Sunday, 21 October 2012

Qtel net up 12.6% to QR2.4bn in 9 months


DOHA QATAR Telecom group (Qtel) registered a 12.6 percent increase in net profit to QR2.4 billion in the first nine months of 2012 as its customer base rose 8.2 percent to 89.2 million.

Group revenue increased 6.1 percent to QR25 billion, supported by solid performances in Qatar, Iraq, Algeria and Palestine as well as a stable Indosat showing, the telecom operator said.

“Competitive environment and the ongoing shift from traditional voice and text to data usage are negatively impacting results in Oman and Kuwait,” Qtel said about its performance in the two countries.

Qtel Group Chairman Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Saud al Thani, said, “The results confirm that the group’s strategy and management is delivering financial performance that keeps us on a positive trajectory. As further evidence of this, we have taken steps during the period to increase our stake in Wataniya Telecom and look forward to building upon our achievements in the period and delivering a successful outcome to the year as a whole.” At home, Qtel had 2.5 million customers using its services compared to 2.4 million in the same period last year.

The company’s revenue increased by 9.4 percent yearon- year to QR4.6 billion compared to QR4.2 billion in the same period in 2011, while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) increased 9.6 percent year-on-year to QR2.5 billion.

In his assessment of the results Chief Executive Officer Nasser Marafih said, “The performances in Qatar, Iraq, Algeria and Palestine are very impressive and were key to helping us deliver robust revenue and EBITDA growth during these first nine months of the year.” He said he viewed technology and service leadership as a strategic differentiator in key markets, demonstrated in the most recent quarter by our successful 3G launch in Tunisia and the launch of a trial phase for 4G services in Qatar. “We will continue to combine this spirit of innovation with sound competitive propositions across our portfolio as we move through the remaining months of this year,” he said.

Regarding the company’s proposed plans to increase stake in Iraq’s Asiacell, the telecom operator said it currently has a 53.9 percent stake in Asiacell with plans to further increase its shareholding to 60 percent subject to Iraqi Government and regulatory authority approval.

“In the first nine months this year Asiacell’s customer base grew by 12.6 percent to 9.8 million. This growth has translated into a positive year-on-year revenue growth performance, with Asiacell revenue advancing 16.4 percent in the period ending September 30 to QR5 billion,” the telecom operator said.

Moza for partnerships to foster research, creativity


DOHA QATAR Foundation Chairperson Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser on Sunday called for closer partnerships to foster an environment conducive to scientific research and intellectual creativity.

Pointing out that Qatar has achieved some notable successes in this area, HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser highlighted the importance of using Qatar’s natural wealth by building upon the country’s human resources and scientific knowledge.

Adressing the inaugural session of the joint Qatar Foundation Annual Research Forum and Arab Expatriate Scientists (AES) Network Symposium 2012 at the Qatar National Convention Center (QNCC) HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser also said that unsuccessful experiences in the past had cast a negative shadow on education and scientific research in the Arab world.

The opening session saw the Qatar National Research Strategy (QNRS 2012) and the Qatar National Cancer Research Strategy being unveiled.

Launching QNRS 2012, the President of Research and Development at Qatar Foundation Faisal al Suwaidi said that the Strategy aims to position Qatar as an international centre for research and development excellence and innovation and to support the goals of Qatar National Vision 2030 and Qatar National Development Strategy.

It aims to achieve development priorities in health, biomedicine, energy, environment, computer science, information technology, arts, behavioural, social and humanitarian sciences and Islamic studies.

The Qatar National Cancer Strategy unveiled during the opening session by Lord Ara Darzi, Chair of the Qatar National Cancer Research Committee aims to emphasise the importance of developing a programme of translatable cancer research with direct benefits for patients.

In course of her address, HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser also stressed that Arab nations must work together to restore their confidence and to stand as equals with their international counterparts in the field of research and innovation.

Stressing some notable successes Qatar has already achieved in this area, HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser called for closer partnerships to foster an environment conducive to scientific research and intellectual creativity.

“We have won the first round of the challenge and we feel proud of the efforts that embodied the vision and objectives of the founding conference in the establishment of Qatar Biomedical Research Institute (QBRI), Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute (QEERI), Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) and Sidra Medical and Research Center.

“After winning the first round together, after passing a test of seriousness and credibility, after the return of spirit of the Arab world and after the nation’s regaining of confidence in the potential of its youth, the challenge is how to apply this dream become greater”, HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser said.

HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser also noted Qatar government’s commitment to allocate 2.8 percent of the GDP to research, technology and innovation.

“Qatar Foundation is entrusted to manage the resources. This great generous financing needs investment mechanisms capable to use it in the best formulas.

Qatar’s National Strategy for Research comes to accommodate this need and to be a reference mechanism to characterise the forms of research spending”, she said.

She also said that the strategy of funding Arab research projects so far has resulted in providing more than $68 million for 78 research projects in 53 institutes in 12 Arab countries. She added that the real challenge was not limited to financial or human resources, but in confirming the nation’s commitment and credibility.

Use your ears to get your Buddhapesto right



MARIA Gandara stood next to a food processor, waiting for the hum. Inside a fourquart tub churned a bright green, ambrosial slurry of basil, garlic, pine nuts, Italian parsley, pecorino Romano cheese and olive oil. It looked like ordinary pesto, but it might as well have been some rare liquid drug.

Gandara and her husband, Gregor Trieste, have spent the last decade running a company called Buddhapesto out of their 19th-century farmhouse, not far from Woodstock. For many customers, a mere spoonful of their one and only product inspires devotion so fierce, it borders on fanatical.

As any highly paid trendspotter (or savvy 12-year-old) could tell you, we’re living through a culinary boomtime for all things small-batch and artisanal: chocolate, jam, mayonnaise, gin. Some are tributes to the power of cool packaging.

Others, though, are unexpectedly extraordinary.

Acolytes of Buddhapesto, which is sold year-round at stores and farmers’ markets around the Hudson Valley, will tell you stories about guzzling eight-ounce containers on the spot, of hoarding it, of hiding it from their spouses, of stirring it into soups and smearing it all over omelets and scallops and apple slices.

These are the people who stew in bruised silence for an entire morning if they learn that Trieste has been unable to make the 2 1/2-hour trip to an openair market in Westchester County.

“There is a following,” said Nina Hogan, a former chef who first encountered Buddhapesto a few years ago. “My daughter eats it with a spoon out of the container, and I get mad at her because I want it to last. It stays green. It’s miraculous. I wonder how they do it.” Only Gandara knows. Over the course of 10 years or so, she has been the sole conjurer of what is now approximately 3,000 containers of Buddhapesto per month.

“Gregor does not know how to make it,” she said.

Such information would be tough to share, anyway, because Gandara, a 47- year-old mother of two, tends to measure her ingredients, whether it’s a shotgun blast of tricoloured pepper or a fluffy clump of parsley, by sight and by the way it feels in her hands.

She also uses a part of the body that’s too rarely cited in cookbooks: her ears.

She knew the pesto was ready, she said, when the shifting din of the food processor told her so: “It no longer sounds like it’s struggling. The machine is at peace. It calms down. I am listening for an om.” Trieste, 43, said, “It’s called a pest-om.” For seekers of basil-based enlightenment, the spiritual terminology is more than a wisecrack. There is a sort of Zen to making the green stuff sublime, even in (or especially in) the most modest of surroundings.

“This is it,” Gandara said of her narrow kitchen. “People think I’m producing it in the Maria Wonka Pesto Factory.” People also ask if she’s Italian, but Gandara is of Colombian and Mexican- Indian extraction; she first tasted pesto when she was a teenager in California.

“I thought, ‘That is the elixir of the gods,”’ she recalled. “‘I have to learn how to make that.”’ Epiphany led to obsession – and to years of perfecting the mix in meticulous trial-and-error sessions. Eventually a friend urged her to package the pesto and find a market for it.

