Friday, 23 November 2012

Kutcher, Kunis enjoy date in Rome

At A Crossroads
OVER the past decade or more, global security concerns have focused on developments in the Middle East, and the situation there remains worryingly volatile. Recently, however, the security environment in the Asia-Pacific region has also become increasingly unstable and is causing growing ...
I WAS in Chattanooga, Tennessee, last week, and people were still buzzing about an unusual duet heard on October 13, using superlow-latency videoconference technology and the city's new gigabit-per-second fibre-optic network. T-Bone Burnett ...

Kutcher, Kunis enjoy date in Rome

ACTOR Ashton Kutcher was seen enjoying a romantic stroll with girlfriend Mila Kunis on the streets. The couple seemed to be enjoying the winter as Kunis took a small break from filming for her next movie The Third Person, which is being shot in Italy. Kunis and Kutcher kept themselves wrapped in warm clothes and held hands while they walked together, reports The couple started dating each other shortly after Kutcher split from estranged wife Demi Moore in November last year.

The Swedish renaissance
Cruise misses Suri

Cruise misses Suri

ACTOR Tom Cruise, who got divorced from actress Katie Holmes, reportedly gets emotional when he is away from his six-year-old daughter Suri. “He cries at night because he misses her so much.

Both of them are taking the divorce really hard, and it’s tough on Katie because she has to deal with Suri’s public meltdowns,” quoted a source as saying. “But Suri knows she’s deeply loved by both her mom and dad.

Hip-hop comes to men’s wear



THESE days, what we talk about when we talk about men’s wear often isn’t men’s wear at all. It’s bravado. It’s the changing role of legacy.

It’s the infusion of brash young energy into a hidebound, tradition-smug world.

As often as not, what we’re talking about is hip-hop.

Take, as an example, the new book by Kevin Burrows and Lawrence Schlossman with a name that expresses enthusiasm for men’s clothing in such a loud, exuberant manner that it can’t be printed here.

Volvo station wagons with boarding school girls still getting smashed in them Unlikely as it may seem, the long hiphop- slang-filled poems in this book are a hypertrophied form of what’s become the de facto way of discussing men’s fashion on the Internet for a generation that learned about Lardini and Isaia from street-style websites, and whose fashion enthusiasm began not in Milan or at FIT, but from watching Kanye West videos.

Hip-hop is the lingua franca, and also a blooming shadow influence on the men’s wear industry writ large. The Internet – Tumblr, specifically – is full of voracious consumption of men’s wear imagery, helping to build an informed consumer and talent pool unlike any before it. Who those people look up to are a slightly older cohort of designers, magazine editors and tastemakers who have become Internet men’s wear icons largely for the way they infuse the rebelliousness of their hip-hop youth into their more traditionally attired selves.

“I never feel that the two things have to be reconciled,” said Schlossman, 25, who dived deep into hip-hop during college, then became a heavy presence in the emerging men’s wear blog world after graduating. He met his co-author when Burrows, now 24, posted a video advertising the first collection of his small-batch tie line the Windmill Club, featuring nattily attired young men sauntering around Brooklyn over a hip-hop instrumental.

“The counterintuitive idea which now is the norm” is how Schlossman described the juxtaposition.

Before long, the two had started a blog (which shares the book’s unprintable name) that was influenced by everything from beat poetry to Greek epics (Burrows was a folklore and mythology major) to the indie culture satire blog Hipster Runoff.

The blog, which ran only for about a year, and the book that followed, is riotously funny, a love letter, a sendup and an Ouroboros all in one. At the time the blog began, the men’s wear blog phenomenon was still young, but as it became the subject of parody, it only got larger and more influential.

“Life imitating art,” Schlossman said.

“We were making fun of it as it was happening.” This parallel, remora-like universe took on the name (HASHTAG)menswear (pronounced hashtag men’s wear) after the tag that was affixed to posts on Tumblr.

“Did it birth (HASHTAG)menswear?” Schlossman asked, before answering his own question: “Kanye shrug!” He then made the gesture popularised by West that loosely translates to: “I hate to have to be the one to say it, but it’s pretty obvious.” That’s partly the case. “The Internet was a safe space for guys who were into clothes,” said Jian DeLeon, a style writer at Complex, who traces the movement back pre-Tumblr to men’s style messageboards like Styleforum, Hypebeast and Superfuture.

The slang that teenagers used there to talk about their favourite sneakers and T-shirts stuck even when the teenagers grew up and the objects of desire evolved, he said.

That created a default voice that has come to dominate the discourse. “They feel comfortable playing their music loudly,” said Michael Williams, by way of metaphor.

Williams is the founder of the early men’s style blog A Continuous Lean, and an uncle of sorts to the younger generation. “There’s not this metrosexual man-bag stigma that people harass them about,” he added.

That means there can be a loud collective cheer from the Tumblr-verse when the two worlds collide, as when ASAP Rocky ends up on the cover of Jalouse, or an interlude on Rick Ross’s recent Rich Forever mix tape that mentioned Tod’s loafers and cashmere socks. “You have no idea how many Tumblr people felt legitimised by that one skit,” DeLeon said.

Schlossman is also the editor of Four Pins, a men’s style website owned by the hip-hop and style publisher Complex Media. It’s largely written in the voice that suggests a teenage boy thumbing through the GQ archive addled on Red Bull and The Marshall Mathers LP. (Sample recent article title: Hood Rich Is the New Americana.) The site has some of the self-awareness of Schlossman’s other project, featuring a column called The Token Black Guy Chronicles, which underscores an inconvenient truth: Many of the participants in (HASHTAG)menswear are white, and free to adopt hip-hop posturing without suffering the wages of racism.

More often than not for this generation, hip-hop is the filter, not the text, providing a worldview that preaches the values of opulence and peacocking. It helped that the (HASHTAG)menswear world had a few non-rapper heroes of their own to look up to: Those include Josh Peskowitz, men’s fashion director at Bloomingdale’s, and Eugene Tong, who was recently promoted to style director of Details.

“Hip-hop was a genre that made it cool for guys to care about what they’re wearing,” said Tong, 32, who grew up in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, on a diet of Wu-Tang Clan and Nas before making his way into the world of men’s fashion. The same went for Peskowitz, 33, raised in Washington, DC, and who worked at music and style magazines including The Fader and Vibe before crossing over to retail.

