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P20 ‘Post Modern Skateboard’ has no board whatsoever
VOL. 34 NO. 135 | PAGES 32 | BAISAS 200
P32 Piotr Beczala: A world-class tenor
P25 Clarke quits ahead of World Cup summit clash
Chief Executive Officer
Oman Establishment for Press, Publication and Advertising
PO Box 974, Postal Code 100, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
Oman GDP grows 5.2 pc Nigeria votes to elect president Cameron launches re-election bid [email protected]
HM receives
MUSCAT: His Majesty Sultan Qaboos
has received a cable of greetings from
King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud of
the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the
occasion of His Majesty’s safe return to
his homeland. On his own name and on
behalf of the people and government
of Saudi Arabia, King Salman expressed
best greetings to His Majesty wishing
him good health and happiness and
the Omani people further progress and
Oman Air losses
reduced by 4pc
MUSCAT: Oman Air’s shareholders
yesterday received financial results for
2014 at the airline’s Annual General
Meeting , held at the company
headquarters in Muscat. Oman Air’s
Chairman, Darwish bin Ismaeel al
Balushi, and Chief Executive Officer,
Paul Gregorowitsch, each provided
reports covering the company’s financial
and operational progress over the
last full year, said a press statement.
Shareholders heard that Oman Air’s
revenues increased by four per cent, to
RO 398.389 million. Furthermore, the
airline’s losses were reduced by four per
cent to RO 95.866 million.
O WATER: SSur to
t gett one more plant,
l t
expansion of existing facility on cards
Salalah to get new
desalination plant
March 28: Two new independent
water projects (IWPs) — one each in
Sharqiyah and Dhofar governorates —
will be set up over the next five years by
state-owned Oman Power and Water
Procurement Company (OPWP) to
meet increasing demand for water.
Ahmed bin Saleh al Jahdami, OPWP
CEO, said Salalah will get its first IWP.
“We are looking to have one new
water project in Salalah, which could
be of around 18 – 22 million gallons /
day capacity. The exact capacity is still
under study. Also under consideration
is another plant in the Sharqiyah area.
While we are working on the expansion
of the existing IWP at Sur (operated by
Sharqiyah Desalination Company), we
also see the potential for an additional
IWP to support the requirements of the
Sharqiyah as a whole.”
Al Jahdami was speaking to
journalists after signing agreements
with the newly established Qurayat
Desalination Company, which was
awarded a licence to build, own and
operate a new 200,000 cubic metres per
day capacity IWP in Qurayat in Muscat
The CEO said that ongoing water
desalination projects as well as schemes
planned over the next five years were
expected to double the Sultanate’s
aggregate desalination capacity from the
sector to
invest $1.8bn
in new water
„Water desalination
capacity to double
by 2020
„Sector set to achieve
100 per cent Omanisation
„Water-only projects bode
well for electricity
spot market
per day
million cubic
metres per day
by 2020. This capacity increase would
entail an investment of around $1.8
billion from the private sector over the
next five years, he said.
Two new water desalination projects
are also planned at Sohar and Barka
with a combined 531,000 cubic metres
per day. Additional capacity is also
under development at Al Ghubrah in
Muscat Governorate.
People in Barka on Saturday celebrated HM’s return. — ONA
Oman seeks peaceful settlement in Yemen
SHARM EL SHEIKH: Arab leaders,
gathering for an annual Arab League
summit, acknowledged on Saturday that
mounting turmoil and radicalism in
the region pose a serious threat to their
countries’ stability. His Highness Sayyid
Asaad bin Tareq al Said, Representative
of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, led the
Sultanate’s delegation to the summit.
At the summit, HH Sayyid Asaad
said the Sultanate is backing to a
peaceful solution to the Yemeni crisis.
“The Sultanate supports the peaceful
ways for solving the crisis in Yemen.
We back dialogue rather than war and I
think that we are going to overcome the
challenges but we need to a unified Arab
stance” HH Sayyid Asaad expressed his
hope that Arabs will show wisdom and
come out of the current crisis noting
that there are many problems in the
world and they need time to be solved
and not in one meeting.“ We hope that
this meeting arrive at wise far-reaching
visions and we have noticed that the
Arab leaders are determined to reach a
unified stance.”
In opening remarks at the
conference, Egyptian President AbdelFattah al Sissi said the spread of violent
militancy threatens Arab countries with
“This challenge to the identity of
the Arab nation brings along another
challenge bearing on this nation’s direct
security,” he told the gathering that
The gathering comes two days after
Saudi Arabia and fellow Arab countries,
including Egypt, unleashed an air
campaign in Yemen targeting Houthis.
Saudi King Salman vowed to press
ahead with the bombing campaign until
stability and security are restored to the
impoverished country, which borders
Saudi Arabia.
His vow to continue the military
action was welcomed by Yemeni
President Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi,
who has been locked in a power struggle
His Highness Sayyid Assad bin Tareq al Said, Representative of His Majesty the
with the Houthis in recent months. Later
Sultan, at the 26th Arab Summit in Sharm el Sheikh yesterday.
on Saturday, Hadi left along with King
started on Saturday in the Egyptian Red renewed his suggestion for creating Salman for Saudi Arabia amid reports
Sea resort town of Sharm el Sheikh.
a pan-Arab military force to tackle that the Yemeni leader will not return to
Yemen soon.
Al Sissi, an ex-military general, militancy in the region.
— Agencies
Earth Hour’s goal is to raise awareness on sustainable energy use and stop climate change
World switches off power for an hour
A woman carries her child as she waits for their flight to leave Yemen via Sanaa
Airport on Saturday. Saudi Arabia’s navy evacuated dozens of diplomats from
Yemen and the United Nations pulled out international staff on Saturday after a
third night of Saudi-led air strikes trying to stem advances by Houthi fighters.
— Reuters
iconic skyline dimmed and the sails on
Sydney’s Opera House went dark on
Saturday, as lights on landmarks across
the world including those in Oman
were switched off for the global climate
change awareness campaign Earth
Hour. In Muscat, Enviroment Society
of Oman organised Earth Hour. Several
institutions including the Sultan Qaboos
Grand Mosque swtiched off lights from
8.30 pm to 9.30 pm.
Millions took part around the
world in the annual event organised
by conservation group WWF, with
hundreds of well-known sights
including the Eiffel Tower in Paris and
the Seattle Space Needle plunged into
“It’s almost like the thing vanished,”
said Tony Jennings from Earth Hour
after standing under the Sydney Harbour
Bridge as the lights went off. Hong
Kong’s signature high-rise skyline along
the Victoria Harbour was a shadow
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Ghubra on Saturday during Earth Hour.
of itself, with usually lit-up skycrapers
In Taiwan the lights went off on the
standing dark — among them were Taipei 101 tower, the world’s tallest
the city’s tallest building, the 118-story building before it was overtaken by
International Commerce Centre.
Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, while in Kuala
Lumpur the usually dazzling Petronas
Twin Towers were dark.
In Singapore all Earth Hour events
were cancelled because of the mourning
following the death of the city-state’s
founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.
In Australia, the initiative this year
is focusing on farming, with fears that
rising temperatures could ultimately
damage the country’s ability to produce
food. Rising temperatures, increased
pests and weeds, changes in planting
times, and more extreme weather
events were already beginning to impact
Earth Hour takes place from
8:30 pm local time, and encourages
citizens, communities, businesses and
organisations to switch the lights off
for an hour to highlight the plight of
the planet. This year it comes ahead
of a crucial UN meeting in Paris in
December which is bringing together
the global community in an effort to
limit global warming.
— Agencies
S U N DAY l M A R C H 2 9 l 2 0 1 5
The 4th version of the
Modern Family Consumer
Exhibition 2015 was opened
in Sohar yesterday. More
than 90 companies from UAE,
Iran, Egypt, Syria, Yemen,
China, India, Pakistan,
besides a number of Omani
companies are taking part at
the 7-day exhibition.
Arab Women Media to organise conference on social responsibility
MUSCAT: The Arab Women Media will organise a Social Responsibility
Conference at the College of Tourism on April 29.
The conference aims to shed light on the status of the Omani private
companies and investments in taking care of social responsibility and cement
a culture of responsibility in the private sector enterprises in light of the
growing role of the Omani non-governmental organisations (NGO) and the
growth of the Omani private sector.
Business delegation
to visit Ethiopia
MUSCAT: Dr Salim bin
Nasser al Ismaili will head
on Tuesday to the Ethiopian
Omani business delegation,
of 20 Omani exporting
The visit aims to explore
more business opportunities,
organising bilateral meetings
between Omani exporters
and a number of Ethiopian
importers, as well as opening new marketing outlets in the
Ethiopian market, in particular and the African markets in
These meetings come as part of Ithraa plan for the
current year, which included organising bilateral meetings
in a number of target countries, based on the study recently
conducted by Ithraa through a specialised consulting firm.
Based on that study, the possibility to export nearly 60 local
products to the Ethiopian market was examined.
Nassima bint Yahya al Balushiyah (pictured), DirectorGeneral of the Export Development in Ithraa, said that the
study of foreign markets is one of the most important tools
provided by Ithraa for Omani manufacturers and exporters
in order to facilitate the delivery of Omani products to
foreign markets and compete there.
The conference will discuss ways to promote social responsibility and review
successful experiences in the field of social responsibility by a number of leading
NGOs in the field of community service and national institutions.
A number of government agencies, private sector institutions and companies,
NGOs, researchers and those interested in the issue of social responsibility, in
addition to corporate, commercial and industrial facilities seeking to develop
the concept of social responsibility will participate in the conference. — ONA
MARCH 29 l 2015
PEACE MAKER: The Arab region is badly in need of the wisdom of His Majesty the Sultan to help resolve issues
HM receives greetings
from Saudi, Bahraini
and Moroccan kings
His Majesty Sultan Qaboos welcoming Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and British Prime Minister David Cameron in these file photos. — ONA
MUSCAT: With the auspicious return
of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos to the
homeland after successfully completing
the treatment programme in Germany,
hopes are great that such return
will contribute to promoting peace
and stability in the region, as well as
containing the challenges and risks
facing it.
While expressing their congratulations
for His Majesty the Sultan’s safe return,
the Arab and world leaders pointed out
that the Arab and Gulf region is in bad
need for the wisdom of His Majesty the
Sultan to help in resolving many conflicts
facing the region.
While the Sultanate is very keen on
promoting principles, such as good
neighbouring, non-interference in others
affairs, cooperation with countries of the
region and the world to achieve common
interest, compliance with international
law and legitimacy, His Majesty the
Sultan still believes that it is important
to take every possible effort to serve the
interests of the countries and peoples in
the region.
The US-Iranian meetings, facilitated by the Sultanate, paved the way
for September 2013 deal about the Iranian nuclear file. It also paved
the way for the ongoing talks.
The Sultanate has become a model for peace thanks to His Majesty
the Sultan’s wisdom, far-sighted vision and belief in the importance
of peace, security and stability for development.
The Sultanate has been a role model in demarcating border lines with
its neighbours by promoting the principle ‘no harm by or against’.
The Sultanate is making endeavours
to promote dialogue and resolve conflicts
as this will help in promoting peace in a
region that has been suffering for decades
the dire consequences of wars.
The Sultanate has become a model for
peace; thanks to His Majesty the Sultan’s
wisdom, far-sighted vision and belief in
the importance of peace, security and
stability for development.
The Sultanate has been a role model
in demarcating border lines with its
neighbours by promoting the principle
‘no harm by or against’.
The Sultanate’s strategic location
qualified it to become a logistic hub and
to play an important role in the trade and
transport between the Gulf region and
the world.
The Sultanate also endeavours to
defend its national interests and lands
against any infringements because the
type of peace promoted by the Sultanate
depends on mutual respect and good
The Sultanate, under the wise
leadership of His Majesty the Sultan,
voices the same stances whether outside
or inside the closed door meetings. It has
also been a model for working quietly
and sincerely to achieve the common
aims. It does not support severance of
relations with brothers. It is no strange
then that the Sultanate has become a
model of trust and high credibility with
countries of the world. The Omani
leadership is also highly esteemed by the
Gulf, Arab and world leaders as well.
In many Arab, Gulf and international
conflicts, the Sultanate’s stances were
proved to be right. It has proved its ability
to promote dialogue and help disputing
parties meet away from tension.
The US-Iranian meetings, facilitated
by the Sultanate, paved the way for
September 2013 deal about the Iranian
nuclear file. It also paved the way for the
ongoing talks.
The instances the Sultanates offices
have been successful are many; thanks to
His Majesty the Sultan’s strategic thinking
and awareness of the development of the
Omani history.
The Sultanate’s true values and its
solid base allow it to play a positive role in
promoting security, peace and stability.
It is not strange then that everyone is
happy for the safe return of His Majesty
the Sultan.
Local residents of the Wilayat of Mirbat organised a celebration on the auspicious occasion of His Majesty’s safe return to his homeland, yesterday. The
celebrations included maritime shows and folk arts at the Al Fardha beach followed by a huge march. People in other wilayats and governorates also
continued expressing their happiness over the return of His Majesty with celebrations and loyalty marches yesterday. — ONA
MUSCAT: His Majesty Sultan
Qaboos has received a cable of
greetings from King Salman bin
Abdulaziz al Saud of the Kingdom
of Saudi Arabia on the occasion
of His Majesty’s safe return to his
On his own name and on behalf
of the people and government
of Saudi Arabia, King Salman
expressed best greetings to His
Majesty wishing him good health
and happiness and the Omani
people further progress and
His Majesty Sultan Qaboos has
received a cable of greetings from
King Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa
of the Kingdom of Bahrain on
the occasion of His Majesty’s safe
return to his homeland.
The king expressed his best
greetings to His Majesty wishing
him good health and happiness
hailing the strong relations binding
the two nations and praying to
Allah the Almighty to protect His
Majesty and keep him to continue
the march of development in
the Sultanate and to fulfil the
aspirations of his people.
His Majesty Sultan Qaboos
has received a cable of greetings
from King Mohammed VI of
the Kingdom of Morocco on the
occasion of His Majesty’s safe
return to his homeland.
The king expressed his sincere
greetings coupled with his best
wishes to His Majesty praying
to Allah the Almighty to protect
His Majesty and grant him good
health and long life so as to carry
on leading his people on the path
of progress and development.
The king of Morocco also
renewed his profound pride of
the sincere brotherhood, friendly
understanding and the mutual
respect between the two nations
affirming his satisfaction over
the fruitful cooperation between
Oman and Morocco and their
keenness to further strengthen
and boost cooperation in what
brings about bounty to both the
friendly Omani and Moroccan
His Majetsy the Sultan also
received more congratulatory
cables on the occasion of his safe
return to his homeland from: HH
Shaikh Humaid bin Rashid al
Nuaimi, Member of the Supreme
Council of the UAE, Ruler of
Ajman; HH Prince Muqrin bin
Abdulaziz al Saud, Crown Prince,
Deputy Prime Minister of the
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; HH
Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed
al Nahyan, Crown Prince of
Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme
Commander of the UAE Armed
Forces, HH Shaikh Ammar bin
Humaid al Nuaimi, Crown Prince
of Ajman; Ahmed Dawood Oglu,
Prime Minister of the Republic of
They expressed their best
greetings and best wishes to His
Majesty praying to Allah to grant
him good health and happiness
and to Omani people more
progress and prosperity under the
wise leadership of His Majesty.
Sayyid Asaad meets with
Kuwaiti, Qatari emirs
SHARM EL SHEIKH: On the sidelines
of the 26th Arab Summit being held in
Egypt, Shaikh Sabah al Ahmed al Jabir
al Sabah, Emir of Kuwait, received
HH Sayyid Asaad bin Tareq al Said,
Representative of His Majesty the Sultan,
who is leading the Sultanate’s delegation
to the summit.
Sayyid Asaad conveyed the greetings
of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos along with
his wishes of good health and happiness
to the Emir of Kuwait and the friendly
people of Kuwait further progress and
The Emir of Kuwait asked Sayyid
Assad to pass on his greetings along with
his wishes of good health and happiness
to His Majesty and the Omani people
further progress and prosperity.
The two sides discussed bilateral
relations between the two friendly
nations and a number of topics of
common concern.
HH Sayyid Asaad also received
Shaikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani,
Emir of Qatar.
HH Sayyid Asaad conveyed the
greetings of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos
to the Emir of Qatar wishing him good
health and happiness and the Qatari
people further progress and prosperity.
The Emir of Qatar asked Sayyid
Assad to pass on his greetings to His
Majesty wishing him good health and
happiness and the Omani people further
progress and prosperity.
Bilateral relations between Oman
and Qatar, and the issues of the regional
and international levels were discussed
during the meeting which was attended
by Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdallah,
Minister Responsible for Foreign
Affairs, on the Omani side and Shaikh
Khalid bin Khalifa al Thani, Head of
Emir Diwan, and Ali bin Fahad al Hajri,
Secretary for Political Affairs of HH the
Emir of Qatar, from the Qatari side.
Oman Establishment for Press, Publication and Advertising (OEPPA) switched off its
lights yesterday evening in support of the global movement for the Earth Hour.
Salalah to get new desalination plant
This part of an effort to meet national
water demand growing at the rate of
around 6 per cent annually, he said.
On the rationale behind procuring
water-only schemes which run on
electricity from the grid, as opposed
to Independent Water and Power
Projects (IWPPs), Al Jahdami said,
“These decisions are guided by the
necessity to locate the new capacity in
the proximity of (demand) or when the
timing for water needs differs from the
timing for electricity needs. Also, with
the advancement of water desalination
technology, we are noticing a shift in the
use of reverse osmosis (RO), which in
any event involves the use of electricity
from the grid. Thus, even if water and
electricity capacity are jointly procured,
the bidder still goes in for RO plants that
use electricity. Furthermore, as we are
planning for an electricity spot market in
MARCH 29 l 2015
Oman Air losses reduced by
4pc to less than RO 96 million
HEALTHY GROWTH: Airline’s activities deliver social and economic returns of RO 420m
March 28: Oman Air’s shareholders
yesterday received financial results for
2014 at the airline’s Annual General
Meeting (AGM), held at the company
headquarters in Muscat.
Oman Air’s Chairman, Darwish bin
Ismaeel al Balushi, and Chief Executive
Officer, Paul Gregorowitsch, each
provided reports covering the company’s
financial and operational progress over
the last full year, said a press statement.
Shareholders heard that Oman Air’s
revenues increased by four per cent, to
RO 398.389 million. Furthermore, the
airline’s losses were reduced by four per
cent to RO 95.866 million.
In addition, Oman Air carried 5.1
million passengers in 2014, up from 4.9
million the previous year. More than
23,500 round trips were recorded and
capacity in 2014 rose to 15.2 billion
available seat kilometres, with an
average seat factor of 74.4 per cent being
The year also saw Oman Air
consistently add new aircraft to its
fleet, with the first of the Airbus A330s
and Boeing B737s it has had on order
being delivered in the fourth quarter.
The airline has also opened four new
destinations our established routes.
Oman Air’s staff at Muscat International
Airport also handled 41,450 flights and
8.7 million passengers over the course
of the year. Of these flights, 18,000
were operated by airlines other than
Oman Air, resulting in an increase to
RO 18 million in the total handling fees
received in 2014.
Oman Air’s catering division served
6.7 million meals in 2014, up from 6.5
million in 2013, and increased revenues
year-on-year by three per cent. A healthy
growth in income from rooms, food and
beverages was also recorded.
Al Balushi, commented: “Oman Air
is guided by a development plan which
was endorsed by the Board of Directors
in 2013. This has seen our company
invest significantly in new narrow-body
and widebody aircraft, new destinations,
technology and staff. The size of our fleet
is expected to increase as per this plan
to 50 aircraft by 2018, with a further
increase to 70 aircraft being achieved by
“In parallel with the onset of this
ambitious expansion, we have continued
our focus on quality, productivity
and increasing revenues over the full
course of the year. Throughout, we
have held fast to two fundamental
aims: to ensure that every Oman Air
customer experiences the best possible
products and services, and to pursue our
unwavering commitment to achieving
“It is therefore with a sense of
satisfaction that we have carried more
passengers to more destinations than
ever before. We have increased our
capacity and the number of round trips
we have operated. We have served more
meals and handled more passengers at
“And, crucially we have increased our
Oman Air carried 5.1 million
passengers in 2014, up
from 4.9 million the
previous year.
revenues by four per cent to more than
RO 398 million, and reduced our loss by
four per cent to less than RO 96 million.
“As a result, Oman Air is a leaner,
fitter and more efficient business. We are
well positioned for continued expansion
and have confirmed our advance
towards profitability.
“Furthermore, a recent study on
the contributions made by businesses
to the national economy showed that
Oman Air’s operational activities have
delivered social and economic returns
for the Sultanate of Oman of RO 420
million. This underlines the importance
of the role played by the national carrier
in fulfilling the social and economic
objectives of the national economy.
“I look forward to watching Oman
Air’s sustained progress in 2015, under
the dynamic and decisive leadership of
our new Chief Executive Officer, Paul
He went on to note that Oman
Air’s financial progress in 2014 was
matched by continuing improvements
in the passenger experience offered to
customers. Following the refurbishment
of Oman Air’s premium check-in facility
at Muscat, the airline opened its newlyupgraded First Class and Business Class
check-in facility in September. This was
complemented by excellent facilities
at Salalah International Airport, once
again confirming Salalah as a vital
station within Oman Air’s network.
In addition, in November 2014 Oman
Air unveiled brand-new Business Class
and Economy Class cabins. Each offers
outstanding space and comfort, whilst
also enabling the airline to increase the
number of passenger it carries.
He concluded by thanking his
colleagues on the Board of Directors,
the Executive Committee and the Audit
Committee, as well as Oman Air’s Chief
Executive Officer, senior managers and
staff. Finally, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos
and his Government were thanked
for their invaluable advice, timely
encouragement and wise guidance.
Sohar and Barka IWPs: 12 firms seek prequalification
Ahmed al Jahdami, CEO of OPWP
the future, we think this independence
of electricity and water projects will
bode well for this objective.”
Asked about Omanisation trends
in the power and related water sector,
the CEO said the industry was moving
aggressively to achieve the government’s
new stipulation calling for plant
operations to be fully Omanised.
submitted their particulars in a bid to
seek prequalification to participate in a
competitive tender for the establishment
of a pair of major Independent Water
Projects (IWPs) at Sohar and Barka on
Oman’s Batinah coast.
According to the state-owned Oman
Power and Water Procurement Company
(OPWP), which is overseeing the
procurement of the two water schemes,
qualification criteria were received on
Wednesday from consortiums led by:
Veolia (with Marubeni Corporation),
Itochu (with Degremon), GDF Suez,
Tedagua (with Sogex Oman LLC,
Korea Water Resources Corporation —
K-Water, UTICO and POSCO E&E Co
Ltd), Abengoa (with National Power &
Water Company LLC), Aqualia (with
Samsung Engineering Co Ltd), Valoriza,
Hyflux, GS Inima (with GS Engineering
& Construction and Acciona Aqua SA),
Sojitz Corporation, JGC Corporation,
and CITIC Construction Co (with Al
Sulaimi Group).
OPWP Chief Executive Officer
Ahmed bin Saleh al Jahdami described
the response to the Request for
Qualifications (RfQ) as “impressive”.
“We received a very good response to
the RfQ, which goes to show the level
of interest from the private sector in this
project. The submissions are currently
being evaluated and we hope to issue
a Request for Proposals (RfP) to the
prequalified firms (in due course). An
award will hopefully be announced in
Two successful bidders will go on to
secure a licence each to develop, finance,
design, engineer, construct, own, operate
and maintain either one of the two
water-only schemes. The Barka IWP,
with a contracted desalination capacity
of 281,000 cubic metres per day (61.8
million imperial gallons per day MIGD),
will be the larger of the two schemes.
The Sohar IWP, on the other hand, will
be sized at 250,000 cubic metres per day
(55.0 MIGD) of desalination capacity.
Studies indicate that Qumaira was one of the important areas of the early centuries
Ancient archaeological sites abound in Qumaira
DHANK: Qumaira is located in the
northern part of the Wilayat of Dhank
in Al Dhahirah Governorate. It is 60
km from the centre of the wilayat and
has many archaeological sites, most of
which are located in the villages and the
surrounding areas.
Of those archaeological sites are
the graves of Bani Sa’eda Spring in the
village of Bani Sa’eda Spring, 7 km south
of the town of Qumaira. It contains
circular tombs dating back to the prehistory period, according to estimates
by archaeologists at the Ministry of
Heritage and Culture, and they are
similar to those cemeteries in the village
of Bat in the Wilayat of Ibri.
Qumaira old neighbourhood is
characterised as a fortified area where
the whole neighbourhood is located
inside a wall with three protection
towers, in addition to the presence
of gates that control the traffic in and
out of the neighbourhood. There is
also a fortress in the middle of the
neighbourhood where headquarters of
the village shaikh is located, in addition
to a well equipped with conventional
machines to raise water. The well is used
in times of siege to meet the needs of
the population for the water. “Al Sabla”
is located in at the centre where men
of the tribe meet and entertain their
Of the towers that surround the
neighbourhood is 20-metres Burj Al
Ouqaiba (Ouqaiba Tower), which is
located in the south-eastern corner
of the neighbourhood and used for
observation and watching. The tower is
characterised by its height overlooking
the palm farms. It was built of stone and
plaster in the fourth century AH.
Al Burj Al Shamali (North Tower)
is located in the northeastern corner
of the neighbourhood. It consists of
two floors. It is designed to protect the
neighbourhood from the north. It is
built of mud and bricks.
Ouqaiba gate is located in the
eastern side of the neighbourhood.
It is the largest gate for the camels
laden with goods to neighbourhood.
It is also used for the entry of people,
goods and animals (camels), where it
is the only corridor for camels into the
neighbourhood. The gate was closed
with a huge wooden door with trunks
of palm trees to protect it of breakage in
the case of an attempt to attack the gate.
The south gate (palm gate) is located
on the south side of the neighbourhood
and it passes through the palm trees
tower, and used by the townspeople to
get into the palm groves and the falaj
“ancient irrigation system or water
Qumaira neighbourhood contains
houses that are built of mud, stones and
their roofs are made of palm fronds,
and other strong timber Sidr wood and
trunks of palm trees.
There are many forts and towers
located near the village of Qumaira
including Al Aqeer Fort and Tower,
which is located 5 km south of Qumaira
town and is used by people of the town
as one of the front lines to protect the
town from attack.
Qumaira contains ruins of old stone
buildings, in addition to rocks chopped
in regular forms. Archaeologists said
that these could be windows of BC
graves. There are also Wheat Mills
(grain), located near agricultural areas
in Wadi Al Hayoul and Al Muraibi.
They are hollow rocks to beat wheat
and grains. Qumaira village is famous
for sites to the extraction of copper.
The studies conducted by the
Ministry of Heritage and Culture
indicate that Qumaira is one of the
important areas in the early centuries,
which had links with Wadi Al Jizzi area
in Sohar and Bat in Ibri. It contains
traces of copper extracted from Wadi Al
Jizzi area and the region is considered
an outlet to export this metal. — ONA
MARCH 29 l 2015
Sultanate’s GDP grows 5.2pc
MUSCAT: According to preliminary data on
national accounts, the Sultanate’s Gross Domestic
Product at current prices increased by 5.2 per cent
during the three quarters (January-September) of
2014 as compared to 2.6 per cent growth registered
over the same period in 2013.
While nominal GDP emanating from the
hydrocarbon sector registered a marginal increase
of 1.4 per cent, that from non-hydrocarbon
activities witnessed a growth of 8.2 per cent during
January-September 2014.
The bulletin released by the Central Bank
of Oman (CBO) pointed out that the balance
of payments situation remained comfortable
with both current account and overall position
in surplus. Annual inflation rate measured by
movement in the average CPI for the Sultanate
stood at 0.4 per cent in January 2015 over January
The total assets of commercial banks increased
by 11.8 per cent to RO 25.3 billion in January 2015
from RO 22.7 billion a year ago. Of the total assets,
credit disbursement accounted for 67 per cent and
increased by 11.1 per cent as at end January 2015 to
RO 16.9 billion.
Credit to the private sector increased by 11 per
cent during the period to reach RO 14.7 billion as
at the end of January 2015. Of the total credit to
the private sector by end January 2015, the share
of the non-financial corporate sector stood at 47.7
per cent, closely followed by the household sector
(mainly under personal loans) at 45.6 per cent,
financial corporations at 4.8 per cent and other
sectors the remaining 1.9 per cent.
Commercial banks’ overall investments in
securities increased by 10.6 per cent to RO 3.05
billion as at the end of January 2015 from RO
2.7 billion a year ago. Of total investments, CBO
CDs stood at RO 1.4 billion while investment
in Government development bonds (GDBs)
stood at RO 564 million as at the end of January
2015. Commercial banks’ investments in foreign
securities increased by 37.8 per cent to RO 737.6
million in January 2015.
Aggregate deposits held with commercial
banks registered a significant increase of 10.5 per
cent to RO 17.4 billion in January 2015 from RO
witness increase of 8.2 per cent
Q CREDIT to private sector up by 11 per
cent to RO 14.7 billion
Q ASSETS of banks increases by 11.8 per
cent to RO 25.3 billion
Q TOTAL deposits with Islamic banks
register RO 681.4 million
15.8 billion a year ago. Government deposits with
commercial banks increased by 15.1 per cent to RO
5 billion. Deposits of public enterprises declined
by 7.3 per cent to RO 0.9 billion during the same
Private sector deposits, which constituted 65
per cent of total deposits with commercial banks,
increased by 11.1 per cent to RO 11.3 billion in
January 2015 from RO 10.2 billion a year ago.
Sector-wise, the share of households was 48.4
per cent of the total private sector deposit base,
followed by non-financial corporations at 29.3
per cent, financial corporations at 20.1 per cent
and other sectors at 2.2 per cent. Islamic banking
entities provided financing to the extent of RO
1,110.9 million as at the end of January 2015 when
compared to RO 467.6 million a year ago.
Total deposits held with Islamic banks and
windows also registered a significant increase to
RO 681.4 million in January 2015 from RO 181.5
million outstanding as at the end of January 2014.
The total assets of Islamic banks and windows
combined, amounted to RO 1355.7 million as at
the end of January 2015, which constituted about 5
per cent of the banking system assets.
Monetary management during the year
continued to be faced with abundance of bank
liquidity and the primary focus of CBO was
to ensure appropriate levels of liquidity in the
banking system, so as to avoid internal and external
As at the end of January 2015, narrow money
stock (M1) when measured on year-on-year basis,
grew sharply by 16.4 per cent driven both by the
increase in demand deposits by 17.5 per cent, as
well as increase in currency with the public by 12.9
per cent.
Quasi-money (RO savings and time deposits,
certificates of deposits issued by commercial
banks, margin deposits and foreign currency
denominated deposits) witnessed a growth of 11.3
per cent during the period.
Broad money supply M2 (ie M1 plus quasimoney) stood at RO 13,964.2 million at end of
January 2015, up from RO 12,350.7 million a year
ago, registering an increase of 13.1 per cent during
the period.
In respect of domestic interest rate structure of
commercial banks, both deposit and lending rates
softened during this period.
CBO’s policy interest rate for absorption of
surplus liquidity in the form of CBO CDs of 28
days maturity was 0.13 per cent in January 2015
same as in January 2014.
CBO’s policy rate for injection of liquidity,
ie repo rate remained unchanged at 1 per cent
since March 2012. The overnight RO domestic
inter-bank lending rate marginally declined from
0.135 per cent in January 2014 to 0.130 per cent in
January 2015.
