P17 Oman’s offshore output averages 15,578 boepd
VOL. 34 NO. 129 | PAGES 32 | BAISAS 200
P32 A tryst with the white mountain
P25 India hoping Kohli to deliver against Aussies in semis
Chief Executive Officer
Oman Establishment for Press, Publication and Advertising
PO Box 974, Postal Code 100, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
Singapore leader Lee weakening Ex-army chief Lanka’s first field marshal Turkey aims to be gas transit hub [email protected]
HM greetings to
Iran and Pakistan
terror attacks
in Sanaa
MUSCAT: His Majesty Sultan Qaboos
has sent a cable of greetings to
President Dr Hassan Rouhani of Iran
on the occasion of the Iranian New
Year Nowruz. In his cable, His Majesty
expressed his sincere greetings
along with his best wishes of good
health and wellbeing to President
Rouhani and the friendly people of
Iran further progress and prosperity.
His Majesty has also sent a cable
of greetings to President Memnon
Hussein of Pakistan on the occasion
of his country’s National Day.
Border talks with
China from today
NEW DELHI: Senior Indian and Chinese
envoys will this week hold talks aimed
at resolving a border dispute, the first
such discussions since Prime Minister
Narendra Modi came to power. China’s
special representative Yang Jiechi arrived
in New Delhi yesterday for talks with
National Security Adviser Ajit Doval,
the Indian Foreign Ministry said in a
statement. The meetings starting today
— the 18th round of boundary talks —
are part of a push to make progress on
the long-festering row between the two
Germany to get
first Islamic bank
BERLIN: An Islamic bank based in Turkey
is set to become the first such financial
institution to get a licence to operate
in Germany, according to a report in
the Handelsblatt daily released before
publication. Kuveyt Turk Bank AG is
set to get approval from the German
financial regulator Bafin. The bank,
which operates under guidelines that
conform to sharia law, already has a
branch operating in the south-western
city of Mannheim. But the regulator’s
approval would allow it to work as a fully
operational bank.
MAX: 350C
MIN: 240C
MUSANDAM FOCUS: Majority of contracts to be given to SMEs in the governorate
The dualised Al Furousiya road and its subsidiary roads in the Wilayat of Seeb opened for traffic yesterday, the Muscat Municipality said. The new road includes a dualised
bridge located between Al Khoudh intersection and Al Qasr roundabout and linking Al Furousiya to the main carriageway and extends till Al Adiyat city intersection. The
road aims to ease traffic and has alternative exits for the vehicles heading towards Seeb market and the northern areas of the wilayat.
MAX: 310C
MIN: 240C
FAJR: 04:53
DHUHR: 12:19
ASR: 15:45
MAGHRIB: 18:24
ISHA: 19:34
MAX: 360C
MIN: 230C
March 22: Giving a major fillip to
development projects in Musandam,
a number of contracts worth RO 17
million will be signed in two days at
the Oman Chamber of Commerce
and Industry (OCCI) Musandam, it is
These contracts with local small and
medium enterprises (SMEs) will be
signed as part of the First Investment
and Job Opportunities Forum to be
held on March 25 and 26, according to
Hamed Mohammed Zaman Kamel al
Raisi, Chairman of the OCCI branch in
Musandam Governorate.
“We will be signing contracts worth
RO 17 million with SMEs for basic
infrastructure projects. These projects
include construction of roads and
bridges, hotels and other infrastructure
for investors in the governorate as part
of our support for SMEs and public
companies in the country, and will be
a milestone in the governorate’s march
towards prosperity,” Al Raisi told the
Observer yesterday.
These contracts will be for a period
ranging from five to 10 years, while
Agriculture sector
grew by 8.4 per cent
MUSCAT: The Sultanate is taking
all steps to develop agriculture and
fisheries sectors and associated activities
by introducing modern technologies.
This was stated by Dr Fuad bin Jaafar
al Sajwani, Minister of Agriculture and
Fisheries, during the 13th regular sitting
of the Majlis Ash’shura, which was held
under the chairmanship of Shaikh
Khalid bin Hilal al Maawali, Chairman
of the Majlis.
The minister said that the two sectors
have seen many achievements over the
past five years resulting in the growth
of the added value of the two sectors by
8.4 per cent in 2014 compared to that
in 2013.
The minister’s statement covered a
number of themes highlighted by Majlis
including food security, strategic plan
to develop fisheries sector (2013-2020),
strategy of the sector (2020-2040), plant
production and the animal stocks.
These indicators point out that the
growth levels will be maintained over
the coming years.
Dr Sajwani also pointed out that the
contribution of the two sectors to the
GDP rose from RO 371 million in 2013
to RO 402 million in 2014, and that
this increase has been achieved despite
the fact that the available resources are
the same (soil and water). This reflects
an increase in the production and
implementation of initiatives by the
private sector.
“In 2013, the ministry started
We will be signing
contracts worth
RO 17 million
with SMEs for
infrastructure projects.
These include construction
of roads and bridges, hotels
and other infrastructure for
investors in the governorate
Chairman of OCCI Musandam branch
some are for even longer period. While
RO 5 million worth projects will be
awarded on the first day, the rest of the
contracts will be entered into on March
Nearly 20 big companies and 45
SMEs which are currently involved in
public works and infrastructure projects
in the governorate will be taking part in
the event.
He stated that a number of
government projects are currently
under way in Musandam, but SMEs
are not getting sufficient sub-contracts
from big companies. TURN TO P2
Ministry severely denounced the
terrorist attacks which targeted
worshippers in Yemeni capital Sanaa.
In a statement issued yesterday, the
ministry said that it condemns this
inhumane act, which has nothing to
do with Islam and does not contribute
to the success of the efforts being made
to resume dialogue.
It also said that the Sultanate
calls on all political parties to reject
violence and give importance to
dialogue to ensure the success of the
political process and lead the sisterly
Republic of Yemen towards stability
and development.
took over the central city of Taiz in
an escalation of a power struggle
diplomats say risks drawing in
neighbouring countries.
Residents of Taiz, on a main road
from the capital Sanaa to the country’s
second city of Aden, said that Houthi
fighters took over the city’s military
airport without a struggle from local
authorities late on Saturday.
Eyewitnesses in the central
province of Ibb reported seeing dozens
of tanks and military vehicles headed
southward from Houthi-controlled
areas towards Taiz, while activists in
the city said Houthi gunmen shot into
the air to disperse protests by residents
demonstrating against their presence.
Conflict has been spreading across
Yemen since last year when the
Houthis seized the capital Sanaa and
effectively removed President AbdRabbu Mansour Hadi, who now seeks
a comeback from his base in Aden.
The United Nations Security
Council was set to discuss Yemen after
Hadi accused the Houthis of staging
a coup and appealed to the UN for
“urgent intervention”.
Yemen’s struggle for power
intensified last Thursday, when
loyalists and opponents of Hadi fought
gun battles in Aden.
Dr Fuad bin Jaafar al Sajwani during the
Majlis Ash’shura session.
formulating a comprehensive strategy
to develop animal and plant divisions
of the agriculture sectors (20102040). The strategy, which has been
developed in collaboration with Food
and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
aims at ensuring optimum use of
resources, developing agricultural and
food systems, enhancing food security,
generating jobs, increasing income
and enhancing competitiveness of the
Omani products,” he added.
“The total production of agriculture
stood at 1,515,000 tonnes in 2014
compared to 1,484,000 tonnes in 2013;
a growth by 2 per cent due to increased
productivity from vegetable cultivated
areas from 313,000 tonnes in 2013 to
335,000 tonnes in 2014; a growth of 7
per cent per year due to introduction of
modern systems and technologies,” the
minister added.
armer Saif bin Moosa al Siyabi was surprised to find an enormous white pumpkin
growing on his farm in BidBid. He said “this is the biggest white pumpkin I’ve ever
seen ever since I started farming.” This pumpkin is rare because of its size and is
almost a metre long. Al Siyabi said he will take the seeds from it for next year’s harvest,
adding that, had he not plucked the pumpkin early it would have grown even bigger.
Many local villagers and visitors have come to see the pumpkin and took photos.
Highest average temperature 27.7 C
compared to 28.2 C (2013)
Maximum 44.2 C
Minimum 15.5 C
Russia threatens Denmark with nukes
COPENHAGEN: Danish warships will be a
target for Russian nuclear weapons if the
Scandinavian country joins Nato’s missile
defence programme, Russia’s Ambassador
to Denmark told the newspaper JyllandsPosten. Mikhail Vanin said he did not
think the Danes fully understood the
consequences if it went ahead with a
decision to join the programme.
“If that happens, Danish warships will
be targets for Russian nuclear missiles,”
Vanin said in an interview published on
Saturday. Denmark said in August it would
contribute to the missile shield with radar
capacity on some of its warships.
Tensions between Moscow and the
West have grown since the imposition of
economic sanctions on Russia over a proRussian rebellion in eastern Ukraine.
Nato has recorded increased activity by
the Russian navy and air force in the Nordic
region. No missiles are to be placed on
Danish soil under the Nato programme, but
perhaps long term in Greenland, a part of
the kingdom, according to Jyllands-Posten.
Moscow says the system will undermine
Russia’s nuclear deterrent because it
could also enable the West to shoot down
Russian missiles.
“Denmark will become a part of the
threat against Russia. It will be less peaceful,
and relations with Russia will be damaged,”
Vanin said, adding that Russia has missiles
which would be able to penetrate the
future missile shield.
Denmark’s Foreign Minister Martin
Lidegaard said Vanin’s comments were
Maximum 36.8 C
Minimum 10 C
In winter
In summer reached
HUMIDITY 2010-2014
In winter
In summer
North Al Batinah
M O N DAY l M A R C H 2 3 l 2 0 1 5
Muscat Securities Market (MSM) general
index 30 on Sunday gained 15.19 points,
(0.24 per cent) to close at 6,235.05 points
over its previous session. Trading value
stood at RO 4.79 million (12.48 per cent)
compared to the last session, which
stood at RO 4.26 million. The report
released by MSM pointed out that the
market value rose by 0.12 per cent) to
reach about RO 14.76 billion.
The 2nd Oman Innovations Exhibition
2015 kicked off at Oman International
Exhibition Centre on Sunday under
the auspices of Sayyid Dr Fahd bin Al
Julanda bin Majid al Said, Assistant
Secretary General for Innovations
Development at the Research Council.
The three-day exhibition is organised
by the East Coast for Organising
Majlis Ash’shura on Sunday held its 13th regular sitting of the fourth annual session of its 7th term under the chairmanship of Shaikh Khalid bin Hilal al Maawali, Chairman of Majlis Ash’shura. — ONA
Agriculture and fisheries
sector grew by 8.4 per cent
Regarding animal sector, he pointed out
that the agricultural census (2012/2013)
pointed out that the number of animal wealth
increased by 39 per cent compared to that in
from 2004/2005 census.
The strategic plan for development
of fisheries sector (2013-2020) aims at
enhancing fish production, increasing its
efficiency and protecting natural resources
from extinction.
It also aims at securing safe supplies
of fish production for local consumption,
better utilisation of fish reserves, increasing
investment by private sector and attracting
foreign investments to fish and fish processing
industries, as well as acquaculture.
The members of the Majlis gave their
remarks on the role played by the ministry,
the projects and the role of the ministry in
protecting natural catch areas. They stressed
the need to regularise expatriates working in
these sectors.
They also discussed with the minister the
fair distribution of investment projects and
food stores among the governorates. — ONA
First e-Media conference begins
MUSCAT: The first Oman e-Media Conference
began this evening at Crowne Plaza Hotel under the
auspices of Shaikh Khalid bin Omar al Marhoon,
Minister of Civil Service.
The conference aims to keep abreast of
developments in information technology, create a
platform for dialogue and exchange of views and
ideas between the government and private agencies
to maximise benefit of positive e-Media products,
to raise awareness of e-Media in general, and social
networks in particular, monitor the risk that plague
society by the irresponsible use of these sites and
the development of frameworks and legislation
governing e-Media, which reduces the negative
effects, in addition to the development of e-Media
in government ministries and large companies in
order to keep pace with the future on one hand and
to stimulate the community to use it in responsible
manner on the other.
Al Marhoon said in a statement that this
conference is to cover one of the most important
issues currently on the scene, as the e-Media has
become an advanced universal tool for the transfer
of event, text and image, quickly as it happens in
an interactive way with different spectra recipients
of the news.
He stressed that this requires a concerted and
joint efforts to develop the capacity of staff in
various media departments in units and institutions
in order to ensure that they go along with the rapid
developments in this field.
He explained that the themes of the conference
came to cover many important aspects, like raising
awareness on how to use the means of e-Media,
to address the challenges facing this side and
look into its future aspirations and highlight the
national and social responsibility of the means of
social networking in the Sultanate.
In all, 250 representatives of government and
private entities are participating. The conference
will include the presentation of 30 working papers
by experts and specialists from inside and outside
the Sultanate.
The conference is a platform for developments
in the field of e-Media, which is so important that
it takes control of our daily lives and to keep up
with the technological developments in the field of
RO 17 million for development projects
“We are aiming to source SMEs
in the country with special focus on
those from Musandam to make use of
the new infrastructure contracts in the
governorate,” he added.
Apart from investment opportunities,
the forum will also be a platform to
generate employment opportunities for
the local workforce.
“As many as 70 top jobs and 130 middle
opens for
Qaboos Higher Centre
for Culture and Science
(SQHCCS) announced
the opening of the
candidacy application
for Sultan Qaboos
Award for Culture, Arts
and Literature in its
fourth session which
will be for Omanis and
The candidates are
competing this year
in the following areas:
Studies in the field
of Arabic language,
children’s literature. The
candidacy application
is open till September
It is worth mentioning
that Sultan Qaboos
Award for Culture,
Arts and Literature is
awarded every two years
to three winners, one
for each area to win RO
100,000 (equivalent to
approximately $260,000)
in addition to Sultan
Qaboos Medal for
Culture, Science, Arts
and Literature. — ONA
management opportunities will be
generated from the government projects
in the governorate during the two-day
event. The employment contracts will be
signed at the venue itself.”
Almost all the ministries are joining
hands for the event offering support
in their capacity while a book which
traces the history, possibilities and
opportunities will also be unveiled at the
On the second day, ministers and
other experts will deliver keynote
address to the participants on a variety
of topics. The key personnel include
Shaikh Khalid bin Omar al Marhoon,
Minister of Civil service; Said bin Salem
al Kiyumi, Chairman of OCCI; Hamed
al Amri, Under-Secretary of Ministry
of the Manpower; and Ahmed Hasan al
Deeb, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of
Commerce and Industry.
MARCH 23 l 2015
Oman logs 1.8 pc fall in
temperature in 2014
The Tunisian Embassy in Muscat held a celebration to mark the 59th anniversary of the National Day at the Grand Hayyat Hotel in Muscat yesterday. The
ceremony was attended by diplomats and foreign ministry officials. — ONA
MUSCAT: The latest statistics on the
Sultanate’s climate issued by the National
Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI)
indicates a 1.8 per cent fall in average
temperature last year, which came down
to 27.70 C compared to 28.20 C recorded
in 2013, the highest average temperature
recorded during the period 2010-2014.
Last summer logged a maximum
temperature of 44.20 C while the season also
offered respite from the sweltering heat with
mercury level falling to 15.50 C, the minimum
temperature recorded for the period.
On the other hand, the winter of 2014,
experienced a maximum temperature of
36.80 C and a minimum of as low as 100 C.
Mercury surged to scorching levels in
Al Buraimi Governorate last July, which
recorded the Sultanate’s highest average
temperature at 37.10 C.
The average humidity recorded in summer
last year reached 50.9 per cent while it was
53.4 per cent during winter. According to the
data, 2013 witnessed the highest humidity
during the period from 2010 to 2014, with a
value of 55.1 per cent in summer and 55.3 per
cent in winter.
The NCSI figures also indicate that last
year received 49.3 millimetres of rainfall
during summer and 59.4 millimetres during
winter. Among the governorates, North Al
Batinah received the highest rainfall at 55.4
millimetres in March. In comparison, 2013
received copious rains to the tune of 126
millimetres in summer and 42 millimetres in
The highest average wind speed in
2014 was recorded in July in Al Wusta
Governorate, which reached 14.3 knots.
Dualised Al Furousiya road in Seeb opens
CONNECTION: The road to ease traffic and create alternative exits for the traffic heading towards Seeb market and the northern areas
MUSCAT: The Muscat Municipality has
opened the dualised Al Furousiya road and
its subsidiary roads in the Wilayat of Seeb for
traffic, yesterday.
Constructed to the best international
engineering standards, the new road involves a
dualised bridge located between the Al Khoudh
intersection and Al Qasr roundabout and
linking Al Furousiya to the main carriageway
and extends to Al Adiyat city intersection. The
road aims to ease traffic and create alternative
exits for the traffic heading towards Seeb
market and the northern areas of Seeb Wilayat.
The location of the intersection has been
carefully selected to connect the main road
in the Wilayat of Seeb and Al Furousiya road
to the Al Khoudh-Al Maabela road (Al Salam
road) to serve the Al Maabela district and also
ease traffic jams in all part of the city.
The project involves construction of a
100-m bridge for the traffic coming from Al
Furousiya road and heading towards Muscat
as well as the traffic from Al Batinah to Al
Furousiya road. It also involves construction of
a dualised road connecting the intersection to
the Al Salam road to the south and the dualised
Al Furousiya road to the north up until the
Seeb market.
The new graduates are determined to make their qualifications meaningful
Sultanate marks World Water Day
University of Nizwa graduates
positive about the future
MUSCAT: The World Water
Day, 2015 was marked in many
governorates of the Sultanate,
General of Municipalities and
Water Resources in Al Buraimi
Governorate began a several-day
programme to mark the event
which will run till March, 25. Among the events will be awareness campaigns aimed to
recalibrate the culture of conserving water and rationalising its use as a national wealth.
Marking the event, Al Awabi Municipality in South Al Batinah Governorate held a number
of activities that included cultural and social progammes and awareness lectures.
The activities highlighted the water situation in the Sultanate and the achievements that
took place in the field of water management and stressed the importance of conservation and
rationalisation of water. — ONA
March 22: Last night saw the
2015 graduation ceremony for the
University of Nizwa. Sayyid Badr bin
Saud al Busaidy, Minister Responsible
for Defence Affairs, was the patron of
the event.
As has become usual since the
inauguration of the university in
2004, more than 10 years ago, the
traditional ceremonial activities took
place with the Chancellor of the
University, Dr Ahmed bin Khalfan
al Rawahi focusing on the positive
aspects of the university’s academic
performance in recent times, its
responsiveness to quality assurance
requirements, and its positive outlook
going forward.
Sara Mahmood al Balushi
epitomises the current strength of
the alumni, in that she is young and
vibrant, with a determination to “not
just be another English Translation
graduate,” and with a GPA of 3.54 and
the translation into Arabic already of
the Mathew Martin short story, ‘He
Let the Dogs In,’ a poignant story of
companionship lost.
Sara is determined to be “active in
the community in such a manner that
the people in that community will
benefit.” If she could choose it, her
perfect job would see her delivering
It is certainly a ceremony of recognition for the young,
and not so young, graduates, and the inescapable
impression is that there is a growing level of confidence
among the graduates.
social development while at the
same time developing her academic
standing, maybe eventually leading
to overseas study.
Sara affirmed that getting her
degree is not the end of the hard
work, but “the shining part of my
life. It is just the start!” She hopes to
emulate her father, a teacher, who
was present along with his wife, and
2 younger children, in her in her
societal contribution.
Another young woman who
has already made her mark as a
researcher, is biotechnologist Badriya
Khalfan al Shuaibi.
Her research project centred on the
Bausher Hot Springs has identified 47
strains of bacteria, and Badriya says
this has “stimulated my interest in the
sciences even more. I have applied
for a research scholarship now, and
Inshallah, I will make a difference.”
She confirmed that she had initial
issues with homesickness, and “some
of the exams were very hard,” but
that she gradually settled into the
demands of academic study and is
“looking forward to the challenges
Hassan Ibrahim al Ajmi was
accompanied by his brother Khalil,
and saw his degree, in Arabic Studies,
as a vindication of his decision to
formalise his qualifications.
A supervisor with the Ministry
of Education, Hassan offered the
advice for other intending mature
students that the study is “of course,
not difficult, but you have to be
persistent.” Hassan had travelled
from his home in Suwaiq, and it is
indicative of his own persistence,
that he will now be publicly, and
academically recognised for that
“This is a special day for me and
my family,” said Hamood Said al
Jabri, saying that his father Said and
brother Hamed were here to see
him ‘capped,’ and that he would now
repay for the opportunity to gain
these educational qualifications, by
staying in the Sultanate, and working
“as he, and my God determine.”
Hamood is a reserved young man,
but the emotion and passion he felt
were clearly evident as he explained
too that, “this is a good university,
and God willing, both myself and
the other graduates will have good
futures, and better futures, because of
what we have learned here.”
It is certainly a ceremony of
recognition for the young, and
not so young, graduates, and the
inescapable impression is that there is
a growing level of confidence among
the graduates, with much of the
relief, reserve and national pride of
previous cohorts being overtaken by
enthusiasm, determination to make
their qualifications meaningful, and
an appropriate amount of personal
pride in their achievements.
They appear determined that
their degree certificates will not
be relegated to “something I did
long ago,” but “something I can use
today, tomorrow, and forever,” in the
manner of Marwa Hilal al Hajmi,
whose husband and father were both
beaming with pride as they awaited
her presentation, commenting that
“Marwa enjoyed her studies, and
now, as an art teacher, she can help
others enjoy their own opportunities.”
Seminar on crisis management opens
MARCH 23 l 2015
Entrepreneur’s Conclave
to focus on startups
PROMOTING SMEs: 20 candidates will be selected by a jury panel
MUSCAT: A seminar on GCC Standard
Emergency Response System of the
Medical and Public Health Response
(ICS-H) began at Holiday Inn Hotel on
Sunday. The 5-day seminar, organised by
the Emergency and Crisis Management
Centre at Medical Response and Public
Health Sector at the Ministry of Health,
is being held under the auspices of Dr
Mohammed bin Saif al Hosni, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Health for
Health Affairs and Chairman of the
Representatives from the GCC
concerned authorities in medical
response and public health sector,
the sectors of the national system for
the management of emergencies and
crisis in the Sultanate participate in the
The seminar aims to open up
channels of communication with
stakeholders in the sector in the Arab
Gulf states to develop emergency
and crisis management system in
order to entrench the principle that
disasters do not adhere to international
The seminar includes lectures that
aim to address developing scientific
methodology for the preparation of
leaders and unified command response
teams. It also aims to provide them
with the necessary information and
skills for the management of emergency
and crisis and continue to provide the
best services in the medical field and
public health at the occurrence of any
circumstance or an emergency.
The seminar will also touch on
the importance of the availability of
systems, mechanisms and principles of
medical and public health response. It
also includes working papers, scientific
exercises related to the preparation of
plans to deal with the event and the
preparation of the teams responsible for
response in accordance with the system
designed to achieve a unified and
effective response in order to protect
life and property and the surrounding
March 22: Ever since the SMEs
Development Symposium at Seih al
Shamikhat (January 21 to 23, 2013)
happened a number of initiatives from
different quarters are surfacing for the
promotion of this sector.
The latest in this series is the 2nd
edition of ‘Entrepreneur’s Conclave’
(May 9), aimed at enhancing trade
and cooperation between startups and
corporate houses.
Experiment Events, an event
organiser, said it will be held as a twopart series, the first at the picturesque
Jebal Akhdar on May 9 and second
as part of the Grand Finale Business
networking lunch on May 24, at Grand
Hyatt Muscat.
This is a unique annual initiative that
is held to enhance trade and cooperation
between startups and corporates based
in Oman and it aims at finding the most
promising entrepreneurs of the nation.
A series of ambitious workshops and
matchmaking events for such startups
in Oman is slated to take place within
the next two months along with an
exciting mountain hike, which is a key
(From L to R) Feroz Khan, Director, Sales & Marketing (Sabco Media), Rashid
Mohamed Al Barwani, RevGx, Zameel Ameen, MD, Experiment Events, Huda Al
Lawati, Pro Group, Ice Cream Mama, Ali Al Lawati.
with an audit organisation supporting
the judging. The 20 candidates will then
team up with expertise entrepreneur/
mentors from Oman for a challenging
activity, which will include a mountain
hiking experience.
They will together tackle real-time
case studies to improve the business
models of startups in Jebal Akhdar.
From there, nine finalists will be
shortlisted who will then go through
a series of mentoring session by the
selected senior entrepreneurs before
they showcase their existing business
to a set of investors / corporates and
government funding organization at
grand finale in Muscat.
Zameel Ameen, Managing Director,
Experiment Events, said: “With a
stricter selection process and an
extensive format unlike last year, we
look forward to making this year’s
‘Entrepreneur’s Conclave’ even more
exciting, competitive and rigorous to
bring out the best in entrepreneurs.
Hence the idea of having such an activity
is to help provide young entrepreneurs
with increased access to networking,
mentoring, platform to connect with
investors and efficient instruments for
the realisation of their business projects.”
There will be 20 candidates selected
based on the eligibility criteria which
will be decided by a jury panel along
The largest number of orphans in the region are in Iraq
Arab Orphans Day to be
observed in Oman on April 1
The Italian cruise ship Costa Classica visited Salalah Port yesterday with 1,447 passengers on board including 887 tourists of
different nationalities as part of its tour programme to a number of ports around the world. The programme for the Italian ship,
which came from Mahé Port in the Seychelles and heading to Aqaba Port in Jordan, included tours to the most important
archeological and historical landmarks in the Governorate of Dhofar, such as frankincense trees sites, Al Baleed Archaeological
Park, Frankincense Land Museum, besides visiting beaches and traditional markets. AIDAdiva cruise ship will visit Salalah Port
today with 2,683 passengers on board including 2,033 tourists. — ONA
Sultanate takes another step
towards Takaful legislation
Oman’s Sharia-compliant insurance
market has moved a step closer to
being finalised after the State Council
approved a draft law that will help
encourage new investment in the takaful
(Islamic insurance) industry.
The State Council approved the draft
Takaful Insurance Law in mid-February,
which includes 58 classified subjects
in eight chapters covering all aspects
of the activity. The legislation, which
was drafted by the sector regulator, the
Capital Market Authority (CMA), is
expected to add further impetus to the
development of Oman’s Islamic financial
sector, according to Salim al Ghattami,
head of the Economic Committee at the
State Council.
Explaining the rationale behind the
new law, Al Ghattami pointed to the
wider economic benefits as the country
looks to attract new investors. “Many
nationals who follow Islamic regulations
and provisions in their transactions are
asking the government to regulate the
insurance sector according to Islamic
concepts,” he said in February, quoted
by local media.
The draft law sets out the regulatory
code for takaful operators, including
oversight and reporting requirements,
product standards and liquidity levels.
It requires takaful operators to be
listed on the stock exchange and have
a minimum capital of RO 10 million
($26m) — in line with the requirements
for conventional insurers as part of a
broader regulatory overhaul.
The draft law also sets out the
provision that only dedicated takaful
firms may operate in the Omani market,
underwriters from setting up Islamic
The State Council approved
the draft Takaful Insurance
Law in mid-February, which
includes 58 classified
subjects in eight chapters
covering all aspects of the
insurance windows. Although it is one
of the newest entrants to the Islamic
finance sector, Oman is likely to join
other GCC member states in setting
the pace for the development of takaful
products, according to consultancy firm
EY in its “Global Takaful Insights 2014”
report, released in September.
Oman offers first-mover advantages
to early entrants in the sharia-compliant
insurance sector, the report noted,
as continued double-digit growth is
forecast for the global takaful industry,
which will be worth over $20 billion
by 2017. To ease the difficulty of
identifying suitable investable assets
for takaful operators, Muscat Securities
Market (MSM) launched a shariacompliant index for investors seeking
Islamic equities. Last year, the Sultanate
saw its first takaful insurance companies
enter the market. Al Madina Takaful
converted itself from a conventional
insurer to a takaful company in January
2014 while Takaful Oman Insurance, a
start-up, launched in June.
The potential for growth in the
Omani market is high, both for takaful
operators and conventional insurers.
Penetration rates are estimated to be
around 1.1 per cent, according to a
report by ratings agency Moody’s. The
market has expanded with an annualised
growth rate of over 14 per cent between
2006 and 2013, largely attributed to
compulsory motor coverage. According
to the report, activity is dominated by
a few leading firms, with the five main
operators accounting for about 60 per
cent of all premiums.
However, the issuance of takaful
licenses and new capital requirements
may encourage growth in new market
segments said Moody’s. At the same
time, amendments to regulations setting
higher capital requirements across
the insurance sector are also likely to
produce consolidation among smaller
conventional players according to the
providers may find that they have a
natural advantage over conventional
insurers. Interest has been high in
sharia-compliant products since Islamic
banks were launched in 2012.
According to some industry
forecasts, Islamic financial assets could
account for 10 per cent of Oman’s total
banking assets by 2018, more than
double the 2014 level. A similar take
up rate for takaful, underpinned by an
already existing client base developed
by the Islamic banking market, could
drive solid expansion for shariacompliant insurance in the coming
years. Appetite for Islamic financial
products was underlined by the success
of two takaful insurer IPOs at the end of
2013. The share offerings in Al Madina
and Takaful Oman were both heavily
oversubscribed, almost four times in
the case of Al Madina and 5.5 times for
Takaful Oman, raising between them
nearly RO 59 million ($153m). The
strong investor sentiment points to a
likely buoyant consumer demand down
the line. — ONA
There are more than 120
children at the Al Khoudh
Centre for Orphans most
of whom were abandoned
by their parents outside
mosques or hospitals, and
others left on the Centre’s
March 22: More than hundred orphan
children from various age groups at the
Orphan Care Centre in Al Khoud under
the Ministry of Social Development will
have a day packed with fun, frolic, games
and other entertainment activities at the
Marah Land on April 1, as the country
celebrates the Arab Orphan Day, a day
to remember orphans and give them the
attention of society.
There are more than 120 children
at the Al Khoudh Centre for Orphans
most of whom were abandoned by their
parents outside mosques or hospitals,
and others left on the Centre’s doorstep.
Some of these babies were just a few
days old.
The Royal Oman Police (ROP) or
health authorities take them to the
Centre, where are handed over to staff,
who will have to give them names so
birth certificates can be issued. All of
the orphans are automatically given
Omani nationality by the government,
according to the management.
“We have abandoned babies from
2-weeks-old to grown up children of 17
years at the Centre and we offer them
food, shelter, education and room for
overall growth. Total number would
children, but are not able to do so or
who do not meet the requirements for
fostering. The funds are transferred to
the concerned authorities who in turn
administer the funds appropriately.
The Child Care Centre adopted the
programme to secure the success of all
the children at the Centre.
The Arab Orphans Day idea started in
2004 by an Egyptian non-governmental
organisation called Orman. That year
the organisation helped 7,000 orphans,
and the initiative was adopted by the
Arab League, and it became a day to be
observed in most of the Arab countries.
The idea behind observing Arab
Orphans Day is to remind people,
officials and organisations of a forgotten
category in the society. It is an attempt
to highlight their situation and gather
what could be gained by attention, care
and aid.
Despite the attempts by charities
and non-governmental organisations to
draw official attention to these children,
there are still no clear, documented
statistics on their number or their
situation in the Middle East. Unofficial
blogs and forums have indicated that
the largest number of orphans are in
Iraq — 5 million and more followed by
be something nearly 120”, Abdullah al
Zadjali, Head of the Centre said.
The Centre observes the Day for the
Orphans every year and invites all wellwishers join the events that will last till
evening. Residents of the Centre do wait
eagerly for this day as it gives them a
different experience. The orphans play,
sing and perform their talents in front
of their peers and other select gathering.
The Centre runs, among many
programmes for the well-being of
these kids who need support of the
society. A programme called Orphan
Guardianship Programme is aimed
at commitment of an individual to
pay for all expenses necessary for the
upbringing of one or more orphans who
live in the Care Centre. This system is
for individuals who would like to foster
w A minor
amount has
been spent on
females and
families of
Dhahira and
was paid.
RO 2,79,08,526
RO 44,905
RO 1,233
MARCH 23 l 2015
Two pacts signed for logistic area in South Al Batinah
FINE PRINT: One agreement is related to the design and construction. The second is to prepare the master plan
MUSCAT: Ahmed bin Hassan al Dheeb,
Under-Secretary of the Ministry of
Commerce and Industry and Chairman
of the Founding Committee for
Oman Logistics Company signed two
agreements worth of RO 3.5 million on
The first agreement with Alisco
Strong Plant Trad & Cont LLC is related
to the design and construction of the
land port at the logistic area, design
and construction of the internal roads
and provision of the utilities for it while
ensuring the accommodation of the
container and shipping movement inside
the port.
It will also design and construct the
main gates that will use the most advanced
system that ensures smooth entry and
exit of containers and commodities. It
will also design and prepare the shipping,
handling and warehousing yards.
It will also provide the electrical
connection and power to the points
dedicated to storing chiller containers
and will design the pathways leading
to the utilities. The company will also
provide the security fence and supply the
portable offices that are provided with the
basic services.
The second agreement with F&M
Engeria is related to preparing the master
plan for the first stage including a proposal
for land division and uses, the design of
the infrastructure and service networks,
identifying the land uses which include
dedicating spaces for storing flammable
and non-flammable materials, chiller
warehouses, preparing the construction
bylaw and acting as the technical adviser
and supervising the engineering works.
The master plan for the Logistic
Area project in South Al Batinah, which
stretches over 95 km, will be built in six
stages. The first square of the first stage —
3 million square metres — is dedicated
for logistic services including the land
port, which will be the first of its kind in
the Sultanate.
The land port includes spaces for
custom inspection over the containers
coming to and going from the land and
marine ports. It will also include spaces
for health, agricultural and municipal
Oman Logistics Company, the
developer for the logistic area in South
Al Batinah, expects that the drafting of
the investment incentives and benefits
packages, the land usufruct agreements
and application procedures will be
completed the second half of this year.
Ahmed al Dheeb said that
construction of the logistic areas in South
Al Batinah reflects the importance of
this sector will play in the efforts made
to diversify sources of national income
and maximise the contribution of non-oil
sectors in the GDP.
He added in a statement that a
committee, comprising members from
Omantel EGM okays issuance of sukuk bonds
Treasury bills
tender results
MUSCAT: The treasury
bills tender was held at the
Central Bank of Oman (CBO)
on Sunday. The total amount
applied for issue No 407 was
RO 140 million. The tenor of
these bills is 91 days, so their
settlement date is on March
25 and the maturity date is
on June 24, 2015.
MARCH 22: The Extraordinary
Annual General Meeting (EGM)
Company (Omantel) on Sunday
approved the issuance of sukuk
Islamic bonds as an option for raising
finance. The EGM also approved
the amendment of Article 4 of the
Company’s Articles of Association
by adding the import and export
of devices and communications
equipment, as well as agencies and
commercial representation, to its
The EGM was followed by Annual
General Meeting (AGM) which
approved the distribution of cash
dividends to shareholders amounting
to 75 per cent of the capital (equivalent
of 75 baisas per share). As Omantel
has already paid interim dividend
of 40 per cent of the nominal value
on August 2014, the total dividend
distribution for the financial year
ended December 31, 2014 is 115
per cent. The AGM also authorised
the Company’s Board of Directors
to distribute interim dividends of a
maximum of 55 per cent from the
paid up capital as on August 2014.
