Why 'ping pong' is wrong



"Seriously though, what sport do you really play?" It's the question every table tennis player hates to hear. In terms of frustration it can only be equalled by, "Oh, you mean Ping Pong?", which is, closely followed by, "Don't only Chinese people play that?" Seriously, table tennis; no, not ping pong; and actually, lots of nationalities are proficient at the sport, not least the Swedes, who until recently dominated the game (months of darkness, table tennis is played indoors, go figure).

Far from the glare of the television cameras, table tennis occupies its own little world, with its own loyal fan base, its own pros, and even its own equipment and clothing lines with funny names like Tibhar, Joola and Stiga. It has its own funny little vocabulary too. Not many outside of the table tennis inner circle would be familiar with a "pimples rubber" or indeed "speed glue" (no relation to either acne or drugs).

And despite its small following, anywhere you go in the world it is possible to find a game. In the slums of Cairo you will happen upon the occasional table in the street where you can pay around two Egyptian pounds (Dh1.4) to challenge the last winner. And he's usually fairly handy. One of the most enjoyable games I ever played was in Siem Riep in Cambodia, where a tin-roof shack sheltered five high quality tables and a bunch of locals who played topless and barefoot. The only hindrance was the geckos that would intermittently fall onto the tables from the rafters and hold up play. My opponent casually flicked one off the net with his bat as it struggled to disentangle its tail.

Such places are a world away from the professional leagues of Europe and China, where players compete before large crowds in a variety of national and international competitions. Yet, few outside the sport would even know there are professional table tennis players; dedicated, full-time athletes, competing for contracts and sponsorship, as well as the big prizes. Younger players can earn full college scholarships if they prove their potential in the game, usually with a good national ranking.

Players maintain strict diet and fitness regimens and train mornings and evenings - before and after school, college or work - and extensively on weekends, forsaking social lives in the process. "You can get really, really sick of the game," a former British number one, Alex Perry, told me at a training camp in England many years ago. "You're always knackered and you can't go out that often." Perry went on to win 13 national titles and four Commonwealth gold medals.

And it can be a thankless business. The money does not compare to what top tennis and football players earn, and there won't be hordes of fans in the parking lot after a tournament crowding around the table tennis player's hatchback. "It doesn't go down so well with the ladies," as one Irish player put it (though in somewhat less presentable words). Still, table tennis is one of the most highly-skilled sports in the world, and certainly the most skillful out of all the racquet sports.

The bat says a lot about how the game is played. It is made up of a blade, which is the wooden paddle and adjoining handle, and two rubbers, one red and one black. There is a baffling array of brands catering to each component, which players chose according to their style of play. The use of rubbers in table tennis enables players to put a level of spin on the ball not possible with stringed tennis or squash racquets. Judging the spin of the ball, in fact, is a complete set of skills in itself.

The game is played at an extraordinarily high tempo and is great to watch. In the time it takes to make one shot in tennis, two or three have been taken in table tennis, and the average stroke requires just as much exertion. More often than not players end up 10 or 15 yards back from the table during rallies. In the university, at the table tennis stand the club set up during the fresher's fair, organisers asked us to turn off the VCR showing classic matches as too many people were crowding around to watch and were blocking up the hallway.

"Uh, this isn't, like, uh, ping pong," one sheepish fresher said after a particularly exciting rally. "It's, uh, like, tennis?on a table?" Over 150 people signed up to the club on that day alone, including the insightful young fresher. Television ratings reflect the crowd's enthusiasm at the fresher's fair. Table tennis broadcast during the Olympics, and even replays of competitions shown at obscure hours on the BBC and Eurosport, consistently draw high ratings. Yet as soon as these events are over table tennis drops off the airwaves, like so many falling geckos. Most fans resort to buying dvds over the internet.

Only in places where table tennis is particularly popular, like Sweden, China and some Eastern European countries, is the game a regular feature on television. Table tennis players there are household names, appearing on talk shows and in advertisements. "You wouldn't believe it," a fellow player once told me after returning from a training camp in Sweden one summer. "Table tennis players are like celebrities over there, they have them on TV shows and billboards."

"That's cool," I said. "Now let's go watch the football." @Email:jspollen@thenational.ae

Frida

Director: Carla Gutierrez

Starring: Frida Kahlo

Rating: 4/5

Match info:

Portugal 1
Ronaldo (4')

Morocco 0

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3

Director: James Gunn

Stars: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper

Rating: 4/5

Getting there
Flydubai flies direct from Dubai to Tbilisi from Dh1,025 return including taxes

Specs – Taycan 4S

Engine: Electric

Transmission: 2-speed auto

Power: 571bhp

Torque: 650Nm

Price: Dh431,800

Specs – Panamera

Engine: 3-litre V6 with 100kW electric motor

Transmission: 2-speed auto

Power: 455bhp

Torque: 700Nm

Price: from Dh431,800

'Avengers: Infinity War'
Dir: The Russo Brothers
Starring: Chris Evans, Chris Pratt, Tom Holland, Robert Downey Junior, Scarlett Johansson, Elizabeth Olsen
Four stars

