Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Cutting my hair for Rush was risky: Neha Dhupia


ACTRESS Neha Dhupia, who let go of her long locks for her role of a career woman in Rush, says it is the biggest risk she has ever taken in her career.

“We thought a lot... whether to do it or not, and took a big risk. As it’s written here (on movie’s poster) Jo aadmi risk nahi leta, uska sab risky ho jaata hai (A person who doesn’t take risks, has a risky life). (So) I think the biggest risk I took was cutting my hair,” the 32-year-old said on Friday in an interview.

But she has no regrets.

“I am missing my hair but glad that people are liking the look. As an actor, it’s very important that you just be able to experiment and to be able to do different things all the time. When I got this character, it had to be effortless and at the same time sexy, and had to be a career woman, so short hair was the way to go,” she added.

Meanwhile, Neha says Emraan Hashmi, who plays a mediaperson in the film, is just the opposite of his on screen image in real life.

“Working with Emraan is fabulous. Whatever I say about him is not enough. He is just the opposite of the kind of image he has on screen. He is a little boy at heart, he is full of fun, he is very mischievous on the sets,” Neha said.

Directed by Priyanka Desai, Rush, releasing on October 24, also features Sagarika Ghatge and Aditya Pancholi.

If I’m satisfied, I’d be creatively dead: Amitabh Bachchan



FORTY-THREE years in showbiz, over 180 films, national and international honours in his kitty and not to forget a huge fan following - Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan has achieved a lot, but as an actor he never wants to be satisfied.

“I think every actor would wish there is some challenge that is left. I would consider to be creatively dead if I were to say that I am satisfied now,” Big B said in an interview in his trademark baritone.

“I think no actor should be ever satisfied because there is always something new to do, something fresh to get challenged by... I do hope there are filmmakers who will challenge me, who will create stories and characters that would excite me enough and provoke me to perhaps take up a job; so, as I said, I hope I never get satisfied,” added the megastar who is called a “living legend” thanks to many milestones in his career.

From flops to stardom, from failure to scaling dizzying heights of success again, he has seen both good and bad times.

But he said he doesn’t feel like looking back at his past, and added: “I don’t spend much time looking back at what happened. I do remember it, but I don’t see any purpose of wanting to look back. I should only look back at moments that were disparaging, look down upon, negative for me - moments where I could learn something. And if I have been able to use that learning in future, then I am happy about it.” A human being is on the right track if he or she learns from the bad phases of life, he said.

“I do believe that every human being will have ups and downs and I do believe that if we can learn from the periods when we were down, then we are on the right track.

“I would not want to change anything if I had to live another life. I would want the negatives to be there, I would want the downs to be there, because if everything is going to be good for you, then why are you here? You might as well be in heaven. There is some reason why we are here and this is what we all believe in,” he said philosophically.

He wants to face “those obstacles because they taught me what I should be doing or how I should be conducting myself”.

“If I haven’t had all those obstacles, I would have never learnt all that. I feel blessed that I had downs in my life because they were actually lessons for me.” From Zanjeer to Deewar, Sholay to Shakti, he has playd larger-than-life characters on screen in his career, but says no role is big enough or too small.

“They are all tough roles. Every day is a test for me. It’s an examination.

No role is small enough, no role is big enough - they are all equal examinations...this is how I look at it.

“Whether it is a guest role, whether it’s a passing role or a leading role - I always feel that there is a huge amount of concentration, work and the thinking process going into it. I treat each role with the same amount of equality,” said Amitabh.

Recently he turned 70 and is wowing his fan as the host of Kaun Banega Crorepati 6. He doesn’t seem to have any plans to hang up his boots in the near future.

Justin Timberlake, Jessica Biel marry in Italy


HOLLYWOOD couple Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel have married in southern Italy, People magazine said on Friday.

“It’s great to be married, the ceremony was beautiful and it was so special to be surrounded by our family and friends,” the couple told the US celebrity magazine in an exclusive statement.

People said it would carry full details of the wedding, including exclusive photos, in next week’s edition.

Sexy Back singer and actor Timberlake, 31, and Total Recall actress Biel, 30, have been dating on and off since 2007. They announced their engagement at the beginning of 2012, and carefully shielded the details of their nuptials from the public.

The pair have been in southern Italy for much of the week, partying with friends and wedding guests on a beach before exchanging vows. It was not immediately clear on which day the ceremony took place.

Timberlake has previously had high-profile relationships with pop singer Britney Spears and actress Cameron Diaz.

Tennessee native Timberlake, who rose to fame in the boy band N’Sync, forged a successful solo music career before moving into films. He played Napster founder, Sean Parker, in the Oscar-nominated Facebook film, The Social Network and more recently starred alongside Amy Adams and Clint Eastwood in Trouble With The Curve.

Biel, who was born in Minnesota, started her career on US television in the long-running family drama 7th Heaven. She broke into movies with a starring role in the 2003 remake of horror flick Texas Chainsaw Massacre and has since been seen in The A-Team and New Year’s Eve.

Taylor Swift’s new album paints love Red



COUNTRY-POP star Taylor Swift has won over a legion of devoted fans in the past six years with her raw, honest lyrics of romance and heartbreak.

Now, at the grand age of 22, the five-time Grammy winner says her new record Red, to be released on Monday, is “the most adventurous album I’ve ever made.” “Red is really kind of diary entries of the last two years of my life,” Swift said in a telephone interview.

“There were beginnings and ends and there were ups and downs, and lessons that I learned and then had to learn all over again the exact same way ... the ups and downs of the whole experience of falling in love and being let down and letting go and starting over,” she said.

Red, Swift’s follow-up to her 2010 best-seller Speak Now, sees the singer-songwriter collaborate with the likes of British singer Ed Sheeran and pop music producer Max Martin.

The catchy pop-infused lead single We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together was an instant hit when it was released in September, becoming Billboard’s most-downloaded first week digital single.

And like many of Swift’s other songs, it had fans guessing over which of her many brief but high-profile romances she was referring to.

John Mayer? Joe Jonas? Taylor Lautner? Jake Gyllenhaal? Swift isn’t telling.

