Illustration by Lee McGorie / The National
Illustration by Lee McGorie / The National

The airport gauntlet

In the nearly 10 years since the September 11 attacks in the US, we have had a shoe bomber in December 2001, the liquids scare in 2006 and the underwear bomber last Christmas Day. The latest incident may represent a new threat involving explosive powder, or may just be a twist on the liquids scare. An investigation was ordered by the White House and is under way.

If the explosive powder case does add a new element, it could trigger a new wave of air security rules. Some would be publicised, while others would not. That is because US federal law bars airlines flying to the US from revealing the directives they receive from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The reasoning is valid - if would-be hijackers know what screening procedures the US employs, they would have a higher chance of evading them.

Immediately after the incident, new directives were issued for US flights regarding passengers' use of blankets and lavatories, although these were eased a few days later. Attention has also focused on body scanners that can detect hidden items such as the explosive device that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had allegedly sewed into his underwear in preparation for his attack aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 as it was arriving in Detroit from Amsterdam.

Body scanners are likely to become more common, and the US government plans to have 450 devices in place by September for use as a front-line screening tool. There has been speculation that the TSA may take such extra measures as patting the soles of passengers' feet, searching bags even after they pass the scanner, and banning extra carry-on bags. Immediately after the Christmas Day incident, the US ordered new procedures for travellers going to the US from any of 14 listed countries. All of the countries except Cuba, Afghanistan and Pakistan are in the Middle East and Africa, meaning Gulf airlines are on the front lines of this issue. Their business plans call for connecting the East and West via their hubs in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha. That means Etihad Airways, Emirates Airline and Qatar Airways, which collectively serve six US cities, carry passengers from most of the source countries the US is concerned about. All of this extra screening will complicate the picture for Middle East carriers, says Doug McVitie, the chief consultant for Arran Aerospace.

"For airlines such as those in the Middle East who rely on composite travel - filling their US-bound flights with transit passengers from a variety of countries in the region and in Africa - the scenario is clearly one of more delays, more cost and more inconvenience as additional checks are made and security is tightened across the board," he says. These carriers have long been pushing into emerging markets that have strong demand but have traditionally had weak locally based air services. Etihad, for example, has announced it will fly to two cities in Nigeria, although it has not scheduled a launch date yet.

The three big Gulf carriers operate in dynamic environments, and all have had to scale back services in response to market changes and geopolitical instability, such as when the civil war in Sri Lanka dragged down tourism, or when the security situation in Pakistan caused a rerouting of Peshawar services to Islamabad last year. If anything, the air travel industry teaches us that we are all in the security fight together, since air travel is arguably the world's most globalised industry.

When a passenger arrives in Dubai from London's Heathrow, the UAE is relying on the screening procedures by UK authorities to prevent dangerous persons entering the country, and vice versa when passengers fly in the opposite direction. A number of governmental and non-governmental organisations work together to ensure safety procedures are up to date, including the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA). For flights to the US, the TSA also has regulatory control, and a TSA representative is based in Abu Dhabi.

It is the TSA that approves screening procedures for US-bound flights, such as certifying certain gates and terminals from which such flights may operate. Both Emirates and Etihad have vowed to remain "in full compliance" with the TSA's evolving security measures. Among the questions the US investigation over the Christmas incident aims to answer is why Mr Abdulmutallab's alleged attack failed, and whether there are implications for updated screening procedures. Also needing to be answered will be questions such as why the red flags raised by Mr Abdulmutallab's father in Nigeria did not lead authorities to place the suspect on a no-fly list and revoke his US visa; and whether there were lapses at the Amsterdam airport, where Mr Abdulmutallab boarded the Northwest flight.

Some of the findings could have implications for the travel experience of all passengers, as security procedures seek to stay one step ahead of the technology that would-be attackers use for smuggling explosives on to flights. Some of the screening rules may seem onerous, but just remember: we are all in this together. And don't forget to take that laptop out of your bag.