Customers ask Gandara for her recipe all the time, and she is open about her ingredients and their origins: organic basil from Slack Hollow Farm in Washington County, New York, when it’s in season, the pecorino Romano from Italy. But she refuses to reveal the exact proportions.

“That’s what I have been working so hard on all these years,” she said.

Ric Orlando, a friend of the couple’s and a noted Hudson Valley chef, suggested that Gandara had made a range of choices that allowed “the ingredients that we expect pesto to taste like to shine on their own without having to battle.” For instance, she uses raw pine nuts instead of roasted and, to the surprise of some customers, pure olive oil instead of extra virgin, which can overwhelm other flavours.

That humble food processor is crucial to the whole operation, too.“The fact that she makes it handmade and on smaller machines makes a huge difference,” Orlando said.

Industrial-size gear can whip up industrial- level heat, he said, which can slightly cook the ingredients and spoil the distinctive tang of freshness.

As with so many homegrown culinary enterprises, it seems that smallness plays a huge role in why Buddhapesto tastes the way it does.

Generating only 16 or 17 containers per spin makes it difficult for the couple to keep up with a summer demand that can be unrelenting. But they have resisted the temptation to upgrade to a mammoth machine.

“Yes, it would be easier on her, but I don’t think the pesto would taste the same,” Trieste said. “You would lose that attention to detail.” That level of focus explains why, on a recent night, Gandara could be found listening for cosmic signals from her food processor through the night and all the way past dawn, eventually conking out at 7:30 am after handing over a fresh stockpile of Buddhapesto to her partner, who was gearing up to drive it around the region.

All of which evokes the question: Could the delicate process of making Buddhapesto even survive expansion? Gandara and Trieste have been dreaming of converting a few of their five acres to a farm on which they could grow their own basil, garlic and parsley, and they have been in talks with representatives from Whole Foods and Smorgasburg, the vast weekend gastro-market in Brooklyn.

At the moment, their pesto can’t be found in New York City unless someone orders it through their website, but it’s hard to imagine how the couple could manage the workload if the green gold happened to take off in, say, Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Gandara sounded ambivalent about excessive growth. “I want to walk to work,” she said. “Barefoot.” Her husband seemed apt to agree.

“When you’re doing something so perfect, why mess with it?” he said.

Then again, when his wife was momentarily out of earshot, he couldn’t resist grinning and dropping a hint at brand expansion.

Anil confident of Oscar nod for Silver Linings...

Anil confident of Oscar nod for Silver Linings...


BOLLYWOOD actor Anil Kapoor feels Anupam Kherstarrer Silver Linings Playbook is the front-runner for an Oscar nomination.

“He (Anupam Kher) has been a kind of an actor who has been an integral part of so many films, like Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, Ram Lakhan, Beta, Saaransh, and Daddy. Then Bend It Like Beckham’and now Silver Linings Playbook, which I am confidently saying is the frontrunner for nomination for the Oscar,” the 52-year-old said at the Mumbai Film Festival on Thursday evening.

The actor himself was part of the Oscar winning movie Slumdog Millionaire.

The 14th Mumbai Film Festival opened with Silver Linings Playbook.

Directed by David O Russell, the film sees Anupam as an Indian doctor and the cast includes Hollywood big names Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert Di Niro and Chris Tucker.

Meanwhile, the Mumbai Film Festival has joined hands with AA Khan, a former deputy inspector general of police who once headed the Maharashtra ATS (Anti-Terrorism Squad), to fight against film piracy.

Anil said he too is trying to fight piracy in his won way and added: “Even I am, to a certain extent, trying to do whatever I can, in my own capacity because I am bringing 24 in India so obviously we have to try to protect the content as much as possible.” “We are trying our best. There is technology in the time it becomes digital, it will be much more easier to curb and control piracy,” he added.Anil played an Islamic leader Omar Hassan in the eighth episodes of the TV show 24, an American political thriller.

Fluffy yet substantial, Karan scores with Student Of The Year


IANS AFTER love your parents message, Karan Johar now talks about loving your friends in his latest film Student Of The Year (SOTY).

Student Of The Year is light and fluffy, yet full of substance. The lead threesome - Varun Dhawan, Siddharth Malhotra and Alia Bhatt - are adorable.

The narrative goes back and forth in a similar fashion that was witnessed in Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na. School friends meet after a decade of leaving school when they come to meet their dean, Yogendra Vashisth (Rishi Kapoor) who is unwell and recap their final year in school.

They studied in St Teresa, a formidable school where kids of rich and famous mingle with hardworking scholars. The contrast is evident when the have-nots are at the beck and call of the creme de la creme.

The rich and flamboyant, Rohan Nanda (Varun Dhawan) is the heartthrob of the school. Shanaya (Alia Bhatt) is his taken for granted girlfriend.

Life is hunky dory, till Abhimanyu Singh (Siddharth Malhotra) enters.

SOTYis quite unpredictable. Instead of the regular cliched rivalry, here are two friends who bond together, till circumstances push them away.

For those who are not into teenybopper may find the film dragging in parts.

It’s only post-interval when the competition for the Student of the Year Award hots up that the viewer is glued to his seat. The pace of the film picks up and we wonder who will walk away with the coveted trophy? The film emits Karan Johar’s pink humour in plenty.

Rishi Kapoor as the gay dean with a roving eye and soft corner for sports coach, played by Ronit Roy, is fabulous.

The scene where he throws the dafli at the coach’s wife during the sangeet ceremony of Rohana’s brother is thoroughly enjoyable.

The camera does not miss any opportunity to capture the best of the male leads Siddharth and Varun, with their sixpack abs et al. A treat for the eyes of many.

In terms of performances, all the three debutants are confidence personified.

Siddharth is a bit stiff in certain scenes, whereas Alia Bhatt obviously has acting in her genes.

But it is Varun Dhawan who steals the show with his charismatic and endearing performance. He is spontaneous and an elegant dancer.

Niranjan Iyengar’s dialogues have their moments. With puns and rhymes, he wows the audiences.

Alia’s dialouge that her marriage will not be decided by rab (god in Punjabi), but at the rich wife’s club elicits lots of laughter.

If Rensil D’silva’s screenplay is sleek, production quality is visually appealing, glossy and vibrant. Vishal- Shekhar’s young, peppy and soulful compositions are enjoyable and foottapping.

Overall, the film is larger than life. A blend of High School Musical and Julia Robert’s Monalisa Smile is an enjoyable combination.

Definitely worth a watch.

Beyonce confirms she will headline Super Bowl halftime show


POP superstar Beyonce on Tuesday confirmed that she will headline the entertainment at next year’s Super Bowl, posting a photo of herself with the words February 3, 2013 inked on her cheeks.

Super Bowl organisers also posted the photo news on their official Twitter account, with the words “Beyonce will perform @pepsi #SB47 Halftime Show in New Orleans. February 3, 2013 on @cbs.” In an entry on her official website,, the Grammy-winning singer used the caption “countdown to touchdown” to acknowledge an earlier report that she would sing during the biggest US sporting and television event of the year.

The annual NFL championship attracts more than 100 million TV viewers and high-profile pop acts for its halftime show. Previous performers have included Madonna, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, U2 and Paul McCartney.

Megan Fox gives birth to a baby boy


ACTRESS Megan Fox said on Wednesday that she had given birth to a baby boy, her first child, with husband Brian Austin Green, in September.

The Transformers actress, 26, made the announcement on her official Facebook page, saying she wanted to release the news herself.

“I gave birth to our son Noah Shannon Green on September 27th. He is healthy, happy, and perfect. We are humbled to have the opportunity to call ourselves the parents of this beautiful soul and I am forever grateful to God for allowing me to know this kind of boundless, immaculate love,” the actress said.