“For a long time in America, when you looked at a guy in a suit, you saw a stiff, especially for a guy of my upbringing and era,” Peskowitz said. “It represented establishment and we were definitely not about that.” But over the years, Peskowitz has changed his tune, and he’s apt to be seen on style blogs in, say, an Isaia sportcoat paired with a profanely embroidered kerchief given to him by the designer Mark McNairy.

McNairy, 51, has become an unlikely figurehead for this movement. His shoe line, Mark McNairy New Amsterdam, has become a bridge for streetwear enthusiasts to shift to more traditional footwear, and he has woven hip-hop into his aesthetic, whether by using the rapper Danny Brown as a model for his look book and runway show, or releasing T-shirts that are winks to hip-hop fans. One reads, “That’s that shirt I don’t like,” a tweak of a famous Chief Keef lyric; another, White Folks in Paris, is a play on a Jay-Z and Kanye West song title.

“Most of my contemporaries are in their 20s and 30s,” McNairy said.

Peskowitz echoed the sentiment: “There are more people that speak the same language that I do in our business now than there was six years ago, and most of them are much younger than me.” Both men recalled the time, not very many years ago, when the two worlds weren’t in such harmony, even in spite of the occasional crossover figure like Andre 3000 of Outkast, who McNairy said at one point served as an unwitting muse.

In his teenage years, Derek Guy published a hip-hop magazine called Subculture, but now he blogs about tailored men’s clothing at Put This On and at Die, Workwear. “Hip-hop gave me a certain view of masculinity,” he said, “which I think has made it difficult for me to be into the kind of dandyism that some of my peers are into.” Buying slacks after years of wearing jeans, Guy said, “made me confront my identity.” Guy, now 33, left hip-hop behind, both in his style and his soundtrack, but plenty of his generation didn’t, including Dao-Yi Chow of Public School and Ouigi Theodore of the Brooklyn Circus, two designers of more traditional men’s clothing still eager to preserve the hip-hop spirit of their younger years.

“It’s definitely a badge of honour, as well as one that you wear carefully,” said Chow, 38, who began his fashion career in marketing at Sean John, the label founded by Sean Combs. He told a story of a recent collaborative project in which he proposed including a five-panel cap, but was met with resistance, being told, “it feels a little too hip-hop.” “There’s a negative connotation in the fashion world I’m in now, the CFDA world – after all these years they have some crazy idea that it’s still baggy jeans and big logos,” Chow said. He and his partner, Maxwell Osborne, were the only men’s designers in the inaugural Fashion Incubator class of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, and there’s nothing identifiably hip-hop in their collections of tough-looking downtown basics. “We’re making our garments in the same factories as Band of Outsiders and Thom Browne and these esteemed American brands,” Chow said, floating the implicit question of what, if anything, made him different from them.

The same could apply to Theodore, 37, though to him, to keep a hip-hop influence at arm’s length, he said, “would be me not embracing who I am.” He continued: “It’s rebellious culture, but it evolves. In fashion there are not enough of us who can transition. You are creating something that is open to all with your culture at the root of it.” Even though these generations see no wall between an embrace of high-end men’s fashion and a hip-hop lens to view it through, it’s possible that the wave of enthusiasts that follow will have different blends of influences. What’s more, these figures, influential as they are, still constitute a small movement inside a much larger, still very insular club.

At least they have one another, though.

“It’s very apparent that certain things are unknown to certain people,” Tong said, adding, “Josh and I have this very specific handshake when we greet each other, and people are like, ‘What did you just do?”’

Real dump City out of Champions League


PARIS MANCHESTER CITY’S second flirtation with the Champions League ended as the first on Wednesday in a deeply frustrating group stage elimination after they could only draw 1-1 at home to Real Madrid.

After finding Bayern Munich and Napoli too hot to handle 12 months ago, City at least had the consolation of winning the Premier League title.

But in European terms, Roberto Mancini’s men have yet to make the grade after Sergio Aguero’s second- half penalty garnered only their third point from five outings, leaving ninetimes continental kings Real to cruise into the last 16.

The Spanish were joined by Schalke and Borussia Dortmund of Germany, England’s Arsenal, Paris Saint Germain of France, and Italian giants AC Milan.

Two-times champions Porto, 3-0 winners over Dinamo Zagreb, and debutants Malaga, who drew 2-2 at Zenit St Petersburg, had already qualified before the fifth round of group action.

Had City managed to hold onto a 2-1 lead in Madrid in the opening match in Group D it could all have been so different - but Real fought back to win 3-2 and two dropped home points against Dortmund and four more spurned against Ajax closed the door firmly shut on the English side’s ambitions.

City’s England keeper Joe Hart was brutally frank in his assessment.

“All the games cost us - we’ve lost our two away games and not won at home.

It’s been a bad campaign for us. It’s incredibly frustrating,” Hart told Sky Sports.

“Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do the business when it mattered.” Real all but bolted the gate by taking the lead on ten minutes.

Luka Modric found Angel Di Maria and he swept a high ball into the danger zone for French striker Karim Benzema to leave marker Maicon for dead and sweep home from close range.

Real were on the back foot after Alvaro Arbeloa earned a second yellow card for bringing down Aguero in the box 18 minutes from the end and the Argentinian striker sent Casillas the wrong way.

But that was as good as it got for City - though Aguero could have had an earlier goal when he saw Casillas block a close-range effort right on the line.

Former United star Cristiano Ronaldo had a comparatively quiet return to Manchester - but Real joined Dortmund in the knockout phase - though the Germans win the group as they thrashed Ajax 4-1 away to move onto 11 points to Real’s eight.

Arsenal meanwhile moved into the last 16 after secondhalf goals from Jack Wilshere and Lukas Podolski enabled the Gunners to see off French no-hopers Montpellier to ensure they go through with Schalke, who still top Group B by a point after a 1-0 success over Olympiakos pushed the Greeks out of contention.

AC Milan moved through to the knockout phase for the 11th straight season in a Group C which Malaga have dominated after the Italians won 3-1 away to Anderlecht.

Malaga won the group with their draw in Saint Petersburg.

Paris Saint Germain are still vying for top spot in Group A and are through to the second phase for only the second time after Ezekiel Lavezzi struck both goals in the French side’s 2-0 win at Dynamo Kiev.

Dahash edges Al Mujahaz to win Challenge Cup


MOHAMMED al Sulaiti’s Dahash continued his good form and clinched the Challenge Cup in an exciting finish at the Race Meeting, held at the Qatar Racing and Equestrian race track, in New Al Rayyan on Thursday.

