Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 February 2020

The National

Pressure mounts on Hezbollah, Mubarak's funeral, coronavirus latest and more

Hello from The National's newsroom in Abu Dhabi.

The US Treasury Department ramped up pressure on the Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah yesterday, sanctioning 15 Lebanese entities and individuals linked to the group. The measures were announced simultaneously by the Treasury and the State Department.

Former president Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s leader for almost three decades, was given a military funeral on Wednesday, transported on a carriage drawn by six horses and accompanied by a 21-gun salute.

The World Health Organisation has stepped up containment measures and briefed health partners in the Middle East on ways to prevent the spread of coronavirus in refugee camps and neighbouring communities. Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey together host millions of refugees and internally displaced people, who are seen as the most vulnerable groups if the virus spreads further.

The UAE’s Hope spacecraft could provide breakthrough data on why Mars' ancient river systems dried up, a leading Nasa scientist has claimed. Dr Jim Rice said the high-altitude positioning of the Emirates Mars Mission probe, which launches later this year, could help solve many of the Red Planet’s key mysteries.

Here’s the rest of your morning headlines.

BUSINESS Organisations in the Middle East and Africa are expected to spend $30 billion on digital transformation this year, driven largely by industries such as banking and energy.

ARTS&LIFESTYLE Take a peek inside the long-awaited Zaha Hadid-designed ME Dubai by Melia hotel, which will open its doors on Sunday and find out why the singing sensation Sobhhi prefers to remain in the shadows. We also have all the latest from Hay Festival Abu Dhabi, including fascinating commentary from authors Shashi Tharoor and Ahdaf Soueif.

SPORT Five-time grand slam champion and former world number one tennis player Maria Sharapova has announced her retirement. "Tennis, I’m saying goodbye,” she wrote in a column for Vanity Fair magazine. “In giving my life to tennis, tennis gave me a life.”

OPINION Mohammed Al Ardhi contributes an OpEd on Oman under the leadership of Sultan Haitham and Mustafa Alrawi considers the world’s largest artificial coral reef, which represents an important step in reviving ecosystems.

All this and more in The National – look out for the print edition, visit TheNational.ae, find us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter for round-the-clock updates.

Nick March

Assistant Editor in Chief

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Updated: February 26, 2020 11:12 PM