Commenting on the Company’s
results, Saud bin Ahmed al Nahari,
Vice Chairman of Omantel Board
of Directors said: “We are pleased
with these financial results for the
period ended on December 31, 2014,
recording an increase in revenues
of 4.0 per cent to RO 481.2 million
compared with RO 462.9 million in
the corresponding period of 2013.
Expenses for the period have grown
by 2.8 per cent to RO 350.8 million
from RO 341.4 million in 2013. The
Company’s net profit witnessed an
increase of 2.6 per cent and reached
RO 122.4 million compared to RO
119.3 million in 2013.”
The growth was mainly driven
Opex panel gets ready
for Jeddah exhibition
MUSCAT: The Organising
Products Exhibition (Opex)
met recently with owners of
companies and industrialists
in Sohar Industrial Estate
to discuss and highlight
the preparation efforts for
the upcoming 4th Omani
Products Exhibition —
Opex 2015, which will take
place from May 18 to 21 at
Jeddah Centre for Forums
and Events in Saudi Arabia.
were briefed about the
participation process, the
advantages and support that
they will get. The exhibition
aims at reflecting the
progress and development
of the industrial sector in the
Committee has already
campaign in Saudi Arabia
and particularly in Jeddah,
which has a population of
around 3.4 million people,
representing 14 per cent of
Saudi Arabia’s population,”
said Hamood al Balushi,
Director of Omani Products
Department at the Public
Establishment for Industrial
Estates (PEIE).
Through participation,
the companies will have
the opportunity to meet
and sign up with agents,
importers and bulk buyers
to promote their exports
to Saudi Arabia. “The
Organising Committee, in
cooperation with Jeddah
Chamber of Commerce and
Industry, is seeking to invite
Saudi businessmen and
residents in Saudi Arabia
to hold B2B meetings with
Omani investors during the
event to discuss deals, offer
further facilities and meet
the existing challenges,” Al
Balushi added.
Sadiq Ahmed Khan,
Managing Director of the
company in-charge of the
exhibition’s marketing —
Tafani National Events
and Research — explained
that the exhibition aims
at raising the volume of
Omani exports to Saudi
Arabia, increase the share
of exports in international
achieve higher profits for the
Omani companies as well
as the SMEs. Organised by
a committee formed by the
PEIE, the Public Authority
for Investment Promotion
and Export Development
Chamber of Commerce
and Industry (OCCI), the
Omani Products Exhibition
in Jeddah endeavours to
promote Omani products
and increase their exports
to the strategic market of
Jeddah. — ONA
by domestic retail revenues, which
rose 4.3 per cent to reach RO 392.6
million compared to RO 376.3
million in 2013. The growth was
mainly contributed by broadband
and corporate data services.
Fixed Line and Mobile Business
retail revenues recorded a growth
of 10.9 per cent and 2 per cent
Mobile Broadband and Data services’
revenues increased by 30.4 per cent,
32.1 per cent and 15.4 per cent
Fixed Broadband subscriber net
addition in 2014 was the highest ever
recorded so far. However, revenues
from national, international calls and
SMS have continued its declining per
cent declined by 26.2 per cent, which
impacted overall revenue growth at
group level.
“The broadband segment both
Mobile and Fixed Broadband services
have been the key driver for the
growth. Mobile and Fixed Broadband
subscribers grew by 11 per cent
and 31 per cent, while revenue also
recorded a growth of 32 per cent and
30 per cent respectively. Omantel
domestic subscriber base witnessed a
remarkable growth of 7.9 per cent as
of December 31, 2014 reaching 3.341
million (excluding mobile resellers).
Including Worldcall, total subscriber
base has reached 4.296 million as
of December 31, 2014 compared to
4.022 million of the corresponding
period of the previous year, a growth
of 6.8 per cent,” the official concluded.
a number of logistic stakeholders in the
Sultanate, will draft and develop the laws
for this sector. He also said that a tender
has been floated to select the company
that will manage the land port.
The initial assessment for qualifying
the companies to this tender has been
completed and the companies qualified
for the tender will be announced in the
coming two weeks. The Sultanate’s logistic
strategy (2014-2040) has five aims namely
increasing the contribution of the logistic
sector in the GDP, increasing the share
of Omani commodities that come to the
area, generating fresh job opportunities
for Omanis, improving the Sultanate’s
ranking in world logistic and industrial
indicators and enhancing the Sultanate’s
position on the world logistic map.
The infrastructure in the Sultanate’s
ports in Sohar, Salalah and Duqm, as
well as the railway project and airports
projects will provide new sustainable
logistic business opportunities and
enhance the commodity movement
from the Sultanate to the countries of the
region and the world. — ONA
M O N DAY l M A R C H 2 3 l 2 0 1 5
A Balinese woman is
carried by two men
during a festival known
as ‘Omed-Omedan’ at
Sesetan in Denpasar on
Indonesia’s resort island
of Bali on Sunday. The
annual ritual is held one
day after the Balinese
Day of Silence or Nyepi’.
Singapore leader Lee weakening
TRIBUTES POURING: Hundreds of floral tributes and cards dedicated to Lee have piled
up outside the hospital as Singaporeans displayed their affection for their ailing leader
SINGAPORE: The health condition of
Singapore’s founding leader Lee Kuan
Yew weakened further on Sunday as he
battles severe pneumonia in hospital,
the government said.
The 91-year-old, one of Asia’s
towering post-colonial leaders, has been
in the Singapore General Hospital for
more than six weeks and is being aided
by mechanical ventilation, a form of life
“Mr Lee Kuan Yew has weakened
further today,” said a statement from
the office of his son, Prime Minister
Lee Hsien Loong, who visited him in
The government earlier said the
patriarch was critically ill.
Hundreds of floral tributes and cards
dedicated to Lee have piled up outside
the hospital as Singaporeans displayed
affection for the British-educated lawyer
who steered the city-state to prosperity
but is also criticised for his iron-fisted
rule. Singapore media reported that the
prime minister mingled early Sunday
with well-wishers outside the hospital
block where his father was being cared
for under tight security.
The elder Lee was prime minister
from 1959, when colonial ruler Britain
granted Singapore self-rule, to 1990.
He led Singapore to independence in
1965 after a brief and stormy union with
Malaysia. He stepped down as prime
minister in favour of his deputy Goh
Chok Tong, who in turn handed the
reins to Lee’s eldest child in 2004.
The former leader is still an MP
for the port district of Tanjong Pagar,
Residents light candles in support of former Singaporean prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, who is critically ill, at Tanjong Pagar
community club, on Sunday. — Reuters
but retired from advisory roles in
government in 2011.
In a book published in 2013, Lee said
he was feeling weaker by the day and
wants a quick death.
He rapidly began to look feeble after
his wife of 63 years, Kwa Geok Choo,
died in 2010, and has rarely appeared in
public in the last two years.
Lee has signed an Advance Medical
Directive, a legal document instructing
doctors not to use any life-sustaining
treatment if he cannot be resuscitated.
Singaporeans were transfixed leaving
flowers and tributes at the hospital
where he is being treated.
Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore’s PM and
Lee Kuan Yew’s son, joined well-wishers
at the Singapore General Hospital in the
corner designated for people to leave
flaowers and cards.
“There were many cards, flowers and
other gifts,” the prime minister wrote on
his Facebook page. “Glad I had a chance
Campsite fire
kills five in
South Korea
Maize growers blamed
for Thai haze misery
SEOUL: A fire swept through a South
Korean camping site on Sunday, killing
five people including three children
and injuring two others, firefighters
said. The dead victims — all from two
families — were asleep when the fire
broke out, ravaging their tent close to
an island beach near the western city
of Incheon.
“The tent was completely gutted
within a minute,” Ryoo HwanHyeong, head of the Ganghwa Island
fire station, told journalists.
An investigation was under way
to determine the cause of the blaze,
but firefighters suspect a short circuit
in the victims’ electric sleeping mat
may have triggered the fire. The two
injured included a 43-year-old man
surnamed Park, who was sleeping in
another tent nearby.
Business leaders
in northern Thailand are urging
agrobusiness companies to take
blanketing the region, which is mainly
caused by burning to clear land for corn
cultivation, reports said on Sunday.
The haze, covering a wide area of
northern Thailand, western Myanmar
and northern Laos, has disrupted
aviation and tourism, while thousands
of residents have sought medical
treatment for
breathing problems
and eye irritation. Several flights
were diverted in Thailand’s northern
province of Chiang Mai this week
because of the smoke, and residents
were warned to stay indoors or wear
masks because of the health danger.
Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce
Deputy Chairman Wittaya Krongsap
said most of the pollution was caused
by controlled fires at maize plantations
during February and March to clear
fields for the next planting.
The Nation newspaper quoted
him saying the chamber would urge
businesses that buy the maize for animal
feed to take responsibility for the annual
haze problem, which residents say is
particularly bad this year.
Readings of small particulate
matter were measured at more than
200 micrograms per cubic metre
throughout much of northern Thailand
on Saturday, with readings of more than
120 micrograms considered unsafe.
Deputy Health Minister Somsak
Chunharas visited Chiang Mai on
Saturday and instructed the provincial
health office to distribute 200,000 face
— dpa
to meet and thank well-wishers for their
The previous day, he visited
the community club in his father’s
constituency of Tanjong Pagar and
wrote a message on a large banner of
goodwill notes left by residents. It read,
“Dear Papa, Hope you get better!”
Others have taken to social media to
express admiration and gratitude in an
outpouring of emotion rare in the city
— Agencies
Some of the 120,000 people
displaced by the Philippine
army’s offensive against
insurgents will soon be
allowed to return home now
that violence has eased, a
spokeswoman said yesterday.
“We will determine which
areas will be safe for evacuees
to go back,” she added.
N Korea warns against
airdropping DVDs
SEOUL: North Korea’s military on
Sunday threatened to blow up balloons
that South Korean activists plan to send
over the heavily-militarised border
carrying 10,000 DVDs of the satirical
Hollywood film “The Interview”.
Activists plan to launch copies of the
film — a comedy about a fictional CIA
plot to assassinate North Korean leader
Kim Jong-Un — as well as 500,000
propaganda leaflets across the border
on or around March 26.
Pyongyang has long condemned
such balloon launches and threatened
retaliation, and local residents have
complained the activists are putting
their lives at risk by making them
potential targets.
“All the firepower strike means
of the frontline units of the (Korean
People’s Army) will launch without
prior warning... to blow up balloons,”
the North’s frontline military units said
in a notice to the South.
It said the launch would constitute
“the gravest politically-motivated
provocation” against North Korea
and “a de facto declaration of a war”,
according to Pyongyang’s official
Korean Central News Agency.
The move is aimed at “deliberately
escalating tension on the Korean
peninsula where the situation has
reached the brink of a war due to... joint
war rehearsals” by South Korea and the
United States, it said.
The South’s military said it would
retaliate if the North opens fire on its
But the North’s notice warned
that any challenge to its “just physical
Pyongyang has threatens
retaliation while local
residents have complained
the activists are putting
their lives at risk by making
them potential targets.
“merciless retaliatory strikes”.
South Koreans living near the
border are “recommended to evacuate
in advance for their safety” if the
balloons are launched, it said.
The launch will mark the five-year
anniversary of the sinking of a South
Korean warship in 2010, with the loss of
46 sailors. The South pinned the blame
on the North and effectively froze trade
and investment ties.
The warning came even after
South Korea’s Unification Ministry on
Friday vowed to take steps preventing
the launch in order to protect local
residents, saying there is a “limit” to
freedom of expression.
Seoul insists the activists have a
democratic right to carry out such
launches, but has appealed for restraint
to avoid overly provoking the North
South Korean police have
occasionally prevented the launches
at times of high cross-border tensions,
citing the possible dangers posed to
local residents. The activists remained
tight-lipped about the exact location
and time for the launch.
In October last year North Korean
soldiers attempted to shoot down some
balloons, triggering a brief exchange
of heavy machine-gun fire across the
Relatives (right with umbrellas) of victims of AirAsia flight QZ8501 attend a ceremony to throw a flower wreath into the sea in
Central Kalimantan on Sunday. AirAsia families accepted sad reality as search ends with a total of 106 bodies have been
recovered as rescuers called off the hunt for the remaining passengers on Tuesday, almost three months after Flight QZ8501
went down in stormy weather as it flew from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore, killing all 162 on board.
Her images of everything, from trips to supermarket to scenes of abuse at a refuge for domestic workers, has earned international praise
Filipina maid captures dreams through photography
HONG KONG: From her povertystricken roots in a Philippine backwater,
via domestic service in Hong Kong to
acclaim in New York, Xyza Cruz Bacani’s
inspirational journey started with a
camera bought with borrowed money.
The 28-year-old came to Hong Kong
nine years ago to join 300,000 other
women working as maids in the city,
hoping to earn enough money to help
fund her brother’s education.
But photography has transformed her
life, her images of everything from trips
to the supermarket to scenes of abuse at
a refuge for domestic workers earning
laudatory spreads in international media
and at exhibitions. Bacani was recently
named as one of the recipients of a
fellowship by the Magnum Foundation,
a prestigious scholarship that will allow
her to study in New York for six weeks.
With that in mind, just a week ago,
she quit domestic service to pursue her
she also saw the move to Hong Kong as
an opportunity to leave her home village,
nine hours’ drive from the Philippine
capital Manila.
“It was a big contrast when I arrived
at the airport, I was very excited because
everything is moving fast, and the lights
are wonderful, it looks so alive compared
to my village,” she said.
Her passion for photography really
took off four years ago, when her
employer — whom she describes as a
“great lady” — lent her the money to buy
her first camera, a Nikon D90.
“When I had (the camera), I shot
landscapes to flowers to (portraits
of) my mum, and then I did street
Filipina photographer Xyza Cruz Bacani poses for a photograph in Macau. — AFP
From that point on Bacani took
passion for photography. But when she than the urge to do art,” she said in Macau photographs at every opportunity she
first came to Hong Kong, survival was where her photographs are on show as had, whether out buying daily produce
for her employer or ranging across Hong
part of the city’s Literary Festival.
her first priority.
A self-professed dreamer, she said Kong on Sundays off work.
“The urge to survive is much bigger
At first she only shared her pictures
with friends on Facebook — mostly shot
in grainy black and white, capturing
street moments in classic reportage style.
A Filipino photographer based in
San Francisco saw them on Facebook
and was intrigued by their originality
and quality. From there she came to the
attention of the New York Times Lens
blog and then of acclaimed photographer
Sebastiao Salgado, who praised her work
at an exhibition in Hong Kong late last
year. Reflecting on her journey thus far,
she marvels: “Right now it’s changed my
life 180 degrees, here I am having a show
in Macau, going to places.”
With increasing concerns over the
treatment of domestic helpers in Hong
Kong and the region, Bacani is now
turning to documentary photography to
try to draw attention to abuses.
“That’s what I want my photography
to do, to be able to help people... to me
photography is a very powerful tool to
change someone’s perspective towards
an issue,” she said. In the summer of
2014, Bacani documented migrant
workers who had taken shelter at a
refuge after suffering abuse at the hands
of their employers, an experience she
described as “life-changing”.
“I was angry at first, it was a rollercoaster of emotion when I saw this kind
of situation. “I think I was there to be
the voice of those domestic workers
who remain unheard, whose voices have
been muted.”
Just last month a judge sentenced a
Hong Kong woman to six years in jail
for beating and starving her Indonesian
maid in a case that made global
headlines. Bacani’s own employer could
not be more different, she says, offering
support and encouragement to pursue
her plans of becoming a photographer
MARCH 23 l 2015
Ex-army chief becomes
Lanka’s first field marshal
MILITARY RANK: Finally, Fonseka has been cleared of all allegations, including treason
government Sunday conferred the
highest military rank of field marshal on
retired army chief Sarath Fonseka, who
had been jailed for alleged treason by
the previous regime.
awarded Fonseka the title at a state
ceremony in the capital and said he
was unjustly treated by the previous
Fonseka was thrown in jail after he
unsuccessfully tried to challenge a reelection bid by the then-strongman
president Mahinda Rajapakse in 2010.
Soon after he toppled Rajapakse in
a January election, Sirisena used his
executive powers to clear Fonseka of all
the allegations, including treason and
dabbling in politics while in uniform.
Ensuring justice for Fonseka was a
“responsibility undertaken by the (new)
government in our quest for justice for
the whole of the army”, Sirisena said.
Fonseka led troops to victory over
the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009,
but then fell out with Rajapakse over
who deserved the credit.
The decorated general was publicly
humiliated and stripped of his rank,
pension and medals collected in a 40year career.
He spent two years in jail and lost the
right to contest elections for seven years.
The United States considered Fonseka
a political prisoner and campaigned
for his unconditional release, which
eventually came in May 2012.
The new president, who was backed
by Fonseka in the run-up to the
January 8 election, granted a pardon
and completely exonerated him of
previous convictions as well as pending
charges of treason. Soon after his 2010
poll defeat, Fonseka was detained
on a charge of corruption relating to
military procurements and then given a
30-month jail sentence.
In November 2011 he was sentenced
to three more years in jail for saying
that Tiger rebels who surrendered had
been killed on the orders of Rajapakse’s
‘Ceasefire deal
should include
armed groups’
YANGON: The negotiator of the
ethnic armed groups in Myanmar
taking part in peace talks with the
government said yesterday that the
should include the Kokang armed
group for ensuring peace.
U Naing Han Tha, chairman of
ethnic armed groups’ Nationwide
(NCCT), said the Myanmar National
Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA)
was a member of the NCCT and by
excluding it from the nationwide
ceasefire agreement, it would be
impossible to gain peace, according to
a Xinhua report.
Government peace negotiator U
Hla Maung Shwe revealed that the
fifth day of the peace talks between the
government’s Union Peace-Making
Work Committee (UPWC) and the
NCCT was smooth, leaving a few
points to be finalised on Sunday.
The two sides have agreed to discuss
the ongoing fighting in the Kokang
region, near Myanmar’s border with
China separately, after the end of the
current round of talks.
Peace negotiators of the Myanmar
government and ethnic armed groups
resumed their formal seventh round
of peace talks in Yangon on Tuesday,
focusing on some eight remaining
points out of over 100 of the draft
nationwide ceasefire accord left by the
previous talks in a bid to push for its
Musharraf’s party to
contest local elections
KARACHI: Pakistan’s former military
ruler Pervez Musharraf, who is facing
criminal proceedings, announced on
Sunday that his party All Pakistan
Muslim League (APML) would contest
local government elections.
The 71-year-old returned to
Pakistan in March 2013 after four years
of self-imposed exile to run in general
elections, vowing to “save” the country
from Taliban violence and economic
But Musharraf, who seized power in
a bloodless coup in 1999 and resigned
in 2008, was barred from standing
and put under house arrest over
numerous criminal charges —
including treason.
APML were mauled — winning only
one seat — as Nawaz Sharif ’s Pakistan
Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) swept
to power, but on Sunday Musharraf
launched an audacious bid to see his
party re-emerge as a force.
“We will go in local body polls
with the slogan of ‘Pakistan first’ and
win,” he told AMPL’s central executive
Elections to elect local government
representatives are expected to take
place in three provinces later this year.
Musharraf, the first former army
chief to be charged with treason, also
predicted early general elections and
directed his party to prepare for a
national campaign.
Musharraf is facing several major
criminal cases linked to his time in
power, including the 2007 assassination
of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto in a
gun and suicide attack but proceedings
have repeatedly stalled.
$4m spent on renovation
of Islamabad airport
Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena confers the honorary military rank of field marshal on retired army general and
defeated presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka at a ceremony in the capital Colombo.
brother Gotabhaya Rajapakse, the thendefence secretary.
Fonseka had also angered the
government by saying he would testify
before any international tribunal
probing possible war crimes charges.
Sri Lanka’s former government had
denied any civilians were killed by its
troops at the climax of the 37-year war
in 2009, which is believed to have left up
to 100,000 people dead.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s new president
Sunday brought 26 opposition legislators
into his government in a move that
widened a rift within opposition ranks
before early parliamentary elections,
officials said.
Sirisena’s move to give portfolios to
opposition lawmakers further weakened
former president Rajapakse’s grip on the
Sri Lanka Freedom Party, which is now
the main opposition.
“The cabinet was expanded to give
Sirisena brought 26
oppn legislators into his
government in a move
that widened a rift within
opposition ranks before
early parliamentary
places to SLFP MPs in exchange for
their support for political reforms before
parliament is dissolved in late April,”
said a source close to Sirisena.
It was the biggest induction of
opposition lawmakers into any Sir
Lankan government since independence
from Britain in 1948, officials noted.
Soon after winning the January 8
presidential election, Sirisena appointed
the then-opposition leader Ranil
Wickremesinghe as prime minister
heading a minority government.
However Wickremesinghe, who
had helped Sirisena to win after he
broke away from the SLFP to challenge
Rajapakse, does not have enough votes
in parliament to carry out reforms he
promised. Sirisena has vowed to abolish
the executive presidency and return
the country to a Westminster-style
parliamentary democracy that existed
till 1978.
Last week the state minister for
higher education Rajiva Wijesinghe
quit the government, accusing it of
moving too slowly to implement the
political reforms promised in Sirisena’s
Those appointed Sunday — 11 with
full cabinet rank, five non-cabinet and
10 deputy ministers — were seen as
members of an opposition faction which
did not favour a comeback by former
president Rajapakse.
— Agencies
Hundreds of Afghans bury
woman beaten to death by mob
Afghan women’s rights activists carry the coffin of Farkhunda during her
burial ceremony in Kabul.
— Reuters
KABUL: Hundreds of people on
Sunday attended the burial of an
Afghan woman who was beaten
to death and set on fire by a mob
for allegedly burning a copy of the
The body of Farkhunda, 27, who
was lynched on Thursday by an
angry crowd in central Kabul, was
carried to the graveyard by women
amid crowds of men, a reporter
said, a rare act of protest in a maledominated society.
The crowd, shouting “Allah o
Akbar” (God is greatest), demanded
the government bring the killers to
“This is a crime against this
family, a crime against a sister and
a crime against humanity,” said Bari
Salam, a human rights activist.
“All those involved and all those
who supported her killing should be
brought to justice,” he said.
The lynching — in full view of
several police officers — sparked
widespread condemnation at home
and worldwide.
The United Nations said
Farkhunda had “suffered mental
illness for many years”. But
Farkhunda’s father told the media
his daughter had a diploma in
Islamic studies and could recite the
Koran by heart.
Farkhunda’s brother Najeebullah
Malikzada supported his father’s
“Farkhunda was a deeply
religious girl. She used to recite the
holy Koran and pray five times a
day,” he told the crowd.
Footage of the attack on social
media shows a number of uniformed
police watching the crowd as they
beat her to death, burn her body and
then dump it into a river.
“This brutal act once again shows
the incompetence of the police
force,” Mariam Mustafawi, one of
those at the burial, said.
“Today our police force is unable
to enforce the rule of law. How can
they protect us against the enemy?”
she said.
condemned the killing as “heinous”
and ordered a commission to
investigate the incident.
He said police, who play a crucial
part in the war against Taliban
insurgents, were not well-trained to
contain such incidents.
“Almost 90 per cent of the duties
of the police today are focused
on fighting, which is not their
constitutional role, it is not their
legal role,” Ghani told reporters on
“Focusing on civilian capabilities,
on enforcement of the rule of law, is
key to us.”
Police said they had arrested 21
people, including eight policemen.
“I will question the police...we
have started our inquiry.
Even If I get killed, I won’t let any
of her perpetrators get away with
it,” said General Zahir Zahir, the
head of criminal investigation at the
interior ministry.
Allegations of Koran burnings
have sparked incidents before
in the deeply conservative religious
ISLAMABAD: The Civil Aviation
Authority (CAA) has spent almost
$4 million on the renovation and
expansion of the Benazir International
Airport (BBIA) Islamabad.
The departure area has been
upgraded. Latest security equipment
has been installed and additional checkin counters have been built.
Airport Manager Muhammad
Ayaz Jadoon said that the work was
completed over five months to facilitate
international and domestic passengers.
He said more than 18 international
and domestic airlines have been
operating from this airport which
serves over four million passengers,
each year.
“The expansion and renovation of
the facilities has been done, keeping
the increasing number of passengers
in mind,” he said. The airport manager
said a separate parking lot has been
created for the airport staff to reduce
the congestion in the main parking area.
“Following renovation, the parking lot
can now accommodate an additional
200 cars,” he said. A car park has been
constructed near the Nur Khan Base
road which will accommodate 300 cars
and 300 motorcycles of Civil Aviation
Authority (CAA) and airline staff, he
Jadoon further said that the
construction of a taxi-way at the
airport has helped reduce fuel
consumption of airplanes. He said flight
staggering technique has been used
to accommodate more aircraft. The
airport has launched a new website to
provide better facilities and information
to passengers, he added.
“The website provides flight
information, weather reports and news
about access roads to the airport,” he
— Internews
MARCH 23 l 2015
urkey has staked a claim to become a major transit hub with two new pipelines to
pump gas from Azerbaijan and Russia to Europe, but boasting may prove easier
than fulfilling the ambitious projects.
Turkey and Azerbaijan last week started work on the new 1,850 km overland
Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) which by 2018 aims to provide
10 billion cubic metres of gas per year (bcma) to European consumers and 6 bcma
to Turkish customers.
At the same time Turkish and Russian officials are in intense negotiations to
agree terms for a brand new Turkish Stream pipeline under the Black Sea.
With the EU backing TANAP and Russia behind Turkish Stream, Turkey
is now placed in a hugely strategic position in the intensifying rivalry between
Brussels and Moscow over gas supply.
Turkey’s dream is to turn the region on the western side of the country
bordering Greece and Bulgaria into a gas hub, where multiple pipelines will meet
to pump gas to EU consumers. The EU-backed TANAP appears sure to be built,
as finding returns on the $40-$45 billion investment in Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz 2
gas field depends on the pipeline.
Turkish Stream however is a far less stable proposition.
Questions remain over whether Turkey has sufficient capacity to become
a genuine gas hub, which requires far more than the building of pipeline
“To be an energy hub there are a number of ingredients that are necessary,
none of which exist as yet in Turkey,” said Edward Chow, senior fellow at the
Centre for Strategic and International Studies
Turkey’s dream is to
He pointed to the lack of a strong
international banking system, a solid legal turn the region on
system to resolve normal commercial disputes the western side of
and sufficient storage facilities.
the country bordering
“Turkey has the advantage of location, it’s
near a lot of oil and gas producing countries. Greece and Bulgaria
Being a hub takes time,” he said.
into a gas hub, where
The $10 billion TANAP project — whose
multiple pipelines
construction was launched by President
Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Azerbaijani will meet to pump
counterpart Ilham Aliyev — is firmly backed gas to EU, reports
by the European Union which hopes it will
help Europe reduce its dependence on Russian
gas. But analysts say Turkey will need to ramp
up its total capacity from the initial plan of 16
bcma for it to make any major impact on the EU’s goal of diversifying supplies
away from the Russia of President Vladimir Putin.
“In the longer term if TANAP carries much more that will start to give it
greater significance. That is something that will probably happen but will not be
imminent,” said Laurent Ruseckas, senior adviser in global gas at IHS Energy.
The plan to build Turkish Stream was dramatically announced by Putin in
December in Ankara, as a replacement for the South Stream pipeline and to
bypass Ukraine.
Putin blamed the EU for the collapse of the South Stream project, which was
to have come ashore in Bulgaria.
But Russia and Turkey, who already operate the undersea Blue Stream pipeline,
have yet to agree a final accord on Turkish Stream.
In exchange for agreeing to host the pipeline, Turkey secured from Russia a
reduction on its own gas imports of 10.25 per cent, a welcome concession for a
country with slowing growth and pressured currency.
Yet Russian daily Kommersant reported last week that the final negotiations
had reached a “dead end’ over the pricing terms.
Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz insisted however that the two sides
were in agreement. “I suspect this will happen but it is not ready to go yet, final
agreements must be negotiated and signed between Gazprom and (Turkey’s state
energy firm) BOTAS,” said Ruseckas.
Even once the agreements are signed, political will and financial backing will
be needed to build the four pipelines required to create the envisaged capacity,
which like South Stream is 63 bcma.
“A one or two strand Turkish Stream is conceivable in my mind,” said Chow.
“A 63 bcma system is hard for me to fathom any time soon,” especially given
the financial strains of Russian gas giant Gazprom and the pressure from Western
sanctions over Ukraine, he said.
Chadian soldiers hold weapons in the recently retaken town of Damasak. — Reuters
Chad takes on Boko Haram
ilitary vehicles patrol the dusty streets of Chad’s capital, Chad to the northern border with Niger.
Using this much longer route has increased costs and in
N’djamena, at night. Heavily armed soldiers sit on the back
raised prices, while the Chadian government is losing vital
of army trucks, on the lookout for suspicious activity.
Since terrorist group Boko Haram started to launch tax revenues.
“Chad wants the Boko Haram issue to end as soon as
attacks on Chadian soil from its bases in neighbouring
Nigeria last month, the former French colony is on high possible. If it drags out, it could lead to serious budgetary
alert. Roadblocks and checkpoints have multiplied along problems for Chad,” Martin Ewe, researcher at the African
Chad’s border with Nigeria and in the capital. Soldiers are Institute for Security Studies, said.
To make matters worse, Chad’s second major transport
conducting house searches and interrogating suspects.
The political elite is afraid of assassinations — N’djamena route has also become insecure due to Boko Haram
borders directly on northern Cameroon, where Boko infiltration: the landlocked central African nation is highly
dependent on shipping goods through Cameroon’s mega
Haram has been infiltrating for months.
Chad has become a target for Boko Haram attacks since port of Douala, its only access to the sea.
“Cameroon is Chad’s breadbasket. If the route between
the former French colony sent troops to Nigeria in midthe two countries gets blocked, you could
January to help Africa’s most populous
starve the Chadians to death,” warns Ewe.
nation in the fight against the terrorists.
Chad has placed itself
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau
In addition, Chad has laid an oil
at the forefront of
explicitly threatened attacks on Chad in a
pipeline between N’djamena and Douala,
video message.
efforts to help Nigeria which is meant to transport significant
He remained true to his word: the
and still largely untapped oil reserves from
in the fight against
insurgents struck Chad four times in the
the now insecure area around Lake Chad.
Boko Haram, making
past five weeks.
Exports running through the pipeline
President Idriss Deby is nervously
itself a target, writes have already been affected, according to
watching their expansion in the region.
Chad has “vital interests” in helping
If Boko Haram boosts its threat to the
Nigeria fight Boko Haram, Deby said
region, plans to increase exports will be
during a recent press conference in the
capital. And they are not only political.
As a result, Chad reacted forcefully to Boko Haram’s
Boko Haram also represents “huge economic risks for regional expansion and the threat to its own economy.
Chad,” according to Deby.
Deby swiftly pushed a motion through parliament in
When Boko Haram seized the Nigerian town of Baga January to send hundreds of troops and warplanes into
in early January, on northern Borno State’s most eastern Borno state’s north-east to help Nigeria’s army recapture
tip, it meant the terrorists were now practically based at the villages and towns under Boko Haram control.
border to Chad.
Chad troops are well trained and war-hardened. They
Aside from the security risk this poses, Baga is a major enjoyed success in fighting Al Qaeda-linked fighters in
commercial node between Chad and Nigeria, where Mali in 2012. After having rejected foreign interference for
the two countries trade about 800,000 cattle and tens of years, Nigerian authorities — who were forced to postpone
thousands of camels every year. Boko Haram’s capture of general elections scheduled for February 14 due to the
the town practically paralysed this trade.
insurgence — finally decided that the presence of Chadian
Goods now have to be transported on boats across Lake troops will not compromise its sovereignty.
Russia’s air corps is a powerful but now a fading force
n March 3, seven Russian attack planes
took off from Novofederovka airbase in
Crimea. They flew out over the Black Sea,
right towards two North Atlantic Treaty
Organisation warships, the US guidedmissile cruiser Vicksburg and the Turkish
frigate Tugutreis.
Russia’s state-owned media described
the mission as a reconnaissance exercise.
The planes practiced tracking the ships
from a distance while staying just outside
the range from which the vessels could
theoretically shoot back.
This sort of patrol has become ever
more common since the war in Ukraine
began. Russian aircraft approach Nato
vessels or airspace and practice simulated
combat manoeuvres or engage in
reconnaissance. The rate of Russian fighter
and bomber patrols near Nato borders has
tripled in a year, though it’s still below the
weekly flights common during the Cold
Worried? To be sure, the Russian air
force is formidable.
It’s the world’s second largest in terms
of combat aircraft, with roughly 2,500
warplanes, of which more than 70 per
cent are serviceable. Unlike Russia’s navy,
which has been essentially reduced to a
coastal defence force, its air force is still
capable and deadly by global standards.
It has the world’s second-largest
strategic-bomber force, capable of
delivering nuclear weapons thousands of
miles from home. But Russia’s air force
has a lot of problems familiar to other
branches of the Kremlin’s military.
With few exceptions, its aerial fleet
dates to the Cold War and is getting older.
Modern and capable fighter jets
are entering service, but only in small
numbers. Over the long term, Russia’s air
force is expected to dwindle further.
The roots of these problems date from
the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Factories producing aircraft and parts
have shut down or became part of foreign,
predominantly Ukrainian, territory.
Engineers experienced in building jets
have immigrated or retired.
Moscow put a halt to buying new
planes — it bought none until 2003 — and
halted most training exercises.
Russia has a lot of catching up to do.
The Kremlin now considers modernising
Modern and capable fighter
jets are entering service,
but only in small numbers.
Over the long term, Russia’s
air force is expected to
dwindle further, notes
its air force a top priority.
This isn’t just acquiring new,
modern warplanes but also upgrading
existing ones.
In 2014, Russia spent more than a billion
dollars on newer avionics and electronic
warfare systems, which can allow Russian
jets to more effectively flood radars and
enemy jets with electromagnetic energy.
Altogether, Russia plans to spend
$130 billion on modernising its air force
through the rest of the decade, according
to research scientist Dmitry Gorenberg’s
blog Russian Military Reform.
Russia’s state armament programme,
which sets out military procurement
policies through 2020, heavily emphasises
relying more on domestic manufacturing.
“Such an approach is not without its
own difficulties,” noted OE Watch, the
monthly newsletter of the US Army
Foreign Military Studies Office, “which
the Kremlin does not publically discuss.”
Among these problems is that
Russia’s domestic industry has serious
shortcomings when it comes to building
These components are less glamorous
than airframes and missiles, which Russia
builds quite well, but crucial to modern
fighters. The technology enables lethal
advantages like night vision and thermal
imaging systems.
Russia’s Su-27 fighter jets perform during a show in south Russian city
of Rostov-on-Don on Saturday. — AFP
MARCH 23 l 2015
Short supply of housing fuels increasing rents in UK
Foreign Correspondent
[email protected]
hancellor George Osborne’s sweetener to aspiring
first-time home buyers in his final budget before
the general election in six weeks’ time will do
little as help in the UK’s overall, on-going housing
The new Help to Buy ISA (Individual Savings
Account) allows young savers to put a maximum
of £200 a month away.
