The Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza is shut after the suicide car bomb attack on Egyptian troops in Sinai. Photo: Said Khatib / AFP
The Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza is shut after the suicide car bomb attack on Egyptian troops in Sinai. Photo: Said Khatib / AFP

Sinai bombing shows Egypt will be mired in a prolonged fight



Egypt’s Sinai desert has become the battlefield for a bloody confrontation between the army and radical Islamist groups. Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of the online publication Rai Al Youm, noted that hardly a week goes by without casualties caused by one or more acts of aggression.

“But last Friday’s suicide attack against a military checkpoint in Sinai was different from all the other attacks,” he wrote.

“It heralds a real threat – not only to the Egyptian military, but to Israeli military targets and patrols too, and to the Israeli gas lines that both countries have recently agreed to establish.”

The Egyptian army has been engaged in a relentless war against terrorist groups in Sinai for over a year. However, the sustained escalation in the frequency and violence of the attacks in recent weeks indicates that Egypt’s quest to eliminate terrorism on its territory has not been successful. In fact, rather than reduce its involvement, it has widened its scope, Atwan noted.

“It is imperative that the government in Cairo confronts these terrorist offensives steadfastly and firmly, but military solutions alone wouldn’t lead to the desired outcomes. They must be coupled with political solutions and national dialogue,” he added.

“The Egyptian-Israeli rapprochement, which culminated recently with a 20-year agreement to import gas from Tel Aviv, added to Egypt’s silence about Israeli aggression in Gaza. It offers reasons that radical groups can exploit when they seek to destabilise Egypt and drag it into a bloody war of depletion,” he added.

Speaking on the same issue, the Egyptian columnist Mohammed Salah wrote in the pan-Arab daily Al Hayat that Egypt’s war on terrorists is not too different from the US-led war on ISIL.

“But whereas the Americans attack ISIL from afar, the enemies of Egypt live within the country, in its cities and towns,” he wrote.

“Egyptian terrorists are widespread and deeply intertwined within communities. They hide in plain sight, they dress the same as everyone else and they speak the same language. They can’t be restricted to a specific location. They hit and run back to their hiding places.”

Egypt is suffering from the burden of protecting against infiltrations and attacks. Meanwhile, there are US organisations, and even officials in the US administration, that continue to offer support to the defunct Muslim Brotherhood, the writer observed.

For their part, Muslim Brotherhood elements in Egypt don’t miss a chance to use the terrorist incidents to undermine president Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s authority. For the radical group, the man was the harbinger of their demise and vengeance against him is a religious duty that takes precedence over everything else.

“The perpetrators of terrorism are no mystery. The incidents of Sinai have not ended. Egypt’s war on terrorism is fraught with difficulty. It promises to be prolonged and multifaceted,” he concluded.

Official reactions to Friday’s attack were different too, said the Egyptian columnist Ali Salem in the London-based daily Asharq Al Awsat.

In an unprecedented move in such cases, President El Sisi ordered the Rafah passage between Egypt and Gaza shut indefinitely. This can only be interpreted as confirmation on the Egyptian part that the attack was somehow related to that border and that parties on the other side are implicated in the incident, one way or another.

“The party on the other side is none other than Hamas, the controllers of Gaza,” he noted.

“They are the sole authority in the strip and they govern every aspect of life in it, including its criminal gangs.

“Political diplomacy – or, in some instances, political foolishness – compel us to restrain ourselves from pointing the finger directly at Palestinian elements.

“The Palestinian cause is our core cause, but what about the lives of Egyptian citizens and our very existence? Shouldn’t they, too, be our core issue and our only cause as Egyptians?” he asked.

Hamas is a Brotherhood affiliate. Their allegiance is to the Brotherhood and no one else. They will never forget that the Egyptians were the ones to wipe out their mother cell, he wrote in conclusion.

Translated by Racha Makarem.

RMakarem@thenational.ae

Ads on social media can 'normalise' drugs

A UK report on youth social media habits commissioned by advocacy group Volteface found a quarter of young people were exposed to illegal drug dealers on social media.

The poll of 2,006 people aged 16-24 assessed their exposure to drug dealers online in a nationally representative survey.

Of those admitting to seeing drugs for sale online, 56 per cent saw them advertised on Snapchat, 55 per cent on Instagram and 47 per cent on Facebook.

Cannabis was the drug most pushed by online dealers, with 63 per cent of survey respondents claiming to have seen adverts on social media for the drug, followed by cocaine (26 per cent) and MDMA/ecstasy, with 24 per cent of people.

TWISTERS

Director: Lee Isaac Chung

Starring: Glenn Powell, Daisy Edgar-Jones, Anthony Ramos

Rating: 2.5/5

Herc's Adventures

Developer: Big Ape Productions
Publisher: LucasArts
Console: PlayStation 1 & 5, Sega Saturn
Rating: 4/5

The specs

Engine: 2.3-litre turbo 4-cyl
Transmission: 10-speed auto
Power: 298hp
Torque: 452Nm
Towing capacity: 3.4-tonne
Payload: 4WD – 776kg; Rear-wheel drive 819kg
Price: Price: Dh138,945 (XLT) Dh193,095 (Wildtrak)
Delivery: from August

Most polluted cities in the Middle East

1. Baghdad, Iraq
2. Manama, Bahrain
3. Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
4. Kuwait City, Kuwait
5. Ras Al Khaimah, UAE
6. Ash Shihaniyah, Qatar
7. Abu Dhabi, UAE
8. Cairo, Egypt
9. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
10. Dubai, UAE

Source: 2022 World Air Quality Report

MOST POLLUTED COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD

1. Chad
2. Iraq
3. Pakistan
4. Bahrain
5. Bangladesh
6. Burkina Faso
7. Kuwait
8. India
9. Egypt
10. Tajikistan

Source: 2022 World Air Quality Report

If you go...