This was the third victory for Dahash, ridden by Marco Monteriso, this season and was secured by him with a neck margin against Al Mujahaz in the two-horse battle for the top honours. Nasir al Naif and Al Adaid finished distant third and fourth.

Umm Qarn farm’s Raqiyah and Halik, trained by Alban de Mieulle, were also winners in the sixth and third on the seven-race card.

RESULTS: 11st rracee:: Thunder Bullet (Darren Williams) 1, Ashjan Adhba 2, Mushakasah 3, Ghaya 4. Won by: 1, Shd, Hd. Time: 1:46.75. Trained by: Abdulaziz al Qaithri. Owned by: Abdulaziz Ali al Qaithri 22nd rracee:: Marcus Augustus (Stephen Ladjadj) 1, Al Rumaila 2, Onebytheknows 3, Amphora 4. Won by: 5, 1 1/2, Shd. Time: 1:14.01. Trained by: Debbie Mountain. Owned by: Mohammed Hassan Abdulmalik 33rrd rracee:: Halik (Pier Convertino) 1, Majd Al Shajaa 2, Safonic Sound 3, Inside 4. Won by: 1, 1/2, Nk. Time: 1:26.81. Trained by: Alban de Mieulle.

Owned by: Umm Qarn 44thh rracee:: Tameh (Mark Lawson) 1, Zahi 2, Samhan 3, Shael De Faust 4
Won by: 1, 1 1/4, 1/2. Time: 1:20.78.

Trained by: Ibrahim al Malki. Owned by: Saeed Ibrahim Saeed al Malki 55thh rracee:: Roman Myst (Stephen Ladjadj) 1, Madhmoonah 2, Elmazeer 3, Ghostwriting 4. Won by: 1/2, 2 1/2, 1 3/4. Time: 1:25.16. Trained by: Ahmed Kobeissi. Owned by: Mohammed Kazim Al Ansari and Sons 66thh rracee:: Raqiyah (Pier Convertino) 1, Amour N’ Al Maury 2, Jelmud 3, Jusoor 4. Won by: 1 1/2, Shd, Shd. Time: 2:15.27. Trained by: Alban de Mieulle.

Owned by: Umm Qarn 77thh rracee:: Dahash (Marco Monteriso) 1, Al Mujahaz 2, Nasir Al Naif 3, Al Adaid 4. Won by: Nk, 10, 7. Time: 1:32.17.

Trained by: Mohammed al Sulaiti.

Owned by: Essa Mohammed al Sulaiti

Nadal to lead Qatar ExxonMobil Open line-up


DOHA THREE top 10 players, led by No 4 Rafael Nadal, will feature in a strong field, assembling for the Qatar ExxonMobil Open 2013 beginning on December 31 at the Khalifa Tennis and Squash complex.

For the 21st consecutive year, Doha will be the starting point for 32 players on the ATP World Tour as they begin the new season.

Nadal is returning to the courts for the first time since a knee injury sidelined him during Wimbledon 2012 – a few weeks after he won his record-breaking seventh Roland Garros title. This is Nadal’s sixth appearance in the Qatari capital with his best result being a finals appearance in 2010. Last year, he reached the semifinals where he lost to Gael Monfils.

Spain’s David Ferrer, the world No. 5, had an amazing season in 2012. The winner of seven titles (Auckland, New Zealand; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Acapulco, Mexico; s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands; Bastad, Sweden; Valencia, Spain and the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Paris), he was also a semi-finalist at Roland Garros and the US Open.

Frenchmen Richard Gasquet, the No 10, returns to Doha after a seven-year absence and Monfils will be making his sixth appearance in Doha.

Monfils has reached the final twice, losing to countryman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga last year and to Switzerland’s Roger Federer in 2006.

Gasquet recently won the title at the PTT Thailand Open. Gasquet returns to Doha after a seven-year absence. His only previous appearance was in 2006.

Tournament Director Karim Alami spoke of this year’s field, “We are honoured to have another year with players of the highest caliber coming to the Qatar ExxonMobil Open. The week in Doha kicks off the ATP World Tour season and these players are looking to hit the courts fresh from their end of season break.

“Rafael Nadal is returning to competitive tennis since his knee injury at Wimbledon so everyone is looking forward to seeing what he brings. David Ferrer has had an amazing year with the number of titles he has had and winning his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 in Paris. Gael Monfils is always a fan favourite and it is wonderful to have Richard Gasquet return to the event after a long absence,” added Alami.

The rest of the field is a who’s who of well known names, like popular Feliciano Lopez and Doha regulars Nikolay Davydenko, Philipp Kohlschreiber and Mikhail Youzhny, along with rising stars Jeremy Chardy, Lukas Rosol and Lukas Lacko.

Clarke scores double ton as Aussies pile up 482 against SA


ADELAIDE MICHAEL CLARKE continued his Bradman-like year, producing his fourth 200- plus innings of 2012 to guide Australia to 482-5 at stumps in a remarkable opening day against a depleted South Africa attack in the second test.

The Australia captain became the first batsman to score four double centuries in a calendar year when he took a single off Imran Tahir late in the third session Thursday at the Adelaide Oval. His 200 came off 226 balls and featured 35 boundaries and a six.

He was unbeaten on 224 when Mike Hussey (103) chopped a Dale Steyn delivery onto his stumps to end their 272-run fifth-wicket stand on the last ball of the day.

It was Australia’s highest first-day total in a test match since the 494-6 scored against South Africa in 1910.

David Warner belted 119 from 112 balls on a day dominated by the batsmen, apart from a stumble in the first session when the Australians lost three wickets for 12 runs and slipped to 55-3 against the top-ranked South Africans.

“There’s certainly no secret, a lot of luck goes a long way, that’s for sure,” Clarke said of the make-orbreak batting style he and Warner deployed. “I think the one thing that Dave and I spoke about during the week was our intent. We wanted to be positive.

“Again I use the words of (Shane Warne) that he told me a long time ago, that the better the bowling the more positive you’ve got to be. I think we probably both took that approach today and not worry too much about the result.” Clarke, who finished unbeaten on 259 and got Australia into a position to push for a win late in the drawn first test in Brisbane last week, said he was more concerned about formulating a plan to win the second test than reflect on his latest big knock.