Fox and television actor Green, 39, married in June 2010 in Hawaii after a fouryear engagement that included a brief split in 2009.

Green, who rose to fame in the 1990s series Beverly Hills, 90210 and will be seen in the upcoming comedy series The Wedding Band, has a son, Kassius, from a previous relationship with his 90210 co-star Vanessa Marcil.

What’s up with Tom Hanks?



IT’S a warm fall morning in Beverly Hills, and Tom Hanks is bubbling over. The 56-yearold two-time Oscar winner doesn’t simply walk into a hotel suite, he bounds into it with the boyish energy he displayed a quartercentury ago in Big (1988).

He’s smiling, practically laughing, as he buzzes around the room, fiddling with the air conditioning and finally exuberantly throwing open the French doors onto the patio.

Yes, his new movie, the incredibly ambitious Cloud Atlas, has gotten some great reviews, but there’s got to be more to it than that.

What’s up with Tom Hanks? “The kids are out of the house,’’ says the actor, who is the father of 35-year-old Colin, 30-year-old Elizabeth, 22-year-old Chet and 17-year-old Truman. “I’m telling you, all the kids are gone and it’s the greatest thing that has ever happened to Mr and Mrs Hanks. Of course the greatest thing was having the kids in the first place, but ..
Holy smokes! “When the kids are gone, it’s like you’re dating again.’’ Hanks looks fit in a white shirt, dark slacks and a thin mustache that he’s grown for his role as Walt Disney in the upcoming Saving Mr Banks, a movie about the making of the classic Mary Poppins (1964). He’s here to talk about Cloud Atlas, and Cloud Atlas – set to open nationwide on October 26 – is a movie that takes some talking about.

Based on the best-selling novel by David Mitchell, the film has a huge cast and three directors in Tom Tykwer and Andy and Lana Wachowski. It tells six separate stories, all mixed together to explore the bigger meanings of life and human connections.

Its lead characters include an elderly musician in 1930s Belgium, an investigative reporter trying to bring down a sinister energy company in 1970s California, an elderly book publisher stuck in a retirement home in contemporary London, a genetically engineered woman in 2144 Korea on the way to her doom and a goatherd living in the post-apocalyptic remains of Hawaii. Hanks plays six different characters, including the goatherd.

The movie had to get outside financing because its distributor, Warner Bros, considered it too risky to put up the production money, given that it’s a not-especially commercial theme told in a three-hour movie with a remarkably convoluted story line.

“I think it’s as risky as Inception (2010),’’ Hanks says. “You saw that one the first time and said, ‘How many movies are in this thing?’’’ Hanks embraced the project precisely because it was unusual and risky, however.

“It’s original and creative,’’ he says. “I loved that it wasn’t going to be simple for audiences. Lord, doesn’t that sound beautiful? A film that is original, creative and makes you think. That’s what movies used to be.’’ As for playing six different characters, Hanks says that it was a ball.

“They were all a lot of fun to play,’’ he says. “I especially liked playing an actor in a TV movie. I kept asking, ‘Is it a lousy TV movie? Am I a good TV actor?’’’ He worked primarily with the Wachowskis, who he says were a calming influence amid a potentially chaotic shoot involving six complicated stories, hordes of actors and side-by-side sets with different directors on each one.

“They wouldn’t let us panic or let us be freaked out about any individual choice,” Hanks says. “I loved it that they were honestly happy to see us each day and the vibe was like they were letting us play in their rep company.

“They had faith in us, but steered us to some degree,” he continues. “I remember the moment I was slashing someone’s throat and went too far when it came to vengeance. Lana was on me and said, ‘Tom, it can’t be that.

You can’t be the guy who is seeking retribution.

Otherwise the whole story will be blown.’ “This movie had a message about humanity,” Hanks says. “At that moment I got it. I knew I had to pull back, and did during that scene.

“At the same time,” he adds, “the Wachowskis could have thrown down their headsets and said, ‘No, no, no!’ But they were gentle about it.” Co-star Jim Sturgess, who shared a number of scenes, was impressed by Hanks’ approach to the intricacies of Cloud Atlas.

“Tom pulled all the pages out of the script and organized them in a different way,” Sturgess says in a separate interview, “so that he could focus on all the stories separately, like he was making several short films.” The film offers a bleak vision of the future, but also the promise of reincarnation and the gradual evolution of the human spirit, ideas that resonated for Hanks.

“I’m a historian by nature,” he says.

“I want dates and motivations. I’ve always felt, unconsciously, that all human history is the connection between person-to-person and idea-toidea.

For me this movie actually gives a vocabulary to that idea that I found to be quite profound.

“At one point in the film,” Hanks adds, “we’re told that truth is a singular version of the truth. Holy smokes! That’s the deepest version of anything that I’ve ever heard.” Another scene in Cloud Atlas had particular meaning for him.

“I also like when Susan Sarandon’s character says, ‘Womb to tomb, we’re all connected and your choices are reverberated through eternity,”’ Hanks says. “I finally got it! That line actually supports this embracing of the mysteries of life, but with a common thread.” Hanks was born in California, the son of a chef and a hospital worker.

His parents divorced when he was young, and as a result he moved often during a childhood which he has called “fractured.” Acting filled a void for him, and he started doing community theater before opting for a career in television and film. His big break was the television farce Bosom Buddies (1980-1982), in which he and Peter Scolari played men disguised as women in order to get the only apartment they can afford.

The young actor had made his bigscreen debut in He Knows You’re Alone (1980), but really made his first splash with, well, Splash (1984). The success of that Ron Howard fantasy led to such films as Bachelor Party (1984), Big, A League of Their Own (1992), Sleepless in Seattle (1993), Apollo 13 (1995), Saving Private Ryan (1998), You’ve Got Mail, (1998) and Cast Away (2000).

Hanks won back-to-back Oscars for his performances in Philadelphia (1993) and Forrest Gump (1994).

Almost as impressive as his two Oscars, by Hollywood standards, is his 24-year marriage to actress Rita Wilson. The two met when she gueststarred in an episode of Bosom Buddies, but did not become a couple until they co-starred in Volunteers (1985). They married in 1988, and remain together to this day as spouses and as partners in their own production company, Playtone.

“Listen, I knew it from the get-go that she was my soul mate,” Hanks says. “I met Rita Wilson and said, ‘It’s all over.

Something is really different now.’ I knew that I had fallen in love and things would be profoundly different from that moment on.

“You hear about that sort of thing, but I’m here to say that it happens,” he says. “You’ve just got to be lucky enough to stumble across it.” His upcoming slate of films includes Saving Mr Banks, Paul Greenglass’s Captain Phillips and Michel Hazanavicius’ In the Garden of Beasts, as well as Toy Story 4 and The Lost Symbol, his third go-around as symbologist Robert Langdon, the role he played in the hit The Da Vinci Code (2006) and Angels and Demons (2009). It’s an impressive slate for a man who has starred in only four films in the past five years – especially if you factor in that in March he’ll make his Broadway debut, playing real-life tabloid reporter Mike McAlary in Nora Ephron’s Lucky Guy.

“Each movie feels new to me,” Hanks says. “It’s like starting out again. It seems like I’ve taken a few years off from acting, but the truth was that I was doing a lot of producing and writing.” Given his long marriage and the fact that his children are grown – he became a grandfather in 2011 – Hanks rarely arouses the interest of the paparazzi. That doesn’t mean that he’s happy with the current state of tabloid journalism or its current focus on celebrities’ children, which he witnessed firsthand with his Cloud Atlas co-star Halle Berry.

Chelsea routs Hotspurs 4-2


JUAN MATA scored two goals and set up another as Chelsea recovered to beat London rival Tottenham 4-2 on Saturday, consolidating the European champions’ dominant lead in the Premier League.

