(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 5, 2018, Judge Brett Kavanaugh testifies during the second day of his US Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing to be an Associate Justice on the US Supreme Court, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. US President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and a woman accusing him of a sex assault when they were teenagers will testify next Monday, September 24, 2018, before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the panel's chairman announced. Senator Chuck Grassley put off a vote on Kavanaugh's nomination scheduled later this week, after California university professor Christine Blasey Ford came forth with her explosive allegation. / AFP / SAUL LOEB
Judge Brett Kavanaugh testifies during the second day of his US Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing. Saul Loeb / AFP

We should all be worried by the derailing of political norms



At least three recent examples from different parts of world underline the importance of political norms, that unwritten gold standard of acceptable behaviour.

In the US, there's the snowballing controversy over circuit judge Brett Kavanaugh's rushed, opaque and polarising confirmation process for the Supreme Court. In the UK, former foreign secretary Boris Johnson breached linguistic norms by casually likening Brexit policy to the effect of "a suicide vest around the British constitution". And in India, the new deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of parliament, lamented the new normal of repeated "disruptions" by MPs, which make it impossible to sensibly debate or legislate. Obstruction and disorder had become the "apparent norm", Harivansh Narayan Singh said, and were preventing the Indian parliament from doing its work.

Clearly, norms can be made and unmade, for good or ill. That they are guardrails – for society as much as for the political life of nations – is indisputable.

The profound disagreements over the ongoing process to elevate Mr Kavanaugh to America's highest court is a case in point. The confirmation is being hastily pushed through the Senate by the majority Republican party barely 50 days before America's midterm elections. But the Republicans, in a previous brazen act of political hypocrisy, used an election 400 days away to hold open the seat of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. At the time, they argued that the 2016 presidential election was so close, voters deserved a voice and the party's senators refused to even give then president Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee the courtesy of a hearing.

That was a grossly partisan violation of American norms, which in itself would be enough to signal the ugly politicisation of a carefully calibrated system meant to maintain the impartiality, independence and unimpeachable integrity of the US judiciary. But there is more and it goes beyond highly charged Supreme Court nominations and controversy over the nominees’ conduct. There have been some of these before, such as Robert Bork, who was unsuccessfully nominated by Ronald Reagan and Clarence Thomas, a George HW Bush choice who was made a Supreme Court Justice despite allegations of sexual harassment.

But what takes the Kavanaugh confirmation process outside the norms is the manner in which it is being pushed through, even after new sexual misconduct allegations emerged. More than 100,000 relevant documents have been withheld from senatorial scrutiny and the hearings have been raucous, bitter and totally political. Respected legal scholars Laurence Tribe, judge Timothy Lewis and Norman Eisen recently said they "have never seen anything like this hurried and defective process for such an important nomination".

There is a sense among those who follow such matters, whether in America and abroad, that whether or not he is qualified for a lifetime posting, Mr Kavanaugh is a political tool for the GOP. In lockstep with Donald Trump’s White House, the party is proceeding apace in its goal of shaping the judiciary for the decades to come. In so doing, it is undermining a system of checks, balances and norms that have long made the US a political model for parts of the world.

Of course, the breaching of American norms goes beyond the judiciary. Recently, Mr Obama cited Mr Trump by name on the campaign trail, something not usually done by past presidents, although historian Tim Naftali points to Dwight Eisenhower’s criticism of John F Kennedy and George HW Bush’s unflattering comments on his successor Bill Clinton.

Most recently, former secretary of state John Kerry has been accused by Mr Trump’s chief diplomat Mike Pompeo of “actively undermining” US policy on Iran by holding backdoor talks with Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Much of the discussion of norms and their violation focuses on the US these days because Mr Trump looms large on the world stage with his unconventional, flamboyant style and public fulminations against the rule of law, the veracity of media, Muslims and migrants.

But the dispiriting erosion of norms has a wider arc. In their book How Democracies Die, Harvard political scientists Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt explain democratic "deconsolidation" around the world over the last century. The main danger, they say, is not from military coups or paramilitary takeovers but the undermining of institutions and the lack of separation of powers, the rule of law and civil liberties. The violation of norms is becoming normal.

Company Profile

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

The specs

Engine: 6-cylinder, 4.8-litre
Transmission: 5-speed automatic and manual
Power: 280 brake horsepower
Torque: 451Nm
Price: from Dh153,00
On sale: now

The Afghan connection

The influx of talented young Afghan players to UAE cricket could have a big impact on the fortunes of both countries. Here are three Emirates-based players to watch out for.

Hassan Khan Eisakhil
Mohammed Nabi is still proving his worth at the top level but there is another reason he is raging against the idea of retirement. If the allrounder hangs on a little bit longer, he might be able to play in the same team as his son, Hassan Khan. The family live in Ajman and train in Sharjah.

Masood Gurbaz
The opening batter, who trains at Sharjah Cricket Academy, is another player who is a part of a famous family. His brother, Rahmanullah, was an IPL winner with Kolkata Knight Riders, and opens the batting with distinction for Afghanistan.