The weighted average interest rate on RO
deposits declined from 1.141 per cent in January
2014 to 0.953 per cent in January 2015 while the
weighted average RO lending rate decreased from
5.397 per cent to 5.062 per cent during the same
Cruise ship Amsterdam called at the Port of Salalah with 885 passengers on board as part of her tourist programme which takes her to a number of the world
ports. — ONA
Big Show on Monday
MUSCAT: The 12th edition of the Big Show 2015 will kick off
on Monday at Oman International Exhibition Centre under
the auspices of Dr Rasheed bin al Safi al Huraibi, Chairman
of the Tender Board. The four-day exhibition is organised
by Oman Expo. The BIG Show 2015 (Builders International
Gathering) is an annual international exhibition that caters
to the building and construction industry in the Sultanate,
the Middle East and global markets.
It features an extensive range of the latest building
materials, construction equipment, wood machinery,
interior furnishings and other products, equipment and
technology for building and construction operations.
It was launched as Interiors and Buildex in 1996 and
rebranded The BIG Show in 2010 to further strengthen
its image and market positioning. The annual exhibition
provides a platform for local and international companies
to take advantage of major opportunities in the industry,
as well as to learn about the developments in the local and
global markets. — ONA
Telecom firms focus on
broadband to address
foreign competition
MUSCAT: Telecommunications companies
operating in the Sultanate said they have
managed to increase their revenues and
profits through benefiting from the growth
of broadband and data services. At the same
time, the revenues of local and international
calls witnessed a decline due to the
competition by the content service providers,
which allow their consumers to make voice,
video calls and SMSs free of charge.
Telecommunications Company (Omantel),
as well as Omani-Qatari Telecommunication
Company (Ooredoo) grew to RO 153.4
million compared to RO 148.3 million in
The consolidated profits for both
operators rose to RO 708.3 million compared
to RO 665.5 million in 2013.
The total assets of both companies as of
the end of December 2014 stood at RO 1,220
million compared to RO 1,096 million as of
the end of December 2013.
The total capitals of both companies stood
at RO 140.1 million.
The two companies pointed out at the
reports presented to shareholders that the
telecommunications sector in the Sultanate
is witnessing great changes to keep pace with
world developments.
They pointed out that the broadband
services have a very good potential for
While Omantel pointed out that content
providers growth contributed to weakening
the market value of the communication
services, it said that the fixed broadband
grew by 30.4 per cent in 2014. The mobile
broadband also grew by 32.1 per cent
compared to 15.4 per cent for the data
Omantel also pointed out that the number
of fixed broadband subscribers has recorded
the biggest growth ever achieved by the
On its part, Ooredoo said that it has
launched its new brand identity last year and
posted 12.1 per cent growth rates; thanks to
the increase in the revenues of the mobile
and fixed data services; thanks to the increase
in revenues from the mobile and fixed data
services and international calls as well.
In a bid to enhance competition and
increase revenues, Ooredoo has implemented
a project to enhance the strength of its
The project opened horizons for many new
services and products that help the company
meeting the needs and requirements of its
S U N DAY l M A R C H 2 9 l 2 0 1 5
A Thai princess has renamed an island in
the Andaman Sea after herself because
she was impressed with its natural
beauty. Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana
renamed Tachai Island, located in the
Similan National Park, to Sirivannavari
Island after being taken with its white
sandy beaches and clear waters. The
island was originally named Tachai Island
after the local navigator who found it.
Japanese whaling ships returned
home from the Antarctic on Saturday
for the first time in nearly 30 years
with no catch onboard, after a UN
court ordered an end to their annual
hunt, local media reported. The two
ships — the 724-tonne Yushinmaru
and the 747-tonne Daini Yushinmaru
— arrived at a port in Shimonoseki
city, a major whaling base.
NEW TREND: We can turn the seas of Asia into seas of peace and cooperation between the countries, says Xi
BOAO: Chinese President Xi Jinping
called on the world’s nations on Saturday
to support Beijing’s ideas for a new
development bank and “Silk Road”
strategy to serve Asia.
The bank initiative and plans to
improve overland and maritime trade
and transport routes were focal points of
the annual Boao Forum for Asia on the
southern island of Hainan.
“Facing the fast-changing regional
and international landscapes, we must
see the whole picture, follow the trends
of our times and build a new regional
order that is more favourable to Asia and
the world,” Xi told the delegates.
China will promote “coordinated
development between the Asian
— Reuters
Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) Chinese President Xi Jinping poses for pictures with attendees at the Boao forum in Hainan province yesterday.
and multilateral financial institutions
like the Asian Development Bank and investment abroad will exceed $500 shouldering more responsibility for proposed strategy has been developed
World Bank,” he said.
billion in five years.
world peace and development,” he said. with the aim of improving trade and
Xi also announced Chinese
“Being a big country means
Xi said a roadmap for China’s transport links in Asia.
HK marks half-year
anniversary of protests
Denmark’s Crown Prince Frederik looks at his wife Crown Princess Mary emerging from an igloo made of corrugated plastic at
an exhibition featuring the igloo and Greenland in Tokyo yesterday.
— Reuters
Malaysia arrests oppn
figures to thwart rally
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian police
arrested three leading opposition
politicians in a bid to thwart a protest
march on Saturday demanding the
release of jailed opposition leader
Anwar Ibrahim, his party said.
The protest went ahead anyway,
however, with several hundred people
taking to the streets of the capital Kuala
Lumpur to denounce the government
of Prime Minister Najib Razak.
The arrests are the latest in an
growing tally of sedition charges
levelled at government opponents amid
anger over Anwar’s jailing last month.
“This is an abuse of the sedition
law, and an abuse of everything. The
government is acting maliciously,” said
Tian Chua, a member of parliament
By speeding up connectivity-building
“we can turn the seas of Asia into seas of
peace and cooperation between Asian
countries,” Xi said.
The “New Silk Road Economic Belt”
plan aims to improve the infrastructure
linking China to Europe through Central
Asia and the 21st Century Maritime Silk
Road” plan aims to strengthen maritime
Details about the 21st Century
Maritime Silk Road initiative were also
discussed at a session. “The maritime
silk road... focuses on South and SouthEast Asian countries as well as building
connections with some African and
European countries,” State Councillor
Yang Jiechi told forum delegates.
China has already built joint
economic zones and ports in partnership
with countries including Vietnam, Laos,
Kazakhstan, Myanmar, Cambodia,
Greece and Sri Lanka.
— dpa
and vice president of Anwar’s People’s
Justice Party, shortly before he was
arrested on Saturday.
Police had banned the rally and said
participants faced arrest.
Demonstrators staged a short march
through the city towards its convention
centre, where participants had vowed to
disrupt wedding celebrations for Najib’s
Scores of police blocked them from
the area, and they later dispersed.
There were no arrests or violent
incidents reported.
Washington has been among
the international critics of Anwar’s
conviction and the crackdown on
dissent, saying both raised rule-of-law
Supporters of Malaysia’s opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim gather in Kuala Lumpur
yesterday during a protest demanding his release.
HONG KONG: Hundreds gathered
next to the Hong Kong government
headquarters on Saturday to mark
the half-year anniversary of mass
democracy protests and vowed to press
their fight for fully free elections for the
city’s next leader.
People handed out yellow ribbons,
a symbol of the protests, and gave
speeches in a carnival atmosphere
in stark comparison to the scene on
September 28 when police fired teargas
at protesters in the same location.
The Asian financial centre witnessed
months of unprecedented mass rallies,
known as the Umbrella Movement,
at the end of last year sparked by
restrictions Beijing placed on how the
city’s next leader will be chosen in 2017.
“What’s important today is that we all
gather here together to commemorate
the umbrella movement,” Ed Chin, one
of the organisers of the event, said.
Long queues formed at temporary
stalls where volunteers handed out
People raise yellow umbrellas, the
symbol of last year’s mass prodemocracy protest in Hong Kong,
paraphernalia, next to around 100 tents
that have remained at the government
complex even after major protest sites
were cleared in December.
People who saw friends they made
at the rallies exchanged hugs and
reminisced while some sang “Do You
Hear the People Sing?”, which protesters
adopted as their anthem.
World leaders arrive in Singapore for state funeral
Over 1.2m pay last respects
to Lee as wake ends
SINGAPORE: More than 1.2 million
people have paid their last respects to
Lee Kuan Yew at Parliament House and
community tribute sites islandwide, as
the public mourning period comes to
an end on Saturday evening.
About 415,000 people have done so
at Parliament House where the queue
for mourners officially closed at 8
pm, on Saturday, as scheduled. Some
850,000 people have also paid tribute
to Singapore’s founding father at the
various community sites, said Prime
Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
An update from the State Funeral
Organising Committee said the queue
for mourners to enter the legislature
would be closed at 8 pm in preparation
for the cremation on Sunday.
Surging crowds late on Friday forced
the government to suspend the queue
to enter parliament for safety reasons,
but it was reopened before dawn on
Saturday once the backlog was cleared.
Lee’s body has been lying in state
in parliament’s main lobby since
Wednesday after he died on Monday at
the age of 91. He is to be cremated in a
private ceremony on Sunday after a state
funeral to be attended by Asia-Pacific
leaders and world dignitaries.
Mourners queue to pay their respects to Singapore’s late former prime minister Lee
Kuan Yew at Parliament House in Singapore yesterday. — AFP
On Saturday, VIP visitors at the
public wake included Lee’s old friend
former US secretary of state Henry
Kissinger. By mid-afternoon on
Saturday, the wait for public mourners
before they could view Lee’s casket had
fallen to four hours from a peak of 10
“My mummy told me stories of how
Lee was a good leader for Singapore.
He has helped a lot of people by giving
them a clean and nice country to live
in,” said eight-year-old student Annabel
Lee, who was lining up with her mother.
The city-state has a population of
5.5 million, but only 3.34 million are
citizens. The rest are guest workers,
expatriates and their families.
People waited patiently at the queue
starting at the Padang, a large open field
used for sports, concerts and National
Day parades.
Manila hits
back at Beijing
over South
China Sea
MANILA: The Philippines on
Saturday shot back at Beijing’s
criticism of its activities in the
South China Sea, saying they were
“in no way comparable to China’s
massive reclamation activities” in
the waters.
It also said accusations that
Manila was being “hypocritical”
would not distract people from
Beijing’s own actions which were
raising regional tensions.
The statement by foreign affairs
department spokesman Charles
Jose was the latest volley in an
increasingly tense war of words over
the sea, parts of which are claimed
by both countries as well as Brunei,
Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.
maintenance and repairs on its
existing facilities in the West
Philippine Sea... is in no way
comparable to China’s massive
reclamation activities which not
only violate international law... but
also unnecessarily raise tensions,”
the statement said.
“West Philippine Sea” is the
term Manila uses for the South
China Sea where Filipino troops
and civilians occupy some islands.
The Philippines has recently been
among the most vocal in criticising
China’s development of isolated
outcroppings in the waters into
large facilities capable of hosting
bases and even airstrips. — AFP
Japan set
to extend
N Korea
TOKYO: Japan will likely extend
its sanctions against North Korea
because of Pyongyang’s delay in
reporting into its abductions of
Japanese citizens decades ago, the
Nikkei business daily reported on
Saturday without citing sources.
The government is poised to
decide on Tuesday on an extension
to a trade embargo on North Korea,
a ban on North Korea charter flights
and a prohibition on North Korean
ships entering Japanese ports, the
Nikkei said.
In 2002, North Korea admitted
kidnapping 13 Japanese citizens in
the 1970s and 1980s to help train
spies. Five of those abductee and
their families later returned.
North Korea said that the
remaining eight were dead and that
the issue was closed, but Japan has
been pressing for more information.
Last July, Japan lifted some of
sanctions against North Korea, such
as easing travel curbs, in return
for Pyongyang’s reopening of an
investigation into the abductees.
Tokyo will leave the partial
easing of some sanctions unchanged
but wants to keep pressure on
Pyongyang for not disclosing facts
about the kidnappings and the
launch of missiles early this month,
the Nikkei report said.
North Korea was supposed to
issue an initial report on a probe
into the kidnappings last September
but postponed it saying the
investigation was at an early stage.
There were informal talks
among officials between the two
sides this month and Japan’s
delegation threatened to impose
tougher sanctions if the report on
the abduction probe was delayed
further, the Nikkei said. — Reuters
MARCH 29 l 2015
Two Czech women kidnapped in Pakistan freed
BACK HOME: Humpalova and Chrastecka, both psychology students, were kidnapped on March 13, 2013 in Baluchistan province
PRAGUE: Two young Czech women
kidnapped in Pakistan in 2013 have been
freed and have returned home, Prime
Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said on
“I can confirm that Hana Humpalova
and Antonie Chrastecka have already
returned to the Czech Republic,” Sobotka
told the CT24 news channel.
He added that the two 26-yearold women were freed with the help
of the Turkish Muslim humanitarian
organisation IHH.
“I would like to ask the media to
respect the women’s privacy,” Sobotka
Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news
agency quoted Chrastecka as saying: “I
still can’t believe I am here. Even now, I
fear this is a dream.”
The agency said Chrastecka and
Humpalova had arrived in the eastern
Turkish province of Van late on Friday
following two months of “intense” talks.
Izzet Sahin, the IHH official leading
the negotiations with the kidnappers,
told the agency the families of the victims
had contacted the Turkish charity as
a last resort after exhausting all other
means to save the pair.
“We have put into use every tool at
our disposal to get them back. We have
delivered them to their families safely
today,” Sahin told Anadolu, adding that
the charity still did not know why the
Czechs had been kidnapped.
Humpalova and Chrastecka, both
psychology students, were kidnapped
on March 13, 2013, in the southwestern
Baluchistan province while being
escorted by a tribal policeman after
crossing into Pakistan from Iran on
In a video released shortly after the
kidnapping, the two young Czechs
pleaded for the release of Pakistani
neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui, jailed in
2010 in the United States on charges of
terrorist links.
In another video shot in August
2013 and released two months later,
Humpalova called on the Czech
government to exert pressure on
Islamabad to return her to her homeland
“as soon as possible”.
Speaking to Anadolu, Humpalova
said: “It was very hard. For the first time
in our lives we saw weapons and armed
“We still do not know why were taken.
There were weapons fired and bombs
going off. But we got used to it in time.”
She said the worst part of their twoyear ordeal was being apart from their
“From the first moment I was
A handout picture taken on Friday and released on Saturday by the IHH (The
Foundation for Human Rights and Freedom and Humanitarian Relief) shows two
Czech women Antonie Chrastecka (L) and Hana Humpalova posing after being
rescued in Van, eastern Turkey. — AFP
kidnapped, I wanted to be with them. I
am so happy right now and so excited,”
Chrastecka said.
Kidnappings plague parts of
Baluchistan and northwest Pakistan,
where criminals looking for ransoms
snatch foreigners and locals, sometimes
passing their hostages on to the Taliban
and al Qaeda-linked groups.
Meanwhile, Pakistan security forces
killed 30 militants in gun battles in the
Pakistan security forces
killed 30 militants in gun
battles in the mountainous
northwestern Khyber region
on Saturday, a senior official
said in Peshawar, but a
spokesman for the militants
denied suffering any losses.
the Lashkar-e-Islami, which announced
an alliance with the Pakistani Taliban
earlier this month, denied suffering
losses on Saturday.
Ayubi said fighting between their
fighters and Pakistani forces started early
on Saturday in parts of the valley.
“We didn’t suffer human losses. Our
fighters are engaged in fighting and didn’t
vacate their posts in Tirah,” he said.
Taliban sources said that leaders had
urged fighters to get to the valley and
support Lashkar-e-Islami.
The Pakistani and Afghan Taliban
share a similar ideology but operate as
separate entities. The Pakistani Taliban
is focused on toppling the state and
— Agencies
establishing strict rule.
Sri Lankan president’s
brother dies after axe attack
Nepalese devotees pull a chariot during the Seto (White) Machindranath chariot festival in Kathmandu on Friday. Hindu and Buddhist devotees from the ethnic
Newar community of Kathmandu valley celebrate the Seto Machindranath festival by pulling wooden chariots across the city.
Unprecedented support from Central Asian countries for saving the precious species
Pakistan to lead global initiative
for snow leopard protection
ISLAMABAD: A dozen countries
have supported Pakistan to lead
the global initiative for protection
of dwindling population of snow
conservation organisations from
12 countries including Russia and
China had voted for Minister of
Climate Change Mushahidullah
Khan as chairman of the Global Snow
Leopard and Ecosystem Protection
(GSLEP) programme, at its first
steering committee meeting held in
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan on March 20.
“We saw unprecedented support
from Central Asian countries,
Bhutan, Nepal and India among
other nations for saving the
dwindling population of the precious
species. We will make the best of this
support,” said the minister at a press
briefing to share the news here on
mountainous northwestern Khyber
region on Saturday, a senior official said
in Peshawar, but a spokesman for the
militants denied suffering any losses.
Both sides have been making
conflicting claims about their success in
clashes in Tirah Valley, near the Afghan
border, and there is no way to confirm
casualties independently as the area is
sealed off to journalists.
“The security forces had started
advancement towards the hilltops
where the terrorists had established
sanctuaries,” a senior security official
in Peshawar, who requested that he not
be identified, said. “So far, 30 terrorists
have been killed and a number of their
compounds destroyed.”
He said “fierce” fighting was
The bodies of 10 Pakistani Taliban
fighters were taken away along with
weapons and ammunition, the military
said in a statement. Three soldiers were
also wounded, it said.
The air force, struggling to reclaim
land lost to the militants years ago, has
been pounding positions in the Tirah
Valley for days and the military said
before Saturday’s clashes it had killed
more than 100 militants. At least seven
soldiers had also been killed, it said.
Salahuddin Ayubi, a spokesman for
“It’s a huge task. We will bring
all the conservationists and wildlife
specialists together to make use
of their expertise. There is little
information and research done on
one of the most elusive predators in
the world,” Mushahidullah Khan told
the mediapersons.
He said about 4,000 and 6,000
leopards were found in these 12
countries including Central Asian
States, Afghanistan, China, Bhutan
and India while Pakistan had 200 to
400 that roamed from the Hindukush,
Karakuram and Himalayan ranges
in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-
Baltistan and Azad Jammu and
Kashmir. “The exact numbers are not
known. The beautiful animal is the
favourite and easy prey for shepherds.
Loss of habitat is another reason
for their shrinking population,” said
the minister said.
Describing the snow leopard as
an integral part of biodiversity and
natural beauty, the minister shared
some initiatives such as getting
provincial governments on board,
which he described as a challenge.
“We will work for a common
goal. Establishing a national steering
committee, setting up cells in
provinces and working on trans
boundary issues for free movement
of the animal between Pakistan,
Afghanistan and India are some of
the other challenges that we will take
up to ensure survival rates of the
beautiful cat,” said the minister.
— Internews
COLOMBO: The youngest brother of Sri
Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena died
in hospital on Saturday after being attacked
by an axe wielding acquaintance two days
earlier, police said.
severe head injuries in his hometown of
Polonnaruwa, 215 kilometres north-east of
the capital Colombo, police said.
The local businessman’s death came as the
President was in China on a state visit.
The President’s office said he had
completed his visit and was due to return on
Sunday as previously arranged and would
be back in the country in time for Monday’s
“A personal dispute between the
president’s brother and a person known
to him ended in tragedy,” an official at the
president’s office said. “We have no reason to
suspect anything other than that.”
Sirisena ended a three-day official visit to
China on Friday and stayed on to address the
Boao Forum on Saturday, officials said.
Police said they arrested a man in
connection with the attack and an
investigation was underway. No further
details were given.
The government in a statement said
Priyantha, a father of three, was “attacked
during an altercation with a friend” on
Thursday evening.
Priyantha Sirisena, 42, had
suffered severe head injuries in
his hometown of Polonnaruwa,
215 km north-east of Colombo,
police said. “A personal dispute
between the president’s brother
and a person known to him
ended in tragedy,” an official
at the president’s office said.
“We have no reason to suspect
anything other than that.”
Official sources said Priyantha Sirisena
was the youngest in a family of 12 children.
He was flown to the capital for emergency
treatment, but his head injuries were so
severe that, despite a four-hour surgery, he
did not recover, doctors said.
Sirisena came to power following bitterly
fought January presidential elections.
Unlike most former Sri Lankan leaders,
President Sirisena has not extended personal
security for his siblings and extended family
and is known to have drastically scaled down
his own protection unit.
MARCH 29 l 2015
Welcome home
benevolent father
[email protected]
ave you ever missed a loved one to the extent that you felt desperate and hopeless!
Someone who you love, care about and sacrifice anything for him or her.
We Omanis are lucky to have a one of a kind man whom we all love beyond
expectation; we are undoubtedly ready to die for even. This man is His Majesty
Sultan Qaboos, May Allah protect him and grant him health and long life.
We missed His Majesty a lot in the past months while he was getting treatment
in Germany. He spent 8 months and 18 days there; we have not used to miss him
this long. It was very upsetting and frustrating indeed as we can’t bear his absence
from the country. However, we believed deep down in our hearts that His Majesty
was still with us; as usual he is always there for his people. Though he was a way,
he kept track on every single affair of the country and citizens.
After the long wait, His Majesty came back home on March 23. It was the day
of great joy and relief of all Omanis as His Majesty returned home safe and sound.
On this day, our feelings were mixed of happiness and thrill as we saw His Majesty
stepping down from the plane. It was a real
surprise which our hearts could have stopped
His Majesty is a leader
beating for! Our eyes welled up with tears and
our hearts of thanks to the Almighty Allah for not only to Omanis
protecting our father.
but also to people of
Out of extreme happiness, people all over
other nations. Since
the country went crazy on that moment
celebrating the good news of His Majesty’s His Majesty ascended
return. Some people have started firing on to the throne, he
air, some slaughtered their beasts as a sacrifice
devoted himself to
to thank Allah for His Majesty’s health while
others went marching on roads dancing and build the nation and
serve its people.We
The March 23 will be a memorable day
are enjoying the fruits
witnessed by every human being in Oman. We
all shared the joyous moments of celebrating of the long tiring
His Majesty’s return back home. On this day, journey of this great
the history of our nation repeated itself; it
commemorated the day of starting the Blessed
Renaissance on July 23, 1970. It has been a
similar occasion of celebrating the new era and
life for the country and people.
One might wonder why we love His Majesty so much? What is so unique
about him? What distinguishes him from other leaders? Simply, because he is
a benevolent father. His Majesty is not just a leader only to Omanis but also to
people of other nations. Since His Majesty ascended to the throne, he devoted
himself to build the nation and serve its people. His only concern was to make the
future brighter and bring in prosperous life to Omanis. Today, the dream comes
true and we are enjoying the fruits of the long tiring journey of this great man to
ensure a happy life for every single citizen on this land.
In his first speech on that day, July 23, 1970, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos made
the renowned promise to his people. “My people, I will proceed as quickly as
possible to transform your life into a prosperous one with a bright future.” It’s
really very heartening words to hear especially on that day as people used to
struggle with their tough life.
His Majesty called upon all Omanis who had migrated abroad to make a
living to come back and contribute in building the country. For this reason, it was
the start of a better tomorrow for Omanis. On that day, they saw the light at the
end of the tunnel and within a record time His Majesty fulfilled his promise. He
transferred Oman into a haven of peace and prosperity, not only for Omanis, but
residents and visitors too. As we are celebrating His Majesty’s return home safe
and healthy, we pray to Almighty Allah to bless our beloved leader and father;
grant him prosperity and long life.
Republicans insist Obama should significantly increase defence spending and respond more forcefully to threats from Russian President Vladimir
Putin in eastern Ukraine, IS in Iraq and Syria and China in the Pacific.
— AP
Obama follows Reagan policy
Revolution, in which an estimated 30 million people were
resident Barack Obama’s national security policies are being
sharply criticised by Republicans and even undermined by killed and Mao Zedong had made cavalier statements
about using nuclear weapons.
members of the GOP foreign-policy establishment.
Nixon negotiated an arms-control agreement with the
They insist Obama should significantly increase defence
spending and respond more forcefully to threats from Soviet Union that was criticised by Democrats, particularly
Russian President Vladimir Putin in eastern Ukraine, IS in Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson, because it allowed the
Soviets to have more land-based missiles than the United
Iraq and Syria and China in the Pacific.
The White House must also stop making concessions States. Nixon was no dove, yet he developed a doctrine
to Iran, Republicans say. The letter to Tehran signed by that said that there would be no US boots on the ground
47 Republican senators is just the latest example of their in Asia, and cut defence spending to below $400 billion in
attempts to undermine his policies. Yet Obama’s strategic today’s dollars. Ford, in his short time in the Oval Office,
patience on national security continues a pattern set by signed the Helsinki Accords with the Soviet Union.
The pact to reduce Cold War tensions eventually proved
the most successful Republican foreign-policy presidents:
to be the beginning of the end of the
Dwight D Eisenhower, Richard M
Soviet Union. The agreement was signed,
Nixon, Gerald R Ford, Ronald Reagan
and president George H W Bush. When
Today’s Republicans despite efforts by Congress to kill it.
Even Reagan displayed more strategic
the Soviet Union crushed rebellions
are unaware of their
patience and restraint than many give
in Hungary and Poland in 1956, for
roots and do not
him credit for. In his early days in the
example, Eisenhower, the former
White House, Reagan resisted calls from
supreme commander of the armed
give Obama credit
the hawkish establishment to send tens of
forces in World War Two, ignored calls
for continuing the
thousands of troops to Central America
from political hard-liners to “liberate the
pattern set by many to undo the gains of communist forces
captive peoples of Eastern Europe.” When
Britain, France and Israel wanted to undo
successful Republican in the region. In addition, after 241
American servicemen were killed in the
Gamal Abdel Nasser’s revolution in Egypt
presidents, finds
1983 barracks bombing in Lebanon, he
by igniting the Suez Crisis, Eisenhower
Lawrence Korb
withdrew all US troops from the country,
forced them to withdraw.
though it was in the midst of a civil war.
When the entire foreign-policy
Reagan also negotiated directly with
establishment wanted to intervene
militarily in Vietnam to save the French at Dien Bien Phu, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and the Kremlin, even
though Moscow still had troops in Afghanistan.
Eisenhower refused.
Because of these talks, Reagan was taunted as a weaseling
Instead, he began negotiating with the “communists.”
Eisenhower also resisted calls to take precipitous action Neville Chamberlain by prominent members of his own
against Cuba, regularly cited as the communist “enemy 90 party, among them Newt Gingrich. Reagan also reduced
miles off our coast.” In addition, rather than raising defence defence spending by 10 per cent in real terms during his
spending dramatically after the Soviets launched the second administration in order to avoid sequestration,
Sputnik satellite, he warned the nation about the dangers which was part of the 1985 Graham-Ruddman-Hollings
Act. After the Gulf War in 1991, Bush resisted calls from
of the military-industrial complex in his farewell address.
In the same manner, Nixon did not leave a residual force the neo-conservatives to march allied troops into Bagdad
and remove Saddam Hussein from power. He also ordered
in Vietnam to prop up the government of South Vietnam.
He famously went to China and threw Washington’s a unilateral reduction of nuclear weapons in the US arsenal,
Taiwanese ally under the bus. Nixon visited Beijing even and reduced defence spending significantly even before the
though “Red China” was still in the throes of the Cultural Cold War ended.
Alfred Nobel’s will goes on display for first time in Sweden
lfred Nobel’s last will and testament,
which played a pivotal role in
Swedish history by creating the
now-illustrious Nobel prizes, has
gone on display for the first time in
Until now, only a handful of
people had laid eyes on the original
1895 document that has been
stashed away in a safe at the Nobel
Foundation in Stockholm.
The Nobel Museum has changed
all that, putting it on public display as
part of its new exhibition “Legacy”.
It is a simple document, but it still
today provides the basis of our work
with the (Nobel) prizes,” exhibition
curator Karin Jonsson said.
The Nobel prizes are “one of
Sweden’s biggest brands,” notes a
spokesman for the Swedish Institute,
Sergio Guimaraes.
The will itself is written on four
yellowed pages, with curlicued oldfashioned handwriting in black ink.
Nobel, the inventor of dynamite,
details the creation of the Nobel
prizes on 26 lines, or almost threequarters of a page.
He stipulates that part of his
fortune — some 31.5 million kronor
at the time, or the equivalent of
more than 200 million euros ($220
million) today — was to be placed
in a fund, the interest on which was
to be used to honour “those who,
during the preceding year, shall have
conferred the greatest benefit on
mankind” in the fields of medicine,
physics, chemistry, literature and
peace. He appoints four prize
committees to hand out the awards:
three in Stockholm and one in Oslo
for the peace prize, since Norway
was joined with Sweden in a union
at the time.
The prize for economics was
created in 1968 by Sweden’s central
bank, the Riksbank, to mark its
tricentenary, and is also funded by
the Riksbank. Those 26 lines would
change Nobel’s reputation forever,
and shine the spotlight on Sweden
for years to come.
Gone is Nobel’s image as a
dynamite-producing friend of
war — now he is seen as a pacific
philanthropist around the world.
“With these prizes, he wanted to
show who he really was,” explains
Jean-Francois Battail, a professor
emeritus in Scandinavian languages
and literature at Paris’ Sorbonne
The will was written in Paris
where he kept a home and dated
November 27, 1895, and then placed
in a safety deposit box at Stockholm’s
Enskilda Bank.
Nobel died in December 1896
in Italy. When his will was opened
early the next year, his family was
shocked — he had told no one of
his plans. “He had no direct heirs,
but he left the people closest to him
pretty generous sums. They were
pretty fatty crumbs. But there were
lawsuits, and they tried to have the
will annulled — it didn’t transpire
peacefully,” Battail explains.
A former assistant of Nobel’s,
Sohlman rounded up the fortune
A former assistant of
Nobel’s, Sohlman rounded
up the fortune that was
spread around the world
and honoured Nobel’s
last wishes, going so far
as to convince the King
of Sweden, who was
disgruntled the prizes
could be awarded to
non-Scandinavians, says
Camille Bas-Wohlert
that was spread around the world
and honoured Nobel’s last wishes,
going so far as to convince the King
of Sweden, who was disgruntled the
prizes could be awarded to nonScandinavians. In 1900, Sohlman
helped create the Nobel Foundation,
which to this day manages Nobel’s
inheritance and oversees the work of
the prize-awarding committees.
“The New York Times wrote
for example in 1897: ‘A number
of eminent men of Norway and
Sweden have a task before them
which will inevitably bring to
them more trouble than glory’,”
Kaellstrand muses.
The Nobel prizes have indeed
been the centre of controversy over
the years. French writer Jean-Paul
Sartre refused to accept the 1964
Nobel Literature Prize, and, more
recently, a storm simmered when
US President Barack Obama won
the Peace Prize in 2009 after less
than nine months in office while the
US was waging simultaneous wars
in Afghanistan and Iraq.
But on the whole, the prize
has conferred a positive image
of Sweden. Nobel’s last will and
testament is on display until at least The testament of Alfred Nobel is displayed at the Nobel Museum in
the end of May.
the Old Town of Stockholm.
MARCH 29 l 2015
Offer youths a social environment to flourish
[email protected]
t’s been a really diverse and interesting week so
far, but the one thing the Dakhiliyah Governorate
needs is rain, and quite badly at that.
Not only for household and hygiene purposes,
but the land is beginning to look really parched
after a very dry winter.
Here we are, with summer just around the
corner, and very little water to sustain us.
One of the highlights of the week has been
the University of Nizwa’s Annual Graduation
Ceremony, with all of its pomp and ceremony and
a sea of green, black and gold gowns.
But it’s not even the colour, music, speeches,
or the ceremonial and academic traditions that
make it memorable.
It’s the graduates!
The absolute positivity with which they view
their futures is refreshing, and confirms the
fact that the Omani student is becoming more
assertive, and demonstrating the development of
a really sound academic responsibility.
In the course of a number of interviews I was
impressed at how the bar is continuously being
raised, in terms of the responses to key questions.
Where, even three or four years ago graduates
were less committed to a particular posteducation strategy, now they appear to be much
more focused, and determined to carve a niche in
My current view is not to throw the education
their chosen field.
