A cease-fire in Tripoli remains steadfast despite the recent clashes: UN envoy to Libya - Lebanon news - أخبار لبنان
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A cease-fire in Tripoli remains steadfast despite the recent clashes: UN envoy to Libya

BEIRUT: Financial strains in Lebanon have been brought into focus by turbulence on markets where its dollar-denominated sovereign bonds suffered a heavy sell-off last week following comments by the finance minister about the public debt.The bonds recovered this week on assurances the government is “absolutely not” planning to restructure the debt and is committed to…

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A cease-fire in Tripoli remains steadfast despite the recent clashes: UN envoy to Libya

BEIRUT: Financial strains in Lebanon have been brought into focus by turbulence on markets where its dollar-denominated sovereign bonds suffered a heavy sell-off last week following comments by the finance minister about the public debt.The bonds recovered this week on assurances the government is “absolutely not” planning to restructure the debt and is committed to paying its maturing debt and interest payments at predetermined dates.But the episode has added to the debate of Lebanon’s debt sustainability after warnings from politicians, the IMF and World Bank over economic and financial conditions in a country that has suffered years of low economic growth.Lebanon’s factional politics has led to years of policy paralysis and obstructed reforms needed to boost investor confidence. More than eight months after an election, politicians have been unable to agree to a new government.Lebanon has one of the world’s biggest public debts compared to the size of its economy, largely generated by servicing existing debt and high state spending. It amounts to roughly 150 percent of GDP.The World Bank has estimated that financial transfers to the state-owned power producer alone averaged 3.8 percent of GDP from 2008 to 2017. A public-sector wage increase in 2017 and higher interest rates have added to pressures on the budget deficit.Lebanon also has a current account deficit because it imports far more than it exports.Financing these two deficits has depended on critical financial transfers from its diaspora.But questions over this model have grown.“At the heart of concerns is the recent slowdown in remittance/deposit inflows, which have traditionally funded a large part- if not all of Lebanon’s financing requirement,” Goldman Sachs said in a December analysis.The World Bank, in an October report, said Lebanon was exposed to significant refinancing risks. “Attracting sufficient capital, and in particular deposits, to finance significantly larger budgetary and current account deficits is proving challenging in light of slower deposit growth.”Lower oil prices have been seen by economists as a major cause of the slowdown, with many Lebanese working in oil-producing Gulf Arab states. Political instability and lower growth in Lebanon have also been cited as factors.Economic growth rates have fallen to 1-2% from 8-10% in the four years before Syria’s civil war began in 2011.Central bank governor Riad Salameh said last month the banking sector was capable of financing the state’s foreign and domestic debt in 2019. The central bank’s net foreign assets stand at around $40 billion.The financial system has proven resilient through political crises, assassinations, and war. The Lebanese pound peg against the US dollar has been stable for over two decades.Often in the absence of effective government, the central bank has maintained stability using stimulus packages and unorthodox financial operations, made possible by large diaspora deposits into the banks.But since 2016, the slowdown in non-resident inflows prompted the central bank to embark on “financial engineering” to draw more dollars to its reserves.The World Bank and IMF have praised the central bank for a critical role. But the World Bank’s October report noted some central bank tools were becoming less effective and that Lebanon’s risk profile was rising sharply.Confidence is critical to encouraging the inflows upon which the system rests. This would be boosted if a new government was agreed and moved quickly toward making reforms of the power sector.This could unlock some $11 billion in funding pledged by foreign states and institutions last year for a capital investment program.The power wielded by the Iran-backed Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah is at the heart of tension between Lebanon and Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia that once supported Beirut but have turned their attention elsewhere in recent years.Goldman Sachs noted that one cause of the slowdown in remittance and deposit growth was “the perceived reduced likelihood of external support in light of heightened tensions between Lebanon and the oil-rich Gulf countries.”The heavily armed group is listed as a terrorist group by the United States and fought a war with Israel in 2006.“We have warned for some time that if there was a fresh escalation of tensions with Gulf countries or Israel, that could lead to another period of capital flight that puts the dollar peg under pressure,” Jason Tuvey of Capital Economics said.The United States has tightened financial sanctions against Hezbollah, part of its wider effort to counter Iran. The Lebanese banking sector has been applying these measures and anti-money laundering legislation.Lebanon lobbied Washington in 2017 to balance its tough anti-Hezbollah stance with the need to preserve the country’s financial stability. Consequently, sanctions were altered enough to allay fears of major economic damage.The application of such measures may have weighed on some inflows to Lebanon, though it is difficult to know to what extent, Tuvey said.Once Prime Minister-designate Saad Al-Hariri manages to form a government, investors will be looking for follow-through on promises of reducing the budget deficit. But there are concerns that politics could get in the way of reforms once again.“Lebanese and international stakeholders agree that the budget deficit needs to narrow, but a credible, actionable plan for achieving this is still lacking and it remains unclear if political dynamics will allow for a concerted fiscal adjustment,” Fitch Ratings said.

