Thursday, 15 November 2012

A Thanksgiving feast

SARAH CAREY

NYT SYNDICATE

IT’S our dream Thanksgiving menu: turkey, stuffing, fresh dinner rolls and a few showstopping sides.

CITRUS-RUBBED TURKEY WITH CIDER GRAVY (Serves 12) ACTIVE TIME: 45 minutes.

TOTAL TIME: 4 1/2 hours + chilling.

1 whole turkey (12 to 14 pounds), thawed if frozen, neck and giblets removed 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest plus 1/2 cup juice (from 4 lemons) 1 tablespoon grated orange zest plus 1 cup juice (from 2 oranges) coarse salt and pepper 2 stalks celery, cut into thirds 2 carrots, cut into thirds 1 large yellow onion, cut into 6 wedges 4 1/2 cups unbaked Meat-Cornbread Stuffing (below) 1/4 cup paprika, divided 2 cups apple cider 1 stick unsalted butter 2 cups chicken broth, divided 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1. Pat turkey dry with paper towels. Tuck wing tips underneath body and place on a roasting rack in a heavy-bottomed metal roasting pan. Combine thyme, lemon and orange zests, 2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper; beginning with underside, sprinkle on turkey, including in large cavity.

Refrigerate, uncovered, 8 hours (or overnight).

2. Let turkey sit at room temperature 1 hour. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove rack and turkey from pan, discard accumulated liquid, and add celery, carrots, onion and 2 cups water to pan. Return rack and turkey to pan. Wipe any remaining rub from inside with a paper towel and loosely fill large and neck cavities with stuffing. Tie legs together with kitchen twine and evenly sprinkle turkey with 2 tablespoons paprika.

3. Place pan in oven, reduce temperature to 375 F and roast 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring orange and lemon juices, cider, butter and remaining 2 tablespoons paprika to a simmer over medium heat.

4. Baste turkey with cider mixture; keep remaining warm over low. Continue roasting, basting turkey with cider mixture every 25 minutes (tent turkey with foil if necessary to prevent over-browning), 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Turkey is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh (avoiding bone) and centre of stuffing reads 165 F
5. Transfer turkey to a platter or cutting board, tent with foil and let rest 30 minutes before scooping out stuffing and carving turkey.

Strain pan juices through a fine-mesh sieve and discard solids. Skim fat and return juices to pan. Set pan across two burners, add 1 cup broth and bring to a simmer over medium heat, scraping up browned bits with a wooden spoon.

Whisk together flour and remaining cup broth; add to pan, whisking constantly, until gravy is thickened, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve warm with carved turkey and stuffing.

Nutritional information per serving (without stuffing): 527 calories; 18 grams fat (6 grams saturated fat); 73 grams protein; 15 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fibre MEAT-CORNBREAD STUFFING (Serves 8) ACTIVE TIME: 25 minutes.

TOTAL TIME: 1 hour.

@For this stuffing, be sure to use a cornbread that’s not too sweet.

1 pan cornbread (8-inch square), cut into 1/2-inch cubes 8 slices white sandwich bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes 4 slices meat, cut into 1-inch pieces 1 small yellow onion, diced small 2 stalks celery, diced medium 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves 2 large eggs, lightly beaten 2 3/4 cups chicken broth 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley coarse salt and pepper 1. Preheat oven to 375 F Spread cornbread and bread on two rimmed baking sheets and bake until dry and golden, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, cook meat over medium heat until fat is rendered and meat is crisp, about 5 minutes.

Add onion, celery and garlic and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes.

Stir in sage and transfer to a large bowl.

2. Add cornbread, bread, eggs, broth, parsley, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to bowl and toss until combined. Let sit 5 minutes, then toss again. Reserve 4 1/2 cups for turkey (above), then spoon remaining stuffing into a 9-inch square baking dish. Bake until top is golden brown, about 20 minutes to 25 minutes.

Nutritional information per serving: 388 calories; 14 grams fat (4 grams saturated fat); 14 grams protein; 52 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fibre NO-KNEAD CLOVERLEAF ROLLS (Makes 9) ACTIVE TIME: 20 minutes.

TOTAL TIME: 40 minutes + rising.

3 tablespoons sugar 1 cup warm water (110 F to 115 F) 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (one 1/4- ounce packet) 3 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and levelled), divided 1 1/2 teaspoons fine salt 1 large egg 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for brushing cooking spray coarse salt 1. In a large bowl, combine sugar and water. Sprinkle yeast on top and let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add 1 cup flour and, using a mixer, beat on medium until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add fine salt, egg and butter and beat until combined.

Add remaining 2 cups flour and, with a wooden spoon, mix until just combined.

Lightly coat a large bowl with cooking spray. Transfer dough to bowl, lightly coat with cooking spray and loosely cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight (or up to 2 days). Dough will double in size.

2. Divide into 27 equal pieces (1 ounce each). Lightly coat 9 standard muffin cups and your hands with cooking spray. Roll each dough piece into a smooth ball and place 3 balls in each cup. Liberally coat with cooking spray and loosely cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled, about 45 minutes to 90 minutes.

3. Preheat oven to 375 F Bake rolls until puffed and deep golden, about 15 minutes to 20 minutes. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with coarse salt; serve warm.

(To store, let cool, wrap tightly in plastic and keep at room temperature, up to 2 days.) Nutritional information per roll: 214 calories; 5 grams fat (3 grams saturated fat); 5 grams protein; 36 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fibre DUCHESS POTATOES (Serves 8) ACTIVE TIME: 20 minutes.

TOTAL TIME: 1 1/4 hours.

To prep ahead, portion onto baking sheet.

Freeze until hard, then transfer to a ziptop bag and freeze, up to 3 days. Brush with yolk mixture and bake as directed.

2 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (about 10 medium), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces salt and pepper 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, plus more for parchment 3 large egg yolks, divided 1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons heavy cream, divided ground nutmeg 1. In a large pot, cover potatoes with cold salted water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil; reduce to a rapid simmer and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain in a colander, let sit 5 minutes, then return to pot. Add butter and, with a potato masher, mash until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Add 2 egg yolks, 1/4 cup cream and pinch of nutmeg; stir until combined.

2. Preheat oven to 450 F Line a baking sheet with parchment and lightly butter paper. Dollop mixture in 8 equal portions on sheet, 2 inches apart. Using the back of a spoon, create a small well in the centre of each. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.

Whisk together remaining egg yolk and 2 teaspoons cream. Brush on potatoes and bake until golden, about 15 minutes.

