Wednesday, 17 October 2012

QU-ABA to organise lawyers’ conference


DOHA QATAR University College of Law (QU-LAWC) will hold a conference at Intercontinental Hotel on October 20.

The conference titled, ‘Building a stronger legal profession in Qatar’, will be held in conjunction with the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA-ROLI).

The event will be presided over by Minister of Justice HE Hasan bin Abdullah al Ghanem. The conference will also feature distinguished speakers from Qatar, Morocco and the US. The speakers will share their knowledge on legal profession, ethics codes and lawyer regulation.

Not only lawyers, but also workers in the country’s legal departments will be able to participate in the panel discussions. Recommendations from the panel will call for strategies to enhance development of the legal profession. The recommendations will be then compiled into a report to be issued to the decision-makers.

The morning session will focus on structuring the legal profession and will also discuss preparatory training, bar association models and continuing legal education.

LAWC professor Dr Hassan al Sayed will moderate the panel discussions. The speakers will include MCLE Board Director of the US Supreme Court of Illinois Karen Litscher Johnson, Esq; Rabat Young Lawyers Association Secretary- General Mohammed Chmaou, Esq; Ministry of Justice member Ibrahim al Hitmi; Qatar Foundation Legal Department member Abdulrahman al Qahtani, Esq; and American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative Director Marlana Valdez, Esq.

The afternoon session will focus on ethics codes and lawyer discipline. The panel moderator will be US Corporate and Business Law Consultant Irving Kagan, Esq. The panellists will include Regulation Unit of the Ministry of Justice Hussein Jharhab and Fatima Belal, in addition to Johnson and Chmaou.

‘M-E policy of Obama, Romney similar’


DOHA DOMESTIC economic and social issues are far more important than the foreign policy in the 2012 US presidential elections to be held early next month, according to a panel discussion held at the Brookings Doha Center on Wednesday.

They also said that both the candidates in the election fray do not hold any radically different views as far as their Middle East policy is considered.

Moderated by Director Brookings Doha Center Salman Shaikh, panellists included Director of Research, Brookings Doha Center Shadi Hamid, Ghada Oueiss, senior presenter at Al Jazeera Arabic.

Danielle Pletka of American Enterprise Institute and Tamara Cofman Wittes, director, Saban Center for Middle East Policy took part in the discussion through a video conferencing session from Washington.

Opening the discussion, Tamara Cofman Wittes said that economic policies of both the candidates would determine the outcome of the 2012 election results. She said “Domestic economic and social policies have taken the centre-stage in the election campaign over foreign policies. Voters are far more concerned with the domestic economic situation and other matters that affect daily life. Therefore the coming US administration would focus on strengthening the nation and the security issues of the nation.”

She also opined that this was evident in the response of the people to the second television debate of President Barack Obama as well as the Republican candidate Mitt Romney. “The third debate will be all the more important as both the candidates will present their views on many of the domestic issues,” she added.

Ghada Oueiss pointed out that the US policy on the Middle East needs to be revised. She said, “The coming US administration would face more challenges and responsibilities as regards the Middle East. The winner of the election should change the foreign policy. The Iraq muddle was a big issue back in the US as it has created a lot of trouble for the US and therefore must be one of the reasons why the US is not ready to get involve in Syria. Similarly, there was no progress on the Arab-Israel issues and Palestine still continues to be a big problem for the US.”

She wondered as to why the US was unwilling to recognise Hamas which won the elections in 2006, and herself came up with the explanation that US still stands for its own interests and the interests of its ally Israel.

Danielle Pletka opined that Mitt Romney seemed to be more engaged in the Middle East than President Obama.

She said, “Romney seems to take more active role in the Middle East than President Obama. The winner will have to face a number of challenges from various quarters such as the re-emergence of Al Qaeda groups and the uprisings in various parts of the Arab world.” Shadi Hamid said that Middle East policy has become a liability for President Obama.

He said, “There is the issue of trust. Israeli leaders do not trust Obama while many others feel that Obama has done more than many others for Israel. Similarly, Israel and Gulf leaders think that Obama is not serious about Iran.” He also added that the recent attacks on US diplomatic outposts in Libya, Egypt and other parts of the Arab world have renewed debate about national security issues and US policy in the Middle East.

Tehran yet to slow nuclear drive: IAEA


VIENNA IRAN is believed to be further increasing its uranium enrichment capacity at its Fordow plant buried deep underground, Western diplomats say, in another sign of Tehran defying international demands to curb its disputed nuclear programme.

But they said the Islamic Republic did not yet appear to have started up the newlyinstalled centrifuges to boost production of material which Iran says is for reactor fuel but which can also have military uses if processed more.

“Iran continues to build up enrichment capacity,” one Western official said.

A diplomat accredited to the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said: “We think that they have continued installing centrifuges at Fordow. We think that their pace has continued the same as it was, which was pretty rapid.” If confirmed in the next IAEA report on Iran’s atomic activities, expected in mid- November, it would suggest Iran is steadily moving towards completing instalment of centrifuges at the Fordow subterranean centrifuge site.

The work may be “near complete,” the Vienna-based diplomat said, in comments echoed by another envoy.

There was no immediate comment from Iran or the IAEA, the UN nuclear agency based in the Austrian capital.

Fordow - which Tehran only disclosed the existence of in 2009 after learning that Western spy services had detected it - is of particular concern for the United States and its allies as Iran uses it for its highergrade enrichment.

Iran says it needs uranium refined to a fissile concentration of 20 percent, compared with the level of up to 5 percent it produces at its main enrichment facility at Natanz, to make fuel for a medical research reactor in Tehran.

But it also takes Iran a significant technical step closer to the 90 percent concentration needed for bombs, explaining the West’s growing concern about the Islamic state’s stockpile of the material.

A US-based think-tank, the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), this month said Iran would currently need at least two to four months to produce enough weapons-grade uranium for one nuclear bomb, and additional time to make the device itself.

Last week, Iranian officials said Tehran would negotiate on halting higher-grade enrichment if given fuel for the research reactor, in a possible attempt to show flexibility in stalled nuclear talks with world powers.

The IAEA said in its last report on Iran in late August that the country had doubled the number of centrifuges to 2,140 at Fordow since the previous report in May. More than 600 remained to be installed, the report showed.

Since then, diplomats said they thought Iran had put in place more centrifuges at the site near the holy Shi’ite Muslim city of Qom, about 130 km (80 miles) from Tehran and located deep under soil and rock for protection against any attack.

“They continue sort of unabated,” one envoy said.

But they said Iran was still operating the same number of machines as it has been since early this year, nearly 700 centrifuges.

It was not clear when the new equipment would be launched or whether Iran was holding back for technical or political reasons. It is also not known whether the centrifuges which are not yet operational will be used for 5 or 20 percent enrichment, or both, the diplomats say.

No proof of graft found against ex-MPs, says Kuwait official


KUWAIT CITY KUWAIT’S public prosecution said on Wednesday it had suspended investigations into highly publicised allegations of corruption against 13 former MPs, saying it had found no evidence of any crime.

“Investigation and interrogation (by the public prosecution) did not find any evidence to prove any crime like bribery, graft, money laundering or others against any suspect in the case,” said a statement by the prosecution service.

“As a result, the public prosecution concluded that there was no suspicion of a crime... and shelved (the case),” said the statement cited by the official KUNA news agency.

The decision could escalate political tensions in the emirate where opposition supporters have been staging street protests.

The corruption allegations first broke in September last year after a local newspaper published a story that millions of dinars (dollars) were illegally deposited into the bank accounts of several members of the 2009 parliament.

The Kuwaiti opposition said the deposits amounted to around $350 million and claimed the money was a political bribe to win the former lawmakers’ votes on crucial issues.

The former government had denied any wrongdoing in the case.

UN envoy urges Syria to start truce during Eid


BEIRUT THE international envoy to the Syrian conflict on Wednesday called on President Bashar al Assad’s regime to take the lead in a cease-fire during a major Muslim holiday later this month, calling it a ‘microscopic’ step toward ending a crisis that he said could consume the whole region.

Lakhdar Brahimi told reporters in Beirut on Wednesday that if the government initiates the cease-fire, everyone he has talked to on the rebel side has said they also will observe the truce.

Brahimi’s push to get Assad and rebels seeking to topple him to stop fighting for the four-day Eid al-Adha feast set to begin October 26 reflects how little progress international diplomacy has made in stopping 19 months of deadly violence in Syria.