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Miss Universe UAE announces 15 of 30 official candidates

The first batch of candidates to compete for the title of Miss Universe UAE have been announced. Fifteen names have so far been released on official social media accounts – Marwa (23, Sharjah), Sara (25, Dubai), Jasmin (22, Abu Dhabi), Dilnoza (23, Dubai), Alma (24, Dubai), Bahar (26, Dubai), Emilia (24, Dubai), Frank (27, Dubai),…

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Miss Universe UAE announces 15 of 30 official candidates

The first batch of candidates to compete for the title of Miss Universe UAE have been announced.
Fifteen names have so far been released on official social media accounts – Marwa (23, Sharjah), Sara (25, Dubai), Jasmin (22, Abu Dhabi), Dilnoza (23, Dubai), Alma (24, Dubai), Bahar (26, Dubai), Emilia (24, Dubai), Frank (27, Dubai), Razan (28, Abu Dhabi) Natalia (24, Dubai), Victoria (26, Dubai), Reem (25, Abu Dhabi), Asher (28, Dubai), Anna (28, Dubai) and Anita (24, Dubai).
pic.twitter.com/4ShjATL77n— missuniverseuae (@missuniverseuae) October 20, 2021
The Miss Universe Organization and Yugen Events announced the historic first-ever Miss Universe UAE on October 7, 2021. The event is set to take place in Dubai.
A few hours after the announcement of the pageant, the Miss Universe website crashed as over 12,000 candidates logged in to apply. The delegation whittled the applications down to 300 and selected its 30 official candidates on Thursday.
Couture Designs by @furneamato @amatoofficialPhotographed by @lucasalvesofficial @studiolucasalvesMakeup by @vimijoshiCreative Inputs @chanelayan#MissUniverseUAE#BreakingStereotypes#UAEToUniverse@josh_yugen #JoshYugen#YugenEvents @yugenpr #Top30 pic.twitter.com/Jl6NXCvrsL— missuniverseuae (@missuniverseuae) October 21, 2021
All women, between the ages of 18 to 28, who had a three-year residency, possessing a valid Emirates ID and passport, were qualified to join.
The 2022 event will be held in Dubai for three hours, where candidates will get the opportunity to showcase their intelligence, style and talent.
#MissUniverseUAE#BreakingStereotypes#UAEToUniverse@josh_yugen #JoshYugen#YugenEvents @yugenpr #Top30 pic.twitter.com/dDSyNzOPL1— missuniverseuae (@missuniverseuae) October 22, 2021
According to an official press release, the swimwear category will be dropped from the event this time “in respect of the UAE’s culture and traditions.”
A charity dinner will formally present the candidates on November 4.
The preliminary rounds will then take place on November 5, where the Top 15 will be chosen. From the semi-finalists will be selected the top five.