The government will add 25 per cent to the ISA
when it is used as a deposit for house purchase.
The maximum is £12,000 which would result in a
£3,000 top-up.
But economist Stuart Adam from the Institute
for Fiscal Studies said: “Increased demand will
bid up prices. To the extent that housing supply
can’t respond to that, there is no way that overall
housing affordability can be increased.” He said the
policy will benefit first-time buyers and current
owners at the expense of everyone else.
Adam further believes the policy could be
regressive, in that it provides a higher reward to
those who need it least. “Certainly those who find
it easiest to qualify for the maximum top-up are
going to be those who have the £12,000 anyway or
have wealthy parents,” he added.
Looking at the broader picture, it is the shortage
of affordable homes that is forcing people into
rented accommodation at spiralling rents. The with demand.”
Commenting on the grim housing situation,
short supply of housing and a recovery in the
economy is pushing up rents and house prices. Miles Shipside, housing market analysts and
Average monthly rates stood at £766 last month, up director of Rightmove, the online property
3.1 per cent on 2014, according to figures released company, said: “For the right property at the right
price, demand is outstripping supply and leading
by estate agents Your Move and Reeds Rains.
to some further upwards price
London saw the second
pressure. However there is a
greatest annual rise in the UK
at 4.9 per cent. The biggest
London saw the second limit to what the majority are
willing or can afford to pay,
rent increases were in the east
greatest annual rise
especially with the tighter
of England where they shot
at 4.9 per cent. The
lending criteria. In locations
up 10.2 per cent — the fastest
where there is a tight-stock
growth seen in any region over
biggest rent increases
market some different tactics
the past five years.
were in the east of
are required for a successful
The director of Reeds
England where they
move as competition gets
Rains and Your Move, Adrian
Gill said: “The rental sector
shot up 10.2 per cent — fiercer for quality homes as
is carrying the weight of the
the fastest growth seen demand
The increased demand can
housing crisis. More homes
in any region years.
be summed up in another
are needed to house an everstatistic too: there has been
growing population. The
a 31 per cent increase in the
supply simply isn’t there.”
He added: “House prices rising out of reach number of transactions in England and Wales over
for people at the lower end of the market makes the last two years, a figure far ahead of the 11 per
increasing demand in the private rented sector cent rise in the number of properties coming to
inevitable. A serious and substantial commitment market.
Survey figures released last week by financial
to new builds is the only way to bring supply in line
services firm Markit and estate agents Knight
Frank point to a pick-up in house price growth.
The firms’ house price index rose to a score
of 57.5 for March — any score above 50 signifies
growth with higher numbers meaning faster growth.
While the majority of households perceive the value
of their property has climbed this month, the survey
score remains below 63.2 achieved in 2014.
The survey has been a reliable indicator
consistent with other widely used hosing data.
Markit’s senior economist, Tim Moore said:
“Improving economic conditions and positive
labour market trends continue to support UK
housing demand, while supply remains tight and
there are signs that the revival in new housing
starts has paused for breath in recent months.”
The revival in prices comes after the market
remained relatively flat over the festive period.
February mortgage lending dropped nine per
cent on the same time last year and on January,
according to data released by the Council of
Mortgage Lenders last week.
Gross lending is estimated at £13.4 billion, the
lowest monthly estimate since April 2013.
However, mortgage brokers have said these
figures reflect completions and so represent
housing market activity with a lagged effect.
ne is a leather-clad leftist blogger and professor who uses references to
Nazi occupation to rally Greek resistance.
The other is a wheelchair-bound fiscal veteran whose shoulders seem
to slump under the weight of a long political career.
For all their differences, one thing is beyond question — there is no
love lost between Yanis Varoufakis and Wolfgang Schaeuble, the finance
ministers of Greece and Germany.
After a tumultuous few weeks, Chancellor Angela Merkel and Greek
premier Alexis Tsipras will have their work cut out when they meet
in Berlin today to discuss demands for leniency on Greece’s bailout
programme, to which Germany is the greatest contributor.
In February, tense talks between Schaeuble and Varoufakis ended in
a joint press conference brimming with tension and thinly veiled barbs.
“No one understands better than the people of this land how a
severely depressed economy, ritual national humiliation and unending
hopelessness can hatch the serpent’s egg within its society,” Varoufakis
said, in reference to Germany’s Nazi past.
The conference ended with a disgruntled Schaeuble saying the
ministers “agreed to disagree” on the proposals of Greece’s Syriza-led antiausterity government, and Varoufakis retorting that they had not agreed
even to that. The episode served not only to reinforce stereotypes of the
draconian Germans and the uncouth Greeks, it also threw into sharp
relief a deep cultural division between Berlin and Athens.
“Right from the first moment Greece joined the European Union,
it became clear that Germany and Greece are at opposite ends of the
emotional spectrum,” says Quentin Peel, a senior fellow at London-based
think tank Chatham House.
“Germany’s political culture is focused on rules based on unwavering
commitment and discipline. In Greece, people feel that (Athens) is the
cradle of democracy and therefore the world owes it something.”
The Greco-German stand-off was further exacerbated last week when
Varoufakis was forced to deny “giving the finger” to Germany in an
allegedly doctored YouTube video broadcast.
“(Varoufakis’) rhetorical escapades and his conscious provocations are
an attempt to appeal to anti-German sentiment in Greece and a way of
masterfully playing on the culture of German guilt,” says Georg Menz,
professor of political economy at the University of London.
Indeed, ill will towards Germany is high in Greece, where many
believe the country’s dire economic situation is linked to the authoritarian
policies of a distant elite.
Iglesias, leader of Spain’s Podemos party, delivers his speech, at a closing campaign rally in Dos Hermanas. — Reuters
Spain vote is key test for anti-austerity party
olls opened yesterday in Andalusia, one
of the poorest parts of Spain, in a regional
vote that will be a key test of anti-austerity
party Podemos ahead of the country’s most
unpredictable general election in decades.
“Everything is ready to fill the ballot
boxes with mauve!” the left-wing Podemos,
said on its Twitter account, referring to the
party colour, as voting got under way.
The election is an important warm-up
for contender Podemos — which is looking
to match the feat of its ally Syriza in Greece
— and also another upstart contender, the
centre-right Ciudadanos.
“Everyone is waiting to see if the
emerging forces are going to get a very
good result. This will be the test,” a wellplaced member of the conservative Popular
Party, which currently governs Spain, said.
Recent years of recession and corruption
scandals make the southern region of
farms and tourist beaches a prime testing
ground for Spain’s new political dynamic,
transformed by the economic crisis and
ensuing budget austerity measures.
Now the two parties that have taken
turns to govern Spain since the 1980s face
the rival pair of surging protest movements
in a dress rehearsal for the national polls due
around November.
Greece’s Syriza won elections in January
on a wave of discontent about economic cuts
imposed during an economic crisis — the
same trend that has pushed Podemos to the
top of the polls in Spain.
Podemos was buoyed by Syriza’s victory,
but was given pause for thought by the tense
ongoing squabbles between Syriza and
European powers over Greece’s debt.
In Andalusia, “everyone will interpret
the results as if it were a first round
in the general elections,” said Anton
Losada, a political scientist at Santiago de
Compostela university.
“That is going to happen with the
Andalusian election and will happen again
with the other local and regional elections
in May.”
The main opposition Socialist Party, in
power in Andalusia since 1982, is seeking
re-election against the Popular Party.
Polls indicate neither of the giants will
win an absolute majority in the regional
parliament from Andalusia’s 6.5 million
voters. The winner may have to strike an
alliance with Podemos or Ciudadanos.
That could foreshadow what coalitions
may later be forged to govern Spain, since
polls indicate the national election may also
fail to hand one party an absolute majority.
Andalusia was among the regions hardest
hit by the collapse of Spain’s housing market
in 2008.
Its regional unemployment rate is the
highest in the country at 34.2 per cent.
Socialist leaders there, along with certain
labour union representatives, have been hit
by a series of corruption scandals.
The Socialists have fallen out with their
current coalition partners, the United Left,
and look set to lose seats in yesterday’s vote,
according to polls.
The Popular Party is also losing support
there, blamed by voters for hardship under
the economic cuts its national government
The election is an important
warm-up for contender
Podemos — which is looking to
match the feat of its ally Syriza
in Greece — and also another
upstart contender, Ciudadanos,
has imposed.
Enter Podemos and Ciudadanos, which
rank third and fourth in polls of voting
intentions in Andalusia with around 11 and
15 per cent of the vote respectively.
Formed just in January 2014, Podemos
has also topped recent national polls. Its
pony-tailed leader Pablo Iglesias, 36, vows
to end austerity and do away with what he
brands a corrupt political elite.
But his alleged links to Venezuelan
leaders — regular bogeymen in the Spanish
media — and his support for Syriza threaten
to put off some voters.
Ready to scoop them up is Ciudadanos,
which started as a Catalan anti-independence
party and then expanded onto the national
stage in recent months.
It shares Podemos’ stance against
moderate tone.
“In Ciudadanos, we want justice. What
Podemos wants is revenge,” said Ciudadanos’
leader Albert Rivera, 35, in an interview in
El Mundo newspaper last week.
“We could have a more diverse
Andalusian parliament, with new political
forces getting in, and their support could
become necessary to govern,” said Jaime
Ferri Dura, a political scientist at Madrid’s
Complutense University.
Spain is a test case to measure Europe’s
centre-left and centre-right parties’ ability
to resist an announced rise of populist
and extremist forces capitalising on the
effects of the crisis, with no less than 9
European nations voting this year.
The election is likely to produce no
clear majority, according to polls, and will
also lead to the formation of cross-party
pacts — another foretaste of what is likely
to happen on a national scale by the end of
the year.
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MARCH 23 l 2015
PM: Land acquisition bill not anti-farmer
SHORTCOMINGS: Modi says his govt had to bring in an ordinance so that farmers get the right compensation
NEW DELHI: Dispelling fears that the
land acquisition bill was “anti-farmer”,
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on
Sunday said that his government was
only removing the “shortcomings” in the
existing legislation so that “our farmers
don’t suffer”.
“The Land Acquisition Act, 2013,
was passed in a hurry. We too supported
the government then but soon realised
that it was not in the interest of the
farmers and decided to remove its
shortcomings,” Modi said addressing
farmers in his monthly radio address
Mann Ki Baat.
“This (present) bill is aimed at the
welfare of farmers and villages,” Modi
said, adding that rumours against it were
meant to keep the farmers poor and
backward. “The shortcomings from the
act were to be removed as we don’t want
our farmers to suffer,” he said.
The prime minister said the 2013
act had kept out of its purview 13 laws
including those related to railways,
highways and mines.
These, he said, accounted for most
of the land acquisition. “Was it not a
mistake? And if we have corrected it, is it
anti-farmer?” Modi said his government
had to bring in an ordinance so that
farmers get the right compensation for
the land acquired.
When the 2013 act was enacted,
many MPs from the previous United
opposed it, saying it was anti-farmer
and would only help bureaucrats and
“What we are doing is removing
all those shortcomings,” Modi said,
expressing anguish over what he said
were rumours that his government was
bringing an “anti-farmer law”.
“Brothers and sisters, I cannot even
think of harming you,” he said. ‘‘The
compensation set by the earlier act will
remain the same... nothing has been
changed.” The prime minister assured
the farmers that the highlights of the
The bill is aimed
at the welfare of
farmers and villages.
The shortcomings
from the act were to be
removed as we don’t want
our farmers to suffer.”
Prime Minister
old legislation had been preserved in
the new bill including providing job to a
young member of the family whose land
has been taken away.
He said his government had made it
mandatory that the district authorities
specify who would get the job and where
the job would be.
“I want to assure you through this new
law, no extra land would be acquired...
First a survey will be done and than the
land will be taken according to needs.”
Modi said the ‘Social Impact
Assessment’ that the existing legislation
demands before land acquisition
had proved to be a “complicated
process” and would harm the interest of
the farmers.
Modi also clarified that it was wrong
to think that land acquired in the villages
would be used for private businesses.
He said that rumours of a PublicPrivate-Partnership (PPP) on lands were
not true. “Suppose a road with Rs 100
crore is to be built under PPP.
Will that road be taken away by the
investor? The ownership of that road
will remain with the government,” Modi
said, asking farmers not to be misled.
Sonia Gandhi, the leader of the
opposition Congress party, last week
led a march to the president’s residence
opposing any changes. In one state,
farmers defecated on copies of the bill to
express their opposition.
More protests are planned, including
one led by veteran activist Anna Hazare,
who led massive anti-corruption
marches that rocked the Congress
government Modi replaced in May.
The land law enacted by the Congress
government in 2013 was aimed at giving
farmers a fairer deal than a British
colonial-era rule that gave authorities
unbridled power to take land.
But businesses say its stringent
provisions have made purchasing land
almost impossible, contributing to a
slump in capital investment in Asia’s
third-largest economy.
13 Ethiopians successfully
undergo cardiac surgeries
KOCHI: Thirteen Ethiopian patients,
between the age group of 1-18 years,
will return to Africa on March 27 after
correcting congenital and other heart
ailments, said a heart surgeon here on
R Krishnakumar, head of the
department of paediatric cardiology at
Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences,
here expressed delight that he and his
team were able to provide aid for these
patients from a distant country.
“This batch of 13 patients came
two weeks back and on Friday they all
return after getting their heart ailments
rectified through surgeries,” said the
Kochi-based Krishnakumar said.
The most remarkable aspect is
barring four patients, who were
below three years of age and were
accompanied by their parents, none of
the others had guardians to take care of
them pre- and post-surgery, he said.
Filimon Berhanie was sevenmonths-old when he was first taken ill.
Hailing from Gonder, 400 km from
the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa,
Filimon was diagnosed to have multiple
holes between the two main pumping
chambers of the heart.
Since there was no facility for
treatment of paediatric heart ailment
in his country, doctors at a hospital in
The most remarkable aspect
is barring four patients, who
were below three years of
age and were accompanied
by their parents, none of the
others had guardians to take
care of them pre- and postsurgery.
Addis Ababa referred him to a speciality
hospital in South Africa.
But his father, who was a soldier,
could not afford the expensive
treatment and decided instead to come
to Amrita for advanced treatment.
Filimon, now fifteen years, is fully
recovered from his cardiac ailment after
undergoing a heart operation wherein
seven holes were identified in his heart
and successfully closed.
He now looks forward to return
home and pursue his studies to become
an engineer.
This batch of 13 children had
ailments like advanced rheumatic
heart valve disease, congenital heart
defects and spinal tumour. This is the
eighth batch of patients from Ethiopia,
who have sought treatment here and
‘Diamond’ made of 10,000
blood slides a hit in Kochi fair
KOCHI: A huge
sparkling ‘diamond’
discarded blood slides
strung together by
stainless steel wire
and neatly stacked in
a brick-like manner
has been the cynosure
of all eyes at the Kochi
being held here.
The creator, Prashant Pandey,
has termed the installation “Artha”, a
Sanskrit word that refers both to the
pursuit of material wealth and the quest
for meaning.
A diamond is a universal symbol of
wealth, power and vanity.
Explaining the theme of his work,
Pandey said ‘Artha’ recalls and recounts
the countless sacrifices made during
successive colonisations and the quest
for land, domination, wealth and power.
It hints at the way in which
colonialism intertwined religion with
It also raises questions about the
price of progress and the relationship
between worldly possessions and the
purpose of life.
“As I hail from a family of marble
sculptors in Jaipur, I used to play with
waste marble chips after the sculptures
were chiselled.
This is how my
fascination for discarded
materials was born,” said
the 30-year-old Pandey.
always been to work on
the changing ideologies
of human emotions.
I feel it is my
responsibility as an artist
to look at byproducts of
human activity and to
regenerate that waste in order to create
something new,” he said.
The artist collected discarded blood
slides from unknown people, mostly
from Rajasthan, and includes some of
his own slides too.
“My interest lies in working with
memories and reminiscences of the
past. I wanted to use this to represent
the history of this beautiful site which is
why I used waste blood slides.
Blood signifies both life and death,
glory and sacrifices in the history of
Kochi.’ Artha’ is an effort at recollecting
all memories together in one form,” he
Jitish Kallat, curator of the Kochi
Muziris Biennale, said that in stark
contrast to his family tradition of
chipping away at stone to create statues
of gods and goddesses, Pandey works
with that which is discarded and often
ostensibly “impure”.
Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor, Raghuram Rajan and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley address a joint press conference after
a meeting with the Central Board of Directors of the Reserve Bank of India in New Delhi.
No disconnect between
RBI, government: FM
NEW DELHI: Dismissing murmurs of
differences with the RBI over trimming
its jurisdiction, Finance Minister Arun
Jaitley on Sunday said there is no
‘disconnect’ with the central bank and
hoped banks would cut lending rate in
tandem with monetary policy.
While Jaitley said there were
regular interactions between the
government and the central bank,
governor Raghuram Rajan opined that
the proposed agency for managing
government borrowing should be
independent of the government and the
Emerging from the first post-Budget
meeting between the finance minister
and the RBI board, Rajan said future
interest rate cut will depend on the
pattern of inflation which could be
impacted by recent unseasonal rains
and hailstorms.
“We have complete free and frank
discussions and therefore there is no
question of any disconnect... between
‘We have complete free
and frank discussions
and therefore there is no
question of any disconnect...
between the bank and
the government, I have
repeatedly clarified that,’
says Jaitley.
the bank and the government, I have
repeatedly clarified that,” Jaitley said
after the meeting which among other
developments and operations of RBI.
Jaitley in his Budget had proposed
to shift powers to regulate trading in
government bonds from RBI to capital
market regulator Sebi.
Besides, two have also reportedly
differed on the Monetary Policy
Framework Agreement that aims to
bring inflation down to a pre-decided
“As far as proposals in the Finance
Bill are concerned they are before
Some of them we discussed earlier,
we discussed them even now. I don’t
wish to comment at this stage,” he said.
He further said that discussion
between the government and the RBI
always continues.” They (discussions)
have been beforethe budget and have
taken place after the budget as well,” he
When asked whether banks would
be pressurised to pass on rate cuts to
consumers, Jaitley said government
does not put pressure on banks but
hopes, and it is hopeful that they would
do it in line with the RBI policies.
On possibility of further easing of
policy rate, Rajan said:
“The primary factor in allowing
for greater monetary easing will be
the pattern of inflation and how that
Big B hopes to meet fans in Egypt
Bachchan is eagerly awaiting his visit to
Egypt for the India By The Nile Festival
2015 and hopes to reach out to his fans
during his stay.
The 72-year-old will inaugurate
the India By The Nile Festival 2015,
featuring contemporary and classical
music, dance, theatre, visual art, film,
food and literature.
He will be the guest of honour at the
event, where his 1977 hit Bollywood
action comedy Amar Akbar Anthony
will be screened.
The Shamitabh actor, who performed
with the famous Shillong Chamber
Choir and Vienna Chamber Orchestra
in Jodhpur on Saturday, expressed his
excitement for the trip, on his official
“I am back tomorrow... and then
prepare for Egypt and Cairo for
the ‘India by the Nile’ festival and
activities, starting in a few days,” Big
B wrote.
“Egypt was a revelation on my visit
there in 90’s... the enthusiasm and the
love of the people was incredible and
It still remains presumably, and I
hope that my short visit gives me ample
time to reach out to my well-wishers
and friends,” he added.
The third edition of the festival will
take place from March 30 to April 17.
It aims at collaborative exchanges
between India and Egyptian literary
figures, performers and visual artistes,
said its official website.
Sports ministry
shocked at
apathy towards
NEW DELHI: The sports ministry
on Sunday expressed shock and
concern at the apathy shown by
the 15th National Para-Athletic
Championship organisers wherein
the participants have been denied
proper accommodation at the
The three-day championship
is being held at Ghaziabad, near
Delhi, since March 20.
Over 600 disabled athletes have
been provided accommodation in
two partially constructed buildings
in the campus of a private college.
The buildings, apart from
are unfurnished and don’t have
functioning toilets and even
drinking water.
The despicable living conditions
have forced the athletes to sleep on
the floor and bathe and defecate
in the open, according to media
In a statement, the ministry said
it is looking into the matter and,
if required, would not hesitate in
issuing a comprehensive advisory
stipulating minimum standards
that need to be maintained in terms
of boarding, lodging and other
facilities to be made available to
athletes so that such incidents do
not recur.
The government reiterated that
it is committed to inclusive sports
development and accords equal
priority to both able-bodied and
disabled-sport athletes.
It added that it provides liberal
assistance to all National Sports
Federations (NSFs), including the
Paralympic Committee of India
(PCI), in organising national camps
for the selection and preparation
of athletes for participation in
international events.
Modi to pay
homage to
Bhagat, martyrs
CHANDIGARH: Marking his first
visit to Punjab after assuming office,
Prime Minister Narendra Modi
will today pay homage to freedom
fighters Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and
Sukhdev at Hussainiwala where
their last rites were performed in
Modi will land at the Amritsar
airport on Monday afternoon and
travel to Hussainiwala in Ferozepur
district by helicopter, Punjab
Bharatiya Janata Party president
Kamal Sharma said.
The last rites of the three freedom
fighters were held in Hussainwala
after they were hanged in Lahore
on March 23, 1931.
Modi will address a ‘Shridhanjali
Samaroh’ at Hussainiwala, about
260 km from here and close to
the India-Pakistan border. He is
the second prime minister after
Rajiv Gandhi, who came in March
1985, to visit Hussainiwala, where
preparations are in full swing.
The prime minister will then
visit the Sikh holy city of Amritsar
to pray at Harmandar Sahib,
the holiest of Sikh shrines and
popularly known as the Golden
Temple, and at the nearby Durgiana
Modi will also visit the
Jallianwala Bagh ground where
hundreds of innocent Indians
attending a rally where shot dead
by British troops on April 13, 1919.
Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister
Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday urged
the nation to celebrate ‘Shaheedi
Divas’ on Monday as “Desh Divas”
(National Day) to mark the death
of Bhagat Singh and his associates.
“I appeal to the countrymen to
celebrate this day as Desh Diwas,”
said the activist-turned-chief
minister in a video message posted
on Facebook.
MARCH 23 l 2015
India, China to hold first
talks on border row
DISPUTE: Talks are part of a push to make progress on the long-festering row
NEW DELHI: National Security
Adviser Ajit Doval will sit down with
China’s top diplomat, State Councillor
Yang Jiechi, for the 18th round of Special
Representative talks on the boundary
question here on Monday.
For Doval, who was named the
Special Representative for the talks last
November, it will be his first go at the
border talks. It will also be the Narendra
Modi government’s first shot at the SR
level border talks since it came to power
last May.
According to a press statement, Yang
is visiting New Delhi March 22-24 for
the talks at Doval’s invitation.
Yang, who is China’s Special
Representative for the border talks, will
meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on
Tuesday. The Chinese state councillor
arrives on Sunday night.
He will hold restricted level talks
with Doval and later delegation
The 4,000-km boundary
between India and China
has seen several incidents of
face-offs between the troops
of both countries
level talks at Hyderabad House on
The around 4,000-km boundary
between India and China has seen
several incidents of face-offs between
the troops of both countries.
External Affairs Minister Sushma
Swaraj, during her visit to Beijing
in February, said that the Modi
government “is committed to exploring
an early settlement”.
Yang’s visit also comes ahead of
Modi’s visit to China, being planned for
May. Yang also held the previous round
of talks on the long running boundary
question with then NSA Shivshankar
The meetings — the 18th round of
boundary talks — are part of a push
to make progress on the long-festering
row between the regional rivals before
Modi’s expected visit to China in May.
China defeated India in a brief but
bloody war in 1962 but their border
remains unresolved, with each side
regularly accusing the other of sending
soldiers to encroach on territory.
Tensions peaked last September
when hundreds of Chinese troops
allegedly moved into the Himalayan
territory claimed by India before a visit
to Delhi by China’s President Xi Jinping.
The tense troop standoff in the
remote frontier region overshadowed
Xi’s visit, which had been intended to
reset diplomatic ties after Modi swept to
power in May general elections.
— Agencies
CPM hits back at Achuthanandan
up former Kerala chief minister V S
Achuthanandan for walking out of a
party meeting in the state.
CPM General Secretary Prakash
Karat said the 91-year-old did a wrong
with his protest walkout from the 21st
state party conference at Alappuzha last
Addressing reporters after a twoday meeting in New Delhi, Karat said
that the party took up Achuthanandan’s
letter written to them on March 6.
“Some of the points he raised were
discussed and settled. Other issues were
discussed at the state conference.
Whatever be his reasons, there is no
Sikh volunteers distribute free drinking water to devotees on World Water Day at the Sikh Shrine Golden temple in Amritsar
yesterday. A new UN report launched in New Delhi for World Water Day warned of an urgent need to manage the world’s
water more sustainably and highlight the problem of groundwater over-extraction, particularly in India and China. — AFP
Karnataka CID
probe report
on Monday
BENGALURU: Karnataka will on
Monday release a preliminary report
on the findings of the state CID probe
into the mysterious death of IAS
officer D K Ravi.
“The chief minister (Siddaramaiah)
will share details of the CID report
into Ravi’s death with lawmakers in
the legislative assembly on Monday
and recommend handing over the
case to the CBI for further inquiry,” an
official said here on Sunday.
The probe by the Criminal
Investigation Department was ordered
on March 17, a day after 36-year-old
Ravi was found hanging from a ceiling
fan in his apartment.
Police had termed it a case of
suicide for “personal reasons”. Though
the state government rejected a probe
by the Central Bureau of Investigation
(CBI) into the case despite public
outrage and vociferous demands by
the opposition parties, the ruling
Congress appears to have relented
following the advice of its party
President Sonia Gandhi to transfer
the sensational case to the country’s
premier investigating agency.
“As the assembly’s budget session
is going on, the chief minister will
take the house into confidence on the
government’s decision to hand over
the case to the CBI on merits of the
CID probe findings,” the official said
on condition of anonymity.
Ravi was additional commissioner
in the tax department in the city since
December 2014 after being transferred
from Kolar district where as deputy
commissioner he built a reputation of
being an upright officer for reining in
the sand and land mafias.
‘Outsourced pvt firms
provide crazy consular
services to NRIs, others’
March 22: Agencies outsourced by
various Indian missions and posts
abroad for providing basic services
to NRIs, PIOs and others but driving
them crazy by misplacing their vital
documents instead have left even the
Parliament and the government worried
over hapless Indian expatriates’ plight
Early this week, the Lok Sabha came
to know of two such agencies driving the
US-based NRIs, PIOs and others crazy
as the Minister of State in the Ministry of
Overseas Indian Affairs Gen V K Singh
replied to a query on loss of passports
and other documents of expat Indians.
The query had been posed by Lok
Sabha member Arvind Sawant, who
wanted to know if the government
had received complaints of the loss of
passports and documents while applying
for Indian visas, specially in the missions
and posts in the USA.
It was in response to Sawant’s query
that Singh apprised the House of
the exasperating acts of the M/s BLS
International Ltd (BLS) and M/s Cox
and Kings Global Services Private Ltd
(CKGS), to which the government has
outsourced its missions and embassies
service in the USA.
While detailing the incidents of loss
of passports and documents by the two
firms, the minister told the House that
the erring firms have been repeatedly
fined for their carelessness and mistakes,
but they continue to err. “Penalties were
imposed by the concerned Mission/Post
as per the contract and the amount was
recovered from the agencies involved.
In the case of BLS, the penalties are
The query posed by a Lok
Sabha member who wanted
to know if the government
had received complaints of
the loss of passports and
documents while applying
for Indian visas
yet to be recovered, as the matter is
subjudice,” said the minister, with a hint
of exasperation in his reply.
In a separate detailed annexure, the
minister told the House that while M/s
BLS International Ltd has been hired
by offices of the Consulate Generals
of India at Atlanta and Houston, M/s
CKGS has been hired by Consulate
General of India offices at Houstan and
Chicago and the Embassy of India in
Washington to provide various consular
services in the USA.
The minister said that while M/s BLS
has lost the passports and other vital
documents of various expat Indians on
at least seven occasions in the last three
years, M/s CKGS had repeated this
mistake for at least four times.
In one case, M/s BLS had lost the
renunciation certificate, old Indian
passport and the valid US passport
of Houston resident David Abraham,
who had approached the office of the
Consulate General of India at Houston
for visa to India.
Ironically, M/s BLS unabashedly
sought to pressurise Abraham to obtain
a police certificate that the documents
were lost by him only, said the minister,
adding that a penalty of $ 352.50 was
levied by the Consulate and a warning
issued to M/s BLS.
justification in walking out of the state
conference,” he said.
Karat said the party’s Politburo
Commission would look into the issues.
Achuthanandan’s walkout happened
after a resolution of the Communist
Party of India-Marxist accused him of
having an “anti-party attitude”.
He then came under flak from
speaker after speaker for breaching
party discipline.
On Sunday, a peeved Achuthanandan
got angry in New Delhi when journalists
repeatedly sought his opinion on what
happened in the party meeting.
“Karat has told you what happened
and I have already told you in clear
Malayalam that I will respond tomorrow.
Don’t you understand it?” he said
Despite requests from the party
leadership including Karat to return
and take part in the public meeting at
the end of the Kerala conclave,
Achuthanandan remained defiant and
chose to stay away.
President concerned over parliament fire
NEW DELHI: President Pranab
Mukherjee expressed grave concern
over Sunday afternoon’s fire in the
Parliament House complex and urged
the authorities to conduct a speedy
probe into the incident.
“The President of India, Pranab
Mukherjee, has expressed serious
concern over the massive fire which
broke out inside the Parliament House
complex this afternoon,” an official
statement said.
No one was injured in the fire which
broke out in an air-conditioning plant
on the Parliament House premises.
“He has called upon authorities
concerned to conduct an urgent
enquiry into the cause of the fire and
take necessary steps to ensure that
such incidents do not occur in the
future,” it said.
Mukherjee said the complete safety
and security of the Parliament House
complex must be ensured at all times.
A fire broke out at the reception
area of Parliament House on Sunday
afternoon, but no one was injured in
the incident, the fire service said.
The blaze apparently erupted in an
air-conditioning plant.
Twelve fire tenders battled the
flames and brought the fire under
control quickly, a spokesman for Delhi
Fire Service said. The cause of the
fire was yet to be known, fire service
officials said.
The reception area is located a
little distance away from the main
parliament building.
“Fire broke out in all the three units
of the air-conditioning plant installed
in an open park near the reception
area outside gate No 8 of parliament,”
Chief Fire Officer A K Sharma said.
“The reason behind the fire is yet to
be ascertained but firemen managed to
douse the flames within 30 minutes,”
Sharma added.
Thick smoke billowed out of the
premises of parliament where the
budget session was going on until
Parliament had met for the first half
of the budget session from February
23 till March 20.
The second half will commence on
April 20.
Some 30 officers and 11 fire trucks
were fighting the blaze which a top
officer said started at 2.21 pm (0851
GMT) and was contained about 20
minutes later.
“It is not yet fully doused. — IANS
A competitor climbs discarded tyres during the obstacle run at the Desi Warrior festival in Manesar in Haryana. — Reuters
M O N DAY l M A R C H 2 3 l 2 0 1 5
More than five centuries on from his
death, the remains of Richard III, the last
English king to die in battle, were taken
along the route of his final journey on
Sunday. Bearers carried the Plantagenet
king’s coffin from Leicester University,
where archaeologists examined his bones
after they were discovered under a car
park in 2012, before a planned reburial
in the city’s cathedral on Thursday.
An Antarctic expeditionary team were
working round the clock on Sunday to
refuel an Australian icebreaker forced
to turn back to its frozen base to pick
up a seriously ill worker. The Aurora
Australis, with 114 people on board, left
the Davis station on Tuesday for its twoweek journey to Hobart in Australia but
got an emergency call to return two
days later with the worker gravely ill.
Greek PM faces scepticism,
criticism on 1st Berlin visit
An anti-war protester puts red hand prints on the glass outside an Armed Forces Recruitment Centre after a demonstration
against US Government policies, in Hollywood, California. The demonstration was held to mark the anniversary of the US
invasion of Iraq and to protest the ‘endless US war in the Middle East,’ according to a release from the ANSWER
Coalition, an anti-war group.
BERLIN: Angela Merkel and Alexis
Tsipras have sought to play down
the drama of the Greek leader’s
first official visit to Berlin on
Monday, but open scepticism among
the Chancellor’s allies has spawned
media portrayals of a western-style
Unsurprisingly perhaps, German
media have cast Greece’s leftist
prime minister as the outlaw and the
conservative German Chancellor as a
sheriff fighting to keep the euro zone
“When the Greek outlaw Alexis
Tsipras meets Angela Merkel all of
Europe will be watching spellbound,”
wrote Welt am Sonntag.
reminded Tsipras that the EU “is not
the Wild West”.
Sticking to the Wild West imagery, a
cartoon in Greece’s To Vima newspaper
depicted a sweating Tsipras in
dungarees pumping an old-fashioned
railway handcar uphill while Merkel
timed him.
Both leaders would be aghast at this
confrontation scenario.
Although Merkel acknowledged last
week that she and Tsipras would talk
“and perhaps also argue”, she said it
would not be a defining moment in the
standoff between Athens and its euro
zone creditors over the terms of its 240
billion euro bailout deals.
Tsipras told Greek newspaper
Kathimerini that he saw their
talks, which will include a joint
as “a meeting that will not be ‘under
pressure’ from negotiations”. Some
At last week’s EU summit, Greece
promised to meet creditors’ demands
to present an economic reform package
within days to unlock the cash it needs
to avoid crashing out of the euro — a
dire prospect for Germany, the currency
— Reuters
zone’s largest economy.
Denmark warned over missile shield
COPENHAGEN: Danish warships will
be a target for Russian nuclear weapons
if the Scandinavian country joins Nato’s
missile defence programme, Russia’s
ambassador to Denmark told the
newspaper Jyllands-Posten.
Mikhail Vanin said he did not
think the Danes fully understood the
consequences if it went ahead with a
decision to join the programme.
“If that happens, Danish warships
will be targets for Russian nuclear
missiles,” Vanin said in an interview.
Denmark said in August it would
contribute to the missile shield with
radar capacity on some of its warships.
Tensions between Moscow and the
West have grown since the imposition
of economic sanctions on Russia over
a pro-Russian rebellion in eastern
Ukraine. Nato has recorded increased
activity by the Russian navy and air force
in the Nordic region.
No missiles are to be placed on
Danish soil under the Nato programme,
but perhaps long term in Greenland,
a part of the kingdom, according to
Jyllands-Posten. The shield was intended
to defend Europe from a potential
missile threat.
Moscow says the system will
undermine Russia’s nuclear deterrent
because it could also enable the West to
shoot down Russian missiles.
“Denmark will become a part of
the threat against Russia. It will be less
Launch of AIIB poses a political conundrum and turf disputes
peaceful, and relations with Russia will
be damaged,” Vanin said, adding that
Russia has missiles which would be able
to penetrate the future missile shield.
Denmark’s foreign minister Martin
Lidegaard said Vanin’s comments were
“Russia knows very well that Nato’s
missile defence is not aimed at them,”
Lidegaard told Jyllands-Posten.
US Air Force General Philip
Breedlove told a Brussels conference
IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde (C) chats with former US secretary of
state Henry Kissinger (2nd R) after the opening ceremony of China Development
Forum in Beijing yesterday. The IMF will be ‘delighted’ to cooperate with the Chinaled Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Lagarde said. — Reuters
geopolitical shifts happen by accident
rather than design.