Of course, the old proverb that “Man plans: budget at every student who attends university,
God laughs,” may well still be true, but without but to set a standard. Implement proper university
some clear direction and purpose, these entrance levels, and if the younger scholars are
graduates may well be wasting the start of their good enough, or want it enough, they will get
“life” education. Pivotal in all responses was, for there, the same as the rest of the world.
The current thinking, to send all students to
me, a sense of social commitment.
All of those I spoke to indicated a strong university whether they have a desire or aptitude
for academia is fraught with
obligation to their home
difficulty, and can cause more
Implement proper
social challenges than an
They are thankful for the
ethically imposed entrance
“leg-up” that His Majesty
university entrance
criteria would.
Sultan Qaboos and the
levels... To send all
On a vastly different stage, I
Government of Oman have
students to university is took the family down to Sifah
given them, but of course,
first hand, it is their families
fraught with difficulty, for the weekend. At sundown,
we toddled off to the beach,
and communities that directly
and can cause more
and a beautifully prepared
social challenges than venue had us savouring the
their studies. These young
atmosphere well before the
people obviously have a clear
an ethically imposed
mandate, from their inner
entrance criteria would entertainment
A disco fired up, and
selves, to give back something
partygoers were treated to a
to the wider community.
diverse selection of tracks.
Oman owes much to its
Being a 50s child, much of it was in the ‘notpresent day ‘movers and shakers’ but it could do
much worse than to invest more directly in the for-me’ range, but I did enjoy a bit of “Shaggy”
youth of the nation who are determined upon with that ‘bombastic’ voice of his! DJ ‘AA’ kept the
young ones happy anyway.
making a difference.
A special treat was in store, as UK duo ‘July
Child’ took to the stage.
London based Kiks, and Amber Clara, had
flown in specially for this gig, and they told
me later that though it was a very different
environment from where they usually perform,
they enjoyed it. Kiks is the guitarist, and is a bold
and interesting conversationalist to boot.
He boasts a ‘brilliant’ London type accent but
doesn’t sing.
Meanwhile Amber is the much more reserved,
and dare I say it, more cultured of the two.
Her voice was clear, and some of her musical
influences such as Ellie Goulding, and even more
so, Corinne Bailey Rae, were clear. Amber told
me that KD Tunstall was another influence on
her musical style, but I responded that may be
tenuous rather than obvious.
Clearly, there is a demand for such
entertainment, and we should not make our own
preferences the litmus test for the young. We
must deal with their generation in a nurturing,
sustainable manner, and not only provide for the
academics, but offer all young Omanis a social
environment in which to flourish.
DJs and artists such as July Child may not be
for all of us, but there are an awful lot of ‘youngs’
to be catered to, here in Oman.
Ex-ruler vs fortunate son
he two main candidates in Nigeria’s tense presidential election on Saturday cut sharply different profiles: an ex-military ruler who once cracked
down on indiscipline and a zoologist rarely seen without his stylish fedora.
Incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, 57, is a Christian from the Niger
Delta oil region in the south while Muhammadu Buhari, 72, is a Muslim from the north and a retired major general.
Their backgrounds in some ways mirror regional, ethnic and religious divisions in Africa’s most populous nation, with Nigeria’s north
mainly Muslim and its south predominately Christian.
But politics in a country with more than 300 ethnic groups and a
population of 173 million is notoriously unpredictable, and support can
shift in unforeseen ways.
The Boko Haram conflict, which has left more than 13,000 dead
since 2009, has also played a major role in the campaign.
An ethnic Ijaw from a family of canoe makers, Jonathan’s rise to the
top of his country’s ruthless political world has been described as accidental. Fortune certainly seems to have favoured Jonathan throughout
his political career, as his first name would imply.
He became governor of his native Bayelsa state in 2005 after his
predecessor was impeached over money-laundering charges in Britain.
The night he was nominated by his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
as Umaru Yar’Adua’s running mate before 2007 polls, many Nigerians
had never heard of him.
Some have argued he was chosen because he was seen as pliable and
served to balance the ticket, representing the restive Niger Delta.
He was thrust into the presidency in 2010 following the death of
Yar’Adua, a Muslim from the north, and ran in 2011 elections.
For many in Nigeria’s north, it was not Jonathan’s turn to be head of
state. His decision to run in 2011 violated an agreement within his PDP
to rotate its candidate between the north and south every two terms.
Because Yar’Adua died before his first term was up, northern elites
believed the presidency should have returned to their region.
In the end, he ran and won handily — beating out Buhari — making
him the first elected Ijaw president and the first from the Niger Delta.
As for Buhari, he has tried three times to become president since the
return to civilian rule in 1999 — and failed on each occasion.
He was Nigeria’s military ruler from December 31, 1983 to August
27, 1985 after he ousted elected president Shehu Shagari.
He is seen as an anti-corruption figure — unusual for a Nigerian
politician — but his regime in the 1980s was also accused of serious
rights abuses. His “War Against Indiscipline” sought to bring order to
the country, but was seen as draconian.
In particular, the execution of three young men, found guilty retrospectively of drug trafficking triggered domestic and international outrage. Critics of his regime were thrown in jail, among them the Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti for an alleged currency violation but which critics
said was politically motivated. Buhari was also at the centre of a major
diplomatic row with former colonial power Britain after attempting to
smuggle Shagari’s former adviser Umaru Dikko from London to Lagos.
A Chinese-made portable dvd player, which North Koreans call “Notel.”
$50 device that symbolises a shift in N Korea
$50 portable media player is providing many
North Koreans a window to the outside
world despite the government’s efforts to
keep its people isolated — a symbol of
change in one of the world’s most repressed
By some estimates, up to half of all urban
North Korean households have an easily
concealed “notel”, a small portable media
player used to watch DVDs or content stored
on USB sticks that can be easily smuggled
into the country and passed hand to hand.
People are exchanging South Korean
soaps, pop music, Hollywood films and
news programmes, all of which are expressly
prohibited by the Pyongyang regime,
according to North Korean defectors,
activists and recent visitors to the isolated
country. “The North Korean government
takes their national ideology extremely
seriously, so the spread of all this media that
competes with their propaganda is a big
and growing problem for them,” said Sokeel
Park of Liberty in North Korea (LiNK), an
organisation that works with defectors.
North Koreans have been spending
money more openly, a sign that some
forms of entrepreneurship are increasingly
tolerated and that the state is easing some of
its harsh controls over the economy.
In recent months, consumption has
become more conspicuous.
“The variety and number of places for
locals to spend money has really increased,”
said one regular visitor to Pyongyang,
declining to be identified. “People seem a lot
more confident flashing the cash than they
used to be. I’ve seen people spend $500 on a
phone with no hesitation, for example.”
There is no sign, however, that the regime
in nuclear-capable North Korea is loosening
its grip, looking to make substantial reforms
or making any change in its unpredictable
North Koreans have been
spending money more
openly, a sign that some
forms of entrepreneurship
are increasingly tolerated and
that the state is easing some
of its harsh controls over the
economy. Of late, consumption
has become more conspicuous,
finds James Pearson
ways of dealing with the outside world.
But along with rising incomes, more
goods are available in the impoverished
country, mostly on the black market but
also in some state-controlled stores. Notel
or ‘notetel’ — the name is a uniquely North
Korean word combining ‘notebook’ and
‘television’ — are easily found on the black
market for around 300 Chinese yuan ($48),
and are also available in some state shops
and markets. The device was legalised
last year, according to defector-run news
outlets in Seoul — one of many recent
measures taken by the state to accommodate
grassroots change. The new rules, however,
also require North Koreans to register their
notel, enabling authorities to monitor who
is most likely to be watching banned foreign
North Koreans do not have access to
the Internet — those who can go online
are limited to a state-run intranet, while
the country’s 2.5 million mobile phone
subscribers are not allowed to call outside
the country.
The notel comes from China, either
smuggled or legally imported. Lee SeokYoung, a defector from the North, said he
smuggled 18,000 Chinese-made notel into
the country last year.
He said he ordered them directly from
a factory in Guangzhou that was likely still
in production solely to satisfy the demands
of the North Korean market. The devices
have lost their popularity in China over
the years, but still sell well in the provinces
bordering North Korea, according to data
on the China-based online shopping website
Taobao. When asked to quote a wholesale
price for notel, one Chinese trader in the
border city of Yanji said: “You want to send
them to North Korea? How many do you
want to send? They sell well there.”
The low-voltage notel differs from the
portable DVD players of the late 1990s in
that they have USB and SD card ports, and a
built-in TV and radio tuner.
They can also be charged with a car
battery — an essential piece of household
equipment in electricity-scarce North Korea.
Legally-registered notel must be fixed to
official state television and radio channels,
according to the Daily NK, a Seoul-based
news organisation run by defectors.
Lee, the defector, said the device’s multifunction nature makes it easier for users to
get away with watching illegal material.
“To avoid getting caught, people load a
North Korean DVD while watching South
Korean dramas on a USB stick, which can
be pulled out,” he said.
“They then tell the authorities, who feel
the heat from the notel to check whether or
not it has been recently used, that they were
watching North Korean films”. Park at the
LiNK organisation added: “They are small
enough to roll up in a blanket and hide in
a wardrobe. They have become so popular
because they are perfect for overcoming the
twin barriers to foreign media consumption:
surveillance and power outages.
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MARCH 29 l 2015
Yadav, Bhushan sacked from AAP panel
LEGAL ACTION THREATENED: Dissident leaders to approach court against ‘illegal’ decision
NEW DELHI: Less than two months
after it stormed to power in the national
capital, the AAP virtually split on
Saturday after it expelled four dissident
leaders, including Prashant Bushan
and Yogendra Yadav, from its National
Executive in a stormy meet marred by
chaos and protests.
The duo, who are the founding
members of country’s youngest political
party, reiterated that AAP chief Arvind
Kejriwal was a “dictator” and said they
would approach the court against the
“illegal” decision taken at the party’s
national council meeting.
Hours after their ouster, Medha
Patkar, a senior leader, announced in
Mumbai that she was quitting the party,
saying what happened in the meeting
in New Delhi was disrespect to senior
leaders and did not augur well for the
party’s future.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal
was present in the meeting, but left before
the crucial voting. The two others who
were also sacked were Anand Kumar and
Ajit Jha for siding with the rebel duo.
The meeting started at 10 am with the
supporters of both the camp shouting
slogans and holding banners against
each other. Yadav also held a protest
outside the venue over the denial of
entry to “genuine” members.
A national council member said that
many shouted slogans in favour of Yadav
and Bhushan during the meeting. Many
were reportedly forcibly removed from
the meet.
At the AAP’s National Council
which was attended by 311 members,
a resolution to oust Yadav, Bhushan,
Anand Kumar and Ajit Jha was tabled by
Kejriwal confidant Manish Sisodia.
Two gave their dissent in writing
and 54 members expressed no view, he
AAP national secretary Pankaj
Gupta told reporters that 247 members
had voted in favour of the proposal of
removing the four members, while eight
opposed. Delhi legislator Devender
Sherawat was also one of the eight.
Patkar quits, doubts future
of ‘alternative politics’
No procedure was followed in the national executive meeting, said expelled AAP
member Yogendra Yadav.
A member who attended the meet
said that Kejriwal told the members to
“be either with him or with them (Yadav,
A visibly upset Bushan later said: “It is
true that we can move the court, Election
Commission or call another meeting of
the national council. All options are
“I have been telling him (Kejriwal)
this that he has dictatorial tendencies
and he must curb them.
“I have failed. Instead of curbing these
dictatorial tendencies, he has ruthlessly
stifled any opposition,” he told reporters.
Yadav also said that goons were
also present in the meet who beat their
AAP was quick to reject the charges
as “baseless” with its leader Sanjay Singh
saying that Yadav and Bhushan wanted
to gain sympathy.
“No violence had taken place. No one
was hit or injured,” he told media after
the meeting.
Bhushan, a noted Supreme Court
lawyer, claimed the AAP meeting was
scripted. “Everything happened there
in a planned manner. It seems that
Probe urged into Tripura
chit fund groups
AGARTALA: The Congress on
Saturday demanded a CBI probe into
the activities of all illegal non-banking
financial companies (NBFCs) and chit
fund organisations in Tripura.
The Congress alleged that the
ruling CPM (Communist Party of
India-Marxist) leaders and members
were involved in the activities of chit
fund groups, an accusation which was
strongly refuted by the Left party. The
party made the demand after its leaders
met Tripura Governor PB Acharya.
“We have urged the governor to
request the central government to depute
the CBI to inquire into all aspects of the
activities of illegal NBFCs and chit fund
organisations in Tripura,” opposition
leader Sudip Roy Barman told reporters.
He said: “The Central Bureau of
Investigation has so far taken up very
few cases filed against the chit fund
organisations. We want the CBI to
probe all aspects of their activities and
MUMBAI: Anti-Narmada dam
activist Medha Patkar quit the
AAP on Saturday following
dissident leaders Yogendra Yadav
and Prashant Bhushan’s expulsion
from the party’s National
Executive. She expressed serious
doubts over what she termed the
“future of alternative politics” in
the country.
Announcing her decision
at a hurriedly convened press
conference here, Patkar expressed
pain over the development and
said: “Whatever happened in AAP
meeting is inappropriate and I
involvement of high profile persons.”
“Chief Minister Manik Sarkar and
several CPM leaders had on a number of
occasions attended the functions of chit
fund organisations,” he added.
On Friday, the Congress released
a booklet showing government
documents and photographs about the
activities of the unauthorised NBFCs
and chit fund groups.
The party has also announced that
it would soon meet Prime Minister
Narendra Modi to request him to direct
the CBI to probe the fraudulent activities
of chit fund companies in Tripura.
“If the central government did not
accept our demand, we would organise
sit-in demonstrations in New Delhi,”
Barman said. “The Tripura government
is not taking effective steps against illegal
chit fund companies and NBFCs which
have been collecting crores of rupees
from the market,” the Congress leader
everything was scripted.”
“This is murder of democracy... There
was no distinction between members and
invitees. Manish Sisodia announced they
have a petition signed by 160 people...
There was no voting, no discussion,” said
Yadav, a psephologist and co-founder of
“There were many people who
opposed it, they were not even given
the chance. It is a total mockery of
Yadav and Bhushan had five demands
— transparency in the AAP, autonomy
for local units, a Lokpal probe into graft
charges against party members, AAP
should come within the ambit of the
RTI, and an end to secret ballot during
election to key posts.
Ever since the AAP came to power
in the national capital by winning 67
of its 70 assembly seats, the party has
been embroiled in an internal crisis that
has pitted Bhushan and Yadav against
Kejriwal, the party’s best known face.
Anand Kumar, a Jawaharlal Nehru
University professor who was also
ousted, however said they will not leave
the party.
condemn it.”
She said the violence and other happenings show disrespect to the
party’s senior leaders and did not augur well for the party and so she has
decided to quit.
Defending her two senior colleagues, she said Yadav had been at the
forefront of the Haryana farmers movement, while Bhushan was a guide
and senior mentor not only to the anti-Narmada Dam agitation but also
other public movements and never charged a penny.
Patkar expressed unhappiness with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind
Kejriwal’s style of functioning which, she indicated, has resulted in the
major crisis in the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
“With all this happening and today’s climax, I think nothing much can
be expected from this (AAP) party in terms of the vision of alternative
politics of ours, so I have decided to quit,” Patkar declared.
Patkar expressed her best wishes to the AAP government for the Delhi
masses and voters and hoped that the party would carry out the tasks it
had committed itself to in its manifesto.
“We wish to appeal to the conscience of all AAP volunteers and
supporters of AAP that this is the time to think of what is the future of
alternative politics. I myself feel very strongly that alternative politics
must be pursued through the peoples’ movement,” she said.
Besides Patkar, several groups and activists of the National Alliance
of Peoples’ Movements, who have worked together along with another
prominent leader Anna Hazare from Maharashtra, are expected to follow
On March 5, senior AAP leader Mayank Gandhi had unfurled the
banner of revolt by revealing AAP internal meetings and later claimed he
was being targeted.
AIZAWL: Three armed Mizoram
policemen were gunned down
and two others shot at when the
Manipur-based militant outfit
ConventionDemocracy (HPC-D) ambushed
a police party in Mizoram on
Saturday, a police official said here.
The police party led by the subdivisional police officer (SDPO)
of Sakawrdai, Zarzoliana, was
accompanying a state assembly
team in Zokhawthiang in Aizawl
district in northern Mizoram
bordering Manipur and Assam.
SDPO Zarzoliana, who was shot
in the abdomen, has been airlifted
to Aizawl for emergency treatment.
Another injured policeman was
shifted to a nearby government
“The HPC-D guerrillas suddenly
attacked the police party from a hill
top killing the three policemen on
the spot. Two other police personnel,
including the SDPO, were injured in
the ambush. The rebels managed to
escape when the other policemen
retaliated,” Deputy InspectorGeneral of Police (northern range)
LT Hrangchal said.
He said “the three MLAs of the
Mizoram assembly, including a
woman, and other accompanying
officials were reported to be safe”.
The militant attack took place at
Zokhawthiang village close to the
Tuiruang river that separates the
three states — Mizoram, Manipur
and Assam.
J&K minister’s
guard flees
with rifles
Police held
for firing at
Dancers perform during a procession to mark the festival of ‘Ram Navami’ in New Delhi. — Reuters
J&K govt reveals vision about education
Mallika Pukhraj were born here. In not
very distant past, Lal Ded and Sheikh
Nuruddin Wali were born. Wali set up
the first girls school in Kashmir during
times when girl literacy was unheard of
in South Asia.”
“Today our literacy rate in J&K has
dropped to 6th rank in the country. The
vision is to achieve 100 per cent literacy
level among females,” Akhtar told a
media conference on Saturday in winter
capital Jammu.
Akhtar said the present education
system in the state is “a juggernaut which
is either focused on employment or
creation of infrastructure and the least
3 cops killed
in Manipur
militant attack
SRINAGAR: The personal security
guard of a senior Jammu and
Kashmir minister fled with two
rifles on Saturday, prompting police
to launch a massive manhunt.
The security guard belongs to
Pulwama district of South Kashmir.
He was appointed the minister’s
guard 12 days ago.
A senior police officer said that
“Constable Nisar Ahmad Pandit
posted as personal security guard
with the Minister for Public Works,
Syed Altaf Bukhari, has escaped
with two AK-47 rifles from his
duties. A colleague of Nisar had
gone to offer prayers and had left
his rifle with Nisar. Nisar fled with
his as well as his colleague’s rifle.
“An FIR has been lodged against
him and a massive manhunt has
begun to nab him,” he added.
Relocation of teachers to places where their services are gainfully utilised being looked into
JAMMU: Jammu and Kashmir
Education Minister Naeem Akhtar
said on Saturday that the coalition
government is determined about course
correction in education and the creation
of a knowledge-based society in the state.
historically been the source of knowledge
and enlightenment in South Asia. The
first Buddhist conference was held in
Kashmir in the 4th century, this place
was known as Sharda Peeth (seat of
knowledge),” Akhtar said.
“Even up to contemporary times,
iconic people like Krishna Joo Razdan,
Shiv Kumar Sharma, K L Sehgal and
The passout percentage
of government schools is
50 per cent which is
25 per cent less than
that of private schools.
spoken about in the present educational
system of the state is the child”.
The minister said there are at present
24,265 schools with 16.68 lakh students
and 1.43 lakh teaching staff.
“This means in physical terms the state
education department is half of the entire
state government. And yet, the passout
percentage of government schools is 50
per cent which is 25 per cent less than
that of private schools. In the Jammu
province during the last five years, just
four students have figured in the top 20
in the 10th class exams,” Akhtar said.
The minister said the most difficult
problem for the department has been
postings and transfers of teachers.
“It is not fully verified, but I have
been told that there has been a racket
in transfers and postings and the racket
goes right up to the exam centre where
bids were held at astronomical rates to
manage exams”, he said. The minister
said all this will have to change.
“We will ensure transparency,
accountability and efficiency. I will
make government schools competitive
and attractive so that people send their
children to these schools and not pay
exorbitant rates at places where education
had been reduced to a lucrative business,”
Akhtar said.
He also said that relocation of teachers
to places where their services are gainfully
utilised, postings of teacher couples
together at convenient places where they
can deliver and incentives like laptops
to middle school headmasters are just
the beginning to make the turnaround
possible. — IANS
GURGAON: A Haryana Police
constable was arrested for firing at a
colleague over a minor issue, police
said here on Saturday.
The incident occurred late
on Friday in Manesar police
station where constable Jitender
Singh, posted in a quick reaction
team (QRT), opened fire at head
constable Surender Singh after
being told not to keep his purse on
the latter’s bed.
“While changing his uniform,
Jitender Singh kept his purse
on the bed of Surender Singh,
who objected to this,” a senior
police officer said. After a heated
argument, Jitender Singh picked up
self-loading rifle (SLR) in the room
and fired at Surender Singh, who
narrowly escaped.
Jitender Singh, who was in an
inebriated state, was immediately
overpowered by his colleagues
before he could fire a second round.
“The accused has been booked
for attempt to murder and under
the arms act,” the officer added.
MARCH 29 l 2015
Nation closer to having own satellite navigation system
SRIHARIKOTA: India successfully put
its fourth navigation satellite into orbit in
copy book style on Saturday, bringing the
country a step closer to having its own
satellite navigation system.
Exactly at 5.19 pm, the rocket —
the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle
(PSLV-C27) standing around 44 metres
tall and weighing around 320 tonnes —
tore into the clear blue evening sky with
fierce orange flames at its tail.
The expendable rocket had a single
but important luggage, the 1,425 kg
The rocket blasted off from the
second launch pad at the Satish Dhawan
Space Centre here, around 80 km from
For the onlookers the rocket looked
like an inverted flare/torch with a long
handle as it gathered speed amidst the
cheers of the Indian Space Research
Organisation (ISRO) officials and the
media team assembled at the rocket port
At the rocket mission control room,
Indian space scientists at ISRO were glued
to their computer screens watching the
rocket escaping the earth’s gravitational
At around 20 minutes into the flight
PSLV-C27 spat out IRNSS-1D.
Immediately on the successful
ejection, scientists at the mission control
centre were visibly relieved and started
“Despite the initial hiccup in the form
of some problem with one of the subsystems in the satellite and postponement
of the launch date, today the satellite has
been successfully put into orbit,” ISRO
Chairman A S Kiran Kumar (pictured)
said post launch.
Soon after the ejection into the orbit,
the satellite’s solar panels were deployed.
The satellite’s control was taken over
by the Mission Control Facility (MCF) at
Hassan in Karnataka.
The MCF will manage the satellite’s
orbit raising operations firing the on-
With this success, the
country has moved
closer towards joining
a select group of nations
possessing their own satellite
navigation system
ISRO Chairman
board motors till it is placed in the
circular geosynchronous orbit.
The system is similar to the global
positioning system (GPS) of the US
(24 satellites), Glonass of Russia (24
satellites), Galileo of Europe (27 satellites)
and China’s Beidou (35 satellites).
While GPS and Glonass are fully
functional global systems, the Chinese
and the Japanese systems are offering
regional coverage and Europe’s Galileo is
yet to become operational.
The IRNSS will provide two types of
services — standard positioning service
and restricted service. The former is
provided to all users and the latter is an
encrypted service for authorised users.
With this success, India moved closer
towards joining a select group of nations
possessing their own satellite navigation
Named the Indian Regional
DECISION LAUDED: One-count indictment applauded by lawyer
US policeman indicted for
throwing Indian to ground
NEW ORLEANS: A US grand jury
has indicted an Alabama police officer,
captured on video throwing an Indian
man to the ground, on a civil rights
charge stemming from the use of
unreasonable force, federal prosecutors
has said.
Eric Parker, 26, then an officer with
the Madison Police Department, was
seen on video recorded from inside
a patrol car on February 6 throwing
Sureshbhai Patel, 57, to the ground after
attempting to question him.
Patel, who speaks no English and
moved to northern Alabama from India
about two weeks before the incident to
help his son’s family care for a young
child, was badly injured, said his lawyer
Henry Sherrod.
Sherrod applauded the one-count
indictment handed down late on
Thursday, which charges that Parker
acted under the colour of law to deny
Patel’s civil rights, and which carries a
maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
“For the public to trust police
officers, it needs to know officers will
be held accountable,” Sherrod said in a
In a separate case where advocates
question the use of force by law
enforcement, a Mississippi sheriff ’s
deputy was arrested, officials said.
The arrest came after a grand jury
indicted Walter Grant of the Bolivar
County Sheriff ’s Office on charges of
manslaughter for shooting a suspect
in the head in 2013 as he was resisting
Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), the
system consists of a constellation of seven
satellites of which four — IRNSS-1A,
have been put into orbit till now.
“From four navigation satellites up
in the sky, we will get the signals which
would prove the concept on which the
whole IRNSS has been designed. While
the full range of services may not be
available with the constellation of four
satellites, a user would be able to locate
his position,” a senior official of the
Indian space agency preferring not to be
The ISRO official said IRNSS-1D
would be raised to its home slot.
Following that, characterisation of the
navigation and ranging payloads would
be done and later the satellite will be
integrated with the ground stations.
The three satellites launched earlier
have all been integrated with the ground
stations and are working well.
Once IRNSS-1D also gets integrated
then the Indian satellite navigation
system would start transmitting
navigation signals. This meets the
minimum number of satellites necessary
for enabling a navigation receiver to
compute its position.
Thus with IRNSS-1D functioning in
orbit, proof-of-concept of an independent
regional navigation satellite system over
India can be established.
According to officials, two more
navigation satellites are expected to be
launched in 2015 and the seventh and
the last one of the system would in all
probability go up in early 2016.
The full navigation services are
expected to be offered from mid 2016
onwards, according to the officials.
Queried about the ground segment
infrastructure, the official said a good
part of that is in place and the balance
would be ready soon. He said the IRNSS
system is unique as it consists of only
seven satellites while other systems have
more than 20 satellites.
80 people heading back
home from Yemen
March 28: Amid the ongoing armed attack in Yemen, Indian has been
able to arrange for the travel of a group of 80 Indians from Yemen to
neighbouring Port city of Djibouti by air.
“Once they reach the port city from Sanaa, Indian mission in
Djibouti will assist them in returning home,” said the Ministry of
External Affairs in a statement .
“80 Indians are leaving on Yemenia Airways’ first flight from Sanaa
today. They are headed to Djibouti where Indian mission will assist in
their journey home,” said the MEA spokesperson.
The spokesperson added that there are around 3500 to 4000 Indians,
most of whom being nurses from Kerala, working in various provinces
of Yemen. Ever since the breakout of hostilities in early January this
year, India has been keeping an eye over the situation in Yemen, while
appealing and advising Indian to leave the country.
Concerned over the flaring up of the situation in Yemen early this
week, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs had held hectic intraministry parleys to explore ways to get its nationals out of the country.
Seamen too need passport
A cam video shows Eric Parker (inset) and a trainee officer allegedly throwing Sureshbhai Patel to the ground
In the Alabama case, Patel last month
filed a civil rights complaint against
Parker, a second officer, and the city of
Madison, alleging racism.
Patel was walking on the sidewalk
outside his son’s home around 9 am
when police said they received a call
about a suspicious person.
Patel told the officers who stopped
him: “No English, Indian,” the suit said.
Parker then threw Patel, who weighs
130 pounds, to the ground, according to
the complaint.
Patel is slowly regaining function in
his hands and legs and recently began
walking with the help of a walker,
Sherrod said.
Parker’s attorney, Robert Tuten,
expected that his client would plead not
“Eric is being attacked from all sides,”
he said. “He doesn’t believe that he’s
violated the law.”
Parker was also charged in state court
with misdemeanor assault, to which he
has pleaded not guilty.
The Madison Police Department
released video of the incident and
apologised for Parker’s actions.
It said it has recommended the
officer’s termination, which he is
— Reuters
EVER wondered leaving Indian shores, apart from Nepal, without
your passport and not landing into trouble abroad? The rare privilege
allowed to seamen and maritime vessels’ crews owing to their functional
requirement is set to end from June 1 this year as they have been asked
by the government to procure their passports at the earliest.
An External Affairs Ministry statement said a notification to
withdraw the unique privilege, given to seamen, sailor and other naval
vessels’ crews to go abroad without passport, was issued early this week.
Explaining the unique privilege and its withdrawal, the MEA
statement said, “The Passport Act, 1967 stipulates that no person shall
depart from, or attempt to depart from India, unless he holds a valid
passport or travel document.’
“However, as per a Gazette Notification issued by the Government in
1968, in view of the functional requirement of seamen’s foreign travel,
the members of the crew of sailing vessels (holding identity cards or
permits, under the Sailing Vessels (Members of Crew) Rules, 1967) are
exempted from the mandatory requirement of holding Passports before
travelling abroad,” the MEA said. “This provision allowed seamen to
travel abroad on the basis of their identity card,” it added.
“The above provision has been reconsidered by the Government
and it has been decided to withdraw the above facility with effect from
June 1 this year, the MEA statement said.
The PM’s France, Germany and Canada visit is centred around widening economic scope
3-nation visit to focus on economic agenda, job creation
NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra
Modi said his tour to France, Germany
and Canada from April 10-16 would be
focused on supporting India’s national
economic agenda through programmes
like Make in India in order to create jobs
for the youth.
In a series of tweets, linked to his
Facebook post, Modi spoke about his
upcoming three-nation tour — his
second overseas visit this year after to
the Indian Ocean countries of Seychelles,
Mauritius and Sri Lanka earlier in March.
“My France, Germany and Canada
visit is centred around supporting India’s
economic agenda and creating jobs for
our youth. Will discuss strengthening
India-France economic co-operation
and visit some high-tech industrial units
outside Paris. In Germany, Chancellor
Merkel and I will jointly inaugurate
Hannover Messe where India is a partner
country. Looking forward to enhancing
ties with Canada and interacting with
leaders, captains of industry and diaspora
in Canada,” he tweeted.
“I am honouring long standing
invitations from three of our most
important partners, who have strong
friendships with India.”
On France, where he goes on the first
leg, Modi said that he would “seek greater
French involvement in our Make in India
Programme, including in the defence
manufacturing sector”.
Terming France “one of our most
important strategic partners”, he said it
has stood with India at difficult moments,
noting its “understanding and support”
after the Pokhran nuclear tests in 1998
and was also then prime minister Atal
Bihari Vajpayee’s first destination for a
bilateral visit thereafter.
He noted the strong cooperation
in the defence sector, which “currently
includes construction of six advanced
submarines in India” as well as in space
and in civil nuclear energy co-operation.
There are “huge opportunities for
collaboration in the manufacturing and
infrastructure with France, including in
the railways sector”, he said. “I also look
forward to discussing ways in which we
can deepen our security cooperation
include counter-terrorism as well as
space, cyber and maritime security”.
He said he would visit some of the
highly-developed high technology
industries outside Paris and as also pay
respect at the World War I memorial at
Neuve Chapelle, “especially to honour, in
the centenary year of the tragic war, the
supreme sacrifice of thousands of Indian
soldiers, who fought during World War
I”. In Germany, where he will be from
April 12-14, Modi said the main focus
would be to participate in the Hannover
Industrial Trade Fair, which will be
inaugurated jointly by him and German
Chancellor Angela Merkel on April 12.
“India is the partner country at the
Hannover Trade Fair this year. This gives
India a special place in the trade fair and
a high visibility to our business sector,” he
said, adding Indian participation “will be
on an unprecedented scale”.
“I intent to use my visit to substantially
raise the level of German investments in
India, especially in the manufacturing
sector, skill development and clean
energy,” he said, adding he will hold
extensive talks with Merkel both in
Hannover and in Berlin.
One key issue would be German
support in “expanding our exports to
European Union and attracting higher
level investments from there”, he said.
In Canada, Modi said he will be hosted
by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who
has “played a key role in transforming
India-Canada relations”.
“Soon after Independence, Canada
was one of our most important
developing partners. Today, it has the
potential to re-emerge as one of the key
economic partners.”