Nutritional information per serving: 184 calories; 9 grams fat (5 grams saturated fat); 5 grams protein; 25 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fibre

Spice Girls for all age groups: Halliwell

Spice Girls for all age groups: Halliwell

SINGER Geri Halliwell says her band Spice Girls is all about bringing every age group together. The band which consists of Halliwell, Victoria Beckham, Melanie C, Melanie B and Emma Bunton are likely to perform for the last time at launch of the musical play at West End, London, on December 11. The popular stage will showcase a musical Viva forever! which will be based on their songs. “The show is about bringing the Spice legacy to a new generation, Spice Girls is about unifying the world - every age, every gender, everyone,” says Halliwell.

Gomez putting up brave face

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NOW that the election is over, Washington's attention is consumed by the looming combination of automatic spending cuts and tax increases known as 'the fiscal cliff'. That combination poses risks, including economic contraction and erosion of confidence in government. But it also offers a chance to address our ...
OBAMA THE DEALMAKER
DURING his first term, President Barack Obama faced a wicked problem: How do you govern in a highly polarised, evenly divided country with House Republicans who seem unwilling to compromise? Obama never really solved that one, and he was forced to pass his agenda on partisan lines...

Gomez putting up brave face

SINGER Selena Gomez has resumed her busy life after ending relationship with Justin Bieber. Gomez, 20, was seen at Kmart store, in Los Angeles to promote her clothing and accessories range Dream Out Loud. She even tweeted before the event. “Heading to the @Kmart in White Plains to check out DOL! Enter your name in a drawing at customer service & 5 people will get to shop with me,” Gomez wrote. The singer’s two-year-old relationship with Bieber ended last week after some trust issues cropped up.

Dangerous Liaisons: a cunning tale retold in Chinese
Spice Girls for all age groups: Halliwell

Dangerous Liaisons: a cunning tale retold in Chinese

MANOHLA DARGIS

NYT SYNDICATE

THE story and its players look different in the latest screen iteration of Dangerous Liaisons, but the venomous passions remain repellently, seductively familiar.

Bankrolled by Chinese money and directed by a South Korean filmmaker, Jin-ho Hur, this Chinese-language version of the 18th-century French novel by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos opens in Shanghai in 1931, when the city was known as the Paris of the Orient. (Now it’s just the centre of the world.) That year a fighting-trim Mao Zedong helped create the Chinese Soviet Republic, and Japan invaded the Chinese province of Manchuria, setting up a puppet government. The second Sino-Japanese war was six years away.

Geopolitical tensions simmer at the outermost edges of Dangerous Liaisons, which mostly unfolds as a divertingly lush tear-stained melodrama.

Written by Yan Geling, it follows the overall streamlined contours and devious intrigues familiar from Stephen Frears’ 1988 film of the Christopher Hampton stage adaptation.

Once again a suave rake, Xie Yifan (Jang Dong-gun, wearing a Clark Gable smirk and ‘stache), spends his nights busily bedding the local talent and his days sharing gossip with a female counterpart, Mo Jieyu (Cecilia Cheung). They are effectively the Shanghai match of Laclos’ Vicomte de Valmont and Marquise de Merteuil, the twinned vipers who, while nestled in the bosom of the city’s high society, conspire to seduce, conquer and destroy their prey.

Like ants fatefully drawn to honey, Xie and Mo’s conquests seem very helpless and very doomed.

Shortly after the movie opens Mo is pointing Xie toward a new target, the virginal Beibei (Candy Wang), a giggler in knee socks. Xie’s gaze lingers over a widow, Du Fenyu (Zhang Ziyi), but Beibei proves the bigger prize because she and her virginity have been promised to a power broker.

From how she flutters her lashes at her art teacher, Dai Wenzhou (Shawn Dou, behind a curtain of boy-band hair), Beibei appears eager to learn the ways of the flesh. Those plotting to help in her education feed the drama, as does the question of whether they will land triumphantly vertical or broken on the bed of their own destruction.

Schadenfreude carries a delectable tang no matter the language, and as the history of Hollywood shows, stories about pretty people behaving badly remain reliably alluring. How such beauties go rancid, and why, changes from decade to decade, and it’s worth pointing out that Hampton’s play and Frears’ adaptation both landed in the 1980s, during the Thatcher and Reagan eras.

This Dangerous Liaisons carries a suggestion of contemporary commentary too. As chanting protesters take to the streets, waving placards and shouting praise about China, the film’s decadent loveliest remain singularly oblivious to the political tremors starting to shake their world. Given how fast, almost eagerly Hur turns to his story’s glossy charms, audiences may not notice those tremors either.

I n i t i a l l y Dangerous Liaisons holds you with its sumptuous production design and costumes, despite a few choices that look as out of time as Dou’s Bieber-esque swoop. Hur seems content simply to polish his film’s luxurious facade, particularly with close-ups that loom like billboards for powdered cheeks and glossy hair. As the players and stakes shift, there’s little evidence of the emotional texture that Frears brought to his film and certainly none of the pop culture savvy that fizzed up Cruel Intentions, a telling of the tale with high schoolers. But when Zhang Ziyi weeps, her tremulous, heartshuddering performance sends cracks across the film, and you grasp that the movie’s meaning never existed only on its surface but also in what lies beneath.

Iraq keep hopes alive with 1-0 win over Jordan

AFP DOHA

IRAQ resurrected their slim chances of making it to Brazil in 2014 with a 1-0 victory over Jordan in their Asian World Cup qualifier on Wednesday.

Winless in four matches prior to Wednesday’s clash in Doha, Iraq were in serious danger of missing the quadrennial showpiece before an 86th minute strike from forward Hammadi Ahmed had them dreaming again.

Both Iraq and Jordan now have five points from as many matches and would need a miraculous set of results in Group B which also includes Asian powerhouses Japan and Australia In a fast-paced match, Jordan held the upper hand but found the Iraqi goalkeeper Nour Sabri a tough nut to crack.

Sabri saved a 33rd minute strike by Abdulla Deeb and in the 59th minute, Hassan Abdel-Fattah, one of Jordan’s heroes in the win against Australia, inexplicably failed to score from less than six yards out, his weak shot finding the goalkeeper’s body and going out of play.

With time running out. a desperate Iraq gave their all in the final 30 minutes, but the Jordan goalkeeper Amer Shafi, too, was equal to the task, bringing off three saves off powerfully taken shots.

But Shafi could do nothing four minutes from time when Ahmed cracked in a left-footer from outside the penalty area into the net, much to the delight of the Iraqi expatriate crowd in the stadium.

The result brought relief to Iraq coach Zico who had dropped veterans Younus Mahmoud and Nashat Akram from the squad, a decision that surprised many because some of the other regulars like defenders Basem Abbas and Muthana Khalid and strikers Ala Abdulzehra and Salam Shaker were already unavailable because of injuries.

Jordan’s Iraqi coach Adnan Hamad was also handicapped by the suspension of Anas Bani Yaseen but the return of goalkeeper Amer Shafi and defender Basem Fathi from injuries gave the team some solidity.