Historians may record March 2015 as
the moment when China’s chequebook
diplomacy came of age, giving the world’s
number two economy a greater role in
shaping global economic governance at
the expense of the United States and the
international financial institutions it has
dominated since World War Two.
This month European governments
chose, in an ill-coordinated scramble for
advantage, to join a nascent, Chineseled Asian Infrastructure Investment
Bank (AIIB) in defiance of Washington’s
British finance minister George
Osborne, gleeful at having seized
first-mover advantage, stressed the
opportunities for British business
in a pre-election budget speech to
parliament last week.
“We have decided to become the
first major western nation to be a
prospective founding member of the
With initial capital of $50
billion, the Beijing-based
AIIB can offer at most a
complement to the larger
World Bank and ADB,
but it is starting point
for expanding Chinese
new Asian Infrastructure Investment
Bank, because we think you should
be present at the creation of these new
international institutions,” he said after
rebuffing a telephone plea from US
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to hold off.
The move by Washington’s close ally
set off an avalanche.
Irked that London had stolen a
march, Germany, France and Italy
announced that they too would
quickly followed suit.
BERLIN: An Islamic bank based
in Turkey is set to become the
first such financial institution
to get a licence to operate in
Germany, according to a report
in the Handelsblatt daily released
before publication.
Kuveyt Turk Bank AG is set
to get approval from the German
financial regulator Bafin, reports
the newspaper in advance of its
Monday edition.
The bank, which operates
under guidelines that conform to
sharia law, already has a branch
operating in the south-western
city of Mannheim.
But the regulator’s approval
would allow it to work as a fully
operational bank. It has already
reported plans to open offices in
Berlin, Cologne and Frankfurt.
Banks that operate under
sharia law do not engage in
speculative investments. Interest
cannot be charged on loans,
though the bank may purchase
assets from a customer and then
resell them for a profit.
Kuveyt Turk head Kemal
Ozan said there is potentially
great demand for his institution’s
services, especially among the
4 million Muslims living in
“Our market research has
shown, that 21 per cent of the
Muslims in this country would
see an Islamic bank as their
natural household bank,” he told
the newspaper.
— dpa
Twitter can persuade youngsters to vote
How Europe and US stumbled
into spat over China-led bank
The trail of transatlantic and intraEuropean diplomatic exchanges points
to fumbling, mixed signals and tactical
differences rather than to any grand
plan by Europe to tilt to Asia.
That is nevertheless the way it is seen
by some in Washington and Beijing.
As recounted by officials in Europe,
the United States and China who spoke
on condition of anonymity because of
the sensitivity of the subject, the episode
reveals the paucity of strategic dialogue
among what used to be called “the West”.
It also highlights how the main
European Union powers sideline their
common foreign and security policy
when national commercial interests are
at stake.
China’s official Xinhua news agency
reflected Beijing’s delight.
“The joining of Germany, France,
Italy as well as Britain, the AIIB’s
maiden G7 member and a seasoned ally,
has opened a decisive crack in the antiAIIB front forged by America,” it said in
a commentary.
“Sour grapes over the AIIB makes
America look isolated and hypocritical,”
it said.
Of the main US allies in Asia,
Australia appears close to joining,
though no formal decision has been
made, and Japan and South Korea are
considering the possibility.
“The Americans are starting to
look very mean-spirited with their
criticism,” said a Beijing-based Asian
diplomat.”This is not a battle they are
Even their closest allies in Asia are
starting to fall in line.”
In Europe as in Washington, China’s
launch of a new institution to channel a
fraction of its massive currency reserves
into infrastructure investments in
Asia posed a political conundrum and
provoked turf disputes.
— Reuters
on Sunday that the comments from the
Russian ambassador were the “next step”
in a campaign against countries that
joined the shield.
“Romania came under great pressure
when they became a part of the (missile
shield). Poland is coming under great
pressure and now anyone else who wants
to join in to this defensive capability will
come under this diplomatic and political
pressure,” Breedlove said without
naming Russia.
— Reuters
Germany to
get first
Islamic bank
Tropical cyclone
Nathan lashes
SYDNEY: A tropical cyclone began
lashing Australia’s Northern Territory
on Sunday, with heavy downpours
and gusts of 155 kilometres per hour,
broadcaster ABC reported.
Tropical Cyclone Nathan made
landfall as a Category 2 system on
the state’s far eastern coast between
Nhulunbuy in Arnhem Land and Cape
Shield, the report said.
The cyclone moved into the Gulf of
Carpentaria on Saturday.
The Bureau of Meteorology said
the storm is expected to cross the east
coast area over Arnhem and move
west-northwest before it weakens.
Authorities issued an cyclone
alert and urged residents to evacuate
to shelters. The area is home to
many indigenous Australians who
reportedly live in housing unable to
withstand a cyclone.
Coastal residents between Groote
Eylandt and Nhulunbuy have been
warned of a dangerous storm tide
significantly higher than usual, with
damaging waves and dangerous
flooding, and are advised to take
shelter now.
Communities from Cape Don to
the Goulburn Islands — where the
community of Warruwi was evacuated
for Cyclone Lam — are on cyclone
The ABC reports trees are down at
Wallaby Beach, Nhulunbuy, and winds
and seas whipped up by the storm
have caused some boats to break
mooring, and crash into each
— dpa
LONDON: The micro-blogging site Twitter can not only help political parties gauge
the mood of youngsters but also persuade them to vote as elections approach, says a
The study that involved 3,000 Twitter-users aged 18 to 34 in Britain showed that 74
per cent of those polled said they would vote in the next election.
While 45 per cent said they became interested in or joined a political or social
cause via learning from Twitter, 37 per cent said they used the site to actively look for
information about politics or the British general election, the Guardian reported.
“With more than 78 per cent of MPs already on the platform, along with every
major news outlet and political party in the country, we know Twitter is where the live
conversation about the election is happening,” Adam Sharp, Twitter’s global head of
news, government and elections, was quoted as saying.
While 70 per cent said they use Twitter to get information in a “simple to
understand” way, 66 per cent use it to “get a more honest and unpolished perspective
on politics”. Nearly 44 per cent said they thought Twitter provided genuinely unbiased
coverage. There are more than 15 million Twitter users in Britain. — IANS
An aerial view of cracked ground of the Atibainha dam, part of the Cantareira
reservoir, during a drought in Nazare Paulista, Sao Paulo state. Brazil’s worst
drought in 80 years has left the Cantareira system, that provides greater Sao
Paulo with most of its water, with the lowest water level on record. — Reuters
Wrestler killed by flying kick in ring
MEXICO CITY: A Mexican professional wrestler was killed by a flying kick to the neck
during a match in Tijuana. Pedro Aguayo, who wrestled under the name “Son of Dog
Aguayo,” was pronounced dead in hospital.
Video of the match showed Aguayo, 35, dropping to his knees with his head
hanging on the rope after being kicked by opponent Rey Misterioso.
The other wrestlers continued the match for several minutes, unaware that Aguayo
had suffered a fatal blow. Aguayo began his wrestling career at age 15, following in the
footsteps of his father, one of the stars of the sport during its 1970s and 80s heyday
in Mexico. “I have no words for this terrible news,” Joaquin Roldan, director of the AAA
wrestling federation, said through his Twitter account. “My sincerest condolences for
the Aguayo Ramirez family.”
The state prosecutor’s office said the cause of death, based on the autopsy, was
trauma to the neck and a cervical fracture. It has opened an investigation into possible
manslaughter. The Tijuana Boxing and Wrestling Commission called the death an
unfortunate accident like those that occur in other high-risk sports. — dpa
MARCH 23 l 2015
Houthis seize airport in key Yemen city
WORSENING SCENE: President Mansour Hadi has called for an ‘urgent intervention’ amid mounting unrest
ADEN: Fighters in Yemen seized the
airport in a key central city on Sunday
as deteriorating security prompted
Washington to evacuate personnel
and the UN Security Council to call an
emergency session.
The Security Council was to
meet later on Sunday after President
Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi called for
“urgent intervention” amid mounting
unrest, including bombings claimed by
the IS group that killed 142 people in the
capital Sanaa on Friday.
Impoverished but strategic Yemen
has descended into chaos in recent
months, with the fighters, known as
Houthis, seizing control of Sanaa and
forcing Hadi to flee to the main southern
city of Aden.
The Arabian Peninsula country is
increasingly divided between a north
controlled by the Houthis and a south
dominated by Hadi’s allies.
On Sunday the Houthis and their
allies seized the airport in Taez, which
is just 180 kilometres north of Aden on
the road to Sanaa and seen as a strategic
entry point to Hadi’s refuge.
Security sources said some 300 men,
including Houthi fighters dressed in
military uniforms and allied forces,
had deployed at the airport and
reinforcements were arriving from
Sanaa by air and land.
The forces allied with the Houthis
included members of the former central
security force, a unit seen as loyal to expresident Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Saleh was forced from power in early
rebels withdraw, activists said.
Elsewhere, six tribesmen were killed
in Qania, in Marib province, in a clash
with Houthis advancing towards the
eastern province, a tribal source said.
The source claimed that 30 fighters
were killed. AFP could not verify the
death tolls with an independent source.
Hadi has struggled to reassert
his authority since escaping house arrest
in Sanaa last month and fleeing to Aden.
In a letter to the Security Council, he
said the Houthis and their allies “not only
threaten peace in Yemen but regional
and international peace and security”.
Hadi has struggled to
reassert his authority since
escaping house arrest
in Sanaa last month and
fleeing to Aden.
He called for “urgent intervention by
all available means to stop this aggression
that is aimed at undermining the
legitimate authority, the fragmentation
of Yemen and its peace and stability.”
Hadi has been trying to cement his
power base in Aden which he declared
the temporary capital after he retracted
a resignation tendered under Houthi
Anti-Houthi protesters run as pro-Houthi police troopers fire tear gas to disperse them in Yemen’s southwestern city of Taiz. — Reuters
2012 after a year-long popular uprising were also patrolling parts of Taez and
On Thursday, his forces overran
A military source said troops loyal of a possible Houthi advance.
and has been accused of working with had set up checkpoints in Raheda, some to Hadi and southern paramilitary
Houthi fighters killed one protester in the special forces base in Aden after its
the Houthis to restore his influence.
80 kilometres south of the city on the forces had meanwhile deployed in Lahj Taez when they opened fire to disperse commander rejected Hadi’s decision to
Security sources said Houthi fighters road to Aden.
province north of Aden, in anticipation thousands of people demanding that the remove him.
Rebels hold Syrian pilots
after crash landing
A helicopter that crashed in Jabal
al-Zawiya in the province of Idlib.
CAIRO: Rebels captured at least four
Syrian pilots after a crash landing of
their helicopter, believed to have been
used in dropping barrels packed with
explosives on opposition-held areas, a
monitoring group said on Sunday.
The captain of the helicopter
and three crew members were held
following the crash on the edge of the
village of Frika in the northern province
of Idlib after their plane had a technical
problem, the Syrian Observatory for
Human Rights said.
A fifth member of the crew was shot
dead by the rebels while the fate of a
sixth was unknown, the Britain-based
watchdog said.
The captives were taken to premises
of the Al Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front
and other groups in the area, said the
observatory, which gathers information
on the Syrian conflict through a
network of opposition activists.
Photos, released by the Observatory,
appeared to show the aircraft damaged.
It did not say when the incident
occurred. Syria’s state media made no
mention of the incident.
The official news agency Sana said
government troops carried out “specific
operations” on strongholds of Al-Nusra
Front and other rebel groups on the
rural outskirts of Idlib. The government
of Syrian President Assad has in recent
years stepped up aerial attacks using
barrel bombs against rebels fighting to
oust him.
— dpa
Iraq militia chief slams army
‘weaklings’ over Tikrit strikes
CAMP ASHRAF: The head of a
powerful militia on Sunday criticised
“weaklings” in the Iraqi army who want
US-led air strikes to support the massive
operation to retake Tikrit from fighters.
The remarks by Hadi al Ameri point
to a possible divide between the Iraqi
army and allied paramilitaries known as
“Popular Mobilisation” units, which are
dominated by militia forces, over the
now-stalled Tikrit drive.
“Some of the weaklings in the army...
say we need the Americans, while we
say we do not need the Americans,”
Ameri told journalists at Camp Ashraf,
north of Baghdad, when asked about
US-led air support for Tikrit.
Army Staff Lieutenant General
Abdulwahab al Saadi, a top commander
in Salaheddin province, of which Tikrit
is the capital, said AFP that he had
requested such strikes against the IS
group and that they were needed.
Saadi was not available for comment
on Ameri’s remarks. The Pentagon said
The Pentagon said that
the Iraqi government has
not made any request for
air support for the Tikrit
operation, which began on
March 2.
that the Iraqi government has not made
any request for air support for the Tikrit
operation, which began on March 2.
Ameri indirectly referenced an
additional possible obstacle to US
support aside from the lack of an official
request: the role of Iran.
“Qassem Suleimani is here whenever
we need him,” said Ameri, referring to
Iran’s top officer responsible for foreign
operations. “He was giving very good
The battle ended now, and he returned
to his operations headquarters,” he said,
apparently referring to the current halt
in the fight for Tikrit.
Forces from the army, the police
and a number of Popular Mobilisation
groups are taking part in the operation,
bringing different tactics, skill levels and
willingness to take casualties to the fight.
The latter groups are mostly
composed of fighters, some in preexisting fighters while others fight
for those formed since IS led a major
offensive that overran large areas north
and west of Baghdad last June.
Baghdad turned to militiamen to
bolster its flagging forces, and they have
played a role in driving IS back.
But depending on them also risks
further entrenching these forces, some
of which have been accused of human
rights violations. It is unclear who if
anyone has overall command of the
Tikrit operation, and disputes between
the forces involved would hamper an
effort that has already become bogged
down by the huge number of bombs
planted by IS in the city’s streets and
German tourist
killed in Egypt
shark attack
CAIRO: A shark attack on Sunday
killed a 52-year-old German tourist in
an Egyptian Red Sea resort, in the first
such incident in five years, police said.
The attack in which the shark
sheared off the German’s leg took
place off Al-Qusair. It was the first fatal
shark attack in Egypt since a string of
maulings in 2010 that killed a German
woman and wounded three Russian
tourists in another Red Sea resort.
The Red Sea is home to several
species of shark, but the type believed
to have been behind the 2010 attacks
was the oceanic whitetip common to
the region. The attacks in 2010 forced
the government to close off a stretch
of beach in the Sharm el-Sheikh resort
for a week.
In 2009, a shark killed a French
woman off another resort close to
where the German tourist was attacked
on Sunday.
The Bardo would reopen on Tuesday and all of its artefacts were ‘intact’
Third museum suspect ‘on the run’
Palestinian female volunteers march during a military exercise by Palestinian National Security Forces in Jericho. — Reuters
TUNIS: Tunisia is hunting a third
suspect in the massacre of tourists at its
national museum, President Beji Caid
Essebsi said on Sunday, after admitting
security failures at the Bardo.
“Definitely there were three,” Essebsi
told France media iTele television and
Europe 1 radio.
“Two were killed, but there is one
who is now on the run,” he said.” In any
case, he will not get very far.”
Wednesday’s attack on the National
Bardo Museum in Tunis killed 20
foreign tourists and a policeman, and
was the first assault claimed by the IS
On Saturday, authorities released
CCTV footage showing two blackclad gunmen with automatic weapons
walking unimpeded though a large
lobby in the Bardo, just after noon.
The grainy footage then shows the
gunmen passing an unidentified male.
They point an automatic weapon at
him briefly before allowing him to flee
as they make their way up a staircase.
After rampaging through the
museum for several hours, the two
gunmen were killed in an assault by
security forces.
The interior ministry said on
Saturday it had issued an arrest warrant
for Maher Ben Moudli Kaidi, a Tunisian
suspect described as a “dangerous
terrorist element”.
More than 10 other people believed
to be directly, or indirectly, linked to
the carnage were also arrested, the
ministry’s spokesman Mohamed Ali
Aroui said, without naming them.
Officials have admitted that guards
tasked with protecting the museum
and the nearby parliament were having
coffee at the time of the assault.
Essebsi acknowledged that more
could have been done to prevent the
attack, which raised fears for tourism
which represents eight per cent of
Tunisia’s gross domestic product.
Museum curator Moncef Ben
Moussa said on Sunday the Bardo
would reopen on Tuesday and that all of
its the artefacts were “intact”.
Essebsi admitted “there were failures”
in the country’s security mechanism, in
an interview with French weekly Paris
“The police and intelligence were not
systematic enough to ensure the safety
of the museum,” he said.
But he also insisted his security
forces were quick to respond after the
attack and to prevent further deaths.
“We were there 10 minutes later,” he
told iTele and Europe 1.
Essebsi also vowed that an antiterrorism law “will be voted rapidly”.
“Libya is one of our problems,” he
Officials said the gunmen killed at
the Bardo had trained in neighbouring
Libya, where IS has militant camps and
is battling local militia for control of the
country’s oil wealth.
Tories suspend
candidate over
plot claims
Conservatives have suspended a
Muslim candidate in a key seat
following allegations he plotted with
the far right English Defence League
(EDL) to stir up racial tension to help
win votes in May’s election.
Afzal Amin, a parliamentary
candidate in Dudley North in central
England, was shown in video footage
and telephone recordings obtained by
the Mail on Sunday newspaper trying
to persuade the EDL to announce a
march against a new mosque in the
Amin then allegedly planned
to take the credit for brokering the
suspension of the protest.
A spokesman for the Conservative
Party said Amin had been suspended
with immediate effect, pending an
“The Conservative Party views
this as a matter of extremely serious
concern,” he said.
Amin has denied the allegations,
telling the Independent on Sunday
newspaper that the claims were based
on small snippets of over 57 hours of
meetings he had held with the local
community and the leadership of the
EDL, a street protest movement.
The allegations are damaging to a
Conservative party that needs to win
seats such as Dudley North, currently
held by opposition Labour on a tiny
majority, to have a chance of obtaining
a majority on May 7.
The Conservatives have governed
Britain in coalition with the Liberal
Democrats since 2010. Opinion
polls currently show neither the
Conservatives nor Labour likely to
win enough seats to form a majority
government in May.
— Retuers
MARCH 23 l 2015
Nato for using ‘all tools’ to help Ukraine
DISTURBING: European far-right groups meet in Russia at pro-Kremlin forum
A Ukrainian tank turret guards the entrance to the base of the Donbass Night Wolves motorbike club in Lugansk. Members of
the club, formed in the then Soviet Union in the late 1980’s, and now politically aligned with Russian President Vladimir Putin,
have been fighting alongside rebels of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LNR) against Ukrainian troops.
BRUSSELS: The West should consider
using all its tools to help Ukraine,
including sending defensive weapons,
Nato’s top military commander said on
Officials in Washington have been
discussing whether to send weapons
to Ukraine’s military to help them fight
pro-Russian separatists who Nato says
are armed and supported by Moscow.
“I do not think that any tool of US
or any other nation’s power should
necessarily be off the table,” US Air
Force General Philip Breedlove told
a Brussels conference when asked if
he was in favour of sending defensive
weapons to Ukraine.
The West imposed economic
sanctions on Russia over its role in
the conflict in eastern Ukraine and its
annexation of Crimea last year, but
fighting has continued.
Without naming Russia, Breedlove
said diplomatic, information, military
Nato intelligence pointed
to “disturbing” military
developments in eastern
Ukraine and voiced concern
about whether a ceasefire
deal reached in Minsk
last month was being
complied with.
and economic tactics were all being used
against Ukraine.
“And so we, I think, in the West
should consider all of our tools in
reply. Could it be destabilising? The
answer is yes. Also, inaction could be
destabilising,” Breedlove said.
He said Nato intelligence pointed
to “disturbing” military developments
in eastern Ukraine and voiced concern
about whether a ceasefire deal reached
in Minsk last month was being complied
“We continue to see disturbing
elements of air defence, command and
control, resupply, equipment coming
across a completely porous border,” he
said at the Brussels Forum, organised by
the German Marshall Fund thinktank.
Asked about reports that Russia’s
ambassador to Denmark had warned
that Danish warships could become
targets for Russian nuclear missiles if
Denmark contributed to a Nato missile
shield in Europe, Breedlove said this was
the “next step” in a campaign against
countries that joined the shield.
“Romania came under great pressure
when they became a part of the (missile
shield). Poland is coming under great
pressure and now anyone else who wants
to join in to this defensive capability will
come under this diplomatic and political
pressure,” Breedlove said, again without
naming Russia.
The shield was intended to defend
Europe from a potential missile threat
from Iran.
Moscow says the system will
undermine Russia’s nuclear deterrent
because it could also enable the West to
shoot down Russian missiles.
Meanwhile, representatives of about
a dozen far-right groups from across
Europe gathered in Russia yesterday for
a pro-Kremlin conference as concern
swirls over Moscow’s alleged attempts to
court extremists on the continent.
About 150 members of Russian
nationalist and right-wing European
parties — including Greece’s Golden
Dawn and Germany’s National
Democratic Party — met in Russia’s
second city Saint Petersburg to berate
the West for its stance on the Ukraine
conflict and to promote “traditional
Far-rights groups across Europe
have become vocal supporters of
Russian President Vladimir Putin over
his handling of the Ukraine crisis,
prompting allegations they have reached
a Faustian bargain to help burnish the
Kremlin’s battered image.
The growing ties come despite
Moscow’s claims it is aiming to counter
what it sees as “fascism” in Ukraine,
where pro-Western protesters swept a
Kremlin-backed president from power
last year.
“We do not support the sanctions
against Russia over the Ukraine
conflict,” Udo Voigt, a member of the
European Parliament from Germany’s
National Democratic Party, said at the
“It is incredible what patience Russia
and president Putin have shown in the
face of Nato’s aggressive policies.”
Organisers said the forum was
intended to strengthen links with rightwing groups across Europe and help
shape a common agenda. — Agencies
Crimea plans to
launch airline
MOSCOW: Authorities in Crimea
yesterday said they plan to set up an
airline to facilitate connections with
Russia and encourage tourism in the
picturesque Black Sea peninsula, a
year after the Ukrainian territory was
annexed by Moscow.
It requires a fleet of six aircraft
and 40 pilots to serve 14 destinations
initially, later rising to 36, according
to a statement on the Crimean
government website.
“For this project, we need 1.45
billion rubles” (22 million euros, $24
million) Sergei Tourik, an official
with Russian manufacturer United
Aircraft Company, said in a meeting
with Crimea’s prime minister Sergei
Aksyonov, according to the statement.
“Profitability will not be achieved
before three years,” he warned.
The aircraft will be the Superjet
100, which is assembled by the United
Aircraft Company with many parts
from Western manufacturers.
Crimea is isolated from Russian
territory, accessible only by air and
ferry pending the construction of a
bridge across the Kerch Strait between
the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.
Multinational firms have mostly
left the peninsula because of Western
sanctions and Simferopol airport
currently only has connections with
Russian cities.
Setting up an airline “will allow a
wider range of air links between the
Crimea and other regions of Russia
as well as foreign cities near and far,”
according to the local authorities, who
are aiming for 490,000 passengers in
2016. Aksyonov said it would also
increase the number of tourists and
business travellers.
France’s NF eyes gains in local polls
A woman prepares to cast her vote for the Andalusian regional elections at a polling station in the Andalusian capital of Seville
yesterday. An election in Spain’s Andalusia region on Sunday is expected to provide the first real test for two new parties after
a profound economic and political crisis has exposed the weaknesses of the country’s two-party system.
— Reuters
PARIS: France’s National Front, one
of the most powerful populist far right
parties in Europe, eyed significant gains
against President Francois Hollande’s
ruling socialists in regional elections on
The party appeared set to capitalise
on a high abstention rate, as well as
on a search by some voters for radical
solutions to France’s economic woes.
“I feel confident,” Marine Le Pen,
the controversial National Front leader
said as she cast her vote at a school in
northern France.
With turnout at just over 18 per
cent by midday, Hollande called on the
French to vote as he cast his own ballot
in central France. “Today, the (key) issue
is abstention,” he said.
The elections are being held across
101 “departments”, which control issues
such as school and welfare budgets.
Some 43 million people are eligible
to vote.
For the National Front, or FN as
it is known in French, it was a chance
to punish the Socialists and build up a
head of steam for presidential elections
in 2017 that some analysts believe could
see Le Pen oust the unpopular Hollande.
Earlier this week, Le Pen declared
her party would “invade the Elysee
(presidential palace)”.
On Sunday, she told reporters: “The
goal is to show the FN is a great local
force, not just one that is able to bring
together millions of French in a national
The FN has capitalised on anger
over France’s lacklustre economy, as
well as the politically explosive issues
of immigration and the integration of
migrants into French society.
Opinion polls showed the far right
with about 30 per cent of the overall
vote, close to levels for the conservative
UMP led by former president Nicolas
Ultimately, the UMP was expected to
make the biggest gains, benefiting from
the likelihood that Socialist voters would
make a strategic switch in second-round
run-offs on March 29 just to keep the far
right out of power.
Sarkozy predicted a “wave” of
departments falling to his UMP, while
the FN was forecast to gain no more
than four departments.
That same tactic could be repeated
on a bigger scale in the presidential poll,
with the traditional left and right in a
marriage of convenience in a second
round to block Le Pen’s candidacy.
Sunday’s vote seemed sure to underline
Hollande’s bleak fortunes.
The discovery of his skeleton has encouraged scholars to look again at Richard’s record of social reform
English ‘car park king’ Richard III starts final journey
LEICESTER: Dug out of a municipal car
park five centuries after his battlefield
death, England’s Richard III began his
final journey yesterday before finally
receiving a burial fit for a king this week.
Some 530 years after he was killed
in 1485, the last English monarch to die
in battle will be laid to rest on Thursday
in Leicester Cathedral, central England,
across the street from where his remains
were found in 2012.
In an unprecedented event, the
medieval king will be reinterred in the
presence of royalty in a service broadcast
live on national television.
Five days of events leading up to the
burial got under way on Sunday when
his coffin was seen in public for the first
time before being taken by hearse to a
spot near where he was killed during the
Battle of Bosworth.
Richard, who ruled England
from 1483 until his death
in 1485, will be laid to rest
on Thursday in Leicester
Cathedral, across the street
from where his remains
were located in 2012
Archaeologists who worked on
excavating Richard III’s remains and
his descendants laid white roses — the
symbol of his royal house — on the
coffin before it set off.
The Bishop of Leicester, Tim
Stevens, said Richard’s death marked
an “extraordinary moment” in English
“It was a change of dynasty, an end of a
period of violent civil war, the beginning
of the period in which Shakespeare was
to write his great tragedies, including
Richard III, and a different way of
governing the country,” he said.
Richard, the last of the Plantagenet
dynasty, ruled England from 1483 until
he was killed near Leicester by soldiers
loyal to Henry Tudor, later Henry VII.
It was the last major conflict in the
Wars of the Roses and Richard’s defeat
saw the crown pass from his House of
York to the House of Tudor.
The slain 32-year-old was swiftly
buried without fanfare at Greyfriars
monastery in Leicester. Greyfriars was
demolished in the 1530s during Tudor
king Henry VIII’s dissolution of the
A combo image shows eight members of a re-enactment group awaiting a ceremonial
monasteries and Richard’s remains were
procession with the remains of King Richard III, the last of the Plantagenet dynasty, at
thought to be lost.
Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre in Leicestershire, England, ahead of the king’s
reburial some 530 years on from his violent death in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth.
But members of the Richard III
Society teamed up with Leicester
University archaeologists to excavate the
site, rightly predicting where in the old
church he would have been buried.
They found a skeleton consistent with
contemporary descriptions of the king,
notably his curved spine, and battle
injuries. Radiocarbon dating showed the
man died between 1455 and 1540.
Their discovery was confirmed by a
DNA match with Richard’s closest living
relative — Canadian carpenter Michael
Ibsen, who fittingly has now made the
monarch’s English oak coffin.
By coincidence, the remains were
beneath a letter R indicating a reserved
space in the car park.
Following a judicial review, his bones
are being reinterred in Leicester rather
than York, his northern stronghold.
MARCH 23 l 2015
A FIGHTER: Straw poll places Cruz in third place, behind Senator Paul and Gov Scott Walker
Ted Cruz to launch presidential bid
WASHINGTON: United States Senator
and Tea Party favourite Ted Cruz is
expected on Monday to confirm plans to
run for president in 2016, the Houston
Chronicle reported.
The Texas Republican will announce
his presidential bid — as opposed to
forming a preliminary exploratory
committee — at a convocation ceremony
at Liberty University in Virginia,
according to senior advisers speaking to
the newspaper.
Cruz, 44, will be the first Republican
to officially confirm plans to run in
the next presidential election, though
others, including Jeb Bush, have signaled
they could join the race.
The advisers told the newspaper
that Cruz will aim to raise between
$40 million and $50 million for his
campaign, and will rely on support
from his Tea Party base that voted him
in as senator in 2012. The grassroots
Tea Party favourite will run as a proud
conservative and is eager to court voters
that share his values, the advisers said.
At the Conservative Political Action
Conference (CPAC) last month, Cruz
told the crowd that “2016 looks like it’s
going to be a crowded race.”
Republican Senators Rand Paul and
Marco Rubio have also hinted at their
own White House interests.
Cruz has raised hackles in his own
party in recent years when he helped
push the US government into shutdown
over budget fights, and for opposing
Republican leadership on a series of
Top court to decide case
over flag licence plate
Court on Monday takes up a free
speech case on whether Texas was
wrong in rejecting a specialty vehicle
licence plate displaying the Confederate
flag — to some an emblem of Southern
pride and to others a symbol of racism.
The nine justices will hear a onehour oral argument in a case that raises
the issue of how states can allow or
reject politically divisive messages on
licence plates without violating free
speech rights.
States can generate revenue by
allowing outside groups to propose
specialty licence plates that people then
pay a fee to put on their vehicle.
The group Sons of Confederate
Veterans says its aim is to preserve the
“history and legacy” of soldiers who
fought for the pro-slavery Confederacy
in the US Civil War.
Its proposed design featured a
‘Ill-intended or not,
why would African
Americans want
to be reminded
of a legalised system of
involuntary servitude?’
Confederate battle flag surrounded
by the words “Sons of Confederate
Veterans 1896.” The flag is a blue cross
inlaid with white stars over a red
The group’s Texas chapter said its
members’ free speech rights were
violated when the state rejected the
plate. Several other states have approved
similar plates.
When Texas rejected the proposal
in 2010, the state said it had received
public comments that suggested “many
members of the general public find the
design offensive” in large part due to the
Confederacy being synonymous with
the institution of slavery.
seek high court review.
The legal issue is in part whether
messages on state-issued licence plates
represent speech by the government or
an endorsement of a private message.
If determined to be private speech,
the state’s rejection could violate the US
Constitution’s First Amendment free
speech guarantee.
Steven Shapiro, legal director of
the American Civil Liberties Union,
which backs the Sons of Confederate
Veterans, said although the flag “served
as a banner for those who supported
slavery and segregation... Texas cannot
pick and choose the plates it approves
on ideological grounds.”
— Reuters
Texas Democratic state senator
A black Texas Democratic state
senator, Royce West, said in 2011, “Illintended or not, why would African
Americans want to be reminded of
a legalised system of involuntary
servitude, dehumanisation, rape and
mass murder?”
The New Orleans-based 5th US
Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that
Texas officials did not have grounds to
reject the plate, prompting the state to
Senator Ted Cruz speaks with Bailey Ealy, 5, at the Strafford County Republican Committee Chili and Chat in Barrington, New
Hampshire, in this file photo.
— Reuters
He is an outspoken critic of Barack
Obama’s administration and its allies,
and has already lashed out at potential
presidential competitors from the
Democratic party, including Hillary
Clinton, who he said “embodies the
corruption of Washington.”
On his website, Cruz is described
as “a passionate fighter for limited
government, economic growth and the
A CPAC straw poll conducted in
February placed Cruz in third place as
the party’s pick for president, behind
Kentucky Senator Paul and Wisconsin
governor Scott Walker. Bush, former
governor and the son and brother of
former presidents, came in fifth. — AFP
Train cars hauling methanol derail in central Texas
VALLEY MILLS: Texas authorities say a dozen train
cars have derailed near Valley Mills, including five
tanker cars carrying methanol.
Department of Public Safety spokesman Trooper
D L Wilson says no injuries or fires have been reported
from the Saturday evening accident. He says one or
two of the methanol-hauling tanks have small leaks.
Wilson says about 10 nearby homes were evacuated
as a precaution. Wilson says it’s unclear what caused
the derailment, but says heavy rain has been falling in
Members of the Venezuelan Army and Bolivarian Militia take
part in an exercise in Valencia, 120 km west of Caracas.
Rolling out tanks, missiles and 100,000 men, Venezuela
launched 10 days of military exercises amid sky-high
tensions over US sanctions slapped on officials accused of
an opposition crackdown.
Correa accuses US of
trying to destabilise govt
QUITO: Ecuador’s leftist President Rafael Correa yesterday
accused the United States of trying to destabilise his
government, by infiltrating it with spies.
The 51-year-old economist trained in the US has faced
opposition protests as he seeks constitutional changes that
would allow him to seek re-election next year to another
four-year term. “There has been infiltration here, by the
CIA (US Central Intelligence Agency) to wear down the
government,” Correa, a close ally of Venezuelan President
Nicolas Maduro, said in his weekly address.
Maduro has repeatedly claimed that the United States is
trying to topple his government.
Analysts say Maduro makes the charge, denied by
Washington, to deflect attention from economic crisis there.
While Ecuador’s growth has slowed, it is not in crisis like
Venezuela. Maduro has moved towards a centrally planned
system increasingly similar to that of its regional ally, Cuba.
Opposition forces took to Ecuador’s streets starting last
Thursday over Correa’s policies and his bid for another
term, which would have to be approved by the legislature
controlled by his supporters.
the area. He says the weather was making it difficult
for vehicles to get to the scene to unload material
from the derailed cars, which also include seven
flatbeds carrying oil-well pipes. He says a hazardous
materials crew is on the scene.
— AP
MARCH 23 l 2015
People walk out to sea as the evening low tide exposes a pathway between the South Korean islands of Jindo and Modo
during the ‘Jindo Sea Parting Festival’. The annual phenomenon is understood to be a result of ‘tidal harmonics’ caused by the
relative positions of the Earth, Moon, and the Sun which when ‘in phase’ create an extreme low tide revealing a causeway
between 40 and 60 metres wide for around one hour between the islands of Jindo and Modo, on the southern-most tip of the
South Korean peninsula. The four-day festival, the dates of which change slightly each year, is a popular attraction for both
tourists and locals, many of whom take the opportunity to dig for shell fish and collect seaweed. — AFP
A man paddles a
kayak as the incoming
high tide surrounds
the Mont Saint-Michel
11th century abbey off
France’s Normandy
coast yesterday.
— Reuters
Belarus children take part in celebrations marking the arrival of spring during the ‘Spring
Welcome Festival’ in a village of Viazynka some 35 km from Minsk. — AFP
A man pulls the ox’s tail as he competes during an ox cart competition near U Bein bridge in Mandalay, the second largest city
in Myanmar, yesterday. — AFP
An illusionist and endurance artist Hezi Dean performs a
purported levitation trick in Tel Aviv. — Reuters
Runners take the start of the 21th Marathon of Rome
under heavy rain yesterday. — AFP
Birds sit in cages
hanging from poles
during a bird-singing
contest in the Rueso
district of Thailand’s
southern province of
Narathiwat yesterday.
