Explosion on Syrian oil pipeline near restive Homs



BEIRUT // A major Syrian pipeline carrying oil to a refinery in the restive Homs province was blown up today, activists and the state-run news agency said, as violence stemming from the country's nine-month uprising spirals out of control.

No casualties were reported and it was not clear who was behind Thursday's explosion.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the pipeline was "bombed", while the state-run news agency Sana blamed militants.

"An armed terrorist group on Thursday committed an act of sabotage," Sana said.

A government official said the blast caused a fire that has been burning for four hours. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

There were two similar blasts on Syrian pipelines in July, with no injuries.

Nomair Makhlouf, the general director of the Syrian Oil Company, said the pipeline serves Syria's domestic requirements and carries 140,000 barrels a day.

Reports today could not be independently confirmed. Syria has banned most foreign journalists and prevented independent reporting.

Syria is trying to crush a popular uprising, but the conflict is turning more violent as once-peaceful protesters increasingly take up arms.

Activists today said Syrian security forces have also killed at least seven civilians, including a woman, in Homs.

The deaths occurred as the security forces used sniper fire and "arbitrary" shelling during raids on three districts of the city.

Meanwhile, sanctions from Turkey, the Arab League and the European Union are aimed at squeezing the ailing Syrian economy and forcing the regime to halt the bloodshed.

The EU has banned oil imports from Syria in a move that costs the embattled regime millions of dollars each day.

Yesterday, in a rare interview, Syrian President Bashar Al Assad said he never ordered the brutal suppression of the uprising in his country, and insisted only a "crazy person" would kill his own people.

Apparently trying to distance himself from violence that the UN says has killed at least 4,000 people since March, Assad laughed off a question about whether he feels any guilt.

"I did my best to protect the people," he told ABC's Barbara Walters during an interview at the presidential palace in the Syrian capital, Damascus. "You feel sorry for the life that has been lost, but you don't feel guilty when you don't kill people."

"No government in the world [kills] its people unless it is led by a crazy person," Assad added in the interview, which was conducted in English. Assad, who trained as an ophthalmologist in Britain, speaks the language fluently.

INFO

Everton 0

Arsenal 0

Man of the Match: Djibril Sidibe (Everton)

THE SPECS

Engine: 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8

Transmission: seven-speed dual clutch

Power: 710bhp

Torque: 770Nm

Speed: 0-100km/h 2.9 seconds

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Price: Dh1,000,885

On sale: now

Rock in a Hard Place: Music and Mayhem in the Middle East
Orlando Crowcroft
Zed Books

The Bio

Favourite place in UAE: Al Rams pearling village

What one book should everyone read: Any book written before electricity was invented. When a writer willingly worked under candlelight, you know he/she had a real passion for their craft

Your favourite type of pearl: All of them. No pearl looks the same and each carries its own unique characteristics, like humans

Best time to swim in the sea: When there is enough light to see beneath the surface

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.

Part three: an affection for classic cars lives on

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

Read part one: how cars came to the UAE

GOLF’S RAHMBO

- 5 wins in 22 months as pro
- Three wins in past 10 starts
- 45 pro starts worldwide: 5 wins, 17 top 5s
- Ranked 551th in world on debut, now No 4 (was No 2 earlier this year)
- 5th player in last 30 years to win 3 European Tour and 2 PGA Tour titles before age 24 (Woods, Garcia, McIlroy, Spieth)

Europe wide

Some of French groups are threatening Friday to continue their journey to Brussels, the capital of Belgium and the European Union, and to meet up with drivers from other countries on Monday.

Belgian authorities joined French police in banning the threatened blockade. A similar lorry cavalcade was planned for Friday in Vienna but cancelled after authorities prohibited it.

All The Light We Cannot See

Creator: Steven Knight

Stars: Mark Ruffalo, Hugh Laurie, Aria Mia Loberti

Rating: 1/5 

Australia tour of Pakistan

March 4-8: First Test, Rawalpindi

March 12-16: Second Test, Karachi

March 21-25: Third Test, Lahore

March 29: First ODI, Rawalpindi

March 31: Second ODI, Rawalpindi

April 2: Third ODI, Rawalpindi

April 5: T20I, Rawalpindi

Anti-semitic attacks

The annual report by the Community Security Trust, which advises the Jewish community on security , warned on Thursday that anti-Semitic incidents in Britain had reached a record high.