Having taken an early lead through Gary Cahill, the unbeaten visitors ó without the suspended John Terry ó were rocked at the start of the second half when they conceded goals to William Gallas and Jermain Defoe.

However, Mata clinched Chelsea’s seventh win in eight league games by equalizing in the 66th and then clipping home a neat finish in the 69th.

The Spain playmaker set up Daniel Sturridge for a late fourth, ensuring Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas was unable to gain a measure of revenge for being fired by Chelsea last season after just eight months in charge. The loss ended a run of four straight wins for the home side, and was Chelsea’s first victory at White Hart Lane in seven years.

Having beaten Arsenal and now Spurs away, Chelsea is showing a much greater attacking threat this season and looks a serious rival to the two Manchester clubs for the title. Roberto di Matteo’s side is now seven points clear of City and United ahead of their matches later Saturday.

“It was a test of character today coming here to play a team in form with four consecutive wins,” Di Matteo said.

“It was a big derby for us and after the international break there are always a few question marks how you’re going to start the new cycle of games, but the answers we gave today were perfect,” The build-up to the game had been overshadowed by the continuing fallout from the racism case involving Terry, who on Thursday accepted a four-match ban from the Football Association for racially abusing an opponent during a league game last season.

This was the first game of that ban and it was Terry’s replacement at center back, Cahill, who put the visitors in front.

A poor headed clearance from Gallas gave Cahill a glimpse of goal and he showed great technique to produce a superb volley that took a slight deflection off Spurs defender Kyle Walker and flew past recalled goalkeeper Brad Friedel.

The goal came in the midst of a spell of concerted domination by Chelsea but the team failed to double its lead and was made to pay.

Gallas, who played for Chelsea from 2001-06, made amends for his earlier error by equalizing from barely a yard out after Jan Vertonghen had hooked the ball back into the middle after a searching free kick by Tom Huddlestone.

That came just 63 seconds into the second half and Spurs, who were without Gareth Bale after the Wales winger’s wife went into labor, went ahead in the 54th.

Aaron Lennon’s driven shot from the angle was heading harmlessly wide when Defoe connected with it with a sweet finish that beat goalkeeper Petr Cech at his near post.

They were the first goals Chelsea had conceded in the second half this campaign but the classy Mata engineered the turnaround.

He pounced on another unsatisfactory clearance by Gallas to drive home an equalizer from the edge of the area and then ran onto a stunning pass by Eden Hazard to beat Friedel with a curling shot.

Having scored his sixth goal in five games in all competitions, Mata then turned provider by crossing for Sturridge - on as a secondhalf substitute - to tap in and complete the win.

“We are smooth on the eye but we’re a good team and showed good team spirit,” Di Matteo said.

“We’re trying to progress, to develop and become a good team. We have started well, showed the qualities we have - and can still improve on that.”

Supple Sataporn impresses in Flyboard World Championship


THAILAND’S Srirang Sataporn exhibited daring spins and flips to beat Emmanuel Jules of France and entered the top four in the Flyboard World Championship at Doha Bay on Saturday.

Sataporn and Jules contested the last quarter-final in the fading light and the Thai performed brave technical maneouvres to qualify for the last four stage.

Only two Asian riders were able to find a place in the quarter-finals but Sataporn’s compatriot Chomsen Anon was beaten by American Trey Andrews.

French Stephane Prayas and Swede Petter Berglund also won their quarter-final matches to keep their challenge alive. Prayas defeated Lindsay McQueen of Spain and Berglund was a winner against Poland’s Robert Jaszczold.

Earlier, local riders also took part in the event and it was only Fahad al Harib, who progressed into the last 16 round before being beaten by Spanish Lindsay McQueen.

More than 60 riders entered the Doha round of the world series and it was the first time that this unique event has been organised here. This sport has been introduced by French world jet ski champion Franky Zapata. Then 32 qualified for the second round, to be followed by last 16 and last eight stages. The final will be contested by top three performers and the winner will be declared on the highest technical level of performance.

The flyboard is powered by jets of water that are generated by an aqua scooter and forced through a tube connected to a platform that the rider straps his feet into. The performer pilots the board by using his legs to alter the direction of the pressurised water jets, which allow him to perform a variety of aerial maneuvers, including flips, spins and a series of dives where he imitates a dolphin.

RESULTS Quarrteerr--fifinals Stephane Prayas (France) beat Lindsay McQueen (Spain) Petter Berglund (Sweden) beat Robert Jaszczold (Poland) Trey Andrews (USA) beat Chomsen Anon (Thailand) Srirang Sataporn (Thailand) beat Emmanuel Jules (France) LLast 1166 mmatchh--upps Stephane Prayas (France) beat Serkan Seymen (Turkey) Lindsay McQueen (Spain) beat Fahad al Harib (Qatar) Petter Berglund (Sweden) beat Laurent Calliot (France) Robert Jaszczold (Poland) beat Arnoud Stoppels (Holland) Trey Andrews (USA) beat Stephanie Wells (Canada) Chomsen Anon (Thailand) beat Eduard Kanevski (Estonia) Emmanuel Jules (France) beat Brody Wells (Canada) Srirang Sataporn (Thailand) beat John Albinsson (Sweden) LLast 3322 qualififieerrs Stephane Prayas (France), Bo Krook (Holland), Arnoud Stoppels (Holland), Emmanuel Jules (France), Laurent Calliot (France), Lindsay McQueen (Spain), Brody Wells (Canada), Petter Berglund (Sweden), Trey Andrews (USA), Peter Hendra (Australia), Edurard Kanevski (Estonia), Mohamad Hassan (Qatar, Chomsen Anon (Thailand), John Albinsson (Sweden), Carl Jacob Johansen (Norway), Patrick Esnard (Guadeloupe), Srirang Sataporn (Thailand), Serkan Seymen (Turkey), Alexandre Falgaronne (France), Khalid Jassim al Kuwari (Qatar), Robert Jaszczold (Poland), Stephanie Wells (Canada), Nicolas Pesnel (France), Bryan Keenan (USA), Jimmy Corre (France), Jean-Pierre Simonini (France), Laurent Trucco (France), Hamad Mohammad al Fadala (Qatar), Jeremy Poret (France), Perkov Josip (Croatia), Fahad al Harib (Qatar), Fredrico Bufacchi (Italy), Bugarija Lovre (Croatia)

Cricket returns to Pakistan amid tight security


FAST BOWLER Tabish Khan achieved a hat trick while Umar Akmal and Shahzaib Hasan hit rapid half centuries as the Pakistan All Stars defeated an International World XI by 84 runs in a Twenty20 on Saturday.

The exhibition match before a capacity crowd of 35,000 at the National Stadium marked the return of international cricket of a sort in Pakistan after 3 1/2 years. All major test teams have avoided Pakistan since the deadly attack on the Sri Lanka team convoy at Lahore in March 2009.

Pakistan posted a mammoth 222-7 with Akmal unbeaten on 67 off 37 balls and opening batsman Hasan escaping three dropped catches to score 54 off 21 balls with six boundaries and four sixes.

Khan then clean bowled Ricardo Powell (5), Jermaine Lawson (0) and Thandi Tshabalala (0) off successive deliveries to restrict an International World XI made up of Sri Lanka, South Africa, West Indies and Afghanistan players to 138-8.

Top-level security involving more than 5000 police and para-military officials was in place as cricketstarved fans in Pakistan finally got to see some live international action for the first time in more than three years.

The country has been a nogo area for international athletes since March 2009 when militants attacked the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore, which left six Pakistani policemen and a van driver dead.

On Saturday, local officials and security personnel put an elaborate security plan into place for the first of two Twenty20 exhibitions in which a Pakistan All Star XI took on an International World XI side.

“We had drawn up a proper security plan for the teams and even their routes were kept a secret,” DIG police Shahid Hayat, who supervised the security operation, said.