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
Dengue fever symptoms
  • High fever
  • Intense pain behind your eyes
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Swollen glands
  • Rash

If symptoms occur, they usually last for two-seven days

Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier

UAE results
Ireland beat UAE by six wickets
Zimbabwe beat UAE by eight wickets
UAE beat Netherlands by 10 wickets

Fixtures
UAE v Vanuatu, Thursday, 3pm, Zayed Cricket Stadium
Ireland v Netherlands, 7.30pm, Zayed Cricket Stadium

Group B table
1) Ireland 3 3 0 6 +2.407
2. Netherlands 3 2 1 4 +1.117
3) UAE 3 1 2 2 0.000
4) Zimbabwe 4 1 3 2 -0.844
5) Vanuatu 3 1 2 2 -2.180

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)

Specs

Engine: 1.5-litre turbo 4-cylinder / 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder (S3)
Power: 148bhp / 328bhp (S3)
Torque: 250Nm / 420Nm (S3)
On sale: December
Price: TBA

RESULTS

Dubai Kahayla Classic – Group 1 (PA) $750,000 (Dirt) 2,000m
Winner: Deryan, Ioritz Mendizabal (jockey), Didier Guillemin (trainer).
Godolphin Mile – Group 2 (TB) $750,000 (D) 1,600m
Winner: Secret Ambition, Tadhg O’Shea, Satish Seemar
Dubai Gold Cup – Group 2 (TB) $750,000 (Turf) 3,200m
Winner: Subjectivist, Joe Fanning, Mark Johnston
Al Quoz Sprint – Group 1 (TB) $1million (T) 1,200m
Winner: Extravagant Kid, Ryan Moore, Brendan Walsh
UAE Derby – Group 2 (TB) $750,000 (D) 1,900m
Winner: Rebel’s Romance, William Buick, Charlie Appleby
Dubai Golden Shaheen – Group 1 (TB) $1.5million (D) 1,200m
Winner: Zenden, Antonio Fresu, Carlos David
Dubai Turf – Group 1 (TB) $4million (T) 1,800m
Winner: Lord North, Frankie Dettori, John Gosden
Dubai Sheema Classic – Group 1 (TB) $5million (T) 2,410m
Winner: Mishriff, John Egan, John Gosden

Honeymoonish

Director: Elie El Samaan

Starring: Nour Al Ghandour, Mahmoud Boushahri

Rating: 3/5

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

Traits of Chinese zodiac animals

Tiger:independent, successful, volatile
Rat:witty, creative, charming
Ox:diligent, perseverent, conservative
Rabbit:gracious, considerate, sensitive
Dragon:prosperous, brave, rash
Snake:calm, thoughtful, stubborn
Horse:faithful, energetic, carefree
Sheep:easy-going, peacemaker, curious
Monkey:family-orientated, clever, playful
Rooster:honest, confident, pompous
Dog:loyal, kind, perfectionist
Boar:loving, tolerant, indulgent  

Winners

Best Men's Player of the Year: Kylian Mbappe (PSG)

Maradona Award for Best Goal Scorer of the Year: Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

TikTok Fans’ Player of the Year: Robert Lewandowski

Top Goal Scorer of All Time: Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)

Best Women's Player of the Year: Alexia Putellas (Barcelona)

Best Men's Club of the Year: Chelsea

Best Women's Club of the Year: Barcelona

Best Defender of the Year: Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus/Italy)

Best Goalkeeper of the Year: Gianluigi Donnarumma (PSG/Italy)

Best Coach of the Year: Roberto Mancini (Italy)

Best National Team of the Year: Italy

Best Agent of the Year: Federico Pastorello

Best Sporting Director of the Year: Txiki Begiristain (Manchester City)

Player Career Award: Ronaldinho

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
Alexandra Eala (Philippines) - wildcard

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

MATCH INFO

What: 2006 World Cup quarter-final
When: July 1
Where: Gelsenkirchen Stadium, Gelsenkirchen, Germany

Result:
England 0 Portugal 0
(Portugal win 3-1 on penalties)

Pakistan T20 series squad

Sarfraz Ahmed (captain), Fakhar Zaman, Ahmed Shahzad, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Mohammed Hafeez, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Mohammed Nawaz, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Amir Yamin, Mohammed Amir (subject to fitness clearance), Rumman Raees, Usman Shinwari, Umar Amin

Closing the loophole on sugary drinks

As The National reported last year, non-fizzy sugared drinks were not covered when the original tax was introduced in 2017. Sports drinks sold in supermarkets were found to contain, on average, 20 grams of sugar per 500ml bottle.