— IANS I am honouring long standing invitations, says Narendra Modi
S U N DAY l M A R C H 2 9 l 2 0 1 5
Venezuela’s President
Nicolas Maduro (R)
greets supporters
during a meeting
with fishermen on
Margarita Island
on Friday in this
picture provided by
Miraflores Palace.
— Reuters
Mexico sets
greenhouse gas
target for UN
climate talks
MEXICO CITY: Mexico became on
Friday the first developing nation to
submit targets for UN climate change
talks in December, pledging that its
greenhouse gas emissions will peak in
2026 before falling.
Mexico follows the European
Union, Norway and Switzerland in
presenting commitments that nations
must make public by March 31,
providing the backbone for a global
climate deal in Paris. The Mexican
government’s plan foresees emissions
peaking in 2026, with greenhouse
gases falling 22 per cent and black
carbon dropping 51 per cent by 2030.
“It’s a very ambitious target, but
joining our efforts... we are convinced
that we can reach it,” Environment
Minister Juan Jose Guerra Abud told a
news conference.
The global talks will seek a pact
that will enter into force by 2020 to
further the UN goal of limiting global
warming to two degrees Celsius
(3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over preIndustrial Revolution levels.
The United States applauded
Mexico for being the first major
emerging economy to submit its
Determined Contribution, with the
White House saying it was “setting an
example for the rest of the world.”
“Mexico’s target to peak its
emissions by 2026 and drive them
down thereafter is a landmark step in
the global transition to a low-carbon
economy,” the White House statement
said. — AFP
A ranger walks behind a pair of a black
rhinoceros at the Imire Rhino and Wildlife
Conservation Park near Marondera, east
of Harare. A hunter who paid $350,000 last
year at a Dallas auction for a licence to hunt
an endangered black rhino in Namibia will
be able to bring home a trophy despite
protests from animal rights groups that
saw the sale as immoral conservation, the
US Fish and Wildlife Service said.
Lawmaker says Clinton
wiped clean e-mail server
Smoke and lava spew from Villarrica volcano, as seen from Pucon town in the south of Santiago, Chile. Chile’s Villarrica Volcano
continued to spew lava, ash and smoke on Friday. Authorities have restricted access to the area within 5 kilometres of the
crater and have put the area under an orange alert due to the volcano’s heightened unrest and increased likelihood of
eruption. — Reuters
WASHINGTON: The Republican
chairman of a US House of
investigating the 2012 Benghazi attacks
said on Friday that former secretary
of state Hillary Clinton had failed to
respond to the panel’s subpoena for
documents in the case.
Representative Trey Gowdy said
Clinton had not provided a single new
document and her lawyer told the
committee a server she used for e-mails
while she was the top US diplomat had
been wiped clean.
“We learned today, from her
attorney, secretary Clinton unilaterally
decided to wipe her server clean and
permanently delete all e-mails from
her personal server,” Gowdy, Chairman
of the House Select Committee on
Benghazi, said in a statement.
He said the committee will seek
to speak to Clinton, the presumed
front-runner for the Democratic
presidential nomination, about the
e-mails and the server.
Clinton, who was sharply criticised
after it was revealed she used a private
e-mail address while secretary of state,
has said she has already given copies of
all her work-related e-mails to the State
Clinton has told the committee
and the State Department that she
would like all her e-mails made public
as soon as possible and welcomes the
opportunity to appear before the House
panel, Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill
said in a statement.
The State Department has said it has
already given Gowdy’s committee all
the relevant e-mails from that cache,
some 300 in all, about the attack on the
US diplomatic compound in Benghazi,
Members of Gowdy’s committee say
they need to see all of Clinton’s e-mails,
including those she did not give to the
State Department, to be sure of this.
— Reuters
Jury clears top Silicon Valley firm of gender bias
SAN FRANCISCO: Silicon Valley
powerhouse venture capital firm Kleiner,
Perkins, Caufield and Byers has cleared
of claims it short-circuited the career of a
former partner because she is a woman,
in a gender discrimination trial that
shook the tech world.
A California jury also rejected a claim
that Kleiner, the firm that backed Google
Inc and Inc , had retaliated
against its former partner, Ellen Pao, by
firing her after she sued in 2012.
Despite days of courtroom drama
about affairs, books of erotic poetry
and office flirting, juror Steve Sammut,
who mostly voted for Kleiner, said the
decision came down to Pao’s effectiveness
at her job.
“We were focused on the
performance,” he said.
The verdict dashed Pao’s hopes
for personal vindication, but the trial
revealed embarrassing disclosures about
how Pao and other women were treated
Future US Navy: robotic
sub-hunters, deepsea pods
The robotic
revolution that transformed warfare in
the skies will soon extend to the deep
sea, with underwater spy “satellites,”
drone-launching pods on the ocean
floor and unmanned ships hunting
Officials at the US military’s research
agency outlined new programmes this
week that include a number of potentially
groundbreaking technologies that could
alter the way naval battles are fought, in
the same way that robotic aircraft have
altered warfare on land and in the air.
One proposed system envisages
robot pods on the ocean floor that
would be activated when needed.
The pods could launch surveillance
drones in the air or at sea or provide a
communications link when American
forces are facing electronic jamming,
said Jared Adams, spokesman for
Defence Advanced Research Projects
Agency (DARPA).
“The motivation is to enable timely
deployment of unmanned distributed
systems to distant locations by predeploying the assets years in advance
and then triggering their release for
rapid effects at future times of our
choosing,” Adams said.
The programme has been dubbed
“Upward Falling Payloads,” or UPF. And
officials said the robot pods floating to
the water’s surface to release various
payloads could perform some roles now
carried out by submarines, which are
much more expensive to operate.
With America’s technological edge
shrinking, researchers are looking at
how to create and build new weapons
quickly, instead of the drawn-out
process that usually prevails at the
DARPA Deputy Director Steven
Walker said the agency is “rethinking
how we develop new military systems”
to be more agile and “cost-effective.”
at Kleiner and Silicon Valley’s corporate
culture and its lack of diversity.
“Ellen Pao’s loss is anything but a
win for Silicon Valley’s status quo. The
challenges she raised about the maledominated culture that controls the
heart of the innovation economy can’t be
dismissed,” the San Francisco Chronicle
wrote in an editorial after the verdict.
It described tech firms “huddling” to
review promotion plans.
In a statement, Kleiner thanked
DARPA is moving closer to reality,
potentially revolutionising submarine
The project would deploy unmanned
vessels on the ocean’s surface to track
enemy submarines, a “ghost ship” that
could free up naval warships for other
Sub-hunting is a notoriously
time-consuming and expensive task,
particularly diesel submarines that have
extremely quiet engines.
If the project succeeds, it could
prove a “game-changer” for the navy,
officials said. The programme, known
as ACTUV or Anti-submarine Warfare
Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel,
is developing a 132-foot (40-metre)
robotic boat dubbed the “Sea Hunter.”
A smaller experimental vessel
recently passed a key six-week test in
waters off Mississippi without crashing
and the next test with a full-sized
prototype will reportedly attempt to
follow another boat at a 0.6-mile (onekilometre) distance.
“The navy is working with us to do a
sea trial in the fall,” Walker said.
The system is relatively inexpensive
compared to the cost of a modern
submarine, but offers a potentially
effective way to track an enemy’s sub.
“It’s basically turning the cost equation
on its head,” Walker added.
decision on each claim was delivered. As
the crucial decisions on gender bias were
read, her two lawyers gently patted her
on the back.
After the jury was dismissed, Pao told
reporters in the courthouse that people
around the world had reached out to her
and told her that they had stories similar
to her own. “If I’ve helped to level the
playing field for women and minorities
in venture capital, then the battle was
worth it,” she said.
— Reuters
3 charged with murder in Wyoming case
Venezuela sends
letter of protest
to Washington
“Some of our systems today are
extremely capable, the most capable in
the world, but they are very complex,
they are costly. They take a long time to
develop and field,” he said.
The UPF programme of undersea
pods poses serious technological
challenges, including how to trigger the
launchers, how to make them rise to
the surface and how to secure a power
supply deep under the ocean for more
than a year at a time, Walker said.
DARPA, known for breakthrough
experiments over the years that helped
create the Internet, stealth aircraft,
drones, “smart” bombs and microtechnologies, is also keen on some other
maritime research.
One programme envisages spying
“eyes” on the ocean floor, including
mobile and fixed systems, that would
act as satellites or “sub-ulites,” allowing
the US military to spot other countries’
Researchers with the Distributed
Agile Submarine Hunting (DASH)
expect the “sub-ulites” would have “a
detection envelope that’s pretty broad,”
Walker said.
DARPA’s scientists also are working
on passive sonars deep under sea
that would listen out for the “acoustic
signatures” of submarines.
Another maritime programme at
the jury and said it was committed to
supporting women in venture capital
and technology. “There is no question
gender diversity in the workplace is an
important issue,” it said.
Supporters of Pao sent Twitter
messages tagged #ThankYouEllenPao
immediately after the final verdict. Pao
shone a light on the “toxic culture” of
Silicon Valley and “empowered other
women in tech”, some tweets said.
Pao remained composed as the
CARACAS: Venezuela said on Friday
it has sent a letter of protest to the
United States over Washington’s new
sanctions on officials accused of an
opposition crackdown.
Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez
(pictured) said Venezuela had sent
an “emphatic note of protest” against
President Barack Obama’s March 9
executive order, which imposed an
asset freeze and US travel ban on
seven senior Venezuelan officials.
Obama’s order declared Venezuela
a “threat to the national security of
the United States” — language that
US officials said was a formality for
imposing sanctions, but to which
Venezuela has strongly objected.
The order “interferes in Venezuela’s
internal affairs by labeling (the
country) an unusual and extraordinary
threat,” Rodriguez told journalists.
Venezuela did not release the
contents of the letter, which the
foreign minister said was delivered to
the US embassy in Caracas.
Relations between the two
countries have been on a downward
spiral since Venezuelan President
Nicolas Maduro accused Washington
in February of sponsoring a coup
attempt against him.
His government arrested several
people in the aftermath of the
allegation, including the opposition
mayor of Caracas.
Obama signed the new sanctions
in response, drawing a furious
reaction from Maduro, who ordered
10 days of military exercises to
counter the “imperialist threat.”
WYOMING: Police in Wyoming have charged three people with murder in the case of
a headless corpse found in a ditch whose ornately worked belt and buckle ultimately
yielded clues to its identity, authorities said on Friday.
Sandra Garcia, 27, the ex-girlfriend of the victim, her brother Pedro Garcia, 28, and
John Marquez, 51, were charged in the shooting death and mutilation Juan Antonio
Guerra Torres, a 30-year-old Mexican national, Park County Sheriff Scott Steward said in
a statement.
A duck hunter and his son discovered Guerra Torres’ partly dismembered body in
January 2014 in a drainage ditch off a rural road in remote northwest Wyoming.
Police sought the public’s help to identify the man, whose head, left arm and other
unspecified body parts were missing. Last May, investigators were able to name him
after they followed leads indicating that his belt and buckle depicting a horse’s head
were examples of “piteado,” a form of craftsmanship practiced in Mexico and popular
with horsemen and cowboys. — Reuters
US President Barack Obama holds up a copy of a new National Action Plan
for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria as he delivers remarks to
reporters before meeting with members of the President’s Council of
Advisors on Science and Technology at the White House in Washington on
Friday. Also pictured are US Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia
Burwell (3rd R), Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack (2nd R) and
astrobiologist Christopher Chyba (R) of Princeton University. — Reuters
Man told to pay $7,000 over plane seat row
NEW YORK: A Haitian man who forced a flight to be diverted after reacting angrily
to a seat being reclined in front of him was ordered to pay more than $7,000 by a US
court on Friday. The case was part of a series of three incidents dubbed the legroom
wars, which unfolded over a nine-day period in August and September when
passengers lost their temper over reclining seats, forcing US passenger planes to
divert. Edmond Alexandre, 60, a resident of Paris, pleaded guilty to interference with
flight crew members and was sentenced by a federal judge in Boston.
Authorities said Alexandre became disruptive on his August 27 Miami-to-Paris
American Airlines flight when a passenger in front of him reclined the seat.
According to the court statement, Alexandre chased a crew member and grabbed
the attendant’s arm after the individual had tried to calm him.
Federal air marshals subdued Alexandre while the plane was diverted to Boston’s
Logan Airport. It continued on to Paris four hours later without Alexandre.
A US district judge sentenced Alexandre to one year of supervised release, a $1,000
fine and restitution of $6,303 to American Airlines. — AFP
MARCH 29 l 2015
AIR STRIKES CONTINUE: Residents reported heavy clashes between the Houthis and tribal fighters in the south of the country
Diplomats, UN staff evacuated from Yemen
ADEN: Saudi Arabia’s navy evacuated
dozens of diplomats from Yemen and the
United Nations pulled out international
staff on Saturday after a third night
of Saudi-led air strikes trying to stem
advances by Houthi fighters.
Residents reported heavy clashes
between the Houthis and tribal fighters
in the south of the country, while the
Saudi-led air campaign sought to stall
a fresh offensive by the group on Aden
from the east.
Riyadh’s intervention, a surprise
move, is planned to last a month but
could extend for five or six, a Gulf
diplomatic source said.
He said satellite imagery had shown
that the Houthis had repositioned longrange Scud missiles in the north, close
to the Saudi border and aimed at Saudi
territory. A Yemeni official said Iran was
providing parts for the missiles.
Dozens of diplomats were shipped out
of Aden to the Red Sea port of Jeddah,
Saudi television said, escaping the city
where President Abedrabbo Mansour
Hadi had taken refuge until Thursday,
when he left for Egypt to shore up Arab
The Director-General of Yemen’s
Health Ministry, Al Khadher Laswar,
said more than 62 people had been
killed and 452 wounded in the city since
Wednesday. Explosions at Aden’s largest
ammunition depot wounded nine
people, he said.
In the capital Sanaa, which has been
under Houthi control since September,
more than 100 UN staff were evacuated,
a United Nations source said. Airport
staff said dozens of other foreigners
working for international oil companies
and NGOs also flew out to Ethiopia and
Houthi fighters seeking to overthrow
the Hadi have continued to make gains
since the coalition launched air strikes
Smoke billows from the site of an explosion that hit an arms depot in Yemen’s second city of Aden. — AFP
against them on Thursday.
On Friday, the Houthis and allied
army units gained their first foothold
on Yemen’s Arabian Sea coast by seizing
Shaqra, 100 km east of Aden, allowing
them to open a new front to march on
the south’s main city.
Residents said a Houthi convoy of
armoured vehicles, tanks and military
trucks heading along the coastal road
to Aden from Shaqra was attacked by
warplanes before dawn, and a number of
vehicles were hit.
Local residents said the convoy had
been stopped, but the Houthis were
sending reinforcements to Shaqra and
the advance along the main Al MukallaAden road was expected to resume.
At an Arab summit in the Egyptian
resort of Sharm el Sheikh, Hadi urged
Yemen’s army to protect state institutions
and obey the orders of Yemen’s
“legitimate leadership”.
He also underlined the regional
dimensions of the conflict, calling the
Houthis “Iran’s puppet”.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman told the
summit the operation would continue
until Yemen achieved peace and security,
while Kuwait’s Emir, Sheikh Sabah
al Ahmad al Sabah, said the Houthi
advances “pose a threat to our security”.
After the summit, Hadi flew with
King Salman to Riyadh, rather than
trying to return to Aden.
A Gulf diplomatic source, speaking
on condition of anonymity, said the
Arab alliance initially planned a monthlong campaign, but it could last up to
six months. The source said Yemen’s
military had about 300 Scuds, the bulk of
them believed to be in the hands of the
Houthis and allied military units loyal to
former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, and
that the campaign so far had destroyed
21 of them.
A Yemeni official in Sharm el Sheikh
said Yemeni authorities had received
information that experts had brought
in parts for long-range missiles held at
a base south of Sanaa. He said the air
strikes had targeted these missiles, some
of which had been pointing towards
Aden or neighbouring countries.
Yemen, by far the poorest country
on the Arabian peninsula, has struggled
to regain stability since mass protests in
2011 that eventually unseated Saleh after
33 years in power.
Hadi led a UN- and Gulf-backed
national dialogue that was discussing
a new constitution when the Houthis
took the capital and pushed him aside.
The Gulf official said the aim of the
intervention was to restore that process,
and that the Houthis could have a role
in it. The forces launched the air strikes
on Thursday as Houthi forces appeared
poised to take Aden. The strikes bolstered
local militias defending the city but have
not blunted the offensive completely.
In a week of intense fighting, the
Houthis have taken the Red Sea port of
Al Mukha to Aden’s northwest, and the
city’s northern outskirts.
Their entry into Shaqra means they
control most land routes to Aden and
can block tribal fighters trying to come
in to reinforce Hadi’s troops.
The medical relief organisation
Medecins Sans Frontieres said doctors
at its hospital in Aden, who had received
at least 250 wounded people in the last
week, were struggling to cope.
“On Thursday alone, we received 87
injured. It was tragic,” said Hani Isleem,
a manager at the hospital. “We were
working in difficult conditions and all
the time ducking our heads so that we
were not hit by the shooting we were
constantly hearing outside.” — Reuters
Iran FM confident as N-deal deadline looms
Residents flee Idlib city fearing air strikes and rebel fighters. — Reuters
Idlib city under siege
BEIRUT: Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate and
its allies seized on Saturday the city of
Idlib, only the second provincial capital
to be lost in more than four years of war.
The capture came as UN SecretaryGeneral Ban Ki-Moon expressed anger
and shame at the world’s failure to stop
the conflict.
More than 215,000 people have been
killed since anti-government protests,
which erupted in March 2011.
The country has been ravaged by
warring factions. The coalition that
seized Idlib city is made up of Al Nusra
Front, the official affiliate of al Qaeda,
and several factions.
“Al Nusra Front and its allies have
captured all of Idlib,” the Britain-based
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights
“There is still a group of soldiers
fighting in the security quarter of the
city, but they will not be able to reverse
the situation,” Observatory director
Rami Abdel Rahman added.
The group also announced the
capture of the northwestern city on its
official Twitter accounts.
“Thanks be to God, the city of Idlib
has been liberated,” it wrote.
The group posted photos of its
fighters in front of the governorate
building, the city council, a local prison
and a police station in the city.
Earlier, a Syrian security source
acknowledged that “terrorist groups
had infiltrated the outskirts of the city,”
but state media did not report Idlib’s
Official news agency SANA said
only that “army troops were regrouping
south of the city of Idlib in preparation
to face an influx of thousands of
The first provincial capital to fall was
Raqa, in the north, which was seized by
rebels in March 2013.
The rebels were subsequently ousted
by the IS group, which has made Raqa
the de factor Syrian capital of its selfproclaimed “caliphate” in Syria and
The Observatory said street fighting
had raged through the night after the
rebels entered Idlib on Friday evening
in an assault that began three days
Around 2,000 Al Nusra and
allied fighters took part in the battle,
according to the Observatory, while the
regime launched some 150 air strikes in
a bid to hold off the attack.
At least 130 people were killed in the
fighting, according to the Observatory,
which said some of the city’s residents
had fled.
Around 200,000 people lived in
the city before the conflict, but the
population has swelled since with
Syrians displaced from other areas.
Idlib province as a whole is a bastion
of Al-Nusra, which ousted several rebel
groups, including other organisations,
from the region in November. — AFP
LAUSANNE: Tortuous negotiations
aimed at ending fears that Iran will
acquire nuclear arms shifted into top
gear on Saturday, with the Iranian
foreign minister saying he was confident
the outstanding hurdles blocking a deal
could be overcome.
“We’re moving forward,” Iranian
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad
Zarif told reporters after meeting
separately with his German and French
counterparts, who he said were both
“serious” about reaching an agreement.
“I think we can in fact make the
necessary progress to be able to resolve
all the issues and start writing them
down in a text that will become the final
agreement once it’s done,” Zarif said
as the clock ticked down to Tuesday’s
deadline for the broad outlines of a deal.
France’s top diplomat Laurent Fabius,
the most hawkish in the P5+1 group of
countries negotiating with Iran since late
2013, was the first European minister
to fly in for the crucial talks saying he
wanted to reach a “robust deal”.
US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz (L) US Secretary of State John Kerry (2nd L) US
Under-Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman and French Foreign Minister
Laurent Fabius (Far R) attend Iranian nuclear talks in Lausanne. — AFP
France was “insisting” any deal
included mechanisms to ensure that Iran,
which denies wanting nuclear weapons,
complies with its commitments, he said.
Asked later after meeting Zarif and
separately with top US diplomat John
Kerry if progress was being made, Fabius
said: “We’re working, we’re working.
We’re trying to make progress.”
German Foreign Minister FrankWalter Steinmeier also arrived in
Lausanne saying the talks had entered
their “endgame” after 12 years, but
warning also this would also be the
hardest stage.
Since a major diplomatic push to
resolve the long-running crisis began
in 2013, Kerry and the US-educated
Zarif have met multiple times, but have
twice missed a deadline to nail down an
The powers want Iran to shrink its
nuclear programme in order to make it
easy to detect any dash to make a bomb
under the guise of its civilian atomic
In return, Iran wants an easing
of international sanctions that have
excluded the Islamic republic from
lucrative oil markets and crippled its
Asked at the start of their talks
whether they were expecting a good
day, Kerry replied wryly that “we’re
expecting an evening today,” while
Zarif joked “evening, night, midnight,
Security Council told to refer the matter to the International Criminal Court
France presses for IS to face world court
UNITED NATIONS: France said it
would push the United Nations Security
Council to refer the IS militant group
to the International Criminal Court for
possible prosecution of war crimes and
crimes against humanity.
The United Nations has also said the
group, which last year seized swathes
of territory in Iraq and Syria, may have
committed genocide against the Yazidi
minority in Iraq.
Iraq and Syria are not members of
The Hague-based international court,
which means its prosecutor is unable to
open an investigation unless a referral
is made by the 15-member Security
French Foreign Minister Laurent
Fabius told a council meeting on ethnic
and religious-based attacks in the
waits on an
elevator at
the Beau
Hotel in
— Reuters
Middle East that IS militants must be
prosecuted and that “it is essential that
the Security Council refer the matter to
the International Criminal Court.”
Bill Schabas, professor of law at
Britain’s Middlesex University, said
“there’s no rule that says it’s impossible”
to refer a group to the court even if
it operates in countries that are not
He said it would be first for the
prosecutor and then the judges to decide
if an IS referral was legitimate.
“If the court did get involved, it could,
if it saw fit, then interpret the referral in
its own way, expanding it to cover Syria
and Iraq,” Schabas said.
France led a bid by council members
last May to refer the civil war in Syria,
now in its fifth year, to the ICC for
possible prosecution of war crimes and
crimes against humanity.
But it was vetoed by Syrian ally
Russia, backed by China. The remaining
13 council members voted in favor.
Fabius said on Friday that France would
again try to refer Syria. Air strikes
by a US-led alliance have targeted IS
strongholds in northern Syria and Iraq
for the past six months. — Reuters
MARCH 29 l 2015
Italy’s top court acquits Knox of murder
SENSATIONAL END: The 8-year legal drama on British student Kercher’s murder had gripped a global audience
ROME: Italy’s top court has thrown
out Amanda Knox’s conviction for the
2007 murder of British student Meredith
Kercher, bringing a sensational end to an
eight-year legal drama that has gripped a
global audience.
Judges at the Court of Cassation on
Friday also quashed all charges against
Knox’s Italian ex-boyfriend Raffaele
Sollecito after 10 hours of deliberations in
Knox said she was “tremendously
relieved and grateful” for the court’s
“Meredith was my friend, she deserved
so much in this life. I’m the lucky one,” a
tearful Knox told reporters in Seattle.
The 27-year-old, who served four years
in prison before being freed on appeal
in 2011, said: “The knowledge of my
innocence has given me strength in the
darkest times of this ordeal.”
However Kercher’s mother said she
was “surprised and very shocked” at the
ruling. Arline Kercher called the decision
“odd” given the pair had been convicted
twice following the British student’s killing
in 2007.
Sollecito, 31, learned of the verdict
at his home in Puglia in southern Italy,
where he had driven after attending the
final hearing in the high court review on
Friday morning.
“Finally I can resume my life,” he said.
“I still can’t quite believe it. Finally I will
no longer have to spend all my time with
legal papers. I can return to normal.”
The shock verdict was greeted with
chaotic, jubilant scenes in the great hall of
the Roman courthouse.
Chairs went flying as Sollecito’s lawyer
Giulia Bongiorno reacted to the shock
verdict by shouting “yes, yes, yes” and
leaping up into the arms of a colleague.
“Raffaele has been a rock. This verdict
has proved him completely right,” she
Amanda Knox talks to the press surrounded by family outside her mother’s home in Seattle, Washington on Friday. — Reuters
said. One of Knox’s lawyers, Luciano
Girgha, admitted he had been surprised
by the verdict, but said it had restored
the battered credibility of Italy’s judicial
“It was a brave decision, it has renewed
my faith in the system,” Girgha said.
“It went beyond my wildest
expectations, I’m super happy for
Amanda. She has finally got her life back.
She always insisted she was innocent.”
Kercher, 21, died after being stabbed 47
times and having her throat slashed.
Her half-naked body was found in a
pool of blood in a back room of the house
she shared with Knox.
Ivory Coast-born drifter Rudy Guede
was jailed for the murder in 2008 but,
in a judgement that was to have serious
implications for Knox and Sollecito, the
judge in his trial ruled that he could not
have acted alone.
Prosecutors maintained to the end that
Knox and Sollecito fatally slashed Kercher
while Guede held her down.
Knox and Sollecito were first convicted
in 2009, then acquitted in 2011, when they
believed they had been freed to resume
their normal lives.
But that decision was found to be
flawed by the Court of Cassation in 2013,
leading to a retrial in Florence which
reinstated the initial convictions last year
and increased Knox’s sentence to 28 years
Raffaele Sollecito
and six months.
Lawyers for both defendants said
they would be seeking compensation for
the time spent in prison — two years on
remand before their initial conviction
and two more before they were freed on
Had the convictions been upheld,
Knox would have almost certainly faced
extradition, which she had vowed to resist.
She said last year: “I would have to be
dragged back kicking and screaming into
a prison I didn’t deserve to be in.”
A friend of the Knox family, who had
spoken on the phone to them at their
Seattle home since the verdict, told BBC
radio that “everybody is very happy to see
this finished, so they can get on with their
Since her release, Knox had completed
the language studies that took her to
Perugia in the first place, found work
as a journalist and reportedly become
engaged. But her lawyers admitted she
had been extremely worried that Friday’s
verdict could go against her.
She is unlikely ever to be able to
live a completely normal life, such was
the fascination with a case that had an
irresistible combination of a youthful,
photogenic cast, a particularly brutal
crime and an endless supply of headlinefriendly detail.
Such details included DNA traces
found on the victim’s bra strap.
Knox’s supporters always insisted she
was simply an innocent abroad who fell
victim to a flawed judicial system.
Illustrating what the defence says was
systemic police bungling in the case,
Bongiorno said in court on Friday that
35 people had tramped in and out of
the crime scene, making critical DNA
evidence unreliable and eliminating any
proof either of them were in the bedroom
when Meredith died.
Cameron launches
re-election campaign
with health vow
Minister David
Cameron kicked
off his re-election
May’s tight poll by
echoing his main
rival with a new promise to improve
the state-run National Health Service
Conservatives are neck-and-neck in
opinion polls with the main opposition
centre-left Labour, led by Ed Miliband,
who says May 7’s vote will be the tightest
for a generation.
In a rallying call to activists at his
Conservative party’s spring conference
in Manchester, northwest England,
Cameron vowed to deliver a “truly
seven-day NHS” providing a service
as easy to access in the evenings and at
weekends as on weekdays.
Polling by Ipsos MORI indicates
that the NHS, which provides acrossthe-board care for Britons and is mostly
free, is the most important issue for
“For years it’s been too hard to access
the NHS out of hours. But illness doesn’t
respect working hours,” Cameron said
in a speech 40 days before the election.
“The truth is that you are more likely
to die if you turn up at the hospital at
the weekend.”
He added: “With a future
Conservative government, we would
have a truly seven-day NHS.”
The British Medical Association, the
trade union for doctors, warned that the
NHS was already at “breaking point”
and that Cameron had not outlined
how he would fund the plan. — AFP
Soyuz spacecraft docks at ISS for year-long mission
This Nasa photo shows media photographing the Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft as it
launches to the International Space Station on Saturday in Baikonur, Kazakhstan.
BAIKONUR: A Russian Soyuz
spacecraft with three crew on board
successfully docked at the International
Space Station on Saturday after blasting
off from Kazakhstan, Nasa said,
launching a year-long mission on the
orbiting outpost.
The Soyuz-TMA16M spacecraft’s
crew included a US astronaut and a
Russian cosmonaut who will be the first
to spend an entire year on the ISS.
The successful docking occurred
after the Soyuz took off without a glitch
from the Baikonur cosmodrome in
Kazakhstan at 22:42 pm (1942 GMT)
on Friday, Russian space agency
officials said earlier.
The hatch opened about two hours
later at 0333 GMT, once the pressure
between the two space vessels had
The three exchanged enthusiastic
hugs with crew members already on
board the ISS after the hatch opened.
Nasa flight engineer Scott Kelly
and Russian Mikhail Kornienko will
together spend a total of 342 days
aboard the ISS, while the third crew
member, Russian cosmonaut Gennady
Padalka, will spend the usual period of
six months.
Kelly, 51, and 54-year-old Kornienko
will take part in the extended mission
to test the effects of long-term space
missions on the human body.
The trip marks the longest amount
of time that two people will live
continuously at the ISS, though a
handful of Russian cosmonauts spent a
year to 14 months at the Russian space
station Mir in the 1990s.
“This is the first time we’re doing it
as an international partnership, which I
think is one of the great success stories
of the International Space Station,”
Kelly said at a news conference in
Baikonur ahead of the launch.
He said the experiment could
prove vital towards planning future
international missions, including to
“If we ever go beyond low Earth
orbit again, perhaps to Mars, because of
the cost and the complexity it will most
likely be an international mission, so I
see this as a stepping stone to that.”
The physical effects of a year in space
will be closely monitored by doctors on
Russia announces plan
to build new space
station with Nasa
MOSCOW: Russia on Saturday
announced initial plans to build
a new orbital space station
together with Nasa to replace the
International Space Station (ISS),
which is set to operate until 2024.
Russia and Nasa recently agreed
to keep operating and financing the
ISS until 2024, but future joint space
projects have remained in doubt, as
relations between Russia and the US
have plunged to post-Cold War lows
over the Ukraine conflict.
“Roscosmos together with Nasa
will work on the programme of a
future orbital station,” the head of
Russia’s Roscosmos space agency,
Igor Komarov said, quoted by
Interfax news agency. —- AFP
the ground in an unprecedented study
of how the human body withstands the
rigours of spaceflight before humans
plan to journey to Mars.
Nasa said the mission was key to
planning a future trip to Mars, as it
would provide valuable research.
“Scott Kelly’s mission is critical to
advancing the administration’s plan to
send humans on a journey to Mars,”
Nasa administrator Charles Bolden
“We’ll gain new, detailed insights
on the ways long-duration spaceflight
affects the human body.”
Kelly said he was concerned about
the impacts of radiation and living in
zero gravity, particularly in terms of
compromised immunity and bone and
vision loss.
“I’m hopeful that there is not a big
cliff out there with regards to our ability
to stay and live and work in space for
longer periods of time,” he said.
“But we are not going to know
that until we have actually done it,” he
“The jury is out.”
Kelly’s twin brother Mark, a retired
US astronaut who has flown to the ISS
four times, is part of the experiment
and will undergo regular health checks
on Earth so doctors can compare the
brothers’ vital signs.
