Cup runneth empty for Iraqi fans stuck at airport in Bahrain



Were the immigration and customs officials at Bahrain airport showing just a little bit of bias last week in their treatment of football fans arriving for the final of the Gulf Cup?

UAE supporters, some of whom arrived courtesy of free plane seats provided by du and Etisalat, reported a generally busy but efficient visa processing system when they arrived in Bahrain.

Most Emiratis got through and off to the match, versus Iraq, pretty quickly. Iraqi fans, on the other hand, faced something of a nightmare, according to Iraqi pals of mine who were getting updates via text in Dubai.

In Baghdad, they had been promised visas on arrival in Bahrain, but when many of them got there they were told there were no visa facilities, and they were kept at the airport until their return flight, some 15 hours later.

Could this discrepancy in treatment be related to the fact that Iraq had beaten Bahrain in the semi-final, shouldering aside the host nation from what they had assumed was their rightful place in the final?

I guess we'll never know. But a round plane trip of six hours, either side of 15 hours at an airport only for your team to lose to the UAE must have been the ultimate in disappointment.

***

There was airport misery of another kind at Kuwait last Thursday, with similar stories of overcrowding, bureaucratic inefficiencies and disappointment, although this time the victims were not football fans, but financial public relations executives.

Many firms from Dubai, representing the cream of the region's spin-doctoring profession, had made the short trip to Kuwait to take part in the "beauty parade" demanded by Zain, the telecoms company that is planning an share flotation on the Iraqi stock market.

Such share deals are regarded as lucrative pieces of the action, but have been few and far between recently, especially in Dubai.

So there was quite a scrum of PR execs ready to make the trip for the chance of some easy pickings with Zain. One poor soul told me: "It was awful at the airport, standing around for ages waiting to clear another obstacle placed in your way by the immigration bureaucracy, but at the same time having to be polite to the competition."

That's the difference between PRs and football fans, I suppose: in football, you don't feel obliged to make small talk with the competition.

***

I had a trip to Dubai Creek last weekend, a place I haven't really been to very much since I first arrived in the emirate more than six years ago.

Back then a trip to Dubai's commercial artery, with an abra ride from Bur Dubai to Deira, was part of the Dubai initiation; now, a pleasant stroll along the creek by Bastakiya with wife and child made for a pleasant Friday afternoon. You can also recreate one of the journeys that helped to make Dubai such a thriving commercial centre.

Writers in the 1970s describe the steady flow of traffic from the HSBC branch in Bur Dubai to the Deira side, which back then had the only decent hotel in the emirate, the Carlton. The deals were hatched at the bank, and completed with a handshake at the hotel. Oh for the simple, good old days.

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Director: James Gunn

Stars: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper

Rating: 4/5

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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

Five expert hiking tips
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The Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index

The Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index

Mazen Abukhater, principal and actuary at global consultancy Mercer, Middle East, says the company’s Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index - which benchmarks 34 pension schemes across the globe to assess their adequacy, sustainability and integrity - included Saudi Arabia for the first time this year to offer a glimpse into the region.

The index highlighted fundamental issues for all 34 countries, such as a rapid ageing population and a low growth / low interest environment putting pressure on expected returns. It also highlighted the increasing popularity around the world of defined contribution schemes.

“Average life expectancy has been increasing by about three years every 10 years. Someone born in 1947 is expected to live until 85 whereas someone born in 2007 is expected to live to 103,” Mr Abukhater told the Mena Pensions Conference.

“Are our systems equipped to handle these kind of life expectancies in the future? If so many people retire at 60, they are going to be in retirement for 43 years – so we need to adapt our retirement age to our changing life expectancy.”

Saudi Arabia came in the middle of Mercer’s ranking with a score of 58.9. The report said the country's index could be raised by improving the minimum level of support for the poorest aged individuals and increasing the labour force participation rate at older ages as life expectancies rise.

Mr Abukhater said the challenges of an ageing population, increased life expectancy and some individuals relying solely on their government for financial support in their retirement years will put the system under strain.

“To relieve that pressure, governments need to consider whether it is time to switch to a defined contribution scheme so that individuals can supplement their own future with the help of government support,” he said.

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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

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126: The length in metres of the legs supporting the structure

1 football pitch: The length of each permanent spoke is longer than a professional soccer pitch

16 A380 Airbuses: The equivalent weight of the wheel rim.

9,000 tonnes: The amount of steel used to construct the project.

5 tonnes: The weight of each permanent spoke that is holding the wheel rim in place

192: The amount of cable wires used to create the wheel. They measure a distance of 2,4000km in total, the equivalent of the distance between Dubai and Cairo.

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"They see their tomorrows slipping out of their reach. And though it seems to them that everything outside this reality is heaven, yet they do not want to go to that heaven. They stay, because they are afflicted with hope." - Mahmoud Darwish, to attendees of the Palestine Festival of Literature, 2008

His life in brief: Born in a village near Galilee, he lived in exile for most of his life and started writing poetry after high school. He was arrested several times by Israel for what were deemed to be inciteful poems. Most of his work focused on the love and yearning for his homeland, and he was regarded the Palestinian poet of resistance. Over the course of his life, he published more than 30 poetry collections and books of prose, with his work translated into more than 20 languages. Many of his poems were set to music by Arab composers, most significantly Marcel Khalife. Darwish died on August 9, 2008 after undergoing heart surgery in the United States. He was later buried in Ramallah where a shrine was erected in his honour.

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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

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1,000 tonnes of waste collected daily:

  • 800 tonnes converted into alternative fuel
  • 150 tonnes to landfill
  • 50 tonnes sold as scrap metal

800 tonnes of RDF replaces 500 tonnes of coal

Two conveyor lines treat more than 350,000 tonnes of waste per year

25 staff on site

 

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Rating: 3/5

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).

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April 15 - Chelsea (A)
April 21 - N. Forest (H)
April 24 - Liverpool (H)
April 27 - Brentford (H)
May 3 - Luton Town (A)
May 11 - Sheff Utd (H)
May 19 - Arsenal (A)

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Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
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Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends

The years Ramadan fell in May

1987

1954

1921

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Started: June 2022
Founder: Mohammed Alnamara
Based: Dubai
Sector: Microfinance
Current number of staff: 16
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Family offices

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Total fights: 32
Wins: 28
Wins by KO: 26
Losses: 4

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Author: Zakaria Tamer
Publisher: Syracuse University Press
Pages: 176

The years Ramadan fell in May

1987

1954

1921

1888