Shafi surely made his presence felt by playing a stellar role in the goal before Ahmed’s late strike ruined what could have been a perfect day.

Sheikh Saoud unveils Qatar sports venue master plan

MIR BASIT HUSSAIN DOHA

QATAR Olympic Committee Secretary-General Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman al Thani on Wednesday unveiled the Qatar sports venue master plan (QSVMP) at the Aspire4Sport congress.

The details of the plan were presented by Abdul Rahman al Maliki, QOC Director of Eengineering, during the Aspire Build Q & A session with Sheikh Saoud.

The new venues would be distributed over five zones around Lusail City, Qatar Foundation, Aspire Zone, Old Airport Area, and Qatar University.

Two years in the making, the plan audited 62 existing sports venues for usability and proposed 11 new ones, in addition to eight venues originally planned by the QOC.

Sheikh Saoud made it clear that Qatar doesn't want to make ‘white elephants’ but venues which can be used for sports activities in future.

“Our focus since the beginning of this project has been legacy and ensuring that we avoid white elephants,’ said Sheikh Saoud.

“We have watched countries build large venues and struggle later with what to do with them. Our team has worked backwards, thinking first about how these venues can be of use in the future before planning their use during major sporting events.” Sheikh Saoud also didn’t hesitate to announce that Qatar will not only host ‘another World Cup’ but the best ever. “ It won’t be just another FIFA World Cup. It will be the best ever. This is because we like to raise the bar, like we did in the Asian Games, “ said Sheikh Saoud.

He also mentioned that the desert country will keep on trying to bringing the Olympics to Doha. “ We will keep on trying and continue bidding. We will make sure that this time around we tighten the loose ends and make it to the second round, “ explained Sheikh Saoud.

Malki said that their officials had spent a lot of time with the engineers of the venues to make sure that they are not wasted after 2022. “We spent a lot of time meeting with these entities and their engineers to find out what their plans are and ensure that we were aligned,” said Malki, referring to major stadia and other sports facilities already in the plans of Qatar Foundation and Lusail City.

He further added, “We’ve also mapped out a way in collaboration with the ministry of municipal affairs to integrate all our sports venues with the transportation network that Qatar is building .” Malki explained the process of putting together the Master Plan and identified the factors taken into consideration, such as the cost of building a permanent new venue, which amounts to QR 12 bn. He also said that the plan was put into place with the ‘Olympics 2024 in mind.’

QTA aims to make Qatar a hub of sports tourism

TRIBUNE NEWS NETWORK DOHA

QATAR Tourism Authority (QTA), in partnership with Aspire4Sport and the Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC), on Wednesday hosted a workshop to discuss sports tourism in Qatar.

The congress provided a platform for all local tourism stakeholders and participants to discuss the challenges and opportunities in developing the country’s sports tourism industry.

The participants included the Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC), Qatar Football Association, Qatar 2022, Qatar Airways and a number of Hotels and Tour Operators.

The opening remarks of Issa bin Mohammed al Mohannadi, Chairman of QTA and Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman al Thani, secretary general of QOC, underlined Qatar’s vision for sports tourism, its mission to become the region’s central sports hub and the tools that will help create opportunities in the sports tourism industry.

Mohannadi mentioned that they are working on an ‘integrated plan’ which will help them to make Qatar the best sport tourist destination in the world.

“QTA is working on an ‘Integrated Strategic Plan’ to develop the tourism infrastructure in Qatar to help position and promote it as the best tourism destination for sport, leisure, culture, business, and education and attract tourism investors from all around the world.” “With the help of the nation’s collective sports organisations and its hospitality industry, we hope to elevate sports tourism in Qatar to become one of the major reasons to visit the country.” said Mohannadi.

The conference also witnessed a keynote presentation from international sport tourism expert Martin Wiest, CEO of Tourvest International and Team Destination Management, and a workshop session with selected speakers from Qatar Airways, hoteliers and tour operators.

Martin Wiest’s presentation highlighted the success components of sports tourism covering the importance of logistics, partnerships, management systems, accommodation and venue management, and promotion and marketing of sporting events in the international markets.

Mohannadi said, “We hope that the conference provided an insight into the strategic management and development of the sports tourism industry. Qatar has rapidly become the sports capital of the region due to its success in attracting international sports events and the successful 2022 World Cup bid which was the crowning event that confirmed Qatar’s leadership in sports in the region.” (MBH)

Soria revives Qatar’s WC hopes

IKOLI VICTOR DOHA

SEBASTIAN SORIA scored a wonder goal to revive the hopes of Qatar qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup with a 1-0 victory over Lebanon on Wednesday.

The Lekhwiya striker charged the atmosphere at the Al Sadd Stadium with a sublime individual effort in the 75th minute as he took possession of the ball on the halfway line and ran into the heart of the Lebanese defence before he unleashed a shot from 30 metres that beat Abbas Hassan into top corner of the Lebanese net.

Soria’s glorious strike was his 27th international goal for Qatar in 69 appearances.

The goal was the perfect tonic to light up what had been a drab game up to that point. Qatar should have increased its tally when new entrant Lawrence Quaye drilled a shot that was excellently saved by goalkeeper Abbas.

Nevertheless, the visitors nearly snatched a late equaliser right at the end when the Lebanese Captain Roda Antar saw his stoppage- time effort brilliantly tipped aside by Qatar goalkeeper Qasem Burhan.

The win was Qatar’s second in the final round qualifiers and now with seven points they have levelled with Group A front-runners South Korea while Iran moved to the top of the group with eight points after Uzbekistan conceded a 90th minute goal in Tashkent.

Lebanon is now at the bottom of the group with four points after its second loss to Qatar following a 1-0 defeat in Beirut in June.

Speaking after the match, Qatar’s Coach Paulo Autouri said, “I want to congratulate the players for this victory because playing under this kind of pressure at home is not easy. They showed good character and displayed some of the tactics on training.

“The Lebanese team is good and they have shown good quality all through the qualifiers, “he added.

Lebanon’s Coach, Theo Bucker said, “Our expectation was to win the match but we lost to a better Qatar team.” Bucker blamed his strikers for their profligacy in front of the goal especially in the first half. “Our strikers didn’t play well; we were victim of our own loss. They played too much of short passes instead of shooting to goal.” There was little real quality on display in the first half as both teams struggled to find their rhythm. Qatar enjoyed plenty of early possession but was unable to find a way through the well-marshalled Lebanese defence as Soria found himself isolated upfront.

Lebanon dominated the early exchanges and had support from its teeming fans from the stands. They even had the best opportunity of the opening half in the 20th minute as Abbas Atwi fired a shot from 20 metres that forced a smart save from Burhan.

Ahmad Zreik’s effort in the 35th minute was almost into goal but for the quick reflexes of Burhan that produced a save.

