A new state and new agreements in Sudan



Results of the Sudanese referendum that would place Salva Kiir at the head of a new independent state in Sudan after July 9 raises questions about the morality of international politics and the politics of big western states, observes the columnist Randa Tqieddin in the pan-Arab daily Al Hayat.

The US administration has implied that it may lift US sanctions on Sudan, and rumour has it that if everything goes according to plan, the African Union would file a request with the UN Security Council to suspend its judicial pursuit of President Omar al Bashir.

As soon as the independence of southern Sudan is officially announced, the new state is expected to witness increasing interest from international oil companies. Although said companies claim that the available quantities aren't enough to transform the south into a big oil country, they will at the least ensure better revenues.

At the same time, north and south Sudan must reach a resource-sharing agreement since most of the Sudanese oil is found in the south, but can only be exported through a pipeline in the Sudanese port in the north. After years of conflict over natural resources, both independent states can now agree to an equitable and legal resource-sharing formula. Such an agreement, however, could have been more beneficial for the Sudanese people as a whole had it been reached before.

The end of a 30-year honeymoon for Israel

The fires of the present revolution in Egypt may spread to nearby Arab countries and might reach Israeli territories, which explains escalating concerns in Tel Aviv, observes the London-based daily Al Quds Al Arabi in its editorial.

The Israeli Chief of General Staff General, Gaby Ashkenazi, eloquently expressed this concern when he stated earlier this week that the Israeli army must prepare for a comprehensive regional war.

The regional war the general refers to would be against radical countries such as Iran and Syria. But it could also be joined against a "new Egypt" should the present uprising succeed in toppling Cairo's ruling regime.

Angry popular protests in various Egyptian cities have not brandished any anti-Israeli or anti-US banners, but it is also true that the demand to bring down the existing regime may establish a new order that would break with previous policies and rewrite Egypt's alliances.

In fact, Israel's concern and talk of reviewing its defence strategy in a way that takes the recent regional developments into consideration is the first success of this revolution. "Israel enjoyed a 30-year honeymoon with Egypt and was able to save an annual $20 billion on its defence budget due to the Camp David Accords. The Liberation Square protesters are now overturning this equation and taking Israel back to the atmosphere of war with the greatest state in the region."

A new age for Egyptian embassies arrives

In an opinion article for the Qatari daily Al Watan, Dr Ibrahim Arafat calls for Egypt's embassies throughout the world to gear up for a new age.

"The political machine in Cairo is working at the rhythm of the streets to create a new order. All decision-making agencies and experts, and more importantly, droves of Egyptians, are confirming that Egypt's political machine will this time yield real results that fulfil the aspirations of its people."

Egypt is on the verge of instituting a credible pluralistic democratic system. Its elections would no longer be staged farces, but genuine and encompassing practices that include all Egyptians, within Egypt and those that reside elsewhere.

Egyptian embassies everywhere could become addresses for a new reality and a platform for the practice of citizenship rights. Expatriate Egyptians' voices weren't taken into account under Mr Mubarak's regime, but their only solace was that their countrymen on the inside weren't heard either.

"Egypt is changing," says the writer. "It is better to seek change than to wait for it, especially because Egyptians scattered around the world run into the millions. Instead of waiting for bureaucratic directives, embassies must start preparing for the upcoming new phase where Egyptians would be standing in line to practice their most essential right: the right to vote.

A state: some deserve it, Palestinians don't

The West's reaction to the results of the referendum in south Sudan, in which 99 per cent of constituents voted for secession from the north, has betrayed the double standards the US and Europe apply in approaching the question of self-determination, stated the Emirati newspaper Al Khaleej in its editorial.

"These countries see the outcome of the referendum as 'historic' because it lays the foundation for a new, independent state in the south of Sudan."

Yet these same countries are not as excited to see the Palestinian people have their own independent state, despite knowing that it will come as no favour to the Palestinians, to whom the right to have a state has been granted under internationally approved resolutions more than 60 years ago.

All western promises to help establish a "livable Palestinian state", as expressed by US president Barack Obama, who once said he hoped to see the Palestinian state represented in the UN General Assembly by September, remain mere froth.

So what one has in the end is an extremely efficient West helping an African country split in half, yet desperately impotent in standing by the rights of Palestinians.

* Digest compiled by Racha Makarem

Credit Score explained

What is a credit score?