“It helps me to know that 90 percent of what those little blog posts and articles say isn’t true at all,” said Swift, who is currently dating Conor Kennedy, 18, the son of Robert F Kennedy Jr. “The one bit of privacy that I have is knowing that I know who inspired those songs and I don’t tell anyone.

“For me, keeping my private life private and only sharing it with people through my music allows me to have that connection with my fans and not shut them out of anything.

But it allows me to also have something that’s just mine.” The singer has dealt with her fair share of critics expounding on everything from her music to her personal life. Although she used her Grammy-winning song Mean to send them a message, Swift claims she doesn’t pay much attention to what people say.

“I don’t really read anything so I don’t know what’s being said, which kind of allows me to make music from a pure place of just making the music that I love, Swift said. “People have been saying I was too pop since my first album so I’m used to that.” Along with music, Swift has become a branding powerhouse, with a line of lucrative sponsorship deals. She was named the highestearning celebrity under 30 this year by Forbes magazine, which estimated her 2011 earnings to be $57 million.

Despite her superstar status, the singer is keen to keep herself grounded, crediting her friends for providing her with “some semblance of a normal life.” “I got to understanding how much I need my friends and how much I need to call them when I’m not around them ... because it turns out I am the kind of person that needs to run everything by my friends no matter what,” Swift said with a laugh.

Ribery in form as Bayern faces struggling Lille


LILLE (FRANCE) WINGER Franck Ribery will look to punish the club where he was formed as a youth player when Bayern Munich travels to struggling Lille on Tuesday.

Ribery, who was on Lille’s books from 1995-99 before being released, has been in fine form recently, creating three goals in Bayern’s 5-0 win away to Fortuna Duesseldorf on Saturday, and setting up Olivier Giroud’s equaliser for France against Spain last week.

“I know my family and a lot of friends will be there,” said Ribery, who grew up close to Lille in Boulogne-sur-Mer.

Saturday’s win made Bayern the first side to start a Bundesliga campaign with eight wins, but the Champions League runner-up is under pressure in Europe after its surprise 3-1 loss away to Bate Borisov three weeks ago.

“We were surprised to lose to BATE Borisov. Because of that we’ve got a bit of pressure on our shoulders in the Champions League. So we have a clear objective: win the match in France and the return match in Munich. That will put us on the way to qualifying.” The Belarus side has six points and will take a major step toward qualifying from Group F if it beats Valencia at home.

Bayern’s loss in Belarus was Bayern’s only blip in a remarkable season where it has won 11 out of 12 matches in all competitions.

Bayern sits proudly top of the Bundesliga, five points clear of Eintracht Frankfurt.

Lille, by contrast, has won only three out 13 in all competitions and is languishing down in 11th spot in the French league. It has lost both matches in the Champions League so far and faces another first-round exit, just like last season.

“With the departure of Eden Hazard (to Chelsea), the club has lost its best player of the last few years,” Ribery said.

“Lille lost the first two matches and they will give everything to beat us in front of their fans, so as to keep their chances of qualifying alive.” Despite Lille’s problems, Bayern Munich centre half Dante, who played for the French club between 2003-05, is wary that Lille’s stuttering attack will finally click.

“They’re still dangerous going forward with top players like (Marvin) Martin (Nolan) Roux and also (Salomon) Kalou, who won the Champions League with Chelsea,” the Brazilian defender said.

Lille is sweating on the fitness of center half Marko Basa, who scored an injurytime equaliser in the 1-1 draw away to Bordeaux on Friday.

Basa broke his nose scoring the goal and had an operation on Saturday morning. He remains highly doubtful for the game, while Lille coach Rudi Garcia is already without defender Idrissa Gueye (ankle) and midfielder Rio Mavuba (knee).

Bayern still has injury worries over Dutch winger Arjen Robben, who has been laboring for almost a month with muscle problems.

But even Robben’s absence will hardly weaken a Bayern side full of attacking menace.

Meanwhile, BATE has had longer to prepare than Valencia, having played its last league game on Thursday winning 2-1 away at Slavia Mozyr to maintain its sevenpoint lead at the top while the Spaniards played at home against Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.

Berdych books a slot in London finals


STOCKHOLM TOMAS BERDYCH became the sixth player to qualify for the ATP World Tour finals in London next month after capturing his eighth career title at the Stockholm Open on Sunday.

The Czech, who beat Jo- Wilfried Tsonga in the final, has reached the year-ending showpiece for the world’s top eight men for the third year in succession.

Berdych reached the semi-finals at the O2 Arena last year, losing to eventual runner-up Tsonga, and had enjoyed another consistent year, reaching the last eight at the Australian Open and the semi-finals of the US Open. Two more spots are up for grabs with two weeks of the regular season remaining, although already-qualified Rafa Nadal is a major doubt having not played a match since Wimbledon because of recurring knee problems.

Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro and France’s Tsonga are in seventh and eighth positions in the race to London with Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic in ninth place.

Results from this week’s tournaments in Valencia and Basel and next week’s Paris Masters will determine the line-up for London’s fourth staging of the Tour Finals.

Bryan twins on top American twins Bob and Mike Bryan will end the tennis season on top of the world for a record eighth time, the sport’s governing body said on Monday.

The Olympic gold medallists are the only doubles team to win at least five titles for 10 consecutive years, and won a recordequalling 12th grand slam title at the U.S. Open last month.

“Finishing number one is always our ultimate goal when we start any season and to achieve this again feels amazing,” Bob said in a news release.

“The quality of doubles continues to get tougher each year and it is an honour to finish ahead of so many strong teams.” The 34-year-old Bryans are one of only two teams to have won every grand slam title as well as Olympic gold.

Australians Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde also achieved that feat.

Gainey wins Sea Island with course record of 60


ST SIMONS ISLAND (GEORGIA) TOMMY GAINEY narrowly missed golf’s magic number.

He happily settled for a courserecord 60 at Sea Island, and his first PGA Tour win on Sunday in the McGladrey Classic.

Gainey became the fourth player this year to rally from at least seven shots behind in the final round to win on the PGA Tour. He made seven straight 3s on his way to a 29 on the back nine, and then had to wait more than two hours to see if Jim Furyk or anyone else could catch him.

No one came particularly close.

Tournament host and Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III drove into the water on the 16th and made double bogey.