Omid Rahman
The fast bowler became a pioneer earlier this year when he became the first Afghan to represent the UAE. He showed great promise in doing so, too, playing a key role in the senior team’s qualification for the Asia Cup in Muscat recently.

FIRST TEST SCORES

England 458
South Africa 361 & 119 (36.4 overs)

England won by 211 runs and lead series 1-0

Player of the match: Moeen Ali (England)

Try out the test yourself

Q1 Suppose you had $100 in a savings account and the interest rate was 2 per cent per year. After five years, how much do you think you would have in the account if you left the money to grow?
a) More than $102
b) Exactly $102
c) Less than $102
d) Do not know
e) Refuse to answer

Q2 Imagine that the interest rate on your savings account was 1 per cent per year and inflation was 2 per cent per year. After one year, how much would you be able to buy with the money in this account?
a) More than today
b) Exactly the same as today
c) Less than today
d) Do not know
e) Refuse to answer

Q4 Do you think that the following statement is true or false? “Buying a single company stock usually provides a safer return than a stock mutual fund.”
a) True
b) False
d) Do not know
e) Refuse to answer

The “Big Three” financial literacy questions were created by Professors Annamaria Lusardi of the George Washington School of Business and Olivia Mitchell, of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. 

Answers: Q1 More than $102 (compound interest). Q2 Less than today (inflation). Q3 False (diversification).

'Ghostbusters: From Beyond'

Director: Jason Reitman

Starring: Paul Rudd, Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace

Rating: 2/5

MEDIEVIL (1998)

Developer: SCE Studio Cambridge
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Console: PlayStation, PlayStation 4 and 5
Rating: 3.5/5

Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus

Developer: Sucker Punch Productions
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Console: PlayStation 2 to 5
Rating: 5/5

The BIO:

He became the first Emirati to climb Mount Everest in 2011, from the south section in Nepal

He ascended Mount Everest the next year from the more treacherous north Tibetan side

By 2015, he had completed the Explorers Grand Slam

Last year, he conquered K2, the world’s second-highest mountain located on the Pakistan-Chinese border

He carries dried camel meat, dried dates and a wheat mixture for the final summit push

His new goal is to climb 14 peaks that are more than 8,000 metres above sea level

Specs

Power train: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 and synchronous electric motor
Max power: 800hp
Max torque: 950Nm
Transmission: Eight-speed auto
Battery: 25.7kWh lithium-ion
0-100km/h: 3.4sec
0-200km/h: 11.4sec
Top speed: 312km/h
Max electric-only range: 60km (claimed)
On sale: Q3
Price: From Dh1.2m (estimate)

The specs

Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo

Power: 201hp at 5,200rpm

Torque: 320Nm at 1,750-4,000rpm

Transmission: 6-speed auto

Fuel consumption: 8.7L/100km

Price: Dh133,900

On sale: now

COMPANY PROFILE:

Name: Envision
Started: 2017
Founders: Karthik Mahadevan and Karthik Kannan
Based: The Netherlands
Sector: Technology/Assistive Technology
Initial investment: $1.5 million
Current number of staff: 20
Investment stage: Seed
Investors: 4impact, ABN Amro, Impact Ventures and group of angels

Kanye West

Ye — the rapper formerly known as Kanye West — has seen his net worth fall to $400 million in recent weeks. That’s a precipitous drop from Bloomberg’s estimates of $6.8 billion at the end of 2021.
Ye’s wealth plunged after business partners, including Adidas, severed ties with him on the back of anti-Semitic remarks earlier this year.
West’s present net worth derives from cash, his music, real estate and a stake in former wife Kim Kardashian’s shapewear firm, Skims.

Nepotism is the name of the game

Salman Khan’s father, Salim Khan, is one of Bollywood’s most legendary screenwriters. Through his partnership with co-writer Javed Akhtar, Salim is credited with having paved the path for the Indian film industry’s blockbuster format in the 1970s. Something his son now rules the roost of. More importantly, the Salim-Javed duo also created the persona of the “angry young man” for Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan in the 1970s, reflecting the angst of the average Indian. In choosing to be the ordinary man’s “hero” as opposed to a thespian in new Bollywood, Salman Khan remains tightly linked to his father’s oeuvre. Thanks dad. 

The specs

Engine: 77kWh 2 motors
Power: 178bhp
Torque: 410Nm
Range: 402km
Price: Dh,150,000 (estimate)
On sale: TBC

Company profile

Name: Purpl

Co-founders: Karl Naim, Wissam Ghorra, Jean-Marie Khoueir

Based: Hub71 in Abu Dhabi and Beirut

Started: 2021

Number of employees: 12

Sector: FinTech

Funding: $2 million

Mercer, the investment consulting arm of US services company Marsh & McLennan, expects its wealth division to at least double its assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East as wealth in the region continues to grow despite economic headwinds, a company official said.

Mercer Wealth, which globally has $160 billion in AUM, plans to boost its AUM in the region to $2-$3bn in the next 2-3 years from the present $1bn, said Yasir AbuShaban, a Dubai-based principal with Mercer Wealth.

