Northern Iowa's Ali Farokhmanesh drives past the Kansas guard Brady Morningstar.
Northern Iowa's Ali Farokhmanesh drives past the Kansas guard Brady Morningstar.

Three and easy as Iowa beat the top seeds



Northern Iowa produced the biggest surprise of the NCAA basketball tournament's first two rounds by beating Kansas, the team widely expected to win the competition, 69-67 on Saturday. Kansas's elimination came just hours after Saint Mary's, a team with five Australians in its squad, stunned the South second seeds Villanova 75-68.

Kentucky, the tournament favourite after Kansas's loss, had a much easier time. The top East team beat Wake Forest 90-60. Ninth-seeded Northern Iowa used tough defence and a key three-pointer by Ali Farokhmanesh to become the first team to defeat a top seed in the tournament's second round in six years. Farokhmanesh, the son of a former Iranian national team volleyball player, launched his game-deciding three-pointer with 35 seconds left and Northern Iowa holding a one-point lead.

"He was wide open," teammate Johnny Moran said. "I don't know if coach really wanted him to shoot when he was in that position, but if you know Ali, you know that shot is going up at the end of the game." It was the fourth three-pointer of the game for Farokhmanesh, who had a team-high 16 points. "That was a dagger, and it was a big-time play by a really good player," said Bill Self, the Kansas coach.

Although they were the underdog, Northern Iowa led for almost the entire game and Kansas utilised a full-court press in the closing minutes to pull within a point before Farokhmanesh made his shot. The victory over Villanova by Saint Mary's was almost as improbable as Northern Iowa's. The San Francisco area team, seeded 10th in the South, roared to their second successive upset behind Omar Samhan's 32 points. Saint Mary's had beaten the higher-seeded Richmond 80-71 on Thursday.

* With agencies

Company Profile

Name: Ovasave
Started: November 2022
Founders: Majd Abu Zant and Torkia Mahloul
Based: Abu Dhabi
Sector: Healthtech
Number of staff: Three employees
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment: $400,000

CONFIRMED LINE-UP

Elena Rybakina (Kazakhstan)
Ons Jabeur (Tunisia)
Maria Sakkari (Greece)
Barbora Krejčíková (Czech Republic)
Beatriz Haddad Maia (Brazil)
Jeļena Ostapenko (Latvia)
Liudmila Samsonova
Daria Kasatkina 
Veronika Kudermetova 
Caroline Garcia (France) 
Magda Linette (Poland) 
Sorana Cîrstea (Romania) 
Anastasia Potapova 
Anhelina Kalinina (Ukraine)  
Jasmine Paolini (Italy) 
Emma Navarro (USA) 
Lesia Tsurenko (Ukraine)
Naomi Osaka (Japan) - wildcard
Emma Raducanu (Great Britain) - wildcard

The Witcher - season three

Director: Various

Stars:
Henry Cavill, Freya Allan, Anya Chalotra

Rating:
3/5

The BaaS ecosystem

The BaaS value chain consists of four key players:

Consumers: End-users of the financial product delivered

Distributors: Also known as embedders, these are the firms that embed baking services directly into their existing customer journeys

Enablers: Usually Big Tech or FinTech companies that help embed financial services into third-party platforms

Providers: Financial institutions holding a banking licence and offering regulated products

A QUIET PLACE

Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

SPECS

Engine: 4-litre flat-six
Power: 525hp (GT3), 500hp (GT4)
Torque: 465Nm (GT3), 450Nm (GT4)
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
Price: From Dh944,000 (GT3), Dh581,700 (GT4)
On sale: Now

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.”

While you're here
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

The biog

Name: Ayisha Abdulrahman Gareb

Age: 57

From: Kalba

Occupation: Mukrema, though she washes bodies without charge

Favourite things to do: Visiting patients at the hospital and give them the support they need.
Role model: Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women's Union, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood.

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.

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