Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 June 2019

Weekly Saturday Newsletter

The Best of 'The National'

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

Tension between the US and its allies and Iran continued to dominate events since the attack on two tankers near the Strait of Hormuz more than a week ago.

Throughout the course of the week, we examined the threat to regional stability and explained how Tehran is employing old and tested moves in the Gulf crisis – exemplified in its power play in Lebanon. The National’s Khaled Yacoub Oweis looked at the history of showdowns between Iran and the US (the former losing heavily in the 1980s’ so-called Tanker War).

And, as US Navy officials described the limpet mines used in the latest attacks on the two tankers, as being bearing a "striking resemblance" to those used by Iran, we explain what limpet mines are and why the Strait of Hormuz is vitally important. Then, on Thursday, Iran shot down a US drone in international airspace which US President Donald Trump said was a "big mistake" and Adel Al Jubei, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said that a response was being considered over Iran’s actions and Tehran would not be allowed to close the strait.

Airlines took precautionary measures, avoiding flying over Iranian waters. President Trump offered talks, backed up by the threat of military strikes, one of which had been cancelled at the last moment when he discovered it would have cost 150 lives. But critically, leading statesmen from both countries stressed, and stressed again, that neither side wants war.

World Refugee Day was notable for the release of some remarkably depressing statistics: 70 people million people globally have been forcibly displaced – equivalent to the population of Thailand – half of whom are children. At the same time, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, primarily tasked with the welfare of Palestine refugees, is warning of a $200 million shortfall in its budget after the US withdrew funding.

The National’s Shafi Musaddique returned to the plight of the Rohinghya, who have suffered under the heel of an oppressive Myanmar. “In a tiny corner of Bangladesh, refugee children find a semblance of normality as they sit in a tight circle on the floor, singing songs in two languages, one tied to their cultural heritage, the other a recognised language of their deserted homeland,” he wrote.

But there is always hope: we reported the heartwarming story of four teenage boys from Syria who have been plucked from a refugee camp in Jordan to be a part of a football club in Brazil.

The collapse of Abraaj Group in the UAE, and its repercussions, continue to unfold. This week, we reported details of the indictments facing founder Arif Naqvi and other senior executives who fleeced the firm of millions, according to prosecutors. Meanwhile, the Tell Group, an investment company, has proposed to buy seven funds managed by Abraaj Group for $25 million, offering some hope to investors.

And for something a little lighter: Weekend editor Katy Gillett hit the road with members of Singhs Motorcycle Club – affectionately known as the Turbanators – and heard about their message of tolerance and compassion. Great pictures, too.

David Guetta: superstar DJ, consummate collaborator and one of the hardest working people in music. Saeed Saeed caught up with the Frenchman while he was enjoying some downtime in Dubai. He credits his longevity to green tea, exercise and healthy eating. Rock 'n roll!

A girl aged 10 has secured a place in rock-climbing history by becoming the youngest person to scale El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, California. Selah Schneiter, from Colorado, took five days to complete the 1,100 metre route, which is known as The Nose due to its peculiar shape, with her father Mike and a family friend.

In Business Extra, host Mustafa Alrawi, assistant editor in chief, and Kelsey Warner, assistant business editor, break down the significance of Adnoc’s announcement of its tie-up with Nassef Sawiris' OCI to create one of the world’s leading fertiliser companies. They also talked about Boeing's difficult week with Emirates in talks to renegotiate its 777X aircraft deal. Meanwhile, head of features Nyree McFarlane recently visited Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters to get the inside track on the social-media company.

In this week’s Beyond the Headlines, host James Haines-Young speaks with Jennifer Gnana, The National's energy correspondent, and Dr Aniseh Bassiri Tabrizi, a research fellow on Middle East security at the Royal United Services Institute in London, about the rising tensions in the region after the tanker attacks, which many have blamed on Iran.

In this week’s episode of The Cricket Pod, writer/broadcaster Chetan Narula points to the reasons why India have once again beaten arch-rivals Pakistan at the Cricket World Cup. Paul Radley and Chitrabhanu Kadalayil discuss what is ailing Afghan cricket; are we beginning to see the top four teams pull away? Are there long-term solutions to the rain problem?

Mohammed Morsi’s death from a heart attack, while facing espionage charges in court, was in some respects a characteristic ending for the man who came to embody the political hopes of many non-secularists, not only in Egypt but across the entire Middle East. The end of his life was as ignominious as his rule, said Dr Gillian Kennedy.

Mustafa Alrawi looked at last week’s announcement by Facebook of a new cryptocurrency, Libra. Its launch, he argued, may alter the way we all look at money, digital or otherwise.

Rashmee Roshan Lall turned her attention to “climate change” – and how the phrase has become politically loaded, polarising and a bit of a turn-off for everyone except those already committed to the cause. Awareness of environmental pressures is growing, she says, but to be truly effective it is vital that the conversation around them is both engaging and inclusive.


Nic Ridley

Night editor

Updated: June 21, 2019 05:38 PM



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