural
activities and programmes that would
attract young people.
Omar bin Mohammed al Abri,
Project Manager at Jusoor Corporation
said in his speech that the RO 700,000 Shaikh Rashad bin Ahmed al Hinai, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Sports Affairs,
agreements include the establishment stressed the importance of these initiatives by the private sector to support sports that
of buildings for each club to achieve the
will help these clubs to provide more sports and cultural activities and programmes
desired goals in the sports and support
for the current and future generations which would attract young people
through the use of financial returns for
these investment buildings.
sustainable social projects that focus on support youth projects in the sports and Al Batinah Governorate, members of
Shaikh Ali bin Saleh al Hashar CEO young people is one of the basic pillars social areas. The signing ceremony was Majlis Ash’ shura and the heads of sports
of Jusoor, said that the establishment of of any society and will contribute to attended by a number of walis of North clubs in the governorate. — ONA
Oman Fisheries plans
seaweed farming pilot
MUSCAT: The Oman Fisheries
Company plans to go ahead with a
pilot project on seaweed farming at a
government allocated coastal site.
The partially state owned company
said in a report that feasibility studies are
underway. “The Company has planned
to go ahead with the pilot project on
seaweeds farming on government
allocated area in the sea. The company
has initiated viability studies with the
government for the identification of
We are in the process of
(undertaking) technical and financial
feasibility studies,” Mohammed bin
Hamada al Masrouri, Chairman and
Abdulamir bin Said bin Mohammed,
Chairman – Internal Audit Committee,
said in the Directors’ Report of the
Group’s financial performance for the
nine months ended December 31, 2014.
The unaudited results represent the
consolidated figures of Oman Fisheries
Co SAOG, Oman Fisheries Co FZE
and Al Ameen Stores and Refrigeration
According to the report, the
consolidated turnover jumped 29 per
cent to RO 17.80 million in the nine
months under review, compared to RO
13.80 million a year earlier.
Despite the increase in turnover,
losses climbed to RO 999,000, up from
RO 545,000 during the same period of
the previous year.
It attributed the losses to a number
of setbacks, notably a decision by the
Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries to
ban some species for export.
That led to an increase in stocks
of frozen species in the company’s
inventory, with little prospects of sales
in the local market.
The company has however pledged
to find a market for these stocks locally.
Also impacting the performance
was a decision by the company to limit
larges cale procurement of cuttlefish
to ensure compliance with quality
standards set by customers.
Adding to costs during the nine
month period were higher operating
expenses, depreciation, personnel costs,
and the operation of two new plants in
Salalah and Soqara.
As part of its commitment to
supporting the government’s food
security drive and boosting the available
fish across Oman, the company has set
aside around 2,000 metric tons of frozen
fish for local consumption during
the offseason and the holy month of
Ramadhan. Distribution is planned
across the country, the report said.
With the fishing season in full
season, Oman Fisheries plans to build
up stocks in parallel with a plan to
boost sales and profitability, it stated,
adding that a 3 year strategy to achieve
profitability is currently under review.
(OEPPA Business Development Dept)
GUtech to host international conference
on fossil corals and sponges from today
Minister of Tourism Ahmed bin Nasser al Mehrzi (left) at the three-day world
conference on tourism and culture in Cambodia on Wednesday.
HCT and Nama team up to
develop start ups for students
MUSCAT: Students from the Higher College of Technology (HCT) in Muscat held an
engagement session with staff from Nama Group, a strategic sponsor of Injaz Oman.
The objective of the session was to introduce the students to the volunteers and to
enable the formation of teams that will participate in the Sharikati competition which
will be held later this year. Currently in its fourth year, the Sharikati programme aims
to train students the principles of entrepreneurship and empower them to develop
their own micro and small businesses.
Ahmed bin Saleh Al Jahdhami, CEO of the Oman Power and Water
Procurement Company (OPWP), member of Nama Group, and Board Member
at Injaz Oman said, “It is our pleasure to collaborate with Injaz Oman in their
drive to promote an entrepreneurship culture within the youth segment. At Nama
Group, we continuously urge our staff to take part in volunteering initiatives as it
is a key component to a sustainable development.”
Feb 4: An international conference
addressing research topics on fossil
corals and sponges from Paleozoic to
recent times, will begin at the German
University of Technology in Oman
(GUtech) on Thursday.
Around 60 scientists from Belgium,
Germany, Poland, France, Italy, the UK,
Japan, Russia, Iran,
Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, China and
Australia are participating in the 10 daylong conference, which is backed by The
Research Council, Carmeuse, Springer
Publishing House and the Geological
Society of Oman (GSO).
Prof Dr Michaela Bernecker, Head of
the Department of Applied Geosciences
at GUtech and main organiser of the
conference, commented: “The meet
will address corals and sponges through
time and space, during reef crisis in
earth history, biomineralisation, coral
growth, biostrome forming and reef
building from a micro to macro scale.
marine ecosystems are influenced
by several triggering mechanisms
like global and regional tectonics,
Coral reefs of the
Sea of Oman offer
the possibility for
biologists to apply an
of comparison with the fossil
deposited on the Arabian
shelf during throughout the
concentrations, loss of oxygen in the
oceans, carbon dioxide poisoning or
rapid global warming.
Their discoveries help us to actively
respond in an optimal way to current
global concerns including sustainable
use of natural resources, biodiversity
response to global warming and keeping
our planet environmentally sustainable.”
According to the academic, the
study of coral and sponge limestone
is importance because fossil reefs are
potential petroleum reservoirs.
“The study of such fossil reef
limestone allows us to interpret this
potential reservoir rocks with significant
primary framework porosity and
permeability for water and hydrocarbons
Prof Dr Michaela Bernecker with Permian and coral limestone used in the façade of
the Sahab Hotel in Jabal al Akhdar.
like oil and gas and to understand the
heterogeneities in carbonate reservoirs,”
As part of the conference, a number
of field excursions will offer researchers
the opportunity to visit the magnificent
geological outcrops for example in Al
Khoud, Jabal Al Akhdar and in the
“Those excursions will provide
unparalleled access to the unique
fossil Cnidaria and Porifera limestone
locations in the Sultanate for scientific
discussion and exchange of ideas,” said
Prof Michaela, adding, “the modern
coral reefs of the Sea of Oman offer the
possibility for geologists and biologists
to apply an interdisciplinary approach of
comparison with the fossil counterparts
deposited on the Arabian shelf during
throughout the geoligical history.”
Professors of Sultan Qaboos
University (SQU) will lead the field trip
in the Al Khoud area.
Students from GUtech and SQU will
also participate in the conference and a
special student session will be organised.
Frankincense trees grow on marginal land that is not suitable for agriculture all the while protecting the soil from erosion by producing biomass
Project proves sustainable harvest of frankincense trees
ZAINAB AL NASSRI
Feb 4 : The four-year Frankincense Project
successfully achieved its aim of assessing how
to sustainably harvest Oman’s frankincense
trees. The study took place in four experimental
research locations in the Governorate of Dhofar,
where three meteorological stations were
deployed to monitor the impact of climatic
factors on resin production. This was revealed
by The Environment Society of Oman (ESO)
team led by Dr. Mohsin al Aamry, project leader,
Dr Hamad Al Ghailani, Community Outreach
Manager and Environmental Expert, Fawziya Al
Khanjari, Head of Government Relations, HSBC
and Lamees Daar, Executive Director of ESO.
The Frankincense Project was designed to
protect and preserve an important piece of
Oman’s heritage and environment for generations
The Frankincense Project was designed
to protect and preserve an important
piece of Oman’s heritage and
environment for future generations.
Over the centuries, frankincense has
been a large source of income for
the people of Dhofar and is today an
to come. Over the centuries, frankincense has
been a large source of income for the people of
Dhofar and is today an internationally-renowned
commodity from this part of the world.
Frankincense trees also positively contribute
to the environment by growing on marginal
land that is not suitable for ordinary agriculture
all the while protecting the soil from erosion by
producing substantial biomass.
Few people know that Frankincense is
harvested by tapping the trunk and branches of
the Boswellia sacra tree every 14 days between
March and April and every 21 to 28 days between
the November and May while avoiding tapping
between June and October.
In the past few years, after closely monitoring
the growth patterns of frankincense trees,
researchers observed that tapping has harshly
affected the trees, often leading to degradation
that is beyond repair. The number of taps should
also depend on tree height, trunk size and foliage
cover maintaining a 30 cm distance from one
another. This kind of harvesting reduces the side
effects of tapping and guarantees the overall well
being of the trees along with seed germination.
Dr Mohsin al Aamry, said, “I am delighted to
share this new information about the sustainable
harvesting of a tree that holds a special place
in Omani heritage. The challenge now is to put
these new findings into practice and ensure the
survival of the frankincense tree.”
Fawziya al Khanjari, head of government
relations, HSBC Bank Oman, said, “Sharing the
same vision with the Environment Society of
Oman, we are proud to have supported this firstof-its-kind study on one of the country’s oldest
natural treasures. Recognising that there is much
more to be done, HSBC Bank Oman will remain
committed to sustainable management practices
by supporting national projects that support
local communities and raise awareness on the
importance of environmental preservation.”
An infographic poster has been designed to
inform practitioners on the sustainable harvesting
of frankincense which is vital to the survival of
this endemic tree. The completion of the project
has resulted in important scientific findings never
before addressed. The project continuation will
focus on communicating with key audiences and
relevant authorities to promote a conservation
culture among local communities while fostering
good working practices at an institutional level.
JAPAN PM CONDEMNS PILOT KILLING
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said
yesterday he was deeply angry over the
“outrageous” killing of a Jordanian pilot,
who was apparently burnt to death by
IS fighters, and repeated Japan’s resolve
not to give in to terrorism. “I feel an
intense sense of anger and outrage upon
hearing that the Jordanian pilot Mouath
al Kasaesbeh was horrifically burned to
death,” Abe said in parliament.
KIRCHNER ARRIVES IN BEIJING
T H U R S DAY l F E B R U A R Y 5 l 2 0 1 5
Cristina Kirchner and
Chinese President Xi
Jinping during the
at the Great Hall of the
People in Beijing yesterday.
Kirchner is visiting Beijing
reciprocating a visit from
her Chinese counterpart.
DRAMATIC FOOTAGE: Stricken plane’s wing clips taxi and motorway
Taiwan plane careens into
river after take-off, 25 dead
Rescuers lift the wreckage of the TransAsia ATR 72-600 from the Keelung river at New Taipei City yesterday.
TAIPEI: A TransAsia Airways plane
with 58 passengers and crew on board
careered into a river shortly after
taking off from a downtown Taipei
airport yesterday, killing 25 people
and leaving 20 missing, officials said.
Fifteen people somehow survived
the crash after the plane lurched
between buildings, clipped a taxi
and an overpass with its port-side
wing and crashed upside down in the
Dramatic pictures taken by a
motorist and posted on Twitter
showed the plane careening over the
motorway soon after the turboprop
ATR 72-600 aircraft took off in
apparently clear weather on a domestic
flight for the island of Kinmen.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,”
a volunteer rescuer surnamed Chen
said of the most recent in a series of
disasters to hit Asian carriers in the
past 12 months.
survivors wearing life jackets wading
and swimming clear of wreckage.
Others, including a young child,
were taken to shore in inflatable boats.
crowded around the partially
submerged fuselage of flight GE235,
lying on its side in the river, trying to
Pratt & Whitney is part of United
The head of Taiwan’s civil aviation
authority, Lin Tyh-ming, said the
aircraft last underwent maintenance
on Janauary 26.
The pilot had 4,916 hours of flying
hours under his belt and the co-pilot
had 6,922 hours, he said.
Taipei’s downtown Songshan
airport, the smaller of the city’s two
airports, provides mostly domestic
flights but also connections to Japan,
China and South Korea.
A statement from China’s Taiwan
Affairs Office said 31 of those on board
were tourists from the southeastern
city of Xiamen, which lies close to
Taiwan’s Kinmen island.
The crash is the latest in a string
of mishaps to hit Asian carriers in the
past 12 months.
An AirAsia jet bound for Singapore
crashed soon after taking off from
the Indonesian city of Surabaya on
December 28, killing all 162 people on
Also last year, a Malaysia Airlines
jet disappeared and one of its sister
planes was downed over Ukraine with
a combined loss of 537 lives.
TransAsia is Taiwan’s third-largest
Rescuers pull a passenger out of the plane which crash landed in a river in
New Taipei City yesterday.
— Reuters carrier.
help those on board.
The plane missed apartment
buildings by metres, though it was not
clear if that was luck or whether the
pilot was aiming for the river.
Footage showed a van skidding to
a halt on the damaged overpass after
barely missing the plane’s wing, with
small pieces of the aircraft scattered
along the road.
The chief executive of TransAsia,
Peter Chen, bowed deeply at a televised
news conference as he apologised to
passengers and crew.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said
his government had offered Taiwan
any help necessary following the crash.
The last communication from one
of the aircraft’s pilots was “Mayday
Mayday engine flameout”, according
to an air traffic control recording.
A flameout occurs when the fuel
supply to the engine is interrupted
or when there is faulty combustion,
resulting in an engine failure.
Twin-engined aircraft, however,
are usually able to keep flying even
when one engine has failed.
The plane was powered by two
Pratt & Whitney PW127M engines.
The aim of the talks is to persuade the North to scrap its nuclear weapons in return for aid
N Korea strikes down US talks, vows doom
SEOUL: North Korea yesterday ruled
out resuming dialogue with the
United States, and vowed to respond
to any US aggression with nuclear
strikes and cyber warfare.
The bellicose statement from
the country’s top military body,
the National Defence Commission
(NDC), came after reported moves
by Washington and Pyongyang to
revive long-stalled six-nation talks on
It also preceded the start in early
March of annual joint US-South
Korea military exercises that always
presage a sharp spike in military
tensions and rhetoric on the divided
The NDC statement was an
apparent reaction to remarks Barack
Obama made regarding the eventual
collapse of the regime in North
Korea, which the US president called
the “most cut-off nation on Earth”.
The NDC statement said the
president’s comments amounted to
a threat to engineer the country’s
“Since the gangster-like US
imperialists are blaring that they
will ‘bring down’ the DPRK (North
Korea) the army and people of the
DPRK cannot but officially notify the
Obama administration that the DPRK
has neither need nor willingness to sit
at negotiating table with the US any
longer,” the NDC said.
The statement, carried by the
North’s official KCNA news agency
and titled “US imperialists will
face final doom,” said North Korea
would respond to any US military
aggression in kind — whether with
conventional, nuclear or cyber forces.
Obama slapped sanctions on
North Korea last month following the
hacking of Hollywood studio Sony
Pictures’ computer network.
US officials blamed the attack on
Pyongyang and described it as the
most damaging commercial hack in
North Korea, which is known
to have built up a formidable cyber
warfare unit, has officially denied any
The Washington Post reported on
Monday that US and North Korean
nuclear envoys had been secretly
discussing the idea of “talks about
talks”, but had been unable to agree
on practical arrangements.
State Department spokeswoman
Jen Psaki stressed the US had not
changed its position of requiring
the North to take tangible steps
towards denuclearisation before any
meaningful dialogue can be held.
North Korea carried out nuclear
tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013.
The aim of the six-party talks
is to persuade the North to scrap
its nuclear weapons in return for
aid and other incentives such as
security guarantees and diplomatic
Last month, North Korea offered
to suspend future nuclear tests
temporarily if Washington cancels its
annual military drills with the South.
The proposal was formally rejected
by the US as an “implicit threat.”
Pyongyang views the joint
exercises as provocative rehearsals
for invasions, while Seoul and
Washington insist they are purely
defensive in nature.
The NDC statement said the
North was capable of bringing about
the “final ruin of the US” with its
“precision and diversified nuclear
Hong Hyun-Ik, a senior researcher
at the Sejong Institute think-tank
in Seoul, said neither North Korea
nor the United States appeared
particularly sincere about the idea of
The United States needs a
“trouble-making” North Korea” to
rally support from its allies for its
ultimate strategy of keeping China’s
growing influence in check in the
region, Hong said.
At the same time, with its economy
in better shape than the past, North
Korea feels “no sense of urgency”
about resuming talks.
“Against this backdrop, neither
North Korea nor the United States
wants to take the initiative for a
breakthrough,” Hong said. — AFP
Thai PM maintains general
election to take place in 2016
BANGKOK: Thai Prime Minister Prayuth
Chan-ocha said yesterday that a general
election planned for early 2016 to return
Thailand to democracy would go ahead.
“If everything goes according to our plan
at the start of next year there will be a new
general election,” Prayuth told reporters
in Bangkok. “As far as I have heard from
all sides, the road map we have planned is
moving forward as scheduled.”
Prayuth led a military coup in May
following months of political unrest,
including street violence that left nearly 30
T H U R S DAY
FEBRUARY 5 l 2015
NIGERIA ON EDGE
OVER BOKO HARAM
suspected bombing rocked a presidential campaign rally in northeast Nigeria on
Monday, as the country braced for fresh Boko Haram attacks before polling in just
under two weeks time.
President Goodluck Jonathan, who had been addressing supporters of his
ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Gombe city, had just left the venue
when the blast happened in a car park outside.
Rescue workers and health officials said the bodies of two women were brought
to the Gombe State Specialist Hospital with 18 people who were injured.
“We have evacuated two bodies of females we believe were suicide bombers
behind the blast,” said the rescue official, who asked to remain anonymous
because he was not authorised to speak to media.
The blast, confirmed by eyewitnesses including a local reporter following the
presidential convoy, came a day after two explosions in Gombe city blamed on
Boko Haram militants.
Sunday’s attacks left at least five people
dead in a weekend of deadly violence that also
saw the group attack the key city of Maiduguri
Maiduguri, the Borno
for the second time in a week.
Nigerian troops, aided by civilian vigilantes, state capital, will
repelled the attack while Chad and Cameroon
likely be hit again
bombed the Boko Haram-held town of
Gamboru, on the eastern fringe of Borno State. before polling day,
Security analysts believe Maiduguri, the given its symbolism
Borno state capital, will likely be hit again
for the group as it
before polling day, given its symbolism for the
group and because it would undermine the would undermine
February 14 vote.
Feb 14 vote, reports
The election is expected to be the closest
since Nigeria returned to civilian rule in 1999,
with the prospect of the PDP being dumped
out of power for the first time in 16 years.
Nnamdi Obasi, Nigeria researcher at the International Crisis Group, said the
upsurge in violence was “predictable” and that another strike on Maiduguri was
on the cards.
Boko Haram is in control of most of Borno and has effectively surrounded
Maiduguri, which is seen as one of the few places left in the state where voting
could feasibly still take place.
Turnout could be affected if large numbers of people, may of them displaced
by six years of violence, desert the city, which with other areas in the northeast is
a main opposition stronghold.
Capturing Maiduguri would not only be a morale-booster for the rebels but
also likely sink Jonathan’s re-election bid once and for all, said Obasi.
Chad’s offensive comes after the African Union and United Nations last week
backed a new 7,500-strong, five-nation force to tackle Boko Haram.
Nigeria’s military maintains that N’Djamena’s involvement is part of the
existing agreement with Chad and Niger for their troops to assist in the counterinsurgency.
Chad and Niger had withdrawn their troops from the multi-national base at
Baga, in northern Borno, last year, leaving only Nigerian soldiers to defend the
town when it was attacked on January 3.
That led some to assume the existing force was dead in the water but the
devastating strike on Baga, in which hundreds or more were feared killed, appears
to have jolted it into action.
Jonathan, who has been criticised for failing to end the violence, could be
hoping for a political bounce from any military successes in the tight election
campaign, even at this late stage.
But Mark Schroeder, from security and political analysts Stratfor, believes that
allowing foreign forces to operate on Nigerian soil would be counter-productive
to him and the country.
“This is essentially absolving Nigeria of its long-standing geopolitical strength
as the region’s hegemon able to assist internal and pan-West African security
stability,” he said.
Schroeder, the group’s vice-president for Africa analysis, also considered
Nigerian Army operations no more than “forays”, adding that a sustained effort
was needed to claw back territory.
Boko Haram’s attacks on Maiduguri may be designed to draw the Nigerian
army to defend the city, allowing the group to mount strikes elsewhere in the
northeast and defend eastern positions.
Pro-Russian rebels arrive at the hospital of Donetsk’s Tekstilshik district after it was hit by a shelling yesterday. — Reuters
Which weapons Kiev needs?
he White House has signalled it may be ready to change bolster the rebels, but Ukraine’s stocks of light anti-armour
tack and start supplying arms to Ukrainian troops battling weapons are in an “abysmal condition,” said the report by
pro-Russian separatists, but what does Kiev want — and the Atlantic Council, the Brookings Institution and the
Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
what can Washington provide?
The White House is reportedly considering giving
Kiev has said it hopes for an announcement of military
aid during a visit by US Secretary of State John Kerry today, Ukraine “fire-and-forget” Javelin anti-tank missiles, which
after a US think-tank report called for a massive upscaling use shaped charges to squirt deadly jets of molten metal
through thick armour.
in the quality of weapons available to Ukrainian forces.
Shaped charges were used to deadly effect by insurgents
The US government in November committed $118
million in “non-lethal” equipment and training for in Iraq targeting the armour of US-led coalition forces.
The report said that Washington should provide $1
the Ukrainian military, of which around half has been
delivered, including body armour, night vision glasses, billion in military assistance “as soon as possible”, followed
by another billion in 2016, and again in 2017.
mortar radar and medical equipment.
In order to overcome the superiority of the separatists’
While Ukraine is one of the world’s biggest arms
capabilities, it noted, the US should
producers, it lacks the hi-tech systems
provide radar to pinpoint the locations
needed to match the separatists’ arsenal,
While Ukraine is one where Grad rockets are being fired “out
allegedly supplied by Moscow.
of the world’s biggest to a range of 30-40 km”.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo
Reconnaissance drones would be
Klimkin said yesterday that “we have
essential to detect troop movements on
enough Kalashnikovs,” and what is
it lacks the hi-tech
the largely flat terrain of east Ukraine.
needed is sophisticated equipment for
systems to match the
Such drones would be non-lethal and
“modern warfare” — including secure
likely human portable.
radios, jamming equipment for separatist
Armoured Humvees would provide
radios, reconnaissance drones and more
“all-weather mobility, speed, reliability
radar systems to locate mortar, rocket
and a measure of protection as they
and artillery fire.
move between positions on the
“What we need is exactly modern
warfare, which we’ve been lacking all this time,” Klimkin battlefield,” the report said.
The survival rate of Ukraine’s casualties, 70 per cent
told Western journalists in Kiev, adding that the separatists
were currently able to “intercept our soldiers talking on of which are from rocket and artillery fire, would also be
greatly improved by the provision of field hospitals, the
mobile phones and then steer their fire.”
Ukraine’s needs also include training to use sophisticated report said, calling the current military medical system
equipment, Klimkin said: “It’s not about buying a couple of “relatively underdeveloped and severely under resourced”.
Beyond the US, Nato members using former Soviet
The US report published on Monday by a group of equipment compatible with Ukraine’s arms inventory could
former senior civilian and US military leaders said the prove particularly useful with contributions to air defence
West must “bolster deterrence in Ukraine by raising the systems to discourage large-scale Russian airstrikes.
“Procuring advanced US air defence weapons would be
risks and costs to Russia of any renewed major offensive.”
expensive, and integrating them into the existing Ukrainian
Kiev and its Western allies have accused Russia of
pouring columns of heavy armour over the border to air defence system would take time,” the report said.
UN mission struggling in Mali desert with no peace to keep
fter UN helicopters strafed separatist rebels
in northern Mali last month, residents
of the region’s largest town Gao took to
the streets to celebrate the long-awaited
burst of action by the peacekeeping
mission. Just days later, a UN base in Gao
was attacked by crowds hurling stones
and petrol bombs, furious at rumours
the peacekeepers had signed a secret deal
with the rebels.
At least three people were killed after
UN troops opened fire, forcing UN
Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon to order
an enquiry. The abrupt reversal highlights
the daunting task facing the UN mission
in a country where there is still no peace
to keep, two years after French forces
wrested control of Mali’s desert north
from separatist rebels and Al Qaedalinked militants.
In part, the difficulties experienced by
the UN mission in Mali (MINUSMA)
stem from a mandate that has left it open
to attack from all sides. Peacekeepers in
Mali are supposed to help the state impose
its authority on the north, while also acting
as a broker for stalled peace talks between
the warring factions — a role that requires
the UN mission to win the trust of rebels.
“MINUSMA’s position (was already)
delicate due to the complex mandate,”
said Jean-Herve Jezequel, Sahel analyst at
International Crisis Group. “The events in
Gao have just complicated an already very
While France’s focus has shifted
to regional counter-terrorism, the
10,000-strong UN mission that deployed
in the wake of the swift French offensive
in Mali inherited the trickier task of
rebuilding a broken state.
UN peacekeepers face challenges
ranging from Malians’ expectations that
they would bring separatists to heel, a
leadership vacuum within the mission
itself, and the harsh reality of operating
in a zone awash with rebels and organised
“MINUSMA’s relationship with the
government and the (rebel) groups was
already strained by the lack of trust,”
Jezequel said. “The Malian population
doesn’t understand the role of the mission.
This is not a lack of explanation but a
Having seen French firepower defeat
Having seen French ﬁrepower
defeat separatist forces
advancing south two years
ago, many Malians want
peacekeepers take a robust
approach to the remaining
rebels, notes DAVID LEWIS
Qaeda-linked forces advancing south
two years ago, many Malians want
peacekeepers take a robust approach to the
remaining rebels, especially those led by
Tuaregs demanding a separate homeland.
Yet until Dutch Apache attack
helicopters destroyed a rebel vehicle in the
town of Tabankort in January, they mostly
saw UN troops standing guard on sandy
“MINUSMA had won over our hearts
when they appeared to launch the assault
against the rebels,” said Mountaga Toure, a
Malian political analyst.
“But then they wasted this enormous
feeling of goodwill with a bogus
agreement,” he said, referring to a
proposed buffer zone to separate warring
factions, which was seen as favouring
Tuareg separatists over pro-government
militia. The idea, which peacekeepers
say was a working document, has since
However, it highlights an atmosphere
of mistrust and the mission’s failure to
communicate effectively with Malians.
Yvan Guichaoua, a Mali expert at the
University of East Anglia, said the mission
had not received due credit for behindthe-scenes work in talking sides down
Tiebile Drame, leader of the opposition
PARENA political party, agreed.
Soldiers from the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali take part in the traditional
Bastille Day military parade in Paris, France. — Reuters
T H U R S DAY
FEBRUARY 5 l 2015
Greece shakes Europe’s political kaleidoscope
y catapulting to power an improbable alliance of
the hard left and nationalist far right, Greece has
shaken up Europe’s political kaleidoscope and
may have signalled the end of an era of centrist
With eight general elections due in the
European Union this year, as well as regional
votes, the earthquake in Athens may be a
harbinger of other shocks to come.
Expect the unexpected in 2015 from Britain
to Finland and Denmark to Spain as voters who
have endured five years of economic crisis, falling
real incomes and welfare cuts vent their anger,
anxiety or apathy at the ballot boxes.
Mainstream centre-right and centre-left
parties that have dominated European politics
since the end of World War Two are bleeding
support to populists at both ends of the spectrum,
and to mavericks like Italian comic-turnedpolitician Beppe Grillo.
In many countries, voters feel the established
parties offer no real alternative. Many are keen to
punish a ruling “caste” perceived as out of touch
with ordinary people’s concerns, and as helping
themselves rather than their electors.
What unites many of the new forces is hostility
to the EU and to policies of austerity driven from
in Europe since 2011 may have been as good as
Brussels and Berlin.