Both sides were looking for a clear cut chance well into the second half as the time was ticking away. Yusef Ahmed had a glorious chance in the 71st minute after he was left unmarked on the edge of the box but he shot awkwardly to the chagrin of his coach, who threw up his hand in disgust.

However, just as the match seemed destined for a goalless draw, Uruguayan Soria rose to the occasion with a goal out of the blues.

He received the ball just inside his own half and made a 20-metre run before firing a superb shot that Hassan Abbas watched past him into the far corner of his net.

Qatar pressed on and should have scored one or two from Yusef Ahmed and Ibrahim Khalfan.

Vodafone extendes contract of Qatari arm until 2018, cuts management fee

REUTERS

DUBAI

VODAFONE Group has extended a contract to manage loss-making affiliate Vodafone Qatar until 2018 and will take a smaller percentage of its revenues under the new terms.

Vodafone, which owns 23 percent of Vodafone Qatar, took over managing it in June 2008 for an initial period of five years.

“The new agreement sees the fee payable to Vodafone reduced as a percentage of revenue to reflect the increased scale of the business and the transition to a fixed and mobile operation,” the companies said in a joint statement on Wednesday.

Commenting on the agreement, Qatar Foundation’s Chief Administration Officer and Vodafone Qatar Board Member Rashid al Naimi said, “Qatar Foundation and the local board are delighted to carry on the relationship with Vodafone. With Vodafone’s full support we look forward to continued success as we grow the business to serve our customers and bring value to our shareholders.” Previously, Vodafone Qatar paid 5 percent of its revenue in management fees, but this has been cut to a maximum of 3.5 percent.

Vodafone Qatar also published second quarter results, in which the mobile phone company reported a second-quarter net loss of QR121.7 million for the three months to September 30, according to Reuters’ calculations.

That compares with a loss of QR115 million ($31.58 million) in the year-earlier period. The company’s financial year starts on April 1
Vodafone Qatar, which ended Qatar Telecom’s (Qtel) domestic monopoly in 2009, has yet to make a quarterly net profit.

Second-quarter revenue rose to QR345.5 million , from QR299.7 million a year ago.

Capital expenditure in the six months to September 30 rose 20 percent to QR146 million ahead of the company’s launch of fixed line services later in the financial year.

Vodafone Qatar began post-paid contract services in June, which the operator hopes will help woo subscribers from Qtel and improve margins.

QP, Total sign 25-year deal on Al Khalij oilfield

The Fiscal Delusion
NOW that the election is over, Washington's attention is consumed by the looming combination of automatic spending cuts and tax increases known as 'the fiscal cliff'. That combination poses risks, including economic contraction and erosion of confidence in government. But it also offers a chance to address our ...
OBAMA THE DEALMAKER
DURING his first term, President Barack Obama faced a wicked problem: How do you govern in a highly polarised, evenly divided country with House Republicans who seem unwilling to compromise? Obama never really solved that one, and he was forced to pass his agenda on partisan lines...

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Vodafone extendes contract of Qatari arm until 2018, cuts management fee
Chinese delegation visits Qatar Exchange

BHP to raise iron ore capacity 20% as demand softens

REUTERS

PERTH

BHP BILLITON expects to expand its iron ore capacity by nearly a fifth just by working its mines, rail lines and port harder as it looks to control costs in a softer iron ore market, the global miner’s iron ore chief said on Wednesday.

Uncertainty over iron ore prices due to stuttering demand for the steel making ingredient from China has prompted a rethink of expansion plans by most iron ore miners, including top global iron ore miner Vale.

BHP has slowed its growth plans, like Australia’s no 3 iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group, while their bigger rival Rio Tinto is pressing ahead with an expansion that will give it at least a third more capacity than BHP and more than double Fortescue’s capacity.

“Looking forward, things are not as rosy as they were in the past. The imperative to grow as aggressively as we were in the past has diminished slightly,” Wilson said at a conference.

Caught out by escalating costs, a sharp slide in iron ore prices and a persistently strong Australian dollar, BHP shelved plans in August to build a $20 billion iron ore harbour at Port Hedland in Western Australia that would have eventually doubled its iron ore capacity to 440 million tonnes.

BHP is focusing instead on milking as much out of its existing inner harbour, rail line and mines, increasing its capacity in smaller steps without huge capital outlays.

The company now expects to reach 260 million tonnes, or 40 million tonnes more than the current target that it will reach with the nearly completed expansion of its inner harbour at Port Hedland and the opening of the Jimblebar mine.

“The aspiration would be, just by squeezing our existing infrastructure with modest capital investments across our business, to be able to achieve around the 260 million tonne mark,” Wilson told reporters on the sidelines of the conference.

He gave no timeframe or cost for achieving the higher target after it reaches 220 million tonnes a year in 2014.

Analysts said BHP’s and Fortescue’s deferral of growth plans reflected more on lower cash flows rather than longer term pessimism about China’s growth and demand for iron ore.

“This is more about conserving capital in the current environment than concern over weaker markets,” said Fat Prophets mining analyst David Lennox.

BHP’s shares closed down just 0.06 percent at 33.730 in Australia. They fell almost 1 percent in London by 1225 GMT compared to a half percent fall for the FTSE 100 index as a whole.

Fortescue plans to review in December whether to push ahead with tripling its iron ore capacity, a plan it deferred in September when iron ore prices slid to a three-year low.

The company had expected iron ore prices to hold around $120 a tonne, but when prices slumped to $87 in September it slammed the brakes on plans to lift its annual capacity to 155 million tonnes by digging the Kings mine.

Iron ore prices have since rebounded to around $120 and Fortescue said this has given the company more confidence to try to revive the Kings development.

“We’ve spent the vast amount of the capital there, so we are very keen to restart that as soon as we possibly can...It’s looking very promising,” Nev Power, Fortescue’s chief executive, told reporters after its annual general meeting on Wednesday. Still uncertainties over China remain.

Iron ore prices may drop nearly 10 percent over the next three years as China’s economic growth shifts to a slower gear, a Reuters poll in late October showed.

Australian mining magnate Gina Rinehart’s $10 billion Roy Hill iron ore project is also running behind plan, now expecting to start shipping iron ore by September 2015 if it secures debt financing by mid-2013 as hoped.

Taqa to cut US, Canada spending by 30% after third quarter loss

REUTERS

ABU DHABI

ABU Dhabi National Energy Co (Taqa) will cut spending in North America by 30 percent in 2013 to weather a downturn in commodity prices, its chief executive said after reporting a third-quarter loss.

Taqa, which is 75-percent owned by the Abu Dhabi government, will cut 2013 capital expenditure in Canada and the United States to $500 million from the planned $750 million, Carl Sheldon said in a conference call on Wednesday.

While oil prices continued to soften, natural gas prices were 40 percent lower in third quarter compared with the same period last year, the company said.