“We just made 480 in a day. Now I’m trying to work out what we’ve got to do tomorrow to set up this game to have a crack at winning,” he said. “Look, it’s really nice to be making runs. I want to make the most of the good days ... I feel like when I’m getting in, I’m trying to cash in because I know there will be some tough days around the corner again.” The momentum swung wildly back to Australia after 37-year-old allrounder Jacques Kallis limped off the field in the 17th with an injured right hamstring after dismissing Ed Cowan (10) and Ricky Ponting (4) in his opening 3.3-over spell. He went for MRI scans and didn’t return to the field, compounding the pressure on the South African attack after Vernon Philander was ruled out just hours before the match started with a bad back. The South Africans were still awaiting results of the scans to determine if Kallis can field again or bat in Adelaide.

Kallis had 2-19 and Morne Morkel’s figures blew out to 2-128 after he was forced to shoulder a heavier workload with Kallis out and Steyn hampered by a tight left hamstring in the evening session.

Tahir, who was overlooked for the first test, conceded 159 runs in 21 overs as his leg breaks were hit to all parts of the ground.

Warner plundered South Africa’s depleted bowling from the start, clobbering four sixes and 16 boundaries in his third test century, which included a 155-run stand with Clarke after Kallis had dismissed Cowan in his first over and added the wicket of Ponting after Morkel removed Rob Quiney (0) in South Africa’s best period of the day.

Light vehicle market to break 100mn mark soon: Cutting


DOHA THE global light vehicle (GLV) market will continue to be dependent on aluminium and in 2012, GLV sales are holding in positive territory.

In 2013 the forecast is that it would be steady with moderate risk, said Director of JD Power Automotive Forecasting David Cutting.

He was speaking at a panel discussion on, ‘Automobile Industry outlook in economic slowdown,’ at the Arabal conference, on Thursday.

“GLV growth is forecast to be steady with moderate risk. If there is one trend in the global automotive industry besides platform consolidation, however, it is uncertainty,” Cutting argued.

The GLV market is predicted to break through the 100 million barrier by middecade, almost doubling in size since the end of the 1990s. Emerging markets, led by China, India, Brazil and Russia, have driven much of the recent growth and are expected to remain key drivers to future growth.

Light vehicle production growth in Asia is expected to significantly outpace the other regions (with share of output increasing from 48 percent in 2011 to 53 percent by 2016).

“Scale brings fragmentation and a new definition of platform”, he said, pointing to how platforms have changed beyond recognition in the last 20 years.

Senior Expert at Gulf Organization for Industrial Consulting Shambhu Prasad, noted that aluminium usage has increased to 140 kg/car in 2011 - predominantly in drive train, chassis and suspension and body. The automotive industry is the largest market for aluminium castings, and these account for more than 50 percent of aluminium used in cars.

Later in the day, Sustainability Manager at Qatalum, Mufeed Odeh speaking on the subject, “Aluminium Perfection, Sustainable Resource & Process”, said, “Sustainable development is one that meets the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations”, was the definition he gave, saying that it includes within it recognition that the needs of the less fortunate should be given priority. It also comprises the idea of limitations caused by current technology and social organisation on the environment’s ability to meet present and future needs.

“Sustainability is transition, from short term to long term thinking, from a linear flow of resources to a systems’ flow, from fossil fuels to integration of alternatives, and seeing environmental, social and economic challenges as not separate and completing, but as interconnected and complementary.

“Our strategy is to reduce, reuse and recycle”, he said, emphasising tight controls on processed water, green surroundings, controls on emissions, all in line with the Qatar National Vision 2030 pillars – which emphasise social and environmental development too.

Spain sells €4bn bonds with ease


MADRID SPAIN sold nearly €4 billion of bonds with ease at an auction on Thursday that kicked off its funding program for a daunting 2013 when Madrid must shoulder regional debt needs and will struggle to meet deficit targets.

The Treasury beat the top end of the target of €2.5-3.5 billion at borrowing costs that were slightly down on previous outings of the same paper but remain too high for comfort.

The average yield on the 2021 bond was 5.517 percent, compared with around 5.6 percent for the benchmark 10-year on the secondary market, a long way from over 7 percent levels in July.

“It’s a clear reflection that sentiment in Spain has improved markedly,” said bond strategist at RIA Capital Markets Nick Stamenkovic.

“They are already funded for 2012 and the market is betting that Spain will ask for a bailout early next year when they face a (wall of issuance).” Madrid faces some €28 billion in debt redemptions in January while in 2013 the country’s funding needs rise to €207 billion from €186 billion this year. This could go higher still if it overshoots its deficit target of 6.3 percent this year and 4.5 percent next year, which the Bank of Spain warned on Wednesday was possible. Spain sold €3.6 billion of a bond maturing October 31, 2015, €645 million of a bond due July 30, 2017 and €1.5 billionof paper maturing April 30, 2021.

Concerned that the welfare system could slip into deficit this year, from a balanced budget target, the economy ministry said separately that the social security reserve fund will subscribe a new €3.3 billion 5-year sovereign bond. Madrid is also expected to help struggling regional governments, cut out of debt markets, which could add a further €40 billion euros to its debt bill.

Spain’s economy has been in recession for a year, the second since 2009, and is not expected to return to growth until late next year at the earliest. Some 25 percent of Spanish workers are unemployed and deep spending cuts and tax hikes have fuelled increasingly violent protests across the country.

However, Spain’s risk premium versus Germany has fell to around 423 basis points from above 650 bps since the European Central Bank said it would buy up debt on the open market to hold down interest rates for any country that signs up for aid.

Madrid has said it wants to be sure the ECB measure would reduce financing costs, citing a spread of 200 bps as more representative of economic fundamentals, though the central bank’s head, Mario Draghi, said he could not make such a promise.

Eurozone faces deepest downturn since 2009


LONDON The eurozone economy is on course for its weakest quarter since the dark days of early 2009, according to business surveys that showed companies toiling against shrinking order books in November.

Service sector firms like banks and hotels that comprise the bulk of the economy fared particularly badly this month, and laid off staff at a faster pace.

While the monthly rate of decline that manufacturers reported eased far more than economists anticipated, Markit’s latest Purchasing Managers’ Indexes (PMIs) pointed to little change overall for a recession-hit euro zone this month.

The flash service sector PMI fell to 45.7 this month, its lowest reading since July 2009, the survey showed on Thursday, failing to meet the expectations of economists who thought it would hold at October’s 46.0
It has been rooted below the 50 mark that divides growth and contraction for 10 months now, and survey compiler Markit said it was too soon to say if this marked the nadir.