“We’ve reached the end of a 30-year cycle of it gets,” said Tina Fordham, chief global political
liberal individualism and wealth accumulation analyst at US bank Citi. “The outlook everywhere
that began with Ronald Reagan and Margaret is for weaker governments with significant
Thatcher,” former British Europe minister Denis unpredictable,
MacShane said in an interview.
Greeks have suffered
“We’re in for at least half
higher unemployment, deeper
a decade of turbulence and
uncertainty in Europe.”
Expect the unexpected poverty and more social
dislocation than any other
MacShane, whose latest
this year from Britain
Europeans since they became
book “Brexit: how Britain
to Finland and Denmark the first euro zone country to
will leave Europe” is due out
in February, says the last
to Spain as voters who seek an international bailout
such period of flux was in
have endured ﬁve years in 2010.
Greece is also probably the
the 1970s, when a post-war
of economic crisis, vent country where the traditional
consensus on the welfare
political class has been most
state, a mixed economy
their anger when
discredited by corruption
with a big government role
they to to the ballot,
scandals and tax avoidance,
and collective bargaining
reports PAUL TAYLOR
crumbled, at least in Britain
and the United States.
Spain’s two mainstream
antiestablishment outsiders will win power anywhere parties that have alternated in power since the fall
of fascism have also been tarnished by a string of
other than Greece remains to be seen.
But they seem set to make government more sleaze affairs. They are seen by many Spaniards as
sharing the blame for the collapse of a property
awkward and less stable everywhere.
“In hindsight, the governments we have had bubble that triggered tough austerity measures.
As in Greece, one young Spaniard in two is out
of work. That has fuelled the rise of the year-old
utopian left-wing Podemos (Yes We Can) party,
led by charismatic young academic Pablo Iglesias.
It leads both Prime Minister Mariano
Rajoy’s conservative Popular Party (PP) and the
opposition Socialists (PSOE) in opinion polls.
Iglesias, 36, who is close to Greek Prime
Minister Alexis Tsipras, 40, may gain credibility
from Syriza’s victory, especially if the new Athens
government is able to negotiate some debt relief
and an easing of austerity.
However, Tsipras’ alliance with the hard right
Independent Greeks has jarred with leftists in
southern Europe — it would hard to imagine
France’s anti-capitalist Left Party led by JeanLuc Melenchon teaming up with Marine Le
Pen’s National Front. The prospect of months of
confrontation between Athens and Brussels amid
potential financial instability may deter Spanish
voters from risking a vote for Podemos by the
time the election comes around in December, or
drive the PP and the PSOE to form a Germanstyle grand coalition government.
Another country where anti-establishment
radicals could upset the applecart is Britain,
which votes on May 7.
KATE KELLAND AND BEN HIRSCHLER
s West Africa’s devastating Ebola outbreak begins to dwindle, scientists
are looking beyond the endgame at the kind of next-generation vaccines
needed for a vital stockpile to hit another epidemic hard and fast.
Determined not to lose scientific momentum that could make the
world’s first effective Ebola interventions a reality, researchers say the
shots, as well as being proven to work, must be cheap, easy to handle in
Africa and able to hit multiple virus strains.
That may mean shifting focus from the stripped-down, fast-tracked
vaccine development ideas that have dominated the past six months,
but it mustn’t mean the field gets bogged down in complexities.
“We need a stockpile because there will be other outbreaks,” said
Seth Berkley, chief executive of the GAVI global immunisation alliance,
which helps bulk-buy vaccines for poor countries.
The experimental vaccines now moving into large clinical trials in
West Africa target the current Ebola Zaire virus strain, but the next
outbreak may be different.
“We need to work with the pharmaceutical industry to create
second-generation vaccines that would cover not just Ebola Zaire but
also Ebola Sudan and perhaps Marburg, perhaps Lassa. The idea is to
have vaccines that will work across different places,” Berkley said.
Right now, scientists are grappling with several tricky issues — partly
due to success in cutting new infections in the vast Ebola outbreak.
With relatively few new cases, big trials in Liberia and Sierra Leone
to test the first generation single-dose one strain vaccines may not have
the statistical power needed to show whether the shots work.
And already, early data from safety trials in humans suggest
a single-dose vaccination with the most advanced vaccine, from
GlaxoSmithKline, may not provoke an immune response strong
enough to protect people exposed to the virus.
“We now know you get around 10 times fewer antibodies in humans
(than in monkeys) and probably five times fewer T-cells,” said Adrian
Hill of Oxford’s Jenner Institute, referring to two key elements of the
This strongly suggests that a two-dose regime, or a so-called “primeboost” approach, is the one likely to prove effective, Hill said.
These and other issues add up to a sizeable to do list for scientists
focussing on vaccines for future stockpiles. Producing multi-strain, or
multivalent, vaccines that could protect against different types of Ebola
and other haemorrhagic fevers will be more time consuming than
making today’s monovalent shots, but it is by no means impossible.
Kosovars board buses in the capital Pristina on Monday to headed for Serbia. — Reuters
Surge in Kosovars crossing illegally into EU
he European Union is experiencing a steep
rise in the number of Kosovo citizens
smuggling themselves into the affluent bloc,
with 10,000 filing for asylum in Hungary in
just one month this year compared to 6,000
for the whole of 2013. It follows a relaxation
of travel rules allowing Kosovars to reach EU
borders via Serbia and has coincided with
political turmoil and street unrest in Kosovo
fuelled by poverty, high unemployment and
economically debilitating corruption.
The United Nations High Commissioner
for Refugees (UNHCR) said hundreds of
Kosovars had slipped into Hungary and
asked for asylum in the first eight months
of last year, only for the number to rocket to
21,000 between September and December.
Hungary’s State Office of Immigration
and Nationality said that of 14,000 foreigners
who had sought asylum since the turn of
the year, 10,000 were from Kosovo, a small,
ethnic Albanian-majority state that declared
independence from Serbia in 2008.
“We have visited several reception
centres in the past two weeks and most of
the Kosovars we talked to said they came
because of extreme poverty and total lack of
perspective,” said Erno Simon, a UN refugee
agency spokesman in Budapest.
Over the past few days, crowds of people
were seen boarding night buses from the
Kosovo capital Pristina bound for Serbia’s
capital Belgrade, more than halfway to
Among them, 18-year-old student Vilson
Beqiri said he would take a second bus from
Belgrade to the northern Serbian town of
Subotica and then cross the border into
“We’ll meet some other people there (in
Subotica), pay them, and they’ll lead us to
Hungary,” he said. “God willing I’ll be in
Germany by tomorrow evening.”
The exodus appears to have been abetted
by an EU-encouraged easing of travel rules
in Serbia, which since 2012 has allowed
Kosovars to enter with Kosovo-issued
documents that Belgrade previously rejected
given that it does not recognise its former
southern province as independent.
It has also coincided with political
turbulence in Kosovo, which held an
inconclusive election in June and only
formed a new government six months later.
Last week, police fought running battles with
protesters lobbing rocks and petrol bombs
during anti-government demonstrations
stirred by joblessness and corruption.
Rados Djurovic of the Asylum Protection
Centre NGO in Belgrade said people
smugglers may have found new routes to
spirit migrants from Serbia into Hungary
— a well-trodden path for Syrians, Afghans
and others trying to reach western Europe.
On Monday, 250 illegal migrants from
Kosovo were stopped by Hungarian police
without valid documents on a train from
Budapest to Vienna.
Almost all asylum applications are
rejected as migrants cannot show they are
fleeing war or persecution, but applying
staves off immediate deportation while their
cases are being processed.
In the meantime, many will give overstretched immigration authorities the slip
Hungary’s State Ofﬁce of
Immigration and Nationality
said that of the 14,000
foreigners who had sought
asylum since the turn of the
year, 10,000 were from Kosovo,
reports FATOS BYTYCI
and push on westwards through the EU’s
borderless Schengen zone under the radar.
Most would hope to find work in the grey
economy in wealthy western Europe,
hooking up with relatives and friends until
they can ultimately legalise their stay.
Hungary’s immigration agency said
40-50 per cent of asylum applicants
would normally leave the country within 24
hours, and a further 30-40 per cent within
Around 700,000-800,000 Kosovars
already live and work in western Europe,
mainly Switzerland and Germany — a
diaspora that originated with an exodus
from repression and war with Serbia in the
late 1990s and then stubborn poverty in the
15 years since.
Kosovo declared independence in
2008 and is recognised by more than 100
But Serbia’s refusal — backed by UN
veto-holder Russia — to do so has impeded
Kosovo’s international integration and
therefore its economic development.
Kosovo Interior Minister Skender Hyseni
said the government was at a loss to stop
the emigrant wave. “(We) could stop this
process by simply putting a roadblock at
the border crossing points, (but) then the
government would be accused of violating a
fundamental human right.”
An ethnic Serb Kosovo minister lost his
post on Tuesday, the day before another
protest over a statement that insulted the
ethnic Albanian majority and sparked a
wave of protests.
“From today on minister (Aleksandar)
Jablanovic is not a part of the kosovo
government,” Prime Minister Isa Mustafa
told reporters, without taking questions or
saying whether the Serb minister had quit or
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these pages are solely those of the authors and do not reﬂect the opinion of the Observer.
NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court
yesterday directed the Delhi Jal Board
(DJB) to make rainwater harvesting
“attractive” by giving wide publicity to
its benefits including rebate in water
A division bench of Justice Badar
Durrez Ahmed and Justice Sanjeev
Sachdeva said: “Why aren’t you taking
out advertisements in newspapers?
We feel wider publicity is needed for
public awareness to enable community
at large to participate in rainwater
The bench further said that the
DJB needed to emphasise in their
advertisements that it would provide
technical and financial assistance to
people interested in setting up such
The court directed DJB to file its
response indicating steps taken on
advertising through newspapers, and
other medium by next date of hearing
on April 22.
Previously, the DJB had informed
the court that it had made it
mandatory for property of 500 sq
metres or more in the national
capital to install provision for
conservation, the DJB said it had
adopted the method of awarding
subsidy in the water bill to the
consumers who have installed
rainwater-harvesting system in their
On non-compliance with the
provision, “the tariff applicable on the
consumer increases by 1.5 times”, the
DJB had said.
The bench was hearing a public
interest litigation (PIL) filed by
advocate R K Kapoor seeking to make
rainwater harvesting mandatory for
both residential and commercial
buildings here. — IANS
T H U R S DAY
FEBRUARY 5 l 2015
Rahul says Jayanthi pitted against
him after he spoke about Modi
DELHI ELECTION: Vows to ﬁght for poor till last breath; property rights to people in 2 years
NEW DELHI: Congress vice president
Rahul Gandhi yesterday vowed to fight
for the poor and tribals till his last breath
and said former environment minister
Jayanthi Natarajan was pitted against
him over the issue after he spoke about
Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Addressing a rally at Jahangirpuri
in north Delhi, Gandhi made a slew of
election promises including property
rights to people in two years, ending
contractual system of appointment
within a week of the Congress party
assuming office in Delhi and providing
permanent jobs, reducing power tariff
to Rs 1.50 per unit in six months and
bringing down water tariff.
Gandhi attacked Modi several times
during his nearly 25-minute speech.
He accused Modi of being pro-rich,
wearing imported clothes and working
for a few “business friends”. Without
naming the Bharatiya Janata Party,
Gandhi said efforts were being made to
polarise voters before the elections for
Gandhi later held a roadshow in
parts of Old Delhi during which he was
enthusiastically greeted by Congress
In his speech, Gandhi said he had
said something against Modi a few days
back and the next day, Natarajan was
“propped up” against him.
“I want to say I have fought the
battle of the poor and tribals. I had told
Jayanthi Natarajan that we should look
into the welfare of the environment,
poor and the tribals,” Gandhi said.
The Congress vice president said he
was not afraid.
“Till my last breath, I will fight for
the poor. I am not here to do politics
for the rich. I am not here for four-five
industrialists. I am here to do politics for
the poor. I will stand for them.”
This was the first time Gandhi spoke
Congress party supporters shower flower petals as party vice-president Rahul Gandhi (C) waves to supporters during an
election roadshow in New Delhi yesterday. — AFP
about Natrajan’s outburst that his office
wrote her letters on issues concerning
Natarajan was virtually forced out
of the Congress-led government and
resigned from the party last week.
Gandhi targeted Modi over the ‘Make
in India’ campaign and claimed that not
a single youth had got employment.
“Crores of rupees were invested
in marketing for ‘Make in India’. He
(Modi) wears suit worth Rs 10 lakh,
media people say even that is not made
in India, it is made in UK,” Gandhi said.
During US President Barack
Obama’s visit, Modi wore a pin-striped
suit that had his full name — Narendra
Damodardas Modi — monogrammed
in the fabric.
Gandhi also accused the prime
minister of working for a few
He said that international petroleum
prices have come down by over $100
since the last UPA government, but
people had not benefitted.
“You are not getting the benefit but
somebody is getting it. I will tell you.
Modi has four-five business friends.
They are getting benefit that you should
get. It is your loss and their benefit,” he
Gandhi said the Congress gave
rights to property to 55 lakh people
and will give it to all people in Delhi in
Accusing the BJP of working against
the interests of farmers, he said the land
acquisition bill was “the most difficult
work” of UPA-II government.
“I can say it damaged UPA politically,”
Gandhi said, and added that forces that
were hurt by the provisions of the bill
ranged against the Congress.
He asked if people had benefited in
the past eight months from “dreams
sold” by Modi.
Gandhi accused the AAP of failing
to fulfil its promises to people and not
regularising people on contractual
employment during its 49-day rule in
He said the AAP had not agitated
against the Modi government for its
acts of omission though anti-corruption
activists had fiercely agitated against the
PM: Huge crowds pointer to
direction wind is blowing
A man rows a small boat on the waters of Dal Lake on a sunny day in Srinagar yesterday. — Reuters
NEW DELHI: Prime Minister
Narendra Modi yesterday said the huge
turnout at his election rally here — his
last before the Delhi assembly polls on
Saturday — was a clear indication of
“the direction the wind is blowing” and
appealed to voters to bring a stable BJP
government in Delhi.
He also took a dig at surveys ahead
of the February 7 polls that predicted
the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) having an
Addressing a rally in south Delhi’s
Ambedkar Nagar, Modi said for a strong
nation it was necessary to have a strong
BJP government and appealed to voters
not to give an “unstable” government to
“I am seeing the huge crowd here.
It is much bigger than when I would
address rallies ahead of the general
election. It gives an indication of the
direction the wind is blowing,” he
He urged the people to vote in the
BJP with full majority in Delhi.
“Don’t bring in an unstable
government. It is the country’s capital.
Its fate should not be left hanging.
Please vote for progress, vote for the
BJP,” he said.
Modi said his aim was to bring
development to the country and bring
change to the lives of the poor in Delhi.
He said the “entire world now
considers India as an important force
and it is happening because of your
votes that brought the BJP with majority
to the Centre”.
Taking a dig at the opposition
parties, he said his opponents are
troubled by him, because “they are not
able to digest how Modi, a poor man,
has come to be the prime minister”.
He said in the last Lok Sabha election,
surveys said he would lose by three lakh
votes in Varanasi, but he won.
He said under the leadership of
Kiran Bedi, who has been named
the Bharatiya Janata Party’s chief
ministerial candidate, the party will
begin development of Delhi. — IANS
HYDERABAD: Singapore is not
only planning and designing the
new capital of Andhra Pradesh
but is also trying to make
sure that its best practices are
Known for its strict anti-litter
laws, Singapore has advised the
Andhra government to create
awareness and educate people not
to litter their surroundings.
Advisors from Singapore
engaged in planning the new
state capital near Vijayawada
held talks with Chief Minister
and submitted models of
The consultants would assist
the Capital Region Development
Authority (CRDA) to strategise
and focus on key areas in the
capital, such as infrastructure
control, housing, solid waste
management and integrated
“A Singapore expert in solid
out that Andhra Pradesh
needs streamlining of garbage
collection, segregation of waste.
The expert added that the
government also has to create
awareness and educate people
not to litter their surroundings,”
a statement from the Chief
Minister’s Office said yesterday.
Suggesting that the processes
and systems have to be
streamlined, the Singaporean
advisors said the state government
has to make the environment
conducive for private investors
through policy changes and faster
needs to grow
yearly at 7-8 pc’
NEW DELHI: Given the growthinflation conundrum with the
union budget due later this month,
Minister of State for Finance
Jayant Sinha on Wednesday said
the government wants to put the
economy on sustainable noninflationary growth trajectory of
over 7 per cent.
“We want to put India on
a sustainable non-inflationary
growth trajectory of seven to eight
per cent growth.
We need to have 7-8 per cent
growth to provide employment
to young people that join the
workforce every year,” Sinha said
here at The Energy and Resources
Institute (TERI)-organised 15th
Delhi Sustainable Development
“Seven-eight per cent growth
will double the size of the economy
in the next 10 years.
New voting system for NRIs: Another committee formed
R A K SINGH
Feb 4: A trifle confused over legislative
complexities in providing new
electronic-cum-p ostal-ballot ing
mechanism for voting by NRIs from the
countries of their stay itself, the Election
Commission has formed a committee
to determine the exact changes needed
to be made in the Representation of the
The Election Commission formed the
three-member committee to be headed
by its Deputy Election Commissioner
Sudhir Tripathi and comprising of its
former Principal Secretary and present
Legal Adviser S K Mehndiratta to
examine the issue.
The third member of the panel would
be from the Union Law Ministry, which
has been asked by the Commission to
nominate one of its members to be part
of the panel.
The newly-constituted panel has
been asked to submit its report latest
by February 23, the day the Parliament
commences its budget session.
The Election Commission decided
to constitute a panel for ascertaining the
exact provisions of the R P Act, which
need to be changed for devising the new
voting mechanism for NRIs after the
Union Law Ministry approached it for
last minute consultation.
The Union Law Ministry has earlier
tentatively decided to add an additional
clause either in section 60 or section 61
of the RP Act, 1951 to provide for the
new voting mechanism to NRIs, said the
officials of the Legislative Department of
the Union Law Ministry, tasked to draft
the amendment bill.
The ministry officials, however,
subsequently decided to consult electoral
laws experts at the Election Commission
as well as a matter of abundant caution so
that the new law does not run aground
in the courts of law.
The ministry officials told the
Observer that they decided to approach
the Election Commission because they
had a lurking feeling that the section 20A
of the RP Act, 1950 too may be required
a bit of tinkering for giving legislative
framework to the new provision.
The ministry earlier had tentatively
chosen section 60 the RP Act for
amendment because it is this section,
which provides for special procedure
of voting like those through postal
The newly-constituted panel
has been asked to submit
its report latest by February
23, the day the Parliament
commences its budget
balloting or proxy voting for certain
classes of people like members of police
or Armed Forces, government servants
posted abroad or at a place other than
their home states.
These special categories of voters like
those from Armed forces and foreign
services, eligible for postal or proxy
voting, have been incorporated as voters
by section 20 of the RP Act 1950 (not
1951), while NRIs too, after changes
in RP Act in 2010, have been listed as
special category of voters by addition of
another section 20A in the RP Act 1950,
explained the officials.
Accordingly, one of the choice before
the government is to amend section 60
of the R P Act, 1951 that fixes voting
procedure for special category of voters
listed in section 20 or 20 A of the RP
Act, 1950, said the officials, explaining
the rational why section 60 could be
changed to provide for the new voting
mechanism for NRIs.
Alternatively, section 61 A has been
identified for amendment because
it is this section which provides for
the voting through Electronic Voting
Machine. This section 61A, empowering
the Election Commission of India to use
the EVMs in elections was added by the
government in December 1988, said
In fact, the government had earlier
decided to make proper legislative
changes to provide for a legal frame
work for the new voting mechanism
to ensure that the same does not run
aground before any court of law due
to absence of legal backing to it as the
mechanism of voting through EVMs
had been struck down by the Supreme
Court for want of proper law to support
it, the officials said.
The Supreme Court, the officials
recalled, had on March 5, 1984 struck
down the use of EVM as voting
mechanism by the ECI which the
poll panel had done on experimental
basis in an election for Parur assembly
constituency in Kerala in May 1982.
T H U R S DAY
FEBRUARY 5 l 2015
PIL FILED : Seeks CBI investigation into foreign funds received in the past and now
Jaitley calls AAP propagandist,
Kejriwal dares him to arrest
NEW DELHI: It was yet another day of
political slugfest between the AAP and
the BJP in the run-up to the February
7 Delhi assembly polls with Finance
Minister Arun Jaitley yesterday calling
the former a “brilliant propagandist”
which wears the “label of honesty” on its
However, former Delhi chief minister
Arvind Kejriwal, whose party has been
accused of receiving dubious funds,
dared Jaitley to arrest him if he had done
Meanwhile, a public interest litigation
(PIL) was filed yesterday in Delhi High
Court, seeking a CBI probe into foreign
funds the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)
received in the past and now allegedly in
violation of law.
In an acerbic post on the Bharatiya
Janata Party’s website, Jaitley said
“Kejriwal is not a stranger to the tax
laws” and “knew what his party was
doing”. Jaitley was referring to the Rs 2
crore funding to the Aam Aadmi Party
allegedly received from bogus companies.
A breakaway group of the AAP has
levelled these charges.
Jaitley posed questions to Kejriwal.
“If Kejriwal were still a revenue
service officer and a case of such money
conversion through sham companies
resulting in donations to a political party
had landed on his table, what would he
“Would he have asked the assessee to
write a letter to the chief justice of the
Supreme Court of India or allowed him
to argue that a payment by cheque to
political parties forgives all sins of black
“Would he have arrested the
fraudulent assessee under the Indian
Penal Code rather than proceeding under
Aam Admi Party party chief, Arvind Kejriwal greets supporters during an election rally in New Delhi yesterday.
the Income Tax Act?
“He should be honest enough to tell
the people what “Arvind Kejriwal, IRS
(India Revenue Service Officer)” would
have done under these circumstances,”
Jaitley further wrote.
Kejriwal once again refuted the
charges, asserting that his party took
money through cheques.
“If I have done wrong, tell finance
minister to arrest me. I am ready for
a probe, these are false allegations,”
In another related development,
advocate M L Sharma filed an application
in the ongoing case that sought
registration of a criminal case against
AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal and others
for allegedly receiving foreign funds in
violation of law.
Sharma claimed that it has been
revealed that lakhs of phone calls from
abroad have been made to Delhi for
supporting AAP’s election.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission
cleared Kejriwal of charges of his name
Delhi election: Thousands from
outside campaign for BJP, AAP
NEW DELHI: Wearing their trademark
white and saffron caps respectively,
thousands of AAP and BJP supporters
from across India have swamped Delhi
to do their bit for what is a do-or-die
election for both parties.
Students, doctors, engineers, lawyers,
activists and even common labourers,
they can now be spotted all over the
national capital seeking support for the
BJP or the AAP.
In sheer numbers, the Aam Aadmi
Party of Arvind Kejriwal seems to have
edged out the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Both parties are determined to outdo
the other in the Saturday battle.
Most BJP campaigners from outside
Delhi, estimated at about 15,000, have
come from Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana,
Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal
The 20,000-strong AAP army is drawn
dominantly from Haryana, Maharashtra,
Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh,
Chhattisgarh and Karnataka.
Many are staying with friends and
Others prefer the premises of BJP and
AAP offices that have sprung up in all 70
From early in the morning, these
volunteers branch out in constituencies
activists and even common
labourers, they can now be
spotted all over the national
capital seeking support for
the BJP or the AAP
allotted to them, soliciting support.
Many position themselves outside
the Delhi Metro stations and other hubs
distributing pamphlets and caps.
BJP campaigners sport saffron caps.
AAP caps are white in colour.
Both have their party names and
election symbols — BJP’s lotus and AAP’s
broom — printed on them.
Amitabh Goswami, 31, an engineer
from Bengaluru, has been in Delhi for a
He and his friends stay at a friend’s
house at Mukherjee Nagar near Delhi
University and campaign for AAP’s
Akhilesh Pati Tripathi, a former legislator.
All are engineers in the same company
and are on leave, Goswami said.
AAP’s Punjab convenor Sucha Singh
Chhotepur said that over 20,000 AAP
volunteers from other states were now in
“From Punjab, more than 1,500
volunteers are helping AAP candidates.
They mostly stay at party offices and
houses of party leaders,” he said.
“Four hundred of us have come from
Madhya Pradesh,” said Pankaj Singh
of the AAP, adding 62 volunteers from
Chhattisgarh were camping in Krishna
Nagar, where BJP’s chief ministerial
candidate Kiran Bedi is contesting.
Delhi BJP spokesperson Harish
Khurana said that his party’s volunteers
were staying at their own cost.
“We have farmers, doctors, lawyers,
businessmen and poor people from
outside rubbing shoulders here,” he said.
Balwant Singh, a farmer from Baghpat
in Uttar Pradesh and a BJP supporter,
said he reached Delhi on January 25.
He is campaigning for Najafgarh
candidate Ajeet Singh Khadkhari.
Three of his relatives have also come
In comparison to the all four MPs of
the AAP from Punjab, more than 120
MPs of the BJP are campaigning in Delhi
besides several central ministers, a few
chief ministers and party leaders from
BJP leaders hold five to 10 rallies every
Trinamool MP Srinjoy
Bose granted bail
being incorrectly enrolled in the electoral
list in his New Delhi constituency.
The poll panel’s lawyer told a court that
Kejriwal’s inclusion in the electoral rolls
was correct. The pleas against Kejriwal
were filed by Congress leader and his poll
opponent Kiran Walia and NGO Maulik
They had questioned the legality
of Kejriwal’s candidature from New
Delhi constituency as he was a resident
of neighbouring Ghaziabad in Uttar
KOLKATA: A court here yesterday
granted conditional bail to Trinamool
Congress Rajya Sabha member
Srinjoy Bose, who was arrested in
November 2014 by the CBI probing
the multi-crore-rupee Saradha chit
Passing the order, South 24 Parganas
district and sessions judge Samaresh
Prasad Chowdhury directed Bose
not to go abroad without permission
from the court and to cooperate with
the Central Bureau of Investigation in
matters related to the probe.
He was also told not to make any
effort to influence the probe.
After hearing the bail petition
moved by Bose’s counsel, the judge
asked him to submit two bonds of Rs
Bose’s lawyers had sought bail
arguing that he had already spent 75
days in police and judicial custody
and was cooperating in the probe.
They said Bose should be granted
bail as the CBI was yet to file a
chargesheet against him under section
420 of the Indian Penal Code, under
which he was arrested, while the
maximum detention time under the
section was 75 days.
The counsel for the CBI did not
oppose the defence lawyer’s argument
about the statutory period, but prayed
to the court that Bose be not given
bail as the case was sensitive and had a
bearing on the society.
Bose, the editor of Trinamool
mouthpiece Jago Bangla and Bengali
newspaper Sambad Pratidin, was
arrested on November 21 by the
CBI for alleged criminal conspiracy,
misappropriation of funds and
deriving undue financial benefits in
connection with the scam.
FIGHT AGAINST CANCER
Students from various colleges hold cancer awareness placards during a rally
taken out on World Cancer Awareness Day in Bangalore yesterday.
‘Country could be role model for eradicating malnutrition’
here in a conference — “From Data
Deserts to Fertile Facts: Unleashing the
power of data on nutrition in India” — a
panel of experts said India was a “rising
power house” and the world was looking
at it to see how it deals with problems like
“Nutrition-wise India is important
simply because of its size and the vast
programmes it runs to deal with the issue,”
said Lawrence Haddad, co-author of the
report and fellow of the International
Food Policy Research Institute.