Though its North American spend will be cut, overall capital expenditure will remain unchanged at about $2.2 billion to $2.3 billion, Sheldon added.

The company swung to a third-quarter net loss of 288 million dirhams ($78.4 million), against a profit of 537 million dirhams a year ago, largely because of 2.73 billion dirhams in construction costs related to the Jorf Lasfar power plant in Morocco and a 272 million dirham charge to account for tax increases in the UK.

“Our financial performance over the past quarter has been impacted by a series of one-off items - both cash and non-cash,” Chief Financial Officer Stephen Kersley said in a statement.

Revenue rose 43 percent to 8.83 billion dirhams during the quarter, from 6.2 billion dirhams a year ago. Oil and gas revenue fell to 2.56 billion dirhams from 2.74 billion dirhams, while fuel revenue dropped to 952 million dirhams from 1.15 billion dirhams.

Taqa said that it will either sell non-core acreage or increase production in core areas in North America to counter the downturn in oil and gas prices.

The company, which also runs power plants in Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Ghana and India, added that it plans to start oil and gas operations in northern Africa.

On Monday Taqa mandated five banks for a dollar- denominated bond that could be issued before the end of the year.

Taqa last tapped global debt markets in December last year with a $1.5 billion two-tranche bond to refinance debt.

Separately, sources told Reuters on Monday that Taqa is in advanced talks to buy a stake in an oil block in Iraqi Kurdistan by taking a majority interest in General Exploration Partners.

Taqa shares shares were trading flat on the Abu Dhabi bourse at 0900 GMT but are up about 9 percent this year.

Doctors highlight occupational health hazards among workers

LANI ROSE R DIZON

DOHA VARIOUS occupational health hazards among workers, including exposure to electromagnetic fields, mercury, infectious diseases, as well as stress at workplace, were highlighted at the 1st Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) Occupational Health and Safety Symposium on Wednesday.

The event was attended by over 300 healthcare providers and staffs from different healthcare institutions in the country.

Speaking at the event, Dr Hassan Elfar, professor of occupational medicine from the Supreme Council of Health, said that globally around two million healthcare workers experience percutaneous exposure to infectious diseases each year.

Citing a World Health Organization (WHO) report, he said that 37.6 percent of Hepatitis B, 39 percent of Hepatitis C, and 4.4 percent of HIV/AIDS cases in healthcare workers around the world were due to needle stick injuries.

Moreover, the study states that infection with Hepatitis B virus is 95 percent preventable with immunisation but only less than 20 percent of health workers in some regions of the world have received all three doses needed for immunity.

Elfar also said, “Healthcare facilities around the world employ over 59 million workers who are exposed to a complex variety of health and safety hazards everyday.

Healthcare workers need protection from these workplace hazards.” He went on to reiterate the WHO Global plan of Action on workers’ health which urges all member states to develop national programmes for health workers.

Speaking on the most common cases in the country, Dr Huda al Noimi, director of the Occupational Health and Safety at HMC, said, “Nowadays, headaches, neck, shoulder, and back pains, as well as stress-related illnesses are most commonly seen in hospitals.

And most of the patients are working with computers for long periods of time. If left untreated, such cases could lead to distortion of the bones which require surgery.” Professor David Koh, chair of Occupational Health and Medicine at the Universiti Brunei Darussalam and a renowned international expert in the field, spoke about assessing occupational health exposures.

Speaking about ways to boost occupational health and safety in Qatar, he said, “With all the new projects coming to Qatar, the best time to focus on health and safety is now. You assess health and safety risk before these industries are set up and you can put in preventive measures even at the development stage. It makes a lot more sense and it’s costeffective.

For the moment, it’s necessary to increase awareness and let people know the importance of occupational health and safety.”

HMC mulls study on radiation’s effect on health

LANI ROSE R DIZON

DOHA THE Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) is planning to conduct a study on the health effects of electromagnetic radiation field (EMF) to residents in Qatar, officials said.

Speaking to the media on the sidelines of the 1st HMC Occupational Health and Safety Symposium on Wednesday, Dr Huda al Noimi, director of Occupational Health and Safety at HMC, said, “Electromagnetic radiation is one of the fields that need more research not only at HMC but also in the world. Through the years, thousands of international studies have been trying to identify the biological and health effects of exposure to electromagnetic radiation, and relate it to the increasing number of cancer cases and other diseases today. This is an important subject because we are all exposed to electromagnetic fields everyday. We’re now planning to conduct a research on this field with a team from the National Center for Cancer Care and Research through the Qatar National Research Fund.” Sources of electromagnetic radiation (also called electromagnetic field), include power lines, microwave ovens, computer and TV screens, security devices, radars, hair dryers, and mobile phones and their base stations among others.

Dr Rabih Waqif Hammoud, chief medical physicist, radiation oncology at the National Center for Cancer Care and Research, also said, “More and more recommendations are done to minimise the use of cellular phones nowadays.

Some studies even suggest that you can get higher radiation frequency levels by using mobile phones compared to being exposed to a power line on the street. And everyday we use these electromagnetic field sources such as hair dryers and microwave ovens. Some of the major international studies suggest that there is a correlation between exposure to electromagnetic fields and breast cancer. Other studies suggest exposure to higher electromagnetic fields leads to a relatively increased risk of leukaemia in children.” However, Hammoud also pointed out that despite the large number of studies conducted on the subject, there has never been a well-defined study yet which includes cellular, animal, human and epidemiological research with a clear conclusion about the health effects of one’s exposure to electromagnetic fields.

Speaking on the planned study, he said, “We’re thinking about conducting an epidemiological research on the subject. Some of the ideas we’re considering to do is to look for areas in Qatar with high power lines and antennas, get some measurements in the area and analyse what kind of electromagnetic fields are there. And maybe we can get some data from the population.”

23 Qatari students to go on cultural visit of Tours

RAMY SALAMA

DOHA A GROUP of 23 Qatari students of the French language will leave for France on a week-long educational and cultural visit to Tours, a city renowned for the perfection of its local spoken French.

Ambassador of France in Qatar HE Jean-Christophe Peaucelle interacted with the students, who were at a briefing to announce the visit on Wednesday. “France is a beautiful country, and the French people will welcome you to our country. Use the words and phrases you have learned in your study of the French language, and this visit will certainly improve your abilities in using French,” the envoy said.

The ambassador encouraged the students to interact with French people, and not to be shy when dealing with them, urging them to get the most out of their visit.

Jokingly, the envoy advised them to seek topics of discussion other than Paris Saint- Germain, the French football club owned by Qatar Investment Authority.

The trip is being sponsored by the Embassy of France in Qatar, French multinational oil and gas company Total and the Qatar Higher Education Institute, which was represented by the institute’s Acting Director Ali Abdullah al Boueinein.

