A Frenchman declared his intention to climb the face of Burj Khalifa with his bare hands, Abu Dhabi announced it will bring electric buses to Sir Bani Yas Island, and Egyptian archaeologists discovered a temple believed to have been dedicated to a feline goddess.
Abu Dhabi cleans up
Abu Dhabi showed itself to be a leader in clean and renewable energy by announcing it would bring electric buses to Sir Bani Yas Island and co-operate in developing an aviation fuel made from a plant found on its salt plains. Pioneering technology to capture carbon emissions from a Musaffah steel plant and pump them into the ground would also be introduced within two years. The announcements were made at the World Future Energy Summit, which brought 1,400 business leaders and 70 ministers, heads of state and royalty to the capital to discuss ways in which the world can move away from unsustainable and dirty sources of power.
Debenhams, the British high street fashion chain, said it would start offering a gift list service for the newly separated. Much the same as a wedding list in which couples flag household or other items they would like friends and families to buy them, the Divorce Gift List focuses on the person who has to move out of a shared home. The list includes items such as towels, bed linen, microwaves and flat-screen televisions.
The man who shot Pope John Paul II in 1981 was released after 30 years in prison and offered to sell his story for £3 million. Mehmet Ali Agca, however, still faces possible prosecution by the Turkish government for dodging a military draft. Agca was a 23-year-old militant of the far-right Grey Wolves when he shot the Pope in the Vatican's Saint Peter's Square on May 13, 1981. The Pope was seriously wounded in the abdomen. After his release from prison, Agca checked into a five-star hotel in Ankara.
Avatar, the 3D science fiction film, scooped the two most prestigious awards at the Golden Globes ceremony, putting the film on track to win at the Oscars in March. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association named Avatar best film and James Cameron best director, choosing him over his ex-wife Katherine Bigelow, who directed the Iraq drama The Hurt Locker. Meryl Streep won best actress in a comedy for her role as Julia Childs, the American cookery guru, in Julie & Julia, while Sandra Bullock won best dramatic actress for The Blind Side.
Vivienne Westwood, the British designer, unveiled her latest menswear line, with catwalk models dressed as (chic) street sleepers. One carried a bedroll, another wearing a huge fur coat pushed a shopping trolley, while a third emerged from a cardboard box with a sleeping bag. Ms Westwood brushed off criticism that her designs were insensitive, as the financial crisis was causing more homelessness, by saying that her message was simple: in times of a credit crunch, buy less, but buy well. Fashion pundits pointed out John Galliano had a similar theme in 2000.
Fighting broke out between Christians and Muslims in the Nigerian town of Jos over the building of a mosque in a Christian area. Mosques and churches were set on fire and as many as 200 people were killed in three days of clashes. Thousands of people were forced to flee their homes. The government imposed a curfew and sent in troops to quell the violence. Jos is in Nigeria's volatile Middle Belt - between the mainly Muslim north, and the south where the majority is Christian or follow traditional religions. Sectarian violence has been going on there for several years.
Taliban militants armed with rocket-propelled grenades launched a brazen attack on Kabul, the Afghan capital, detonating explosives outside government buildings, seizing a shopping centre and fighting a day-long battle with security forces in which five people, including a child, were killed. A suicide bomber set off his explosives near the presidential palace. Minutes later, two or three suicide bombers and gunmen took over a shopping centre and attacked other government buildings and the Serena Hotel. It took security forces all day to bring the city under control, by which time three security forces, two civilians and seven attackers were dead.
Archaeologists unearthed a 2,000-year-old temple that may have been dedicated to the ancient Egyptian cat goddess, Bastet. The ruins of the Ptolemaic-era temple were discovered by Egyptian archaeologists in the heart of Alexandria. The temple is thought to belong to Queen Berenice, wife of King Ptolemy III who ruled Egypt in the 3rd century BC. The large number of statues depicting Bastet suggested that this may be the first Ptolemaic-era temple dedicated to the cat goddess to be discovered in Alexandria, according to Mohammed Abdel-Maqsood, the Egyptian archaeologist who led the excavation team. Bastet began life as a war goddess depicted with a lion's head but later took on the attributes of a domestic cat.
It was only a matter of time before Alain Robert, otherwise known as the French Spiderman, set his sights on the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building. Having already scaled landmark skyscrapers in Chicago, Paris and Hong Kong without support cables, safety harnesses or nets, France's inimitable "urban free solo climber" is now campaigning to conquer the 828-metre tower. Mr Robert, 47, said he hopes for approval sometime in early 2011, and that the climb would probably take between five and six hours.
Air France issued new rules to deal with the ever-increasing girth of its passengers. While the airline denied it was forcing heavier passengers to pay for a second seat, those who were unable to fit into a single seat would not be able to board the flight if it was full. Passengers who elect to buy two seats would be fully reimbursed for the extra one if the flight was not full. Currently Air France offers heavier passengers 25 per cent off the price of an adjacent seat, a policy that has been in effect since 2005. The new rules will come into effect on February 1.
Seven Syrian men were sentenced to life in prison for their role in Abu Dhabi's largest known human-trafficking ring. More than a dozen women had been lured to the UAE from Morocco with promises of high-paid jobs, then forced into prostitution. Six others, accused of assisting with the trafficking and exploitation of the victims, were sentenced to 10 years. The gang was exposed after one woman escaped and sought help from a shelter. She revealed how the victims were locked up, beaten, starved and forced to work as sex slaves to pay back their fare to the UAE.
* The National