Speaking on the occasion, Odisha’s
Health and Family Welfare Secretary Arti
Ahuja said reduction of under nutrition
requires concerted action across the
“Many states in India have made
regard, and the positive results are
becoming visible now,” said Ahuja,
His lawyers had sought bail
arguing that he had already
spent 75 days in police and
judicial custody and was
cooperating in the probe.
The assistant general secretary of
city soccer giants Mohun Bagan, Bose
is the first senior Trinamool leader to
be granted bail in the scam.
Sports and Transport Minister
Madan Mitra and former director
general of police Rajat Majumdar —
both important Trinamool leaders —
are still behind bars.
Suspended Trinamool Rajya Sabha
member Kunal Ghosh is also in jail.
Bose was accused of ‘blackmail’ by
purported scam kingpin and Saradha
Group promoter Sudipta Sen in a
letter he is supposed to have written to
the CBI in April 2013.
In the letter, Sen claimed he entered
the media business after the Bengali
daily started attacking him.
Sen, now under arrest along
with his top aides, said that after he
purchased a television channel, Bose
and Kunal Ghosh came to him and
he had to make arrangements for
paying Rs 60 lakh per month to the
newspaper for running the channel.
Sen also claimed that the duo
promised to ensure a “smooth passage”
for him and protect his business from
the state and central governments and
assured him “they have very close
connections” with the chief minister.
Sen in his letter also alleged that
over two years, the paper had taken
Rs 20 crore from him for running the
Chandy says no
Nutrition-wise India is important simply because of its size and the vast programmes it runs to deal with the issue
NEW DELHI: Terming malnutrition
a global issue involving people from all
financial backgrounds, health experts
yesterday said India could be a role model
in dealing with the problem.
They said almost every country, rich
or poor, faces a serious public health risk
due to malnutrition either from under
nutrition, obesity or micro nutrient
Releasing the Global Nutrition Report
who is a member of the Independent
Expert Group for the Global Nutrition
Report. The report tracks worldwide
progress for all 193 UN member
countries in improving their nutrition
status by bringing together data on more
than 80 nutrition indicators, including
determinants such as food security and
water, sanitation and hygiene, resource
allocations and political commitments.
It aims to contribute to country-led
efforts to strengthen accountability and
accelerate the reduction of malnutrition.
Haddad said new preliminary data
from India suggests a faster improvement
in the reduction of malnutrition than
Yet, with the lowest rank among 100
countries, India is vulnerable on sanitation
and other underlying determinants for
under nutrition, Haddad added. — IANS
T H I RU VA NA N T HA P U R A M :
Putting an end to all speculations,
Kerala Chief Minister Oommen
Chandy yesterday said the state
government has no moral right to
accept the money that they gave to
Mohanlal was paid for his musical
band’s performance at the opening
ceremony of the 35th National Games,
held here last week.
“There is an agreement that the
government has entered into with
Mohanlal for the conduct of his
Even if he says that he will return
the money, the Kerala government
has no moral right to take back the
money,” said Chandy.
Since the conduct of the event,
which incidentally was the debut
performance of Mohanlal’s newlyformed musical band Lalisom, both
the superstar and the government
have come in for much criticism over
the poor quality of the programme.
Snubbed by a massive social media
outcry targeting Mohanlal, the film
star went into a shell and, in an email to
Kerala Sports Minister Thiruvanchoor
Radhakrishnan, said he will return the
Rs 1.63 crore that he had taken towards
expenses incurred — he pointed out
that he did not charge any fee for his
Sources close to the actor have
pointed out that yesterday morning,
he has, in a speed post mailed a draft of
Rs 1.63 crore to the state government,
thereby closing the lid over the
Chandy, meanwhile, had to
face a barrage of questions on the
rationale behind the government
defending Mohanlal’s inferior quality
programme. He also observed that
some vested interests have been trying
for some time to play foul by working
against the conduct of the National
OBAMA SPEAKS ON IMMIGRATION REFORM
T H U R S DAY l F E B R U A R Y 5 l 2 0 1 5
Chad says it
killed 200 Boko
N’DJAMENA: Chad’s army killed more
than 200 militants from Boko Haram
on Tuesday in fighting in northeastern
Nigeria, with nine of its own forces
killed, the army and state television
said yesterday. Chad has deployed 2,500
troops as part of a regional effort to take
on the insurgent group.
An estimated 10,000 people died in
the region last year.
Chad’s army destroyed more than
a dozen vehicles equipped with heavy
weapons and some 100 motorcycles
used by the militants in battles in the
towns of Gambaru and Ngala, the army
high command said in a statement
There was no independent
confirmation of its claim.
Militants also attacked the town
of Fotokol in Cameroon yesterday
in the latest cross-border incursion
by the group, which operates near
Nigeria’s frontiers with Niger, Chad and
The fighters attacked at around 5 am
(0400 GMT) after Chadian troops who
were temporarily based there crossed
over to Gambaru on Tuesday, according
to a Cameroonian military officer close
to the operation and a Cameroon
“The insurgents have been driven
out. They tried to surprise us because
the Chadian troops who were in
Fotokol had crossed over to Nigeria,”
Cameroonian Information Minister
Issa Tchiroma said by telephone.
The attack provoked intense fighting
and six Cameroonian soldiers were
killed, said the Cameroonian officer,
who declined to be identified.
US President Barack Obama speaks about
immigration reform during a meeting
with young immigrants, known as
DREAMers, in the Oval Office of the White
House in Washington, DC. The group has
received Deferred Action for Childhood
Arrivals (DACA), which provides relief
from deportation for immigrants who
arrived in the US illegally before they
were 16 years old.
and Greece’s Prime
Tsipras met in Paris
discussed plans to
jointly create a fouryear reform plan for
Pentagon nominee open to arming Ukraine
Biden to meet Merkel,
Poroshenko on Ukraine
WASHINGTON: US Vice-President Joe Biden will huddle with leaders
from Germany and Ukraine on an upcoming visit to Europe, as allies plot a
response to increased violence in Ukraine.
Biden later this week will travel to Belgium and Germany, where he will
attend a high-profile security conference in Munich.
The visit includes a meeting with Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko
and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“This will give the three leaders an opportunity to discuss the current
conflict between Russia and Ukraine and international support for Ukraine’s
reform efforts, including through financial assistance,” said a senior
Russia is accused of running a proxy war in Ukraine, providing advice and
heavy weapons to the pro-Moscow separatists.
A renewed spasm of violence has seen hundreds of civilians killed in
recent weeks as pro-Russian rebels pushed into government-held territory.
The upsurge has led to deeper discussions about the United States and its
allies supplying the Ukrainian military with deadly weapons. — AFP
Ashton Carter, US President Barack Obama’s nominee to be secretary of defence, talks with Senate Armed Services Committee the pro-Moscow separatists.
Chairman John McCain prior to testifying at a confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, yesterday.
“I certainly support that, and if I’m
A group of former senior US officials
WASHINGTON: President Barack
Obama’s nominee for defence secretary
said yesterday he would likely support
providing weapons to Ukraine to help
the Kiev government in its fight with
Ashton Carter, expected to be
confirmed soon by lawmakers as the
next Pentagon chief, made the comment
before the Senate Armed Services
Committee amid signals the Obama
administration is leaning towards
providing arms to Ukraine.
“I’m very much inclined in that
direction, mister chairman, because I
think we need to support the Ukrainians
in defending themselves,” Carter said
when asked by Senator John McCain
if he supported delivering “defensive
weapons” to Kiev.
“The nature of those arms I can’t say
right now,” as he had not conferred with
US military commanders or Ukrainian
leaders on the issue, Carter said.
The Obama administration so far has
only provided “non-lethal” assistance to
Ukraine, including night-vision goggles,
body armor, radios and other items,
while imposing economic sanctions on
Russia over its role in the conflict.
Investigators seek clues at
deadly NY train crash site
Members of the NTSB and Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials observe the damaged car of a commuter train the
morning after it struck a vehicle in Mount Pleasant, near Valhalla, New York, yesterday. — Reuters
MOUNT PLEASANT: Investigators
examining the circumstances of a New
York commuter train accident that
killed six people said yesterday they
were collecting recording devices from
the site where the train hit a vehicle
stalled on the tracks in the railroad’s
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
said five passengers died in the MetroNorth train crash near the suburb of
White Plains on Tuesday evening, not
six, as he had previously announced.
The woman driving the Jeep
Cherokee that the train struck while it
was stuck on the tracks also died.
Fifteen other people were injured,
including seven in very serious
condition, the governor added.
An earlier traffic accident in the
area had diverted a number of vehicles
toward the crossing where the accident
happened, according to Rob Astorino,
the Westchester County executive.
FOUR-YEAR REFORM PLAN FOR GREECE
“Apparently the gate went down on
the car and she got out to put the gate
up and at that point got back in the car
to drive away,” Astorino told reporters
Astorino said he has considered
the road there as dangerous, echoing
complaints made by other local
Snow covered the blackened front car
yesterday at a crash scene crisscrossed
with yellow police tape.
Two large red lights at the crossing
flashed intermittently alongside a sign
stating: “Do not stop on tracks.”
The Metropolitan Transportation
Authority, the state-controlled agency
that runs the railroad, said the crash was
the deadliest accident for Metro-North,
the second-largest commuter railroad in
the United States.
Safety Board, the federal agency that
investigates transportation accidents,
plans to examine signals at the crossing,
the highway that intersects the rail
tracks and any issues linked to a fire
ignited by the crash, according to board
member Robert Sumwalt.
The fire seemed to have started after
the Jeep’s gasoline tank burst, Cuomo
The highway signals, rail signals and
the crossing arms at the intersection
all have recording devices that NTSB
investigators will examine, Sumwalt
said in remarks to reporters at Reagan
National Airport outside Washington.
Investigators are likely to be on
the ground for the next five to seven
days to interview witnesses and collect
“perishable evidence,” Sumwalt told
reporters a few hours later after arriving
at the crash site.
Thousands of commuters faced
a snarled journey to work yesterday
morning in the aftermath of the
The White House had feared that
sending in weapons could trigger a tense
confrontation with Russia and escalate
But with no sign Russia is backing off
in Ukraine and repeated violations of a
ceasefire agreement, US officials say they
are now seriously considering a shift in
Some top US commanders and
senior figures in the administration
favor the move, officials said.
Washington has accused Russia
of running a proxy war in Ukraine,
providing advice and heavy weapons to
and officers this week urged a major
increase in military assistance for
Ukraine, including providing lightarmor missiles designed to take out
tanks as well as radar to counter artillery
If confirmed by the Senate as the next
defense secretary, Carter said an “early”
priority would be to ensure the United
States was “doing enough” to reassure
Nato allies in the Baltics and across
“I understand that we are adding
forces, rotational forces to the Baltic
states as a presence there, as a deterrent
to any Russian kind of adventurism,” he
confirmed, I’d want to look into what
more we can do to do that.”
He also recalled witnessing the
signing of a landmark 1994 agreement,
the Budapest Memorandum on
Security Assurances, in which Ukraine
relinquished its nuclear arsenal.
The deal, which was signed by
Moscow, “provided for Russia to respect
the territorial integrity of Ukraine,
which it has obviously not done,” Carter
“And that was a part of the climate
and context in which the Ukrainians
agreed to give up nuclear weapons in the
AROUND THE GLOBE
Nigeria to defer deadline for voter ID handout
Free from Ebola,
LAGOS: Nigeria’s election body said yesterday that it may push back the deadline for
voter identity cards but denied media reports that the vote itself could be
survivors complain distributing
The spokesman for Independent National Election Commission (INEC), Kayode
of new syndrome Idowu,
said that the body may allow voter ID cards to be handed out after the current
DAKAR/MONROVIA: Romeo Doe, a
29-year-old tailor who survived Ebola
in Liberia, is struggling to cope with
the impact of a disease that killed
seven members of his family and now
threatens his livelihood.
Since he was released from an
Ebola centre in the capital Monrovia
in November, pressure is rising in
his eyes and affecting his vision —
a complaint some doctors say is
common among survivors of the West
There are a growing number of
survivors of the disease in the region,
between 5,000 and 10,000 according
to the United Nations, and some
complain of side effects months
after their recovery — a condition
some doctors are calling “post-Ebola
“Since I was discharged I have
felt this pain in my eyes,” said Doe.
“They, as you can see, are red; they are
hurting me. I want the government to
help me get back on my feet.”
Ebola, which has killed almost
9,000 people across Guinea, Liberia
and Sierra Leone, initially causes
fever and vomiting, then attacks the
immune system and vital organs,
often causing internal and external
About 60 per cent of Ebola
patients have died in the current
outbreak, typically from shock or
Some of those who have survived
the disease report a mixture of
symptoms after their recovery,
including vision problems, joint pain,
hair and memory loss and anxiety
Margaret Nanyonga, a doctor who
treated Ebola patients in the town of
Kenema in Sierra Leone, said she had
seen survivors go blind.
Overall about half of those she saw
recover reported declining health, she
said. Doctors say it is not yet clear how
long the symptoms last.
There is also no scientific literature
or medical consensus on any new
syndrome among West African
survivors or how many people might
February 8 deadline.
However he described media reports about a possible election postponement as
The prospect of an election delay was first raised last month by National Security
Advisor Sambo Dasuki, who said that INEC should look at delaying the polls because of
problems in distributing voter cards.
Jonathan’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday maintained that it was not
trying to influence INEC on a postponement decision.
“The decisions to postpone or delay the elections are firmly within the purview of
INEC,” PDP spokesman Femi Fani Kayode said.
“It has absolutely nothing to do with President Goodluck Jonathan, the PDP or
anybody else. “— AFP
A man plays with his daugther near the San Miguel de Aralar Sanctuary below
the peak of Mount Artxueta in Navarre following heavy snow storms in
northern Spain yesterday. — AFP
Italy recovers over 2,000 stolen artefacts
ROME: More than 2,000 stolen historical artefacts were recovered in an
“unprecedented” nationwide operation yesterday, Italy’s monuments police said.
Officers from the national heritage squads of the Carabinieri police found
ancient vases, coins, fragments of ancient buildings and equipment for clandestine
archeological excavations in 142 locations up and down the country.
“It is an unprecedented operation, considering the number of targets and forces
deployed,” the Carabinieri said, claiming to have uncovered a criminal group that
specialised in looting and smuggling art from across southern Italy.
Earlier in the investigations, officers found another 874 stolen artefacts and arrested
three Italian suspects, police said.
The Carabinieri kicked into action in March 2014, following the theft of a priceless
fresco from the ancient Roman ruins of Pompeii.
“Unfortunately, we have not found it yet,” Captain Carmine Elefante, a Carabinieri
T H U R S DAY
FEBRUARY 5 l 2015
Jordan vows war against IS
RETALIATION: King Abdullah cuts short US visit, ﬂays ‘barbarity’
AMMAN: Jordan’s King Abdullah
vowed a relentless war against IS on
their own territory, state television
quoted him as saying during a security
meeting on Wednesday.
“We are waging this war to protect
our faith, our values and human
principles and our war for their sake will
be relentless and will hit them in their
own ground,” state television said.
His comments come a day after IS
released a video appearing to show a
captured Jordanian pilot being burned
Jordan executed on Wednesday two
convicted extremists who were involved
in terrorist plots, hours after the IS group
released a video showing its fighters
burning alive a captured Jordanian pilot.
One of those executed at daybreak
was the female failed bomber Sajida
al Rishawi, who was at the centre of
negotiations on the fate of pilot Mu’adh
al Kasasbeh, according to the official
news agency Petra.
Jordan’s King Abdullah cut short
a visit to the United States to return
home after meeting with President
Barack Obama, who condemned the
“barbarity” of the execution.
After landing in Amman, the
king went into meeting with security
officials. Mosques across the country
held memorial prayers for the pilot
and churches rang their bells in solemn
Some of the services were broadcast
on state television, which has placed an
image of Al Kasasbeh in the upper left
corner during its continuous coverage.
The government has declared the
pilot a “martyr,” and pledged that
retaliation will be “earthshaking and
strong.” The 22-minute video depicting
the execution of the pilot appears to
have been filmed well in advance and
officials have been quoted as saying
they believe the 26-year-old pilot was
murdered last month.
Jordan had demanded a proof of life,
but none was forthcoming from the
extremist group when talks collapsed
last week, leading many to believe the
pilot was dead.
The brutal video has sparked calls
for revenge in Jordan against the group.
“The Jordanians and the allied forces
should avenge the death of my son,”
said the pilot’s father Safi al Kasasbeh,
denouncing the activist group as a
terrorist organisation that was not
connected to a religion.
Meanwhile, Saudi King Salman
bin Abdul Aziz al Saud on Wednesday
condemned the killing of a Jordanian
pilot by IS fighters, calling it a “heinous
crime which contradicts the tolerance of
our noble religion”, the Saudi state news
said. His message offered condolences
to the Jordanian people and King
Abdullah of Jordan after footage on
Tuesday purported to show masked
gunmen putting captured Jordanian
pilot in a cage and burning him to death.
GUARD OF HONOUR
Safi (C), the father of Jordanian pilot Maaz al Kassasbeh, is surrounded by family members and security forces during a
mourning ceremony at the headquarters of the family’s clan in the Jordanian city of Karak yesterday.
UN warns of
children in Iraq
Tunisian President, Beji Caid Essebsi, reviews troops during a welcoming ceremony upon his arrival at Houari Boumediene
international airport yesterday, outside the capital Algiers. Essebsi starts a two-day visit in Algeria, his first official visit abroad
since his election, after he received an official invitation from Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
Gunmen storm Libyan oilfield
TRIPOLI: Gunmen possibly linked
to fighters assaulted and seized
control of a Libyan oilfield, killing
and kidnapping several workers,
Libyan and foreign officials said on
A French diplomatic source in
Paris said four local employees were
believed to have been killed in the
raid on the remote Al Mabrook oilfield
south of Sirte on Tuesday night.
The Philippines Foreign Ministry
said three Filipinos were among four
foreign nationals who were kidnapped.
France’s Total has a stake in the
site but it is contracted to a Libyan
company. The Filipinos worked for an
“Unknown gunmen stormed the
Mabrook oilfield last night,” National
Oil Corp (NOC) spokesman Mohamed
El Harari said, without providing
Ali al Hassi, spokesman for an oil
guard force, blamed fighters for the
attack. “The field is outside of our
control,” he said.” IS is controlling it.”
Rival armed factions have been
fighting for almost two months for
control of Libya’s biggest oil ports,
Es Sider and Ras Lanuf, on the
The recognised government
of Abdullah al Thinni and elected
parliament has been forced to work
out of an eastern rump state since a
faction called Libya Dawn seized the
capital Tripoli in August, setting up its
own administration and reinstating
the old assembly. Al Mabrook closed
following clashes which shut Es Sider
in December. It used to pump 40,000
barrels a day.
Total said it had already withdrawn
staff from the site in 2013 and had no
personnel onshore since July 2014.
It was not clear whether NOC had
employed expatriate staff at the field.
The French diplomatic source said no
French citizens were among the dead.
“There are possibly four dead local
people,” he said.
It was not immediately possible to
verify the assertion that fighters were
involved. Fighters claiming links to IS,
which controls parts of Syria and Iraq,
claimed an attack on the Corinthia
luxury hotel in Tripoli last week that
killed nine people, among them five
GENEVA: Many children in Iraq
remain at the mercy of ruthless armed
groups that use them as fighters,
suicide bombers and human shields
and subject them to systematic abuse,
a UN watchdog said Wednesday.
In a report on the plight of
children in the strife-torn country, a
UN committee voiced deep concern
over “the large number of children
recruited by non-state armed groups,”
and especially the IS fighters.
“It is a huge, huge, huge problem,”
Renate Winter, a member of the United
Nations Committee on the Rights of
the Child (CRC), told reporters in
IS spearheaded a sweeping
offensive that has overrun much of
Iraq’s heartland since June, carrying
out a campaign of brutal killings,
kidnappings and torture. Children
have not been spared.
CRC, which is composed of 18
independent experts who monitor
the implementation of international
children’s rights treaties, denounced
numerous cases of IS fighters torturing
and murdering children, especially
those from minorities.
The group has been targeting and
attacking schools, executing teachers
and subjecting children to systematic
sexual abuse, including sexual slavery,
the committee said.
The committee has urged Baghdad
to explicitly outlaw the recruitment of
anyone under the age of 18 into armed
conflict. — AFP
Greste also urged Egyptian authorities to free fellow Al Jazeera colleagues Fahmy and Baher
oppn party to boycott polls
CAIRO: An Egyptian opposition
party led by a moderate said on
Wednesday it would boycott a longawaited parliamentary election because
it lacked democratic credibility given
a clampdown on political freedoms by
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
The election is to be held in two
phases in March and April, something
the Sisi government hopes will spawn
political and economic stability after
nearly four years of upheaval following
the 2011 uprising.
Cairo casts the vote as the critical
last leg of a roadmap to democracy
announced after the army toppled
Mohamed Mursi, an who was the
nation’s first freely elected president, in
2013 following mass unrest against his
But critics accuse Sisi of reinstating
authoritarian rule in Egypt, rolling back
freedoms won in the 2011 revolt, under
the cloak of a crackdown on militant
violence and street protests that have
done great damage to the economy.
“Given the absence of a proper
democratic atmosphere for a genuinely
competitive election, the party decided
to boycott the House of Representatives
election,” the Strong Egypt party,
which describes itself as centrist and
is headed by ex-presidential candidate
Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh, said in a
Last year he accused the armybacked authorities of creating a
“republic of fear”. Egyptian government
leaders say the parliamentary election
shows their commitment to democracy.
The Popular Current, a movement
led by another ex-presidential candidate
Hamdeen Sabahi, has also said it will
shun the election in protest at the
prevailing political climate.
The only other opposition party of
The election is to be held
in two phases in March
and April, something the
Sisi government hopes
will spawn political and
economic stability after
nearly four years of
note, the liberal al Dostour founded
by former UN nuclear watchdog chief
Mohamed ElBaradei, has not said
whether it will run in the election.
Democratic Party dissolved, Sisi
loyalists have scrambled to form
alliances to secure him a solid bloc of
support in parliament.
Abol Fotouh, a former Brotherhood
leader who ran for president against
Mursi in 2012, also boycotted the
presidential election last year won easily
by Sisi, who was the military chief of
staff when Mursi was overthrown.
Sisi’s crackdown began with the
killings of hundreds of Brotherhood
supporters during street protests and
the imprisonment of thousands more,
and has expanded to include liberals
and other opposition activists.
Meanwhile, an Egyptian court
Wednesday sentenced to life 230
secular activists from the 2011 revolt
against Hosni Mubarak, including
leading campaigner Ahmed Douma, an
Thirty-nine others, all minors, were
jailed for 10 years. He has introduced
economic reforms to win back foreign
investors and tourists scared off by
years of violent turmoil.
PROTESTING FOR RIGHTS
Freed Australian reporter ‘ecstatic’ to be home
BRISBANE: Al-Jazeera journalist
Peter Greste arrived home in Australia
on Thursday saying he had dreamt of
returning to his family on each of the
400 days of his detention in Egypt.
“I can’t tell you how ecstatic I am
to be here,” said the award-winning
correspondent who was deported on
Sunday from Cairo, where he was held
for allegedly aiding the blacklisted
Brotherhood. “This is a moment that
I’ve rehearsed in my mind at least 400
times over the past, well, 400 days and
it feels absolutely awesome to be here,”
the 49-year-old said, flashing the victory
sign and holding his arms aloft.
authorities to free fellow Al-Jazeera
CanadianEgyptian Mohamed Fahmy and Baher
Mohamed of Egypt.
Both men remain in an Egyptian
Australian journalist Peter Greste hugs
his mother Lois and father Juris at
Brisbane International Airport. — Reuters
prison, although Fahmy’s family said
Tuesday he had renounced his Egyptian
citizenship hoping to pave the way for
“But of course this is all tempered...
by a real worry for my colleagues
for Mohamed Fahmy, for Baher
Mohammed, for all the other guys
imprisoned alongside us,” Greste told
reporters at Brisbane airport.
“If it’s right for me to be free then it’s
right for all of us. “I think that Egypt now
has an opportunity to show that justice
doesn’t depend on your nationality.
“If it’s right for me to be free it’s right
for everyone else,” he said.”
After his plane landed around 00:30
am Thursday, Greste first held a private
reunion with his mother Lois, father
Juris, brothers Andrew and Mike and
other relatives before meeting the press.
“My family have been the bedrock
throughout all of this,” he said referring
to a worldwide campaign to free the AlJazeera team.
“My family have been absolutely
awesome. I couldn’t have done this
“All I’ve done was sit in a cell, write a
couple of letters. To celebrate this with
them has meant the world.”
A group of supporters and old friends
greeted him at airport arrivals, carrying
signs saying ‘Welcome Home Peter’ and
‘Journalism is not a crime’.
A beaming Greste shook hands and
hugged them. Since being released, he
has repeatedly voiced concern about his
Al-Jazeera colleagues still behind bars
in Cairo. “Special thanks to all who’ve
supported us over the past year.
MUST NOT FORGET THOSE
STILL IN PRISON,” the Australian
reporter wrote in a tweet before arriving
He also posted a picture of himself
standing in the sea, giving the victory
sign, writing: “Free in Cyprus! Feels
Peter back online for first time in
Palestinians erect a tent at a land that they said was confiscated by Israel, during a
protest against land confiscations near the West Bank town of Abu Dis near
Jerusalem yesterday. — Reuters
T H U R S DAY
FEBRUARY 5 l 2015
Shell hits hospital in Donetsk, dead feared
VIOLENCE SURGES: EU calls for an immediate ceaseﬁre to allow civilians to escape the ﬁghting
DONETSK: Shelling at a hospital in
east Ukraine killed four people on
Wednesday ahead of a visit to Kiev by
US Secretary of State John Kerry that
will see possible arms supplies high on
The latest deaths came as international
pressure grew for an immediate halt
to surging violence which has seen
hundreds of civilians killed in recent
weeks as pro-Russian rebels pushed into
An AFP journalist saw a body
lying next to the crater from a mortar
blast that shattered the windows at the
hospital in a western suburb of the rebel
Two more dead civilians were
sprawled outside a nearby residential
building and a local resident said another
elderly man was killed in his home.
“The firing hit in front of and behind
The children’s playground and a
school were hit too,” resident Denis
Eight other civilians were killed in
clashes around the region over the past
24 hours, rebel and government officials
As the death toll ticked up EU foreign
affairs head Federica Mogherini called
for an immediate ceasefire to allow
civilians to escape the fighting.
“The spiral of ever increasing
violence in eastern Ukraine needs to
stop,” Mogherini said.
Observers from the Organisation for
Security and Cooperation in Europe
An elderly woman walks inside a hospital in Donetsk. — Reuters
have demanded a “local temporary
truce” around the battleground town of
Debaltseve for the next three days.
Debaltseve, a strategic railway hub
between rebel centres Donetsk and
Lugansk, has been the focus of the
fiercest fighting for a week as rebels
battle to encircle Ukrainian forces.
Officials say thousands of civilians
have fled the beleaguered town over
recent days and those remaining behind
are trapped in basements without water
Ukraine’s military said that rebels had
Spain’s ruling PP tops election
poll, Podemos pips Socialists
party would come
second in an election
to the ruling People’s
Party but ahead of
the Socialists, a poll
showed on Wednesday,
about the country’s
No clear majority would emerge
from the vote, forcing the main parties
to try to form a coalition, according
to the poll from the Centro de
Investigaciones Sociologicas (CIS), the
nation’s most closely-watched political
The next Spanish general election is
due by year-end.