Hundreds of bird
owners from Thailand,
Malaysia, Singapore
and Indonesia took part
in the traditional contest
held every year. — AFP
Baituna home finance for Links project US stock investors eye data SAP sees profit windfall from weak euro FOLLOW US ON:
[email protected]
SPOTLIGHT: Bukha and West Bukha in Block 8 are currently the only offshore producing fields
Oman’s offshore output averages 15,578 boepd
March 22: Output from Oman’s
only offshore producing fields in
Block 8 averaged 15,678 barrels of oil
equivalent per day (boepd) in 2014,
the block’s operator, Norwegian oil
and gas company DNO International,
announced at the weekend.
In contrast, gross production
averaged 21,473 boepd from the Bukha
and West Bukha fields in Block 8
offshore Musandam Governorate in the
north of the Sultanate. Bukha and West
Bukha are currently the only offshore
producing fields in the Sultanate. DNO
has a 50 per cent participating interest in
the block with the remainder held by LG
International Corp.
Publishing its annual results for
2014, DNO revealed that gross 2P
reserves (proven and probable) in
Block 8 were estimated at 6.5 million
barrels of oil, condensate and other
liquids, in addition to 35 billion cubic
feet (bcf) of marketable gas (6.2 million
barrels of oil equivalent). Of this gross
estimate, around 6.4 million barrels of
oil equivalent (MMboe) is DNO’s take
on a Company Working Interest (CWI)
basis. The operator’s take from the 2014
output was 7,839 boepd on a Company
Working Interest basis, down from
10,736 boepd in 2013. Net entitlement
Al Jazeera Steel posts
record $13.5m profits
March 22: Kuwait-based
Global Investment House
(Global) announced yesterday
that Al Jazeera Steel Products
Company, a company 51
per cent owned by Global
Buyout Fund and listed on
Muscat Securities Market, will
distribute 22 per cent in cash
dividends for the year 2014,
the largest dividend payment
in the history of the Company.
Al Jazeera achieved record
net profits of $13.5 million in 2014 as compared to $11.8
million in 2013, a growth of 14.4 per cent. In addition,
revenues have also grown by 7.9 per cent from $229 million
in 2013 to $247 million in 2014.
Al Jazeera has also a strong financial position with total
assets of $194 million compared to $ 180 million in 2013,
growing by 7.7 per cent, whereas its shareholders’ equity
stood at $103.6 million in 2014 compared to $96.6 million in
2013 growing by 7.3 per cent.
Although steel markets have endured significant
challenges in 2014 especially with the massive drop in oil
prices during the fourth quarter of 2014 and the volatile
steel prices associated with it, Al Jazeera’s team was capable
enough to confront these challenges effectively.
Sulaiman al Rubaie (pictured), Chairman of Al Jazeera
Steel Products Company representing Global Buyout Fund
said: “We are proud to have another successful year for Al
Jazeera and its stakeholders. Al Jazeera has achieved, for the
fifth consecutive year, tremendous growth and performance
backed by a relatively stable demand and a strong order
These outstanding results could not have been achieved
without the efficient purchasing and inventory management,
cautiousness of the management team and their exceptional
performance in these challenging market environments.”
production amounted to 4,160 boepd
in 2014, down from 5,733 boepd a
year earlier. Revenue from Block 8
production amounted to $87.2 million
consideration to increase West Bukha oil
and gas output.
The Oslo-headquartered firm is
one of the biggest players in Oman’s
oil and gas in terms of the number of
concessions it currently operates in the
Sultanate. The company has licenses to
explore for, and develop, hydrocarbons
in four blocks, including its flagship
Block 8.
Block 30, a relatively small concession
in the northwest of the country, is
currently under appraisal. DNO is the
operator of the block with a 100 per cent
Block 36, a roughly 18,000 sq km
frontier exploration block located in
the Rub Al Khali basin, is currently
the subject of a substantial appraisal
programme with the first exploratory
well planned to be drilled this year.
DNO is the operator of the block with
a 75 per cent interest, while Allied
Petroleum Exploration holds the rest.
Image for illustration
Rounding off DNO’s portfolio of
assets in the Sultanate is Block 31, also
known as the Sunainah North Block,
last year, the company stated.
As for new activities planned in the which is currently under relinquishment.
Block in 2015, the Norwegian company
said a new development well was under Oman’s offshore acreage is projected
Production from Oman’s
offshore acreage is projected
to rise when a potentially
promising reservoir in Block
50 offshore the Sultanate’s
east coast is eventually
brought into operation.
to rise when a potentially promising
reservoir in Block 50 offshore the
Sultanate’s east coast is eventually
brought into operation.
The joint venture Masirah Oil Ltd,
which has a license to develop the 17,000
sq km concession, commissioned a new
3D seismic survey last December. The
survey will help identify prospects for a
planned multi-well exploration drilling
programme planned during 2015 and
An exploratory well drilled early
last year led to the discovery of a new
oil basin in the block. It was the first
such find reported off the east of the
country after more than three decades of
exploration activities.
MARCH 23 l 2015
TeO draws good response at Caledonian Fair
either by the mall management or in collaboration with other stakeholders.”
MGM has succeeded in becoming the leading shopping complex in Muscat,
due to its high value, diverse offerings and numbers of visitors. The mall includes
leading local, regional and global brands, some of which have established their
presence for the first time in Oman at Muscat Grand Mall. The mall also witnessed
a 30 per cent increase in the number of visitors during 2014. This reflects the
excellent performance by the mall aligned with the achievements made by its staff.
Khimji’s Watches showcases
Kieninger clocks
MUSCAT: The Integrated Telecommunications Oman (TeO) stall at the
Caledonian College Career Fair held at the College’s Al Hail Campus on March
16 and 17 attracted a large number of student visitors, eager to know more about
job opportunities in the world of telecom.
The TeO representatives spoke to students about the exciting opportunities
at TeO, while also offering students counsel on what they should look for in a
career, understanding their own skills and interests and picking the job that is a
right fit for them.
“The event was good and seems to have generated a lot of interest amongst the
42 Industry participants and the graduates. We spoke to graduates on internships
and on-Job trainings we offer, as well as the existing job scenario in Oman. We
also had many queries from visitors who were curious to know more about TeO,
although we are a relatively new name in the market. Our HR team was present
throughout the 2-day fair and we did identify a few potential trainees”, says Ms.
Tania Dole, Manager, Corporate Communications, TeO.
Waste Management seminar on March 24
A two-day awareness programme on ‘Waste Management Systems’ will be held
at City Seasons Hotel, Muscat, from March 24. Organised by Muscat Projects &
Environments Services LLC (MPES), the event is targeted primarily at engineers,
managers and supervisors of Haya Water, the state-owned utility overseeing
wastewater services across the country.
The programme will be conducted by a panel of experts from India and
the United Kingdom. Presentations will focus on wastewater and solid waste
management technologies, legal requirements, environmental impacts, health
and safety, data collection, quality assurance, quality control. MPES is a leading
wastewater, water and environmental solutions provider in the Sultanate
MGM celebrates 3rd anniversary
MUSCAT Grand Mall (MGM) — the Sultanate’s most dynamic retail and
entertainment destination celebrated its third anniversary with its visitors and
staff. As the fastest growing lifestyle hub in the downtown Muscat area, MGM has
been offering a wealth of choice and convenience for shoppers and residents, as
part of a combined leisure experience for three years.
MGM was opened on March 1, 2012, and soon after earned a reputation as
one of the most attractive malls in Oman. With 142 outlets for leading local,
regional, and global brands and more than 9 million visitor during 2014, MGM
aims to be Oman’s number one shopping destination.
Commenting on MGM’s eventful journey and the path forward, Hassan
Jaboub, General Manager of Muscat Grand Mall said, “Since its very first
day, Muscat Grand Mall has established a powerful presence in the retail and
entertainment market of Oman. Given the range of exciting events and campaigns
held throughout the year, we also witnessed a record average footfall of over 25
thousand visitors per day to the mall and hosted 70 events in 2014, organised
KHIMJI’S Watches – the home of luxury in Oman
— recently added German masterpiece Kieninger
clocks to its impressive portfolio of watches,
jewellery and accessories. The brand Kieninger has
a rich history of more than a century behind it. In
1912 the Kieninger Clock Factory was founded in
the Black Forest, Germany by Joseph Kieninger
and therefore is the oldest existing manufacturer of
mechanical clock movements for grandfather, wall
and mantel clocks in the world.
Mr. Madhursinh Jesrani, General Manager,
Khimji’s Watches comments: “From its very
beginning Kieninger has stayed with its traditional
concept — the manufacture of technically
advanced, high quality mechanical movements
and clocks. This has proved successful and it is
to no surprise, that today Kieninger is known
for its legendary craftsmanship of bygone era
and contemporary precision movements. The
Kieninger clocks are beautiful, elegant, reliable and
steadfast. They are noted among the classics of the
industry and we are very proud to be their exclusive partners in Oman”.
Since 1917 the Kieninger Clock Company has been located in Aldingen, a
charming village just between Black Forest and Schwäbische Alb. Today, the
Company occupies a 54,000 square foot manufacturing facility and employs
about 100 dedicated and highly skilled workers and staff. In 1993, Kieninger
became part of the Howard Miller Group (USA), the largest manufacturer of
grandfather clocks in the world. You can view and purchase these beautiful clocks
at the Khimji’s Watches showroom located at Way No. 3036, Building No. 2825,
Al Ufouq Building, Shatti Al Qurum, Muscat.
NAPCO hosts annual invitational dinner
NATIONAL Aluminium Products Company SAOG (NAPCO), one of the
leading extruders of aluminium profiles in the GCC, successfully hosted its first
Annual Invitational dinner recently at the Intercontinental Hotel in Muscat.
The event, which was attended by the country’s leading architects, consultants,
project managers and construction professionals, served as a key platform for
the company to reveal its strategic road map towards development—its move to
expand and the implementation of its vision for the next three years. The dinner
also helped draw more awareness on the company’s operations and diverse
product portfolio while also highlighting the exciting changes currently taking
place in the company, which includes its recent change in management and
improvement of policies to help serve their clients better.
The dinner follows after the company’s recent announcement of implementing
a massive expansion initiative that aims towards launching NAPCO on its new
path of growth and sustainability. The move represents the recent decision of the
company’s shareholders and board of directors to bring NAPCO to a whole new
level by tapping into newer markets and introducing more products and services.
Also announced during the dinner were the company’s new CSR programmes
and its Omanisation programme, which supports the government’s efforts to
provide key employment opportunities to Omani nationals.
The company’s expansion includes the recent acquisition of two fully automated
extrusion presses that will drive in double production capacity and will also allow
producing different profiles. In addition, the company has also acquired a new
vertical powder coating line. Robert Holtkamp, CEO, NAPCO, said, “We are
now making our way towards more growth and development, which aims to
strengthen our abilities and generate more sustainability. The implementation of
this new roadmap will pave the way to a transformation and entry into an era
of substantial growth with the aim of placing NAPCO on the map and securing
major presence in the GCC countries, not just Oman.”
OAB honoured for customer services
IN its continued quest to improve the quality of banking services provided to
customers, Oman Arab Bank recently won two accolades in terms of international
quality standards in line with the development, establishment and control of the
customer service quality system in the bank.
The Call centre, Sales department and Customer Complaint Management have
been awarded the ISO certification (ISO 9001: 2008) for quality management
systems and ISO certification (ISO 10002: 2004) for the customer complaints
handling system. This was after passing the external audit process conducted
by the ‘URS’ company accredited by United Kingdom Accreditation Service
(UKAS) over two days last December. Preparations for gaining the international
certification earlier lasted a year and a half, managed by the Systems Control
and Quality Assurance Department in the Bank. Gaining this certificate is an
international recognition of the Bank’s commitment to the development of
administrative work and its efforts to adopt global practices.
These two certificates are considered as the highest international standard
certificates awarded to meet excellence in quality management and customer
service. It reflects the senior management’s commitment of the bank to apply
the international standards. Obtaining these two certificates confirm the Bank’s
focus on quality management systems and handling customer complaints system,
which leads to further development and improvement in business.
Toyota ‘Summer Surprises’ campaign
AS the sun rises in beautiful Oman someone,
somewhere starts their day in a Toyota. Be it a
fisherman in a Hilux hauling in his heavy nets;
an executive zooming-off for a meeting or an
adventurer hunting for a rocky Wadi to bash… a
Toyota is what they all have in common.
Toyota always endeavours to be a customer
centric and a customer friendly brand. In keeping
with this ideology, Toyota is always listening to
what customers want and ask for. Promotion
campaigns are local favourites and with customers
waiting for it, ‘Summer Surprises’ is back again
with a bang. Toyota vehicles are now available
with a host of benefits during the ‘Summer
Surprises’ campaign.
This exciting campaign launched on March
15, 2015 carries on all the way up to May 13, 2015.
Benefits are applicable, on 2015 Year Models which
are 2015 production vehicles, for all purchases except Government Organisations
& Ministries. Comprehensive 1-year insurance (Oman only), 1st year registration
is being offered on various models. But that’s not all. Customers can also avail
1000 litres of fuel (Petrol or diesel as applicable on a model) and iPhone 6 (16 GB,
Space Grey Colour) on select models. In case, a customer doesn’t want to go for
the above, he/she also has a choice to avail cash gift up to RO 500 as applicable
on select models.
Toyota Motor set to approve
Mexico plant within weeks
is finalising plans for its first passenger car
assembly plant in Mexico that could be
approved by its board as early as next month,
according to three people with knowledge of
the matter. The plant would make the popular
Corolla compact sedan and begin production
in 2019. Based on recent investments by
rivals, including Volkswagen, a new assembly
plant would represent an investment of over
$1 billion for Toyota.
A green light for the plant would signal
an end to a 3-year expansion freeze imposed
by the Japanese automaker’s president
Akio Toyoda, who has blamed aggressive
expansion a decade ago for contributing to
quality lapses and a 2009 recall crisis. Toyoda
last year asked planners scouting for a site in
Mexico to hit ‘pause’ and review the rationale
for the project, executives familiar with
the matter said then. He urged executives
to squeeze more production from existing
Toyota is the last mass-market automaker
without a major production hub in Mexico,
which has lured car makers and suppliers
through its low labour costs and tariff-free
access to the United States, Toyota’s largest
single market.
The Japanese firm has a plant in Mexico’s
Baja California that produces the Tacoma
pickup truck, but it has no passenger car
plant. Last year, Mexican officials pitched half
a dozen potential sites for a new plant, and
Toyota executives have zeroed in on a site in
the central state of Guanajuato, two people
with knowledge of the deliberations said.
A delegation of Toyota executives recently
spent a week in Guanajuato and remain in
talks with local government officials over
a potential plot of land that would give the
automaker a big enough footprint to expand
in the future, a source said. — Reuters
“We are always evaluating our production
capacity in Mexico, and in North America
generally, to keep it in line with local market
demand, but no such decision has been
made at this time,” Toyota spokesman Itsuki
Kurosu told Reuters.
An official at Mexico’s economy ministry
had no immediate comment on Toyota’s plans
in the country. A spokesman for Guanajuato’s
economic development department declined
to comment. — Reuters
MARCH 23 l 2015
Bank Muscat extends
baituna home finance
for Links project
March 22: Bank Muscat, the flagship
financial services provider in the
Sultanate, and Badr Development
company signed a memorandum of
understanding (MoU) to provide
attractive baituna home finance for
the Links project in Muscat Hills.
Said Al Badai, DGM — Branches,
and Yasir Suleiman, Director of Badr
Development company, signed the
MoU at the bank’s head office.
Said Al Badai said: “Bank Muscat
is delighted to extend yet another
attractive option for prospective
home buyers in Oman. The real estate
sector is a major component of the
national economy and Bank Muscat
is committed to extending all possible
support to achieve the objective of
a ‘home for every family’, especially
youth. Baituna home finance is aimed
at offering citizens and residents easy
access to mortgage finance, thereby
contributing to revitalisation of the real
estate sector and enhancing its role in
the national economy.”
Development company is happy to join
hands with Bank Muscat in extending
attractive home deals. The co-operation
between the two institutions will benefit
citizens and residents in Oman to fulfil
their dream homes, especially at the
Links in Muscat Hills comprising 265
prime residential units.”
The Links project offers freehold
ownership and residency for all
investors. Muscat Hills is a prime
integrated tourism project close to the
airport. The Links project is expected to
be completed by September 2017.
Baituna home finance is among the
lowest interest rate with the maximum
loan tenure up to 25 years for Omani
With extended loan tenure and
the lowest interest rate, Bank Muscat
facilitates the best home finance deals
in the Sultanate. Citizens and residents
can avail easy and convenient credit
approval across the bank’s branches in
the Sultanate.
Baituna home finance is designed to
help families fulfil their dream homes.
Baituna offers the most convenient
mortgage plans to suit everyone’s
needs with simplified documentation,
flexible repayment options, insurance
coverage and processing across the
bank’s extensive network of branches.
All leading property developers are
associated with the bank, hence baituna
facilitates access to prime residential
projects in Oman.
OECD lowers China’s
growth forecast
Employees put newly-made medicines in boxes at a factory in Bozhou, Anhui
province. — Reuters
BEIJING: China’s economy could still
double between 2010 and 2020 despite
a slowing economy, but educational
inequalities could impede necessary
economic reforms, the Organisation
for Economic Cooperation and
Development (OECD) said.
“Education inequalities are stark,
stemming first and foremost from the
urban-rural divide and secondly from
social stratification,” the consortium of
Western economies said in a report.
increasingly depend on the quality of
its human capital as the share of the
working-age population falls and people
continue to leave rural areas for higherproductivity jobs in cities, it said. But,
“access to good education is not equally
available for all,” the OECD’s economic
survey of China said.
Little is being spent on vocational
training at the secondary and tertiary
level, and salaries of primary and
middle-school teachers are lower than in
most other professions, the report found.
China should boost public spending
on education, including increased
teacher compensation, establishing a
country-wide vocational education
system, enhancing career guidance, and
opening up public schools to all children
of migrant workers, the report said.
China should also promote greater
research autonomy and stronger
intellectual property rights to attract
and retain world-class researchers,
according to the report.
The OECD did not mention a
January ban on the use by universities of
imported textbooks seen as promoting
Western values, a move which had
sparked concerns about academic
freedom in the country. In November
the OECD projected that China and
India would retain the highest rates of
GDP growth in 2015 at 7.1 per cent and
6.4 per cent, respectively. — AFP
MARCH 23 l 2015
US STOCKS: Concern about the Federal Reserve’s path of rate increases and the soaring dollar have resulted in big swings in the S&P 500
Investors eye data as stocks approach records
NEW YORK: Investors enjoying nearrecord levels for major stock indexes
will scrutinise housing data and other
economic indicators in the coming week
for hints about the timing of US interest
rate hikes to see if the rally will continue.
Concern about the Federal Reserve’s
path of rate increases and the soaring US
dollar have resulted in big swings in the
S&P 500 on a daily basis, even though
overall expectations for volatility remain
Bolstered by reduced expectations of
approaching rate hikes, the S&P 500.
SPX and Nasdaq Composite.
IXIC came close to record closing
highs on Friday.
“Any piece of economic data that
speaks to the pace of job creation or
inflation will be watched very closely.
That’s the driver,” said Art Hogan,
chief market strategist at Wunderlich
Securities in New York.
That makes economic updates due in
the next few days all the more important,
strategists say, including February new
home sales on Tuesday and February
durable goods orders on Wednesday.
With Wall Street bracing for the first
Fed rate hike since 2006, the S&P 500
on average this year has fluctuated 24
points per session, its most volatile since
December 2011, according to Thomson
Reuters data.
After US consumer prices in January
fell their furthest in six years due to
low gasoline prices, Tuesday’s February
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. — Reuters
Consumer Price Index is expected to be
up 0.2 per cent, according to a Reuters
The US economy’s growth prospects
and the outlook for rate hikes have also
been clouded by the strong dollar.
The greenback’s 20 per cent surge over
a year has caused about 50 companies to
reduce earnings expectations for the first
quarter, and more could be on the way.
earnings are already off to a poor start.
For every company that has preannounced earnings above Wall
Street’s expectations, 5.5 others have
pre-announced below expectations,
according to Thomson Reuters data.
That’s the worst ratio since the same
point of time in the first quarter of 2014,
when the ratio was 7.2 to 1.
Investors also worry about falling oil
prices LCOc1 CLc1 and how much of
the recent drop is attributable to global
economic weakness as opposed to
Energy companies account for 8
per cent of the earnings of S&P 500
companies but volatile crude prices
reverberate across the economy.
Some investors worry that consumers
New GMO potatoes approved for US market
WASHINGTON: Potatoes that are
genetically engineered to withstand
bruising and produce less of a harmful
chemical when fried, along with two
kinds of browning-resistant apples were
approved for the US market.
“These foods are as safe and
nutritious as their conventional
counterparts,” read a statement by the
Food and Drug Administration.
The ruling applies to six varieties
of potatoes, known by the trade name
Innate potatoes, genetically engineered
by J R Simplot Company in Idaho.
The potatoes not only resist bruising,
they also produce less acrylamide, a
chemical that can form in some foods
during high-temperature cooking
or frying, and has been found to be
carcinogenic in lab rats.
The FDA also approved two kinds
of apples engineered to resist browning
from cuts and bruises, known as Arctic
apples, made by Okanagan Speciality
Fruits, Inc. in Canada.
The FDA said it “has no additional
food safety questions at this time
concerning food from these plant
varieties,” after a review of the data
that included safety and nutritional
information provided by the companies
that make the products.
“The consultation process includes
a review of information provided by
a company about the nature of the
molecular changes and the nutritional
composition of the food compared to
traditionally bred varieties,” said Dennis
Keefe, director of the FDA’s Office of
Food Additive Safety.
“This case-by-case safety evaluation
ensures that food safety issues
are resolved prior to commercial
The Centre for Science in the Public
Interest, a consumer advocacy group,
said in a statement that the potatoes and
tomatoes are not believed to pose food
safety or environmental risks, and noted
that they were made by manipulating
DNA from within their species to make
them more useful to consumers.
“That said, the process for allowing
such new crops is badly flawed,” CSPI
biotechnology director Gregory Jaffe
said. “What has happened in the case
of these two products is a voluntary
consultation ‘encouraged’ by the FDA.
No regulatory process should have to
rely on the voluntary acquiescence by
the regulated party.”
He urged Congress to pass a law
requiring “new biotech crops to undergo
a rigorous and mandatory approval
process before foods made from those
crops reach the marketplace.” — AFP
Last week’s jump in the UK bank levy is speeding up momemtum
Bank tax rise stokes pressure for
StanChart, HSBC to quit UK
Standard Chartered and HSBC could
be tempted to abandon their London
headquarters to avoid a jump in the UK
bank tax set to cost them a combined
$2 billion a year, investors and analysts
Investors in both banks, but
particularly Standard Chartered, have
in the past encouraged their boards to
consider leaving Britain, and last week’s
jump in the UK bank levy is building
“I think it is a live issue for both
names and that’s the first time I’ve ever
been of that opinion,” said one HSBC
shareholder, who also owns some
Standard Chartered stock.
“It’s always been talked about but
there is a confluence of events for these
stocks that now make it a realistic
Britain last week said it will increase
its annual bank levy by more than a
quarter to £3.7 billion ($5.5 billion) a
About 70 per cent comes from the
big UK banks, and more than one-third
could come from the two Asia-focused
One of Standard Chartered’s 10
largest investors said it would make
sense for the bank to look again at the
Standard Chartered faces paying
about $500 million under the tax this
year, or about 9 per cent of expected
The tax cost it $366 million last year,
up from $235 million in 2013.
HSBC could pay $1.5 billion under
the levy this year, or about 7 per cent of
expected profits.
It paid $1.1 billion last year, up from
$904 million in 2013, and said 58 per
cent related to activity outside Britain.
“It’s getting to a material point now
with the levy.
It’s a big cost every year and it’s only
going north.
If investors really start agitating for it
you have to take note of it,” one person
familiar with the matter said.
HSBC and Standard Chartered
executives have said in recent years
they have looked at their domicile, and
London had remained their preferred
Gary Greenwood, analyst at Shore
Capital, said Standard Chartered would
be more likely to move than HSBC, and
its incoming CEO Bill Winters will need
to look at the issue. — Reuters
are not spending money freed up by
lower gasoline prices on more goods and
“They’re saving it or paying down
debt,” said Bucky Hellwig, senior vice
president at BB&T Wealth Management
in Birmingham, Alabama.”That’s why
everyone is nervous.”
US stocks rose on Friday, pushing the
Nasdaq to a 15-year high and helping
the S&P 500 snap a three-week string of
losses, following a pullback in the dollar,
upbeat results from Nike and further
biotech gains.
Recent sharp gains in the US dollar
SAP sees 2015
profit windfall
from weak euro
FRANKFURT: SAP, Europe’s largest
software maker, said it expected the
weak euro boost to operating profit
growth by up to 14 percentage points,
upping its forecast after the currency
weakened further in recent weeks.
The forecast, published in a US
securities filing, compares with a 1
percentage point currency boost
which it forecast as recently as
January. The euro has lost around a
quarter of its value against the dollar
since May.
A weak euro makes the German
business software maker’s products
and services more competitive in
markets outside Europe.
It reports results in euros, but
counts much of its sales and operating
costs in dollars and other currencies.
Excluding effects, SAP said it still
expected full-year operating profit
to be between 5.6 to 5.9 billion euros
which means growth would be flat to
up 5 per cent.
With the new currency guidance
included, SAP would reach operating
profit growth of 19 per cent if it hit the
top of its target range.
By contrast, SAP’s US rival Oracle
said on Tuesday revenue for its latest
quarter would have been 6 per cent
higher but for the strong dollar.
In constant currency terms,
revenue was flat year on year.
The euro hit a 12-year low under
$1.05 this week, largely driven by
the divergent policy paths of the US
Federal Reserve and European Central
Bank. SAP also said it expected the
weaker euro to result in a 12 to 17
percentage point boost to both first
quarter operating profit and revenue
growth. In 2014, 71 per cent of SAP
revenue was from outside the euro
SAP shares were up 1.1 per cent
by 1505 GMT, outpacing the STOXX
Europe 600 Technology index.
STMicroelectronics, Europe’s
largest chipmaker, was up 1.9 per
cent after an upgrade from Morgan
Stanley, which said the weaker euro
rather than operating performance,
would be the main driver of the shares
over the next six months. — Reuters
have increased worries about the
currency’s impact on the earnings of US
S&P 500 earnings projections for the
first quarter and for 2015 have fallen
sharply since January 1. Among early
reporters, Nike jumped 3.7 per cent to
$101.98 as the biggest boost to the Dow
after it posted a quarterly profit that beat
market estimates.
The world’s largest sportswear maker
sold more higher-margin shoes and
apparel but warned that the stronger
dollar would take a toll on its current
quarter. Energy led gains in the S&P
500, with the S&P energy index ending
up 1.4 per cent following a 4 per cent rise
in US crude oil.
Stocks trimmed gains ahead of the
close, dragged down by a 1.3 per cent
fall in Apple, which began trading in the
Dow on Thursday.
Largely behind this week’s gains was
Wednesday’s Federal Reserve statement,
which signalled a less aggressive
approach to raising interest rates than
investors had expected.
“The Federal Reserve’s created
a situation where there’s very little
alternative to equities, so the path of
least resistance for stocks will be up
for a period of time,” said Robert Lutts,
president, chief investment officer at
Cabot Money Management in Salem,
The Dow Jones industrial average
rose 168.62 points, or 0.94 per cent, to
18,127.65, and the S&P 500 gained 18.83
points, or 0.9 per cent, to 2,108.10.
The Nasdaq Composite added 34.04
points, or 0.68 per cent, to 5,026.42, a
15-year high.
The dollar was off 1.5 per cent against
a basket of major currencies.
For the week, the Dow gained 2.1
per cent while the S&P 500 rose 2.7 per
cent, both snapping a three-week run of
The Nasdaq ended up 3.2 per cent.
The Nasdaq ended just 22 points
from its record closing high, while the
S&P 500 ended less than 10 points below
its record close.
The Nasdaq biotech index rose for an
eighth straight session, gaining 7.4 per
cent since March 10.
It climbed 0.5 per cent on Friday,
powered by a 9.8 per cent climb in Biogen
Idec to $475.98 after the company said
its experimental drug became the first
Alzheimer’s treatment to significantly
slow cognitive decline and reduce brain
plaque in patients with early and mild
forms of the disease.
Tiffany & Co shares lost 4 per cent
to $82.93 after the upscale jeweller said
quarterly sales fell for the first time in
five years and are expected to decline
further in the current quarter.
Friday also marked the expiration
of stock options, index options, index
futures and single-stock futures, known
as quadruple witching.
Advancing issues outnumbered
declining ones on the NYSE by 2,452
to 632; on the Nasdaq, 1,661 issues rose
and 1,116 fell. Volume was high. About
9.9 billion shares changed hands on US
exchanges, compared with the 6.6 billion
daily average for the month to date,
according to data from BATS Global
Markets. — Reuters
Jaguar Land Rover recalls 36,000 SUVs in China
SHANGHAI: Jaguar Land Rover Ltd said it is recalling nearly 36,500 Range Rover
Evoque sport utility vehicles (SUVs), after local media reported the British luxury
carmaker used faulty gearboxes. Jaguar Land Rover earlier apologised for gearbox
issues via its micro-blog after being criticised by state television on Sunday along with
peers Volkswagen AG and Nissan Motor Co.
The automaker is already under the spotlight of Chinese regulators investigating
possible anti-competitive behaviour in the world’s largest auto market, where the firm
has said slowing growth is likely to halve its sales expansion rate this year.
On Friday, Jaguar Land Rover said in a statement it is recalling 36,451 Evoques from
model years 2014 and 2015 due to software-related complaints including “poor gear
shift quality, increased transmission noise and the inability to select drive when the
vehicle is restarted under certain conditions.”
Jaguar Land Rover said it will upgrade gearbox software free of charge, and extend
the warranty period of affected gearboxes to 7 years after the date of purchase from 3
years, or 240,000 km rather than 100,000 km, whichever comes first.
On Thursday, China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and
Quarantine (AQSIQ) requested the recall in a statement on its website.
The automaker, owned by India’s Tata Motor Ltd, must take immediate
measures to recall and repair defective vehicles and extend their warranty period,
the AQSIQ said. — Reuters
A salesperson (L) talks with visitors in front of a miniature model of an
apartment complex which is currently under construction at its showroom in
Seoul. While activity is soaring, with the number of transactions at a 7-year
high, housing prices are rising at a glacial pace as heavy household debt and
a fast-ageing population keep a lid on price growth. — Reuters
BNY Mellon to pay $714m over forex fraud
WASHINGTON: Bank of New York Mellon will pay $714 million to settle charges
it cheated customers of its custodial services in foreign exchange deals, US justice
authorities announced.
The bank was accused in civil fraud lawsuits by the Department of Justice, New
York state and private clients of systematically overcharging clients by giving them the
worst rates possible in foreign exchange transactions.
“Contrary to representations to clients that it provided ‘best rates’ and ‘best
execution’, the bank actually gave clients the worst reported interbank rates of the
trading day,” the Justice Department said in the announcement.
BNY Mellon will pay $335 million to the US and New York state governments.
Another $335 million will settle private class action lawsuits from customers.
Another $30 million will go to the Securities and Exchange Commission, and $14
million to the Department of Labour.
The bank, which admits the conduct, also agreed to dismiss several executives
involved in the fraud, the Justice Department said.
“The Bank of New York Mellon’s custody clients, many of whom are public pension
funds and non-profit organisations, trusted the bank to be honest about the financial
services it was providing and to deal with them fairly. BNYM and its executives,
motivated by outsized profits and bonuses, breached this trust and repeatedly misled
clients,” said Preet Bharara, US Attorney in New York.
In a statement, the bank made no reference to the nature of the charges. But it said
the penalties were fully covered by existing reserves. — AFP
MARCH 23 l 2015
Job woes push Brazilians into informal economy
pushing more
Brazilians into
economy as self-employed workers,
leaving them vulnerable to what could
be the country’s worst recession in 25
years. Tens of thousands of people who
lost full-time jobs are now freelancing
as bricklayers, truck drivers and maids
to make ends meet as they look for
increasingly scarce jobs.
In the process, they often lose access
to welfare benefits and face greater credit
Self-employed workers, most of
them earning no more than about $450
a month, now represent 19.5 per cent
of employees in Brazil’s main cities —
the highest level in eight years and up
from 17.5 per cent in 2012, according to
official data for January.
The quest of people like José Lúcio
da Silva, 55, illustrates how Brazil’s
economy and labour market have over
the last two years lost the vigour of the
previous decade.
“The boss said things were slowing
and then he fired us,” said Silva, who
had a formal job as a sealant installer
at building sites in Brasilia for nearly 30
years. He is only five years away from
retirement, provided he finds another
full-time “registered” job with benefits.
“You can’t find a freelance job every
day. You can take a few of them here and
there, but sometimes these jobs take a
while to appear,” he added.
The loss of secure jobs is a blow to an
already weak economy and to President
High taxes and generous
social benefits make Brazil
one of the most expensive
places in the world for
companies to hire full-time
Dilma Rousseff, who won re-election
in October thanks in large part to low
Since then, her popularity has
plunged with 62 per cent of people in
a new poll saying her government was
“bad” or “terrible”.
Although recent data does not offer
a breakdown by income or education,
surveys show the typical self-employed
worker in Brazil is a middle-aged, lowpaid male household head.
More than half work at farms,
building sites and in commerce, either
hawking goods on the streets or as doorto-door salespeople.
They are not counted as unemployed,
helping keep the official jobless rate
at low levels, but only a quarter make
regular contributions to the pension
They also pay less in taxes,
complicating government efforts to plug
a growing budget deficit and keep its
investment-grade credit rating.
To be sure, Brazil’s job market
remains in much better shape than in the
early 2000s, when the unemployment
rate topped 13 per cent and the monthly
minimum wage was a third of what it is
now — 788 reais, or about $242.
Several years of rapid growth and
anti-poverty policies then benefited
A man looks at lists of job openings posted on a pole in downtown Sao Paulo. Mounting job losses are pushing more and more
Brazilians into the informal economy as self-employed workers, leaving them vulnerable to what could be the country’s worst
recession in 25 years. — Reuters
millions of working-class Brazilians and
just a few years ago, the job market was
so tight it became difficult to find day
labourers for odd jobs.
That has now changed as rising selfemployment means it is easier to find
house cleaners, painters and others.
Guilherme Afif, Brazil’s minister
for small business, says authorities are
working hard to ensure all independent
workers are properly registered.
“The job market has become too
unstable, so people are looking into
opportunities to be self-employed,”
said Afif, who is working with Finance
Minister Joaquim Levy on a bill allowing
more individuals and small companies
to be eligible for tax benefits under the
so-called Simples programme, through
which they contribute to Brazil’s welfare
Although self-employment is on the
rise, the number of independent workers
applying for formal registration has
moderated in recent months, according
to official data.