Unlike his predecessor as joint UN-Arab League envoy, Kofi Annan, Brahimi has said he has no grand plan to solve Syria’s crisis. Instead, he presented the truce as a ‘microscopic’ step that would lessen Syrian sorrow temporarily and could be the basis for a longer truce.

“The Syrian people are burying hundreds of people each day, so if they bury fewer people during the days of the holiday, this could be the start of Syria’s return from the dangerous situation that it has slipped and is continuing to slip toward,” he said.

Even if the rebels and regime agree, both in the past have verbally signed on to ceasefires only to then blatantly disregard them. And before Brahimi spoke, Syria’s government dismissed the plan, saying the rebels lack a unified leadership to sign the truce.

“There is the state, represented by the government and the army on one front, but who is on the other front?” asked an editorial in the Al-Thawra daily.

The scores of rebel units fighting a brutal civil war against the regime have no unified leadership, and many don’t communicate with each other.

Brahimi spoke following meetings with top Lebanese officials as part of a regional tour. He said all countries must work to stop Syria’s civil by halting arms shipments so the conflict doesn’t spread.

“These countries need to realise, as we heard today in Lebanon, that it is not possible that this crisis will stay inside Syrian border forever,” he said.

“Either it has to be taken care of or it will spread and spill over and consume everything.” Rebel leaders were not immediately available for comment on the proposed truce.

QMA’s Be Amusing nominated for award at Cannes


DOHA THE Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) has been nominated for the 2012 Cannes Corporate Media & TV Awards in the short film category for the Best Production of Documentary Film titled Be Amusing, a QMA release said on Wednesday.

This film was produced by Resolution Productions based on the idea and design of Human Capital team at Qatar Museums Authority, as part of the advertising campaign for the Qatar Careers Fair in February 2012 in London.

The documentary illustrates the link between the Authority’s local and international vision, which describes the work environment from the perspective of developing and nurturing employees to achieve the Authority’s aims and vision.

Commenting on the nomination, the Chief Human Capital Officer at QMA Sharoq al Malki said, “This is the first time that any organisation in the GCC has been put forward for such an award.

“It is a great honour for QMA to be nominated and we are extremely hopeful that we will return triumphant with the trophy, so that we once again place both Qatar and QMA at the forefront of the world stage.” Resolution Productions’ Managing Director Kirby Kearns, who produced the film said, “It is very exciting for Resolution Productions to be nominated for this prestigious award for a film we produced for the Qatar Museums Authority.

The nomination is testament to the hard work put into this project by the whole team, especially Craig Chaplin who edited the piece”.

QE wins M-E Exchange of the Year Award again


DOHA FOR the second time in three years Qatar Exchange (QE) has bagged the Exchange of the Year Award for the Middle East from Global Investor magazine. The announcement was made at the Global Investor Summit and Awards, in Doha, on Wednesday.

QE had won this award for the first time in 2010 when the event was held in Dubai.

After receiving the award, QE Chief Executive Officer Rashid bin Ali al Mansoori said the award “recognises our efforts and contributions in developing the capital market and supporting the economy in line with Qatar’s National Vision 2030.” He said going forward, the local bourse remains committed as ever to improving standards and policies in line with the best international practices in order to provide investors with quality services and diversified products.

Each year Global Investor honours the top firms in the capital markets sector from across the MENA region on the basis of nomination by investors. The criteria for voting relate to significant achievements and accomplishments and the winning exchange has to demonstrate that they are making a concerted effort to add to the development of the capital markets in their respective countries.

Pointing out that QE is a sound and stable financial institution that benefits from strong regulation, Mansoori said “We offer different investment opportunities for our investors whether they are Qatari or non-Qatari, retail or foreign.

This award highlights the fact that the Qatar Exchange is a significant player in the regional exchange space.” Later speaking on “GCC Stock Exchange Improvements”, QE Product & Market Development Director Mohsin Mujataba noted that over the course of the past year, QE has enhanced the quality and depth of the market.

Highlighting some of QE’s achievements Mujtaba said the local bourse has been successful in implementing the delivery versus payment (DVP) process in order to enhance the efficiency of the settlement process.

He said the bourse has opened up the market to allow banks to re-enter as brokers, launched an ambitious initiative aiming at allowing investors to have their dividends directly deposited in their bank accounts, listing short term T Bills which will attract the attention of banks, financial institutions as well as investors, and the preparations to launch government bonds.

“QE has also worked to address the liquidity challenges by introducing securities lending and borrowing and liquidity provision schemes. It also launched the Venture Market, which is a junior market dedicated to the SME industry and issued new Indices to offer greater choices to investors,” Mujataba said.

The Qatar Financial Centre Authority has also bagged the Best Financial Centre in the Middle East” Award for the second year running.

Commenting on this prestigious award, Chief Executive Officer of the QFC Authority Shashank Srivastava, said, “We are extremely proud to be recognised as the best financial centre in the Middle East by such a highly regarded industry publication.

Winning this award for a second year in succession is welcome recognition of the progress we are continuing to make in building a world class financial centre and the leading platform to capitalise on the emerging opportunities in the Middle East.

“The award is testimony to the increasing success of our strategy, the strength and attractiveness of our regulatory and business environment and Qatar’s continuing emergence as a centre for Asset Management, Reinsurance and Captive Insurance and financial services more generally.” Srivastava continued: “Credit is very much due to the State of Qatar’s far-sighted National Vision 2030 and its policy of diversification towards a knowledge-based economy, enriching Qatar’s human capital and improving its competitiveness, domestically, regionally and internationally.”

Qatar, Saudi, UAE lead Middle East in FDI


DOHA MOST of the Middle East’s foreign direct investment (FDI) by number of projects, their value and jobs created in the last decade went to the GCC, led by the ‘trio’ of Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar, an Ernst and Young analysis has found.

The region has seen the number of annual FDI projects rise from 362 in 2003 to a peak of 1,070 in 2008. Project numbers fell in 2009 and 2010 as the global and regional economies took a step backwards but recovered again in 2011 with an increase of 8 percent to 928.

The value of the investments in 2011 remained low compared to 2008 but again showed a modest recovery on 2010. Initial findings for the first six months of 2012 demonstrated a similar picture with investment project numbers and value flat or below that of the comparable period in 2011.

Despite the size of the projects declining as investors take a more cautious approach to large-scale projects given the recent political challenges, the region still has many positives as the long-term investment outlook from executives confirmed.

Launched to coincide with the Growing Beyond Summit 2012, held in Doha, Ernst and Young’s inaugural Middle East Attractiveness Survey is a detailed analysis of how FDI into the region has evolved in the last decade.

The report combines annual FDI analysis since 2003 with a survey of 355 global and regional executives on their views about how and where investment across the Middle East will take place in the next decade.

“The Middle East has many of the qualities that companies look for in an FDI destination: solid investment fundamentals, strong demographic trends and vast natural resources,” Jay Nibbe, Ernst and Young Markets Area Managing Partner for Europe, Middle East, India and Africa (Emeia) said.

Since 2003, the majority of investment in the Middle East - 79 percent of FDI projects, 62 percent by value and 65 percent of jobs created - has gone to the GCC countries of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE. The bulk of this has gone to the GCC ‘trio’ of UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, with Egypt the highest placed non-GCC country with 16 percent of investments by value.

Phil Gandier, Ernst and Young’s Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Transaction Advisory Services managing partner said that the ‘trio’ GCC members have managed to occupy a positive space in the minds of investors and attract a large portion of actual FDI.

“International investors see bigger internal markets, more accessible customers, a stable political environment, and better transport and logistics infrastructure as some of the most attractive features of these economies”, he said.

Saudi Arabia was the big regional winner in 2011 with 161 investments worth $14.7 billion establishing the kingdom as the largest recipient of FDI by value. Other markets that outperformed the previous year in 2011 included Bahrain, Iraq and Oman.

Although western Europe and North America have historically brought the most projects by number to the Middle East, with 59 percent of the total between 2003 and 2011, investment by value has become concentrated on intraregional investment.

Initial analysis of the 2012 data shows the number of projects originating from Middle East investors exceeding that from western markets for the first time. “This highlights the ongoing trend of intra-regional investment in the Middle East which has gained significant momentum in recent years. There is growing optimism among Middle Eastern companies in terms of tapping into the potential of their own region,” Gandier said. Though US, the UK and France were still amongst the top five investors in 2011 with 180, 100 and 61 projects respectively, India was also in the top five with 76 projects, an increase of 12 percent from last year.

Early data from 2012 suggests that the GCC ‘trio’ again attracted the most investment projects with UAE leading Saudi Arabia in terms of project numbers and value. There was also a welcome return of investment into Egypt.