Psychological disorder is one of several aircrash leads
Lubitz had told ex-girlfriend that ‘everyone will know my name’
PARIS: The possibility that Germanwings
co-pilot Andreas Lubitz suffered from
a psychological disorder is being taken
seriously as one of several leads, a French
prosecutor working with German
investigators in Dusseldorf has said.
“We possess a certain number of
elements that allow us to advance this
lead, which is a very serious lead, but not
the only one,” Jean-Pierre Michael said
in reference to the man who prosecutors
say intentionally brought down
Germanwings flight 4U9525.
Germany’s federal aviation authority
said on Saturday it had given Lubitz’s
file to prosecutors, but declined to
say whether it contained a so-called
SIC entry, which indicates an ongoing
medical condition that requires regular
A SIC designation can be added to
files for a variety of conditions and does
not specify where these are of a physical
or a psychological nature.
Prosecutors said that Lubitz hid an
illness from his employer, after finding
multiple items in his home including a
torn up doctor’s note that would have
given him time off on the day of the flight.
A hospital in Dusseldorf confirmed
on Friday that he had been treated there
beginning in February, but said reports
that he had been treated for depression
were false.
Meanwhile, an ex-girlfriend told a
German newspaper that the co-pilot had
worried “health problems” would dash
his dreams and vowed one day to do
something to “change the whole system”,
The 26-year-old woman, identified
only as Maria W, recalled in an interview
with the mass-circulation Bild daily how
Andreas Lubitz told her: “One day I’m
going to do something that will change
the whole system, and everyone will
know my name and remember.”
“I never knew what he meant by that
but now it makes sense,” it quoted the
“shocked” flight attendant as saying,
adding the remark repeatedly ran
through her head after hearing about the
air disaster.
According to French prosecutors,
Lubitz locked himself in the cockpit
of the Airbus A320 he was co-piloting
and manually changed the flight
pattern to cause the plane to slam into
a mountainside in the French Alps,
killing himself and 149 other people on
“His performance was without
criticism. Nothing was striking,”
Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said
earlier in the week as he explained the
airline carrier’s shock at the findings.
Seyne villagers walk to pay tribute to the victims of the Germanwings Airbus A320 crash, in the small village of Le Vernet,
— Agencies French Alps, on Saturday. — AFP
MARCH 29 l 2015
Nigerians go to the polls
amid violence fears
BRISK POLLING: Fourteen presidential candidates in the fray
Voters wait to cast their ballots at a polling station on the outskirt of Kano. — AFP
ABUJA: Despite a climate of tension
and fear, millions of Nigerians were
voting on Saturday in presidential and
parliamentary elections which had been
postponed by six weeks due to violence
by the terror group, Boko Haram.
Fourteen presidential candidates
are competing for the highest office in
Africa’s biggest economy. But in effect
it is a neck-and-neck race between
incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, 57, and
former military leader Muhammadu
Buhari, 72.
Some violence was reported with
Boko Haram killing two people in an
attack on a polling station in northeastern Nigeria, a witness said.
“The insurgents shot into the air
and were shouting ‘We warned you not
to take part in this election. We shall
slaughter you all’,” Umar Hammaga, a
resident of Shole, a village in Gombe
State, told dpa on the telephone.
Police quickly restored peace in
Shole, Hammaga added, with voters
returning to polling stations.
Earlier it was reported that Boko
Some violence was reported
with Boko Haram killing
two people in an attack on
a polling station in northeastern Nigeria,
a witness said
Haram stormed the village of Barutai
in the north-eastern Borno State in
the early hours, killing an unspecified
number of people, resident Umar
Muhammad said.
“They came in and shot sporadically.
There are heavy casualties, but I can’t give
a number for now,” said Muhammad.
In Enugu, the capital of south-eastern
Enugu State, a car bomb exploded at a
polling station, while a second car
bomb was defused, said local police
commissioner Dan Bature. Nobody
was injured and voting continued at the
station, a primary school, Bature said.
Roughly 360,000 police officers have
been stationed across the country to
prevent violence. Security measures
are particularly tight after the polls,
initially scheduled for February 14, were
postponed by six weeks due to fear of
Boko Haram attacks.
The terrorist group has killed an
estimated 14,000 people since 2009.
Polling stations had opened at 8 am to
verify registration and search voters for
weapons, but voting was only beginning
at 1.30 pm. The polls will close once the
last person has cast his or her vote.
Throughout the day, 68.8 million
eligible voters have the option of lining
up at 150,000 polling stations across
the country. They are using biometric
identity cards for the first time, which
authorities hope will reduce the risk of
fraud. Nigeria’s elections have for decades
been plagued by voter irregularities.
In various locations, including the
capital, Abuja, and Lagos, Nigeria’s
largest city of an estimated five million
people, the voting process was delayed
at many polling stations when electoral
officials and materials arrived late and
card readers were faulty.
— dpa
Homeless people listen to Polish archbishop Konrad Krajewski as they sit in the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican. Pope Francis
made a surprise personal visit to 150 homeless people on a special tour of the Sistine Chapel. — Reuters
Vandals destroy
memorial to
leader Nemtsov
MOSCOW: Vandals on Saturday
destroyed an improvised memorial
created by supporters of Russian
opposition leader Boris Nemtsov
on the bridge where he was shot a
month ago, the Echo of Moscow
radio station reported.
refreshed flowers and candles on the
bridge next to the Kremlin where
the 55-year-old former deputy
prime minister and prominent
critic of President Vladimir
Putin was gunned down on
February 27.
Around 10 men in black
clothing hurriedly stuffed flowers,
photographs and candles into
rubbish sacks leaving the bridge
bare, a video shot from a passing
car and published on social media
Conservatives win mandate for
privatisation in NSW state poll
government of Australia’s New South
Wales state won re-election on Saturday,
clearing the way for the country’s largest
privatisation, a stake in a state-owned
electricity network for an expected
A$17 billion ($13 billion).
State Premier Mike Baird, who
campaigned on a promise to lease 49
per cent of New South Wales’ energy
network to fund new infrastructure,
held a predicted 53 of the 93 state
Legislative Council seats, with just over
half of the votes counted.
He survived a considerable
swing against his government amid
widespread anti-privatisation sentiment
by promising to use the proceeds to
fund road and rail projects to ease
congestion in traffic-choked Sydney.
The result allows Baird and
his coalition government to push
ahead with a sale that already has
attracted some of the world’s largest
infrastructure investors, including
China’s State Grid and several pension
funds and sovereign wealth funds.
“We sought a mandate to make
New South Wales great and tonight the
people of New South Wales have given
us that mandate,” Baird told supporters
in Sydney.
Voters have “chosen hope over fear”,
he said, following an opposition scare
campaign over the privatisation plan.
As well as pumping cash into the
debt-riddled economy of Australia’s
most populous state, the sale will revive
a federal government plan to sell A$130
billion of state-owned infrastructure
Two months ago, the neighbouring
state of Queensland voted out its
government over its proposal to sell
A$30 billion of port and power assets.
— Reuters
Kenyan ministers, officials leave office pending probe
NAIROBI: Five Kenyan ministers
vacated their posts on Saturday to pave
the way for investigations into corruption
allegations, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s
office said, days after he asked those
named in a confidential report to do so.
spokesman, said Energy and Petroleum
Cabinet Secretary Davis Chirchir,
Transport and Infrastructure Minister
Michael Kamau and Kazungu Kambi, in
charge of Labour, had complied with the
president’s request.
Agriculture and Fisheries Cabinet
Secretary Felix Koskei had earlier in the
day vacated his post, but said he expected
to be cleared of any wrongdoing.
Other cabinet ministers will
temporarily handle the workload of the
five, Esipisu said.
Agriculture and Fisheries
On Thursday, without naming names,
President Kenyatta said any officials Cabinet Secretary Felix
adversely mentioned in the confidential Koskei said he had never
Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission
been summoned by
report he handed to parliament should
step aside regardless of seniority pending the state-run watchdog,
the Ethics and Anti“Clearly the President has drawn the
Corruption Commission,
line on corruption and expects all State
and Public Officers to abide by Executive to be questioned on any
Order No 6 in which he gives express involvement in graft, and
directives in regard to the intolerance for
would visit the body’s offices
this vice in government,” Esipisu said.
He added that others who had left to start clearing his name.
their posts included Francis Kimemia,
secretary to the cabinet, four principal Secretary at the National Treasury.
Eight chief executives of state-run
secretaries, the chief of staff at the Deputy
President’s Office and the Investment corporations and the National Social
Security Fund also stepped aside.
“The President reaffirms that there are
no sacred cows and that this is just the
beginning of an unwavering war against
corruption,” Esipisu said.
Koskei said he had never been
summoned by the state-run watchdog,
the Ethics and Anti-Corruption
Commission, to be questioned on any
involvement in graft, and would visit
the body’s offices on Monday with his
lawyers to start clearing his name.
Kenyatta made the fight against
graft a priority on taking office in 2013,
but critics say he has failed to sweep
out corrupt officials in a nation where
corruption is seen as a major obstacle to
business, law enforcement and provision
of public services.
— Reuters
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta arrives before addressing the parliament in
Nairobi. — AFP
MARCH 29 l 2015
Protesters dressed as chickens stand with placards outside the Conservative Party Spring Forum in Manchester, north-west
England, on Saturday. — AFP
A pedestrian closes her umbrella as she walks through Syntagma square in Athens, Greece, on Saturday. (Right) People stroll under cherry blossom
trees along a riverside promenade in Tokyo on Saturday. Viewing cherry blossoms is a national pastime and cultural event in Japan, where millions of
people turn out to admire them annually. — AFP
A dancer performs an Al Tannoura, an Egyptian Sufi folk dance, at a theatre in a popular tourist
area named ‘Old Market’ in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh city, in the South Sinai
governorate, south of Cairo. — Reuters
Yemen fears cloud MSM, shares plunge UBP to buy RBS’s Coutts International A luxury mouse for PCs and Macs
[email protected]
REPORT: The government should take advantage of country’s good credit rating to consider international borrowing to finance its deficit
CBO urges borrowing to finance fiscal deficit
March 28: The government can finance its
potential fiscal deficit by expanding its longterm borrowing in the domestic market through
government bonds or sukuk, according to the
Central Bank of Oman.
The government should also take advantage
of country’s good credit rating to consider
international borrowing to finance its deficit
rather than drawing from reserves, the apex bank
In its report on Oman economy, the CBO says
that borrowing domestically would help financial
deepening, developing a yield curve and making
lending and borrowing more efficient.
“The government could re-introduce shortterm borrowing through treasury bills of different
maturities. Borrowing from the domestic market
would minimise or eliminate the need to draw
from reserve funds as a mean to finance current
account deficit”, the bank says in its mid-year
economic review report.
The Sultanate’s fiscal trend in the recent
years has been characterised by rising public consists of subsidies to electricity and petroleum
expenditure and more so in the areas of current products.
expenditure and expenditure on participation
“Favourable crude oil prices have allowed for
and other expenses, a significant share of which fiscal surpluses in recent years, which cannot
be sustained in the medium or long-term given
the present trend in oil prices. The fact that the
Sultanate’s fiscal position is still robust, potential
risks in the future associated with the lower oil
prices provide an opportunity to start introducing
meaningful fiscal reforms”, the report says.
Oman has the resilience and inner strength to
withstand lower oil prices and sustain its growth
In this regard, the CBO cites the example of
the recent global crisis when the average price
of Omani crude oil declined to $ 56.7 per barrel
in 2009 from $101.1 per barrel in 2008, an
equivalent decline of 44 per cent.
Although the total government revenues
during this period declined by about 12 per cent
with oil revenues falling by a similar rate while
fiscal balance registered a deficit of RO 680.3
million, the Sultanate did not face any major
downside risk during that phase of lower oil
prices, the report points out.
“Thus, the government should take this as
an opportunity to reform some of the structural
impediments of the economy at this juncture”,
says the report, adding, “it is expected that
meaningful fiscal reforms based on efficient
and effective resources allocation would benefit
the economy even further”.
MARCH 29 l 2015
Pacts inked for Qurayat desalination project
MAJOR MILESTONE: It is the first independent water desalination project to be floated after the amendment of the Sector Law
March 28: A number of agreements
were signed on Thursday linked to the
development of a major Independent
Water Project (IWP) with an investment
of around RO 100 million at Qurayat in
Muscat Governorate. The state-owned
Oman Power and Water Procurement
Company (OPWP), a subsidiary of
Nama Group, hosted the signing
ceremony at Crowne Plaza Muscat.
In attendance were a number of
dignitaries including His Highness
Sayyid Taimur bin Asaad al Said;
Shaikh Saif bin Mohammed al Shabibi,
Minister of Housing; and Mohammed
bin Abdullah al Mahrouqi, Chairman of
the Public Authority for Electricity and
Water (PAEW), as well as government
officials from the Sultanate and the
Republic of Singapore.
The agreements effectively formalise
the award of a licence to Qurayat
Desalination Company to build, own
and operate a 200,000 cubic metres
per day capacity water desalination
plant. Qurayat Desalination Company
is a joint venture of Singapore-based
integrated water management and
environmental solutions provider
Hyflux Limited (85 per cent) and
wholly Omani owned Modern Channel
Services (15 per cent), a partnership of
local investors.
The Hyflux-led consortium was
Dignitaries representing the Public Authority for Electricity & Water (PAEW), Oman Power & Water Procurement Company (OPWP), Ministry of Housing, and Qurayat Desalination Company at the signing.
(Right) Artist’s sketch of the Qurayat IWP.
selected by OPWP for its contract
to develop the IWP in a competitive
tender that attracted firm offers from
seven prominent international utilities
and developers.
A well-established player in water
desalination projects, the Singaporean
utility currently operates a number of
water-related schemes in China, India,
and the eastern and southern parts of
Signing the agreements on behalf
of their respective organisations were
Shaikh Saif bin Mohammed al Shabibi,
Minister of Housing; Mohammed
Abdullah al Mahrouqi, Chairman of
PAEW; Engineer Ahmed bin Saleh al
Jahdhami, CEO of OPWP; Wong Lup
Wai, Chairman of Qurayat Desalination
Company; and Sadiq bin Salim al
Fairuz, Deputy Chairman of the Board
of Directors, Qurayat Desalination
Under a Water Purchase Agreement
also signed on the occasion, OPWP will
offtake all of the plant’s output for a 20year period. The plant is expected to
go into commercial operational in the
second quarter of 2017.
Speaking at the event, Ahmed al
Jahdhami, CEO of OPWP, said: “This
project is distinguished because it is the
first independent water desalination
project to be floated after the
amendment of the Sector Law, which
regulates independent water projects by
the Authority for Electricity Regulation.
The tendering of the project was in
Yemen fears cloud
MSM, shares plunge
accordance with the Internal Tender
Committee procedures after amending
the Tender Law which was carried out
in a short period and with complete
Naif bin Ali al Abri, Project Manager
— OPWP, said a suitable site has been
allocated at Daghmar in Qurayat for
the implementation of the facility. The
plant will be based on advanced reverse
osmosis water desalination, with the
output channelled into an elaborate
transmission and distribution system
currently under various stages of
development and construction by the
Public Authority for Electricity and
Water (PAEW).
Wong Lup Wai, Chairman of
said the contract award to Hyflux
represented an important foray for
Hyflux into the Oman market. “We
are honoured that OPWP and PAEW
have given us the opportunity to be a
part of Oman’s journey towards water
sustainability. This project is a major
milestone for Hyflux in the region.”
The Qurayat IWP, Wai said, will be
one of Oman’s largest seawater reverse
osmosis desalination plants by capacity.
When it commences operation in 2017,
it will add another 200,000 cubic metres
per day of desalinated water to Oman’s
drinking water supply.
“This is equivalent to nearly 80
Olympic-sized swimming pools of
water daily and approximately 17 per
cent of Oman’s peak water demand.
Meethaq offers home finance CBO urges
for Dar Al Zain project
March 28: In line with its peers
across the Gulf Arab countries, the
Muscat Securities Market plunged
as uncertainty in the region caused
investors to keep off the market.
The benchmark MSM30 Index
closed the week on a weak note to
close at 6112.91 points, down by 2.58
per cent. The MSM Sharia Index
closed at 971.76 points, down by 2.62
per cent.
The market capitalisation at the
end of trading on Thursday stood at
RO 6.589 billion. The slide came as a
result of a massive sell-off following
Saudi Arabia launched airstrikes on
A total number of 1,483 trades
were executed during the day’s
trading session generating turnover
of RO 6.75 million with more than
26.07 million shares changing hands.
Of the 44 traded securities,
1 advanced, 29 declined and 14
remained unchanged. At the session
close, Omani investors were net
buyers to an extent of RO 1.939
million while foreign and GCC
investors emerged as net sellers to an
extent of RO 1.635 million and RO
207,000 respectively.
Almost all blue-chip stocks,
including Bank Muscat, Ooredoo,
Company, National Bank of Oman,
ONIC Holding, Renaissance Services
and Oman Cement, lost ground on
panic selling.
Al Anwar Holding was the most
active in terms of volume as well as
turnover. Oman Orix Leasing was
the day’s top loser and was, down by
9.86 per cent.
Bank Muscat lost 3.03 per cent to
close at 512 baisas, while Ooredoo
and Oman Cement plunged by
7.78 per cent and 7.03 per cent to
close at 664 baisas and 476 baisas,
Analysts say investors are
watching to see whether the air
campaign will escalate. In case it
happens, it would likely result in
major sell-offs, they say.
Adding fuel to the impact of the
war fears are the falling oil prices
and dividend adjustments affecting
the investor sentiment. “The air
strikes in Yemen have really created
a risk-off mood,” said an analyst at a
leading brokerage firm.
Saudi Arabia’s stock market had
lost 5 per cent on Wednesday, but
gained nearly a half per cent by
closing on Thursday, alongside the
bump in higher oil prices.
The UAE’s second bourse in Abu
Dhabi also dropped around 2.0 per
cent at the opening but finished on
Thursday, marginally up 0.03 per
cent at 4,373.13 points.
The Qatar Exchange, the second
largest in the Gulf, dived 3.5 per
cent at the opening but rebounded
strongly to close down 0.8 per cent
on 11,410.76 points. The Kuwait
Stock Exchange improved slightly
from the 2.6 per cent loss in the
morning to close 2.4 per cent lower
on 6,222.46 points.
Jamal al Loungani, senior
manager at Kuwait Petroleum
Corporation, told the Kuwait News
Agency on Thursday that oil prices
are expected to increase, but that it
depends on the military operation
and the security of the Bab AlMandeb Strait between Yemen and
Djibouti, which serves as a gateway
for oil tankers headed to Europe.
Capital Economics said in an
analysis that while there are concerns
over the impact of the crisis on the
oil market and threats of disruption
through the Bab Al-Mandeb, the
economic impact “should be limited,”
in part because Gulf countries “are
insulated, thanks to their substantial
foreign exchange reserves.”
It also pointed out that Saudi oil
facilities in the kingdom’s east and
Oman’s oil fields “are a comfortable
distance away” from the Yemeni
The increased desalination capacity will
contribute towards the resilience and
reliability of Oman’s water supply and
help to meet the long-term demand for
“More importantly, we will seek
to build up the water management
knowledge and technical base of the
people of Oman as we embark on
the construction and operations and
maintenance phases of the plant. We
will share the extensive experience
and expertise we have gained through
our large-scale desalination projects
worldwide, and invest in training local
Omani staff at our plants in Singapore.
This will help to groom talents not
only for Hyflux, but also for the water
industry,” he added.
MUSCAT: Meethaq, the pioneer of
Islamic banking in Oman from Bank
Muscat, and Zain Development signed
a memorandum of understanding
(MoU) to provide attractive Meethaq
home finance for Dar Al Zain phase 5
and 6 projects in Sur Al Hadid, Al Seeb.
Sulaiman al Harthy, Group General
Manager — Islamic Banking, and
Mohammed Moosa, Chairman of Zain
Development LLC, signed the MoU at
Dar Al Zain project premises.
Sulaiman al Harthy said: “Meethaq is
proud to be associated with Dar Al Zain
project and facilitate attractive home
finance in line with Sharia principles.
The real estate sector is a major
component of the national economy
and Meethaq Islamic Banking is
committed to extending all support
aimed at offering citizens easy access to
Sharia based home finance.”
Mohammed Moosa said: “We are
happy to join hands with Meethaq
Islamic Banking to provide attractive
home deals for citizens. The association
between the two institutions will give
a boost to the real estate sector and
benefit citizens across Oman to fulfil
their dream homes.”
Dar Al Zain is a unique residential
project located in Sur Al Hadid in the
Wilayat of Seeb. The Phase 5 and 6
of the project comprises 129 villas.
Meethaq home finance is designed
to help families fulfil their dream
homes. Meethaq offers attractive
Sharia based finance to suit everyone’s
needs with simplified documentation
and processing across the network of
branches in Oman.
The residential segment of the
real estate sector in Oman assumes
importance in light of the growth
in population as well as the buoyant
economy. The deregulation granting
property ownership rights to GCC
nationals and expatriates has also
attracted Oman as an investment
Meethaq has adopted the best
practices in Islamic banking and
finance worldwide to combine a robust
model which protects customers and
complements the Islamic banking
industry. Every Meethaq product
goes through the process of Sharia
compliance certification by the Sharia
Supervisory Board and is created in line
with the guidelines of the Central Bank
of Oman.
As the pioneer of Islamic banking
in Oman, Meethaq stands out for
its independent Sharia Supervisory
Board, separate capital allocation
from shareholders’ money, unique
risk management tools, complete fund
segregation, separate books of account,
core banking system which supports
Islamic banking operations, standalone Islamic banking branches and
proper profit distribution mechanism
among investment account holders/
The adoption of AAOIFI standards
(Accounting & Auditing Organisation
for Islamic Financial Institutions)
distinguishes Meethaq Islamic banking
practices in terms of standardisation of
products and services.
On the revenues side, the report
says, the government could improve
its tax collection and customs revenues
through effective infrastructure,
trainings and possibly introduction of
new taxes. On the expenditure side,
controlling expenditure on subsidies is
Moreover, the objective should be
to rein current expenditure, which
is mainly in the form of current
consumption. It has to be noted that
increases in current expenditure are
harder to reverse, which could lead to
fiscal vulnerability when oil prices fall.
“The spending pattern of the
government as the year progresses
tends to be highly correlated with
the oil prices. The rationalisation
and prioritisation of government
expenditure limit under the approved
budget could be appropriate”, the
report adds.
At the same time, the report warns
that with lower oil prices, the balance
of payments situation of the will be
“Promoting and diversifying nonoil exports vigorously is one option
to increase exports. Developing large
scale tourism and attracting more
tourists could be an option to reduce
imbalances in services accounts of
balance of payments”, says the report.
Oman has been focusing to attract
foreign investment in industries which
could use local raw materials, employ
Omanis and promote traditional
industries. Thus, improving foreign
investment scenario could help Oman
improving its external position in the
wake of lower oil prices.
The Central Bank of Oman plays
an important role in maintaining
financial stability, pursuing appropriate
financial markets and providing
an environment aimed at ensuring
exchange rate stability.
MARCH 29 l 2015
Oman turning into a burgeoning mining hub
man’s mining history dates
back to pre-Islamic days when
copper was mined and sent all
over the world. The country was then
known as Majan or the land of copper
and in the present days too Oman is
sitting on relatively untapped mineral
wealth. Thus over the past decade
Oman’s mining industry has attracted
increasing interest from both foreign
and local operators. The government
too is actively focusing on the sector in
terms of further improving regulations,
attracting investors and enhancing its
contribution to the economy.
Oman’s 700 km long and nearly
150 km wide mountains contain the
best exposed Ophiolite suite of rocks
where many investors are exploring
and extracting copper, gold, silver,
chromite, lead and zinc. Studies show
that Yanqul alone holds out 25 million
tonnes of copper reserves and a separate
study estimated Oman’s coal reserves
at 122 million tonnes. Sultanate’s vast
non-metallic mineral wealth including
limestone, dolomite, various clays,
gypsum, silica sand and quartzite, iron
oxide, marble and ornamental stones
and construction materials are also
recognized worldwide. Oman boasts
all these non-metallic minerals in huge
quantities which are required in almost
every industry and most of which are
exported at present.
Riding on the back of the particularly
rapidly growing economy and its
industrial and construction sector,
contribution of Oman’s mining and
quarrying activities to the GDP in 2013
reached RO 107.7 million, growing
faster than the economy at a CAGR of
23 per cent over a decade. Moreover,
production of rocks and minerals
increased more than eight-fold between
1996 and 2013.
Key developments in the mining
industry’s regulatory framework are
aimed at attracting additional interest
and investment in the sector going
forward. In 2010, royalty payable to the
government under the Mining Law was
reduced from 10 per cent to 5 per cent
that is currently attractive for investors.
A well-equipped minerals laboratory
was set up in 2012 that has greatly
Nissan Altima triumphs in
48-hour endurance challenge
MUSCAT: Nissan’s Altima mid-size
sedan has triumphed in an extraordinary
endurance challenge over 48 hours,
which saw the vehicle travel 4,323.2 km
non-stop — an equivalent distance of
driving from Riyadh to Rome.
Certified by the Saudi Arabian Motor
Federation, the endurance test started on
Sunday, March 1 at 9:00 am and lasted
for 48 hours. It took place at Al Reem
International Circuit in Riyadh where
several professional drivers pushed the
car to new limits for two straight days.
From Sunday 9:00 am to Tuesday 9:00
am, the Altima travelled 4,323.2 km and
drivers had to complete 1,351 laps of the
The Regional 48H Endurance Race in
Saudi Arabia has grabbed the attention
of adventurous car lovers all over the
Middle East, particularly as an Altima
has been up for grabs in a competition
for the public.
Fans were able to track the progress
of the endurance challenge via a
designated website updated frequently.
There was also an opportunity to win an
Altima via social media (#Altima48h) by
answering technical related questions.
Previously the Nissan Altima proved
its all-round quality in the Dubai 24
Hours endurance race in 2007 where
it covered approximately 2,270 km, or
roughly the distance between Dubai
and Beirut.
The 2015 Nissan Altima, which
breaks new ground for the mid-size
sedan segment is hands-down the most
engaging vehicle in its class. And if
you’ve never driven an Altima before,
get ready to have your notion of a midsize sedan redefined.
Nissan has taken one of their most
successful model, the Nissan Altima
— kept its DNA and changed nearly
everything — the visual appeal, the
driving experience and, of course,
the technology. Nissan Altima offers
numerous segment defining attributes
that enhance the ownership experience
and provide real customer value.
Nissan vehicles are known to
offer smoother ride comfort, more
refinement and benchmark fit and
finish, while delivering breathtaking
performance and road-holding. Their
‘multi-dimensional performance’ means
the driver can enjoy the full depth of a
Nissan’s capabilities whether navigating
the corners of a winding mountain
road, cruising on a motorway or even
travelling in an urban environment.
The 2015 Altima comes with the
Nissan Intelligent Key® that allows the
owners to drive in comfort and style
regardless of the rising temperatures of
the Sultanate.
Share buyback more likely than big acquisition this year
Bounce in Glencore’s commodity
prices could kick-start deal machine
LONDON: Just two weeks before
Glencore can make a new approach for
Rio Tinto, the rival that rejected it last
summer, the Swiss firm once seen as a
deal machine seems unlikely to strike
again or charm investors with any other
major move soon.
The trading and mining company’s
shares were hit by a slump in copper
prices this year, and its debt is high,
diminishing its dealmaking ability and
focusing attention instead on the quality
of assets that it bought in previous
spending sprees.
Glencore’s portfolio includes some
high costs and problematic assets.
While Rio Tinto and BHP have the
largest, lowest cost iron ore assets in the
world in Australia, Glencore relies for a
big chunk of earnings on operations in
risky countries such as the Democratic
Republic of Congo.
It’s also struggling with some oil and
mining assets, having bought Chadfocused oil business Caracal ahead of a
collapse in oil prices and being forced to
post a $8 billion writedown on mining
assets acquired in its record breaking
$46 billion buy of Xstrata in 2013 — the
largest ever mining acquisition.
“The rationale of their deals is
always sound but timing wise there are
certainly some question marks.
It shows they have got as little
visibility as the others when it comes
to prices,” said Macquarie analyst Jeff
Largey. Short-term, sources close to
the company say it will consider a share
buyback, possibly as soon its first half
results in August, to lift its struggling
share price. “They are not exactly rolling
in cash at the moment but a buy back
would be the most likely use of any
extra money this year,” said one industry
source with knowledge of the company.
expect that higher prices for Glencore’s
commodity mix — copper, zinc and
nickel — will give it the edge against
rivals whose iron ore operations are
likely to keep suffering from falling
prices. That divergence could in turn
fund Glencore’s next buying spree.
According to Reuters I/B/E/S, 13
analysts still recommend buying the
stock while five have a sell rating on it.
Few observers believe that Glencore
Chief Executive Ivan Glasenberg’s
acquisitions ambition is satiated and the
company needs to improve its range of
assets to keep investors happy.
Earlier this month, at Glencore’s
annual results conference, Glasenberg
also noted that he expected Glencore’s
commodity mix to start to outperform
those of its peers. A continued fall in
iron ore also makes it more likely that
Glencore can ultimately buy a significant
asset in that business near the bottom
of the market. Glencore does not own
producing iron assets but it trades the
bulk material already and would like to
gain more access to supply. — Reuters
benefited the sector. In February 2013,
the Ministry of Commerce and Industry
announced that it will issue licences
only to those mining companies that
export value added products. Hence in
the medium-term mining firms need to
set up processing facilities that has led
to producers seeking investment and
partnerships to develop beneficiation
Switzerland’s UBP
to buy RBS’s Coutts
ZURICH/LONDON: Switzerland’s
Union Bancaire Privee (UBP) is
buying the international business of
300-year-old British wealth manager
Coutts, the latest deal by a Swiss
private bank aimed at branching out
from its struggling home market.
The purchase of Switzerlandbased Coutts International from
Britain’s Royal Bank of Scotland
(RBS) also marks another retreat by a
foreign bank from the Swiss wealth
management industry amid a string
of investigations into tax avoidance.
State-controlled RBS will keep
Coutts’ UK arm, which counts Britain’s
royal family among its customers.
The deal will boost UBP’s clientbase in Asia, a particular focus for
wealth managers as the region is the
fastest production line for multimillionaires and billionaires. It will
add around 30 billion Swiss francs
($31 billion) to UBP’s assets under
management, lifting Asia to account
for up to a quarter of the total from
less than 10 per cent now.
“The cherry on the cake of the
whole deal is certainly the Asia
business,” Zuercher Kantonalbank
analyst Andreas Brun said.
The price of the deal will be
depend on the level of assets
under management at completion,
expected in the first half of next year.
Two sources familiar with the
matter said it was likely to be less than
newspaper reports of $600 million to
$800 million, with the typical price for
such deals around 1.5-2.0 per cent of
total assets.
The deal is UBP’s first major
acquisition since it bought Lloyds
Banking Group’s international private
banking arm in May 2013, and is
another step in rebuilding its asset
base which almost halved through
the financial crisis.
UBP had 98.7 billion francs in
assets under management at the end
of 2014 versus a peak of 135 billion
in 2007.
Under the deal, UBP will not take
on liability for Coutts International’s
ongoing litigation issues.
For RBS, the sale is part of a drive
to pull back from foreign markets and
focus on UK retail and commercial
The bank, 80 per cent owned
by the UK government after a
bailout during the financial crisis,
sold another $3.7 billion of shares
in US arm Citizens this week and
is expected to slash the size of its
investment bank by three-quarters
in the next five years. RBS said the
deal would include 15,000 to 20,000
customers, but it would keep about
3,000 international clients with close
links to Britain.
plants and is likely to result in the
development of a downstream industry.
The formation of the Public Authority
for Mining in 2014 also establishes a
dedicated organisation to guide Oman’s
mining operations and also bring the
industry in line with international
standards as it aims to become a
significant contributor to the national
In recent times, Oman has attracted
considerable investment from Canada,
India and other Gulf countries for
mining and quarrying projects.
