An elderly Palestinian sits outside his home in the southern Gaza Strip Rafah refugee camp, near the border with Egypt, on June 20, 2009. Palestinians living in refugee camps since they were displaced from their villages and towns with the foundation of the state of Israel in 1948 and from territories later occupied by Israel in the 1967 war marked today the World Refugee Day. There are 4.6 million Palestinian refugees scattered around the Middle East, besides those internally displaced in the West Bank and Gaza. AFP PHOTO/SAID KHATIB *** Local Caption ***  229669-01-08.jpg
An elderly Palestinian sits outside his home in the southern Gaza Strip Rafah refugee camp.

Pride inspired by an orphanage rising out of mud bricks and rubble



GAZA CITY // On a recent hot, dry afternoon, Yasser Rihan, 30, was wrapping up the day's work on a construction site in the southern part of Gaza City. Mr Rihan was laying the foundation for a new orphanage, the kind of institution increasingly in demand in the battered Gaza Strip and the kind of construction that is now almost non-existent in the impoverished and isolated enclave.

The only reason this construction is going ahead, a "miracle", according to Mr Rihan, is that instead of relying on modern construction materials like cement, steel and glass, the orphanage is being built from mud bricks and usable rubble from the many destroyed buildings and houses in Gaza. "From nothing, we create something," said Mr Rihan, who used to work in a factory that made ordinary bricks, now long closed. His obvious pride in the ability of Gazans to cope aside, however, Mr Rihan said given a choice he would still prefer to build with modern materials.

"I have no experience of mud brick housing. But I can tell you that it takes longer." Of course, Mr Rihan, along with nearly 1.5 million other Gazans, has no choice. The Israeli sanctions on the Gaza Strip have seen crossings to the Palestinian enclave closed to anything but the absolute minimal emergency relief essentials such as food and medicine. Construction materials and other goods have been barred from entry for over two years.

Increasingly, however, international actors are beginning to up the pressure on Israel to ease the closure on Gaza. On Wednesday, more than 40 UN and other international NGOs again reiterated long-standing calls for an immediate end to the Israeli closure on the Gaza Strip, which was described as a "collective punishment". "We call for free and uninhibited access for all humanitarian assistance ? We also call for a return to normalised trade," said a joint statement read at a news conference in a UN warehouse in Jerusalem, where aid destined for the impoverished Palestinian enclave is stored.

The statement was signed by, among others, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, Oxfam International and Care, as well as several dozen smaller organisations. More importantly, the United States is also increasing its pressure on Israel to ease the Gaza closure, according to a report on Thursday in the Haaretz newspaper, an Israeli daily. The United States is reported to want Israel to allow in construction materials as well as help breathe life into Gaza's economy by allowing for the import and export of commodities.

Crucially, Washington is reported as wanting Israel to delink the issue of Sgt Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier captured along the border with Gaza three years ago, from the issue of the crossings. Meanwhile, Hamas is also reported to be willing to lower its demands for a prisoner exchange deal for Sgt Shalit following a visit last week by the former US president, Jimmy Carter. Whether or not such US pressure, behind the scenes and still very much informal, will sway the hard-line Israeli government under Benjamin Netanyahu is another matter. In his much-publicised speech last week, Mr Netanyahu made no bones about his absolute rejection of dealing with Hamas, which Israel, as well as the United States, considers a terrorist organisation.

But the United States is acutely aware that to boost the domestic standing of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, the reconstruction of Gaza must begin, preferably under PA auspices. That, in turn, can only happen if Fatah and Hamas agree to a unity arrangement whereby the Fatah-led West Bank PA regains a foothold in Gaza. A unity government would also be a way for international actors to deal with the reality of the Gaza Strip without having necessarily to deal directly with Hamas. The US administration has accordingly made preparations for dealing with a Palestinian unity government, notably by asking the US Congress to approve continued aid to the Palestinian Authority even if Hamas joins in government.

The United States still wants Hamas to abide by the Quartet's conditions that it recognise Israel, renounce the armed resistance and abide by previously signed agreements, something the Islamist movement has so far refused to do. Nevertheless, Hamas has been increasingly eager to point out that in practice it is abiding by a ceasefire and that it would be willing to abide by previous agreements if Israel does the same, something that may be enough to persuade the United States to give it a go.