Furyk made a 12-foot par save on the 17th hole to stay one shot behind, but he pushed his approach well right on the 18th and made his first bogey in 56 holes. “It’s been a hard year for me and finally, we got it right,” Gainey said.

Gainey, a 37-year-old from South Carolina with a homemade swing who is known as “Two Gloves” for wearing black gloves on each hand, joined a long list of unlikely winners this year. He was seven shots behind going into the final round, and his 60 was nearly 9 1/2 shots better than the average score. He wound up with a one-shot victory over David Toms, who closed with a 63.

Toms also needed a birdie on the 18th hole to catch Gainey, but he pushed his drive well right into the bunker and had little chance of reaching the green. “I was thinking about what kind of putt I was going to have before I ever hit the fairway,” Toms said. “You get ahead of yourself and that’s what happens.” Furyk wound up with a 69 to finish alone in third, a sour end to a season filled with bitter memories.

This one won’t sting as much as his bogey on the 16th hole of Olympic Club that cost him a shot at the US Open, or the double bogey on the final hole at Firestone to lose the Bridgestone Invitational, or losing a 1-up lead against Sergio Garcia with two holes to play in the Ryder Cup. He had said at the start of the week that even if he were to win the McGladrey Classic, that’s not what he would remember from his 2012 season.

This time, someone went out and beat him. And Furyk simply couldn’t catch up.

Furyk made only two bogeys all week.

“I think what I’m most disappointed about is when it came down the stretch, hitting the ball pretty much as good as I can, I made really, really poor swings at 17 and 18 with a 7- iron and 8-iron,” Furyk said.

“So to play those two holes and not get one good look at it for birdie was disappointing.”

Azarenka looks to seal No 1 spot


ISTANBUL SERENA WILLIAMS returns to WTA Championships with the Wimbledon and US Open titles, plus the Olympic gold medal, yet with no chance of finishing the year as the No 1 in the world.

Williams has not played since beating top-ranked Victoria Azarenka in the final of the US Open in September and her sparse schedule is one of the reasons she won’t have a chance of overtaking the Belarusian despite dominating the major events in the second half of the year. Azarenka needs only two wins in the elite, eight-player WTA Championships in Istanbul to end 2012 as No. 1
Williams and Azarenka have been drawn into the same roundrobin group. Play starts on Tuesday.

“I don’t really care who I play, when I play, as long as I can play,” Williams said. “I’m really happy to be here. I’m on the Red side with Victoria, it’ll be good.” Angelique Kerber of Germany and Li Na of China complete the Red Group.

French Open champion and second-ranked Maria Sharapova of Russia headlines the White Group, with former Wimbledon champion and last year’s winner in Istanbul, Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland and Sara Errani of Italy completing the bracket.

Since losing to Williams in the US Open final, the last of the four Grand Slams of the year, Azarenka has won 13 straight matches and has held the No 1 ranking for 34 weeks.

The Belarusian won the Australian Open in January and five more titles this year.

“Every match here (in Istanbul) is tough. I obviously have great champions in the group. It’s tough no matter what. It’s challenging, definitely, but I’m looking forward to it,” said Azarenka, who lost last year’s Istanbul final to Kvitova.

Williams has played a curtailed schedule because of injuries and illness but she holds a 10-1 career record against Azarenka.

The American is ranked No. 3 in the world, but she holds a 9-1 record this year against the other seven finalists in Istanbul.

Williams has only twice finished the year as No. 1 รณ in 2002 and 2009. She has played in the season finale six times and won twice, in 2001 and 2009, her final appearance at the event.

Her record this year is 53-4, with her only losses coming to Ekaterina Makarova in the fourth round of the Australian Open, to Caroline Wozniacki in the quarterfinals in Miami, to Virginie Razzano in the first round of the French Open and to Kerber in the quarterfinals in Cincinnati.

Sharapova briefly held the No. 1 ranking after winning the French Open.

“When you’re coming to the Championships you pretty much know what you’re going to get in terms of the level of the group,” the Russian said. “With the field we have this year, I think every match no matter what group you’re in is going to be pretty tough from the get go.”

24 Qatari firms to take part in ‘Big 5’ trade event in Dubai



QDB’s Qatar Export Development Agency, Tasdeer, is pressing ahead with preparations for the upcoming international building and construction show, “Big 5”, in Dubai, UAE, according to a press release in Doha, on Monday.

The award-winning SME organisation recently held its third consecutive meeting with 24 Qatari companies who will represent Qatar at the exhibition in order to pave the way for showcasing the country’s full exporting potential to the world at Qatar’s 300 sqm Pavilion stationed in Zabeel Hall.

“Big 5” is slated to take place on November 5-8 at Dubai’s World Trade Centre and will see in attendance thousands of key industry players.

The show, which has been organised in Dubai for more than three decades, registered over 50,275 participants in 2011 with 33 national pavilions.

Tasdeer gave attendees an in-depth overview of the Big 5 programme which allows exhibitors ample opportunities for networking and expanding their business.

Mr Mansour Bin Ibrahim Al Mahmoud, QDB’s Chief Executive Officer said: “QDB is strongly committed to developing and promoting the local exporting capacity through continued support the domestic private sector.

Tasdeer aims at establishing solid exporting fundamentals which include adequate credit guarantees, risk mitigation and global business opportunities in addition to promoting the contribution of exports to Qatar’s economy in its entirety.” Executive Director of Qatar Export Development Agency Hassan Khalifa al Mansouri said: “Tasdeer adopts a comprehensive export-driver strategy and our presence at exhibition the caliber and scope of “Big 5” will certainly help connect our industry to the global exporting community and grow future international business possibilities.

This, in turn, will positively impact the role of local exports in growing and, more importantly, diversifying Qatar’s GDP.

“Therefore, we urge every participant to take this step very seriously and save no effort to present what our country and industry really has to offer.” Tasdeer’s export development and promotion services include developing Qatar export strategy for non-oil products, identifying products and target markets and providing trade information about foreign markets through tools like Trade Map and Market Access Map.

Other services include conducting market entry studies for target markets.

“Big 5” follows QDB’s resonating success in Orlando’s “Plastic Industry 2012” which took place in February of this year.