A convoy of 12 police vans with an ambulance in tow drove the teams into the stadium.

“We know how important these matches are to convince the international cricket community that Pakistan is still a safe place for visiting teams,” the Governor of the Sindh province, Dr Eshratul Ebad, told reporters.

World XI skipper Sanath Jayasuriya, who led a team mostly made up of former internationals, added: “It is a grand occasion for Pakistan cricket and we are happy to be part of these matches.”

QSC scores first QSL victory


QATAR Sports Club won its first QSL match of the season with a comfortable 2-0 win over Al Arabi at the Grand Hamad Stadium on Saturday.

Two first half goals from Sayed Hadi Aghli and Bakari Kone ensured Sebastiao Lazaroni’s team moved to midtable in the 12-team QSL table.

Meanwhile, it was a losing debut for Al Arabi’s new helmsman Hassan Shehata.

The Egyptian, which recently took over from Frenchman Pierre Lechantre needed all maximum points to impress his new employers, however it was a bad day for the Shehata.

Arabi went for 3-4-3 formation with Australian Mathhew Spiranovic holding forth in the back with support from Papa Keita and Mohammed Shahdad. In the centre of the field were Captain Mohammed Salem, Magdi Siddiq, Abdulla Maariya and Abdelaziz Hatem.

Brazilian Jader Volnei Spindler led the attack line with Moroccan duo Youssef Hadji and Houssine Kharja.

For Qatar Sports Club, after scoring five goals in its opening three matches without victory, the round four match was a must-win for the yellow and black stripe team.

It was a cautious opening ten minutes as both sides sized each other and were looking for an early goal. Qatar Sports’ Mousa Allaq’s effort in the 17th minute was the first attempt at goal but goalkeeper Rajab Hamza parried it for the first corner that yielded no result.

Arabi’s response was immediate with a fierce long drive from Moroccan Yousef Hadji that almost caught Mohamed Mubarak napping in goal-post.

At this stage of the game, it was from one end to another and Spiranovic almost put Arabi in front after nodding a ball off a cross from Kharja that was wayward in the 22nd minute.

Papa Keita’s poor marking cost Arabi a penalty, he was beaten to the ball by Mohammed Razak in the air and he clumsily obstructed a goal bound move by the Qatari international from inside the eighteen-yard box. The referee blew for a penalty to the disgust of coach Hassan Shehata.

Whether he was frowning at the referee’s call or Keita’s poor clearance was unknown.

Iranian Sayed Hadi Aghily converted the resultant kick calmly in the 35th minute to give Arabi the lead.

Bakari Kone scored the second for Qatar Sports in the 43rd minute with a deflected shot off Papa Keita to beat Rajab. Winger Allaq did all the hardwork finding space on the right flank, picking Kone with a neat pass, which the Ivorian smashed with the side of his foot for his first league goal for his new club.

The only booking in the first half was for Khaled Saleh of Qatar Sports in the 23rd minute. There was four minutes off added time as Arabi tried to reduce the deficit but Qatar Sports held its own with a two goal cushion to end the first half proceedings.

Within seven minutes into the second half, Allaq had a sniff of goal with a fierce shot that bounced in front of the diving Rajab. Minutes later, Rajab stood his ground with a stunning save to stop a canon shot from Allaq, that would have finished the game had it turned into a goal.

Jader was Arabi’s best performer in the match with series of goal attempts that goalkeeper Mubarak stopped. The Brazilian came close with a low shot in the 57th minute but Mubarak was on hand to make a save. Bakari Kone was booked after a poor tackle on Arabi’s Maarfiya on the hour mark. With time running out, Arabi coach Shehata introduced Mohammed Qusai in place of tired Hadji. The Moroccan didn’t play up to his own standard.

New entrant Qusai had a glorious chance to score for Arabi in the 77th minutes, after going past a defender and with the goalkeeper to his mercy, he shot wide.

Mohammed Khalifa who replaced Ahmed Shahdad had an empty net to score in stoppage but missed.

Canada blocks $5.2 billion Petronas bid for Progress


TORONTO/KUALA LUMPUR CANADA has blocked Malaysian state oil firm Petronas’ C$5.17 billion ($5.2 billion) bid for gas producer Progress Energy Resources in a surprise move that could signal problems for a much larger Chinese deal in the country’s energy sector.

Canada’s announcement late on Friday, minutes before a deadline, was a blow to Petronas whose domestic oil supplies are shrinking and which has been seeking to boost its resources beyond Malaysia and volatile areas such as Sudan.

It also raises doubts over Chinese oil group Cnooc.s C$15.1 billion offer for oil producer Nexen and could weigh on other Canadian firms hoping for foreign investment to tap their vast energy reserves.

Any rejection of the Cnooc bid would likely damage trade ties Canada has been trying to build with China, underlining political sensitivity to Chinese corporate expansion in North America.

“I have sent a notice letter to Petronas indicating that I am not satisfied that the proposed investment is likely to be of net benefit to Canada,” Industry Minister Christian Paradis said in a statement.

The government, which has said C$630 billion investment is needed in Canada’s energy sector over the next decade, has been trying to balance concerns over the deals with a need for foreign investment.

The bid for Progress had not been expected to run into hurdles in a review process that asks whether a deal is of “net benefit” to Canada. But in a sign it was attracting greater scrutiny, Canada earlier this month extended its review of the bid by two weeks. Petronas, which said on Saturday it was not ready to comment, has 30 days to make its offer more palatable.

It was not clear what it could put on the table.

The Petronas deal attracted scrutiny after CNOOC made its bid for Nexen. Some members of Canada’s governing Conservative Party are wary of the CNOOC offer, in part because of what they say are unfair Chinese business practices.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said China’s “very different” political and economic systems were a concern.

A Cnooc spokeswoman in Beijing said she had no comment on the ruling against Petronas.

Govt panel to urge France to cut $39bn in payroll taxes


PARIS A GOVERNMENT-COMMISSIONED report will urge France to cut €30 billion euros ($39.09 billion) in payroll taxes over two to three years to increase the country’s competitiveness, newspaper Le Figaro said on its website on Friday citing unnamed sources. The lost revenue would have to be covered by massive cuts in public spending - far beyond the €10 billion savings envisaged in the 2013 budget - as well as rises in VAT and the CSG levy that helps to fund France’s social security system, the newspaper said. The report by Louis Gallois, former chief of aerospace group EADS, will say the sharp reduction in labour costs would give a necessary jolt to France’s economy, according to Le Figaro. French business leaders have long called for a decrease in payroll taxes, which rank amongst the highest in the world. Gallois’ report on French competitiveness, which was commissioned by Hollande, s due out on November 5
Sources told the newspaper the report would call for labour costs to be lowered over the next two to three years - with €20 billion euros coming off charges paid by employers and 10 billion off those paid in by employees. The cuts would only apply to wages up to 3.5 times the minimum wage, currently set at €9.4 euros an hour before tax, or €1,425.67 euros a month, the website said. Hollande’s government is due to set out measures early next year to boost the competitiveness of an ailing economy where unemployment has risen to its highest in 13 years and growth has remained stuck at zero for the past three quarters. The 2013 budget, aimed at cutting the deficit to 3 percent of GDP from 4.5 percent in 2012, has drawn criticism for focusing too much on tax hikes for high earners and businesses, and not enough on spending cuts, a strategy economists fear will hurt growth. Le Figaro said Gallois would propose a modest rise in VAT to help compensate for the loss of revenues from payroll taxes, combined with a small rise in the CSG social charge and a new green tax on diesel fuel. French newspaper Le Monde earlier this month said the French government planned to slash payroll taxes paid by companies by €8 to 10 billion euros a year to try to restore competitiveness. The government has not commented on either article.