Name: Grubtech

Founders: Mohamed Al Fayed and Mohammed Hammedi

Launched: October 2019

Employees: 50

Financing stage: Seed round (raised $2 million)


UAE medallists at Asian Games 2023

Magomedomar Magomedomarov – Judo – Men’s +100kg
Khaled Al Shehi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -62kg
Faisal Al Ketbi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -85kg
Asma Al Hosani – Jiu-jitsu – Women’s -52kg
Shamma Al Kalbani – Jiu-jitsu – Women’s -63kg
Omar Al Marzooqi – Equestrian – Individual showjumping
Bishrelt Khorloodoi – Judo – Women’s -52kg
Khalid Al Blooshi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -62kg
Mohamed Al Suwaidi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -69kg
Balqees Abdulla – Jiu-jitsu – Women’s -48kg
Hawraa Alajmi – Karate – Women’s kumite -50kg
Ahmed Al Mansoori – Cycling – Men’s omnium
Abdullah Al Marri – Equestrian – Individual showjumping
Team UAE – Equestrian – Team showjumping
Dzhafar Kostoev – Judo – Men’s -100kg
Narmandakh Bayanmunkh – Judo – Men’s -66kg
Grigorian Aram – Judo – Men’s -90kg
Mahdi Al Awlaqi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -77kg
Saeed Al Kubaisi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -85kg
Shamsa Al Ameri – Jiu-jitsu – Women’s -57kg


Bangla Tigers 108-5 (10 ovs)

Ingram 37, Rossouw 26, Pretorius 2-10

Deccan Gladiators 109-4 (9.5 ovs)

Watson 41, Devcich 27, Wiese 2-15

Gladiators win by six wickets


Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through and

The five pillars of Islam
UK record temperature

38.7C (101.7F) set in Cambridge in 2019


Joe Root (captain), Dom Sibley, Rory Burns, Dan Lawrence, Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope, Ben Foakes (wicketkeeper), Moeen Ali, Olly Stone, Chris Woakes, Jack Leach, Stuart Broad

About Okadoc

Date started: Okadoc, 2018

Founder/CEO: Fodhil Benturquia

Based: Dubai, UAE

Sector: Healthcare

Size: (employees/revenue) 40 staff; undisclosed revenues recording “double-digit” monthly growth

Funding stage: Series B fundraising round to conclude in February

Investors: Undisclosed

Director: Nag Ashwin

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

Rating: ★★★★

6.30pm: Al Maktoum Challenge Round-3 Group 1 (PA) | US$95,000 | (Dirt) 2,000m
7.05pm: Meydan Classic Listed (TB) ) | $175,000) | (Turf) 1,600m
7.40pm: Handicap (TB) ) | $135,000 ) | (D) 1,600m
8.15pm: Nad Al Sheba Trophy Group 3 (TB) ) | $300,000) | (T) 2,810m
8.50pm: Curlin Handicap Listed (TB)) | $160,000) | (D) 2,000m
9.25pm: Handicap (TB)) | $175,000) | (T) 1,400m
10pm: Handicap (TB) ) | $135,000 ) | (T) 2,000m

The years Ramadan fell in May






Company name: Co Chocolat

Started: 2017

Founders: Iman and Luchie Suguitan

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Food

Funding: $1 million-plus

Investors: Fahad bin Juma, self-funding, family and friends

Race card

1.45pm: Maiden Dh75,000 1,200m.

2.15pm: Maiden Dh75,000 1,200m.

2.45pm: Handicap Dh95,000 1,200m.

3.15pm: Handicap Dh120,000 1,400m.

3.45pm: Handicap Dh80,000 1,400m.

4.15pm: Handicap Dh90,000 1,800m.

4.45pm: Handicap Dh80,000 1,950m.