Support for the conservative People’s
Party (PP) and the Socialists, the two
dominant parties since Spain’s return
to democracy in the late 1970s, has
fallen to a record low after a series of
corruption scandals and tough welfare
This is mostly
benefiting to one-yearold Podemos, whose
left-wing policies and
popularity have drawn
Greece’s new Syriza
The PP would take
27.3 per cent of the
vote, while Podemos would get 23.9 per
cent and the Socialists 22.2 per cent,
according to the CIS survey carried out
in early January through a poll of 2,500
With newcomer Podemos now
grabbing the biggest share of the leftist
vote, the Socialist Party may have
to decide between backing a grand
coalition with its centre-right PP
opponents or a left-wing government
lead by Podemos.
Like Syriza in Greece, Podemos is
hoping to win power by overtaking the
two leading parties and emerging as the
dominant party on the left.
launched a fierce infantry attack towards
the town overnight but had been beaten
back after a five-hour battle.
Four Ukrainian soldiers were killed
and 25 wounded in fighting across the
region over the past 24 hours, the army
As fighting raged, US Secretary of
State John Kerry will jet into Ukraine
on Thursday with hopes growing among
Kiev’s pro-Western leaders that longstanding demands for the US to supply
arms could be met.
administration had previously ruled
out sending weapons to Ukraine’s
government but the failure of economic
sanctions to force Russia to halt alleged
military support for the separatists has
prompted a second look at the option.
Washington — fearful of becoming
embroiled in a proxy war with Russia —
has so far provided non-lethal assistance
to Ukraine, including flak jackets,
medical supplies, radios and nightvision goggles.
Ukraine though is thought to be
seeking weapons, including so-called
“fire-and-forget” anti-tank missiles,
to counter the heavy armour it says
Moscow has poured over the border.
“What we need is exactly modern
warfare, which we’ve been lacking all
this time,” Ukraine’s Foreign Minister
Pavlo Klimkin told Western journalists
While Kerry is not expected to pledge
any arms during his trip, Klimkin said
he hoped for “deliverables” from the visit
and another meeting between President
Petro Poroshenko and US Vice President
Joe Biden in Munich.
Poroshenko said on Tuesday he had
“no doubt” that the US and other Nato
allies would eventually agree to start
Fears are mounting of a sharp
escalation in the violence after truce
talks collapsed and rebels announced
an ambitious mobilisation to start next
week aimed at bolstering their forces to
Meanwhile, France will not deliver
weapons to Ukraine for the moment to
fight pro-Russian separatists, Defence
Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on
“We have no intention of delivering
weapons at this stage to Ukraine,”
Le Drian said at a news conference
with Canadian counterpart Robert
Nicholson. “We think that we need to
find a political solution to this crisis.”
Fighting since April has now claimed
over 5,358 lives, including some 220 in
just the past three weeks, according to
the United Nations.
Scotland set to deal Labour
heavy blow in election
LONDON: Britain’s opposition Labour
party is in danger of losing over threequarters of its seats in Scotland at the
upcoming general election, damaging its
chances of an outright victory, according
to a poll published on Wednesday.
The poll of Scottish constituencies,
conducted by former Conservative Party
deputy chairman Michael Ashcroft,
found there would be a minimum 21
per cent swing to the Scottish National
Party (SNP) if the election were held
If repeated across Scotland in the
vote due in May, 35 of Labour’s 41 seats
in the territory could be lost, although
the pollsters warned that the swing
would not be uniform.
“Even so, the prospect of losing
heartland seats will be a blow to Labour’s
hopes: every seat they lose in Scotland
means another they have to win from
the Conservatives in England,” Ashcroft
said on the website Conservative Home.
Of the 59 seats in Scotland, the SNP
The prospect of
seats will be a blow
to Labour’s hopes:
every seat they lose in
Scotland means another
they have to win from the
Conservatives in England’
Dy Chairman-Conservative Party
currently holds six and Labour 41, with
the Liberal Democrats in charge of 11
and the Tories one.
On current polling, both Labour
and the Tories will fail to win enough
seats nationwide to gain outright
victory, raising the prospects of another
coalition or a minority government with
support in parliament.
Opposition Labour Party tries to embarrass Cameron three months before a tight election
The survey, which was conducted
in January among 16,000 voters in
16 Scottish constituencies, also spelt
bad news for two of Westminster’s big
The poll gave the SNP an eightpoint lead over Labour’s shadow foreign
secretary Douglas Alexander.
Liberal Democrat treasury minister
Danny Alexander also faces defeat to
the SNP, while SNP’s former leader Alex
Salmond looked set for a comfortable
Despite losing a referendum on
Scottish independence last year,
Salmond’s own popularity and that
of his party has gone from strength to
Their rise is most threatening to
Labour, which traditionally counted
Scotland as a solid source of seats.
Voters have complained about
Labour leader Ed Miliband and say
that the party has become too Londoncentred. — AFP
US teen survives
48 hours lost
in Swiss Alps
GENEVA: A 19-year-old American
student who disappeared over the
weekend while skiing in the Swiss
Alps was rescued on Tuesday, alive but
suffering from hypothermia, police
said on Tuesday.
After searching for more than 48
hours, rescuers finally found the US
teen, who went missing while skiing
off-piste on Sunday near the Diablerets
resort in southern Switzerland,
police in the canton of Vaud said in a
“The man was found conscious, in
a state of hypothermia and exhaustion,
and stuck waist-deep in the thick
blanket of snow,” the statement said,
describing his survival as “miraculous”.
He had told his rescuers that he had
left the prepared slopes to “free ride”
back to the resort.
But on his way down the mountain,
he had gotten lost and broken one of
He had tried to continue on one ski,
but had fallen into a stream.
Exhausted and soaked, the 19-yearold was then caught in a storm, which
snowed him under and trapped him
for the next two days.
“The skier was relatively wellequipped when it came to clothing,
but had no working means of
communication and none of the vital
material needed when skiing offpiste,” including shovels and sensors,
the police said.
The skier, whose life was not in
danger, was taken by helicopter to the
Zweisimmen hospital near Bern.
PARIS: French comedian Dieudonne
told a court on Wednesday he
condemned last month’s Paris attacks
“without any ambiguity” as he
stood trial on charges of condoning
terrorism over a comment suggesting
he sympathised with the gunmen.
The polemicist was arrested on
January 14 after saying “I feel like
Charlie Coulibaly”, a mix of the
slogan “Je suis Charlie” that became a
global rallying cry against extremism
and the name of one of the gunmen
who killed a policewoman and four
His arrest was one of dozens of cases
opened for “condoning terrorism” or
“making threats to carry out terrorist
acts” after the attackers killed 17 people
in the January 7-9 shooting spree that
also targeted magazine Charlie Hebdo,
sparking concerns over freedom of
“Of course I condemn the attacks
without any restraint and without any
ambiguity,” Dieudonne told the court
in Paris. — AFP
ALL SET FOR THE LAUNCH
PM asked about tax affairs of wife’s employer
LONDON: British Prime Minister
David Cameron was asked in parliament
on Wednesday about the tax affairs of
his wife’s employer, as the opposition
Labour Party tried to embarrass him
three months before a tight election.
Seeking to boost support ahead of
the May 7 vote, Labour has looked to
cast Conservative Party leader Cameron
as someone who has benefited the rich,
while failing to help low paid voters
weather what it has called “a cost of
Cameron, a descendant of King
William IV and an alumnus of Britain’s
elite Eton College, rejects the charge
saying he has lifted millions of low paid
voters out of tax altogether.
He has also spoken out strongly
against multinational companies using
tax avoidance schemes to pay tax
But the work of his wife, Samantha
Cameron, has come under the spotlight
in recent days after newspapers
publicised the tax arrangements of
her employer — Smythson, a British
manufacturer of luxury leather goods.
Cameron rejects the charge
saying he has lifted millions
of low paid voters out
of tax altogether
The firm has its flagship store on
London’s exclusive Bond Street and
counts members of the British royal
family among its clients, but public
records show it is owned through a
parent company in Luxembourg and
connected to a trust in Guernsey.
Cameron’s wife works as a creative
consultant for Smythson, and there is
no suggestion that it is doing anything
illegal. However, the press coverage is
awkward for the prime minister.
On Wednesday Labour lawmaker
Tom Blenkinsop asked Cameron in
parliament whether he knew “anyone
who owns or works for a UK-registered
company that uses a Luxembourgbased holding company in order to
avoid paying their fair share of tax in
Cameron ignored the implied
reference to his wife, saying he wanted
to see more companies headquartered
in Britain and that more and more firms
were choosing to do so.
“We inherited a situation where
company after company was leaving our
shores,” he told parliament “Because we
have now got competitive tax rates and a
business friendly government more and
more businesses are coming here.”
Smythson declined immediate
comment on its tax status.
Meanwhile, Britain on Wednesday
appointed a New Zealand judge to lead
a troubled inquiry into historic child
abuse allegations, after the first two
nominees quit following criticism of
their establishment links.
High Court judge Lowell Goddard
has been picked from 150 candidates
to chair the mammoth probe, which
includes investigating an alleged political
paedophile ring. The departure of a
second head of the wide-ranging inquiry
had been a major embarrassment for the
Prime Minister David Cameron
announced the probe in July last year
following a string of scandals involving
the abuse of children at hospitals and
care homes as well as churches and
Home Secretary Theresa May, the
interior minister, said on Wednesday
there would be “no stone unturned”
in the probe, after she announced
“I am now more determined than
ever to expose the people behind these
despicable crimes and the people in
institutions that knew about abuse but
didn’t act, that failed to help when it
was their duty, sometimes their very
purpose, to do so,” she said. — AFP
A photo made available by the CNES/CSG shows The European Space Agency’s
(ESA) Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle seen ready for its launch atop a Vega
rocket from Europe. — AFP
T H U R S DAY
FEBRUARY 5 l 2015
Indian students from various colleges light candles in the shape of a ribbon during a rally taken out on World Cancer
Awareness Day in Bangalore. Putting out data on the prevalence of the deadly disease on World Cancer Day, the World
Health Organistan (WHO) cautioned that the number of cases of cancer is expected to rise about 70 percent over the next
A sculptor assistant touches up on a monument, featuring Soviet leader Josef Stalin, US
President Theodore Roosevelt (C) and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the three
Allied leaders, side by side in the Yalta conference in Livadiya outside Yalta, Crimea. A new
monument by Russian sculptor Zurab Tsereteli is to be unveiled in Crimea as part of
celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the 1945 Yalta conference.
Vintage and classic cars are displayed ahead of the Bonhams’ Les Grandes Marques du Monde vintage motor cars and motorcycles auction at the Grand Palais
exhibition hall as part of the Retromobile vintage car show in Paris.
A cross-country skier makes his
way through the snowy
landscape on the Schauinsland
mountain near Hofsgrund in the
German waitress Kathi Kink, aged 91, presents her
collection of 80 fancy dress costumes at her home
close to the ‘Zum Goldenen Tal’ restaurant where she
works in Naring near Weyarn, southern Germany.
Since 1939 at the age of 16, Kathi has worked as a
waitress at the ‘Zum Goldenen Tal’ restaurant in
Naring, serving her guests drinks and meals between
five and 11 hours per day, five days a week. When not
working, in her private time Kathi likes to travel the
world or reads books. Since 1977 she has worn a
mileometer to record her steps and has so far
completed a distance of 81,000 kilometres up until
the present day.
Demonstrators from grassroots environmental network Friends
of the Earth Europe (FoEE) stage a protest against the
Transatlantic Trade and Investment Pact in front of the
European institutions in Brussels. US and EU negotiators began
their latest round of talks seeking to push through the world’s
biggest-ever free trade deal, which after nearly two years
remain bogged down by public opposition.
A gardener trims the grass at the Temple
of Olympian Zeus in Athens. — Reuters
THURSDAY | FEBRUARY 5, 2015 | RABEE AL THANI 15, 1436 AH
Sky TV’s interim proﬁts more than double Mongolians vote for foreign investment Taxes in Britain may increase after election FOLLOW US ON:
NBO inks $116.24m ﬁnance Omani Dry Port operator
deal with Dalma Energy
MONEY MATTERS: First of 5 new rigs will be delivered to PDO in April
Feb. 4: Dalma Energy (Dalma), the international drilling contractor, announced yesterday
that it has successfully partnered with National
Bank of Oman for the financing of a new project
for Petroleum Development Oman (PDO).
With a total value $116.24 million, the
funding provided by National Bank of Oman
will enable Dalma to deliver five state-of-theart 1000 hp VFD rigs to PDO.
The first rig will arrive from the Chinese
supplier, Shandong Kerui Group in April 2015,
while the remaining four will be delivered over
the subsequent three months.
Within Oman, and following completion
of the deal, Dalma will now have 19 rigs under
contract with PDO. The agreement signed on
the five new rigs is for 6 years with extension
options for a further 2 years. The crews for the
new rigs, comprising 425 Omani nationals,
have been hired in advance of the rig arrivals
and are currently being trained in the high-tech
Dalma Training Institute which commenced
operations in 2012. The completion of the
deal, and the involvement of National Bank of
Oman, further emphasises the importance of
the drilling industry for Oman and its oil & gas
sector as a major supplier of well-paid jobs.
T Fredric Young, chief executive officer,
Dalma Energy, said: “This project is a major
milestone for Dalma Energy fostering the
relationship with PDO in Dalma’s home
market. The new rigs continue the success story
in the 1000 hp segment which is served by
Dalma since 1992. Dalma provides experienced
crews and state of the art equipment to PDO
and BP in Oman. Dalma is pleased that the
ongoing positive business outlook has allowed
financing within the Sultanate of Oman and
thus delivering a substantial contribution to
the In-Country-Value strategy of the oil & gas
Ahmed al Musalmi, chief executive officer,
NBO, said: “This marks another important
achievement for National Bank of Oman
and we are proud to be the sole financer of
this $116m credit facility. The transaction
reinforces National Bank of Oman’s capabilities
and commitment to continually strengthen our
collaboration with local corporates to support
key strategic projects and contribute to Oman’s
Al Musalmi added, “National Bank of Oman
is strongly positioned for future growth and
we have developed a robust five-year growth
strategy and innovative plans to build on the
success of the bank’s transformation. Our focus
remains on expanding our retail, corporate
and investment banking operations where
there are opportunities to grow in the medium
and long term. Over the past three years, we
have committed over $1 billion to support
major strategic projects in Oman. Through
our commitment to delivering a consistently
superior customer experience and creating
value for our stakeholders, National Bank of
Oman is well-placed to continue on its journey
to be the Bank of Choice.”
Feb 4: As many as 34 local and international
companies have registered to participate in the
request for Expressions of Interest (EoI) process
to operate and manage Oman’s first ever Dry
Port envisioned as part of the South Al Batinah
Logistics Area (SABLA).
Registered companies include 17 international
firms assessing their interest to offer their expertise
in this strategic project aimed at advancing the
government’s goal of elevating the Sultanate’s
global rankings in the logistics sector.
The quality and strength of firms looking to
participate in the tender process for the operation
and management of the Dry Port was among
a host of issues reviewed at a pair of high-level
meetings convened at the Supreme Council for
Planning this week.
The ambitious initiative is planned on a 95 sq
km site at the intersection of the Barka-Nakhl
road and Muscat-Batinah Expressway. Envisioned
within this sprawling site is a full-service Dry Port
designed to serve as an inland location closer to the
greater Muscat and regional market for shippers to
receive and deliver their cargo originating from or
bound for Sohar Port or other points of entry into
the Sultanate. Initially, a 30-hectare plot will be
developed to provide a range of Dry Port related
At the meeting chaired by Ahmed al Azkawi —
Project Director, the project’s adviser Brad Julian
provided a detailed overview of the strategic vision
and objectives underlying the government’s goal
High-level meetings review
progress on the South Al Batinah
Logistics Area project
of establishing a world-class hub at the South Al
Batinah location near Barka. Also emphasised was
the significance of the project to the government’s
broader goal of developing logistics infrastructure
across the Sultanate with the aim of fuelling
Participants were also briefed about the
findings of a market survey that assessed the scope,
breadth and strength of demand for logistics
related services in the Sultanate, and the positive
ramifications for the economy. The findings
affirmed the location and vital importance of
the South Al Batinah Logistics Area project, and
its anchor Dry Port venture, to achieving the
government’s vision for logistics.
Following the meetings, a field visit was
organised to the site of the Logistics Area near
Barka with a view to familiarising interested
companies with the specific aspects of the project
and the different types of activities and investments
envisioned within this venture.
Significantly, the Expression of Interest (EoI)
for the Operation & Management of the Dry
Port, floated by the SABLA Steering Committee
earlier this month, has attracted significant local
and international interest, according to the project
team. Of the 34 companies that have collected
prequalification documents to date, 17 hail
from Asia, Europe, North America, Africa and
TO PAGE 18
Mideast, N Africa
to invest $755 bn
in energy projects
DUBAI: Middle East and North African states are expected to invest $755 billion in energy projects over the
next five years despite the plunge in world oil prices, a key
The Arab Petroleum Investments Corporation (APICORP) said its projection for the 2015-19 period was only
slightly down on the $760 billion that it forecast for 2014-18,
although estimates for the coming period have been slightly
inflated by an increase in project costs.
Oil is expected to account for 31 per cent of the investment spend and gas for 27 per cent, the lender said in its
The other $316 billion is projected to be invested in power generation to meet soaring demand for electricity, which
is heavily subsidised in most regional states, said APICORP,
the development bank of the Organisation of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries.
The region’s top investor Saudi Arabia is expected to buck
the trend with a reduction in capital spending after the completion of a series of mega-projects, APICORP said.
Saudi investments are projected to fall to $127 billion for
2015-2019 from more than $170 billion for 2014-18.
APICORP attributed the fall to the completion of major
upstream oil projects and the diminished opportunities for
further downstream mega projects.
This is coupled with a drive by oil giant Saudi Aramco to
reduce its capital spending by 20 per cent.
The United Arab Emirates comes in second place with
investment projections of $116 billion, followed by Algeria
with $84 billion. Iraq and Iran are forecast to invest around
$80 billion and $70 billion, respectively.
Nearly all the region’s oil and gas exporters have vowed to
maintain the same level of investments despite being hit by a
more than 50 per cent fall in prices since last June.
The price slump is expected to cost the six Gulf Arab
states around $300 billion in lost revenues this year, the International Monetary Fund said last month.
T H U R S DAY
FEBRUARY 5 l 2015
Dry Port licence attracts global interest Vaastu, legal aid at realty show
FROM PAGE 17
In part, the robust interest stems
from the Logistics Area’s strategically
advantageous location in South Al Batinah
Governorate which is conducive as a hub
for logistics, warehousing and distribution,
consolidation, re-exports of containers and
general cargo alike.
with seaports along the coast, industrial
parks and free zones ensure speedy and
seamless handling and movement of these
Identified for implementation as part of
the Phase 1 development of the Logistics
Area is the Dry Port complete with road
networks, warehousing and distribution
facilities to service shippers and transporters.
Complementing these facilities will be
Al Ahlia wins Insurer of the Year
Insurer of the Year’ title
at the prestigious MENA
Insurance Review Awards
2015, one of the big two
annual insurance awards
held recently in Dubai. This
is the fourth time in five
years that Al Ahlia has won
the coveted title. Al Ahlia
won the title previously in
2011, 2012 & 2014. Robust
business performance, customer-centric brand values, a strong focus on training
and career development and effective corporate governance framework were all
areas contributing to Al Ahlia’s win.
Commenting on the win, Lloyd East — CEO (RSA Middle East) and MD
said; “We are delighted to be recognised with this award for the fourth time, and I
want to thank all our colleagues for making it possible. Our focus on quality and
continuous improvement to meet the customer needs is how we have maintained
our reputation as a market leader. We remain committed to ongoing employee
development and training programmes, competitive product offerings, and
creating value for our partners and shareholders”.
Al Ahlia Insurance Co is a part of the RSA Group that has legacy of over 300
years in insurance and operates in around 130 countries.
Badr Al Samaa organises CME on epilepsy
BADR Al Samaa healthcare group in association with Amrita Institute of Medical
Sciences, Kochi, organised a Continuing Medical Education (CME) programme
on epilepsy recently at Crowne Plaza. The lecture was about Epilepsy — Cure
through Surgery. Dr Ashok Pillai, Professor Neurosurgery and Dr Siby Gopinath,
Professor Neurology from Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS), Kochi,
were the main speakers. The CME was chaired by Dr Srijithesh, Neurologist,
Badr Al Samaa hospital Ruwi.
Dr Ashok Pillai is a postgraduate — MD from Indiana University, USA and
underwent advanced neuro surgical training in Amrita Institute medical sciences
in Kerala. His areas of expertise is in the field of adult and paediatric epilepsy
surgery, robotic neurosurgery, adult and paediatric brain tumour surgery including
functional brain mapping, peripheral nerve surgery, and paediatric neurosurgery.
Dr Siby Gopinath is a postgraduate — MD in general medicine from
University of Baroda. She completed her neurology training from Amrita
Institute of medical Sciences (AIMS). She functions as an academic faculty and is
actively involved in teaching neurology for postgraduates. Her expertise is in the
field of clinical electrophysiology and sleep medicine, in addition to several other
areas of clinical neurology. Over 100 doctors from different region of the country
attended the programme.
administrative buildings, utilities, stores and
other support infrastructure.
The current deadline for submission of
Expressions of Interest for the O&M the Dry
Port is on February 15, 2015, after which the
Steering Committee overseeing the Logistics
Area project will identify companies that are
eligible to compete for the O&M licence. An
award is expected during the course of this
(OEPPA Business Development Dept)
Feb. 4: Dr Padmaja Yadav, a doctorate degree
holder in Vaastu Shastra and a well-known
Vaastu and Feng Shui expert, will be conducting
free seminars in vaastu at the upcoming Global
Property Show during February 18 - 21, 2015
between 6 - 7 pm every day at Hall No 2, Oman
International Exhibition Centre.
The seminars will impart knowledge on the
role of Vaastu when identifying and choosing
Vaastu-friendly properties and applying Vaastu
for growth and success in life.
According to Yadav, the design of too many
homes, companies, hotels, hospitals and most
public facilities ignore the power of space and its
ability to create a negative or positive impact on
us. Also known as the science of good fortune,
Vaastu Shastra can help increase prosperity in
your home or office. Through minor changes
and the use of certain tools of Vaastu Shastra,
one can gain health, wealth, prosperity and
peace. Vaastu Shastra harmonises life with
nature, allowing you to reach your optimum
Co-located at the Global Property Show is the
Indian Property Pavilion where visitors can get
free legal advice on Indian property issues. The
organisers of the property show are bringing in
top rated lawyer Ajit Jakhadi from the Mumbai
High Court, India to help provide fast answers
pertaining to all property related issues.
“Many NRIs face the problem of not knowing
include low monthly payment option, low interest rates, financing up to 8 years
for new vehicles, on-the-spot approvals and motor insurance funding with one
of the lowest monthly payments in the market. Customers are also not required
to furnish post-dated cheques, making Sayyarati the easy, convenient and
completely hassle-free way to own a new car. Notably, Sayyarati finance can be
obtained from any of the 139 Bank Muscat branches spread across Oman.
Sayyarati is the preferred auto finance in Oman, unique in all aspects with
unparalleled benefits. The ongoing offer makes it easier and more affordable to
own one’s dream vehicle without undue financial pressure. In addition, there are
a host of extra value added benefits.
‘Safety and value of life’ Commax
COMMAX Korea recently
organised Commax Summit
in Muscat under the theme
‘Safety and Value of Life’.
The summit was organised
in partnership with Muscat
Lightings, the exclusive
dealers of Commax in the
Sultanate. Commax Korea
is a world-renowned brand
of Audio/Video Door Entry
& Security System solutions company. It has been delivering optimised total
solutions to customers across 120 countries through image telecommunication
technologies and security technologies accumulated over nearly five decades.
Muscat Lightings is one of the most prominent companies in the area of
lighting solutions and security systems in Oman. It has four showrooms spread
out all over the country that are the largest lightings showrooms in Oman, with
a wide range of globally renowned brands and an extensive range of products.
The products of Commax Korea are very popular among retail as well
as project customers. It is widely used in residences as well as in a variety of
industrial sites including hospitals, offices, commercial facilities and specialised
facilities. Commax products mainly consist of Fine View Systems, Gate View
Systems, CCTV Cameras and DVR (Digital Video Recorders).
The Commax Summit, a one-day programme, was hosted by Muscat Lightings
at the Best Western Premier Hotel for its premium clients to acquaint them
with information about the latest and upcoming technologies and products of
Commax Korea. The Commax Korea delegation visiting Oman consisted of the
Director — Sales, Manager — Technical Products.
KR renews support for Muscat Festival
THE Khimji Ramdas
Group is proud to
be a participating
sponsor in the 2015
Muscat Festival; the
sponsorship comes in
line with the Company’s
on supporting social,
cultural and community
shine the spotlight on
Oman’s rich heritage.
Highlighting the company’s involvement during the month-long Muscat Festival,
Anil Khimji, Director, KR said: “The Khimji Ramdas Group has always embraced
every opportunity to work with local communities and assist them in becoming
self-sufficient societies. Our commitment to preserving and promoting local
Omani culture extends to virtually every national event. We have also been very
BANK Muscat, the flagship
proactive in promoting local culture and heritage through events like the Muscat
financial services provider in
Festival. Speaking of this, we have a long and cherished association with the
the Sultanate, has made its
organising committee of the Muscat Festival through our involvement, support
presence at Muscat Festival,
Oman’s tourism and cultural
and participation in the event. This year, visitors to the event will have access to a
wide range of products from one of our key consumer divisions.”
experience for visitors with
Ever since the inception of the Muscat Festival, the KR Group has been
attractive campaigns linked
providing consistent and unconditional support in line with the company’s key
to products and services.
objectives to uphold community and cultural initiatives. This time around too the
The Sayyarati auto finance
conglomerate is a participating sponsor and visitors to the event can benefit from
campaign with interest rate
smart offerings from one division of KR’s Consumer Products Group. Apart from
beginning from 3.5 per cent
that, during the period of the Muscat Festival customers can avail of a flat 60 per
has evoked strong response from customers seeking to acquire the latest 2015 cent discount on products in all Khimji’s Luxury & Lifestyle outlets across Oman,
models from leading auto brands. The main features of Sayyarati auto finance and Bait Al Ahlam, the home appliances division, offers 25 per cent on brands
Bank Muscat campaigns a
big draw at Muscat Fest
their legal rights when it comes to investing in
real estate in the country. Another common
problem faced by a number of NRIs is the issue of
land grabbing or gate crashers or people taking
illegal possession of their properties. Many
such concerns will be answered at the Global
Property Show. Our aim is to make the process of
property purchase as seamless as possible,” said
Sunil Jaiswal, President — Sumansa Exhibitions,
organisers of Global Property Show.
“Jakhadi will help you understand the law
pertaining to any real estate topic including
buying or selling a home, foreclosure, property
taxes, property deeds, real estate warranties,
insurance, and easement disputes. In addition,
he can also provide guidance on appraising the
property, negotiating the rate, documentation,
registration works, and so on,” the organisers
said in a press statement.
The exhibitors at the show include leading
Indian real estate developers, construction
companies and real estate agents. The Indian
Property Pavilion will feature properties
from Bengaluru, Chennai, Mangalore, Kochi,
Mumbai, Pune, Jaipur, Delhi — NCR and many
In addition to guidance on real estate matters,
there will also be informative and educative
seminar daily from 5-6pm by Jakhadi who will
educate buyers on owners’ rights, legal processes
involved in buying property, risk mitigation, and
(OEPPA Business Development Dept)
like Siemens, La Germania, Frigidaire and Simfer.
