New strain of bird flu 'the deadliest yet'



BEIJING // A new strain of bird flu that emerged in China over the past month is one of the "most lethal" flu viruses so far, worrying health officials because it can jump more easily from birds to humans than the one that started killing people a decade ago, World Health Organization officials said yesterday.

Scientists are watching the virus closely to see if it could spark a global pandemic but say there is little evidence so far that it can spread easily from human to human.

WHO's top influenza expert, Dr. Keiji Fukuda, told reporters at a briefing in Beijing that people seem to catch the H7N9 virus from birds more easily than the H5N1 strain that began ravaging poultry across Asia in 2003. The H5N1 strain has since killed 360 people worldwide, mostly after contact with infected fowl.

Health experts are concerned about H7N9's ability to jump to humans, and about the strain's capacity to infect birds without causing noticeable symptoms, which makes it difficult to monitor its spread.

"This is definitely one of the most lethal influenza viruses we have seen so far," Fukuda said. But he added that experts are still trying to understand the virus, and that there might be a large number of mild infections that are going undetected.

The H7N9 bird flu virus has infected more than 100 people in China, seriously sickening most of them and killing more than 20, mostly near the eastern coast around Shanghai. Taiwan on Wednesday confirmed its first case, a 53-year-old man who became sick after returning from a visit to the eastern Chinese province of Kiangsu.

In comparison, the earlier bird flu strain, H5N1, is known to kill up to 60 of every 100 people it infects.

Wednesday's briefing came at the end of a weeklong joint investigation by WHO and Chinese authorities in Beijing and Shanghai.

Experts said they still aren't sure how people are getting infected but said evidence points to infections at live poultry markets, particularly through ducks and chickens. They said it was encouraging that reported infections appeared to slow down after the closure of live poultry markets in affected areas.

Company profile

Name: Cashew
Started: 2020
Founders: Ibtissam Ouassif and Ammar Afif
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: FinTech
Funding size: $10m
Investors: Mashreq, others

Match info

Liverpool 3
Hoedt (10' og), Matip (21'), Salah (45+3')

Southampton 0

A QUIET PLACE

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

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

RIVER SPIRIT

Author: Leila Aboulela 

Publisher: Saqi Books

Pages: 320

Available: Now

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

The Genius of Their Age

Author: S Frederick Starr
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Pages: 290
Available: January 24

Sweet Tooth

Creator: Jim Mickle
Starring: Christian Convery, Nonso Anozie, Adeel Akhtar, Stefania LaVie Owen
Rating: 2.5/5

MEDIEVIL (1998)

Developer: SCE Studio Cambridge
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Console: PlayStation, PlayStation 4 and 5
Rating: 3.5/5

Royal wedding inspired menu

Ginger, citrus and orange blossom iced tea

Avocado ranch dip with crudites

Cucumber, smoked salmon and cream cheese mini club sandwiches

Elderflower and lemon syllabub meringue

BRIEF SCORES

England 353 and 313-8 dec
(B Stokes 112, A Cook 88; M Morkel 3-70, K Rabada 3-85)
(J Bairstow 63, T Westley 59, J Root 50; K Maharaj 3-50)
South Africa 175 and 252
(T Bavuma 52; T Roland-Jones 5-57, J Anderson 3-25)
(D Elgar 136; M Ali 4-45, T Roland-Jones 3-72)

Result: England won by 239 runs
England lead four-match series 2-1

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

How to avoid getting scammed
  • Never click on links provided via app or SMS, even if they seem to come from authorised senders at first glance
  • Always double-check the authenticity of websites
  • Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) for all your working and personal services
  • Only use official links published by the respective entity
  • Double-check the web addresses to reduce exposure to fake sites created with domain names containing spelling errors
Bridgerton season three - part one

Directors: Various

Starring: Nicola Coughlan, Luke Newton, Jonathan Bailey

Rating: 3/5

Milestones on the road to union

1970

October 26: Bahrain withdraws from a proposal to create a federation of nine with the seven Trucial States and Qatar. 

December: Ahmed Al Suwaidi visits New York to discuss potential UN membership.

1971

March 1:  Alex Douglas Hume, Conservative foreign secretary confirms that Britain will leave the Gulf and “strongly supports” the creation of a Union of Arab Emirates.

July 12: Historic meeting at which Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Rashid make a binding agreement to create what will become the UAE.

July 18: It is announced that the UAE will be formed from six emirates, with a proposed constitution signed. RAK is not yet part of the agreement.

August 6:  The fifth anniversary of Sheikh Zayed becoming Ruler of Abu Dhabi, with official celebrations deferred until later in the year.

August 15: Bahrain becomes independent.

