News re-Blog

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Bin Laden's Niece Bares Body And Soul For GQ

She's not the model niece Osama bin Laden's looking for - but she is modelling. This is how Wafah Dufour, the al Qaeda leader's niece, will appear in the January 2006 issue of GQ magazine. Dufour, who took her mother's maiden name after the terrorist attacks in the US on September 11, 2001, is an aspiring musician struggling to make a name for herself. She says she has never met Osama bin Laden.

(Wafah Dufour ... as she appears in GQ)

"Everyone relates me to that man, and I have nothing to do with him," she said in the article.

"There are 400 other people related to him, but they are all in Saudi Arabia, so nobody's going to get tarred with it. I'm the only one here."

Source: Reuters via The Sydney Morning Herald

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New Islamic TV Channel Launch in Bahrain

Bahrain is to launch an Islamic television channel aimed at meeting the needs of young people who want more information about Islam, the Dubai-based newspaper Gulf News reports. "The station will be a moderating voice and will help reorient the Muslim mind and behaviour in accordance with the teachings of Islam. It will be open to all sects in Bahrain," said the Islamic Affairs Undersecretary Fareed Yacoob al-Meftah. Targeting young men and women in the kingdom, the channel will keep up with the latest events in Bahraini society, covering contemporary and relevant issues, and aims to offer something new, al-Meftah said.

"It will be vastly different from the current stations and will not follow the traditional style of presenting Islamic and cultural programmes. It will be both outstandingly creative and highly informative," he said at a ceremony to honour graduates in Islamic studies.

The Bahrain Radio and Television Corporation will help set up the channel, which will partly be financed by the private sector. Bahrain currently has an Islamic radio station which broadcasts verses from the Koran 24 hours a day. All television channels in the kingdom are owned and run by the government, but the first privately-owned radio station, Sawt al-Ghad, went on air in September, broadcasting entertainment programmes, and its owner, Khalid al-Shimmari told Gulf News he plans to launch a TV channel next year. A business TV channel is also expected to start broadcasting from the Bahrain Financial Harbour.

Source: Gulf News via AKI

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Bahrain Sailors Among '05 Copernicus Award Recipients

Two sailors from Bahrain were recently recognized for their planning and deployment of a maritime command and control network with their selection as two of the 2005 Copernicus Award recipients. The award recognized 29 Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard military and civilian personnel who significantly contributed to naval warfare in the areas of command, control, communications, computers and intelligence; information systems; or information warfare. It is co-sponsored by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association and U.S. Naval Institute.

Lt. Cmdr. James Darenkamp, a coalition communications officer with the Combined Forces Maritime Component Commander in Bahrain, and Navy reservist Petty Officer 3rd Class Paul Berkley, who served as network administrator for CFMCC until his death recently, were recognized for, among other things, their planning and deployment of the Coalition Enterprise Network Information Exchange System to various countries, including Kuwait, Pakistan, Oman and Egypt. CENTRIXS, according to their award nominations, had a “dramatic and positive effect” in increasing command and control between the 16 navies supporting various operations in the global war on terrorism. Berkley was killed in North Carolina on Dec. 18; the Navy message announcing the winners was released three days earlier.

Source: Stars & Stripes

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Friday, December 23, 2005

'STR' March Launch in Bahrain

The team formerly owned by Paul Stoddart and called Minardi - 'Scuderia Toro Rosso' - will launch a new F1 car for 2006 in Bahrain. Taken over by energy drink Red Bull in November, the Faenza based squad will join its sister team in unveiling a racer just ahead of the season opener, to be held in March. The car is to be called 'STR1' and is seemingly an unique development based on Red Bull's '05 car.

Team boss Franz Tost admitted earlier this week that Toro Rosso is 'pushing very hard' to get the car ready for the first race next year. Milton Keynes-based Red Bull Racing held a staff Christmas party in nearby Bedford (UK) last Saturday, with David Coulthard, Christian Klien, Robert Doornbos and Christian Horner all in attendance. Also there, was the Ferrari powered 2006 'RB2'.