With more austerity on the way, and a reminder of the festering sovereign debt crisis in this week’s failure of lenders to agree more aid for Greece, prospects for next year look ominous.

“The concern about the outlook is getting worse as we move towards the end of the year,” said Chris Williamson, chief economist from Markit.

He added that German companies especially have become more pessimistic about the year ahead.

“If the domestic economy of Germany, the largest eurozone nation, is weakening, then that bodes ill for the rest of the region, especially as there’s little trade picking up outside the region.” Overall, the PMIs were consistent with the economy shrinking around 0.5 percent in this quarter, Markit said.

That would be the sharpest contraction since the first quarter of 2009.

While they also suggested the economy shrank by a similar amount in the third quarter, instead of 0.1 percent shown in last week’s official data, Williamson said it was very likely the fourth quarter would see a larger downturn.

“The factors that were helping to prop up the official data in the third quarter won’t be apparent in the final quarter of the year. So you are going to see a deterioration in those official numbers.” Economists pointed to stronger industrial production data early in July and August as a reason why the eurozone economy did not contract as badly as many feared.

QNB gets time until Feb 20 to make offer for Egypt bank



EGYPT’S regulator said on Thursday it would extend until February 20 the deadline for Qatar National Bank to offer to buy out all the shares in National Societe Generale Bank.

The Egyptian Financial Services Authority (EFSA) said in a statement that the period would be extended from November 27.

NSGB is majority owned by France’s Societe Generale Bank.

NSGB’s shares slumped on Cairo’s bourse after the country’s regulator announced the QNB deadline, while Gulf markets were mixed in lacklustre trading.

NSGB fell 5.7 percent, taking November losses to 15.8 percent, after rallying for the last four months on stake purchase talks.

Societe Generale is nearing the sale of its majority stake in NSGB to QNB, sources familiar with the matter said earlier this month. If concluded, the Qatari bank would be obliged to offer t o buy out minority shareholders.

Along with minority shareholders’ stake in the lender, the deal value is about $2.6 billion.

Shares in QNB closed flat on Doha’s index, which was also little moved.

Cairo’s index dipped 0.8 percent to finish at 5,439 points, slipping back towards Tuesday’s 12-week low after a strong rally on Wednesday, as the momentum faded from a tentative loan deal with the International Monetary Fund.

China to add 10mn tonnes aluminum capacity: Adkins



CHINA’S aluminum industry will produce around 10 million tonnes of new aluminium capacity despite global cost curve and is forced to import most of its raw materials for the industry.

These remarks were made at the 16th Arabal Conference by AZ China Limited’s Managing Director, Paul Adkins, in Doha, on Thursday.

He was speaking at a panel discussion on the subject, ‘What would the aluminum policy in China be for 2012- 2013.’ “It’s not safe to talk about averages when comparing 130 smelters with cost structures that vary by up to 33 percent.

But as can be seen here, the median cash cost is around RMB15000 ($2400). But it is also clear that the range of costs is very wide, with almost 50 percent variation between the lowest and highest-cost plants,” Paul said.

He said government subsidies are taking as much as $200 per tonne of the production cost and AZ China estimates that around 25-30 percent of China’s production is presently receiving some form of government assistance.

“Government subsidises a local industry in order to protect jobs and to maintain a level of social order but these subsidies have been virtually wiped out by the market, which dropped RMB500 as soon as the news leaked out,” he said.

Questioning Chinese government’s decision of not importing aluminum, Paul said the government in order to promote domestic value-add is imposing financial penalty on imports, which is estimated around $60 billion per year.

“For the Chinese Communist Party, aluminum is an important conduit for the development, urbanisation and modernisation of China,” Paul said.

Paul wants China to take the advice of Alcoa and other firms to increase imports. “Why do they continue to add capacity at breathtaking rates,” he argued.

Paul further added that the cost curve of the aluminum industry in China will result in consumption of scarce energy resources and also jeopardise environmental integrity.

Commenting on China’s move to shift aluminum production to energy-rich western areas, Paul said this won’t solve the industry’s problems with high costs and pollution.

Qatari investors form JV for LNG supply to Egypt



PRIVATE equity firm Citadel Capital SAE and a group of Qatari investors have formed a joint venture to bring liquefied natural gas, or LNG, to Egypt, underlining the Gulf state’s pledge to help rebuild the North African country’s economy.

Egypt’s Citadel Capital, and investment bank QInvest along with other Qatari investors, said they would build and own facilities required to place a floating LNG storage and regasification unit that would deliver the fuel to Egypt by mid-2013, the private equity company said in a statement on Thursday.

Qatari investors would own a 51 percent stake in the project and Citadel the remainder. No details were given about the cost of the project.

The gas-rich Arab Gulf nation, the world’s largest exporter of LNG, in September said it would invest $18 billion in Egypt’s battered economy in areas such as energy and tourism. Egypt, the most populous country in the Arab world which frequently suffers from power cuts, is trying to rebuild its economy after months of political unrest.

Citadel Capital Chairman Ahmed Heikal said the project would form an “important pillar of Egypt’s energy security at a key moment in the nation’s development”.

“We believe that Egypt is in strong need of additional natural gas to feed the power generation sector and supply Egypt’s industrial base with a reliable, clean source of energy,” he added.

Gas would be imported from Qatar to Egypt and transmitted through its national gas grid and then sold to domestic users, Citadel said.

Qatari investors and Citadel teamed up this year, agreeing a $3.7 billion financing package for an Egyptian Refining Co project, in which state-run Qatar Petroleum International is a shareholder.

Citadel is a publicly-listed company on Egypt’s stock exchange and has over $9.5 billion of investments in mining, transport and energy, among others.

Promote local industry: Filmmakers


DOHA FILMMAKERS from the Gulf region and Iraq called for the creation of a concerted film industry development strategy and to strengthen infrastructure to promote regional filmmaking, at a discussion with the media at the fourth Doha Tribeca Film Festival (DTFF), the annual cultural event of Doha Film Institute (DFI).

Attended by Bassam al Thawadi, Bahraini film producer and director; Mohamed al Daradji, Iraqi director; Khalid Mahmoud, Emirati filmmaker; Mohammed Hassan Ahmed, Emirati scriptwriter; and Abdulaziz al Dorani, Qatari actor, the session was moderated by Saad Burshaid of Qatar Media Corporation.

The discussion principally focused on why Arab film production is yet to achieve full momentum with Thawadi pointing out that the relatively lower population in the Gulf region is one reason why the regional film industry is being limited in the number of productions.

