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vo|. 31, No. 91 200 oa|sas editor@omanobserver.

om Monday, February 13, 2012/Rabee al Awwal 20, 1433 AH

Opens greater vistas for tourism sector
HM greet s Finland president
HIS Majesty Sultan Qaboos has sent a cable of congratulations
to President Sauli Niinisto on the occasion of him winning the
presidential elections in Finland. In his cable, His Majesty ex-
pressed his sincere congratulations along with his best wishes
of success to President Niinisto in leading the friendly people of
Finland to further progress and prosperity and the friendly rela-
tions between the two countries further progress. ONA
Muscat Nizwa Sohar Al Buraimi Sur Khasab Salalah
Max 28 31 27 29 30 30 29
Min 16 13 18 15 19 26 18
Musc Musc
Max Maax ax 28
Weather WWW Fajr Dhuhr Asr Magrib Isha
Muscat 05:25 am 12:26 pm 03:41 pm 06:06 pm 07:17 pm
Prayer timing GOLD
Dollar per Omani Rial
Buying 0.382 Selling 0.388
THE Tour of Oman,
being held as part of
Muscat Festival, begins
tomorrow. See P20
MUSCAT His Majesty Sul-
tan Qaboos issued a Royal De-
cree No 4/2012 declaring the
construction of Wadi Al Sahtin
Road in the Wilayat of Rustaq
as a Public Utility Project.
Article 1 declares the con-
struction of Wadi Al Sahtin
Road specified in the attached
memo and diagram as a Public
Utility Project.
Article 2 empowers the au-
thorities concerned to expropri-
ate through direct implementa-
tion the properties and relevant
lands needed for the aforesaid
project and installations in ac-
cordance with the provisions
of the aforesaid Public Utility
Expropriation Law.
The Decree comes into
force from its date of issue.
The construction work on
the 30-km road is due to com-
mence shortly. When fully
operational tentatively by the
first quarter of 2015, the car-
riageway promises to open up
an inaccessible mountainous
swathe of the Wilayat of Rus-
taq to economic and tourism
The two-lane carriageway
will replace a graded track that
runs most part along the route
of Wadi Sahtin.
Wadi Sahtin, with its plung-
ing ravines, mountain profiles
and rocky landscapes, attracts
significant numbers of nature
lovers and adventure tourists.
The Ministry of Tourism
has identified a number of
sites that are proposed to be
developed into full-fledged
tourist attractions. Many of
these sites are located along
the route of the existing wadi
and will be incorporated into
an overall design plan for the
areas general development.
Al Batinah South Governo-
rate with its geographical loca-
tion has played a significant
role in the history of Oman.
It is also distinguished for
its landmarks and natural at-
tractions in most of its wilayats
including Al Rustaq, Al Awabi,
Nakhl, Wadi Al Maawil, Barka
and Musannah. The centre of
the governorate is the Wilayat
of Rustaq which is about 150
km far from Muscat. To P2
Wadi Saht in road a
public ut ilit y proj ect
8y A 3|all Repor|er
MUSCAT Omans first in-
dustrial scale bakery, owned
by Oman Flour Mills Compa-
ny, will shortly commence op-
erations, said the chairperson
of the joint stock company.
Manal bint Mohammed al
Abdwani said the facility re-
cently underwent successful
trial operations. We are plan-
ning to launch our products
in the market during Febru-
ary 2012, she stated in the
Chairpersons Report of the
companys performance dur-
ing the six months ending on
December 31, 2011.
Meanwhile, Oman Flour
Mills, which is partly owned
by the Omani government, re-
ported a hefty 22 per cent rise
in its sales turnover during
the six months under review,
compared to the correspond-
ing period of 2010. To P4
MUSCAT A Committee
on Job-seekers at the Majlis
Ashshura chaired by Shaikh
Khalid bin Hilal al Maawali,
Chairman of the Majlis held a
meeting yesterday.
During the meeting, the
committee hosted Shaikh
Abdul Rahman al Abri, Under-
Secretary of the Civil Service
Ministry for Civil Service Em-
ployees Affairs, and a number
of officials at the ministry.
This comes within the
framework of the committees
current study on job-seekers
and the efforts made by the
government to employ nation-
al manpower.
The meeting also touched
on the Royal orders of His
Majesty Sultan Qaboos to
employ 50,000 Omanis last
year, the mechanisms used by
the ministry to implement the
orders, the stance of the minis-
try on employing 63,000 job-
seekers this year.
It also discussed the mech-
anisms between the ministry
and the respective public au-
thority including the Public
Authority for National Man-
power Register. To page 3
MUSCAT The Higher
Education Council held its
first session for 2012 under
the chairmanship of Sayyid
Khalid bin Hilal al Busaidy,
Minister of the Diwan of the
Royal Court and Chairman of
the Higher Education Coun-
cil, yesterday.
In implementation of the
Royal directives of His Maj-
esty Sultan Qaboos, the Coun-
cil discussed two reports pre-
pared by the Majlis Addawla
on the follow-up of the higher
education sector during the
last four years of the 7th Five-
Year Plan (2006-2010).
The Council also dis-
cussed the reports, conclu-
sions and recommendations.
It also discussed the circular
prepared by the planning and
follow-up committee of the
Council on the contents of the
two reports.
The Council also revised
the circular of the team in
charge of revising the draft
education strategy of the Sul-
tanate and decided to com-
plete the requirements for it in
co-ordination with all respec-
tive departments. To P4
First indust rial bakery soon
Top priorit y t o j obs Focus on educat ion
BOOST TO DENTAL CARE: The newly-opened Oman Dental College campus provides high-level teaching and healthcare services. Details, P2
MUSCAT Large swathes
of central Muscat plunged in
darkness yesterday evening
following a glitch in a trans-
former feeding these areas.
The blackout began at
6.45 pm affecting parts of Al
Khuwair, Madinat al Sultan
Qaboos, Madinat al Ilam,
Al Sarooj and surrounding
areas. Power was restored
at 7.35 pm. According to an
official of Muscat Electric-
ity Distribution Company,
supply to affected areas was
cut as part of an emergency
shutdown triggered by trans-
former fault. To P4
Out age hit s Muscat
Stunning beauty P25
MUSCAT The Supreme
Committee for Town Planning
yesterday reviewed a number
of urban planning projects, in-
cluding initiatives for the rede-
velopment of Masirah Island
and Ghala Industrial Area.
Meeting for the first time
this year with Housing Min-
ister Shaikh Saif bin Moham-
med al Shabibi in the chair, the
panel evaluated the progress
made in the implementation
of decisions taken with regard
to the Masirah and Ghala In-
dustrial Area projects. Both
areas have been identified for
an extensive redevelopment
complete with infrastructural
improvements designed to
enhance their investment and
urban appeal.
The Supreme Committee
also deliberated on a strat-
egy for regulating construc-
tion activity in North and
South Batinah Governorates.
Members also discussed rec-
ommendations for resolving
layout issues relating to a
coastal swathe stretching from
the Wilayat of Barka to the
Wilayat of Shinas and extend-
ing from the shoreline up to
the rail alignment.
Also on the agenda was a
proposal for conserving areas
for future development while
adhering to environmental
safeguards. In this regard, the
committee decided to task the
Secretariat-General with final-
ising broad guidelines govern-
ing land use. It required the
Secretariat-General to carry
out this task in close co-or-
dination with the authorities
concerned, namely the Minis-
tries of Housing and Regional
Municipalities and Water Re-
sources, To page 4
MUSCAT Korean giant
Hyundai Engineering and
Construction has pledged to
deploy its formidable resourc-
es and capabilities in ensuring
the timely implementation
of the Musandam Gas Plant
project an investment of
vital importance to the gover-
norates long-term economic
and social development.
Oman Oil Company Ex-
ploration and Production, the
upstream subsidiary of the
government owned energy
investment firm Oman Oil
Company, is ploughing around
$600 million in the develop-
ment of the integrated oil and
gas processing scheme.
As the first major energy
infrastructure development in
the governorate, the project
will catalyse growth in this
strategically important Omani
enclave overlooking the Strait
of Hormuz. Details, P21
New urban planning set
$600m Musandam gas plant
By Bader al Kiyumi
MUSCAT The new build-
ing of Oman Dental College
(ODC) in Wattayah will help
the institution meet the growing
demand for healthcare profes-
sionals in Oman, senior faculty
members have said.
The 6,300 sqm built premis-
es of the first and only dental
school in Oman was formally
opened under the auspices of
His Highness Sayyid Shihab
bin Tareq al Said, Adviser to
His Majesty, who also unveiled
a commemorative plaque in the
Addressing the audience,
Dr Rahul Arora, dean of ODC,
said the quality of education
received at ODC is intended to
ensure our graduates are equal-
ly positioned with their interna-
tional counterparts. We are cul-
tivating skilled, competent and
caring professionals who are
able to advance the science, art
and ethics of dentistry thereby
producing sustainable value for
the Sultanate of Oman and its
In addition to the latest cut-
ting-edge dental simulator tech-
nology, diagnostic and clinical
equipment available today, the
new ODC building has both a
day care operating theatre and
capacity for nearly 70 dental
chairs in its outpatient clinical
teaching facility that offers den-
tal care across all specialities
including oral surgery, conserv-
ative dentistry and endodontics,
prosthodontics, child dental
health and orthodontics.
Clinical students, under the
supervision of a team of expe-
rienced faculty, treat members
of the public as an integral part
of their learning experience to
prepare them for independent
clinical practice.
Today the college plays a
pivotal role in positively shap-
ing the dental profession with
almost 370 students registered
for its dental degree from 13
Dr Mohammed al Ismaily,
Chairman of the Board of Di-
rectors, ODC, said in his speech
that the inauguration of the new
premises was a particularly
major milestone in the life of
Oman Dental College.
The college provides a nur-
turing and stimulating academ-
ic and clinical environment for
training both Omani and expa-
triate professionals who will be
able to enhance the provision of
dental care in the country.
The ongoing co-operation
between the college and the
Ministry of Health in the clini-
cal training of our students at
outreach centres and the recent
interim relocation of the dental
services from Al Nahdha Hos-
pital is representative of the
healthy relationship between
the private and government
In order to ensure dental
learning and teaching of inter-
national standards, combined
with the introduction of the
most advanced practices in den-
tal education and the promo-
tion of continuing professional
development, an International
Advisory Panel comprising
three globally renowned lead-
ers in the dental profession was
formed early on to oversee all
aspects of ODCs develop-
The panel is currently
chaired by Professor Nairn Wil-
son, Co-chair of the Federation
of European Heads and Deans
of Dental Schools, Immediate
Past Dean of Kings College
London Dental Institute in the
UK and former President of the
UK General Dental Council.
The other two members are
Professor Lakshman Samara-
nayake, Dean of the Faculty
of Dentistry at the University
of Hong Kong, Director of the
Prince Philip Dental Hospital,
King James IV Professor at
the Royal College of Surgeons
of Edinburgh and Professor
Mariano Sanz, Dean and Head
of the Faculty of Odontology
at the University Complutense
of Madrid, Spain and former
President of the Association for
Dental Education in Europe.
ODCs new building inaugurated
MUSCAT - Abdulaziz bin
Mohammed al Rowas, Adviser
to His Majesty the Sultan for
Cultural Affairs, received in his
office here yesterday a delega-
tion of the National Museum of
African Art, Smithsonian Insti-
tution in Washington led by Dr
Johnnetta Cole, Director of the
Museum and a delegation of
the Santa Fe Community Foun-
dation in New Mexico led by
Judith A, currently visiting the
Sultanate as per the invitation
of Sultan Qaboos Culture Cen-
tre (SQCC) in Washington.
The meeting discussed the
cultural relations between the
two sides and means of en-
hancing and promoting future
co-operation. ONA
National Museum of African
Art delegation received
MUSCAT Activities of the
4th Small and Medium Enter-
prises (SMEs) Exhibition and
Conference will kick off today
at Oman International Exhibi-
tion Centre (OIEC) under the
auspices of Shaikh Saad bin
Mohammed al Saadi, Com-
merce and Industry Minister.
The three-day event
themed Self-Employment
and Training is organised by
the Commerce and Industry
Ministry in collaboration with
Trifoil Expo.
The Commerce and In-
dustry Minister will deliver
a speech highlighting the im-
portance of SMEs as the main
base for the national economy.
He will also shed light on the
role played by SMEs to create
jobs with the social and eco-
nomic updates.
Salah bin Hilal al Maawali,
Director General of Small and
Medium Enterprises Develop-
ment at the Commerce and In-
dustry Ministry, said that the
conference is a good oppor-
tunity to discuss a number of
insisting important topics per-
taining to activities of SMEs.
At a press conference held
at the Commerce and Industry
Ministry yesterday, he added
that participant experts will
present their ideas and expe-
rience related to challenges
facing SMEs, how to tackle
them and future prospects of
During the conference,
Khalfan al Aysari will give a
speech during which he will
present visions on SMEs de-
velopment and their impor-
tance in the upcoming period.
Working papers from a
number of governmental de-
partments, supporting and
financing entities will be pre-
sented during the conference.
On the sidelines of the confer-
ence, SMEs Exhibition will
be organised in which a large
number of establishments, au-
thorities and individuals inter-
ested in and directly involved
with SMEs sector will take
The exhibition will dis-
play a wide range of SMEs
products and services includ-
ing commercial and financial
services, banks, finance and
audit companies, legal com-
panies, intellectual property
companies, air carriers and
car renting companies, min-
istries and governmental in-
stitutions, telecommunication
companies, Internet providers
and web designers and e-com-
They will show the prom-
ising opportunities, which
SMEs sector can provide
within the framework of gov-
ernment plans to support more
national job-seekers. ONA
4th SMEs exhibition and
Conference begins today
MUSCAT The National
Human Rights Commission
(NHRC) yesterday held its
first meeting of the year under
the chairmanship of Moham-
med bin Abdullah al Riyami,
Chairman of NHRC.
The meeting discussed the
report of the secretariat and
reviewed the awareness plan
implemented last year. Pro-
grammes for this year also
came up for discussion.
The meeting also discussed
preparations for the second
Gulf Human Rights Forum to
be hosted by the Sultanate on
March 11 and 12. ONA
NHRC meet discusses report, plans
MUSCAT The first gath-
ering of the Medical Labora-
tory Science Group (MLSG)
at Sultan Qaboos University
(SQU) was opened under the
patronage of Dr Taher Ba
Omar, Academic Affairs Ad-
visor to the Vice-Chancellor.
The highlight of this three
-day event is an exhibition by
Medical Laboratory Science
students attached to the Col-
lege of Medicine and Health
Sciences and representatives
from other academic and
business institutions dealing
with Medical Laboratory Sci-
ence. A blood donation camp
is also organised on the side-
lines of the gathering held at
the exhibition hall of the uni-
Through the exhibition,
the students spread the mes-
sage that Medical Laboratory
Science combines the use of
sophisticated instruments and
techniques with the applica-
tion of theoretical knowledge
to perform complex proce-
dures on tissue specimens,
blood samples and other body
The tests and procedures
that Medical Laboratory
Technologists perform pro-
vide critical information ena-
bling physicians to diagnose,
treat and monitor a patient's
The students underlined
the fact that Medical Labo-
ratory Technology is a con-
stantly evolving and reward-
ing career.
Focus on Medical Laboratory Science
MUSCAT A training course
entitled the "Implementation
of Procedural Tools for Man-
aging Classified Documents"
began at Majlis Ashshura yes-
The course is organised
by Majlis Secretariat General
in collaboration with the Na-
tional Records and Archives
Authority (NRAA).
The themes of the course
include steps of implementing
procedural tools by practical
application of how to open
files according to approved
mechanism in a modernised
archive system and a review
of some examples of how to
arrange files and encode them
and how to transfer current
records to the intermediate
records depository.
The course aims at keep-
ing up with the national ef-
forts to prepare and apply a
modernised system for records
management in governmental
units covered by the Records
and Archives Law issued in
Royal Decree No 60/2007, as
Majlis Ashshura approved
procedural tools for classifica-
tion and retaining the Majlis'
classified records.
This course is part of the
Majlis General Secretariat
to put this system into use so
that officials responsible for
records and archives system
can benefit from.
Several officials from dif-
ferent administrative units at
Majlis Ashshura take part in
this one-week course which
is run by Sami Mali, an expert
from the NRAA. ONA
Majlis Ashshura training course begins
MUSCAT To shed light on
the various obstacles that the
parents of an autistic child are
currently facing while improv-
ing the life standards of the
affected child, the first inter-
national conference on autism
titled "Accepting Difference"
will be held in Muscat on March
21, 2012.
Organised by the Language
Center Social Committee in col-
laboration with the Collage of
Medicine and Health Sciences
at Sultan Qaboos University
(SQU) the conference will fur-
ther focus autism as a disorder
of brain development and it can
be associated with intellectual
An Autistic person would
have difficulties in social in-
teraction, verbal and nonverbal
communication and repetitive
behavior. Our aim in conducting
such a conference is to improve
the lives and futures of children
and adults affected by autism by
raising public awareness and ef-
fecting decision makers, Anfal
Wuhaibiya (pictured), Execu-
tive Chairperson of the Confer-
ence told the Observer, adding
Our aim at this conference to
highlight the importance of this
disorder and to come up with a
convincing plan to start a well
developed and equipped Autism
Centre. We need those kids to
be enrolled in our schools. They
all have the rights to get their
free education as any other disa-
bled children and side by side,
this conference will also take a
closer look at short and longer-
term strategies to make the best
use of resources we have here in
This conference will provide
professionals and parents with
a clearer understanding of the
diagnostic criteria and essential
strategies for education, behav-
iour management and communi-
cation associate with Autism. It
will also present delegates with
a greater understanding of Au-
tism and an opportunity to dis-
cuss strategies and techniques
that will help in their support of
people with the disorder, both
at school and at home. The at-
tendance of many international
speakers to talk about the latest
issues through case studies and
practical workshops are cur-
rently at the confirmation stage.
Anfal, who is also the Lan-
guage Center Social Commit-
tee, Chair, Language Center,
SQU said many private compa-
nies have come forward offer-
ing support to this event. We're
happy for our achievements as
an organising team in getting
generous support of many com-
panies in the private sector such
as Al Habib Group.
The conference organising
committee is working out plans
to open registration to more than
500 attendees including parents,
teachers, health care profes-
sionals in the fields of psychol-
ogy, social work, mental health,
clinical services, home health
care services, training and hu-
man resources, early childhood
education, disability and special
First world meet on autism to be held in Muscat
From page 1
The wilayat comprises
numerous enchanting wadis
where visitor can walk among
springs and lush palm trees
and bushes. Among the best
famous of the wadis in the
wilayat are Wadi Al Sahtin,
Wadi Bani Ghafer, Wadi Bani
Auwf, Wadi Al Haimli and
Wadi Hajir Bani Umar.
Of all the spectacular wadis
in the wilayat, Wadi Al Sahtin
is the most attractive and ad-
venturous wadi and this makes
it more popular especially
to adventure enthusiasts in
This wadi has tonnes of ex-
ploring potentials. Due to its
uniqueness, some people refer
to this wadi as the Treasure
Chest of Oman.
What distinguishes Wadi Al
Sahtin more than other wadis
in the wilayat is the regular
flowing of its water as well as
natural water springs.
The wadi during its course
links Al Batinah Governorate
to Al Dhahirah Governorates
through the Wilayat of Al Rus-
taq and across the series of
Western Al Hajar Mountains.
To reach the highest peak of
the wadi it might take a cou-
ple of hours. The wadi attracts
residents and visitors alike
because it marks an oasis en-
dowed with date palms and
various other fruits and planta-
Wadi Al Sahtan also com-
prises some old traditional
houses that were built hun-
dreds of years ago.
These kinds of traditional
buildings present picturesque
architecture along with gar-
dens and other natural land-
scapes that reflects the natural
and historical richness of this
beautiful wadi.
al Jahdhami
Wadi Sahtin road a public utility project
Badr bin Saud al Busai-
dy, Minister Responsible
for Defence Affairs, ac-
companied by a military
delegation comprising
Air Vice Marshal Mat-
tar bin Ali al Obaidani,
Commander of the Roy-
al Air Force of Oman
(RAFO), and senior offic-
ers at the Sultans Armed
Forces (SAF) left here yes-
terday for Singapore to
take part in the opening of
Singapore Airshow 2012.
The minister and his
delegation were seen off at
ASeeb Air Base by Rear
Admiral Abdullah bin
Khamis al Raisi, Com-
mander of the Royal Navy
of Oman (RNA) and SAF
senior officers. ONA
Defence minister leaves for Singapore
DOHA The Sultanate yesterday took
part in the deliberations of the third minis-
terial meeting for the Non-Aligned Move-
ment (NAM) on the Advancement of Wom-
en, which began in Doha with participation
of more than 500 officials representing 80
countries. The meet concludes on Febru-
ary 14. The Sultanate's delegation to the
meeting was led by Dr Yahya bin Badr al
Ma'awali, Under-Secretary at the Social
Development Ministry.
The meeting began with a speech by
Shaikh Ahmed bin Mohammed al Thani,
Qatari Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs
for International Cooperation, who pointed
out that the meeting reflects the interests of
NAM countries in women advancement is-
sues. ONA
Sultanate participates in NAM meet
By Kaushalendra Singh
MUSCAT Ernst & Young
yesterday announced the final-
ists of the Omani Entrepre-
neur of the Year (EOY) and
Emerging Entrepreneur of the
Year awards. The winner of
the Entrepreneur of the Year
award will be part of the global
Ernst & Young Entrepreneur
of the Year Award event to be
held in Monte Carlo in June.
There will be participants from
not less than 50 countries at
the world EOY event in Monte
The idea behind both the
awards is to encourage young
Omani entrepreneurs while
giving global exposure to big
business houses and recogni-
tion to emerging entrepreneurs
for adopting good business
practices and achieving suc-
cess in their areas of business.
The finalists were an-
nounced jointly by Ernst &
Youngs Sridhar Sridharan,
Managing Partner; Rajiv
Singh, Partner; and Nader
Nasser Hamood al Rawahy,
Associate Director Advisory
Services and Head of Govern-
ment and Public Sector.
The finalists in the Oma-
ni Entrepreneur of the Year
Award are: Dr Mohammed al
Barwani, Samir J Fancy, Hus-
sain Salman al Lawati and
Maqbool Hameed Mohd al
Saleh. In the local award cat-
egory for the Emerging Entre-
preneur of the Year, there are
three finalists: Jinesh Ashwin
Dharamsey, Abdulla Ahmad
Sulaiman al Hadi and Nabeel
Abdullah al Riyami and Mo-
hammed Said al Marjabi (as
joint entry).
Deliberating upon the
awards, Rajeev Singh said:
We are delighted to launch
this global award programme
for the first time in Oman, this
year. Having launched this
programme in the first week
of January 2012, we are en-
couraged by the strong inter-
est. The quality of applications
received is really impressive,
and strong testimony to the
track record of entrepreneurs
in Oman. I have no doubt that
these awards will be closely
contested between the final-
He elaborated that each
finalist will be submitting a
detailed Information Pack by
the end of this month, which
will be submitted to an inde-
pendent panel of judges. Af-
ter an initial evaluation of the
Information Pack, the judges
will meet the finalists briefly
on the day of the gala award
programme on March 17. The
award event will take place on
the same day (March 17) at the
Ritz Carlton Al Bustan Palace
For over two decades the
Ernst & Young Entrepreneur
of the Year Award has cel-
ebrated entrepreneurship in all
its forms, all over the world. It
is one of the most prestigious
global business awards and
recognises the contribution of
individuals who inspire others
with their vision, leadership
and achievements.
The EOY award pro-
gramme in Oman has been run
at two levels, with one award
each for the Entrepreneur of
the Year and the Emerging
Entrepreneur of the Year. The
primary award, Entrepreneur
of the Year, is for well-estab-
lished individuals running suc-
cessful companies. The winner
in this category will be the
Omani entry for the World En-
trepreneur of the Year Award,
in June 2012 at Monte Carlo.
The Emerging Entrepreneur
of the Year is a local competi-
tion restricted to Oman, said
Individuals who have best
demonstrated entrepreneurial
spirit, innovation and strate-
gic vision are the finalists in
both these competitions. Other
criteria included financial per-
formance, their impact on the
local community and/or inter-
national arena as well as their
personal integrity and influ-
Omani entrepreneur to be part of global award event
RAJIV Singh, Sridhar Sridharan and Nader Nasser Hamood al Rawahy.
From page 1
The meeting covered plans
and strategies designed and
pursued by the Civil Service
Ministry in addressing the job-
seekers problem in the Sultan-
ate, evaluation of the problem
in terms of its size, annual
growth rates, future vision in
addressing it, the accuracy of
information and data on which
the ministry relies in calculating
the number of Omanis working
for the public sector, number
of expatriates, efforts made to
address job-seekers problems,
annual vacancies in the public
sector organisations as per the
profession and the contribution
of the same in absorbing the
It also discussed the general
and higher education outputs,
the supervision and evaluation
made by the ministry of the
workers in the public sector,
ministrys plans on training of
new employees or those due
to be employed, importance
of having carefully studied
plan on this issue to promote
performance, co-operation as-
pects among the Civil Service
Ministry and the educational
establishments with regard to
focusing on certain specialties
for which the public sector has
a shortage at and still relies on
expatriates to supply this short-
The meeting covered the
reasons and causes for Omanis
leaving the private sector and
join public sector, the efforts
made by the ministry to ensure
proper Omanisation rate in the
independent governmental or-
ganisations that are not under
the Civil Service.
This hosting comes as com-
pletion of previous hosting for
public officials to listen from
them on the employment of
national manpower to come
out with suitable visions and
recommendations towards the
employment and recruitment
The committee will today
host the under-secretaries of
the Manpower Ministry and the
Director-General of Social In-
surance to listen from them on
this issue. ONA
Top priority to providing jobs
MUSCAT A number of
officials in the public sec-
tor, Capital Market Author-
ity (CMA), Muscat Securities
Market (MSM), brokers, pen-
sion funds and representa-
tives of the investment banks
yesterday held separate meet-
ings with inspectors from
the World Federation of Ex-
changes (WFE).
The meeting was attended
by Shaikh Abdullah bin Salim
al Salmi, Acting Chairman of
CMA, Ahmed bin Saleh al
Marhoon, Director-General
of MSM, officials at the Fi-
nance Ministry and OCCI, in
addition to representatives of
the brokerage companies, the
pension funds and investment
The meeting was attended
by WFE Secretary-General,
Fadi Khalaf, Secretary-Gen-
eral of the Arab Federation
of Exchanges, members of
the WFS and representa-
tives of stock exchanges in
Oman, Saudi Arabia, NAS-
DAQ, Istanbul and Turkey.
Meetings with WFE inspectors
By A Staff Reporter
MUSCAT Against the
beautiful backdrop of Bah-
rains Amwaj Marina, dig-
nitaries, officials and sailors
yesterday witnessed the offi-
cial launch of the 2012 Sail-
ing Arabia The Tour.
Shaikh Nasser bin Ha-
mad al Khalifa, President of
Bahrain Olympics commit-
tee and Shaikh Khalifa bin
Abdulla al Khalifa, Supreme
Council for Youth and Sports
and President of Bahrain
Maritime Sports Associa-
tion, were among those who
joined Oman Sail CEO David
Graham at the ceremony, to
officially inaugurate the 2012
edition of the race.
Now in its second year, the
race is a unique event, which
not only joins the nations of
the Gulf together, but is also
a significant step towards es-
tablishing the region within
the international sailing are-
For the second year, Bah-
rain has been chosen as the
starting point for the Tour,
and Shaikh Nasser reflected
on the significance of the race
within the region: Sailing
Arabia the Tour reflects
the historic and cultural mari-
time heritage within the Ara-
bian countries. The event is
unique it goes beyond the
competitive sporting element
and serves to highlight the
strong relations between the
GCC countries, and to pre-
serve our maritime heritage
that is driven from our past,
connecting our strong history
with the seas to the modern
It is a great platform to
reflect the amazing sailing
talents within the region and
to test their skills in a true
international sailing test. The
participation of the sailing
team from Bahrain is also
significant evidence of the
development of sailing within
Oman Sails CEO David
Graham went on to speak
about the objectives of Sail-
ing Arabia-The Tour and mir-
rored Shaikh Nasser thoughts
on why SATT is such an im-
portant event for development
regional sailing talent.
One of the main objec-
tives of SATT is to develop a
truly international event that
provides an opportunity for
sailing talents from within
the region to compete on their
home waters and develop
their skills with international
expertise. The addition of the
Bahraini team is a perfect
example of that, and reflects
their commitment to develop-
ing the sport within the region
and also in developing the tal-
ents of their young sailors,
Graham said.
In addition to hosting the
opening of Sailing Arabia
the Tour, Bahrain will for the
first time enter a team into the
race, Team Bahrain, with the
support of the General Or-
ganisation of Sea Ports and
the Bahrain Economic Devel-
opment Board.
Team Bahrain is led by
Shaikh Mohammed bin Daij
al Khalifa, who has been in-
tegral in the development of
the team. Shaikh Mohammed
commented: It is great to see
Bahrain host the event for the
second time. Oman Sail have
a done a great job in organis-
ing the event and we are very
pleased to put a team of Bah-
rains together to represent the
Kingdom on Bahrain. This is
in line with the Kingdoms
aspirations in developing out
national talent and promoting
Bahrain as a host for world
class sports events.
Nine teams representing
six nations were scheduled to
set sail yesterday, but due to
strong winds forecast within
the region, the race start has
been delayed to 0700 hours
local time today, Febru-
ary 13. Once underway, the
teams will race over 14 days
visiting seven stopovers, and
covering 1,408 kilometres on
their way.
The teams will race around
the top of Qatar before head-
ing south to the first stopover
at The Pearl-Qatar. They will
then undertake their long-
est leg to Abu Dhabi, before
heading to Ras Al Khaimah,
Musandam, Musannah and
the finish in Muscat on Feb-
ruary 27.
Amongst the teams is
the incredibly talented, and
only, all womens sailing Al
Thuraya BankMuscat. At the
opening ceremony, Dee Caf-
fari the teams British Skipper
and record breaking round
the world yachtswomen said:
It is really exciting for me to
be involved in SATT for the
first time, and to be sailing
with such a fantastic group of
women. The other teams bet-
ter watch out the women
on board are extremely tal-
ented and we are completely
prepared for this race.
Mohsin al Busaidy, skip-
per of Team Muscat 2012, a
team supported by the Oman
Ministry of Tourism as part
of their promotional activities
related to Muscats selection
as the Arab Capital for Tour-
ism in 2012, spoke about how
he has seen the race develop
since its inaugural year.
In the 2011 edition I
sailed abroad Team Com-
mercialBank and we finished
in third place. The depth of
talent in the fleet this year is
much tougher, but we have an
extremely talented group of
sailors on board and we are
aiming to be on the podium.
Last year I sailed with Ahmed
al Maamari, who is an around
the world sailor this year
he will skipper his own team,
Team Renaissance! It is in-
credible to see so many tal-
ented Omani sailors from so
many backgrounds compet-
ing in this race against some
of best international sail-
ing talent. It makes me very
Sailing Arabia launched
MUSCAT Rt Rev Tho-
mas K Oommen, who was
recently consecrated as the
12th Bishop of the CSI Cen-
tral Kerala Diocese, will be
in Muscat on a six-day visit
starting today.
The bishop, who is very
active in Kerala in the anti-
liquor movement and in
many social action groups
for the downtrodden, will
also be visiting Salalah.
After obtaining his de-
gree in divinity from Le-
onard Theological College,
Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh,
the bishop took his Doctor
of Ministry degree from San
Francisco Theological Semi-
nary. He was ordained dea-
con in 1982 and was made
presbyter the next year.
CSI bishop
begins tour
From page 1
The Council discussed is-
sues including following up
the decisions taken by the
council in 2011, the executive
steps taken by the respective
authorities to implement the
decisions taken by the coun-
cil and the draft report of the
Higher Education Council that
will be submitted to the Coun-
cil of Ministers.
The report includes a state-
ment on the major achieve-
ments in the higher education
sector last year and the quali-
tative development it wit-
nessed, thanks to the Royal
care to the sector.
It also reviewed a number
of other memoranda from dif-
ferent authorities concerned
with education and took ap-
propriate decisions. ONA
Council focuses on higher education
From page 1
Filling stations in the af-
fected areas temporarily halt-
ed dispensing fuel during the
blackout. Diners and eateries
too briefly went into shut-
down mode, but were back in
business when power supply
was restored.
Headlights blazed along
Sultan Qaboos Street and the
adjoining carriageways as
streetlights went dark, forcing
motorists to drive cautiously.
Muscat outage
From page 1
However, net profit after
tax declined to RO 1,340K as
compared to RO 3,679K in
the previous year.
The chairperson attributed
the decline in profit to losses
on feed products, which will
be offset via a subsidy ap-
proved by the government.
The government has ap-
proved the subsidy on feed
effective from January 1,
2011. However, we are still
awaiting the mechanism of its
computation, hence we have
not been able to compute the
subsidy amount. As a result,
the impact of subsidy has not
been accounted in these finan-
cial results, Manal said.
She further stated: The
flour mill operating profit
has improved by 25 per cent
as compared to the previous
However, the loss on feed
products (which would be
compensated on receipt of
the subsdy) and diminution in
value of investments are the
main reasons for lower net
The Group, which includes
subsidiary Modern Poultry
Farms and associate firm So-
har Poultry, posted a net profit
after tax of RO 1,168K during
the six months in question,
against earnings of RO 3,328K
during the previous year.
Modern Poultry, which is
86 per cent owned by Oman
Flour Mills, made a profit of
RO 181K versus RO 103K
during the same period a year
The improved performance
was the result of increasing
output and falling bird mortal-
ity, she said.
Sohar Poultry posted a
six-month profit of RO 111K.
The farm continues to face
health challenges, however
continuous efforts are being
made to overcome them and
reduce mortality, the chair-
person said.
First industrial bakery soon
From page 1
Agriculture and Fisheries,
Ministry of Environment and
Climate Affairs, Sohar Mu-
nicipality, and other agen-
cies. The committee also
approved recommendations
for the construction of flood
channels and other flood
protection systems in popu-
lated areas. In this regard, it
mooted a review of the sites
of some dam projects.
The committee also gave
its assent to new guidelines
applicable during road con-
struction work. It approved
new rules governing con-
struction along main roads.
Members urged called for
greater efforts for the estab-
lishment of a GIS Centre.
Urban planning
By Maryam Khalfan
MUSCAT In a move to
further develop palliative care
for cancer patients, the Na-
tional Association for Cancer
Awareness (NACA) has taken
a significant step to introduce
community palliative care for
cancer patients, said an offi-
The initiative, the first of
its kind to be taken by Naca
at such a scale, is designed at
relieving the psycho-oncology
related emotions, distress and
anxiety among cancer patients.
This initiative was declared at
the launch of the introductory
palliative care course, which
is currently in progress at
the City Seasons Hotel until
February 15. The event was
opened under the auspices of
Dr Ali bin Talib al Hinai, Un-
der-Secretary of the Ministry
of Health (MoH) for Planning
Affairs yesterday.
In remarks to the media,
Yuthar bint Mohammed al
Rawahiya, Founder and Chair-
person of NACAs Board of
Directors said: The Sultanate
boasts of having some of the
most advanced means of treat-
ment of cancer and the min-
istry plays a significant role
in facilitating treatment and
other services for oncology pa-
tients. But, the need for having
an experienced team of com-
munity palliative care nurses
is significantly important in
relieving the psycho-oncology
related anxiety among pa-
"In spite of the fact that the
doctors and nurses are doing
a lot in support of the cancer
patients, we need a team of
nurses who can provide com-
munity palliative care that is
designed for cancer patients.
We need to establish a team
of nurses that can interactively
counsel the patients through
the diverse phases of health
care they encounter as they at-
tempt to challenge the illness,
said the official who is also a
member of Majlis Addawla.
In this context, to make
our ambition a success, the
association, will invest on
empowering a team of two
to three professional nurses
to study about palliative care
and to qualify them as master
We know, the MoH has gi-
gantic plans on advancing the
overall health sector and its
keenness on investing in hu-
man resources of the Sultanate.
But, as partners on addressing
the issue of cancer, NACA is
committed to consider the is-
sue of community palliative
care for cancer patients as one
of its priorities in support of
the patients.
However, to make the
project a success, we will
have to open an account spe-
cifically designed for raising
funds for the cause. The funds
will be utilised for financing
the education of the palliative
care master trainers, who will
in turn train a huge number of
nurses on the same.
Once, accomplished, this
project will significantly con-
tribute to identifying some of
the hidden psycho-oncology
effects of anxiety and to im-
prove the patients healthcare
within their home and fam-
ily environment. This project
is similar to a series of major
projects, which the associa-
tion initially embarked on and
proved to be successful. The
association equally plans to en-
courage the concept of support
groups, which is unfortunately
swindling as compared to the
previous times, remarked Al
The course, which is being
participated by 47 nurses from
all regions of the country has
been organised by NACA in
collaboration with the MoH,
Middle East Cancer Consorti-
um (MECC) and the Oncology
Nursing Society of America
In an introductory speech,
Professor Michael Silber-
mann, Executive Director at
MECC highlighted on the sig-
nificance of palliative care,
which, according to World
Health Organisation (WHO)
is an approach that improves
the quality of life of patients
and their families facing the
problems associated with life-
threatening illness, through the
prevention and relief of suffer-
ing by means of early identifi-
cation and impeccable assess-
ment, and treatment of pain
and other problems associated
with the physical, psychologi-
cal and spiritual aspects.
In this aspect, considering
that nearly 70-80 per cent of
cancer patients in the region
see doctors at a time when it is
too late, the need for palliative
care should be an integral part
of cancer care with emphasis
on decreasing the suffering of
patients throughout the proc-
esses of nursing and treatment
of patients, said the profes-
Likewise, since, the need
for palliative care annually
increases due to the growing
incidents of cancer patients
particularly in the developing
world, palliative care among
such patients should start
from the first day of diagnosis.
Also, given the fact that nearly
40 per cent of cancer patients
suffer psychological and emo-
tional problems, like anxiety
and depression, palliative care
among such patients should
not either rely on the stage of
prognosis whether the can-
cer is treatable or not. Instead,
attention should be given to
maintaining the patients dig-
nity to the last breath, added
Prof Silbermann.
NACA to introduce community
palliative care for cancer patients
By Kabeer Yousuf
path and Dr Armoogum Par-
suramen, two acclaimed edu-
cationists and scholars who
have proved their expertise
in their fields will visit the
country this month.
They are hosted by the
Middle East Nursery in
Muscat in connection with
its anniversary where the
duo is expected to deliver
the key note speeches on
February 17. This will be
followed by a Business meet
on February 16.
D r
um Par-
( Gr a n d
Of f i c e r
of the
Order of
the Star
and Key
of the Indian Ocean), was a
minister of Education, Arts,
and Culture and Minister
of Education and Science
of Mauritius between 1983
and 1995, and Director and
Representative of Unesco
between 1998 and 2011.
He is currently the
Founder and Chairman of
the Global Rainbow Foun-
dation (GRF), a charitable
trust dedicated to the relief
of poverty, the advance-
ment of education, assist-
ance to children and adults
suffering from physical
and mental handicaps as
well as to abandoned and
disadvantaged children,
adults and orphans and any
other purpose beneficial to
the public in general, and
the poor and most disadvan-
Dr V R S Sampath, PhD,
is a Doctor of Philosophy
from the University of Ma-
dras on Judicial Institutions
in Tamil
Nadu up
to 18th
and he
also holds
an ML,
Ma s t e r
of Law
in Inter-
nat i onal
Law and Constitutional
Law, University of Madras.
He is a post graduate in Arts
in History from Madurai
Kamaraj University.
He is a practising advo-
cate for Independent Legal
Practitioner and Adviser,
and advocate in the panel
of several banks such as In-
dian Overseas Bank, Canara
Bank, and Indian Bank in
various capacities that vary
from legal advice, legal
opinion while conducting
Born in 1951 in Mauritius,
Dr Parsuramen, after highly
appreciated services in Mau-
ritius in various roles includ-
ing as an elected Member
of the Mauritius Parliament
from 1982 to 1995 for four
consecutive terms, became a
dedicated and renowned In-
ternational Civil Servant.
He joined the World Bank
in 1997, as Education Policy
Adviser and Co-ordinator of
the education component of
the United Nations Special
Initiative for Africa (UN-
SIA) administered by the
World Bank.
In 1998, he was appoint-
ed Director of Unescos Di-
vision for the Renovation of
Secondary and Vocational
Education; and in 2000 he
became Director of the same
organisations Regional Bu-
reau for Education in Africa
before returning to Unesco
headquarters in Paris in 2004
to lead both the Secretariat
of Unesco Executive Board
and that of its Governing
Bodies; serving therefore as
Secretary of both the Execu-
tive Board and the General
Ed experts to visit Muscat
MUSCAT As many as
14 people lost their lives in
traffic accidents during Feb-
ruary 4 to 10.
The Al Dakhiliyah Gov-
ernorate witnessed the
highest toll with 14 deaths,
followed by Al Batinah
North and Al Batinah South
with three deaths each, Al
Buraimi two and one each
in Muscat and Al Sharqiyah
North Governorates.
Most accidents, a total
of 56, involved collisions.
Other reported forms of ac-
cidents were colliding with
stationary objects 35, turn-
overs 28 and runovers 18.
Two passengers were
killed and three others in-
jured when their vehicle hit
a stationary object in the
most fatal accident of the
week in the Wilayat of Su-
waiq due to wrong overtak-
Royal Oman Police has
urged motorists to observe
speed limits and pedestri-
ans to cross the road only at
designated areas.
14 killed in road
crashes last week
MUSCAT Sayyid Badr bin Hamad al Bu-
saidy, Secretary-General of the Foreign Min-
istry, received here yesterday Imran Riza, Re-
gional Representative of the United Nations
High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
who presented his credentials as a non-resident
Regional Representative of the UNHCR in the
During the meeting, humanitarian efforts
being carried out by UNHCR in various sites
in conjunction with host countries were re-
Riza commended the existing co-operation
between the Sultanate and UNHCR and the
support being rendered by the Sultanate to a
number of humanitarian programmes and ini-
tiatives in the world.
On his turn, the Foreign Ministry's Secre-
tary-General welcomed the UNHCR Regional
He also expressed the Sultanate's wishes of
success to him in his tasks.
The meeting was attended by Arafa bin Fri-
egon Samir, Deputy Head of the Global Affairs
Department and the delegation accompanying
the guest. ONA
UNHCR representative
presents credentials
MUSCAT The Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry
(OCCI) Tourism Committee yesterday reviewed the difficul-
ties and problems facing the tourism sector in the Sultanate
and hinder its development.
The committee attendees stressed that the governorates are
rich in tourism potentials and it is necessary to promote, de-
velop and support internal tourism to contribute to the GDP.
Internal tourism is seen as an important pillar for cultural
and developmental advancement, a significant pillar to eco-
nomic growth and achieving comprehensive development.
The meeting discussed the obstacles facing the tourism sec-
tor, opportunities of tourism investment, how to promote these
opportunities locally and internationally and what prevents the
development of tourism investment in the Sultanate, exchange
of experience and expertise among committee members as the
committee attempts to put tourism industry and operational
regulation under one umbrella to avoid marginalising the pri-
vate sector.
The meeting also reviewed its responsibilities, its 2012 ac-
tion plan, how to diagnose the obstacles and challenges that
face the industry, finding joint and final solutions for tourism
problems, co-ordinating with relevant authorities and submit
proposals to respective bodies.
The committee referred to the importance and role of the
basic potential elements of tourism industry in the governo-
rates, how to promote and market the nature and history of the
Sultanate as a tourism product, training and qualifying Omani
youths to work in different tourism activities and raise tourism
awareness among social categories and at all levels. ONA
Panel reviews tourism
investment potentials
MUSCAT The Regional
Municipalities and Water Re-
sources Ministry celebrated at
Crowne Plaza Hotel the launch
of the integration plan for the
self-appraisal of the ministry
employees under the auspices
of Ahmed bin Abdullah al
Shuhi, Regional Municipalities
and Water Resources Minister,
in the presence of officials and
employees at the ministry.
Al Shuhi affirmed that the
plan for integrating the self-
appraisal has been approved
within the framework of en-
hancing the self-appraisal of
the ministry employees at dif-
ferent levels, revising and im-
proving the career performance
criteria, integrating the concept
of career values and giving in-
centives to employees.
He added that the plan in-
cluded enhancing some aspects
related to the employee, such
as revising the career perform-
ance standards, enhancing the
skills and knowledge of em-
ployees, as well as improving
their performance, efficiency
and production.
Khalfan bin Mohammed al
Assiri, member of the Majlis
Addawla, delivered a speech
in which he highlighted the
importance of human resource
and promoting performance in
the governmental sector.
Self-appraisal programme for
RMWR Ministry employees
SUR Al Sharqiyah South Governorate
Police Command yesterday found three miss-
ing expatriates in a mountainous area at Tiwi
Two of them were found in Haloot, located
between Tiwi and the Wilayat of Wadi Bani
Khalid, and the third was found in Holm.
The three were transferred on board a Royal
Oman Police helicopter to Sur Referral Hos-
pital. They are in good condition.
An ROP source said the three expats
working in Sur left on Thursday on foot to
the mountains of Tiwi, planning to return to
Sur on Friday. But they lost their way.
One of their colleagues informed the po-
lice who immediately launched a search mis-
sion, assisted by citizens well acquainted with
the terrain. ONA
Three missing expats found
IRANIAN President Mahmood Ahmadinejad with
Ismail Haniya, Palestinian Hamas premier in the
Gaza Strip, as Irans First Vice-President Mohammad
Reza Rahimi (C) looks on during a meeting in
Tehran yesterday. AFP
A PALESTINIAN woman mourns during the funeral
of Abdel Karim Zatuniya in Gaza City yesterday.
Zatuniya, an elderly man serving as a guard at the
barracks in the Zeitun area, southeast of Gaza city,
died after being wounded following a series of Israeli
airstrikes late on Saturday night that left four
others wounded. AFP
A LEBANESE soldier on a military vehicle patrols
after the army was deployed following two days of
clashes near the Bab al Tabbaneh neighbourhood in
Tripoli, northern Lebanon, yesterday. Two people
were killed and at least eight wounded in street battles
in Lebanons northern city of Tripoli on Saturday, a
security source said, during a second day of clashes
between supporters and opponents of Syrian
President Bashar al Assad. Reuters
SOUTH African Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana
Dlamini-Zuma (L) and current South African
Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane attend
the Southern African Development Community
Extraordinary Ministerial Meeting at Cape Town
International Convention Centre in
Cape Town yesterday. AFP
A PROTESTER shouts during a slow walk protesting
against a government scheme that would allow
mainland-registered cars into the territory
in Hong Kong yesterday. Reuters
TOKYO Japanese Emperor Akihi-
to will undergo heart bypass surgery
this week after a detailed examination
found a heart problem had worsened,
the Imperial Household Agency was
quoted as saying yesterday.
Kyodo news agency, quoting the
Imperial Household Agency, said the
emperor, 78, would have the surgery
on February 18.
Akihito had undergone an an-
giogram on Saturday which showed
that blood vessels had narrowed over
the past year. He had been treated in
hospital for three weeks in Novem-
ber for cold, fever and symptoms of
The Imperial Household Agency
was unavailable for comment.
Kyodo said the test was performed
after the emperor experienced dif-
ficulty while engaging in light exer-
Television footage yesterday
showed the emperor greeting doctors
after being discharged from hospital
following the examination.
Akihito had surgery for prostate
cancer in 2003 and suffered stress-
related health issues in late 2008, in-
cluding irregular pulse and stomach
bleeding. The following year, the
royal agency said he would cut back
on official duties such as speeches
and meeting foreign dignitaries.
Akihito ascended to the throne
after the death of his father Hirohito
in 1989. He has spent much of the
past two decades working to heal the
wounds of a war waged across Asia
in his fathers name and helped to
bring the monarchy closer to ordinary
Having witnessed as a boy the rise
of Japanese militarism and its defeat
in 1945, the soft-spoken Akihito said
he wanted to deepen international
understanding through visits abroad,
sometimes defying protests to do so.
One of his more controversial
trips came in 1992, when he became
the first Japanese monarch in living
memory to visit China, where bitter
memories of Japans invasion and oc-
cupation in the 1930s and 1940s run
Another defining moment came
in 2001 when Akihito tried to smooth
relations with South Korea, at times
strained by lingering resentment over
Japans 1910-1945 colonisation of
the Korean Peninsula.
At a news conference marking
his birthday, he said he felt a certain
kinship with Korea because one of
his ancestors had come from there,
an unprecedented statement from a
Japanese royal that made front page
headlines in Seoul.
Save for such rare occasions, the
Japanese imperial family is not an ob-
ject of such intense public attention
or media scrutiny as the British roy-
als. It serves as important link with
tradition and a comforting presence
at times of distress.
Five days after last years March
11 earthquake and tsunami that struck
Japans northeast, Akihito made a
rare televised address and in April
travelled to the ravaged area with
Empress Michiko.
Akihitos hospital stay in Novem-
ber gave the Japanese a rare oppor-
tunity to see Akihitos designated
successor, Crown Prince Naruhito,
51, step in for his father and perform
public duties.
While Akihitos reign was defined
by his reconciliation efforts, it is
less clear what role the scholarly
Naruhito may play, though royal
commentators expect him to continue
his fathers efforts to reach out to or-
dinary citizens. Reuters
Japan emperor to undergo heart bypass surgery
A WOMAN casts her ballot for the presidential election at a polling station in Ashgabat yesterday. Right: Women wearing traditional dresses
welcome voters with refreshments at a polling station in Ashgabat. AFP/Reuters
ASHGABAT Turkmenistan
yesterday voted in presiden-
tial elections expected to see
President Gurbanguly Berdy-
mukhamedov cruise to a new
term at the helm of the isolated
state challenged only by token
Seven candidates are stand-
ing against the president, who
took power after the death
in 2006 of eccentric dictator
Saparmurat Niyazov, but all
are loyal members of the elite
who have not sounded a note
of criticism in the campaign.
Voting took place in a fes-
tive atmosphere with bands
playing traditional music
while food and even presents
were handed to voters.
With the authorities making
clear that voting was a national
duty, the election commission
said over 68 per cent of the
electorate had cast their ballot
by 0900 GMT in what is set to
be a mass turnout.
In a clear nudge to voters,
the anchor on state television
proclaimed: Aware of their
great responsibility for the
future of the motherland, the
people will choose the most
worthy of the eight candi-
Berdymukhamedov cast his
vote alongside his son, grand-
son and his father Myalikguly
Berdymukhamedov, who with
conspicuous timing last week
was given the honour of hav-
ing a police unit named after
him, official media said.
Our hero president is the
only one to take us along the
true path. He is the Protector
and pillar of the people, voter
Gozel Sopyyeva, 60, said at a
polling station outside Ashga-
Berdymukhamedov, an ex-
dentist who became Niyazovs
health minister after rising
through the ranks of dentistry,
won the last polls in 2007 with
over 89 per cent and it would
be a major surprise if he polled
much less this time.
The elections are just the
third in Turkmenistans post-
Soviet history: Niyazov won
a notorious ballot in 1992 in
which he was the sole candi-
date with 99.5 per cent and was
then declared by parliament
president for life in 1999.
While energy-rich Turk-
menistan is promoting the
elections as a new step in a
programme of democratic re-
forms, Berdymukhamedovs
promise last summer to in-
clude genuine opposition in
the polls appears not to have
been fulfilled.
Even though there are
eight candidates, there was no
real election campaign. The
authorities want to show com-
petition but it is just between
themselves, a Western diplo-
mat said.
The figurehead rival can-
didates include Energy and
Industry Minister Yarmuk-
hammet Orazgulyev as well as
a state energy boss, the water
resources minister and the di-
rector of a cotton factory.
Just under three million
people have the right to vote
across the vast ex-Soviet state
that extends from the Caspian
Sea to Afghanistan and is one
of the most secretive nations
in the world along with North
Berdymukhamedov has
started cautious reform after
the excesses of the notorious
personality cult under Niya-
zov, which extended to install-
ing a golden statue of himself
in Ashgabat that rotated to al-
ways face the sun.
In a half decade that Turk-
menistan calls the Era of
Rebirth, Berdymukhamedov
had reopened cinemas, thea-
tres and research institutes and
started to encourage foreign
majors to help exploit its vast
energy reserves.
But the president still pre-
sides over an autocratic state
that cracks down on dissent
and he has not been shy of cre-
ating a personality cult of his
own with his image ubiquitous
around the country.
As Niyazov called himself
Turkmenbashi (Father of All
Turkmens), Berdymukhame-
dov is known as the Arka-
dag (Protector).
Turkmenistan has issued no
invitation for Western observ-
ers to assess the elections on
a full-scale mission while hu-
man rights workers and jour-
nalists have also been denied
access to the country.
Amnesty International
said ahead of the polls that
Turkmenistan was still perpe-
trating serious human rights
violations including torture in
jails and severe restrictions on
political and religious expres-
It said rights activists An-
nakurban Amanklychev and
Sapardurdy Khadzhiev, con-
victed in 2007 of firearms
charges, were still in custody
while dissident Gulgeldy An-
naniyazov has been held in in-
communicado detention since
being jailed in 2008. AFP
Turkmen leader set for win
MALE Ousted Maldives
president Mohamed Nasheed
yesterday rejected a US call
for compromise and dismissed
proposals for a unity govern-
ment to end political unrest in
the Indian Ocean nation.
Nasheed, who insists he
was removed in a coup, told
supporters overnight in the
capital Male that he would
press for snap elections in-
stead of recommending his
party consider a coalition with
his former deputy who suc-
ceeded him.
We want an election and
we will campaign for it,
Nasheed told large, cheering
crowds, who later dispersed
Nasheed said his Maldiv-
ian Democratic Party (MDP)
did not accept the new govern-
ment as legitimate.
He also repeated his calls
for an independent investiga-
tion into the alleged coup that
toppled him and he accused
the police and military of car-
rying out arrests of MDP sup-
porters and those linked to his
His remarks came after US
assistant secretary of state for
South Asian affairs Robert
Blake spoke out against snap
polls and asked both sides to
make compromises.
The United States is back-
ing calls from the new presi-
dent, Mohamed Waheed, for a
national unity government to
be formed.
Legislator Eva Abdulla,
from Nasheeds MDP, said
they were maintaining their
stance that there should be an
investigation into what they
call a coup and that there
should be elections immedi-
He (Nasheed) is sticking
to his position, Abdulla said.
Blake had said it was too
early to hold an election and
he wanted Maldivian institu-
tions such as the police, the ju-
diciary and the elections com-
mission strengthened before
the next vote due in November
I dont think anyone be-
lieves that elections can be
properly held right now,
Blake told reporters on Sat-
urday at the end of a 12-hour
visit for talks with Waheed,
Nasheed and other figures.
The new president has
ruled out elections before his
term ends in 2013.
Nasheed, who claims a mil-
itary-backed coup forced him
to step down last Tuesday, has
insisted snap polls were crucial
to end the political crisis.
In a situation like this
everyone must compromise,
Blake said. In the days ahead,
everyone should look for ways
to bridge the differences.
Blake blamed both Nash-
eeds MDP party and the po-
lice under the new president
for violence that swept across
the nation on Wednesday.
I expressed concern
about reports of violence and
destruction of property by
some MDP supporters, and
violence by police in Male,
Addu, and Thinadhoo, Blake
said. AFP
Ex-president rejects
US compromise call
cheer during a party
meeting in Male. AFP
WARSAW Storms, blizzards and road closures struck Eu-
rope as the continent continued yesterday to battle with sub-
zero temperatures, while record house fires were reported in
Poland as people struggled to keep warm.
A massive storm had continued whipping the Balkans for
more than 30 hours by yesterday morning, depositing a huge
amount of snow and triggering an avalanche in Kosovo that
killed at least seven people.
Several were still missing in the southern Kosovo village of
Restelice after an avalanche buried 15 houses under up to 10
metres of snow on Saturday afternoon, the daily Koha Ditore
All of the victims and the missing were apparently mem-
bers of one family. Only one survivor, a 7-year-old child, was
To the north, Montenegro declared a state of emergency
to deal with the massive blizzard that has blanketed the small
central European country with up to two metres of snow.
By yesterday morning, the height of deposited snow in
the ski resort of Zabljak had reached 202 cm, while 168 cm
were measured in Kolasin, in central Montenegro, and 57 in
Many roads were impassable and villages, particularly in
the north, inaccessible.
A train with 45 passengers was stuck between avalanches
in the centre of the country since Friday afternoon, with one of
the passengers dying, apparently of a heart attack, TV Vijesti
said yesterday.
Still on board were 30 police commandos who reached the
train in a rescue attempt, but also became stuck. The train was
parked in a tunnel, for shelter from avalanches.
In Poland, officials called Saturdays the most tragic night
of this season after nine people died in house fires and another
26 were injured in ill-fated attempts to heat their homes. More
than 100 people have now died this year in fires in Poland,
with half of those deaths occurring since the cold snap began
last month, police said.
Firefighters appealed for people to keep their space heaters
well away from the furniture, and to turn them off when leav-
ing their homes.
In Serbia, the authorities reported a 20th death caused by
freezing. dpa
Blizzards, house fires
continue in Europe
SYDNEY Australias lat-
est floods disaster will have
a minimal economic impact
nationally despite some