Total was represented by a delegation including the President of Total Upstream Yves-Louis Darricarrère, the Senior Vice-President for the Middle East of Total Exploration and Production Arnaud Breuillac and the Managing Director of Total Exploration and Production Qatar Stephane Michel.

The visiting students will stay with a French host family for a week — a learning experience which should also give them a taste of French culture. Additional learning opportunities and cultural events are planned for them during their stay.

The students, 19 boys and 4 girls, were chosen because they are studying French at the Institut Francais in Qatar.

In addition, they are considering receiving their higher education at a University in France. The students leave for France next week.

The Institut Français du Qatar, founded as the French Cultural Center of Doha in 1989, is the official French government centre of language and culture in Qatar, and one of 150 such French Institutes worldwide. The Institut Français exists to promote French language and culture, and to encourage cross-cultural exchange, in order to create a cultural bridge between the two countries.

Cabinet welcomes Syrian opposition agreement, unity

MOHAMED KHOULAIDI

DOHA THE International Conference on Food Security in Dry Lands (FSDL) opened at the Qatar University (QU) on Wednesday under the patronage of the Heir Apparent His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani.

Speaking at the event, QU President Prof Sheikha al Misnad said, “Food security is an important issue which will define the future development and have impact on global health, economy and even security. No matter what the causes of food shortages in different countries are, to scuttle the harmful effects, joint action and cooperation among researchers, academics, political and governmental institutions are required.” She added: “In the Arab world, the crisis is well-defined. We are one of the world’s regions most dependent on food imports. There may be time when the demand for food be greater because of demographic increase and decrease in agricultural production due to scarcity of water.” On his part, QNFSP Chairman Fahad bin Mohammed al Attiya, who is also the chairman of the conference, said: “Qatar imports more than 90 percent of its food needs and faces lack of water resources. Meanwhile, the seawater desalination has become the sole source of the country’s water supply, a condition that underlines the urgency to create mechanisms to secure water and food stocks in case of any emergency.

“With some changes expected in the coming years, it may be more difficult to provide enough food to the residents. To afford this, the dry countries are working together to organise a discussion forum in order to find long-term solutions to challenges facing food security.” He said the whole world was facing the effects of climate change.

“As a result, all dry countries, which make up 40 percent of the world’s total countries, are threatened by food insecurity as water scarcity has reached alarming proportions in the wake of the climate changes and, hence, the increasing need to develop a regional strategy for food security,” he said.

The conference is expected to come up with some recommendations that represent the consensus of the participants on future courses of action required to ensure food security. It will provide insights into future policies, strategic approaches and investments to boost agricultural production to enhance food security and increase resilience to future price hikes.

There will also be an adoption of the Doha Declaration that would set a target and date for the allocation of a significant proportion of the national public expenditure for programmes and projects to achieve food security on an environmentally, economically and socially sustainable basis.

Over 400 ambassadors, government officials, policy-makers, development experts, scholars and researchers from 50 countries are taking part in the two-day meet.

The conference is being organised by the Qatar National Food Security Programme (QNFSP) in collaboration with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the World Bank (WB), the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the International Centre for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA), the Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute (QEERI), the Arab Water Council and the Centre for International and Regional Studies (CIRS) at Georgetown University.

Qatar for global efforts to ensure food security

JOSEPH VARGHESE

DOHA EVERY child is special to us as we believe that producing wellgroomed children will facilitate overall community development, says Rakesh Bharti Mittal, vice-chairman and managing director of Bharti Enterprises Limited, which runs the Satya Bharti School Programme, one of the winners of WISE 2012 award.

The Satya Bharti School Programme provides holistic, free-of-charge education to underprivileged children, particularly girls, in rural India.

According to Mittal, Bharti Foundation is a partner in Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser’s global initiative ‘Educate A Child’.

Talking to Qatar Tribune, Mittal said that the idea of partnering with ‘Educate A Child’ initiative came up during HH Sheikha Moza’s visit to India.

HE explained: “My brother Sunil had an interaction with Her Highness and she expressed her desire for the realisation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) providing primary education to all children in the world. We found that it was a common goal because India too is committed to the MDGs and we are reaching out to marginalised children in the remote areas of the country. So, we realised that ‘Educate A Child’ initiative would be a perfect platform where we could work together, and we decided to partner with the initiative.” He said the programme, which started in 2006, partnered with state governments to complement the nation’s education agenda, adding that the programme has impacted more than 62,000 children 48 percent of whom are girls and 76 percent are from minority communities. “Currently, the programme reaches over 37,500 children in 750 villages in six states of the country. We have 1,500 teachers, who are given 20 days of training every year,” Mittal said.

He said the foundation also supports 71 schools on different projects in some African countries.

Mittal said the program has made positive impacts on the thinking of the local people.

He said: “Parents now feel that their children need a better living. Their attitudes about life have changed positively compared to some ten years back. The programme has made parents and communities aware of the need for high-quality education, and it is developing a generation of educated and confident citizens who are socially conscious.” He added that the school organised many activities such as community development campaigns about illiteracy, substance abuse, child marriages and the status of widows in villages. Mittal opined that the legislation to make right to education as the fundamental right enacted by the government of India two years ago has helped the country to bring many children back to school and almost 93 percent of the children in India are currently attending schools.

He said there were plans to provide vocational training for the children who have completed schooling.

“This will give them opportunity to get trained in various skills and get employment soon after the completion of the courses.” he added.

10 killed as Iran rescue chopper crashes in fog

TEHRAN TEN people were killed on Wednesday when a rescue helicopter ferrying wounded people from a vehicle accident to hospital hit power lines and crashed to the ground in northeastern Iran, media reported.

Those who died included four members of the helicopter crew, five people who had been wounded in the minibus crash and a medic from the emergency services.

“Eight people were killed on the spot and two people wounded in the crash died later in hospital,” local emergency medical services official Reza Vafaeenejad told the ISNA news agency.

The report quoted an emergency services official in Mashhad as saying the rescue chopper was taking people wounded in a vehicle accident to hospital in the city when it hit high voltage power lines in thick fog.

The “helicopter belonged to the air force and was on lease to the emergency services,” the official said.

Iran is subject to harsh sanctions from Western countries over its disputed nuclear programme, with spare parts for its military aircraft fleet as well as for civilian planes affected.

Meanwhile, in a separate development, an Iranian lawmaker says the country’s parliament has postponed the implementation of a second round of subsidy cuts until 2013 over fears of stoking already rampant inflation.

The head of the parliamentary budgetary and planning committee Gholam Reza Mesbahi Moghaddam told the semiofficial Mehr news agency the second phase of the three-part plan would likely cause a 15- percent jump in the inflation rate, which is officially running at almost 25 percent.

Iran began cutting subsidies on energy and food in 2010.

The second phase, which targeted gasoline subsidies, was to take effect in March 2012.