The 2015 Muscat Festival is being dubbed as one of Oman’s uniquely
spellbinding extravaganzas yet since the concept’s launch years ago.
Genesis gets Kiplinger’s best value award
THE Genesis — premium
series from Hyundai, won the
best new/redesigned car in the
Kiplinger’s personal finance
annual best value awards at
the 2015 Washington Auto
comprehensive review of
hundreds of vehicles and
revealed the best values on
the newest models. Kiplinger’s buyer’s guide sorts the 2015 models by price and
category, ranking them for performance, safety and value. For nine decades,
the Kiplinger organisation has led the way in personal finance and business
forecasting in the US. The Kiplinger Letter, launched in 1923, remains the longest
continuously published newsletter in the United States. In 1947, Kiplinger created
the first personal finance magazine in the USA and has been delivering sound,
unbiased advice on personal finance and business in clear, concise language.
“With the 2015 Genesis named as Kiplinger’s top picks, it shows that this
model continues to exceed customer and media expectations for its confident
handling, top safety ratings, design and value,” said Scott Margason, director of
product planning, Hyundai Motor America.
The 2015 Genesis — a premium sedan that has been designed to set
new standards in its class — is the first Hyundai to feature the brand’s fluidic
sculpture 2.0 design concept, while also boasting significantly enhanced driving
performance and state-of-the-art technologies such as a head-up display, smart
trunk function and autonomous emergency braking.
account to support SMEs
implementation of Saih
Al Shamikhat decisions,
which took place at Sultan
Qaboos University recently,
BankDhofar had announced
the launch of a customised
bundle of offers through its
new ‘Entrepreneur Account’.
The exclusive account is
yet another initiative by
BankDhofar to facilitate and support small and medium enterprises in the
Sultanate, and it is central to the bank’s strategic framework to contribute to the
development and growth of the national economy.
Commenting on this initiative, Hussain Ali Ibrahim, acting AGM of Business
Banking, highlighted the bank’s strategic vision and its role as a proactive key
player in the development of the SME sector. “It is incredible to see the huge
nationwide drive to support SMEs in recent years. Government and private
sector organisations are joining hands to revamp this sector and push it forward.
We at BankDhofar are very proud to be one of the leaders among the private
sector organisations in terms of providing SME’s exclusive banking products
and services, advisory and mentorship, and now the brand new Entrepreneur
Account that is now available in all our branches across the Sultanate.”
As a key player in the Omani private sector and being a major contributor in
driving the development and growth of the national economy, BankDhofar was
one of the first banks to introduce SME related solutions, products and services.
Despite the fact that the SME term is relatively new to the Omani market,
BankDhofar has been working for years to nurture and promote good business
ideas generated in this sector, providing financial solutions and strategic guidance
to entrepreneurs under its Corporate Banking umbrella.
Hailing BankDhofar’s proactive initiative, Salah bin Hilal al Malawi, Head
of the Directorate General of SMEs Development, noted: “The SME sector has
come a long way in the past few years, thanks to the collective efforts by the
public and private sector organisations. This would not be possible to achieve
without the support of major companies that have an influence in the local
market. BankDhofar’s continuous efforts to support entrepreneurs will definitely
contribute to the Omani government’s drive to diversify the national economy
and add to the comprehensive development of the Sultanate.”
T H U R S DAY
FEBRUARY 5 l 2015
Sony cuts full-year
net loss forecast
to $1.4 billion
Sony’s CFO Kenichiro Yoshida speaks during a press conference to announce the
company’s financial results at its headquarters in Tokyo yesterday.
TOKYO: Sony yesterday cut its fullyear loss forecast by more than a quarter
to $1.4 billion, pointing to its latest
three-month results that benefited from
a weak yen and improving smartphone
sales. The struggling consumer
electronics firm said it now expected
to lose 170 billion yen in the fiscal year
to March, down from an earlier loss
forecast of 230 billion yen, as it also
cited lower restructuring costs.
Sony’s projected earnings improved
as its October-December net profit
more than tripled from a year earlier to
an estimated 89 billion yen.
Operating profit doubled to 178.3
billion yen as sales grew 6.1 per cent to
2.55 trillion yen, Sony estimated.
The Tokyo-based firm released the
estimates after saying it would delay
releasing finalised numbers until at
least next month after a cyberattack
at its Hollywood film unit linked to
North Korean satire “The Interview”
compromised “a large amount of data”.
The company has said that the hack
attack was unlikely to have a material
impact on its financial results.
Sony’s improving results were
primarily “due to the favourable impact
of foreign exchange rates, a significant
increase in mobile communication
segment sales reflecting an increase
in unit sales of smartphones” among
others, it said in a statement. Revenue
from image sensors and its PlayStation
games business also picked up, it said.
But revenue was down in the movie
and television production business.
Restructuring costs in the quarter were
reduced by a third from a year ago, it
For the nine months to December,
Sony estimated it had a net loss of 20.1
billion yen, reversing 9.9 billion yen in
profit a year earlier.
British think-tank sees pressure on parties
Taxes in Britain may
increase after election
LONDON: Britain’s major political
parties are likely to face heavy
pressure to raise taxes to balance the
budget after May’s election, contrary
to their stated plans, a leading thinktank said yesterday.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies, a
non-partisan body whose analyses
of Britain’s public finances are
closely watched, said the fiscal
tightening planned over the coming
years was deeper than in any of 32
other advanced economies it had
This would be a much greater
challenge than the more modest
progress made by finance minister
Conservative Party and their Liberal
Democrat allies came to power in
2010 with a mandate to cut the deficit,
the IFS said.
“Mr Osborne has perhaps not been
quite such an austere Chancellor as
either his own rhetoric or that of his
critics might suggest,” IFS director
Paul Johnson said.
“One result is that he or his
successor will still have a lot of fiscal
work to do over the course of the next
parliament,” he added.
Five years ago, Osborne intended
to virtually eliminate by 2015 a budget
deficit that then stood at 10 per cent
of economic output. Instead, it has
been cut to 5 per cent as growth fell
short of the government’s forecasts.
Osborne has said he has no plans
to raise taxes after the election and the
opposition Labour Party has said its
tax rises will be focused on the rich.
But the IFS said that “history
suggests that general elections tend to
be followed by tax rises”.
Typically, the tax burden is raised
by about £5 billion ($7.6 billion) just
after an election, in today’s terms,
equivalent to increasing the standard
rate of income tax by 1 percentage
point, the IFS said.
MUSCAT SECURITIES MARKET
T H U R S DAY
FEBRUARY 5 l 2015
Asian shares at 3-month peak, warily watching oil
SYDNEY: Asian shares took Wall
Street’s lead to reach three-month peaks
yesterday as revived risk sentiment
dented the US dollar and sovereign
bonds, though it was unclear how long
this latest mood swing would last. Much
might depend on whether oil can sustain
its recent rally, thus helping to underpin
energy stocks and lessen fears of global
On Wednesday oil prices were down
only modestly with bulls seemingly
hopeful that industry cuts to investment
would lessen the glut of supply in the
Benchmark Brent crude oil was off
a slim 15 cents at $57.76, following a
rise of almost 6 per cent on Tuesday.
US crude was quoted 66 cents lower at
$52.39, but that compares with a low last
week of $43.58.
In share markets, the Nikkei jumped
1.8 per cent as banks outperformed on
strong earnings from Mitsubishi UFJ
MSCI’s broadest index of AsiaPacific shares outside Japan rose 1.5 per
cent to the highest since late October.
Australia’s main share index climbed 1.2
per cent to a near seven-year top as bulls
basked in the glow of Tuesday’s cut in
domestic interest rates.
Shares in Shanghai firmed 0.35 per
cent amid speculation that China’s
central bank would be the next to ease
policy following moves in Australia and
A survey suggesting China’s services
sector grew at the slowest pace in six
months in January only added to the
expectations of more stimulus.
One newspaper reported 14 Chinese
provinces planned to invest 15 trillion
Euro zone private sector
grows at fastest rate: PMI
A man looks at a share prices board in Tokyo yesterday. Japan’s share prices rose 342.89 points to close at 17,678.74 points at
the Tokyo Stock Exchange, following sharp rises in New York and Europe sparked by higher oil prices and growing optimism
about a possible deal to renegotiate Greece’s debt.
yuan ($2.4 trillion) in infrastructure and
other projects to help revive growth.
Earlier on Wall Street, the Dow had
ended Tuesday 1.76 per cent higher,
while the S&P 500 gained 1.44 per cent
and the Nasdaq 1.09 per cent.
Greek markets had led the way in
Europe on hopes that progress was
being made in the stand-off over the
country’s debt mountain.
Still, it was far from certain whether
Greece’s proposed debt-swap plan
would get anywhere with euro zone
officials giving it a chilly reception.
The improvement in risk sentiment
was enough to trigger a selloff in
Treasuries, where yields on 10-year
paper hit 1.81 per cent after the biggest
daily rise in 14 months.
Market positioning exaggerated the
moves as investors have been very short
on oil and very long on dollars and
Sky TV’s interim profits more than double
broadcaster Sky posted soaring firsthalf profits buoyed by keen demand in
Austria, Britain and Germany, in the
first results to include Sky Italia and Sky
Deutschland. Net profits, or earnings
after taxation, more than doubled
to £1.09 billion in the six months to
December 31, compared with £411
million a year earlier, Sky said in a results
statement. Revenues rallied 17 per
cent to £4.302 billion in the reporting
period, and grew 5 per cent on an
Adjusted operating profit meanwhile
grew 16 per cent to £675 million.
Total customer numbers swelled by
493,000 in the second quarter to reach
more than 24.8 million subscribers,
lifted by record growth in Austria and
“We have delivered an excellent
operational and financial performance
in our first set of results as the new Sky,”
said chief executive Jeremy Darroch,
adding that it had enjoyed “strong
customer demand in all five of our
Back in November, Sky changed its
name from BSkyB after completing the
purchase of Sky Italia and a majority
holding in Sky Deutschland, creating a
pan-European pay-TV titan.
Sky is 39 per cent owned by Rupert
Murdoch’s media empire 21st Century
Fox. The group’s five markets comprise
Austria, Britain, Germany, Ireland and
“Alongside our continued strength
in the UK and Ireland, the acquisition of
Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland gives us
an expanded opportunity for growth,”
“Both businesses had a strong
quarter, Germany posting its highest
ever customer growth and Italy
showing resilience with good customer
growth in a challenging economic
“Integration is progressing well and
we are excited about the potential for
the three businesses to be even stronger
Sky broadcasts the 24-hour Sky
News channel, English Premier League
football and blockbuster movies and
also provides Internet and telephone
The results were published one
week after Sky revealed plans to launch
mobile phone services next year in a tieup with Spain’s Telefonica.
Under the multi-year agreement,
Telefonica UK will give the group
wholesale access to 2G, 3G and 4G
services over its popular nationwide
phone network, Sky said, but disclosed
no financial terms.
The announcement followed recent
news that Telefonica was in talks to
sell its British mobile phone unit O2 to
Hong Kong’s Hutchison Whampoa for
Sky has been in talks for some
time to use the network to operate a
mobile service, and it is understood
that its plans will be unaffected by the
The Japanese car maker said sales would come in at 27 trillion yen
Toyota raises full-year profit
forecast to record $18 billion
TOYOTA: Toyota on Wednesday raised its earnings forecast
for the year to March, saying it expects to book a record $18.1
billion annual net profit due to a weak yen and cost cuts.
The revision marked the second upgrade for the fiscal year
to March as the world’s biggest automaker boosted its net
profit estimate to 2.13 trillion yen from an earlier 2 trillion
yen forecast. The Corolla and Camry maker also said sales
would come in at 27 trillion yen, up from an earlier 26.5
trillion yen forecast.
Operating profit would be 2.7 trillion yen, up from a 2.5
trillion yen earlier estimate, it added. “While we expect a
reduction in vehicle sales, we are raising our operating income
(estimate), factoring in the change in our foreign exchange
rate assumption and the progress in our profit improvement
activities, such as cost reduction efforts,” Toyota’s managing
officer Takuo Sasaki said in a statement.
Also yesterday Toyota said it booked a 1.7 trillion yen net
profit for the nine months through December, up from 1.5
trillion yen a year earlier. Revenue for the period rose 5.2 per
cent to 20.1 trillion yen, Toyota said.
Japanese car companies have been big winners over the
past year as a sharp drop in the yen inflated their repatriated
profits, while sales have also picked up in the key North
Last month Toyota retained the crown of world’s biggest
automaker after reporting that it sold a record 10.23 million
Toyota Motors managing officer Takuo Sasaki (right) answers
questions beside managing officer Koki Konishi (left) during a
press conference announcing the company’s financial results
at its Tokyo headquarters yesterday.
vehicles in 2014, outpacing General Motors and Volkswagen.
Rival Honda last week cut its full-year profit forecast
as it grapples with soaring recall costs, including from an
exploding airbag crisis linked to at least five deaths. Japan’s
number two car company Nissan reports its financial results
The US dollar regained just a little
ground yesterday, with its index edging
up 0.13 per cent to 93.716. On Tuesday
it had suffered its biggest one-day fall
since October 2013.
The euro was hovering at $1.1467,
after an eye watering reversal from
Tuesday’s low of $1.1312. The dollar
fared better on the safe-haven yen, rising
drones to deliver
tea in China
SHANGHAI: Echoing US online
retailer Amazon, Chinese e-commerce
giant Alibaba yesterday tested a
drone delivery service, promising to
whisk ginger tea to customers within
an hour despite close controls on
Alibaba’s flagship consumer-toconsumer platform Taobao, estimated
to hold more than 90 per cent of
the Chinese market, showed off a
photo of a black and silver drone with
helicopter-like propellors carrying a
white box to launch the service.
But the option is confined to just
three days and a few areas of three
Chinese mega-cities — the capital
Beijing, commercial hub Shanghai
and Guangzhou in the south — and
applies only to one brand of tea from
one particular vendor, with a limit of
450 deliveries in total.
“For consumers... such a cool
consumption experience will give
them more surprises,” Taobao said in a
statement on its microblog.
Airspace in China is strictly
controlled, with the majority used by
the military. The government allows
limited use of civil drones for activities
ranging from rescue to observation,
and operators are required to apply
for permission beforehand.
The drone launch comes after
Alibaba last week locked horns with
a powerful government regulator,
which delivered an unusual dressing
down of the company and accused
it of allowing “illegal” actions on its
e-commerce platforms, including
A survey published late January by
the State Administration for Industry
& Commerce (SAIC) showed only
about a third of products sampled
from Taobao were genuine.
Taobao has pledged to crack down
on counterfeit goods in response and
Alibaba founder Jack Ma met with
SAIC director Zhang Mao last week,
which could signal a de-escalation of
Alibaba, founded by Ma in 1999,
is China’s biggest e-commerce
company. It listed on the New York
Stock Exchange last year in the world’s
largest public offering to date. — AFP
LONDON: The euro zone private
sector grew at its fastest pace in six
months in January as firms slashed
prices at the steepest rate in nearly
five years, a business survey showed
Data compiler Markit said the
survey, carried out mostly before the
European Central Bank announced a
near-trillion euro quantitative easing
programme to revive inflation and
boost the economy, pointed to Q1
growth of 0.3 per cent.
That matches the median forecast
in a Reuters poll last month and, if
realised, would be faster than the 0.1
per cent economists have pencilled in
for the end of 2014.
Markit’s final January Composite
Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI),
seen as a good indicator of growth,
stood at 52.6, higher than a preliminary
estimate of 52.2 and December’s 51.4.
“The euro zone enjoyed a positive
start to 2015, as growth of economic
activity accelerated. Among the bigfour nations, output expanded in
Germany, Italy and Spain, but the
downturn in the French economy
extended into its ninth month,” Markit
However, that growth came at a cost
to margins. An index measuring output
prices fell to 46.9 from December’s
48.1, its lowest reading since February
2010, suggesting firms were slashing
prices to drum up trade.
Prices dropped a record-equalling
0.6 per cent last month as commodity
prices, Brent crude in particular,
Price-cutting helped drive service
industry activity up at the fastest rate in
five months. The services sector PMI
rose to 52.7 from December’s 51.6,
ahead of the flash 52.3 estimate.
Confidence about the ECB’s QE
programme and signs of growth in new
orders accelerating helped lift a gauge of
optimism among service firms by the
biggest one-month margin in over five
years, to 63.9 from 59.7.
Wizz Air revives London shares listing plan
LONDON: Low-cost Eastern European-focused airline Wizz Air resurrected a plan to
list its shares on the London Stock Exchange, seeking to raise 150 million euros ($172
million) to help fund its growth plans. The proceeds sought compares to the 200
million euros it said it was aiming for last year, before it shelved the plans in June citing
market volatility in the airline business. Wizz, whose no-frills rivals include Ryanair and
EasyJet, said it aimed to complete the listing in the first quarter but gave no detail on
the number of shares it plans to sell or at what price. The firm said its opportunities for
continued growth would come as more people in the Central and Eastern European
region start to travel by air, noting that low-cost airline penetration of that area was
lower than in western Europe.
The airline, which has plans to grow its Airbus fleet to 85 in 2017 from a current
level of 54, had revenue of 1 billion euros in the fiscal year through to March 2014 and
net profit of 89 million — nearly tripling its level of the previous year.
The carrier, which is headquartered in Hungary, said its global offer would comprise
the sale of both new shares and those sold by existing investors and that it expected
existing investors to agree to a lock-up period. At the time the IPO was postponed last
year, sources said the company was unable to reach the £500 million valuation it was
hoping for. It said the proceeds from the offer would be used to help strengthen its
balance sheet and fund growth plans including taking advantage of any expansion
A worker cleans cell phone accessories at a Vodacom shop in Johannesburg
yesterday. South African telecoms operator Vodacom posted Q3 revenue of
19.99 billion rand ($1.76 billion), down 1.1 per cent from a year earlier, partly
due to a drop in the charge customers pay to call other networks. — Reuters
Lenovo shares up after 3Q net drops
HONG KONG: Shares in Lenovo surged almost six per cent yesterday, a day after it
announced a better-than-expected Q3 net profit, boosted by a strong performance in
its smartphone unit following the purchase of Motorola last year. The world’s biggest
PC maker said it earned $253 million in the final three months of 2014, five per cent
less than the previous year but better than the average $182.4 million forecast by
analysts in a Bloomberg News survey.
The news sent its shares jumping 5.86 per cent to HK$11.56 in mid trade in Hong
However, while growth in the PC market is softening, the firm said revenue
increased 31 per cent year-to-year to $14.09 billion, thanks to a more than doubling
of mobile phone sales to $3.39 billion. Global mobile phone shipments surged 78
per cent to 24.7 million units in the quarter, boosted by the $2.9 billion purchase
of Motorola from Google in October, according to a company filing with the Hong
Kong exchange. That buyout came soon after the Chinese giant paid $2.3 billion for
IBM’s server as it looks to diversify its business beyond PCs. “Lenovo continued to
deliver solid performance along with smooth integration of two major mergers and
acquisitions transactions,” it said in the filing. “Lenovo has now become a truly global
CEO Yang Yuanqing told Bloomberg News: “We are very fortunate that both of the
acquired businesses performed pretty well. “Motorola is growing volume very fast —
they almost doubled volume year on year — and for the first time delivered more than
10 million units last quarter.”
T H U R S DAY
FEBRUARY 5 l 2015
Greek ﬁnance minister takes debt plan to ECB
for talks with
Eu rop e a n
officials as he seeks to build support for
a renegotiation of Athens’s 240 billion
The visit is the latest stop on a
diplomatic charm offensive that has
seen Varoufakis take his case to London
and Rome and comes as Prime Minister
Alexis Tsipras visits Brussels to put the
plan to European Commission President
Varoufakis’s visit to Frankfurt is
seen as especially important as the ECB
is reported to be opposed to a pivotal
part of his plan: a request for bridging
finance needed to keep Greece solvent
According to the Financial Times,
the ECB’s opposition could lead to
Athens running out of cash at the end of
February — a suggestion that may spook
In its Wednesday edition, the FT
cited officials involved in deliberations as
saying the ECB will refuse Varoufakis’s
suggestion of raising 10 billion euros
in short-term Treasury bills because
it refuses to raise an existing cap of 15
billion euros on such debt issuance to 25
The Greek minister will have
another tricky encounter today, when
he meets German counterpart Wolfgang
Schaeuble in Berlin in what will be a key
test of whether his proposals have any
chance of being accepted by the EU’s
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (right) and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras shake hands at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels
yesterday. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras made his first visit to Brussels since coming to power, promising to renegotiate his country’s international bailout.
The challenge he faces in Frankfurt
stands in stark contrast to his visit to
Rome on Tuesday, where Athens’ debt
plan was welcomed by Italian Prime
Minister Matteo Renzi, sparking a rally
on international markets.
Renzi told his Greek counterpart
Tsipras, who was accompanying
Varoufakis, he believed an accord on the
debt terms was possible, and promised
the visiting leader of Italy’s support in
trying to achieve it.
“There has to be change in Europe,”
Tsipras said. “We have to put social
cohesion and growth before the policies
of poverty and insecurity.”
Renzi echoed the call for more
growth-orientated policies but pointedly
steered clear of any comment on the
detail of Greece’s proposals, which he
said would be discussed by EU leaders
“The world is calling on Europe to
invest in growth, not austerity,” Renzi
said, before joking that the election
of Tsipras was a “blessing” because
it ensured he was no longer Europe’s
number one “dangerous lefty”.
Varoufakis, the Greek finance
minister, is pushing the idea of debt
swaps that would avoid the need for
creditors to accept ‘haircuts’ on the
country’s 315-billion-euro foreign debt,
while easing the monthly financing
burden on the Athens government.
He said Greece’s ideas would be put
to euro zone finance ministers next week
ahead of the summit of EU leaders.
The Greek initiative was interpreted
BoJ in bind as oil slump makes for slippery goal
TOKYO: The Bank of Japan (BoJ) is
caught in a bind, nearly two years into
its stimulus experiment, as it further
qualifies its inflation goals in response
to tumbling oil prices, a move that could
prove self-defeating by tempering price
In April 2013, the BoJ pledged to
achieve its 2 per cent inflation target
in “about two years” under Governor
Haruhiko Kuroda’s monetary easing
policy, a campaign to print money at an
unprecedented scale in Japan. The bold,
simple pronouncement with a clear
time-frame drove down the yen and
boosted stocks, reinforcing the initial
impact of the easing programme, which
is aimed at lifting Japan clear from two
decades of crippling deflation.
Though the timeframe remains
official policy, in practice it has been
slipping over the horizon, and now
officials are adding another layer
of atmospheric haze with a more
convoluted assessment of what kind of
inflation they are measuring.
The shifting of goalposts is a
recognition that several factors, most
recently the collapsing price of oil,
are pulling inflation away from the
BoJ’s target, forcing it to keep adding
footnotes to complicate — and some
would say obscure — what had been a
simple, clear policy commitment. After
all, two years have nearly passed, and
core consumer inflation, the BoJ’s key
price gauge, is only a quarter of the
bank’s target, and is expected to slow
further in the coming months.
In the first year of the easing
campaign, known as QQE, the
presentation panels Kuroda used in
public appearances marked in bold the
magic number “2”, to demonstrate his
determination to hit the two-year, 2
per cent target and nudge people into
“QQE aims to show the BoJ’s strong,
clear commitment to end deflation to
wipe out people’s deflationary mindset,”
Kuroda told a speech in September 2013.
“We therefore... set a clear deadline to hit
the target, which is roughly two years.”
A year later, in the face of a
weakening economy, the BoJ fudged the
time goal to “around fiscal 2015”, which
effectively opened the window to at least
Kuroda stopped mentioning the
two-year timeframe in public from
around September last year, when oil
price falls were in full swing.
The simple became yet more
complex when the BoJ expanded QQE
in October, blaming oil for slowing
inflation, only to stand pat in January
when oil prices kept falling.
With many in the board strongly
against further easing, the BoJ is quietly
laying the ground to justify holding
that even as inflation is seen grinding
to a halt in the coming months. Its new
communication strategy is to stick to its
timeframe, but make it as ambiguous as
possible, analysts say.
BoJ officials concede that depending
on oil moves, Japan may not see inflation
hit 2 per cent until the middle of next
year, or even later.
“Nobody could predict oil prices
would fall so much,” said one source on
condition of anonymity. “I doubt the
BoJ will come under fire for failing to hit
the target strictly in two years.”
Deputy Governor Kikuo Iwata,
who was once a strong advocate of the
timeframe, said yesterday it would take
longer than he expected for Japan to hit
2 per cent.
But officials are also beginning to
stress that they do not look just at core
by markets as reducing the likelihood of
any unilateral debt cancellation, which
would entail a risk of reigniting the kind
of financial turmoil that has severely
damaged leading economies since 2007.
Led by the Athens bourse, which
closed up more than 11 per cent, stock
markets across Europe rose on the news,
as did Wall Street and Asia in turn, while
the euro was sharply higher.
“After a week of trading insults
and threats it looks like the euro
zone paymasters and the new Greek
government are finally ready to
compromise,” said Kathleen Brooks,
research director at trading site Forex.
The Greek government denied
the debt swaps proposal represented a
climbdown from election promises to
force a renegotiation of its debt terms.
German Chancellor Angela
Merkel was non-committal about
the Greek proposals. “It is clear the
Greek government is still establishing
its position,” she said. “We await their
proposals and there will be time enough
to discuss them.”
Privately, German officials said there
was “little room for manoeuvre” on the
Greece’s debt is worth 1.75 times
the country’s entire annual economic
output. Because of severe spending cuts,
the government now raises substantially
more in taxes than it pays to fund
services, but that surplus is more than
wiped out by the cost of servicing the
US President Barack Obama on
Sunday appeared to side with Greece by
warning of the dangers of “squeezing” an
economy in the grip of recession.
Tsipras has dismissed the “troika”
system monitoring Greece’s economy
— the International Monetary Fund,
European Commission and ECB — as
lacking legal status.
But he also says Greece has no
intention of not meeting its outstanding
obligations to the bailout creditors.
After visiting Brussels, Tsipras will
visit Paris in search of support from
France, the euro zone’s second-biggest
economy and, like Italy, a critic of EU
The shifting of goalposts is
a recognition that several
factors, most recently the
collapsing price of oil, are
pulling inﬂation away from
the BoJ’s target, forcing it
to keep adding footnotes
to complicate — and some
would say obscure — what
had been a simple, clear
CPI but a broad range of price indicators
including core-core CPI, which strips
out the effect of energy costs.
The BoJ, which never disclosed the
market estimates on which it bases its
inflation forecasts, also said in January
that oil price falls would push down
inflation by 0.7 percentage point.
Some analysts say it is an attempt by
the BoJ to argue that it is on track to hit
the price target because when excluding
the effect of oil, core consumer inflation
will hit 1.7 per cent next fiscal year, close
to its 2 per cent target.
“What’s important is to look not just
at price moves of individual goods, but
at the medium- and long-term trend
of prices,” Kuroda told parliament last
Last month Kuroda said the timing
for meeting his target may stretch into
“Our board never said we will hit 2
per cent inflation strictly in two years,”
he told parliament last week.
The BoJ’s struggle underlines the
challenge central banks face in balancing
clear communication and policy
flexibility, and how to affect psychology
with its stimulus.
Surveys of Japanese households and
corporate inflation expectations show
they have barely heightened since QQE
was put in place. A market measurement
of inflation expectations has also fallen,
to the dismay of the BoJ.
