Syrian envoy arrives in Lebanon



BEIRUT // Syria's first ambassador to Lebanon arrived at his post in Beirut yesterday, establishing formal diplomatic ties between the two neighbours for the first time since both countries gained independence. While occupying Lebanon from 1976 to 2005, Syria refused to recognise Lebanon's formal sovereignty and never established an embassy in Beirut, preferring to manage its smaller neighbour through the use of a military intelligence apparatus based in eastern Lebanon.

But after Syrian troops withdrew from Lebanon in the aftermath of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri's assassination in 2005, the two countries were forced to revamp their relationship into a formal diplomatic one, ending years of Syrian claims that Lebanon was a wayward part of greater Syria. Ali Abdel Karim Ali arrived at the Masnaa Border crossing yesterday afternoon where Lebanese officials from the foreign ministry formally greeted him.

He is expected to present his credentials to the Lebanese president, Michel Suleiman, tomorrow, according to the National News Agency. On May 7, President Bashar Assad recognised Michel al Khoury as the first Lebanese ambassador to Syria in a ceremony in Damascus. Mr Karim Ali has served as Syria's ambassador to Kuwait since 2004. Prior to that posting he had managed the Syrian Arab News Agency, the state-run media platform of the Syrian government.

Syria and Lebanon do not require visas for travel between the two countries and as many as 500,000 Syrian workers are employed in Lebanon, making the tense relationship economically critical to both countries. But the establishment of formal ties has alarmed Syrian workers who fear that the embassies will be used as a way to limit travel between the two countries. "I think it's a good sign that we are officially recognised in Lebanon, but I don't know how this would benefit us Syrians in Lebanon," said Jassim al Khodor, 26, as he took a break from work at a West Beirut construction site.

"What good would it be for us? Does it mean I will need a visa from the Lebanese embassy each time I want to come to Lebanon?" There has been no announcement of a change to the current policy of allowing free travel between the two countries. Many Lebanese expressed scepticism that the move indicates a true recognition of Lebanese sovereignty, as much of Beirut continues to view its former occupiers with suspicion.

"A Syrian ambassador to Lebanon?" asked Ibrahim Itani, the owner of a clothing store in Beirut. "They finally decided to send one. We know the Syrians though; they will continue to manipulate us whenever it is possible. "It's true they left, but they left behind many people who are their tools. They always thought Lebanon belongs to them." With closely contested parliamentary elections just 12 days away, both the pro-western government and an opposition coalition led by Hizbollah and other pro-Syrian parties are in a tight race, the outcome of which is likely to determine the future direction of relations between the two neighbours.

mprothero@thenational.ae

TWISTERS

Director:+Lee+Isaac+Chung

Starring:+Glen+Powell,+Daisy+Edgar-Jones,+Anthony+Ramos

Rating:+2.5/5

The bio

His favourite book - 1984 by George Orwell

His favourite quote - 'If you think education is expensive, try ignorance' by Derek Bok, Former President of Harvard

Favourite place to travel to - Peloponnese, Southern Greece

Favourite movie - The Last Emperor

Favourite personality from history - Alexander the Great

Role Model - My father, Yiannis Davos

 

 

Company profile

Name: JustClean

Based: Dubai with offices in other GCC countries

Launch year: 2016

Number of employees: 160+ with 21 nationalities in eight cities

Sector:
online laundry and cleaning services

Funding: $30m from Kuwait-based Faith Capital Holding and Gulf Investment Corporation

The specs: Macan Turbo

Engine: Dual synchronous electric motors
Power: 639hp
Torque: 1,130Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Touring range: 591km
Price: From Dh412,500
On sale: Deliveries start in October

SPECS

Engine: 1.5-litre turbo

Power: 181hp

Torque: 230Nm

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Starting price: Dh79,000

On sale: Now

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

Sun jukebox

Rufus Thomas, Bear Cat (The Answer to Hound Dog) (1953)

This rip-off of Leiber/Stoller’s early rock stomper brought a lawsuit against Phillips and necessitated Presley’s premature sale to RCA.

Elvis Presley, Mystery Train (1955)

The B-side of Presley’s final single for Sun bops with a drummer-less groove.

Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two, Folsom Prison Blues (1955)

Originally recorded for Sun, Cash’s signature tune was performed for inmates of the titular prison 13 years later.

Carl Perkins, Blue Suede Shoes (1956)

Within a month of Sun’s February release Elvis had his version out on RCA.

Roy Orbison, Ooby Dooby (1956)

An essential piece of irreverent juvenilia from Orbison.

Jerry Lee Lewis, Great Balls of Fire (1957)

Lee’s trademark anthem is one of the era’s best-remembered – and best-selling – songs.

The years Ramadan fell in May

1987

1954

1921

1888

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.

Company Profile

Company name: myZoi
Started: 2021
Founders: Syed Ali, Christian Buchholz, Shanawaz Rouf, Arsalan Siddiqui, Nabid Hassan
Based: UAE
Number of staff: 37
Investment: Initial undisclosed funding from SC Ventures; second round of funding totalling $14 million from a consortium of SBI, a Japanese VC firm, and SC Venture

Imperial Island: A History of Empire in Modern Britain

Author: Charlotte Lydia Riley
Publisher: Bodley Head
Pages: 384

Voy! Voy! Voy!

Director: Omar Hilal
Stars: Muhammad Farrag, Bayoumi Fouad, Nelly Karim
Rating: 4/5

Victims of the 2018 Parkland school shooting

Alyssa Alhadeff, 14

Scott Beigel, 35

Martin Duque, 14

Nicholas Dworet, 17

Aaron Feis, 37

Jaime Guttenberg, 14

Chris Hixon, 49

Luke Hoyer, 15

Cara Loughran, 14

Gina Montalto, 14

Joaquin Oliver, 17

Alaina Petty, 14

Meadow Pollack, 18

Helena Ramsay, 17

Alex Schachter, 14

Carmen Schentrup, 16

Peter Wang, 15

SPEC SHEET: SAMSUNG GALAXY Z FLIP5

Display: Main – 6.7" FHD+ Dynamic Amoled 2X, 2640 x 1080, 22:9, 425ppi, HDR10+, up to 120Hz; cover – 3/4" Super Amoled, 720 x 748, 306ppi

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, 4nm, octa-core; Adreno 740 GPU

Memory: 8GB

Capacity: 256/512GB

Platform: Android 13, One UI 5.1.1

Main camera: Dual 12MP ultra-wide (f/2.2) + 12MP wide (f/1.8), OIS

Video: 4K@30/60fps, full-HD@60/240fps, HD@960fps

Front camera: 10MP (f/2.2)

Battery: 3700mAh, 25W fast charging, 15W wireless, 4.5W reverse wireless

Connectivity: 5G; Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC (Samsung Pay)

I/O: USB-C

Cards: Nano-SIM + eSIM; no microSD slot

Colours: Cream, graphite, lavender, mint; Samsung.com exclusives – blue, grey, green, yellow

In the box: Flip 4, USB-C-to-USB-C cable

Price: Dh3,899 / Dh4,349

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.”

The specs

Engine: 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8

Transmission: seven-speed

Power: 620bhp

Torque: 760Nm

Price: Dh898,000

On sale: now

How to become a Boglehead

Bogleheads follow simple investing philosophies to build their wealth and live better lives. Just follow these steps.

•   Spend less than you earn and save the rest. You can do this by earning more, or being frugal. Better still, do both.

•   Invest early, invest often. It takes time to grow your wealth on the stock market. The sooner you begin, the better.

•   Choose the right level of risk. Don't gamble by investing in get-rich-quick schemes or high-risk plays. Don't play it too safe, either, by leaving long-term savings in cash.

•   Diversify. Do not keep all your eggs in one basket. Spread your money between different companies, sectors, markets and asset classes such as bonds and property.

•   Keep charges low. The biggest drag on investment performance is all the charges you pay to advisers and active fund managers.

•   Keep it simple. Complexity is your enemy. You can build a balanced, diversified portfolio with just a handful of ETFs.

•   Forget timing the market. Nobody knows where share prices will go next, so don't try to second-guess them.