Despite traditionally being seen as a region famous for its vast natural resources, GCC countries have used the surplus cash to diversify into other sectors. The first half of 2012 continued to see increased diversity in the sectors attracting FDI in the Middle East.

Retail and consumer products attracted over 20 percent of projects in the first half of 2012 and - along with business services, real estate, hospitality and construction - became a top choice for investors. The retail sector is capitalising on the region’s rich and expanding consumer base.

Real estate has seen a revival in 2012 and attracted the most capital investment. Most regional governments are recognising their citizen’s social infrastructure needs. In addition to massive outlays to respond to this, and the announcement of ambitious projects like the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the prospect for the infrastructure sector seems promising.

The business services sector is also becoming increasingly popular among investors and ranked second in terms of projects (16 percent of the total) and third in terms of value. This sector draws strength from the presence of free trade zones.

The perceptions of those already doing business in the M-E are vastly different to those who are not in the region. Forty percent of those who are not in the region highlighted the current political environment as the key area of improvement needed, however, this dropped to 25 percent for those who are already there. Those already present highlight education and skills development (27 percent) as a priority followed by the need for increasing political stability, investing in major infrastructure and urban projects (24 percent) and support in high-tech industries and innovation (22 percent).

“The responses to our survey make it clear that there is a lack of awareness amongst investors who are not doing business in the region.

Respondents who are already doing business in the region are well aware of the diversification drive, political environment, and education and labour challenges,” said Gandier. Unsurprisingly, a quarter of investors think that the energy sector will be the main driver of FDI growth in the M-E in the next two years.

I hope Kareena keeps working: Shahid Kapoor


SHAHID Kapoor is happy for his ex-girlfriend Kareena Kapoor, who married Saif Ali Khan on Tuesday, and hopes that she doesn’t quit acting after marriage.

“Marriage is a big decision and it’s a big occasion. I wish them a very happy married life. I hope they are happy together. I hope Kareena keeps working as she is one of the finest actresses we have,” Shahid told reporters on Tuesday when asked what would he like to say on Kareena’s wedding to Saif.

“I know Babita aunty and Randhir (Kapoor) uncle for quite a while,” added the actor.

Shahid was speaking at Pioneer India Electronics event. He unveiled their new range of smart receivers and powerful speakers.

Kareena-Saif’s wedding has been a hushhush affair, but Shahid, who hasn’t planned anything about his marriage, says he will not hide anything.

“I haven’t decided about my marriage. You guys will make me find a girl and fall in love.

But whenever I will get married, I will not be hiding it and doing it in a corner. Media will be welcomed,” he said.

When asked was he invited for Kareena’s wedding, he said: “What do I say on this? Let’s stick to Pioneer.” Any tips on how to handle link ups and break ups? “What can I say on break ups and link ups.

Love is beautiful but everything should not be taken seriously and one important thing is that there are many aspects in life,” he said.

SRK wishes Saifeena ‘happiest marriage bond


SUPERSTAR Shah Rukh Khan has wished good health and happiness for his friends Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor, who became husband and wife following a registered marriage on Tuesday.

“Happiest marriage bond to my friends Saif and Kareena.

May Allah keep your family healthy and happy. Just saw it is registered, sealed and delivered,” tweeted Shah Rukh, who shared a roaring chemistry with Saif in Kal Ho Naa Ho and teamed up with Kareena for RA.One.

Saif and Kareena -- the couple is also called Saifeena -- held the marriage ceremony at the former’s Bandra home in the presence of their close family members

Saif, Kareena husband and wife, finally


ACTOR Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor completed the formalities of a registered marriage on Tuesday afternoon and became husband and wife.

The marriage took place at Saif’s Bandra home.

While Kareena’s mother Babita and father Randhir Kapoor signed as witnesses from the bride’s side, Saif’s mother and veteran actress Sharmila Tagore signed as a witness from the groom’s side.

For her D-day Kareena, 32, wore a green punjabi suit, while 42-year-old Saif chose to dress up in a grey kurta-pyjama.

Also present at the wedding was Kareena’s sister Karisma and cousin Ranbir Kapoor. Both were dressed in white.

Saif and Kareena dated each for five years before getting married.

The marriage itself was a very private affair.

The couple featured together in films like Tashan, Kurbaan and Agent Vinod.

Stewart, Pattinson back together


KRISTEN Stewart and Robert Pattison were photographed together for the first time since news of the former’s affair with married director Rupert Sanders surfaced in July.

The two were spotted together on Sunday night at the Ye Rustic Inn in the Los Feliz neighbourhood of Los Angeles, hanging out with a large group of friends for several hours inside the bar, reports Entertainment Tonight and it has also published a footage of them together on its website.

In the video, the pair are seen saying goodbyes outside bar before heading out together in the back of a friend’s car at approximately 1:30 am.

According to Sources, the two were in good spirits and even “cozied up to each other”. Onlookers said there was no sign of tension between them at all, as they laughed, joked and enjoyed their drinks.

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler to host next year’s Golden Globe awards


COMIC actresses Tina Fey and Amy Poehler will host next year’s Golden Globe awards in Beverly Hills, organisers said on Monday.

The decision, announced by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) on its official Twitter account, means acerbic Briton Ricky Gervais will not be returning for a fourth time to skewer Hollywood’s leading film and TV stars at the annual ceremony.

Fey, 42, creator and star of 30 Rock, and her former Saturday Night Live collaborator Poehler, 41, will host the gala dinner and ceremony on January 13, 2013, the HFPA said.

Gervais hosted the event, which hands out awards to the best films, actors and TV shows of the previous year, for three years, attracting plenty of publicity along with criticism for his acid one-liners about the assembled celebrities.

The British creator of the TV series The Office was the first person to host the Golden Globes ceremony since 1995.

In the interim, the live, televised show went without a formal host and used presenters to introduce the various awards.

The Golden Globes is one of Hollywood’s key award ceremonies ahead of the Oscars, which take place next year on February 24 and will be hosted by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane.

A sentimental and glorious homecoming for Streisand



I’VE come home at last!” Those words sung by Barbra Streisand from the Sunset Boulevard showstopper, As If We Never Said Goodbye, elicited a roar of welcome from the sold-out crowd at the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn on Thursday evening.

Streisand’s return to her roots for two concerts (the second on Saturday night) was a sentimental homecoming and a royal act of noblesse oblige in which a showbusiness monarch regaled the adoring subjects of her native province in a concert that was steeped in Brooklyn lore. With lyrics revised to mention Brooklyn docks and nova lox and knishes, the songs conveyed a message that was reiterated again and again: deep inside, I’m just a commoner like you. As she bonded with her flock, her Brooklyn accent seemed more pronounced than ever.

Streisand is 70, and her voice is still singularly compelling, although not in prime condition. As it has lowered and acquired an occasionally husky edge, her high notes have disappeared. Even the upper register of People challenged her. The days are long gone when Streisand projected the fearless bravado of a vocal prodigy skipping along a tightrope. The Streisand of 2012 is a vulnerable if imperial semi-operatic diva who carefully conserves her power.

In spirit, the concert, during which she was supported by a 60- member plus orchestra conducted by Bill Ross, was a family and neighbourhood affair that included a short film, shot some years ago, in which assorted Brooklynites who knew Streisand back when reminisced.

Cole Porter’s You’re the Top, was outfitted with new lyrics to be a celebration of all things Brooklyn.

Who knew that Jason Gould, her 45-year-old son, was a polished crooner who could comport himself comfortably in an arena? His home movie of photographs of the two of them from his infancy into adulthood preceded his performance of This Masquerade (reminiscent of George Benson’s late ‘70s recording) and a touching mother-son duet of How Deep Is the Ocean? One of the evening’s most glorious moments joined Irving Berlin’s What’ll I Do? and Rodgers and Hart’s My Funny Valentine, in a duet by Streisand with her special guest, the pop-jazz trumpeter Chris Botti. His silvery tone and trailing phrases combined with the orchestra infused both songs with an aching film-noir melancholy.

Botti was also involved in two of the evening’s low points, an empty, pyrotechnic showpiece for trumpet and drums based on When I Fall in Love and a soupy trumpet and violin duet with Caroline Campbell.

Also on hand was the Italian teenage trio Il Volo, which has been called a cross between the Jonas Brothers and the Three Tenors and which delivered a polished, impassioned O Sole Mio.

Other memorable moments were segments celebrating Streisand’s professional relationships with Marvin Hamlisch and Jule Styne.