In the UAE your credit score is a number generated by the Al Etihad Credit Bureau (AECB), which represents your credit worthiness – in other words, your risk of defaulting on any debt repayments. In this country, the number is between 300 and 900. A low score indicates a higher risk of default, while a high score indicates you are a lower risk.

Why is it important?

Financial institutions will use it to decide whether or not you are a credit risk. Those with better scores may also receive preferential interest rates or terms on products such as loans, credit cards and mortgages.

How is it calculated?

The AECB collects information on your payment behaviour from banks as well as utilitiy and telecoms providers.

How can I improve my score?

By paying your bills on time and not missing any repayments, particularly your loan, credit card and mortgage payments. It is also wise to limit the number of credit card and loan applications you make and to reduce your outstanding balances.

How do I know if my score is low or high?

By checking it. Visit one of AECB’s Customer Happiness Centres with an original and valid Emirates ID, passport copy and valid email address. Liv. customers can also access the score directly from the banking app.

How much does it cost?

A credit report costs Dh100 while a report with the score included costs Dh150. Those only wanting the credit score pay Dh60. VAT is payable on top.

Du Football Champions

The fourth season of du Football Champions was launched at Gitex on Wednesday alongside the Middle East’s first sports-tech scouting platform.“du Talents”, which enables aspiring footballers to upload their profiles and highlights reels and communicate directly with coaches, is designed to extend the reach of the programme, which has already attracted more than 21,500 players in its first three years.

Attacks on Egypt’s long rooted Copts

Egypt’s Copts belong to one of the world’s oldest Christian communities, with Mark the Evangelist credited with founding their church around 300 AD. Orthodox Christians account for the overwhelming majority of Christians in Egypt, with the rest mainly made up of Greek Orthodox, Catholics and Anglicans.

The community accounts for some 10 per cent of Egypt’s 100 million people, with the largest concentrations of Christians found in Cairo, Alexandria and the provinces of Minya and Assiut south of Cairo.

Egypt’s Christians have had a somewhat turbulent history in the Muslim majority Arab nation, with the community occasionally suffering outright persecution but generally living in peace with their Muslim compatriots. But radical Muslims who have first emerged in the 1970s have whipped up anti-Christian sentiments, something that has, in turn, led to an upsurge in attacks against their places of worship, church-linked facilities as well as their businesses and homes.

More recently, ISIS has vowed to go after the Christians, claiming responsibility for a series of attacks against churches packed with worshippers starting December 2016.

The discrimination many Christians complain about and the shift towards religious conservatism by many Egyptian Muslims over the last 50 years have forced hundreds of thousands of Christians to migrate, starting new lives in growing communities in places as far afield as Australia, Canada and the United States.

Here is a look at major attacks against Egypt's Coptic Christians in recent years:

November 2: Masked gunmen riding pickup trucks opened fire on three buses carrying pilgrims to the remote desert monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor south of Cairo, killing 7 and wounding about 20. IS claimed responsibility for the attack.

May 26, 2017: Masked militants riding in three all-terrain cars open fire on a bus carrying pilgrims on their way to the Monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor, killing 29 and wounding 22. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.

April 2017: Twin attacks by suicide bombers hit churches in the coastal city of Alexandria and the Nile Delta city of Tanta. At least 43 people are killed and scores of worshippers injured in the Palm Sunday attack, which narrowly missed a ceremony presided over by Pope Tawadros II, spiritual leader of Egypt Orthodox Copts, in Alexandria's St. Mark's Cathedral. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks.

February 2017: Hundreds of Egyptian Christians flee their homes in the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula, fearing attacks by ISIS. The group's North Sinai affiliate had killed at least seven Coptic Christians in the restive peninsula in less than a month.

December 2016: A bombing at a chapel adjacent to Egypt's main Coptic Christian cathedral in Cairo kills 30 people and wounds dozens during Sunday Mass in one of the deadliest attacks carried out against the religious minority in recent memory. ISIS claimed responsibility.

July 2016: Pope Tawadros II says that since 2013 there were 37 sectarian attacks on Christians in Egypt, nearly one incident a month. A Muslim mob stabs to death a 27-year-old Coptic Christian man, Fam Khalaf, in the central city of Minya over a personal feud.