Eurozone austerity cuts unavoidable, says ECB


BRUSSELS AUSTERITY measures in the eurozone are unavoidable, but countries can and should counteract with reforms to boost growth, European Central Bank Governing Council member Luc Coene said on Saturday.

In a panel debate on the eurozone in Brussels, Coene was challenged by economist Paul De Grauwe, now with the London School of Economics, who said policymakers should be foremost in promoting growth not reining it in.

“To think that austerity could be avoided is naive ..
the interest rates would have risen even more than they did,” said Coene, who is also governor of Belgium’s central bank.

He said governments in the eurozone region, which has been mired in a debt crisis for almost three years, should have enacted structural reforms at the same time as pushing through austerity measures.

“We should have done that earlier. It could have countered the negative effect of saving,” Coene said. While a number of eurozone nations were keen to pass responsibility for solving the crisis to the ECB, the central bank was not involved in budget setting and had to rely on commitments of member states in return for help.

Asked how he saw the situation developing in Spain, which is in deep recession and plagued by high borrowing costs, Coene said it would have to decide whether to request aid from the EU bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism. However, this would not necessarily trigger bond buying.

“We would do an evaluation.

There is no automatic link between the one and the other,” he said.

Spain is seen requesting a bailout in the next few weeks.

The European Central Bank agreed last month that it was prepared for a potentially unlimited purchase of bonds with a maturity of up to three years of struggling euro zone countries.

If the bond buying programme, dubbed “Outright Monetary Transactions” (OMT) was triggered, it would ease pressure on the country’s borrowing costs and should limit risks of contagion to other euro zone countries. The prospect of it happening has already calmed financial markets.

Coene is the head of the Belgian central bank, a position which brings with it a seat on the ECB’s 23-member Governing Council.

Qatar leads growth in GCC money supply, says QNB



GCC COUNTRIES continue to have ample domestic liquidity, according to QNB Group analysis. Higher energy prices and increased hydrocarbons production have driven growth in credit, resulting in an expansion of the money supply. The main driver of money supply growth is credit expansion. However, there is considerable variation in liquidity growth across the GCC.

The overall domestic liquidity in the GCC region, as measured through the broad money supply (M2), grew by 5.2 percent in the year up to August 2012 to reach $778 billion.

The components of broad money supply are M1 and quasimoney.

M1, which includes physical currency in circulation and current accounts, rose by 8.8 percent to $364 billion. Quasi money, which includes foreign currency accounts and longer term deposits, increased by 2 percent to $413 billion.

Qatar recorded the highest broad money supply growth in the region in 2011 and during the first eight months of 2012. Qatar’s M2 grew by 17.1 percent in 2011 and 19.1 percent in the year until August 2012, to reach $101 billion. This is because the trends in hydrocarbon wealth creation and government spending were particularly strong in Qatar, driving rapid credit growth. As a result, quasi-money went up substantially.

In response to this strong growth in money supply, Qatar Central Bank started issuing treasury bills in May 2011 to lap up the excess domestic liquidity and also to help build a Qatari riyal yield curve.

CNAQ celebrates ‘Family Day’


DOHA THE College of the North Atlantic in Qatar (CNAQ) held ‘Family Day’, a day-long event comprising games, live music and a giant birthday cake at the Museum of Islamic Art Park on Saturday.

The main objective of the event was to celebrate the College’s 10th anniversary.

Speaking to Qatar Tribune, Dr Ken MacLeod, president of CNAQ, said, “Today’s event recognises the role CNAQ played and this is our way of giving back to the community, particularly families. There are parents who brought their children to CNAQ. Many alumni out there are married by now and have families of their own, and raising their families in Qatar. So, it is recognition of the role the family plays in the success of any educational institution.” CNAQ’s 10th anniversary was actually in September.

But the school administration decided to hold 10 months of celebration, one for each of the 10 years. The series of celebrations began in October, and will include a major event every month leading up to May, when the College will hold a gala event. The celebration is collectively known as the ‘Year of Success’.

Elaborating on the gala event, MacLoud said, “This event will conclude our celebration.

A number of VIPs from Canada and Qatar will take part in it.” Before the CNAQ was inaugurated 10 years ago, Her Highness Sheikha Moza commissioned a small group of people in Qatar. It includes Dr Latifa Ibrahim al Houty, currently vice-chair of CNAQ’s executive committee, and Dr Mohammed Fathy A Saoud, an executive committee member as well as being the President of Qatar Foundation, to put together a small team to look for technical colleges across the world. They eventually formed a partnership with the College of the North Atlantic, based in Canada.

“This group of founders came together and did all the hard work over the last 10 years to set up this college.

Some of those founders will be present at the gala, and in fact one of our main objectives throughout these celebratory events is to recognise the founders. At the gala, one of our main focuses will be to recognise the people who worked so hard to put CNAQ in place,” MacLeod said.

Discussing the College’s achievements over the last decade, MacLoud said, “Ten years of success is something. It is time to look at the past, the present and the future. We’re looking at the past in terms of recognising our founders. And looking at the present where we have over 2,000 students at CNAQ. And looking at the future, say the next 10 years, where we are as crucial to the country’s development today as we were 10 years ago.”

QC, social affairs ministry launch third phase of training course


DOHA QATAR Charity (QC) and the Ministry of Social Affairs have launched the third phase of their training courses.

The courses, held at the ministry, will teach over 20 trainees the principles and skills of advertising and promotion of productive families.

“To run for 25 days, during this phase the trainees will receive important information and intensive programmes developed according to their individual needs, supplementing the efforts of previous two phases,” said Ibrahim bin Abdullah al Mohannadi, executive director for local development at QC.

Mohannadi underlined the importance of the cooperation between QC and the Ministry of Social Affairs in serving the community and contributing to its development.

The phase, which extends from September 30 to October 24, covering a total of 56 hours includes theoretical and practical training in order to enhance the capabilities of the participants in the promotion and marketing of products and services, in terms of knowledge, attitude and skills, so as to enhance their income.

“This stage of the training seeks to identify trainees’ concepts of promotion and its characteristics, identify the components of ‘promotional mix’ and their effects on productive families, identifying strengths and weaknesses of the promotional mix of the productive families, and enable these families to apply the ideas and perceptions about the promotional aspects in line with modern products,” said Dr Ashraf Jalal, management consultant executive for local development at QC.

Trainee Eid Mohammed al Shaibi said that the session provided the participants with new and important information on marketing and private elements of the marketing mix, in addition to basic information regarding personal promotion and selling, publishing, public relations, advertising and other areas.

Mohammed Abdul Malik, one of the beneficiaries of the course, expressed his desire to have this course and others of its kind continue, given its great usefulness.

The first course organised by QC and the Ministry of Social Affairs addressed the principles and skills analysis of the situation and the management of productive families.

The course was held between April 22 and May 13, this year. The course’s duration was four hours a day, for a total of 136 hours; 96 hours of training and 40 hours of operation.

The second phase of the training dealt with the principles of market research and customer service skills. Twenty- eight trainees took part in this phase, which lasted for 36 hours, over a period of two weeks.

Cancer survivors favour early screening


DOHA WHEN Amani Halawa first felt a lump in her breast, she took it lightly as do the majority of women would have, believing it that would just go away on its own. However, Halawa was not so lucky as she was later diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer .

She survived the disease successfully after sustained treatments that include mastectomy and chemotherapy one year after her diagnosis.

Narrating her personal survival story at the Breast Cancer Awareness Day organised by the Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) on Saturday, Halawa said she could have avoided some of the sufferings she endured if only she had gone to the doctor much earlier to seek medical intervention.

To avoid going through similar experience, Halawa urged women aged 45 years and above to conduct monthly selfbreast examinations and benefit form the screening tests provided by the HMC.

She said: “Being diagnosed with cancer is not the worst thing that could happen to anyone because cancer is curable.