“When we cater to a narrow demographic, it is difficult to recover the costs, and that is why it is important to have governmental and private sector support to filmmaking as well as a creating a robust film infrastructure,” Thawadi said.

He said that the lack of qualified technicians has been a challenge faced by the industry with Thawadi himself having to complete his earlier film post-production works in countries like Egypt, Greece and India, which in turn led to increased costs.

Khalid Mahmoud said a robust film movement is happening in the region today, especially with filmmaking technology being simpler now.

While Daradji said investing in film education and active governmental support can power the industry tremendously. He cited the example of Norway and Morocco, which had fledgling film industries in the 1980s, and through governmental funding now produce about 25 films a year.

Hundreds take part in Aspire race


DOHA THE second race in the annual Aquathon series organised by Aspire attracted hundreds of competitors and spectators.

The Aquathon races feature a swim in the Aspire Dome pool and run around Aspire Zone. In a bid to encourage active lifestyle from an early age , the second edition has been divided into four categories to include younger athletes, junior 2 (10-11 year olds), junior 3 (12-13 year olds), adults, and team.

Jacob Alkhulaifi won the boys division in a time of 9:43 in the 10 and 11 age group category, while Ellie Walters (junior 2) was the fastest girl in 10:13.

In the 12 and 13 age group category, Oisin Tubridy was the fastest boy in 19:56, and Tara Swords (junior 3) was the fastest girl in 22.23.

“This is my second Aquathon event this year. I really enjoy competing in the races as I love to run. I can’t wait for the next one as I would like to improve my time,” said junior competitor Tara Swords.

Julien Periard won the open race for men with a time of 26:51, whilst Rebecca Grace was the fastest in the women’s event with a time of 29:54 Team MM Siverskyy and Riding completed the relay with fastest time of 23.40.

George Ma, a relay competitor, commented, “I enjoy competing in the Aquathon races because it is a great way to build up my strength and endurance, allowing me to really push myself.” The series includes five races, each of which consist of a 500m swim followed by a 5km run around the picturesque Aspire Park. The junior division boasts two modified circuits; the 10-11 year old age category (junior 2) is comprised of a 100m swim and 1.5km run, while the 12- 13 year old age category (junior 3) features a 200m swim and 3km run.

The Aquathon is organised by Aspire Logistics and is designed to help improve one’s cardiovascular fitness, as well as their overall health.

Subsequently, the overall aim of the Aquathon is to support Aspire Zone’s vision to encourage a healthy lifestyle through fun and popular physical activities such as, running and swimming.

CCC marks International Children’s Day


DOHA THE Childhood Cultural Center (CCC) celebrated the International Children’s Day on Thursday.

The ceremony was attended by the CCC director-general and other officials of the centre, representatives of foreign embassies in Qatar as well as directors, teachers and students of independent schools.

Speaking on the occasion, CCC Director of Community Activities Professor Mariam al Mesned said, “The centre celebrates International Children’s Day each year. This year, we have decided to gather students from independent, Arabic and foreign schools to identify different cultures and civilisations of other countries and promote the concept of fraternity and understanding among children of different nationalities.” Director of Public Relations and Media at CCC Abdullah Hamed al Mulla said the centre marked the occasion in order to make children aware of their rights and have access to full health care, entertainment, learning and development activities.

“Qatar is a signatory to the children’s rights agreement.

That is why our centre is organising awareness and educational programmes to highlight the child’s rights that should be provided to him by his community through centres and institutions concerned with the children affairs,” Mulla said.

The event featured folk dances by representatives of different schools. The children wrote their wishes on the occasion.

The celebrations also included an exhibition of products, clothes and booklets providing information about countries around the world.

Doha set to host global environment meet


DOHA THE Higher Organising Committee of COP18/CMP8 met on Thursday to review the final preparations for COP18/CMP8 Doha, which will start on November 26.

The meeting was chaired by President-elect of the COP18/CMP8 conference and Chairman of the Higher Organising Committee HE Abdullah bin Hamad al Attiyah.

Attiyah will take over the COP presidency for one year when the United Nations Climate Change Conference opens at the Qatar National Convention on November 26.

The meeting on Thursday reviewed the final preparations for the conference, including several green initiatives being implemented at COP18/CMP8 Doha.

The COP18/CMP8 organising committee has been striving to prepare Doha for the arrival of more than 17,000 participants from 194 nations. To get the residents involved in the event, the committee has placed a team of volunteers in shopping malls and at hotels around the city to answer questions from the public about climate change and how they can help make a difference. A fleet of buses has also been provided for those attending the conference as a way to reduce traffic congestion and minimise environmental impact of the event.

The preparation meeting was attended by members of the Higher Organising Committee, including General Coordinator for COP18/CMP8 and Chairman of Executive Organising Committee Abdulaziz bin Ahmed al Malki, member of the Higher Organising Committee and Chairman of the Organising Sub-Committee for COP18/CMP8 Doha Fahad bin Mohammad al Attiya, Minister of Energy and Industry HE Dr Mohammad bin Saleh al Sada, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs HE Dr Khalid bin Mohammad al Attiyah, Minister of Environment HE Abdullah bin Mubarak bin Aoboud al Midhadhi and a member of the Organising Sub-Committee Khaled bin Fahad al Khater.

Minister of State for the Interior HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser al Thani briefed the meeting about the work of the security committee.

Moza for quality education for children


PARIS HER Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, chairperson of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Science (QF) and the UNESCO special envoy for Basic and Higher Education, on Wednesday called on world education leaders to step up actions to provide access to quality education for the world’s hard-to-reach children.

Speaking at the Global Education For All (EFA) meeting at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, HH Sheikha Moza said, “Humanity will not overcome the immense challenges we face unless we ensure that children get quality education that equips them to play their part in the modern world.” The ministerial-level meeting aimed to drive efforts towards reaching the EFA goals of providing universal access to education.

Highlighting the current situations in Gaza and Syria, HH Sheikha Moza said, “Events happening right now in my region clearly show that the right to education is still endangered. Take a look at the situation of students in the Gaza Strip, Syria and other conflict areas. Education is not being protected from the wider issues affecting a country or a society.” HH Sheikha Moza urged leaders to build on the momentum generated by recent initiatives, including ‘Education First’ launched by UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon recently and ‘Educate A Child’ she launched this month.

“Over the last few months, we have discovered a new energy. I call on you to make use of this energy. I count on you to step up your efforts to meet our commitments.