damage to rail lines, mines
and crops in certain areas,
Treasurer Wayne Swan said
In recent weeks record
floods have swamped large
areas of New South Wales
and Queensland states,
prompting fears of a repeat
of last years historic disas-
ter, which put a significant
dent in Australias GDP for
the financial year to June
Despite the terrible im-
pact on affected communi-
ties, were not expecting the
flooding to have a signifi-
cant impact on the national
economy at this stage,
Swan wrote in a regular eco-
nomic note.
While the heavy rainfall
has resulted in the tempo-
rary closure of several rail
lines and caused disruption
to some coal mines, it hasnt
caused any significant dis-
ruptions to major coal min-
ing operations in the Bowen
Basin or the Hunter Valley.
And while some crops
are likely to be affected by
the damage to farm land,
Treasury advises the impact
on the supply and prices of
fresh produce is not expected
to be great. Reuters
Flood loss
A month after the Costa Con-
cordia grounded with 4,229
people from 60 countries on
board, Italy is remember-
ing the victims of one of the
worst disasters on a luxury
liner since the Titanic.
Thirty-two people are
now believed to have died in
the tragedy on the Tuscan is-
land of Giglio, even though
the families of 15 still offi-
cially missing are clinging
to the desperate hope that
their loved ones may still be
Survivors have mean-
while launched legal action
in France, Germany and the
United States, while pros-
ecutors in Italy investigate
the widely ridiculed captain,
Francesco Schettino, nick-
named Captain Coward in
the press.
On the picturesque island
itself, residents are increas-
ingly worried that the 2,380
tonnes of heavy fuel oil in the
ships tanks which still have
to be pumped out could leak
and contaminate Europes
biggest marine sanctuary.
There is concern too that
plans to remove the 114,500-
tonne ship more than
twice the size of the Titanic
which sank in 1912 are
dragging on and that its
presence could ruin the tour-
ist season vital for the local
Well, yes, it has to be
taken away. Its like having
a car in your living room!
said one frustrated local fish-
erman. A pensioner walking
by said: Its not nice to look
at but it might attract some
people who are curious.
A special remembrance
mass yesterday in a Ro-
man basilica was celebrated
by the head of the Catholic
Church in Italy. AFP
Cruise ship
NEW YORK Mitt Romney got a
sorely needed boost in the rocky race
for the Republican presidential nomi-
nation on Saturday, winning a non-
binding contest in Maine and a straw
poll among conservatives after a trio of
unnerving losses.
The former Massachusetts governor
edged out Texas congressman Ron Paul
by fewer than 200 votes in the Maine
caucuses, and outpolled former senator
Rick Santorum in the straw poll at the
Conservative Political Action Confer-
ence in Washington.
Though largely symbolic, those
wins spelled relief for a candidate
whose frontrunner status was again put
in question on Tuesday when Santo-
rum scored upset victories in Colorado,
Missouri and Minnesota.
He just doesnt have the enthusi-
asm that I think we have been able to
get in our crowds, you know, really
excited about what he believes in. I
think thats his biggest problem, Paul
told CNN after losing to Romney in
But I would say, yes, he is out in
front and people are picking away at
him. He lost a few but he picked up a
little steam today. You have to give him
credit for that, he said.
Despite Romneys wins, however,
the Republican race to pick a standard
bearer to run against Obama in No-
vember remained unsettled.
Sarah Palin, the former vice-pres-
idential candidate and conservative
firebrand, told conservatives meeting
in Washington not to settle too quick-
ly on a candidate, but to let them fight
We have all heard from these ex-
perts that we have to name our nomi-
nee right now. Wrap it up. No debate
for you. Cut it off. As if competition
weakens our nominee.
In America, we believe competi-
tion strengthens us. Competition el-
evates our game, she said. Compe-
tition will lead us to victory in 2012.
I believe that the competition has to
keep going.
A prolonged Republican nominat-
ing fight would be more likely to hurt
Romney and help come-from-behind
contenders like Santorum or House
speaker Newt Gingrich.
Still, participants in the CPAC meet-
ing in Washington voted for Romney
over Santorum, 38 per cent to 31 per
cent. Gingrich came in third with 15
per cent and Texas congressman Ron
Paul last at 12 per cent.
In the Maine caucuses, Romney
won 39 per cent of the vote to 36 per
cent for Paul, who spent much time
campaigning in the state even though
no delegates were at stake.
Santorum received 18 per cent of
the vote, and former House speaker
Newt Gingrich won just eight per cent,
party officials said.
With only about 5,000 votes cast
in the caucuses, Romney beat Paul by
196 votes. AFP
WASHINGTON President Barack
Obamas chief of staff, Jacob Lew, de-
fended his boss yesterday for failing to
cut the US budget deficit, arguing that
now was the wrong time for austerity
measures as he urged Congress to extend
a soon-to-expire payroll tax cut.
Republicans have slammed Democrat
Obama for laying out a budget plan that
they say is designed to help his campaign
for re-election in November, rather than
controlling the growth of the US deficit
and debt.
But Lew, speaking on Sunday televi-
sion news shows on the eve of Obamas
2013 budget proposal to Congress, said
the plan would outline $4 trillion in 10
year deficit reductions, alongside meas-
ures to deliver essential suport to near-
term growth.
I think there is pretty broad agree-
ment that the time for austerity is not
today, Lew, Obamas budget chief until
few weeks ago, told NBCs Meet the
The White House says that Obamas
budget will request over $800 billion in
multi-year spending for job creation and
infrastructure programmes, including tax
breaks for companies and individuals
worth more than $300 billion in 2012 if
passed into law.
Congress is free to ignore the presi-
dents proposals and Republicans have
said Obamas budget will be dead on ar-
The budget, which will delivered to
Congress today, projects the deficit at
$1.33 trillion this fiscal year or 8.5 per
cent of gross domestic product, declining
to $901 billion, or 5.5 per cent of GDP,
in 2013.
Obama pledged in 2009 to have halved
the deficit by next year, earning the ire of
On this issue the debt this
president has been completely AWOL.
Republicans have had to fight tooth and
nail for every dime in savings weve
secured, Mitch McConnell, the top
Republican in the US Senate, said on
Lew, however, argued that Obamas
deficit promise was made before his
administration truly understood the
depth of the recession it had inherited
from Republican President George W
When we took office, the economy
was falling so fast that the first thing
we had to do was put a bottom in... It
cost money in terms of lost revenue and
slower economic growth. Were on track
now, Lew told ABC News.
The White House said the funding
gap will shrink to 2.8 per cent of GDP by
2018, below the 3 per cent/GDP threshold
that credit rating agencies and investors
see as the goal for stabilising the growth
in national debt as a share of the econo-
Lew, who was the presidents chief
budget adviser until a few weeks ago,
said Congress and the administra-
tion are working this weekend to see
if a compromise can be reached over
extending the payroll tax cut for
160 million Americans, which will ex-
pire on February 29 unless Congress
They have two weeks now to do the
important business so they dont get in
the way of our economic recovery, he
told NBC. The White House estimated
extending the payroll tax cut for all of
2012 could add a percentage point to
growth this year. Reuters
White House defends deficit
SAO PAULO Police in
Brazils Bahia state voted on
Saturday to end a strike that
unleashed a crime wave, rais-
ing hopes for peaceful carnival
The last holdouts among
Bahias military police agreed
to give up their walkout, state
spokesman Robinson Almeida
said after 11 days of chaos in
Brazils third-largest city.
Fears of the violence
spreading also eased in Rio
de Janeiro after a police strike
there showed signs of flagging
in its second day.
Rios civil police, one
branch of striking security
forces, agreed on Saturday
to suspend their walkout, ac-
cording to state news service
Agencia Brasil.
The news brought relief
just one week before Rios fa-
mous carnival celebrations and
allowed for a peaceful start to
hundreds of the citys informal
street parades, known as blo-
As many as 850,000 tour-
ists are expected to hit the
beaches and palm-tree lined
promenades of Brazils sec-
ond-biggest city for the fes-
tivities, which officially run
from February 17 to Febru-
ary 22.
Determined to avoid a re-
peat of the chaos in Salvador,
Rios senior police officials re-
acted swiftly to the declaration
of a walkout on Friday, detain-
ing dozens of striking workers
and charging them with diso-
Authorities were also ready
with emergency plans to de-
ploy federal troops in Rio and
across the country amid calls
for nationwide protests by po-
lice officers demanding higher
President Dilma Rousseff
last week sent more than 4,000
troops to Salvador to restore
order amid the strike there.
In Bahia, roughly 6,000
officers, about a fifth of the
states overall police force,
have taken part.
Out of Rios 70,000-strong
force, which also includes fire-
men and state prison guards,
only about 3,000 assembled in
the citys colonial centre late
on Thursday in an initial pro-
test to launch the strike.
For Bahia Governor
Jaques Wagner, a star of Bra-
zils ruling Workers Party
and a key ally of President
Dilma Rousseff, the strike
has led to marathon negotia-
tions with the striking police,
who say they are underpaid
and overburdened by the ris-
ing crime.
The governor already
agreed to a 6.5 per cent salary
increase for the police but has
refused to grant an amnesty
for striking workers who have
committed crimes. Reuters
Police in Brazils Bahia end strike
Romney candidacy gets boost with Maine win
Health plan stays unchanged
Fidel Castro in marathon meeting
Barack Obama will not make
any more changes to the rule
announced last week requiring
health insurance plans to pro-
vide women with coverage for
contraception, although US
Catholic bishops have said it
violates the Churchs religious
We put out the plan that
reflects where the president
intended to go. This is our
plan, White House chief
of staff Jacob Lew said on
CNNs State of the Union
Lew said no religious or-
ganisation will be required to
pay for or facilitate the cover-
age that it disagrees with since
the insurance companies are
the ones who will pay.
Asked what incentive in-
surance companies would
have to provide contraception,
Lew Obamas budget di-
rector until a few weeks ago
said it would be cost effec-
tive just like other preventive
healthcare coverage.
As somebody whos done
budgets for a lot of years,
when people tell me things
dont cost money, I ask a lot
of questions, Lew said on
ABC Newss This Week with
George Stephanopoulos.
This is actually one of
those exceptions to the rule.
If you look at the overall cost
of providing healthcare to a
woman, the cost goes up, not
down, if you take contracep-
tives out.
Lew said the White House
had not expected universal
support for contraceptive cov-
erage, but did find backing
from several affected groups,
including Catholic hospitals
and charities.
We didnt expect to get the
support of the bishops or all
Catholics, Lew said on Fox
News Sunday. He added on
CBSs Face the Nation that
the White House has broad
consensus, not universal con-
sensus. This is an approach
thats right.
The US Conference of
Catholic Bishops has issued
a statement saying Obamas
proposal involves needless
government intrusion in the
internal governance of reli-
gious institutions.
The Catholic leaders urged
Congress to overturn the rule
and indicated they would also
take up the issue in the courts.
The regulation at the center
of the controversy requires re-
ligious-affiliated groups such
as charities, hospitals and
universities, but not churches
themselves, to provide em-
ployees with coverage for
birth control as other health
insurance providers must do.
After an outcry from
Catholic groups and Obamas
Republican opponents, the
president announced that re-
ligious employers would not
be required to offer free birth
control to workers and the
onus would instead fall on in-
HAVANA Former Cuban leader Fidel
Castro held his second lengthy public
event in a week, this time a nine-hour ses-
sion with writers and intellectuals, Cuban
state media said on Saturday.
Fidel with intellectuals: More than
nine hours of dialogue with the infinite,
said the headline on government website
The story described the meeting in
which representatives from 22 countries
discussed topics ranging from the sad
state of the world, as Castro views it, to
the 85-year-old comandantes health.
We have to fight. We cant let pessi-
mism win. Its our duty, he was quoted
as saying.
The story said that everyone was im-
pressed by the vitality and enthusiasm of
Fidel, and that those who spoke congrat-
ulated him for his visible recovery.
The session was part of Havanas an-
nual international book fair.
A week ago, Cuban media reported on
a six-hour appearance before a group of
admirers where the leader pitched a new
two-volume biography of his early life,
called Guerrilla of Time.
Cuban television showed a videotape
of that appearance and in which Castro
had to be helped to his chair, but was en-
ergetic, witty and totally in control of a
rapt audience. had numerous photos
of Fridays event, but so far no video has
been shown.
Before these latest two events, he was
last seen publicly at a Communist Party
congress in April, where he sat wordless-
ly as his brother took over as chairman of
the party, the position he had held since
its inception. Reuters
CARACAS Venezue-
lan opposition parties were
holding their first primary
yesterday to pick a unity
candidate to battle ailing
President Hugo Chavez in
an October vote.
Five candidates are run-
ning in the opposition contest
with the favourite Henrique
Capriles, 39, the energetic
governor of Miranda state,
polls show.
The 57-year-old Chavez,
who last year underwent
chemotherapy in Caracas
and Havana and now claims
to be cancer-free, is seeking
a third six-year term in the
October 7 vote. A fiery critic
of the United States, Chavez
is the main political and eco-
nomic ally of Cuba.
Capriles, telegenic and
energetic, has been in poli-
tics since 25. His campaign
got a boost last month when
Leopoldo Lopez, a popular
former mayor, dropped out
and endorsed him.
He describes his poli-
tics as centre-left, and has
argued that Venezuela can
replicate Brazils model of
economic development.
LIMA Perus military has
recovered the body of Ar-
temio, leader of the once
feared Shining Path guerril-
las, President Ollanta Huma-
la announced yesterday.
I am certain that (the
body) found belongs to the
terrorist Artemio, the presi-
dent told Peruvian radio, an-
nouncing his plans to travel
to the southeastern region
where the rebel leaders
body was recovered.
A military offensive was
launched last week to cap-
ture Artemio, 47, whose real
name was Florindo Flores.
Defence officials said they
were trailing the guerrilla
leader, who was apparently
wounded in a battle with
Artemio was pursued by
special forces in southeastern
Perus Puerto Pizana area.
mob of villagers in central
Mexico attacked and killed
three men on Friday they ac-
cused of trying to kidnap a lo-
cal resident.
So far, 23 people have been
arrested for the mob attack,
prosecutors said.
A spokesman for the Mex-
ico State Security Secretariat
said the mob numbered more
than 500 people.
An initial investigation
showed a group of six wom-
en incited local residents to at-
tack three men, who they set
on fire, said a statement from
the Mexico state attorney gen-
erals office.
Police tried to rescue the
three men but succeeded in
pulling only one of them away
from the mob. He died Satur-
day morning at a hospital.
The incident occurred in
the village of San Mateo Hu-
itzilzingo, which has about
14,000 residents.
Villagers said the men
they attacked tried to kidnap
a young man, the newspaper
Reforma reported on its web-
Some police officers who
rushed to the scene were
wounded, the report said.
The State of Mexico pros-
ecutors office condemned the
attack and said it would not
allow anyone to take justice
into their own hands. AFP
SAO PAULO A medical
examination of former Brazil-
ian president Luiz Inacio Lula
da Silva has shown that a can-
cerous tumour in his larynx
has disappeared, one of his
doctors told a local newspaper
Oncologist Artur Katz told
Folha newspaper that from
a tomographic point of view,
the tumour can no longer be
However, he pointed out
that a definitive answer will
be known after an endoscopy
that will be performed at the
end of radiation therapy that
should be concluded in four to
six weeks.
Endoscopy is a better
procedure to determine this,
Katz is quoted as saying. To-
mography can miss some of
the cancerous cells... But this
is good news anyway. It makes
us more certain that we are
following the right course.
Lula was hospitalised here
Saturday complaining of loss
of appetite and fatigue as a re-
sult of his cancer treatment.
The doctors said they found
a small presence of inflam-
mation of the laryngeal and
oesophageal mucosa, result-
ing from radiation therapy, a
bulletin posted on the website
of Syrian-Lebanese Hospital
Lula is scheduled to remain
at the hospital until today, ac-
cording to Brazilian media
The former president
underwent a third round of
chemotherapy in December.
Doctors rejected a surgery
option after the December
chemotherapy treatment re-
duced the cancerous tumour
by 75 per cent.
A former lathe operator
and union leader, Lula was the
first leftist president in the his-
tory of Brazil.
He served two consecu-
tive terms of office between
January 2003 and December
2010. AFP
vote for
Peru finds
3 alleged kidnappers killed
Lulas exam shows cancerous
tumour disappeared: report
REVELLERS attend a samba parade during pre-carnival festivities in Rio de Janeiro yesterday. Reuters
THOUSANDS of Bolivian musicians dressed in colourful uniforms performed in Oruro, about 200 km south of La Paz,
on Saturday. Trumpet music and beating drums reverberated through the streets of the Bolivian city of
Oruro to kick off pre-Carnival festivities. Reuters
CADETS of the Fuerza Civil (Civil Force) stand in formation during a graduation
ceremony at the 7th military zone on the outskirts of Monterrey on Saturday. Reuters
MANILA The death toll in
a magnitude-6.9 earthquake in
the central Philippines rose to
41, with 67 people still miss-
ing and feared dead, the Office
of Civil Defence said yester-
The toll rose after rescue
teams recovered two bod-
ies from landslides caused by
February 6 quake in Negros
Oriental province, 570 kilo-
metres south of Manila.
The civil defence office
said 28 were still missing in
the village of Planas in Gui-
hulngan City and 39 in the vil-
lage of Solonggon in nearby
La Libertad town.
Rescue operations were be-
ing hampered by strong after-
shocks and intermittent heavy
rains threatening to cause more
landslides, authorities said.
Civil defence chief Benito
Ramos earlier said he feared
the chance of finding survi-
vors among the missing was
slim because of the landslides.
Captain Anacito Naz, civil-
military operations chief of
the army in the province, said
heavy equipment had reached
the two landslide sites to help
in rescue operations.
The military has also been
distributing relief goods to
more than 80,000 residents,
who were staying in makeshift
tents or evacuation centres for
fear the aftershocks would
cause their houses to collapse.
The quake destroyed more
than 5,600 houses, while par-
tially damaged 5,002.
Many roads cracked while
three key bridges in the prov-
ince collapsed.
Damages caused by the
tremor were estimated to cost
at least 365.36 million pesos
($8.69 million), the OCD said.
The Philippines, located
along the Pacific Ring of
Fire, suffered its worst earth-
quake in 1990 when a 7.7-mag-
nitude tremor killed nearly
2,000 people on the northern
island of Luzon. dpa
Two bodies recovered at Philippine
quake site, 67 still missing
KABUL Four Tajiks were killed when a civilian helicopter
contracted to carry supplies to foreign forces crashed in south-
ern Afghanistan, officials said yesterday.
The helicopter went down in Shinkay district of Zabul
province late on Saturday killing all on board, deputy provin-
cial governor Mohammad Jan Rasuli said.
Last night, a civilian helicopter contracted by (Natos
International Security Assistance Force) went down due to
technical problems, he said, adding that the crew were from
Tajikistan. But the Taliban in an online statement claimed its
fighters had shot down the helicopter.
The Russian-made EY-106 helicopter belonged to the glo-
bal logistic company Supreme Group, which provides services
for the international troops stationed in the war-torn country.
The company in a statement said that four crew members
of the helicopter who were killed in the Saturday crash were
Tajik nationals.
The helicopter was transporting food and water, it said.
Investigations as to the cause of the crash are ongoing but
no other parties appear to have been involved in the incident,
the company said.
A spokesman for ISAF confirmed the crash and that the
helicopter was contracted to deliver supplies to foreign forces
in southern Afghanistan. He added there was no hostile activ-
ity reported in the area. Agencies
KABUL An Afghan judge and his 8-year-old son have been
killed in an attack by unknown gunmen, a government spokes-
man said yesterday.
Abdul Basir, a judge at the appeals court in the volatile east-
ern province of Kunar, was travelling in Nangarhar province
with his family at the time of the attack, said Ahmad Zia Ab-
dulzai from the provincial governors office.
Two women and three children were injured in the attack
that took place in the Chino area of Khogyani district, he said.
According to a witness, two motorcyclists opened fire on
their vehicle and fled.
Basir died at the scene, while his son died in hospital.
Dozens of government officials and pro-government tribal
elders have been targeted by the armed opposition groups and
Taliban militants in the recent years. dpa
PESHAWAR A bomb hidden in a television set exploded in
a house in northwest Pakistan early yesterday, killing at least
seven people, in an attack police believe was part of a local
The blast took place in a neighbourhood on the outskirts of
Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which
borders Afghanistan.
At least seven people, two children, one woman and four
men, were killed in a bomb blast which took place inside a
house, senior police official Kalam Khan said.
Three others were wounded in the blast, he added.
Initial investigations showed the bomb was planted in a
rented television set which exploded in a guest room of the
house, Khan said.
The attack appears to be motivated by some personal dis-
pute or enmity, he said. AFP
Four Tajiks killed in
Afghan copter crash
Gunmen shoot dead
judge and his son
TV bomb kills seven
near Peshawar: police
ISLAMABAD It will be
the replay of the previous
appearance of Prime Minis-
ter Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani
in the Supreme Court tomor-
row (Monday) as he would
be taking same number of
the people with him that ac-
companied him last month
when he appeared in con-
tempt proceedings before the
apex court.
The prime minister, who
has returned from Faisalabad
after addressing a mammoth
public gathering at Jaranwa-
la, had extensive discussions
with legal experts about the
case after returning here.
Well-placed sources said
that Gilani has asked his
colleagues in the parliament
to stay calm during and af-
ter his appearance in the
court and they are required
to demonstrate even better
conduct during his presence
in the highest court of the
The Prime Minister Sec-
retariat has dispatched the list
of 44 persons to the authori-
ties concerned who will be
accompanying the premier
during his appearance before
the court. The number was
43 when he appeared last
time. The list also includes
security personnel.
The sources pointed out
that Gilani has asked the In-
terior Ministry not to create
undue dread on the occasion
and arrangements should be
made in the manner that the
occasion must not become
source of trouble for the peo-
ple. Internews
YANGON Myanmars
president pledged to seek
lasting peace with armed
rebels and issued a plea for
the nations support yesterday,
as ethnic unrest continues to
marr reforms.
Thein Sein, a former gen-
eral who came to power last
year when outright military
rule ended, has launched ef-
forts to end decades of eth-
nic conflict as part a raft of
landmark reforms in recent
Myanmars quasi-civilian
regime has reached tentative
peace deals with several rebel
groups including in eastern
Karen and Shan states, but
fighting in Kachin which bor-
ders China in the north has
created uncertainty over the
progress of reconciliation ef-
Participation of the en-
tire national people is sorely
needed to bring internal armed
conflicts to an end and build
lasting peace, and in nation-
building endeavours, Thein
Sein said in a message carried
by state media.
The address for Union
Day, which marks the signing
of a historic agreement with
the countrys disparate ethnic
minority groups in 1947, said
the government was deter-
mined to keep on promoting
democracy peacefully.
He said people would be
overjoyed to see democratic
elections and equal participa-
tion in state affairs, reiterat-
ing a vow to focus on good
governance and improve the
rule of law.
The regime has won cau-
tious applause and a slight
lifting of Western sanctions
for reforms including the
release of political prisoners.
YANGON The European
Union Development Com-
missioner arrived in My-
anmar yesterday where he
is expected to announce a
150-million-euro aid package
to the former pariah state.
Andris Piebalgs arrived in
Yangon, and planned to trav-
el to the capital of Naypyitaw
today for talks with President
Thein Sein and senior gov-
ernment officials.
He is also scheduled to
meet with opposition leader
Aung San Suu Kyi tomor-
Piebalgs trip is a response
to several reforms that Thein
Sein has initiated since com-
ing to power in March.
The former army general
and member of the junta that
ruled Myanmar for two dec-
ades has taken a progressive
tack since winning the No-
vember 2010 election.
He began political dia-
logue with Suu Kyi and paved
the way for her party to con-
test a by-election scheduled
on April 1.
Thein Sein has also freed
about 600 political prison-
ers, although hundreds more
remain, and signed ceasefires
with six ethnic minority in-
The momentum of
change in Burma, Myanmar
is impressive and the EU rec-
ognises the need to do all it
can to support the country at
this time, Piebalgs said in
Brussels prior to his depar-
He is expected to an-
nounce an aid package to
support democratic reforms
in the country.
EU foreign ministers last
month decided to waive visa
bans on Myanmars leaders,
but sanctions remain on doz-
ens of members of the former
military regime.
The EU also bans invest-
ments in state-owned enter-
prises and has embargoes
against arm exports to the
country as well as imports
of hardwood, gems and pre-
cious metal.
On April 23, EU foreign
ministers will look at a
possible new substantial re-
duction or even the ending
of sanctions, a diplomatic
source in Brussels said.
Contempt case hearing today
Pledge to end conflict
EU development chief
arrives in Myanmar
Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani,
in an interview broadcast
on Saturday, said corruption
charges against President Asif
Ali Zardari were politically
motivated and that the presi-
dent had immunity as head of
In the wide-ranging in-
terview with Al Jazeera tel-
evision, he also criticised US
drone attacks near the Afghan
border as counter-productive
and said Pakistan never au-
thorised them.
Pakistan, he said, backed
any Afghan-led peace plan to
establish peace in the neigh-
bouring country and in no
way supported Taliban insur-
Gilanis statements were
aired on the eve of a hearing
at which the premier faces
indictment for contempt of
court over his refusal to re-
quest the reopening of cor-
ruption cases against the
president, co-chairman of the
premiers Pakistan Peoples
Party (PPP).
There had been a lot of
cases against him, and they
were all politically motivat-
ed, Gilani said, referring to
He has got immunity.
And he has not got immunity
only in Pakistan, he has tran-
snational immunity, even all
over the world.
Whatever the charges
that were levelled against
him, he fought those cases in
the court, he was exonerated,
Gilani said.
Zardari and his late wife,
prime minister Benazir
Bhutto, were suspected of us-
ing Swiss bank accounts to
launder about $12 million in
alleged bribes paid by compa-
nies seeking customs inspec-
tion contracts in Pakistan in
the 1990s.
The Swiss shelved the
cases in 2008, when Zardari
became head of state, and a
prosecutor in Switzerland has
said it will be impossible to
re-open them as long as he
remains head of state and is
immune from prosecution.
Asked if he would rather
resign for the sake of the
president, Gilani said if con-
victed of contempt, he would
automatically lose office.
Theres no need to step
down, he said. If Im con-
victed, then Im not supposed
to be a member of the parlia-
Gilani said authorities in
Islamabad gave no approval
for US drone strikes.
I want to inform you that
we did not allow or give per-
mission to fly drones from
Pakistan, he said.
Number two, drones are
counter-productive. And we
had discussed thoroughly
with the US administration
that we at times make a lot
of efforts to very successfully
isolate militants from the lo-
cal tribes.
Drone attacks generated
negative reaction, he said,
with tribesmen in areas bor-
dering Afghanistan.
Then the local tribes and
the militants, they get united
again, he said. They make
our jobs extremely difficult.
Then there is less political
space for us.
Gilani also said he had
good relations with the
military at the moment.
That was a reference to ten-
sions pitting the government
against the military over a
controversial memo.
Asked about the future
of Afghanistan, Gilani said
Pakistan would support any
Afghan-led peace initiative
and did not back the Afghan
Taliban to take over.
We are not supporting
them. Its not our job. Why
should we support them?
Gilani also said that re-
gional rivals India and Paki-
stan could not afford more
conflict and were ready to
discuss the issues that have
long hampered the normalisa-
tion of relations.
We have agreed to discuss
all our core issues, includ-
ing the issue of Kashmir, he
said. Reuters
Gilani defends self
in Zardari issue
ISLAMABAD Pakistan Railways (PR) plans to target
private sector for funds. It has recently decided to enter into
joint ventures with the private sector.
Among its new plans, four of its hospitals in the country
will be handed over to private sector as medical teaching
institutions in private or semi-government sector. The aim
is to upgrade these hospitals to the level of teaching and ter-
tiary healthcare centres as per requirements and standards
of Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC).
Chief medical and health officer of Pakistan Railways
Dr Sibte Hassan Gardezi said the process of involving pri-
vate and semi-government institutions under the public-pri-
vate partnership mode has been started. Within next three
months, the management of the hospitals will be transferred
to the partner organisations, it was expected.
The PR hospitals include 30-bed hospital in Peshawar,
210-bed Cairns hospital in Lahore, 84-bed hospital in Mul-
tan and the 120-bed Hassan hospital in Karachi.
Pakistan Railways has eight major hospitals in the coun-
try, and progressing on the mode of engaging private sector,
its remaining hospitals in Quetta and Sukkur may also land
in the hands of private sector.
In a similar move, the department decided to seek the
help of private companies for improving its Rawalpindi and
Golra railway stations and the railway reservation office.
Sources said the move was meant to improve the con-
dition of the two railway stations and railway reservation
The railway divisional office, Rawalpindi, had requested
the authorities in Lahore to release funds for improving the
conditions at the stations. The division was asked to involve
private firms for refurbishing the railway stations. In return,
they would be offered to display their billboards and adver-
tisements on the platforms. Internews
Pakistan Railways looking
for private sector funds
vincial labour department will
draft a new law prohibiting
child labour that will replace
the existing Employment of
Children Act (ECA) 1991,
according to a press release
The proposed new law
which is in compliance with
the ILO Conventions No. 138
and No. 182, will ban the em-
ployment of children below
14 years of age, and also re-
strict the employment of chil-
dren less than 18 years of age
in hazardous occupations and
This has been agreed to at a
two-day workshop organised
by the ILO with the financial
assistance of the European
Union. The workshop was
facilitated by a technical team
led by Chief Technical Advis-
er of the Combating Abusive
Child Labour II Project, Su-
jeewa Fonseka.
The goal of this consulta-
tion was to enable officials
of Child Labour Units (CLU)
from four provincial labour
departments, to jointly formu-
late and enact legislation to
prohibit and regulate employ-
ment of children and adoles-
cents in Pakistan.
The existing ECA 1991
is not in line with Pakistans
commitment made on the rati-
fied ILO Convention 138 on
Minimum Age of Employ-
ment and Convention 182 on
Worst Forms of Child Labour.
New labour law aims to keep
children away from harm
QUETTA, Pakistan Afghan security forces kidnapped two
Pakistanis in southwestern Baluchistan province in Pakistan and
later killed them, officials said yesterday.
Some two dozen Afghan security force officers crossed the
border into southwestern Pakistan on Friday and kidnapped the
two Pakistanis, taking them back into Afghanistan, secretary of
tribal affairs Naseebullah Bazai said.
Two Pakistanis were taken away by Afghan forces and shot
dead inside Afghanistan, Bazai said, adding that the govern-
ment had called an immediate meeting with the Afghan Consu-
late General in Quetta.
We have demanded immediate return of bodies and we
shall lodge a strong protest with Afghanistan on Monday, he
said and added that the foreign ministry had been alerted about
the incident. Local intelligence officials confirmed the incident.
Cross-border kidnapping,
murder reported: officials
PEOPLE watch horse fighting in the town of Kidapawan, North Cotabato, in the
southern island of Mindanao yesterday as part of celebrations marking the 14th founding
anniversary of the city. The People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) called on
local officials in Mindanao to scrap the practice of featuring horse fighting as one of the
highlights during celebrations, saying it is a centuries-old barbaric tradition. AFP
PEOPLE take pictures as the hot air balloons take-off during the annual Hot Air Balloon
Festival at Clark airbase, a former US base in Angeles city, Pampanga, north of Manila
yesterday. At least 26 hot air balloons, including six specially shaped balloons took part in a
four-day event, considered the biggest aviation event in the country, local media reported.
THREE Taliban fighters and two teenage would-be attackers are presented to media
representatives with seized weapons in Kandahar yesterday. AFP
LEBANESE soldiers secure an area in the neighbourhood of Bab al Tabbaneh in the northern city of Tripoli yesterday following fierce clashes between Lebanese hostile
to Syrias government and others who support it. Right: Syrian soldiers who defected to join the Free Syrian Army are seen in Jerjenaz, near Idlib. Reuters
AIN Draham village after a snowfall in north-western Tunisia yesterday. This week all
roads that led right to the north and northwest of Tunisia were cut off by snow. AFP
CAIRO The Arab League
called yesterday for the UN
Security Council to send a
joint UN-Arab peacekeeping
mission to Syria and decided
to scrap its own monitoring
team, according to a resolution
approved by ministers and ob-
tained by Reuters.
Arab ministers met in Cairo
to revive diplomatic efforts af-
ter Russia and China vetoed a
UN resolution that called for
President Bashar al Assad to
step aside. That resolution was
based on an Arab peace plan
and had Western backing.
The Arab League called
for opening communica-
tion channels with the Syrian
opposition and providing all
forms of political and material
support to it. It also urged the
opposition to unify its ranks.
As part of the Arab efforts,
Tunisia said it would host the
first meeting on February 24
of a Friends of Syria con-
tact group made up of Arab
and other states and backed by
Western powers.
How long will we stay as
onlookers to what is happening
to the brotherly Syrian people,
and how much longer will we
grant the Syrian government
one period after another so it
can commit more massacres
against its people? Saudi For-
eign Minister Saud al Faisal
asked ministers at the start of
the League session.
At our meeting today I call
for decisive measures, after the
failure of the half-solutions,
he said. The Arab League
should ... open all channels of
communication with the Syr-
ian opposition and give all
forms of support to it.
The resolution said Arabs
would scrap their monitoring
mission which had been sent
to Syria in late December but
which was criticised by Syrias
opposition as ineffective from
the outset. It also faced inter-
nal dissent and logistical prob-
The Sudanese general lead-
ing the observers quit yester-
I wont work one more
time in the framework of the
Arab League, General Mo-
hammed al Dabi, whose ap-
pointment had been criticised
because of Sudans own rights
record, said.
I performed my job with
full integrity and transparency
but I wont work here again
as the situation is skewed, he
In place of the Arab team,
the League called for the UN
Security Council to issue a res-
olution setting up a joint UN-
Arab peacekeeping mission to
go to Syria.
League chief Nabil al Ara-
by has already proposed such
a joint mission to the UN sec-
retary-general but the plan has
drawn lukewarm support from
diplomats at the United Na-
tions in New York. The United
States and Germany said they
were studying it.
The resolution said vio-
lence against civilians in Syria
had violated international law
and perpetrators deserve pun-
ishment. It also reaffirmed a
call for Arabs to implement
economic sanctions on Syria
and decided on ending diplo-
matic co-operation with Da-
Analysts and diplomats say
sanctions that Arabs agreed to
impose last year had limited
impact so far because Iraq and
other neighbours have not im-
plemented them.
Although the ministers lent
their support to the opposition,
the resolution did not recog-
nise the opposition.
Tunisian Foreign Minister
Rafik Ben Abdessalem told
reporters that recognising the
Syrian National Council was
premature and requires the
opposition get unified.
Earlier he had told minis-
ters: The Syrian people de-
serve freedom as much as their
brothers in Tunisia, Egypt,
Libya and other Arab states
that witnessed major political
Ben Abdessalem also an-
nounced that Tunisia would
host the meeting of Friends
of Syria, a plan proposed
by France and the United
States after Russia and China
blocked the Security Council
Qatari Prime Minister
Shaikh Hamad bin Jassim
al Thani said the new forum
would provide a good oppor-
tunity to try to create a clear
international direction to help
the Syrian people to exit the
Egypts news agency said
Al Araby had proposed ap-
pointing former Jordanian
minister and UN envoy to
Libya, Abdel Elah al Khatib,
as the Leagues special envoy
to Syria. But a source in the
meeting said Khatibs name
was not put forward.
The Saudi minister criti-
cised the Security Councils
failure to back the Arab plan
for Syria.
Al Araby said the veto,
cause of much Arab frustra-
tion, exposed the failings of
the Councils voting system.
The League resolution ex-
pressed the disappointment
towards the Russia and Chi-
nese stance which used a veto
against supporting the Arab
peace plan.
Diplomats at the United
Nations said Saudi Arabia had
circulated a new draft resolu-
tion backing the Arab plan for
the General Assembly, rather
than the Security Council, to
consider. Assembly resolu-
tions are non-binding but can-
not be vetoed.
However, Riyadh denied
yesterday reports that it had for-
mally presented the resolution
to the assembly. Reuters
Arab League ends Syrian mission
CAIRO Egyptian authori-
ties have detained an Austral-
ian journalist and an American
student on suspicion they had
distributed cash to workers
and incited them to take part
in a strike demanding an end
to army rule, the state news
agency said.
The pair was detained on
Saturday along with their
Egyptian translator and a local
labour activist in the industrial
city of Al Mahalla al Kubra
north of Cairo.
They were referred to the
prosecutor general for inves-
tigation, the agency said. It
identified the American stu-
dent as Derek Ludovici and
the Australian journalist as
Austin Mackell. The labour
activist was named as Kamal
el Fayoumi.
The Australian Foreign
Ministry said an Australian na-
tional was detained in Mahalla
and that the embassy in Cairo
was seeking advice from Egyp-
tian police on possible charges
arising from the arrest.
The ministry did not con-
firm the name of the detainee.
Consular officials from
the Australian embassy in Cai-
ro have spoken to the man ...
He has confirmed he is being
treated appropriately by local
police authorities, the Aus-
tralian Foreign Ministry said
in a statement.
Meanwhile, three South
Koreans released by armed
Bedouin in Egypts Sinai Pe-
ninsula after a day-long sei-
zure said they were unharmed
and would continue a religious
trip, a report said yesterday.
The three South Koreans,
two men and a female tour
guide, were kidnapped on Fri-
day along with an Egyptian
guide while returning from the
historic monastery of St Cath-
Earlier reports had said
the tourists were all women.
They were part of a group
of 31 tourists visiting Chris-
tian pilgrimage sites. It was
not immediately clear whether
the Bedouins demand was
met. Reuters/AFP
Egypt detains Australian
journalist, US student
ADEN Southern separatists in Yemen set fire to a tent camp
housing anti-government protesters in the port city of Aden,
witnesses said yesterday, in opposition to an election this
month to replace outgoing President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Southern separatists joined protesters calling for Saleh to
leave last year, but the two sides have since grown apart.
The separatists want to revive a southern socialist state that
was united with the north in 1990. They fear the February 21
election will not serve their goal.
Anti-Saleh demonstrators broadly back the vote as a step
towards ending his 33-year rule.
Witnesses said hundreds of separatists marched through
Aden late on Saturday, setting fire to tents in the camp of about
100 protesters. About 10 people were injured.
Weakened by months of protests, the Yemeni government
has lost control of whole chunks of the country.
Northern dissidents have said they too will boycott the
vote, in which acting leader Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi is the
sole candidate to fill Salehs position.
Meanwhile, activists executed early yesterday three men
they accused of giving the United States information used to
carry out drone strikes in the area, a spokesman for the group
said in a text message.
Al Qaedas Yemen branch, strongly active in the south of
the nation, executed two of its members yesterday accusing
them of spying on its operations, witnesses said.
The pair was accused of planting tracking devices in the
vehicles of fellow Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula militants
and of providing Yemeni authorities, and the Saudi and US
intelligence services, with information.
They were publicly shot dead in front of dozens of residents
after the accusations against them were read out, the witnesses
said. Reuters/AFP
Separatists set fire to
Yemen protest camp
KHARTOUM Sudans central bank is increasing dollar
supplies to local banks to stop a slide of the Sudanese pound
after it generated more than $300 million from gold sales, a
central bank official said yesterday.
The African country is undergoing a severe economic crisis
after losing three-quarters of its oil production when South Su-
dan became independent in July under a 2005 peace deal. Oil
is the lifeline of both economies.
Sudan has avoided an Arab spring like Egypt or Tunisia
but the economic crisis has sparked small protests against high
food price inflation.
The pound hit a historic low on the black market last week
after losing more than 70 per cent of its value since July as the
loss of oil has cut off the main source of dollars.
The central bank has sold 6.5 tonnes of gold since January
which has generated more than $300 million, central bank
spokesman Hazem Abdul-Qadir said.
Therefore we are increasing dollar supplies to banks and
foreign exchange offices, he said.
He gave no figures but said dollar supplies would top the
$35 million banks currently get per week from the central
He said Sudan had managed to get some foreign aid but de-
clined to elaborate. Sudanese media have said that Qatar will
grant a substantial loan but nothing has been confirmed so far.
Sudan is locked in a row with South Sudan over oil pay-
ments as the landlocked new nation needs to export its crude
through northern facilities.
Both sides have failed to agree on a transit fee. South Su-
dan shut down its entire output last month after Sudan seized
southern oil as compensation for what it calls unpaid fees.
Sudan hopes rising gold exports will replace oil revenues
but experts are sceptical since much of the gold comes from
small-scale miners whose output is hard to verify. Reuters
Central bank ups dollar
supply after gold sale
TEHRAN Irans supreme
leader Ali Khamenei yester-
day warned Hamas against
any compromise in its fight
against Israel, his official web-
site reported.
Always be wary of infil-
tration by the compromisers
in a resistance organisation,
which will gradually weaken
it, Khamenei told the visiting
Hamas Gaza Prime Minister
Ismail Haniya, according to
the website.
We have no doubt about
your resistance and that of
many of your brothers, and the
people only have this expecta-
tion of you, said Khamenei,
reaffirming that Iran will al-
ways be alongside the Pales-
tinian resistance.
Khameneis comments
come as divisions within Ha-
mas have emerged on a pos-
sible overhaul of the organisa-
tions strategy.
Hamas leader Khaled Me-
shaal signed an agreement
with Palestinian President
Mahmud Abbas earlier this
month placing Abbas at the
head of an interim government
charged with organising elec-
tions later this year.
The agreement struck by
Meshaals foreign-based lead-
ership with Abbass Fatah fac-
tion has run into serious oppo-
sition from Hamas members
inside the Gaza Strip, which
the movement has controlled
since ousting the presidents
loyalists in 2007.
In November, Meshaal
called for peaceful popular
resistance, which would rep-
resent a shift in the movement
away from armed struggle.
He also expressed sup-
port for the establishment of a
Palestinian state on territories
occupied in 1967 in the West
Bank, Gaza and East Jerusa-
lem as its capital.
Haniya was quoted as tell-
ing Khamenei that the goal of
Hamas remained freedom of
all the Palestinian land from
the (Mediterranean) Sea to
the (Jordan) river, the refusal
of peace talks and the Islamic
character of the Palestinian
On Saturday, Haniya said
in a speech in Tehran that
Hamas will never recognise
They want us to recog-
nise the Israeli occupation and
cease resistance but, as the
representative of the Palestin-
ian people and in the name of
all the worlds freedom seek-
ers, I am announcing from
Azadi Square in Tehran that
we will never recognise Is-
rael, Haniya said.
Israel, which views Hamas
as a terrorist organisation and
Iran as its sponsor and weap-
ons supplier, has warned Fatah
against efforts to reconcile
with the movement.
Meanwhile, senior Ha-
mas official Mahmud Zahar
slammed a Palestinian unity
deal as a mistake that has
thrown the movement into
crisis, in an interview with
Egypts official Mena agency
published yesterday.
The decision to have Ab-
bas head the government is a
mistake, Zahar said. No one
inside the Hamas movement
was consulted.
The deal signed in Qatar
ends a long-running disagree-
ment over the premiership
that stalled Palestinian recon-
ciliation, but Zahar said that
practically it cannot be im-
If the consultations took
place among the small circle
around the political bureau
(headed by Meshaal abroad),
then this is unacceptable.
The agreement needs to
be reviewed, so Hamas leaders
at home and abroad will meet
over the issue in the coming
two days.
He said after a series of dis-
cussions with Hamas officials
and MPs we found that many
feel there is a real crisis.
The agreement struck
by Meshaals foreign-based
leadership with Abbass secu-
lar Fatah faction has run into
serious opposition from Ha-
mas members inside the Gaza
Strip, which the movement
has controlled since ousting
the presidents loyalists in
2007. AFP
Iran warns Hamas against any
compromise with Israel
MAMAMA Bahrains King Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa dis-
missed the countrys opposition movement as disunited and said
the threat of Iran had compelled him to call in foreign troops to
crush last years uprising.
In a sense there is no opposition in Bahrain, as the phrase
implies one unified block with the same views, the king said in
extracts from an interview with Der Spiegel.
Such a phrase is not in our constitution, unlike say the
United Kingdom. We only have people with different views and
thats okay, he said in the article. The king said the protest-
ers refrain Down with Hamad, sounded by trumpets and car
horns and chanted at rallies, was simply a case of bad manners
and no reason to imprison people.
But he said chants in favour of Irans Supreme Ruler Ali
Khamenei were a concern, echoing the governments charge
that Iran helped foment the uprising which, it says, had sectar-
ian motives.
Its just a case of manners. But when they shout Down with
the king and up with Khamenei thats a problem for national
unity, he said. The king said he brought in emergency law to
protect women and expatriates, some of whom were attacked.
Also our women were very scared and it is the duty of a gentle-
man to protect women, so I had to protect them. Reuters
Bahrain king dismisses
opposition as disunited
ANKARA Turkish warplanes carried out air strikes on sus-
pected Kurdish militant targets in northern Iraq overnight, Tur-
keys general staff said yesterday.
In a brief statement on its website, it said warplanes had
struck the Zab and Hakurk areas, targeting caves and hideouts
belonging to the separatist terror organisation, a term used
by the government to describe the Kurdistan Workers Party
The general staff did not say whether the strikes had caused
any casualties. It said all its planes had returned safely to their
bases after completing their mission successfully.
Kirmanj Azaat Suliyman, mayor of the Sorran district in
the northern Iraqi city of Arbil, confirmed areas along the bor-
der with Turkey had been bombed on Saturday night, and said
there were no reports of casualties.
On December 28, Turkish warplanes killed 35 civilian
smugglers in northern Iraq after mistaking them for Kurdish
Turkey has stepped up air operations on suspected PKK
dissidents in northern Iraq over the past six months after an
increase in PKK attacks on Turkish security forces inside Tur-
The raids have fuelled tension between Turkey and the
semi-autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq and triggered pro-
tests in northern Iraq and in Turkeys predominantly Kurdish
Relations between Ankara and Iraqs central government in
Baghdad have also become strained over the past few weeks.
Turkey fears Iraq is heading towards sectarian war while Bagh-
dad has accused Ankara of meddling in its affairs.
The new wave of Turkish strikes, which began in August,
was the first in more than a year on suspected PKK dissident
bases in Iraq, and marked an escalation of the conflict that has
spanned nearly three decades.
More than 40,000 people have been killed since the PKK
took up arms for Kurdish self-rule in 1984.
The PKK is listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the
United States and the European Union.
The December 28 incident, which Turkeys largest pro-
Kurdish party, the BDP, called a crime against humanity,
sparked clashes between hundreds of stone-throwing protest-
ers and police in Diyarbakir, the largest city in Turkeys restive
The incident threatens to spoil efforts to forge Turkish-
Kurdish consensus for a planned new constitution expected to
partly address the issue of rights for the Kurdish minority.
Ankara says it is conducting a full investigation into the
attack and the BDP has referred the incident to the UN human
rights committee and the International Criminal Court (ICC)
in The Hague, a move it says is aimed to avoid a government
With most Turks favouring a hardline military response
against the PKK, the incident is unlikely to hurt the popularity
of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who won a third
term in office in a June vote.
Earlier this month, the Turkish military said it had
bombed militant targets in northern Iraq and that Turkish se-
curity forces had killed five Kurdish insurgents in Turkeys
southeastern Batman province after discovering them hiding
in a cave. Reuters
Turkey hits PKK
targets in N Iraq
Seeks joint UN force Calls for providing all forms of political and material support to the opposition
TAMIL Nadu Chief Minister J
Jayalalithaa yesterday said her
government would soon sign Memoranda
of Understanding (MoU) with a couple
of Japanese companies willing to invest
in production bases in Tamil Nadu.
Inaugurating the plant of Toshiba JSW
Turbine & Generator Pvt Ltd in Chennai,
she said: "At present some large Japanese
companies are considering substantial
investments in Tamil Nadu. My
government will soon sign MoUs with
these companies."
She said Japanese companies had been
evincing interest mainly in the manu-
facturing sector where Tamil Nadu is a
leading state. "The auto sector accounts
for about 60 per cent of Japanese foreign
direct investment in Tamil Nadu. I am
confident that Chennai will emerge as the
world's largest auto cluster," Jayalalithaa
Four workers electrocuted
during poll campaigning
IN a freak accident, four Nationalist
Congress Party (NCP) workers were
electrocuted yesterday when the party
flag one of them was holding came in
touch with an overhead electric wire,
a party official said. The four were
participating in an election campaign in
Thane ahead of the upcoming civic polls
in Maharashtra.
The incident occurred this morning
when the victims were preparing for
a candidates procession. Ten people
suffered from severe electric shock,
four of who were killed immediately,
Thane NCP Chief Jitendra Avhad said.
The party workers raised a party flag,
which accidentally touched the overhead
electric wire. The current immediately
passed on to the metal pole on which the
flag was tied, Avhad added. According
to eyewitness, the person who raised
the party flag received massive electric
shock and the ones who tried to rescue
him also suffered the shock.
Maramon convention
gets under way
THE Maramon Convention got
underway yesterday afternoon on the
banks of the Pampa river. The week-
long event will see around three million
people attending and will be addressed
by prominent speakers from across the
world. Philipose Mar Chrysostum, senior
metropolitan, of the Mar Thoma Church
led the opening worship of the 117th
edition of the convention.
Maramon is situated on the banks
of the Pampa river, about 20 km from
Thiruvalla and the convention takes
place on the river bed under a temporary
shed made out of coconut leaves, which
can seat a lakh of people. A record three
million believers are expected to visit the
Online tutorial for entrance
examinations launched
WITH the entrance exams for
professional courses just a few months
away, Technopark-based Oztern
Technology in Thiruvananthapuram has
developed an online tutorial for students
appearing for engineering and medical
exams. For it has joined hands with one
of the most sought-after educational
training institutes, that of P C Thomas.
The tutorial would be made available
through all the 2,200 state-run Akshaya
IT centres.
Saiju V Stella, CEO of Oztern
said, Now, students have the added
convenience of visiting their nearest
Akshaya centre to practise or purchase
this valuable P C Thomas Online Crash
Course Entrance course. Students can
also purchase a subscription for this crash
course from
There are around 40,000 seats in the
professional colleges in the state and this
time, more than 100,000 students have
already registered to take the entrance
examination in April.
Five killed in West Bengal
road accident
FIVE people, mostly labourers, were
killed and nine others injured yesterday
in West Bengals Bankura district when
their vehicle collided head on with
another vehicle, police said in Kolkata.
Two women were among the dead in
the accident on Tarapith Station Road.
Three of them died at the spot and two at
a nearby hospital, police said. IANS
Tamil Nadu to sign MoUs
with Japanese firms: Jaya
NEW DELHI The pro-
posed National Food Securi-
ty Bill (NFSB) will not entail
large financial implications
for the government, Minis-
ter of State for Food, Public
Distribution and Consumer
Affairs K V Thomas said
The additional financial
implication of the NFSB is
not going to be large, said
Thomas at the All-India Edi-
tors Conference on Social
Sector Issues (ECSSI) in
Puducherry on Saturday, ac-
cording to an official release.
Explaining his point, the
minister said that with the
current coverage and entitle-
ment and taking into account
estimated allocations under
other welfare schemes, the
food subsidy bill for financial
year 2012-13 is expected to
be about Rs 88,997 crore.
The major impact of NFSB
will be in terms of food sub-
sidy, which is estimated to be
additional Rs 23,228 crore in
2012-13, he said.
According to Thomas, if
the government were to just
update the coverage under
Targeted Public Distribu-
tion System (TPDS) using
2011 census provisional data,
the food subsidy will be Rs
109,795 crore.
With the estimated subsidy
requirement under the NFSB
at Rs 112,205 crore, the min-
ister said this was an addition
of just Rs 2,410 crore.
Finance Minister Pranab
Mukherjee had resaid he was
losing sleep over the rising
subsidy bill of the country,
including the proposed right
to food law.
Thomas further said the
perception of some states that
the coverage under TPDS
provided in the bill is restric-
tive and will come in the
way of universal PDS being
implemented by them is mis-
He said the rural develop-
ment ministry and Planning
Commission will consult the
states to arrive at a consensus
on the methodology that will
seek to ensure that no poor
or deprived household is ex-
cluded from coverage under
different government pro-
grammes and schemes.
The National Food Se-
curity Bill, a dream project
of United Progressive Al-
liance chairperson Sonia
Gandhi, is currently before a
parliamentary standing com-
mittee. IANS
Food security bill burden
wont be large: minister
NEW DELHI After showing
marginal improvement in her con-
dition, two-year-old baby Falak is
back on the ventilator after diffi-
culty in breathing, doctors at the
All India Institute of Medical Sci-
ences (AIIMS) said yesterday.
The baby was abandoned in a
battered condition at the AIIMS
over three weeks ago.
The baby was put off the ven-
tilator as the chest infection had
cleared and the blood infection had
also subsided. But she developed
some difficulty in breathing on
Saturday and had to be put back
on it, said Deepak Agrawal, as-
sistant professor of neurosurgery
at the AIIMS trauma centre.
Falak was brought to AIIMS
by a teenager on January 18 with
a fractured skull, bruises and hu-
man bite marks all over her tiny
frame. The girl who claimed to
be her mother is now in a juvenile
Nine people, including key-
accused Raj Kumar Gupta who
had handed over the baby to the
juvenile, have been arrested in the
The police probe delves into hu-
man trafficking angle.
The team of doctors monitoring
the toddlers condition had said
the chest and blood infection have
subsided, but the brain infection is
still a cause for concern.
Her condition had shown mar-
ginal improvement, according to
The baby has undergone three
surgeries so far. Doctors say the
baby is stable, but critical.
She continues to be critical, but
stable, said Agrawal. IANS
Baby Falak back on
ventilator, still critical
NEW DELHI As the number
of middle-income families going
on domestic vacations and busi-
ness travellers on a tight budget
keeps rising, international hotel-
iers are rushing in to capture the
mid-market segment bridging the
gap between luxury and budget
hotels in India.
The concept of mid-market
hotels is relatively new to India.
Industry experts say there exists
a whole range of tourists be-
tween the budget travellers and
the well-heeled.
The bulk of leisure travellers
are from the middle class and
a large proportion of corporate
travellers in India is mid-level
executives. They want all the
trappings of a luxury hotel but at
an affordable price.
With companies continuing
to be more cost-conscious, and
leisure travellers looking for val-
ue-for-money options that do not
compromise on quality, there is a
clear gap in the mid-scale mar-
ket, said Chris Moloney, chief
operating officer, South West
Asia, Intercontinental Hotels
Group (IHG).
One of the key drivers behind
the booming Indian tourism,
Moloney said, was the burgeon-
ing numbers of middle class
which has incredible headroom
for growth.
A recent survey by the Con-
federation of Indian Industry and
PricewaterhouseCoopers also
identified the mid-market and
budget segments as growth ar-
IHG has signed a joint venture
with Duet India Hotels Group
(DIHL) to develop 19 new Holi-
day Inn Express hotels in more
than 12 key cities by 2016 to ca-
ter to this segment.
We have taken 24 per cent
equity stake, making a multi-year
investment of $30 million into
the partnership, said Moloney.
According to the data released
by the governments tourism de-
partment, 740.21 million Indians
travelled inside the country in
2010 (up by 18.8 per cent against
2009) while foreign tourist arriv-
als (FTAs) were 5.78 million (up
by 11.8 per cent against 2009).
These numbers are expected to
go up to 1,451.46 million and
11.24 million respectively by the
end of 12th Plan.
In comparison, the country
has just 15 per cent of its 117,800
hotel rooms that fall under the
mid-market segment, compared
to 43 per cent in the United States
and 35 per cent in Britain.
There is a huge demand-
supply gap in the Indian market.
And with increasing opportuni-
ties even in tier-II and tier-III
markets, I am optimistic that by
2015 all the international brands
will be in India offering services
at different price points, said
P R Srinivas, senior consult-
ant, research and advisory firm
Mid-market hotels, which
bridge the gap between luxury
and quality budget hotels, are also
a win-win proposition for owners
and operators because of lower
cost of construction and services,
especially in smaller cities.
Sonia Mohindra, director, Un-
der One Roof Hotel Consultants,
said the cost of land was far more