Source: HomeOfSport.com

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Bahrain and the Iranian challenge

When Acting Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England stepped up to the podium to speak on the Bahraini National Day, I saw him as the face of the president's willingness to correct the mistakes of his first term. Mr. England -- who has spent his government career both as the secretary of the Navy and deputy secretary in the Department of Homeland Security and not as a neocon in a suit -- is known to believe that strong state relations start first by building strong personal relations. He spoke on a day in which many factors involved in bringing change to the Middle East intersected. "Tonight we celebrate the independence and freedom of Bahrain," he said. "Earlier today, the people of Iraq voted for their new government. I'm confident that in the coming years they too will find the peace, stability and success which the people of Bahrain enjoy."

It was also the day after Bahrain became the third Arab country, after Jordan and Morocco, to sign a free-trade agreement with the United States. Although the war in Iraq is a military solution, the Bush administration is trying to bolster it with economic and social elements. These free-trade agreements bring not only the military engagement, but also the U.S. civilian business engagement, to the Gulf region -- and have multiplied U.S. interests there. Regardless of the size of these economies, they stand for an important policy decision. Naturally, it raises the question of why Mr. England, Secretary of Navy, would speak on the Bahraini National Day when a free trade agreement is signed. U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman could have taken the podium. But Bahrain is a small island not far from Iran, and the majority of its almost 700,000 people are Shi'ite. Bahrain could be the next stop for an Iran looking to extend its influence. But America's increasing presence in the region is proof that the United States is determined to fight the Iranian regime -- not only to prevent its extension, but also to change it. That will happen through a combination of military and economic efforts, via these free-trade agreements. Read More....

Source: The Washington Times

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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Girls in Qatari Prince Case Receive Suspended Sentences

The Prague City Court definitively confirmed two-year suspended prison sentences for two girls who supplied Qatari Prince Hamid bin Abdal Sani with underage girls for sex, thus upholding a similar verdict given by the Prague 2 District Court. Dagmar Kazdova and Lucie Vanickova will have to undergo social and psychological correctional programmes. Zaneta Telioridisova, the third girl, who was given a similar sentence, had not appealed to the City Court.

The three accused girls contacted schoolgirls on the street offering them the opportunity to earn 2,000 crowns for sex and then took him to Sani. At first, they themselves were Sani's victims. Sani was sentenced to two years in prison in the Czech Republic, but his sentence has not taken effect. In the meantime, the Supreme Court endorsed Justice Minister Pavel Nemec's decision to extradite Sani to Qatar, after which Sani was released from prison and left for Qatar.

Qatari authorities have allegedly charged him, but are waiting for the Czech Republic to send his file before starting further investigation into his case. According to the charges, Sani, a member of the Qatari royal family, had sex with 16 underage and juvenile girls in the Czech Republic. He spent almost one year in Czech prison before leaving for Qatar where is is being investigated without being taken into custody.

Source: Czech Happenings

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Daring novel on Saudi womehttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.align.full.gifn sparks debate

It's hardly Sex And The City, but by Saudi standards, Banat Al-Riyadh (The Girls of Riyadh) is a bombshell of a novel. The fictional tale of the loves, dreams and disappointments of four young women in the Saudi capital sizzles with anecdotes about homosexuality, drinking champagne, dressing in men's clothes and going out on dates. Published in September, it sold out within a month and is now in its third printing. Not surprisingly, this daring novel by first-time author Rajaa al-Sanie has sparked intense debate in the Arab world.

( Author Rajaa al-Sanie's book tackles the hush-hush issue of Saudi women's love lives. --AP)

The book, which isn't available in English, is told in the form of weekly e-mails from a female narrator to Internet subscribers in Saudi Arabia. It portrays four women whose stories are based on true-life ones that dentist intern al-Sanie says she has heard. Some critics have condemned the book for giving Saudi women a bad reputation. On www.daralnadwa.com, a popular Arabic forum that has generally supported al-Sanie, one chatline participant took the opposite view and said the book should be named Infidel Girls. But surprisingly, the book has also attracted a groundswell of support for the 24-year-old author. Glowing praise comes from Mr Ghazi al-Qusaibi, a renowned Saudi author who is also the kingdom's labour minister. He calls it 'a work that deserves to be read. I expect a lot from this author'. Educator Hussah al-Ghanem agrees.

And while some criticise Ms al-Sanie for not writing in proper Arabic prose in her book, others said she has started a new genre in her use of easy-to-read Arabic language and intertwining the cyber world and chatroom style with Arabic literature. Ms al-Sanie says she wrote the book to highlight issues that society denies. Writing the book came at some cost. Some friends have cut ties with her because 'they don't want to hurt their marriage prospects by associating with a bold friend', she said. Fortunately, her family has rallied around her. Feedback from readers, like a man who got the book from his divorced daughter, also keeps her going. Read More....