Last year, London-based Savannah
Resources announced its $6.3 million
investment in the Sultanate which will
fund expansion into Oman’s highly
prospective copper belt and is indicative
of the promising growth prospects for
mining in the country.
According to BMI Research,
investment is set to gather momentum
particularly in the copper mining
sector. The construction industry is
also witnessing accelerating growth in
India, China and other Asian countries
as well as in the Gulf region which
would in effect lead to surging demand
for various industrial minerals like
gypsum, limestone and dolomite. As
per industry experts, Oman is well
positioned to benefit from the rising
demand as international investors can
make use of the country’s strategic
geographic location as a distribution
centre to India, the GCC, and other
Asian and African nations. The capacity
to export industrial minerals is expected
to increase through the Port of Salalah,
Sohar Port and Duqm Port.
Thus Oman’s abundant and
unexploited mineral wealth, strategic
location and increasing demand
for minerals driven by industrial,
infrastructure and overall economic
growth are likely to support Sultanate’s
mining industry as it is expected to
experience a significant expansion over
the coming years.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions
expressed in this article are solely those
of the authors and do not reflect the
opinion of the Observer.
Peugeot to expand engine production
PARIS: PSA Peugeot Citroen said it had chosen a French factory over a rival Spanish
plant to expand engine production, prompting a visit by President Francois Hollande
to highlight a bright spot in France’s gloomy labour market.
The troubled carmaker said it will upgrade the Trémery site to produce the turbo
version of a staple three-cylinder engine already manufactured there, safeguarding
local jobs. The eastern French plant beat out Peugeot’s factory in Vigo, Spain, for the
additional 200,000 engines per year.
Manufacturing boss Yann Vincent said Peugeot’s decision reflected “work done by
the Trémery site to meet competitiveness targets”, including productivity concessions
by unions. The new production will bring no net increase in jobs, Vincent said, and the
plant’s 3,700-strong workforce is still expected to decline through attrition.
The investment will nonetheless be seized upon as a vindication of Peugeot’s 3
billion euro ($3.26 billion) bailout, in which the government acquired a 14 per cent
stake last year. Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron publicly backed Trémery for the
new investment after hosting a workers’ delegation on March 19.
It also provides an important photo opportunity for Hollande, two days before
the second round of local elections in which his Socialists are suffering big losses to
centre- and far-right parties, with unemployment stuck at 10 per cent.
Peugeot said the final plant decision was taken by its executive committee on
Thursday, but government officials had already announced Hollande’s visit before that
meeting. “It was some time ago that we’d decided to decide on March 26,” the Peugeot
manufacturing chief said afterwards.
The domestic production increase was decided on strictly economic grounds,
Vincent said, and will have “no impact” on moves to double parts purchasing from
lower-wage countries under a recovery plan drawn up by Chief Executive Officer
Carlos Tavares. Despite lower Spanish wage costs, he added, it made more financial
sense to use the French plant’s existing engine production capacity and component
supply logistics. — Reuters
French President Francois Hollande (2ndR), PSA Peugeot Citroen Chief
Executive Officer Carlos Tavares (R) and French Economy Minister Emmanuel
Macron (L) listen to Laurent Vergely (2ndL), director of the PSA Tremery
factory, as they visit the French carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen engine factory
in Tremery near Metz, North Eastern France. — AFP
Russia to join China-led development bank
MOSCOW: Russia is to sign up to the Chinese-led development bank AIIB, first Deputy
Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said on Saturday at an international forum in China, cited
by Russian news agencies.
“I’d like to inform you that Russian President Vladimir Putin has taken the decision
that Russia will participate in the capital of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank
(AIIB),” Shuvalov said at China’s Boao Forum, quoted by RIA Novosti state news agency.
The Beijing-backed AIIB, unveiled in October, is a multinational lender that the
United States perceives as a threat to the Washington-led World Bank.
It has proved highly successful with countries that are US allies, however, with
Britain, Germany, France, Italy and this week South Korea all saying they intend to join
the $50 billion (46 billion euro) bank.
Russia has sought to align itself more closely with China in recent years and these
efforts have intensified amid a freeze in relations with the Western powers, which have
imposed harsh economic sanctions over Moscow’s role in the Ukraine conflict.
“We are glad to have the opportunity to build up cooperation in the format of
China and the Eurasian Economic Union,” Shuvalov said, referring to a free trade union
championed by Putin made up of Russia, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Belarus, which
came into force in January.
“We in Russia are sure that joint work in developing Eurasian partnership and the
Silk Route economic belt will create further opportunities for the development of the
countries of the Eurasian Union and China,” he said.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said this month that “practical cooperation
between China and Russia is based on mutual need” and has “enormous internal
impetus and room for expansion.”
China is hungry for Russia’s vast hydrocarbon resources, while Western sanctions
have made seeking stable markets an urgent need for Putin, whose economy has been
hit hard by the fall in prices for oil, a major source of revenue.
Both countries are permanent members of the UN Security Council, where they
have in the past jointly used their veto power against Western-backed moves such as
in the civil war in Syria. — AFP
MARCH 29 l 2015
Logitech MX Master Wireless: A
luxury mouse for PCs and Macs
LOGITECH has unveiled its state-of-the-art MX
Master Wireless Mouse, which is based on a handsculpted design and constructed to deliver the
best of its “mouse innovations” in one peripheral.
A descendant of the MX Revolution,
the MX Master Wireless is now Logitech’s flagbearing mouse, according to Charl-otte Johs,
global vice-president of computer peripherals at
The $99 MX Master Wireless seeks to reign as
one mouse to rule them all, boasting versatility
that lets it move from screen to screen and
platform to platform with ease.
The mouse’s Easy-Switch button enables users
to toggle the MX Master Wireless’ attention
between up to three devices. Users can move, on
the fly, between a tablet, laptop and desktop.
Laden with controls that are strategically
placed and angled on the ergonomic design,
the MX Master Wireless features horizontal
and vertical speed adaptive scroll wheels along
with standard right- and left-click buttons. The
platform-agnostic mouse can also take advantage
of Mac OS X’s gesture controls.
To exact commands issued from the hands of
its users, the MX Wireless Master makes use of
Logitech’s Darkfield Laser technology to track
movement across many surface types. The mouse
can even precisely track movements and gestures
across glass and glossy surfaces, according to
The MX Master Wireless provides two forms
of connectivity, allowing it to connect to devices
via its Bluetooth dongle or through Logitech’s
Unifying Receiver.
Though it is a wireless mouse, Logitech says
power shouldn’t be much of a concern for users.
The MX Master Wireless lasts up to 40 days on
a full charge and, should the battery get too low,
users can get a whole day of usage out of the
mouse after recharging it for just four minutes.
News of the MX Wireless Master came a few
weeks after Logitech announced a new mouse
designed with gamers in mind. Based on feedback
from core gamers, the Logitech G303 Daedalus
Apex Performance Edition Gaming Mouse
delivers optical sensors to and buttons tensioned
by metal springs.April.
‘Post Modern Skateboard’
has no board whatsoever
IF you’re tired of your old wooden skateboard then you might want
to upgrade to the Sidewinding Circular Skates from the Hammacher
Schlemmer catalog.
The “skateboard” consists of two annular skates that are propelled
by leaning side to side, which allow the rider to move forward in a
serpentine motion similar to longboard skateboarding.
Officially named the Sidewinding Circular Skates, the product
consists of a pair of 10-inch wheels that have platforms where the
user’s feet go in. The product also features, well, nothing else.
The Sidewinding Circular Skates certainly do not look like a
skateboard with the “board” entirely missing. However, in terms of
moving with them, the product functions similarly to longboard
skateboarding, as the wearer would be leaning side-to-side to make
the wheels rotate. The user’s motions move the skates forward in a
serpentine path without the need to push off the ground, as is being
done to propel the
normal skateboards
The Hammacher
Schlemmer catalog
shows riders using
the skates to move
across sidewalks and
grassy areas, with the ability to make tight spins and turns.
Because the wheels of the skates are not connected to one another,
the rider can easily pull off 720-degree spins and tight turns. Users
can then stop the motion of the wheels by placing their toes on the
Moving with the skates seems to be something that requires
practice though, which may take some time before the rider can
comfortably do so outside the garage.
To help with the adjustment to the skates, purchasing the product
will include an extendable rod that can connect the two wheels
together, which would make it look a bit more like a skateboard.
However, with the rod, the skates will more closely resemble a
casterboard, which is a skateboard that has a metal spine underneath
the narrow but flexible board and two wheels that can travel in any
According to the product page, the Sidewinding Circular Skates
can support riders that weigh up to 200 pounds, while the wheels
themselves weigh 5 pounds each. The page also states that the product
is designed to be used by skaters 8 years old and up.
The Sidewinding Circular Skates, which are expected to be shipped
by the end of the month, have a price tag of $99.95.
Magnets could be used to control both heat and sound
Joseph Heremans, Ohio Eminent Scholar in Nanotechnology, holds an artist’s rendering of a phonon
heating solid material.
MAGNETS could be used to control both heat and sound,
according to new research from Ohio State University.
Magnetic fields approximately as powerful as those
in MRIs were found to reduce thermal energy running
through a semiconductor by around 12 per cent, according
to researchers. This new study reveals properties of sound
waves that were previously unknown to physicists.
Phonons are excitations in the atoms or molecules
present in condensed matter. Acoustic phonons are able
to transmit both heat and sound, and this study was
the first time these excitations were found to react to
magnetic fields.
The experiment studied semiconductors cooled
to 450 degrees below zero Fahrenheit before being
exposed to seven-Teslamagnets, similar to those found in
laboratories and hospitals. A standard image is taken at
1.5 Tesla, while a 7 Tesla image uses advantages in signalto-noise ratio and image contrast and resolution to get a
higher-resolution image, although the benefits can only
be realized if the correct coils exist to capture the images.
Heat is a measure of the vibrations of atoms and
molecules in a material, and sound consists of pressure
waves in a given medium, such as air or water. When a
person speaks, it is vibrations in vocal cords that create
waves in the air, which we interpret as sound. These two
properties may seem to be independent of one another,
but they are similar on the smallest level. Because of this,
any process that alters one should be able to affect the
Aerosail uses wind as
means of propulsion
The Aerosail maritime vehicle is prepared in Monaco during a test for its
planned attempt to sail from Monaco to Calvi, on the French Mediterranean
island of Corsica. Aerosail is the result of Stephane Rousson and his partners’
ambition to create an innovative, efficient, and silent maritime vehicle, only using
the wind as means of propulsion. Its unique principle of flight allows the user to
pilot like a sailboat an airship linked by a cable to a stabilised keel, called the
Seaglider. The cable acts as the mast and the airship as the sail. — AFP
Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 edge define what’s next in mobility
THE all-new Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge
were introduced to the region by Samsung
Electronics at the World Tour event held in
Dubai. Dubai is the first city globally to host
the Samsung World Tour which will see the
launch of the new flagships in different cities
around the world.
Creating a new standard for design,
craftsmanship and performance, the
Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge
seamlessly blend premium materials with
the most advanced Samsung technology to
offer users an unmatched mobile experience.
Renowned Lebanese artist, Elissa was the
special guest at the Samsung World Tour
event, where she had the opportunity to
experience the all-new Galaxy S6 and S6
Carefully crafted from metal and glass,
the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge blend
purposeful design with powerful features. Its
glass body, made from the toughest glass to
date, Corning® Gorilla Glass® 4, is available in
an array of colourful jewel tones, including
White Pearl, Black Sapphire, Gold Platinum,
Blue Topaz and Green Emerald, which
elicit a unique visual texture as it reflects
natural light. The Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6
edge are equipped with an incredibly vivid,
bright and fast front (5MP) and rear (16MP)
camera with F1.9 lenses and high resolution
With fully embedded WPC and PMA
certified wireless charging technology, the
Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge are setting a
new industry standard for universal wireless
The Samsung Galaxy S6 is currently
available for pre-order in four models.
The Galaxy S6 32GB retails at RO 275 and
the Galaxy S6 64GB retails at Ro 305. The
Galaxy S6 Duos 32GB retails at RO 285 and
the Galaxy S6 Duos 64GB retails at RO 315.
Galaxy S6 edge is currently available in
three models. The Samsung Galaxy S6 edge
32GB retails at RO 325. The Galaxy S6 edge
64GB retails at RO 360, and the Galaxy S6
edge 128GB retails at RO 395.
MARCH 29 l 2015
Online Editor’s Choice
by Brian Basset
by Bill Watterson
by Jim Davis
Could it be a job to play outside
the Nag’s Head? (5)
Make a declaration in bad taste (5)
Readily suggests hesitation in
computing the tally (7)
Can it keep one’s chin a bit warm
in bed? (5)
Impulses it’s good to be sure about,
maybe (5)
Little chap with a deep down love
of treasure (5)
Shown the way to supply a good
lot to the editor (7)
Feeling sweaty, Thomas started
changing (3)
Cats and dogs going north by air,
possibly (4)
Can one eat it out of celerity? (6)
Slander can be a sort of test (5)
Does well when she’s out to get in!
Not all one hears (4)
The turf is so, to many (3)
Gave a fellow a date, possibly (7)
A certain amount of explicitness is
quite OK (5)
Girl in the song (5)
More likely to scratch than purr?
Apparently it floats around at
Minehead! (7)
Arranger of fetes in Twelfth Night
Softly drop a chap in the river (5).
Had she a morning with Charles
Lamb? (6)
Slang for a vessel that’s almost
sunk (6)
Senior in one’s schooldays (3)
Very nice amount of money (5)
Lumbers around in one’s sleep (7)
Have you a fat chance of carrying
a spare one? (4)
Shaking, start trembling a bit more
Tiny life-forms one finds around
geraniums (5)
That journalistic crowd (5)
Black and blue (5)
15 Humble worker in hotel
management (5)
16 Written out of petty pedantry? (5)
18 See a boat wrecked by an explorer
19 Barber’s place in a southeastern
French town (7)
21 Roache, turned poet (6)
22 Sausage seasoned with much salt,
friend (6)
23 On TV, Mrs, it’s somewhere near
Wimbledon (6)
25 Do fully, just the same (5)
26 A high figure, frequently (4)
28 Could you do better than wear
one? (3)
1 Inexpensive (5)
6 Chimes (5)
ACROSS: 1, Bream 6, Moors 9, Managed 10, I-Deal 11, N-ift-Y 12, Peca-n
13, Baronet 15, Mrs. 17, Open 18, DecE-NT 19, (I love) Paris 20, T-Ravel 22,
Sari 24, He-y 25, Fiction 26, Score 27,
Sarah 28, Se-a-ts 29, Lean-tos 30, I’dled 31, Us-ury.
Hunted (7)
Split (5)
Wash out (5)
Respond (5)
Neighbourhoods (7)
Finish (3)
Not at home (4)
Employ (6)
Inclined (5)
World-wide (6)
Yield (4)
Slippery fish (3)
Tinier (7)
Stomach (5)
Step (5)
Use (5)
Joy (7)
Salivate (5)
Attempted (5)
DOWN: 2, Redcap 3, A-ma-zo-n 4,
Mal 5, Car-E-t 6, Men-aces 7, Odin
8, Return 12, Pen-Al 13, Bo-O-th 14,
Rep-ay 15, Menai 16, Stain 18, Dixie
19, Perched 21, Reward (rev.) 22, Stress
23, Rotter 25, F-rank 26, Sale 28, So-u.
ACROSS: 1, Chute 6, Opera 9, Restore
10, Rival 11, Grant 12, Sweat 13,
Shrimps 15, Bid 17, Otic 18, Divide
19, Logic 20, Aegean 22, Solo 24, SAS
25, Melanin 26, Opted 27, Beano 28,
Ditty 29, Contain 30, Ashen 31, Meant.
DOWN: 2, Height 3, Tragic 4, Eel 5,
Stows 6, Organic 7, Pert 8, Rancid 12,
Spoon 13, Sofas 14, Rings 15, Bison
16, Demon 18, Diced 19, Lampoon 21,
Easels 22, Saline 23, Listen 25, Meets
26, Once 28, Dim.
2 Empty (6)
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,
will have to be
introduced in
order to get
over this period
without any real
hardship, but
the year will end
well for you.
Fight (6)
Cooking vessel (3)
Hell (5)
In every hundred (3,4)
Revise (4)
Being beaten (6)
Insurgent (5)
Big (5)
Xmas song (5)
Artist’s stand (5)
Dissuade (5)
Foe (5)
Of the side (7)
Character (6)
Smart (6)
Determine (6)
Roofing tile (5)
Ballpoint pen (4)
Craft (3)
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
If you have an idea for increasing
your income which seems rather
far-fetched at first, don’t dismiss it
as impractical but develop it further
and give it a try.
You may not be able to go your
own way today, but will have to
fall in with the wishes of others.
Accept this set-back with as good
a grace as you can muster. You
will have plenty of time.
The specialised knowledge which
you have acquired in the past
should not be lying dormant. Make
use of it whenever and wherever
you can.
You will be very pleased to receive If you are a little less critical, those A speculation which has brought
a most unusual gift from a person working with you will gain more profit to somebody you know will
not necessarily be equally profitwho you never thought could be self-confidence and take greater
able if you try it. Direct your atso imaginative.
pride in their achievements.
tentions to something different.
September 23October 22
October 23November 21
November 22December 21
December 22January 20
January 21February 19
February 20March 20
Beware of a person who flatters you
and pays extravagant compliments
after a very short acquaintance. He
is most likely to be after some advantage for himself.
Resist the temptation to speculate
with your money. Stay clear of
any doubtful scheme and invest
your hard-earned funds in securities.
A barter arrangement which has
been suggested to you may be a
new experience, but with a reliable person it may mean a satisfactory deal for you.
A visit of friends this summer will
mean some extra work for you but
you will be amply compensated by
their warm appreciation of your
Put a stop to a colleague’s interruptions which keep you from concentrating on your work. Make him
realise that you are not wasting
working time.
Be careful how you voice a criticism of a friend. He knows he is
not perfect and if you upset him
he could withdraw his friendship,
to your lasting regret.
MARCH 29 l 2015
For Sale
land in Rusayil, 5,000 and building
with 8 shops. Contact
ARE you looking for
a voyage with your
family on a legacyboat, including buffet?
Only with RO 15/-.
For more [email protected]
USED portacabin (5
Nos) for sale.
Interested parties may
contact Mr Arif on
GSM No 99259157/
92332088 at NTS
Ghala Camp for
inspection. Sealed
offers should be
submitted on or before
BICYCLE stocks clarance
sales to be brands of
bicycles in Sohar.
3 BEDROOM house at
Betras Zanzibar RO 90,000.
Contact Owner:
SHOP for sale, Beauty
Salon Barka, near LuLu
Hypermarket Centre.
Contact: 97655500.
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 98825805/
URGENTLY required
1) Sales Executive &
1) Procurement
Assistant having
experience in Sales &
Procurement, knowledge
of materials (Electronic
& Mechanical), Google
Search and having valid
Omani driving licence.
Contact: 23203472,
23203479 Fax: 23203487.
1. WANTED an
experienced Window
Tint and body paint
protection installer to
work for a well known
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:
[email protected]
VACANCY — Light driver
(1), Heavy driver (1), and
a diploma holder in Civil
Engineering. Interested
in the vacancies may call .
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
a resume/CV and open
letters of references to:
[email protected]
[email protected]
kw or contact us on:
URGENTLY required
Executive with 7 to 10
years experience. Send the
CV to [email protected]
Situation Vacant
‡Žƒ–‹‘ˆϐ‹…‡” with
7 years experience.
WANTED Sales 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:
[email protected]
CIVIL Engineer min 4
yrs experience. Send CV:
[email protected]
SYRIAN Mashavi Cook
and Moroccan Lady Cook
for Qurum Beach Hotel.
24704994 or 99238012.
Mechanic; 2. Electrician
plumber; 3. Computer
headwear Tec.
Contact No. 99447257/
97014234 [email protected]
FILIPINA Housemaid,
with release required for a
family in Medinat Al Alam.
24704994, 99238012.
must have experience
licence. Contact:
[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]
REQUIRED family driver
with valid Omani driving
licence. Accommodation
will be provided.
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
WE need HSE personal,
Salesman and Electrical
Supervisor with Omani
Driving licence. Apply to:
[email protected]
com Contact No: 00968
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.
Alsuqi company and
Shibli Services LLC
register No. 1079312
announces that it is
intending to convert
its name to Queen
Ilions Trade LLC
Beneficiaries should
be informed of the
Situation Wanted
INDIAN male, 27
years, Electronics
& Instrumentation
Engineer, with 5 years
experience in Oman on
visit visa seeks suitable
placement. Contact:
95483064, e-mail:
[email protected]
MSc, 4+ years experience
from France and India in
Hardware, Networking,
Image Processing,
Statistical analysis, Data
Mining. On family visit
till June 19. Contact
[email protected]
INDIAN male, 4 years
experience in Accounts.
Currently on visit visa.
INDIAN male, 26 years,
Accountant, MBA,
BCom with computer
application, 2 years
experience, currently
working in Oman.
Contact: 94282980.
e-mail: [email protected]
Situation Wanted
Indian female with
experience in retail
& corporate banking,
loans & advances,
in Muscat on family
visa, looking for
suitable positions.
IT Professional, 25 years,
Sri Lankan, B.Techϐ‹ƒŽǡǡǡǡ
Linux having 4 years
experience including
MNC, looking for suitable
position. (Visit visa).
Contact: 93354526.
e-mail: [email protected]
INDIAN male, 29
years Civil Engineer
diploma holder, 4 years
experience in Oman, 2
years in road division,
looking for placement,
NOC available.
27 years, electrician
English, Arabic, Hindi,
seeks suitable job.
Specialist, pleasing
personality, MasterJournalism, Mass
finance, excellent
English writing &
communication. Oman
exp in Press Releases,
Corporate & Marketing
Corporate social
Responsibility (CSR)
Programmes, Media
Relations, Campaigns,
Events, Web content,
Speeches, etc.
Immediate NOC.
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]
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
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,
A/C Maintenance &
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.
Reputed engineering
consultancy firm in Muscat looking for following
1. Omani Secretary
2. Autocad Technician
(Omani female)
3. Civil Engineer min 5
years experience having driving licence
4. Electrical Engineer
degree/diploma min 3
years experience.
E-mail: [email protected]
com/ [email protected]
For Sale/Rent
ZAFAR Iqbal Mian has
lost Bangladeshi passport
No KH1332561. Finder
please handover to ROP.
VILLAS for sale/
rent/ Al Khuwair)
(Flats for rent/
Wadi Kabir).
Guest House
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]
Driving School
SALIM al Ghilani's
Institution for teaching
driving (automatic
gear) in A'Seeb and
Al Khoudh. Contact:
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,
If you would like to know
more about
Islam, please call:
Tel : 99425598, 96050000,
99353988, 99253818,
99341395, 99379133, For
ladies: 99415818, 99321360,
Or visit:
AHAD 2000 for rent car.
93203481, 93204595.
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.
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:
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.
INVESTOR required.
New project under
process. Gourmet
sweet brand. Call:
(Omani partner is
already available)
required to establish
a LLC Company
(Expatriate investors’
LLC Company). Please
contact on 99332510.
LOOKING for an
investor for a fullequipped existing
medical complex as
soon as possible in
Wilayat of Haima,
Governorate of Al
Wusta. 92212557,
All Cartridges also available
on UNBEATABLE prices
AII HP, Epson, Canon,
Lexmark, Samsung
Cartridges also available
(ROP approved Grade A Workshop)
Ruwi: 24792-792
[email protected]
ROOM for rent for
bachelor, one bedroom
for rent in Al Khuwair
opposite Zakhar Mall on
Kulieah Street. Call:
96339371, 99731656.
FLATS for rent 1 BHK in
Al Khuwair 33.
2 BEDROOMS, 2 baths
and hall apartment for
rent in Al Wattayah,
behind Honda
Showroom. 99428161
For Rent
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
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.
1510 Printer
RO 11.000 only
Quality Repairs & Maintenance of all
types of Cars and Heavy vehicles
For Rent
Good News
Rent a Car
Gel (Cockroaches),
Public Health
Snake repellent, Rodent
other insect
repellent from
Ltd UK.
al-haditha LLC
NEW 2 BHK flat with
split A/C Ground floor
behind Khimjimart
Darsait. RO 400. One
BHK at Ruwi Opp police
station RO 300. Details
Tel Office. 24790449 or
email: [email protected]
300 sqmts available in
Wadi Kabir. Suitable for
workshop or warehouse.
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
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.
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.
93206200, 92825242.
1 B/R available in Rex
Road, Ruwi.
A ONE-floor house
behind German
University of Technology
in Halban is offered for
rent. The house contains
4 bedrooms, living room,
a kitchen and 3 toilets.
NEW house for rent in
Mabella, 5 bedrooms,
monthly rent RO 550
only. Contact: 96274000,
AN apartment consisting
of two bedrooms, sitting
room, toilets, kitchen
and dining room, near
Private Sultan School.
Telephone: 24595951/1414, Fax: 24597979.
MANPOWER: Filipino
housemaids and all
kinds of workers.
24489268 Tel:/Fax:
24478153, 92462496.
KHALIFA AlSinani Manpower
— labourers &
housemaid from
Indonesia, Kenya,
Uganda and other
countries. Al Suwaiq.
To communicate
For Rent
FURNISHED house in
Mabella - 2 rooms,
kitchen, hall and 3
toilets for rent. Call:
FLAT in Mabella 3
rooms, sitting room,
hall, kitchen (spacious)
with 4 toilets. Call:
2 STOREY villa at
Mabella with 2 sitting
rooms with toilets, 2
halls, 3 bedrooms with
attach toilets (Municipality water
available). Call:
VILLA for rent in
Wattayah 3 bedroom,
sitting room, garage.
FULLY licenced
restaurant in Qurum
Beach Hotel.
2 BEDROOM flat in Al
Ghubra near Oman Oil
18 November Street, RO
330 monthly.
99333479 or
1,000 sq m industrial
land in Misfah Industrial
area near to Khanco, RO
1,500 monthly, electricity
and boundary wall will
be provided. 99333479
or 95215360.
bedroom +
showroom, 18
November road, Al
bedroom flat, near
Indian School, Wadi
Kabir, 1st April, RO
300 monthly.
Ansab consists
of 6 bedrooms, 6
toilets and a large
kitchen is for rent.
FLAT at Al Khuwair 33,
2 bed+majlis.
4 BEDROOM flat with
bathrooms, kitchen, hall
in Al Hail North. Call
FURNISHED offices for
rent in prime location in
Ruwi (Mumtaz) with free
electricity, water and
Internet. For lease long
& short term
95950012, 99331181.
ONE B/R flats in
Madinat Al Alam for
executives/ small family.
99238012/ 24704994.
Ali al Maashari: 99639264 [email protected]
e-mail: [email protected]
Mohammed al Rashdi: 99841230 [email protected]
DIRECT: 24649595 — FAX : 24649590
FINAL SALUTE: The Australian captain intends to keep playing Tests,
however, having already featured in 108 matches with 8,432 runs
Clarke quits ahead of
World Cup summit clash
New Zealand player Trent Boult (L) and captain Brendon McCullum (right) prepare to bat in the nets ahead of the World Cup
final between Australia and New Zealand in Melbourne on Saturday.
Kiwis descend on MCG to cheer
on Black Caps in World Cup final
MELBOURNE: Kiwi fans daubed in
black came out in droves on Saturday to
support New Zealand on the eve of their
team’s first World Cup final, against
fierce rivals Australia in Melbourne.
Fans gathered around the nets
outside the vast Melbourne Cricket
Ground arena to get a glimpse of their
heroes training under cool cloudy skies.
According to government statistics
there are about 650,000 New Zealand
citizens living in Australia, which is
around 15 per cent of the population
of New Zealand. The huge diaspora of
Kiwis residing in Australia means there
is passionate support for their rugby and
cricket teams whenever they cross the
Tasman to take on the greater-resourced
‘big brother’.
There was a brisk trade inside the
merchandising tent outside the ground
with supporters, predominantly New
Zealanders, snapping up playing shirts,
flags and caps for Sunday’s final which
is expected to draw an 80,000-90,000
crowd. Australia, bidding for a fifth
title, remain resolutely confident of
another success in a World Cup final,
particularly at home, and Melbourne’s
Herald Sun newspaper on Saturday ran
a triumphalist piece headlined: “New
Zealand won’t win and here’s why.”
But Kiwi journalist Dylan Cleaver
got his own back in the Sydney Daily
Fans watch the New Zealand team train in the nets ahead of the World Cup final
between Australia and New Zealand in Melbourne on Saturday.
Telegraph, contrasting levels of support
for Australia and New Zealand’s semifinal wins in Sydney and Auckland
“If there had been more than one
Australian to 10 Indians in the crowd
I’m sure there would have been a few
signs of life in the place,” he wrote.
“Things got a bit rowdy here at Eden
Park on Tuesday when Grant Elliott
hit a six to win off the penultimate ball
(against South Africa). The crowd went
nuts. People looked like they cared.”
But the same page saw one of the
paper’s regular columnists, Richard
Hinds, deliver several jibes as well.
“Oddly some of our mild-mannered
Australian players have been accused
of sledging. We promise they will not
resort to any tired old jokes,” Hinds
wrote. “You know, the ones about how
your anthem pleads with God to “defend
New Zealand” because no reputable
lawyer would do so. Or how staging
Miss New Zealand only involves putting
up a mirror ball in a shearing shed.”
MELBOURNE: Australia captain
Michael Clarke has added a fresh edge
to Sunday’s blockbuster World Cup final
against New Zealand in Melbourne by
announcing the match will be his last
one-day international.
“I think it’s the right time for me
and the Australian cricket team,” the
33-year-old Clarke told reporters on
“I made the decision 48 hours ago
when I asked myself if I thought I would
be playing in the next World Cup and I
said to myself that ‘I don’t think I will
be’,” added Clarke, whose career has
been blighted by back and hamstring
Clarke has played 244 one-day
internationals, scoring 7,907 runs with
a highest score of 130 since his debut in
He intends to keep playing Tests,
however, having already featured in 108
matches, with 8,432 runs and a highest
score of 329 not out.
New Zealand captain Brendon
McCullum struck the first psychological
blow when he named his team 24 hours
before the final.
Unsurprisingly, the Black Caps
retained the same side which edged out
South Africa in the semifinals.
“It’s captivated the country back
home, it’s immensely satisfying but we
have to build on it. Gee it would be nice
to win it,” said McCullum at his prematch news conference.
Meanwhile International Cricket
Council chief executive David
Richardson proclaimed the 2015 World
Cup to be the “most-followed and bestattended cricket event in history”.
Among a plethora of statistics, the
ICC cited a a crowd of 86,000 at the MCG
for the India-South Africa pool match
on February 22 — “a phenomenal result
given that neither of the host teams were
involved” — and that the official website
had attracted 227 million page views as
evidence of the tournament’s success.
New Zealand go into their first
title clash in cricket’s 50-overs-a-side
showpiece as the only unbeaten team
in the tournament, having won eight
games in a row. One of those wins was
against Australia in a low-scoring pool
stage thriller in Auckland on February
28 when a Kane Williamson six off
Pat Cummins helped them surpass a
Australia’s Michael Clarke laughs as he stands next to the trophy ahead of the
World Cup final in Melbourne on Saturday.
modest target of 152 with one wicket
It was at the same Eden Park in
Auckland that the Black Caps downed
South Africa in a nerve-tingling semifinal on Tuesday with a penultimate-ball
six by Grant Elliott.
New Zealand’s first semifinal win in
seven attempts left an enthralled rugbymad nation backing their cricketers
to take home a trophy that has so far
eluded them in the World Cup’s 40-year
history. Australia, the top-ranked side
in ODI cricket, are bidding for a fifth
World Cup title and will be favourites
on home turf at the MCG, where New
Zealand last played an ODI in 2009.