Doha Cables was established in order to help achieve Qatar’s National Vision 2030 and therefore are happy to be a part of Qatar Development Bank’s initiative Tasdeer which is in line with Qatar National Vision 2030 and to have the chance to participate at this event, as it will not only promote but also facilitate our plans to expand into various export markets.

Doha Cables has already begun exporting to countries such as Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Iraq and Turkmenistan.

Airbus may hike A350-1000 output in ‘mini-jumbo’ battle



AIRBUS is looking at increasing planned production for the largest member of its A350 family to power its next important struggle with Boeing for a lucrative corner of the jet market, two people familiar with the matter said.

The plans emerge on the eve of Tuesday’s inauguration in Toulouse, southwest France, of an assembly factory for the A350, which is being developed at an estimated cost of $15 billion.

The lightweight carboncomposite aircraft is Airbus’s answer to two categories of Boeing long-haul jet: the 787 Dreamliner, which pioneered the large-scale of fuel-saving materials, and the more traditional metallic but still popular 365-seat 777.

The largest variant, the 350- seat A350-1000, will allow Airbus to compete directly with the twin-engined 777 “mini-jumbo”. The duel is shaping as the next major aviation battle, with sales of up to 2,000 jets at stake over the next 20 years.

Airbus blames a shortage of delivery slots for slow sales of the A350-1000, which has notched up 88 orders and seen several cancellations since launch, though its U.S. rival claims Airbus was wrong to try to compete in two segments with one plane.

Raising production would free up more slots to be sold.

“Airbus is looking at ways of increasing A350-1000 production,” a person familiar with the matter told Reuters.

It was not immediately clear whether this would be at the expense of production for the two smaller models of A350 or mean an increase in total production.

There has been speculation the A350-800 could be scaled back to focus on larger models.

A spokeswoman for EADS subsidiary Airbus declined specific comment on production for the A350-1000, but said production for the overall series - officially known as the A350 XWB - was designed to accommodate changes in demand.

“The A350 XWB final assembly line is designed to be flexible and to be able to produce all three members of the A350 family (-800, -900, - 1000),” the spokeswoman said by email.

“We are working on a rampup to 10 per month to be reached four years after the first A350 XWB delivery and are constantly and closely following market trends so that we anticipate and adapt our production to meet our customers’ needs.” At first, Airbus will focus on production of the 314-seat A350-900, the best-selling of all three A350 models and one designed to compete head-tohead with the 787 Dreamliner, which entered regular service in Japan almost exactly a year ago. First flight is planned for mid-2013 and first delivery for the second half of the following year, suggesting the full production rate will be achieved in late 2018. The first A350-1000 is due in 2017 but it is sold out until late-decade.

Airbus is locked in a psychological battle with Boeing over the A350-1000, which was recently beefed up with a more powerful Rolls-Royce engine to improve payload and range.

Boeing produces seven 777s a month and plans to lift this to 8.3 after a record sales streak for the jet, which was extended by a $4.5 billion Turkish Airlines order on Monday.

But even the 777’s industry fans acknowledge the 1990s metal design will eventually face headwinds from the A350-1000’s lighter design, and Boeing has been toying for months with a 777 revamp that includes less thirsty engines and new wings. While Boeing is under pressure from top buyers such as Emirates to firm up its plans for the 777X, as the tentative new version is known, Airbus is under pressure to score quick sales of the A350-1000 to recoup lost momentum.It says the plane offers significant savings over the current 777.

After a flurry when the A350 was launched in 2007, sales of the 350-seat A350-1000 went quiet until Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific placed a new order for 10 and upgraded orders for 16 of the smaller A350-900 model in July.

Industry analysts say that as well as pushing new sales, Airbus is actively trying to persuade buyers of its smaller A350-900 to trade up in pursuit of more payload and range, and a further rejigging of the order backlog cannot be ruled out.

On Tuesday, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault will inaugurate the A350 plant in Toulouse in honour of one the European jetmaker’s French founders amid a row over investment.

Apicorp’s third quarter net profit jumps 90%



ARAB Petroleum Investments Corporation (Apicorp), the multilateral development bank owned by the ten member states of the Organisation of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC), maintained its robust growth momentum this year with its third quarter net profit almost doubling from last year.

Apicorp’s third quarter net profit for 2012 rose 90 percent to $12.67 million compared to $6.68 million last year.

The third quarter results were approved at Apicorp’s quarterly Board meeting, held in Cairo on October 5
The government of Qatar owns a 10 percent stake in Apicorp.

Apicorp’s cumulative net profit for the first three quarters of this year reached $63.2 million, a 33 percent jump from the $47.5 million recorded over the same period last year. Total assets rose 13% to reach $ 5.1 billion compared to $ 4.5 billion at the end of September this year.

Commenting on the results, Chief Executive and General Manager of Apicorp Ahmad Bin Hamad al Nuaimi said: “Our third quarter performance validates our strategic roadmap where we have maintained a balance between growth initiatives and risk management.

Apicorp’s ability to enhance its lending capacity on the back of its capital base expansion and funding diversification not only makes it stand out in today’s tough banking environment, but is also delivering results for Apicorp’s shareholders and resulted in last month’s rating upgrade by Moody’s from A1 to a double Aa3.” Earlier this month in Cairo, Apicorp’s Board ratified a five-year term loan worth SAR 440 million ($117 million) towards financing the Multilateral Development Bank’s operations. Earlier this year, the Board approved a five year term loan worth SAR 500 million ($133 million), and approved Apicorp’s first ever three year SAR 2.5 billion ($667 million) Shari’ah Compliant term loan facility, which was oversubscribed by leading Saudi banks.

“In 2012, we expanded our array of value offerings aimed at supporting energy companies through a series of initiatives that included a partnership with JP Morgan to expand our energy trade finance services to the Arab World and beyond.

At a time when international bank financing resources are getting scarcer in the region, we expect Apicorp to play an even more significant role in supporting energyrelated transactions and being a growth-enabler for the Arab hydrocarbon industry,” added al Nuaimi.

Rosneft snatches TNK-BP for $55 billion in two-step deal



STATE-CONTROLLED Russian oil company Rosneft has struck a twopart deal worth about $55 billion to buy privatelyowned TNK-BP and make British oil company BP a near-20 percent Rosneft shareholder with two seats on the board.