cheaper in smaller cities. Land
was also more easily available
there as compared to the metro
cities, which is driving these in-
ternational chains to establish
their business in the mid-market
segment there.
Srinivas also said big brands
were venturing into India because
of China, which he said had al-
ready achieved its peak with over
one million rooms. In a product
life cycle, if international chains
feel they have set up enough ho-
tels in the market, they will go to
other markets.
Brand building was another
major reason for international
hotels venturing into India. A
majority of customers who pay
Rs 4,000 or Rs 6,000 for these
rooms are frequent foreign busi-
ness travellers. These hotels find
it easy to give them a taste of
their services in India, so that
when they go abroad their brand
loyalty exists, said Srinivas.
Last month Starwood Hotels
& Resorts Worldwide, which
operates 33 hotels under brands
such as Le Meridian, announced
setting up of 20 new hotels by
Another top global hotel
chain, Accor, has also said it will
launch over 80 hotels in India by
2015. It currently has nine hotels
under the brand name Mercure,
Ibis and Novotel. IANS
International hotel chains make a beeline to the country
NEW DELHI With passenger
fares on a freeze for years and lit-
tle money to expand the worlds
second largest railroad network un-
der a single management, Minister
Dinesh Trivedi has an unenviable
task when he presents the annual
Railway Budget on March 14.
Poor financial management
over the past few years has left
Indian Railways staring at an earn-
ings shortfall of Rs 7,000 crore
despite gross budgetary support of
Rs 20,000 crore last year and a Rs
3,000-crore loan approved by the
finance ministry on February 6.
Revision of passenger fares is
long overdue. The railways need to
invest in additional lines and build
more rakes, former Railway Board
chairman R K Singh said even as
experts said populist measures of
the Trinamool Congress have held
the railways hostage.
As per estimates, a 25 per cent
fare hike can generate Rs 12,500
crore and is crucial to Indian Rail-
ways that runs 10,500 trains and
ferries 22 million passengers daily
over 114,000 track km. The fares
were last hiked in 2002-03.
It is an unprecedented situa-
tion, a senior railway official com-
mented on condition of anonymity
while describing the financial cri-
sis, adding that it will certainly not
help since Trivedi belongs to the
Trinamool Congress, which is op-
posed to any fare hike move.
With 19 members in the Lok
Sabha, the lower house of parlia-
ment, the Trinamool Congress is a
crucial ally of the United Progres-
sive Alliance (UPA) government of
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
and has often shelved key reforms
such as foreign equity in retail.
The last fare rationalisation ex-
ercise was in 2002-03, when the
minimum fare for second class
mail and express trains was hiked
by Rs 1 from Rs 15 to Rs 16. For
long distance trains, up to 341 km,
the hike ranged from Rs 1 to Rs 6.
As a result of the moderate
nature of the hike, as opposed
to a more realistic exercise, the
operating ratio now stands at 100
per cent, up from 75 per cent in
This means every rupee gener-
ated is spent on running the net-
work, with no room for expansion.
All big projects are at a stand-
still. The railways are unable to
maximise earnings, said Singh,
adding there is no money left to ad-
dress crucial areas like the renewal
and replacement of existing assets
and taking up further development
For the record, the working ex-
penditure of railways, which was
Rs 73,000 crore in 2010-11, is like-
ly to shoot by over Rs 6,000 crore
during this financial year, ministry
sources said.
This, together with a carryover
of Rs 2,000 crore shortfall in the
earnings in 2011-12, is expected
to dent the internal resource-gen-
eration exercise by Rs 8,000 crore
during this fiscal, they said.
Several representations have
been made to revise passenger
fares since this is seen as the only
way. Those in favour include the
Parliamentary Railway Convention
Committee, the Planning Commis-
sion and even trade unions within
the establishment.
Will Trinamool Congress chief
and West Bengal Chief Minister
Mamata Banerjee herself the rail-
way minister till last year permit
such as move? An answer to this will
come only on March 14 when her
party colleague Trivedi presents his
maiden Railway Budget. IANS
Railways running into
big earnings shortfall
GUWAHATI A central
rural roads scheme would
be specially tailored for the
northeastern states, where
the low population in habita-
tions prevents the launch of
new projects, Minister for
Rural Development Jairam
Ramesh said yesterday.
The ministry is going to
add a special dispensation
in the Pradhan Mantri Gram
Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) in
the northeastern states in
view of their topographical
difference with the rest of the
country, Ramesh said here.
The primary objective
of the PMGSY is to provide
connectivity to unconnected
habitations with a population
of 250 persons and above.
However, the population is
below 250 in a majority of
the habitations in hilly states
of the region, he said.
In Arunachal Pradesh, the
population was less than 250
in 76 per cent of the states
total habitations, he said.
Nagaland too faces a
similar problem. So, we
need to add a special dispen-
sation in the PMGSY in the
northeastern states for better
implementation. IANS
Special rural
roads scheme
for northeast
NEW DELHI The week
ended on a warm and sunny
note for Delhi residents as
the maximum temperature
was recorded three notches
above average at 26.1 de-
grees Celsius.
The days minimum tem-
perature was a notch below
average at 9.2 degrees and
the maximum and minimum
humidity was recorded at 82
and 26 per cent.
According to the India
Meteorological Department
(IMD), Delhi residents can
expect similar weather to-
day with clear and sunny
skies in store. However,
there will be light mist early
The maximum and
minimum temperatures are
expected to hover around 26
and 9 degrees Celsius, said
the IMD official. IANS
Warm, sunny
day in Delhi
JAUNPUR Congress lead-
er Rahul Gandhi yesterday
blamed Uttar Pradesh Chief
Minister Mayawati for the
sorry plight of women in the
Even though this state is
ruled by a woman chief min-
ister, there is no one to hear
the voice of women, Gandhi
said, addressing a pubic rally
in this Uttar Pradesh district
where polling is due on Feb
ruary 15 in the third phase
of the seven-phase assembly
With a view to ensuring
participation of women right
down to the grassroots level,
the Congress made it a point
to give reservation to women
in panchayats, but that is not
being implemented in the
true spirit in this state, he al-
Citing a examples of in-
justice to women in the state,
Gandhi said: I was told by
an old woman how her ag-
ricultural land was forcibly
acquired for some builders.
When the builder demanded
immediate vacation of the
plot, the woman complained
to the local police station but
to no avail.
Police not only refused
to intervene but even went
to the extent of setting fire to
the standing crop on the poor
womans land, he alleged.
Stressing he was not here
to make promises like other
political parties, he said:
When one has clear inten-
tions, he need not make prom-
ises. I have not come here to
make promises but to take UP
on the path for change and I
am sure that we will win this
Ask Mayawati and (Sa-
majwadi Party chief) Mu-
layam Singh Yadav whether
they cared to visit any vil-
lage in the last five years, but
when they go about address-
ing election rallies, they were
busy making tall promises,
he said, adding he wondered
why they had not done so
when in power.
Flaying successive non-
Congress governments in Ut-
tar Pradish where Congress
had been out of power for 22
years, Gandhi asserted he was
committed to the cause of Ut-
tar Pradeshs development.
And I will not budge
from here. Let me tell you
that when I choose to take up
something, I do not leave it
halfway, he said.
Maya responsible for
plight of women in UP
The major impact will be in terms of food subsidy
A DRIVER cleans a car during a vintage car parade in New Delhi yesterday. More than
60 vintage automobiles were on display and flagged off during the 46th car rally. AFP
GIRLS walk beneath a row of parched tress on a winter day in Jammu yesterday. Reuters
A CENTRAL rural roads scheme
would be specially tailored for the
northeastern states, where the low
population in habitations prevents the
launch of new projects, Minister for
Rural Development Jairam Ramesh said
yesterday. The ministry is going to add
a special dispensation in the Pradhan
Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY)
in the northeastern states in view of their
topographical difference with the rest of
the country, Ramesh said in Guwahati.
The primary objective of the
PMGSY is to provide connectivity
to unconnected habitations with a
population of 250 persons and above.
However, the population is below
250 in a majority of the habitations in
hilly states of the region, he said. In
Arunachal Pradesh, the population was
less than 250 in 76 per cent of the states
total habitations, he said.
Hospitality industry
hobbled by land costs
HIGH real estate costs, lack of any
tax incentive and bureaucratic hurdles
are huge problems for the growth of
the hospitality industry that is one
of the countrys top job earners, a
survey revealed yesterday. The high
costs of real estate and lack of any tax
incentives by the government are acting
as hurdles for the hospitality sector.
These challenges are further accentuated
by overall infrastructure deficit in the
country, said a Confederation of Indian
Industry PriceWaterhouseCoopers survey.
The survey covered the top of the
mind issues that chief executive officers
(CEOs) of various companies face in the
hospitality business from managing
costs to developing synergies across
multi-format, multi-location functions
in the business. At present, a hotel
needs almost 80-100 licences before it
starts its operations in India. Almost all
CEOs interviewed voiced the need for
effective single window clearance to
make the process smooth and avoid the
untimely delays.
Maoists may undertake
offensive in Jharkhand
CHASED away from two of their
key sanctuaries in Jharkhand, the
Maoists may carry out a series of major
attacks in the state to regain their lost
position, police said yesterday. As per
information, Maoists may carry out
major attacks in the state. In December
and January, Maoists have triggered
landmine blasts in Garwah and Latehar
districts and killed nearly 30 policemen,
a police officer involved in anti-Maoist
operations said.
According to the officer, the top
leaders of banned Communist Party of
India-Maoist are concerned over losing
their safe dens Sarju region of Latehar
district and Sarada jungle in West
Singhbhum district in the stepped-up
police drive and aiming to regain control
there. Jharkhand Police spokesperson R
K Mallik also admitted that police feared
major attacks by the Maoists. There
could be major offensive by the Maoists
in the state, he said. He, however,
denied Maoist incidents have gone up
alarming way in the state. There were
516, 486, 506 Maoist incidents in 2009,
2010 and 2011 respectively, said Mallik.
Attacked Indian students
family gets British visa
THE family members of an Indian
student critically injured in an attack in
Britain have got visas to go and visit
him. British visas have been given to
the family of Praveen Reddy, diplomatic
sources said yesterday. The 26-year-
old MBA student, who hailed from
Hyderabad, was critically injured by
unidentified assailants in London late
on Friday night. At least 11 people have
been arrested in connection with the
His family received information from
the hospital authorities, who asked them
to rush to London. According to reports,
Praveen Reddy was stabbed in the neck,
chest and abdomen several times and
thrown out of the apartment where he
lived. A quarrel between two groups of
students hailing from Andhra Pradesh
is believed to have led to the attack.
External Affairs Minister S M Krishna
had spoken to acting Indian High
Commissioner in Britain Rajesh Prasad,
asking him to extend all possible help to
the stabbed student. He also spoke to the
victims father in Hyderabad. IANS
Minister: special rural
roads scheme for NE
NEW DELHI India will kick
off its year-long intense engage-
ments with the Association of South
East Asian Nations (Asean) with a
high-level dialogue, beginning here
today, on critical economic, secu-
rity and capacity-building issues
between them.
The comprehensive engage-
ment, a principal instrument for
taking Indias Look East policy of
the last two decades to new heights,
will culminate in the India-Asean
summit at the end of 2012, when
India will host the heads of states
or governments of the 10-nation
The two-day Delhi Dialogue,
the fourth in the series that began
in 2009, will focus on India and
Asean: Partners for Peace, Progress
and Stability.
The event, to be held at Hotel
Taj Palace, has been divided into
four thematic sessions which would
address economic co-operation,
regional security, non-traditional
security threats and networks of
knowledge and science.
The two-day intense delibera-
tions are being hosted by the Indian
Council of World Affairs (ICWA),
the think-tank of the External Af-
fairs Ministry, and the Federation of
Indian Chambers of Commerce and
Industry (FICCI).
The Delhi Dialogue is a sig-
nificant step forward in Indias fast-
growing relations with Asean. It is
an important event since Asean min-
isters are taking part at the invitation
of our external affairs minister. This
is the fourth edition of the annual
dialogue. The leaders of the region
will think of new ideas to substan-
tially increase the co-operation in
key areas for the mutual benefit of
their peoples, ICWA Director-Gen-
eral Sudhir T Devare said.
Apart from External Affairs
Minister S M Krishna, other foreign
ministers to join the discussions
include Cambodian Deputy Prime
Minister and Foreign Minister Hor
Namhong, Malaysian Foreign Min-
ister Sri Anifah Aman and Thai For-
eign Minister Surapong Tovichak-
This high-powered gathering of
foreign ministers from the region
will be joined by the deputy foreign
ministers of Myanmar, Singapore
and Vietnam. IANS
Delhi Dialogue eyes
Asean engagement
NEW DELHI As tour-
ism becomes a key driver of
the Indian economy with its
growing foreign exchange
earnings and income generat-
ing potential, the government
has to streamline infrastruc-
ture and visa procedures to
tap the segments full poten-
tial, experts across the indus-
try say.
Travel and tourism is the
second largest employer in
India and the second largest
revenue earner. It needs no
introduction. The country is
a continent in itself. But the
government has to sort out
the visa road blocks and in-
frastructure loopholes, Iqbal
Mulla, president of the Travel
Agents Association of India
(TAAI), said on the sidelines
of a South Asia Travel and
Tourism Exchange (SATTE)
business forum.
Mulla said: India gets the
second highest tourist traf-
fic from the UK but the new
Indian visa regulations stipu-
late that a visitor from UK
cannot return to India within
two months of visiting the
You need easier visa poli-
cy so that foreign tourists can
stay longer or return on repeat
trips. India cannot be seen in
a weeks time, Mulla said.
He said TAAI has taken it
up with the tourism and civil
aviation ministries.
Like other countries in the
west, India too must introduce
visa on arrival, Harkripal
Singh, chief representative of
the TAAI said.
Pointing to a mismatch be-
tween inbound and outbound
tourism arising from visa con-
trols and poor infrastructure,
Mulla said outbound tour-
ism was growing by 25 per
cent and all tourism boards
were buying from India.
The outbound tourism
figure from India is expected
to touch 50 million by 2020,
estimates by leading South
Asian tourism monitors say.
India should do much
more to attract foreign tour-
ists to the country, Timmy S
Kandhari, executive direc-
tor of leader, hospitality and
leisure of PriceWaterhouse-
Coopers, said.
India gets only 6 million
tourists while Istanbul alone
gets 13 to 15 million tour-
ists. India lacks infrastructure
and rooms. We currently have
120,000 rooms and are short
of 150,000 rooms. Land ac-
quisition for new properties
is a major problem as well as
connectivity to smaller cit-
ies, Kandhari said. IANS
Streamline visa, infrastructure
to tap tourism potential: experts
By Ashraf Padanna
The crisis in Keralas opposition
Left Democratic Front (LDF) deep-
ened yesterday with the two leading
partners Communist Party of India-
Marxist (CPM) and Communist Party
of India (CPI) continuing their verbal
duel for the fourth consecutive day.
C K Chandrappan, secretary of
the CPI Kerala unit who is said to
be lenient towards the Congress
party, threatened to quit LDF after
his counterpart in the CPM, Pinarayi
Vijayan, issued a statement against
his language, spoken as well as po-
Citing the recent controversy
over a morphed Last Supper poster
erected by the CPM, which leads
the LDF, Chandrappan also ac-
cused the big brother of being not
straightforward in its relations with
the religious minorities, especially
the Christians.
They should learn from their
failures and the defeat in West Ben-
gal. If things are being conducted
like this, we would be forced to
think about parting ways, said the
veteran CPI leader, who was re-
elected last week to lead the party
for another three years.
In his statement, Vijayan had also
denounced Chandrappans statement
favouring expansion of the LDF by
bringing back those who left its fold
to join the Congress-led United
Democratic Front (UDF) before the
elections, saying his party was not in
favour of toppling the UDF govern-
ment through defections.
I expressed the views of (CPM
General Secretary Prakash) Karat
that the Lefts base should be ex-
panded but he was contradicting the
statement of his own party leader,
Chandrappan said. In a literate
state like Kerala, you should learn
not to hurt feelings of others. You
should mind your language.
The UDF government is surviv-
ing on a thin majority of just three
seats and there is a strong view
within the LDF that it should woo
breakaway groups led by Irrigation
Minister P J Joseph and Janata Dals
Veerendra Kumar and topple the 10-
month-old government.
If the LDF succeeds, it would
mean another four years for arch
rival, the leader of opposition V S
Achuthanandan, in office as chief
minister, which would be difficult
for Vijayan and the dominant fac-
tion in the party to digest if not det-
Expansion of the front is not
on our agenda and we have decid-
ed to go back to the people with
the charges against this govern-
ment, Vijayan reiterated his posi-
tion. And if bad language is used
against us, we would be retaliating
strongly. We dont require lessons
from anybody on good behav-
LDF crisis deepens as war of
words continues for 4th day
NEW DELHI Just three
days after the Supreme
Court rejected his plea to
reconcile his birth date in
official records as May 10,
1951, Indian Army chief
General V K Singh is all
set to undertake a four-day
visit to Britain from today,
indicating that he may not
quit his post.
The Indian Armys offi-
cial spokesperson said in a
release here yesterday that
Gen Singh will be in Britain
till February 17 to interact
with the senior British mili-
tary and civilian leadership
and discuss defence-related
bilateral relations between
the two nations.
During his visit, the army
chief will be interacting with
the senior military and civil-
ian hierarchy and will dis-
cuss various defence-related
issues to strengthen existing
defence ties with United
Kingdom, the spokesper-
son said. IANS
KOLKATA The Commu-
nist Party of India-Marxist
(CPM) yesterday accused
the West Bengal govern-
ment of attempting to gag
the opposition and slammed
assembly Speaker Biman
Bandyopadhyays ban on
press meets in the house
premises when it is not in
An editorial carried in
the CPM mouthpiece Ga-
nashakti not only accused
Chief Minister Mamata Ban-
erjee of undermining the op-
positions presence but also
of attacking sections in the
media which dared to stand
up against her.
It charged the Banerjee
government with attempts
to dry up government ad-
vertisement revenue to these
sections of media to make
them fall in line. IANS
Army chief to
visit Britain
from today
CPM: Mamata
trying to gag
NEW DELHI The Congress yester-
day sought to distance itself from Law
Minister Salman Khurshid after the
poll panel complained to the president
about his defiance on a quota for Mus-
lims in Uttar Pradesh. Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh may discuss the is-
sue today, said informed sources.
A day after Chief Election Com-
missioner S Y Quraishi wrote to Presi-
dent Pratibha Patil saying the poll
panel found Khurshids latest remarks
utterly contemptuous about the com-
missions lawful direction to him, a
cautious Congress said it expected the
law minister to follow law of the land.
EC (Election Commission) is a
constitutional body...Congress always
wants that all the Congressmen should
speak as per norms of public life and
law of the land, Congress General
Secretary Janardan Dwivedi told re-
porters here.
Avoiding a direct comment, Com-
munications Minister Kapil Sibal
meanwhile urged the poll panel to be
concerned over things happening in
Uttar Pradesh.
Somebody gave a statement and
there must be some thought behind
it. EC has its own view and they are
taking their action. I cannot comment
more, he said.
PM should take action against
Khurshid without losing any time and
seek his resignation immediately,
BJP leader Sushma Swaraj told report-
ers in Varanasi.
If Salman doesnt quit, then he
should be sacked. PM should ask the
president to sack him, she said.
Other parties and legal experts also
criticised Khurshids actions.
The Communist Party of India-
Marxist also said Khurshid should not
have made the remarks.
EC has slammed Khurshid and he
should not have repeated it. He is a un-
ion minister but Congress leaders can
do these things, CPM General Secre-
tary Prakash Karat said in Allahabad.
Cong distances from
remarks on quota
BANGALORE Indias flagship
rural job scheme is causing a labour
shortage, besides increasing farm pro-
duction costs by about 20 per cent, a
study by a city-based research institute
said yesterday.
The study by Institute for Social
and Economic Change (ISEC) said
that the national rural employment
guarantee scheme launched in 2006
has weaned away agriculture labour
during the khareef sowing season that
lasts from July to August during the
southwest monsoon period.
ISEC professor Pramod Kumar
said, in a statement here citing the
study report titled Impact of NREGA
on wage rate, food security and rural-
urban migration in Karnataka, that
farm labour shortage had led to higher
costs of production.
He said that farm labour should be
employed under the scheme only after
the end of the sowing and harvesting
seasons of rabi and khareef to mitigate
the crisis on the farm front.
On the positive side, the study
found that the scheme empowered
women and saved the rural people
from extreme poverty while helping
in reducing distress migration to urban
Ever since the scheme came into
being, daily wages in the farm sector
have shot up by a whopping 50 per
cent. Though the stipulated minimum
wage for unskilled labour is fixed at
Rs 119 per day, the average wage paid
is recorded as Rs 86, which is Rs 33
less, said Pramod Kumar, who heads
the agriculture development and rural
transformation centre at the institute.
For the study, he conducted field
survey along with his associate I
Maruthi in the villages of Bidar, Bel-
lary, Chamarajanagar, Chikmagalur
and Dharwad districts.
A majority of households indi-
cated that the scheme has not been
successful in raising their living stand-
ards or their consumption levels as
the number of days of work were not
enough to make a difference on the
poverty level, he said.
According to the data collected by
the researchers, against 100 days of
guaranteed employment, the state pro-
vided work for 35 days in fiscal 2008-
09, 57 days in 2009-10 and 32 days in
2010-11 (up to November).
Job scheme causing farm
labour shortage: study
AN orchid, Vanda Usha, named after the wife of India's former president K R Narayanan
in the year 2000 to commemorate their visit at the National Orchid Garden in Singapore.
The tropical city-state cultivates special orchid varieties and names them after a motley
mix of foreign leaders and celebrities as part of its diplomatic repertoire. AFP
AMAN stands on a safari boat near Kurumba Resort in the Maldives. Reuters
By Ammu Kannampilly
ATER this month, India will
be removed from a dwindling
list of countries where polio is
considered endemic, a huge achieve-
ment made possible by people like
Madara, a 76-year-old street hawker.
At a temporary immunisation
camp in a slum in the northern dis-
trict of Ghaziabad, 23 km from New
Delhi, he is busy at work shepherding
boisterous children into queues.
All around, social workers break
open tiny bottles containing a polio
vaccine, selecting children from the
thronging crowd of toddlers and ba-
bies and squirting two drops into their
Madara, a stick-thin resident from
a nearby slum, says he began volun-
teering to help with the vaccination
efforts six years ago when he realised
he could use his authority as an elder-
ly figure to encourage participation.
I decided to get involved as I
wanted to do something for the future
of our children here, Madara said.
Most of the youngsters, whose par-
ents are often rag-pickers or hawkers,
live in the nearby tarpaulin-covered
homes, a cramped zone of shanties
where sanitation and awareness about
hygiene is poor.
Polio, which can be deadly and
also causes deformed limbs, spreads
via the faecal matter of victims, mak-
ing slums particularly high-risk areas.
Lured by the offer of bright plas-
tic whistles and paper masks, chil-
dren were keen to leave their homes,
forming a disorderly crowd around
the vaccinators as they dispensed the
drops to infants and under-fives.
India last reported a fresh polio
case more than 12 months ago after
monumental efforts by millions of so-
cial workers and volunteers who have
administered 900 million doses of the
vaccine in the last year alone.
If all pending lab tests for the
virus return negative as expected,
the World Health Organisation will
remove India from its list of polio
endemic countries this month, leav-
ing just Afghanistan, Pakistan and Ni-
geria in this category. As well as polio
camps like this one in Ghaziabad,
teams have travelled door-to-door,
educating families about the illness
and delivering the vaccine.
They have put up makeshift booths
in crowded public areas such as train
stations, bus stands and markets, and
in other locations, including construc-
tion sites where they can catch mi-
grant workers and their children.
A vaccination on wheels service
was rolled out across the north Indian
state of Bihar in which social workers
jumped on trains and vaccinated all
the children on board.
We had to make a detailed, dy-
namic map of the area and send work-
ers in boats to try and get across to
stranded families, Lieven Desomer,
head of the polio unit at UN childrens
agency Unicef in India, said.
As well as the problems of access,
the government and international
agencies behind the immunisation
drive faced problems of ignorance
and prejudice.
Vaccinators were attacked, anxious
parents would hide their babies from
social workers, and there was particu-
lar resistance from the some commu-
nities in the north of the country.
There was a general perception
that the vaccine was not clean or safe
because it came from the West, and
that somehow, taking it would make
their women and children infertile,
Unicefs Desomer said.
Indias crushing summer heat also
caused difficulties because vaccines
have to be kept at a low temperature
to prevent them expiring.
Five years ago, campaigners de-
cided to ensure that vials were only
carried in special carriers equipped
with ice packs.
Desomer credited the dogged
persistence of the Indian government
for the fall in infections, and said that
in 2011 alone, the state contributed 80
per cent of the $264 million commit-
ted to the fight against polio.
The results of innovation, human
endeavour, as well as planning and
spending, are reflected in the number
of infections. In 2009, India account-
ed for half of all cases in the world,
but infections plummeted to 42 in
2010 and none in the last 12 months.
FRICA is a dark continent.
Look at it from a satellite at
night. Most of it is dark with
only blotches of light in the south, the
north and a little bit in the west. For
the rest electricity is a rare and pre-
cious resource, limited to villages that
line a main road or in the small towns.
They are infrequent points of light.
They dont light up the sky. From
above all we see is darkness.
I have been to a conference in
Oslo, Energy for All financing
access for the poor.
Most of the participants were men
in business suits. Not more than 20
per cent were women which was a
slap in the face for emancipated Nor-
way where women are 50 per cent of
nearly everything politics, doctors
and increasingly business.
Nevertheless, the conference was
a useful getting together of energy
endeavours from very big to very
small. Many trumpeted the rapid
progress they were making in the use
of solar energy, a system whose time
has come as the price of solar panels
sharply falls and oil prices have risen
to the forbidding $100 a barrel.
Into this high-tech, male-domi-
nated gathering, stepped a frail old
woman from the village of Dunkassa
in Benin, Africa Madame Gueroi
Comigue. Until now she had never
been further than the nearby town. She
grew up and lives in a village with a
primary school but no healthcare, no
electricity and the water supply com-
ing from wells which the women had
to porter on their heads. Malnutrition
was often present and the growing of
fruit trees and green vegetables lim-
ited. She told the tale of the village
as well as showing us a film that the
villages sponsor, the Washington
DC-based Solar Electric Light Fund,
had made.
She is the chair of the village
women and they have worked togeth-
er to install energy panels which pow-
er a drip feed irrigation system which
waters their food crops. This is a dry
area with only seasonal rainfall and
the difference irrigation makes is sub-
stantial at least in village terms.
Now production has increased,
they have a surplus to sell, their stand-
ard of living and nutrition has risen,
they are eating more green vegetables
and they spend half as much time wa-
tering as they did before. They have
money saved to buy during the dry
season the staples they are short of.
Before the project got off the ground
only 4 per cent could pay the fees to
send their children to school; now it is
22 per cent.
The project also gives employ-
ment to men five technicians to in-
stall and maintain the power pumps,
a local management team, a man-
ager, an agricultural technician and
a solar technician, and three masons
to help build small reservoirs. They
no longer need to use the old diesel
generators that consumed growingly
expensive oil and often broke down.
The solar panels are non-polluting.
So successful has this project
been that there are plans to replicate
it in eight more villages and to reach
around 100,000 people. But success
does not come cheaply.
The project has cost $135,000,
mainly spent on borehole surveys and
drilling, on training in farming exper-
tise and for the solar equipment. There
is no way that Benin could afford this
on a wide scale. The aid has to come
from abroad and one can wonder how
far into the future it can be sustained
and, if there is success, does this
American NGO have the resources to
spread the concept far and wide?
Despite the cost and the hurdles
it is possible to think of development
ideas like this beginning to spread in
a significant way. The time has never
been more ripe.
After years of mismanagement, fi-
nancial ineptitude, a long-term decline
in prices for the main agricultural and
mineral exports and, not least, civil
wars, the largest part of sub-Saharan
Africa is now on the up.
Civil war is limited to Somalia
and Sudan. There is a boom in the
price of commodities for export and
most countries have got or are getting
their financial and monetary affairs
in order. The result is that economic
growth is averaging 5-6 per cent and
in some countries more than that like
Nigeria with over 8 per cent.
India has been able to increase its
electricity supply in the last few years
from 57 per cent coverage of the rural
population to 67 per cent. In Vietnam
it has increased from 3 per cent to 98
per cent. So why not Africa?
The heroes of Indias quest in polio ght
How long Africa will remain in darkness
By C Bryson Hull
OURISTS enjoying the sun and
sand at the Maldives luxury is-
land resorts have barely put down
their fun during the political crisis rock-
ing Asias newest democracy, oblivious
to behind-the-scenes links of tourism to
the tumult.
Just a 10-minute boat ride from the
capital island of Male, site of a police
mutiny that led to ex-president Mohamed
Nasheeds departure last week and ensu-
ing clashes, lies the paradise most visi-
tors associate with the Indian Ocean ar-
Step off the 15-metre power boat, re-
plete with an air-conditioned cabin and
leather seats, that whisks you to the dock
at Kurumba resort on Vihamanafushi, and
you are immediately in a land of luxury,
water sports and relaxation.
The political turmoil, as far as Ameri-
can literature professor Jerzy Sobieraj
was concerned, was an ocean away across
the glassine turquoise waters at his feet.
We are having a great time. We heard
about the coup, but it doesnt matter to
us. It hasnt affected us at all, Sobieraj
said, sipping a glass of water alongside
his wife, lawyer Ewa Korzan-Sobieraj,
on a chaise longue.
And even if there is trouble, the air-
port is on another island, so no trouble,
he said, gesturing to the nearby airport
from where most tourists leave directly
for their resorts without ever reaching
Male. The couple was on a 10-day escape
from winters bite in Poland.
Kurumba is the genesis of the luxury
tourism concept that changed the face
and economy of the Maldives, a chain
of 1,192 coral-ringed islands located to
Indias southwest.
The explosion of resorts after Ku-
rumba transformed the islands from a
remote outpost reliant on fishing to a
destination favoured by Hollywood stars,
honeymooners and others who can afford
hideaway holidays where huts suspended
over the water routinely cost more than
$1,000 a night.
At the five-star Kurumba, a basic
room costs $225 a night, while a pri-
vate villa replete with butler and a pri-
vate pool costs $2,200. On the menus, a
quarter-hour on a jet ski will set you back
$70, a pizza around $25.
Tourism officially accounts for 30 per
cent of the Maldives $2.1 billion econ-
omy, but Sim Mohamed Ibrahim, secre-
tary-general of the Maldives Association
of Tourism Industry, said it was closer to
75-80 per cent.
The Maldives now has 101 resorts,
nearly all of them on uninhabited islands
reached by speedboat or seaplanes that
criss-cross the skies over the 90,000 sq-
km archipelago.
That segregation is by design, both as
part of the Robinson Crusoe get-away-
from-it-all experience the resorts offer,
and to protect the religious sensibilities
of Maldivians.
The Maldives one island, one resort
concept has been a saving grace amid the
turmoil, said Jason Kruse, Kurumbas
general manager.
The local islands and the tourist is-
lands are a world apart, he said. There
have been some cancellations, but that is
a result of people not understanding the
The resorts, which cater primarily to
Western tourists and, increasingly, Chi-
nese holidaymakers, are placed on unin-
habited islands. That provides a crucial
loophole: the ability to serve alcohol. It
is banned on inhabited islands.
Nasheeds plans to put new resorts
on inhabited islands drew condemnation
from political opponents who exploited
rising conservative sentiment to savage
his religious credentials.
Pressure from pro-religious parties
also prompted the government to briefly
shut down resort parlours in January.
Nasheed also drew fire for tax reforms
that would have plugged some holes that
allow potentially hundreds of millions of
dollars brought in by tourism to escape
Nasheed recently flatly blamed a
cabal of resort owners for engineering
what he maintains was his forced exit,
although he gave few specifics as to why
they wanted him out.
The coup was largely financed by
resort owners, Nasheed told journalists.
Asked why, he responded: I suppose
they liked the old order of corruption.
Relax amid political fray
By Catherine Bremer
N February 2007, a fiery Nicolas Sarkozy had millions
convinced that he a go-getter abandoned as an infant
by his Hungarian father would break with the past, end
chronic unemployment and restore a sense of pride to France.
His lustre began fading within hours of his May 6 election
win, as he celebrated with corporate chiefs and pop stars at a
gaudy nightspot and set a presidential tone many French people
soon felt was showy, impulsive and even vulgar.
Now rated Frances most unpopular president, he trails
Socialist Francois Hollande in opinion polls for an April-May
election at a critical moment for Europe. Sarkozy will struggle
to recover in time for a vote whose outcome may well influence
economic reform in France and across the euro area.
Aides say when he launches his campaign in the next few
days Sarkozy will apologise for failing to keep pledges derailed
by the debt crisis but insist he is the best person to revive the
French economy. He will champion reforms to boost competi-
tiveness and slim the welfare state.
That may not be enough to overcome a visceral dislike of
Sarkozy among many voters, even in his own conservative
camp, an issue that weighs on him, members of his inner circle
say. Painstaking efforts to project a calmer, more presidential
manner have so far failed to convince the public.
Three years have passed since the most striking episodes
his penchant for flashy watches and yachts, his public wooing
of model Carla Bruni, an attempt to give his student son a pub-
lic job and his telling a man in a crowd to Get lost, jerk.
He has worked to diminish an early impression of being im-
patient, pushy, fidgety and brusque. But the passion with which
many French people vilify him is extraordinary and suggests
the magic he worked in 2007, filling auditoriums with thunder-
ous applause, may not work again.
He knows he is disliked and he suffers internally from this
personal rejection, one of Sarkozys advisers said on condition
of anonymity. Of course we talk about it with him but its very
awkward and it will be hard to overcome it in the campaign.
The French dont want some kind of sentimental circus.
While his hands-on style of governing won Sarkozy plaudits
during the 2008 financial crisis and last years Libyan uprising
and his micromanaging of ministries.
By Bill Smith
HE man anointed to lead China for the next decade
faces a stiff test this week on what could be his final
visit to Washington before rising to the top of the 80
million-member Chinese Communist Party.
Protests are expected by Free Tibet supporters during Vice-
President Xi Jinpings visit, adding to US officials pressure
over Syria, Iran, North Korea, Chinas currency, trade and hu-
man rights.
The visit comes amid US President Barack Obamas strate-
gic pivot to the Asia-Pacific region, with plans to boost the US
military presence there and steadily increase pressure on China
to level the economic playing field.
Washington is keen to give Chinas future leader an intense
exposure to all sides of America.
In addition to meetings with Obama and Vice-President Joe
Biden who made a splash in Beijing last August by eating a
down-to-earth noodle lunch Xi will make what US officials
called a significant visit to the Pentagon, have lunch at the
State Department and dinner at Bidens home.
He will also hear from the US business community about
the difficulty of doing business in China. He will stop in Iowa,
where Xi visited in 1985. And he will visit Los Angeles, along
with Biden, before heading home.
The main purpose of Xis trip is to reduce the long-standing
trust deficit between the two nations, Chinese Vice Foreign
Minister Cui Tiankai said.
But Shi Yinhong, an international relations analyst and
director of American Studies at Renmin University of China,
says Obamas efforts to build strategic trust with China have
not been matched by his actions.
I think if we look at what the US has done ... selling weap-
ons to Taiwan and in Syria, Libya, and what it will do in
Iran, how can the US expect China to trust the US? Shi said.
Xi, 58, is expected to succeed Hu Jintao as Communist
Party leader in November and as president in March 2013. He
is known as a princeling one of several prominent leaders
who are the sons of former top party members.
But despite differences with the US, Xis visit could be this
years most important Sino-US diplomatic event, spurred by
the need for economic co-operation, said Tao Wenzhao, an
American expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences,
a state-run think-tank.
By Danny Kemp
RITISH Prime Minister David Cameron is facing
growing calls to cut huge aid handouts to India after a
series of perceived snubs from the former jewel in the
crown of Londons colonial empire.
Britain was stunned this month when New Delhi an-
nounced a big contract to buy French warplanes instead of the
UK-backed Eurofighter Typhoon, despite intense efforts by
the British government to boost trade.
Angry lawmakers then stepped up pressure on Cameron
to axe the more than 1 billion ($1.6 billion) aid budget for
India after reports that the Indian finance minister described
the handouts as a peanut.
Cameron who led a huge business delegation to India
soon after taking office in 2010 has pledged to press New
Delhi to reverse its decision on the warplanes.
Im very disappointed by what has happened in India, but
Eurofighter is not out of the contest and we need to re-engage
as hard as we can, Cameron told parliament last week when
questioned about the deal.
The fighter jets setback was particularly bruising as it
came during a war of words between France and Britain over
the strength of their economies.
Downing Street meanwhile insisted that its aid commit-
ments to India would remain unchanged despite the furore.
The government has always been very clear about sticking
to its aid commitments and the fact that it would not balance
the books on the backs of the poorest people in the world, a
spokesman said.
But the handouts to Asias third-largest economy have
sparked anger at home, where austerity measures are biting as
Britain tries to curb a record budget deficit.
Camerons Conservative-led coalition government has
committed 280 million aid a year for five years until 2015
for the Indian states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa.
Stoked by the jet debacle, the issue flared up last week
when British media republished quotes from 2010 by Indian
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee dismissing the aid.
It is a peanut in our total development (expenditure), the
Sunday Telegraph quoted Mukherjee as telling parliament.
By Danny Kemp
UPERT Murdoch
will fly to London
this week in a bid to
quell the crisis threatening
The Sun after five staff at his
flagship British tabloid were
arrested over bribery allega-
tions, sources said yesterday.
The Australian-born me-
dia baron has, according
to his pointman in Britain,
given a personal assurance
that The Sun will not face
the same fate as the News of
the World, which he closed
in July amid a scandal over
phone hacking.
But the new storm over
alleged payments by Sun
journalists to police and
public officials in exchange
for information has sparked
fears that it may be too late to
save Britains biggest selling
The US-based Murdoch
will come to London later in
the week, a person familiar
with the matter said. The per-
son said Murdochs visit had
already been planned before
the arrests happened.
Another source close to
the matter said he would
meet with journalists at The
Sun, Britains biggest selling
News International, the
British newspaper arm of
his global News Corporation
empire, would not comment
on the trip. Murdoch himself
has not made any comment
despite being an avid user of
the social networking website
The Sun journalists arrest-
ed on Saturday were deputy
editor Geoff Webster, picture
editor John Edwards, chief re-
porter John Kay, chief foreign
correspondent Nick Parker
and reporter John Sturgis.
A Ministry of Defence of-
ficial, a member of the armed
forces and a policeman were
also arrested over allegations
that journalists paid officials
for information. All eight
were later released on bail.
In an e-mail to staff on
Saturday, News International
chief executive Tom Mock-
ridge said that Murdoch
would stand by The Sun in
the hour of its greatest chal-
You should know that
I have had a personal assur-
ance today from Rupert Mur-
doch about his total commit-
ment to continue to own and
publish The Sun newspaper,
Mockridge said.
A News International
spokeswoman said: The
statement sets out News Cor-
poration and Ruperts posi-
tion and support for News
International and The Sun.
The arrests on Saturday
were part of a widening Scot-
land Yard probe into alleged
corrupt payments, and come
a fortnight after another four
current and former Sun jour-
nalists were arrested over
similar allegations.
Media reported that many
journalists at The Sun were
furious over the so-called
witch-hunt, and at the fact
that News Corp had handed
over the information to police
that led to the arrests.
US-based News Corp
set up the Management and
Standards Committee, an
independent committee, last
year to investigate wrongdo-
ing at Murdochs British pa-
Commentators said News
Corp would be keen to stop
its operations in the United
States and other countries
from being contaminated by
the problems at The Sun and
the News of the World.
The Observer the week-
ly sister paper of the Guard-
ian which led investigations
into hacking said there
were fears in News Corp that
the bribery allegations could
trigger an investigation by
US authorities under legisla-
tion prohibiting corrupt pay-
ments to foreign officials.
Sense of pride
A stiff test
No handouts
Murdoch ying
into Sun storm
NEWSLETTER By Jonathan Power, Foreign Correspondent
ID you shelve love after marriage? Experts suggest that
this Valentine's Day, with some planning, time manage-
ment and surprises, couples can rekindle romance and
brush away boredom from married life.
TV actor Pawan Shankar, married to Yukti for more than
eight years, feels that priorities change after having kids, but it's
the responsibility of the couples to keep the romance alive.
Shankar said: "It often happens that after having kids a gap
comes in between husband and wife because priorities change.
To revive that love, efforts have to be made from both the
He believes that women make more efforts, adding, "Ninety
per cent of the women try to revive love in the marriage, while
only ten per cent men make that effort. This is because men are
not expressive. If there is a synergy at the mental level, then
marriage is a bliss."
His views seem to be similar to his new show Kyaa Hua Tera
Wada, a story of a married couple with three children and how
they try to revive romance in their married life.
Financial issue and parental interference sometimes mar the
romance and divorce lawyer Shiksha Kushwaha feels it could be
avoided if the spouses spend some quality time together and be
honest while accepting the truth.
"Feeling of incompatibility, financial issues, parental inter-
ference and extra-marital affairs are some of the prominent is-
sues but all of these can be avoided if the couple take care of a
few things.
"Show genuine love and affection towards the other person.
Pamper him or her and spend more time together. Also, avoid
ego, during fights avoid calling names, and be genuine towards
each other," Kushwaha said.
There is no guarantee that in a love marriage adjustment is-
sues won't mess up the romance factor.
A young professional, Veta Ratra, who married businessman
Sahil after 10 years of courtship, says that post-marriage couples
get more time together but waste it in finding faults with each
"I was into a relationship for 10 years before I got married. I
am married for two-and-a-half-years. Marriage is an institution
that both partners have to take care of.
"But when you start living together, you tend to notice even
the minutest things and complain about those things, which are
irrelevant. But if you are content and satisfied with your achieve-
ments, marriage can be the most beautiful thing," Ratra said.
But there is a solution to every problem, says Samir Parikh,
a psychiatrist in Max Healthcare, and suggests that some quality
time with each other can work wonders.
"Couples need a regular boost to their love life in terms of
spending good, intimate and fun moments together. At the same
time, one also needs to appreciate that merely enjoying occasion
is not good enough, and they should try and find time for each
other in the chores of routine life," he said.
But at the same time he cautions not to go out of the way to
impress partners as it could have an adverse effect.
"One doesn't need to impress! Do what both of you enjoy do-
ing together. A gesture is an extension of a relationship. Last but
not the least, some intimate moments could bring freshness to a
monotonous life," he added.
So this Valentine, rekindle romance with little surprises.
"Love is not lost but shelved back after marriage, hence sur-
prises help in keeping the marriage alive. As one grows, the ro-
mance also matures. In the initial years, giving a rose bud might
look highly romantic but at a different stage it might look kid-
"But the things that remain evergreen are that you know your
partner's interest and become a part of it. Get involved, don't do
things just for the heck of it. Your partner can distinguish real
from fake. So, show genuine interest," said marriage counsellor
Vikhyat Singh. IANS
CTRESS Liv Tyler has admitted she is constantly
attempting to understand love.
The 34-year-old is dating photographer Theo
Wenner for the past six months.
"Am I happy in love? I'm still trying to figure love out.
I'm honestly still trying to figure it all out. Life and love
and my ideas of love. And what love really is. And how
it works and what it all means," quoted
Tyler as saying.
Paltrows Valentines tips
eth Paltrow has
tips for couples
to make Valentine's
Day special with oils,
feather and a lovemak-
ing guide.
The 39-year-old,
married to Coldplay's
Chris Martin, also says
couples should provide
a string of romantic
surprises throughout
the day, reports thesun.
Paltrow suggests the
day should begin with
breakfast and swapping
love notes before making a string of hearts out of coloured
paper, or couples could make up romantic playlists for
each other's iPods or heat things up with a love book.
She added: "At 3 pm, you should arrange delivery of a
bouquet of flowers, followed by a simple dinner of chick-
en paillard with avocados. Later at 10pm for over-18s
only! Get the Kama Sutra original weekender kit at 16."
"This little kit includes love oil, a pleasure balm and
even some honey dust with a titillating little feather ap-
plicator for some fun wherever you end up."
Singer Kelly loves the Bible
Kelly Row-
land says
she doesn't have
many backstage
demands but al-
ways insists on
having her Bible
with her.
"The only thing
I asked for is Fiji
Water. When I'm
on tour the only
thing I can't be
without is my Bi-
ble," contactmu- quoted
the 30- year-old as
Beyonce introduces Carter
INGER Beyonce Knowles and Jay-Z have shared
the first pictures of their daughter, Blue Ivy Carter,
with the world.
The couple, who welcomed their first child on January
7, unveiled a set of intimate family shots on social network-
ing site Tumblr, which show Beyonce tenderly cradling
the tot in her arms and the rapper comforting his adorable
daughter as she sleeps, reports
In an accompanying message, the couple wrote: "We
welcome you to share our joy. Thank you for respecting our
privacy during this beautiful time in our lives." IANS
Still trying to gure out
love, says Liv Tyler
PANISH psychological thriller
Dictado (Childish Games), de-
picting a man spooked by a little
girl who revives a dark secret from his
childhood, had viewers also on edge at
its premiere at the Berlin Film Festival
on Saturday.
When Daniel's childhood friend
commits suicide, he takes the man's
seven-year-old daughter into his care.
But some of the girl's simplest actions
put him on edge as they recall ominous
childhood memories.
"My character is afraid of a descent
into madness because of the ghosts of
the past," said Juan Diego Botto, who
plays Daniel. "He is making a huge ef-
fort to save himself, to remain healthy...
but he cannot avoid the fact this trauma,
that he never confronted, fully comes
back in a monstrous form."
Daniel is a gentle schoolteacher,
in a loving relationship with Laura,
played by Barbara Lennie who recent-
ly starred in Pedro Almodovar's La piel
que habito (The skin I live in).
But like his friend, he is increas-
ingly engulfed by irrational fears and
memories of the past. During the day,
he manages to repress his demons and
carry on as usual, but at night they
come back with a vengeance in his ma-
cabre dreams.
"It is about the shadows our child-
hood project across our lives, from
which we are never freed," said direc-
tor Antonio Chavarrias. "The night-
mares help to show what is going on
inside him and the irrational elements
of his feelings."
"He is a perfectly balanced charac-
ter, or thinks he is. He thinks he has a
logical explanation for what has hap-
pened in his childhood, he has been
convinced it was an accident which has
no further consequences, but when he
sleeps he loses that control."
The symphonic music, which re-
calls the scores of classic American
thrillers from the 1940s and 1950s,
such as those of Alfred Hitchcock,
heightens the tension and threat that ul-
timately engulfs Daniel. Certain motifs
are repeated in many variations like a
growing obsession.
"An echoing melody can be pretty
but also become very nightmarish,"
said Chavarrias, who filmed the main
plot in his hometown of Barcelona, in
northeastern Spain.
"Juan's character is a very difficult
one because... his life is undergoing
terrible change, and he cannot express
it fully, so we thought we could use
the score to help channel those emo-
Daniel's torment increasingly drives
a wedge between him and his girl-
friend, who desperately wants a child
of her own and grows attached to the
little girl. He becomes isolated, trapped
within his own fears and jealousy.
The girl, played by Magica Perez,
appears innocent but is somehow also
Director Chavarrias said it was
challenging to make a film about evil
without any villains and it is pre-
cisely that which makes it less easy to
define as a genre. Reuters
HE battle between the generations has always
made for enticing cinema. Yet nowhere in his-
tory has the generation gap between the young
and the little older been more apparent than in our
technologically advanced world where there are so
many websites to 'connect' us all yet so less 'human'
LOL navigates in the no man's land between the
two generations and though there's really nothing new,
its light, breezy manner and gentle humour that thank-
fully works to push the drama forward than trying to
force you to laugh and works to make a pleasant and
fulfilling film. And with its various shades of love
between teenagers, people way past their romantic
prime, mother and daughter etc, it becomes the perfect
film to watch on Valentine's Day.
As if dealing with her complicated love life with
a cheating boyfriend, who she breaks up with wasn't
enough, under-18 Lola has to content with her divor-
cee mother having an affair with her father.
To 'complicate' things further, she finds herself fall-
ing for the best friend of her ex-boyfriend.
Lola navigates the minefield that is teenage life,
through the complicated multiple lives she lives on so-
cial media and in school that result in sometimes tear-
ful and at other, poignant moments.
It shows in very interesting manner how despite
so much technology that is meant to 'connect' them,
teenagers often find it difficult to connect with those
around, be it their lovers, friends or parents.
LOL, a remake of a 2008 French film of the same
name, navigates its material well.
Though there are many subplots, it does not lose
way or get too gregariously close with any one of
them. It resolves them with a lightness of writing and
direction that makes it a very pleasing watch.
There is no attempt at making a melodrama and
neither does it dwell on the seemingly frivolous com-
plaints and heartbreaks of the kids in the film. This
command perhaps comes because writer and director
Lisa Azuelos's last film was the original French.
If there were any mistake in the original, she obvi-
ously has had enough time to improve upon it.
Demi Moore plays a conflicted and overwhelmed
single mom unsure when to be strict and when to be
lenient with her daughter. She confidently sheds her
'sexy' image in a role that will perhaps herald the sec-
ond innings of her acting career.
Though the film is about love and generation-gap,
it is something everyone would relate to in their own
way. It could have been made anytime and would have
worked. However, in our times of too much technol-
ogy with sufficient technology infused in the film, it
works even better. IANS
HITNEY Houston's (pictured) death
was expected to cast a sombre shadow
over the 54th annual Grammy Awards
in Los Angeles, where singer Jennifer Hudson
will lead a tribute to the 1980's pop superstar.
"It's too fresh in everyone's memory to do
more at this time, but we would be remiss if we
didn't recognise Whitney's remarkable contribu-
tion to music fans," Grammy executive producer
Ken Ehrlich told the Los Angeles Times. Prior to
Houston's death, British singer Adele had been
expected to dominate the show.
Not only is the so-called Heartbreak superstar
one of the leading nominees of the night, she has
dominated album and singles sales this last year
with her album 21 and deeply emotional songs
such as Rolling in the Deep and Someone Like
Adele will also be among the performers tak-
ing the stage, an event expected to be an emo-
tional moment after she was forced to cancel her
North American tour last year due to a problem
with her vocal chords.
She's had surgery and marks her return to the
stage on Grammy night.
Other performers due to take the stage during
the three-hour-plus show include Bruce Spring-
steen, Paul McCartney, Taylor Swift, Nicki Mi-
naj, Coldplay, Rihanna, Chris Brown and Bruno
The awards are decided by approximately
20,000 members of the National Academy of
Recording Arts. Adele has garnered six nomina-
tions, including for the night's top prize, Album
of the Year.
The top nominee is Kanye West, who earned
seven nominations, all in the rap category, except
his best song salute for All of the Lights. Also
earning six nominations was the new prince of
pop, Bruno Mars, and the Foo Fighters.
Competing with Adele for Album of the Year
are the Foo Fighters for Wasting Light, Lady
Gaga for Born This Way, Bruno Mars for Doo-
Wops and Hooligans and Rihanna for Loud.
Musicians, many already in Los Angeles
ahead of the Grammys, lined up to pay tribute
to the singer, who sold over 170 million records
before descending into a very public battle with
substance abuse.
She was one of the greatest singers I ever
heard, said veteran crooner Tony Bennett, on
the red carpet at the Beverly Hills hotel, where
Houstons body was found in her fourth floor
Police confirmed her death in a brief statement
outside the hotel. At 3:55 pm, Whitney Houston
was pronounced dead at the Beverly Hilton ho-
tel, said Mark Rosen, a police spokesman.
A member of her entourage called 911 after
the singer was found on the floor of her room.
Attempts were made to resuscitate her, but failed.
The cause of death was not immediately known.
There were no obvious signs of criminal in-
tent at this time, and it is being investigated by
the Beverly Hills police department, said the
police spokesman.
But The Los Angeles Times reported that days
before her death, Houston behaved erratically
during an appearance on Thursday at a rehearsal
for a Grammy awards party.
Though she greeted people with a warm smile,
she appeared dishevelled, with mismatched
clothes and dripping-wet hair, the paper said.
According to the report, the singer flailed her
hands frenetically as she spoke, skipped around
the ballroom in a childlike fashion and wandered
aimlessly about in the lobby.
People magazine and the TMZ celebrity
website reported that Houston had been due to
attend the Saturday night dinner, hosted by Davis
who developed the young singer who made a
string of 11 number one hits in the 1980s and 90s.
Condolences poured in on Twitter from shocked
fans and from the famous, as sadness over the
news spread through the entertainment world.
Heartbroken and in tears over the shocking
death of my friend... She will never be forgot-
ten as one of the greatest voices to ever grace the
earth, wrote Mariah Carey.
Grammys organising chief Neil Portnow
called Houston one of the worlds greatest pop
singers of all time who leaves behind a robust
musical soundtrack spanning the past three dec-
A light has been dimmed in our music com-
munity today, and we extend our deepest con-
dolences to her family, friends, fans and all who
have been touched by her beautiful voice, said
the head of the Recording Academy.
Smokey Robinson told CNN: I will always
love her. She is one of the greatest voices in the
history of music.
The Recording Academy is scrambling to
include some kind of tribute to Houston in Sun-
day evenings show at the Staples Center in Los
Angeles, according to CNN.
The tribute could involve singer Jennifer
Hudson, it added, while Grammys producer Ken
Ehrlich told the broadcaster whatever was staged
would be respectful while highlighting her
stunning music.
Knowing Whitney as I did... she knew the
importance of thrilling an audience, and thats
what we still plan to do. dpa/AFP
Spanish thriller dredges up dark childhood secret
LOL predictable but fun Valentines Day watch
Whitneys death casts a shadow over Grammys
How to revive romance in marriage? Take tips from experts!
Lakhia who made
films like Shootout at
Lokhandwala is set to
remake Amitabh Bachchan
starrer Zanjeer, and the film
will go on floors in April.
"My film starts from
April 20 so I am going to
start working on it, it is the
remake of Zanjeer and next
week I am going to shoot
for an ad in Thailand," La-
khia said on the sidelines of
the semifinals of Celebrity
Cricket League.
The film-maker has
roped in Southern superstar
Chiranjeevi's son Ram Cha-
ran Teja, who will step into
the shoes of Amitabh for the
remake. Ram Charan is al-
ready an icon for Southern
fans. His film Magadheera
has become one of the big-
gest hits of all times in the
Telugu industry
The 1973 classic, also
starred Jaya Bhaduri and
Pran, played a pivotal role in
Amitabh's career. This film
not only catapulted him to
fame, it also gave Amitabh
the title of "angry young
man" at that time.
Bennett to be honoured:
California residents are set
to honour the 50th anniver-
sary of Tony Bennetts hit
song I Left My Heart in San
Francisco with a city-wide
The 85-year-old recorded
the popular tune in 1962 and
now local lawmakers are
holding a public sing-along
at the City Hall Rotunda to
celebrate its origin on Febru-
ary 14.
Mayor Ed Lee has asked
every radio station to play I
Left My Heart at 12 pm. It is
not yet known whether Ben-
nett will participate in the
festivities. IANS
Zanjeer remake
launch in April