It found there had been 2,255 anti-Semitic incidents reported in 2021, a rise of 34 per cent from the previous year.

The report detailed the convictions of a number of people for anti-Semitic crimes, including one man who was jailed for setting up a neo-Nazi group which had encouraged “the eradication of Jewish people” and another who had posted anti-Semitic homemade videos on social media.

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: CarbonSifr
Started: 2022
Based: Dubai
Founders: Onur Elgun, Mustafa Bosca and Muhammed Yildirim
Sector: Climate tech
Investment stage: $1 million raised in seed funding

The chef's advice

Troy Payne, head chef at Abu Dhabi’s newest healthy eatery Sanderson’s in Al Seef Resort & Spa, says singles need to change their mindset about how they approach the supermarket.

“They feel like they can’t buy one cucumber,” he says. “But I can walk into a shop – I feed two people at home – and I’ll walk into a shop and I buy one cucumber, I’ll buy one onion.”

Mr Payne asks for the sticker to be placed directly on each item, rather than face the temptation of filling one of the two-kilogram capacity plastic bags on offer.

The chef also advises singletons not get too hung up on “organic”, particularly high-priced varieties that have been flown in from far-flung locales. Local produce is often grown sustainably, and far cheaper, he says.

The Land between Two Rivers: Writing in an Age of Refugees
Tom Sleigh, Graywolf Press

Women & Power: A Manifesto

Mary Beard

Profile Books and London Review of Books 

TOUCH RULES

Touch is derived from rugby league. Teams consist of up to 14 players with a maximum of six on the field at any time.

Teams can make as many substitutions as they want during the 40 minute matches.

Similar to rugby league, the attacking team has six attempts - or touches - before possession changes over.

A touch is any contact between the player with the ball and a defender, and must be with minimum force.

After a touch the player performs a “roll-ball” - similar to the play-the-ball in league - stepping over or rolling the ball between the feet.

At the roll-ball, the defenders have to retreat a minimum of five metres.

A touchdown is scored when an attacking player places the ball on or over the score-line.

How Voiss turns words to speech

The device has a screen reader or software that monitors what happens on the screen

The screen reader sends the text to the speech synthesiser

This converts to audio whatever it receives from screen reader, so the person can hear what is happening on the screen

A VOISS computer costs between $200 and $250 depending on memory card capacity that ranges from 32GB to 128GB

The speech synthesisers VOISS develops are free

Subsequent computer versions will include improvements such as wireless keyboards

Arabic voice in affordable talking computer to be added next year to English, Portuguese, and Spanish synthesiser

Partnerships planned during Expo 2020 Dubai to add more languages

At least 2.2 billion people globally have a vision impairment or blindness

More than 90 per cent live in developing countries

The Long-term aim of VOISS to reach the technology to people in poor countries with workshops that teach them to build their own device

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

Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★

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.

The Genius of Their Age

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

Dr Amal Khalid Alias revealed a recent case of a woman with daughters, who specifically wanted a boy.

A semen analysis of the father showed abnormal sperm so the couple required IVF.

Out of 21 eggs collected, six were unused leaving 15 suitable for IVF.

A specific procedure was used, called intracytoplasmic sperm injection where a single sperm cell is inserted into the egg.

On day three of the process, 14 embryos were biopsied for gender selection.

The next day, a pre-implantation genetic report revealed four normal male embryos, three female and seven abnormal samples.

Day five of the treatment saw two male embryos transferred to the patient.

The woman recorded a positive pregnancy test two weeks later. 

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CPU: Apple A15 Bionic

Capacity: 64GB, Wi-Fi only; 128GB, Wi-Fi + ethernet

Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, ethernet (Wi-Fi + ethernet model only), IR receiver

I/O: HDMI, ethernet (128GB model only); Siri remote (charging via USB-C); accessibility features

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Peripherals: Compatible with HD/UHD TVs via HDMI, Bluetooth keyboards, AirPods

Photo: GIF, HEIF, JPEG, TIFF

Colour: Black

In the box: TV 4K, Siri remote, power cord

Price: Dh529, Wi-Fi only; Dh599, Wi-Fi + ethernet

The Iron Claw

Director: Sean Durkin 

Starring: Zac Efron, Jeremy Allen White, Harris Dickinson, Maura Tierney, Holt McCallany, Lily James