The first part of the Kremlin-backed agreement announced by Rosneft on Monday folds BP’s half of TNK-BP, Russia’s thirdlargest oil company, into Rosneft, in exchange for cash and Rosneft stock in an agreement worth about $27 billion including $12.3 billion of cash and the rest in stock.

In stage two, AAR would get $28 billion in cash, but the two deals are independent of each other and the AAR deal is still subject to negotiations, Rosneft said.

With the whole of TNK-BP on board, Rosneft, which is already Russia’s top oil producer, will control nearly half of Russia’s oil output and pump more oil and gas than Exxon Mobil, the world’s top international oil company.

The deal gives Rosneft extra output and cash flow to finance exploration of Russia’s vast reserves to replace ageing and depleting fields. It keeps BP’s expertise in Russia and provides the “quality” private shareholder President Vladimir Putin wants in order to show his critics he is pursuing a real privatisation agenda.

“This is a very good signal for the Russian market. It is a good, large deal. I would like to thank you for this work,” Russian President Vladimir Putin told Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin.

It allows BP to end a stormy relationship with AAR, and to pursue closer ties with a Kremlin that exerts a much tighter hold on the oil industry than it did in the 1990s when BP first invested in Russia.

TNK-BP is highly profitable and provides a quarter of BP’s total production, but its fields are mature, and the Soviet-born tycoons who own the other half through AAR have blocked BP’s search for growth in Russia through closer ties with Rosneft.

“It’s certainly a historic deal and a historic day for BP and Rosneft and TNKBP,” said Santander analyst Jason Kenney.

“I do think Rosneft is the winner in this. They get a lot of credibility by having a western investor on the board and involved in its Russian resource and operations, and it’s a good partner to have. For BP, they get an early monetisation of its current Russian asset base, they shake off the political troubles that it had by having that stake, but a lot of the upside for BP is probably long-dated and it’s difficult to see how it’s going to be valued into BP’s share price on a near-term basis.” Executives at TNK-BP have in the past had run-ins with Russian law enforcement at times of friction between the shareholders, with two managers arrested in 2008 amid a dispute over strategy that forced then- CEO Bob Dudley, who now heads BP, to flee Russia.

Should the deal survive a months-long approval process, BP’s exposure to Russia would be lower, but with seats on the board it has closer ties than any of its rivals to Sechin, who has a significant say in energy policy.

The four tycoons of AAR, are reluctant to remain in a joint venture with the politically powerful Russian state oil company.

MES launches tree plantation campaign


DOHA MES INDIAN School of Doha launched a tree plantation campaign recently.

As part of the school’s curriculum SEWA (social empowerment through work and education), the campaign’s aim is to spread environmental awareness. It was also in support of the United Nations environment programme ‘Million Tree Plantation’.

Bank Sarasin-Alpen CEO Sulaiman Salghi was the chief guest at the programme. He stressed the importance of a corporate culture built in green environment.

“A green and clean environment should be the mission of every student,” said Principal A P Sasidharan while speaking at the programme. G Rajkumar, vice-principal, CBSE-I, emphasised the importance of instilling values of interdependence in people’s minds.

After the tree plantation ceremony, a formal function was held in the auditorium. There the student representatives from different classes spoke about the urgency of protecting the environment. The students also carried flags of different organisations to spread environmental awareness. A song about the environment was sung by the students of various classes.

Executive Manager Fadwa B Kawkab, Bank Sarasin-Alpen Managing Director Sanjay Bhatia, vice-principals and head of sections, head of academic inspection and teachers were present on the occasion.

Environment coordinator Shakil Ahmed Kakvi and SEWA coordinators of the section Shoaibuddin and Devi were also present.

NU-Q research project to close digital gap


DOHA NORTHWESTERN University in Qatar (NU-Q) has unveiled a research project in support of the country’s National Research Strategy. The research will help institutions close the ‘digital divide’ and provide a source of information for scholars of digital literacy.

The research titled ‘Effective use of the web: digital literacy in Qatar’ was presented at the Qatar Foundation Annual Research forum as a study to evaluate Arabic users’ and bilinguals’ web searching strategies using observational methods.

Led by Senior Lecturer in NU-Q’s communication programme Susan Dun, the project will analyse the level of digital literacy by measuring both the ability of searchers to complete their tasks as well their efficiency in doing so.

“Dun’s work is an example of NU-Q’s effort to advance understanding and development of digital media in the country,” said NU-Q Dean and CEO Everette Dennis.

“We have a mandate to produce media professionals with world class capabilities here in Doha, and part of that work is to contribute to the development of the media industry and the knowledge economy of Qatar,” he added.

“NU-Q and its faculty are working independently as well as with organisations such as ictQatar to identify gaps in the digital media industry and ways to bridge those gaps using innovation, technology as well as policy making.” Dun hopes that her research will produce more accurate tools to assess digital literacy.

She’s also optimistic that the results will be useful to ictQATAR – Qatar’s Supreme Council of Information and Communication – in their policy decision-making.

“The digital divide, which separates those with and without access to web resources, is a significant concern, given the explosion of resources available via the web,” Dun said.

“The need to understand, measure, and potentially improve levels of digital literacy is crucial for countries like Qatar that have already spent a great deal of effort to expand access to the Internet and to create a knowledge-based online society,” she added.

126 students from 20 schools take part in QSDL debate


DOHA QATARDEBATE, a member of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, recently organised the 1st Qatar Schools Debating League (QSDL) in English for the current academic year.

The tournament was held at Tariq Bin Ziyad Independent Secondary School for Boys with participation by 126 students from 20 schools. The tournament generated lots of energy and excitement.

The large number of schools involved in the event reflects the keenness and attention of schools’ principals to involve students in debates that have positive impact on students through participation and learning the art of debate and dialogue.

As usual for the tournaments organised by the Center, the participating teams were distributed among the halls for preparation before the start of the debate. Alberta Stevens, the new head of English programme joined moderator Sonia Philip in welcoming all participants, debaters, judges and coaches wishing them luck and success. He also praised the students’ concern to participate in the debates tournament.

The participants debated four motions during the tournament which included: THW (This house would) ban fast food chains in Qatar from upsizing meals and drinks, THW ban civilian gun ownership, THW ban all blood sports, and THW discourage state funding of space exploration.