Film Review
Film: LOL; Cast: Miley Cyrus, Demi Moore,
Ashley Greene and Douglas Booth; Director:
Lisa Azuelos; Rating: *** 1/2
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the following: Hiring
luxurious coaches,
arranging weekly
trips, preparing
visas for expats at
cost-effective price,
including transport,
housing, meals
and visits to shrine
locations. Land and
air trips weekly.
(99311310, 24566016,
99361982, 99707248,
AL Hikmani
HAJ and UM
jjoin team in p
Must have ho
Learn driving
manual/ automatic
with professionally
qualified male/ female
trainees in brand new
cars and flexible
payments. Call:
24478589, 24478505,
L d i
welcome our
valuable GUESTS
to our excellent
MOSQUE, a single
bedroom, a bedroom
& majlis, two
bedrooms & majlis
Fax: 24482454.
HOTEL. 24564070.
1.3 litres 2007, M/T,
single used, RO 1,900.
Contact: 99886751.
road with very suitable
way. 99323957/
95490842/ 96554668/
Fax: 24452534

MANPOWER: Filipino
housemaids and all kinds
of workers. 24489268
Tel/Fax: 24478153.
in prime locations
MBD & Qurum area.
For more details call
A HOUSE for sale or rent
at Al Khuwair, north area

INDIAN, male,
Mechanical diploma with
AutoCad experience,
6 years pipeline and
structural drawings.
Contact 98182408

B.Tech, electronics &
telecommunication 1st
class engineer, Indian
male, 26 years, looking
for suitable placement
with school teaching.
Pls contact 93605854.
E-mail: pmvipi@gmail.