However, fear and depression that may follow afterwards are worse than cancer. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I chose to be brave for my family. I wanted to live to see my daughters get married. So, I decided to fight the disease and be strong.

I realise that strong will and positive attitude are better than chemotherapy.” Today, Halawi is a leader of the Hayat Cancer Support Group, which functions under the Qatar Cancer Society to provide moral support to cancer patients and their families in the country.

Another breast cancer survivor and a South African expatriate, Marlyn said, “I never smoked. I breast-fed and maintained a healthy lifestyle. I thought I did everything right. But cancer does not discriminate. It could happen to anyone. I had a friend who was diagnosed with the disease at the age of 38 and succumbed to the disease at the age of 41. She asked me to promise her that I would go for the early screening.

Thankfully, I did so and it helped in preventing the cancer from spreading further.” According to Dr Salha Bujassoum, director of the Breast Screening Programme at HMC, as many as 948 breast cancer cases have been diagnosed in Qatar since 2004. She said a national breast cancer screening programme would be launched under the Supreme Council of Health within two years.

According to experts, breast cancer is the leading cancer among women around the world.

Qatar keen to promote rule of law: Minister


DOHA QATAR is keen to promote principles of justice and human rights through the establishment of a stronger legal profession, said Minister of Justice HE Hasan bin Abdullah al Ghanem on Saturday.

Speaking at the opening of the law conference organised by Qatar University (QU) in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice and the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative, Ghanem said, “I am happy that this conference is being hosted in Qatar, which is known for its established principles of justice and human rights. The main aim of this conference is to deepen legal integration and uphold human and ethical values that define the legal profession. I believe that this event will contribute to reinforcing the principle of the rule of law and fairness in the administration of justice to all and sundry.” He added: “This conference represents the Emir His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani’s commitment to building reliable legal institutions in the country. This kind of events promote scientific communication among experts and creates a platform for an interactive dialogue to solve some legal problems as well as address inadequacies and weaknesses of law regulations.” According to the minister, Qatar has always focused on discussing ways to develop the legal profession, especially with the issuance of provisions such as the law No 23 of 2006 encouraging lawyers to acquire practical experience required to practise law.

The minister inaugurated the event in the presence of QU President Prof Sheikha Abdullah al Mesnad, Dean of QU College of Law Dr Hassan Okour several attorneys and experts of law.

Dr Hassan Okour said, with economic boom and development in all spheres in Qatar, there was a need to have nationals as lawyers who are well trained and competent to provide the required legal services to both private and public sectors.

“There is a necessity to benefit from the international law bureaus existing in Qatar in order to equip Qatari lawyers to handle all kinds of issues. We hope this conference will provide the steps required to move legal profession up in Qatar,” he said.

Talking to Qatar Tribune, Dr Hassan al Sayed, a law professor at QU, said the conference would issue several important recommendations to strengthen legal professionals and the law in Qatar.

The conference, which was held under the theme ‘Building a stronger legal profession in Qatar’, aimed to promote cooperation and exchange of experiences among lawyers for the public interest.

The event also aimed to renew lawyers’ ethical commitment various charters concerning legal practice, which stipulates lawyers’ obligation to abide by the principles of independence, impartiality, dignity, competence, professional confidentiality, audacity, decency and fellow feeling.

Sting drops venue of Manila concert ‘to save trees’


MANILA ROCK superstar Sting, a known environmentalist, has forced organisers to move his planned one-night concert in Manila’s SM Mall Of Asia (MOA) Arena to another venue in response to a lobby by local environmental activists.

The Manila leg of the British singer’s ‘Back to Bass Tour’ on December 9 will now be hosted by Smart Araneta Coliseum, said his official website.

Earlier in the day, the local concert promoters informed the MOA Arena that Sting had called off his show there, Arena general manager Arnel Gonzales said.

Sting announced his decision after learning that pine trees growing outside SM Baguio, which is owned by the same holding company that owns the MOA Arena, were being removed for an expansion programme, Gonzales added. “Somebody misled the ‘Englishman In New York’ over the venue,” Gonzales told AFP, referring to one of the British-born star’s hit songs.

Gonzales said that while Arena and SM Baguio are sister companies, the concert venue had nothing to do with the trees’ transfer.

Environmentalists had sued SM Baguio earlier this year to stop the uprooting and relocation of 182 old trees, mostly pines, growing at its property.

The case sparked calls for a boycott of the SM chain, controlled by the family of the country’s richest man, billionaire developer Henry Sy.

The mall chain said it had secured permits to remove the trees, but the transfer of all 182 trees to a government lot had not been completed due to the civil suit, which remains on trial.

“It’s something that we did not expect,” Gonzales said of the cancellation of the Arena concert.

Sting, former frontman of The Police, founded the Rainforest Foundation in 1989 with wife Trudie Styler.

In a statement issued to local media, SM MOA Arena lamented that Sting was influenced by a letter sent to his agents by Cheryl Daytec- Yangot, a former lawyer for the group Project Save 182.

“With this letter to Sting, it seems that the activists behind Project Save 182 are bent on taking down the SM brand in general,” the SM MOA Arena said in an accompanying press release.

“Sting, a voice of the oppressed, cannot sing in the halls of the oppressor,” Daytec-Yangot related telling Sting’s agents on her Facebook account. After her successful lobby, she remarked: “I love you, Sting! With every breath I take!” According to Sting’s website, fans who have already bought tickets can exchange them for the new venue starting on Thursday, October 25 at a special window at the Ticketnet Office located at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Malaysian cops thwarts tugboat hijack attempt


KUALA LUMPUR MALAYSIAN authorities have arrested four Indonesian pirates who tried to hijack a tugboat and barge off Borneo island in the first such attack there this year, an official said on Saturday.

The machete-wielding men boarded the Malaysian vessel off Sarawak state on Thursday with most of the crew of ten managing to lock themselves inside the tugboat and raise the alarm, Abim Sungom of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency said.

Authorities captured four suspects from the barge loaded with containers while several others escaped.

The four were in custody and are being investigated for robbery, Abim said, adding the incident was the first attack off Sarawak this year.

None of the crew, comprising four Malaysians, four Indians and two Indonesians was injured but some valuables, including mobile phones and cash, were stolen, he added.

US aircraft carrier visits disputed Asian seas


HO CHI MINH CITY (VIETNAM) AMERICA sent a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier on a cruise through the South China Sea on Saturday, projecting its power in waters that are fast becoming a focal point of its strategic rivalry with Beijing.

The USS George Washington’s mission could raise hackles in China, which is locked in disputes with Vietnam, the Philippines and other governments over ownership of islands in the region.

It will likely reassure the jittery smaller nations of Washington’s support in their tussles with China, whose growing economic and military might is leading to a greater assertiveness in pressing its claims in the South China Sea.

The United States is building closer economic and military alliances with Vietnam and other nations in the region as part of a ‘pivot’ away from the Middle East to Asia.

China is also locked in an unexpectedly fierce dispute with American ally Japan over the ownership of islands in the nearby East China Sea.

On Friday, Beijing staged military exercises near the islands to demonstrate its ability to enforce its claims.

China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, where the US says it has a national interest in ensuring freedom of navigation in an area crossed by vital shipping lanes. Vietnam, the Philippines and several other Asian nations also claim parts of the sea.

The US Navy regularly patrols the Asia-Pacific region, and the trip by the George Washington off the coast of Vietnam is its second in two years.

A second aircraft carrier, the USS John C Stennis, is also conducting operations in the western Pacific region, according to the US Pacific Fleet.

“China will take this as another expression by the United States of its desire to maintain regional domination,” said Denny Roy, a senior fellow at the East-West Centre in Hawaii.