Hideo Kumano, a former BoJ official
who is now chief economist at Dai-ichi
Life Research Institute, believes the BoJ
will eventually have to reconsider its
“In real life, unpredictable things
happen. It’s unrealistic for policymakers
to persist on too rigid a timeframe,” he
Mongolians SMS vote
for foreign investment
ULAN BATOR: Mongolians have voted to back stalled foreign investment
in the country’s vast natural resources, authorities announced yesterday,
after a controversial four-day text message referendum.
The poll saw 56.1 per cent of respondents support increased overseas
investment in megaprojects such as the foreign-backed Oyu Tolgoi mine
that could stimulate
the troubled economy,
the government said.
The alternative of
austerity via reduced
state expenditures took
43.9 per cent.
in recent years —
peaking at 17.5 per
cent in 2011 — on
the back of a minerals
boom exemplified by
the giant copper and
gold-laden Oyu Tolgoi
mine, operated by Anglo-Australian resources giant Rio Tinto.
But that expansion has slumped to troubling levels, as rising resource
nationalism and an increasingly stringent investment environment led
most foreign investors to abandon the country. Foreign direct investment
into the landlocked country wedged between giants China and Russia
crashed 74 per cent last year, according to the central bank.
New Prime Minister Chimed Saikhanbileg used the telephone poll to
seek a mandate less than three months after he took office via parliamentary
negotiations after his predecessor was ousted.
Mongolia last held parliamentary elections in 2012. President
Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj was re-elected for another four-year term in 2013.
The vote for foreign investment is a win for Saikhanbileg, a supporter of his
country’s megaprojects and advocate of FDI-fuelled growth.
But netizens ridiculed the exercise, decrying the poll as a “sham” and
an “obvious attempt by the government to divert liability”. Text messages
were sent to about 3.31 million mobile phones — more than the country’s
three million population.
Each recipient of the SMS could vote once, but people with more than
one mobile phone could vote with each device and foreign residents and
visitors from overseas registered with domestic phone carriers were also
able to participate. But participation was low with responses coming from
only around 10 per cent of phones, the results showed.
In the run-up to the poll, texts from the government explaining the
referendum had been personally addressed by Saikhanbileg, who texted:
“Let’s choose the road to development together.”
The poll was the first nationwide one of its kind in Mongolia, after local
votes on driving restrictions in the traffic-congested capital of Ulan Bator.
But commentators criticised it as a way for the government to avoid
responsibility and shift the blame to the people in the event that the chosen
The referendum came after revenue-sharing negotiations between Oyu
Tolgoi operator Rio Tinto and the Mongolian state stalled in 2014. A new
investment law has also scared off investors.
T H U R S DAY
FEBRUARY 5 l 2015
Online Editor’s Choice
ADAM @ HOME
3 In brief, the type to get out of breath
8 Like sea-horses (5)
10 Strayed right amid the wild deer (5)
11 Ingrate, this deserter? (3)
12 Non-vegetarian version of ‘corny’ (5)
13 Lizard in school? (7)
15 Valuable possession for a backward
18 Vehicle that’s right — except for
19 Snigger when a teetotaller gets in a
21 The movie we back (7)
22 It once made Britons blue (4)
23 Soothe in a magical manner (4)
24 In performance, one can be clear
about it (7)
26 Revealed a debt of hush money? (6)
29 Some stone tablets with many holes
31 Like a boom in aviation? (5)
32 The way to leave port (7)
34 Forbid returning to bed to get a bit
35 Is drunk in hospital, especially (3)
36 Figure to take a nap at the end of the
37 A £50 eyepiece used when bowling
38 Learning to be bossy? (5)
1 Chuck has to pull out for an hour
2 Upon getting weary, dressed (7)
4 Learn there’s a lug at each end (4)
5 Keep airmen active (6)
6 Do your best to go over the street
and keep a date (5)
7 Scrap with me and a general (5)
9 Nominal piano piece (3)
12 Though hampered, I manage to take
the dog out (7)
14 No denial of artistry (3)
16 Take something the wrong way (5)
17 Time to take the new pram for a
19 Teacher has only one shoe! (7)
20 Are their dialects sibilant first and
21 Keep moving doggedly ahead with a
by Brian Basset
CALVIN AND HOBBES
by Bill Watterson
by Jim Davis
CR O SSW O R D
ACROSS: 9, All at once 10, Agreeable
12, Pots (rev) 13, Settle 14, Stunted
15, Pre-tended 17, Ab-stainer 18,
Suspend 19, Pi-lla-r (rev) 20, E-r-go
23, Contended 25, The-rap-Ist 26, Meet
(rev) 27, Spirit 29, Rackets 32, Testament 34, Peter’s-ham 35, Re-dress 36,
Rolled 37, Grub(by) 38, Ste-vedor-e 39,
Whereupon it’s fashionable to take
puss for a stroll? (7)
Late again with the money (6)
Dried leaves (3)
Vagrants disseminating bosh about
Extras at the Aldwych Centre on
certain days (5)
Accredited swimmer useful to an
Stated to be unhappy about a
That’s it, folks! (3)
Type of saw (5)
Italian city (6)
More brief (7)
Plural of is (3)
Was untruthful (4)
Go in (5)
Edible bulb (5)
DOWN: 1, Pan-pipes 2, Clothes sense
3, Intended 4, H-eat-e’d 5, Baseb-all 6,
Grass snake 7, Perus-Al 8, Tender-foot
11, Bat-on (rev) 16, Eleven (11) 19,
Pad 21, Raise the roof 22, Sauce-r 23,
Come to rest 24, Depression 25, Tot 28,
Returned 29, Retreats 30, Some-body
31, W-aver-e’d 33, Sid-l-e 34, Polish.
YESTERDAY’S EASY SOLUTIONS
ACROSS: 9, Retaliate 10, Abundance
12, Nape 13, Assume 14, Kittens 15,
Tangerine 17, Naturists 18, Exhales
19, Yellow 20, Epee 23, Pogo stick 25,
Confident 26, Sash 27, All but 29,
Surgeon 32, Increases 34, Accordion
35, Neither 36, Nutmeg 37, Save 38,
Tolerates 39, Colanders.
DOWN: 1, Brunette 2, Step on the gas
3, Warships 4, Tenure 5, Maternal 6,
Bucket down 7, Editors 8, Persistent
11, Needs 16, Enlist 19, Yak 21,
Premeditated 22, Mirror 23, Passionate
24, Illustrate 25, Cat 28, Business 29,
Secretly 30, Nonsense 31, Tethers 33,
Chill 34, Attack.
by Jan Eliot
Hospital. . . . . Board . . . . . . . Emergency
Royal . . . . . . . 24599000 . . . 24590491
Health Services Department
YO UR STARS
Muttrah . . . . . . . 24797602
Quriyat . . . . . . . 24845001 . . . . 24845003
SQH, Salalah. . . 23211555 . . . . 23211151
Police. . . . . . . . . 24603988 . . . . 24603980
Al Nahda . . . . . . 24831255 . . . . 24837800
Ibn Sina. . . . . . . 24876322 . . . . 24877361
Nizwa. . . . . . . . . 25439361 . . . . 25425033
Al Rustaq. . . . . . 26875055 . . . . 26877186
Sumayil. . . . . . . 25350055 . . . . 25350022
Izki . . . . . . . . . . . 25340033 . . . . 25340033
IF IT’S YOUR
New ideas and
will mean a busy
time for you in
the coming year.
With your energy
and drive you will
be able to leave
all competitors far
behind and show
Don’t ever lose
your ability to
Deer meat (7)
Brass flourish (7)
US coin (4)
Haima . . . . . . . . 23436013 . . . . 23436055
Sohar . . . . . . . . . 26840022 . . . . 26840099
Al Buraimi. . . . . 25650855 . . . . 25652319
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Ibra. . . . . . . . . . . 25470533 . . . . 25470535
Adam. . . . . . . . . 25434167 . . . . 25434055
Bidiya . . . . . . . . 25483535 . . . . 25483535
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Khasab . . . . . . . 26830187 . . . . 26830187
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Burkha. . . . . . . . 26828397 . . . . 26828397
Sinaw. . . . . . . . . 25474338
January 21February 19
February 20March 20
March 21April 20
April 21May 20
May 21June 21
June 22July 21
You may notice that others are
slaphappy in their approach to
their duties but you wouldn’t
feel happy if you emulated
Your dedication to a very worthwhile cause must not prevent
you from giving some of your
time and attention to your family.
There is no need to spend more
than you can reasonably afford on
a Christmas gift to someone who
needs no further proof of your devotion.
Don’t consider yourself to be better than a colleague who is not as
well qualified as you. He has a
great deal more experience than
Don’t take it for granted that you will
be successful in what you do. Only
by great effort and using your capabilities to the full will you reach your
You must start revising your financial position at more regular intervals and take immediate measures
to put it on a sounder basis. Watch
your spending over Christmas.
July 22August 21
August 22September 22
September 23October 22
October 23November 21
November 22December 21
December 22January 20
Try to avoid being involved in an
argument between a married couple. You cannot possibly know and
understand all the reasons behind it.
You will risk losing a friend.
You are to be commended
for being able with the means
at your disposal to always
present a smart and pleasant
An older friend who brought up
a family with great success could
give you sympathy and support
in the handling of difficult children.
A person born under GEMINI
may prove a very pleasant companion without necessarily exerting any significant influence on
Instead of brooding over
what might have been it
would be much better to face
facts and accept life as it really is.
Two of your friends who are
quarrelling should be left
to sort it out between them
unless they ask for your advice.
T H U R S DAY
FEBRUARY 5 l 2 0 1 5
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THURSDAY | FEBRUARY 5, 2015 | RABEE AL THANI 15, 1436 AH
Lehmann backs Clarke as captain United end Cambridge’s adventure Ahmad stays patient in fourth round FOLLOW US ON:
in ISC tennis semis
(Right to left) Samar al Bakry, Maryam
al Balushi, Aisha and Zakariya al
MUSCAT: The all-girls team of Samar
al Bakry and Maryam al Balushi beat all
odds and played some brilliant tennis as
a team to clinch a place in the semifinals
of the junior doubles at the ISCMuscat Pharmacy Open Junior tennis
tournament organised by the Indian
Social Club Muscat.
Samar and Maryam, Oman’s top
junior girls players, showed good
understanding and played brilliant
attacking tennis to stun the third seeded
brother and sister duo of Zakariya
and Aisha Al Suleimani with a narrow
8-6 victory in the quarterfinals. At
one stage, Samar and Maryam were
comfortably placed with a 5-1 lead
before the Suleimani siblings regrouped,
broke Maryam in the eighth game and
Zakariya held to stay in the match.
Samar and Maryam held firm, broke
Aisha again but Zakariya played the lead
role and narrowed the deficit to only
one game. Samar held in the crucial
fourteenth game to clinch a semifinal
date against the second seeded duo
of Abdullah al Barwani and Younis al
The winner of the semifinal will
take on the top seeds and defending
champions Nevil Philips and Armaan
Sattikar. Nevil and Armaan advanced to
the title clash after outplaying Hassan
Haider and Yash Tanna 6-0, 6-1 in the
for Miami stadium
MIAMI: More than a year after David
Beckham swooped into Miami, the
retired English soccer star has not
yet secured a spot for his planned
Major League Soccer team, but he
and his partners are still searching, a
spokesman said on Tuesday.
“The Miami Beckham United team
is actively looking at four or five sites,”
Tadd Schwartz wrote in an e-mailed
Beckham’s group has remained
mostly quiet since local officials last
year rebuffed two attempts to secure
land for a 25,000-seat bayfront arena
in the city’s downtown. A first push
last year to build the stadium on an
empty tract on a small island mostly
occupied by the port of Miami was
fought by a maritime group led by
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. A second
effort to tuck it in between the NBA
Miami Heat’s basketball arena and the
city’s art museum also failed. — AFP
Reid storms to title in Trans Hajar race
WOMEN’S CHAMP: Briton Catherine Williamson wins Open Women’s category; SA riders dominate podium
MUSCAT: Olympic hopeful James Reid
won the 2015 Trans Hajar Mountain
Bike Race by a massive 12 minutes 58
seconds with compatriots Max Knox
(RSA) claiming second and Kevin Evans
(RSA) taking third place to make it an
all-South African podium in the Open
British rider Catherine Williamson
stormed to victory in the Open Women’s
category 33 minutes and 55 seconds
ahead of Eszter Dosa (HUN) in second
and Hannele Steyn (RSA), last year’s
winner, in third.
Oman’s Mousab Al Rashidi finished
18th overall, while Hatim Al Boshri
finished 24th and Mishari Al Khalili
finished 27th out of the 41 riders who
completed the course. Stage Four was
the shortest stage of the race at just 53km
but with four major climbs including
one with a gradient of 26 per cent, it was
no less challenging than the days before.
Reid and Groustra led the pack going
into the final climb but Groustra made a
break for the line and Reid was unable to
respond resulting in a one second stage
victory to temporarily loosen James
Reid’s grip on the race.
The final day of racing saw the
international field of pro and amateur
riders take on a fast and predominantly
flat stage in and around the beautiful
and contrasting scenery of Arabia’s
highest peak, Jebel Shams (3,028m).
Competitors still had to face a 250m
vertical ascent climb as well as a 400m
climb to the finish line.
Some confusion on the trail caused
a shuffle in the standings and Jan Pyott
(SUI) won the final stage of the race with
Romania’s Tudor Oprea in second and
Max Knox (RSA) in third.
Despite faltering in final two stages,
James Reid still took the overall win.
Speaking about the race, champion
James Reid said, “The race totally
blew my mind. It’s like nothing I’ve
ever experienced in my relatively
short mountain biking career. It was
something out of this world – the setting
and environment we camped in and
the daily stages we went on; every day
there was something different. From
bus transfers to lost cities to incredible
20 kilometre climbs and breath-taking
views — it was something special.”
Catherine Williamson made it four
wins from five stages, finishing eight
seconds ahead of Eszter Dosa (HUN)
The 2015 Trans Hajar MTB race winners pose on the podium.
in a time of 3:52.33 in the final stage.
Hannele Steyn (RSA) finished third with
a time of 4:09.21.
Anna Christie ended the day in
fourth with a time of 5:26.48, Michelle
Guerin (NZL) two seconds behind
in fifth, and Gill Sparrow (GBR) and
‘The race totally blew my
mind. It’s like nothing
I’ve ever experienced
in my relatively short
mountain biking career. It
was something out of this
world – the setting and
environment we camped in
and the daily stages we went
on; every day there was
Reinette Schulze finished 30 minutes
later in sixth and seventh respectively.
Catherine Williamson said, “I’ve
found it an amazing week, it’s been
tough riding in tough conditions. We’ve
had lots of climbing but there’s been lots
of varied, some single track, open roads,
technical descends and rocky climbs.
We’ve had a bit of everything. I’ve had
a great week in Oman, anyone out there
who wants to get some sunshine and
base miles should definitely come and
do this race.”
The winners received their prizes from
Shaikh Dr Abdul Malik bin Abdullah
al Hinai, Advisor to the Ministry of
Finance, Saif Al Rushadi and Arthur
Jordens, Union Cycliste Internationale
(UCI) Chief Commissaire.
The event was organised and managed
by Oman Sail. David Graham, Oman
Sail CEO said: “Congratulations to all the
riders. The past five days has seen close and
competitive riding between cyclists from
all over the world. As well as challenging
biking, riders experienced authentic
Arabia, beautiful landscapes, and a really
warm welcome from the villages they
rode through. It was our pleasure to host
them and we look forward to welcoming
them back to Oman.”
This year’s race was redesigned to
provide a more challenging experience
for competitors and to incorporate
canyons, wadis, river-crossings and
traditional Omani villages into a 400 km
route with short sprints, steep climbs
and rugged single track racing through
the Al Hajar mountain range and Al
Dakhiliyah Governorate countryside.
James Reid dominated the stages to win the 2015 title in the men’s category.
OMAN CRICKETERS FELICITATED
Khimji Ramdas Muscat cricket team players, who represented the victorious Oman national team in the recently concluded
ACC T20 Qualifier held in the UAE, were felicitated by the Khimji Ramdas board of directors.
McLaren, Red Bull struggle
JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA, Spain:
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was fastest in
the final morning of pre-season testing
in Jerez on Wednesday as McLaren and
Red Bull’s hopes for a problem free day
Jenson Button twice failed to get
beyond the pitlane as a nightmare
week for the new McLaren-Honda
McLaren racing director Eric
Boullier warned on Tuesday that any
more setbacks in testing would delay
their chances of being competitive once
the season gets underway in Australia
in six weeks’ time.
However, Button managed just
seven laps on Wednesday morning
to take the team’s total for the week
to just 51, the same number as world
champion Lewis Hamilton completed
before lunch despite suffering a spin
earlier in the day.
Red Bull haven’t faired much better
in the southern Spanish city and Daniil
Kyvat managed just eight laps before
being brought to a halt on track by a
power unit problem. — AFP
Kenyan left-arm spinner Aasif Karim
SYDNEY: 8.2-6-7-3. Those were not the
World Cup bowling figures of Australian
leg-spin wizard Shane Warne or Pakistani
fast bowling great Wasim Akram, but of
a one-time tennis player.
Kenyan left-arm spinner Aasif Karim,
who also represented his country in the
Davis Cup, was 39 when he caught the
eye with those 50 magical deliveries,
tying famed Australian batsmen into
knots in Durban in 2003.
He had quit cricket after the 1999
World Cup in England but returned
for the next edition in South Africa,
showing what players from non-Test
playing nations were capable of at
cricket’s showpiece event. Karim’s
victims included Australian captain Ricky
Ponting, Darren Lehmann and Brad
Hogg. He did not taste success after his
heroics, going wicketless against India in
the next game, which turned out to be
his last one-day match.
Players from so-called minnows
may quake at the prospect of facing
pacemen Dale Steyn and Mitchell
Johnson or bowling to Rohit Sharma and
Chris Gayle. But the giants of the game
should under-estimate the minnows
— represented in Australia and New
Zealand by the likes of Afghanistan,
Scotland and the UAE — at their peril.
Previous World Cups are full of
examples of players from smaller sides
who have enjoyed a rare moment in
the sun such as Canadian John Davison,
Kenyan Maurice Odumbe and Irish
brothers Niall and Kevin O’Brien. Davison
overshadowed batting greats for a day
when he smashed the then fastest World
Cup hundred, off 67 balls, against the
West Indies at Centurion in 2003.
New Zealand were to suffer next
from Davison’s punishing blade as the
Canadian hammered a half-century off
just 25 balls against an attack containing
quality pacemen Shane Bond and Jacob
Oram. Ireland’s part-timers made history
on St Patrick’s Day in 2007 when they
knocked out former champions Pakistan
in the first round with a three-wicket
win, their stars being paceman Boyd
Rankin (3-32) and Niall O’Brien (72).
In another famous shock, when
Kenyan Rajab Ali shared the new ball
with Martin Suji in a 1996 World Cup
match at Pune, two-time champions
West Indies did not expect they would
struggle to chase a modest 167-run
target. But Ali rocked the top order with
two wickets, including that of Brian
Lara, while off-spinner Odumbe (3-15)
kept pressure on the middle order
as their team pulled off a sensational
73-run victory. England were surprised
by Zimbabwean chicken farmer Eddo
Brandes, who finished with 4-21 off
10 dream overs in his team’s nine-run
victory in a 1992 World Cup game at
Albury, before the African side played
their first Test.
Zimbabwe had pulled off a
major shock nine years earlier when
Duncan Fletcher (69 not out and 4-42)
masterminded Australia’s downfall
with a brilliant all-round show. Dave
Houghton managed to win two man-ofthe-match awards even in Zimbabwe’s
defeats, cracking 84 against Australia at
Southampton in 1983 and 142 against
New Zealand at Hyderabad in India in
1987. Four years ago in Bangalore, Kevin
O’Brien hit the fastest WC ton off just 50
balls as Ireland stunned England. — AFP
T H U R S DAY
FEBRUARY 5 l 2015
Contenders saddled with familiar baggage
SHOWPIECE: Cricket World Cup has morphed into a commercial behemoth and a TV event followed by millions
MELBOURNE: With strong hosts
expected to challenge, a highly-fancied
South Africa facing their demons and
a sprawling format certain to generate
criticism, the cricket World Cup’s return
to Australia and New Zealand is a case of
deja vu in many ways.
Since the trans-Tasman neighbours
first co-hosted in 1992, the one-day
game’s global showpiece has morphed
into a commercial behemoth and a
television event followed by millions
around the world.
Familiar themes endure, however,
and many of the 14 teams competing at
the February 14-March 29 have arrived
in the Antipodes with the same baggage
as World Cups past.
Boasting a world class attack, a
fearless leader in AB de Villiers and an
embarrassment of batting riches, South
Africa have a gilt-edged chance to break
their duck in the tournament.
None of de Villiers’ squad was party
to the semifinal disaster at the 1999
tournament in Britain or their firstround exit in 2003 on home soil.
The “chokers” tag is still irritating,
though, said retired skipper Graeme
“Unfortunately it’s something they’ll
never get rid of until we go on and
win a tournament,” he told the ESPN
Cricinfo website.”We made some stupid
Australia, far and away the most
successful team at the World Cup with
four titles, failed to make the knockout
phase in 1992 and are under pressure to
win on their home pitches.
In common with the 2011
tournament in the subcontinent, when
Ricky Ponting’s leadership was under
constant speculation, the co-hosts have
been distracted by local media reports
of a rift between captain Michael Clarke,
his team mates and the country’s cricket
Recovering from hamstring surgery,
Clarke was given a deadline by selectors
to be fit in time for the team’s second
group match even as pundits have
questioned his place in a batting lineup
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum plays a shot during the second one-day international against Pakistan in Napier.
already brimming with class.
Reigning champions India also have
no shortage of quality batsmen but have
traditionally struggled on southern
hemisphere pitches without penetrative
Semifinalists in six out of the
10 World Cups, New Zealand have
generally punched above their weight
and are expected to do so again with
home comforts and a possible semifinal
As with the 2011 tournament, the
10 test-playing nations will be joined
by four Associate teams — Ireland,
Afghanistan, UAE and Scotland.
With two groups of seven teams
playing round-robin matches, the
preliminary round meanders for five
weeks until the top four in each group
advance to the quarterfinals starting on
and baffling squad selections, twice
champions West Indies may be the most
likely to join either lowly Bangladesh or
Zimbabwe in making an early exit.
With omitted former captain
Dwayne Bravo paying the price for a
contract dispute with the cricket board,
23-year-old all-rounder Jason Holder
has the Herculean task of leading a team
of disparate personalities.
Though the quarter-finalists are likely
to conform to the eight highest teams in
the ICC’s world rankings, the knockout
rounds will at least promise genuine
Five of the seven venues to be used
during the knockouts will have drop-in
wickets, which lack the variation and
Lehmann backs Clarke
as Australian captain
SYDNEY: Australia coach Darren
Lehmann has offered his full support for
Michael Clarke to return as captain for
the World Cup after weeks of speculation
over the 33-year-old’s career.
Asked if Clarke would be skipper
again if fit in time for the competition
which begins later this month, Lehmann
said: “Definitely.” “He’s ahead of
schedule,” to return from hamstring
surgery and chronic back pain, Lehmann
said. Cricket Australia have given Clarke
until Australia’s second pool match
against Bangladesh on February 21 to
prove his fitness for the World Cup.
But Lehmann suggested that he could
resume playing earlier, saying “fingers
crossed he might be”.
“Michael wants to lead his side really
well through the World Cup and win the
World Cup,” Lehmann said.
Clarke is set to play for a Cricket
Australia XI against Bangladesh in a
one-day practice match on Thursday
in Brisbane but he will be restricted to
batting and light fielding.
He appeared to move freely in fielding
drills and in the nets on Wednesday
morning as he met his Australia XI
teammates, who are mostly youngsters
and fringe Sheffield Shield players, the
Associated Australian Press reported.
Clarke was moved on Monday to
admit he was ready to play under the
captaincy of young gun Steve Smith.
Amid reports that the team prefer
the stand-in skipper who has had a
sensational summer, Clarke insisted his
relationship with his team-mates was
Clarke was forced to bow out after the
first Test against India in December with
the serious hamstring injury, and Smith
filled in as captain with great success for
the three remaining Tests.
Steady Misbah, wild thing Afridi fire up Pakistan
KARACHI: Pakistan one-day skipper Misbah-ul
Haq and predecessor Shahid Afridi play for the
same team, but come from different worlds.
If the unpredictable Pakistanis are to secure
a second World Cup in Australia and New
Zealand, they need the two heavyweight talents
to forge a united front.
Misbah is conservative, careful; Afridi is
Misbah takes time to settle and plays with a
straight bat, characteristics which are alien to
most fans of the game in Pakistan who have still
not forgiven him for failing to guide the country
to victory over arch-rivals India in the World
Twenty20 final in Johannesburg in 2007.
His ill-advised paddle-sweep with just five
runs needed for victory still rankles.
Then at Mohali in the 2011 World Cup semifinals, Misbah batted out crucial deliveries before
scoring 56 off 76 balls as Pakistan again lost to
“If he ever sits in my cab I will ask him why
he bats so slowly,” said bemused Abu Dhabi taxi
driver Kamal Khan during a recent series in the
Gulf, Pakistan’s home-from-home in recent years.
“Misbah is disliked for his slow batting while
Afridi rules hearts because of his aggressive fours
Afridi tends to throw his bat from the get-go,
seemingly caring little for the nature of the pitch,
the strength of the bowler or the situation of the
match. “Once I went to bat and asked Afridi
about the pitch and he replied: ‘I don’t know, but I
am enjoying it as the ball is coming onto the bat’,”
recalled former captain Ramiz Raja.
Afridi’s strength is his lusty hitting — he hit
two last-over sixes to help Pakistan pull off an
incredible win over India in last year’s Asia Cup
When it comes to captaining the side, Misbah
and Afridi are poles apart.
Despite becoming Pakistan’s most successful
Test captain last year, Misbah is criticised for
being defensive. “Misbah is overly defensive
as captain while Afridi attacks and is very
aggressive,” former captain Mohammad Yousuf
Misbah took over from Afridi as one-day
skipper in 2011.
But when Misbah withdrew from the third
and final one-dayer against Australia in Abu
Dhabi last year over poor batting form, Afridi
grabbed his new opportunity with both hands.
But Misbah returned with a bang, equalling
the fastest Test century off just 56 balls thus
ending speculation that Afridi might replace him
as captain for the World Cup. Both men will quit
one-day cricket after the World Cup but Misbah
will continue to play Tests while Afridi will
continue to enjoy the brasher Twenty20. — AFP
carry of the co-hosts’ other traditionally
prepared pitches, offering a more even
playing field for the hosts and visitors
alike. It will be a last hurrah in the
format for Sri Lankan stalwarts Kumar
Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene,
and for the latter, a farewell to
international cricket altogether.
Organisers expect more than one
million spectators to flock to the 49
games at 14 venues and a television
audience of over a billion viewers,
cricket’s biggest window to the world.
T H U R S DAY
FEBRUARY 5 l 2015
Holders PSG reach French Cup ﬁnal
LONE GOAL: A ﬁrst-half screamer from defender Maxwell sealed the semiﬁnal against Lille
Manchester United’s James Wilson celebrates scoring
their third goal against Cambridge United at
Old Trafford in Manchester.
MANCHESTER: Juan Mata, Marcos Rojo and James
Wilson’s goals gave Manchester United a comfortable
3-0 home win over fourth-tier minnows Cambridge
United in their FA Cup fourth-round replay on
United, fielding a side that cost £231 million ($350.4
million, 305.2 million euros) to assemble, survived an
early scare against a Cambridge line-up that had not
cost a single pound when Tom Elliott shot against the
post in the first minute.