INDIAN male, 26 yrs,
MBA completed, with
more than 5 years of work
experience in customer
care, administrative
and sales/marketing
fields, having excellent
computer knowledge and
communication skill.
Currently on visit visa,
seeks suitable placement.
98150733, e-mail:
B.TECH IT graduate
having good knowledge
in Oracle DBA with OCP
certified, seeks suitable
placement, currently
on visit visa. Contact:

Indian male, more
than 10 yrs experience in
India and Gulf presently
working in Oman,
seeks placement.
Contact 92177850.

Telephone: 24595951/1414, Fax: 24597979.
Quality Repairs & Maintenance of all
types of Cars and Heavy vehicles
(ROP approved Grade A Workshop)
Khan Rafeeq has lost
Pakistani passport No. NV-
4113721. Finder please
handover to ROP.

JASHIM Uddin has lost
Bangladeshi passport No
Q-0364295. Finder please
handover to ROP.

lost Indian passport No
G-3170688. Finder please
handover to ROP.

GOURI Kandavalli has
lost Indian passport No
E-2531007. Finder please
handover to ROP.

WANTED for Omani
family female driver
with Omani or GCC
driving licence.
Accommodation, food,
car, tickets and visa
are offered. Salary is
around RO 120. Contact:

family female
with Omani or
BCOM graduate with
good Oman experience in
HR Admin/rent-a-car &
leasing/sales support &
back office management.
Seeks immediate
placement. 24812857/

B.Tech IT graduate having
good knowledge in oracle
DBA with OCP certified.
Seeks suitable placement.
Currently on visit visa.
Contact: 95829462.

CHIEF Executive Officer/
General Manager with
MBA, Engineering
background & over 20
years international exp
(including Oman, Middle
East & United States
of America) in General
Management, Marketing,
Business Development
for Automotive, Consumer
durables, FMCG is
looking for suitable
assignment. Contact
& logistics manager
currently working with
corporate management in
Muscat having immense
experience. Seeks
challenging opportunity.

8 YEARS experience
with .Net,Oracle,PL SQL,
Sql Server, Business
Objects,VB & Crystal
Reports, using share-point
& moodle for E-Learning
seeks suitable job.
INDIAN male, 22 years,
BE ECE completed and
having certifications in
CCNA & Microsoft with
excellent computer and
communication skills
looking for suitable
placement. Contact
99676386, e-mail:

INDIAN male, 48 years,
BSc graduate with 25 yrs
exp out of 8 yrs working
in Oman in a perfume
co, having working exp
in stores, sales & general
accounting, purchase,
computer operation, seeks
suitable job. Contact:

INDIAN male, B Com,
having 9 years experience
in Gulf as an accountant
with computer knowledge
looking for an accountant
or any suitable position
currently on visit visa.
Contact 98735924.

BE Electronics &
Communication Engineer,
Indian male 23 yrs, on visit
with certificate in CCNA
and Industrial automotion
seeks suitable placement.
Contact: 99457898,
e-mail: joeljames89@

Engineer, one year
experience in Oman.
LOOKING for job
House cleaning, labour
works. 99529342.
qualified), seeks job in
reputed companies in
Oman or Gulf. Contact

FEMALE Jordanian
(Bachelor degree in dental
technology and MBA),
seeks job in reputed
companies in Oman or
Gulf. Contact 99273600

INDIAN male, 27 years,
MBA. B.Com with
3 years experience in
accounts and marketing,
visit visa, seeks suitable
placement . Contact

EXECUTIVE Secretary/
Admn Assistant having 12
yrs exp in multinational
companies (3 yrs Oman
exp), seeks suitable
placement in reputed
companies. Contact:
AN Egyptian chef with
long experience at hotels
and hypermarkets looking
for a suitable job. Contact
92319591, 98766269.
INDIAN female, MSc
(bio-tech) qualified, 5
years teaching experience
in India, CBSE syllabus
at school and pre-college
level. (Expert in EVS,
Science, Maths). Contact
98046628, 93567940.
E-mail: shulesen07@ (or) kumar.
INDIAN male, Masters
degree in IT, MCSE,
certified with 8 years of
experience, seeks suitable
placement. Contact
INDIAN male, graduate
with over 12 years
experience in Sales &
Marketing in Oman,
seeks suitable placement.
Holds valid Omani D/L.

MALE, 23 yrs, Indian,
computer science,
looking for suitable job.
97310219. e-mail:
INDIAN male, 27 years,
MBA. B.Com with
3 years experience in
accounts and marketing,
visit visa, seeks suitable
placement . Contact
a valid Omani driving
licence searching for
a job opportunity as a
driver or cook. For info
INDIAN male, more than
30 years of experience in
a leading airline in Oman
as senior commercial sales
officer, seeks placement.
Contact 99332596.
CIVIL Draftsman (Auto-
Cad 2D, 3D) cum Arabic
technical translator looking
for a suitable position in
civil, environmental field
(construction, consult-
ing) 93282986, E-mail:
B.COM MBA qualified
accountant, Indian male,
with one year experience,
knowledge of Tally, ERP9
MS Office, seeks suitable
placement. Contact:

INDIAN male, 20 yrs
of Gulf experience in
HR, logistics, stores,
warehouses and
inventory, having Oman
driving licence. Contact
supervisor, electrical,
plumbing, civil, good
experience in Oman with
driving licence. Able to
handle jobs independently,
knowledge in materials
and purchase. Contact
experienced accountant,
B Com, very good in
computer and English,
presently working in India,
looking for a job in
Oman. Ready to join
immediately. Contact:
BE Civil, MBA const.
management (2012), 5
yrs Oman experience in
building const, swimming
pools, Oman D/L, seeks
suitable placement
98448454. e-mail:
MALE servant: a well
Gulf experienced male
servant, can do all
domestic works in house/
office/apartment, good in
English, presently in India,
looking for a job in Oman,
can join immediately.
Contact 99235823.

ARABIAN accountant
has 7 years experience
in constructions &
Contracting companies
looking for job.
968 96470036.

INDIAN male with
B.Com, MBA, 17 years
of experience which
includes 15 years of local
experience and holds
a valid Omani driving
license seeks suitable
placement in accounts
or finance department.
Contact: 99705790.
FINANCE & Accounts
Manager, MBA (Finance),
CA Inter with more than
20 years Oman experience
seeks suitable position in
reputable organisation.
Contact: 94103929.

INDIAN male, 26 yrs,
diploma in fire & safety,
engineering, certified
with occupational safety
& health administration
and medic first aid intel,
3 yrs experience. Contact
MORE than 15 years
Oman experienced
having valid Driving
licence, on visit, seeks
suitable placement
11 YEARS Gulf
experienced Electrician
looking for a suitable
position. 93389441.

YOUNG male Indian
graduate with one and a
half years local experience,
currently pursuing CIMA,
holds valid Omani driving
license with excellent
communication skills
seeks suitable placement
in accounts or finance
department. Contact :
PRODUCTION engineer,
6 years Gulf experience in
false ceiling, fibre
glass and rubber
moulding, valid
Omani driving licence.
INDIAN male, 25
yrs, dynamic, B.Tech
graduate (electronic &
communication), seeks
suitable placement
MALE, 52 yrs, Indian,
ex-service man (Indian
Army), 4 years experience
in Oman, looking for
suitable job. Contact
96994858, e-mail:
INDIAN male 24, with
ITI-electrical qualification
and 4 years experience
in all electrical works
in Oman & India, seeks
better placement. Contact:
INDIAN male, marketing
executive, 15 yrs
experience in Saudi
Arabia, Thailand, China,
India in building materials,
seeks good placement
in Oman. Contact
ZAJELweekly magazine evry saturday along with ZOMAN DAILY [
for advertising contact
Mobi l e 96224397 95181747
Tel 24649593
Fax 24649590 Emai l zajel oman@yahoo com
Mailing Address: OBSERVER CLASSIFIEDS SECTION, P.O. Box 974, Muscat, P.C. 100
Location: OEPPA HEAD OFFICE, Medinat Al Alam,
Near Ministry of Information 24649 593, 594, 594, 595, 596, 597
& OEPPA Ruwi Office, Next to Dhofar Bldg, Behind Ruwi Police Station 24785668
d BCOM gradua
good Oman ex
SAP F1 certified
consultant attended
training siemens MBA
finance. Experience in
accounting softwares,
Tally, ERP 9.0, peachtree,
quick books. focus
reach, seeking suitable
placement. Contact:
95609792, e-mail:

LINUX Professional
looking for a Job | Skills:
Linux/Open Solaris/
Windows Server/C/PHP/
(ACL 105,201 and 303)/
ADA95/Java Script/
Redis | Lang:German/
French/Hindi. Contact
968 92834702, E-mail:

NEW DELHI The larg-
est Indian business delega-
tion to Pakistan, consisting
of some 150 members and
led by Commerce and Indus-
try Minister Anand Sharma
(pictured), will take part in a
series of events, including an
India Show in Lahore, over
four days starting today.
Co-hosted by the two lead-
ing Indian business chambers,
the event will mark the first
visit of an Indian trade minis-
ter to Pakistan in 30 years in
an exercise aimed at ramping
bilateral trade to $10 billion in
three years.
The delegation includes
some top names from Indias
corporate world, including
Rajan Bharti Mittal, vice
chairman and managing di-
rector, Bharti Enterprises;
Sunil Kant Munjal, chairman,
Hero Corporate Services; K K
Modi, chairman, Modi Enter-
prises; Harsh Pati Singhania,
managing director, JK Paper;
Naresh Goyal, chairman, Jet
Airways; Jyotsna Suri, chair-
person and managing direc-
tor, Bharat Hotels; and Arun
Nanda, chairman, Mahindra
Holidays and Resorts.
Federation of Indian
Chambers of Commerce and
Industry (FICCI) president
R V Kanoria and Confedera-
tion of Indian Industry (CII)
president B Muthuraman will
lead the delegations of their
respective chambers.
The delegations will visit
Lahore, Karachi and Islama-
bad for close interaction with
Pakistani CEOs and officials
in what is being described as
a landmark initiative for
removing the barriers so that
the volume of two-way trade
reaches its potential of $10
billion in the next three years.
Any delegation to Paki-
stan goes beyond business
and trade. It will help deepen
overall ties and improve peo-
ple-to-people contact between
the two countries, said FICCI
president Kanoria, who is also
chairman of Kanoria Chemi-
cals and Industries.
Kanoria said besides sen-
ior officials, chief executives
of over 100 companies would
visit Pakistan to explore
business opportunities. There
will be a lot of participation
from small and medium enter-
prises as well, he said.
Commerce Secretary
Rahul Khullar, chairman and
managing director of India
Trade Promotion Organisa-
tion (ITPO) Rita Menon and
senior officials from the de-
partment of customs and the
Reserve Bank of India (RBI)
will also be part of the del-
egation that will visit Pakistan
from February 13-16.
The delegation will have
a series of meetings with
business leaders and govern-
ment officials of Pakistan, in-
cluding Prime Minister Yusuf
Raza Gilani and Commerce
Minister Makhdoom Amin
Bilateral trade between In-
dia and Pakistan was recorded
at $2.7 billion in 2010-11.
Trade balance is heavily in fa-
vour of India with its exports
at $2.3 billion and imports
from Pakistan at $332 mil-
Major items of export from
India to Pakistan are sugar,
cotton, man-made filaments
and chemicals, while its top
imports from Pakistan include
edible fruit, mineral fuels and
organic chemicals.
The trade potential
between our two countries is
very high and based on strong
fundamental complementari-
ties. One step of opening up
of the Wagah border for all
tradeable items would double
bilateral trade, said Chandra-
jit Banerjee, director-general,
Sharma, 150-strong business
team leave for Pakistan talks
NEW DELHI It is business
as usual for Indian companies
and the economic interests
of India are safe in the Mal-
dives, wracked by political
tumult and violence after the
deposition of former president
Mohamed Nasheed, diplomats
and others said.
India is one of the largest
investors in the chain of main-
ly coral islands. Its business
and economic relations with
the island nation have upped
significantly in the past few
years. Till December 2011,
India had commitment and
pipeline investments of about
$900-950 million.
"It is our first priority to
make the Maldives the pre-
ferred destination for Indian
investment. From our side, we
have all the safeguards, all the
policies for making business
more enterprising for India in
the Maldives," High Commis-
sioner Abdul Azeez Yoosuf
Major Indian companies
like the Tata Group, infrastruc-
ture firm GMR, wind turbine
maker Suzlon and others have
invested in the Maldives.
The largest chunk of Indian
private investment has been
made by the Bangalore-based
GMR Group, which is mod-
ernising the international air-
port in Male. The total cost of
the modernisation and opera-
tion of the project is estimated
at $511 million.
"We are watching the de-
velopments in the Maldives.
The airport is functioning nor-
mally," a GMR spokesperson
The Tatas are present with
their Taj brand of hotels in
the archipelago, where tour-
ists stream to, seeking sun and
sand. "We have invested $2
million per annum in the Mal-
dives since 2001 and we will
continue to invest in our prop-
erties there. We have an 18 per
cent revenue growth with 80
per cent occupancy rate in our
properties there," said Girish
Sehgal, general manager, Taj
Exotica Resort and Spa, Mal-
According to the High
Commissioner, the current
political turmoil had not af-
fected the interests of Indian
business houses in several
market segments, including
housing, education and hos-
While the Sriram Group
has set up a public-private
project in education, the Su-
zlon and Bommidala groups
have a presence in the renew-
able energy sector. There were
reports that an Indian compa-
ny was going to start a univer-
sity there apart from building a
wellness resort.
"Big players have shown
interest and we are in touch
with them," Yoosuf said.
"India is our very strong
(economic) partner... We are
entirely dependent on India
for all our essential items like
rice, sugar and white goods.
We benefit immensely from
Online travel portal make-'s chief operating
officer Keyur Joshi said that
the uncertainty and "fear psy-
chosis will go away in days".
"The Maldives is heavily
dependent on tourism and they
will not do anything to jeop-
ardise their main industry. We
expect to take 2,500 tourists on
charter service from Mumbai
to the Maldives in three
months starting April 15. It's a
paradise only 45 minutes away
from Thiruvananthapuram that
has not yet been discovered by
most Indians."
The country was voted
the world's number one is-
land destination by readers of
Conde Nast Traveller in 2011.
The tourist sector accounts
for one third of the Maldives'
gross domestic product (GDP)
and more than 60 per cent of
foreign currency earnings.
The High Commissioner
said the Indian government
has major plans to promote
the Maldives' tourism in India
and would open a tourism pro-
motion office in Mumbai. It
would also give incentives to
Indian carriers willing to fly to
the Maldives.
Currently, Air India
connects Bangalore and
Thiruvananthapuram to the
Ibrahim Nasir International
Airport in Male. Sri Lankan
airlines connect New Delhi to
Male via Colombo.
A ferry service from Cochin
is also planned to start soon to
boost trade and investment.
Two-way trade between
India and the Maldives was
around Rs 400 crore in 2009-
10. India's state-owned banks
have invested in the Maldives
economy by extending credits
to sectors such as housing.
"India is our very strong
development partner, espe-
cially in areas like housing,
defence and education," said
Yoosuf. IANS
Business as usual for companies in Maldives
STONE SOUP by Jan Eliot
GARFIELD by Jim Davis
CALVIN AND HOBBES by Bill Watterson
ADAM @ HOME by Brian Basset
Muscat Thaiba 24421213
National 24712714
Crown 24542118
Al Rimah Medical
Center 24479664
Sur Badr Al Samaa
Buraimi City 25653373
Ibri Al Aryaf Al Omania
Nizwa Nizwa 25412323
Salalah Al Mawasa 23294400
Muscat Scientific 24451195
Al Hashar 24833115
Middle East
Muscat 24695536
Sur Eibn Al Yafai
Buraimi Al Hayah 25654188
Ibri Muscat 25689025
Barka Al Farooq 26884553
Rustaq Bader Al Jashmi
Samayil Al Hurriya 25359435
Nizwa Basmat Nizwa
Salalah Muscat 23291635
Al Hashar ph, Ruwi 24783334
Muscat ph, Ruwi, 24702542
Al Sarooj, 24695536
Scientific ph, Qurum, 24566601
Ruwi, 24702850
6.00 Opening, Royal Anthem, The Holy Quran, Preview of
Morning Programme, Weather Forecast and Pharmacies on
Duty; 6.15 Morning Tea; 7.00 News Bulletin; 7.10 Morning
Tea; 9.00 News Headlines; 9.02 Piano; 10.00 Instrumental
Music; 11.00 Light Classical Music; 12.00 News Headlines,
12.02 The Holy Quran; 12.15 Pioneers of Civilization; 12.45
Slow Mix Music; 01.00 Top 10 (Laxmi) Repeat on Thursday
5.30; 2.00 Lets Talk Business Nisham Repeat of Sat 3.00
& Sunday 6.00; 2:20 Radio Station Jingles And Programmes;
2.30 News Bulletin; 2.40 Forts and Castles of Oman Laxmi
Repeat of Monday 3.00 & Tuesday 6.00; 3.00 Short Stories
(Judith) Repeat on Saturday 6.00; 3.20 Radio Station Jingles
and Programmes; 3.25 Mix Music; 3.30 Women in Focus
Nisham Repeat on Tuesday 3.00 & Thursday 6.40; 03.50
Radio Station Jingles and Programmes; 4.00 News
Headlines; 4.02 Around The World Live; 6.30 News Bulletin;
6.40 Words in Action (Judith) Repeat of Sunday 3.00 & Mon
6pm; 7.00 Night Groove; 8.00 News Headlines; 8.02 Night
Groove; 10.00 News Bulletin; 10.10 Oman in Focus (5 mins)
Daily; 10.15 D J Rock Special; 11.15 Mix Music; 12.40 News
Summary; 12.45 The Holy Quran; 01.00 National Anthem,
Close Down.
Oman TV:
Oman Radio:
Omani Centre for Traditional Music:
Keep in touch with Majlis Ashshuras
Log on to the Majliss website:
and the Majliss
Or write to the Majliss postal address:
P O Box 981
Postal Code 111, Muscat
Tel: 24510344 / 24521427/
Fax 24510560
24540856, 24540855.
24831358, 24831809 (after 3pm)
24607360, 24692656 (after 2pm)
24791641, 24792360
Hospital. . . . . . Board . . . . . . . Emergency
Royal. . . . . . . . 24599000. . . .24590491
Health Services Department
Muttrah . . . . . . 24797602
Quriyat . . . . . . 24845001. . . .24845003
SQH, Salalah . 23211555. . . .23211151
Police . . . . . . . 24603988. . . .24603980
Al Nahda. . . . . 24831255. . . .24837800
Ibn Sina . . . . . 24876322. . . .24877361
Nizwa . . . . . . . 25439361. . . .25425033
Al Rustaq . . . . 26875055. . . .26877186
Sumayil. . . . . . 25350055. . . .25350022
Izki . . . . . . . . . 25340033. . . .25340033
Haima. . . . . . . 23436013. . . .23436055
Sohar . . . . . . . 26840022. . . .26840099
Al Buraimi . . . . 25650855. . . .25652319
Sur . . . . . . . . . 25440244. . . .25461373
Tanam. . . . . . . 25499011. . . .25499033
Masirah. . . . . . 25404018. . . .25404018
Ibra . . . . . . . . . 25470533. . . .25470535
Adam . . . . . . . 25434167. . . .25434055
Bidiya . . . . . . . 25483535. . . .25483535
Ibri. . . . . . . . . . 25491011. . . .25491990
Saham . . . . . . 26854427. . . .26855148
Khasab . . . . . . 26830187. . . .26830187
Dibba . . . . . . . 26836443. . . .26836443
Burkha . . . . . . 26828397. . . .26828397
Sinaw . . . . . . . 25474338
Private & Other Wards
Working Days: 16:00-18:00. Weekends & Public
Holidays: 10:-12:00, 16:00-18:00
Working Days: 16:00-17:00. Weekends & Public
Holidays: 16:00-17:00
Special Care Baby Unit
Working Days: Parents may visit at any time.
Weekends & Public Holidays: Parents may visit
at any time
1 The one question? (5)
6 Its a bit doubtful getting a
jump start in a moment (5)
9 What a golfer aims to do
for half an hour in a bad
hotel (4,3)
10 Dark until changed (5)
11 Go up note by note? (5)
12 Aquestionable stinger in
the end (5)
13 Peters vendors (7)
15 Sound and smell (3)
17 As a try out, one could
have tea on it (4)
18 Jam, yes, but not much
butter (6)
19 Form untidy heaps (5)
20 Quick what happened
to Preston North End? (6)
22 Trio not sighted, as
children know (4)
24 Turning his back, teacher
takes a bit of a risk (3)
25 Nat rose to become a
legislator (7)
26 Written by a misguided
deputy, no union leader (5)
27 Should she use stronger
elastic? (3-2)
28 All to give a child a name
29 Bad man, but he may get
the right result (7)
30 Aman with a mole, maybe
31 One team standing out
from the rest? (5)


