Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 23 January 2019

Weekly Saturday Newsletter

The Best of The National

Welcome to the "Best of The National", your guide to our most compelling, important and exclusive content from the past seven days.

This was the week when politicians, NGOs and captains of industry descended on the UAE for the World Future Energy Summit, part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.

We featured fascinating, informative and insightful excerpts from a new autobiography by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.

And The National shadowed boxing legend Manny Pacquiao as he prepared for tonight’s fight – his first as a 40 year old – with Adrien Broner.

Regionally, there was Israel’s aggressive expansion of its settlement-building programme, backed by a complicit White House and we reported from Mosul on the deliberate destruction of buildings once co-opted by ISIS for heinous purposes.

Finally, there was the story about the Dutch diplomats and their campaign to free a caged lion from a Baghdad bazaar.

These stories, and much more … enjoy.

The week began with the announcement of the winners of this year’s Zayed Sustainability Prize, a ceremony which kicked off Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week and the World Future Energy Forum. The week brought together leaders in the field of renewables to share their thoughts on creating a brighter, green world for everyone. Among the highlights were a warning from former UN chief Ban Ki-moon and a plan to reintroduce heritage crops that have been genetically modified to grow using seawater.

The National used the week to look at the significant challenges facing the region’s great rivers – the Nile, Tigris and Euphrates. For millennia, these waterways have nurtured and nourished civilisations, but our special report highlights the stresses they are under from development and how they are being used for political ends.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid published his autobiography this week. My Story details the life of the Vice President from his earliest days, to his education in the UK, to the role of Minister of Defence and his accession as Ruler of Dubai. In excerpts, we learnt of his love of the desert, his role in advising Bashar Al Assad and Muammar Qaddafi on replicating the success of Dubai, and how he offered Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein asylum in 2003 in a bid to avert war.

In another special report, John McAuley spent four days in Manila with boxing hero Manny Pacquiao and the people who know him best. McAuley’s reports – covering Pacquiao's roles as pugilist, politician and philanthropist – shed rare light on a truly global sportsman.

Israel has dramatically increased its illegal-settlement building since US President Donald Trump entered the Oval Office, threatening to deal the final blow to a future sovereign Palestinian state, according to data obtained by The National.

From Mosul, we told the story of how one building, the seven-storey National Insurance Company, is emblematic of the country’s emergence from the tyranny of ISIS. The building was where the terror group executed young men it accused of defying Islamic law. But it’s future – to be demolished or salvaged – is dividing opinion.

Finally, as a local staff member from the Dutch embassy in Iraq trawled Baghdad's animal market looking for a female peacock for the gardens of their compound, he made a surprising discovery: a caged lion. Disturbed by the state of the animal, the members of the Dutch embassy set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for the big cat’s release, dubbed “Operation Simba".

Saeed Saeed spoke to superstar singer Sami Yusuf, one of the region’s biggest talents. The songwriter and composer discussed his experiment in music, the secrets of his successful career and what lies ahead.

And we have a short film about another international name: Manny Pacquiao – boxer, statesman and philanthropist. The National’s John McAuley spent time with the Filipino hero on his home turf in Manila. Pacquaio, 40, is due to fight Adrien Broner in Las Vegas tonight.

In this week’s Cricket Pod, sports journalist Tristan Holme talks to co-hosts Paul Radley and Chitrabhanu Kadalayil about the state of South African cricket.

In Business Extra, we turned to economist Tim Fox for his expert opinion on the global and regional investment outlook – is the worst over for investors?

And complementing our special report, above, in Beyond the Headlines, hosts Sofia Barbarani and Naser Al Wasmi look at the threat faced by the region’s great rivers, cradles of civilisation in this Middle East.

In Opinion, Mina Al-Oraibi bemoaned Iraq’s failure to fill key positions in government – this is no time for empty seats around the Cabinet table, she argued.

Faisal Al Yafai considered the US plan to pull its troops out of Syria. Don’t expect to achieve your policy goals without boots on the ground, he warned.

And Olivier Oullier pondered whether sudoku and other tests of mental agility really could slow down the cognitive ageing process.

Have a great weekend

Nic Ridley

Night editor

Updated: January 17, 2019 08:42 PM



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