It is worth mentioning that the total number of debating teams reached a record high of 42 for a local tournament.

Modern Indian School won the first place, Amna Bint Wahab Independent Secondary School for Girls got the second position and Pakistan Education Center the third spot.

The top speaker awards went to the following: Ahmed Kais of Qatar Academy got first place; Sheba George of Birla Public School the second place, Vane Swetah C.S of DPS Modern Indian School won the third spot and Safa Kashaf from Park House was placed fourth.

Khalid al Khulaifi, the judge and a faculty member of the University of Qatar, said that his experience with debate as a debater as well as judge was very useful, pointing out that the debate was not confined to the classroom, but also extended to life outside the campus.

Workshop to make Dhreima students media-literate


DOHA AS MANY as 21 children from Qatar Orphan Foundation (Dhreima) aged between 8 and 14 years will benefit from a two-day media training workshop. The training programme launched by Doha Center for Media Freedom (DCMF) on Monday will conclude on Tuesday.

On completion of the training, the children will be given cameras to make short videos and put into practice what they have been taught. The main objective behind the workshop is to make Dhreima students media-literate.

According to a survey conducted by DCMF, 80 percent of Qatari schools have media literacy as one of the subjects taught. General Director of Media Literacy Programme at DCMF Rania Khaled al Hussaini said that four Qatari schools were chosen and encouraged last year by DCMF to include media literacy among the subjects taught.

She pointed out the Media Literacy Programme will be implemented this year in 42 schools in the country, bringing the number of schools having this course to 46, “This programme represents a unique initiative in the whole region,” she noted.

Notably, this programme will widen the horizon for Dhreima’s orphans. They will be the next generation of junior reporters and it will give them self-confidence Through the media literacy programme, DCMF wants to create awareness among the youth about what makes news and how to analyse media content. This project should help them develop their analytical skills and curiosity.

Al Hussaini noted that young people today spend much of their time exposed to electronic media, more than the time they spend in their classrooms.

“This fact shows the importance as well as underlines the necessity to understand the system under which the media works,” she concluded asserting that “through the implementation of media literacy, the media-literate public may reject the lies and untruth being passed off as news and could distinguish between news and views, and refuse to be misguided by propaganda and sensationalism,” she added.

The workshop will allow Dhreima students to enjoy opportunities equal to the ones available to other children and help them in skills enhancement and selfdevelopment.

Dhalia Badawi, media literacy trainer pointed out that the workshop would focus on theoretical and practical trainings through the usage of manuals, preparation of videos and shooting with DCMF cameras The Media Literacy Programme course material includes two bilingual booklets titled School News: Students Handbook and School News: Manual for Teachers & Coaches.

Indian fishermen stay in jail for failing to pay fine


DOHA INDIAN fishermen sentenced to imprisonment and QR5000 fine for illegally crossing into Qatari territorial waters are still languishing in jail for failing to pay the fine ordered by the Qatari Criminal Court even after completing their jail terms on Sunday.

On October 18, the court awarded 10 out of 22 Indian fishermen from Bahrain to two week imprisonment and a fine of QR5,000 fines each.

The fishermen are still waiting for their sponsors from Bahrain to come to their rescue.

The jailed men are Thadeuse, Antony, Suthan, Johnson, Anto, Sesu Alex, David, George, Antony George, and Subin.

According to the verdict, the fishermen will spend an additional 50 days in prison if they fail to pay the fine.

First Secretary in Indian Embassy Sasikumar said, “The embassy has contacted the concerned sponsors in Bahrain and they have promised to arrive in Qatar to pay the fine soon.” A total of 22 fishermen onboard seven boats from Bahrain were arrested by Qatar coast guard on October 7 for fishing illegally in Qatari waters.

Meanwhile, the remaining 12 men appeared before the court on Monday. They were also given two weeks imprisonment and fined QR5,000 each. Those sentenced on Monday were identified as Antony, Shaji, Saijumon, Jenifer, Savier, Antony, Michael, Sahaya, Suman, Michael Raj, Sahaya Anto and Sundher.

“The sponsors of these 12 fishermen have arrived in Doha. The fishermen are likely to leave Qatar on Tuesday after completing all bail formalities,” Sasikumar said.

Qatar chapter of South Asian Fishermen Fraternity (SAFF) has urged the Kerala government to pay the fine in order to get the men released if their sponsors fail to do so.

SAAF officials have sent a letter to the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu regarding the issue. According to a SAFF source, more than 10,000 Indian fishermen are engaged in fishing in Qatar, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

HMC to expand air ambulance service


DOHA HAMAD Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Ambulance Service recently celebrated the fifth anniversary of LifeFlight, an emergency air ambulance service which serves Doha outskirts as well as the north and south areas of the country, with a plan to expand the service to other areas.

Highlighting the achievement of the service, Chief Executive Officer of HMC’s Ambulance Service Dr Robert Owen said, “LifeFlight continues to benefit the people of Qatar by providing patients in remote and rural parts of the country access to effective care. The service has been extremely successful and continues to be a key part of our service offerings.” Speaking on how LifeFlight has developed since its inception in 2007, Dr Owen said that the service had grown from being a daylight hours (sunrise to sunset) service to an 18-hour service from October 2011, enabling the crew to respond to emergencies from 6am until midnight.

“With this extension, the crew now receives and responds to an average of 80 to 85 calls each representing about three calls a day. The vast majority of cases are trauma emergencies, road accidents and industrial accidents.

We are planning further expansion of the LifeFlight service. In 2013, we will partner with the Qatar Emiri Air Force and introduce new helicopters,” Owen said.

“A service of this nature is not possible without partners.

I would like to extend my appreciation to Gulf Helicopters and also various organisations that make helicopter operating sites available across the country,” Dr Owen added.

Besides trauma emergencies, LifeFlight also responds to cases of patients who suffer from heart attack or go unconsciousness. There has been an increased need for the service at the Sealine area during the camping season.

The decision on whether a patient needs to be transported by LifeFlight is based on various factors that include, the condition of the patient and distance to the hospital.

Wayne Thomson, who manages the Aeromedical Service, congratulated his team on completing five years of service.

“The LifeFlight service is now a vital component of the Ambulance Service. By ensuring faster access to critical emergency care, it has benefited patients who are too far away from road ambulance service with a medical emergency,” Thomson said.