2 Add to the difficulties of a
female monarch (6)
3 Cold as were told a
foreign country is (6)
4 Like an emergency line on
the house telephone
initially? (3)
5 The old people seemd
upset (5)
6 In fairness, its merely hard
water (7)
7 Will it scratch away? (4)
8 Having no further capacity
in ones occupation? (4,2)
12 This character, out of
breath, wildly spread the
word (2,3)
13 Measures to encourage
climbers? (5)
14 Arkle, perhaps, historically
famous in sport (5)
15 The custom of going to
Southend a little? (5)
16 You need money to feed
one (5)
18 Rushed out of the way
with rapidity (5)
19 Asupporter placed so as
not to move (4,3)
21 Increasing abuse of gin, sir
22 Does most studiously in
the army? (6)
23 No great fighter in the cod
war! (6)
25 At bottom, they support
our MPs (5)
26 Tip right into a vessel (4)
28 Arrange to eat a meal (3)
1 Scum (5)
6 Treatise (5)
9 Relevant circumstances
10 Race meeting (5)
11 Indicate (5)
12 Underneath (5)
13 Stuck (7)
15 Single (3)
17 Dregs (4)
18 Creatures (6)
19 Facial hair (5)
20 Young bird (6)
22 Yield (4)
24 Fish eggs (3)
25 Exhaust (7)
26 Condition (5)
27 Take unlawfully (5)
28 Hesitate (5)
29 Young hare (7)
30 Donkeys (5)
31 Informs (5)
2 Dwell (6)
3 Gains a point (6)
4 Drunkard (3)
5 War-horse (5)
6 Revealed (7)
7 Store (4)
8 Canvas roof (6)
12 Brimless cap (5)
13 Change (5)
14 Border (5)
15 Beginning (5)
16 County (5)
18 Courageous (5)
19 Insects (7)
21 Main arteries (6)
22 Invent (6)
23 Maiden (6)
25 Freshwater mammal (5)
26 Offer of discounts (4)
28 Favourite (3)
ACROSS: 1, Tosca 6, F-resh
9,Rig-idly 10, Offer 11,
Oddly 12, Flute 13,S-crib-es
15, Mob 17, Peat 18, Marina
19, Tot-em 20, Driven 22,
Tube 24, So-D 25, Cla-uses
26, Tries 27, Serif 28, Logos
29, Lucifer 30, Stall 31,
DOWN: 2, Off-ice 3, Credit
4, AI-R 5, Wills 6, Flotsa-M
7, Ryde 8, Salmon 12,
Felon 13, Spuds 14,Rabid
15, Minus 16, BA-Les 18,
Meals 19, Tearful 21, Ro-
ber-t 22, Tutors 23, Before
25, Celia 26, Till 28, Lea.
ACROSS: 1, Waist 6, Daisy
9, Trapper 10, Glory 11,
Girls 12, Beard 13, Meddled
15, Sew 17, Epee 18, Reside
19, Aches 20, Dearth 22,
Desk 24, Say 25, Repents
26, Tiber 27, Stair 28, Rites
29, Readier 30, Irked 31,
DOWN: 2, Asleep 3, Stride
4, Try 5, Speed 6, Degrees 7,
Arid 8, Salted 12, Bench 13,
Mends 14, Delay 15, Siren
16, Weeks 18, Refer 19,
Attired 21, Easter 22, Desire
23, Street 25, Reads 26, Tire
28, Rep.
1 Kidnap (6)
5 Fuel-tanker (6)
9 Wanderer (5)
10 Cushion (6)
11 Attic (6)
12 Foot-lever (5)
14 Cipher (4)
17 Managed (3)
18 Heap (4)
20 Handle (5)
22 Transparent (5)
23 Fit (7)
24 Number (5)
26 Sail-boat (5)
29 Poke (4)
30 Married (3)
32 Caribou (4)
33 Hell (5)
35 Crept (6)
36 Absconded (6)
37 Royal (5)
38 Furnished (6)
39 Ebb (6)
1 View (6)
2 Deceive (6)
3 Harvest (4)
4 Soar (5)
5 Started (5)
6 Spoken (4)
7 Sally (6)
8 Cad (6)
13 Blinded (7)
15 Command (5)
16 Relaxed (5)
18 Beg (5)
19 Machine (5)
21 Number (3)
22 Weep (3)
24 Elf (6)
25 Uttered (6)
27 Middle (6)
28 Plod (6)
30 Paddled (5)
31 Prevent (5)
33 Present (4)
34 Only (4)
ACROSS: 1, Grip 4, Dim
6, Care 9, Lie 10, Encir-
cle 11, Alas 14, Ban 16,
Shame 19, Confused 21,
Sever 23, Deceived 24,
Needy 27, Rip 31, Purr
33, Imitated 34, Due 35,
Heed 36, Tan 37, Yarn.
DOWN: 2, Rank 3, Pail
4, Deceased 5, Meet 6,
Clash 7, Ail 8, Realm 12,
Scorn 13, Angle 14, Bus
15, Never 17, Alive 18,
Evade 20, Decision 22,
Rep 25, Exude 26, Dared
28, Wilt 29, Lady 30,
Bear 32, Rue.
It was character that got us out of bed,
commitment that moved us into action, and
discipline that enabled us to follow through.
Zig Ziglar
When we see persons of worth, we should
think of equaling them; when we see persons
of a contrary character, we should turn inwards
and examine ourselves.
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net and
IF ITS YOUR BIRTHDAY: A romantic disappointment in the coming year must not make you lose
confidence in human relationships. You are capable of arousing true feelings in the right person, and there
is plenty of time to find the happiness you seek. So stick to your old friends for the time being.
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(January 21-February 19)
Dont be too strongly in-
fluenced by a letter from a
friend living abroad. He may be too far
away to understand your situation.
(February 20-March 20)
Dont let a recent increase
in earnings make you for-
get your decision to be careful. It is
still not wise to spend your money on
useless trifles.
(March 21-April 20)
Your personal relationship
with a person of the op-
posite sex needs improving, and you
ought to go out of your way to put it on
a firmer basis.
(April 21-May 20)
Your hard work will soon
be rewarded with a nice pay
increase which will enable you to buy a
few luxuries you have not been able to
afford in the past.
(May 21-June 21)
If you get into the spirit of
the occasion, you will
derive unexpected pleasure from a fam-
ily gathering to which you had not been
looking forward.
(June 22-July 21)
Readjustment of your finan-
cial position will ease your
present worries and you ought to attack
the problem with proper speed and con-
sideration for the future.
(July 22-August 21)
After completing a business
deal very successfully, dont talk about it
too much, but concentrate your efforts on
reaping the benefit of the transaction.
(August 22-September 22)
With your exceptional en-
durance and ambition you
must eventually succeed, even though
results so far have not been too encour-
aging for you.
(September 23-October 22)
You will be greatly relieved
that a disquieting report you
heard about a close relative has proved
completely unfounded.
(October 23-November 21)
Past practical experience,
rather than untried theory
would be a much better guide to the job
which you will have to tackle today.
(November 22-
December 21)
Take care not to embar-
rass a sensitive person and refrain
from mentioning an unpleasant mat-
ter which he isnt aware of.
(December 22-
January 20)
Somebody is taking advan-
tage of your generous nature and get-
ting money from you which you can
ill afford. Put a stop to it once and for
nia Charlie Wi is the first
to admit he has always had a
penchant for folding under
The 40-year-old South Ko-
rean is in his seventh year and
still looking for his first vic-
tory on the PGA Tour.
"I am sure I will be fight-
ing my demons all day to-
morrow," said Wi. "It is how
I handle myself that is going
to be the outcome of this
Wi, who shot a tournament
course record nine-under 61
on Thursday, fired a three-
under 69 Saturday to maintain
his slim lead heading into Sun-
day's final round of the Pebble
Beach National Pro-Am.
Wi has a three-stroke mar-
gin over American Ken Duke
after a bogey-free round that
featured three birdies un-
der rainy conditions on the
more difficult Spyglass Hill
He has had four runner-up
finishes on the PGA Tour and
was in contention as recently
as three months ago at the Open.
The last time Wi had the
lead heading the final round
was last year when he had a
one-shot cushion but lost to
Davis Love at the Crowne
Plaza Invitational.
Wi said he has been work-
ing on preparing himself men-
tally for tournaments with a
sports psychologist and he is
just now seeing the results.
"By demons, I mean I tend
to get ahead of myself a lot,"
he said. "Meaning self-doubt
can I really hit that shot or
am I going to be nervous.
"Something turned over the
last couple of months where I
really started to feel comfort-
able with myself out there on
the course."
Wi said he found his game
slipping a few times on Satur-
day but was able to reel in his
"I definitely caught myself
getting ahead today but I was
able to get back to what I was
doing and I am really happy
about that," Wi said.
But it won't help on Sun-
day that Wi has some heavy
hitters breathing down his
neck, including Tiger Woods
and Phil Mickelson, who will
be playing in the group right
behind Wi and Duke.
"He's won 70-some times
and I am trying to get my first
and I have a lot more pressure
on me than he does," said Wi
of Woods. "I am sure I won't
sleep as well tonight as if I am
in 50th place."
Wi was born in Seoul but
moved with his family to Los
Angeles when he was 10 years
old where his father set up an
import-export business.
He attended college on a
golf scholarship at the Univer-
sity of California at Berkeley
and now lives just outside of
Los Angeles in the suburb of
Westlake Village.
Wi has 16 top 10 finishes
in his PGA Tour career and
nine wins internationally so
he isn't a complete stranger to
His first victory came in
1997 at the Kuala Lumpur
Open in Malaysia but his last
international triumph was
more than five years ago at the
Malaysian Open.
"I have won all over the
world, even in Europe," he
said. "I know how to win
when I am in contention. So
we will see how it plays out
"It is just a matter of how
I handle myself emotionally
That is going to make the
difference." AFP
Wi looks for first PGA
win at Pebble Beach
ly balanced offense helped the
Atlantic Division-leading Phil-
adelphia 76ers easily defeat
the under-manned Cleveland
Cavaliers 99-84 in the NBA on
Six players scored 10 or
more points for the 76ers
(19-9) with Jrue Holiday lead-
ing the way with 20. Reserves
Lou Williams and Thaddeus
Young added 19 and 16 points
in the victory which followed
their first two-game losing
streak of the season.
The Cavaliers (10-16)
struggled in the absence of
rookie guard Kyrie Irving, who
missed his third consecutive
game because of concussion,
and centre Anderson Varejao,
who has a right wrist injury.
"I told our guys that the
worst thing they could pos-
sibly do would be to come in
here and overlook a team like
Cleveland, with all of its inju-
ries," 76ers coach Doug Col-
lins told reporters.
"That would have been a
huge mistake. They didn't and
I'm very proud of the guys."
The 76ers took control
of the contest late in the first
quarter when they went on a
14-2 run after a timeout to grab
a commanding 30-19 lead.
It was much of the same
in the second quarter as the
visitors built up a 21 point lead
before settling for a 58-41 ad-
vantage at halftime.
Antawn Jamison led the
Cavaliers with 20 points while
Ramon Sessions added 19
points for the home side, who
had lost in overtime to Mil-
waukee on Friday.
"The energy wasn't there
from the start to the finish. I
kind of expected that watching
the guys in the locker room
before the game," Cavaliers
coach Byron Scott told report-
ers. "I told them, 'I understand,'
but it doesn't take away from
the fact we need to compete at
a high level like we're capable
of doing."
Results: LAClippers bt Charlotte
Bobcats 111-86, Denver Nuggets bt
Indiana Pacers 113-109, Philadelphia
76ers bt Cleveland Cavs 99-84, NY
Knicks bt Minnesota Timberwolves
100-98, San Antonio Spurs bt New
Jersey Nets 103-89, Dallas Maver-
icks bt Portland Trailblazers 97-94,
Orlando Magic bt Milwaukee Bucks
99-94, Phoenix Suns bt Sacremento
Kings 98-84. Reuters
Holiday helps 76ers cruise past injury-hit Cavaliers
ROME Holders England
needed Owen Farrells assured
boot and Charlie Hodgson's
opportunism to survive a Six-
Nations fright and beat Italy
19-15 on Saturday For their
second straight win under in-
terim coach Stuart Lancaster.
Italy threatened to secure
their first victory over England
in 18 tests when they took a
15-6 lead early in the second
half before flyhalf Hodgson's
try started a fightback.
Farrell, who was flawless
when offered a chance to kick
at goal, added the other 14
points on his second test start.
"We recognise we still have
a long way to go," Lancaster
told the BBC. "The most pleas-
ing thing was that there was no
sense of panic."
Hodgson said England had
kept their composure despite
conceding two tries late in the
first half.
"We felt we dominated in
the first half but they got a
lucky try," he said. "We kept
plugging away, kept our heads
and it came good in the end."
"To show the resolve we
have from 15-6 down, to be
successful in a place like this
we've shown what we have."
A dour opening half on a
pitch partially covered in snow
burst into life when Italy, trail-
ing to two Farrell penalties,
stunned England with two
tries in the final three minutes
through Giovanbattista Ven-
ditti and Tommaso Benvenuti
to lead 12-6 at the break.
Hodgson got England back
into the game when he scored
a try for the second week run-
ning after charging down a
clearance and Farrell's boot
then proved the difference as
Lancaster's side followed up
their opening 13-6 win over
Scotland with another scrappy
The match was the first in
the Six Nations to be played
at Rome's Stadio Olimpico,
home of soccer's AS Roma and
Lazio, but the conditions were
hardly ideal for an expansive
England had begun with
that intention, spinning the ball
wide in two promising early
attacks which floundered with
poor handling, setting the tone
for much of a first half punctu-
ated by some aimless kicking
and territorial exchange.
Farrell's first two penalties
had nosed England ahead be-
fore the hosts, who lost batter-
ing ram prop Martin Castrogio-
vanni to a rib injury, exploded
late in the half.
With Italy pressing, Eng-
land failed to diffuse two
kicks and, after the ball rico-
cheted off Ben Foden's chest,
right winger Venditti gleefully
pounced to dive over in the
Kristopher Burton missed
the conversion but the Italian
fans who had braved the bitter
cold and falling sleet were on
their feet again just moments
later when Foden's pass was
intercepted by Benvenuti who
burst clear to score under the
Burton extended Italy's lead
to 15-6 by squeezing over an
early second-half penalty but
minutes later the game turned
after Hodgson's intervention.
The England flyhalf scored
the only try of the game in the
win over Scotland when he
charged down and gathered
Dan Parks' clearance and this
time he got his hand's on And-
rea Masi's hack before a kindly
bounce gave him the chance to
cross for his eighth try in 38
Farrell converted and then
kicked another penalty to nose
England ahead 16-15.
Another straightforward
three points from in front of
the posts from Farrell gave
England breathing space, his
unerring accuracy in direct
contrast to Italy's replacement
flyhalf Tobias Botes who was
wayward with two penalties
that could have put his side
The misses proved costly
as England, like they had done
away to Scotland, defended
resolutely to the end.
England next face Wales at
Twickenham on February 25
while winless Italy travel to
Dublin to face Ireland.
The match between France
and Ireland was postponed just
before kick-off at the Stade de
France on Saturday because of
concerns over the safety of the
pitch, leaving a capacity crowd
English referee Dave
Pearson had passed it fit 90
minutes before the 2000 GMT
kick-off, but temperatures
of -5 degrees Celsius, with a
wind chill of -11C, had made it
rock hard by the time the teams
were preparing to come out.
Both teams came out on to
the pitch to vainly salute the
furious spectators, including
thousands of Irish fans whod
made the long trip over.
Its a real shame for you
all but unfortunately the match
has had to be cancelled, said
French captain Thierry Dusau-
I hope you will all come
and support us next time. The
decision has been taken, and
now we will prepare for the
next time.
France coach Philippe
Saint-Andre added: We would
have preferred to play.
The changing room was
electric, the players were really
ready to play but you have to
respect the referees decision,
its he who is in charge of play-
ers safety.
The match is now slated to
be played either next week-
end, a planned Six Nations rest
when the Stade de France is in
use on Saturday for a Top 14
match between Stade Fran-
cais and Toulon scheduled at
1500 GMT, or the weekend of
March 3-4.
If the teams do play on
March 3-4, it would mean
them having to play on four
consecutive weekends.
It is first time since 1985
that a Five-Nations/Six-Na-
tions match has been called off
because of the weather.
And the 2001 tournament
saw three Ireland matches
postponed until September and
October of that year because of
an epidemic of foot-and-mouth
The pitch was unsafe. The
referee had to take the decision
and it was tough for one man
to do it, Ireland coach Declan
told the BBC.
In fairness it was the right
decision. The players were
pumped up but it will be a new
experience for them.
The game will be rear-
ranged next week might
be a bit tight, but its up to the
Six Nations to decide. We will
have to talk about it. I wouldnt
like to guess.
One fan left furious was
Mark Kelly, a salesman from
You wouldnt get this in
schoolboy rugby! Kelly said.
Me and my wife have been
planning this for a year, St
Valentines weekend and all
These French friends came
over last year to Dublin and we
said wed come this year.
The first we knew was
10 minutes after it was meant
to kick off. The referee didnt
have the courtesy to come and
announce it himself. I cant
come back as I cant take an-
other day off.
French rugby federation
president Pierre Camou ex-
pressed his massive disap-
pointment at the cancellation,
choosing his words carefully
in fear of badmouthing the Six
Nations organising committee.
Im sad for all the fans
whove travelled, those whove
come here from outside Paris,
he said.
Frazzled-looking Six-Na-
tions representative Christine
Connolly, fielding no ques-
tions, told reporters: Unfor-
tunately on the advice of the
referee it was decided that it
was unplayable.
He came here yesterday
and inspected it under the
covers and then again at 1930
(1830GMT) this evening and it
was playable. However, sadly
in the 90 minutes after the cov-
ers were drawn back it froze
over in several areas and was
Camou couldnt resist a pop
at the nationality of Pearson,
who did not appear even to
give a statement.
I cannot speak for the ref-
eree as he for his own reasons
has chosen not to appear to ex-
plain himself, said Camou.
I watched the Italy
versus England game ear-
lier on where the pitch
was covered in snow in
places, and I would like to re-
mind you that the referee was
French! Reuters/AFP
England fight back to edge Italy in Six-Nations
MALABO Cheick Diabate scored in
each half as Mali defeated 10-man Ghana
2-0 in a play-off on Saturday to finish
third at the 2012 Africa Nations Cup.
The big Bordeaux striker poked in a
rebound midway through the opening
half and tapped home a cross with 10
minutes left after Ghana defender Isaac
Vorsah had been red carded for a second
Diabate now tops the scoring charts
on three goals with six others, including
Chris Katongo and Emmanuel Mayuka
of Zambia and Didier Drogba of Ivory
Coast, who could increase their tallies
Sunday in the Libreville final.
It was fourth time lucky for the Ma-
lian Eagles as they lost three previous
third place matches in the African foot-
ball showpiece while the Ghanaian Black
Stars were suffering a second loss in three
play-off appearances.
Striker Asamoah Gyan was a notable
omission as Ghana made four changes.
Mali also had four new faces compared to
the side that took Ivory Coast to the wire in
the other semifinal with goalkeeper Oumar
Sissoko, defenders Ousmane Coulibaly
and Abdoulaye Maiga and striker Garra
Dembele coming in. AFP
Diabate scores brace as Mali finish third
breakaway in the final few
minutes of the game, Jarome
Iginla was hoping to salt
away a victory. Turns out he
just needed a little extra time
to make it happen.
Roberto Luongo got his
glove on Iginlas shot late
in the third period but had
no answer to the Calgary
Flames captains shoot-out
as the hosts came away with
a 3-2 win in the NHL.
Results: Boston Bruins bt
Nashville Predators 4-3, Florida
Panthers bt New Jersey Devils 3-1,
NYIslanders bt Los Angeles Kings
2-1, NY Rangers bt Philadelphia
Flyers 5-2, Pittsburgh Penguins bt
Winnipeg Jets 8-5, Edmonton Oil-
ers bt Ottawa Senators 4-3, Tampa
Bay Lightning bt Buffalo Sabres
2-1, Montreal Canadiens bt To-
ronto Maple Leafs 5-0, St Louis
Blues bt Colorado Avlanche 3-2,
Columbus Blue Jackets bt Minne-
sota Wild 3-1, Phoenix Coyotes bt
Chicago Blackhawks 3-0, Calgary
Flames bt Vancouver Canucks
3-2. Reuters
Scrappy win
for Flames
CHARLIE Wi of South Korea hits a tee shot during the third round of the in Pebble
Beach, California, on Saturday. AFP
LOS Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul shoots the ball against Charlotte Bobcats during their
NBA game in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Saturday. Reuters
JOHN Pantsil (right) of Ghana fights for the ball with Cheick Diabate of
Mali during their third-place match at the African Nations Cup
in Malabo on Saturday. Reuters
ITALYS Luke McLean (left) catches the ball during their Six-Nations match against England at the
Olympic Stadium in Rome on Saturday. Reuters
MADRID Barcelona's fading hopes
of capturing a fourth consecutive La Liga
crown suffered a major setback when they
lost 3-2 at Osasuna on Saturday to leave
Real Madrid seven points clear at the top
with a game in hand.
In freezing conditions in Pamplona,
Osasuna striker Dejan Lekic scored twice
inside the first 22 minutes and Barca, who
have struggled on the road all season,
waited too long to react.
Spanish World Cup winners Xavi, An-
dres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas started on
the bench, and although Alexis Sanchez
pulled one back for the visitors in the
52nd minute, Raul Garcia quickly re-
stored Osasuna's advantage.
Barca's youth team winger Cristian
Tello grabbed a second in the 73rd but
a late charge just failed to produce the
The world and European champions'
second defeat of the season left them on
48 points, seven short of leaders Real.
"The league is much tougher now,
and I suppose tomorrow we will see the
gap grow even larger, " Barca coach Pep
Guardiola told reporters.
"If we could play well on this pitch in
the second half we should have done so
in the first as well. We found it hard to get
into the game."
Atletico Madrid climbed to sixth with
31 points despite being held to a 0-0
draw at Racing Santander. Home keeper
Tono was man-of-the-match as he pulled
off a string of saves to deny Atletico,
who are unbeaten in the six games since
Argentine Diego Simeone took the helm
and have yet to concede a goal in that
Osasuna are seventh also with 31
points, one ahead of King's Cup finalists
Athletic Bilbao, who suffered a 2-1 defeat
at Real Betis in the late game.
Nelson struck a rasping last-minute
winner for Betis, who played the last 25
minutes against 10 men after Bilbao de-
fender Javi Martinez, the scorer of the
equaliser, was sent off for a second book-
able offence. Reuters
PARIS Serbia shrugged off
the absence of Novak Djoko-
vic to reach the Davis Cup last
eight yesterday with the 2010
champions confidently set-
ting their sights on dethroning
Spain in November's final.
Janko Tipsarevic secured
an unassailable 3-1 lead over
Sweden in the World Group
first round tie in Nis with a
6-2, 7-6 (7/5), 7-5 win over
Michael Ryderstedt.
Victory gave Serbia a quar-
terfinal tie in April against the
Czech Republic, but captain
Bogdan Obradovic believes
that with world No 1 Djokovic
back in the side for that clash,
his country can start dreaming
of a second title. The United
States, the 32-time champions,
completed a 5-0 whitewash
over Switzerland in Fribourg.
Ryan Harrison beat
Michael Lammer 7-6 (7/0),
7-6 (7/4) and John Isner, who
condemned Roger Federer to
his first defeat in the tourna-
ment in nine years on Friday,
saw off Marco Chiudinelli
6-3, 6-4.
The US will face either
France or Canada in the last
eight. France were 2-1 ahead
of the Canadians in Vancouver
after Saturday's doubles.
Austria made the quarterfi-
nals where they will tackle
Spain for the first time in
17 years with a 3-2 win over
two-time champions Russia
in Wiener Neustadt. Jurgen
Melzer secured the vital point,
beating debutant Alex Bogo-
molov 6-2, 6-4, 6-1.
Spain, playing without Ra-
fael Nadal, who is skipping
the tournament this year, had
already made sure of their
sixth successive appearance
in the quarter-finals by taking
an unassailable 3-0 lead on
Saturday against Kazakhstan
in Oviedo.
They completed a 5-0
rout with singles wins for
Nicolas Almagro and Marcel
Granollers. The Czech Re-
public wrapped up a 4-1 win
over Italy in Ostrava while last
year's runners-up Argentina
were also 4-1 winners over
Germany in Bamberg.
Argentina will have a home
tie against Croatia, who beat
Japan 3-2.
Spain 5 Kazakhstan 0: Nicolas
Almagro (ESP) bt Evgeny Korolev
(KAZ) 6-3, 6-4; Marcel Granollers
(ESP) bt Andrey Golubev (KAZ)
6-3, 6-7 (2/7), 6-3.
Austria 3 Russia 2: Jurgen
Melzer (AUT) bt Alex Bogomolov
(RUS) 6-2, 6-4, 6-1; Igor Kunitsyn
(RUS) bt Andreas Haider-Maurer
(AUT) 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (7/4).
Switzerland 0 USA 5: Ryan
Harrison (USA) bt Michael Lammer
(SUI) 7-6 (7/0), 7-6 (7/4); John Isner
(USA) bt Marco Chiudinelli (SUI)
6-3, 6-4.
Czech Republic 4 Italy 1: Lu-
kas Rosol (CZE) bt Andreas Seppi
(ITA) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4; Simone Bolelli
(ITA) bt Frantisek Cermak (CZE)
6-4, 6-4.
Serbia 4 Sweden 1: Janko Tip-
sarevic (SRB) bt Michael Ryderstedt
(SWE) 6-2, 7-6 (7/5), 7-5; Dusan
Lajovic (SRB) bt Filip Prpic (SWE)
6-4, 6-4.
Japan 2 Croatia 3: Kei Nishikori
(JPN) bt Ivan Dodig (CRO) 7-5, 7-6
(7/4), 6-3; Ivo Karlovic (CRO) bt Go
Soeda (JPN) 7-6 (7/4), 6-1, 6-4.
Germany 1 Argentina 4:
Juan Ignacio Chela (ARG) bt Flo-
rian Mayer (GER) 7-5, 7-5; Cedrik-
Marcel Stebe (GER) bt Eduardo
Schwank (ARG) 7-6 (7/1), 7-5.
DUBAI Rafael Cabrera-
Bello was the surprise win-
ner of the Dubai Desert Clas-
sic yesterday after sinking a
nerveless birdie on the 17th
hole to end on 18 under par
and beat Lee Westwood and
Scottish veteran Stephen
Gallacher by a single shot.
The unfancied Spaniard,
27, had started the day one
stroke behind overnight leader
Westwood, but made three
birdies on the back nine to
clinch his second European
Tour title, belying his lowly
world ranking of 119.
Westwood had teed off
last along with Gallacher, 37,
while Cabrera-Bello was one
hole ahead.
The amiable Spaniard,
who had shot a blistering nine-
under 63 in the opening round,
retook the lead on the final day
with successive birdies on the
11th and 12th holes, but on the
13th Gallacher sank an eagle
and Westwood a birdie to join
him on 17 under.
The trio remained tied until
Cabrera-Bello's decisive putt
on 17. One hole earlier, the
Spaniard had scrambled for
par after shanking his tee shot
into the trees, his ball ending
in the sandy void between the
fairways, while Westwood
would rue a missed birdie
chance on 16th, his nine-foot
effort stopping short.
The world No 3 was also
found wanting on the 17th,
rolling a seven-foot birdie putt
inches wide, while Cabrera-
Bello was on the par-five
His final tee shot missed
the fairway, but he reached the
green edge for three and even-
tually putted for par.
That meant Westwood, 38,
and Gallacher needed to make
birdies on the final hole to
force a play-off. Westwood's
second shot left him just off
the green, but he then played
a clumsy chip that stopped 20
feet from the pin.
Now needing to putt to stay
in the tournament, the Eng-
lishman's final effort drifted
left, while Gallacher fluffed a
12-foot birdie chance, handing
Cabrera-Bello the title.
He became the third Span-
iard in a row to hold the title
after Miguel Jimenez and Al-
varo Quiros had triumphed in
2010 and 2011.
Westwood had started
the day on 15 under, one
shot ahead, while Ulsterman
Rory McIlroy and Germany's
Martin Kaymer, who sandwich
him in the world rankings,
were two strokes behind.
The two Britons had want-
ed tougher conditions to make
the Majlis course bare its teeth
following a birdie bonanza
on the tranquil opening two
days and they got their wish
on the final round as swirl-
ing gusts of wind buffeted the
That made for a tougher
day around the 7,344-yard
course and the leaderboard
saw little movement as the fi-
nal round progressed.
Westwood rolled in a 35-
foot eagle putt from the fair-
way on the second hole, but
bogeyed the fifth after fading
his tee shot into the rough to
go into the back nine one shot
McIlroy, the leader after
two rounds, was three over
for the day after the front nine,
picking up four birdies on the
final nine holes to end on 14
under in joint fifth.
Kaymer struggled, shoot-
ing two over for the day to slip
off the leaderboard.
LONDON Joleon Lescott's
62nd minute goal and a bril-
liant late save by goalkeeper
Joe Hart sent Manchester City
back to the top of the English
Premier League with a tense
1-0 win at Aston Villa yester-
Manchester United's 2-1
win over Liverpool on Satur-
day had put City under pressure
and after they had dominated
the first hour's play Lescott
eased their nerves when he
hooked in former Villa mid-
fielder Gareth Barry's far-post
header from a corner.
Adam Johnson also hit a
post in the first half for City
while Villa threatened little un-
til the final stages when Carlos
Cuellar headed over and Hart
made a superb point-blank
save from Darren Bent.
The England number one's
stop, as much as Lescott's goal,
could be a moment City fans
look back on with glee come
May if they get their hands
on a first English league title
since 1968.
City top the table with 60
points from 25 games, two
ahead of United while tooth-
less Villa are looking anxious-
ly over their shoulders down
in 15th.
"It's always difficult play-
ing second throughout the
weekend," man-of-the-match
Barry told Sky Sports.
"(United) obviously put a
bit of pressure on, any away
game in the Premier League
is really tough. But to come to
Villa Park is a massive three
points for us, we are delighted
"We've got to back our-
selves now although they are
a club who have won many
championships recently. We
are a team full of experience
and have players that have
won championships else-
where. We know what it is all
Mancini, whose side went
into to a league game not as
leaders for the first time since
October, was thrilled.
"This evening was a diffi-
cult game, we knew this before
the game but I think the guys
played fantastic football," he
Mancini's side lacked a bit
of a cutting edge with Sergio
Aguero wasteful, David Silva
showing his tricks but failing
to finish and Edin Dzeko on
the bench despite Mario Balo-
telli's suspension.
Carlos Tevez could be
making a surprise return to
City after a January move fell
through and Mancini softened
his opposition to a player who
refused to warm up as a substi-
tute in a game in September.
The Argentine's reintegra-
tion could be a key point in the
season but England defender
Lescott, a boyhood Villa fan,
made his mark by scoring
his fifth goal against the Bir-
mingham side to make City's
dominance pay having earlier
headed wide.
Lescott was watched by
caretaker England coach Stu-
art Pearce, who dashed down
the motorway having earlier
witnessed West Bromwich
Albion maul Wolverhampton
Wanders 5-1 away.
Nigerian striker Peter
Odemwingie scored a hat-
trick as West Brom moved fur-
ther away from danger and left
their beleaguered local rivals
inside the drop zone.
Roy Hodgson's side contin-
ued their strong away form to
jump eight points clear of 18th-
placed Wolves, who endured a
fourth straight home defeat to
put manager Mick McCarthy
under increased pressure as the
boos rang out at fulltime.
Odemwingie's deflected ef-
fort put West Brom ahead be-
fore Steven Fletcher's superb
turn-and-shot on the stroke
of halftime brought the hosts
Jonas Olsson's shot slipped
through Wayne Hennessey's
hands to give the visitors the
lead and West Brom then ran
riot with Odemwingie's sec-
ond and third coming either
side of former Wolves man
Keith Andrews netting on his
debut. Reuters
By A Seshagiri Rao
MUSCAT Following in the footsteps of
Buthaina al Yaqoubi, sprinter Shnoona al
Habsi is likely to become an Olympian if she
gets the nod to take part in the London Olym-
pics later this year.
Though only two Omani athletes, both
men sprinters, achieved the qualifying mark
for the London Games, Shnoona is expected
to be picked to represent the Sultanate at the
Olympics just like Buthaina did at Beijing
Games in 2008.
If the Oman Athletic Association (OAA)
sources are to be believed, the Oman Ol-
ympic Committee (OOC) had written to the
athletics body to nominate an athlete for the
Games and the OAA board is thinking of
picking Shnoona al Habsi for the London
After having won the 200m gold at the
GCC Women Games in March 2011, Shnoo-
na certainly deserves the honour but the
OAA chief Hamad al Jabri, while confirming
receiving the OOC letter, said the board is yet
to finalise the name.
We did receive the letter from OOC but
we are yet to write back to them, he said.
Asked whether Shnoona will be the one
to travel along with men athletes Barakat al
Harthy and Ahmed al Merjabi who qualified
for the Games, he said: It is most likely that
Shnoonas name will be finalised.
If she gets the nod it will do a world of
good to her career and personality. Take the
case of Buthaina al Yaqoubi and see how she
gained in confidence from her Olympic expe-
rience, he said referring to the development
of Omans first and only woman Olympian.
The participation in the Beijing Games
has boosted Buthainas confidence. That con-
fidence can be seen in the way she presents
herself and the way she speaks, not just on
track but off it as well.
Now she is even helping the juniors who
will be taking part in the inaugural GCC
womens under-18 athletic championships,
which we will be hosting. She has been train-
ing with them and supporting them in all as-
pects. I hope it will be same with Shnoona if
she gets nominated.
Buthaina, meanwhile, expressed delight
at the prospect of Shnoonas Olympic par-
I am happy for her. She will be the sec-
ond Omani woman Olympian. In Beijing
it was me. In London hopefully it will be
Shnoona, she said.
Asked about the future training pro-
gramme of both Barakat al Harthy and
Ahmed al Merjabi, OAA chief said: Both of
them have been given a 10-day break after
the recent hectic schedule. They deserved the
rest as they were involved in several activi-
ties, including three big events GCC, Arab
athletic championships and the Arab Games,
in a short span of time.
Now they will be training here at the Sul-
tan Qaboos Sports Complex. This domestic
training camps are a continuous process. But
they will definitely be camping abroad ahead
of the London Games, he said.
For about two months before the Olym-
pics, they will be in an European country.
Thats the period which is ideal for training
and also thats when the athletics season
starts there. So it will be a good time for Bar-
akat and Ahmed to train as well as compete,
which I think is an ideal preparation for the
Olympics, he said.
By Our Sports Reporter
MUSCAT Thirteen promising Omani
talents will get an opportunity to display
their wares when the Oman Athletic As-
sociation (OAA) hosts the inaugural
GCC womens youth (Under-18) athletics
championships later this month.
The two-day championships, sched-
uled for February 23 and 24, will see the
best young women athletes from all the
GCC countries, expect the Saudi Arabia,
in action.
The championships came into the ex-
istence thanks to the forward thinking of
the leaders of the five participating coun-
tries who wanted to develop the women
Explaining the circumstances that led
to the launch of the championships and the
reasons for awarding the first edition to
the Sultanate, the OAA Chairman Hamad
al Jabri said: This championships came
into being because the leaders of the GCC
nations wanted proper attention given to
the girl athletes and provide them with a
competition that helps them realise their
potential and further develop it.
And we are thankful to the GCC
committee for showing faith in the OAAs
organisational abilities and awarding the
first edition to Oman. We are also thank-
ful to Shaikha Naima al Ahmed al Sabah,
Chairperson of the GCC Womens Sports
Organising Committee, he added while
addressing a press conference at the Sul-
tan Qaboos Sports Complex yesterday.
The OFA chief also expressed his grat-
itude to the Ministry of Sports Affairs and
Minister of Sports Affairs Ali bin Masoud
al Sunaidy for their complete support
and hoped that the championships will be
a great success.
Hamad al Jabri, who also unveiled the
championship logo on the occasion, said:
The upcoming girl athletes from all GCC
nations, expect Saudi Arabia, will be com-
peting in 12 events during the two days.
Speaking about the local participation,
he said: We will be fielding 13 athletes,
including the talented sprinter Shnoona al
Habsi. They will be competing in sprints,
jumps, discus and javelin throws.
We had trials last Thursday and we
will ahve another session next Thursday.
These athletes have been training hard
and we expect good results from them,
he said.
Shnoon and other Omani girls, who
underwent a monthlong training, are en-
couraged by the presence of Buthaina
al Yaqoobi who became the first Omani
woman to compete at the Olympics when
she took part in Beijing Games in 2008.
Buthaina, who will not be competing
in this inaugural GCC youth champion-
ships as she crossed the 18 year age limit,
said she was happy to be with the team
and expecting big things for her compatri-
ots in the two-day event.
They have been training hard and they
have improved their timings and perform-
ances. And having known the standard in
the region, I believe our girls can get good
results, she said.
Meanwhile, Shnoona al Habsi, who
did well at the GCC and Arab level in the
past, said she is hoping to win gold in the
sprint events.
Shnoona will be competing in the
100m and 200m as well as the relay com-
Barca freeze and title slips away in Pamplona
Serbia reach quarterfinals sans Djokovic
Cabrera-Bello sinks late
birdie to lift Dubai title
Lescott sends City back to the top
Shnoona likely to get nod
for London Olympics
OAA gear up for inaugural GCC eves youth athletic meet
Halfpenny scored two
tries in a second-half
surge as Wales made it
two wins out of two in
this season's Six-Na-
tions with a 27-13 victo-
ry over Scotland at the
Millennium Stadium
here yesterday.
The match was level
at 3-3 at half-time but
tries from wing Alex
Cuthbert and full-
back Halfpenny, who
crossed twice on his
way to a match haul of
22 points, saw Wales
pull away.
For Scotland, de-
feat left them search-
ing for a first win in
Cardiff since 2002 and
facing another battle
to avoid the wooden
spoon following last
weekend's 13-7 loss to
But new fly-half
Greig Laidlaw, in for
the retired Dan Parks,
did score Scotland's
first try in five Tests
and was responsible for
all their points.
Scarlets flanker
Aaron Shingler was
handed his Wales debut
in Warburton's place
on the openside, with
former skipper Ryan
Jones taking over as
captain. AFP
Wales make
it two out
of two
OAA Chairman Hamad al Jabri (centre) speaks during a press conference organised to brief the media about the inaugural GCC womens youth
athletics championships at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in Bausher yesterday. Picture by Huda al Bahri
MANCHESTER Citys Joleon Lescott (second left) celebrates after scoring a goal against
Aston Villa during their Premier League match at Villa Park in Birmingham yesterday.
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Check out Classifieds page. Its where buyers meet sellers.
ABU DHABI England will
bid to put their woeful show-
ing in the Test series behind
them when they take on Paki-
stan in the four-match one-day
series which kicks off here
today, captain Alastair Cook
said yesterday.
Pakistan blanked England
3-0 in Tests on the back of su-
perb performance from their
spinners with Saeed Ajmal
(24 wickets), Abdul Rehman
(19) and Mohammed Hafeez
(5) plaguing rival batsmen no
Pakistan have been further
boosted by the return of leg-
spinner Shahid Afridi who
took five wickets in their sev-
en-wicket win in the lead-up
match against Afghanistan in
Sharjah on Friday.
Cook, who took over as
captain after the 2011 World
Cup, suffered a 5-0 thrashing
in India but hoped that loss
and defeat in Tests against Pa-
kistan were forgotten.
"It's been a tough five
weeks as a Test tour but this
is now a different, fresh side
and hopefully we can bring
that enthusiasm into the game
tomorrow," said Cook.
"It was a while ago (losing
to India) but we tried as hard
as we could and we came up
short against India. There's no
shame in that but there will be
shame if we don't learn from
Cook hoped his team would
better cope with Pakistan's
spinners. "Certainly the one-
day game dictates you have to
be more positive and we're not
going to have men around the
bat all the time so it changes
your mentality as a batter, it
frees you up," he said.
"We've got a good record
against Pakistan and have had
success against these bowlers
before in one-day cricket so
hopefully, we won't banish
memories of what happened
in the Test matches, but you
get to free up a little bit and
Cook said Pakistan were
deservedly high on confi-
"They're a confident team
and winning breeds confi-
dence. We're not worried about
what they do we'll just try and
do well in that first hour and
Pakistan will do the same."
Cook added that he was ex-
cited at the prospect of open-
ing the innings with Kevin
"It went well. I think we
got 90-odd together and it felt
comfortable straight away,"
said Cook of opening with
Pietersen during the easy win
over the Lions here on Friday.
"It's a new challenge for KP
and we both are excited."
Pakistan may counter Eng-
land's ploy of using Pietersen
at the top by opening the bowl-
ing with left-armer Rehman.
Rehman opened the bowling
in a World Cup match against
Australia last year.
"Of course we do have plan
for every game but the main
plan is to do our basics well so
we are going to stick to that,"
said Pakistan captain Misbah-
il Haq who has won 13 of the
14 one-day he captained since
June last year.
Misbah said his team was
confident after winning the
Tests, but starts afresh in one-
"We are high on confidence
but at times it is also harmful
so we have to guard against
that," said Misbah, whose sole
one-day loss came against
Sri Lanka last year. "England
are a good side, so we have
to play tough, hard cricket to
beat them."
The remaining matches
will be played in Abu Dhabi
(February 15) Dubai (Febru-
ary 18 and 21).
The teams will also play
three Twenty20 internation-
als in Dubai (February 23 and
25) and Abu Dhabi (February
Pakistan (from): Misbah-ul
Haq (capt), Younis Khan, Shahid
Afridi, Mohammed Hafeez, Imran
Farhat, Umar Akmal, Asad Shafiq,
Adnan Akmal, Umer Gul, Junaid
Khan, Aizaz Cheema, Saeed Ajmal,
Abdul Rehman, Wahab Riaz, Azhar
Ali, Hammad Azam, Shoaib Malik
England (from): Alastair Cook
(capt), James Anderson, Jonny
Bairstow, Ravi Bopara, Tim Bre-
snan, Danny Briggs, Stuart Broad,
Jade Dernbach, Steven Finn, Craig
Kieswetter, Eoin Morgan, Samit
Patel, Kevin Pietersen, Graeme
Swann, Jonathan Trott.
ADELAIDE Gautam Gam-
bhir's 92 at the top and some
smart batting by captain Ma-
hendra Singh Dhoni at the fin-
ish helped India chase down
a 270-run target against Aus-
tralia here yesterday for their
second win in the triangular
The visitors, needing 13
runs in the last over, reached
the mark with four wickets in
hand and two balls to spare,
aided by a huge straight six by
Dhoni who remained unbeaten
on 44 to see India through.
Clint McKay, the most suc-
cessful bowler for Australia
with three for 53, made it easi-
er for the Indians by bowling a
no-ball in the last over.
Gambhir, who was rested
against Sri Lanka in India's
last match, was drafted in for
Sachin Tendulkar yesterday as
part of India's rotation policy.
Left-handed Gambhir laid
the foundation for India, stitch-
ing together two 50-run stands
with fellow opener Virender
Sehwag (20) and later with
Rohit Sharma (33) for the third
Suresh Raina (30-ball 38)
and Dhoni then added 61 runs
for the fifth wicket before Rai-
na fell with India still needing
31 runs for victory.
Ravindra Jadeja also de-
parted soon but Dhoni, known
for his calm demeanour on the
field, stayed till the end to en-
sure there were no further hic-
Earlier, solid half centuries
from David Hussey (72) and
debutant Peter Forrest (66)
took Australia to 269 for eight
after captain Michael Clarke
opted to bat after winning the
toss. The hosts, who had won
both their earlier matches in
the tournament, lost open-
ers Ricky Ponting and David
Warner within the first 10
Clarke was also dismissed
trying to boost the run rate af-
ter making a brisk 38, which
reduced Australia to 81 for
three wickets. Forrest and
Hussey then added 98 runs
for the fourth wicket to lay a
solid foundation and Australia
looked set for a 300-plus score
from there.
But India pulled things
back with some tight bowling
and quick wickets in the last
10 overs to restrict Australia to
a smaller total.
All-rounder Daniel Chris-
tian's run out, one of the three
in the innings, in the 48th over
also robbed Australia of some
vital momentum in the closing
India play Sri Lanka at the
same venue in the fifth match
of the triangular series tomor-
D Warner run out .........................18
R Ponting c Kohli b V Kumar .......6
M Clarke b Yadav ........................38
P Forrest c V Kumar b Yadav ......66
D Hussey c Sehwag b Zaheer ......72
D Christian run out ......................39
M Wade b V Kumar .....................16
R Harris (not out) ...........................2
C McKay run out ...........................3
Extras: (lb-4, w-4, nb-1) ...............9
Total: (8 wkts, 50 overs) ...........269
Fall of wickets: 1-14, 2-53, 3-81,
4-179, 5-235, 6-254, 7-265, 8-269.
Bowling: Zaheer 10-0-46-1, V
Kumar 10-1-58-2 (nb-1, w-1), Jadeja
10-0-50-0 (w-1), Yadav 10-1-49-2
(w-1), Ashwin 8-0-47-0, Sharma
G Gambhir lbw McKay ...............92
V Sehwag c Hussey b Mckay ......20
V Kohli c Forrest b McKay .........18
R Sharma c Starc b Harris ...........33
S Raina b Doherty ........................38
M S Dhoni (not out) .....................44
R Jadeja c Ponting b Doherty ......12
R Ashwin (not out) .........................1
Extras: (lb-2, w-9, nb-1) .............12
Total: (6 wkts, 49.4 overs) ........270
Fall of wickets: 1-52, 2-90, 3-166,
4-178, 5-239, 6-257.
Bowling: Harris 10-0-57-1 (w-1),
Starc 8-0-49-0 (w-1), McKay 9.4-
1-53-3 (nb-1, w-2), Christian 10-
0-45-0, Hussey 3-0-13-0, Doherty
9-0-51-2 (w-2).
England bid to bury Test
form in ODIs vs Pakistan
Dhonis cool takes India home
cricket chiefs yesterday met
Sahara Group bosses yes-
terday in a bid to woo back
their disgruntled long-time
sponsor, amid speculation a
truce was on the cards.
Sahara had severed ties
with the Board of Control
for Cricket in India (BCCI)
on February 4 for what it
said was a 'one-sided emo-
tional relationship' with the
governing body.
Sahara is not only the na-
tional team's sponsor since
2000, but also owns the
Pune Warriors franchise in
the Indian Premier League
which the group had bought
last year for $370 million.
BCCI President
Narayanaswamy Srinivasan
met Sahara chief Subrata
Roy in Mumbai at a high-
level meeting yesterday
which was also attended by
senior officials from both
A joint-statement issued
after the 90-minute meeting
said 'all outstanding issues'
were discussed and the mat-
ter will now be taken up by
the BCCI's working commit-
tee in Chennai tomorrow.
"Sahara and the BCCI
met today and discussed
all outstanding issues,"
the statement read. "It was
agreed that the subject will
be further discussed in the
BCCI working committee
Local media have specu-
lated over the last few days
that Sahara may allow Pune
Warriors to rejoin the IPL for
the fifth edition of the glitzy
Twenty20 event starting on
April 4.
But reports said Sahara
are unlikely to continue the
sponsorship of the Indian
team, which was renewed
for a four-year term in 2010
for an estimated $115 mil-
Sahara's withdrawal was
sparked by the BCCI's re-
fusal to allow the $1.80 mil-
lion salary of cancer-stricken
Pune skipper Yuvraj Singh
to be added to the franchise's
$2 million cap for the IPL
auction in Bangalore on Feb-
ruary 4.
Indian cricket
chiefs attempts
to win back
angry sponsor
INDIAN players shake hands with the Australians as they celebrate their victory in a tri-series match in Adelaide yesterday. AFP
PAKISTAN captain Misbah-ul Haq (left) and England counterpart Alastair Cook hold
the ODI trophy at the Shaikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi yesterday. AFP
England bid to
bury Test form
in ODI series
Page 19
Lescott fires
City back
to the top
Page 18
By Sanjay Chakhaiyar
MUSCAT Come Tuesday and the
Tour of Oman will take the centrestage
with some of the worlds top cyclists,
who have already arrived here, will
go all out to clinch each stage of this
elite event, main sporting fixture of the
Muscat Festival.
Giving details of the route and the ar-
rangements for February 14-19 champi-
onship, Saif Bin Subaa al Rashidi, head
of the Tour of Oman Communications
Committee, said: We are delighted
to host the worlds elite cyclists once
again. The dedication and determination
shown by all the cyclists is an inspira-
tion for all of us. The Tour of Oman is
a fitting highlight to our annual Muscat
Al Rashidi also felt that the weather
during this time was also conducive for
holding such an event
The weather is fantastic and I am
sure the cyclists will enjoy every moment
of their stay in Oman, said Al Rashidi.
Legendary cyclist and five-time win-
ner of the Tour de France Eddy Merckx
said: With its magnificent roads that run
along the sea of Oman coast coupled with
the spectacular beauty of the countrys
steep terrain, the 2012 edition of the Tour
of Oman will offer the 128 riders both a
tough and varied route. With the line-up
that includes world champion Mark Cav-
endish, Fabian Cancellara, former world
champion Tom Boonen and Luxembourg
star Andy Shleck, the third edition prom-
ises to provide a fantastic show.
Pierre-Yves Thouault, Deputy Direc-
tor of Amaury Sport Organisation, said:
The Tour of Oman has already become
a major cycling race. People from all
around the world, in 180 different coun-
tries, will be able to follow this third edi-
tion on television and admire the beauties
of this beautiful country.
Nick Howes, the press officer of Sky
Pro Cycling team, said: Edvald Boas-
son Hagen of Norway, who stood second
overall during the Tour of Oman 2011
will not be participating this time.
Edvald is taking rest after participat-
ing in Maraca (Spain), said Howes.
But once again all eyes will be on Brit-
ish sprinter and UK Sports Personality of
the Year, Mark Cavendish, who recently
won two stages in the Tour of Qatar.
Mark is basically a sprinter and thus
performs exceedingly well on flat sur-
faces and hopefully will be winning some
stages here too, opined Howes.
But our team was relying on Cana-
das Michael Barry, who broke his elbow
during a crash at the end of stage four of
the Tour of Qatar last week. He is very
good climber and would have been use-
ful for the Sky Pro Cycling team espe-
cially during the fifth round of the race
