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Against a sea of troubles

Germany and the US are reeling from long gunmen's killng spress. In the UAE, businesses around Dubai Creek are breathing a sigh of relief after a proposal to ban dhows is shelved and a new portrait of William Shakespeare is found news Dublin.

Proposals to ban dhows from entering Dubai Creek because of security concerns were shelved after protests. The ships, which are a popular tourist attraction, would have been directed to Al Hamriya Port after a review by Dubai Customs. Instead, authorities say they will look at ways of developing and expanding the historic port. Long-haul dhows have been using the waterway for hundreds of years, but it is trade with Iran that has caused concern. Among banned cargoes intercepted for Iran last year was a consignment of zirconium, a dual-use metal that can be used in nuclear reactors. Businesses around the creek had expressed concern that they would lose customers if the traditional wooden ships were relocated.

Cornflakes have emerged as the secret ingredient which enables dairy cows at Al Ain Farms to outperform those in Europe and North America. Local cattle supply four-fifths of milk requirements despite living in a desert environment. The cows have the breakfast cereal added to their diet to improve milk yield, which is almost double that of cattle elsewhere grazing on grass.

Silent protests were held across Northern Ireland after the murders of two soldiers and a policemen. Vigils took place in five cities after the killings, attributed to dissident nationalist groups. The murders of the soldiers, as they collected a pizza, were the first in the British armed forces in Northern Ireland since 1997. The shootings were claimed by a group calling itself Real IRA, while the shooting of a police officer a day later was attributed to another organisation, Continuity IRA.

An angry chimpanzee who stockpiled rocks to throw at zoo visitors has changed the way scientists view human behaviour. Saninto, a 31-year-old male, living in a Swedish zoo, is thought to be the first animal to show a clear ability to plan for the future, a trait many scientist had thought was found only in humans. The chimp was observed collecting stones each morning from the moats of his enclosure in Furuvik Zoo and putting them in heaps to throw at spectators later. He would also pound the concrete floor of his enclosure to break it up and create more ammunition. Complex forward planning requires an ability to envisage future events - something it had been thought only humans could manage.

A suicide bomb on the outskirts of Baghdad killed at least 33 people including a local army chief. The bombing, in the Abu Ghraib district, appeared to be aimed at a national reconciliation conference. Among the dead were police, soldiers and journalists covering the conference. It was the third major attack in Iraq in less than a week, with 30 killed in an attack on a police recruiting centre and 10 after a car bomb at a cattle market in Babel province.

Abu Dhabi and Dubai moved closer to the top of a league table of the world's most expensive cities. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, Dubai is now the most expensive city in the Gulf and rose 26 places to rank at number 53 out of 132 cities in the world. Abu Dhabi rose 15 places last year to No 80. The increase is attributed largely to the rising value of the dirham, which is pegged to the US dollar. Tel Aviv is the most expensive city in the Middle East, while Tehran is the cheapest. The most expensive city was Tokyo.

Facebook has officially launched in Arabic, bringing the world's most popular social networking site to an audience estimated at 250 million people. The site already has 250,000 users in Saudi Arabia and 300,000 in Lebanon and says the Middle East market is "potentially huge".

Lone gunmen in Germany and the United States took the lives of 25 people in the space of 24 hours. At Albertville secondary school, near Stuttgart, Tim Kretschmer, 17, killed nine pupils and six adults before turning his weapon on himself after a shoot-out with police.

The teenager, a former pupil, had stolen a gun from his father's collection and was described as "unremarkable" by neighbours. In Alabama, Michael McLendon, 28, burnt down his house after killing several members of his family and opening fire at random in the towns of Samson and Geneva. Police later found a list of names, including several employees at the sausage factory where he worked. Among the dead were his grandmother, an uncle and two cousins. McLendon killed himself after being cornered by police.

A newly authenticated portrait of William Shakespeare shows a man in good health with pink cheeks and a beard. The portrait lay undiscovered in the collection of the Cobbe family near Dublin for several centuries until it was examined by an expert from Birmingham University. Until now the only known picture of the Bard was an engraving by Martin Droeshout in his First Folio, published seven years after Shakespeare's death. It shows a much older and tired man with a receding hairline.

The number of American millionaires fell by more than 25 per cent because the world economic crisis has ravaged their investment portfolios. A report by the Spectrem Group found that 2.5 million people out of 6.7 million lost their millionaire status in the US last year. Billionaires have also been hit. According to Forbes magazine's annual rich list, their number has declined by around a third, from 1,125 to 793. Their collective wealth also shrunk from US$4.4trillion (Dh16 trillion) to $2.4 trillion, with Bill Gates of Microsoft reclaiming his title as the world's wealthiest man. It is the first time since 2003 that both groups have shrunk.

The population of the world will reach nine billion or more by 2050, according to a report published by the United Nations. Most of the additional 2.3 billion people will be in the developing world says the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs. The report also showed that the population of the UAE is expected to double to more than eight million.

The UAE has the highest mobile phone use in the world, with two per head of population. There 191 active numbers for every hundred people, compared with 186 last October. A report by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority also revealed that only one in 10 of the population subscribed to broadband internet.

The Hard Rock Cafe in Dubai closed after 11 years, but will relocate to a new site "as soon as possible" according to the owners. The burger restaurant was on the edge of the desert and virtually the last building on the Sheikh Zayed Road before reaching the outskirts of Abu Dhabi. It is now surrounded by new buildings, including Dubai Marina and suffered from the demolition of an adjoining hotel. jlangton@thenational.ae

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