But first-half goals from Mata and Rojo put Louis
van Gaal’s side in control before Wilson added a third
to rubber-stamp a win that sets up a fifth-round trip
to Preston North End, who beat Sheffield United 3-1.
“We have done what we had to,” United manager
Van Gaal told the BBC.
“For the club, the fans and the coach and my staff,
we want to win a title
this year. The biggest First-half goals from
chance is the FA Cup, Mata and Rojo put
but we still have to
Louis van Gaal’s
win four games to do
side in control before
found Wilson added a
himself clean through
third goal to
on goal with just
45 seconds on the rubber-stamp a win
clock after an error
by Daley Blind, who
played the ball directly through to the former Leeds
Elliott showed poise to steady himself and advance,
but could only steer the ball against the right-hand
post as diving United goalkeeper David de Gea looked
on aghast. It was hard not to imagine that would be
Cambridge’s best chance and although the hosts had
started slowly, they took a 25th-minute lead through
Angel di Maria’s left-wing cross was headed down
at the back post by Marouane Fellaini and Mata was
on hand to flick the ball into the roof of the net from
Seven minutes later, Rojo made it 2-0 after Fellaini’s
shot was blocked and the rebound spun kindly for
Robin van Persie.
The Dutch international chipped in a cross for
Rojo, who made no mistake with a strong header from
six yards out to claim his first goal for the club since
joining from Sporting Lisbon last year.
In the night’s other game, Sunderland came from
behind to win 3-1 at second-tier Fulham, setting up
a fifth-round trip to third-division Bradford City,
conquerors of Chelsea in round four.
LILLE, France: French League Cup
holders Paris Saint-Germain moved
to within one win of retaining the
trophy as a first-half goal from
defender Maxwell gave them a 1-0
semifinal victory at Lille on Tuesday.
dominated affairs with the bulk of
possession and mustered the only
goal of the match on 27 minutes
when Brazilian full back Maxwell
blasted a fierce shot into the corner
leaving Lille’s Nigerian ‘keeper
Vincent Enyeama no chance.
The joy at reaching the final
was tempered somewhat as after
the game PSG’s star player Swedish
striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic tried to
persuade several of his team-mates
to ignore the waiting press.
“Follow me follow me. Nobody
talks. Zlatan is the boss,” Ibrahimovic
said in English as he led a group
comprising among others Maxwell,
Edinson Cavani and Brazilian Lucas
out of the dressing room.
While a smiling Ibrahimovic
progressed serenely through the
mixed zone, Brazilian star Lucas
disobeyed and stopped to speak with
the press speaking in Portuguese.
Laurent Blanc’s side will play
either Monaco or Bastia, who meet at
the Louis II stadium on Wednesday,
in the April 11 final at the Stade de
France. “We’re the Cup holders and
we had the heart to defend that,” said
“We had to win here (Lille) first
and that’s done but what pleases me
most is not only the victory but also
what we offered against a team that
really dug in.
“We didn’t give them hope even if
the score was only 1-0 and my team
played some really good stuff which
will serve us in good stead for the
future but we still have to progress,”
added the former Bordeaux and
The victory keeps PSG on track
for a quartet of trophies with a
Champions League last-16 tie
Lille’s Idrissa Gueye (right) vies with Paris Saint-Germain’s Jean-Christophe Bahebeck during the French League Cup match in Lille.
against Chelsea on February 17 and
a last-16 French Cup fixture against
Nantes lying ahead.
The capital club also have the
chance to go top of Ligue 1 on
Sunday when they attempt to
overturn a two point deficit on Lyon
when the teams meet at the Stade
Gerland. “We have a lot of matches
and it’s going to be a marathon but
let’s hope it continues as long as
possible. I hope that March will
be complicated and the marathon
continues into April and May which
will mean we’re advancing in all
competitions.” concluded Blanc.
Rene Girard’s Lille side were
out of their depth against the starstudded PSG line-up who put a
first choice team out including
Ibrahimovic, Cavani, Thiago Silva
and David Luiz.
The hosts hardly conjured up a
second half opportunity as reserve
‘keeper Nicolas Douchez, standing
in for Salvatore Sirigu, enjoyed a
relaxed evening in the away goal.
Lucas and Cavani played a role
in the winner with the Uruguayan
marksman sliding the ball across to
Maxwell who made no mistake from
the edge of the penalty box. — AFP
Bayern eke out draw against Schalke
Bayern Munich’s Arjen Robben makes a move in Munich. — AFP
BERLIN: Bundesliga leaders Bayern
Munich managed to eke out a 1-1 draw
at home to Schalke 04 on Tuesday
despite playing over 70 minutes with
10 men following Jerome Boateng’s
The defending champions have failed
to win both games since the return to
action after the winter break, but they
maintained their eight point lead at the
top of the table.
Second-placed VfL Wolfsburg —
who inflicted the leaders first league
defeat of the season last Friday — had
to come from behind to draw 1-1 at
Bayern coach Pep Guardiola was far
from disappointed at dropping points at
home. “I’m very happy. It’s never easy
against Schalke, we controlled the game
and had our chances in front of goal,”
“We wanted the three points, but our
performance was much better.”
“We played very well when it was 11
versus 11, but there is no need to talk
about the red card.”
Arjen Robben’s second-half header
gave Bayern the lead before Schalke
captain Benedikt Hoewedes equalised
five minutes later. “We had more control
in the game today than against Wolfsburg
and did not allow them to counter,” said
captain Bastian Schweinsteiger referring
to the 4-1 defeat.
“But in Stuttgart (on Saturday) we
need a win and a good performance.”
Bayern had Boateng dismissed
with just 17 minutes gone for a foul
on Schalke’s Sidney Sam. But Munich
goalkeeper Manuel Neuer easily saved
Eric Choupo-Moting’s weak effort from
the resulting penalty.
Schalke had personnel problems as
Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, last
season’s league top scorer, is suspended
while injury meant the Royal Blues
played their third-choice goalkeeper
for the second half. Bayern suffered an
early set back as centre-back Boateng
was shown a straight red for bringing
It was the first penalty Bayern
have conceded at home in the league
all season, but Neuer easily stopped
Choupo-Moting’s weak effort.
Schalke gave 19-year-old goalkeeper
Timon Wellenreuther his debut for the
second-half after Fabian Giefer, who had
replaced first-choice Ralf Faehrmann,
was unable to come back out as he had
suffered a thigh injury.
The teenager made a key save to
deny Robben early in the second-half,
but Schalke fell behind soon afterwards.
Xabi Alonso’s corner found Robben
unmarked and he headed home on 67
The lead lasted five minutes as Bayern
made the same mistake to leave Schalke
skipper Hoewedes free to power home a
header to level the scores.
Mauritian Seechurn has been sent home from Equatorial Guinea and dropped from the African Football Confederation elite referees panel
CAF ban referee, fine Tunisia after penalty drama
BATA, Equatorial Guinea: CAF banned
Seechurn for six months and slapped a
$50,000 (43,000 euro) fine on Tunisia on
Tuesday after a controversial Africa Cup
of Nations quarterfinal.
The host nation equalised off a
penalty and went on to a shock 2-1 win
over Tunisia last Saturday in Bata.
When the final whistle sounded, riot
police had to protect the match officials
from furious Tunisian players.
According to an African Football
Confederation (CAF) statement, host
nation Equatorial Guinea were fined
$5,000 for a pitch invasion and warned to
tighten security at match venues ahead of
Security guards protect referee Rajindraparsad Seechurn (second right) from
Tunisia’s players after the quarterfinal.
— AFP the semifinals.
Ivory Coast face the Democratic
Republic of Congo in the first in Bata on
Wednesday and 24 hours later Equatorial
Guinea meet Ghana in Malabo.
The CAF referees committee
“regretted” the poor performance of
Seechurn in the quarterfinal.
The Mauritian has been sent home
from Equatorial Guinea and dropped
from the CAF elite referees panel.
The CAF disciplinary board fined
Tunisia $50,000 for “insolent, aggressive
and unacceptable behaviour of the
players and officials of the Tunisian
team” during the match.
Tunisia will also pay the cost of the
damages caused at the Estadio de Bata.
CAF have also ordered Tunisia to send
a letter of apology, or provide evidence of
‘The last thing you can call
this is a football match,’
the unfairness of CAF and their officials,
before midnight on Thursday.
Failure to do so will lead to additional
sanctions against Tunisia, including
a possible ban from the 2017 Cup of
Nations qualifying competition.
CAF also condemned the conduct of
Tunisian Football Federation president
Wadie Jary, who entered the pitch to
criticise the referee.
Jary resigned as a member of the
Cup of Nations organising committee
last Sunday in the aftermath of the
controversial match. The Tunisian
federation said in a statement that
Jary quit having been a member of the
tournament committee since mid-2013.
Belgium-born Tunisia coach George
Leekens suggested after the match that
Seechurn might have wanted the home
team to win, calling the penalty decision
Several Tunisian players echoed
the words of the coach. “The last thing
you can call this is a football match,”
“We felt they wanted us to lose by
force. The penalty decision was not
justified and came at a crucial time — it
was not fair what the referee did.” — AFP
T H U R S DAY
FEBRUARY 5 l 2015
LEAGUE-BEST: The Golden State Warriors swept four-game series against Sacramento Kings for second straight season
Augustin shines as Pistons punish Miami Heat
LOS ANGELES: DJ Augustin is making
the most of his latest opportunity.
Augustin had 25 points with a
season-high 13 assists on Tuesday and
the Detroit Pistons withstood a 34-point
effort by Chris Bosh for a 108-91 victory
over the visiting Miami Heat.
Augustin became the Pistons starting
point guard after Brandon Jennings
went down January 24 with a seasonending full Achilles tendon tear.
In the last five games, Augustin has
stepped in to average 21.8 points on 52
per cent field goal shooting with nine
assists in 35.8 minutes per game.
“We’re all good players,” Augustin
explained.”When you get a chance to
get more minutes and get a rhythm
obviously you’re going to get better.”
Team-mate Greg Monroe said the
Pistons continue to fire on all cylinders
with the speedy Augustin running the
“He is just consistent, solid, makes
great decisions and can shoot very well,”
Monroe said of the sixth-year NBA
veteran.”He is steady and sometimes
that is all you need is someone who is
consistent and does the job every night.
He was our MVP tonight.”
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope netted
18 points while Andre Drummond
added 14 with as many rebounds for the
Pistons (19-30) winners of two straight
following a four-game slide.
Playing without All-Star guard
Dwyane Wade (right hamstring strain)
for the third straight game, Miami
held an early 11-8 advantage. But the
Pistons went on a 25-1 period-ending
burst behind seven points apiece from
Augustin and Caldwell-Pope to take a
commanding 33-12 cushion after one.
“The last seven minutes of the first
quarter were as good as we’ve played
all year,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy
said.”That’s really where the game was
decided, because after that it was a pretty
Detroit led 53-39 at the break but
Bosh went off the third quarter. The AllStar big man hit all nine shots en route
to 21 points though Augustin countered
Detroit Pistons’ Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (left) attempts a shot over Miami Heat’s Hassan Whiteside in Detroit.
with 14 of his own. “Chris got hot,” said
Monroe after a 12-point, nine-rebound
outing. “Anybody with his talent level
once they get going they’re hard to stop.”
The Pistons carried an 85-67 bulge
into the final frame and motored home
with the lopsided win.
“We couldn’t get a handle on
Augustin,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra
after his club dropped to 21-27.”
“He was going wherever he wanted
to go and pretty much dominated the
At Sacramento, the Golden State
Warriors thrashed Sacramento Kings
123-99. Stephen Curry had 23 points
with nine assists, and the league-best
opened up a 21-point half-time
cushion to sweep the four-game series
from the hosting Kings for the second
Sacramento (17-30) with 26 points and
11 rebounds while Rudy Gay netted 20.
At Portland, the Portland Trail Blazers
edged out Utah Jazz 103-102. Damian
Lillard scored 25 points, LaMarcus
Aldridge had 22 with 11 rebounds, and
the Trail Blazers trimmed the visiting
Jazz to stop a three-game slide.
Portland (33-16) got a lift from centre
Robin Lopez, who returned with 11
points and six rebounds after missing
23 games with broken right hand
Gordon Hayward led Utah (17-31) with
27 points. Portland led by nine with 3
minutes 26 left but nearly blew it.
Three-pointers by Hayward and Joe
Ingles around a layup by Lillard at the
other end drew Utah to within 101-99
with 9.9 seconds left.
After Aldridge made two free throws,
Trey Burke buried another triple for
Utah, making it a one-point game.
Lillard missed his first free throw
and the second intentionally as Portland
— USA Today Sports
At Philadelphia, the Philadelphia
76ers prevailed over Denver Nuggets
105-98. Hollis Thompson scored 19 of
his career-high 23 points in the opening
half, Michael Carter-Williams added
15, 12 assists and eight rebounds, as the
lowly Sixers (11-39) held off the reeling
Italy’s Danilo Gallinari dropped in a
season-high 22 points to pace visiting
Denver (19-30), which made a push
after trailing by 28 in the third quarter
before suffering a third straight loss and
10 of the last 11.
At New York, the Boston Celtics got
the better of New York Knicks 108-97.
Avery Bradley scored 26 points, Jared
Sullinger added 22 with nine rebounds,
and the visiting Celtics (17-30) beat the
lethargic Knicks to stop a three-game
Carmelo Anthony netted 21 points
for New York (10-39), which dropped
back into the Eastern Conference
Philadelphia bt Denver 105-98
Detroit bt Miami 108-91
Boston bt NY Knicks 108-97
Portland bt Utah 103-102
Golden State bt Sacramento 121-96
Azzan, Eyad and Hassan advance to Al Hayat tennis finals
Ahmad al Harthy during the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East in Doha.
Al Harthy stays patient in Round 4
DOHA: Oman’s Ahmed Al Harthy
was making the best use of his time in
first practice ahead of Round 4 of the
Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge weekend at
Losail International Circuit in Qatar, the
Al Nabooda man easing into the top 10
as he fine-tuned his car for the weekend.
Once again exciting night conditions
have been introduced by the organisers
of the most professional racing series
in the region with Al Harthy returning
to race on the fast and furious Losail
International Circuit for the second of
two back to back race rounds in Qatar.
After reaching the half way mark in
the championship at Losail International
Circuit two weeks ago following
three rounds and six races, Round 4
represents the start of the second half of
the season with all the drivers looking
forward to the challenge ahead.
In first practice series leader Clemens
Schmid, winner of both races at the
Losail track in Round 3, set the pace
with just a few seconds between the top
10 drivers showing exactly how tight the
Despite a strong pace in the early
session, the conditions the drivers
will qualify and race in are set to be
quite different as the sun sets, cooling
the track and the lights of Losail are
switched on for an exciting night race.
Speaking after first practice Ahmed
Al Harthy said: “It’s only been a few
weeks but great as always to get back out
in the car.
The conditions are slightly different
so we set the car differently to make the
most of them but it’s going to change
again when the sun sets and the lights
It adds an extra dimension to the
racing so it’s going to be a fun weekend.
I definitely have more speed to find but
that’s what this testing session is for so
we’ve been spending a lot of time going
over the numbers and making sure
we’re happy with the strategy. It’s going
to be a new challenge tomorrow but
we’re excited and ready for it.”
As it stands, reigning champion
Zaid Ashkanani (134 pts) trails behind
Season 4 champion Clemens Schmid
(144 points) but holds a 16-point lead
over the third placed Shaikh Hasher al
Maktoum of Skydive Dubai Falcons in
the Drivers’ Standings.
With Round 5 set to take place at
Dubai Autodrome Circuit before a final
showdown in Bahrain which will act as
a support race to the official Bahrain
Grand Prix weekend in April, all the
drivers are well aware that they are
entering the crucial part of the season.
Every lap, every qualifying, position
and point counts as the race for the
championship heats up starting with
Qatar in the coming days.
The region’s leading drivers will
line-up in the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup
again as the star attractions at Losail
International Circuit for Race 1 Round
4 on Thursday (8pm) and Friday the 5th
and 6th of February.
MUSCAT: Talented Omani players Azzan
al Harji and Eyad al Khanjari as well as
Hassan al Zadjali moved into the finals
of their respective categories in the
second Oman Arab Bank (OAB) tennis
tournament being organised by Al Hayat
Tennis Centre at their courts on Monday.
In the boys under-12 section, Azzan
al Harji outlasted a battling Amir Hedari
for a 9-5 victory and a place in the final.
In the title match, he is scheduled to
meet another tough opponent in Ayvret
Eyad al Khanjari stormed into the
final of the boys under-16 section with
an easy 9-1 victory over Pablo Echeverri
to set up a title clash with Sultan Musa.
Hassan al Zadjali, meanwhile, made
it to the final of the men’s B singles with
6-1, 6-2 victory over Mohammed Reza.
Awaiting Hassan in the final will be
Younis al Numani.
In the semifinals of the men’s A
singles, Khalid Ikram brushed aside the
challenge of Abdullah Yahyaei for a 6-0,
6-1 victory. In the final, Khalid will await
the winner of the second semifinal
between Bruno Van Begin and Drar
Bruno Van Begin had also made it
to the final of the veterans singles. In
the semifinal against Luis Torres, Bruno
Waleed Al Naamani, Hassan al Zedjali, Abdul Rahman al Hajri, Ammar al Khanjari.
conceded just one game in each set
before sealing the final berth with a 6-1,
In the final, Burno is scheduled to
take on Sajid Khan, who advanced
without hitting a ball as he received a
walkover from his semifinal opponent
from Majees al Asfoor.
In the women’s singles, Riddhi
Dharamsey overcame a stiff challenge
from Wafa Hudson for a 6-4, 6-2 victory.
Riddi will meet Niloufar Sanei in her next
In the girls under-16 category, which
is being played on a round robin league
format, Zaina Helal scored two back to
back victories. She accounted for Amber
Baldwin in a 9-7 win and also defeated
Laila Helal 9-4.
In the men’s doubles, Sajid Khan and
Khalid Ikram made it to the last-four
stage with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Abbas
Sanei and Mohammed Reza.
Nashat Helal and Daniel Nordberg
also reached the semifinals when they
defeated Amr Hassan and Cailmos Khan
In another match of the same
category, Abdul Rahman al Hajri and
Ammar al Khanjari recorded a 6-4, 6-4
victory over the duo of Hassan al Zadjali
and Waleed al Naamani. Al Hajri and Al
Khanjari will next meet Shuck Aldemita
and Luis Torres.
South XI beat Eleven fighters to claim Nurson Junior Cup
MUSCAT: South XI won Nurson Junior Cup cricket tournament
2015 organised by Rising Kokan Team at the Bausher
Eight teams took part in the knock-out tournament.
After winning the toss, South XI put Eleven Fighters
to bat. Eleven Fighters posted 77-4 in 8 overs, thanks to
Rizwan Butt who scored 45 runs in 28 balls with 5 sixes.
Needing 78 runs to win, South XI after good start in 3
overs 29 runs lost 3 wickets in 1 over. Parvez Baig claimed
a hat-trick. Needing 54 runs in last 4 overs, Sajith K and
Ashwith played sensible knock and took match away
from Eleven Fighters by 5 wickets. Sajith K became man
of the match for his 24 runs in 11 balls with 2 sixes.
Among the individual prizes, Rizwan Butt of Eleven
Fighters was selected as the player of the tournament.
Rizwan also won the best batsman and maximum sixes
awards. Parvez of Eleven Fighters took away the best
bowler award, while Iqbal of South XI won the best
Chief guest Steve Cahill, HSE Manager, Ofsat limited Co.,
presented the winners and runners-up trophies.
South XI team with the officials and organisers.
Brief scores: Eleven Fighters 77-4 in 8 overs (Rizwan Butt 45 (28b, 5x6, 1x4),
Parvez Baig 12; Ganesh 14-2) lost to South XI 80-5 in 8 overs (Sajith K 24,
Parvez Baig 3-17); MoM: Sajith K
First semiﬁnal: Eleven Fighters beat Eleven Warriors by 8 runs.
Eleven Fighters: 69-6 in 7 overs (Rizwan Butt 44 (18b, 4x2, 6x4); Hussain 2-14)
bt Eleven Warriors: 61-7 in 7 overs (Prakash 15; Arshad chawdhary 4-8); MoM:
Second semiﬁnal: South XI beat Abu Maather by 7 wickets.
Abu Maather: 52-4 in 7 overs (Faizan 12; Iqbal 3-8) lost to South XI: 56-3 in 6.1
overs (Iqbal 17; Yusuf Sahibole 1-8); MoM: Iqbal.
T H U R S DAY
FEBRUARY 5 l 2015
Kunis stuns in red carpet
appearance post baby
ctress Mila Kunis made her first red
carpet appearance after the birth of
her daughter with Ashton Kutcher,
and stunned onlookers.
Looking graceful and glowing in a strapless
black Dolce & Gabbana dress with a corset
bodice and full skirt at the premiere of her new
sci-fi-action film “Jupiter Ascending”, Kunis is
excited for the release of the film, which was
delayed for months, reports eonline.com.
It seemed like Kutcher was left home
babysitting as there was no sign of him at the
However, the couple has stepped out for
date nights and low-key parties, including
“That ‘70s Show” actor Wilmer Valderrama’s birthday dinner, and she’s been
keeping fit with frequent walks around her neighbourhood with Wyatt.
Giovanni Ribisi, Agyness
Deyn to divorce
At 25, Taylor Swift is moving fast
ith 40 million
a l b u m s
Taylor Swift is the most successful
recording artist of the last two decades.
A new exhibition at Los Angeles’
Grammy Museum, The Taylor Swift
Experience, chronicles the 25-yearold singer’s life and times, with home
videos, family photos and memorabilia
offering proof that her career has been
a long time coming. Swift began laying
the foundations for her musical career
before she entered the third grade.
In shaky home videos, a cherubic
2-year-old Swift babbles her way through
the childhood standard “Twinkle
Twinkle Little Star.” At age eight, she sits
by a Christmas tree — she grew up on
a Christmas tree farm in Wyomissing,
Pennsylvania — and unwraps her first
guitar. In a video interview that runs
alongside the exhibition, Swift said
she took precocious inspiration from
country singer LeAnn Rimes, who was
13 when she released her first album,
“I remember being really inspired
as a 6-year-old that you could make an
album at the age of 12 or 13,” Swift said.
“I think that’s what adjusted my
ambition scale to be like: I really want
to get a record deal early. I really want
to try to do this young. I want to write
songs as early as possible. Get me a
guitar now!” she added.
As a sixth-grader, Swift performed
the US national anthem at the opening
of a Philadelphia 76ers basketball game.
“My mom and I were just jumping up
and down we were so excited,” Swift told
the local newspaper the Eagle Times.
At 14, she sang at the US Open tennis
tournament and opened for country
singer Charlie Daniels.
Her family left Pennsylvania for
Nashville, the US country music capital,
to support her career. She said she chose
Nashville because it was a natural home
for female singer-songwriters like her.
She found inspiration in country
songwriters like Shania Twain, Kris
Kristofferson and Patti Griffin.
At 14, Swift became the youngest
songwriter to sign a publishing contract
In 2006, when she was 17, she joined
the start-up Big Machine Records and
released her self-titled debut.
Her 2008 follow-up, Fearless, released
when she was 19, went platinum in
11 countries and won four Grammys,
including Album of the Year.
Her next two albums, Speak Now
(2010) and Red (2012), sold more than a
million copies each within the first week
of their release. Her latest album, titled
1989, sold 600,000 copies on its first day
of release in November 2014.
That month, Swift pulled her catalog
from the online streaming service
Spotify following a dispute over the fees
they pay to artists, sparking an industry
In a 2014 cover story, Time magazine
called her “pop’s savviest romantic,” and
Billboard named her its 2014 Woman of
the Year — for the second time.
But all this begs the question: what
might she accomplish in the next 25
years? In her November 2014 interview
with Time, Swift said she had difficulty
finding role models for her future in
“I just struggle to find a woman
in music who hasn’t been completely
picked apart by the media, or scrutinised
and criticised for ageing,” she said.”It just
seems to be much more difficult to be a
woman in music and to grow older.”
“I just really hope that I will choose to
do it as gracefully as possible,” she said.
Swift’s smash single “Shake it Off ” helped
her secure three Grammy nominations
for Sunday’s awards presentation:
Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and
Best Pop Solo Performance. — dpa
merican actor Giovanni Ribisi
has filed for divorce from English
fashion model Agyness Deyn after
being married for two and a half years.
The 40-year-old actor, who married
in Los Angeles in June 2012 with the
31-year-old model, has cited irreconcilable
differences in the court documents, which
have been obtained by gossip website TMZ.
The documents claim the pair separated
on December 28, 2014, but the “Selma”
actor filed for divorce earlier this month,
Ribisi was previously married to Mariah
O’Brien, with whom he has a daughter named Lucia, for four years until their
divorce in 2001.
He also went on to date singer-songwriter Cat Power.
Katy Perry loves Beyonce
op star Katy Perry, who performed at the Super Bowl along with other
artistes including Beyonce Knowles, calls herself a huge fan of the
“Oh my God. I’m such a Beyonce fan,” she told Elle in the magazine’s
“I was like, Finallllly. Finally I see you. I don’t see some propaganda version
of you. I see you. I relate to who you are,” added the 30-year-old Perry.
Perry also cleared the rumours doing the rounds about her friendship with
Taylor Swift, calling her the “sweetheart”, reports people.com.
“You’ve got to name someone the villain, someone the princess, someone
the mom, the dad type — you know there always have to be characters,” she
“As pop figures, we’re all characters. And the media uses that.
Who is the sweetheart, who is the villain? You know. Taylor’s the
sweetheart. Kanye’s the villain. That’s the narrative,” added Perry.
Madonna to perform
at BRIT Awards
op star Madonna has confirmed
that she’ll be performing at the 2015
The ceremony, to be held at the O2
Arena on February 25, will see the likes of
Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith also take to the
stage, reports femalefirst.co.uk.
Madonna put up an image of this year’s
BRITs statue with a black wire wrapped
around it, to mimic her “Rebel Heart” album
artwork, on photo-sharing site Instagram.
She captioned it: “Hello to all my UK
Rebel Hearts!!!! See you at the Brits on
Feb 25th #BritsImMadonna #livingforlove
Her previous performance at the event
was two decades ago when she sang 1995
hit “Bedtime Story”.
Nothing special about stardom: Dhanush
e’s that rare humble, grounded
and modest talented actor who
considers stardom “nothing more
than a little extra attention than the normal
crowd”.That’s Dhanush for you.
“I think stardom is all about little extra
attention than normal people.
Among all the normal people, a few
get some extra attention, and so, there is
nothing special about stardom,” Dhanush
said during his visit to New Delhi for the
promotion of his forthcoming Bollywood
film “Shamitabh”. Known for his Tamil
movies “Aadukalam”, “Pollathavan” and
“Vela Illa Pattathari”, the 31-year-old finds
“nothing great” about stardom as he feels
that at the end of the day, actors “are also
working to earn bread and butter”.
“I’ve always seen in my life that if a
person makes Rs 5, he has a problem
worth Rs 6. So, it doesn’t matter how much
a filmstar earns or how much a software
Everyone has their own set of problems
to deal with,” added the National Film
award winning actor, who maintains a
balance between his southern films and
Bollywood projects with his love for
travelling and reading.
Dhanush doesn’t have the conventional
Bollywood ‘hero’ looks — but by virtue of
his talent, he won the heart of Hindi film
audiences as an obsessive lover in his debut
Hindi movie “Raanjhanaa”.
The competition in Bollywood is
getting tougher by the day, but Dhanush is
“I have just come here (in Hindi
filmdom) and I have only time enough to
focus on my character and live upto my
director’s or audiences’ expectations.