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Woman dies after Alec Baldwin fires prop gun on film set

US actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun that killed a cinematographer and wounded the director on a film set in New Mexico, US law enforcement officers said Thursday. The incident happened on the set of “Rust” in the southwestern US state, where Baldwin is playing the lead in a 19th-century western. Halyna Hutchins and…

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Woman dies after Alec Baldwin fires prop gun on film set

US actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun that killed a cinematographer and wounded the director on a film set in New Mexico, US law enforcement officers said Thursday.
The incident happened on the set of “Rust” in the southwestern US state, where Baldwin is playing the lead in a 19th-century western.
Halyna Hutchins and Joel Souza “were shot when a prop firearm was discharged by Alec Baldwin,” the sheriff in Santa Fe said in a statement.
Hutchins, 42, was transported to hospital by helicopter but died of her wounds, while Souza, 48, was taken by ambulance and is receiving treatment.
No charges have been filed over the incident, which is being investigated, with witness interviews ongoing.
A spokesperson from the production told The Hollywood Reporter the “accident” involved the misfire of a prop gun with blanks.
A sheriff’s spokesman told the publication that the director was in “critical condition.”
The incident took place at the Bonanza Creek Ranch, a production location near Santa Fe which is popular with Hollywood filmmakers.
Movie sets usually have stringent rules over the use of prop weapons, but accidents have happened.
Most famously, Brandon Lee, the son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee, died during filming of “The Crow” after being shot by a gun that was supposed to fire blanks.
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In Iraqi Kurdish city, women gain power without parity

DUBAI: Stepping into India’s pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai is like being instantly transported from the skyscraper-dominated skyline of the Middle East’s commercial capital to the hustle and bustle of South Asia. The pavilion, located in Al-Forsan Crescent in the expo’s Opportunity District, is one of the largest at the event. Designed by CP Kukreja…

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In Iraqi Kurdish city, women gain power without parity

DUBAI: Stepping into India’s pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai is like being instantly transported from the skyscraper-dominated skyline of the Middle East’s commercial capital to the hustle and bustle of South Asia.

The pavilion, located in Al-Forsan Crescent in the expo’s Opportunity District, is one of the largest at the event. Designed by CP Kukreja Architects in Delhi, it features an innovative kinetic facade made up of 600 individual blocks in assorted hues of brown and beige — not entirely unlike the desert landscape outside — arranged in a mosaic of panels, each of which rotates on an axis.

The Indian pavilion’s design represents the country’s dynamism and forward-thinking vision, echoing the theme of an “India on the move.” (Credit: Supplied)

The design is intended to represent India’s dynamism and forward-thinking vision, echoing the theme of an “India on the move;” a country rooted in its rich heritage but also avant-garde and innovative in its approach to technological and economic advances.

The pavilion is also a nod to the nation’s fight against COVID-19 and the various reforms implemented by the government to prepare for what is hoped will be a period of high and accelerated growth as India strives to become a $5 trillion economy.

Combining both its heritage and its ambition, the Indian pavilion features yoga demonstrations alongside displays on its space program. (Credit: Supplied)

“The pavilion takes visitors through the numerous phases of development and the unparalleled growth trajectory that India has experienced in all sectors, ranging from health and wellness, climate change, biodiversity, food agriculture to accomplishments in space,” Aman Puri, the pavilion’s commissioner general and the consul general of India in Dubai, told Arab News.

“We have a wide assortment of festivals and celebrations to offer at the pavilion, which provide our visitors with a once-in-a-lifetime experience to get the … feel of the diverse Indian culture.”

Visitors are greeted warmly as they arrive at the state-of-the-art pavilion, which occupies a 1.2 acre site and showcases the nation’s cultural treasures and technological marvels.

Combining both its heritage and its ambition, the Indian pavilion features yoga demonstrations alongside displays on its space program. (Credit: Supplied)

As they move along a winding pathway they pass by a live yoga display in an area surrounded by greenery, a demonstration of Ayurveda, India’s ancient art of wellness, and a sharply contrasting area dedicated to India’s space program.

Visitors then move up through several levels that offer insights into various aspects of Indian culture, heritage and modern-day achievements. Massive floor-to-ceiling LED screens show images of Indian dancers and traditional ceremonies, and showcase the nation’s successes in the fields of robotics, energy, e-commerce, healthcare, cryptocurrency and blockchain.

A number of conference rooms and meeting spaces will be used to host talks and networking events in the coming months in an attempt to encourage the forging of new international business relationships with India.