The LifeFlight helicopter is fitted with advanced life support medical equipment and is in constant contact with the National Command Center. It carries three crew members – the pilot, a critical care paramedic and an ambulance paramedic, and can transport and care for one patient in a critical or serious condition.

“Once notified of a case by the National Command Center, LifeFlight is airborne within four-and-a-half minutes.

We generally fly in a straight line and flight time depends on the distance from Hamad General Hospital, which is the helicopter base,” Thomson explained.

HE added: “During the day, we can land almost anywhere provided it is safe to do so. At night, we only land at 16 designated helicopter operating sites located at strategic positions around the country. The number of sites will, however, continue to expand.” The LifeFlight crew is part of the Ambulance Service’s highly trained team of experts providing high-quality critical care services throughout Qatar using a range of specially equipped rapid response vehicles, ambulances and the aeromedical helicopter.

BJP’s fight against corruption just a show off: Sonia

PTI MANDI (HIMACHAL PRADESH) CONGRESS president Sonia Gandhi on Monday launched a fresh attack on BJP, accusing it of just putting up a “show” of fighting corruption while being “deep” into it.

Kick-starting the Congress poll campaign in Himachal Pradesh, she charged the saffron party with only pretending to fight corruption and rising prices but showing little effort on the ground.

“These people are talking big about tackling corruption when they themselves are deep into it. Their fight against corruption is just a show off. Before raising a finger against corruption they should introspect,” she said.

Gandhi said it was a matter of shame that corruption had afflicted the system of governance . “Who brought the RTI Act? Did the BJP enact it? It was the UPA which brought it to tackle graft,” she said. Elections to the HP assembly are scheduled to be held on November 4
Gandhi sought to defend the recent hike in diesel prices contending that it was inevitable because of the increase in international crude prices. She, however, pointed out that Congressruled states had reduced VAT on diesel to cushion the impact of the diesel price hike, a move which was lacking in the BJP-ruled states.

Gandhi also said Central funds to the tune of Rs 10,000 crore allocated to the state had lapsed last year as the BJP government did not make adequate efforts to implement various Central schemes in the state.

UK ends Modi’s boycott

PTI AHEMDABAD BRITAIN on Monday said its decision to re-engage with Gujarat should not be seen as an endorsement of Chief Minister Narendra Modi, as it ended its decade-long boycott of the state over the 2002 riots.

Seeking to increase opportunities in business and trade with Gujarat, British High Commissioner to India James Bevan met Modi for about 50 minutes after which the envoy said the decision was in UK’s national interest.

Bevan said after the meeting that active engagement with Gujarat was the right way to advance UK’s interest in the state. “This is engagement with Gujarat and Gujarat as a whole and not an engagement with any single figure,” Bevan said. “I don’t agree with your perception that we are rehabilitating Modi, this engagement is not about endorsement. If we need to engage with some state, we need to engage with the Chief Minister of state and Modi is democratically elected leader of Gujarat,” he said.

Bevan was asked what UK government stood to gain from “rehabilitating” the Chief Minister of the BJP-ruled state.

The UK had snapped all ties with Gujarat in the aftermath of the 2002 communal riots in which three British nationals were among the victims.

“Had a great meeting... to strengthen Gujarat-UK ties in economic and social sectors,” Modi said on Twitter after the meeting. Bevan also asserted that re-engaging with Gujarat is in UK’s trade interest.

In reply to a question on whether UK will now grant visa to Modi, Bevan said, “This is a hypothetical question as Modi has not applied for any visa.

We deal with the visa issue when it comes up on case to case basis“. Though the decision to re-engage with Modi comes just ahead of the legislative assembly elections, Bevan sought to dispel the notion that it would have any effect on the outcome of the polls. Elections are being held in December.

“We have no intentions of interfering in any way in the election which is taking place in Gujarat. Who runs Gujarat is the matter for people of Gujarat to decide. And frankly I think that Gujarat voters are unlikely to be swayed in his or her decision whom to vote for on the basis of a visit of eight hours by the British High Commissioner,” he said.

Explaining the rationale behind the decision, Bevan said, “2002 was 10 years ago and in those 10 years many important things have happened.

The British government that was elected in 2010 took a decision to deepen and strengthen its relations with India. And if you want to do that you can’t ignore one of the most important states in India, which is Gujarat.

“Also, in those 10 years, state of Gujarat has grown to became more prosperous and more successful. There are very large number of Gujaratis living now in UK, and Gujarat over the 10 years has become more important to UK,” he said. “And in those 10 years legal process has gone forward and has resulted in several convictions and important figures have been found guilty of committing the crime during the 2002 riots including a former minister” he said, adding “I would also like to say that this is increased engagement not the start of the engagement.” A special SIT court awarded life term to BJP leader and former state minister Maya Kodnani after being convicted in the Naroda Patiya case.

UCI strips Armstrong of Tour de France titles


GENEVA LANCE ARMSTRONG was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life on Monday after the International Cycling Union (UCI) ratified the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s (USADA) sanctions against the American.

The long-awaited decision has left cycling facing its “greatest crisis” according to UCI president Pat McQuaid and has destroyed Armstrong’s last hope of clearing his name.

“Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling. Lance Armstrong deserves to be forgotten in cycling,” McQuaid told a news conference as he outlined how cycling, long battered by doping problems for decades, would have to start all over again.

“The UCI wishes to begin that journey on that path forward today by confirming that it will not appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and that it will recognise the sanction that USADA has imposed.

“I was sickened by what I read in the USADA report.” On October 10, USADA published a report into Armstrong which alleged the now-retired rider had been involved in the “most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen”.

Armstrong, 41, had previously elected not to contest USADA charges, prompting USADA to propose his punishment pending confirmation from cycling’s world governing body.

Former Armstrong team mates at his US Postal and Discovery Channel outfits, where he won his seven successive Tour titles from 1999 to 2005, testified against him and themselves and were given reduced bans by the American authorities. “It wasn’t until the intervention of federal agents...they called these riders in and they put down a gun and badge on the table in front of them and said ‘you’re now facing a grand jury you must tell the truth’ that those riders broke down,” McQuaid added.

