Egyptian Army's Armoured Vehicles are seen on a highway to North Sinai during a launch of a major assault against militants, in Ismailia, Egypt, in this undated handout picture made available by the Ministry of Defence February 9, 2018. Ministry of Defence/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES
An Egyptian army convoy passes through Ismailia towards North Sinai on February 9, 2018 at the start of a major assault against militants on the peninsula. Ministry of Defence via Reuters

Egypt's Operation Sinai 2018 is all-out war on militants



Egypt went into full battle mode this weekend with the launch of “Operation Sinai 2018” — a massive security operation drawing on all wings of the armed services and the police force.

The comprehensive deployment is aimed at terror cells and criminal organisations not only in the restive peninsula but also in the Nile Valley and the Western Desert.

Armed forces spokesman Tamer El Refai issued the military's third communique on the operation Saturday afternoon with air, ground and naval units said to be targeting ISIL weapons and ammunition stores in the Sinai.

“Law enforcement, supported by special forces, border guards as well as police have carried out several simultaneous raids on towns in Central and Northern Sinai to chase runaway elements, eradicate them, and continue to demolish targets belonging to terrorists,” said Colonel El Refai.

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi pledged in November to wipe out terror elements “within three months” after militants killed more than 300 people at a mosque in the village of Al Rawdah, in the troubled northern sector of the peninsula near Bir El Abd town.

Security officials said forces killed at least 20 militants in Bir El Abd on Saturday and blocked off the highway linking El Arish, the main town in northern Sinai, with Sheikh Zuweid and Rafah to the east.

Meanwhile, the navy increased patrols on the seafront from Rafah to El Arish to cut off terrorist supply lines and guard economic installations in the area, the armed forces spokesman said.

“I follow with pride the heroics of my sons from the armed forces and the police to purge the beloved land of Egypt from terrorists, the enemies of life,” Mr El Sisi declared on Friday as the operation was launched. The interior ministry at the same time raised the national state of alert to the maximum level.

Indicators that the nation was on a war footing emerged on Thursday as the health ministry ordered hospitals in the Suez Canal zone to double the number of doctors per shift in emergency wards and ensure the availability of all blood types for transfusion.

Before an internet blackout in North Sinai on Friday, residents of Bir El Abd and El Arish reported that authorities were blocking private vehicles from entering the Ahmed Hamdi tunnel under the Suez Canal.

School closures and multiple checkpoints reflect the challenge security forces face in securing an area infiltrated by ISIL. Success, the government hopes, would enthuse voters for the presidential election on March 26-28.

On Wednesday the National Elections Authority announced it was printing more than 60 million ballot papers — a signal of the government's determination to more than double voter turnout from the 24.5 million who participated in the 2014 election.

But Mr Sisi’s self-described "brute force" approach to stamping out militancy risks alienating civilians caught in the crossfire, critics say.

"Since 2013, the military policy of collective punishment and not caring one bit about the collateral damage caused in operations reached no success whatsoever," said Mohannad Sabry, an independent journalist and author of Sinai: Egypt's Linchpin, Gaza's Lifeline, Israel's Nightmare.

“Hundreds of civilians have been killed by military fire, including men, women, children and even infants, close to a dozen villages have been partially or fully destroyed by the military and hundreds of thousands of productive trees, farms owned by the locals have been destroyed,” Mr Sabry said.

Analysts with closer ties to the security establishment dismissed claims that the intensified war against ISIL was a response to western media reports that the Israeli air force has been bombing terror targets in the Sinai on behalf of Egypt’s military.

“Political commentators in Egypt and abroad have tried and continue to try to mar Egypt’s record of success by disseminating rumours,” said Said Okasha, a regional security expert at the Al Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies.

“Rumours circulated by political and media figures in Israel and the US to the effect that Egypt had agreed to land swap projects [for the Palestinians] or that Cairo had given Israel permission to conduct military strikes against terrorist groups in Sinai are short on professionalism and shorter on accurate information.”

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Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

Director: James Wan

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

Rating: 2/5

The National Archives, Abu Dhabi

Founded over 50 years ago, the National Archives collects valuable historical material relating to the UAE, and is the oldest and richest archive relating to the Arabian Gulf.

Much of the material can be viewed on line at the Arabian Gulf Digital Archive - https://www.agda.ae/en

The Farewell

Director: Lulu Wang

Stars: Awkwafina, Zhao Shuzhen, Diana Lin, Tzi Ma

Four stars

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

The Specs

Lamborghini LM002
Engine: 5.2-litre V12
Power: 450hp at 6,800rpm
Torque: 500Nm at 4,500rpm
Transmission: Five-speed manual
0-100kph: 9 seconds (approx)
Top speed: 210kph (approx)
Years built: 1986-93
Total vehicles built: 328
Value today: $300,000+

The specs

Engine: 6.2-litre supercharged V8

Power: 712hp at 6,100rpm

Torque: 881Nm at 4,800rpm

Transmission: 8-speed auto

Fuel consumption: 19.6 l/100km

Price: Dh380,000

On sale: now

John Wick: Chapter 4

Director: Chad Stahelski

Stars: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, George Georgiou

Rating: 4/5

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.

Tightening the screw on rogue recruiters

The UAE overhauled the procedure to recruit housemaids and domestic workers with a law in 2017 to protect low-income labour from being exploited.

 Only recruitment companies authorised by the government are permitted as part of Tadbeer, a network of labour ministry-regulated centres.

A contract must be drawn up for domestic workers, the wages and job offer clearly stating the nature of work.

The contract stating the wages, work entailed and accommodation must be sent to the employee in their home country before they depart for the UAE.

The contract will be signed by the employer and employee when the domestic worker arrives in the UAE.

Only recruitment agencies registered with the ministry can undertake recruitment and employment applications for domestic workers.

Penalties for illegal recruitment in the UAE include fines of up to Dh100,000 and imprisonment

But agents not authorised by the government sidestep the law by illegally getting women into the country on visit visas.

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

Herc's Adventures

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

A QUIET PLACE

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

Director: Michael Sarnoski

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.”

Turning waste into fuel

Average amount of biofuel produced at DIC factory every month: Approximately 106,000 litres

Amount of biofuel produced from 1 litre of used cooking oil: 920ml (92%)

Time required for one full cycle of production from used cooking oil to biofuel: One day

Energy requirements for one cycle of production from 1,000 litres of used cooking oil:
▪ Electricity - 1.1904 units
▪ Water- 31 litres
▪ Diesel – 26.275 litres

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).

Ireland v Denmark: The last two years

Denmark 1-1 Ireland 

7/06/19, Euro 2020 qualifier 

Denmark 0-0 Ireland

19/11/2018, Nations League

Ireland 0-0 Denmark

13/10/2018, Nations League

Ireland 1 Denmark 5

14/11/2017, World Cup qualifier

Denmark 0-0 Ireland

11/11/2017, World Cup qualifier

 

 

 

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

The 12

England

Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur

Italy
AC Milan, Inter Milan, Juventus

Spain
Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Real Madrid