x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Movie stars and donkey stripes

03.10.2009 to 09.10.2009 Hollywood actresses open film festival, a new parking meter scheme in Abu Dhabi has left residents confused, and zebras are created in a Gaza zoo.

A Pakistani policeman steps down from a wall as smoke billows out from a United Nations building after a suicide blast in Islamabad on Monday.
A Pakistani policeman steps down from a wall as smoke billows out from a United Nations building after a suicide blast in Islamabad on Monday.

Thousands of dead fish were found washed up on the shores of Dubai Creek, puzzling environmentalists who said the scale of deaths was unprecedented. Every year, dozens of fish are found dead or paralysed around the area due partly to the rise in oxygen-sapping algae - itself the result of high temperatures and toxic chemicals. But this year, the scale was much larger, with more than 100 tonnes of dead fish being dumped into landfills since September. There were suggestions it was due to an increase of sewage in the Creek, but scientists said it was too early to tell. A government report on the matter was due to be released early this week, but was delayed with no reason given.

A suicide bomber dressed as a security guard walked unchallenged into the offices of the UN's Food agency in Islamabad and blew himself up, killing five members of staff. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which blew out windows and left victims lying in pools of blood, saying it was carried out because the World Food Programme did not act in the best interests of Muslims. It had also vowed to revenge the death of its leader, Baitullah Mehsud, who was killed in a US drone attack last month. The UN responded by temporarily closing all of its offices in Pakistan, but said relief work would continue through local Pakistani agencies. Meanwhile, the Taliban also launched an attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul, killing 17 people.

Al Azhar University in Cairo, one of the oldest and most influential centres of learning in Sunni Islam, said it would no longer allow women to wear the niqab in female-only classes. The move to ban students and teachers from wearing the face veil in class follows remarks by Egypt's top Muslim cleric, Mohammed Sayyed Tantawi, who said the niqab "has nothing to do with Islam and is only a custom".

New parking meters brought in to try to tame Abu Dhabi's snarled parking situation have left most residents in a state of confusion. The meters - initially just 75 - have been installed between Hamdan and Khalifa streets and between Liwa and Baniyas. Parking along these areas will cost between Dh2 and Dh3 an hour, or Dh15 for the entire day, although parking will remain free on Fridays. Residents who live in the areas can purchase a Dh800 annual permit. The scheme was to start today, but residents said they were still unaware where to get their permits or whether they would be fined.

A zoo in Gaza painted two donkeys with stripes to make them look like zebras. The Marah Land zoo used masking tape and hair dye on the two female donkeys, which give rides to Palestinian children. The zoo's owners say, at US$40,000, it would be too expensive to bring real zebras through the tunnels that supply Gaza.

The United Nations is reportedly drawing up a new curriculum for students attending its schools in Gaza that will almost certainly include lessons on the Holocaust. Hamas has said the inclusion of such information on the deaths of six million Jews would be a "marketing lie". But the UN Relief and Works Agency, which provides aid to Palestinians living in grim conditions in Gaza while governed by Hamas and under a tight Israeli blockade, insists that teaching the Holocaust to local children will help them understand the need for human rights. It will also help them to understand propaganda and "anti-semitic rhetoric".

A primary school in Ireland asked pupils to bring their own lavatory paper to class to help cut costs. The roll will only be used by the student's class and will be closely monitored by the teacher in charge, Catherine O'Neill, the principal of St John's Girls National School in Country Cork wrote in a letter to parents. Ms O'Neill assured parents that their daughters would not be forced to go without if they forgot to bring in a roll of paper, but she also requested that pupils carry a few packets of tissues with them. The school wants to use the money it saves on educational needs.

Demi Moore and Hilary Swank stepped out on to the red carpet at the Emirates Palace hotel for the opening night of the third Middle East International Film Festival.Over 10 days, 129 films, nearly half of which are from the Middle East, will be shown at the capital's two major cinemas and the Emirates Palace. Tickets for some of the more eagerly anticipated films, such as Bombay Summer, The September Issue and The Informant!, sold out within days. For the first time the festival is featuring several films dedicated to the environment.

More than 2,000 Afghan treasures, some as old as the Bronze Age, which had been looted from the country over the past six years, went on display at the country's National Museum. The treasures had been seized at ports in Britain and were sent back by authorities earlier this year. Among the greatest treasures are a bronze peacock-shaped brazier dating from the 12th century and a 100-year-old carved, wooden pen box filled with Persian poems and curses.

After a storm of complaints, Kraft Foods backtracked on its decision to name a new blend of Vegemite, a thick pungent spread beloved by most Australians, iSnack2.0 and instead asked consumers to come up with their own name. The result: Vegemite Cheesybite. Even before the name fiasco, Kraft Foods fielded a deluge of complaints over its decision to make a new blend that included cream cheese.

* The National