•   Stick with it. Do not sell up in a market crash. Use the opportunity to invest more at the lower price.

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.

8 traditional Jamaican dishes to try at Kingston 21

  1. Trench Town Rock: Jamaican-style curry goat served in a pastry basket with a carrot and potato garnish
  2. Rock Steady Jerk Chicken: chicken marinated for 24 hours and slow-cooked on the grill
  3. Mento Oxtail: flavoured oxtail stewed for five hours with herbs
  4. Ackee and salt fish: the national dish of Jamaica makes for a hearty breakfast
  5. Jamaican porridge: another breakfast favourite, can be made with peanut, cornmeal, banana and plantain
  6. Jamaican beef patty: a pastry with ground beef filling
  7. Hellshire Pon di Beach: Fresh fish with pickles
  8. Out of Many: traditional sweet potato pudding
The specs: 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk


Price, base: Dh399,999
Engine: Supercharged 6.2-litre V8
Gearbox: Eight-speed automatic
Power: 707hp @ 6,000rpm
Torque: 875Nm @ 4,800rpm
Fuel economy, combined: 16.8L / 100km (estimate)

SPECS

Engine: 4-litre flat-six
Power: 525hp (GT3), 500hp (GT4)
Torque: 465Nm (GT3), 450Nm (GT4)
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
Price: From Dh944,000 (GT3), Dh581,700 (GT4)
On sale: Now

A QUIET PLACE

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

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

Short-term let permits explained

Homeowners and tenants are allowed to list their properties for rental by registering through the Dubai Tourism website to obtain a permit.

Tenants also require a letter of no objection from their landlord before being allowed to list the property.

There is a cost of Dh1,590 before starting the process, with an additional licence fee of Dh300 per bedroom being rented in your home for the duration of the rental, which ranges from three months to a year.

Anyone hoping to list a property for rental must also provide a copy of their title deeds and Ejari, as well as their Emirates ID.

Frida

Director: Carla Gutierrez

Starring: Frida Kahlo

Rating: 4/5

How to get exposure to gold

Although you can buy gold easily on the Dubai markets, the problem with buying physical bars, coins or jewellery is that you then have storage, security and insurance issues.

A far easier option is to invest in a low-cost exchange traded fund (ETF) that invests in the precious metal instead, for example, ETFS Physical Gold (PHAU) and iShares Physical Gold (SGLN) both track physical gold. The VanEck Vectors Gold Miners ETF invests directly in mining companies.

Alternatively, BlackRock Gold & General seeks to achieve long-term capital growth primarily through an actively managed portfolio of gold mining, commodity and precious-metal related shares. Its largest portfolio holdings include gold miners Newcrest Mining, Barrick Gold Corp, Agnico Eagle Mines and the NewMont Goldcorp.

Brave investors could take on the added risk of buying individual gold mining stocks, many of which have performed wonderfully well lately.

London-listed Centamin is up more than 70 per cent in just three months, although in a sign of its volatility, it is down 5 per cent on two years ago. Trans-Siberian Gold, listed on London's alternative investment market (AIM) for small stocks, has seen its share price almost quadruple from 34p to 124p over the same period, but do not assume this kind of runaway growth can continue for long

However, buying individual equities like these is highly risky, as their share prices can crash just as quickly, which isn't what what you want from a supposedly safe haven.

Essentials

The flights

Emirates and Etihad fly direct from the UAE to Geneva from Dh2,845 return, including taxes. The flight takes 6 hours. 

The package

Clinique La Prairie offers a variety of programmes. A six-night Master Detox costs from 14,900 Swiss francs (Dh57,655), including all food, accommodation and a set schedule of medical consultations and spa treatments.

Brief scores:

Scotland 371-5, 50 overs (C MacLeod 140 no, K Coetzer 58, G Munsey 55)

England 365 all out, 48.5 overs (J Bairstow 105, A Hales 52; M Watt 3-55)

Result: Scotland won by six runs

THE SPECS

BMW X7 xDrive 50i

Engine: 4.4-litre V8

Transmission: Eight-speed Steptronic transmission

Power: 462hp

Torque: 650Nm

Price: Dh600,000

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

Our family matters legal consultant

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.