on Saturday while climbing the Jabal al
Akhdhar (green mountain), elaborated
The Sky Pro Cycling team will be
represented by Mark Cavendish (GBR),
Luke Rowe (GBR, Chris Sutton (AUS),
Ian Stannard (GBR), Jeremy Hunt (GBR)
Mathew Hayman (AUS) and Bernhard
Eisec (AUT).
Route: Stage 1: Tuesday: Al Alam Pal-
ace-Wadi Al Huwqayn (159 km); Stage
2, Wednesday: Sur-Wadi Dayqah Dam
(140.5 km); Stage 3, Thursday: Al Awabi
(Al Alya)- Bank Muscat HQ (144.5 km);
Stage 4, Friday: Bidbid (Nafaa)-Al Wadi
al Kabir ; Stage 5, Saturday: Royal Opera
House-Jabal Al Akhdhar (158 km); Stage
6, Sunday: Al Khawd-Matrah Corniche
(130,5 km).
By Our Sports Reporter
MUSCAT With a number
of international matches lined
up, including two crucial com-
petitive ties that are likely to
change the status of Omani
football, and the scheduled ar-
rival English Premier League
Wigan Athletic as well as Indi-
an and Uzbekistan teams, the
Oman Football Association
(OFA) is gearing up for one of
the most exciting period in the
Sultanates soccer history.
Starting with the visit of
Ali al Habsis Wigan team,
the first ever trip to Oman
by a Premier League side, on
February 15 and until Oman-
Thailand World Cup qualifier
on February 29, it will be a
hectic period of activities for
the Sultanates soccer govern-
ing body.
And if the soccer chiefs are
to be believed the OFA is not
only geared up for the huge
challenge but are ready to help
the national teams achieve
historic results while trying to
make the best out of the situ-
ation, both commercially and
The OFA CEO and Gen-
eral Secretary Hazzaa al Saadi
said: This February is a big
month in Omani football his-
tory. I should say this month
is the most important time for
Omani football and the OFA,
even the fans.
Speaking to the local me-
dia about the busy scheduled
ahead of them, especially the
historic visit of Wigan, at the
OFA Headquarters in Seeb
yesterday, he said: The as-
sociation is ready for this
challenge of hosting a series
of matches, including the cru-
cial World Cup qualifier and
London Games qualifier. And
then we have this visit first
ever visit of English Premier
League teams visit to Oman.
This is truly an exciting
time for us and we believe that
history will be made during
this period. And on the field
we are keen to achieve good
Wigan, who arrive on Feb-
ruary 15, are scheduled to play
a friendly match against Oman
senior national team, compris-
ing mainly home-based play-
ers, on February 17. The na-
tional under-23 team will then
play their London Olympics
Group A qualifier against
South Korea on February 22.
The following day the
national team will face the
visiting Indians in a friendly
before their crucial and final
third-round Group D quali-
fier for the World Cup against
Thailand on February 29.
We have four big matches
coming up. Of course, the big-
gest match will be February 29
World Cup qualifier against
Thailand. We want our fans
to fill the stadiums and sup-
port our team, said Hazzaa al
Speaking about the Indian
teams visit, he said: We are
working closely with the In-
dian Embassy officials, who
have been very supportive. We
want the Indian expatriates to
turn up in big numbers for the
Giving the details of the
Wigan teams schedule, he
said: Wigan tie is the most
looked forward to match by
the Omani fans. Thanks to
Ali al Habsis exploits, there
is now a lot of following for
this English club in Oman and
the local fans are very keen to
watch Wigan and Ali al Habsi.
They will be arriving at
9.00 am on February 15 and
they will be based here for a
week, during which they will
train at Muscat Club. The
training session, on February
16 (from 4.45 pm), will be
open to public who can watch
Ali al Habsi training in Wigan
After the match on Febru-
ary 17, selected fans will get
an opportunity to take part in
a penalty shootout with Ali
al Habsi.
The interested fans can get
further details by visiting the
OFA website or their Facebook
page Oman National Football
Meanwhile, the OFAs
Commercial Manager Nic
Cartwright said: Wigans
visit is a good opportunity to
showcase the country.
Wigan are coming here
thanks to Ali al Habsi and the
relations between OFA and the
club. We hope this trip will
further strengthen the relations
between the two organisa-
tions, he added.
He also informed that the
general entry for the matches
is free but the OFA has special
offers for VIP seats, which
are priced at RO 50 each. The
corporate houses can buy bulk
tickets at special prices with
special facilities.
Tour of Oman from tomorrow
Cavendish cynosure as top riders descend on Oman
OFA set for big month of football
Fans urged to help national teams get historic results
OFA General-Secretary and CEO Hazzaa al Saadi (centre) speaks to the media during
a press conference at the OFA Headquarters in Seeb yesterday.
SAIF Subaa al Rashidi addresses the international media as cycling legend Eddy Merckx (right) looks on during
a press conference organised at the Barr Al Jissah yesterday. Picture by Mohammed Mahjoub
Monday, February 13, 2012
Omanoil signs with Port City
OMAN Oil Marketing Company has signed an agreement with
local community contractor, Port City Development, for the
establishment of a state-of-the-art forecourt located in Sohars
industrial area which will feature a filling station, ahlain conven-
ience store and quick service restaurants. Page 24
OPAL marks 10
years of success
Page 24
Al Hassan fetes 5m safe man hours
REAFFIRMING its commitment to Health, Safety, and
Environment (HSE), Al Hassan Engineering Co SAOG (AHEC)
recently celebrated its 5 million safe man hours at the Saih
Nihayada Depletion Compression (SNDC) project site of
Petroleum Development Oman . Page 22
FAW Iraq opened a new Gulf crude export
outlet in the southern oil hub of Basra yester-
day, clearing the way for Baghdad to increase
exports by around 300,000 barrels per day
soon after crude begins loading.
Loading at the Single Point Mooring or
SPM outlet for tankers in the Gulf, part of
Iraq's large-scale export facility expansion
plan, has already been delayed several times
by bad weather and technical hitches.
Oil will be pumped through offshore pipe-
lines in a last test procedure before tankers start
loading in a week to 10 days, the head of state-
run South Oil Company, Dhiya Jaffar, said at
an opening ceremony for the SPM.
"We expect that exports will increase not
less than 250,000 or 300,000 barrels per day,"
he said. "The plan is to have the first oil inside
the tanker within ten days."
If the project goes according to plan, ex-
ports from Iraq's southern oilfields will rise
to around 1.9 million bpd by March and bring
Iraq's total shipments to 2.3 million bpd, the
highest level since the 2003 invasion that oust-
ed Saddam Hussein. Iraqi officials have said
they are targeting 2.6 million bpd by May for
total exports.
That will require monthly increase of
100,000 bpd in the south through mid-year
when maximum rates of 2.2 million bpd are
reached and exports from Iraq's north steady
at 400,000 bpd.
The Opec member has a $1.3 billion plan to
expand its export facilities in the south, includ-
ing two undersea pipelines, one offshore pipe-
line and four single-point mooring terminals.
Another SPM could be ready in three to
four months, Jaffar said.
Iraq's infrastructure is outdated and lacks the
capacity to handle increasing output from for-
eign companies such as Shell , Exxon and BP,
who signed massive development contracts for
its Rumaila, West Qurna-1 and Zubair oilfields.
Bringing three SPMs online by the end of the
year would expand Iraq's export capacity in the
Gulf by 2.7 million bpd, more than double Bas-
ra's current capacity. Its current Gulf terminals
can handle around 1.7 million bpd. Reuters
Iraq opens new crude export outlet
By Conrad Prabhu
MUSCAT Korean con-
struction giant Hyundai En-
gineering & Construction has
pledged to deploy its formida-
ble resources and capabilities
in ensuring the timely imple-
mentation of the Musandam
Gas Plant project an invest-
ment of vital importance to
the governorates long-term
economic and social develop-
Oman Oil Company Ex-
ploration and Production
(OOCEP), the upstream sub-
sidiary of the government
owned energy investment
firm Oman Oil Company, is
ploughing around $600 mil-
lion in the development of the
integrated oil and gas process-
ing scheme.
As the first major energy
infrastructure development
in the Musandam Governo-
rate, the project will catalyse
economic growth in this stra-
tegically important Omani en-
clave overlooking the Strait of
Besides, gas volumes pro-
duced by the facility will not
only provide energy feedstock
for the governorates first gas-
based power plant, but also
potentially spur investments
in industrial projects as well.
As it approaches the 12-
month milestone in a three-
year timeframe stipulated by
OOCEP for the completion
of the project, Hyundai as
the engineering-procurement-
construction (EPC) contractor,
has vowed to bring its consid-
erable expertise to bear on the
expeditious execution of the
February 15 marks one year
since construction work began
in earnest on the project. Plant
commissioning and perform-
ance testing is slated to com-
mence from September 2013.
The project itself is scheduled
to be handed over to OOCEP
on February 15, 2014.
The task before Hyundai,
or for that matter any contrac-
tor operating in Musandam, is
daunting, given especially the
remote and extremely rugged
topography of this mountain-
ous region. Lack of suitable
maritime-based and inland
transport infrastructure also
complicates matters on the
logistics front. And further
compounding the challenge
before Hyundai is the limited
area of the project site at Tibat,
sandwiched between towering
mountains on one side and the
open sea on the other.
But according to a senior
project official, the contrac-
tors longstanding experi-
ence in executing technically
complex plants in challeng-
ing environments, will stand
Hyundai in good stead in
meeting its project commit-
Over the past 34 years,
we have led change and in-
novation in the engineering
construction field. Our deep
and lengthy experience in in-
dustrial plant construction is
our unique capability, the of-
ficial stated in remarks to the
Rock excavation consti-
tutes a sizeable and expen-
sive component of Hyundais
construction brief. Adjoining
hills overlooking the project
site will have to be cleared to
make way for the Musandam
Gas Plant a task that must be
completed within 12 months.
At the same time, suitable
spots must be readied in the
proximity of the project for
the storage of equipment and
the facilitation of fabrication
Given the challenging
timeframe for the completion
of the project, Hyundai has
mobilized an army of work-
ers whose numbers will rise
to 2,200 employees when con-
struction peaks during 2013.
As part of its brief,
Hyundai will build an inte-
grated processing plant with
a capacity to treat 45 million
standard cubic feet per day of
gas and 20,000 barrels per day
of crude oil.
Single point mooring fa-
cilities and crude export pipe-
lines are also included in the
project scope. Additionally,
the plant will yield 52 tons per
day of sulphur and 80 tons per
day of LPG. Worley Parsons
are Project Management Con-
The Musandam Gas Plant
represents Hyundais first ma-
jor energy infrastructure re-
lated contract in the Sultanate.
In the Gulf region, Hyundai
has successfully executed a
number of large-scale ventures
including the Dow-Pic Olefin
2 project (Kuwait), KNPC
berth 5/6 expansion (Kuwait),
Khrais Central Processing
Plant (S Arabia), Pearl GTL-
LPU project (Qatar), Ethane
Recovery Plant (Kuwait) and
AAC Ethylene-amines project
(Saudi Arabia).
Other schemes currently
under implementation are the
Habshan-5 Utilities and Off-
shore project (S Arabia), Ka-
ran Gas Facilities (S Arabia),
and Group III Base Oil Pro-
duction Facilities (UAE).
Hyundai well geared
for Musandam Gas
Plant execution
By A Staff Reporter
MUSCAT Al Omaniya
Financial Services, the Sul-
tanates largest non-banking
financial company (NBFC),
declared its audited results for
the year 2011 showing a Net
Profit of RO 4.831 million for
the year ended December 31,
2011, an increase of 16.94 per
cent over the previous year.
The total revenues of the
company stood at RO 14.436
million. The company has
provided RO 1970K as provi-
sion for doubtful debts. The
cumulative provisions stand at
RO 6.023 million. The Earn-
ings per Share is RO 0.031,
the highest in the industry. For
regulatory limits, the net worth
of the company stands at RO
45.465 million.
On the basis of its good
performance, the Board has
recommended a dividend of
25 per cent comprising 20 per
cent cash and 5 per cent stock
dividend on the paid-up capi-
tal for the year 2011. This is
subject to the approval of the
CBO and the AGM.
Aftab Patel (pictured),
CEO, in his comments stated
that the company has main-
tained its track record of pay-
ing uninterrupted dividend
since its inception and the
cumulative percentage of
dividend paid so far is 278
per cent. The cash dividend is
highest amongst all NBFCs in
The book value of the share
is RO 0.226 the highest in the
industry. The company has a
well diversified portfolio of as-
sets with the lowest NPA ratio
in the industry. The company
focuses to strengthen its posi-
tion as a specialised financial
institution to meet the corpo-
rate needs besides continuing
the retail and micro finance
business. The company has
been posting higher earnings
and profitability over the years
and has been a consistent divi-
dend payer since inception.
On most of the parameters,
the company stands at pole po-
sition viz. number one in Asset
size, highest net worth, highest
market capitalisation, highest
profit, highest EPS, highest
profit per employee and low-
est non-performing loans and
largest market capitalisation
on the MSM in the sector.
Al Omaniya Financial 2011 net jumps 16.94pc
SCHEMATIC diagram of the Musandam Gas Plant project.
E have, over the
last two weeks,
analysed the dif-
ferent provisions of the Exec-
utive Regulations (ERs) cov-
ering, amongst other things,
rules for deducting expenses
(including thin capitalisa-
tion rules, allowance for bad
debts, contribution to pension
and provident funds, dona-
tions, remuneration to owners
and directors of companies
and Head Office expenses),
tax treatment of finance lease,
exemption to small business-
es from tax compliance, tax
exemptions and their renew-
als and regulations governing
tax assessments and payment
and collection of taxes.
In the history of Oman
taxation (taxes were first
introduced in 1971), this is
the first time that the tax law
has been accompanying ERs
covering many aspects of tax
compliance. This is a step in
the right direction as, in the
past, tax payers struggled to
obtain and track the rules to
be complied with in filing tax
returns as there were many
ministerial decisions issued
from time to time which were
not consolidated.
Of particular importance,
is the regulation granting ex-
emption to small businesses
from filing tax payers data,
returns and financial state-
ments. The objective is to
save small businesses from
the rigours of tax compliance.
It is also intended to allow the
tax authorities to focus on the
larger tax payers. In this re-
spect, there is also a proposal
to set up within the Secre-
tariat General for Taxation
a large tax payer unit which
will comprise more senior tax
officials dealing solely with
the larger tax payers. Hope-
fully, these moves will help
in better tax administration
and also facilitate a reduction
in the backlog of tax assess-
ments which currently exist.
The tax returns which are
now required to be completed
in different forms depending
on the type of tax payer, re-
quire extensive disclosures,
again intended to reduce the
questions that may arise dur-
ing the assessment process.
Tax payers should, therefore,
undertake the exercise of
completing tax returns with
due diligence.
In this respect, it is im-
portant to note that the obli-
gation to ensure that returns
are completed accurately and
properly rests with the Princi-
pal Officer. The tax law also
defines who the principal of-
ficer should be for different
types of companies.
Another encouraging
trend is the acceptance for tax
purposes of the accounting
treatment prescribed by In-
ternational Financial Report-
ing Standards (IFRS) as can
be seen from the ERs deal-
ing with treatment of finance
Another trend which is vis-
ible from the ERs is that the
government wants to reduce
the cases which qualify for
renewal of tax exemptions.
These are intended only to
companies which, even after
the expiry of the first five
years of exemption, do not
generate sufficient profits.
Finally, the ERs dem-
onstrate a desire to help tax
payers who face genuine fi-
nancial difficulties by provid-
ing the possibility of paying
taxes in instalments and also
providing for waiver of ad-
ditional tax (interest) on de-
layed payment of taxes.
We have, with this article,
concluded our analysis of the
new tax regulations. KPMG
will also be organising a sem-
inar tomorrow on the ERs,
attendance to which is by in-
(The writer is the Partner
and Head of Tax at
KPMG Oman)
New income tax regulations
Implications of the new tax
executive regulations
By Ashok Hariharan
Toyota Zelas exhilarating everyone
MUSCAT Since the launch of the brand new Zelas in Oman, sports coupe buyers
have been truly exhilarated.
The Brand New Zelas is indeed unparalleled in many ways...To quote a proud own-
er, The sleek new interior is functional and contemporary, while the plush seats along
with responsive steering and gear shift enhance driving comfort to a whole new level.
The suspension can take on the bends and curves with confidence. Personally, I get
the feeling that Toyota's highly trained and quality conscious team has worked hard to
ensure that the classic brand values of Quality, Dependability and Reliability have been
further enhanced in the brand new Zelas sports coupe.
Zelas is powered by a 178 horsepower, 2.5-litre four-cylinder DVVT-i (Dual Vari-
able Valve Timing with intelligence) engine. This power-plant is equipped with Roller
Rocker Arms and a Variable-induction Intake Manifold System that supply greater
torque on demand, thereby enhancing performance...belting-out a commanding per-
formance. Its road-holding characteristics are amazing, making the ride feel sure and
stable. Premium styling and top-class features further add to its appeal.
The Zelas' six-speed automatic transmission boasts of sequential shifting, providing
an additional fun-to-drive element. As a result, the Zelas has quicker acceleration and
highest fuel economy in its segment.
Zelas offers electric power-steering system that contributes to increased fuel ef-
ficiency. Riding on an enhanced McPherson strut front-suspension and a double-
wishbone rear-suspension, it offers the driver a sporty ride that is both nimble and
Giving Zelas a broader stance and elevated handling characteristics are the 17-inch
aluminium-alloy wheels wrapped in wider tyres. Disc brakes on all corners are stand-
Inspired by the design of the famous racing helmet called Calty, Zelas has a bold,
aggressive stance. One of its unique design features is the sleek cabin shape the
wrap-around window graphics adding to its sporty profile.
The sleek front grille, aero bumper spoiler and projector type headlamps are com-
plemented by protruding fender flares, which amplify its wider, lower stance. The front
interlocks with the dynamic, muscular rear fenders. The shape of the rear tail lights
flows cleanly into the overall shape of the trunk with a wing type rear spoiler, finalising
the iconic and purposeful nature of the design.
The sporty design of the new Zelas carries over to the interior with a look and feel
that is sophisticated, sporty and functional. The front cabin design provides a driver-
centred cockpit with spaciousness and freedom for the front passenger.
A tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel features a unique flat bottom D shape that
provides additional thigh room. Dual illuminated combination meters for the speed-
ometer and tachometer have a three-dimensional appearance with large meters and
needle indicators for good visibility. The trip meters also include gauges for outside
temperature, average fuel economy, and an ECO-drive indicator helping maximiae
fuel efficiency.
Among the many interior comfort features are the driver and front passenger bucket
seats and rear passenger seats, which are upholstered with premium leather. Added
comfort is offered by thicker seats with firmer seat bolsters, while the driver seat is six-
way adjustable. Entry and exit for rear passengers is made easy with a walk-in lever
located at shoulder level on the front seats. For added comfort and utility, the rear seats
are 60:40 split and recline up to 10 degrees.
Staying true to Toyotas tradition, the new Zelas has abundant storage space. Ad-
ditional driver and passenger comforts include four bottle holders, a large console box
that can hold up to 18 CDs, four cup holders, a flat storage area in front of the console,
an assist grip handle, sun visors with vanity mirrors and a map light.
The Zelas features a powerful standard audio system with a total of 300-watts
feeding the eight-speaker sound package. With an emphasis on amazing sound quality,
the Zelas stereo system shares some speaker components with the Lexus LX 570, and
features mid-range and woofer speakers that are superior in quality and performance.
The Zelas comes with a radio AM/FM/MP3/6-CD changer. The 160-watt Pana-
sonic head unit powers the tweeters, mid-range and full-range speakers, while a sepa-
rate 74-watt, two-channel amplifier is designed to drive power to the 6x9-inch door-
mounted woofers.
The Zelas has 10 Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) airbags which include driv-
er and front passenger, driver and front passenger seat-mounted side, driver knee, and
front and rear seat side curtain airbags.
Zelas comes standard with anti-lock brakes (ABS) and electronic brake-force dis-
tribution (EBD). Additional standard equipment in the Zelas includes vehicle stability
control (VSC), traction control (TRC), brake assist (BA), and a brake override system.
The Zelas will also feature a button that allows the driver to turn off the VSC feature.
Additional safety features include newly adopted active front headrests.
This outstanding performer comes from Toyota, Oman's most coveted brand. Toy-
ota offers enduring quality and nothing comes close to it in terms of value-retention. It
is no surprise; therefore, that Toyota soars far above the rest, with a dominant market
share and ever-expanding customer base.
The unmatched, nationwide parts and service support of Saud Bahwan Group
makes Toyota's pride of place a reality. Toyota customers in Oman enjoy 6-year unlim-
ited mileage protection, over 98 per cent parts availability and round-the-clock care,
among many other exclusive privileges from the Group.
Ahlibank backs Oman Environment Day
KEEPING up with the banks Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative, Ahl-
ibank recently supported Oman Environment Day celebration by signing up as silver
sponsor of the event. This sponsorship is yet another commitment from the bank sup-
porting activities that raise awareness of local and global issues.
Our support of this years World Environment Day is another indicator of our
commitment to the future and well-being of our country. World Environment Day is a
day for people from all walks of life to come together to ensure a cleaner, greener and
brighter outlook for themselves and future generations. The bank strongly believes in
the importance of supporting environmental initiatives that have a direct impact on the
community and this has been showcased in our CSR calendar for 2012. We encourage
organisations as well as individuals to participate in such eco-friendly causes, helping
to raise the level of awareness amongst the society, commented the CEO, Abdul Aziz
al Balushi.
The celebration, which falls on January 8 every year, comes in response to the
directives of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos to protect the Omani environment and nature
resources. Environment protection represents a strategic reserve for the sustainable
development plans which cover all aspects of life.
ahlibank continues to demonstrate its leadership and social responsibility
amongst the Omani social fabric through its commitment to support a wide range
of activities and initiatives that contribute to the development of the society, Al
Balushi further added.
Mazda organises Valentines roadshow
IT is that time of the year again where Mazda kicks off its enthralling, fun for all road-
show spell. Specially designed in keeping with the Valentines season, the first wave of
the Mazda roadshows has already begun at the Safeer Hypermarket, and has received
a good response from automobile enthusiasts around the capital.
Maintaining a brands equity takes a lot of effort and creative thinking in order
to be able to stand out. This belief is what we translate into our innovative branding
and marketing strategies. A calendar event for us, the aim of our roadshows is to com-
municate the essence of the Mazda brand in a high-energy setting. Apart from taking
Mazda vehicles to the people, roadshows give us an opportunity to interact with our
patrons, as well as provide them with unbeatable offers, avers Annurag Chawla, Head
of Marketing and Communications, Towell Auto Centre, sole distributors of Mazda in
the Sultanate.
The entire sporty range of Mazda cars were on display at the event. Big screens
playing the Mazda brand videos, special displays of the Mazda2, and the presence
of trained sales staff and promoters who gave out Mazda related information and an-
swered customer queries made the roadshow a fun, interactive experience.
Through innovative media choices, opening of new branches and service centres,
and the application of unique marketing and promotional techniques Mazda is success-
fully taking its dynamic image to every corner of Oman. Events of this regard reinstate
their constant tryst to keep getting closer to their customers and highlights their com-
mitment in raising brand awareness for their entire range of cars across the Sultanate.
Swarovski offer for Valentines Day
THE romance is blos-
soming and the weath-
er is artful. Love is in
the air and you can
feel it everywhere.
This Valentines Day
Swarovski offers the
perfect gift for the
ones hit by Cupids ar-
row. You now have an
ideal way to express
your inner emotions
and warm thoughts
by choosing from a
wide collection of
exquisitely designed
crystal jewellery from
In honour of Valen-
tines Day, Swarovski
Oman is bringing to
you a stunning selec-
tion of Swing, Sing
and Shine, Spring/
Summer 2012 collec-
tion. The collection
is a tribute to vintage
styling and an ode to the lights, camera and action of the entertainment world a topic
that has been intrinsically linked to the company for many decades. As the chilly winter
draws to an end, welcome spring with the brightness, warmth and happy colours.
Rohit Shah, General Manager, Khimjis Luxury and Lifestyle Stores says, There
has never been a perfect time to gift a Swarovski. We are creating another path for
you to express to your love. Mesmerise your partner with the sparkling treasures
from Swarovski. Avail the special Muscat Festival offer; get up-to 50 per cent off on
Swarovski products only at Khimjis Luxury and Lifestyle Outlets in Oman.
Swing, Sing and Shine Swarovski collection tells a story of a versatile young lady
who is growing from an ambitious student into a glamorous leading lady ready for the
spotlight; the tale comes to life with modern and vintage styling, in soft pastel colours,
spherical and floral references, which is a nod to the golden era of the 60s. Swarovski
didnt forget the men either with offerings that include cuff links, pendants/charms,
bracelets and necklaces.
By A Staff Reporter
MUSCAT Reaffirming its
commitment to Health, Safety
and Environment (HSE), Al
Hassan Engineering Co SAOG
(AHEC) recently celebrated
its 5 million safe man hours at
the Saih Nihayada Depletion
Compression (SNDC) project
site of Petroleum Develop-
ment Oman (PDO).
The function was graced
by Abla al Riyami, Gas Direc-
tor PDO, Said al Maktoomi,
Contract Holder PDO, K
S Jung, Site Manager GS
EandC and the AHEC team
was led by Hassan bin Ali Sal-
man, Chairman-AHEC
Abla al Riyami congratu-
lated AHEC on achieving this
milestone and emphasised the
ongoing need for developing
HSE as part of work culture.
Later, Al Riyami also present-
ed Safety Excellence Award to
Hassan bin Ali Salman.
Commenting on the
achievement, Hassan bin Ali
Salman, said: "I distinctly re-
call that I had the privilege to
attend the Safety Ceremony at
the beginning of this project
on November 8, 2010 wherein
the entire site management
had taken a solemn pledge
for the safe completion of this
He added: I am very
pleased to note that the SNDC
team is continuing to strictly
adhere to its commitments on
safety, which is of paramount
importance to Al Hassan, as
our motto is Safety Comes
First. I am very happy to see
that today we are celebrating
the completion of 5 million
safe working man-hours in
this project, for which Al Has-
san has contributed more than
3.7 million man-hours and has
safely driven 2.7 million kilo-
This achievement would
not have been possible without
your collective responsiveness
and positive attitude towards
Al Hassan Engineering Co
SAOG (AHEC) is commit-
ted to maintaining the highest
priority to Health, Safety and
Environment (HSE) so as to
protect and keep safe its em-
ployees and the work place
as well as to strive to achieve
world-class standards in HSE
on a continuous basis.
Keeping this in mind,
AHEC has executed a number
of projects in oil and gas, pet-
rochemicals, power and water
sectors without any lost time
incidents (LTIs).
Al Hassan completes 5m safe
man hours at SNDC project
By A Staff Reporter
MUSCATKhimjis Build-
ing Materials Division has
added to its product portfo-
lio, two brands in Bathroom
technology FRANKE from
Switzerland and TECE from
TECE is a German supplier
of building service applica-
tions such as pipe systems,
concealed flushing technol-
ogy, drainage technology and
grease separators. TECE pro-
duces diffusion-free plastic
pipes for underfloor heating
and its areas of competence
encompass curtain wall, pip-
ing and cistern technology, as
well as drainage technology
and stainless steel processing.
Holger Ruf, Head of Sales
and Marketing at TECE Mid-
dle East, said, We are very
confident that this strategic
partnership will end up in
satisfied clients and positive
FRANKE provides solu-
tions in public and semi-public
sanitary facilities and offers a
range of systems with com-
ponents for various areas of
application like water control
and water management, water
disinfection, hospital equip-
ment, commercial sinks and
Reiterating their strong
connection with the Khimji
Ramdas Group, Michael Ren-
ninger, Head of Sales-Middle
East, FRANKE, said We be-
lieve this is the right time for
such a strategic partnership
to be established as there are
some very interesting large-
scale infrastructure develop-
ments happening in Oman and
we look forward to be part of
Hritik Khimji, Director,
Khimji Ramdas along with
N S Vijaya Kumar, CEO In-
frastructure Group, Khimji
Ramdas, Ranjit Ravindran
Pulparambath, Sr Asst Di-
visional Manager, Building
Materials Division, Khimji
Ramdas along with Karnakar
Sanagonda, Head of Sanitary-
ware, Building Materials Di-
vision, Khimji Ramdas were
present during the event.
Vijaya Kumar said, KR
Building Materials Division
has been serving the growing
needs of the industry for over
35 years. This partnership will
further strengthen our com-
mitment to meet the growing
infrastructure requirements in
the country specific to Wash-
room Technology both
residential and commercial.
Functionality, innovation and
reliability of both the brands
have encouraged us to bring
these product lines to Oman.
KR Building Materials launches new bathroom brands
By A Staff Reporter
MUSCAT Businesses need
to work harder to spread re-
sponsibility for risk manage-
ment across the whole or-
ganisation, according to a new
report from ACCA (the Asso-
ciation of Chartered Certified
Accountants). The survey of
over 2,000 ACCA members
found accountants at the busi-
ness coal-face have a vital role
to play in successful risk man-
agement, and that they stand
ready to do more.
The survey also found a
statistical link between the
use of accounting practices
that contribute to managing
risk and lower occurrences of
dysfunctional behaviour. The
survey also found differences
in the perception of a compa-
nys exposure to risk between
those at board level and those
accountants working below
board level.
Risk happens at all levels
of business, says Mohammed
Sajid Khan, Country Manager
ACCA Oman. It doesnt
sit in silos. Risk management
needs to be something that is
undertaken by everyone in an
organisation so it is fully inte-
The survey shows that ac-
countants have an excellent
grasp of the risks faced by
their organisation and the steps
needed to manage those risks.
The survey also shows clear
support amongst accountants
for challenging senior people
as being part of good business
culture. Accounting is really
about providing information
to help make good decisions,
and good decisions mean less
risk. The accountants day-to-
day role is all about manag-
ing risk, even if people dont
think about what they do in
that way.
The results are both en-
couraging, in terms of what
accountants do and would
do more of, and frightening
in terms of the extent of dys-
functional revealed. There is a
big problem to be addressed.
Businesses need to make sure
they use the risk awareness
and risk management skills
of their qualified accountants,
and not miss an opportunity to
effectively integrate risk man-
The value of account-
ants contributions can be
lost through their misuse.
Accountants in the survey
reported very high levels of
bad behaviour around risk
management. Examples in-
clude frequent gaming of
forecasts, providing optimis-
tic versions to avoid criticism
or pessimistic ones to reduce
expectations. Only 1 per cent
of respondents reported never
seeing any of the bad behav-
iours asked about in the sur-
vey at their organisation.
However, the survey did
find a statistical link between
the use of good risk manage-
ment practices by accountants
and incidences of dysfunc-
tional behaviour: more good
practices correspond with less
dysfunctional behaviour.
Types of good practice
include aspects of manage-
ment accounting, forecasting,
reporting and quality controls,
decision support and controls
over wrongful behaviour. Ac-
countants who thought dys-
functional behaviours most
widespread most wanted to
make more use of the good
Some of the highest scores
for good practices were from
small organisations. Their
stereotype as unsophisticated
is perhaps an oversimplifica-
The survey also found that
those in more junior roles are
more aware of both risks and
bad behaviour than their
board-level colleagues.
Non-execs were more
likely than anyone else to
identify personality factors
such as planned dishonesty
or the opportunistic abuse of
power as causes of prob-
lems rather than more control-
lable factors, such as financial
pressure on an organisation,
explains Khan.
They were also much
more optimistic about the
frequency of bad behaviour
than anyone else, and were
more enthusiastic about man-
agement tools that the survey
shows to have debatable ef-
fectiveness, such as budgetary
It may be because senior
levels are less involved in the
day-to-day running of the or-
ganisation, or because theyre
taking a broader view of the
business. It might be that the
way information is reported to
them needs to be improved.
The survey findings have
been used by ACCA to de-
velop an online risk health-
check for businesses. Using
this resource, businesses can
compare themselves to the
practices and experiences of
businesses from the survey,
and identify areas for im-
Businesses need to re-think
risk, says ACCA report
Accounting is really about providing
information to help make good decisions,
and good decisions mean less risk. The
accountants day-to-day role is all about
managing risk, even if people dont think
about what they do in that way
HE Greek bailout pack-
age that should have
been put in place by
now continues to attract atten-
tion across financial markets.
All week the talk about an im-
minent agreement helped sup-
port stocks and drove the dol-
lar to the lowest level in two
months, before the sentiment
turned late on Thursday af-
ter Eurogroup sent the Greek
delegation back to Athens de-
manding additional cuts and
reassurances, something that
looks increasingly unlikely to
Commodities had a mixed
week, with energy prices get-
ting lifted by the extreme cold
weather across Europe and
improved economic outlook
while agriculture commodities
saw some light selling. The
DJ-UBS index, which com-
prises 20 major commodities,
fell 0.3 per cent over the last
week and is currently up 3.2
per cent year to date.
Gold looking for the
next theme
The strong rally in precious
metals during January seems
to have run out of steam, at
least for now and further con-
solidation is needed before the
eventual push higher. Even an
11 per cent cut in margin for
holding gold on the COMEX
futures exchange failed to
lift sentiment. Investments
through exchange traded
funds, which is viewed as
long-term holdings, have risen
by 40 tonnes from a recent
low to a near record of 2,388
tonnes while hedge funds
have been slow in rebuilding
speculative longs.
Technically gold found
support at $1,710 but the sub-
sequent rally ran out of steam
ahead of the recent high with
sellers emerging around the
$1,750 level. The steep up-
trend from December 30 has
been broken signalling con-
solidation and the likely test of
support in the 1670-80 area.
Platinum discount
to gold fading
Platinum has outperformed
gold by 8 per cent since the
beginning of the year and this
week moved closer to price
parity. After historically hav-
ing traded around a 25 per cent
premium over gold, platinum
in early January dropped to a
discount of 15 per cent before
recovering to the current dis-
count of 4.5 per cent. Being an
important industrial commod-
ity primarily used in automo-
bile production, platinum has
been finding support from the
recent improvement in eco-
nomic activity combined with
supply disruptions in South
Africa, the largest producing
country. A prolonged strike
and subsequent loss of pro-
duction would help reduce the
surplus of platinum thereby
supporting the price.
Brent outperforms
WTI crude
Brent crude hit a six-month
high this week and came close
to $120 per barrel, above
which fundamentals are likely
to weaken further and eventu-
ally trigger demand destruc-
tion just like we saw during
the middle of last year. The
drivers of the price of Brent
crude, the benchmark for
global oil transactions, are
elevated winter demand in
Europe, Iranian embargo be-
ginning to be felt with Asian
refiners looking for alterna-
tives to Iranian crude oil and a
general stronger than expected
demand from emerging econ-
omies. This tight supply-de-
mand balance has caused the
price of Brent crude for im-
mediate delivery to rise above
future prices, a situation called
Technically Brent crude
should be finding some
tough resistance ahead of
$120 per barrel, especially
after having rallied $10 since
January. Some consolidation
now seems in order with the
month-long trading range be-
tween $105 and $115 having
been moved $5 higher. Initial
support for the week ahead
will therefore be centred on
Meanwhile WTI crude, the
US land-based variety, contin-
ues to trade at a deep discount
to Brent crude as deliveries
into the US Midwest contin-
ues to rise. This is because
strong Canadian production
has no other place to go other
than Cushing, Oklahoma, the
storage and pipeline hub for
crude oil in America. This
week WTI crude recovered
back towards $100 per barrel
but most likely only due to the
fact that Brent crude pulled
it higher as it reached a six
month high.
UN FAO food price
index rise
Agriculture prices gener-
ally moved higher recently
and this was reflected in the
UN FAO Food Price Index
for January. The index, which
measures the monthly change
in international prices of 55
food commodities, rebounded.
A US government report
on the global supply and de-
mand outlook for wheat, corn
and soybeans were gener-
ally benign, with the impact
of adverse weather in South
America and Eastern Europe
not being worse than already
expected. Wheat prices fell
and headed for its first weekly
drop after the report predicted
that world supplies would
climb to a record. Profit-taking
in corn and soybeans also was
also seen after the strong rally
seen this past month. Further
cuts to South American corn
and soybean crop estimates
however are expected after
high temperatures and dryness
caused irreversible damage to
crops across the region. This
should provide both crops
with support should the prices
fall on further position adjust-
(The writer is a Senior
Commodity Strategist
at Saxo Bank)
Energy benefits from cold,
gold waiting for next theme
By Ole S Hansen
TEL: 24601003, 24600586 FAX: 24600736
retail giant Amazon has made
its first foray into India with
launch of a shopping website,, as it tests the
waters for a possible full entry
into the nation's e-commerce
India's e-commerce busi-
ness is set to boom as incomes
and consumer demand climb
in a country of 1.2 billion peo-
ple with a steadily ballooning
middle class, analysts say.
Amazon's move, an-
nounced late last week, "is to
get an insight into the Indian
market," Asheesh Raina, a
principal research analyst at
global consultancy Gartner,
"This market could be a
game-changer for Amazon
these e-commerce retailers
survive on volume. India with
its large number of people
could be a huge opportunity,"
he said.
Junglee, which means
"wild" in Hindi, is a modified
version of the world's top on-
line retailer's shopping portal,
allowing customers to search
for different products and
compare prices.
It will offer over 12 mil-
lion products from more than
14,000 Indian and global
brands -- but buyers must
make their purchases through
a network of third-party sup-
pliers either by ordering online
or visiting them in person.
The set-up allows Ama-
zon's Indian website to side-
step government rules for-
bidding foreign multi-brand
retailers from operating in In-
dia as it only directs shoppers
to sites rather than selling the
products directly.
"It's a clever way of getting
into the Indian market that
works with the rules," Saloni
Nangia, president of Indian
research consultancy Techn-
opak, said.
The government announced
last month it would allow for-
eign multi-brand retailers such
as supermarkets into India but
then did a U-turn over fears the
move would hit small family-
run stores that dominate the
retail landscape.
Analysts say they believe
the government still wants to
ease regulations to let in mul-
ti-brand players but cannot say
when it will happen.
Amazon, which has opera-
tions in neighbouring China,
is aiming to give customers "a
single online starting point", vice president
Amit Agarwal said last Thurs-
"They can shop a wide
selection of products sold by
local and global retailers and
make informed purchasing de-
cisions," Agarwal said.
The company did not reply
to repeated requests by AFP
for comment on its next step
in India.
Gartner's Raina said the
move was a "low-cost way
for Amazon to find out what
the Indian market is about
build brand loyalty and
hopefully when the retail reg-
ulations loosen in India take
their customers with them".
The launch of Junglee
comes after Amazon said last
month it was setting up its
first warehouses, known in its
corporate parlance as "fulfil-
ment centres", in India. The
warehouses allow Amazon to
store products and ship them
swiftly. Some of Amazon's
biggest competition in India
will come from e-commerce
portal, set up
in 2007 by two ex-Amazon
employees and based in the
southern city of Bangalore,
that sells a range of goods
from books to television sets,
analysts say. AFP
Online retailer Amazon
tests waters in India
By A Staff Reporter
MUSCAT Oman Oil Mar-
keting Company (omanoil)
has signed an agreement with
local community contractor,
Port City Development (PCD),
for the establishment of a state-
of-the-art forecourt located in
Sohars industrial area which
will feature a filling station,
ahlain convenience store and
quick service restaurants to
serve a perpetually growing
demand. omanoils strategised
retail network is matching the
countrys aspiring economic
development for a sustain-
able future while providing its
customers throughout the Sul-
tanate with excellent products
and services.
The newest addition to
our growing retail network
realises our commitment to
the nation and its people by
enriching projects that fulfil
His Majestys Vision 2020. By
aligning and assimilating the
nations ambitions with our
own, we are pursuing parallel
paths of progress and contrib-
uting to the nations economic
and social advancement, said
Hussain bin Jama al Ishaqi,
omanoil Retail General Man-
ager. We will harness our
strategic location in Sohars
flourishing port and meet
customer demands for quality
products and innovative serv-
ices through our philosophy of
convenient one-stop-shopping
The first-rate infrastruc-
ture of Sohars Industrial Port
and advantageous geographic
location is driving Omans
vision for economic diversi-
fication. The port is a project
inspiring an internationally
recognised and robust Omani
economy that is transforming
the Al Batinah Governorate
into the countrys industrial
and economic powerhouse.
omanoils forecourts are
built to the highest industry
specifications for construction
and HSSE, ensuring efficient
and cost-effective construction
of quality design and resulting
in a premier standard of fin-
ish. The pioneering fuel and
lubricants marketing company
is considered a leader in in-
stitutionalising concrete hard
stands around pump islands
and in implementing non-
metallic double-skin pipes, in
addition to double-skin retail
underground tanks with leak
detection system in all fill-
ing stations as a preventative
measure against pollution.
omanoil encompasses a
growing network of 132 fill-
ing stations and 74 ahlain con-
venience stores across the Sul-
tanate. The company remains
committed to empowering
customers with greater choice
of quality-integrated products
and services, with convenience
stores operating 24 hours that
feature on-site ATM machines
and QSRs that include some of
the worlds most iconic names
such as Burger King, Dunkin
Donuts and Baskin Robbins.
Omanoil signs deal with PCD for new
filling station in Sohars industrial zone
By A Staff Reporter
MUSCAT Offering a once
in a lifetime chance to experi-
ence the electrifying live action
of the 2012 London Olympics,
BankMuscat in association
with Visa has launched a cam-
paign offering an opportunity
to existing and new cardhold-
ers to win two packages to
witness the worlds biggest
sporting event.
The Go London cam-
paign is part of efforts to pro-
vide value-added services for
BankMuscat cardholders. The
campaign entitles BankMuscat
Visa debit and credit cardhold-
ers to pay with their cards in
Oman or abroad and earn
chances to enter a draw to win
two packages offered to wit-
ness the London 2012 Olym-
pic Games.
The mechanism for the draw
is that for every BankMuscat
Visa card transaction, custom-
ers have a chance to win the
Olympics package. Each trans-
action is equal to one chance,
thus the more the card is used,
the better the chances to win.
The promotion is valid till
March 5, 2012. The fully paid
package to London Olympics
includes return economy class
air tickets for two to London,
hotel accommodation and
tickets to watch the Olympics
events. BankMuscats existing
and new Visa credit and debit
cardholders can participate in
the draw.
Tariq Atiq (pictured),
AGM Cards and e-Bank-
ing, said: Oman is a sporting
nation. Hence, the opportunity
offered to BankMuscat cus-
tomers to witness the greatest
sporting event endorses the
national enthusiasm and fer-
vour for sporting excellence.
BankMuscat is committed to
supporting varied sporting ac-
tivities. The policy stems from
the banks firm belief that
citizens need to experience
wholesome development.
Tariq Atiq added:
BankMuscat is delighted
with the opportunity to choose
the 2012 Olympics theme to
reward and attract existing
and new cardholders. Creating
awareness on the wide range
of BankMuscat card products
and services, the campaign is
expected to motivate a change
in consumer behaviour that
makes payment by cardsboth
a habit and a preference.
He further said: The
BankMuscat Visa Olympics
campaign is promoted in all
branches offering winning
chances to customers across
the Sultanate. The banks part-
nership with Visa is yet an-
other example of its commit-
ment to delivering memorable
experiences that reward loyal
customers. The campaign is
an attempt to encourage and
promote the e-Payment cul-
ture in Oman, thereby lend-
ing a strong support to the
governments e-Governance
initiative. The campaign en-
courages customers to pay by
cards, underscoring the fact
that payment by cards is both
convenient and secure.
Sales of top BMW models shoot up
By A Staff Reporter
MUSCAT Commemorating
a decade-long saga of service
in enhancing the local work-
force and thus providing value
addition to the thriving oil and
gas sector of the Sultanate of
Oman, the Oman Society for
Petroleum Services (OPAL)
celebrated its tenth anniversary
at the Grand Hyatt Hotel.
The event was held under
the auspices of Nasser bin
Khamis al Jashmi, Under-
Secretary of the Ministry of
Oil and Gas and attended by
a large audience compris-
ing government officials and
OPAL member companies,
and was sponsored by some of
OPAL members Attila Dogan,
Consolidated Contractors Co,
Dodsal, Galfar, Qatar Airways
and Technical and Administra-
tive Training Institute.
Speaking on the sidelines
of the event, Al Jashmi said,
OPAL has been actively play-
ing its role in ensuring oil and
gas sector set agreed standards,
comply and raise them to in-
ternational levels. This is very
important in demonstrating
professionalism and in attract-
ing foreign investments to our
country. He said OPAL has
been active in helping provide
chances for young Omanis
through its various training for
employment programmes. In-
deed, OPAL has been doing an
excellent job in helping devel-
op a well-informed community
of workforce through its vari-
ous initiatives.
Al Jashmi showed appre-
ciation to OPAL members, the