Prior to the pandemic, bilateral trade between India and the UAE was worth $60 billion. As business begins to return to normal, the governments of both countries hope to facilitate investments totaling $75 billion in the coming years.

“The expo is an important occasion to exhibit and invite the world to participate in India’s economic growth by utilizing the existing Indian talent base, creating additional employment opportunities, and empowering the secondary and tertiary sectors,” said Puri.

“The plethora of global discussions, business and investment summits will focus on creating synergies and providing opportunities to explore and accelerate trade partnerships.”

Prior to the pandemic, bilateral trade between India and the UAE was worth $60 billion. As business begins to return to normal, the governments of both countries hope to facilitate investments totaling $75 billion in the coming years.

INNUMBERS

8.5 million – Population of overseas Indians in the Gulf states (2018).

(Source: GoI, Ministry of External Affairs)

Noting that India is “a country of start-up unicorns, and with an ecosystem of more than 50,000 recognized start-ups,” Puri said that “the Innovation Hub at the India pavilion will host several leading startups from India. Expo 2020 Dubai will be an excellent platform for these startups to engage with the global market.”

As it emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, India has set its sights on becoming a high-tech, $5 trillion economy. (Credit: Supplied)

Among the events the pavilion will host is a World Majlis, which includes a program of talks including: Lessons from Space, on Oct. 19; Cities on the Move, on Nov. 2; and Off the Beaten Path, on Jan. 13.

For those interested in sampling some of India’s heritage, arts and crafts, and cultural treasures, the pavilion features a retail area with shops selling gemstones, textiles and pashminas from Jodhpur, Rajasthan and Jaipur.

And of course there is also a food court offering a wide range of Indian delicacies, along with a fine-dining restaurant, managed by Taj Hotels, where visitors can feast on a selection of the country’s rich culinary offerings.

The pavilion will also offer a packed schedule of indoor and outdoor performances of traditional Indian music and dance. In addition, visitors are invited to take part in festivities such as Diwali, the festival of light, and Holi, the festival of color.

 India’s state-of-the-art pavilion, which occupies a 1.2 acre site, showcases the nation’s cultural treasures alongside its technological marvels. (Credit: Supplied)

There are plans for the pavilion to remain as a permanent space for cultural and business exchange after the expo concludes, a testament to the long-standing relationship between the UAE and India.

About 2.75 million Indian nationals live in the UAE, representing 27 percent of the Gulf state’s population of about 10 million. The majority work in the service industry, which was badly hit by the precautionary lockdown measures during the pandemic. As a result, many Indian expats were forced to return home.

India’s participation at the expo coincides with the Indian government’s Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav initiative, also known as [email protected], a year-long celebration of the upcoming 75th anniversary of independence from British colonial rule.

The Indian pavilion’s design represents the country’s dynamism and forward-thinking vision, echoing the theme of an “India on the move.” (Credit: Supplied)

The Indian consulate has launched a number of special events, in addition to those taking place at the expo, to mark the anniversary, including competitions, documentary screenings and art exhibitions. The consulate is also reportedly planning a joint celebration to coincide with the 50th UAE National Day on Dec. 2, in celebration of the bond of friendship between the nations.

Expo 2020 Dubai is the 35th World Expo. The previous one was in Milan in 2015, and the next is scheduled to take place in 2025 in the Japanese city of Osaka, which also hosted the 1970 World Expo.

People attend the opening ceremony of the Dubai Expo 2020 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on September 30, 2021. (REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah/File Photo)

The event dates back to 1851 and the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations in London, the first of what came to be called World Expos. In recent years have been staged every five years in a host city for a period ranging from three to six months.

Since 2013, when Dubai impressed a selection panel in Paris with its bid for the 2020 event, the expo has been one the most talked about and eagerly anticipated events in the UAE.

Organizers say the expo, which was delayed by a year because of the pandemic and finally got underway on Oct. 1 this year, provides a showcase for more than 200 participating entities, including 192 countries, and features 60 events. About 25 million visitors are expected before it closes in April.

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• Twitter: @rebeccaaproctor

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