Competition is unnecessary,” he said and
added that someday, he’d love to work with
Bollywood’s talented actors Ranbir Kapoor
and Ranveer Singh.
He feels if a director comes up with
a script pairing him and the “fabulous
Ranbir”, “something great can come out of
it”.Also, he is in awe of Ranveer’s energy.
“The energy that he puts in and the
charisma that he has... he’s superb. I
really like him,” added Dhanush, who,
in “Shamitabh” shares screen space with
the legendary Amitabh Bachchan, a
good friend of his megastar father-in-law
Dhanush, who is married to Rajinikanth’s
daughter Aishwarya, recalls going blank for
a second when he was told that he has to act
with the Big B.
“Then I thought, ‘Oh! Here’s a great
opportunity to learn something from the
best.’ So I took the opportunity and from
day one (of the film’s shooting), I was really
excited and thrilled.”
What’s also interesting in “Shamitabh”
is that the title is an amalgamation of
the actors’ names — Amitabh and
The latter says he’s “greedily enjoying”
the feat even though he feels that his
name “doesn’t deserve to be in the
same panel”.The film, which launches
Akshara Haasan, the younger daughter
of yet another Indian cinematic icon
Kamal Haasan and younger sister of
Bollywood star Shruthi Haasan — will
hit the screens on Friday. — IANS
T H U R S DAY
FEBRUARY 5 l 2015
MOHAMMED AL BALUSHI
Can time management
OUD FRAGRANCE ENGULFS
Muscat Festival venues
the country — its culture, tradition and
customs — in all its hues and shades and
the two major venues are opening the
windows of Arabian olfactory to the rest
of the world.
The area where oud products are
displayed at the Amerat Park where
more than 200 varieties of oud woods
and concentrations from across the
world is a welcome treat for the visitors
to this park.
The demand for this traditional Arab
fragrance is evoking great response from
people of different origin at a time the
artificial perfumes are ruling the roost.
Naturally extracted perfumes from the
agarwood have flown in from different
parts of the world including India,
Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, Kuwait,
Saudi Arabia and UAE and elsewhere to
stir the Arab passion for the same.
“I have been dealing with oud
and oud products for more than two
decades and at the Muscat Festival from
its very beginning”, says Salem Saud all
Gabbashi, an oud vendor from Nizwa.
“What is astonishing me is the fact
that more and more youngsters are
getting fascinated with the smell of oud
and attar and luckily we are having good
business here”, he added.
Arab life is closely intertwined with
the mesmeric olfactory of traditional
oud and this has been bequeathed from
generation to generation since time
THE ARAB PASSION
FOR OUD AND ATTAR
HAS A MAJOR ROLE IN
THEIR LIVES, THEIR
AND IN EXPRESSING
LOVE FOR THEIR DEAR
ONES ON A DAY-TODAY BASIS
Q KABEER YOUSUF
is, as it is
supposed to be,
the true stage
the essence of
The Arab passion for oud and attar
has a major role in their lives, their
special occasions, and in expressing love
for their dear ones on a day-to-day basis.
“Only specilaists can survive in oud
marketing because people are more
knowledgeable and they want to know
the types of oud and its uses, and its
effects”, says Zahir bin Badr al Kharusi
from Al Awabi.
The price of the varieties of oud being
displayed at the Amerat Park ranges
from OR10 to the most expensive oud
being sold at OR 10,000 per kilogramme,
while the average price is around OR
7,500/kg. According to an exhibitor, oud
taken from trees as old as 200 years was
also on display.
These oud variants are equally of
great demand with more people opting
for less expensive ones, says Al Kharusi.
Oman has a long history and tradition
of perfumes and oud. Agarwood is
reputed to be the most expensive wood
in the world. There are many names
for the resinous, fragrant heartwood
produced primarily by trees in the
genus Aquilaria. Most commonly, the
resin is known as agarwood, aloeswood,
eaglewood, gaharu, agalocha or oud in
ne of the biggest problems in today’s modern organisations is
the time management. “Time Management is not the subject
to be taught” one of the tutors said. “Time Management is the
management issue, and I can’t understand why organisations spend money
on this”, she added.
Time management is a habit and should come within the self. Do
employees need to be taught how to come on time? Do employees to
be trained and advised upon that? More or less it is all about personal
organisation and self-discipline. Don’t people know that everyone has 24
hours and regardless you are the president or a common man, the number
of hours never change? The nature has given the same number of hours
to everyone. At last that depend on the person, either spends that time
on daydreaming or working hard to make those dreams come true. Isaac
Newton had 24 hours and did not ask 25 hours to prove his theory. Steve
Jobs, made his name within the 24 hours.
It is not about having or not having enough time, but how to value
that one minute time. It has been noticed where several employees having
problem in time management. Sadly to say that, most of them don’t really
realise that who is stealing their valuable time from them. Are those stealers
internals or externals and how to define them? Has it been understood
and noticed the importance of time management? Naturally, people get
frustrated, over-worked, tired, pressured, and stressed out if their time was
“I am busy at the moment, submit the paper to that employee” one
of the organisation’s staff said it without giving eye contact to the client.
Such instances can be observed in most institutions. The question with
itself can be raised that, what makes employees to have little time? There
are several reasons for that, let’s identify a few of them: Management by
crises, lack of planning, incomplete information, personal disorganisation,
attempting too much, responsibilities are unclear, ineffective delegation,
poor communication, leaving tasks unfinished, socialising and many more.
All these can be considered as management issues. It is well-known and
rightly highlighted that messaging on whatsapp and talking on the phone
are common time wasters and must be controlled.
Though, there are different types of managers and employees within
the same organisation performing different tasks, but with different time
management styles which may suite and may not. It is the management
decision what type of employees it needs and why. On the other hands it is
the employee who can fits him or herself with management thinking styles.
Monochromic Time Managers and Polychromic Time Managers are easily
found in organisations. It is matter of proper decision by the management
how to get benefits from both at different situations.
Have ever employees and managers noticed how much organisation
may lose if workers don’t properly utilise their time or don’t manage their
time at workplace? Imagine that, the salary of the employee is around RO
1,500 per month. Per day it will be 1,500 divided by number of days of
one month, and let’s say 1,500 divided by 30 which equal RO 50. It means
the organisation expects from the employees to produce or generate the
revenue which is worth of RO 50. If the same example was applied where
someone is working per hour for RO 20, if he or she doesn’t work for
three hours, will not he or she be losing RO 60? It is the same concept if
employees don’t properly use their time and manage it, the organisation
will lose money, and that is the reason why business people say, that “Time
Scientifically, this is the time to manage the time within the time
frame. Otherwise time will not be there when the real time starts. The best
suggestion can be given that, identify the activities and go for ABC method
or use different time management tools, such as Master List, Calendar,
Prioritising Task List, Paper, and Directory.
ISS conducts battery collection drive Volunteers shy away from scouting
Q TAYMORA AL GHAWI
ndian School Sohar participated
in Sohar Battery Collection’s drive
and a phenomenal 210 kg of dead
batteries were handed over to authorities
for safe disposal. The school has always
been guided and encouraged to actively
participate in all environment related
causes. “The people of Oman have
always showered upon us their love,
affection and hospitality. I consider it
my solemn duty to encourage, motivate
and educate my staff and students to
keep their foster country clean, green
and environmentally safe. We at Indian
School Sohar will always grab every
opportunity in doing so”, says the
Principal, Sanchita Verma.
The school organised a seminar
for students, conducted by Rashmi
Gopal, Coordinator — Sohar Battery
Collection, on the need to segregate
batteries from house hold waste in
order to protect the environment. The
students learnt about the components
of a battery which include heavy metals
and toxic elements like lead, cadmium
and mercury, which, if disposed
with garbage in an open landfill can
contaminate the soil and water and
affect the health of living beings.
The seminar served as an eye opener
for the students and who in turn did
their best in the collection of used
batteries with great zeal. They also took
the initiative to spread awareness among
their family, friends and neighbours
and collected batteries from all. The
enthusiastic students visited the shops
in the souq, educated vendors about the
importance of safe disposal of batteries
and collected discarded ones from them.
From class III to class X every section
was provided with a collection bucket.
Class IV F was the proud Winners
with 14.2 kg battery collection closely
followed by VI B with the collection of
14 kg. Both the classes were awarded the
First Prize i.e. Fun City Coupons.
Kamal Gurung, Coordinator of
the project says, “Sohar waste battery
collection programme helps inculcate
the habit of recycling, and reducing use
of batteries among the students, who are
the best ambassadors for spreading the
awareness among the people of Sohar in
a view to keep the environment healthy
According to Nikeeta Ramkumar
of VI B who collected 35 batteries, she
did so not only for winning the first
prize but also to get the satisfaction of
doing her bit in saving the environment.
Rahul Khatav of Class VIII D, President
of school’s Eco Club feels indebted to his
school and the Principal for educating
and encouraging him on this project.
“I take great pride in being a part
of this venture which enabled me to
serve the environment and educate my
neighbours. I wish a worldwide initiative
should be taken by the authorities to
make this beautiful planet greener and
healthier to live in.”
“The experience we gained through
this mission would be preserved for
our life time,” said the students of VI B.
With the collected batteries the students
of the Sanjeevani Club made the slogan
“Keep Oman Clean and Safe”.
he personal happiness of human
beings depend on their social
activities and what they give to
each other, and that’s a reason why some
people start “volunteerism”, the work that
people do without any rewards or salary
in return. A study carried out in 1994 by
the National Institute of Ireland found
that 94 per cent of participants thought
that volunteerism helped people adapt
to their communities more. The ultimate
aim of Volunteerism is to help the poor
to improve their personal capabilities.
Accordingly, volunteerism has become
one of the most common characteristics
of the scouting organisation. However,
one thing that people don’t know is
that some volunteers stop working in
One reason which makes volunteers
shy away from scouting is that some of
them are asked to perform multiple tasks
at the same time. This overload makes
them unable to effectively accomplish
what they are supposed to do.
Bushra al Husani, a scout at Ibri
College of Applied Sciences (CAS), stated
another reason. According to her “some
scout members do not have a clear goal
in scouting because they cannot trust
their inner abilities and do not know the
importance of volunteerism.”
One of its advantages, which some
scouts do not realise, as outlined by a
study, is that there is a direct link between
volunteer experience within scouting
and obtaining employment or profession
development (see scouts.org.uk).
Beside the above reasons, some
volunteers are given tasks which do not
suit their mental or physical capacities,
so they do not feel interested while
doing them. Hanan al Mamari, a scout
at Ibri CAS, says: “Most of the scouts
are dissatisfied with the short number of
training workshops provided for them.’’
Hanan also added that the shortage of
financial support is another reason which
makes volunteers shy away from scouting.
Having a special finance balance for
scouting activities would encourage more
scouts to join societal activities.
A range of potential solutions could
be considered in order to increase
the number of volunteers in scouting.
Scouting volunteers should be offered
enough leadership management and selfesteem training to broaden their skills
and play a vital role in the development
of their community. According to a
2012/2013 report published by the United
Nations in www.unv.org , volunteers have
to get some financial compensation to
help them face their financial matters.
Additionally, scouts should be supported
by specifying a designated office in each
governate of the Sultanate with a specific
staff member who will serve as the focal
point of scouting volunteers in that area.
Incorporate the culture of volunteering in
university courses and to assign national
awards that honour scouting volunteers
with exemplary programmes.
Scouting is not just wearing a specific
uniform and singing, but actually it is
the real school of creating awareness and
advancement of volunteerism.
T H U R S DAY
FEBRUARY 5 l 2015
NIZAR AL MUSALMY
My boss hates me
Tourists walk down from the top of Roraima Mount. — Reuters
Japanese tourists walk down
Adventurers ﬂock to Venezuela
Q ANDREW CAWTHORNE
VenezuelaBrazil border that
and inspired “The Lost World” novel
is attracting ever more modern-day
Once impenetrable to all but the
Pemon indigenous people, several
thousand hikers a year now make the
three-day trek across savannah, through
rivers, under a waterfall and along a
narrow path scaling the cliffs of Mount
While those throngs are a boon to
Venezuela’s tottering tourism industry,
they also scatter a prehistoric landscape
with unwanted litter and strain a delicate
Standing at more than 2,800 metres
high, Roraima is sacred ground for the
Pemons and a spiritual symbol for many
“It used to be more solitary and
inhospitable,” recalled Felix Medina, a
59-year-old guide who has been taking
people up the mountain for more than
“I still love it, but there are too many
people,” said Medina, his calves aching
after he led two groups up and down
Roraima with the local Akanan tour
agency. “It’s chaotic sometimes.”
Stars are seen in the night sky over Kukenan
Between 3,000 and 4,000 people are
climbing each year, up from hundreds
a few years ago. That creates queues
during peak times over Christmas and
Easter, and sometimes leaves the few
sheltered coves at the top crammed with
Helicopters bring wealthy foreign
tourists, especially from Japan, to the
“It’s an exotic, faraway destination so
it’s both very costly and very attractive,”
said retired Japanese diplomat Edo
Muneo, 68, who like other compatriots,
had to pass a physical test before leaving
Japan for Roraima.
“House of the gods”
In Pemon language, the flattopped mountains across southeastern
Venezuela are known as “tepuis,” which
means “houses of the gods.” Standing
majestically next to Roraima is Kukenan,
Japanese tourists take shelter from the rain next to a
rock formation on top of Roraima Mount. — Reuters
another tepui, infamous among the
Pemons for ancestors who jumped off
and committed suicide there.
Out of season, both mountains have
the peaceful aura appropriate to one of
the Earth’s most ancient formations.
On Roraima’s vast plateau, strange
and gnarled rocks, formed when the
African and American continents
scraped apart, play with the mind,
humorous in the sun, ghostly in the
In British author Arthur Conan
Doyle’s 1912 classic “The Lost World,”
dinosaurs attack a group of explorers
amid the rocks and swamps of that
Today’s travellers can see black
frogs, dragonflies and tarantulas that
are unique to Roraima, plus a range of
endemic plants clinging to cracks and
Not surprisingly, it is also an
Some Roraima lovers want the
government, tour operators and local
Pemon leaders to convene and make
rules to limit the numbers who can roam
the top each day to, say, a few dozen.
They would also like to see a stricter
application of rules to ensure visitors, or
the porters who most people employ,
carry every last shred of waste down
Cristina Sitja, 42, a Venezuelan
and children’s book illustrator who has
been living away from her homeland
most of her adult life, said she had
been hearing about Roraima since her
teenage years and finally climbed it this
“It was a nice experience, but sad
too,” she said. “I expected it to be
ust to have a break after that chaotic and hectic morning, I retreated to
one of the canteens for the ‘me-time’. No sooner had I started to dwell
in my thoughts than a friend of mine intervened. We greeted each
other and as per our customary manner I enquired about the news and he
replied “ma-shei”— ‘there is no’ for Arabic. I asked for further information
but the same answer came from his cohesive voice.
He then proceeded to give the ‘news & information’. My problem, he
shrugged to make himself comfortable, is that I feel my boss is a bit cross
with me and the problem is now compounded with open plan offices.
“He’s seething from inside” he lamented about his boss. I did not want to
indulge myself and politely I asked him to clear things directly with his
boss. He gave me a look as if I had asked him to join the battlefield on a
front line. To avoid jeopardising a relationship with this old friend of mine,
I agreed to assign myself with a detective work and try helping him out.
I knew I wasn’t good in this field so cautioned him and just gave it a trial.
My first feedback freezed him with his mouth half opened showing me
a total surprise face. ‘I always give an excuse for my lateness”. What really
puts off your boss is your lousy excuses. He becomes furious as it shows
that you don’t care. I continued with my list and made it clear to him that
bosses hate being bothered by things that you could work out yourself.
They also hate constant updates and being copied on everything. “You
should get on with your job”. I told him as he nodded looking somehow
Lack of initiative is another area you need to work on. The worst thing
your boss will want to see is to completely ignore directives and sound
negative. I have heard you on many occasions suggesting to your team
members that ‘we could have gone to a nicer eating outlet” Even when
your boss had put in some efforts to get this team building event going.
Most bosses hate their staff for talking over them. Pointing out their errors
directly or indirectly is an issue that you need to consider abandoning. As
the conversation continued he sat upright showing a lot of interest — a
thing that motivated me to carry on.
My friend was so mesmerised when I told him that just like him, bosses
also have a life outside work. They too find it hard to get up in the morning
and they also find meetings boring. But they stay motivated because it is
part of their responsibility.
They expect their staff to realise that passion and interest towards
responsibility is a goal to be pursued by each individual. Every time you raise
that wire that connect your ear with that equipment they call ‘telephone’
or you start surfing on your mobile phone in those social networks or you
browse the Internet, your boss bumps in — what a coincidence! Non-work
related activities during working hours really irritate most managers.
At times some employees would tend to talk against their bosses but
interestingly enough many of those bosses think their employees are
wonderful. Your boss spends time and energy to protect you so it is in
your interest to create a conducive environment within your work place.
It’s very important to have a good and healthy relationship with your boss
for a variety of reasons.
Your boss has a tremendous amount of influence over workplace stress,
whether real or perceived. They can make the workplace exciting and
something to look forward to each day, or a place for your misery. In short,
your health is at stake.
Having a good relationship with your boss just makes sense. Work
consumes most of your time usually, and having good relationships will
make things more enjoyable and lead to opportunities. You were hired for
a reason, so make sure that you’re adding value to the organisation and/or
position. Be the person that speaks with facts, confidence and reasonable
suggestions that produce results. This will build your boss’s confidence in
Pinata-making art lives on in Mexican family Cook in low flame to keep
PERENNIAL FAVOURITES AMONG
THE DIFFERENT FIGURES INCLUDE
SPIDERMAN AND BUZZ LIGHTYEAR.
CHARACTERS FROM THE DISNEY HIT
“FROZEN” CURRENTLY APPEAR TO BE
TOP SELLERS IN LOCAL MARKETS
Mexican party isn’t complete without a piñata,
and Melesio Vicente Flores and Cecilia
Albarran Gonzalez have spent the last 25 years
making high-end versions of the papier-mache figures
to later be stuffed with candies and broken open with
a stick or club.
As they practice the centuries-old tradition of
pinata-making, the couple caters to a smaller market of
consumers demanding higher quality “artistic” figures
that pay greater attention to detail. Still, competition is
tight as more run-of-the mill pinata makers sell their
creations more cheaply. Three other rooftops full of
the drying figures are visible on the hillside below the
couple’s workshop and home.
At their four-story house built into a hillside on the
east side of Mexico’s sprawling capital, the VicenteAlbarran family fashions cartoon characters like
Mickey Mouse for children’s birthdays, or caricatures
of despised politicians for protests.
Now in their 50s, the couple began making pinatas
in 1989 and later expanded the family business to
include their daughter Elvia Vicente Albarran and
son-in-law Guillermo Luna Martinez. On the rooftop
of their shared home, Luna covers cement molds in the
Melesio attaches a head to
a structured pinata. — AP
shapes of body parts with newspaper and lays them
out to dry. One story below, mother and daughter cut
newspapers into strips, coat them in glue made from
wheat flour and layer over gaps left after the shapes are
cut from the molds. Vicente assembles the pieces into
After drying in the sun, the pinatas are brought
inside to be painted. Colourful paper and tape create
eyes, hair styles and costume details.
It takes about two days to complete a pinata during
the dry season, twice as long during the rains. With
all four people working, the family can make 40 to 60
pinatas a week.
“It’s hard work and there are lots of things to do,
so there is no chance of getting bored. Time flies,”
Albarran says. Perennial favourites among the different
figures include Spiderman and Buzz Lightyear.
Characters from the Disney hit “Frozen” currently
appear to be top sellers in local markets, and Albarran
says “princesses never go out of fashion.”
Pinata vendors keep the craftsmen apprised of the
market. Gerardo Moreno Alejo, who sells pinatas at
La Merced, one of Mexico City’s biggest markets, says
university students requested pinatas of President
Enrique Pena Nieto late last year amid anger over the
disappearance of 43 students from a rural teachers
Albarran says more recent entrants to the trade have
cut prices and lowered quality, causing many people to
leave the business. Her family’s more elaborate pinatas
sell wholesale for around 180 pesos, or $12. Other
vendors using cheaper materials sell theirs for several
dollars less, a price difference many shoppers can’t
ating food cooked at high
temperatures increases the
risk of Alzheimer’s disease, a
fascinating research has found.
When food is cooked at high
temperatures or aged for a long time
such as in hard cheese, it increases
the content of advanced glycation
end products (AGEs), a group of
compounds that are combinations
of sugars and proteins and other
AGEs increase the risk of various
chronic diseases through several
mechanisms including increased
inflammation and oxidative stress.
They can also bind to the
receptor for AGEs (RAGE). RAGE
transports beta-amyloid proteins
across the blood-brain barrier and
contributes to the development of
Alzheimer’s disease, the researchers
“We found that mice kept on
a diet high in AGEs, similar to
Western diet, had high levels of
AGEs in their brains together with
deposits of beta-amyloid proteins,
a component of the plaques
characteristic of Alzheimer’s
disease” said Jaime Uribarri and
Weijing Cai of The Icahn School
of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New
For the study, the values for AGE
for many types of food were taken
from a study by researchers at the
Mount Sinai School of Medicine in
They cooked 549 foods by
different methods and measured the
AGE content of the cooked food.
The researchers found that the
higher the cooking temperature, the
higher the AGE content.
The researchers found that meat
made the highest contribution of
AGEs, followed by vegetable oils,
cheese and fish.
The study was published in the
Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
THURSDAY | FEBRUARY 5, 2015 | RABEE AL THANI 15, 1436 AH
Cook in low ﬂame to keep Alzheimer’s away Volunteers shy away from scouting Madonna to perform at BRIT Awards FOLLOW US ON:
found a natural habitat on Sir Bani Yas.
In 2008, four cheetahs were brought
to the island to help maintain a natural
The cheetah — the world’s fastest
land animal — was indigenous to the
region but believed to have become
extinct in the wild in the Middle East in
the early 1970s.
Bred or raised in
captivity, the four
a n d
OF MAMMALS AND
170 TYPES OF BIRDS —
STRIPED HYENAS, DESERT
LYNX, ARABIAN TAHR, ORYX,
GIRAFFES AND CHEETAHS —
ROAM FREELY IN SIR BANI
YAS NATURE RESERVE, NOW
HOME TO ABOUT
f o r
A giraffe stands near a road on Sir Bani Yas Island. — AFP
on sand gazelles.
In 2010, the first cheetah cubs were
born on the island.
Ghani said the biggest challenge of
the conservation programme was “rewilding” — educating animals raised in
captivity to survive on their own.
The animals “eventually become part
of the natural population of the island”.
by late UAE founder Shaikh Zayed bin International Union for Conservation vulnerable.
Sand and mountain gazelles have also Planting mangroves
Sultan al Nahyan who started bringing of Nature, which now classifies them as
animals to Sir Bani Yas in 1971.
“He started developing the island
into a nature reserve and the idea back
then was to create an Arabian Ark for his
people,” said Marius Prinsloo, general
manager of operations at the island.
“We have been successful,” he said of
the conservation efforts.
Sir Bani Yas is now home to about
500 Arabian Oryx — one of the world’s
Cheetahs rest in the shade
Arabian oryx and gazelle roam in the nature reserve
Sameer Ghani, an independent
conservation specialist, said the reserve’s
Arabian Oryx breeding programme was
showing “great results” after the animal
“went extinct in the wild in the early
A type of antelope, they once roamed
most of the Arabian Peninsula but
rampant hunting meant that for years
they survived only in captivity.
They were bred and reintroduced in
the UAE and other countries, resulting
in their removal in 2011 from the
global list of endangered species by the Flamingos stand in a water reservoir
helps save wildlife from extinction
Q WISSAM KEYROUZ
ryx, giraffes and
an “Arabian Ark”
nature reserve on a
desert island where
species once facing
extinction in the Gulf region are making
Since animals were first brought to
Sir Bani Yas off the coast of Abu Dhabi
more than four decades ago, their total
population has soared to more than
Twenty-five species of mammals
and 170 types of birds are found in a
nature reserve covering an area of 1,400
They include striped hyenas, caracals
— also known as the desert lynx —
and the Arabian tahr, a small goatlike mammal indigenous to the Hajar
Mountains between the UAE and the
Sultanate of Oman.
Some species are, or were, endangered
in the region, or even extinct in the wild.
The reserve began as an initiative
Non-indigenous animals including
reticulated giraffe and blackbuck
antelopes have also been introduced in
Every visitor to the island is urged
to plant a mangrove and if they do not
then the reserve does it for them.
About 2.5 million trees have been
planted on Sir Bani Yas, which after
decades closed to the public was
opened to tourists six years ago offering
Sir Bani Yas, located around 170
kilometres from the capital of Abu
Dhabi, is also home to the remains of
a pre-Islamic monastery and other
“In 1992, we began exploration
and excavation works and have since
uncovered 36 archaeological sites, most
importantly a Christian monastery
dating back to 600 AD,” said Fatima
Mutawaa of the Tourism Development
& Investment Company, which is
developing Sir Bani Yas.
The sites “reflect the diverse cultures
that have thrived on this island,” said
The monastery is believed to have
been built by a community of 30-40
monks who probably belonged to the
Nestorian Church. It is thought to
have been abandoned after about 750
While it has an airport and three
luxury resorts, Sir Bani Yas has largely
preserved its natural character, in stark
contrast to the glitzy shopping malls
and skyscrapers of Abu Dhabi and
“Sir Bani Yas offers an amazing
natural landscape of wadis (valleys)
and salt stones and beaches,” said Mark
Eletr, director of four resorts on the
island run by Thai group Anantara.
“People are experiencing this
now and enjoying a very raw natural
environment.” — AFP
VIRTUAL WORLD TROUBLES
Beware! Social media addiction can cause FOMO
f you cannot live without the social
media for even a minute, check out
if you’re suffering from FOMO —
Fear of Missing Out. Health experts say the
constant urge to be in touch with friends
and happenings via smartphones has left
many youths suffering from this new breed
“Absence of social media can lead to
FOMO. One tends to develop uneasiness
if staying away from social media is for too
long,” clinical psychologist Ripen Sippy said.
According to Ashima Srivastava,
consultant, clinical psychologist, “It is more
of a form of social anxiety than a phobia.
FOMO is a phenomenon where one feels
pressurised to share everything on social
media to show how much fun one is having.”
According to psychologists, FOMO creates a
strange fear of remaining isolated from the
“In FOMO, one develops the fear of
missing out updates and important events;
hence constantly remains preoccupied with
checking mobile phones.
The first thing one does is to check one’s
mobile phone to see if one has missed
something significant,” Sippy added.
The FOMO anxiety arises from being
neglected and isolated on the social media
platform. Asked what leads to FOMO
anxiety, Sippy said: “The phobia of being
disapproved, being unpopular and living
Insecurities arise in a person related to
his own self-esteem if he/she is not liked by
others on the social media. A person who
becomes insecure about his/her image tries
harder to be liked more and more on a social
platform”. Psychologists also pointed out
that socialisation was a factor for developing
FOMO — though social media helps one
remain in touch with other people.
“But often socialisation brings in
comparisons which lead to despair. One
starts comparing oneself with others,
both psychologically and socially, on
where one stands in society and where
the others do. The fear of missing out
from the rest of the world starts arising.”
Clinical psychologist Deepak Kashyap
said that people start seeking love and
attention from the virtual world when
they don’t get these in real life.
“And the moment one stops getting
the attention, FOMO phobia takes over,”
Not just FOMO but excessive use of social
media is affecting the social behaviour of an