Evidence that Washington is now less opposed to Fatah and Hamas agreeing to a unity government came last week with the unexpected boost that Egyptian-mediated unity negotiations, long stalled, received when Hamas and Fatah members met both in Gaza and the West Bank and thrashed out their own prisoner-exchange deal, a long-time bone of contention between the two Palestinian factions. That deal has still to be implemented. Yesterday, the PA released 20 imprisoned Hamas members after Hamas had earlier criticised the West Bank leadership of not living up to its side of the bargain. Hamas criticised the release as "meaningless" and said in the week since the agreement had been struck, the PA had arrested more than 100 Hamas members.

Nevertheless, the agreement to release prisoners is an important confidence-building step that may indicate that unity talks, scheduled to conclude on July 7, could finally be gaining some traction. A successful conclusion to those talks will see international pressure on Israel to lift its closure on Gaza gain further traction. Until then, the labour-intensive and slow mud-brick industry in Gaza will remain the only potential form of reconstruction available to the tens of thousands of Gazans still homeless after Israel's onslaught on Gaza this year.

okarmi@thenational.ae

INDIA V SOUTH AFRICA

First Test: October 2-6, at Visakhapatnam

Second Test: October 10-14, at Maharashtra

Third Test: October 19-23, at Ranchi

The Two Popes

Director: Fernando Meirelles

Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Jonathan Pryce 

Four out of five stars

‘White Elephant’

Director: Jesse V Johnson
Stars: Michael Rooker, Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Olga Kurylenko
Rating: 3/5

The story of Edge

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, established Edge in 2019.

It brought together 25 state-owned and independent companies specialising in weapons systems, cyber protection and electronic warfare.

Edge has an annual revenue of $5 billion and employs more than 12,000 people.

Some of the companies include Nimr, a maker of armoured vehicles, Caracal, which manufactures guns and ammunitions company, Lahab

 

ULTRA PROCESSED FOODS

- Carbonated drinks, sweet or savoury packaged snacks, confectionery, mass-produced packaged breads and buns 

- margarines and spreads; cookies, biscuits, pastries, cakes, and cake mixes, breakfast cereals, cereal and energy bars;

- energy drinks, milk drinks, fruit yoghurts and fruit drinks, cocoa drinks, meat and chicken extracts and instant sauces

- infant formulas and follow-on milks, health and slimming products such as powdered or fortified meal and dish substitutes,

- many ready-to-heat products including pre-prepared pies and pasta and pizza dishes, poultry and fish nuggets and sticks, sausages, burgers, hot dogs, and other reconstituted meat products, powdered and packaged instant soups, noodles and desserts.

Herc's Adventures

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

Match info

Uefa Champions League Group F

Manchester City v Hoffenheim, midnight (Wednesday, UAE)

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)

FIXTURES

All times UAE (+4 GMT)

Saturday
Fiorentina v Torino (8pm)
Hellas Verona v Roma (10.45pm)

Sunday
Parma v Napoli (2.30pm)
Genoa v Crotone (5pm)
Sassuolo v Cagliari (8pm)
Juventus v Sampdoria (10.45pm)

Monday
AC Milan v Bologna (10.45om)

Playing September 30

Benevento v Inter Milan (8pm)
Udinese v Spezia (8pm)
Lazio v Atalanta (10.45pm)

PROFILE OF SWVL

Started: April 2017

Founders: Mostafa Kandil, Ahmed Sabbah and Mahmoud Nouh

Based: Cairo, Egypt

Sector: transport

Size: 450+ employees

Investment: approximately $80 million

Investors include: Dubai’s Beco Capital, US’s Endeavor Catalyst, China’s MSA, Egypt’s Sawari Ventures, Sweden’s Vostok New Ventures, Property Finder CEO Michael Lahyani

Why your domicile status is important

Your UK residence status is assessed using the statutory residence test. While your residence status – ie where you live - is assessed every year, your domicile status is assessed over your lifetime.

Your domicile of origin generally comes from your parents and if your parents were not married, then it is decided by your father. Your domicile is generally the country your father considered his permanent home when you were born. 

UK residents who have their permanent home ("domicile") outside the UK may not have to pay UK tax on foreign income. For example, they do not pay tax on foreign income or gains if they are less than £2,000 in the tax year and do not transfer that gain to a UK bank account.

A UK-domiciled person, however, is liable for UK tax on their worldwide income and gains when they are resident in the UK.

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

Company Profile 

Founder: Omar Onsi

Launched: 2018

Employees: 35

Financing stage: Seed round ($12 million)

Investors: B&Y, Phoenician Funds, M1 Group, Shorooq Partners

David Haye record

Total fights: 32
Wins: 28
Wins by KO: 26
Losses: 4

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

Top investing tips for UAE residents in 2021

Build an emergency fund: Make sure you have enough cash to cover six months of expenses as a buffer against unexpected problems before you begin investing, advises Steve Cronin, the founder of DeadSimpleSaving.com.