Precious metals enjoy boost from FOMC
S Hansen
Euro’s weakness feeds
robust Germany’s
HE Federal Open Market
meeting last week was the
highlight of last week. A
lot of attention is currently
being given to the US Federal Reserve
as speculation about when and by how
much it will raise its official Fed Funds
rates. The statement by Fed chair Janet
Yellen left the door open for a rate hike
in September but at the same time the
committee turned more dovish on how
much rates need to rise.
A sharply higher dollar against most
other currencies, a subdued inflation
outlook combined with a recent host
of weaker-than-expected economic
data provided the a mmunition for the
change in tone. The result was a big riskon move into stocks and bonds, while
the dollar experienced a couple of hours
of turmoil, especially EURUSD, which
had its second most volatile day ever.
A weaker dollar and falling bond
yields returned some support to
precious metals, with gold and silver
enjoying the first positive week in
three. Soft commodities were the best
performing sector, with Arabica coffee
and cotton both jumping higher as the
dollar triggered short covering.
Industrial metals were higher as
copper moved back to the top of its
current $2.6 to $2.7 range as the world’s
second largest mine in Indonesia
remained shut for a fifth day due to
strike action.
The grain sector failed to benefit
from the weaker dollar as the attention
among traders, farmers and consumers
is increasingly turning towards a key
report on March 31. Each year the
agriculture industry eagerly awaits the
USDA’s Prospective Planting report,
which provides the first survey-based
(82,000 farmers) estimates of US farmers
planting intentions for the coming year.
Boost for gold and silver
Gold and especially silver staged
a comeback following the Federal
Open Market Committee meeting on
Meanwhile, the number of workers
with full-time, registered jobs fell 1.9 per
cent in January at the fastest year-onyear pace in 11 years, another sign that
the ranks of the informal economy are
growing after a steady decline over the
past decade.
High taxes and generous social
benefits make Brazil one of the most
expensive places in the world for
companies to hire full-time staffers.
Employers have to pay out $17,000 in
taxes and social security costs for every
Wednesday. Although a rate hike is still
on the cards, Fed chair Janet Yellen seems
to have joined the ever increasing crowd
of central bank doves across the world.
A subdued inflation outlook, a rising
dollar and recent weakness in economic
data may sway the Fed from going too
aggressive on rates. and this was music
to the ears of gold bulls.
Gold rose for the first time in three
weeks after, just like in November and
December, having struggled to make it
much below the $1,145/oz to $1,150/oz
area of support.
From a technical perspective, no
significant levels have been broken to
the upside and this leaves the nearterm outlook pointing towards some
consolidation, with the outlook now
more balanced than just a week ago.
The steep downtrend from the
January high offers resistance at $1,182/
oz, which coincides with the 50 per cent
retracement of the latest selloff. A break
above this level could then signal a move
toward $1,193/oz, a level through which
we believe the metal will struggle to
break at this stage unless some renewed
risk adversity related to Greece begins to
make an appearance once again or the
dollar retracement continues.
Troubled energy sector
Crude oil, like most other
commodities, received a boost from the
A subdued inflation outlook,
a rising dollar and recent
weakness in economic data
may sway the Fed from
going too aggressive on
rates. and this was music to
the ears of gold bulls.
dovish FOMC statement Wednesday.
The recovery, however, proved
temporary once again with the attention
turning to the bearish oil fundamentals
highlighted in the weekly US inventory
Last week, the rise in US inventories
once again exceeded expectations and
the addition of 9.6 million barrels took
the total to another multi-decade high
of 458mn barrels, some 100mn barrels
above the five-year average.
Inventories at Cushing, Oklahoma,
the delivery hub for WTI crude oil
futures, continue to rise, and with
speculation about the risk of hitting
capacity levels, this data has been
receiving some increased attention. The
rise of 2.9mn barrels took the total to a
new record at 54.4mn barrels. Cushing
inventories have soared by 69 per cent
this year as the shale oil boom continues
to boost US production.
Despite witnessing a near-halving
in the number of US oil rigs since last
October, US production nevertheless
continues to rise and last week it reached
a 30-year high at 9.4 million barrels/day.
WTI crude oils discount to Brent
did not expand further on the back of
this price negative news in the US as
news from around the world also added
some selling pressure to Brent crude, the
global benchmark.
In Libya, exports have against all odds
been picking up again. While it may still
only be temporary the increase from
200,000 barrels per day in February to
500,000 barrels per day currently will
nevertheless add to the global supply
European and Asian refineries are
about to enter their annual season of
maintenance which should negatively
impact demand during April and May.
The rise in crude oil stocks, due to
reduced demand from refineries, during
this time last year helped trigger the big
Despite seeing an end of week
bounce all of the above still points
towards lower crude oil prices in the
near term and only a major reversal of
the dollar’s upward trend, a slowdown
in US production or a geopolitical event
may help stop the slide.
(The writer is the Head of Commodity
Strategy at Saxo Bank)
$30,000 in annual salary, more than
double the global average, according
to a 2013 study by London-based
accountancy firm UHY.
In Mexico, the extra costs amounted
to less than $7,000 that year.
Companies across the country have
already shed more than 600,000 payroll
jobs since October with net job losses in
four of the past five months.
A new poll last week showed
that 69 per cent of Brazilians believe
unemployment will worsen even further
this year. Brazil’s economy is expected to
shrink around 0.8 per cent in 2015, the
worst since 1990, according to private
The self-employment rate has been
growing since late 2012.
Before that, the only period it
advanced briefly was in early 2009, in the
aftermath of the global financial crisis.
“I would be surprised if we saw this
trend reversing in 2015 and 2016 as
quickly as it did in 2009.
Back then, despite the international
crisis, the domestic market remained
strong. Now the outlook is not as
good,” said Carlos Henrique Corseuil,
a job market researcher at Institute
for Applied Economic Research, a
government think-tank. Mário Ramos,
47, says he can’t wait long.
After losing his job last year at a
private security firm, his unemployment
insurance expired in January.
He is now considering selling a
small plot of land outside Brasilia to
raise money to buy a truck and make
“I don’t have a penny in my pocket,”
he said. — Reuters
HE euro’s slide towards the symbolic level of parity with the
dollar is more a source of concern than optimism in Europe’s
export engine, Germany, analysts say.
The country’s visceral attachment to a strong euro likely
stems from its post-war prosperity — and pride — having been built on
the past foundations of the rock solid Deutsche mark.
Even Germany’s vital export sector disapproves of a weak European
currency. Judging structural reforms to be the sole driver of a country’s
competitiveness, Germany eyes the policies of the European Central Bank
(ECB) to kickstart the euro zone’s moribund economy with scepticism,
analysts say.
For Europe’s top economy, near-zero interest rates and mass injections
of liquidity by the Frankfurt-based central bank, at best, do little or nothing
to help, and, at worst, could prove harmful to global financial stability.
“Are the ECB’s bankers in the process of breaking our currency?” the
Bild mass daily asked when the bank announced plans in late January to
buy more than one trillion euros worth of bonds.
The move sent the euro sliding against the dollar, triggering a drop in
the price of exports for the 19 countries that share the single currency, and
in turn providing an expected boost for production and jobs.
exporters are unhappy.
“A weak euro is good
news, only at first
sight, for an exporting
nation like Germany,”
Anton Boerner, head
of the BGA exporters’
federation, said on
March 10, outlining its
forecasts for 2015. “Germany is also one of the biggest importers in the
world,” he said, adding that if raw material prices were not currently so low
“the weak euro would make itself heavily felt on our imports’ bills”.
The argument that a weak euro provides a short-term boost to the world
economy “doesn’t carry a lot of weight in Germany where the economy is
already very robust”, Klaus-Juergen Gern, of the Kiel-based IfW economic
institute, said. “On the labour market, there are already problems to fill
positions,” he added. Germany has shrugged off turbulence from the euro
zone crisis and global tensions such as over Ukraine, and has continued to
post overall growth in recent years. It enjoys one of the euro zone’s lowest
unemployment rates. With record trade surpluses, Germany already faces
pressure from international partners to iron out its imbalances and simply
“doesn’t need” a weak euro, Gern said.
Labour market reforms passed a decade ago led to a low-wage policy
which many believe has helped give Germany its competitive edge, along
with its strength in producing items that tend to defy price fluctuations —
top-end motor cars and sophisticated machine tools — mean the country
is equipped to live with a strong euro.
For most Germans, however, the weak euro directly translates into an
increase in the cost of petrol and more generally of dollar-denominated
goods imported from outside the euro zone.
MARCH 23 l 2015
Online Editor’s Choice
by Brian Basset
by Bill Watterson
by Jim Davis
Is bad news for the leaders in
anatomy (6)
A fruit eater but it’s called the
honey bear (8)
Commences to be an expert on
half-wits (6)
Have a bad effect on royal poetry
As washed off the direct external
parts? (4)
City and nerve centre for English
Opera (4)
Generous payment outright (4)
Protector of father and daughter
A hit somehow in Siamese (4)
Soothing preparation used in tribal
medicine (4)
With sadness, damage greatly (9)
Emptying them is as easy as
shelling peas (4)
Possessor of a wooden trunk (4)
Just a shade like Hugh (3)
Now this is remonstrative (4)
Does one cut such sticks with an
axe? (4)
A king of drama (4)
Fish not good when cheap (5)
Island in two pieces (6)
Tiny suggestion of a fall in
precipitation (8)
Reluctant to let a silly nit into the
game (6)
A slider on wood or the like (5)
Name the six-footer ahead (5)
Is she stony? (4)
She is back in use, possibly (5)
A tidy ante, maybe (4)
In Essex, just the place for an oldfashioned actor with humour (6)
High enough for three? (6)
A traveller in Eire, say? (3)
Lavished affection on Dorothy and
Edward (5)
Aimless fellow just floating around
Remote in the south of Argentina
16 Wood in regular supply (3)
18 Possesses several, but hurry! (6)
20 Could he smartly dump Charlie in
the lake? (5)
21 To note what’s at the foot (3)
22 Run around the vessel (3)
23 To turn up with a broken shin
could really hurt! (6)
25 Steamy photo centre? (3)
28 Hirsute and dangerous (5)
30 Potter, perhaps (5)
31 Looks and sounds like Samuel (5)
32 In many ways a legal right (4)
33 Dispatch to the South Pole? (4)
4 Stop working (6)
7 Cross (8)
8 Bird of prey (6)
ACROSS: 1, Hard up 7, Unde-r age 8,
G-all 10, Trowel 11, Attack 14, Yet 16,
Hills 17, R-ear 19, Jul.-EP 21, Fa-k-er
22, Armed 23, Co-ed 26, Ros-I-e 28,
Nab 29, Ostler 30, Molest 31, Idly 32,
Eyeballs 33, Sawing.
DOWN: 1, Hunter 2, Drawer 3, PuLL 4, Leather 5, Nasal 6, Jerks 8, Goy-a 9, Let 12, Tip 13, C-live 15, Du-kes 18, Euros 19, Jam 20, Led 21, Free
man 22, Ail 23, C-allow 24, OBE-y
25, Dating 26, Rose’s 27, St.-eel 28,
No-d 30, Miss.
Rub out (5)
Male rabbit (4)
Coarse file (4)
In this place (4)
Cot (3)
Thing (4)
Deafening (4)
Shaking (9)
Appear (4)
Badger’s home (4)
Vegetable (3)
Entreaty (4)
Paradise (4)
Plant ovule (4)
Vulgar (5)
Album (6)
Scowled (8)
Colonise (6)
ACROSS: 1, Bandit 7, Ancestor 8,
Opal 10, Denote 11, Ribald 14, Use
16, Gales 17, Erse 19, Talon 21, Bored
22, Fetid 23, Loot 26, Ceded 28, Tap
29, Eroded 30, Robust 31, Ores 32,
Luscious 33, Easter.
DOWN: 21, Bridle 2, Depose 3, Tale
4, Demigod 5, Steal 6, Prods 8, Onus
9, Ate 12, Ban 13, Lento 15, Paris 18,
Rower 19, Tot 20, Led 21, Bedevil 22,
Fed 23, Labels 24, Opus 25, Totter 26,
Cello 27, Douse 28, Tor 30, Rose.
1 Navigate (5)
2 Formal parties (5)
by Jan Eliot
Hospital. . . . . Board . . . . . . . Emergency
Royal . . . . . . . 24599000 . . . 24590491
Health Services Department
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
A member of the
family will put
an unexpected
financial burden
on you at a
time when you
yourself find
conditions hard
to cope with.
Economies will
have to be
introduced in
order to get
over this period
without any real
hardship, but
the year will end
well for you.
Lake (4)
Happen again (5)
Military vehicle (4)
Fixed (6)
Feline (6)
Rodent (3)
Steeple (5)
Bewildered (7)
Border (3)
Coach (3)
Mood (6)
Exterior (5)
Beverage (3)
Meadow (3)
Calm (6)
Colour (3)
Sill (5)
Fool (5)
Poor (5)
Chimney dust (4)
Effeminate (4)
Haima . . . . . . . . 23436013 . . . . 23436055
Sohar . . . . . . . . . 26840022 . . . . 26840099
Al Buraimi. . . . . 25650855 . . . . 25652319
Sur . . . . . . . . . . . 25440244 . . . . 25461373
Tanam . . . . . . . . 25499011 . . . . 25499033
Masirah . . . . . . . 25404018 . . . . 25404018
Ibra. . . . . . . . . . . 25470533 . . . . 25470535
Adam. . . . . . . . . 25434167 . . . . 25434055
Bidiya . . . . . . . . 25483535 . . . . 25483535
Ibri . . . . . . . . . . . 25491011 . . . . 25491990
Saham . . . . . . . . 26854427 . . . . 26855148
Khasab . . . . . . . 26830187 . . . . 26830187
Dibba. . . . . . . . . 26836443 . . . . 26836443
Burkha. . . . . . . . 26828397 . . . . 26828397
Sinaw. . . . . . . . . 25474338
March 21April 20
April 21May 20
May 21June 21
June 22July 21
July 22August 21
August 22September 22
Don’t add to your burden by vouching for someone who may not be
able to meet his obligation. The onus
may fall on you to make good his
Your natural kindness and readiness to help others must not be
taken advantage of by a person
you have just met and who seems
to be eager to be friendly with you.
Take the trouble to satisfy a request
from an older relative who does not
bother you very often, even though
it may mean departing from your
usual routine.
You will have to make up your mind
which kind of activity will give you
the best returns, and at the same
time satisfy your desire for worthwhile accomplishment.
A note from a friend will bring some
good news about a joint financial speculation. You certainly had qualms about
this venture, but it now appears your
friend knew more than you thought.
Although you may resent criticism
from an older relation, you must
admit the justification for his point
of view. Take a note of the good
points he makes.
September 23October 22
October 23November 21
November 22December 21
December 22January 20
January 21February 19
February 20March 20
A little more of your time spent
with your family will make them
happier than you realise, and this
could be managed without undue
sacrifice on your part.
Set an example to the rest of the
family by exercising restraint
when tempers are frayed. Try to
minimise the importance of the
issue in question.
A most successful shopping expedition will dispel some of the
sense of frustration which has
threatened to spoil your cheerful
Constructive advice given to a
person who does not seem to
know his own mind would be
more useful than any practical
help at this time.
You will have good news
from a distant friend, with
the possibility of an invitation
overseas with all expenses
Be careful about the advice you
are going to give a friend about
his budding romance. Don’t paint
too rosy a picture but leave it to
him to decide.
MARCH 23 l 2015
For Sale
land in Rusayil, 5,000 and building
with 8 shops. Contact
Good News to all our
dear customers: Our
PRO will visit your
documents for typing or
clearing and will deliver
the same on completion.
Our services include
typing all forms related
to Ministry of Manpower,
Immigration, e.g., visas,
renewal of visas, all
services related to
Ministry of Commerce &
Industry, e.g., reservation
of commercial names,
amendment of activities
of the company and
all services related to
Royal Oman Police;
Cancellation of Visas at
the Muscat International
Airport for repatriation
of employees;
Directorate General
Chamber of Commerce &
Translation of legal
documents. Medical
reports, commercial
agency agreements,
literature, catalogues
(Languages: Arabic,
English, French, Spanish
& Italian)
Our Address: Ruwi,
Adjacent to Gulf
Transport Co. (GTC).
Telephones: 24793331
GSM: 99231500
Managed by: Salim
Khalfan al Hadi (33
years of experience in
USED portacabin (5
Nos) for sale.
Interested parties
may contact Mr Arif
on GSM No
92332088 at NTS
Ghala Camp for
inspection. Sealed
offers should be
submitted on or
before 17.03.2015.
Situation Vacant
Situation Vacant
URGENTLY required
IT Teacher male or
female for a school in
Oman. 24696254,
24491912, 99547714.
Salesman cum
Hardware Engineer
for Computer
Shop at Ruwi with
minimum 2 years
experience. E-mail:
[email protected]
com ͻͺͺʹͷͺͲͷȀ
1. WANTED an
experienced Window
Tint Installer to work
for a well known tinting
brand. 2. Wanted an
experienced Manager
and Marketing
employee to work for
a well known window
tinting business.
3. Wanted an
experienced Engineer
to manage a new
elevator installation and
maintenance business.
Call: 93332224.
e-mail: abdullah.
[email protected]
URGENTLY required
following vacancies
for a well established
company: 1) Mobile
Phone Technician:
Minimum 3 years
experience in software
& hardware(iOS &
Android). 2) Account
Assistant: Minimum
3 years experience
required. Contact:
91227407. e-mail:
[email protected]
WE Al Mayar Co LLC
are seeking talented
experienced Sales
Executive for the FMCG,
Electrical and Electronic
Sales. The interested
persons can send thire
CV’s to [email protected] and
[email protected]
NEW International
School in Oman begins
in Sept 2015. The
announced vacancies
are as follows: 1.
Principal, 2, Early Years
& Foundation Stage and
Cambridge Primary
Teachers (Homeroom
and Co-teachers), 3.
Operational Manager,
4. Parents Relationship
Manager, 5. Admission
Manager. Please submit
letters of references to:
[email protected]
[email protected]
kw or contact us on:
3 BEDROOM house at
Betras Zanzibar RO
90,000. Contact Owner:
SHOP for sale, Beauty
Salon Barka, near LuLu
Hypermarket Centre.
Contact: 97655500.
A 400 sq m residential
commercial building situated at the first line of
the public road in Rawdat Samad Al Shaan. The
building is within 300 m
far from the Imam Noor
Al Din Al Salmi. It houses a 100 sq m 3 outlets.
The remaining 300 sq m
plot is workers residence, a store and a toilet. The premise is at
RO 55,000 plus 3 per
cent commission.
2 PRIME Movers Man
2008 with 40 ton pertrol
tank each working at
the moment in Al Maha.
Price RO 35,000,000
each. 97000155 or
23, 886 sq mtrs
agriculture land with
water well in Al Salwa,
Barka, RO 260,000,000.
99333479 or
3 FLOOR building in
Muttrah behind police,
generating income
of RO 18,000,000
annually, neat and well
maintained. Built on 197
sq m land. 2 tailor shops
99333479 or
Situation Vacant
driver (1), Heavy
driver (1), and a
diploma holder in Civil
Engineering. Interested
in the vacancies may call .
URGENTLY required
Executive with 7 to 10
years experience. Send
the CV to [email protected]
FILIPINA Housemaid,
with release required
for a family in Medinat
Al Alam. 24704994,
must have experience
licence. Contact:
[email protected]
driver with valid
Omani driving licence.
Accommodation will be
provided. 92230282.
‡Žƒ–‹‘ˆϐ‹…‡” with
7 years experience.
Manager, for a leading
Interior Fitout and
Furniture Supply
Company in Oman.
Experience: 7+ years,
preferably in Oman.
Salary: negotiable.
Preference for Omani
nationals. Interested
candidates may please
forward their resume to
e-mail id: recruitment.
[email protected]
CIVIL Engineer min 4
yrs experience. Send CV:
[email protected]
Situation Wanted
INDIAN male, 9+ years
experience in hard core
Sales and Customer
Service, having driving
licence from Dubai and
Oman. Looking for better
opportunity in Oman.
Experience in various
industries, shipping,
banking, (PPE), safety
products. Preffering for
Sales, Documentation
and Operations,
Customer Services.
Contact: 97132606.
[email protected]
with 6 years experience
chemistry and
physics department.
Contact: 98832095,
e-mail: [email protected]
Situation Want
female with experience
in tetail banking, loans
& advances, in Muscat
on family visa, looking
for suitable positions.
Networking Technician
with 6 years experience,
familiar with Security
System and Cabling.
seeks suitable
placement. Contact:
experienced Indian
male, M Com, having
more than 20 years
experience in accounting
GCC looking for a job
as an accountant or
accounts manager in
Oman. Presently in
India and ready to join
immediately. Contact:
Change of Name
I, MOIDY Vengilatt
(holder of Indian
Passport No Z-2047873,
son of Soopy having
permanent address in,
Meppayur via Keral,
India. (complete postal
address in India) and
presently residing in
Wadi Kabir P O Box
1177, PC 131, Sultanate
of Oman, (complete
postal address in Oman)
intend to change my
name from Moidy
Vengilattu Meethal (old
Name) to Moidu
Vengilattu Meethal
(new name) for all
practical purposes. Any
objection towards my
name change may
please be
communicated to
Embassy of India,
Muscat, Diplomatic
Quarters, Al Khuwair, P
Box No 1727, Postal
Code 112, Ruwi,
Sultanate of Oman.
MOHAMAD Shaparan
has lost Bangladeshi
passport No AE
5070503. Finder please
handover to ROP.
EUIS Ernawati Bt Dul
Hamid Car has lost
Indonesian passport No
AS 660983. Finder
please handover to ROP.
LAL Komari has lost
Nepali passport No
06383284. Finder please
handover to ROP.
Munsi has lost
Bangladeshi passport No
AC 0231051. Finder
please handover to ROP.
Guest House
1. AC maintenance
and servicing.
2. Fridge, washing
machine and dish
washer repairing.
3. Painting and
cleaning services. 4.
Electrical, plumbing
and carpentry
work 97014234,
Servicing; 2. Fridge,
Washing Machine
& Dish washer
repairing; 3. Painting
& cleaning services; 4.
Electrical & Plumbing
Carpentry work.
Contact: 99447257,
97014234, 24504281.
WE offer you the
Business Services:
Maintenance of
buildings and villas for
paint and carpentry
and decoration works
and installation of
material water proof
and cleaning services
building management
and leasing of real
estate (Out motto is
to provide quality
in all our business).
Muscat Renaissance
and Investment.
For Sale/Rent
Ȉ ƒŒŒƒ†”ƒ
Ȉ •‡†ˆ—”‹–—”‡ˆ‘”•ƒŽ‡
Ȉ ƒ—…Š…‡”‡‘‹‡•‘ˆȋ”‡•–ƒ—”ƒ–•Ǧ
Ȉ ‘„ƒ†•
Ȉ ‡ƒ…Š‹‰†”‹˜‹‰
Ȉ ‘—•‡•…Ž‡ƒ‹‰Ǧ•‡”˜‹…‡•ƒ†’‡•–
For information, please call:
92721879 - 99639264
Tel: 24649597, Fax: 24649590
BankMuscat account: 0397003776610011
Bank Dhofar account: 01040141195001
E-mail: [email protected]
[email protected]
z Low Rates
z Wide Range of Cars
z Excellent Service
Muscat 24489248,
Salalah: 23296246.
E-mail: [email protected]
SPECIAL Rates on
New Cars & 4 WDs
Tours and Airport Transfer
Tel: 24582663
GSM: 95859497,
Fax: 24582664,
[email protected]
Gel (Cockroaches),
Public Health
Snake repellent, Rodent
other insect
repellent from
Ltd UK.
in Pest Control Service,
Bedbug Treatment, Rodent
Treatment, Snake Treatment
and Termite Treatment
(Pre and Post Construction).
Tel: 24787606 / 24787503
Fax: 24787607
E-mail: [email protected]
P. O. Box: 565, Wadi Kabir,
Postal Code: 117,
SALIM al Ghilani's
Institution for teaching
driving (automatic
gear) in A'Seeb and
Al Khoudh. Contact:
If you would like to know
more about
Islam, please call:
Tel : 99425598, 96050000,
99353988, 99253818,
99341395, 99379133, For
ladies: 99415818, 99321360,
Or visit:
Rent a Car
Good News
AHAD 2000 for rent car.
93203481, 93204595.
FOR back or neck pain/
discomfort due to injury,
illness, stress or
computer overuse; let
us help you restore your
body & get you back on
track. For more
information contact our
coordinators at:
Car for Sale
BMW 745i, 2002, silver
with black, very good
condition, good price.
S-2004, white colour,
158,000 km, RO 4,500/96417989.
2001, black colour,
122,000 km, RO 2,900/96417989.
MERCEDES S 55, 2001,
dark blue, 250,000
km, RO 1,900/96417989.
LINCOLN Navigator
4WD, 1998, grey,
335,000 km, RO 1,600/96417989.
DOES your family
member require full
time Medical help?
Dedicated to chronic
care and physical
rehabilitation from
injury or illness;
Rochester Wellness
offers specialised
medical recovery
services. For more
information contact
our coordinators at
Treatment, Yoga
Massage &
slimming. Web
address: www.
Available on UNBEATABLE prices
As-is-where-is the condition.
Vehicles can be inspected from
Sunday 3.30pm and 6.00pm at
OIG Head Office Building, Wattayah.
Telephone toll free 80076900.
Interested parties may submit quotation
in a Sealed envelope with payment of
RO 50 which will be reimbursed.
Reimbursed conditions apply.
SANDOS of Babel
Transport Trading
And Contacting
announces that
it is intending to
convert its name
to Line Spectrum
International L.L.C.
Beneficiaries should
be informed of the
Sale and Buy
OFFICE & Household
furniture and
electronics items.
(Omani partner is
already available)
required to establish
a LLC Company
(Expatriate investors’
LLC Company).
Please contact on
LOOKING for an
investor for a fullequipped existing
medical complex as
soon as possible in
Wilayat of Haima,
Governorate of Al
Wusta. 92212557,
AII HP, Epson, Canon,
Lexmark, Samsung
Cartridges also available
For Rent
AN apartment located
near Al Ghubra Centre
is for rent at RO 280.
The flat consists of 1
bedroom and a living
room. 95548774.
AL Hikmani for
— With a host of
services including
the following: Hiring
luxurious coaches,
arranging weekly
trips, preparing
visas for expats
at cost-effective
price, including
transport, housing,
meals and visits to
shrine locations.
Land and air trips
weekly. (99311310,
24566016, 99361982,
99707248, 99322124.
on UNBEATABLE prices
[email protected]
ARE you looking for
a voyage with your
family on a legacyboat, including
buffet? Only with RO
15/-. For more
[email protected]
com 92808636.
All Cartridges also available
(ROP approved Grade A Workshop)
Ruwi: 24792-792
2 BEDROOMS, 2 baths
and hall apartment for
rent in Al Wattayah,
behind Honda
99428161 (Owner).
1510 Printer
RO 11.000 only
Quality Repairs & Maintenance of all
types of Cars and Heavy vehicles
For Rent
Driving School
al-haditha LLC
SHOP for rent, 200
sq m in Mabella
Industrial. Call:
A 735 Sq M2 store in
Bausher, Al Misfah
Industrial is offered
for rent. The premise
is built in accordance
to high standards.
A 3-5 year lease
contract is required
NEW house for rent in
Mabella, 5 bedrooms,
monthly rent RO 550
only. Contact:
96274000, 92355119.
NEW house for rent in
Al Hail South area and
near the Al Khamis
Shoes shop. Home
consists of 4 bedrooms
+4 toilets +hall +
kitchen. Rent RO 500.
VILLA for rent in Nizwa
Hay Al Ain, 2 floors,
fully furnished with AC,
2 car garage, good
location in town.
Contact: 99365151
Yacob Al Sulaimani.
For Rent
NEW flat for rent at
South Mabella, 3
rooms with 3 toilets,
spacious hall, kitchen
and store.
VILLA in Bausher (Al
Awabi) consists of
majlis, 5 bedrooms,
5 toilets, 2 living
rooms and external
kitchen 99364586.
ǧfloor house
behind German
University of
Technology in Halban is
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India hoping ‘big’ player Kohli to
deliver against Aussies in semis
SYDNEY: By his own lofty
standards, Virat Kohli has had a
modest World Cup so far.
But his Indian team-mates all
think the elegant stroke-maker will
live up to his reputation as a bigmatch player when it matters.
And few games matter more
than Thursday’s semifinal against
Australia. For Kohli, it’s a golden
opportunity to get back amongst
the runs.
“I don’t think he has batted badly.
When he has got an opportunity he
has scored runs,” India’s World Cup
captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni
“It’s not that he has scored a
century every time he has gone out
to bat. But everybody relating his
performance with the test series
and expecting a hundred in every
innings from him.”
Kohli’s lean run at the World
Cup has been puzzling, partly
because of his great record in One
Day Internationals and his great
form this summer.
India’s Umesh Yadav (centre) celebrates running out Bangladesh’s Imrul Kayes with Virat Kohli (L) and Ajinkya
He has scored 22 ODIs, averages Rahane (R) during the quarterfinal match against Bangladesh at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. — AFP
almost 52 from 157 matches in the
He replaced Dhoni as test Australia in Sydney in January and and averaged over 86.
format and is among India’s best
captain for India’s last match against scored four hundreds in the series
But his form in ODI has fallen
Aussies hoping
for fast pitch
against India
SYDNEY: Australia’s World Cup semifinal
against India is still four days away but the mind
games are already in full swing. With the stakes
so high, neither side is wasting any opportunity
to get an edge.
The Australians flew into Sydney on Sunday,
two days after their emphatic win over Pakistan
in Adelaide, and into a debate over the sort of
pitch that would best suit each team.
The state of the Sydney Cricket Ground
pitch could play a pivotal role in the outcome.
It is normally a spinner’s paradise, which would
suit the Indians, who are raised on slow, turning
The Australians would love a fast and
bouncy pitch, to get the most out of their fast
bowlers, Mitchell Johnston, Mitchell Starc and
Josh Hazlewood, and their explosive batting
So far during the World Cup, the SCG has
been a batting wonderland, with teams racking
up massive scores.
Glenn Maxwell, who blasted a century in
Australia’s Pool A win over Sri Lanka at the
SCG, told reporters he hoped it stayed that way.
“Hopefully we get a fast one. It has been a
pretty good wicket this year and hopefully there
is a bit of grass there as well,” Maxwell said.
The Indians haven’t beaten Australia in
any form of the game since they arrived in the
country in November but have lost none of
their confidence.
After a lacklustre start to the tour, the
defending World Cup champions have hit their
peak at the right time, winning seven matches
on the trot to stroll into the semifinals.
When Australia and India played each
other in the final test match in January, the
pitch suited the spinners, and India would
love a wicket like that. It was hard work for the
Australian pacemen and Hazlewood was only
half joking when he said the ground staff didn’t
do the home side any favours that time.
“We’d obviously like some grass on it to suit
our quicks,” Hazlewood said. “It would help us,
with them having a couple of spinners and us
favouring the quicks.”
— Reuters
away. He made a century in India’s
opening World Cup match against
Pakistan but hasn’t made a fifty
Known equally for his silken
touch with the bat and a penchant
for run-ins with opposition players,
Kohli also found himself embroiled
in controversy after swearing at a
journalist over a story about his
personal life.
The batting mainstay was
censured by the Indian board for his
ugly outburst against the travelling
Indian journalist in Perth and
advised to maintain his cool.
After his 107 against Pakistan in
Adelaide, he has scored 46, 33 not
out, 33, 44 not out, 38 and 3 and
Dhoni backed him for a big one
“I don’t think there has been
any poor shot selection. He is
a dominant batsman who likes
playing his shots when he goes in to
bat,” Dhoni said.
“It’s quite difficult but at the same
time I feel it is important to keep
focussing on the process. It’s just
around the corner and big players
always score in big games.”
— Reuters
S Africa ready to journey into
the ‘unknown’, says Miller
AUCKLAND: South Africa batsman David
Miller believes his side are ready for a
journey into the “unknown” when they face
New Zealand in a World Cup semi-final in
Auckland on Tuesday.
Since being allowed into cricket’s
showpiece event in 1992 ahead of the
collapse of apartheid, South Africa have
failed to get past the semi-final stage on
three occasions and are still awaiting a
maiden World Cup final appearance.
New Zealand’s record is even worse, with
the Black Caps having lost all six of their
previous World Cup semi-finals.
Yet it is the Proteas who carry the
unwanted tag of ‘chokers’, a label they went
some way to removing with a thumping
nine-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the
quarter-finals — South Africa’s first victory
in the knockout phase of any World Cup.
“It’s something that’s the unknown,” said
Miller on Sunday of the prospect of playing
either Australia or defending champions
India, who meet in the second semi in
Sydney on Thursday, in the March 29 final
at the Melbourne Cricket Ground
“It’s a very exciting time. In eight days
South African batsman David Miller smiles as he leaves after batting in the nets during a
we could be world champions but it’s just training session at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Sydney. — AFP
one step at a time, take things slowly as they
come,” Miller added.
It’s a very exciting time. first World Cup, started the tournament
with a career-best 138 not out in a win over
Tuesday’s semifinal takes place at Eden
In eight days we could
Zimbabwe in Hamilton.
be world champions but
The left-hander has made two subsequent
Better known as a rugby venue, the
40s, but he fell for a duck at Eden Park
ground’s short straight boundaries were
it’s just one step at a
the loss to Pakistan in pool play.
expected to lead to a glut of fours and sixes
time, take things slowly as they during
However, Miller said he hoped his
during the World Cup.
previous experience of Eden Park would
However, Eden Park has staged two low- come
prove beneficial.
scoring thrillers during the tournament —
“It’s my first time in New Zealand so it’s
New Zealand’s one-wicket win over fellow
batsman good to have already played a game here and
co-hosts Australia and Pakistan’s 29-run
just to get the feel of the ground itself, the
defeat of South Africa.
dimensions of the field,” he said.
Nevertheless, the big-hitting Miller is
“It’s just something to get used to and
aiming to cash in any way he can.
obviously the feel of the crowd. It’s going to
“Hopefully, I can mishit a few straight is and it’s cool to be playing on it.”
sixes,” he said. “That’s just the way the field
The 25-year-old Miller, appearing in his be huge on Tuesday.”
New Zealand’s Martin Guptill celebrates scoring a double
hundred during the quarterfinal against the West Indies at
the Wellington Regional Stadium in Wellington. — AFP
Guptill rediscovers
best form at right
time for Kiwis
WELLINGTON: Martin Guptill could not have found a
better time to rediscover his form as he scored a World Cup
best 237 not out on Saturday to lead New Zealand into the
semi-finals against South Africa.
Guptill’s innings, which eclipsed Chris Gayle’s 215 from
earlier in the tournament, anchored New Zealand’s 393 for
six that gave the World Cup co-hosts a 143-run victory in
their quarter-final against West Indies.
The score was the first one-day international double
century by a New Zealand batsman and followed the 105 he
scored against Bangladesh in the final pool game on March
“I’m still not really sure what happened today,” Guptill
told reporters. “It hasn’t sunk in yet.
“I am incredibly proud of what happened today and
hopefully moving forward we can win another game and
then another one after that.”