Source: The Electric Newspaper (Singapore)

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Bahrain at Dubai Junior Regatta 2006

India and Bahrain have joined the line-up of countries that will contest the exciting new match racing event being launched as part of next month’s Dubai Junior Regatta. The Dubai Match Race is adding an extra dimension to the junior sailing event, which is sponsored by Emirates Airline and takes place from January 22-29 2006. It will be the first of many match racing events staged by Dubai International Marine Club as part of its ongoing drive to boost the popularity of sailing and ultimately lead to local representation in the Americas Cup.

India and Bahrain have joined New Zealand, Germany, Holland, Italy, Kuwait and Qatar in confirming that they will be sending match racing teams to Dubai. They will be challenging some of the best sailing talent from the host country, including two UAE national teams currently preparing for next year’s Asian Games in Doha, and others representing Dubai Offshore Sailing Club and Jebel Ali Sailing Club.

An open international match racing series for challengers of all ages will also be taking place, the Dubai Match Race will be contested by 12 to 16 teams sailing the newly-designed V1/Lutra-30 Sport Boat. This high performance racing boat has been built in Dubai especially for the event and for next April’s ISAF Nations Cup qualifier in the emirate. More than 130 competitors from 18 nations will contest the Optimist and Laser 4.7 events at the Dubai Junior Regatta and the Dubai Match Race will boost the overall regatta line-up to well over 200 participants.

Source: International Sailing Federation

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Research Director Comments On FDI in Bahrain

During a presentation on FDI policies in Syria, Farhat Hourshani, financial expert, said that "FDI flows, which reach $181.6 million on average annually since 1999, are relatively weak in Syria and focused on excavation and oil production." Hourshani added that reform policies needed to attract FDI, and should focus on governance, corporate steering and enhancing economic freedom.

Meanwhile, commenting on FDI in Bahrain, Imad Shehab, director of Research at the Arab Banks Union, said that "although Bahrain had a low FDI performance, it had a high unexploited potential." FDI reached $845 million in 2004 (in 2003 it was $517 million, 138 percent over 2002), according to the UNCTDA 2004 World Investment Report. Based on an official survey conducted lately over 233 companies falling into the FDI category, 80 percent of the FDI was linked to financial services, Hourshani said.

He added that there was clear evidence from the studies he carried that FDI had a positive impact on economic growth in Bahrain. Hourshani said Bahrain will soon issue a clear and transparent investment law to improve FDI. Hourshani blamed the weak flow of investments among Arab countries to the weak rate of trade among these countries. Calling for serious administrative reforms, he added that corruption is also "a major reason for crowding out investments from the region.

Source: The Daily Star

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Bahrain's Ministry of Electricity & Water Adopts GIS Software

MWH Soft, a leading global provider of environmental and water resources applications software, yesterday announced that the Ministry of Electricity and Water in the Kingdom of Bahrain (MEW) has elected to deploy multiple licenses of InfoWater Suite, the industry's premier ArcGIS-centric (ESRI, Redlands, California) infrastructure modeling, management and optimization software. The selection is the latest example of the global move toward MWH Soft's advanced geospatial infrastructure modeling and management solutions.

MEW plans to harness the power of InfoWater Suite to support the establishment of a more advanced, complete information system designed to facilitate daily operations in the ministry. InfoWater's deployment is a key part of a two-year enterprise Geographic Information Systems project awarded to Khatib & Alami (K&A), MWH Soft's certified representative in the Middle East and a leading utility solutions provider. K&A will deploy ESRI and MWH Soft's advanced geospatial technologies to deliver a single geodatabase that will embed all MEW's water and power network assets information. This will enable timely and accurate capture, documentation, and sharing of information for better decision making, improved operations and enhanced customer service. Read More....

Source: Directions Magazine

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Nahed Taher: First Saudi Woman to Become Bank's CEO

Dr. Nahed Taher has been appointed CEO for the Gulf One Investment Bank, making her the first Saudi woman to head a bank in the Gulf region. Gulf One, headquartered in Bahrain with $100 million in capital, will become operational in the second quarter of 2006. Gulf One’s financial products and services will focus on mega-energy and infrastructure investments worth $1 trillion over the next 15 years. In addition, it will provide services in restructuring and mergers and acquisitions, a presently non-existent but potentially lucrative segment in regional corporate finance in light of Saudi Arabia’s accession to the World Trade Organization. The bank is being initiated and promoted by Nahed, a leading Saudi banker and economist, and Ziyad Omar, a Saudi banking and finance executive.

