Rennes' French midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa (C) fights for the ball with Saint-Etienne's French defender Loic Perrin (L) during the French L1 football match between AS Saint-Etienne and Stade Rennais FC  at the Geoffroy Guichard stadium in Saint-Etienne, central France on October 21, 2018. / AFP / PHILIPPE DESMAZES
Hatem Ben Arfa, right, is now at Rennes for the latest chapter in his varied and colourful career. AFP

Rennes the latest stop on the rollercoaster career of Hatem Ben Arfa

Hatem Ben Arfa, it seems, is never so menacing as after a long period of inactivity.

One of the most entertaining, enigmatic footballers of his generation is on his umpteenth comeback, one gathering enough momentum that he can eye a first start in European club competition on Thursday night for his latest employer, Rennes, as they host Dynamo Kiev in the Europa League.

Ben Arfa has already given the French club, whom he joined last month, their kick-start in Europe, coming off the bench after 65 minutes to score an injury-time penalty, the winning goal of their opening group fixture against Jablonec of the Czech Republic.

It was a typically theatrical entrance. Ben Arfa, making his Rennes debut, had been all but unemployed for over a year, having fallen so far from favour at Paris Saint-Germain in 2017-18 that he made no first team appearances while seeing out the second and last year of his contract there.


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The reasons for that freeze-out at PSG were several. Ben Arfa, now 31, of course faced severe competition for a place in the side, from Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Edinson Cavani, Julian Draxler and all the rest of the star-studded Paris ensemble.

But in truth he and the then PSG manager Unai Emery had never found much of a happy dialogue. Emery’s early criticisms of Ben Arfa’s work-rate hinted at a martinet-v-maverick relationship.

By the beginning of last year, there was barely any mention of the player at all. A thrilling idea that one of French football’s most original, watchable talents might, as he hit 30 years old, find fulfilment at France’s wealthiest, most ambitious club had fizzled into fantasy.

On the rollercoaster arc of Ben Arfa’s career, the plunge at Paris hardly ranks as the low point. For that you might pick out the day when he was substituted in a game against Manchester United at Old Trafford after just 35 minutes by a manager infuriated by a lack of tracking-back or visible signs of defensive responsibility.

This incident happened not when Ben Arfa was playing in the Uefa Champions League for Olympique Lyonnais, or Marseille, two of the gander clubs he has starred at, or even in the Premier League for Newcastle United, where he enjoyed a period of happy adoration from supporters.

No, the humiliating hooking of Hatem happened in the colours of Hull City in November 2014, an incensed Steve Bruce, then in charge of Hull, making the substitution of a player loaned from Newcastle. Ben Arfa was never picked for any English club again.

That setback grew into a crisis, and the following January, prevented by Fifa regulations from joining a third different club in the same season, Ben Arfa was effectively unemployed.

He was then 27, and appeared lost to a sport that made made him a national celebrity at 12, when he featured in a popular documentary series on French television that followed the students at the France national academy at Clairefontaine.

A star had been identified; the public warmed to him. At 17 Ben Arfa was making his Champions League debut - for Lyon, against Manchester United - and at 20 won the first of his 15 caps for France.

Those caps have been spread over almost a decade. The last of them came to him in 2015, and were an endorsement of his capacity to bounce back. He bounced back after his leg was broken by Nigel De Jong - his dribbling has always made him a target of the rugged - early in his career at Newcastle; he recovered from his six months of post-Hull limbo, when he joined Nice. He had a dazzling season there, which led him back to Les Bleus, and to PSG.

Now Rennes, the fifth Ligue 1 club on his resumé. Sabri Lamouchi, their young manager, is the latest to puzzle out how best to use this singular talent. Lamouchi, a former France international with, like Ben Arfa, Tunisian heritage, is reported to have built a strong understanding with the player already.

He has eased him back into action steadily, stressing that “with Hatem, you don’t need 90 minutes from him to win a match.” He can though, still supply a very productive 90 minutes: he provided an assist and then a fine goal, from 25-yards, in the 2-1 win at Monaco earlier this month.

Ben Arfa shone again at the weekend, in the 1-1 draw at Saint-Etienne, although he squandered a chance, from the penalty spot, to deliver all three points. Lamouchi was forgiving. “Hatem is on the right path, and I think we are too.”

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: 3.8-litre, twin-turbo V8

Transmission: eight-speed automatic

Power: 582bhp

Torque: 730Nm

Price: Dh649,000

On sale: now 

Plan to boost public schools

A major shake-up of government-run schools was rolled out across the country in 2017. Known as the Emirati School Model, it placed more emphasis on maths and science while also adding practical skills to the curriculum.

It was accompanied by the promise of a Dh5 billion investment, over six years, to pay for state-of-the-art infrastructure improvements.

Aspects of the school model will be extended to international private schools, the education minister has previously suggested.