Her rendition of The Way We Were, sung with Hamlisch’s original orchestration was, in a word, exquisite. The Styne portion led off with Being Good Isn’t Good Enough, from the 1967 musical Hallelujah, Baby! that led to a fragmentary medley of songs from Gypsy, delivered with an appropriate ferocity.

Being Good Isn’t Good Enough is the sensational first cut on Streisand’s newest album, Release Me (Columbia), a collection of outtakes from her recordings going back to the 1960s. Originally chosen to open her 1985 Broadway Album, it was replaced by Stephen Sondheim’s Putting It Together, in retrospect not a good choice.

Another high point of Release Me is the Jimmy Webb torch song Didn’t We, which she also performed with intense feeling. A bare voice-and-piano version of Randy Newman’s I Think It’s Going to Rain Today, recorded in 1970 with the composer at the piano, anticipates the strippeddown sound of her 2009 album, Love Is the Answer. The most recent outtake is If It’s Meant to Be, by Brian Byrne and Alan and Marilyn Bergman, recorded for Streisand’s last studio album, What Matters Most. The Bergmans, who are also Brooklyn born, were exalted in a suite whose high point was The Way He Makes Me Feel, from Yentl.

Late in the show, Streisand tackled Here’s to Life, that autumnal summing-up and looking-back ballad that has become the de rigueur anthem for singers over 60. Hearing Streisand sing the lyrics I had my share, I drank my fill / And even though I’m satisfied, I’m hungry still, I connected them to one of her earliest recordings, Much More, from The Fantasticks, in which an innocent girl dreams of going to town in golden gown. Streisand went there, was crowned queen, and drank more than her fill.

Appetite, yearning, curiosity – whatever you call it – is a quality embedded in Streisand’s voice.

Like few singers of any age, she has the gift of conveying a primal human longing in a beautiful sound. She is hungry still.

Russia beats Azerbaijan to keep record perfect


MOSCOW RUSSIA continued its perfect start to qualification for the 2014 World Cup, extending its winning streak to four matches with a hard-fought 1- 0 win over visiting Azerbaijan on Tuesday.

A late goal by Zenit midfielder Roman Shirokov allowed Fabio Capello’s Russia to maintain its 100 percent record in Group F, as it moved onto 12 points to stay top of the table, six points ahead of second-placed Portugal, who play Northern Ireland later on Tuesday.

“I warned my players that it would be a very uneasy clash as Azerbaijan are a very wellorganised team since (Berti) Vogts took them over,” Russia manager Fabio Capello said.

The Italian added: “And it was a hard match as the Azeri squad performed very solid play in defence. We missed a hatful of chances but managed to achieve the desired result and it’s the main thing about this match.” Azerbaijan started in lively fashion and created the game’s first scoring chance in the fourth minute, when full back Sergei Ignashevich’s last-ditch block denied Ali Gokdemir’s close-range attempt.

Russia, following up Friday’s 1-0 win over Portugal, replied positively, pinning Azerbaijan back and threatening on a series of occasions only to be undone by their inaccuracy in front of Kamran Agayev’s goal.

Alexander Kokorin came close to putting the hosts in front on 25 minutes but his uncontested shot from the edge of the box went just inches wide of Agayev’s righthand post.

Kokorin’s strike partner Alexander Kerzhakov was then denied by the frame of the goal on the half-hour mark as his strike from just inside the area rebounded off the woodwork.

Midfielder Dmitry Kombarov and skipper Igor Denisov also squandered opportunities for the home side prior to the break.

Russia continued to dominate play after the interval on the synthetic surface at Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium, keeping Azerbaijan under constant pressure but the visitors defended confidently, restricting Capello’s side to speculative long-range efforts.

Russia appeared bereft of ideas as they looked to be running out of gas around the hour mark with passes going astray and their play growing increasingly erratic.

Shirokov then had a pointblank effort kept out by the legs of Agayev on 73 minutes, but the Zenit player made amends six minutes from time as he slotted home the winner from the penalty spot after defender Gokdemir had brought down substitute midfielder Vladimir Bystrov to spare Russia’s blushes.

“I’d like to congratulate Russia with a deserved win,” said Vogts, Azerbaijan’s German manager.

“They looked more fresh and powerful than our team and they performed a classy attacking-style football.” “I’m pleased with my team’s performance today even though we failed both to keep the scores level and to fulfil our main goal and score here in Moscow.”

Nadal targets Australian Open return in January


KNEE injury victim Rafael Nadal has said he plans to return to tennis at the Australian Open in January, less than three months away.

The former world number one, who has not played in almost four months since losing a Wimbledon secondround match, told CNN International said that his recovery is going well, though slowly.

But he admitted that it was no longer possible for him to try to take back the number one ranking this season.

Instead he is focussing on being ready when the Australia Open begins on January 14.

“I was hoping to regain the number one spot in 2012.

Now, I’m happy to return at the Australian Open and be 100 per cent competitive,” said the fourth-ranked Spaniard. He is unable to train hard enough to be ready for Spain’s Davis Cup finals date on November 16-18 in Prague against the Czech Republic, he added.

“Everything is possible, but it is unlikely too,” he said. “I don’t know if I will or I won’t, I need to work with much less intensity than required for the Masters Cup (November ATP season-ending event) or the final of the Davis Cup.” Juan Del Potro is optimistic about his chances to qualify for the year-end World Tour Finals next month as the top seed prepared on Tuesday to begin his autumn indoor campaign at the Austrian Open.

The Argentine stands provisional seventh in a season points chase which has three more weeks to run before the start of the eight-man event on November 5 in London.

He begins at the Stadehalle against the winner from a pair of qualifiers, German Daniel Brands or Belgian Ruben Bemelmans.

Three London spots are open, but the likely injury absence of Rafael Nadal could mean that four more players have a chance to reach the field. Del Potro wants to be one of them.

“I’m very exited about trying to qualify, I need to do well here and at my next event (Basle) in order to have a chance though,” the Argentine said as he continued training at the tournament where he lost the final a year ago to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

“I have to play consistently this week, it would be great to win the title here for the first time. That would help my chances,” said the 24-yearold, who is competing for the first time in a month after dealing with a left wrist injury.

“I followed my rehab programme in Buenos Aires and did it well,” said the 2009 US Open winner who then missed most of the next season with a right wrist problem which required surgery. “I was working with both my doctor and my physio.

“Right now I’m feeling fit and healthy,” said Del Potro, winner of two trophies in 2012, including indoors in Marseille. “I’m hoping for my first title here on my third try.” Del Potro trails Czech Tomas Berdych, provisional sixth in the race to London and heading Tsonga plus Vienna second seed Janko Tipsarevic.

Trentino edges Cruzeiro; Rayyan wins last match


DEFENDING champion Trentino Diatec held off Sada Cruzeiro Volei in a marathon five-setter and topped the group A of the FIVB World Clubs Men’s Volleyball Championship on Tuesday. At the Women’s Sports Hall in Aspire, the Italian giant downed the Brazilian outfit by 25-23 24-26 26-24 19-25 21-19 in two hours and four minutes.

Host Al Rayyan Club salvaged its pride by thrashing Tigres de Nuevo Leon of Mexico in straight sets. In their last pool A match, the local side, playing its first championship, needed just 61 minutes to win by 25-13 25-17 25-18. With this win, Rayyan finished third and Tigres took the bottom place in the fourteam pool.

Mikko Oivanen and David Lee won the bulk of the Rayyan’s points. Oivanen accounted for 10 and Lee chipped in with eight. Local lad Waleed Mubarak Dahi was fielded late into the match and he impressed with seven points. The 202-cm player rifled the match-winning smash after Rodrigo Santana blocked to set up the match point.

Both three-time-in-a-row winner Trentino and Cruzeiro having two wins in as many matches under their belt, however this match was crucial for the European outfit to regain its rhythm and touch before the tough semi-finals.

And the way it was rattled by Cruzeiro especially in the fourth set, the victory of Trentino was looking anything but a reality.

But the three times CEV Champions League winner Trentino just about managed to smoothen out the rough edges in the decider, in which both looked a bit jittery and there were 11 service faults, besides unforced errors.

Earlier it was Trentino which forged 3-1 ahead. Cruzeiro then led from 6-6 onwards to 12-12. Trentino wrested the initiative but Cruzeiro turned back the heat from 13-13 and gained the first match point with Douglas Cordeiro blocking Osmany Juantorena.

Marcos Leal Acacio served into the net and Trentino escaped. Juantorena made amends and helped team get the match point with a smash.