Regional investors have come on board to back the initiative. A final list will be announced before the bank begins operation. The Bahrain Monetary Authority (BMA) approved the bank’s license on Dec. 6. Nahed was a senior economist at the National Commercial Bank, the first woman to hold such a position in a bank in Saudi Arabia. Gulf One is focused on building a world-class operation that will inject fresh thinking and utilize innovative solutions to address structural financial and economic needs of the region. The aim is to capitalize on high standards of know-how with the best international financial practice and products. Gulf One will be guided by Islamic principles while focusing on wealth creation with added value aiming at achieving economic and social prosperity. Read More....

Source: Arab News

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Michael Jackson's Ex-Wife Wants Her Kids

Michael Jackson's ex-wife wants a judge to make him return their kids from the Middle East, while the pop idol's advisers continue "desperate" negotiations to save him from financial ruin, sources said yesterday. Debbie Rowe filed legal papers accusing the embattled entertainer of "abducting" Prince Michael I, 8, and Paris, 7, a source close to Rowe confirmed. Rowe, 46, and Jackson, 47, were divorced in 1999. Rowe gave up her parental rights in 2001, but changed her mind after Jackson was charged with child molestation in 2003. He was acquitted of all charges last June and has full custody of Prince, Paris and Prince Michael II, 4, who is not Rowe's child.

Rowe's motion asks retired Judge Stephen Lachs, who oversees the former couple's custody and visitation matters, to order Jackson to bring the kids back and surrender their passports to the court. But it is unclear what authority Lachs can exert as long as Jackson remains in the Middle East, where he has been splitting his time between Bahrain and Dubai. Rowe's lawyer, Iris Finsilver, declined comment yesterday. Jackson's custody lawyer, Michael Abrams, could not be reached. A brief from the TOI states that according to contactmusic.com, Rowe also expressed concern for the safety of the kids while they live with their father. Read More....

Source: New York Daily News

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Monday, December 19, 2005

Bahrain's PM on an Unofficial Visit to Thailand

Foreign Affairs Minister Kantathee Suphamongkhol (กันตธีร์ ศุภมงคล) has met with the prime minister of Bahrain, who is on a personal visit to Thailand. His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Ai Khalifa, the prime minister of Bahrain and the uncle of the current king of Bahrain, is currently visiting Thailand for personal reasons.

Mr. Kantathee said after his meeting with the Bahrain prime minister that the relations between the two countries were good. Mr. Kantathee noted that Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has close relations with the prime minister of Bahrain, and that he was glad to welcome the prime minister of Bahrain to Thailand once more.

Source: ThaiNews.com

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Pak, Bahrain ink civil aviation MoU

Pakistan and Bahrain signed here a memorandum of understanding for extension in bilateral air services framework, after a two-day meeting of officials of the two countries in Islamabad.

Bahrain’s under secretary civil aviation Captain Abdul Rahman Muhammad led his country’s delegation, while additional secretary defence Maj. Gen. (Rtd) Mohammed Ashraf Chaudhry led Pakistan team in talks in which bilateral civil aviation issues were discussed.

Source: GEO TV

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Check Up for Bahraini VIP 747-400

A Bahrain Amiri Flight Boeing 747-400 made its first check-out flight on 2 December after eighteen months of cabin completion work at Lufthansa Technik in Hamburg, Germany.

Source: Flight International

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Rogers says Bahrain Trade Bill bad

Congressman Mike Rogers voted against the Bahrain Free Trade Agreement today, saying the agreement could unnecessarily harm the Third District’s textile sector, and put good paying Alabama jobs at risk by giving countries like China another unfair advantage for increasing exports duty-free to the U.S.

Rogers said H.R. 4340, the United States-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement, would remove most tariffs for goods traded between the United States and Bahrain, as well as increase the total amount of goods Bahrain can export to the U.S. However, Rogers says the agreement contains Trade Preference Levels (TPLs) that do not limit the source of the yarn for these exports, a loophole he says countries like China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Vietnam could exploit. Read More....

Source: Cleburne News

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