I urge you to use the discussion over the coming days to focus on accelerated actions that will enable us to meet our goals,” she said.

In order to build on the current initiatives, HH Sheikha Moza proposed to host the next EFA meeting in Doha in April 2013.

“I invite you to share progress, come with specific plans and show the outcomes of today’s important meeting. I invite you to demonstrate that we are living up to our promise in concrete and practical ways,” she said.

Hundreds take part in Aspire race


DOHA THE second race in the annual Aquathon series organised by Aspire attracted hundreds of competitors and spectators.

The Aquathon races feature a swim in the Aspire Dome pool and run around Aspire Zone. In a bid to encourage active lifestyle from an early age , the second edition has been divided into four categories to include younger athletes, junior 2 (10-11 year olds), junior 3 (12-13 year olds), adults, and team.

Jacob Alkhulaifi won the boys division in a time of 9:43 in the 10 and 11 age group category, while Ellie Walters (junior 2) was the fastest girl in 10:13.

In the 12 and 13 age group category, Oisin Tubridy was the fastest boy in 19:56, and Tara Swords (junior 3) was the fastest girl in 22.23.

“This is my second Aquathon event this year. I really enjoy competing in the races as I love to run. I can’t wait for the next one as I would like to improve my time,” said junior competitor Tara Swords.

Julien Periard won the open race for men with a time of 26:51, whilst Rebecca Grace was the fastest in the women’s event with a time of 29:54 Team MM Siverskyy and Riding completed the relay with fastest time of 23.40.

George Ma, a relay competitor, commented, “I enjoy competing in the Aquathon races because it is a great way to build up my strength and endurance, allowing me to really push myself.” The series includes five races, each of which consist of a 500m swim followed by a 5km run around the picturesque Aspire Park. The junior division boasts two modified circuits; the 10-11 year old age category (junior 2) is comprised of a 100m swim and 1.5km run, while the 12- 13 year old age category (junior 3) features a 200m swim and 3km run.

The Aquathon is organised by Aspire Logistics and is designed to help improve one’s cardiovascular fitness, as well as their overall health.

Subsequently, the overall aim of the Aquathon is to support Aspire Zone’s vision to encourage a healthy lifestyle through fun and popular physical activities such as, running and swimming.

Israel ready to resume Gaza raids if truce fails: Barak


JERUSALEM DEFENCE Minister Ehud Barak warned on Thursday that Israel may resume its attacks on Gaza at any time if a truce that ended a week of bloodshed fails to hold.

The ceasefire “can last nine days, nine weeks or more, but if it does not hold we will know what to do, and then of course we shall consider the possibility of resuming our (military) activity in case of shooting or provocation,” he told public radio.

“Can we win Gaza over from Hamas, yes definitely,” Israeli Intelligence Minister Dan Meridor told journalists in Jerusalem. “If we decide to do it we’ll do it.” The morning after it took effect, the ceasefire was being honoured in the Gaza Strip, after eight days of cross-border violence that resulted in the deaths of 163 Palestinians and five Israelis.

Obtained after an intense diplomatic push led by Egypt and the United States, the truce came into force at 1900 GMT on Wednesday, based on text of the agreement.

Barak justified the Israeli government’s decision to call off a threatened large-scale ground offensive in Gaza, despite the mobilisation of tens of thousands of reservists.

“Such an operation could have created a situation where we would have had to stay for years in the Gaza Strip. I don’t miss Gaza, I’m sure Hamas does not feel nostalgia for what has been happening to it in recent days,” he said.

Israel pulled its soldiers and settlers out of the Gaza Strip in 2005 after a 38-year occupation. In December 2008, soldiers launched a fierce 22-day campaign against the militants killing more than 1,400 Palestinians — half of them civilians.

The toll on the Israeli side was 13, 10 of them soldiers.

Barak said it would be impossible to bring down Gaza’s Hamas government without a complete Israeli re-occupation of the coastal territory.

“I’m not sure that would be the most intelligent thing to do,” he said.

He said that the truce arrangement was not a formal treaty between Israel and Hamas, with whom the Jewish state says it does not negotiate.

“It is not an agreement, it is an unsigned paper,” he told the radio.

“That does not mean it is not worth anything, but it only reflects the arrangements concluded between us and the Egyptians on one side and between Hamas and Egypt on the other, as well as the limitations that both parties accepted,” he said.

“The most important point concerns the commitment of all the Palestinian factions to cease all hostile activities against Israel, including firing rockets or attacks against the Israeli army along the border between Gaza and Israeli territory.

“If peace continues to prevail, there is no reason not to allow Palestinian farmers to cultivate their land up to the border fence,” Barak said.

Currently, the Israeli army considers the fence and its immediate vicinity a live-fire zone off limits to Palestinians.

Hamas PM calls all factions to respect truce


GAZA CITY HAMAS prime minister of the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haniya, on Thursday called on all Palestinian factions to respect a truce deal reached with Israel a day earlier.

“I salute the resistance factions who have respected the agreement since it entered into force and I ask everyone to respect it and act accordingly,” Haniya said in a Gaza City speech.

Haniya also called on “the security services to follow up on the matter.” “We in the government bear the great responsibility of protecting our people and also protecting this agreement, which the occupation has committed to,” he said.

A truce to end eight days of violence in and around Gaza was agreed between Israel and Hamas and announced in Cairo on Wednesday evening, with Hamas expected to enforce its terms on the various militant groups in the Palestinian territory.

The deal calls on Israel to “stop all hostilities... in the land, sea and air, including incursions and targeting of individuals.” It also urges the Palestinian factions to end “rocket attacks and all attacks along the border.” During the eight eightday operation, the Israeli army said it hit more than 1,500 targets, as Gaza militants fired 1,354 rockets over the border, of which 933 struck Israel and another 421 were intercepted by the Iron Dome defence system.

The Hamas-run health ministry said the air strikes killed 163 Palestinians and wounded 1,235, while in Israel five people, including a soldier, were killed by rocket fire and another 280 wounded, army figures showed.

Life in Gaza began returning to normal on Thursday with a public holiday to mark a ceasefire that ended a violent eight-day confrontation with the Israeli military.

After days and nights cooped up at home, their buildings rocked by an unrelenting Israeli bombing campaign and the sound of outgoing Palestinian rocket fire, residents were eager to reclaim their hometowns and their lives.