September 3: Qatar becomes independent.

November 23-25: Meeting with Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Rashid and senior British officials to fix December 2 as date of creation of the UAE.

November 29:  At 5.30pm Iranian forces seize the Greater and Lesser Tunbs by force.

November 30: Despite  a power sharing agreement, Tehran takes full control of Abu Musa. 

November 31: UK officials visit all six participating Emirates to formally end the Trucial States treaties

December 2: 11am, Dubai. New Supreme Council formally elects Sheikh Zayed as President. Treaty of Friendship signed with the UK. 11.30am. Flag raising ceremony at Union House and Al Manhal Palace in Abu Dhabi witnessed by Sheikh Khalifa, then Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.

December 6: Arab League formally admits the UAE. The first British Ambassador presents his credentials to Sheikh Zayed.

December 9: UAE joins the United Nations.

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Equestrian

Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).

Judo
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).

Cycling
Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Swimming

Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Athletics

Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

Three tips from La Perle's performers

1 The kind of water athletes drink is important. Gwilym Hooson, a 28-year-old British performer who is currently recovering from knee surgery, found that out when the company was still in Studio City, training for 12 hours a day. “The physio team was like: ‘Why is everyone getting cramps?’ And then they realised we had to add salt and sugar to the water,” he says.

2 A little chocolate is a good thing. “It’s emergency energy,” says Craig Paul Smith, La Perle’s head coach and former Cirque du Soleil performer, gesturing to an almost-empty open box of mini chocolate bars on his desk backstage.

3 Take chances, says Young, who has worked all over the world, including most recently at Dragone’s show in China. “Every time we go out of our comfort zone, we learn a lot about ourselves,” she says.

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

Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

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.”

Libya's Gold

UN Panel of Experts found regime secretly sold a fifth of the country's gold reserves.

The panel’s 2017 report followed a trail to West Africa where large sums of cash and gold were hidden by Abdullah Al Senussi, Qaddafi’s former intelligence chief, in 2011.

Cases filled with cash that was said to amount to $560m in 100 dollar notes, that was kept by a group of Libyans in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

A second stash was said to have been held in Accra, Ghana, inside boxes at the local offices of an international human rights organisation based in France.

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

UAE squad

Humaira Tasneem (c), Chamani Senevirathne (vc), Subha Srinivasan, NIsha Ali, Udeni Kuruppuarachchi, Chaya Mughal, Roopa Nagraj, Esha Oza, Ishani Senevirathne, Heena Hotchandani, Keveesha Kumari, Judith Cleetus, Chavi Bhatt, Namita D’Souza.

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

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.

Read part three: the age of the electric vehicle begins

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

Read part one: how cars came to the UAE

Scream VI

Directors: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett

Stars: Melissa Barrera, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Jack Champion, Dermot Mulroney, Jenna Ortega, Hayden Panettiere and Courteney Cox

Rating: 3/5

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

Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff
By Sean Penn
Simon & Schuster

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Carzaty, now Kavak
Based: Dubai
Launch year: Carzaty launched in 2018, Kavak in the GCC launched in 2022
Number of employees: 140
Sector: Automotive
Funding: Carzaty raised $6m in equity and $4m in debt; Kavak plans $130m investment in the GCC

The specs: 2018 Nissan Altima


Price, base / as tested: Dh78,000 / Dh97,650

Engine: 2.5-litre in-line four-cylinder

Power: 182hp @ 6,000rpm

Torque: 244Nm @ 4,000rpm

Transmission: Continuously variable tranmission

Fuel consumption, combined: 7.6L / 100km

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

'My Son'

Director: Christian Carion

Starring: James McAvoy, Claire Foy, Tom Cullen, Gary Lewis

Rating: 2/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Haltia.ai
Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends

The five pillars of Islam

1. Fasting

2. Prayer

3. Hajj

4. Shahada

5. Zakat

Bharat

Director: Ali Abbas Zafar

Starring: Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Sunil Grover

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

WWE TLC results

Asuka won the SmackDown Women's title in a TLC triple threat with Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair

Dean Ambrose won the Intercontinental title against Seth Rollins

Daniel Bryan retained the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against AJ Styles

Ronda Rousey retained the Raw Women's Championship against Nia Jax

Rey Mysterio beat Randy Orton in a chairs match

Finn Balor defeated Drew McIntyre

Natalya beat Ruby Riott in a tables match

Braun Strowman beat Baron Corbin in a TLC match

Sheamus and Cesaro retained the SmackDown Tag Titles against The Usos and New Day

R-Truth and Carmella won the Mixed Match Challenge by beating Jinder Mahal and Alicia Fox

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets

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