Rating: 4/5

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 four: an affection for classic cars lives on

Read part three: the age of the electric vehicle begins

Read part one: how cars came to the UAE

 

Martin Sabbagh profile

Job: CEO JCDecaux Middle East

In the role: Since January 2015

Lives: In the UAE

Background: M&A, investment banking

Studied: Corporate finance

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Switch Foods
Started: 2022
Founder: Edward Hamod
Based: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Industry: Plant-based meat production
Number of employees: 34
Funding: $6.5 million
Funding round: Seed
Investors: Based in US and across Middle East

A QUIET PLACE

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

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

Diriyah project at a glance

- Diriyah’s 1.9km King Salman Boulevard, a Parisian Champs-Elysees-inspired avenue, is scheduled for completion in 2028
- The Royal Diriyah Opera House is expected to be completed in four years
- Diriyah’s first of 42 hotels, the Bab Samhan hotel, will open in the first quarter of 2024
- On completion in 2030, the Diriyah project is forecast to accommodate more than 100,000 people
- The $63.2 billion Diriyah project will contribute $7.2 billion to the kingdom’s GDP
- It will create more than 178,000 jobs and aims to attract more than 50 million visits a year
- About 2,000 people work for the Diriyah Company, with more than 86 per cent being Saudi citizens

Living in...

This article is part of a guide on where to live in the UAE. Our reporters will profile some of the country’s most desirable districts, provide an estimate of rental prices and introduce you to some of the residents who call each area home.

Know before you go
  • Jebel Akhdar is a two-hour drive from Muscat airport or a six-hour drive from Dubai. It’s impossible to visit by car unless you have a 4x4. Phone ahead to the hotel to arrange a transfer.
  • If you’re driving, make sure your insurance covers Oman.
  • By air: Budget airlines Air Arabia, Flydubai and SalamAir offer direct routes to Muscat from the UAE.
  • Tourists from the Emirates (UAE nationals not included) must apply for an Omani visa online before arrival at evisa.rop.gov.om. The process typically takes several days.
  • Flash floods are probable due to the terrain and a lack of drainage. Always check the weather before venturing into any canyons or other remote areas and identify a plan of escape that includes high ground, shelter and parking where your car won’t be overtaken by sudden downpours.

 

Results

7pm: Wathba Stallions Cup – Handicap (PA) Dh70,000 (Dirt) 1,600m; Winner: RB Kings Bay, Abdul Aziz Al Balushi (jockey), Helal Al Alawi (trainer)

7.30pm: Maiden (PA) Dh 70,000 (D) 1,600m; Winner: AF Ensito, Fernando Jara, Mohamed Daggash

8pm: Maiden (PA) Dh70,000 (D) 1,400m; Winner: AF Sourouh, Tadhg O’Shea, Ernst Oertel

8.30pm: Maiden (PA) Dh70,000 (D) 1,800m; Winner: Baaher, Fabrice Veron, Eric Lemartinel

9pm: Maiden (PA) Dh70,000 (D) 2,000m; Winner: Mootahady, Antonio Fresu, Eric Lemartinel

9.30pm: Handicap (TB) Dh70,000 (D) 2,000m; Winner: Dubai Canal, Tadhg O’Shea, Satish Seemar

10pm: Al Ain Cup – Prestige (PA) Dh100,000 (D) 2,000m; Winner: Harrab, Bernardo Pinheiro, Majed Al Jahouri

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Educatly
Started: 2020
Based: UAE
Founders: Mohmmed El Sonbaty, Joan Manuel and Abdelrahman Ayman
Industry: Education technology
Funding size: $2 million
Investors: Enterprise Ireland, Egypt venture, Plus VC, HBAN, Falak Startups

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

match info

Southampton 2 (Ings 32' & pen 89') Tottenham Hotspur 5 (Son 45', 47', 64', & 73', Kane 82')

Man of the match Son Heung-min (Tottenham)

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

WORLD RECORD FEES FOR GOALKEEPERS

1) Kepa Arrizabalaga, Athletic Bilbao to Chelsea (£72m)

2) Alisson, Roma to Liverpool (£67m)

3) Ederson, Benfica to Manchester City (£35m)

4) Gianluigi Buffon, Parma to Juventus (£33m)

5) Angelo Peruzzi, Inter Milan to Lazio (£15.7m

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