For the first time in more than a week, the noise of traffic jams and honking horns filled the air in Gaza City, replacing the terrifying booms of air strikes and rocket fire.

Traffic police returned to the streets to try to direct the chaos, to no great effect, as people stopped by newspaper vendors to pick up a daily or ate breakfast at one of the falafel stands dotting the city.

Shop owners began to reopen, some for the first time since the violence began on November 14 with Israel’s targeted killing of a senior Hamas military commander.

Some swept the pavement in front of their shops, as locals formed short queues in front of cash machines, withdrawing money now that places were open for business again.

On Wednesday, the ruling Hamas government announced that Thursday be a public holiday.

“The Palestinian government announces that Thursday 22nd November is a national holiday of victory and an official holiday,” it said in a statement.

It “invites all citizens to celebrate this occasion and visit the families of the martyrs and the wounded and those affected by the violence and to affirm national solidarity”.

Brotherhood leader blasts Gaza deal with Israel


CAIRO THE top leader of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood denounced peace efforts with Israel and urged holy war to liberate Palestinian territories on Thursday — one day after the country’s president, who hails from the movement, mediated a ceasefire between Israelis and Palestinians to end eight days of fierce fighting.

“The enemy knows nothing but the language of force,” said Mohammed Badei. “Be aware of the game of grand deception with which they depict peace accords,” he said in a statement carried on the group’s website and emailed to reporters.

His statement was a sharp deviation from the role played by President Mohammed Morsi in the last week. Egypt’s role in brokering the deal has been hailed by US officials.

The Brotherhood sometimes delivers conflicting messages, depending on its audience.

There are also ideological and generational divisions within the movement, with older leaders like Badie often seen as more conservative.

The Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t recognise Israel and — at least officially — its members refuse to hold direct talks with Israeli officials.

But Morsi has said that he will abide by the terms of Egypt’s 1979 treaty with Israel, and many members say they are in little hurry to enter into armed conflict with the Jewish state.

Badei declared that “jihad is obligatory” for Muslims. But he also said that taking up arms would be the “last stage,” only after Muslims achieved unity. “The use of force and arms while the group is fragmented and disconnected, unorganised, weak in conviction, with faint faith — this will be destined for death.” In the meantime, he called on Muslims to “back your brothers in Palestine. Supply them with what they need, seek victory for them in all international arenas.” Badei’s title — General Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood — also implies a leadership role in the Islamist group’s sister movements across the world.

Under the deal, Gaza’s ruling Hamas is to stop rocket fire into Israel while Israel is to cease attacks and allow the opening of the strip’s long-blockaded borders.

The Repentant wins DTTF top prize


DOHA ‘THE REPENTANT’, directed by Merzak Allouache, received the award of the Best Narrative Feature Film at the DTFF 2012 Arab Film Competition, held in Doha, on Thursday.

The award, which carries a $100,000 cash prize, was handed over to Allouache by the members of the jury headed by Tunisian actress Hend Sabry.

The 82-minute film, which looks at the effects of extremism and civil war in Algeria, was also screened in the Director’s Forthnight Section at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. In his acceptance speech, Allouache dedicated his achievement to ‘those fighting for freedom in Algeria’.

This is the second time Allouache’s work has received the top prize at the DTFF. His movie ‘Normal’ won in the same category in 2011.

Addressing young filmmakers at the event, the director said the prize money he received for the film ‘Normal’ was used to fund his latest project.

Other winners at the event include Nabil Ayouch, the director of ‘Horses of God’ (Morocco) who received this year’s award of Best Narrative Filmmaker.

Ahmed Hafiane of the film ‘Professor’ bagged the Best Performance Award, while ‘The Lebanese Rocket’ Society, directed by Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, received the Best Documentary Feature Film award.

The Best Documentary Filmmaker Award went to Hanan Abdalla for her exemplary work in the film ‘In The Shadow of a Man (Egypt)’.

Damien Ounouri’s ‘Fidai’ received a special mention recognition in this category.

‘The Forgotten’ (Syria, Qatar), directed by Ehab Tarabieh, also went home with the Best Short Film award.

Gaza ceasefire takes hold but mistrust runs deep


GAZA/JERUSALEM A CEASEFIRE between Israel and Hamas took hold on Thursday with scenes of joy among the ruins in Gaza over what Palestinians hailed as a victory, and both sides saying their fingers were still on the trigger.

Quiet reigned on both sides of the border and Palestinians who had been under Israeli bombardment for eight days poured into the streets of Gaza for a celebratory rally, walking past wrecked houses and government buildings.

But as a precaution, schools stayed closed in southern Israel, where nerves were jangled by warning sirens - a false alarm, the army said - after a constant rain of rockets during the most serious Israeli-Palestinian fighting in four years.

Israel had launched its strikes last week with a declared aim of ending rocket attacks on its territory from Gaza, ruled by the Islamist militant group Hamas which denies Israel’s right to exist. Hamas had responded with more rockets.

The truce brokered by Egypt’s new Islamist government, working with the United States, prevented - at least for now - an Israeli invasion of Gaza.

Gaza medical officials said 162 Palestinians, more than half of them civilians including 37 children, were killed in the conflict.

Nearly 1,400 rockets were fired into Israel, killing four civilians and two soldiers, including an officer who died on Thursday of wounds sustained on Wednesday, the Israeli army said.

Israel’s defence minister, Ehud Barak, said it dropped 1,000 times as much explosive on the Gaza Strip as had landed in Israel.

Municipal workers in Gaza began cleaning streets and removing the rubble of buildings bombed in Israel’s air strikes.

Stores opened and people flocked to markets to buy food.

“Israel learnt a lesson it will never forget,” said 51-year-old Khalil al-Rass from Beach refugee camp in the city of Gaza.

Jubilant crowds celebrated in Gaza, in a rare show of Palestinian unity five years after a brief civil war in which Hamas, elected to govern in a 2006 poll, wrestled the territory from the rival Fatah movement that controls the West Bank.

Most of those celebrating on Thursday waved green Hamas flags but there were also hundreds with the yellow emblems of Fatah, led by Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas.

He phoned Gaza chief and prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, to “congratulate him on the victory and extend condolences to the families of the martyrs”, Haniyeh’s office said.

In rocket-hit towns in southern Israel, schools remained closed as a precaution. Nerves were jangled when warning sirens sounded, in what the military quickly said was a false alarm.

Trust was in short supply. The exiled leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, said his Islamist movement would respect the truce if Israel did, but would respond to any violations.