Clarke said the Black Caps may
struggle to adjust to conditions at the
90,000 capacity ground after playing
all their eight previous matches this
tournament on their own grounds
across the Tasman Sea.
In a heart-wrenching column published on Cricinfo, the 52-year-old said Sunday’s match at the MCG might be the last he will ever witness
Ailing Crowe pens emotional tribute before big final
MELBOURNE: New Zealand’s former
captain Martin Crowe, who is terminally
ill with lymphoma, has penned a moving
tribute to his countrymen ahead of
Sunday’s World Cup final against
In a heart-wrenching column
published on Cricinfo, the 52-year-old
said Sunday’s match at the Melbourne
Cricket Ground might be the last he ever
“My precarious life ahead may not
afford me the luxury of many more
games to watch and enjoy,” Crowe wrote.
“So this is likely to be it. The last,
maybe, and I can happily live with that.”
Crowe, who played 77 tests and 143
One-Day Internationals for New Zealand,
was regarded as one of the world’s best
batsmen during the late 1980s and early
He was diagnosed with follicular
lymphoma two years ago but it went
into remission. Late last year, however, a
new, more aggressive form of the disease,
double-hit lymphoma, developed and he
said he had been told only five per cent
of sufferers survive more than 12 months.
Crowe said he had decided against
chemotherapy and was instead trying
natural treatments.
He was inducted into the international
My precarious life
ahead may not afford
me the luxury of
many more games
to watch and enjoy. So this
is likely to be it. The last
maybe and I can happily live
with that
Former New Zealand captain
cricket Hall of Fame last month and
is making the trip from New Zealand
to watch the final live, cheering on the
players he regards as the “sons I never
“I will hold back tears all day long. I
will gasp for air on occasions. I will feel
like a nervous parent,” he wrote.
“Whatever happens, March 29 at the
MCG will be the most divine fun ever.”
Current Black Caps skipper Brendon
McCullum told a news conference on
Saturday he had read Crowe’s column and
he paid tribute to his ailing predecessor.
“I think what he’s going through at the
moment is incredibly difficult. We had
him involved in the group, and not long
ago as well we came and spent time with
the team and it was great,” McCullum
“He seems to have really found peace
with himself and the game as well, and
he’s been instrumental in helping some
of our guys on the team peel back their
games and really focus on being able to
develop individually but also buy into the
team collectively. He’s been a really big
“It’s really sad what he’s going through
and we just hope that he’s able to find
some peace in the time that he’s got left.”
— Reuters
S U N DAY M A R C H 2 9 l 2 0 1 5
Starc, Boult in World Cup swing to the left
MELBOURNE: For the second time at
this World Cup, Australia’s Mitchell Starc
and New Zealand’s Trent Boult will be
asked to deliver a killer blow that could
determine their team’s fate in the final on
The two lethal left-arm fast bowlers
will go head-to head at the Melbourne
Cricket Ground as the tournament’s
leading wicket-takers who lit up the
group clash between the co-hosts exactly
a month ago.
Boult grabbed 5-27 to bundle
Australia out for 151 in Auckland before
Starc hit back with 6-28 to leave the Black
Caps nine down and only managing to
go past the modest target due to a Kane
Williamson six.
New Zealand captain Brendon
McCullum said it would be hard to
forget the performance of both Boult
and Starc in what was a “a tremendous
advertisement for the game”.
“Mitchell and Boult put outstanding
spells in that game and both were able to
get the ball to swing quite substantially,”
said McCullum. “They posed a lot of
questions with wicket-taking deliveries.”
The two 25-year-olds have played a
major role in taking the trans-Tasman
rivals to the final, with Boult’s 21 wickets
in eight games just one more than Starc.
But the Australian has played a match
less following a washed out game against
Boult has now taken more wickets in
eight World Cup games than he did in his
first 16 one-day internationals where he
had only 18 scalps.
The Northern Districts bowler Australia’s Mitchell Starc (left) and Josh Hazlewood attend a practice session ahead
appears to have followed in the footsteps of the World Cup final between Australia and New Zealand in Melbourne on
of his hero, Pakistan’s left-arm great Saturday.
Australia coach Darren Lehmann (centre) monitors players as batsmen George Bailey (left) and Shane Watson wait for their turn to bat during a nets practice
ahead of the World Cup final between Australia and New Zealand in Melbourne on Saturday.
“One cannot overlook the power of
home ground advantage. Australia love
playing at the MCG with their last loss
there, coming against Sri Lanka back in
March 2012.”
— Ex-South Africa captain
“They are both very good teams, but
Graeme Smith
if you just saw them on paper and if
“Trent Boult, the tournament’s leading
you try and see weaknesses in the
wicket-taker with 21 wickets, has been
Australian team, I am not sure where
superb throughout the tournament
you find one. Their top-order batting
and it just may be him to take New
is brilliant, their new-ball bowling is
Zealand to their maiden title.”
brilliant, their all-rounders are some
— Smith again
of the best in the world and they are
“Yes, Brendon McCullum’s men can
going to play at the MCG, where they
win, but as to whether they will, that is
know the conditions really well.”
— Former Australian absolutely in the balance with the odds
World Cup-winning captain Ricky favouring Australia — but only just.
Ponting on That is not some Kiwi self-deprecation,
but rather an acknowledgement
that Michael Clarke’s side has a slight
advantage because they know the
conditions better than the Black Caps.”
— Former New Zealand captain
Stephen Fleming.
“Rather than being daunted or
overawed, I expect this New Zealand
side to be excited at the prospect
of creating history and to rise to the
occasion because, as they have shown
numerous times not only in this
tournament but also in the past 18
months or so, the bigger the challenge,
the more determined they have
— Fleming again.
“Without question, this will be the
personal cricketing highlight of my life,
and I sense for New Zealand too. I will
hold back tears all day long. I will gasp
for air on occasions. I will feel like a
nervous parent.”
— Former New Zealand great Martin
Crowe, who is terminally ill, quoted by
cricinfo on Sunday’s big game.
“Australia has only a two-day break
before for the final, but I think this is
a good thing. The Kiwis have been in
Melbourne since Wednesday and they
have been trying to distract themselves
with a lot of golf and nets. Sometimes
this doesn’t help. Sometimes, sitting in
your room and thinking too much can
be your enemy.”
— Former Australian batsman
Dean Jones
Wasim Akram, with consistent pace and
his ability to swing the ball both ways.
Boult is one of four New Zealanders,
along with Williamson, Corey Anderson
and Matt Henry, who will be making
their first appearance at the gigantic
90,000-capacity Melbourne Cricket
Ground. But he will have good memories
of playing in Australia, being part of a
historic New Zealand win by seven runs
on his Test debut in Hobart in December,
2011. He took four wickets in the match.
He began his first World Cup
appearance with two wickets each in
the first two games against Sri Lanka
and Scotland, managed just one against
England before emerging his team’s
hero against Australia. In his next two
encounters against Test-nations, Boult
picked up four wickets against the West
Indies and returned with figures of two
for 53 against South Africa in the semifinal. Starc, taller than Boult, generates
a lot of pace and bounce but his wickettaking delivery is the one that he brings
in to the right-hander, usually a deadly
weapon for left-arm fast bowlers.
He is Australia’s most prolific one-day
bowler in recent times with 81 wickets in
40 matches that include three five-wicket
hauls in his first 17 internationals.
Starc, who has extracted plenty from
responsive Australian pitches, has been
equally successful on slow, flat wickets. In
three recent matches in the United Arab
Emirates, he claimed nine scalps against
Starc may have failed to score a run
in three vists to the batting crease in the
tournament, but he is no bunny with the
bat, having made 99 in the Mohali Test
against India in 2013.
Skill, not emotion,
wins World Cups,
says retiring Clarke
MELBOURNE: Australia’s retiring oneday captain Michael Clarke has urged
his players to put “skill over emotion”
in their bid to down New Zealand in
Sunday’s World Cup final, though his
swan-song is sure to imbue the match
with extra sentiment.
Clarke announced his retirement
from the one-day game on the eve of the
Melbourne Cricket Ground blockbuster
and will hope to wrap up his career in
the 50-over format by leading Australia
to a fifth world trophy.
Clarke’s captaincy has proved torrid
in recent months, grieving the death of
team-mate Phillip Hughes and battling a
succession of hamstring injuries.
His race to be fit for the World Cup
overshadowed Australia’s preparations,
and local media are certain to
question the timing of his retirement
Clarke said nothing would change
in his preparation for the 245th and
final ODI of his career, though his
every movement is certain to be under
heightened scrutiny.
“It’s a special game, no doubt about
it, but it needs to be about the team and
I want it to be about the team,” he told
reporters at the MCG on Saturday.
“I just said it to my team-mates then.
And I’ve been the one to come out
and say, ‘it’s not emotion, it’s skill that
helps you win major games and major
tournaments, and tomorrow will be no
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for
every single player in that change room
to walk out onto the MCG in a World
Cup final.
“It’s a very special event. But yeah,
it’s no more special because it’s my last
game.” Brendon McCullum confirmed
New Zealand would bring the same
Australia’s bowling coach Craig
McDermott (right) shares a light moment
with Michael Clarke during a practice
session ahead of the World Cup final
against New Zealand in Melbourne.
team that downed South Africa in a
semifinal cliff-hanger in Auckland.
Australia are also expected to bring
the same side that thrashed India
in Sydney, though Clarke could not
confirm it.
He threw his arm around his New
Zealand counterpart McCullum in a
private moment during a photo-shoot
with the trophy.
Both captains have been open
about their mutual admiration, and
Clarke’s mantra about playing with
“freedom” could have been straight from
McCullum’s mouth.
“The fact that the whole team is
here again today at an optional training
session shows the dedication, shows
where the team is at mentally,” Clarke
“I don’t think I have to say too much
to be honest. I think the guys are ready
to play. Like I said after the last game,
mentally we are ready for this final.
“Physically we’ve got another day to
recover or try and get what you need to
be right for tomorrow, but I think the
team is ready.”
— Reuters
Showing no signs of nerves or apprehension ahead of the biggest match in New Zealand cricket history, McCullum said his team will attack
New Zealand ‘fearless’ ahead of biggest match in history
New Zealand captain
Brendon McCullum taps
his bat in the nets ahead
of the World Cup final
between Australia and
New Zealand in
Melbourne on Saturday.
MELBOURNE: New Zealand are
sticking with the same team, and the
same fearless approach, for Sunday’s
World Cup final against Australia at the
Melbourne Cricket Ground.
New Zealand captain Brendon
McCullum said the Black Caps would
use the same lineup that beat South
Africa in the semifinals and the same
bold tactics that have served them so
well during the tournament.
Showing no signs of nerves or
apprehension ahead of the biggest
match in New Zealand cricket history,
McCullum said his players had been
told to go out and attack the Australians
from the start.
“We need to play like that, that’s how
we’re going to beat teams on regular
occasions,” McCullum told a news
conference. “We’re not afraid of losing.
“For us, we think about what we can
achieve. That’s not always going to work
and there are going to be times when
we come out on the wrong side of it.
But that gives us our greatest chance of
success against big opposition teams on
a regular basis.
“So we’ll continue to play like that
and develop a sense of fearlessness ...
and a real ‘can do’ attitude.”
New Zealand’s intimidating approach
to the game has paid off during the
World Cup.
With the dashing McCullum laying
the foundations at the top of the order,
the Black Caps have been piling on the
runs with the bat and skittling opposing
lineups with their fast bowlers.
They have also shown they can
handle pressure, beating Australia in a
tight match during the group stage and
South Africa in the semifinals.
Now, McCullum says, his team
have to make sure they do not freeze
in the final. “I’m confident we’ll play
well tomorrow,” he said. “That doesn’t
guarantee us anything, it doesn’t mean
that Australia won’t beat us, but I’m very
confident we’ll turn up and display our
skills just as we have done throughout
the tournament.
“I guess this is the ultimate game for
us to be able to play in, so with that I’m
sure some guys will be nervous.
“Putting our skills against the best
in their backyard certainly whets the
appetite and creates the greatest stage
we can ask for.” McCullum conceded
that four times champions Australia
were the favourites on home soil but
said his team-mates were aware this was
the chance of a lifetime.
— Reuters
MARCH 29 l 2015
WEMBLEY FIGHT: Raheem Sterling also claimed his first England goal while Welbeck capped a brilliant man-of-the-match effort
Rooney, Kane on target in England stroll
LONDON: Wayne Rooney and
debutant Harry Kane scored as England
sank Lithuania 4-0 at Wembley on
Friday to claim a fifth consecutive win
in qualifying for the 2016 European
Rooney’s early header took him to
47 England goals — two shy of Bobby
Charlton’s record — and Tottenham
Hotspur breakthrough star Kane netted
with his second touch after coming
on as a substitute to mark his first
international appearance with a goal.
Raheem Sterling also claimed his
first goal in an England shirt, while
Danny Welbeck capped a man-of-thematch performance with his sixth strike
of the qualifying campaign.
The victory preserved England’s sixpoint lead at the top of Group E and
means Roy Hodgson’s side will travel
to Italy for next week’s friendly with
a place at next year’s tournament in
France already in sight.
There had been conjecture prior to
kick-off as to whether Kane would start
the game, but Hodgson’s decision to
keep faith with Welbeck quickly bore
fruit in the first ever meeting between
the teams.
Adopting a roving role on one side
of Rooney, with Sterling his counterpart
on the other side, the Arsenal man
immediately forced Igoris Pankratjevas’s
men back with his directness and
sinewy running.
Rooney squandered a chance to
open the deadlock in the fourth minute,
steering the ball against the post from
Fabian Delph’s flick, but he did not
require a second invitation.
Two minutes later, Welbeck
nutmegged Tadas Kijanskas before
forcing Giedrius Arlauskis to save and
Rooney followed in to head home his
47th international goal.
He was to strike the woodwork
again in the 19th minute, intelligently
looping a header against the bar after
Welbeck had athletically hoiked the
ball back from the byline. There was
one first-half scare for England, with
Phil Jones obliged to block from
Deivydas Matulevicius after right-back
Nathaniel Clyne had allowed Vytautas
Andriuskevicius room to cross.
But it did not have the feeling of a
true contest and England were soon
back on top, with Arlauskis smothering
Rooney’s free-kick and the rampant
Welbeck curling over before the latter
made it 2-0.
Stooping, Welbeck managed to help
on Jordan Henderson’s cross-shot from
the left and the ball bobbled into the net
via a big deflection off Kijanskas’s thigh.
The onslaught continued in the
second half, with Arlauskis producing a
fine one-handed save to repel a volley
from Delph and then beating away a
shot from Welbeck.
The third goal duly arrived shortly
before the hour and saw captain
Rooney turn provider with an inviting
right-wing cross that Sterling turned in.
Kane, scorer of 29 goals for
Tottenham this season, made his
entrance to loud cheers as a replacement
for Rooney in the 71st minute and it
took the 21-year-old just 80 seconds to
find the net.
Sterling reached the byline on the
left before lifting a cross to the back post
and Kane powered a downward header
through Arlauskis’s grasp to confirm
his burgeoning reputation as English
football’s hottest property.
England’s Harry Kane (left) scores his team’s fourth goal during a Euro 2016 Group E qualifying match between England and Lithuania at Wembley Stadium in north
Morata goal edges Spain past Ukraine Conte gets threats
SEVILLE, SPAIN: Reigning champions
Spain took a significant step towards
sealing their place at Euro 2016 with a
1-0 over Ukraine on Friday.
Alvaro Morata scored the only goal
of the game midway through the firsthalf on his full competitive debut with
the senior side after latching onto Koke’s
excellent through ball.
Victory moves Spain three points
clear of Ukraine in second place in
Group C, but they remain three points
adrift of Slovakia who were 3-0 winners
over Luxembourg on Friday.
A prolific scorer at under-21 level,
Morata was given his chance to start
in the absence of the injured Diego
Costa and should have had his first
international goal after just seven
minutes when he was released by David
Silva, but the former Real Madrid man
pulled his shot wide.
Ukraine were inches away from
taking the lead at the other end on 27
minutes when Ruslan Rutan fired wide
of the far post.
Seconds later it was Spain who found
the net as a brilliant pass from Koke
released his former under-21 teammate and Morata’s finish flicked up off
Evgeny Khacheridi and over the helpless
Andrey Pyatov.
The hosts were unlucky not to be
Victory moves Spain three
points clear of Ukraine
in second place in Group
C, but they remain three
points adrift of Slovakia
who were 3-0 winners over
Luxembourg on Friday
EURO 2016
Spain’s Alvaro Morata (second left) is congratulated by Isco after scoring against
Ukraine during their Euro 2016 qualifier at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium in
— Reuters
further in front at the break when Sergio
Ramos sent a header crashing off the bar
from Silva’s free-kick.
However, it was the visitors who
enjoyed the better of the chances in the
second period.
Iker Casillas’s selection ahead of
the in-form David de Gea had been
a controversial one, but Spain’s alltime record appearance holder repaid
the faith shown in him by Vicente del
Bosque with a fine save to turn Rotan’s
in-swinging free-kick behind.
Yet, he nearly undid his good work
moments later with a terrible clearance
straight to Rotan, but the Dnipro
Dnipropetrovsk midfielder lacked
precision with his finish and a grateful
Casillas parried the ball to safety.
Rotan wasted another great chance
25 minutes from time when he was
picked out by Andriy Yarmolenko
and again placed his shot too close to
Morata was replaced by Pedro
Rodriguez 25 minutes from time as Del
Bosque looked to regain control with
another body in midfield.
However, it was another substitute
who had the chance to seal all three
points when Santi Cazorla combined
brilliantly with Isco only to see his
curling effort turned behind by Pyatov.
after Marchisio injury
SOFIA: Italy coach Antonio Conte
has received death threats from
angry Juventus fans who blame his
training methods for the injury that
will probably rule midfielder Claudio
Marchisio out for the rest of the season.
Marchisio suffered ruptured knee
ligaments during the warm-up for
Friday’s Italy’s training session ahead of
the Euro 2016 qualifier against Bulgaria
on Saturday and returned to the Serie A
leaders for treatment.
“I saw him (Conte) shaken this
morning,” Italian football federation
(FIGC) President Carlo Tavecchio told
Radio Rai on Saturday. “After yesterday’s
controversy, he received death threats
on the internet.
“I met with Conte for a long time
and he is not calm. All these things have
been said on social networks and he
feels vilified for something that is not
his fault. The FIGC stands by him.”
Conte was criticised by John Elkann,
the president of the holding company
which controls FIAT and Juventus, who
said the Italy coach worked the players
too hard during the national team’s
training camps.
“Perhaps he’d like to be remembered
as the cherry-picker with the highest
number of injuries,” Elkan was quoted
as saying in Italian media.
Former Juventus coach Conte,
however, defended his working
methods. “I wonder why Elkann didn’t
ask me that when I was at Juventus?
We don’t work hard, we work well,” the
45-year-old told a news conference in
Sofia ahead of the Euro 2016 qualifier.
“His (Marchisio’s) injury was absurd
and inexplicable. He hurt himself while
warming up, running without the ball,”
added Conte.
Italian media reported on Saturday
that Conte was reconsidering his
position as Italy coach after the
death threats. The Italian FA was not
immediately available to comment.
In February, Conte dismissed
speculation he wanted to quit the Italy
job after Serie A clubs refused to release
players for a training camp.
Italy have won three matches and
drawn one to sit second on 10 points
in Group H, behind Croatia on goal
difference. Bulgaria are fourth with four
— Reuters
The Arsenal star is still smarting from Chile’s World Cup exit at the hands of the hosts less than 12 months ago and he would to make amends
Sanchez plots revenge over Brazil at Emirates stadium
Chile’s Alexis Sanchez during training at the Emirates Stadium ahead
of the friendly against Brazil.
— Reuters
LONDON: Chile forward Alexis Sanchez
plans to make the most of home advantage
as the Arsenal star plots on revenge against
Brazil in Sunday’s friendly at the Emirates
Sanchez is still smarting from Chile’s
World Cup exit at the hands of the hosts
less than 12 months ago and he would love
to make amends by leading his country to
victory over their South American rivals at
the home of his current club.
The 26-year-old, who moved to north
London from Barcelona last year, scored
Chile’s equaliser in a dramatic last-16
clash in Belo Horizonte, but it was Brazil
goalkeeper Julio Cesar who finished as the
hero after saving two penalties, including
one from Sanchez, to seal a 3-2 win in the
shoot-out. With that in mind, Sanchez has
set his sights on handing Brazil, including
his good friend and former Barca teammate Neymar, a first defeat in eight matches
under new coach Dunga in front of a
60,000-capacity crowd at the Emirates.
“I’m so excited and honoured to be
playing for the national team of Chile,
against our great rivals Brazil, in front of
the incredible Arsenal fans at Emirates
Stadium,” Sanchez said. “I also look forward
to playing against my good friend Neymar.
Matches between Brazil and Chile are
always exciting encounters, and for me, to
play this game at Emirates Stadium will
make the match even more special.”
Hired for a second spell as Brazil coach
in the aftermath of their humiliating
7-1 World Cup semifinal defeat against
Germany last year, Dunga has led Brazil to
seven successive friendly victories, netting
17 goals in the process.
The most impressive of those wins came
in Paris on Thursday when the Selecao
recovered from a goal down to beat France
3-1 thanks to goals from Oscar, Neymar
and Luiz Gustavo.
It was the kind of creative and courageous
display that suggested Dunga has managed
to rid his squad of the psychological scars
inflicted by their traumatising World Cup
exit on home soil.
Dunga, who captained Brazil to World
Cup glory in 1994 and coached the team
that lost in the last eight in South Africa in
2010, is overseeing a period of transition as
his team build towards the Copa America
in Chile in June.
Only two members of his starting lineup against France, Oscar and Luiz Gustavo,
began that defeat to Germany, although six
of his side were in the squad at last year’s
World Cup.
“This year will be very important for us,
when we will play the Copa America and
the qualifiers for the World Cup will also get
started,” Dunga said.
“Playing against Chile will be one more
opportunity for the team to get ready for the
next challenges.
“Brazil vs Chile is always a good game
and I am sure that all fans will see a great
show in London.”
MARCH 29 l 2015
KIA CLASSIC: The American had a 10-under-par total of 134 tied her for the halfway lead with South Korea’s overnight leader Lee
Pressel joins Lee atop LPGA leaderboard
Morgan Pressel fired record-equalling
eight-under par 64 on Friday to join Lee
Mi-Rim atop the leaderboard after two
rounds of the LPGA Kia Classic.
America’s Pressel had eight birdies
with no bogeys in a round that matched
the course record at Aviara Golf Club.
Her 10-under par total of 134 tied her
for the halfway lead with South Korea’s
overnight leader Lee, who signed for
a second-round 69 that included six
birdies and three bogeys.
They were one stroke in front of
Americans Alison Lee, who climbed up
the leaderboard with a 66, and Cristie
Kerr, who carded a 68.
Spain’s Maria Hernandez also posted
a six-under 66 to grab a share of fifth
place on eight-under 136. She was tied
with Japan’s Sakura Yokomine (67),
South Korean Kim Hyo-Joo (68) and
American Brittany Lang (68).
World number one Lydia Ko of New
Zealand headed a group on 137, firing
a two-under 70 for her 26th straight
LPGA Tour round under par.
She was tied with world number
three Stacy Lewis, who shot 69, and
Alison Walshe, who carded a 67.
Pressel described her sparkling effort
as “stress free.”
“I hit almost every fairway, and I
think I hit 16 or 17 greens and just had a
chance for birdie on almost every hole,”
she said.
“I just hit it where I wanted to hit it
today. It’s been a while since I’ve been
confident knowing where the golf ball
would go, and so it was nice to swing
freely out there today and have the result
that I did,” added the American, who
won the most recent of her two LPGA
titles in 2008.
“It’s hard to win out here,” Pressel
said. “Sure, you would like to win more.
But I’ve put a lot of time and hard work
Ko, the 17-year-old sensation who
became number one in the world in
February, has made winning look easy
in her short, spectacular career.
Her 26th straight under-par round
has her closing in on Swedish great
Annika Sorenstam’s LPGA record of 29
set in 2014.
“I don’t know all the records and all
the details on that, but like I always say,
I’m going to try and have fun,” said Ko,
who has two wins worldwide this year.
“If I play good golf and break some
records, great.”
— AFP Morgan Pressel
Nadal, Murray battle Miami conditions
MIAMI: Rafael Nadal battled wind
and the effects of an ankle injury to
join Andy Murray on Friday with an
opening win at the Miami Masters.
Second seed Nadal beat fellow
Spaniard Nicolas Almagro for the 11th
time in 12 meetings, producing a 6-4,
6-2 win into the third round.
Murray, seeded third, had to deal
with the heat as well as gusts as he
defeated Donald Young for the second
time in less than a month, winning 6-4,
Serena Williams had no chance
to take to the court as she began her
quest for a third straight women’s title.
Her opening match against Monica
Niculescu was put off until Saturday as
rain arrived in early evening.
Williams was due to test a knee injury
she suffered last Friday in California and
which forced her to withdraw prior to a
quarterfinal match at Indian Wells.
Nadal said that while his ankle is not
100 per cent, he can live with the pain.
“The day (rolling it on Monday) I had
pain, but after two days I improved 50
per cent and it stays the same. It’s not
limiting my movements.”
Wind was whipped at ocean-facing
Key Biscayne by an arriving rain squall
off the Atlantic.
“The wind was really high, it was
very difficult to find a positive feeling
on court,” said four-time finalist — but
never champion — Nadal. “I played a
solid match. I played well, I had a good
“I moved myself quick for moments,
and when I had to put the balls in and
Rafael Nadal hits a forehand against Nicolas Almagro (not pictured) on day five of
the Miami Open at Crandon Park Tennis Center.
— USA Today Sports
play with no mistakes that was the idea
today with that very tough conditions
“I worked well with my forehand, I
had some good winners. I’m happy the
way that I played. Almagro was not an
easy opponent.”
Nadal took nearly an hour to get
through the first set, but finished off the
second quickly to advance in less than
90 minutes.
Murray, who uses steamy Miami as
a training base, has now beaten Young
in five of six meetings, the previous in
the Davis Cup first round in March in
Murray held the lead in both sets
against th number 44, with the Scot
improving his Miami record to 23-7. He
won the title in 2009 and 2013.
Murray earned victory in less
than 90 minutes when Young nailed
a forehand into the net. Murray next
faces Colombia’s Santiago Giraldo, who
defeated Dutchman Robin Haase 6-2,
3-6, 6-0.
“The heat was OK, and the wind
obviously cooled you down a little bit at
the end changes,” Murray said.
“Sometimes it can be ridiculously hot,
and that makes managing the points and
your emotions (tough). It was just very
tough weather to play good tennis in. So
I just tried to play smart, and it worked.”
Seventh seed Stan Wawrinka had
to rally past Carlos Berlocq 6-7 (9-11),
7-5, 6-2, while Czech eighth seed Tomas
Berdych advanced past Korean hope
Chung Hyeon 6-3, 6-4.
Austria’s Dominic Thiem beat tenth
seed Feliciano Lopez 7-6 (7-4), 4-6,
6-3; South African 15th seed Kevin
Anderson defeated Sam Querrey 6-7 (57), 7-6 (7-3), 6-4.
In the women’s draw, Indian Wells
winner Simona Halep fought back after a
mid-match surge from opponent Nicole
Vaidisova as she put out the Czech 6-4,
2-6, 6-1. Vaidasova, briefly married to
ATP player Radek Stepanek, retired
young in 2010 but is into a comeback at
age 25.
Fifth seed Ana Ivanovic bat Irina
Falconi 7-5, 6-7 (4-7), 6-3. Swede
Johanna Larsson ambushed Czech 10th
seed Lucie Safarova 7-6 (7-5), 6-2, while
15-year-old US player Catherine Bellis
took her revenge over Zarina Diyas,
winning 6-2, 6-1 after losing to the
Kazakh at the US Open.
Two-time Miami winner Victoria
Azarenka continued her comeback
from a 2014 foot injury, which kept her
away most of the season, beating Indian
Wells finalist Jelena Jankovic 6-1, 6-1.
Spain’s Garbine Muguruza defeated
Sesil Karatantcheva of Bulgaria 6-1, 6-3.
— dpa
Montenegrin FA blasts fans after fiasco
PODGORICA: Montenegrin soccer
fans who forced Friday’s Euro 2016
qualifier against Russia to be abandoned
are hypocrites and barbarians, the
general secretary of the Adriatic
republic’s football association said.
The Group G match ended midway
through the second half after two
outbursts of violence, the first 25
seconds after kickoff when a home fan
hit Russia keeper Igor Akinfeev with a
flare in the head.
The match resumed after a 33-minute
delay but following fighting between
rival fans during half-time and a further
18-minute delay for the second half to
begin, more trouble erupted.
German referee Deniz Aytekin called
the game off in the 67th minute after
Russian midfielder Dmitri Kombarov
was hit by a missile from the terraces
following a scuffle between players on
the touchline.
‘These fans sing
‘Montenegro we love you’
but throw flares, insult
rivals and cause all sorts of
incidents every time they
turn up and that’s outright
“These fans sing ‘Montenegro we
love you’ but throw flares, insult rivals
and cause all sorts of incidents every
time they turn up and that’s outright
hypocrisy,” general secretary Momir
Djurdjevac told reporters after the ugly
scenes in the stadium.
“We have left the impression of
barbarians and this is a complete
disaster. It seems we don’t deserve to
have a nation, a soccer team or a berth
in a major tournament.
“As far as I am concerned the game
should not have continued after the
first-minute incident. We can only thank
God that no one was seriously hurt.”
Akinfeev was taken to hospital with
concussion and neck burns, undergoing
a brain scan and a number of other tests.
Montenegrin media also reported
a charged atmosphere in Podgorica
several hours before kickoff with riot
police deployed in numbers to separate
rival fans congregating in the city centre.
The incident happened only three
days after UEFA president Michel Platini
said that Europe risked a return to the
“dark days” of its hooligan-plagued past.
“UEFA condemns all kinds of
violence and we regret the incidents
that took place in the UEFA Euro 2016
qualifying game between Montenegro
and Russia in Podgorica,” UEFA’s head
of media Pedro Pinto said in a statement
to Reuters.
“We are waiting for the official
reports from the delegate and referee
from which disciplinary cases will be
open, most likely on Monday.”
UEFA said it would wait for reports
from the match delegate and the referee
before opening disciplinary proceedings
and Djurdjevac acknowledged any
punishment would be suitable.
“We will in all likelihood pay a
hefty fine and say goodbye to a major
tournament but what scares me is that
this can happen again and someone
must step forward and say ‘Enough’,” he
said. “Who wants to play for the national
team under such circumstances?
“These players have a big dream and
it’s to qualify with our tiny nation for
a major tournament but we are going
nowhere.” Montenegro, who have never
qualified for a World Cup or a European
Championship as an independent
nation, are level with the Russians on
five points from four games. — Reuters
Ahmed guides Raha
to massive victory
MUSCAT: Opening the batting
Zeeshan Ahmed made a top score of
68 (60b, 12x4) and thereafter bagged
3 wickets conceding 4 runs off 5 overs
2 of which were maiden overs to guide
Raha to a massive 191 run win against
OCT Muscat ‘A’ and earn the Man of the
Match award. The Muscat Pharmacy &
Stores LLC sponsored ‘A’ Division 50
overs a side League match was played
on Friday at the MOS Turf Ground at
Al Amerat.
Opting to bat after winning the toss
Raha Cricket team piled up a mammoth
335 runs for the loss of 7 wickets off the
50 stipulated overs. All Batsmen made
major contributions with Azhar Ali 55
(63b, 8x4), Khursheed Alam remaining
unbeaten on 43 (20b, 3x6 and 3x4),
Shahid Naseem 36 (26b, 2x6 and 3x4),
Waseem Akhtar 33 (40b, 1x6 and 2x4),
Mohammed Asif 25 (35b, 4x4), Farhan
Afzal Khan 24 (22b, 4x4) and Sultan
Ahmed 23 (28b, 2x4).