Trentino netted its service and let the Brazil team off the hook. It was Cruzeiro’s turn to set up another match point through Wallace de Souza’s brilliant spike. Cruzeiro however could not pull off the needed point and this dramatic preceedings kept happening till 18-18.

Matteo provided a pulsating finish as he foiled Wallace at the net, sparking a wave of joy in the team and among a small band of dedicated fans.

Trentino captain Matey Kaziyski said, “It was a great match for us not because because we fought well till the end and won it in five sets. But we got the taste of the tough matches that are going to follow this week.” Bulgarian coach Radostin Stoytchev of Trentino, who has been in the similar situations a plenty of time, commented: “We’re highly satisfied with the tough way Trentino played. This is the strongest team from Brazil and my players showed their toughness and won the match to top the pool.” “For us the most important things is the final. I just hope that my team maintains this high level performance till our aim of retaining the title is achieved,” added Stoytchev.

Rabita qualifies for semis Holder Rabita Baku overcame Bohai Bank Tianjin from China by 25-20 25-22 18-25 25-21 to qualify for the semifinals of the women’s event.

The four-set win in one hour and 45 minutes was the first one for the Azerbaijan team in the pool, while the Asian champion lost both its matches and went out of the race for the last four stage.

The group was topped by Sollys Nestle from Brazil. The other pool will be decided on Wednesday and the top two teams from each pool will get a chance to play for the two berths of the final.

Qatar suffers home defeat to Uzbekistan


QATAR’S chances of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil suffered a setback after Uzbekistan recorded a muchneeded 1-0 win in the final round of qualifiers with Sanjar Tursonov’s superb first-half goal on Tuesday.

The 25-year old Tursunov struck after 13 minutes at the Al Sadd Stadium as Uzbekistan followed up backto- back draws against Lebanon and Korea Republic to lift themselves off the bottom of Group B
The home team struggled to crack a disciplined Uzbekistan side and suffered its second defeat of the final round campaign. It leaves Paulo Autuori’s side with four points from four games at the halfway mark in the campaign.

Speaking after an impressive victory, Mirdjalal Kasimov said, “It was good to get three important points and we must carry on with the same performance until the end of the qualifiers. We have now five points and we need to keep up the rhythm.” “I thank the players for their work and for fighting for this win especially under today’s weather conditions.

We took advantage of the chance that we had and won the match,” Kasimov said.

Kasimov thanked the Uzbekistan fans who cheered every move the players made in the match.

The visitors took the lead in spectacular fashion after 13 minutes when Tursunov met Akmal Shorakhmedov’s cross close to the penalty spot and the Russia-based midfielder swivelled and dispatched a first time volley into the bottom corner to beat Qasem Burhan.

Qatar’s best effort in the first half folied when Uzbek goalkeeper Ignatiy Nesterov was called into action to push away Lawrence Quaye’s longrange strike shot in the 15th minute, as the home side looked for an instant response after being made to pay for failing to turn their positive start into a breakthrough.

The goal brought Uzbekistan more life into the match as the game progressed and the Uzbeks came close to adding another as a neatly dispatched free-kick from captain Server Djeparov was deflected wide by Qatar striker Sebastian Soria with the ball spearing towards the far corner.

Wesam Rizik almost equalised for the host in the 45th minute, as the flicked header seemed destined for the top corner of the Uzbek net until goalkeeper Nesterov clawed the ball to safety.

Coach Autuori introduced Hamid Ismaeil and Hasan Al Haydos at half-time but for the sharp reflexes from Burhan that stopped Qatar from conceding an own at the start of the second half as a deflected cross from Shorakhmedov threatened to sneak inside the near post.

Qatar desperately pushed for a late equaliser but was unable to create any meaningful threat to the Uzbek defence line.

The Brazilian consoled himself by urging his players to forget the loss and look forward to its next match. “We have to forget today’s score and look ahead to our next match in November and work on improving our game.” “We still have a long road and I take responsibility for today’s loss and I told my players in the dressing room,” Autouri added.

It was an impressive turnout as 11, 270 spectators were seated at the 15,000 capacity stadium.

Qatar’s next match is at home to Lebanon in November.

Qatar- Japan trade up at $31bn in 2011: Seetharaman



BILATERAL trade between Japan and Qatar has increased from close to $18 billion in 2009 to $31 billion in 2011 mainly on account of increase in exports from Qatar Seetharaman, Doha Bank CEO R Seetharaman said while speaking on the topic ‘Changing Global Dynamics and Opportunities for Japan in GCC Countries’ in Tokyo on October 15.

Elaborating upon the recent major deals between Qatar and Japan, Seetharaman said, “Japanese utility Kansai Electric Power Company (KEPCO) had signed a contract with the world’s top LNG producer Qatar gas to buy 500,000 tonnes per year (tpa) of liquefied natural gas (LNG) for 15 years from January 2013. Tokyo Electric Power has signed a new contract with Qatargas to purchase 1 million tonnes per year of LNG from August 2012.

“There are more than 30 Japanese companies in Qatar such as Itochu and Nissho Iwai.

Qatargas announced in September, 2012 that it would supply Japan with 11 million tonnes more of LNG in the short term, in addition to 9 million tonnes announced last autumn.” Addressing top Japanese and Arab bankers, economists and business professionals on the occasion, Seetharaman said, “Global economy is expected to grow at 3.3 percent in 2012. Advanced economies are expected to grow at 1.3 percent for 2012. US economy is expected grow at 2.2 percent for 2012. Eurozone is expected to contract by 0.4 percent for 2012.”

Vikram Pandit resigns as Citigroup CEO



CITIGROUP Chief Executive Vikram Pandit resigned abruptly on Tuesday, effective immediately, a shock change at the top of the bank just one day after a surprisingly strong quarterly earnings report.

A statement from Chairman Michael O’Neill said Michael Corbat, previously chief executive for Europe, Middle East and Africa, would succeed Pandit as CEO and as a board member.

Within minutes of the bank’s announcement, Pandit’s name was gone from Citigroup’s website.

Chief Operating Officer John Havens, a long-time associate of Pandit, also resigned.

Citigroup’s stock tumbled 2.5 percent in premarket trading following news of Pandit’s departure, but later the shares were up 20 cents to $36.86 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Investors questioned why Pandit would leave now after keeping the bank afloat during the financial crisis and getting it back on a firmer footing.

“I would have expected he wanted to stay around and see some of the fruits of his labors there,” said Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer of Oakbrook Investments LLC in Lisle, Illinois.

Pandit’s resignation comes after a series of high-profile defeats this year. In March the Federal Reserve rejected the bank’s capital plans after a stress test; Pandit had led analysts and investors to believe the dividend-raising plans would be approved.

Last month, Pandit agreed to a low sale price for his bank’s stake in the brokerage operated by Morgan Stanley.

Citigroup had to take a $4.7 billion charge in the third quarter to write down the value of that stake.

Citigroup shares rose sharply on Monday after the bank reported third-quarter results that were much better than analysts expected.

The one-two punch of the results and then Pandit’s exit point to what analysts say has been a years-long unsettled atmosphere around the bank.

“What Pandit and Havens did was increase the uncertainty around Citi,” said Matt McCormick, banking analyst and portfolio manager at Bahl & Gaynor in Cincinnati, Ohio.

“There’s a perpetual cloud of uncertainty surrounding Citigroup. There’s always turmoil ... that’s had to affect the stock price.” Pandit’s resignation revived questions that were asked from the day he took the job: whether he had the right experience to lead Citigroup in the first place.

Born in Nagpur, India, the 55-year-old Pandit obtained two electrical engineering degrees and a doctorate in finance from Columbia University. He joined Citigroup in July 2007 when the bank acquired his hedge fund and private equity firm, Old Lane Partners, for $800 million. Citigroup had to shut down Old Lane the next summer, an early black mark for the executive.

Critics later charged that Pandit was too timid, perhaps even too academic, to run a big consumer bank.

“He was not beloved by Wall Street. He was thrust into that position - he’s a hedge fund guy,” McCormick said.

His successor, Corbat, has held a number of senior roles at Citigroup, including running Citi Holdings, the unit established to house businesses and assets the company wants to shed.

A fixed income salesman by training, Corbat started out at Solomon Brothers in 1983.

More recently, he has been credited with successfully restructuring some of Citigroup’s consumer and credit card units.

Zain Saudi’s Q3 loss widens to $131mn



TELECOMS operator Zain Saudi said its third-quarter net loss widened, citing a move in call traffic from international to national calls, and added it was in advanced talks to refinance a loan worth 9 billion riyals ($2.4 billion).

