Undercover Muslim.
Undercover Muslim.

Undercover Muslim: a conflicted odyssey into war-torn Yemen



In 2004, Theo Padnos, an American, had just published a moderately successful book about his time teaching literature to juveniles in a high-security Vermont prison. But he doubted his work and wanted an experience.

The Review: Books

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The US president and vice president George W Bush and Dick Cheney were "rolling out their adventure-in-Iraq programme". Images of the American Taliban, John Walker Lindh, were everywhere.

"The kid had clearly been lost in Arabia," Padnos writes. "But he had also found himself in some important way."

Padnos's own Yemen odyssey proves similarly conflicted.

He gets high on qat; he studies in radical madrassas: he despairs of a life of rice, chicken and tea when pizza and coke are so tempting. He is by turns embraced as a believer and mistrusted as a fake. The problem is that not even he seems to know which is true.

When submitting to Islam he has Huckleberry Finn in mind, "the way he committed himself to the...current of the river". So is he questing or drifting?

A friend in the Yemeni capital Sanaa tells Padnos he isn't qualified to write this book and it is tempting to agree. Because if this is a journey it's not so much incredible as inconsequential.

Dengue fever symptoms

High fever (40°C/104°F)
Severe headache
Pain behind the eyes
Muscle and joint pains
Nausea
Vomiting
Swollen glands
Rash

Changing visa rules

For decades the UAE has granted two and three year visas to foreign workers, tied to their current employer. Now that's changing.

Last year, the UAE cabinet also approved providing 10-year visas to foreigners with investments in the UAE of at least Dh10 million, if non-real estate assets account for at least 60 per cent of the total. Investors can bring their spouses and children into the country.

It also approved five-year residency to owners of UAE real estate worth at least 5 million dirhams.

The government also said that leading academics, medical doctors, scientists, engineers and star students would be eligible for similar long-term visas, without the need for financial investments in the country.

The first batch - 20 finalists for the Mohammed bin Rashid Medal for Scientific Distinction.- were awarded in January and more are expected to follow.

The trailblazers

Sixteen boys and 15 girls have gone on from Go-Pro Academy in Dubai to either professional contracts abroad or scholarships in the United States. Here are two of the most prominent.

Georgia Gibson (Newcastle United)
The reason the academy in Dubai first set up a girls’ programme was to help Gibson reach her potential. Now she plays professionally for Newcastle United in the UK.

Mackenzie Hunt (Everton)
Attended DESS in Dubai, before heading to the UK to join Everton full time as a teenager. He was on the bench for the first team as recently as their fixture against Brighton on February 24.

KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

The specs

Engine: four-litre V6 and 3.5-litre V6 twin-turbo

Transmission: six-speed and 10-speed

Power: 271 and 409 horsepower

Torque: 385 and 650Nm

Price: from Dh229,900 to Dh355,000

Biog

Mr Kandhari is legally authorised to conduct marriages in the gurdwara

He has officiated weddings of Sikhs and people of different faiths from Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Russia, the US and Canada

Father of two sons, grandfather of six

Plays golf once a week

Enjoys trying new holiday destinations with his wife and family

Walks for an hour every morning

Completed a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Loyola College, Chennai, India

2019 is a milestone because he completes 50 years in business

 

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Equestrian

Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).

Judo
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).

Cycling
Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Swimming

Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Athletics

Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

SPECS

Engine: Two-litre four-cylinder turbo
Power: 235hp
Torque: 350Nm
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic
Price: From Dh167,500 ($45,000)
On sale: Now

Fitness problems in men's tennis

Andy Murray - hip

Novak Djokovic - elbow

Roger Federer - back

Stan Wawrinka - knee

Kei Nishikori - wrist

Marin Cilic - adductor


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