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Iceland almost gets female-majority parliament

Iceland briefly celebrated electing a female-majority parliament on Sunday, before a recount showed there will still be more men than women in the chamber, state broadcaster RUV reported. The initial vote count had female candidates winning 33 seats in Iceland’s 63-seat parliament, the Althing, in an election that saw centrist parties make the biggest gains.…

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Iceland almost gets female-majority parliament

Iceland briefly celebrated electing a female-majority parliament on Sunday, before a recount showed there will still be more men than women in the chamber, state broadcaster RUV reported.
The initial vote count had female candidates winning 33 seats in Iceland’s 63-seat parliament, the Althing, in an election that saw centrist parties make the biggest gains.
Hours later, a recount in northwestern Iceland changed the outcome, leaving female candidates with 30 seats, a tally previously reached at Iceland’s second-most recent election, in 2016.
Still, at almost 48 percent of the total, that is the highest percentage for women legislators in Europe. On the continent, Sweden and Finland have 47 percent and 46 percent women’s representation in parliament, respectively.
According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Rwanda leads the world with women making up 61 percent of its Chamber of Deputies, with Cuba, Nicaragua and Mexico on or just over the 50 percent mark. Worldwide, the organisation says just over a quarter of legislators are women.
Iceland, a North Atlantic island of 371,000 people, was ranked the most gender-equal country in the world for the 12th year running in a World Economic Forum (WEF) report released in March.
“The female victory remains the big story of these elections,” politics professor Olafur Hardarson told RUV after the recount.
Iceland’s Finance Minister, leader and top candidate of the Icelandic Independence Party Bjarni Benediktsson (left) and party delegates react to the results being shown on a monitor in Iceland’s capital Reykjavik, on September 25, 2021, during the country’s parliamentary elections to elect members of the Althing [Halldor Kolbeins/ AFP]Iceland’s voting system is divided into six regions and the recount in western Iceland was held following a tight contest in the northwest constituency, according to Ingi Tryggvason, the head of the electoral commission there.
“We decided to hold a recount because the result was so close,” Tryggvason told the AFP news agency, adding that no one had requested the recount.
The move did not affect the overall election result.
The three parties in the outgoing coalition government led by Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir won a total of 37 seats in Saturday’s vote, two more than in the last election.
The coalition has brought Iceland four years of stability after 10 years of political crises, but Jakobsdottir’s Left-Green Movement emerged weakened after losing ground to its right-wing partners, which both posted strong showings.
The Left-Green Movement won only eight seats, three fewer than in 2017, raising questions about Jakobsdottir’s future as prime minister.
The centre-right Independence Party took the largest share of votes, winning 16 seats, seven of them held by women. The centrist Progressive Party celebrated the biggest gain, winning 13 seats, five more than last time.
The three parties have not announced whether they will work together for another term, but given the strong support from voters, it appears likely. It will take days, if not weeks, for a new government to be formed and announced.
Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir and top candidate of the Left-Green Movement casts a ballot at a polling station in Iceland’s capital Reykjavik on September 25, 2021 [Halldor Kolbeins/ AFP]Speaking to private broadcaster Stod 2 on Sunday, Jakobsdottir refused to be drawn on the coalition’s future discussions, saying only that her government had received “remarkable” support in the election.
Progressive Party leader Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson and Independence Party leader Bjarni Benediktsson said they were open to discussing a continuation of the coalition.
Benediktsson told Stod 2 it was “normal for parties that have worked together for four years and had good personal relations” to try to continue together.
But he told public broadcaster RUV he was not sure they would succeed.
He also said he would “not demand” the post of prime minister.
The unusual coalition mixing left and right came about in a bid to bring stability after years of political upheaval.
Deep public distrust of politicians amid repeated scandals sent Icelanders to the polls five times between 2007 and 2017.
This is the first time since 2003 that a government has retained its majority.
Climate change had ranked high on the election agenda in Iceland due to an exceptionally warm summer by Icelandic standards – with 59 days of temperatures above 20C (68F) – and shrinking glaciers.
But that did not appear to have translated into increased support for any of the four left-leaning parties that campaigned to cut carbon emissions by more than Iceland is committed to under the Paris Climate Agreement.
One candidate who saw her victory overturned by the recount was law student Lenya Run Karim, a 21-year-old daughter of Kurdish immigrants who ran for the anti-establishment Pirate Party.
“These were a good nine hours,” said Karim, who would have been Iceland’s youngest-ever legislator.

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PIA to start new flights from 3 Pakistan cities to UAE

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has announced regular flights to Fujairah from three major cities in Pakistan, Khaleej Times has learnt. The national flag carrier will launch an inaugural flight to Fujairah from Lahore on October 25, while flights from Islamabad and Peshawar will start on October 27. PIA has been increasing operational capacity since the…

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PIA to start new flights from 3 Pakistan cities to UAE

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has announced regular flights to Fujairah from three major cities in Pakistan, Khaleej Times has learnt.
The national flag carrier will launch an inaugural flight to Fujairah from Lahore on October 25, while flights from Islamabad and Peshawar will start on October 27.
PIA has been increasing operational capacity since the UAE eased entry restrictions for residents stranded in Pakistan. In August, PIA launched flights from Islamabad, Peshawar, Lahore and Karachi to Ras Al Khaimah.
The national flag carrier has already been operating flights from all major Pakistani cities to different emirates of the UAE, including Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.
Airbus-320 joins PIA fleet
Meanwhile, PIA also announced that it has acquired an Airbus-320 on dry lease for six years. This is the third aircraft that will be inducted into the airline’s fleet under the present management.
“Another Airbus-320 reached Islamabad International Airport from French city of Perpignan via Egypt. The aircraft will be inducted in PIA’s fleet in the next few days,” according to a PIA spokesman.