A firing Guptill has shortened the odds of Brendon
McCullum’s side becoming the first from New Zealand to
lift the World Cup, though until last week the 28-year-old
seemed to be struggling to build an innings.
Prior to the Bangladesh game he had been getting starts.
He made 49 in the opening game against Sri Lanka and
then was in double figures in the next three matches before
he scored 57 against Afghanistan.
That released the pressure valve and Guptill began to do
what he does best against Bangladesh.
Play straight, work the ball into gaps to turn the strike
over and, when it was full, loft the ball in the arc between
wide mid-off and deep mid-wicket.
He repeated the recipe on Saturday against West Indies.
The fact Guptill was the first New Zealander to pass 200
in a ODI, was not really a surprise.
He scored 189 not out against England in 2013 and he
said on Saturday that looking back at that innings, he felt he
could have achieved the mark then.
“I did muck around in the middle overs of that innings
but I wouldn’t take it back at all,” Guptill said. “To set the
record and then break it again today is pretty amazing and I
just have to try and do it again I guess.”
Consistency has been Guptill’s biggest problem in
the past and he turned to New Zealand’s best batsman in
modern times, Martin Crowe, for help.
Crowe stripped it all back to basics.
Move your feet. Play each ball on its merits. Play straighter.
Wait to hit the ball square until you were in.
He said Crowe, who has terminal cancer, had sent him a
message on Friday to just put the ball into gaps.
Guptill, who lost three toes in an industrial accident as
a teenager, was roared off field by the 30,268 crowd at the
ground and he admitted that he had never felt he would
experience that feeling.
“It’s pretty cool. I’ve never heard anything like that before.”
— Reuters
M O N DAY M A R C H 2 3 l 2 0 1 5
New Zealand’s World Cup semifinal heartbreaks
AUCKLAND: New Zealand will hope
it’s a case of seventh time lucky when
they face South Africa at Auckland’s
Eden Park on Tuesday, as all six of their
previous World Cup semifinals have
ended in defeat.
A look back at the Black Caps’ litany
of last-four woes:
1975, THE OVAL: New Zealand 158
(G Howarth 51; B Julien 4-27) lost to the
West Indies 159-5 (A Kallicharran 72, G
Greenidge 55) by 5 wickets
One-day internationals were still
in their infancy when a crack West
Indies side with plenty of limited overs
experience in English county cricket
proved too strong in the last four of the
inaugural World Cup
Left-arm paceman Bernard Julien’s
haul was mainly responsible for New
Zealand batting fewer than 53 of their
then scheduled 60 overs, with Geoff
Howarth — who played at The Oval for
Surrey — top-scoring with 51.
A second-wicket stand of 125 New Zealand players celebrate after beating the West Indies in their quarterfinal match in Wellington. — Reuters
between Gordon Greenidge and Alvin
The closest New Zealand have yet captain Mike Brearley saw the hosts to a beyond New Zealand.
Kallicharran then took the West Indies,
the eventual champions, to the brink of come to a World Cup final saw them decent total.
Opener John Wright anchored New 1992, AUCKLAND: New Zealand 262just edged out in a match that went the
Zealand’s chase until he was run out 7 (M Crowe 91, K Rutherford 50) lost to
New Zealand great Richard Hadlee by Derek Randall and, as wickets kept Pakistan 264-6 (Inzamam-ul-Haq 60,
1979, OLD TRAFFORD: New Zealand
212-9 (J Wright 69) lost to England 221- took a miserly one for 32 in 12 overs but falling, a target of 14 off the last over, Javed Miandad 57 n.o.) by 4 wickets
New Zealand captain Martin Crowe
8 (G Gooch 71, M Brearley 53) by 9 runs fifties from Graham Gooch and England bowled by Ian Botham, proved just
2007, KINGSTON: New Zealand
208 (M Muralitharan 4-31) lost to Sri
Lanka 289-5 (M Jayawardene 115 no, U
Tharanga 73) by 81 runs
New Zealand were rarely in this
contest at Jamaica’s Sabina Park.
Sri Lanka piled up an imposing
total on the back of a brilliant hundred
by Mahela Jayawardene and a fifty by
opener Upul Tharanga.
In reply, no New Zealand batsman
made more than opener Peter Fulton’s
46, with off-spin great Muttiah
Muralitharan taking four wickets after
Sri Lanka’s new-ball bowlers had made
early inroads.
1999, OLD TRAFFORD: New Zealand
241-7 lost to Pakistan 242-1 (Saeed
Anwar 113 n.o., Wajahatullah Wasti 84)
by 9 wickets
New Zealand, despite fast bowler
Shoaib Akhtar taking three wickets, still
managed what seemed a decent total.
But they were undone by a superb
opening stand of 194 between Saeed
Anwar and Wajahatullah Wasti.
The match ended in chaos when,
with Pakistan needing two runs for
victory, Roger Twose abandoned an
attempt to catch Anwar as spectators
charged on to the field, with the runs
2011, RPS COLOMBO: New Zealand
217 (S Styris 57) lost to Sri Lanka 2205 (T Dilshan 73, K Sangakkara 54) by 5
New Zealand struggled for runs,
with Scott Styris playing largely a lone
hand in an innings where the next best
score was 39, while paceman Lasith
Malinga and spinner Ajantha Mendis
took three wickets each.
Fine fifties from Tillakaratne Dilshan
and Kumar Sangakkara meant that,
although Sri Lanka lost three wickets in
the 160s, they inflicted another semifinal
defeat upon New Zealand.
Maxwell wants SCG to be green and mean
At Auckland
New Zealand v South
David Boon (match
referee), Ian Gould
and Rod Tucker (onfield umpires), Nigel
Llong (third umpire),
Bruce Oxenford (fourth
At Sydney
Australia v India
Ranjan Madugalle
(match referee), Kumar
Dharmasena and
Richard Kettleborough
(on-field umpires),
Marais Erasmus (third
umpire), Richard
Illingworth (fourth
awarded later by the umpires.
led from the front but suffered a pulled
hamstring and a mix-up with his
runner saw him run out nine runs shy
of a hundred. But with Ken Rutherford
making 50, New Zealand set Pakistan a
stiff chase by the standards of the time.
However, Crowe — in a bid to be fit
for the final — wasn’t on the field when
Pakistan batted and, as a result, a series
of elaborate bowling changes he had
planned were not carried out by acting
skipper Wright.
Pakistan were 140 for four after 35
overs, needing 123 from the last 15. But
Inzamam-ul-Haq announced himself to
the world with a brilliant innings and,
with veteran batsman Javed Miandad,
he shared a match-changing stand of 87.
Australia’s Glenn
Maxwell (left)
celebrates his wicket
of Pakistan’s Umar
Akmal (not pictured)
with team-mate
Michael Clarke
during the
quarterfinal at the
Adelaide Oval.
SYDNEY: Australia batting star Glenn
Maxwell wants the Sydney Cricket
Ground to be mean and green for
Thursday’s World Cup semifinal against
India despite the pitch’s reputation as a
spinners’ paradise.
Maxwell believes home field
advantage could be key as the co-hosts
look to end the defending champions’
seven-match winning streak at the
tournament, an impressive run which
has seen them bowl out the opposition
in every match.
“Hopefully we get a fast one (pitch).
It has been a pretty good wicket this year
and hopefully there is a bit of grass there
as well,” said Maxwell, who is desperate
for a track which will play into the hands
of an attack which boasts fast bowlers
Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson and
Josh Hazlewood.
India have a woeful record at the SCG
where they have triumphed just once in
14 ODIs against Australia — with their
only win coming back in 2008.
“They haven’t won a game against us
all summer, hopefully we can make the
most of that,” said Maxwell in reference
to Australia’s dominance in the Test and
ODI series which preceded the World
Cup. “Hopefully that is pretty clear in
their memories. We’ve been dominant all
summer in the ODI format. Hopefully
we can continue that.”
Best four teams in last four, says Hesson
AUCKLAND: There can be no argument
about the make up of the World Cup semifinals, with the best four teams still alive, New
Zealand coach Mike Hesson declared on
New Zealand were the last confirmed
semifinalists when Martin Guptill’s stunning
237 not out set up a lop-sided 143-run
victory over the West Indies in Wellington on
They meet South Africa in Auckland on
Tuesday in the first semifinal with Australia
playing India in the second semifinal two
days later in Sydney.
New Zealand’s demolition of the West
Indies was hailed in the local news media, led
by calls from one radio station for a national
holiday next Tuesday so the whole nation can
watch their semifinal against South Africa.
But while the New Zealand fans celebrated
their side getting through to the semis, and
extending their unbeaten run to nine matches,
coach Hesson said they deserved to be among
cricket’s ODI elite.
“The best four teams are in the semifinals
and I don’t think many people could disagree South Africa.
happens. “The two sides are playing good
“South Africa on their day are exceptional, cricket and it’s going to be a heck of a show.”
with that,” he said on Sunday as New Zealand
flew to Auckland for their showdown with (but) put them under pressure and see what
Hesson said New Zealand were “confident
as a group” and he rated Guptill’s heroics with
the bat against the West Indies as one of the
finest innings he had seen.
“The way he paced the innings by setting
the tone early, playing straight, adapting to
the conditions and timing everything from
ball 30 on. It was pretty surreal,” he said.
“There were a lot of high fives and huddles
(in the team room). It was an amazing innings
which we were immensely proud to watch.”
In addition to Guptill’s 237, the highest
score ever in a World Cup match, a
four-wicket haul for Trent Boult and an
outstanding leaping catch by Daniel Vettori
were significant elements in the win over the
West Indies.
Vettori, the elder statesman of the New
Zealand side, had to take a lot of ribbing from
his team-mates for the way he hurled his 1.91
metre (6ft 3in) frame into the air to pull off
a remarkable one-handed catch that removed
Marlon Samuels.
“I didn’t think 36-year-olds could jump
that high,” Hesson quipped. “From our point
of view, I thought it was going over (the
boundary) and he’d made a bit of a token
jump, but obviously there was more to it.”
West Indies’ Chris Gayle salutes the crowd after losing to
New Zealand in their quarterfinal in Wellington.
— Reuters
Gayle rules out
retirement, plans
World T20 assault
WELLINGTON: Chris Gayle intends to keep playing
international cricket with his eyes on the 2016 World
Twenty20 but admitted his back injury will sideline him
from next month’s Test series against England.
The 35-year-old Jamaican hit a typically flamboyant
33-ball 61 as West Indies slumped to a crushing 143-run
defeat to New Zealand in the World Cup quarterfinals on
Saturday with many in the game expecting Gayle to end his
rollercoaster relationship with the national team.
But the veteran of 103 Tests and 269 ODIs intends to keep
playing and is keen to help West Indies to the World T20 in
India next year where they’ll look for a second title to add to
their 2012 triumph.
“Definitely want to play the T20 World Cup next year for
West Indies, there’s no doubt about that,” Gayle told www.
“I’ve got a few concerns and a few injuries to try and
solve. I’ll give myself some time and hopefully look back at
it and see how well I can actually progress for West Indies
cricket at this point in time.”
Bu the left-handed opener, who hit a World Cup record
score of 215 at the World Cup until it was bettered on
Saturday by New Zealand’s Martin Guptill with 237, will not
play in the three-Test home series against England in April
and May to rest his back injury.
“I’m actually out of the Test series, the back won’t hold
up for that format at this point in time. But I haven’t retired
from any format as yet. As I go on I will keep informing the
West Indies Cricket Board about my progress in the future
with West Indies cricket.”
On Saturday, and with the West Indies having to chase
394 at the Westpac, Gayle hit 56 of his 61 runs in boundaries,
including eight sixes, as he was reduced to walking pace
between the wickets.
But he put that down to a groin strain rather than his
troublesome back.
“The back actually held up well, to be honest with you,
in the outfield for 50 overs and then opening the batting,”
he said.
“It wasn’t too bad, slight scare again with a niggle in the
groin, so all that was happening, and you have to take the
conditions into consideration, it was a bit cold and you’re
feeling some pain.”
Gayle said he was looking forward to working with
former international all-rounder Phil Simmons, who will
take over as West Indies coach next month after signing a
three-year deal with the WICB.
MARCH 23 l 2015
EPL: Wilfried Bony made the breakthrough in the 27th minute, gathering a deflected pass from Fernando and hoisting his first City goal
Man City bounce back, Kane inspires Spurs
LONDON: Manchester City benefited
from a case of mistaken identity as they
trimmed Chelsea’s lead in the Premier
League to three points by beating West
Bromwich Albion 3-0 on Saturday.
Bidding to bounce back from their
Champions League elimination by
Barcelona in mid-week, City were given
a big helping hand when referee Neil
Swarbrick sent off West Brom defender
Gareth McAuley after only 89 seconds.
But it was Craig Dawson, West
Brom’s number 25, who had committed
a foul on City’s Wilfried Bony (who then
stumbled into number 23 McAuley),
and Swarbrick later issued an apology
for sending off the wrong player.
“I was too far to see the red card
incident. It is the referee’s decision,”
City captain Vincent Kompany told BT
Sport. “There was nothing to win today
for us. We just had to do a good job and
we didn’t fail.”
Bony made the breakthrough in the
27th minute, gathering a deflected pass
from Fernando and hoisting a shot past
West Brom goalkeeper Boaz Myhill to
claim his first goal in City’s colours.
Fernando added a second before
half-time, stabbing home after Myhill
and Jonas Olsson got in a muddle at a
Both teams hit the woodwork in
the second half — Sergio Aguero and
Bony in quick succession for the hosts;
Saido Berahino for West Brom — before
David Silva diverted in a shot from City
substitute Stevan Jovetic in the 77th
West Brom manager Tony Pulis
expressed bewilderment over McAuley’s
dismissal, saying: “How he gets the lad
wrong is just absolutely amazing to me.
“The second goal shouldn’t be
allowed. Fernando kicked Saido in the
face while jumping and it’s a decision
which leads to the second goal and kills
the game.”
Victory helped City draw a line
beneath last weekend’s shock 1-0 loss at
struggling Burnley.
But although they are now within
sight of Chelsea, Jose Mourinho’s side
have two games in hand, beginning with
a trip to Hull City on Sunday.
Arsenal remain a point behind City
in third place after Olivier Giroud scored
twice in a 2-1 win at Newcastle United.
On target as Arsenal went out of
the Champions League despite beating
Monaco on Tuesday, Giroud struck twice
in four first-half minutes at St James’
Park, with Moussa Sissoko replying early
in the second period.
“We want to finish as high as we can,”
said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
“We have 60 points with eight games
to go. If you look at the points we have
taken in the last three months, it has
been outstanding. So we just want to win
and win and win.”
Meanwhile, Harry Kane continued
his astonishing form with a first Premier
League hat-trick as Tottenham Hotspur
edged bottom club Leicester City 4-3 to
move to within three points of the top
After Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris
was stretchered off with a gashed knee,
Kane struck twice in the first 12 minutes,
only for goals either side of half-time
from Jamie Vardy and Wes Morgan to
bring Leicester level.
But Kane restored Spurs’ lead with a
64th-minute penalty that took him to the
top of the Premier League scoring chart
with 19 goals (29 in all competitions).
Jeff Schlupp’s own goal made it 4-2,
before Nugent claimed a late consolation
for the visitors.
“A striker who scores three goals
is always great,” said Spurs manager
Mauricio Pochettino. “I am happy for
him and for the team.”
Leicester manager Nigel Pearson
was disgusted by referee Mike Dean’s
decision to award a penalty for a
Manchester City’s Wilfried Bony (right) goes down after a tackle from West Bromwich Albion’s Northern Irish defender Gareth McAuley during the English Premier League
match at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester.
challenge on Danny Rose by Nugent and
described the official as “one of the most
arrogant men I’ve ever met”.
Southampton remain level on points
with Spurs after beating Burnley 2-0
in a game that saw their goalkeeper,
Fraser Forster, also stretchered off in
the early stages. Shane Long converted
Nathaniel Clyne’s drilled shot to put
Southampton ahead in the 37th minute
and Jason Shackell’s second-half own
goal completed victory.
With all their top-four rivals winning,
fourth-place Manchester United and
fifth-place Liverpool will be doubly
determined not to lose ground when
they face off in a crunch clash at Anfield
on Sunday.
Dick Advocaat’s tenure as manager of
fourth-bottom Sunderland began with
defeat as Diafra Sakho struck in the 88th
minute to give West Ham United a 1-0
win at Upton Park.
Elsewhere, Wilfried Zaha earned
Crystal Palace a 2-1 victory at Stoke City,
while Bafetimbi Gomis’s 87th-minute
strike gave Swansea City a 1-0 win at
Aston Villa. — AFP
Federer routs Raonic to enter Indian Wells final
Bausher and Al Nahda
players fight it out for
advantage at the
Sultan Qaboos Sports
Complex in Bausher. —
Mohammed Mahjoub
MUSCAT: Bausher and Al Nasr registered 2-1 victories over Al Nahda and Saham
respectively in the Omantel Professional League (OPL) on Saturday.
Bausher rode on goals from Steven (22nd) and Said al Gadani (76th) to win the
match while Ely Cheikh Ould Voulany struck in the 70th minute for Al Nahda at the
Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex.
In the other match, Muhib Ezzat (10th) and Abdullah Noah (80th) scored for Al
Nasr in their 2-1 victory over Saham.
World number two Roger Federer,
chasing a record fifth Indian Wells title,
cruised past Canada’s Milos Raonic 7-5,
6-4 to reach the ATP Masters event final
on Saturday.
The ageless Federer has been in top
form the past two weeks and made
quick work of world number six Raonic
as he now goes for a shot at reclaiming
the top overall world ranking.
“When we play it always going to
come down to a few points here and
there, a few backhands down the line
and good serving,” Federer said of facing
The Swiss star next meets world
number one and defending champion
Novak Djokovic, who eliminated Andy
Murray in straight sets 6-2, 6-3 in the
first semi-final. Federer, 33, leads the
tournament with four titles having
won in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2012. But
Djokovic beat him 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/3) in
last year’s championship match.
Federer improved to 16-1 this year
with his only loss coming against
Andreas Seppi at the Australian Open
in January. He avenged that defeat in
the third round at Indian Wells, beating
Seppi 6-3, 6-4. He had needed just 69
minutes to advance to the semis by
ousting Czech Tomas Berdych 6-4, 6-0.
Federer also stopped American Jack
Roger Federer of Switzerland hits a forehand return to Milos Raonic of Canada during their semifinal at the BNP Paribas Tennis
Open in Indian Wells, California.
Sock 6-3, 6-2 in the fourth round and
Diego Schwartzman in his opening
match 6-4, 6-2.
Federer clinched Saturday’s semifinal with a forehand volley at the net
into the open court that Raonic tried in
vain to chase down.
Federer needed just 86 minutes to
overpower the hard-serving Raonic,
blasting five aces, 15 winners and
breaking him twice. He had no double
faults and made just 11 unforced errors,
limiting Raonic to just nine aces.
“I did very well. In the first set I
scrambled out a lot of balls,” said Federer.
“In the second set I was happy to get
the early break and then rolled from
there.” The 24-year-old Raonic was
coming off one of the biggest wins of his
career. He saved three match points to
upset world number three Rafael Nadal
for the first time on Friday.
That win was not only his first in six
tries over the Spaniard but it spoiled
the prospects of a semi-final lineup
featuring tennis’ Big Four.
Lopez lifts Brooklyn Nets over slumping Indiana Pacers
Milwaukee Bucks’ Khris Middleton (centre) drives between Brooklyn
Nets Deron Williams (left) and Bojan Bogdanovic in New York. — AFP
INDIANAPOLIS: The Brooklyn Nets aren’t
letting a little thing like fatigue disrupt their
late push for an unlikely NBA play-off
Just 24 hours after their thrilling tripleovertime victory over the Milwaukee Bucks,
the Nets defeated the slumping Indiana
Pacers 123-111.
The 29-39 Nets are currently out of
playoff position at 11th in the Eastern
Conference, but they moved within a game
of the eighth-placed Celtics and will host
Boston on Monday.
Indiana, who entered the game in a
virtual tie with Boston for the eighth and
final play-off spot in the East, failed to pick
up a game on the idle Celtics.
Instead, they and Charlotte are both just
a half-game ahead of the Nets.
“We came out the way we knew we
needed to,” said Brook Lopez, who scored
26 points and blocked four shots.
“We had guys who went long last night
and so we were going to need our bench to
step up, and they did.”
Brooklyn’s reserves out-scored the
Pacers’ reserves 58-33.
Bojan Bogdanovic played a key role,
connecting on all eight of his shots and
scoring 21 points off the bench for the Nets.
Starting guard Deron Williams, who
endured a tough night of 1-for-6 shooting
in the victory over Milwaukee, turned
things around, scoring 15 of his 17 points
in the first quarter to get the Nets out to a
fast start.
“I knew guys were tired from last night.
We all were,” Williams said.”We didn’t land
until 3:00 (am).
“But I only played 22 minutes last night.
I knew I had more gas than they did, so I
just wanted to try to attack early.”
All five Nets starters scored in the first
quarter and all five reserves had scored by
7:41 of the second as Brooklyn ended a fivegame losing streak to the Pacers.
George Hill had 18 points and nine
assists to lead Indiana, who dropped their
fifth straight decision after a 7-0 winning
streak. — AFP
Brooklyn bt Indiana 123-111
Detroit bt Chicago 107-91
Phoenix bt Houston 117-102
Memphis bt Portland 97-86
Golden State bt Utah 106-91
Khalid Soomar wins second round
MARCH 23 l 2015
Jeff wins title at Ghala golf tourney
CLOSE FIGHT: Zakariya al Aufi and Khalid al Minji finish second and third respectively
MUSCAT: Over 90 golfers from the
Sultanate participated in the 2015
Ghala Golf Club Championship. The
participants were competing in a twoday, 36-hole stroke event with Gross,
Nett, Lady and Junior Divisions. The
event was sponsored by Omantel and
held at the re-branded Ghala Golf Club.
The Club Championships went
down to the wire with Jeff Campbell
winning by two shots over Oman
National Team Member Azaan Al
Rumhi. Both Jeff and Azaan had the
same score leading into day two after
their first round score of 74. After the
second round score of 75, Jeff was
crowned the 2015 Ghala Golf Club
Champion. Jeff won with rounds of 74
and 75, while second place went to
Azaan with rounds of 74 and 77.
Men’s Division B gross winner was
Abdulla Nasser with scores of 82 and
95, while runner-up spot was won by
Millan Chatterjee with rounds of 88
and 96.
Other winners on the day included
A participant during the Oman Rally Championships.
MUSCAT: Khalid Soomar has claimed
the top spot in the second round of
Oman Rally Championships.
The race was flagged off at Oman
premises on March 20. The rally was
organised by the Oman Automobile
Association in co-operation and support
with Royal Oman Police, Ministry of
Sports Affairs and Ministry of Tourism.
The second round of ORC 2015
consisted of total length 204.6 km of
which 86.10 km was special stage and
118.40 km was road section.
The special stages consisted of stages
at Rusayl (18.30 km) and Al Misfa
(10.40 km). Each stage was run three
times each.
The rally started from the ramp
at the OAA at 8.30 am. It was a tough
challenge for the competitors and they
had to prove all their skills to withstand
the weather impact in the early hours of
start. The cars were crossing some tough
and challenging wadis and terrains in
the area. The competitors were given
three short break periods in between
the rally for a quick maintenance of the
In the early rounds of special stages,
rally driver and former champion
Khalid Soomar took the lead in his Mit.
Evo 7 Car. He was closely followed by
Zakariya al Aufi riding Mit. Evo 9 and
Saif al Harthy in his Mit. Evo.10. There
was big competition among them either
Super Star win Al Hail CT T-10 tourney
The winners of the Oman Rally Championship with the officials.
to retain or to improve the standings as
the lead margins were very narrow in
the early rounds.
Read as position, driver/co-driver, vehicle, total time – 6 special stages (Hr:Min:Sec)
1. Khalid Soomar/Taha Soomar
Mit. Evo 7
The prizes to the winners were
distributed at OAA premises at 4.30
3. Khalid al Minji/Saif al Aisri
Subaru Imp
pm. The chief guest for the ceremony
4. Faisal al Rashdi/Waleed al Rashdi
Subaru Imp
was Shaikh Talal al Mamri – CEO of
5. Arif al Kiyumi/Muadh al Shukairi
Mit Evo
6. Hamid al Qasimi/Mazin al Nadabi
Mit Evo 6
Omantel, in the presence of Brigadier
(Retd.) Salim Ali Khalifa Al Maskiry,
Chairman of OAA.
Later, Brig. Salim al Maskiry thanked OAA for his whole-hearted support for with 6 rounds of special stages. One team
the guests and the Inspector General of the promotion of motor sports in Oman. retired because of some breakdown in
Police & Customs, the president of the
Nine teams took part in the event their vehicles.
MUSCAT: Super Star
team defeated All Omani
cricket team by 20 runs to
win the first Multi Nation
T-10 hardball cricket
tournament organised by
Al Hail Cricket Team on
last Friday.
In the final, All Omani
captain Mohammed
Hanif won the toss and
elected to field first.
Super Star team scored
66 runs for 6 wickets in 6
overs. Adil and Shafeeq scored 20 runs each. Suhaib al Balushi took four wickets
giving away 10 runs for the All Omani Team.
In reply, All Omani Team could only manage 46 runs for 5 wickets in 6 overs.
Sharif al Balushi was the top scorer with 19 runs.
Adil was declared man of the match, while Waleed al Balushi of All Omani was
declared as man of the tournament.
Suhaib al Balushi of All Omani was adjudged as best bowler. He took 10
wickets in the tournament that included one hat-trick, while Adil of Super star
was declared as the best batsman.
Moula al Balushi presided over as the chief guest for the prize distribution
The teams that participated in the tournament were All Omani Team, Super
Star, Dhofar Automotive, Newrest Wacaso, RAHRC, Douglas OHI, Rajgarh and Al
Fairuz CT.
The organisers thanked all sponsors (Mitsubishi Motors, National bank of
Oman, Pocari Sweat, National Mineral Water Company and Oasis Water Company)
for their valuable support in ensuring success of the tournament.
Brief scores: Super Star 66-6 in 6 overs (Adil 20, Shafeeq 20; Suhaib 4-10, Waleed
1-14) bt All Omani 46-5 in 6 overs (Sharif al Balushi 19; Bilal 2-7, Shafeeq 2-9)
Times clinch E division title, Sarco finish runners-up
MUSCAT: Times of Oman recorded an
exciting last ball 4 wicket win against
Sarco to clinch the Enhance sponsored
‘E’ division title in the Oman Cricket
organised T20 match during the
weekend at the Municipality Ground
No. 2 at Al Amerat.
Sarco secured the runners-up
position by virtue of a better net run
rate of 1.346 as against .0691 earned by
Landscape Architecture. Both teams
ended up with 10 points each from 7
Opting to bat, Sarco were well placed
with openers Gireesha Thingalay 53
(38b, 8x4) and his partner Satisha
Achary 47 (29b, 7x4) posting a brisk 92
runs for the first wicket off 9.1 overs.
Akshath Casteliano 20 (10b, 2x4) and
Tosim Khan 20 (14b, 1x6 and 2x4) made
valuable contributions to help the score
along to 177 in 19.2 overs. Aqeel Ahmed
Ali took 3 wickets for 38 in 4 overs.
Times of Oman requiring 178 for a
win and ending up as champions were
162 for 5 wickets at the end of the 18th
over. Requiring 11 runs off the last over,
they got the winning run off the last
delivery. Opener Mujtaba Ahmed led
the way with a blistering 74 (46b, 3x6,
8x4), while Waqas Manzoor scored 45
(23b, 2x6, 6x4).
Brief scores: Sarco 177 all out in 19.2 overs
(Gireesha Thingalay 53, Satisha Achary 47, Akshath
Casteliano 20, Tosim Khan 20; Aqeel Ahmed Ali
3-38, Syed Kazmi 2-21, Owais Karim 2-23, Adnan Ul
Haq 2-24) lost to Times of Oman – 178 for 6 in
20 overs (Mujtaba Ahmed 74, Waqas Manzoor 45;
Gireesha Thingalay 2-23, Mohammed Saeed Khan
2-35); Points: Times of Oman - 2 (7 games –13),
Sarco - 0 (7 games – 10)
In another Enhance sponsored ‘E’
Division T20 match, Oman Engineering
the Ladies Club Champion with a
gross total of 86 and 85 going to Jackie
Franssen and Nett Ladies winner Frida
Jilan with rounds of 68 and 70.
Mens Division A nett was won by
Mohammed Suleiman al Wahaibi with
76 and 65. Jim McDougal won the
runner-up spot with rounds of 68 and
78. Men’s Divison B nett winner was
Khalid Al Mukhaini with rounds of 66
and 71 and Srinivas Hebbar won the
runner-up spot with 71 and 69.
Hamood Al Harthi emerged the
junior club champion with a total of
167 for the day.
Jay Townsend, General Manager
of Ghala Golf Club said: “It was a
great turn out for the 2015 club
championships. It was a tough day
on day one with the winds picking up
and tricky pin positions. I congratulate
all the winners for the two days and a
big thanks to our sponsors Omantel to
help make the event a successful one.”
Ghala Golf Club is now preparing for
the Oman LNG Nationals tournament.
Brief scores: Uday Khimji International – 137 for
9 in 20 overs (Derrick George 30, Roshan Mankar
28, Jithin Palakkeel 22; Tenson Abraham 3-20) lost
to Arrow Overseas – 140 for 2 in 15.1 overs
(Noushad Mohammed 74 n.o., Anil Lalji 24 n.o.);
Points: Arrow Overseas - 2 (8 games – 8), Uday
Khimji International - 0 (8 games – 2)
Design Unit Engineering recorded
a 51-run win against Fairtrade in
another Al Ansari Group of Companies
sponsored ‘C’ division T20 match.
Batting first in a match reduced to 18
overs per side due to the late submission
of the team list by Fairtrade and thereby
being penalised 18 runs, Design Unit
piled up 200 runs for 7 wickets at the
end of the 18th over. The feature of
the innings was the 108-run opening
partnership between Nishanth 45 (30b,
6x4) and Shamas Rana 43 (28b, 1x6 and
4x4). Fairtrade managed to get to 149
for 9 wickets at the end of the 18th over.
E division champions Times of Oman.
Skipper Ibrahim Kutty top scored with
concluded the league matches with a 63- Ahmad 3-22, Nagesh Kalldullu 2-10); Points: Oman 57 (42b, 5x4). Rajesh Shetty ended with
Engineering - 2 (7 games – 9), Mott MacDonald - 0
figures of 3 for 18 in 3 overs.
run win against Mott MacDonald.
(7 games – 0)
Brief scores: Design Unit Engineering – 200 for
Batting first, Oman Engineering
7 in 20 overs (Nishanth 45, Shamas 43; Shine Jacob
reached 186 for 7 in 20 overs thanks to
2-24, Anoop 2-28, Siju P 2/37) bt Fairtrade – 149 for
Arrow Overseas recorded a 9 in 18 overs (Ibrahim Kutty 57, Neelakandan Arjun
a top score of 70 (39b, 3x6, 7x4) from
Qamar Nazir. Other useful contributions thumping 8-wicket win against 10-men 32; Rajesh Shetty 3-18, Ahmed Arshad 2-14, Shakeel
2-19); Points: Design Unit Engineering - 2 (8 games
came from Shahid Ali 32 (17b, 6x4) and Uday Khimji International team in an Al – 10), Fairtrade - 0 (7 games – 6)
Nagesh Kalldullu 30 (17b, 5x4). Sagar Ansari Group of Companies sponsored
Ingle picked up 3 wickets for 42 runs.
Oasis Water registered a 12-run win
‘C’ division T20 at Ground No.1 at Al
Mott MacDonald in reply were Amerat.
against Enhance Royals in an ‘F’ division
Invited to bat, Uday Khimji T20 match at the OAC 3 grounds at Seeb.
bowled out for 123 in 19 overs with
opener Savinraj Rajappan scoring International were restricted to 137 for 9
Winning the toss and batting first,
38 (31b, 5x4). Muhammed Raza and wickets in 20 overs with Derrick George Oasis Water scored 175 runs for 8
Irteza Ahmad picked up 3 wickets each top scoring with 30 (22b).
wickets in 20 overs. Major contributions
conceding 20 and 22 runs respectively
Tenson Abraham picked up 3 wickets came from opener Kannan Padmanaban
off 4 overs each.
57 (47b, 5x4), while Shyju S made a
giving away 20 runs in 4 overs.
Brief scores: Oman Engineering – 186 for 7 in
Arrow Overseas in reply raced to 140 blistering unbeaten 53 (21b, 2x6, 5x4).
20 overs (Qamar Nazir 70, Shahid Ali 32, Nagesh
Zahid Hussain M took 3 for 22.
Kalldullu 30; Sagar Ingle 3-42, Savinraj Rajappan for 2 wickets in 15.1 overs with opener
2-31) bt Mott MacDonald - 123 all out in 19 overs Noushad
Enhance Royals made a bold reply
(Savinraj Rajappan 38; Muhammed Raza 3-20, Irteza unbeaten on 74 (48b, 10x4).
scoring 163 for 7 wickets in 20 overs
Oman Engineering
concluded the league
matches with a 63-run win
against Mott MacDonald
Ajay excels for
Al Turki NMC
Jebin James with bowling figures
of 4 for 20 in 4 overs helped Teejan
Furnishing Beatrice to a 3-wicket win
against OCT Mabella in a ‘G’ division
T20 match.
Electing to bat, OCT Mabella were
limited to 124 for 9 wickets in 20 overs.
Asif Abdul Samad scored 33 (32b, 1x4).
Teejan Furnishing Beatrice in their
turn playing with 10 men got to their
target scoring 125 losing 7 wickets in
15.3 overs with Rikas Mashraf batting at
No.6 scoring 46 (31b, 4x4).
MUSCAT: Ajay Lalcheta with bowling
figures of 4 for 25 in 10 overs including
a maiden over and thereafter opening
the batting remained unbeaten on 68
(119b, 8x4) helped Al Turki NMC
register an easy 5-wicket win against
Enhance. Ajay was adjudged the man
of the match in the Muscat Pharmacy
& Stores LLC sponsored ‘A’ Division
50 overs a side match at the MOS Turf
Ground at Al Amerat on Saturday.
Invited to bat, Enhance after a 75run first wicket partnership between
Unnikrishnan GP 59 (90b, 1x6, 10x4)
and his partner Ravi Baradkane 18
(32b, 2x4) slumped to 181 all out
in 44.1 overs. Skipper Noorul Riaz
coming in at the fall of the first wicket
scored 36 (42b, 5x4).
Jignesh Patel and Jay Odedra picked
up 2 wickets each conceding 17 and 41
runs respectively.
Al Turki NMC in reply got to
their target scoring 183 for the loss
of 5 wickets in 40 overs with Ajay
and skipper Twinkle Bhandari 49
(61b, 8x4) opening the batting laying
the foundation with a first wicket
partnership of 81 runs in 20 overs.
Yogesh Patel batting at No.7 remained
unbeaten on 21 (13b, 1x6, 2x4). CM
Pradeep Kumar took 3 for 32.
