An ultra-Orthodox Jew walks through an alley way in the northern town of Safed May 26, 2010. Safed -- also known as Tzfat -- is where the tourism boom Israel is enjoying with a lull in violence comes with a spiritual twist, thanks in part to the interest the Queen of Pop takes in Jewish Kabbalah mysticism, which has roots in the town. To match Reuters Life! TOURISM-ISRAEL/KABBALAH.  
REUTERS/Nir Elias (ISRAEL - Tags: TRAVEL SOCIETY)
An ultra-Orthodox Jew walks through an alley in Israel's northern town of Safed, where Kabbalah mysticism has its roots.

Safed 'the most racist city' in Israel



SAFED, ISRAEL // The tranquility of Safed, a small Israeli city nestled high in the hills of the Upper Galilee close to the Lebanese border, is not usually disturbed except by occasional pilgrimages by Madonna or other famous devotees of the Jewish mystical teachings of Kabbalah.
But in the past few weeks, Safed - one of Judaism's four holy cities - has been making headlines of a very different kind. Gideon Levy, a columnist for the Israeli daily Haaretz, last week declared it "the most racist city in the country".
The unflattering, and hotly contested, epithet follows an edict from Safed's senior rabbis ordering residents not to sell or rent homes to "non-Jews" - a reference to the country's Palestinian Arab citizens, who comprise a fifth of Israel's population.
At an emergency meeting called last month to discuss the dangers of assimilation caused by Arab men dating Jewish women, the 18 rabbis warned that Safed and its 40,000 Jewish residents were facing an "Arab takeover".
The number of Arabs in the city, though low, has been steadily rising as the student body at Safed Academic College has expanded. There are now some 1,300 Arab students enrolled at the school.
The rabbis' statements have provoked a series of attacks by ultranationalist Jews, in which several Arab homes have been attacked to chants of "Death to the Arabs". In one recent incident, three Arab students were beaten as shots were fired.
So far three Jewish youths, including an off-duty policeman, have been charged with participating in the violence. The policeman is accused of firing his gun.
The anti-Arab campaign escalated last week as posters were plastered across the city threatening to burn down the home of an elderly Jew if he did not stop renting to Arab students.
The owner, 89-year-old Eli Zvieli, said the posters appeared after he received phone threats and visits from several rabbis warning him to change his mind.
Jamil Khalaili, 20, a physiotherapy student at the college who rents an apartment with a friend in a Jewish neighbourhood, said the atmosphere in Safed was rapidly deteriorating.
"We're being treated like criminals, like we're trying to steal their homes," he said. "It's got to the point where many of my friends are wondering whether to leave. I want to study here but not if it costs me my life."
Leading the opposition to the presence of Arab students in the city is Safed's chief rabbi, Shmuel Eliyahu, who is employed by the municipality as head of its religious council.
"When a non-Jew moves in, residents begin to worry about their children, about their daughters. Many Arab students have been known to date Jewish girls," Israel National News quoted Mr Eliyahu as saying.
The 18 rabbis issued their statement after learning of the college's plan to build a medical school, which is expected to draw Arab students from across the Galilee.
In the statement, they urged Jewish residents to shun a "neighbour or acquaintance" who rents to Arabs. "Refrain from doing business with him, deny him the right to read from the Torah, and similarly ostracise him until he renounces this harmful deed," it said.
Similar anti-Arab sentiments are being heard in Karmiel and Upper Nazareth, two other cities in the Galilee. Both were established decades ago as part of what the government termed a "Judaisation" programme to settle more Jews in the country's most heavily Arab-populated region.
In Karmiel, 30km west of Safed, adverts in local newspapers have promoted a special e-mail address for residents to notify authorities about any neighbours planning to sell homes to Arabs. The e-mail account is overseen by officials for Oren Milstein, who was the city's deputy mayor until he was fired last week, according to Ynet, a news website.
Adi Eldar, the mayor, said Mr Milstein had "damaged the city's image" by giving a newspaper interview in which he boasted that he had prevented the sale of 30 homes to Arab families.
Mr Milstein's replacement as deputy mayor, Rina Greenberg, is a member of the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party of Avigdor Lieberman, Israel's foreign minister, who advocates ridding the country of many of its Arab citizens.
Meanwhile, the mayor of Upper Nazareth, Shimon Gapso, who is allied to the far-right party of foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, has announced plans to build a new neighbourhood for 3,000 religious Jews to halt what he called the city's "demographic deterioration".
Hundreds of Arab families from neighbouring Nazareth have relocated to the Jewish city to escape overcrowding. Today, one-in-eight of Upper Nazareth's 42,000-strong population is Arab.
In August, Mr Gapso told Israel National News that he felt "as happy as if I had a new baby" at the news that 15 extremist families from the former Gaza settlement of Gush Katif were establishing a Jewish seminary in his city.
Hatia Chomsky-Porat, who leads Galilee activists for Sikkuy, a group advocating better relations between Jews and Arabs, said: "The political atmosphere is growing darker all the time. Racism among Jews is entirely mainstream now."
In Safed, Arab students have tried to keep a low profile. However, one small act of defiance appears to have further contributed to Jewish residents' fears of a "takeover".
Inhabitants awoke recently to find a Palestinian flag draped on the top of a renovated mosque, one of the many old stone buildings in Safed that attest to the city's habitation long before Israel's establishment.
In 1948, when Jewish forces captured the town, Safed was a mixed city of 10,000 Palestinians and 2,000 Jews. All the Palestinian inhabitants were expelled, including a 13-year-old Mahmoud Abbas, now the president of the Palestinian Authority.
Mr Khaliali said the city's history appeared still to haunt many of its Jewish residents, who expressed fears that Arab students were there to reclaim refugee property as the vanguard of a movement for the Palestinian right of return.
It is not the first time Mr Eliyahu, the son of a former chief rabbi of Israel, has been accused of incitement against the city's Arab population.
In 2002, during a wave of suicide attacks at the start of the second intifada, he called on Safed Academic College to expel all Arab students.
Two years later he launched a campaign against inter-marriage, accusing Arab men of waging "another form of war" against Jewish women by "seducing" them.
He narrowly avoided prosecution for incitement in 2006 after he agreed to retract his earlier statements.
The Religious Action Centre, a group of Reform movement Jews, and several Arab MPs have demanded that Yehuda Weinstein, Israel's attorney general, investigate Mr Eliyahu and the other rabbis for incitement to violence.
jcook@thenational.ae

Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000

Herc's Adventures

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

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.”

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

TEACHERS' PAY - WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Pay varies significantly depending on the school, its rating and the curriculum. Here's a rough guide as of January 2021:

- top end schools tend to pay Dh16,000-17,000 a month - plus a monthly housing allowance of up to Dh6,000. These tend to be British curriculum schools rated 'outstanding' or 'very good', followed by American schools

- average salary across curriculums and skill levels is about Dh10,000, recruiters say

- it is becoming more common for schools to provide accommodation, sometimes in an apartment block with other teachers, rather than hand teachers a cash housing allowance

- some strong performing schools have cut back on salaries since the pandemic began, sometimes offering Dh16,000 including the housing allowance, which reflects the slump in rental costs, and sheer demand for jobs

- maths and science teachers are most in demand and some schools will pay up to Dh3,000 more than other teachers in recognition of their technical skills

- at the other end of the market, teachers in some Indian schools, where fees are lower and competition among applicants is intense, can be paid as low as Dh3,000 per month

- in Indian schools, it has also become common for teachers to share residential accommodation, living in a block with colleagues

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

WHY AAYAN IS 'PERFECT EXAMPLE'

David White might be new to the country, but he has clearly already built up an affinity with the place.

After the UAE shocked Pakistan in the semi-final of the Under 19 Asia Cup last month, White was hugged on the field by Aayan Khan, the team’s captain.

White suggests that was more a sign of Aayan’s amiability than anything else. But he believes the young all-rounder, who was part of the winning Gulf Giants team last year, is just the sort of player the country should be seeking to produce via the ILT20.