The non-fizzy drink AriZona Iced Tea contains 65 grams of sugar – about 16 teaspoons – per 680ml can. The average can costs about Dh6, which would rise to Dh9.

Drinks such as Starbucks Bottled Mocha Frappuccino contain 31g of sugar in 270ml, while Nescafe Mocha in a can contains 15.6g of sugar in a 240ml can.

Flavoured water, long-life fruit juice concentrates, pre-packaged sweetened coffee drinks fall under the ‘sweetened drink’ category
 

Not taxed:

Freshly squeezed fruit juices, ground coffee beans, tea leaves and pre-prepared flavoured milkshakes do not come under the ‘sweetened drink’ band.

RESULTS

5pm: Al Maha Stables – Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 (Turf) 1,400m
Winner: AF Alfahem, Tadhg O’Shea (jockey), Ernst Oetrel (trainer)
5.30pm: Al Anoud Stables – Handicap (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 1,200m
Winner: AF Musannef, Tadhg O’Shea, Ernst Oertel
6pm: Wathba Stallions Cup – Handicap (PA) Dh70,000 (T) 1,400m
Winner: AF Rasam, Tadhg O’Shea, Ernst Oertel
6.30pm: Arabian Triple Crown Round 2 – Group 3 (PA) Dh 300,000 (T) 2,200m
Winner: Joe Star, Tadhg O’Shea, Helal Al Alawi
7pm: Liwa Oasis – Group 2 (PA) Dh300,000 (T) 1,400m
Winner: AF Alajaj, Tadhg O’Shea, Ernst Oertel
7.30pm: Dames Stables – Handicap (TB) Dh80,000 (T) 1,400m
Winner: Silent Defense, Oscar Chavez, Rashed Bouresly

Law 41.9.4 of men’s T20I playing conditions

The fielding side shall be ready to start each over within 60 seconds of the previous over being completed.
An electronic clock will be displayed at the ground that counts down seconds from 60 to zero.
The clock is not required or, if already started, can be cancelled if:
• A new batter comes to the wicket between overs.
• An official drinks interval has been called.
• The umpires have approved the on field treatment of an injury to a batter or fielder.
• The time lost is for any circumstances beyond the control of the fielding side.
• The third umpire starts the clock either when the ball has become dead at the end of the previous over, or a review has been completed.
• The team gets two warnings if they are not ready to start overs after the clock reaches zero.
• On the third and any subsequent occasion in an innings, the bowler’s end umpire awards five runs.

Company profile

Company name: Leap
Started: March 2021
Founders: Ziad Toqan and Jamil Khammu
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Funds raised: Undisclosed
Current number of staff: Seven

Biography

Favourite drink: Must have karak chai and Chinese tea every day

Favourite non-Chinese food: Arabic sweets and Indian puri, small round bread of wheat flour

Favourite Chinese dish: Spicy boiled fish or anything cooked by her mother because of its flavour

Best vacation: Returning home to China

Music interests: Enjoys playing the zheng, a string musical instrument

Enjoys reading: Chinese novels, romantic comedies, reading up on business trends, government policy changes

Favourite book: Chairman Mao Zedong’s poems

How to wear a kandura

Dos

  • Wear the right fabric for the right season and occasion 
  • Always ask for the dress code if you don’t know
  • Wear a white kandura, white ghutra / shemagh (headwear) and black shoes for work 
  • Wear 100 per cent cotton under the kandura as most fabrics are polyester

Don’ts 

  • Wear hamdania for work, always wear a ghutra and agal 
  • Buy a kandura only based on how it feels; ask questions about the fabric and understand what you are buying
COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Growdash
Started: July 2022
Founders: Sean Trevaskis and Enver Sorkun
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Restaurant technology
Funding so far: $750,000
Investors: Flat6Labs, Plus VC, Judah VC, TPN Investments and angel investors, including former Talabat chief executive Abdulhamid Alomar, and entrepreneur Zeid Husban

The schedule

December 5 - 23: Shooting competition, Al Dhafra Shooting Club

December 9 - 24: Handicrafts competition, from 4pm until 10pm, Heritage Souq

December 11 - 20: Dates competition, from 4pm

December 12 - 20: Sour milk competition

December 13: Falcon beauty competition

December 14 and 20: Saluki races

December 15: Arabian horse races, from 4pm

December 16 - 19: Falconry competition

December 18: Camel milk competition, from 7.30 - 9.30 am

December 20 and 21: Sheep beauty competition, from 10am

December 22: The best herd of 30 camels

'The Batman'

Stars:Robert Pattinson

Director:Matt Reeves

Rating: 5/5

EVIL DEAD RISE

Director: Lee Cronin
Stars: Alyssa Sutherland, Morgan Davies, Lily Sullivan
Rating: 5/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Mascotte Health

Started: 2023

Based: Miami, US

Founder: Bora Hamamcioglu

Sector: Online veterinary service provider

Investment stage: $1.2 million raised in seed funding

Punchy appearance

Roars of support buoyed Mr Johnson in an extremely confident and combative appearance

Company Profile

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

Guns N’ Roses’s last gig before Abu Dhabi was in Hong Kong on November 21. We were there – and here’s what they played, and in what order. You were warned.