Saudi Arabia’s No 3 mobile company, an affiliate of Kuwait’s Zain, made a net loss of 493 million riyals ($131 million) in the three months to September 30.

This compares with a net loss of 484 million riyals in the year-earlier period.

In a bourse statement, the company said “the principal reason for the increase in the net loss...has been the rebalancing of significant volumes of traffic from international to national destinations.” Quarterly gross profit was 712 million riyals, down from 870 million riyals a year ago.

The company said its quarterly loss from operations widened by nearly 40 percent to 305 million riyals over last year.

Zain Saudi has struggled under mounting losses and multi-billion dollar debts.

The operator’s share of the kingdom’s mobile subscribers fell four percentage points to 12 percent in 2011, according to Zain’s annual report, leaving it a distant third to Saudi Telecom Co and Etihad Etisalat (Mobily).

Zain said in its bourse statement that its liabilities exceed its current assets.

In September, Zain Saudi extended the maturity of a 9.75 billion riyals facility by two months to allow for refinancing talks to take place, having already received one extension. It added it repaid 750 million riyals of the facility in August, leaving 9 billion to be addressed.

In Tuesday’s statement, Zain Saudi said it was in “very advanced negotiations” with a syndicate of banks to refinance the loan, with signing “most likely” in the fourth quarter.

Parent firm Zain increased its stake in Zain Saudi to 37 percent from 25 percent after underwriting the affiliate’s capital restructuring.

Etihad may take stake in Indian carrier



ETIHAD has been approached by all Indian carriers about the possibility of buying a stake, the Gulf carrier’s chief executive said on Tuesday.

James Hogan said that Etihad was still evaluating the impact of the new Foreign Direct Investment laws.

India opened up its airline industry to foreign investment last month.

Asked if Etihad would be looking for minority stakes, he said: “Everything we do will be minority stakes.

What we don’t want to do is to take control.” He also said that Etihad would consider buying the Irish government’s 25 percent stake in Aer Lingus but so far has not been approached with an offer.

“If the Irish government approached us to look at the stake, then we would do so. But they have still not approached us,” Hogan said on the sidelines of a conference in Abu Dhabi.

He declined to comment on Ryanair’s bid to take over Aer Lingus, or on whether Etihad would sell its current 3 percent stake in Aer Lingus.

Etihad has been on an aggressive expansion drive and has taken minority stakes in Aer Lingus, Air Berlin and Virgin Australia.

Hogan said earlier this year that Etihad would look at India and Asian markets for new opportunities.

He added that the carrier had no interest in Portugal’s TAP, which is up for sale. “We are codeshare partners with TAP.

However strategically, we do not see any value in investing in TAP.” Gulf carriers have entered a series of codeshares and alliances this year, as they look to expand their networks. Qatar Airways became the first major Gulf carrier to join the oneworld alliance earlier this month; Etihad has signed a codeshare deal with Air France-KLM, a move that some analysts expected would result in the carrier becoming part of the SkyTeam alliance.

However, Hogan denied any such plans.

No approach from Iraq on West Qurna-1: Lukoil



LUKOIL said on Tuesday that Iraq has not asked the Russian company to replace Exxon Mobil at its supergiant West Qurna-1 oilfield after the US major angered Baghdad by entering into autonomous Kurdistan.

Nefte Compass, a weekly energy newsletter about former Soviet states and Eastern Europe, said last week that Iraq was weighing whether to replace Exxon with Russia’s Lukoil and Gazprom Neft - both already involved in the country.

“No one has offered us West Qurna-1,” Lukoil Vice President Leonid Fedun told Reuters.

“We respect Exxon and the Iraqi government a lot. But we are simply lacking the financial resources to take on such large projects at the moment.” The northern Kurdish region has riled Baghdad by signing deals with foreign oil companies such as Exxon, Gazprom Neft, Total and Chevron - contracts the central government rejects as illegal.

Lukoil, Russia’s secondlargest crude producer, is already running a mega-project to develop Iraq’s supergiant West Qurna-2, which adjoins West Qurna-1 in the south. It holds a 75 percent stake in the project after buying out junior partner Statoil in June.

Chief Executive Vagit Alekperov said Lukoil was in no rush to find a new partner.

“We have interested parties from the Gulf and from China,” he told investors. “But we don’t feel pressed to sell a share in the project.” Alekperov said 23 wells would be drilled at the oilfield by the end of 2013. Lukoil is targeting an internal rate of return of 15 percent versus earlier expectations of 13 to 15 percent.

While Lukoil may be too stretched to tap West Qurna- 1, where Royal Dutch Shell has a minority stake, sources told Reuters Russia’s top oil company Rosneft may team up with Exxon in Iraq after the two struck a pact to tap oil and gas in the Arctic and North America.

Rosneft has declined to comment.

QMIC, SCH join hands to monitor air quality


DOHA THE Qatar Mobility Innovations Center (QMIC) at the Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP) on Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Supreme Council of Health (SCH) on pilot programme for QMIC’s innovative air quality monitoring system ‘Hawa’ak’.

Hawa ák is a wireless air quality monitoring solution developed by QMIC to deliver real-time information through diverse channels.

The pilot programme under the agreement includes the deployment of multiple innovative air quality monitoring stations capable of detecting various pollutants and dust particles in the air.

The agreement was signed by Director of Public Health at the SCH Dr Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad al Thani and Executive Director of QMIC Dr Adnan Abu Dayya.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Thani said the SCH would use Hawa’ak to monitor air quality around the country.

He said the SCH was keen on monitoring the air in order to create a rich bank of information on air quality.

“This device will allow us to assess the impact of air quality on human heath and help us to prevent occurrence of diseases caused by pollution. The SCH encourages the development of local talent and building local technical capacity in this area. We are eager to work with QMIC and use a locally-built solution customised for Qatar to proactively monitor air quality to allow us to take preventive actions”.

On his part, Dr Abu Dayya said, “We are privileged to work with SCH and deploy our leading Hawa’ak applications and demonstrate the value of real-time air quality monitoring. This partnership will help raise awareness about the importance of air quality monitoring. We look forward to working with SCH and other national organisations to improve the air quality for Qatar residents”.

He pointed out that the QMIC would use Hawa’ak to create an integrated and rich air quality monitoring system suitable for deployment in Qatar and the region.

Through Hawa’ak, people can get to know a particular location or certain area on the air quality whether it is healthy, fair, poor or very poor.

Hawa’ak is a rich and flexible platform that uses a new generation of mobile air quality monitoring stations at lower cost and provides coverage to air-quality monitoring and environmental conditions.

The data collected by the Hawa’ak monitoring stations is transmitted via GPRS and processed by QMIC’s Intelligent Sensing and M2M Services Platform Labeeb.

Labeeb transforms the raw air quality data to useful air quality information and store data for further analysis and research.

Hawa’ak then delivers the personalised and relevant air quality information to users through innovative applications using multiple delivery channels including mobile applications, web portals, SMS, and voice interaction.

GenNow not shying away from literature: Pakistani scholar


DOHA PAKISTAN’S noted scholar Professor Nasim Shahid does not subscribe to the common belief that present-day students have little interest in literature.

“It is wrong to suggest that students today shy away from reading books. I disagree with the general notion that they are less inclined towards the study of literature,” said Shahid in an interview with Qatar Tribune.

A well-known poet, writer, critic and columnist, Shahid was in Doha recently on the invitation of Ehsaas, a sociocultural organisation of expatriate Pakistanis, to give a talk at an inter-school debate. His column “Unkahi” has been appearing in the Daily Pakistan since 2000. He noted that contrary to the common notion the number of literary books produced by young writers is increasing by the day. “The amount of literature produced by young writers clearly shows their love for Urdu literature,” remarked Shahid, who is head of the Urdu Department, Government Emerson College, Multan.

Shahid has a large fan following on internet. Shahid, who is author of many well-acclaimed books, pointed out that lack of recognition was the main factor that discouraged the writers to produce their work. “Selection criteria for national awards needs to be changed,” remarked Shahid citing the examples of literary stalwarts like A B Ashraf who taught at Ankara University but his services were never acknowledged at the highest level as well as Aslam Ansari, who was only honoured after his death.

Shahid stressed that a committee of experts should select award winners and quota system must be abolished as it deprived many deserving candidates of the honour.

Underlying the importance of literature in students’ life, Shahid said through reading and reacting to literature, students can learn to see their situations more objectively as they tend to see things in black and white. Literature helps the person to put aside feelings of hostility and inhibits the habit of acting impulsively. He noted that there was dearth of talent among the Pakistani youth, be it literature or any other field.