Ministry of Manpower and oth-
er Social Funds who have been
supportive and made it all hap-
pened. It is impressing to see
that, despite OPALs limited re-
sources, its contribution to the
sector has been significant and
tangible. He assured OPAL of
his full support to make it even
more effective and inclusive.
As one of the founding
members who witness the
drafting of its constitution, I
am proud to see OPAL as an
organisation that sets standards
for the oil and gas sector. The
secret of success of OPAL is
that OPAL is its members. To
continue on this path, mem-
ber companies need to par-
ticipate and engage themselves
in the dynamic of OPALs
activities, Majid al Toki, chair-
man, OPAL said.
Mohamed al Harthy, CEO,
OPAL said: This event is an
opportunity to show gratitude
to those who had the vision
of coming up with the idea of
founding the society and those
who worked hard to make it a
proud organisation we all know
today. We at OPAL are fully
committed to continuously pro-
viding a platform for our more
than 320 member companies
while delivering the best train-
ing and development to the
Omani youth. He also added,
The future outlooks of OPAL
include providing training and
development programmes for
more local youth, job crea-
tion, building capabilities, and
promoting local content while
protecting the interests of the
member companies operating
in the oil and gas sector.
BankMuscat Visa card campaign offers
two packages for London Olympics
OPAL marks 10 years of success
By A Staff Reporter
MUSCAT Following an
impressive performance over
the past year, Al Jenaibi In-
ternational Automobiles has
achieved impressive sales
growth across BMW and MINI
top models in the Sultanate.
The official importer of BMW
Group vehicles in the Sultanate
of Oman has sold more BMW
and MINI vehicles in 2011
over 2010, according to a press
note, with impressive growth
on higher-end models.
The success signals the
strength of the Omani market
and the continued demand for
BMW Group cars in the Sul-
tanate. Contributing to the solid
performance was the BMW 5
Series with 12 per cent growth
over 2010 sales. The BMW
5 Series is a core product for
BMW and combines sporting
and elegant design, excellent
comfort, the highest standard
in efficiency in its class and
sets the benchmark in driving
dynamics and safety having
achieved 5 stars in both the Euro
NCAP and US NCAP vehicle
safety assessment programmes.
The companys flagship BMW
7 Series remained the highest
volume selling model, accom-
panied by the BMW X5 and the
BMW 3 Series.
Additionally MINIs popu-
larity continues to grow in
Oman with 10 per cent growth
compared to 2010. Contribut-
ing to this impressive result
was the new MINI Country-
man, the fourth MINI model
in the brands portfolio and the
first MINI to feature four doors,
space for up to five persons and
an optional all-wheel drive.
Commenting on the compa-
nys exceptional performance,
Rachid Zamani, General Man-
ager of Al Jenaibi International
Automobiles said: Oman is
enjoying robust growth across
all sectors of the automotive
industry. This combined with
launching seven beautifully-
designed and technologically-
advanced new models during
2011, helped drive our sales
growth. The increase in our
sales confirms the trust our
customers bestow on Al Jenaibi
International Automobiles and
the strength of the BMW brand
in Oman.
MINI enjoyed a success-
ful year in Oman, with sales
achieving outstanding results.
One of the contributing factors
to this growth was the launch
of the new MINI Countryman,
which opened up a new market
segment for the brand and was
warmly welcomed by MINI
fans in Oman. Sales were fur-
ther bolstered by the launch of
the MINI Coupe towards the
end of the year, he added.
Al Jenaibi International
Automobiles will add some
exciting new models in its
portfolio this year, the models
will include the all-new BMW
3 Series and the BMW 6 Series
Gran Coup.
There will also be another
addition to the MINI family
the MINI Roadster. These will
add an exciting new dimension
to the brands portfolio and will
help contribute to the growth
of the BMW Group brands in
Whitneys death casts
shadow over Grammys
Page 13
Still trying to figure out
love, says Liv Tyler
Page 13
Ornamental carvings with
craftsmanship from Africa
Page 28
Self-improvement promotes
teamwork, social skills
Page 27
Fea ures
Monday, February 13, 2012
Official airline of
Extreme Sailing
Page 26
The Wadi Sahtin Road Project The Wadi Sahtin Road Project
in the Wilayat of Rustaq will in the Wilayat of Rustaq will in the Wilayat of Rustaq will
open up one of Omans most open up one of Omans most
naturally endowed wilayats naturally endowed wilayats
to tourism and economic to tourism and economic
development. The project is in development. The project is in
implementation of the Royal implementation of the Royal
directives of His Majesty Sultan directives of His Majesty Sultan
Qaboos. The roughly 30-km- Qaboos. The roughly 30-km-
long carriageway will replace a long carriageway will replace a
graded track that runs for the graded track that runs for the
most part along the twisting most part along the twisting
course of a wadi which is often course of a wadi which is often
rendered impassable during a rendered impassable during a
ood event ood event
Stunningly beautiful Wadi Sahtin
ADI Sahtin, with its plunging
ravines, majestic mountain
profiles and rocky landscapes,
attracts significant numbers of nature lov-
ers and adventure tourists. The Ministry
of Tourism has identified a number of
sites that are proposed to be developed
into full-fledged tourist attractions. Many
of these sites are located along the route
of the existing wadi and will be incorpo-
rated into an overall design plan for the
areas general development.
One such site pinpointed by the minis-
try for development is a fortified structure
not far from Al Tabaqah village. It is pro-
posed to be rehabilitated and converted
into a tourist exhibition centre. Also lo-
cated nearby is a bountiful natural spring
which runs throughout the year.
About 11 km into the route of the road
project are samples of ancient rock art
believed to be thousands of years old. A
few kilometres down the road is a small
mosque that stands near a tree popularly
called A Sablah (majlis). The area is pro-
posed to be developed to encourage local
folks to market their farm produce to visi-
tors. Also located a few hundred metres
away is a hot spring that yields copious
volumes of water all year round.
Access roads and car park facilities
will be provided at all of these sites in the
next phase of the road projects develop-
ment, it is learnt.
Wadi Sahtin has some exciting sights
to offer as well. A short drive from Al
Rostaq, on the Ibri route, brings you to
one of the entrances of this wadi. It me-
anders for about 40 kilometres through
the hilly terrain, scything a deep gorge in
some places along its tortuous course.
A crumbling fortification, poignant
in ruins, stands sentinel at the mouth of
Wadi Sahtin. Unlike many other wadis in
Al Rostaq Wilayat, this wadi cuts a broad
swathe, allowing date plantations to grow
richly along the edges. Every so often,
one comes upon streams of water fed by
springs gushing from the rocky face of
the wadi walls.
But at Al Khadrah, a short distance
from the wadi entrance, one of the most
charming vistas of Wadi Sahtin unfolds.
Date palm groves grow rich and thick in
this part of the wadi, nourished by the
refreshingly cool waters of a series of
springs. The springs emerge either from
the wadi bed or from the rocky wadi wall,
unceasingly gushing out their goodness.
Almost shielded from view, in the cool
recesses of the plantations, are the homes
of the wadi residents. Banana, lemon and
fodder are among the crops cultivated
here as well.
Along its twisting course, the wadi
yields interesting facets of rustic wadi
life farmers harvesting the seasons
bountiful date crop, shepherds tending
their flocks, and children having a romp
in shallow pools of water.
At one point, the wadi narrows con-
siderably to form what is locally regarded
as one of the natural gates of Wadi Sah-
tin. Together with the other natural gate
accessible from Wadi Bani Auf, ASahtin
has come to be known as mandoos or the
chest of Oman, because of the natural se-
curity offered by the wadi. The brooding
presence of the Western Hajar mountains,
with its jagged peaks, is also a constant
feature around the wadi, adding to the no-
tion of security.
Old-time residents are still fond of us-
ing the name mandoos in reference to
Wadi Sahtin, says Ali bin Hilal bin Ali al
Abri, the wadis elderly shaikh. Many of
its 40-odd oasis villages, strung along the
40-km course of the wadi, are as old as
the wadi itself. But four-wheel-drive ve-
hicles and many other trappings of mod-
ern living have since vastly improved life
in this wadi. Yet the essential tranquillity
of these villages remains unchanged.
Adding to the rustic charms of Sa-
htins oasis villages are ancient watch-
towers, picturesque in ruins, at strategic
locations along the wadis course. They
are reminders of ASahtins importance
in days bygone as sources of perennial
streams and bountiful aflaj.
There was a time when camels and
donkeys were the only mode of transport
through the wadi. Still perilous routes to
other destinations could only be accessed
on foot.
Of late, it is Wadi Sahtins bee-keeping
heritage that is drawing many tourists to
these parts. In fact, the idea of bee-keeping
as a lucrative cottage industry sits oddly
with this arid, sparsely vegetated terrain.
There are no rolling fields of flowers here
or green pastoral land, save a sprinkling
of wild trees and shrubs.
Yet for many the fruits of their la-
bour as bee-keepers are literally as
sweet as the honey they produce. Sah-
tins honey is renowned for its rich, natu-
ral, mountain-variety of honey through-
out the region.
Deep in the heart of Wadi Sahtin,
there are several hundred productive logs
with nesting bees. Without any artificial
additives or inputs, the honey is the pur-
est in its natural form. The bees thrive
on the tiny, wild flowers of sidr trees and
mountain shrubs, travelling upto 10 kilo-
metres to find their share of nectar.
Of all the spectacular wadis in the
wilayat, Wadi Al Sahtin is the most at-
tractive and adventurous wadi and this
makes it more popular especially to ad-
venture enthusiasts in Oman. This wadi
has tonnes of exploring potentials. What
distinguishes Wadi Al Sahtin more than
other wadis in the wilayat is the regular
flowing of its water as well as having
natural water springs. The wadi during
its course links Al Batinah Governorate
to Al Dhahira Governorate through the
Wilayat of Al Rustaq and across the se-
ries of Western Al Hajar Mountains.
Wadi Sahtin also comprises some old
traditional houses that were built hun-
dreds of years ago. These kinds of tra-
ditional buildings present picturesque ar-
chitecture along with gardens and other
natural landscapes that reflects the natu-
ral and historical richness of this beauti-
ful wadi.
The flowing water makes the wadi
cooler and people can come here on
picnic, especially on weekends and holi-
days to enjoy their time with family and
friends. Many visitors come to the wadi
to enjoy the nice weather while others
come for camping and swimming in the
pools. The flowing water is also used
to irrigate the farms and gardens in the
Wadi Sahtin offers an array of sights that are unique to this part of the Sultanate
French Harley Davidson bikers
prepare to roar into Oman
MANS tranquil countryside is set to reverberate to
the rumble of Harley-Davidson bikes taking part in
a unique rally that promises to shine an international
spotlight on the Sultanates distinctive appeal as an adventure
tourism destination.
The rally, which runs from February 14 to 19, features
veteran bikers from the French-based Grand Lyon Harley
Davidson Club headed by its charismatic founder Jean-Marc
Muscat Desert Adventures Tourism, a leading destination
management company, is organising this prestigious event in
partnership with the Ministry of Tourism and the Royal Oman
The Sultanate of Oman, with its dramatic landscapes, is the
venue of choice along with the United Arab Emirates
for this years annual rally of the Grand Lyon Club, one of
the largest groupings of Harley Davidson owners in France.
The event its first in the Middle East is part of a wider
Arabian-style Raid that began in Dubai on February 11 and
ends back again in this gleaming commercial hub on February
21 after leisurely halts in a number of delightful tourist locales
across the border in Oman.
Around 40 bikers are taking part in the roughly 10-day-long
Raid, dubbed The Incense Route because of the rich frankin-
cense heritage associated with the destinations covered during
the rally. Joining them during the Oman leg will be around 15
biking enthusiasts from the UAE.
In Oman, the Raid gets under way from Sohar on the morn-
ing of February 15. Cruising down the Batinah Highway on
their iconic two-wheelers, the riders head for the historic town
of Rustaq via Nakhal with its imposing hilltop fort. After tak-
ing in the delightful ambience of this popular tourist getaway,
the party thunders onward to the capital city, Muscat.
The picturesque landscapes of the Sharqiyah North and
South Governorates await on Day 2 as the riders set out for the
charming coastal village of Ajyah. En route, they make brief
stopovers at tourist hotspots such as Wadi Bani Khalid and Sur
for a flavour of the countrys varied holiday appeal.
After an overnight pit-stop in Sur, the two-wheeler motor-
cade heads back to Muscat riding along the superb coastal road
with its panoramic views of the Arabian Sea. In the capital, the
visitors will drive through the historic quarter of Muscat before
proceeding to Jebel Sifah for the night.
Day 4 sees the riders roaring towards Omans tourist heart-
land set in the Interior. Crisscrossing this enchanting landscape,
they pause briefly at historical landmarks in Nizwa, Jabrin and
Birkat Al Mauz, among other attractions.
A spokesperson for the Tourism Ministry added: Our sup-
port for the rally stems from our belief that Oman is a leading
destination to adventure-based sports. We are also delighted to
host the event as part of the Muscat 2012 calendar of events.
Oman Air: ofcial airline
of Extreme Sailing Series
MAN Air has been an-
nounced as the Official
Airline of the Extreme
Sailing Series, one of the most
exciting elements in the yacht
racing calendar.
It takes the Sultanate of
Omans national carrier to a
higher, enhanced level. Oman
Sail has had significant success
in the Extreme Sailing Series
over the last two years.
Wayne Pearce, Chief Ex-
ecutive Officer, commented:
We at Oman Air are happy
to be sponsoring Oman Sail
again. We have been truly im-
pressed by the visibility the
Oman Sail events have gener-
ated. This year, by positioning
Oman Air as the Official Air-
line of the Series, we hope to
entice the sailing and marine
sport communities and fans
across the event venues to try
the superior Oman Air expe-
rience and the uniqueness of
Having attracted over
287,000 spectators in 2011,
in addition to millions of me-
dia viewers and listeners, the
Extreme Sailing Series brings
the racing action inshore, with
the format for each Act of the
Series focusing on three days
staged in a stadium, open
to the public and VIP guests.
This years Series will offer
eight Acts across three conti-
nents, starting with Muscat,
Oman, on February 28 to
March 2, followed by Qingdao
in China, Istanbul in Turkey,
Porto in Portugal, Cardiff in
Wales, United Kingdom, Tra-
pani in Italy, Nice in France,
and concluding in Brazil in
Oman Air has sponsored
Oman Sail for the last two
years, including its participa-
tion in the Extreme Sailing
Series, its bid for success in
the Route Du Rhum and its
successful smashing of Round
Britain and Ireland world
records. The sponsorship is part
of Oman Airs commitment to
supporting Omani talent and
helping young people within
the Sultanate to achieve their
full potential. The sponsorship
also helps to raise awareness
internationally of Oman as a
unique, authentic and dramati-
cally beautiful destination for
tourism and business.
British Council hosts Train the Trainers workshop
RITISH Council Oman held a Spring-
board Train the Trainer workshop at
City Seasons Hotel Muscat recently. The
training was delivered by Richard Frost, Corpo-
rate Training Manager of British Council Oman.
The training opened the door for Springboard
Trainers from Middle East Region and Oman
to work together and share experiences over the
two-day event.
The aim of the Train the Trainer workshop
was to enhance the training skills of Springboard
Trainers by giving them the tools to be able to
design and plan training sessions and make them
more interactive.
Shames al Abdali, Freelance Springboard
Trainers from Saudi Arabia, said This training
has helped me learn effective ways of design-
ing the training programme. I gain as well more
knowledge on how to implement interactive ex-
Zuweina al Mammariya, Assistant Director of
British Council Oman added, It was very inter-
esting to work with Springboard Trainers from
different Omani organisations and Middle East
regions. We hope through this kind of training we
are able to fill in the gaps needed by trainers.
Richard Frost, Corporate Training Manager
of British Council Oman said, I really enjoyed
delivering this training because the Springboard
Trainers were such a pleasure to work with. We
covered a lot of ground and worked hard over
the two days. They were all very enthusiastic and
made the workshop very rewarding. Its good to
work with people who show such commitment to
a project. I hope we will all work together in the
future again.
Cartoon by Fahad al Zadjali
HE American Inter-
national School in
Muscat hosted its 4th
invitational Model United Na-
tions (MUN) conference on
its premises in Ghala. Over 60
students from six local schools
including British School Mus-
cat, Sri Lankan School, Indian
School Al Ghubra, Sultans
School and Azzan bin Qais
participated in the event.
In October all student del-
egates were assigned specific
countries for which they would
serve as UN ambassadors at
the TAISM conference. After
studying the contemporary
history and political structure
of their assigned countries, the
students focused on the three
main issues selected for the
conference: Improving Global
Traffic Safety; Expanding Ac-
cess to Clean Water; and Ex-
panding Access to Education.
Each student developed an in-
formed and realistic position
on each of these issues prior
to the conference.
The TAISM conference
began with a thoughtful and
inspiring speech delivered by
Lamya Haroub from the of-
fice of the Secretary-General
of Omans Ministry of For-
eign Affairs. Lamya stressed
the importance of breaking
down stereotypes in society
whether they are based on
age, gender, religion or eth-
nicity. She also urged the stu-
dents to retain the key char-
acteristics of being a student
even as they move on into
professional life.
The best professional is
a student at heart one who
embraces learning, accepts
challenges, and asks ques-
tions. Being a professional
is not about what you do, but
who you are. Her uplifting
talk was received with enthu-
siasm and warmth by the stu-
dents, and it set an optimistic
tone for the rest of the confer-
Upon completion of the
opening ceremonies, the stu-
dents worked in groups to
draft resolutions pertaining
to the three main issues. Un-
der the leadership of the two
Chairs, Mariah Curtino and
Daryna Dvirna, both TAISM
seniors, the delegates adhered
to strict parliamentary proce-
dure as they spent the next two
days debating and voting on
resolutions and amendments
pertaining to the issues.
Although all the student
delegates demonstrated im-
pressive degrees of skill in
public speaking, diplomacy,
debating, and conflict resolu-
tion, two students were rec-
ognised for their exceptional
performance. Madhura Pat-
wardhan from Indian School
Al Ghubra, representing the
United Kingdom, earned the
Distinguished Delegate
award, while TAISMs Daniel
Jackson, earned the award for
Outstanding Delegate.
The conference was a chal-
lenging and rewarding experi-
ence for the students involved,
and many are looking forward
to participating in the event
again next academic year. In
the meantime, 11 selected
TAISM MUN students will
also participate in the Nevsky
MUN conference in March in
St Petersburg Russia.
T is difficult to find an equation to this day regarding
the dream of waving loans, which is an extension of an-
other dream known by most of us. In the past we used to
enquire about the health and the new things in life but today
when we meet people we ask: any increase in salaries? Any
loan waiver?
This situation opens up a window to the question: Why
Omanis have lots of loans? Does this happen because we
spend more than we can afford!
We previously spoke about waiving loans as an unfair
idea. This step may help those who have borrowed from
banks for entertainment purposes but at the same time it
denies the right of the poor people because they did not
dare to borrow from banks as they did not want to put pres-
sure on themselves. So let us be more realistic. It is bet-
ter for the banks now to reconsider the interest rate for the
loans, which is a disaster. The interest does not reach more
than 3 per cent in some neighbouring countries, while in
Oman it is up to 8 per cent, so why all this exaggeration?
We are a country of only three million people, but the loan
problem is getting worse. What will the situation be when
the population increases in the future, given the potential
of oil depletion!
We can take the Housing Bank as an example, which is
supposed to be a non-commercial bank, as it is backed by
the government. The Ministry of Finances contribution to
it at a rate of 61 per cent, and its primary purpose is to sup-
port housing and construction activities, by providing loans
and facilities. We find that Article (8) of Royal Decree No
36/2010, states: The government can provide for the bank
in order to achieve the objectives A, B of Article I (1)
of this law long-term loans with a rate of return less
than the commercial rate interest prevailing in the market
or loans without interests if necessary.
Article (1) stipulates the provision of loans and bank-
ing facilitations in the Sultanate for citizens for establish-
ing private residences or purchasing houses, updating or
expanding or maintaining them or the purchase of land to
build houses. In Article (9), the government sets the per-
centage of loans offered by the bank to individuals at a low
rate of interest, or no interest, so as to achieve the purposes
we have mentioned earlier. The government has offered to
bear the value of the interest for the loans it offers without
Long ago, the Housing Bank gave loans at zero per cent
rate of interest, or 1 per cent and 2 per cent, but today it is
8 per cent for those earning a salary of more than RO 600.
The interest rate remains the same, it does not decrease over
the years, making the local residents resort to commercial
banks as he finds their offers more compassionate.
PSM holds inter-school
Naat competition
AKISTAN School Muscat held an Inter-Schools Naat
competition last week in Dr A Q Khan Hall in view of the
significance of the month of Rabee al Awaal in the Islamic
calendar when the humanity has been blessed by the birth of
the Holy Prophet (PBUH).
Students from Pakistan schools in Oman participated in the
event. Nawabzada Ameenullah Khan Raisani, the Ambassador
of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to the Sultanate of Oman,
was the chief guest. Zia ul Haq Siddiqui, Chairman BOD, M
Zakariya Babur, Principal, PSM, and members of board of di-
rectors Imran Ashraf, Javaid Iqbal, principals, Embassy offi-
cials, Chairman and members Pakistan Social Club, elders and
dignitaries of community, a large number of parents, faculty
and students attended the event.
The competition was won by Medhat Ahsan from Pakistan
School Salalah while Samina Anwar from Pakistan School
Musannah was declared the runner-up. The winners Trophy
was given to Pakistan School Salalah.
Aminallah Khan read the messages of President and Prime
Minister of Pakistan and shared their feelings regarding 12th
Rabee al Awaal.
Gujarati Samaj organises annual picnic
HE Muscat Gujarati
Samaj of the Indian
Social Club recently or-
ganised a grand annual picnic
for its members. Family picnic
is one of the most sought after
event on the Samajs annual
calendar of events. More than
400 people participated in
the event that was held at the
Divya Farm in Barka.
The delicious breakfast
was followed by an array of
exciting games which called
for active participation from
all cross sections of the crowd,
including elders and chil-
dren. There were a few group
games, few couple games and
also games for senior citizens
and tiny-tots.
After an opulent lunch,
the picnickers were treated to
a few leisurely games which
brought out the best of crea-
tive skills amongst the par-
ticipants. Few of the games
which created utmost jubila-
tion amongst the crowd were
the animal family game, news-
paper decoration game and
the straw hair dressing game.
Prizes were distributed at the
end of the games session.
E are living in a com-
mercial age where
everything is on sale
including relationships. I am talk-
ing about various Days, which
have become fashion statement
in todays society.
From Valantines Day to Moth-
er Day, Father Day and Sister
Day the list is becoming longer
with every passing year. For my
understanding a mother or father
does need a day to be remembered
and loved. These are all the tricks
of commercial houses to sell their
products. One should think twice
before getting into the commercial
Editor: I agree with you that
the whole world is in a com-
mercial mode. At the same
time there is no harm if the
commercial houses are coming
out with some idea to sell their
It is up to an individual to
decide what is right and what
is wrong. And I am sure no one
is compelling you to buy these
Instead of telling them not
to come out with such ideas we
should exercise some level of self
Capitalising own
LTHOUGH I find that the
Sultanate already has a
balanced economic standing,
it is pleasing to know through
your newspaper that the
government is taking initiatives
to capitalise on its resources
whilst simultaneously providing
a better livelihood for fishermen
in Oman. Further boosting the
fishing Industry will serve as a
great benefit and I hope that the
trade limitations on export will
allow for residents of Oman to
enjoy more local fish.
Editors: The Sultanate of
Oman has always taken pride in
developing the nation as a whole.
Presenting shermen of Oman
with the opportunity to enhance
their trade will undoubtedly be
leading the shing industry to
greater heights. It is my rm be-
lief that the trail to an enhanced
thriving country in terms of s-
cal, industrial and palatable
progress has already been paved,
and the journey is in motion.
Omanisation rate
ANPOWER is a vital issue
in any country which means
development. Its management is
equally important. I appreciate the
role of Ministry of Manpower for
its pro-active role in this direction.
It is also good to see that many
big and small companies are
offering jobs to local talents. This
is one way to achieve sustainable
Editor: Private sector plays a
big role in training and employ-
ment of national manpower. The
support should continue in the
larger interest of the nation.
Understanding Oman
WAS following up the 80-day
journey that some Omani youths
took from Salalah to Muscat. Such
journeys give the participants some
skills, which they cannot get in a
classroom atmosphere. Such efforts
require much determination and
courage. I am proud to know about
their commitment. I congratulate
the participants for completing the
journey successfully.
Editor: Such journeys give the
participants an opportunity to un-
derstand the country from close
quarters. A rare and interesting
journey indeed!
Getting into a commercial trap through commemorations
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By Charlotte Makala
OOKING forward to meeting up with an old friend last week, I found
myself feeling terribly excited and no amount of deep breaths could calm
me down. After many tight embraces, a series of cheers and loudly exclaiming
how delighted we were to see each after so long our afternoon revolved around
adolescent memories, iced vanilla lattes and giggles. The quaint beach front
at Shar Al Houb, otherwise known as Love Street complemented what was a
pretty romantic girly evening; however there was an incessant interruption, a
beeping noise supplemented with a light vibration of the coffee table.
If you guessed mobile phone, then that is exactly it! Without hesitation my
friend quickly answered her phone. It made me wonder, in a world rampant
with means of communication and technological advancements, is it possible
to say that we find it even harder to have proper heart-to-heart conversa-
Im sure we have answered a call or texted in the midst of having a face-
to-face conversation with someone, yet do we ever take the time to question
our behaviour or communication skills for that matter? Today I would like
to discuss how our new means of communication may assist or dissolve our
communication practices.
Its been said that Socially Interactive Technologies (SITs), such as instant
messages and text messaging, are beginning to redefine the way our com-
munity develops socially.
If something next to you is pulsating every few minutes, it makes it very
difficult to be in a one-track state of mind. The messages received can mod-
ify ones reaction to the exterior world. By offering fast-paced, inexpensive,
online communication, SITs allow for new online social networks to form
and evolve. These online networks, in turn, may affect the offline social and
friendship grids in which the community is immersed.
It seems likely that relationships that exist only over the Internet will have
less depth but will provide connections that are external to the participants'
already existing social networks. In other words, people using the Internet
will create less strong relationships, but there will be more of them.
Most of us would agree that technology is neither good nor bad, yet it is
entirely up to us the user, to select appropriate solutions and employ them
Ever since the high demand for SITs users have experienced varying de-
grees of feeling isolated at their computers yet have also experienced infor-
mation withdrawal syndrome, where a regular user of electronic networks
feels overwhelmed and anxious without access to an electronic device to
communicate or keep updated with others. Believe it or not, such feelings of
isolation are common.
Communication is not an automatic process that just involves transmitting
information from a sender to a receiver. As a community we must understand
that for communication to occur, the receiver must be willing to receive the
information, must be listening, and must understand the meaning of what is
being conveyed. Both verbal and physical communications are of profound
significance as they develop our skills of understanding each other as a so-
Although text messaging can be negative, not only disintegrating social
interaction between humans, writing skills and expression, situations tend to
become impersonal and too simplified. It may seem that technology is doing
its job by simplifying things for us yet; perhaps we should take the time to
assess whether we are too comfortable. For example, would you say that you
prefer texting to verbal face-to-face interaction? Or does it depend on who
you are communicating with?
To me it does seem like many people find text messaging and chatting
online easy rather than actually talking with another human, some may even
argue that there is no awkwardness or vocal response involved when texting
or chatting. People could virtually say anything through texts and dont have
to commit to engaging into the effects through a vocal conversation. People
using this form of communication get accustomed to picturing words in the
short text forms and multitasking, since when you are texting or chatting
online you could also be performing a few other tasks on the side.
Phone conversations on the other hand, can also be considered a distrac-
tion and interruption as the daily demands of what needs to be done continue
as one is simultaneously talking on the phone. And the scenario described
earlier, paints the perfect picture of how interfering a phone call can be. The
ramifications could be that an individual commits less concentration to what
another individual may be trying to say.
Whilst pondering the consequences of technology and feeling a little bit
ignored, I watched my dear friend mutter a quick goodbye into the receiver
and apologise for the interruption, eager to resume our chat, I had almost
uttered a sentence when I felt a slight vibration coming from my purse ac-
companied by my ringtone.
As we learn to embrace the new ways of communication, I just hope the
role of heart-to-heart; face-to-face conversations dont simply become a dis-
tant faded practice.
ITH ayurveda becoming a hit among foreign tourists,
the ancient Indian system of medicine has gone hi-
tech with a new machine being developed for the popular
'dhara' treatment, or the application of a continuous stream
of mildly warm oil.
"The dhara yanthram, is a pioneering attempt in the
markets of Kerala, while such experimental attempts are
yet to hit the markets elsewhere," said Venu of the Poorni-
ma Panchakarma Equipment, the designer group of the au-
tomatic dharayanthram.
This product is now on display at the ongoing Ayurveda
Festival being held here and has a price tag of Rs 20,000.
Recommended for maladies such as insomnia, mental
disorders, neurasthenia, memory loss and certain skin dis-
eases, the dhara is a process by which herbal oil is allowed
to flow on the forehead in a special method for about 45
minutes in a day for 7 to 21 days.
In the traditional manual dhara, the material used (oil,
kuzhampu or thayilam) turns cold soon if it is not kept
"The automatic machine has two major advantages over
the traditional method. In the first place, it has the possibil-
ity of regulating temperature, as and when required," said
The other advantage of this machine is a consider-
able amount of material can be saved as the mechanism
progresses through a recycling process and two people can
undergo the process simultaneously.
"The 'oil' or kuzhampu can be used the required number
of times, without must wastage of material and then be re-
covered," added Venu. IANS
OCTORS should automatically offer smokers help
with quitting, without waiting for signs that they're
ready to kick the habit, researchers say.
Right now, the general guidelines for doctors say that
they should ask smokers about their willingness to quit.
Then if the patient seems motivated, the doctor should of-
fer help.
But in a new research review, UK investigators found
that offering quit help to all smokers seems more effective.
Looking at 13 past clinical trials, the researchers found
that some smokers at least attempted to quit after getting
simple advice from their doctor namely, that they should
kick the habit for the sake of their health.
But actual assistance in quitting either counselling
on behaviour changes or nicotine replacement therapy
worked better.
Based on three studies, the researchers say, such help
could prompt an additional 40 per cent to 60 per cent of
smokers to at least try quitting, versus advice alone. And
all three of the studies offered help to smokers without first
checking their "willingness to quit."
The findings are published in the journal Addiction.
Many smokers need to try a few different tactics before
they find the one that works for them.
But by offering all smokers some help there will be
more long-term quitters simply because there will be more
people trying. Reuters Health
Help smokers quit whether
they ask or not
INNING may have its
uses, but playing in an
environment that val-
ues self-improvement encourages
teamwork and initiative, social
skills and a sense of identity, a
study reveals.
Competitiveness fosters an
ego-oriented climate, that focuses
primarily on beating others and
is linked with negative peer influ-
ences and inappropriate adult be-
haviours, the study says.
"Our data suggests if coaches
want to develop life skills and
character in youth, it is important
to focus on player self-improve-
ment more so than winning," said
researcher Daniel Gould.
"Coaches should create a cli-
mate or atmosphere where kids
feel cared about, valued, safe and
supported," said Gould, who led the
study with Larry Lauer, both from
Michigan State University Institute
for the Study of Youth Sports.
"These positive things should
occur while at the same time avoid-
ing the creation of an ego-oriented
climate focusing primary attention
on comparing themselves to oth-
ers," Gould was quoted as saying
in the journal Psychology of Sport
and Exercise.
The study surveyed 239 young
urban athletes aged 10 to 19 years
who completed the Youth Experi-
ences Scale-2, which measures
both positive and negative youth
development experiences, a uni-
versity statement said.
They also completed a caring
climate scale, a sport motivation
climate scale and measures of the
importance their coaches place on
psychosocial development.
The results clearly show that
the more coaches create caring and
task-oriented climates, the more
likely important positive develop-
mental gains will occur. Creating
an "ego climate" was found to be
the single most powerful predictor
of negative youth experiences.
Self-improvement promotes
teamwork, social skills
ESEARCHERS have found
a way to help the brain re-
place damaged nerve cells
or neurons, a study reveals.
Myelin forms a protective
sheath around the axons or fibres of
our neurons so that they can send
signals quickly and efficiently.
But myelin and the specialised
cells called oligodendrocytes that
make it, become damaged in dis-
orders like multiple sclerosis (MS),
leaving neurons without their my-
elin sheaths, the Journal of Neuro-
science reported.
Consequently, the affected neu-
rons can no longer communicate
correctly and are prone to damage.
Researchers from the California
Institute of Technology (Caltech)
now believe they have found a way
to help the brain replace damaged
oligodendrocytes and myelin, said
a university statement.
"We've developed a gene thera-
py to stimulate production of new
oligodendrocytes from stem and
progenitor cells both of which
can become more specialised cell
types that are resident in the
adult central nervous system," said
Benjamin Deverman, from Caltech,
who led the study. IANS
Gene therapy boosts cell repair
Oman Establishment for Press, Publication and Advertising; P.O. Box 974, Postal Code 100, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman; Tel: 24649444, 24649450, 24649451, 24604563, 24699437 Fax: 24699643 Website:
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P.O. Box 974, P.C. 100, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman, Tel: 24649350/24649360, Fax: 24649379,
By Haider bin Abdul Redha
al Lawati
HE issue of rising fish prices in the local mar-
kets has been observed and written about in
several media outlets and other forums. Every
week we are reminded of this issue due to the contin-
ued rise in the price of this commodity. Many people
have been asking if the problem lies in the limited sup-
ply of fish in the country, or if it relates to a group of
foreign entities that control this business in order to
keep the prices high, and thus allocate large quantities
for export.
In my point of view the second opinion is more
accurate since some companies monopolise the fish
trade in the county depriving people the opportunity
to buy fish products at normal prices.
These operations need to be noted by the General
Authority for Consumer Protection and other officials
in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the
Ministry of Trade and Industry.
They must intervene if they want to keep the local
markets stable and offer enough quantities of fish for
local trade. Some believe that this responsibility must
be taken by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries
which only has the right to prevent fish products to
be exported if there is a problem in the local markets.
Most Omani catches are now exported through the
borders and by air daily. A chat with big agents deal-
ing with the fish trade revealed that since we live in a
free world and the Sultanate is a member of the WTO
the trade of any product must be free.
They say the reason for the problem is due to
globalisation. At the same time they forget that some
countries impose economic and financial sanctions on
others, like in the case of Iran, in order to stop them
from obtaining nuclear energy for their social and
economic programmes, thus depriving the Iranians of
their daily necessities.
People believe that some traders here are involved
in efforts to absorb all the fish landed in the local mar-
kets for their own purpose. The quantities of fish that
is landed in the market are high but because of the
circuitous routes used by some merchants to get all
the quantities offered, the prices flare up dramatically.
According the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisher-
ies data, the average annual production of fish in Oman
during the years (2005 to 2010) has reached about
155,000 tonnes, and the average value of these prod-
ucts were RO 94 million during the same period. The
total production for the year 2010 was about 164,000
tonnes, valued at RO 117 million.
These quantities are sufficient to provide the Omani
market with enough fish and thus ease prices for local
consumption, besides there are large quantities of sur-
plus fish for export as well. But now the equation has
changed so more catches go for export immediately,
while only small quantities remain for the domestic
markets, despite the fact that there are laws preventing
the export of certain types of fish outside the country.
Today there are about 36,000 Omani fishermen
working around various Omani coasts. Some traders
sell their catch to buyers who agree to procure their
daily quantity at a reasonable price after which they
are sold in the domestic markets.
These traders ask for commitment and look for
keen buyers to purchase all their fish quantities. Some
of the foreign buyers and broker companies also buy
fish for the commercial centres as well as for exports.
Due to these methods of procurement the prices go up
in the traditional market, and deprive the poor people
of their share of fish. It is for these markets that we
need more observers and monitors to keep a check on
such operations in order to keep the prices stable for
a while.
The monitors should also keep a watch on the for-
eign fishing fleets that are fishing in Omani seas. We
need to develop new ways to take advantage of the
local markets and the consumers first. Today we pay
high prices for local fish which is more than the value
of meat imported from abroad.
Everyone knows that the fisheries sector in the
Sultanate is an important one that plays a pivotal role
in providing many job opportunities for Omanis. We
should make our local fisherman and merchants more
aware of the necessities of the local markets than the
foreign ones.
The first priority of all countries is to maintain their
food security before exporting outside. The fish is an
important and necessary commodity because of its nu-
tritional value. We require new institutions to speed
up our fisheries projects and to fill the shortfall in the
fish procurement, apart from infrastructure projects to
develop fishing fleets in order to provide for the pro-
motion and protection of fish stocks.
We have to take advantage of the seasonal changes
that affect the fishing industry and develop the fishery
products industries to stock the local market through-
out the year. Priority should be given to the local
consumer after which the remaining can be exported
T Naseem Park, you can lay your hands on things
you have been searching for years but could not find
yet, says Ahmed, a visitor from Nizwa. He found an audio
CD with Asma al Husna (Allahs 99 Beautiful names).
Ahmed also found a host of very attractive beads used for
the remembrance of Allah, the Exalted. Ali, a visitor from
India, found elegantly designed Iranian headscarves for
his young daughters. Similarly, a large number of Islamic
products such as books, audio and video CDs, Hijab
(modest Islamic dress), headgear, and works of calligraphy
for interior dcor are available at Naseem Park.
Omani handicrafts
HE demonstration of Omani handicrafts at Qurum
Natural Park is a big draw at the festival. There are
a number of Omani artisans and craftsmen who are
showcasing their skills in various arts and crafts. Saleh
is a skilled craftsman who makes ropes, slings and body
scrubs, using natural fibre obtained from a reed which
grows near wadis. The reed is locally knows as Masad and
the fibre taken from it is stronger and durable than the fibre
obtained from palm fronds. These natural fibres are still
used in Omani villages to make various household items.
Year of the Child
EDICATED as the Year of the Child by Omans
Council of Ministers, the current edition of Muscat
Festival is particularly focused on presenting opportunities
to children for fun, entertainment as well as learning.
The success of any festival can be gauged from lasting
impressions it leaves on the minds of children.
A large number of Omanis and residents are bringing
their children to the Qurum Natural Park to introduce the
heritage aspect of Oman. There ample opportunities to en-
joy horse and camel riding. The festival ground at QNP has
a section for kids, aimed to entertain as well as educate on
a variety of day-to-day aspects.
Islamic dolls
T these stalls in Naseem Garden, visitors also buy in large
numbers beautiful, lightweight dolls in Hijab. Playing
with dolls in Hijab is an enjoyable way for children to learn
about Islam and its teachings. These dolls are not dumb; they
recite some essential Quranic verse, Allahs names like Al
Wadood (The Most Loving), Rahman (The Most Merciful),
Al Muheet (Encompassing everything) and Al Razakh (One
who gives provision to everyone). Razanne wears hijab and
conservative clothing. She comes in a variety of skin, eye,
and hair colours and is never scantily-dressed.
Catering to spiritual needs
By Hasan Kamoonpuri
By Vandana Jyotirmayee
USCAT Festival
brings in the oppor-
tunity of having dif-
ferent shades of art and culture
on one platform, while satisfy-
ing the different needs of peo-
ple where dance and music to
food and clothing and handi-
crafts from various parts of the
world are displayed. For art
and craft lovers the stalls from
some of the East African coun-
tries are worth visiting.
Most of the objects that you
see or buy are made of a single
piece of wood or stone, with-
out involving a big or small
machine, what go together are
just the natural objects with
human hands. The skills and
distinctiveness shine more
than anything else and ebony
and mahogany wood speak for
themselves as you enter the
world of art and crafts from
Uganda and Kenya.
Wandering in the great
spread of stalls there are two
stalls where a connoisseur
would not just slow down but
also have the delight of getting
mesmerised by the dark brown
n black and woody collec-
tions of artefacts at Naseem
The stalls have exquisitely
woven handbags, handmade
wallets, showpieces, paint-
ings and batiks, salad spoons
to shakers for little children.
Mary Njenga from Nairobi
(Kenya) said that the items
for sale from her stall basi-
cally were made of Mahogani
wood, soap stone and banana
fibers processed in a particular
The Kenyan stall has a
gamut of masks, Boabab trees,
carvings made on Calabash
and small wooden sculptures
of a particular tribe named
Maasai. This is one of the best
known tribes of Kenya, who
are semi-nomadic pastoralists
also known for their mystical
relationships with cattle and
unique for their long preserved
culture. Regarding her experi-
ences in Oman, Mary said, I
never go to any other country
for such festivals, I am here
because this is Oman.
The wooden sculpture
depicting the Maasai war-
riors had the same masculine
features showing the brave
and stubborn Maasai and the
women wearing bangles and
strings full of coloured beads.
There are lots of big, small and
medium sized giraffes made of
wood which is also very much
loved by the people of Kenya.
The small huts and the women
doing their household chores
shown in the wall hangings
and batiks portray the kind
of life that the people in the
villages lead. The tie and dye
technique is used for colour-
ing the batiks and wall hang-
ings are made of banana fib-
ers. These artefacts are worth
buying as they add a sort of
coziness when placed or hung
in any part of your house. The
products cater to all types of
buyers ranging from 500 bai-
sas to RO 50.
The other East African
stall is from Uganda with
jewellery for ladies, key rings,
small elephant heads and tur-
tles of different sizes made of
ebony and basket tree. The
wooden sculptures on this
stall depict the warriors from
the Shona tribes as well as the
Maasais. This stall has vari-
ous sized masks and wooden
sculptures. The craftsmanship
of the artists can be seen in the
details carved in the wooden
sculptures of pairs of man
and woman. Coasters made
of tree barks are exquisite
examples of handmade items
with finesse and classiness.
Dananai from Zimbabwe and
Jane Rose from Uganda said
that this was their third visit
to Oman and every trip to
this country substantiates the
goodness of the Omani citi-
zens. Dananai further added
that there was a lot of stuff
still to come in few days from
their homeland which would
really satisfy the real craft
lovers of this country.
Every country has dis-
tinctiveness in terms of its
products but African arts and
crafts, stand apart from others
in terms of their authenticity.
The dark hard wood colours
dont just catch the eyes but
also compel you to own it.
Ornamental carvings with
craftsmanship from Africa
Naseem Garden
Wandering in the Wandering in the
great spread of great spread of
stalls there are stalls there are
two stalls where a two stalls where a
connoisseur would connoisseur would
not just slow down not just slow down
but also have the but also have the
delight of getting delight of getting
mesmerised by mesmerised by
the dark brown the dark brown
n black and n black and
woody collections woody collections
of artefacts at of artefacts at
Naseem Garden Naseem Garden