  • It’s So Easy
  • Mr Brownstone
  • Chinese Democracy
  • Welcome to the Jungle
  • Double Talkin’ Jive
  • Better
  • Estranged
  • Live and Let Die (Wings cover)
  • Slither (Velvet Revolver cover)
  • Rocket Queen
  • You Could Be Mine
  • Shadow of Your Love
  • Attitude (Misfits cover)
  • Civil War
  • Coma
  • Love Theme from The Godfather (movie cover)
  • Sweet Child O’ Mine
  • Wichita Lineman (Jimmy Webb cover)
  • Wish You Were Here (instrumental Pink Floyd cover)
  • November Rain
  • Black Hole Sun (Soundgarden cover)
  • Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door (Bob Dylan cover)
  • Nightrain

Encore:

  • Patience
  • Don’t Cry
  • The Seeker (The Who cover)
  • Paradise City
How to help

Donate towards food and a flight by transferring money to this registered charity's account.

Account name: Dar Al Ber Society

Account Number: 11 530 734

IBAN: AE 9805 000 000 000 11 530 734

Bank Name: Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank

To ensure that your contribution reaches these people, please send the copy of deposit/transfer receipt to: juhi.khan@daralber.ae

The years Ramadan fell in May

1987

1954

1921

1888

Poacher

Director: Richie Mehta

Starring: Nimisha Sajayan, Roshan Mathew, Dibyendu Bhattacharya

Rating: 3/5

INDIA'S TOP INFLUENCERS

Bhuvan Bam
Instagram followers: 16.1 million
Bhuvan Bam is a 29-year-old comedian and actor from Delhi, who started out with YouTube channel, “BB Ki Vines” in 2015, which propelled the social media star into the limelight and made him sought-after among brands.
Kusha Kapila
Instagram followers: 3.1 million
Kusha Kapila is a fashion editor and actress, who has collaborated with brands including Google. She focuses on sharing light-hearted content and insights into her life as a rising celebrity.
Diipa Khosla
Instagram followers: 1.8 million
Diipa Khosla started out as a social media manager before branching out to become one of India's biggest fashion influencers, with collaborations including MAC Cosmetics.
Komal Pandey
Instagram followers: 1.8 million
Komal Pandey is a fashion influencer who has partnered with more than 100 brands, including Olay and smartphone brand Vivo India.
Nikhil Sharma
Instagram followers: 1.4 million
Nikhil Sharma from Mumbai began his online career through vlogs about his motorcycle trips. He has become a lifestyle influencer and has created his own clothing line.
Source: Hireinfluence, various

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.

All The Light We Cannot See

Creator: Steven Knight

Stars: Mark Ruffalo, Hugh Laurie, Aria Mia Loberti

Rating: 1/5 

MATCH INFO

Burnley 1 (Brady 89')

Manchester City 4 (Jesus 24', 50', Rodri 68', Mahrez 87')

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Kinetic 7
Started: 2018
Founder: Rick Parish
Based: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Industry: Clean cooking
Funding: $10 million
Investors: Self-funded

Company Profile

Name: Direct Debit System
Started: Sept 2017
Based: UAE with a subsidiary in the UK
Industry: FinTech
Funding: Undisclosed
Investors: Elaine Jones
Number of employees: 8

KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Vault
Started: June 2023
Co-founders: Bilal Abou-Diab and Sami Abdul Hadi
Based: Abu Dhabi
Licensed by: Abu Dhabi Global Market
Industry: Investment and wealth advisory
Funding: $1 million
Investors: Outliers VC and angel investors
Number of employees: 14

Company profile

Company name: amana
Started: 2010
Founders: Karim Farra and Ziad Aboujeb
Based: UAE
Regulator: DFSA
Sector: Financial services
Current number of staff: 85
Investment stage: Self-funded

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

Company profile

Company name: Tuhoon
Year started: June 2021
Co-founders: Fares Ghandour, Dr Naif Almutawa, Aymane Sennoussi
Based: Riyadh
Sector: health care
Size: 15 employees, $250,000 in revenue
Investment stage: seed
Investors: Wamda Capital, Nuwa Capital, angel investors

Specs: 2024 McLaren Artura Spider

Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 and electric motor
Max power: 700hp at 7,500rpm
Max torque: 720Nm at 2,250rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
0-100km/h: 3.0sec
Top speed: 330kph
Price: From Dh1.14 million ($311,000)
On sale: Now


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