x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Batting for Tibet

The Dalai Lama was guest of honour at a Premier League cricket match, Turkish Cypriots elect a new leader and petrol prices rise at the pumps.

The Dalai Lama spent an hour as guest of honour at an Indian Premier League cricket match.
The Dalai Lama spent an hour as guest of honour at an Indian Premier League cricket match.

Cityscape Abu Dhabi began with news that Sorouh Real Estate had redrawn its blueprint for Lulu Island. There are to be more residents - 33,000 - though the schedule for building their homes has been extended. The tall breakwater on the island's ocean side will be dismantled, its work done by six small islands. Planned piers on the inland side will give way to beaches. But the centrepiece is to remain - a 400-metre tower that resembles a giant sideways oyster.

The Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists, was guest of honour at an Indian Premier League cricket match between the last-place Kings XI Punjab and the mid-table Chennai Super Kings. The cricket stadium, surrounded by snowy Himalayan mountains more than 1,400 metres above sea level, is in Dharamsala, where the Lama lives in exile. A spokesman said, "His Holiness spent almost an hour at the stadium and he enjoyed the game." Chennai won by six wickets. The Super Kings went on to win a semifinal on Thursday and confront the Mumbai Indians in the league final tomorrow.

A dog and a cat testing Apple's iPad are stars on YouTube, with hundreds of thousands of hits. The dog barks at the tablet and figures out how to bite it. The cat plays the tablet's piano and works out how to scroll.

The Tehran conference on nuclear disarmament, which Iran staged as a counterpoint to a similar gathering in Washington, culminated in an 11-point agreement. The agreement suggested that the Middle East should be a nuclear weapon free zone, pointed out that attacking peaceful nuclear facilities was bad for the environment and expressed concern over "double-standards and discriminatory approaches by certain nuclear weapon states".

Petrol prices rose by about 11 per cent nationwide as the government lifted its price cap. A litre of regular will now cost Dh1.41. This gives the UAE the highest petrol prices in the Gulf. On the other hand, in Britain a litre of regular costs the equivalent of Dh6.85 and you get to pump it yourself.

The Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shimbun reported that recent pictures of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-il visiting an ironworks had also shown his son and heir apparent, the little-known Kim Jong-un, at his side. The Mainichi report was based on sources telling it that a supervisor at a clothing company in Pyongyang informed an employee that the March 5 issue of the state newspaper "would carry numerous photos of Kim Jong-un". These were the ironworks snapshots. Other media have since reported that the mystery man in the pictures is not Kim Jong-un, but a mere ironworks executive.

The head of an Australian company that published a cookbook with a recipe that included "salt and freshly ground black people" accepted full responsibility for the error and apologised profusely for any offence it caused. Oh wait, that was a typo. In fact, Penguin Group's Bob Sessions blamed lowly proofreaders and said anyone who would complain about the "silly mistake" is "small-minded".

Turkish Cypriots elected a new leader. Although Dervis Eroglu is seen as one of the divided island's hardliners, he said after his victory that "no one must think that I will walk away from the negotiating table ... I will work with goodwill for a solution that takes my community's rights into account". His supporters were ecstatic at the changing of the guard, as one journalist found out on election night: "A Famagusta Gazette reporter in the old town of Famagusta reports that a celebration party is in full swing, with Eroglu supporters celebrating in the town's main square."

A forum on Emiratisation explored the gap between nationals and the private sector. Ingo Forstenlechner, who teaches business administration at UAE University, observed that the private sector was not tailored towards permanent employment, whereas the public sector offered greater security, shorter hours and higher salaries. Mohamed al Neaimi, the director of the federal Government's Tawteen initiative, said young people could succeed in the private sector if they were patient. "Sure they want to get married and do other things, but the private sector also has investors, a board of directors, all these things and they need to deal with them," he said.

The hot new musical on Broadway is American Idiot, based on Green Day's concept album of the same name. The New York Times's critic said "the show is as invigorating and ultimately as moving as anything I've seen on Broadway this season. Or maybe for a few seasons past." Bloomberg News called it "90 minutes of barbaric yawp".

The International Monetary Fund predicted that the world economy would grow by 4.25 per cent this year, with the Middle East and North Africa slightly stronger at 4.5 per cent. The country with the world's highest predicted growth was Qatar, at 18.5 per cent; the lowest, Haiti at negative 8.5 per cent. The fund pegged the UAE's rise for this year at 1.3 per cent.

Eyjafjallajökull volcano - the biggest travel disruption to come out of Iceland since the Vikings - started spewing less ash at mid-week, and tens of thousands of travellers were able to finally make their way home. The volcano, which lies beneath a glacier, had been dormant for 187 years. Its name is Icelandic for "island-mountain".

According to www.weather.com, the week's high in the capital, through Thursday, was a seasonable 39°C. The coming week's high should be 39°C again. The high for the year so far was 42°C on April 9. * The National, with agencies