“He is a delightful young man,” White said. “He played in the competition last year at 17, and look at his development from there till now, and where he is representing the UAE.

“He was influential in the U19 team which beat Pakistan. He is the perfect example of what we are all trying to achieve here.

“It is about the development of players who are going to represent the UAE and go on to help make UAE a force in world cricket.” 

UAE'S YOUNG GUNS

1 Esha Oza, age 26, 79 matches

2 Theertha Satish, age 20, 66 matches

3 Khushi Sharma, age 21, 65 matches

4 Kavisha Kumari, age 21, 79 matches

5 Heena Hotchandani, age 23, 16 matches

6 Rinitha Rajith, age 18, 34 matches

7 Samaira Dharnidharka, age 17, 53 matches

8 Vaishnave Mahesh, age 17, 68 matches

9 Lavanya Keny, age 17, 33 matches

10 Siya Gokhale, age 18, 33 matches

11 Indhuja Nandakumar, age 18, 46 matches

Top 10 most competitive economies

1. Singapore
2. Switzerland
3. Denmark
4. Ireland
5. Hong Kong
6. Sweden
7. UAE
8. Taiwan
9. Netherlands
10. Norway

The specs

Engine: 3.8-litre twin-turbo flat-six

Power: 650hp at 6,750rpm

Torque: 800Nm from 2,500-4,000rpm

Transmission: 8-speed dual-clutch auto

Fuel consumption: 11.12L/100km

Price: From Dh796,600

On sale: now

RESULTS

3.30pm: Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 – Group 1 (PA) $75,000 (Dirt) 2,000m
Winner: Jugurtha De Monlau, Pat Dobbs (jockey), Jean-Claude Pecout (trainer)

4.05pm: Dubai City Of Gold – Group 2 (TB) $250,000 (Turf) 2,410m
Winner: Global Storm, William Buick, Charlie Appleby

4.40pm: Burj Nahaar – Group 3 (TB) $250,000 (D) 1,600m
Winner: Discovery Island, James Doyle, Bhupat Seemar

5.15pm: Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint – Group 3 (TB) $250,000 (T) 1,200m
Winner: Al Dasim, Mickael Barzalona, George Boughey

5.50pm: Al Bastakiya – Listed (TB) $170,000 (D) 1,900m
Winner: Go Soldier Go, Adrie de Vries, Fawzi Nass

6.25pm: Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 – Group 1 (TB) $450,000 (D) 2,000m
Winner: Salute The Soldier, Adrie de Vries, Fawzi Nass

7.10pm: Ras Al Khor – Conditions (TB) $300,000 (T) 1,400m
Winner: Al Suhail, William Buick, Charlie Appleby

7.45pm: Jebel Hatta – Group 1 (TB) $350,000 (T) 1,800m
Winner: Alfareeq, Dane O’Neill, Charlie Appleby

8.20pm: Mahab Al Shimaal – Group 3 (TB) $250,000 (D) 1,200m
Winner: Sound Money, Mickael Barzalona, Bhupat Seemar

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

UAE central contracts

Full time contracts

Rohan Mustafa, Ahmed Raza, Mohammed Usman, Chirag Suri, Mohammed Boota, Sultan Ahmed, Zahoor Khan, Junaid Siddique, Waheed Ahmed, Zawar Farid

Part time contracts

Aryan Lakra, Ansh Tandon, Karthik Meiyappan, Rahul Bhatia, Alishan Sharafu, CP Rizwaan, Basil Hameed, Matiullah, Fahad Nawaz, Sanchit Sharma

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

Director: James Wan

Starring: Jason Mamoa, Patrick Wilson, Amber Heard, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II 

Rating: 2/5

The specs: 2018 Volkswagen Teramont

Price, base / as tested Dh137,000 / Dh189,950

Engine 3.6-litre V6

Gearbox Eight-speed automatic

Power 280hp @ 6,200rpm

Torque 360Nm @ 2,750rpm

Fuel economy, combined 11.7L / 100km


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