Brief scores: OCT Mabella – 124 for 9 in 20 overs
(Asif Abdul Samad 33; Jebin James 4-20, Feroz OV
2-20) lost to Teejan Furnishing Beatrice – 125
for 7 in 15.3 overs (Rikas Mashraf 46, Shibu KV
35; Sharif Pindook 2-29); Points: Teejan Furnishing
Beatrice - 2 (7 games – 2), OCT Mabella - 0 (7 games
– 1).
Brief scores: Enhance – 181 all out in 44.1
overs (Unnukrishnan GP 59, Noorul Riaz 36; Ajay
Lalcheta 4-25, Jignesh Patel 2-17, Jay Odedra
2-41) lost to Al Turki NMC – 183 for 5 in 40
overs (Ajay Lalcheta 68 n.o., Twinkle Bhandari 49,
Yogesh Patel 21 n.o., CM Pradeep Kumar 3-32);
Points: Al Turki NMC - 5 (9 games – 30), Enhance
- 0 (9 games – 23)
Arrow Overseas recorded
a thumping 8-wicket win
against 10-men Uday Khimji
International team
with Rajagopalan Nair leading the way
with a well-compiled 48 (40b, 6x4).
Brief scores: Oasis Water – 175 for 8 in 20 overs
(Kannan Padmanaban 57, Shyju S. 53 n.o., Rohan
Kurian 25; Zahid Hussain M 3-22, Nathar al Balushi
2-36, Rajagopalan Nair 2-48) bt Enhance Royals –
163 for 7 in 20 overs (Rajagopalan Nair 48, Kather
Meeran 34, Abdul Vahid 31, V Anandpathi 20; Shibin
Padikkal M 2-24, Ratheesh PP 2-29); Points: Oasis
Water - 2 (8 games – 7), Enhance Royals - 0 (8 games
– 7)
MARCH 23 l 2015
film adaptation soon
ony Pictures is gearing up to
develop a reinterpretation
of William Shakespeare’s
‘Romeo and Juliet’, titled
Verona is name of
the city that became the setting of
Shakespeare’s famous tale.
The studio is in final negotiations
to pick up the feature with Joe Roth
attached to produce, and Neil Widener
and Gavin James on board to write the
script, reports
The story of Verona is kept under
wraps. However, the film is likely to
revolve around a love affair between two
teens from opposing Italian families.
The script is said to reimagine the classic
love story through a lens of an epic,
300-style world.
Directed by Zack Snyder, 300 was
a gritty take on the ancient Battle of
Thermopylae between 300 Spartans, led
by King Leonidas (Gerard Butler), and
the massive Persian army, led by Xerxes
(Rodrigo Santoro). Casting, production
and release dates of the upcoming
Romeo and Juliet movie are expected to
be announced soon.
Character for ‘Avengers: Age of
Ultron’: The superhero lineup for
Avengers: Infinity War Part I, the followup to Avengers: Age of Ultron will
reportedly feature Falcon, Scarlet Witch,
The Vision, and War Machine, all of
whom will be led by Captain America
and Black Widow.
Moreover, Quicksilver will die in
Avengers: Age of Ultron. As per the site,
the hero will be meeting his demise
while he is protecting a fellow Avenger,
Avengers: Infinity War Part I is
scheduled to release on May 4, 2018.
Meanwhile, Avengers: Age of Ultron,
which stars Robert Downey Jr, Chris
Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo,
Scarlett Johansson, and Jeremy Renner
reprising their roles as Iron Man, Captain
America, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, and
Hawkeye, will release on May 1.
Pharrell delivers ‘happy’ UN speech:
Singer Pharrell Williams, best known
for his viral hit ‘Happy’, addressed the
UN General Assembly here on the
‘International Day of Happiness’ as
he raised his voice on the dangers of
climate change.
During his speech at the United
Nations Headquarters on Friday,
Williams urged the youth to help raise
awareness of climate change, reports
“I’m staring at the future right now.
Hello to the future,” he said.
After greeting the young attendees,
the Grammy winner stated: “Music
brought me happiness. And when you
find out what makes you happy — and
it can be something as detailed as a
long-term goal or it can be something
as simple as the way I feel when my son
smiles - you should know that happiness
is your birthright.”
“If you don’t take care of your home,
you don’t have a life, so we have to
now transition from climate change to
climate action. We’re in trouble but we
can change,” he added.
A special ‘Happy’ playlist, featuring a
selection of songs picked by numerous
stars like Britney Spears and John
Legend, was played during the event.
Cousteau and oceanographer Sylvia
Earle at the event. After his speech, the
singer was mobbed by the students who
were holding up their cellphones and
cameras ready for photographs.
Khloe Kardashian
goes all-white
eality star Khloe Kardashian
looked flawless as she stepped
out in an all-white dress in Las
‘The Keeping Up With The
Kardashians’ star wore a highneck white and grey sheer panel
knee-length skirt for an outing.
She teamed the ensemble
with nude heels and minimal
jewellery, which included just a
scattering of bling on her fingers,
Khloe completed her look with
plum lips and big smokey eyes, which
accompanied her chic wavy hair.
She shared an image of herself and a friend on Instagram, and captioned
it: “Eat your heart out Vegas.”
Meanwhile, Khloe is reportedly keen on receiving a “grand” romantic
gesture from her former husband Lamar Odom.
According to a source, the star is desperate to rekindle her romance with
the basketball player, reports
“She’d much rather him do something completely grand and spontaneous.
But she’s scared to give him all her heart again,” the source said.
But despite wanting a sign from Odom, the 30-year-old isn’t quite sure yet
how they should move forward in their marriage.
Khloe filed for divorce from Odom in December 2013.
Kloss jealous of Lawrence’s hair
ormer Victoria’s Secret model
Karlie Kloss says that she
wishes she could play with her
hairstyle a la Jennifer Lawerence.
Kloss said: “I thought Jennifer
Lawrence looked amazing when
she cut her hair short.
“I’m always envious when
anyone tries out a new hair style!”
The 22-year-old model was
credited as ‘Vogue’ magazine’s
haircut of the year when she sported
a bob cut. In hindsight, she says she
couldn’t believe the “buzz” surrounding
her hair at the time, reports femalefirst. “It was so crazy to see how much buzz my haircut got! I chopped my
hair short for a Vogue shoot right before the Victoria’s Secret show.
“At the time, I was ready for a new look, even though I could not have
been more nervous while I was getting the haircut. I loved the look and could
definitely see myself trying it out again!,” Kloss said.
The model hasn’t ruled out trying out a different hairstyle either and would
“never say never” to any particular style, including a pixie cut.
“Until my bob, I played it pretty safe with my hair. Not sure if I would get
a pixie cut but I’m definitely not opposed. Never say never, right?,” she added.
Trisha’s next a horror-comedy
ctress Trisha Krishnan, who
has two southern projects in
her kitty, will next be seen
in a yet-untitled trilingual horrorcomedy.
“The film will be made in
Tamil, Telugu and Kannada.
We’ll start shooting from May,”
the film’s producer Giridhar said.
Giridhar is also Trisha’s manager.
The project will be helmed
by Govi of Telugu film ‘Love You
Bangaram’ fame.
Meanwhile, Trisha is busy
shooting for Tamil romantic-comedy
She also has Telugu film ‘Lion’ with
ctress Deepika Singh, best known for her
role as IPS officer Sandhya Rathi in ‘Diya
Aur Baati Hum’, is taking motherhood
tips from her friend Divyanka Tripathi -- all for an
upcoming track of the show.
Deepika’s character Sandhya is seen welcoming
twin sons in the show, and to build a good bond
with her onscreen children, Deepika has sought the
help of Divyanka, who shares a great onscreen and
offscreen camaraderie with her ‘reel’ step-daughter
Ruhi from TV show ‘Ye Hai Mohabbatein’.
“I really admire the bond Divyanka shares with
Ruhi onscreen and offscreen as I have met them
several times. In fact, even the audiences love their
camaraderie and can’t take their eyes off the adorable
bond between the two,” Deepika said.
Balakrishna up her sleeve.
Trisha, a was noticed after winning several beauty pageants like the Miss
Madras contest, which marked her entry into filmdom.
Payal Singhal on filmy showstoppers
ayal Singhal, whose designs
have been flaunted by the best in
Bollywood, including Kareena
Kapoor, Vidya Balan and Sonakshi
Sinha, says roping in a celebrity face as
a showstopper on a ramp show boosts
The debate over whether film stars
should be made showstoppers at
fashion galas, or whether the creations
should remain show stealers, has been
going on for a while. But Singhal, who
recently brought actress Tamannaah
Bhatia (pictured) to flaunt her creation
on the ramp at the Lakme Fashion
Week summer-resort 2015, finds no
harm in cashing in of Bollywood
“If you are selling food and if you
market the food to the people who eat
it, would that be wrong? The fact is that
Bollywood sells, and so if actors wear
our garment, we sell it 10 times more,”
Singhal said.
Singhal, who established her fashion
house in 1999, is known for offering
contemporary Indian and Western
clothing. Her market is the quality and
design-conscious individuals, who
value and appreciate the art of fashion.
Commercial success is prime for
“In our country, we think of
commercial viability as a negative
thing. The whole point of coming into
fashion and getting into this business,
is to get profits.
“To me, at the end of the day, it’s
the money that talks, and of course,
commercial success. As a human being,
as a creative person and as designer,
I would strive to do better, but I don’t
Deepika takes tips
on ‘motherhood’
A star is a star in India,
says Lillete Dubey
n awe with the humble attitude of Hollywood celebrities like Judi
Dench, Maggie Smith and Richard Gere, actress Lillete Dubey says
star system is deeply embedded in Hindi filmdom.
After a refreshing change through Hollywood film The Best Exotic
Marigold Hotel with a bunch of retired people in lead roles, its sequel ‘The
Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ hit the screens in India last week.
English director John Madden’s film is high on talent with an ensemble of
actors like Dench, Smith, Gere, Bill Nighy, Tina Desai and Dev Patel, and
of course Lillete.
“They all are very down-to-earth. It’s not like our actors are not, but
there is a bit of star thing in India. A star is a star here,” the actress said over
phone from Mumbai.
“These people (Hollywood actors) talk to everyone on the set. You can’t
believe that they are Judi, Richard or Maggie. They are such wonderful
people with no airs. Judi is like a little girl, who is always laughing and
giggling. They are very easy to be with,” she added.
The actress plays the on-screen mother to Dev and in the sequel, her
love interest is essayed by Gere. The sequel was released by Fox Star Studios
in India. The 61-year-old actress also notes that teaming up with actors
who have made a mark in showbiz makes you push the envelope towards
“When you work with such good actors,
you want to rise. It makes you do your best.
I thoroughly enjoyed working with them.
The experience was creatively satisfying
and rewarding,” she said.
Talking about the film, Lillete said:
“The film tells you that the story is not
over till the time curtains are down...
anything is possible.
A lot of things in the movie are
universal and can apply to younger
people as well. There are
so many little gems of
in the story.” Lillete is
credited for critically
films like Zubeidaa’,
Monsoon Wedding, My
Brother Nikhil, and The
Also to celebrate the International
Day of Happiness, Williams was given
the honour to light up the Empire State
Building in yellow.
Manilow donates piano to school:
Singer Barry Manilow reportedly gave a
piano to a school district here and urged
others to donate musical instruments
for schoolchildren to play.
As per reports, the 71-year-old,
who will be performing at the Nassau
Coliseum in Uniondale on March 27,
will give away two concert tickets to
anyone who makes a donation of a
new or gently used instrument, reports Manilow says music is
“a vital part of a child’s education”.
The donation is part of Manilow
Music Project to benefit music programs
in public schools.
Uniondale Superintendent William
Lloyd appreciates what the singer did
and hopes it will encourage more people
to help schoolchildren “build character
to achieve success.”
do it for critics. My clients are my real
stamp of approval and beyond that I do
it for myself,” she said.
Her customised prints and designs
are a hit. In fact, pieces from her last
collection ‘Char Bagh’ was flaunted
by the likes of Neha Dhupia, Sonam
Kapoor, Huma Qureshi, Shraddha
Kapoor and Nargis Fakhri; and Singhal
managed to impress fashionistas with
her summer-resort 2015 collection too.
On her journey in the fashion
world, Singhal was quick to point out
at the seriousness in the business of
“I have grown up on the runway. I
say that as a joke, but it’s kind of true.
I was 21 when I started, and I am 38
now. I think I was really serious about
fashion from the day when I joined the
SMEs after
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It is all in a day
aida al Subhi’s (pictured)
amongst many Omanis
here who went to study
abroad for their higher
Director General at Ministry of Higher
Education’s Department of Scholarships,
then subsequently a Cultural Attaché
of Oman in the United Kingdom and
since 2012, adviser to Dr Rawya bint
Saud al Busaidiyah, Minister of Higher
Education, Al Subhi retired in April
2014. She, her husband and two of their
daughters now run their SME (small and
medium enterprise), Al Dhilal Hotel
Apartments, located on Wadi Mansah
road next to Sultan Qaboos University
(SQU) in Mu’askar Al Murtafi’ah.
“I had this idea for a project and we
as a family thought why don’t we run
our business ourselves instead of having
a management company manage it for
us? That’s why we decided to do it all
together,” she explains. Planning for
the project began after her retirement
in April last year and it was officially
operational in December 2014. “My
daughters decided independently to
work here even though they got job
offers from elsewhere,” Al Subhi says.
“They designed everything in the hotel
and decided the colour of the furniture,
bedding and so on.”
Due to its strategic location,
the facility caters mostly to visiting
delegations to SQU and Knowledge
Oasis who come to Oman for work
or take courses. “We also have many
Omani families who come here over
weekends as they have something to do
at SQU for a few days as well as medical
professionals,” she says. “10 years back,
this area was under development and
we knew it had a very good future so we
bought it.”
Al Subhi chose the tourism sector
for her SME as she believes it is a very
developing one. She also adds that one
of the benefits of owning an SME is that
the owner gets to set his or her rules. “If
my customers cannot stop smoking, I
tell them upfront that they cannot be in
the hotel.” Her husband is the Director
General of the hotel while she is the
Manager. One daughter, Alaa, is the
Finance Manager and the other one,
Dana, handles the hotel’s marketing
and information technology. “They get
to learn a lot about business in a more
relaxed setting by working with family,”
she says.
“I think nationals should do
something in the sectors where Omanis
are needed. People with ideas for projects
need to take advantage of Oman’s loan
schemes for SMEs,” she opines. “A
project at the beginning needs a lot of
effort from you as an owner. For this
reason, you will always find my family
in the hotel these days.”
Al Subhi decided to launch her SME
after retiring because she did not want
to stay without work. “I didn’t want to
be in the education sector because I
worked there for 30 years. I wanted to
do something different,” she explains.
“Some have said to me, you were a
consultant and now you’re doing this.
I told them, it’s my money, my place,
and I’m enjoying what I’m doing,” she
says. She believes that certain sectors
in Oman hold much lucrative value
for SMEs. “Anything in tourism, high
standard restaurants with high quality
food and the sector for designing
traditional Omani dresses,” she says.
Regarding the latter, Al Subhi thinks the
sector is fragmented and hence needs to
be rightly directed.
“What is needed for anyone to
succeed as an entrepreneur is a good
education, continuous training in the
same area where they are working and
a need to understand the value of their
work,” she says. “Education is not just the
diploma they’ll get but the knowledge
they’re getting.”
And did she face any difficulty
transferring her skills from the
education sector to tourism? “It comes
naturally and one needs to realise the
needs for a certain sector,” she says.
“It’s basically management. It’s
something like you’re at home and have
invited guests over,” believes Al Subhi.
“You need to set the rules through trial
and error.”
esearchers from the New Jerseybased Princeton University have
decoded the shift from maternal
genes to the embryo’s genes during
Learning how organisms manage
this transition could help scientists
understand larger questions about
how embryos regulate cell division and
“At the beginning, everything the
embryo needs to survive is provided
by mother but eventually, that stuff
runs out and the embryo needs
to start making its own proteins
and cellular machinery,” said
postdoctoral researcher and first
author Shelby Blythe.
The study, published in the
journal Cell, provides new insight into maternal to zygotic transition, Blythe
the mechanism for this genetic hand- conducted experiments in the fruit fly
off which happens within hours of which has long served as a model for
development in higher organisms
fertilisation when the newly
fertilised egg is called a
experiments revealed that
the slower cell division
is a consequence of
controls this
in DNA
errors after the embryo’s genes take over.
Cell division slows down because
the cell’s DNA-copying machinery has
to stop and wait until the damage is
Blythe found that it was not the
overall amount of embryonic DNA that
caused this increase in errors.
Instead, his experiments indicated that
the high error rate was due to molecules
that bind to DNA to activate the reading,
or transcription, of the genes.
These molecules stick to the DNA
strands at thousands of sites and prevent
the DNA copying machinery from
working properly.
To discover this link between DNA
errors and slower cell replication, Blythe
used genetic techniques to create fruit fly
embryos that were unable to repair DNA
damage and typically died shortly after
beginning to use their own genes.
“This provided evidence that the
process of awakening the embryo’s
genome is deleterious for DNA
replication,” the authors wrote.
The work enables researchers
to explore larger questions of how
embryos regulate DNA replication and
transcription. Additionally, these early
embryos allow them to study how the
cell builds and installs features that are so
essential to the fundamental processes of
cell biology.
CAS-Ibri workshop on self-employment
bri College of Applied Sciences,
represented by the Student
recently organised a workshop on
self-employment in cooperation with
the Student Services Centre at the
Ministry of Higher Education.
The workshop was conducted by
the Executive Manager of the Ambition
Foundation for Development and
Khamis al Maskari, and trainer Yousuf
The three-day workshop aimed to
promote entrepreneurial spirit among
students and provide them with the
necessary training to enable them to
run their own businesses.
It also aimed to introduce them
to key elements crucial in choosing
successful ideas for businesses.
importance of starting an independent
business, benefiting from academic
specialisations, and making use of
their academic experience.
The attributes of successful
investors and successful businesses
were also discussed.
Working in groups, participating
studies for their chosen businesses
MARCH 23 l 2015
day to celebrate for many but a day of sadness for others. This is
not just about one particular day but all days. Some manage to
cope in sorrow while others struggle to face each day.
A wish on the Facebook received lots of likes but also a comment which
said, “Not everyone is celebrating because a friend of mine is sad as she lost
her mother.”
My heart went out to both the girl who was sad and her friend who had
the empathy.
A loss is immeasurable. It is even unbearable when you realise you did
not have the chance to prepare, that is when they leave unannounced. How
is that possible one might wonder.
When someone is sick the others around the person unknowingly get
to prepare for the worst. It does not make the sorrow any less painful, but
for the others who were least expecting anything and instead was planning
for the forthcoming days, it is a shock that only time can heal.
Heal they will because it is one of the miracles that have been tested
again and again. Each day arrive with its own events. Managing that very
day takes the mind to the current status and at times even to the future.
Philosophers have always reminded us about living for today. It is not
about being self-centred, but rather about you being the giver of happiness
and hope. There are the young ones around you. For them today is all
about their happiness. It does not take much to make them happy, just a
cheerful environment. Have you ever wondered why is that whenever we
look back we think those were the most beautiful days?
I saw it on the World Day of Down Syndrome held by the Oman
Down syndrome Association at Sawadi Beach Resort and Spa. Parents
and children with Down Syndrome arrived, along with them came their
friends. There was happiness all around and a reason to celebrate.
It was Mother’s Day for the region, it was New Year’s Day for another
culture of the world. Each day is auspicious and it can be what we want
to be. It is all about having the mindset but that is the biggest challenge of
all. Mind can be man’s best friend and worst enemy. From what you are
listening to, what you are reading and being exposed to can all have an
influence on your mind.
It is easy to conclude it all with one word called positivity. But for a
person who has gone into the depth of depression a word like positivity
can be foreign. It will take whole lot of kindness and understanding to get
them back to what we call normal track.
Some might need professional help while others just need the right
support from family and friends. But dealing with a loss of a loved one
will be a loss forever, yet there will be a time when one finds oneself smile
with fond memories of that loved one. Suddenly their words have deeper
meaning and realisation dawns upon you that those words are lessons for
life long.
Blood test for chronic joint
disease in the offing
he first blood test to detect osteoarthritis (OA) — the most common form
of arthritis — could soon be available as researchers have identified a
biomarker linked to both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis diseases.
Osteoarthritis causes pain, swelling and reduced motion in your joints. It can
occur in any joint, but usually it affects your hands, knees, hips or spine.
The findings, published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, could potentially
lead to patients being tested for osteoarthritis and diagnosed several years before
the onset of physical symptoms.
Whilst there are established tests for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the newly
identified biomarker could lead to one that can diagnose both rheumatoid arthritis
and osteoarthritis (OA).
“This is a remarkable and unexpected finding. It could help bring early-stage
and appropriate treatment for arthritis which gives the best chance of effective
treatment,” said lead researcher Naila Rabbani from the University of Warwick,
The researchers’ focus was citrullinated proteins (CPs) — a biomarker suspected
to be present in blood of people with early stage RA.
The researchers found for the first time increased CPs levels in both early-stage
OA and RA.
They then produced an algorithm of three biomarkers, CPs, anti-CP antibodies
along with the bone-derived substance, hydroxyproline.
Using the algorithm, the researchers found that with a single test, they could
potentially detect and discriminate between the major types of arthritis at the early
stages, before joint damage has occurred.
The ability to discriminate between RA and OA could provide a number of
benefits to patients, including early diagnosis. “This discovery raises the potential
of a blood test that can help diagnose both RA and OA several years before the
onset of physical symptoms,” Rabbani noted. — IANS
MARCH 23 l 2015
FOTO FIASCOES and how to avoid them
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efore you jump to the conclusion
that poor old Clive has finally
lost the plot, let me reassure you
that the slapdash snaps you see
here were not taken by me. How
could they have been? Someone
of my incontestable photographic talent, nay
genius, couldn’t take a bad picture even if my life
depended on it.
In the hope of finding some truly pestilent
pictures to serve the purposes of today’s article,
I rummaged around in hard drives and memory
cards belonging to a couple of my friends. I ended
up finding so many ignominious images that
I had a hard job selecting just two. The culprits
of the two aesthetic abominations you see here
reluctantly agreed to allow me to ridicule their
creative cataclysms in this national newspaper
on condition of strict anonymity. And who can
blame them? It would take brave men indeed to
own up to these digital disasters.
The first photographic farce that you see here
was taken at Shatti Al Qurum by X a few months
ago, shortly after he witnessed me receiving a
large bundle of cash in exchange for one of my
magnificent masterpieces. Mistakenly jumping
to the conclusion that photography would be his
fast track to fame and riches, he borrowed one of
my DSLR cameras for an afternoon in order to
hone his photographic skills. The silly snap you
see here is one of the fruits of that afternoon of
creativity, and what a putrid fruit it is!
Yet in the spirit of generosity and goodwill
for which I am rightly famed, let me first make
a positive comment about this digital disgrace,
difficult though that may seem. There is no
denying that this aesthetic aberration is more or
less correctly exposed, though as the camera was
set to Auto Exposure, it would have taken a truly
monumental level of photographic incompetence
to achieve anything less.
Now for the negative comments, and boy,
are they legion! To save space and so avoid a
vituperative reaction from the editor, I will try,
for once, to be brief.
The most fundamental and unfixable error to
make in photography is to have your image all out
of focus, as in this excruciating example. Blurry
images have no future other than in the trashcan
on the desktop of your computer, unless of course
you are a Fine Art student, in which case they
will probably earn you a First Class (Honours)
degree. Whether the reason for a fuzzy picture
is poor focusing, camera shake, a dirty lens or a
hazy or drizzly day, there is nothing you can do to
fix it, so don’t even try.
Another huge problem with this execrable
exposure is the light. Here in Oman it is a
welcome respite to have an overcast day from
time to time, but it does not follow that we should
all reach for our cameras as soon as the sun flits
behind a cloud. There really is no point in trying
to take a pleasing photograph on a grey day.
Yet another glaring fault with this creative
calamity is the composition, or rather, the lack
Every single compositional rule and guideline
has been flouted in this ignoble image, making it
seem as if the shutter release button was pressed
accidentally. And as for that rubbish bin that is
half-in, half-out of the picture, words fail me!
Let’s face it, there are some things in this world
that are just not meant to be photographed, and
a dirty old garbage can is pretty close to the top
of the list. When we take a picture of our chosen
subject matter, assuming we have one, it is
imperative not to be fixated only on that subject
as we look through the viewfinder. We must also
scrutinize the edges of the frame to ensure that
no unwanted elements are intruding.
Aside from all the technical no-nos that
contributed to this aesthetic misadventure, the
most serious problem of all is the subject matter,
or perhaps I should say, lack of subject matter.
What on earth was X thinking when he looked
through the viewfinder and pressed the shutter
release button? I have to admit that when I first
saw this frightful photo, I assumed that he must
have been sloshed at the time. But no, he assures
me that he was sober when he took this shameful
You see, just like writing a poem or a story,
painting a picture, making a sculpture, creating
a dance or shooting a film, taking a photograph
should be driven by a concept. When we
photograph our young kids, for example, we do
so with the intention of creating a memento of
them when they were cute, loving and obedient
that we can enjoy in future when they are brutish,
argumentative and truculent. But I ask you, what
possible reason could there have been for taking
the aesthetic atrocity that you see here?
The second calamitous composition up for
ruthless flaying today was taken by Y at a reptile
zoo in Goa. Unlike the first creative catastrophe,
it is possible to detect a concept behind this
shabby snap and a nod in the vague direction
of compositional rules. Nevertheless, there is
still plenty else to criticise. Look at the questions
below and select the most appropriate answers
for each, then compare your answers to the ones
I give at the end of the article.
Question 1: What idea might have driven the
taking of this photograph?
a. “I want to remember these ghastly creatures
show my friends when I get back to Oman.”
b. “Peeling yellow window frames make my
heart flutter.”
c. “I want a truly repugnant photograph to gift
to my mother-in-law.”
Question 2: How would you describe the light
in this photograph?
a. Romantic.
b. Depressing.
c. Uplifting.
Question 3: How would you describe the
exposure of this photograph?
a. Slightly too bright (over-exposed).
b. Slightly too dark (under-exposed).
c. About right (correctly exposed).
Question 4: This picture is blurry. Why?
a. The lens was not properly focused.
b. The shutter speed was too slow, causing
camera shake.
c. It was a hazy day.
Question 5: What is the most practical way
the photographer could have achieved a sharp
a. By using a tripod.
b. By telling the snakes to stop moving.
c. By increasing the ISO.
So, as you can see, there is a lot to be learned
from analysing photographic flops like these, and
a lot of fun to be had too as long as the creative
calamities under scrutiny were taken by someone
When you are a misunderstood, ahead-ofhis-time photographic prodigy such as I, the
world can be a hostile place and life can be pretty
tough. But I have to say that looking through
the hundreds of digital debacles on my friends’
memory cards cheered me up no end. I can’t even
remember the last time I laughed so much.
Q. 1: All are valid, though A seems the most
Q. 2: I would say B.
Q. 3: If the snakes are the subject, then B.
Q. 4: B.
Q. 5: C.
‘Three Magi’ by Rubens reunited in Washington
Washington museum is reuniting
for the first time in 130 years three
paintings of the Magi, or wise men,
by Flemish master Peter Paul Rubens.
The bust-length portraits of biblical
figures Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar,
painted around 1618, were long separated
after being sold at auction in Paris.
The National Gallery of Art hailed the
exhibition as a “rare opportunity for visitors
to see all three of Rubens’ kings together
Rubens painted the three Magi — who
brought gifts to the baby Jesus, according
to Christian tradition — for his childhood
friend Balthasar Moretus, who was named
with his two brothers after the wise men.
The painting believed to be of Balthasar
“The Three Magi reunited” by Peter Paul Rubens at the National Gallery of Art. — AFP
is owned by the Museum Plantin-Moretus
in Antwerp, Belgium, while the Museo de
Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico holds the old
king believed to be Gaspar and the National
Gallery keeps middle-aged Melchior in its
At the time of the commission, the
painter’s friend Balthasar Moretus the Elder
(1574-1641), headed Plantin Press, the
largest publishing house in 16th- and 17thcentury Europe.
“At the time, the Adoration of the
Magi was a common subject in art, but
these intimate paintings take the kings out
of their usual narrative setting,” National
Gallery Director Earl Powell III said in a
Beczala to perform with the Czech
National Symphony Orchestra
OLISH tenor Piotr Beczala
(pictured) will perform at the
Royal Opera House Muscat
on March 26 with his concert of arias,
accompanied by the renowned Czech
National Symphony Orchestra.
The concert, which will be conducted
by Russian maestro Guerassim
Voronkov, will feature a selection of
arias from romantic and comedic
19th century Italian, Czech, French
and German operas and operettas,
revealing Beczala’s diversity and range,
not to mention his beautiful voice and
impressive characterisation.
The programme includes ‘Vidino
divná, presladká’ from Dvorak’s opera
Rusalka, ‘Parmi veder le lagrime’
from Verdi’ opera Rigoletto, ‘L’amour!
l’amour!... Ah! leve-toi, soleil!’ from
Gounod’s opera Romeo and Juliet
and ‘Dein ist mein ganzes Herz’ from
Lehar’s operetta Das Land des Lächelns
(The Land of Smiles), as well as some of
Beczala’s other favourites.
ROHM’s Artistic Director Umberto
Fanni said: “Piotr Beczala has a
wonderful voice and has a natural
elegance on stage. He’s a wonderful
performer and very sought-after by the
leading opera companies today. We are
also lucky to have the excellent Czech
National Symphony Orchestra and
Maestro Voronkov, who has such talent
and experience.”
Piotr Beczala was born in Poland
in 1966. He studied at the Katowice
Academy of Music and made his debut
in 1992 at Landestheater Linz. His
career has taken him to the world’s
top opera houses including New York’s
Metropolitan, the Opéra National de
Paris, the Royal Opera House Covent
Garden and the Vienna State Opera. He
is acclaimed for his golden voice and
acting skills, bringing each character to
life with ease.
Guerassim Voronkov, conductor,
pianist, violinist and composer, was
born in Moscow in 1960. His illustrious
career has taken him around the world,
working with opera companies and
orchestras in countries as diverse as
Desmark, Estonia, Spain and Colombia.
The Czech National Symphony
Orchestra was founded in 1993 by
trumpet player Jan Hasenöhrl. It’s
known for its versatility and ease
playing any genre of music, from
classical and opera to jazz and movie
soundtracks. The orchestra is based in
Prague but tours internationally on a
regular basis.
Piotr Beczala will perform one
concert. For more information visit
Foto fiascoes and how to avoid them Khloe Kardashian goes all-white Trisha’s next a horror-comedy FOLLOW US ON:
The city looks like a Christmas tree
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A tryst with the
WHITE mountain
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ulminating at 600m
in altitude, the
White Mountain is
located just behind
The first time I
climbed up this peak was back in 2005
along with my friend Mark aka ‘The
flying Majnoon’, Josh his son and Kevin
my son. That day we did not manage
to reach the summit as we started our
exploration trip late in the day and
we did not have any headlamps to
climb down safely in case it got dark
before we reached our car. The descent
was quite stressful because we were
uncertain to reach our vehicle before
Since then, I went back several
times with some family and friends.
The hike is quite steep with a
difference of height of around 500m in
a very short distance.
The climb starts in the wadi bed
near a graveyard.
After reaching a high-tension
electric tower there is a goat trail on
the right side of the wadi that we
followed for a short distance, then no
more marked path and one has to find
his way up in the mountain following
the wadi.
It takes around one hour to reach higher than the one to the west.
the top of that canyon between two
Another 30 minutes of hiking and
mounts with the one to the east we reached the highest peak from
approximately one hundred metres which we had a 360 degrees superb
Shu’ tree on a steep slope
panoramic view. To the east we could
see Qurum and Al Fahal Island, to
the north Al Ghubrah, to the west Al
Seeb and to the south Al Amerat. In
this place people had built many cairns
(stone foundations) to mark their
I remember once, we decided
along with Craig, a friend of mine
to climb the White Mountain one
late afternoon, to enjoy the sunset
and climb down at night-time in the
moonlight. We reached the top of the
mountain around half past five in the
afternoon. The sun was already quite
low. I managed to take some pictures
of Bausher before it got dark. The view
at night from the top of the mountain
is magnificent. The city looks like a
Christmas tree with all the lights of the
streets and buildings.
We could distinguish many
important landmarks in the city. For
example the Grand Mosque of Sultan
Qaboos is superbly lit with its majestic
cupola. We took a few photos of the
city and climbed down to our vehicle
with our headlamps.
Another memorable trip was with
my friend and previous ‘adventure
partner’ in Oman, Tufan. That evening
there was no moon at all and we
realised that the lights of the city were
enough to find our way without even
the light of our headlamps.
One interesting spot on the way to
the summit of the White Mountain is a
rock face of around 40m in the middle
of the wadi where I set up anchors for
climbing. We take beginners to have
their first experience in rock climbing
and abseiling there.
Rock face of around 40m in the middle of the wadi: perfect for novice climbers
The moon above
the White Mountain
People built many cairns
to mark their passage
Hindu Kush mountain range turning warmer: experts
HERE are strong indications that
the Hindu Kush, a mountain range
extending west of the Himalayas,
would be warmer and precipitation would
increase, international water experts said on
management that requires sharing data
and information between the upstream
and downstream areas, not only within the
country but also at the trans-boundary level.
“Technological innovations based on
satellite information, in combination with
ground-based data, can be transformed
into information that can prove vital in
saving lives and properties,” Santosh Nepal
and Arun B Shrestha, water experts for the
Kathmandu-based International Centre
for Integrated Mountain Development
(ICIMOD), said.
The Hindu Kush Himalayan region
depends on water resources for irrigation,
food, hydropower, sanitation, and industry,
as well as for the functioning of many
important ecosystem services.
World Water Day, falls on March 22 and
this year’s United Nations theme is ‘Water
and sustainable development’.
In a write-up, ‘The Himalayan waters:
Complex challenges and regional solutions’,
the experts said agriculture is a major
contributor to the gross domestic product
(GDP) of countries in the Hindu Kush
Himalayan region.
In Nepal, it contributes to 35 per cent of
the national GDP. The Indus River system
is a source of irrigation for about 144,900
hectares of land, whereas the Ganga basin
provides irrigation for 156,300 hectares of
agricultural land.
The experts said Koshi Flood Outlook
being developed by ICIMOD and its national
partners in Nepal and India have high
potential for saving lives and properties in
the basin. Such efforts should be promoted
widely in the region, they said.
During the Jure landslide in August
2014 in Nepal’s Sindhupalchowk district, in
which the Sunkoshi river was blocked for
several days, a great concern emerged from
the Indian side regarding the status of the
landslide and the likelihood of an outburst
The flood outlook was helpful in providing
important information. This example shows
that disaster risk reduction could be an entry
point for immediate regional cooperation,
said the article.
It warned that due to its physical setting,
the Hindu Kush Himalayan region is prone
to various water-induced hazards.
Every year during the monsoon, the
floods bring havoc to the mountains and the
plains downstream. These floods are often
trans-boundary. Globally, 10 per cent of all
floods are trans-boundary and they cause
over 30 per cent of all flood casualties.
Many big rivers like the Sindhu (Indus),
Ganga and the Brahmaputra originate
from the snow and glacier covered high
mountains, and have abundant seasonal and
annual water supply.