Think long-term: When you invest, you need to have a long-term mindset, so don’t worry about momentary ups and downs in the stock market.

Invest worldwide: Diversify your investments globally, ideally by way of a global stock index fund.

Is your money tied up: Avoid anything where you cannot get your money back in full within a month at any time without any penalty.

Skip past the promises: “If an investment product is offering more than 10 per cent return per year, it is either extremely risky or a scam,” Mr Cronin says.

Choose plans with low fees: Make sure that any funds you buy do not charge more than 1 per cent in fees, Mr Cronin says. “If you invest by yourself, you can easily stay below this figure.” Managed funds and commissionable investments often come with higher fees.

Be sceptical about recommendations: If someone suggests an investment to you, ask if they stand to gain, advises Mr Cronin. “If they are receiving commission, they are unlikely to recommend an investment that’s best for you.”

Get financially independent: Mr Cronin advises UAE residents to pursue financial independence. Start with a Google search and improve your knowledge via expat investing websites or Facebook groups such as SimplyFI. 

UAE tour of the Netherlands

UAE squad: Rohan Mustafa (captain), Shaiman Anwar, Ghulam Shabber, Mohammed Qasim, Rameez Shahzad, Mohammed Usman, Adnan Mufti, Chirag Suri, Ahmed Raza, Imran Haider, Mohammed Naveed, Amjad Javed, Zahoor Khan, Qadeer Ahmed
Fixtures:
Monday, 1st 50-over match
Wednesday, 2nd 50-over match
Thursday, 3rd 50-over match

AGL AWARDS

Golden Ball - best Emirati player: Khalfan Mubarak (Al Jazira)
Golden Ball - best foreign player: Igor Coronado (Sharjah)
Golden Glove - best goalkeeper: Adel Al Hosani (Sharjah)
Best Coach - the leader: Abdulaziz Al Anbari (Sharjah)
Fans' Player of the Year: Driss Fetouhi (Dibba)
Golden Boy - best young player: Ali Saleh (Al Wasl)
Best Fans of the Year: Sharjah
Goal of the Year: Michael Ortega (Baniyas)

The biogs

Name: Zinah Madi

Occupation: Co-founder of Dots and links

Nationality: Syrian

Family: Married, Mother of Tala, 18, Sharif, 14, Kareem, 2

Favourite Quote: “There is only one way to succeed in anything, and that is to give it everything.”

 

Name: Razan Nabulsi

Occupation: Co-founder of Dots and Links

Nationality: Jordanian

Family: Married, Mother of Yahya, 3.5

Favourite Quote: A Chinese proverb that says: “Be not afraid of moving slowly, be afraid only of standing still.”

West Asia rugby, season 2017/18 - Roll of Honour

Western Clubs Champions League - Winners: Abu Dhabi Harlequins; Runners up: Bahrain

Dubai Rugby Sevens - Winners: Dubai Exiles; Runners up: Jebel Ali Dragons

West Asia Premiership - Winners: Jebel Ali Dragons; Runners up: Abu Dhabi Harlequins

UAE Premiership Cup - Winners: Abu Dhabi Harlequins; Runners up: Dubai Exiles

UAE Premiership - Winners: Dubai Exiles; Runners up: Abu Dhabi Harlequins

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: OneOrder
Started: March 2022
Founders: Tamer Amer and Karim Maurice
Based: Cairo
Number of staff: 82
Investment stage: Series A

UAE SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Ali Khaseif, Fahad Al Dhanhani, Mohammed Al Shamsi, Adel Al Hosani

Defenders: Bandar Al Ahbabi, Shaheen Abdulrahman, Walid Abbas, Mahmoud Khamis, Mohammed Barghash, Khalifa Al Hammadi, Hassan Al Mahrami, Yousef Jaber, Salem Rashid, Mohammed Al Attas, Alhassan Saleh

Midfielders: Ali Salmeen, Abdullah Ramadan, Abdullah Al Naqbi, Majed Hassan, Yahya Nader, Ahmed Barman, Abdullah Hamad, Khalfan Mubarak, Khalil Al Hammadi, Tahnoun Al Zaabi, Harib Abdallah, Mohammed Jumah, Yahya Al Ghassani

Forwards: Fabio De Lima, Caio Canedo, Ali Saleh, Ali Mabkhout, Sebastian Tagliabue, Zayed Al Ameri