May 2016: A Muslim mob ransacks and torches seven Christian homes in Minya after rumours spread that a Christian man had an affair with a Muslim woman. The elderly mother of the Christian man was stripped naked and dragged through a street by the mob.

New Year's Eve 2011: A bomb explodes in a Coptic Christian church in Alexandria as worshippers leave after a midnight mass, killing more than 20 people.

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

A QUIET PLACE

Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

ETFs explained

Exhchange traded funds are bought and sold like shares, but operate as index-tracking funds, passively following their chosen indices, such as the S&P 500, FTSE 100 and the FTSE All World, plus a vast range of smaller exchanges and commodities, such as gold, silver, copper sugar, coffee and oil.

ETFs have zero upfront fees and annual charges as low as 0.07 per cent a year, which means you get to keep more of your returns, as actively managed funds can charge as much as 1.5 per cent a year.

There are thousands to choose from, with the five biggest providers BlackRock’s iShares range, Vanguard, State Street Global Advisors SPDR ETFs, Deutsche Bank AWM X-trackers and Invesco PowerShares.

Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★

The specs

Engine: 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8
Power: 620hp from 5,750-7,500rpm
Torque: 760Nm from 3,000-5,750rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
On sale: Now
Price: From Dh1.05 million ($286,000)

Globalization and its Discontents Revisited
Joseph E. Stiglitz
W. W. Norton & Company

CHATGPT ENTERPRISE FEATURES

• Enterprise-grade security and privacy

• Unlimited higher-speed GPT-4 access with no caps

• Longer context windows for processing longer inputs

• Advanced data analysis capabilities

• Customisation options

• Shareable chat templates that companies can use to collaborate and build common workflows

• Analytics dashboard for usage insights

• Free credits to use OpenAI APIs to extend OpenAI into a fully-custom solution for enterprises

The Baghdad Clock

Shahad Al Rawi, Oneworld

TECH SPECS: APPLE WATCH SERIES 9

Display: 41mm – 352 x 430; 45mm – 396 x 484; always-on Retina LTPO OLED, 2000 nits max; Ion-X glass (aluminium cases), sapphire crystal (stainless steel cases)

Processor: Apple S9 64-bit, W3 wireless, 2nd-gen Ultra Wideband

Capacity: 64GB

Memory: 1GB

Platform: watchOS 10

Health metrics: Blood oxygen sensor, electrical heart sensor and ECG, 3rd-gen optical heart sensor, high and low heart rate notifications, irregular rhythm notifications, sleep stages, temperature sensing

Emergency services: Emergency SOS, international emergency calling, crash detection, fall detection

Connectivity: GPS/GPS + cellular; Wi-Fi, LTE, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC (Apple Pay)

Durability: IP6X, water resistant up to 50m, dust resistant

Battery: 308mAh Li-ion, up to 18h regular/36h low power; wireless charging

Cards: eSIM

Finishes: Aluminium – midnight, pink, Product Red, silver, starlight; stainless steel – gold, graphite, silver

In the box: Watch Series 9, woven magnetic-to-USB-C charging cable, band/loop

Price: Starts at Dh1,599 (41mm) / Dh1,719 (45mm)

The specs: 2018 Ford Mustang GT

Price, base / as tested: Dh204,750 / Dh241,500
Engine: 5.0-litre V8
Gearbox: 10-speed automatic
Power: 460hp @ 7,000rpm
Torque: 569Nm @ 4,600rpm​​​​​​​
​​​​​​​Fuel economy, combined: 10.3L / 100km

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures

RACE CARD

6.30pm: Madjani Stakes Group 2 (PA) Dh97,500 (Dirt) 1,900m
7.05pm: Maiden (TB) Dh82,500 (D) 1,400m
7.40pm: Maiden (TB) Dh82,500 (D) 1,600m
8.15pm: Handicap (TB) Dh87,500 (D) 2,200m
8.50pm: Dubai Creek Mile Listed (TB) Dh132,500 (D) 1,600m
9.25pm: Conditions (TB) Dh120,000 (D) 1,900m
10pm: Handicap (TB) Dh92,500 (D) 1,400m

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

EMIRATES'S REVISED A350 DEPLOYMENT SCHEDULE

Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

MATCH INFO

Fixture: Ukraine v Portugal, Monday, 10.45pm (UAE)

TV: BeIN Sports