Etihad Airways flies from Abu Dhabi to Kuala Lumpur, from about Dh3,600. Air Asia currently flies from Kuala Lumpur to Terengganu, with Berjaya Hotels & Resorts planning to launch direct chartered flights to Redang Island in the near future. Rooms at The Taaras Beach and Spa Resort start from 680RM (Dh597).

In Full Flight: A Story of Africa and Atonement
John Heminway, Knopff

More from Armen Sarkissian
THE LOWDOWN

Photograph

Rating: 4/5

Produced by: Poetic License Motion Pictures; RSVP Movies

Director: Ritesh Batra

Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Sanya Malhotra, Farrukh Jaffar, Deepak Chauhan, Vijay Raaz

Match info:

Portugal 1
Ronaldo (4')

Morocco 0

De De Pyaar De

Produced: Luv Films, YRF Films
Directed: Akiv Ali
Cast: Ajay Devgn, Tabu, Rakul Preet Singh, Jimmy Sheirgill, Jaaved Jaffrey
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

The burning issue

The internal combustion engine is facing a watershed moment – major manufacturer Volvo is to stop producing petroleum-powered vehicles by 2021 and countries in Europe, including the UK, have vowed to ban their sale before 2040. The National takes a look at the story of one of the most successful technologies of the last 100 years and how it has impacted life in the UAE.

Part three: an affection for classic cars lives on

Read part two: how climate change drove the race for an alternative 

Read part one: how cars came to the UAE

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

ROUTE TO TITLE

Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

Diriyah project at a glance

- Diriyah’s 1.9km King Salman Boulevard, a Parisian Champs-Elysees-inspired avenue, is scheduled for completion in 2028
- The Royal Diriyah Opera House is expected to be completed in four years
- Diriyah’s first of 42 hotels, the Bab Samhan hotel, will open in the first quarter of 2024
- On completion in 2030, the Diriyah project is forecast to accommodate more than 100,000 people
- The $63.2 billion Diriyah project will contribute $7.2 billion to the kingdom’s GDP
- It will create more than 178,000 jobs and aims to attract more than 50 million visits a year
- About 2,000 people work for the Diriyah Company, with more than 86 per cent being Saudi citizens

Drishyam 2

Directed by: Jeethu Joseph

Starring: Mohanlal, Meena, Ansiba, Murali Gopy

Rating: 4 stars

Company Profile

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

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.”

'Morbius'

Director: Daniel Espinosa

Stars: Jared Leto, Matt Smith, Adria Arjona

Rating: 2/5

The specs

Engine: 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6

Power: 540hp at 6,500rpm

Torque: 600Nm at 2,500rpm

Transmission: Eight-speed auto

Kerb weight: 1580kg

Price: From Dh750k

On sale: via special order

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Blah

Started: 2018

Founder: Aliyah Al Abbar and Hend Al Marri

Based: Dubai

Industry: Technology and talent management

Initial investment: Dh20,000

Investors: Self-funded

Total customers: 40

Know your camel milk:
Flavour: Similar to goat’s milk, although less pungent. Vaguely sweet with a subtle, salty aftertaste.
Texture: Smooth and creamy, with a slightly thinner consistency than cow’s milk.
Use it: In your morning coffee, to add flavour to homemade ice cream and milk-heavy desserts, smoothies, spiced camel-milk hot chocolate.
Goes well with: chocolate and caramel, saffron, cardamom and cloves. Also works well with honey and dates.

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

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

FROM THE ASHES

Director: Khalid Fahad

Starring: Shaima Al Tayeb, Wafa Muhamad, Hamss Bandar

Rating: 3/5

SPEC SHEET: SAMSUNG GALAXY S23 ULTRA

Display: 6.8" edge quad-HD+ dynamic Amoled 2X, Infinity-O, 3088 x 1440, 500ppi, HDR10+, 120Hz

Processor: 4nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, 64-bit octa-core

Memory: 8/12GB RAM

Storage: 128/256/512GB/1TB (only 128GB has an 8GB RAM option)

Platform: Android 13

Main camera: quad 12MP ultra-wide f/2.2 + 200MP wide f/1.7 + 10MP telephoto f/4.9 + 10MP telephoto 2.4; 3x/10x optical zoom, Space Zoom up to 100x; auto HDR, expert RAW

Video: 8K@24/30fps, 4K@60fps, full-HD@60fps, HD@30fps, full-HD super slo-mo@960fps

Front camera: 12MP f/2.2

Battery: 5000mAh, fast wireless charging 2.0, Wireless PowerShare

Connectivity: 5G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC

I/O: USB-C; built-in Galaxy S Pen

SIM: single nano / nano + eSIM / nano + nano + eSIM / nano + nano

Colours: cream, green, lavender, phantom black; online exclusives: graphite, lime, red, sky blue

Price: Dh4,949 for 256GB, Dh5,449 for 512GB, Dh6,449 for 1TB; 128GB unavailable in the UAE

The Light of the Moon

Director: Jessica M Thompson

Starring: Stephanie Beatriz, Michael Stahl-David

Three stars