Diplomacy on Iran to go with US naval force

In the US elections season, conservative commentators have accused President Barack Obama of bending over backwards to avoid war with Iran, as if a preference for diplomacy were a sin. Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate, went on the attack recently spending two days - an eternity in today's hyperactive media environment - criticising Mr Obama's foreign policy.

This week brought more news that is certain to rouse the hawks: the US military build up continues in the Arabian Gulf. The US Navy has confirmed plans to station a 46-year-old warship as a floating command centre, and will also deploy unmanned submersible mine sweepers.

The military preparations - and posturing, to be sure - will concern everyone in the region, with the tragedy of the Iraq War so recent, and the continuing atrocities in Syria. In a season of Arab uprisings, a further destabilising war is the last thing the region needs, irrespective of the clamour of hawks cosseted in the halls of Washington.

For rational players in this drama over Iran's nuclear programme, a war is clearly against the interests of everyone involved. And, contrary to public statements, even the hawks in Washington, Tehran and Tel Aviv are cognisant of the risks. The American massing of forces is meant to send an unambiguous signal that will influence Iran's behaviour and avert the very conflict that is being threatened.

Iranians, for the most part, realise that their leaders' hardline stance is hurting the country. The National has been banned in the country after reporting on an Iranian poll, in which 63 per cent of respondents favoured suspending uranium enrichment in return for the easing of sanctions. In a bungled attempt to censor the results, officials then claimed - improbably - that the poll had been rigged by the BBC.

Diplomatic and economic pressures continue to offer the best chance of forcing Iran to open its nuclear file. A growing list of economic sanctions, travel restrictions and oil embargoes - including new US and EU measures that went into effect at the beginning of this month - are severely affecting the economy.

But the alternative to war is further dialogue. Iran's leaders must have an exit option to compromise with the international community, or this warlike posture could tip the region into an almost accidental conflict.

A nuclear-armed Iran is not in the region's interests, but neither are war planes over Natanz. Plainly speaking, Iran could not hope to win a conflict, or even keep the Strait of Hormuz closed, against the combined military might of the US and its regional allies, including the UAE. But that is a conflict that everyone would lose.

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 www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.


September to November or March to May; this is when visitors are most likely to see what they’ve come for.


Meghauli Serai, A Taj Safari - Chitwan National Park resort (tajhotels.com) is a one-hour drive from Bharatpur Airport with stays costing from Dh1,396 per night, including taxes and breakfast. Return airport transfers cost from Dh661.


Etihad Airways regularly flies from Abu Dhabi to Kathmandu from around Dh1,500 per person return, including taxes. Buddha Air (buddhaair.com) and Yeti Airlines (yetiairlines.com) fly from Kathmandu to Bharatpur several times a day from about Dh660 return and the flight takes just 20 minutes. Driving is possible but the roads are hilly which means it will take you five or six hours to travel 148 kilometres.

Ziina users can donate to relief efforts in Beirut

Ziina users will be able to use the app to help relief efforts in Beirut, which has been left reeling after an August blast caused an estimated $15 billion in damage and left thousands homeless. Ziina has partnered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to raise money for the Lebanese capital, co-founder Faisal Toukan says. “As of October 1, the UNHCR has the first certified badge on Ziina and is automatically part of user's top friends' list during this campaign. Users can now donate any amount to the Beirut relief with two clicks. The money raised will go towards rebuilding houses for the families that were impacted by the explosion.”


Youngest debutant for Barcelona: 15 years and 290 days v Real Betis
Youngest La Liga starter in the 21st century: 16 years and 38 days v Cadiz
Youngest player to register an assist in La Liga in the 21st century: 16 years and 45 days v Villarreal
Youngest debutant for Spain: 16 years and 57 days v Georgia
Youngest goalscorer for Spain: 16 years and 57 days
Youngest player to score in a Euro qualifier: 16 years and 57 days


Director: Mohamed Kordofani

Starring: Siran Riak, Eiman Yousif, Nazar Goma

Rating: 5/5


Name: Haltia.ai
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


Day 2 at the Gabba

Australia 312-1 

Warner 151 not out, Burns 97,  Labuschagne 55 not out

Pakistan 240 

Shafiq 76, Starc 4-52

The Laughing Apple

Yusuf/Cat Stevens

(Verve Decca Crossover)

New process leads to panic among jobseekers

As a UAE-based travel agent who processes tourist visas from the Philippines, Jennifer Pacia Gado is fielding a lot of calls from concerned travellers just now. And they are all asking the same question.  

“My clients are mostly Filipinos, and they [all want to know] about good conduct certificates,” says the 34-year-old Filipina, who has lived in the UAE for five years.

Ms Gado contacted the Philippines Embassy to get more information on the certificate so she can share it with her clients. She says many are worried about the process and associated costs – which could be as high as Dh500 to obtain and attest a good conduct certificate from the Philippines for jobseekers already living in the UAE. 

“They are worried about this because when they arrive here without the NBI [National Bureau of Investigation] clearance, it is a hassle because it takes time,” she says.

“They need to go first to the embassy to apply for the application of the NBI clearance. After that they have go to the police station [in the UAE] for the fingerprints. And then they will apply for the special power of attorney so that someone can finish the process in the Philippines. So it is a long process and more expensive if you are doing it from here.”