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UAE weather: Fair skies, chance of fog formations

Slide Menus Show/Hide Left Slide Menu Show/Hide Right Slide Menu Show/Hide Top Slide Menu Show/Hide Bottom Slide Menu   Web Report/Dubai Filed on October 24, 2021 hoto by Juidin Bernarrd/ Khaleej Times Light to moderate winds Skies are expected to be fair in general and partly cloudy at times on Sunday. According to the National…

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UAE weather: Fair skies, chance of fog formations

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Filed on October 24, 2021

hoto by Juidin Bernarrd/ Khaleej Times

Light to moderate winds

Skies are expected to be fair in general and partly cloudy at times on Sunday.
According to the National Centre of Meteorology, it will be humid by night and Monday morning with a chance of fog or mist formations over some coastal and internal areas.
Residents can also expect light to moderate winds.
The sea will be slight in both the Oman Sea and the Arabian Gulf.

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Middle East faced wave of cybersecurity threats since start of pandemic

GAZA CITY: Some hope has returned to Gaza resident Ayman Dahman upon learning that his apartment building, completely destroyed during Israeli airstrikes last May, would be reconstructed. Dahman has despaired over the past months, but Egyptian and Qatari statements regarding the acceleration of the reconstruction process have restored optimism. Dahman and his family of six lived…

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Middle East faced wave of cybersecurity threats since start of pandemic

GAZA CITY: Some hope has returned to Gaza resident Ayman Dahman upon learning that his apartment building, completely destroyed during Israeli airstrikes last May, would be reconstructed.

Dahman has despaired over the past months, but Egyptian and Qatari statements regarding the acceleration of the reconstruction process have restored optimism.

Dahman and his family of six lived in a five-story residential building inhabited by 10 families, in the north of Gaza City.

After its destruction, he moved to live with his son in a small two-room apartment. Once the war ended, he relocated to a rented house, which was paid for by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

UNRWA provided $1,500 in rent allowance and $500 for the purchase of basic home furnishings for each victim who lost his or her home during the war.

Dahman said that the Ministry of Public Works and Housing in Hamas-run Gaza contacted him a few days ago to prepare the engineering plans for the building in preparation for reconstruction.

On Oct. 19, the Egyptian Committee for the Reconstruction of the Gaza Strip announced the launch of its first development project in Gaza: the construction of Al-Rasheed Street in Beit Lahia, northern Gaza.

At the same time, head of the Qatari Reconstruction Committee Mohammed Al-Emadi, currently in Gaza, announced that the coming days would witness an acceleration in the reconstruction process.

Hamas had received Egyptian promises during its leadership’s visit to Cairo earlier this month to speed up the pace of reconstruction and to provide trade and economic facilities at the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt.

After the war, Egypt pledged a grant of $500 million as a contribution to reconstruction and sent engineering delegations to remove rubble in preparation.

Undersecretary of the Ministry of Public Works and Housing Naji Sarhan, said that the Egyptian grant projects include the construction of three residential cities in Beit Lahia; Jabalia, north of Gaza; and the Al-Zahra area, south of Gaza City.

According to the agreement, these three cities will include 2,000 housing units, giving priority to poor and low-income people. The construction of bridges and roads also will be supported.

Sarhan said that Egyptian officials promised — during meetings in Cairo with an official delegation from Gaza about two weeks ago — to start the reconstruction of the residential high-rises soon.

Egyptian crews had contributed to removing the rubble of damaged high-rises, as well as the construction of the first residential city in northern Gaza, he added.

The talks with the Egyptians, according to Sarhan, resulted in an agreement to operate the largest number of local contracting companies.

It was also agreed to import all the materials needed for reconstruction from the Rafah crossing to ensure the operation of local factories and to provide facilities for the movement of contractors and businessmen through the crossing.

The local authorities estimated the direct losses in the Gaza Strip during the war at $479 million.

Sarhan said that the direct losses are related to the destruction that afflicted the housing and infrastructure sector, as 1,500 housing units were destroyed, and 880 units were severely damaged. Hundreds of units were moderately and slightly damaged, with the value of reconstruction estimated at $145 million.

A great deal of damage was also caused to the infrastructure, including public buildings, roads, energy, communications and sanitation, with reconstruction estimated at $293 million.

Losses were also incurred in the sectors of economy, trade, health, education and agriculture, apart from indirect losses caused by the war.

Sarhan estimates that Gaza needs $2 billion in order to revive it after many years of wars and siege.

Palestinians see the latest Egyptian move as coming within a context of coordination with the US administration, which hopes to establish stability in Gaza.

A few days before the Hamas meetings in Cairo, Gaza reconstruction was discussed during talks between Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.

Hamas-affiliated columnist Majed Al-Zibda believes that the recent Egyptian meeting with Hamas is consistent with the vision of the US administration, which desires to contain Gaza and ensure stability there so to avoid any deterioration that could lead to new confrontations.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported earlier that Egypt and the US were pressuring Hamas and the Palestinian Authority to work on forming a new unity government with the aim of pushing forward long-term stability and the reconstruction of Gaza.

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