Recent developments have also included the introduction of moral education - which public and private schools both must teach - along with reform of the exams system and tougher teacher licensing requirements.

Emergency phone numbers in the UAE

Estijaba – 8001717 –  number to call to request coronavirus testing

Ministry of Health and Prevention – 80011111

Dubai Health Authority – 800342 – The number to book a free video or voice consultation with a doctor or connect to a local health centre

Emirates airline – 600555555

Etihad Airways – 600555666

Ambulance – 998

Knowledge and Human Development Authority – 8005432 ext. 4 for Covid-19 queries

Brief scoreline:

Manchester United 1

Mata 11'

Chelsea 1

Alonso 43'

What is graphene?

Graphene is a single layer of carbon atoms arranged like honeycomb.

It was discovered in 2004, when Russian-born Manchester scientists Andrei Geim and Kostya Novoselov were "playing about" with sticky tape and graphite - the material used as "lead" in pencils.

Placing the tape on the graphite and peeling it, they managed to rip off thin flakes of carbon. In the beginning they got flakes consisting of many layers of graphene. But as they repeated the process many times, the flakes got thinner.

By separating the graphite fragments repeatedly, they managed to create flakes that were just one atom thick. Their experiment had led to graphene being isolated for the very first time.

At the time, many believed it was impossible for such thin crystalline materials to be stable. But examined under a microscope, the material remained stable, and when tested was found to have incredible properties.

It is many times times stronger than steel, yet incredibly lightweight and flexible. It is electrically and thermally conductive but also transparent. The world's first 2D material, it is one million times thinner than the diameter of a single human hair.

But the 'sticky tape' method would not work on an industrial scale. Since then, scientists have been working on manufacturing graphene, to make use of its incredible properties.

In 2010, Geim and Novoselov were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics. Their discovery meant physicists could study a new class of two-dimensional materials with unique properties. 



Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

Abu Dhabi GP weekend schedule


First practice, 1pm 
Second practice, 5pm


Final practice, 2pm
Qualifying, 5pm


Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (55 laps), 5.10pm


Jemma Eley, Maria Michailidou, Molly Fuller, Chloe Andrews (of Dubai College), Eliza Petricola, Holly Guerin, Yasmin Craig, Caitlin Gowdy (Dubai English Speaking College), Claire Janssen, Cristiana Morall (Jumeirah English Speaking School), Tessa Mies (Jebel Ali School), Mila Morgan (Cranleigh Abu Dhabi).

Herc's Adventures

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


Youngest F1 driver (17 years 3 days Japan 2014)
Youngest driver to start an F1 race (17 years 166 days – Australia 2015)
Youngest F1 driver to score points (17 years 180 days - Malaysia 2015)
Youngest driver to lead an F1 race (18 years 228 days – Spain 2016)
Youngest driver to set an F1 fastest lap (19 years 44 days – Brazil 2016)
Youngest on F1 podium finish (18 years 228 days – Spain 2016)
Youngest F1 winner (18 years 228 days – Spain 2016)
Youngest multiple F1 race winner (Mexico 2017/18)
Youngest F1 driver to win the same race (Mexico 2017/18)

Abdul Jabar Qahraman was meeting supporters in his campaign office in the southern Afghan province of Helmand when a bomb hidden under a sofa exploded on Wednesday.

The blast in the provincial capital Lashkar Gah killed the Afghan election candidate and at least another three people, Interior Minister Wais Ahmad Barmak told reporters. Another three were wounded, while three suspects were detained, he said.

The Taliban – which controls much of Helmand and has vowed to disrupt the October 20 parliamentary elections – claimed responsibility for the attack.

Mr Qahraman was at least the 10th candidate killed so far during the campaign season, and the second from Lashkar Gah this month. Another candidate, Saleh Mohammad Asikzai, was among eight people killed in a suicide attack last week. Most of the slain candidates were murdered in targeted assassinations, including Avtar Singh Khalsa, the first Afghan Sikh to run for the lower house of the parliament.

The same week the Taliban warned candidates to withdraw from the elections. On Wednesday the group issued fresh warnings, calling on educational workers to stop schools from being used as polling centres.

Ramez Gab Min El Akher

Creator: Ramez Galal

Starring: Ramez Galal

Streaming on: MBC Shahid

Rating: 2.5/5

Virtuzone GCC Sixes

Date and venue Friday and Saturday, ICC Academy, Dubai Sports City

Time Matches start at 9am


A Blighty Ducks, Darjeeling Colts, Darjeeling Social, Dubai Wombats; B Darjeeling Veterans, Kuwait Casuals, Loose Cannons, Savannah Lions; Awali Taverners, Darjeeling, Dromedary, Darjeeling Good Eggs


Keep up with all the Middle East and North Africa athletes at the 2024 Paris Olympics

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