“They just need a platform to unravel their hidden talent,” said Shahid. Terming his visit to Qatar highly successful and memorable, Shahid said, “I am returning home with sweet memories of Qatar where I made scores of friends in a few days’ time.”

Masraf Al Rayan opens new branch at QOC Tower


DOHA MASRAF Al Rayyan opened its new branch at Qatar Olympic Committee Tower (QOC) in Doha on Tuesday.

With the opening of this branch, Masraf Al Rayan (MAR) now operates a total of 12 branches in the country supported by ATM network, mobile phone and internet banking services.

The new branch offers a wide array of banking services and products. Apart from new account opening services and information, it also offers facilities like deposits, mortgage loans – personal and for vehicle—, ATM services, debit and credit cards and facility for money transfer. It also provides services on deposits and withdrawals through the ATM machine at the new QOC branch.

Zakaria Glaoui, head of retail banking at MAR, said, “The expansion of the branch network is part of our objective to ensure that our customers have easy access to our growing portfolio of products and services. We are confident that our widespread branch network across the country, along with our product strategy, strongly positions us to lead innovation and further sophistication of Islamic banking in Qatar and beyond, thus reinforcing our strong growth and financial performance.”

Qtel makes Passport service permanent


DOHA QATAR Telecom (Qtel) has made Qtel Passport, one of its successful roaming services, a permanent one. The major telecom service provider announced this on Tuesday.

The Qtel Passport promotional, which was launched in July, provides 100 roaming minutes for all calls and 1GB of roaming data just for QR100. Thousands of customers have availed the service since its launch with 60 mobile networks in 35 countries. The service has proven to be useful for customers travelling within Middle East, Europe and the US.

Customers who travel to Saudi Arabia for the hajj will be able to use the Passport service as it’s available on all networks in the country.

Qtel expects the service to grow with the upcoming Eid holidays in October. The company also continues to provide the service on networks throughout Middle East, Asia, Europe and the US.

Qtel Passport has a validity of seven days which can be renewed for unlimited period. Both pre-paid Hala and post-paid Shahry customers can subscribe to the service by sending an SMS or calling Qtel’s call centre.

Shahry customers can activate their Qtel Passport service by typing ‘QP’ as a SMS to 114 while Hala customers can send the same message to 121. Hala customers must have a minimum of QR100 credit balance to use the service.

Customers who use up the allowance provided by the service within the seven-day period will be charged QR1 per 1MB or QR1 per minute until its expiration.

Japan’s folk culture to come alive at Katara show on October 22


DOHA A TWO-DAY theatre and dance fest organised by Japan’s Human and Cultural Exchange General Incorporated Association with the support of Qatar’s Ministry of Culture Arts and Heritage will open in Doha on October 22.

To run at Drama Theater in Katara, the programme will feature 15 prominent artistes from Japan. The show is being held as part of ‘Qatar Japan 2012’ to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Qatar-Japan diplomatic relations.

Japan’s most popular theater performance ‘Kengeki Harukomzawa’ will be the highlight of the programme.

During an interaction with the media, the Japan Ambassador to Qatar HE Kenjiro Monji said that the programme would be a beautiful depiction Japan’s traditional art and culture.

Monji said, “Japan has a long history of theatre. Japan’s theater has deep roots in its rich folk tradition, music and even martial arts. ‘Kengeki Harukomzawa’, the most popular theater performance, will portray the beauty of tradition but also include entertaining features. It will provide an opportunity for the people from around the world to experience the cultural flavours of Japan on a single platform.”

Some of the actors will impersonate beautiful women during the show. The mystical world of folk music, dance and traditional costumes of the actors likely will attract large numbers of people to the show.

The show will consist of popular tales that have become part of the Japanese folklore, songs, dances and music. The costumes used by the performers will the other attraction of the show.

The performance will see Japan’s most popular theater artiste Ryu Tsugara in the lead. A photo session to follow the programme will provide an opportunity for the members of the audience to take snaps of the performers in their costumes.

Entry to the show will be by ticket priced at QR50.

Israeli PM welcomes fresh EU sanctions against Iran

AFP JERUSALEM ISRAELI Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday praised the European Union for the latest round of sanctions imposed on Iran, but reserved judgment on whether or not they would halt its nuclear drive.

“I would like to commend the European Union on the harsh sanctions it adopted yesterday (Monday) against the greatest threat to peace in our time,” he told EU diplomats in Jerusalem, in remarks communicated by his office.

“These are serious sanctions against Iran,” he said.

“When the centrifuges stop spinning and the Iranian nuclear programme is halted, we shall know that they have achieved their aim,” he added.

“I believe that all those who seek to ensure world peace and security share this aim, not only in the Middle East but throughout the world. These are momentous issues and momentous times,” Netanyahu said.

Israel and much of the West believe that Iran is using its nuclear programme to develop an atomic weapons capability.

Iran denies this, and says its activities are purely peaceful.

And Israel, the Middle East’s sole — if undeclared — nuclear power, has refused to rule out a military strike to prevent that from happening. Netanyahu also congratulated the EU on receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.

“Would that we could replicate in the M-E what was achieved in Europe,” he said.

“That is, decades of stability and peace and tranquillity.” Israel and the Europeans do not always see eye to eye.

Brussels is vocally opposed to Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem and regularly condemns such activity.

Last month, a planned meeting between Netanyahu and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly failed to take place because of scheduling conflicts.

Meanwhile, Iran on Tuesday denounced the new EU sanctions as “inhuman,” vowing they will not force any retreat on the country’s suspect nuclear programme. The remarks by Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast amplify Iran’s insistence that it can ride out Western economic pressures aimed at reining in Tehran’s uranium enrichment.

The West and its allies fear the process could lead to nuclear weapons development, a charge Iran denies, saying its nuclear ambitions are only for peaceful purposes.

The 27-nation on bloc Monday banned imports of Iranian natural gas and imposed other restrictions on trade and financial dealings.

Previous Western sanctions have targeted Iran’s critical oil exports and access to international banking networks.

Mehmanparast told reporters on Tuesday the new EU measures will not force Iran to back down from enriching uranium to make nuclear fuel. He called the sanctions “illegal, unwise and inhuman.

They cannot force the Iranian nation to surrender and withdraw,” said Mehmanparast.

“This sort of acts will encourage the Iranian nation to continue on its way, strongly.” He said the nuclear issue is merely a pretext since the West had imposed various sanctions for decades on Iran.

“It is pretty clear that Iran’s persistence on its independence is the main problem” for the West, he said.

Syrian jets bomb rebel bases despite UN ceasefire call


DAMASCUS WARPLANES unleashed a wave of raids in Syria’s north on Tuesday, aiming to dislodge rebels whose seizure of a key highway has prevented reinforcements from reaching the main battleground city of Aleppo.

Peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi began a visit to Cairo, meanwhile, after appealing for a ceasefire during the upcoming Muslim holiday of Eid al Adha.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the predawn air raids around Maaret al-Numan were the “most violent” since insurgents captured the strategic Idlib province town last week.

The warplanes targeted the blockade of the highway to Aleppo, theatre of intense fighting for the past three months, it said, adding that rebels responded with antiaircraft fire.

“Since this morning, there have been 29 air strikes on the area of Maaret al- Numan,” said Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman.

“Most civilians from the area have fled.” Army shelling of nearby Kafr Nabal killed two children, aged six and 10, said the Observatory, adding they were among at least 78 people who died in bloodshed around the country.

Another five children under the age of six died along with two adults in shelling of homes at Mayadeen village in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, added the Britainbased group.

“The army’s bombardments are killing the future of Syria,” Abdel Rahman told AFP.

The Observatory — which relies on a network of activists, medics and lawyers for its information — says children account for 2,300 of the 33,000 people killed in the conflict.

Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad also battled rebels in the countryside outside Damascus, and pounded Jobar, a stronghold of dissent in the capital itself, and the towns of Harasta and Hammuriyeh to the east.

Brahimi, the UN-Arab League envoy for Syria, called for a ceasefire as he shuttled between Syria’s neighbours, bitterly divided by the conflict.

The Algerian veteran troubleshooter visited Shiitemajority Iraq after talks in Shiite-ruled Iran, closest ally of Syria’s minority Alawitedominated regime.

His office said he appealed for Iranian help to broker a truce for the Eid al Adha holiday which falls at the end of October, marking the climax of the annual hajj pilgrimage.

Last week, he visited Saudi Arabia and Turkey, the two Sunni-led states which have been the greatest champions of Syria’s opposition, and on Tuesday he was in Cairo.