The National selections:

1.45pm: Galaxy Road – So Hi Speed

2.15pm: Majestic Thunder – Daltrey

2.45pm: Call To War – Taamol

3.15pm: Eqtiraan - Bochart

3.45pm: Kidd Malibu – Initial

4.15pm: Arroway – Arch Gold

4.35pm: Compliance - Muqaatil

The lowdown

Rating: 4/5

The more serious side of specialty coffee

While the taste of beans and freshness of roast is paramount to the specialty coffee scene, so is sustainability and workers’ rights.

The bulk of genuine specialty coffee companies aim to improve on these elements in every stage of production via direct relationships with farmers. For instance, Mokha 1450 on Al Wasl Road strives to work predominantly with women-owned and -operated coffee organisations, including female farmers in the Sabree mountains of Yemen.

Because, as the boutique’s owner, Garfield Kerr, points out: “women represent over 90 per cent of the coffee value chain, but are woefully underrepresented in less than 10 per cent of ownership and management throughout the global coffee industry.”

One of the UAE’s largest suppliers of green (meaning not-yet-roasted) beans, Raw Coffee, is a founding member of the Partnership of Gender Equity, which aims to empower female coffee farmers and harvesters.

Also, globally, many companies have found the perfect way to recycle old coffee grounds: they create the perfect fertile soil in which to grow mushrooms. 


Director: Karyn Kusama

Cast: Nicole Kidman, Toby Kebbell, Sebastian Stan

Rating: 3/5 

UAE release: January 31 


Directors: John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein
Stars: Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Rege-Jean Page, Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis
Rating: 3/5

The biog

Occupation: Key marker and auto electrician

Hometown: Ghazala, Syria

Date of arrival in Abu Dhabi: May 15, 1978

Family: 11 siblings, a wife, three sons and one daughter

Favourite place in UAE: Abu Dhabi

Favourite hobby: I like to do a mix of things, like listening to poetry for example.

Favourite Syrian artist: Sabah Fakhri, a tenor from Aleppo

Favourite food: fresh fish

Inside Out 2

Director: Kelsey Mann

Starring: Amy Poehler, Maya Hawke, Ayo Edebiri

Rating: 4.5/5

Long Shot

Director: Jonathan Levine

Starring: Charlize Theron, Seth Rogan

Four stars


5pm: Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 1,600m
Winner: Raghida, Szczepan Mazur (jockey), Ibrahim Al Hadhrami (trainer)
5.30pm: Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 1,600m
Winner: AF Alareeq, Connor Beasley, Ahmed Al Mehairbi
6pm: Arabian Triple Crown Round-2 Group 3 (PA) Dh300,000 2,200m 
Winner: Basmah, Fabrice Veron, Eric Lemartinel
6.30pm: Liwa Oasis Group 2 (PA) Dh300,000 1,400m
Winner: AF Alwajel, Tadhg O’Shea, Ernst Oertel
7pm: Wathba Stallions Cup Handicap (PA) Dh70,000 1,600m
Winner: SS Jalmod, Richard Mullen, Satish Seemar
7.30pm: Handicap (TB) Dh100,000 1,600m
Winner: Trolius, Ryan Powell, Simon Crisford

DMZ facts
  • The DMZ was created as a buffer after the 1950-53 Korean War.
  • It runs 248 kilometers across the Korean Peninsula and is 4km wide.
  • The zone is jointly overseen by the US-led United Nations Command and North Korea.
  • It is littered with an estimated 2 million mines, tank traps, razor wire fences and guard posts.
  • Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un met at a building in Panmunjom, where an armistice was signed to stop the Korean War.
  • Panmunjom is 52km north of the Korean capital Seoul and 147km south of Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital.
  • Former US president Bill Clinton visited Panmunjom in 1993, while Ronald Reagan visited the DMZ in 1983, George W. Bush in 2002 and Barack Obama visited a nearby military camp in 2012. 
  • Mr Trump planned to visit in November 2017, but heavy fog that prevented his helicopter from landing.

Most Read
Top Videos