Armstrong, widely accepted as one of the greatest cyclists of all time given he fought back from cancer to dominate the sport, has always denied doping and says he has never failed a doping test. He said he had stopped contesting the charges after years of probes and rumours because “there comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say, ‘Enough is enough’”.

McQuaid, who faced criticism from several quarters for his and the UCI’s handling of the affair, said he would not be resigning. “Cycling has a future. This is not the first time cycling has reached a crossroads or that it has had to begin anew,” he said in front of a packed room full of journalists and television cameras.

“When I took over (as president) in 2005 I made the fight against doping my priority.

I acknowledged cycling had a culture of doping.

Cycling has come a long way.

I have no intention of resigning as president of the UCI.

“I am sorry we couldn’t catch every damn one of them red handed and throw them out of the sport.” Other issues such as the potential reawarding of Armstrong’s Tour titles and the matter of prize money will be discussed by the UCI Management Committee on Friday. Tour director Christian Prudhomme has said he believes no rider should inherit the titles given doping was so widespread among the peloton at the time but McQuaid made it clear the decision rested with his organisation, not the Tour.

USADA charged five people over the doping ring. Doctors Luis Garcia del Moral and Michele Ferrari and trainer Pepe Marti have been banned for life while Armstrong’s mentor Johan Bruyneel has chosen to go to arbitration along with doctor Pedro Celaya.

Armstrong’s last hope that the UCI might not ratify USADA’s ruling sprang from long-running dispute between the two bodies over who should handle the case.

In statement, the UCI continued the feud with USADA despite ratifying its decision.

“Even apart from any discussion on jurisdiction, it would have been better that the evidence collected by USADA had been assessed by a neutral body or person who was not involved in collecting the evidence and prosecuting the defendant,” it said.

QFCA sweetens norms to woo firms


DOHA THE Qatar Financial Centre Authority (QFCA) on Monday announced new regulations for governing special purpose companies, holding companies and single family offices operating in or from the QFC.

The regulations provide for a more attractive legal, regulatory and business environment that will allow expansion of the range of services the QFC firms may offer and the structures they may adopt, notably single family offices and special purpose companies.

Pointing out that the Authority has been strengthening its environment to offer business platforms for local, regional, and international firms, QFC Authority Chief Executive Officer Shashank Srivastava said, “A business looking to establish itself within the QFC environment, whether Qatari or foreign, can count on certain and clear regulatory and tax regimes.” As per the new regulation, the Special Company Regulations (SCR) provide the legislative framework for special purpose companies and holding companies.

The SPCs are entities created to fulfill specific or temporary objectives. They can typically be used in transactions involving the acquisition and financing of specific assets.

SPCs are usually subsidiary companies with an asset-liability structure and legal status that make their obligations secure, isolate risk and minimise the danger of insolvency even if the parent company becomes insolvent. SPCs are granted a number of exemptions which would not ordinarily apply to conventional companies in the QFC.

For instance, SPCs are exempt from certain provisions of the QFC companies regulations including from the requirement to audit or file accounts or hold annual shareholder meetings. In addition, corporate and administrative services can be provided to SPCs by a support service provider licensed either in the QFC or in another jurisdiction subject to approval.

The business of holding companies is set out as Permitted Activities under Schedule 3, Part 2 of QFC Law where there is reference to the business activities of holding companies, and the provision, formation, operation and administration of trusts and similar arrangements of all kinds.

According to QFC’s new regulations, the SCR seeks to more clearly define, explain and clarify the activities in which holding companies may engage, such as holding subsidiaries, granting security interest over assets, providing an indemnity, guarantee or similar support to any third party for the benefit of any of its subsidiaries; the acquisition and holding of any interest in any asset whether tangible or intangible for the benefit of any of its subsidiaries; single family office regulations (SFOR).

The new SFOR permits single family offices to provide services to a single family. An SFO is a private company dedicated exclusively to the investment, legacy and financial needs of one wealthy family.

Interest in SFOs has grown over the last decade as wealth has increased around the world. An SFO may take a variety of different forms, but ultimately its primary purpose is to manage the investments and finances of a wealthy single family. These services may include accounting, fiduciary, investment, property management, governance and related services.

Slight slip in CBQ profit in Q3 to QR548 million


DOHA COMMERCIAL Bank of Qatar (CBQ) has reported QR548 million net profit in the third quarter, a slight drop from QR552 million level during the same period in 2011.

However, its net profit rose to QR1.56 billion during the first nine months of the year, a 4 percent rise over QR1.50 billion in the same period last year.

According to the bank’s financial statement, profit from financial investments for the quarter was QR120.4 million against QR19.5 million in the same period in 2011.

On the other hand, fee and commission income dropped to QR172.2 million from QR201.4 million from the year earlier.

Net interest income for the nine months was QR1.40 billion, 2 percent lower than the same period in 2011, reflecting growth in lending to customers offset by a reduction in the net interest margin.

Non-interest income was QR781 million for the first nine months in 2012 compared with QR718 million for the same period in 2011 due to higher gains from the bank’s investment portfolio and an increase in foreign exchange income partially offset by lower levels of net fee and commission income.

Net operating income in the nine months was QR2.185 billion, 2 percent higher than the level achieved in the same period last year.

The bank’s total operating expenses were up by 14 percent to QR709 million compared with QR622 million in 2011, while the bank’s net provisions for loans and advances were QR66 million in the nine months, down 46 percent from QR123 million in the same period in 2011.

Provisions for impairment on the bank’s investment portfolio fell to QR35 million for the nine months compared with QR43 million for the same period in 2011.

The bank’s total assets rose 8 percent to QR76.4 billion compared to QR70.4 billion in the same period last year. The increase in total assets from the end of 2011 was due to growth of QR6.8 billion in lending to customers and QR1.5 billion in balances held with the Qatar Central Bank, partially offset by a reduction of QR4.2 billion in balances due from banks and financial institutions.

Loans and advances to customers were up by 17 percent to QR48.4 billion as on September 30, 2012 compared with QR41.5 billion at the end of September 2011 and were up by 16 percent from December 31, 2011.

The growth in lending in 2012 has been generated from both the corporate and retail businesses.

Financial investments fell to QR11.6 billion as on September 30, 2012, 1 percent lower than at the end of December 2011. (AI)