Within the next two to three years, we are looking at reaching $2 to $3 billion as a conservative estimate and we do see an opportunity to do so,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Mercer does not directly make investments, but allocates clients’ money they have discretion to, to professional asset managers. They also provide advice to clients.

“We have buying power. We can negotiate on their (client’s) behalf with asset managers to provide them lower fees than they otherwise would have to get on their own,” he added.

Mercer Wealth’s clients include sovereign wealth funds, family offices, and insurance companies among others.

From its office in Dubai, Mercer also looks after Africa, India and Turkey, where they also see opportunity for growth.

Wealth creation in Middle East and Africa (MEA) grew 8.5 per cent to $8.1 trillion last year from $7.5tn in 2015, higher than last year’s global average of 6 per cent and the second-highest growth in a region after Asia-Pacific which grew 9.9 per cent, according to consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG). In the region, where wealth grew just 1.9 per cent in 2015 compared with 2014, a pickup in oil prices has helped in wealth generation.

BCG is forecasting MEA wealth will rise to $12tn by 2021, growing at an annual average of 8 per cent.

Drivers of wealth generation in the region will be split evenly between new wealth creation and growth of performance of existing assets, according to BCG.

Another general trend in the region is clients’ looking for a comprehensive approach to investing, according to Mr AbuShaban.

“Institutional investors or some of the families are seeing a slowdown in the available capital they have to invest and in that sense they are looking at optimizing the way they manage their portfolios and making sure they are not investing haphazardly and different parts of their investment are working together,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Some clients also have a higher appetite for risk, given the low interest-rate environment that does not provide enough yield for some institutional investors. These clients are keen to invest in illiquid assets, such as private equity and infrastructure.

“What we have seen is a desire for higher returns in what has been a low-return environment specifically in various fixed income or bonds,” he said.

“In this environment, we have seen a de facto increase in the risk that clients are taking in things like illiquid investments, private equity investments, infrastructure and private debt, those kind of investments were higher illiquidity results in incrementally higher returns.”

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, said in its 2016 report that has gradually increased its exposure in direct private equity and private credit transactions, mainly in Asian markets and especially in China and India. The authority’s private equity department focused on structured equities owing to “their defensive characteristics.”

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

The bio

Favourite book: Peter Rabbit. I used to read it to my three children and still read it myself. If I am feeling down it brings back good memories.

Best thing about your job: Getting to help people. My mum always told me never to pass up an opportunity to do a good deed.

Best part of life in the UAE: The weather. The constant sunshine is amazing and there is always something to do, you have so many options when it comes to how to spend your day.

Favourite holiday destination: Malaysia. I went there for my honeymoon and ended up volunteering to teach local children for a few hours each day. It is such a special place and I plan to retire there one day.

THE SPECS
Engine: 3.5-litre V6
Transmission: 9-speed automatc
Power: 279hp
Torque: 350Nm
Price: From Dh250,000
On sale: Now

Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

Director: Nag Ashwin

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

Rating: ★★★★

Company Profile

Company name: Cargoz
Date started: January 2022
Founders: Premlal Pullisserry and Lijo Antony
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 30
Investment stage: Seed

What is a black hole?

1. Black holes are objects whose gravity is so strong not even light can escape their pull

2. They can be created when massive stars collapse under their own weight

3. Large black holes can also be formed when smaller ones collide and merge

4. The biggest black holes lurk at the centre of many galaxies, including our own

5. Astronomers believe that when the universe was very young, black holes affected how galaxies formed

The specs

Engine: 3.5-litre, twin-turbo V6
Transmission: 10-speed auto
Power: 410hp
Torque: 495Nm
Price: starts from Dh495,000 (Dh610,000 for the F-Sport launch edition tested)
On sale: now

Zodi & Tehu: Princes Of The Desert

Director: Eric Barbier

Starring: Youssef Hajdi, Nadia Benzakour, Yasser Drief

Rating: 4/5

SPECS

Engine: 4-litre V8 twin-turbo
Power: 630hp
Torque: 850Nm
Transmission: 8-speed Tiptronic automatic
Price: From Dh599,000
On sale: Now

World record transfers

1. Kylian Mbappe - to Real Madrid in 2017/18 - €180 million (Dh770.4m - if a deal goes through)
2. Paul Pogba - to Manchester United in 2016/17 - €105m
3. Gareth Bale - to Real Madrid in 2013/14 - €101m
4. Cristiano Ronaldo - to Real Madrid in 2009/10 - €94m
5. Gonzalo Higuain - to Juventus in 2016/17 - €90m
6. Neymar - to Barcelona in 2013/14 - €88.2m
7. Romelu Lukaku - to Manchester United in 2017/18 - €84.7m
8. Luis Suarez - to Barcelona in 2014/15 - €81.72m
9. Angel di Maria - to Manchester United in 2014/15 - €75m
10. James Rodriguez - to Real Madrid in 2014/15 - €75m

The Beach Bum

Director: Harmony Korine

Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Isla Fisher, Snoop Dogg

Two stars

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