“The US also wants to send a message to the region that it is here for the long haul and that it wants to back up international law.” Vietnam is pleased to accept help from its one-time foe America as a hedge against its giant neighbour China. It has reacted angrily to recent moves by Beijing to establish a garrison on one of the Paracel islands, which Vietnam also claims. The United States also criticised the move by Beijing.

“Vietnam requests China to respect the sovereignty of Vietnam and refrain from taking any other similar wrongdoings,” the Foreign Ministry said this month.

While most analysts believe military confrontation in the waters is highly unlikely, they say tensions are likely to increase as China continues pressing its claims and building its navy.

Meanwhile, China’s Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying said she carried a message from President Hu Jintao that China places great importance on its friendship with the Philippines and wants to move relations forward.

Fu met Aquino after holding annual bilateral talks with Philippine diplomats. In a statement before her meeting with Aquino, Fu said the two sides agreed to work together to implement a consensus reached between the two countries’ leaders and to promote bilateral exchanges at all levels.

The consensus includes doubling bilateral trade to $60 billion and two-way tourism arrivals to 2 million by 2016.

“The two sides also had candid and in-depth discussions on the issues existing in their relations and agreed to maintain the dialogue and properly address differences, so as to avoid negative impact on bilateral cooperation,” Fu said.

QMA movie wins Qatar first Cannes film award


DOHA QATAR’S stagnating or slightly growing fiscal revenues and the anticipated increases in spending are likely to result in dwindling fiscal surpluses, a senior Barclays economist has said.

The surplus, which was 14.1 percent of GDP in 2009, is expected to average of 6 percent of GDP over the coming two years, Alia Moubayed told Qatar Tribune in an exclusive interview.

“While the new budget projects spending to rise about 7.5 percent year on year, we think it is likely to increase 20-24 percent, based on past years’ overspending patterns, and likewise with an increase in wages of about 25 percent, we expect higher subsidies on account of creeping global food and energy prices,” Moubayed a senior economist at Barclays said.

Development spending is expected to rise 40 to 45 percent and allocations to fund major projects are set to grow by 61 percent to QR62 billion, or 9 percent of GDP in 2012-13, she said.

Regarding the country’s domestic growth plans, the Barclays official said Qatar’s foreign asset accumulation continues to be a cornerstone of its growth and diversification strategy.

“As a net exporter of capital, it has continued to use its current account surpluses to acquire assets abroad and add to its already significant stock of foreign assets, which exceeded $100bn at end-2011,” she said.

In 2011, outflows of capital increased almost six-fold, to $62.6 billion from $10.7 billion in 2010, with more than a third of capital outflows in the form of foreign direct and portfolio investment (about $23.2 billion), she added.

Moubayed further said that stock has increasingly become an important generator of investment income for Qatar, rising threefold, from $2.4 billion in 2010 to almost $6.2 billion in 2011 and accounting for 12 percent of Qatar’s current account surplus.

“We expect outflows to continue in 2012 as Qatar pursues its strategic acquisition strategy and extends its support to neighbouring Arab Spring countries,” she said.

“As its growth drivers change and fiscal spending continues to rise, leading to a rapid increase in imports, we would expect current account surpluses to decline as well over the next three years, implying a slower pace of foreign asset accumulation and opportunistic acquisition of assets abroad,” Moubayed said.

Commenting on the health of the local banks, Moubayed said local banks continue to play a key role in supporting public sector expansion and growth domestically and abroad. She said credit growth has accelerated significantly, rising from an average of 16.2 percent year on year in 2011 to 33.7 percent in the first seven months of 2012, driven largely by credit growth to the public sector.

“The public sector credit quadrupled over the same period, rising from an average of 19.6 percent year on year in 2011 to 70 percent in January-July 2012, while private sector credit was showing signs of stagnation at about 15 percent year on year,” Moubayed said.

HMC, US firm in pact to boost health service


DOHA THE Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) has joined hands with Partners HealthCare Foundation to further improve health services for women in Qatar.

According to the three-year agreement signed between the two, Partners HealthCare will bring its clinical expertise and world-class best practices to the Doha-based Women’s Hospital.

The move is intended to make Doha hospital, already one of the busiest obstetrical hospitals in region, one of the best too.

As part of the agreement, a number of specialists and clinicians from Bregham and Women’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital and Newton-Wellesley Hospital will work side by side with the team of Doha’s Women’s Hospital.

The association will target specific improvements in the quality of health care, which will eventually lead to better clinical outcomes.

A number of obstetrics and gynaecology experts from Partners Healthcare Foundation are already identifying ways to improve the quality and flow of operations at the Women’s Hospital to enable it provide more effective health care.

HMC Director Dr Hanan al Kuwari said that the corporation is engaged in building a great legacy of the health care expertise in Qatar. To this end, it is further developing its hospitals by promoting national expertise through adoption of world-class best practices.

“The HMC, through agreement with Partners HealthCare, will redefine the clinical practice,” Dr Kuwari added. The new research-based clinical procedures will introduce practical developments that will improve the women’s health care, the HMC director said.

Reminding that renovation and improvement take a lot of time and effort, she said with assistance of Partners, the situation will be optimum to face these challenges.

Dr Kuwari said Qatar has made great strides towards the establishment of the first academic health system in the region for the benefit of patients.

Partners HealthCare represent the largest integrated academic health system in the United States, and that HMC could learn a lot from their experience, she concluded.

Qatar’s fiscal surplus likely to slide to 6% of GDP


DOHA QATAR’S stagnating or slightly growing fiscal revenues and the anticipated increases in spending are likely to result in dwindling fiscal surpluses, a senior Barclays economist has said.

The surplus, which was 14.1 percent of GDP in 2009, is expected to average of 6 percent of GDP over the coming two years, Alia Moubayed told Qatar Tribune in an exclusive interview.

“While the new budget projects spending to rise about 7.5 percent year on year, we think it is likely to increase 20-24 percent, based on past years’ overspending patterns, and likewise with an increase in wages of about 25 percent, we expect higher subsidies on account of creeping global food and energy prices,” Moubayed a senior economist at Barclays said.

Development spending is expected to rise 40 to 45 percent and allocations to fund major projects are set to grow by 61 percent to QR62 billion, or 9 percent of GDP in 2012-13, she said.

Regarding the country’s domestic growth plans, the Barclays official said Qatar’s foreign asset accumulation continues to be a cornerstone of its growth and diversification strategy.

“As a net exporter of capital, it has continued to use its current account surpluses to acquire assets abroad and add to its already significant stock of foreign assets, which exceeded $100bn at end-2011,” she said.

In 2011, outflows of capital increased almost six-fold, to $62.6 billion from $10.7 billion in 2010, with more than a third of capital outflows in the form of foreign direct and portfolio investment (about $23.2 billion), she added.

Moubayed further said that stock has increasingly become an important generator of investment income for Qatar, rising threefold, from $2.4 billion in 2010 to almost $6.2 billion in 2011 and accounting for 12 percent of Qatar’s current account surplus.

“We expect outflows to continue in 2012 as Qatar pursues its strategic acquisition strategy and extends its support to neighbouring Arab Spring countries,” she said.

“As its growth drivers change and fiscal spending continues to rise, leading to a rapid increase in imports, we would expect current account surpluses to decline as well over the next three years, implying a slower pace of foreign asset accumulation and opportunistic acquisition of assets abroad,” Moubayed said.

Commenting on the health of the local banks, Moubayed said local banks continue to play a key role in supporting public sector expansion and growth domestically and abroad. She said credit growth has accelerated significantly, rising from an average of 16.2 percent year on year in 2011 to 33.7 percent in the first seven months of 2012, driven largely by credit growth to the public sector.

“The public sector credit quadrupled over the same period, rising from an average of 19.6 percent year on year in 2011 to 70 percent in January-July 2012, while private sector credit was showing signs of stagnation at about 15 percent year on year,” Moubayed said.