Egypt’s top court criticises draft constitution


CAIRO EGYPT’S highest court lashed out on Tuesday at an Islamist-led panel tasked with writing the country’s new constitution, saying that some of the proposed provisions undercut the court’s mandate and keep it under the president’s power.

The work — and the composition — of the 100-member constitutional assembly has been the subject of a fierce debate in Egypt, and the country is still haggling over disputed articles in the charter, some of which will determine the role of religion in the nation’s affairs and the independence of the judiciary.

Supporters of the panel drafting the constitution say it was set up by an elected parliament and broadly represents Egypt’s political factions. Critics say the process is dominated by a majority made up of Islamists, such as the Muslim Brotherhood from which Egypt’s new president, Mohammed Morsi, hails and more radical groups, when it should be determined by consensus.

The panel released a partial first draft of the charter last week in which most of the provisions related to the Supreme Constitutional Court are identical to the outgoing constitution — the president has the right to appoint the head of the court and the rest of its 15 members after receiving nominations from lower courts.

On Tuesday, judges from the SCC held a rare news conference during which they sharply criticized the constitutional panel.

Tahani el-Gibaly, a member of the SCC, said that provisions that touch on the SCC, which rules on the constitutionality of laws, are “disastrous.” El-Gibaly said the constitutional assembly has turned down suggestions to free the court from the president’s grip and “ensure its independence” from the country’s executive and legislative powers.

She said the panel ignored proposals to allow other courts, rather than the president, to select the members of the SCC as well as its chief judge.

One new article introduced by the panel would strip the SCC of the authority to rule on the constitutionality of laws after they are passed by parliament, leaving it only the power to rule on them beforehand.

“The revolution was about ensuring a democratic system, with balanced powers to protect the rights of the Egyptian citizen, but these clauses violate these rights,” el-Gibaly said.

The court’s chief judge, Maher el-Behiri, told reporters the court is in permanent session in protest.

MIA window on Islamic legacy in science opens today


DOHA TWO exhibitions that explore and celebrate the legacy of scientific innovation in the Muslim civilisation opened on Tuesday at the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA). ‘1001 Inventions’ and ‘Arabick Roots’ were inaugurated by Qatar Museums Authority Board of Trustees Chairperson Her Excellency Sheikha Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani.

Themed ‘Explore our past to inspire our future’, the two exhibitions will be opened to the public on Wednesday with ‘1001 Inventions’ running till November 12 and ‘Arabick Roots’ till January 19, 2013.

The exhibitions are organised by the Qatar Museums Authority and MIA in partnership with 1001 Inventions, and Shell Qatar.

1001 Inventions is a leading and award-winning international science and cultural heritage brand reaching over 50 million people. Through its award-winning educational programmes, books, block-buster exhibitions, 1001 Inventions showcases the contributions of inspirational men and women of different faiths and cultures in a civilisation that spread from Spain to China.

Both exhibitions are a wonderful opportunity for students and teachers to understand the roots of science and many of our modern day inventions. The exhibitions explain in a fun and exciting way many scientific principles and encourage children to learn while they are having fun.

The ‘1001 Inventions’ exhibition, set up in tent at the MIA Park, features works of scientists and scholars during the golden age of Muslim civilisation, while ‘Arabick Roots’ located in the MIA gallery, explores the movement of scientific knowledge and cultural mores from the Muslim world to Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries, by showcasing objects and priceless manuscripts.

The ‘1001 Inventions’ exhibition features things like how Andalusian physician Al Zahrawi invented hundreds of surgical instruments and procedures more than a thousand years ago that are still saving lives in modern hospitals.

Fatima al Fihri, the young woman who founded and designed the world’s first modern university, which offered free education to men and women of all backgrounds, is also featured at the expo. Other scholars featured in the exhibition, include Ibn al Haytham who laid the foundations of Optics including the explanation of the scientific phenomenon ‘Camera Obscura’ – which is still the basic principle used in modern cameras, besides others.

The ‘Arabick Roots expo’ reveals the rich and surprising connections between the scientific pioneers of Muslim Civilisation and 17th century Europe’s greatest scholars and scientists, and shows that then – just like today – collaboration across linguistic and cultural boundaries can lead to great results. It features scholars like Descartes, Boyle, Newton and Halley.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday during Press preview, MIA Director Aisha al Khater said that exhibiting works of scholars will allow youths to understand the roots of the modern civilisation.

“We owe our rich scientific heritage to cultures and civilisations worldwide. With these two exhibitions we rediscover some of the roots of modern civilisation. By showcasing past and modern thinkers, we hope to stimulate young minds and revive the respect that all cultures deserve.” She added that they sent letters to schools for students and teachers to participate.

“The idea is to inspire the young generation to rediscover the golden age. We want the youth to know about the past so as to open a better window for the future,” she said.

Shell Deputy Managing Director Sheikh Thani bin Thamer al Thani said the themes of these two exhibitions, science and education, are an integral part of Shell’s social investment programme here in Qatar and support the social development pillar of the Qatar National Vision 2030.

Qatar Holding wins QFII status to invest in China


SHANGHAI CHINA’s securities regulator granted investment licences Qatar Holding to and six other overseas institutional investors in September, allowing them to buy Chinese stocks and bonds.

The China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) said on Tuesday it gave the Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor (QFII) licences to investors including the Duke University, Macquarie Bank, Qatar Holding and KDG Capital Management.

Qatar Holding is a global investment house established by the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) in 2006 to achieve steady long term returns on assets to benefit Qatar and to diversify its economy. It invests in strategic private and public equity in international and local markets. It also makes other direct investments.

Earlier this year, China raised the total maximum QFII quota to $80 billion from a previous ceiling of $30 billion, a target that was exceeded last month.

China has recently stepped up efforts to woo foreign QFII investors, amid signs that overseas interest in the country’s capital markets has waned due to economic uncertainty.

In an unusual campaign sponsored by the government, officials from CSRC, Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges, as well as Chinese fund houses and custodian banks last month embarked on global tour aimed at attracting foreign institutional investors.

China’s financial markets are largely shut off to investors from abroad and the country’s currency is not fully convertible. Under the QFII scheme, which was launched in 2003, an overseas institution is granted a licence and an investment quota under which it can buy mainland stocks and bonds.

China has granted QFII licences to 188 foreign investors, 157 of whom have obtained combined quotas of $30.82 billion.

Breast cancer cases rise 17% in one year


DOHA THE number of breast cancer cases in Qatar has risen by 17 percent from 134 in 2010 to 161 in 2011, a Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) official said on Tuesday. The total number of breast cancer cases in the country since 2004 stands at 948 and 2 percent of those affected are males.

Citing figures released by the HMC Cancer Registry, Medical Oncologist/Haematologist and Director of HMC Breast Screening Dr Salha Bujassoum said that the number of breast cancer cases has been rising every year due to the growing population and greater awareness as more people opt for screening leading to early detection.

In 2004, HMC diagnosed 77 breast cancer cases. The number was 92 in 2005, 91 in 2006, 118 in 2007, 127 in 2008 and 148 in 2009. The median age of patients is 45 years.

“The number of patients visiting HMC for breast screening test has been increasing every year as well. We have screened 2,922 patients from April 2008 to August this year. Most of the patients were diagnosed with the disease at an early stage. They underwent surgery, radiotherapy, and hormone treatment”, she said.

“Only a few patients received chemotherapy. And this is the aim of the clinics, to discover breast cancer at an early stage and to provide them with early medical intervention, because early treatment of the disease always leads to improved survival and even complete recovery”, she added.

However, Bujassoum also said that despite the growing breast cancer awareness in Qatar, many women were still afraid to come forward for screening tests.

She said, “One-third of the patients coming to the screening clinic are Qataris, while twothirds are non-Qataris. We encourage women aged 45 years and above to come for the screening. It is well-known that a patient diagnosed with the disease at an early-stage has up to 90 percent 10-year survival chance. However, some patients are still scared to discover they might have the disease. Some people also prefer to travel abroad for the treatments. But we have all the advanced treatments and techniques required for treatment of breast cancer here. So they no longer have to go outside the country for treatment,” she added.

Meanwhile, the Qatar Cancer Society plans to introduce mobile vans to conduct breast cancer screening for the public as part of the national breast cancer screening programme.

The HMC will also organise a Breast Cancer Awareness Day on Saturday at the Ritz Carlton Hotel where people can register for the breast cancer screening at the HMC. Breast cancer screening bookings can done by calling 66004051or 44398994.