Parliament’s decision on Tuesday officially pushed back the second round of cuts to March 2013.

Iran has been under increasing economic sanctions by the West that suspects Iran is pursuing nuclear weapon, a charge Iran denies.

Incidentally, Iran said on Wednesday that it successfully tested a new air defense system modeled after the US Hawk system during a drill in the country’s east. A senior Iranian official called the maneuvers a “slap” to America and Israel. State TV broadcast footage on Tuesday said to be from the drill, which began on Saturday and which has been billed as “massive.” The footage shows a Hawk missile being launched and hitting a mock aircraft. Earlier reports said the new surfaceto- air system is named “Mersad,” or Ambush. It is capable of locking a flying object at a distance of 80 kilometers and can hit from 45 kilometers away, state TV said.

According to the reports, the Iranian military is expected to test anti-aircraft batteries and other air defense systems as part of the drill.

“This military exercise is a message and a strong slap to those countries that threaten,” said air defense chief Gen Farzad Esmaili, referring to the US and Israel. “And a message of peace and friendship to friendly countries.”

Kuwaiti political turmoil worsens before Dec 1 polls

REUTERS KUWAIT TO gauge the impact of Kuwait’s political deadlock on its economy, access the Internet with a fixed-line broadband connection. The line is slow, very slow - half the speed of a connection in other wealthy Gulf Arab states, according to a very senior telecommunications executive.

The ministry of communications owns and operates the country’s fixed-line infrastructure, with the four major Internet service providers paying the government to use it.

But the largely copper-based network cannot carry enough bandwidth to satisfy consumer demand, according to Essa al Kooheji, general manager at Qualitynet, which has an estimated 45 percent market share for fixed-line Internet.

Only about 15 percent of fixed-line broadband connections in the country use faster fibre optic lines, which are relatively common elsewhere in the Gulf, Kooheji said.

“We receive lots of calls from customers who want to upgrade and take the maximum speed for the price available, but they cannot do so,” he told Reuters in September. “The government should put more effort into improving the telecom infrastructure rather than cutting prices.” For many businessmen, Kuwait is a frustrating contradiction: a fabulously rich country which is economically backward. And the gap between its wealth and its level of development appears to be widening.

As the country’s political tensions have worsened in the last several months, prompting authorities to dissolve parliament and call snap elections for December 1, businessmen have increasingly worried that the political system has become unable to address the economic problems.

A chorus of executives has publicly criticised the government’s economic management, a rare phenomenon in a region where the business community prefers to lobby authorities discretely behind the scenes.

Kuwait’s oil wealth gives the country of about 3.7 million people, including 1.2 million Kuwaiti citizens, a per capita gross national income of about $50,000, among the ten highest in the world and the second highest in the Gulf after Qatar.

But its creaking infrastructure, unfriendly business climate and near-total dependence on oil put Kuwait at a much lower level in terms of the sophistication and dynamism of its economy - especially compared to its Gulf neighbours, which are working harder to upgrade their infrastructure and diversify their economies through private sector investment.

“Kuwait’s economy needs upgrading and investment, from the upstream wells to the refineries, from basic infrastructure to healthcare,” said Farouk Soussa, M-E chief economist at Citigroup in Dubai. Unfinished buildings dot the skyline, with piles of rubble and trash left uncleared in residential areas for month.

Syria unleashes troops, slams opposition for ‘war’

AFP DAMASCUS SYRIA’S regime unleashed tank fire and air strikes on rebels on Wednesday as it slammed France for recognising an opposition bloc formed in Qatar that it said amounted to a “declaration of war”.

Tanks shelled two Palestinian refugee camps in the opposition bastion of southern Damascus, while fighter jets bombed Maaret al Numan, a town near Turkey which rebels captured last month, a watchdog said.

But rebel fighters killed at least 18 soldiers as they overran a military post near Ras al Ain, a town also on the Turkish border that the armed opposition seized on Friday. A day after France became the first Western nation to recognise the newly united opposition, Damascus hit out at the decision and said the Qatar meeting at which the dissident factions united on Sunday amounted to a war declaration.

“The Doha meeting was a declaration of war. These people (the opposition) don’t want to solve the issue peacefully through the mechanisms of the UN,” Syria’s deputy foreign minister, Faisal Muqdad, said.

“We read the Doha document and they reject any dialogue with the government.” Reacting to the French move, Muqdad said: “Allow me to use the word, this is an immoral position. They are supporting killers, terrorists and they are encouraging the destruction of Syria.” Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev of Russia, a strong Damascus ally, also criticised countries siding with the opposition and insisted Moscow was staying neutral.

“We don’t support anybody in this conflict, neither President Assad nor the rebels... but unfortunately, the point of view of some states is more one-sided,” Medvedev told Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat.

President Francois Hollande said Paris recognised the coalition as “the sole representative of the Syrian people and thus as the future provisional government of a democratic Syria, allowing an end to the Bashar al-Assad regime”.

The question of arming the rebels would now “have to be necessarily reviewed not only in France but in all countries which will recognise this government,” Hollande added.

National Coalition chief Ahmed Moaz al Khatib has called on world powers to arm President Assad’s foes, saying they desperately needed “specialised weapons” in order to “cut short the suffering of the Syrians and their bloodshed”.

The US said the new National Coalition was “a legitimate representative” of the Syrian people, but stopped short of recognising it as the sole representative.

Britain said it wants to see more evidence the grouping has strong support inside Syria before formally recognising it.

The French move came 24 hours after the coalition was recognised by the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The Arab League stopped short of granting the bloc full recognition, only saying it saw the alliance as “the legitimate representative of the Syrian opposition”. The opposition agreed on Sunday to unify their fighting forces under a military council and to set up a judicial commission for rebel-held areas. They plan to form a provisional government.

On the ground, tanks moved on the Yarmuk refugee camp and the neighbouring Damascus district of Tadamum after battles in the area late on Tuesday, said the Observatory.

The latest clashes that killed at least 18 soldiers near Ras al Ain, on the border with Turkey, also left dead three rebel fighters and wounded other combatants, said the Observatory.

Meanwhile, in a separate development, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived inRiyadh for talks with his Arab counterparts in the Gulf on Wednesday that are expected to highlight differences on the conflict in Syria. Lavrov began his visit by meeting with Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al Faisa.

The Russian envoy is expected to meet later with the foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which groups Saudi Arabia with Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE.

The GCC was the first to recognise the new National Coalition formed in Doha on last Sunday.

Qatar tops M-E luxury spending

TRIBUNE NEWS NETWORK

DOHA QATARIS are the biggest buyers of luxury goods across the Middle East; spending up to $5,000 a month on luxury items, says a report of the American Express Middle East Luxury Spending Tracker published on Wednesday.

According to the report, Qatar is closely followed by Bahrain, while consumers in Oman and Jordan are the most conservative shoppers spending less than $250 per month.