Brief scores: Raha: 335/7 off 50 overs (Zeeshan
Ahmed 68, Azhar Ali 55, Khursheed Alam 43 n.o.,
Shahid Naseem 36, Waseem Akhtar 33, Mohammed
Asif 25; Waseem Ismail al Balushi 2-56, Mohammed
Aslam al Balushi 2-62) bt OCT Muscat ‘A’: 144 all out
off 28.5 overs (Shuaib Ismail al Balushi 41; Zeeshan
Ahmed 3-4, Khalid Rasheed 2-35, Khursheed Alam
Points: Raha: 5 points (9 Games – 34 points) and
OCT Muscat ‘A’: 0 (10 Games – Nil points)
Fairtrade ended the Oman
Cricket 2014/2015 league season
with a thumping 7 wicket win against
Powertech Engineering. The Al Ansari
Group of Companies sponsored ‘C’
Division T20 match was played in the
morning session at the Municipality
Ground No 3 at Al Amerat.
Brief scores: Powertech Engineering – 172/7 off
20 overs (Imran I 61, K Prabhakaran 46, Aroan D 28;
Anoop Ashok 2-27, Arun Kumar 2-29)
Fairtrade: 174/ 3 off 19.4 overs (Sufyan Mahmood
71 n.o., Ibrahim Kutty 47, Arun Kumar 31 n.o.)
Points: Fairtrade - 2 points (8 Games – 8 points) and
Powertech Engineering - 0 (8 Games – 8 Points)
Teejan Beatrice recorded a
convincing 6 wicket win against OUA
Travel in a Khimji Ramdas sponsored
T20 Intermediate Cup knock-out
match played in the morning session
during the week end at the Municipality
Ground No 1 at Al Amerat.
Brief scores: OUA Travel: 157/6 off 20 overs
(Mohammed Imtiyaz 52, Nahas Haneefa 29;
Saifurahman 3-23) lt to Teejan Beatrice: 158/4 off
15.4 overs (Jibin K 50, Feroz OV 49, Rikas M Ashraf
31 n.o.; Riju Thomas 2-21, Ratheesh Kumar 2-24)
In another Khimji Ramdas
sponsored T20 Intermediate Cup
knock-out match played in the
afternoon session at the same venue
Global Money Exchange recorded a 42
run win against Newrest Wacasco.
Brief scores:Global Money Exchange: 182/9 off
20 overs (Shaheer Najeeb 54, Rahul Rajeev 47,
Suraj Rao 32; Deepak Gakhar 2-29, Kishnaraja 2-33,
Jaganathan 2-36) bt Newrest Wacasco: 140 all out
off 18.1 overs (Arun Jesvin 38 n.o., Krishnaraja 29;
Anil Kulkarni 3-29, Shaheer Najeeb 2-28, Noushad
H 2-33)
Aided by a brilliant bowling
performance from Harendra Kumar
who ended with figures of 4 for 14 off
2 overs Bank Muscat thumped OCT Al
Nahdha by a massive margin of 94 runs
in a Khimji Ramdas sponsored Junior
Cup T20 match played in the afternoon
session at the adjoining Ground No 3 at
Al Amerat.
Brief scores: Bank Muscat: 204/6 off 20 overs
(Osman al Zadjali 45, Yousuf Abdulrahim al Balushi
44, Younus Murad 32, Abbas al Balushi 25; Waleed
Moula Bakhsh 2-31, Rahsid Rasool Bakhsh 2-42) bt
OCT Al Nahdha: 110 all out off 15.1 overs (Sharif al
Balushi 28; Harendra Kumar 4-14)
Khalsa United registered a thrilling
1 run win against Abu Maather In
another Khimji Ramdas sponsored
Junior Cup T20 match played in the
morning session at the adjacent ground
No 4 at Al Amerat.
Brief scores: Khalsa United: 136/7 off 20 overs
(Sushil Kadam 53; Zahirul Islam 3-29, Mohammed
Rizwan 2-11) bt Abu Maather: 135 all out off 20
overs (Hussain Bin Siraj 32, Waqas Muhammad 29,
Shaed Ibrahim al Balushi 26; Arvind Singh 2-21,
Harminder Singh 2-22, Muhammad Parvez 2-25)
In the afternoon at the same venue
Landscape Architecture recorded a
31 run win against Huawei to earn a
place in the quarterfinals of the Khimji
Ramdas sponsored Intermediate Cup
T20 tournament.
Deciding to bat after winning the toss
Landscape Architecture scored 186 for
6 wickets at the end of 20 overs thanks
to an unbeaten 97 (54b, 2x6 and 10x4)
from No 4 batsman Darwish Ellickal
and an equally good 44 (37b, 1x6 and
6x4) from Sajeev Sathyanandam.
Requiring 187 runs for a win a 10
member Huawei team managed to get
to 155 for the loss of 9 wickets at the end
of their quota of 20 overs. Mohammed
Neyazul Haque opening the batting
made a useful 56 (38b, 7x4).
Brief scores: Landscape Architecture: 186/6 off 20
overs (Darwish Ellickal 97 n.o., Sajeev Sathyanandam
44; Sanjeev Kumar 3-30, Nadir Ali Hashmi 2-37) bt
Huawei: 155/9 off 20 overs (Mohammed Neyazul
Haque 56, Karthikeyan Jayachandran 35; Pradeep
Rajan 2-14)
MARCH 29 l 2015
Will return to India to film
‘Kungfu Yoga’: Jackie Chan
I want ten children,
says Katie Price
V personality and former
model Katie Price says
she would call her life a
“success” if she had 10 children.
Also, she would consider
adopting if she is told she cannot
have any more children.
The 36-year-old star already
has five children, Harvey, 13,
Junior, nine, Princess, seven,
18-month-old Jett and sevenmonth-old Bunny.
“I’d like to come down one day and have 10 kids sitting around the kitchen
table --that, to me, would really be a success.
“I want this marriage to work and I want more children.
I want as many as I can have before a doctor says ‘no more’ and then I’m
going to adopt,” Price, who has Jett and Bunny with husband Kieran Hayler,
told ES magazine, reports
Katrina at Madame Tussauds
ctress Katrina Kaif has became the latest Indian to be featured at the
Madame Tussauds museum.
The museum is marking 15 years since its first Bollywood statue
was created.
Katrina was at the museum for the unveiling, reports
Katrina collaborated closely with the musuem’s sculptors and artists
to decide a dancing pose and outfit for the figure, having given a sitting in
Mumbai where all the measurements required to create an accurate likeness
were gathered.
A team of 20 artists worked on the figure, which cost around £150,000 to
Actor Jackie Chan poses on a yatch during a photocall for the film ‘Skiptrace’ at the 66th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes
sian cinematic icon
Jackie Chan, whose
“Dragon Blade” hit
Indian screens on
Friday, says he may
come down to the country to shoot his
new film “Kungfu Yoga”, the first project
under a India-China co-production
agreement signed during President Xi
Jinping’s visit last September.
When Chan last visited India in 2013,
he spoke about the need for encouraging
movie collaborations and cultural
exchange between the two countries.
Is he pioneering something in that
“Yes, I am planning to start a new
movie called ‘Kungfu Yoga’. That means
I will be returning to film in India.
Perhaps next time you will interview
me on a set,” Chan, who will turn 61
next month, said in an email interview
from Beijing.
The star of movies like “Police Story”,
“Rush Hour” and “The Myth”, Chan will
be seen in a prominent role in “Kungfu
Yoga”. From the film’s title, one believes
it will be a perfect amalgamation of
Chinese martial art Kungfu, and the
art of Yoga, which originated in ancient
India and now thrives around the world.
Chan’s earlier India collaboration has
been with Bollywood beauty Mallika
Sherawat in his 2005 film “The Myth”.
But will his association with the Indian
entertainment industry include a
Bollywood film?
“I don’t think about it in terms of
doing a Bollywood movie, or even a
Hollywood movie.
The most important thing is the
But, yes, I’m planning the new movie
called ‘Kungfu Yoga’. Hopefully, we will
start filming in the autumn,” he added.
Meanwhile, the actor, who has
regaled legions of his fans across the
globe with his comedic and action
avatars, hopes his American-Chinese
collaboration “Dragon Blade”, directed
by Daniel Lee, appeals to the audiences
with its story.
“The myth about ancient Romans
lost in China is absolutely intriguing...
Also, I designed the fight sequences
myself and I think the audiences will
love them.
Last of all, the songs and music in the
movie are something I’m very proud of,”
he said.
In “Dragon Blade”, Chan has worked
with Hollywood actors John Cusack and
Adrian Brody.
The experience, he says, was “great”.
“I enjoyed working with them and
Katrina Kaif poses next to her wax figure unveiled at Madame Tussauds in
London. — AFP
Taylor Swift, Calvin
‘make a great couple’
inger Taylor Swift and record
producer Calvin Harris have
reportedly been hanging out since
late February when they first met at the
2015 Brit Awards -and are said to “make
a great couple”.
“He is taken with her. They connected
properly at the Brit (Awards), and it’s
been going on since then,” a source told
“It’s been going on a few weeks. They
actually make a great couple.
They are just getting to know each
I look forward to working with more
Hollywood stars in China.
For many years, I acted in Hollywood
It’s exciting now that Hollywood
stars are acting in Chinese films,”
said the actor, who defies age with
his enthusiasm, passion and ability to
perform daredevilry without a thought.
What keeps him going?
“Enjoy every moment of your life.
Accept your own self.
Be young at heart.
I still go to the gym every day and
run for an hour. But I never go on a diet.
I believe in being ‘Happy go Lucky’!
That’s my secret,” said the action star,
who worked with more than 800 extras,
over 350 crew members and hundreds
of horses for “Dragon Blade”.
As a sexagenarian, is he choosing his
roles more carefully?
“Of course, I am now 61.
I would like audiences to think of me
as a dramatic actor who happens to also
do action.
In my recent films, I’ve been trying to
broaden my roles, including in “Dragon
Blade”.” — IANS
other and we’ll see what happens,” the
source added. Neither Swift nor Harris
has confirmed the romance rumours.
Speculation went into full swing
earlier this week when the two were
spotted together at Whole Foods in
“He is such a good guy. He’s serious
but also very goofy at the same time.
She really likes that combination.
It’s exciting for both of them. It’s hard
to meet someone in their business,” the
insider said of Harris.
Can’t see myself just looking pretty and dancing: Radhika
ctress Radhika Apte is content after two
back-to-back different entertainers — Sriram
Raghavan’s “Badlapur” and Harshvardhan
Kulkarni’s “Hunterrr”. Happy with the praise coming
her way, she says she will continue trying to pick
unique characters.
Talking about her performances, she said: “I guess
what really worked for me was that the two films and
my characters in them were so different from one
It was just lucky that the two films came out
“We shot ‘Hunterrr’ over a long period of time.
We did a major part of the shooting and then
We picked up the threads again after two years,
completed the film and quickly released it. Fortunately,
the time lapse doesn’t show in the film.”
For an actress who has worked in films in seven
languages even before turning 30, Radhika has a
hunger to excel in unexpected roles.
“I cannot see myself just looking pretty and dancing.
I am sure that requires a helluva lot of discipline and
hard work.
But I’d rather channellise my energy to do something
different, like I did in ‘Badlapur’ and ‘Hunterrr’.”
In “Hunterrr”, Radhika played a character with a
past. “We are living during times when women are not
expected to be ‘sati savitris’. My character in ‘Hunterrr’
had a relationship and an abortion. This is a relatable
And now the quest for real characters continues.
“I don’t care what the language of the cinema is,
as long as it has a connect with real life. I am doing
Leena Yadav’s ‘Parched’ where I am pitched against
some really brilliant actresses in a story that’s set in
And I am doing ‘The Field’ about the Delhi mafia
where my co-star is Neeraj Kabi (the monk in ‘Ship Of
“Then there is the biopic on Dashrath Manjhi
with Nawazuddin Siddiqui which Ketan Mehta has
I got to play a Bihari rustic woman for the first time.
I am also doing a couple of short films, one directed
by Pia Sukanya called ‘Bombairiya’, and another one
co-starring Soumita Chatterjee directed by Sujoy
“Then there is a short film by Anurag Kashyap on
forbidden love.”
Radhika who is married to a British musician, is
very clear in her views on in cinema.
Sighs Radhika: “I am here because I am passionate
about acting.
Just after I was noticed in Raj Nidimoru-Krishna
DK’s ‘Shor In The City’, I left for London to study
contemporary dancing.
I came back feeling more empowered.
“I grew up idolising Aamir Khan. I had a poster of
his in my room.
Every day I said ‘bye’ to it before going to school.
I want to create a similar sense of self-worth in my
career,” she said.
HEIs active in nurturing
recycling culture
some kind of
recycling activity on a regular basis as an
integral part of the life on campus.
Sultan Qaboos University, Modern
College of Business and Science, Majan
College, Middle East College, Waljat
College of Applies Sciences and others
are working very hard to reduce the
amount of waste sent for disposal and
encourage their students to help advance
a recycling culture in the country.
The Ministry of Environment
and Climate Affairs, which often
holds national competitions, such
as “utilisation of environmental raw
materials for making useful item” with
a view to promoting the recycling
culture, very much appreciates HEIs’
contribution to this valuable practice.
The ministry says all over the world,
governments and organisations are
showing a lot of determination to find
lasting solutions to the problems of waste
[email protected]
Fly away baby!
on’t stress over the thought of air travel with a baby or toddler...
that’s just going to create problems for you and baby!
I was in the fortunate position to live abroad and travel by
Recycling at Middle East College
MARCH 29 l 2015
disposal. In most cases the emphasis
is on public hygiene, systematic waste
collection and recycling waste into
products with economic value.
Dr R C Bhattacharjee, Dean, Middle
East College, says it is vitally important
to raise awareness of WEEE (waste
electrical and electronic equipment),
batteries and packaging recycling) to
change behaviour and divert more waste
from landfill.
Prof S L Gupta, Dean, WCAS, says
the purpose of recycling activities on the
campus is to create a sense of ownership
in the students as well as foster a
lasting change on student behaviours
and attitudes about their personal
environmental impact. The students at
WCAS know that recycling is important
because “when we make products from
recycled materials instead of always
using new raw materials we save natural
resources; energy; reduce disposal costs;
reduce harmful emissions to our air and
water; and save money and create jobs”.
At Omani HEIs, students are adept
in using their imagination to create
something valuable out of whatever
discarded material they find around
them. Experts have applauded Omani
HEIs’ commitment and determination
to pursue opportunities that help
advance the promotion of a recycling
culture in the country.
Dr Mohammed Abushammala,
Mentor, Environmental Club, Middle
East College (MEC), says waste recycling
offers the opportunity not only for the
‘greening’ of the campuses, but also for
the surrounding communities. This
shift therefore can lead to reduction in
operational costs and reduced adverse
environmental impacts of activities on
Jumana al Hosni, President, MEC
Environment Club, says the MEC
students are trained to think of the
society and environment while finding
professional solutions to the problems of
their domain. The recycling is to make
useful objects from discarded and used
items that mean nothing but wastes.
Students learn how to recycle and re-use
discarded items to make new creative
things. This makes them think creatively
and also they learn how to save their
resources for the future.
Dr Sadaf Zehra, Head of
coordinator of Recycling Club at Waljat
College of Applied Sciences (WCAS),
says “Recycling is very important to
make the efficient use of our resources.
In the current situation where our
natural resources are depleting, recycling
is the best method of conserving our
environment. Nature also guides us on
the concept of recycling because a single
living cell does not allow its contents to
go wasted as they are recycled to a new
Students and faculty at HEIs say
just about any material can be recycled.
Many products may be made using
recycled materials at less cost and with
less pollution.
Some recycling plants have been set
up in the country in recent years, but
many more need to be in place to take
care of all the waste.
One way to conserve natural
resources is to cut down on wasteful
production and consumption. Re-using
and recycling of such items helps reduce
the quantities of fresh raw materials
being stripped from the earth, say
students of Majan College.
Most babies don’t get to travel till they become toddlers on planes.
So travelling became easier the more I did it.
But don’t be put off a flight or experience because you have a baby — by
all means adapt but don’t put it off.
It can go one of two ways when flying with a baby, if I’m being honest
— baby is as peaceful and quiet as anything, or all hell breaks lose and baby
cries and vomits.
You become paranoid, one of those new parents that is questioning
whether people are questioning you as a parent.
To be fair it’s pretty easy when they are new-born — it gets harder
when they grow up and this also depends on the duration of the
flight. Most people say it’s the other way round, I’m just sharing my
One thing I have noticed when travelling, and to be frank when it comes
to entertaining most kids, it’s a bugbear I have, and most parents rely on
this, are those tablets or computer games to keep the kids entertained.
I totally appreciate it’s all about keeping them quiet and happy, but what
happened back in the day when these weren’t available I personally don’t
agree with these gadgets.
There’s other ways to keep them entertained and happy! There’s my
moan over with!
Some little saviours I came across when travelling — take little flash
cards, make puppet fingers, little baby treats to keep them busy, use the on
flight blanket to play hide and seek! A water bottle can be fascinating too.
Apparently the drone of the plane is meant to send your kid to sleep.
I personally think it’s a myth, as it didn’t work for my little star.
As the saying goes layers aren’t just for cakes — its best to travel wearing
layers for you and baby — that way you can monitor the temperature and
adjust accordingly, with no worries of not having enough clothing or being
too cold.
Wearing layers also help when you arrive at your destination depending
on the weather.
So, just make sure you’re prepared for every eventuality and it will
become second nature.
A parent travelling on your own isn’t as daunting as it sounds — its
actually easier than going with your spouse — a decision is made quicker
and effectively rather than it being open or a discussion.
You also don’t feel quietly frustrated when your spouse is scoffing there
one flight dinner whilst you’re juggling a whiny baby that’s just pooped...
And then to hear them snoring their head off with sleep whilst you’re
attending to baby.
Travelling back and forth to Muscat and England, I found the whole
experience stress free and pleasant.
The airline also helps depending on whom you chose to fly with —
baggage allowance, hand baggage, being able to take milk or breast feed
facilities. Every flight I experienced, the service was second to none, and
it was excellent.
The stewardess go out of their way to make sure you and your baby are
happy at all times, and don’t ever feel that you can’t speak out.
My best advice for travelling with your little one... You know your baby
or toddler best and you know how to manage their moods, so sit back,
relax and enjoy the flight!
Catholicos presents ‘Thanal’ Charity Award
Hookah as harmful
as cigarette
oran Mar Baselios Marthoma Paulose II,
Catholicos of the East and Indian Orthodox
(Malankara) Metropolitan, presented the
first Thanal Charity Award instituted in the name of
Dr Stephanos Mar Theodosius to Fr Davis Chiramel,
Chairman, of the Kerala-based Kidney Federation
of India. Fr Davis is a Catholic priest and founder of
Accident Care and Transport Service (ACTS) and
Kidney Federation of India. Well-known as ‘Kidney
Priest’, he set an example for universal brotherhood
and compassion by donating his kidney to a Hindu
Muscat Mar Gregorios Orthodox Maha Edavaka
launched the Thanal charity project for 2014-15 in
aid of kidney patients called ‘Rays of Hope’ to help the
needy kidney patients.
In his inaugural address, the Primate of the Indian
Orthodox Church, said the ‘Thanal’ project showcases
‘Gospel in Action’ with an apt meaning to provide
‘shade’ to trees. “Charity projects can be compared as
liturgy after the liturgy for the Orthodox community,”
he added.
On behalf of the Indian Orthodox, the Catholicos
prayed for the good health of His Majesty who has
won the hearts and admiration of many by being an
inspiration and model for world leaders.
In his address as chief guest, Indian Ambassador to
the Sultanate, J S Mukul, hailed the contribution of the
42-year-old church towards various charitable works.
The Ambassador was presented with a memento by
the Catholicos.
Fr Joji George Koickalethu in his presidential
address introduced the Mar Theodosius Thanal
Charity Award to the audience. Boban M Thomas read
the Thanal 2014-15 report about the project’s outlay
and number of beneficiaries.
His Holiness revealed that the first phase of St
Gregorios Cancer Care Centre at Parumala will be
opened to public by November 2015. The Catholicos
added that plans are on to provide treatment for the
patients without outsourcing.
hat hookah is less harmful than cigarette is a popular misconception that
may have serious ramifications for the youth, warns a new study.
Hookah or water pipe is the new ‘in’ thing among the youth, though the
number of youth who smoke cigarettes is declining in Canada, found the study,
published in Cancer Causes and Control.
“The idea that water pipes are somehow less harmful than cigarettes is a
dangerous misperception,” said study author Leia Minaker
from the University of Waterloo, Canada.
The study found that almost one in four high school
seniors try smoking hookah.
It estimates that more than
78,200 youth are current
water pipe users.
“While we can
celebrate a continued
slow decline in
cigarette use across
the country, water
pipes are bucking the
trend,” said Minaker.
Water pipes work by
bubbling tobacco smoke
through water, leading many
users to believe that they carry
less risk than cigarettes.
“Since most water pipe smoking
sessions last much longer than a
cigarette, water pipe smokers may absorb higher
concentrations of the same toxins as in cigarette smoke,”
the researcher warned.
Water pipes join a growing number of products marketed to youth using
flavoured tobacco.
The survey found that among the students who reported using water pipes,
about half used flavoured products.
MARCH 29 l 2015
All You Need
to Know
about ISO
The image on the left is a zoom-in of the Al Hamra pot you
can see above, taken on ISO 100, f.11 and 30 second
exposure. The second image is exactly the same pot, taken
on exactly the same day with exactly the same camera and
aperture, though with the ISO set to 6500 and the shutter
speed was 1/8 of a second. Not only is there a very
noticeable deterioration in image quality in the second
image, there is a lot of noise, especially in the shadow areas
This old pot in a house in Al Hamra was photographed at ISO 100, aperture f.11 and shutter
speed 30 seconds. My camera was on a tripod and the camera was on timer to avoid camera
[email protected]
any photographers are
tempted to use flash in
dim lighting conditions,
but there are better
options. Much, much
better options!
If you regularly read this column, you will
already have noticed that the image of an old pot
in a grungy room in Al Hamra smacks all over of
Clive’s aesthetics.
The image of the Bahla potter at work, on the
other hand, is an atypical Clive photograph, not
least because there is a person in it.
While both these photographs were taken in
low light conditions, the widely divergent subject
matters clearly required different photographic
Looking first at the image of the lonely old
pot, forlorn and abandoned in a disused room,
my intention was to create as sharp an image
as I possibly could in order to capture all that
fabulous textures.
I set my ISO to its lowest setting (ISO 100) and
as I wanted everything in sharp focus, I selected
a fairly narrow aperture (f.11), which meant that
the shutter speed was going to be very slow (30
seconds). For this reason, my camera was firmly
attached to a tripod.
I had my camera on timer so that I didn’t
have to touch it to take the photograph and
inadvertently create camera shake.
I’ve been taking photographs in this manner
that I don’t even have to think about what I’m
Let us next consider the image of the potter,
hard at work throwing a lovely pot.
My task as photographer was to capture the
action of the craftsman as he engaged in his
labours without disturbing him.
I was certainly way out of my comfort zone in
this challenging photographic situation.
So what to do?
Obviously, using flash was out of the question.
Not only would flash have given the most
hideously unnatural light, it would also no doubt
have caused the potter momentarily to lose
concentration and perhaps fall headlong into the
unfinished pot.
My trusty tripod would have served little
purpose here, as it is only useful in situations
where slow shutter speeds are called for.
Here I had a moving subject so a fairly high
shutter speed was required.
Of course, opening up the aperture of the lens
to its maximum (ie selecting the smallest f-stop)
would have allowed more light into the camera
and so enabled me to achieve a faster shutter
However, even at its widest aperture (f.2.8)
my lens did not let in enough light to allow for
a shutter speed greater than 1/4th of a second,
which was not only too slow to freeze the action
but also too slow for hand-held shot.
The only option I had was to bump my ISO up
to 1600, which gave me a shutter speed of 1/80th
of a second at aperture f.2.8.
This allowed me to get a sharp image of the
potter characterful face while giving just enough
blur to the spinning pot to hint at motion.
The wide aperture (small f-stop) also gave the
added advantage of a shallow depth of field, so I
could get the potter’s face in sharp focus and at
the same time blur that chaotic background.
So what the heck is ISO anyway and what does
it do? ISO is an acronym for something that you
have absolutely no need to know.
All that matters is that you understand what
it does.
The ISO setting on your camera’s menu allows
This potter at work in Bahla was shot at ISO 1600, aperture f.2.8 and shutter speed 1/80th of a
second. I was able both to freeze the action, handhold the camera and blur the ugly
you to control how sensitive the camera is to
A low ISO setting, such as ISO 100, means
that the camera is less sensitive to light.
In effect what that means is the shutter has
to be open longer in order to capture a correctly
exposed image.
If the ISO setting is higher, for example
ISO 400, then the camera is more sensitive
to light and the shutter needs to be open for
a shorter period of time to achieve a correct
So when is a high ISO setting useful? It is
useful in low light conditions when we have a
moving subject.
We can increase the ISO setting in order to
achieve a shutter speed that will allow us to freeze
movement of that moving subject.
It will also enable us to handhold the camera
without getting a soft image.
So why do we not save ourselves all the hassle
and just keep the ISO setting high all the time?
The simple answer is that, at higher ISO settings,
the sensor records less data and so the quality of
the image suffers.
This becomes particularly noticeable when
the image is enlarged, as shown in the two close-
ups of the pot.
Additionally, higher ISO values also create
what is known as ‘noise’, that is, random
speckles of colour and tone on an otherwise even
Although there are some digital artists who
revel in image noise, generally speaking, noise
degrades image quality and so should be avoided
if possible by keeping the ISO as low as a given
situation will allow.
So, in summary, here are the main points to
remember in regard to low-light photography
and ISO:
will likely result in camera shake and fuzzy
ISO setting to its lowest, thereby ensuring
optimum image quality.
situations, such as when shooting moving
subjects, increase the camera’s ISO.
so keep the ISO setting as low as the situation
will allow.
Sculptures of ancient Greeks dazzle in UK exhibition
he sculptures of the ancient
Greeks depict what they
believed to be the perfect
human form, and the results still dazzle
and move us thousands of years on, as
the British Museum’s latest exhibition
“Defining Beauty” is a stunning array
of sculptures and ceramics that includes
some of the most familiar works of
Greek antiquity.
The exhibition also compares how
other cultures treated the human form,
from the Mayans to the Assyrians.
“The Greeks invented the human
being,” Ian Jenkins, the exhibition’s
curator, said, pointing to Greek
philosophy, mythology and democracy,
not just the aesthetics of the sculptures
that dominate the exhibition.
The exhibition opens with the
striking view of a goddess Aphrodite
from behind.
When visitors walk around the
statue, they are met with her guarded,
threatening gaze. Though Greek in
origin, she is a Roman copy.
So is the discus thrower, Myron’s
Diskobolos, a study in the perfect
“balance of opposites”, and some of the
other statues in the exhibition.
But museum does display its own
prized Greek originals which are the
A section of marble frieze sculpture (438-432 BC) from the Parthenon in Athens, part of the collection that is popularly referred
to as the Elgin Marbles. — AFP
source of a long-running dispute with
Athens has repeatedly called for
the return of marble statues from
the Parthenon, known as the “Elgin
Marbles”, which were taken from Greece
in 1816.
The Greek government protested
angrily at the end of last year when the
museum loaned one of them to Russia.
Officials at the British Museum
acknowledge the difficulty in managing
relations with Greece, who did not
loan any items to the museum for the
Part of the Parthenon’s frieze and the
statue of Ilissos, recently returned from
Russia, are on display and are a highlight
of the exhibition.
Its last piece is Pheidias’s Dionysos,
the Greek god of wine, theatre and
religious ecstasy.
The statue is placed next to a red
chalk drawing of a man, drawing
attention to the resemblance between
the two reclining figures.
The sketch in question is Study for
Adam by Michelangelo as he prepared
to paint his famous fresco on the ceiling
of the Sistine Chapel. — Reuters
A Roman copy of Myron’s Discobolus displayed during a press preview of the
British Museum’s “Defining beauty: the body in ancient Greek art” in central
London. — AFP
Will film ‘Kungfu Yoga’ in India: Chan HEIs active in nurturing recycling culture All You Need to Know about ISO
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PIOTR BECZALA: A world-class tenor
undoubtedly one of
the world’s great tenors
and those who visited
the Royal Opera House
Muscat this last weekend
were privileged to experience a voice
of superb quality heard in many of
the world’s top opera houses. He was
accompanied by the Czech National
Orchestra, directed by Guerassim
Voronkov, founder of the Bolshoi
Chamber Orchestra.
Voronkov has also spent time in
Barcelona and thus brought to Oman a
reputation much acclaimed in Eastern
and Western Europe. His passionate
drive increased the impact of this
concert given by one of the world’s great
tenor voices.
There was certainly no doubt from
the start that this was going to be
a memorable evening.
A lot of the music
in the first
part came
The Czech National Symphony
Orchestra certainly also deserve praise
for a skilled performance, which helped
to give a framework for highly talented
performances both by Piotr Beczala and
— Photo by Khalid al Busaidi, ROHM
from Verdi but Gounod
represented, which gave
shape to the musical
achievements of the
The star of the
evening, Piotr Beczala
is a tall handsome man,
who looks the part of opera
hero extraordinary with both a
powerful presence and voice. When
he swept on to the stage he immediately
owned it, while graciously allowing
others to perform their allotted parts.
Piotr Beczala is fortunate in having
a natural commanding presence and
his frequent appearances on stage at
regular intervals soon became moments
of delight at the prospect of hearing once
more such a melodious voice.
It is only to be hoped that he returns
to Oman some time for an extended
master class allowing many more
Omanis to appreciate the range, pitch
and power of such a sonorous voice.
Piotr Beczala frequently sings at the
Salzburg Festival and if you are thinking
of paying a visit to Salzburg — always
a great experience in itself, it is worth
checking whether he is indeed featured
in the programme.
World’s first ‘Otaku’ summit opens in Japan
apan opened what organisers are
billing as the world’s first “Otaku”
summit yesterday, drawing
visitors from around the world
as the country looks to boost the
international fan base for Japanese
comic books and anime.
So-called Otaku — usually
translated as “geeks” — from at least
18 countries and territories, many
dressed as their favourite anime
characters, were converging on the
Otaku Expo at a convention centre
near Tokyo for the two-day event.
The Expo is part of a special comic
book fair held every five years, which
attracts about half a million visitors,
but this year’s event marks the
first time that groups from outside
Japan are invited. About four dozen
overseas Otaku groups were expected
to attend.
Briton Katie Carter, 23, was
dressed as Usagi Tsukino, a character
from the popular “Pretty Guardian
Sailor Moon”.
“This is amazing. There are so
many people of different cultures are
coming together,” she said.
The culture of Otaku has grown
into a major industry in Japan.
The term is commonly used in the
country to refer to people obsessed
with Japan’s unique take on comics
and animation.
While it once carried a negative
connotation, many Otaku are now
proudly displaying their love for
two-dimensional heroes — while the
number of foreign fans is also soaring.
“The number of foreign visitors
has been increasing over recent
years,” said co-chief of the organiser,
Comic Market Committee, Kahoru
Otaku culture is spreading
worldwide “like a big snowball
picking up a pace,” Carter said.
“In my country, Italy, currently it’s
a very big thing,” said Expo visitor
Valentino Notari, 28, about the Otaku
culture outside Japan.
“It used to be much smaller, we
used to be sort of outcasts when we
started back then about 10 years
ago, and now it’s becoming massive,”
Notari said.
“It’s quite fun and nowadays
everybody accepts it.” — AFP