The report further revealed that spending on premium goods and experiences by consumers in the Middle East is on the rise and that in all markets except the UAE, consumers plan to increase spending on luxury goods and experiences through the end of 2012, as their personal circumstances improve and they develop greater awareness of brands and high quality products.

The American Express Middle East Luxury Spending Tracker surveyed a random sample of 1,000 residents drawn from Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar and the UAE.

“Consumer attitudes towards spending have begun to improve significantly and there is a noticeable rise in spending on luxury goods and experiences across the region,” said Mazin Khoury, CEO, American Express Middle East.

As well as looking at levels of spending, the survey also explored the most influential factors when consumers make luxury purchasing decisions and where they prefer to shop: Luxury products such as cars, high end electronic goods and fashion accessories were identified by respondents as preferred purchases over experiential luxury such as holidays and spa treatments this year.

Fashion tops the list of preferred purchases in 2012, with 37 percent of respondents saying they enjoy shopping for fashion-related items. Cars are also a leading luxury purchase in 2012, with 31 percent of respondents planning to buy new vehicles this year.

Automobile purchases are highest in the UAE with 42 percent looking to buy new cars in 2012, compared to only 24 per cent of Bahraini respondents. Other favoured purchases included high-end electronic goods and personal accessories.

In contrast to other countries in the region, consumer spend on food and dining out is remarkably high in the UAE, a likely reflection of the considerable array of international dining options in the country.

The survey also found that quality and brand name are the leading factors which influence consumers’ luxury purchasing decisions.

“Quality is by far the biggest driver of luxury purchases among consumers, though the brand name also remains a key deciding factor. Those surveyed said that the brand name was key in determining spend, in addition to sales, price reductions and advertising.

It is only in the UAE that a friend’s recommendation carried the greatest weight,” Khoury added.

When it comes to the ideal shopping destination, Dubai is almost universally seen as the prime location for purchasing branded luxury products, selected by 65 percent of respondents.

The emirate was named the preferred shopping destination by 88 percent of respondents from the UAE, 81 percent from Oman, 78 percent from Bahrain and 67 percent from Qatar.

Commenting on the trends, Khoury said “Consumers today have become more conscious of the cost of products and services and insist on getting maximum value and rewards for their investment.

The inclination towards acquiring tangible luxury goods as opposed to participating in luxury experiences is in keeping with the new consumer sentiment that demands greater value for money. Tangible luxury offers greater perceived value as consumers can experience the rewards for their investment over a longer period.”

Cairo recalls envoy to Tel Aviv over top Hamas leader’s killing

AFP

GAZA CITY PRESIDENT Mohammed Morsi on Wednesday recalled Egypt’s ambassador to Israel after a series of airstrikes in Gaza killed a top Hamas militant and six other Palestinians.

Morsi decided to “recall Egypt’s ambassador to Israel,” his spokesman Yassir Ali said in a statement broadcast on state television. But an Israeli diplomat in Jerusalem denied the reports and said “the embassy in Cairo was functioning as normal.” Meanwhile, the Cairo-based Arab League has decided to discuss the Israeli attack on Gaza at a special meeting to be held either on Thursday or Saturday, a senior League diplomat said.

Six Palestinians including top Hamas commander Ahmed Jaabari were killed in more than 20 Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, the Hamas interior ministry said. “The Israeli occupation has carried out more than 20 air strikes on targets and headquarters of the police and security in the Gaza Strip. So far, six people have been killed, including commander Ahmed Jaabari,” interior ministry spokesman Islam Shahwan said.

He said at least 25 people had been injured in the attacks. Two more people died in further strikes in Gaza City, with another two killed in the northern town of Beit Lahiya, sources said.

Hamas earlier confirmed the death of Jaabari. “The martyr is Ahmed Jaabari and his bodyguard was injured,” Ayman Sahabani, a doctor at Shifa hospital in Gaza City, said.

Israel’s Shin Bet domestic intelligence agency and the military confirmed the operation. “During a joint operation of the General Security Service (Shin Bet) and the IDF (army) today, Ahmed Jaabari, the senior commander of the military wing of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, was targeted,” a statement from the Shin Bet said.

Moza launches push to educate 61mn children

JOSEPH VARGHESE

DOHA CHAIRPERSON of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF) Her Highness Shiekha Moza bint Nasser launched a new global education initiative named ‘Educate A Child’( EAC) on Wednesday aiming to provide quality education to 61 million children missing out on basic education due to poverty, conflict, natural disaster and prejudice.

To begin with, around 500,000 children are already covered by 25 EAC-funded projects in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

HH Sheikha Moza announced the launch of this revolutionary educational initiative on the second day of the World Innovation Summit for Education being held at the Qatar National Convention Center (QNCC).

Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who is also the special UN envoy for education as well as the representatives of the strategic partners of the initiative were present during the event.

EAC builds on Sheikha Moza’s mandate as a UNESCO Special Envoy on Basic and Higher Education, a United Nations Millennium Development Goal Advocate and a Steering Committee member of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Education First initiative.

The Strategic partners of the initiative are: Bharti Foundation, Global Partnership for Education, UNESCO, UNHCR and UNRWA.

While the Implementing Partners are BRAC (Bangladesh), Dhaka Ahsania Mission (Bangladesh), Educate Girls (India), Girl Child Network (Kenya), International Rescue Committee (Côte d’Ivoire), Norwegian Refugee Council (Côte d’Ivoire), Save the Children (Côte d’Ivoire), Gyan Shala (India), UNICEF-Chad, UNICEF-Sudan and UNICEF-South-Sudan.

Launching the EAC intiative, Sheikha Moza said that millions of children are being robbed of their fundamental right to quality education in various parts of the world.

She emphasised that EAC would reignite the world’s commitment to the hardest- to-reach children, the forgotten children, numbering in millions, who don’t even have schools to go to.

She said, “Right across the world, because of disaster, because of poverty, children are being denied a chance to change their destinies.

Today, we are here to give them that chance; to change the destiny of millions.” She pointed out that 61 million children were deprived of primary education which is equal to the population of Beijing, London, Paris, Cairo and Karachi put together.

Behind these numbers are countless reallife stories, stories of disadvantage, poverty, conflict, of disaster. But there are also stories of courage, of resilience, of determination which provide the silver lining to the gloomy situation.

Every single one of them deserves a chance to achieve great things. And that is what we want to accomplish with Educate A Child,” she added.

Sheikha Moza also said that the mission was to turn attention back to the disadvantaged children of today, who could become the confident and talented adults of tomorrow, given proper opportunities. She emphasised, “The challenge is daunting.

The children still not in school are the ones hardest to reach, in the most difficult circumstances.

But we cannot turn our back on them.” She said that reaching out to these children would require huge investment, commitment and inventiveness.