x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Triumph and tragedy

Abu Dhabi becomes the HQ of the renewable energy agency and three young sisters, crossing the road with their nannies, are hit by a car and killed.

Diana Ross was named in Michael Jackson's will as guardian to his three children in the even of his mother, Katherine, becoming incapacitated
Diana Ross was named in Michael Jackson's will as guardian to his three children in the even of his mother, Katherine, becoming incapacitated

Three Emirati sisters, aged four, six and seven, died on Monday night when they were hit by a car as they crossed Airport Road in Abu Dhabi near the Carrefour hypermarket with their nannies at a spot not designated as a pedestrian crossing. The driver, who has been arrested, was believed to have been speeding, the Ministry of the Interior said. The three sisters died at the scene. One nanny, a 24-year-old Indonesian also hit by the car, was in a critical condition at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City. Two other nannies, also Indonesians aged 22 and 24, suffered minor injuries and were being questioned by police. The driver involved stopped after the accident. More than 3,000 children and teenagers have been the victims of accidents on Abu Dhabi streets in the past five years, police figures show.

The Dubai Government announced its ambition to stage the 2020 Olympic Games. If the move is successful, it will be the first time the Games have been held in the Middle East. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, said the city also hoped to be host to a World Expo in the same year, an event showing off the latest advances in science and industry which takes place every five years. A working group made up of government and private sector representatives and led by the Falcon and Associates company, which was set up to help Dubai attract investment, will carry out a feasibility study before a decision is taken over launching formal bids to the International Olympic Committee and the Bureau of International Expositions.

Scores of Michael Jackson fans descended on Beirut's Gemmayzeh street for a flashmob "moonwalk" in tribute to the King of Pop, who died last week. The gathering, organised through the social networking sites Twitter and Facebook, saw about 100 people congregate outside the Gemmayzeh police station. Meanwhile, Conrad Murray, Jackson's personal physician and the last man to see him alive, was questioned by police for three hours and prescription drugs and other medical evidence were removed from the rented home Jackson was living in when he died. The singer's mother was awarded temporary custody of his three children and Diana Ross was revealed to be their successor guardian.

Abu Dhabi triumphed in its hard-fought bid to be home to the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena). At a summit of the body's 136 members, Germany and Austria, the UAE's rivals to host the headquarters, agreed to withdraw their bids just moments before a vote was due to take place. Bonn and Vienna will instead each house a satellite centre for the agency. The headquarters will be housed in rent-free offices in Masdar City on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, proclaimed victory over Iran's foreign enemies and accused his opponents of treason after the Guardian Council ruled out further challenges to the elections result. Tehran accused foreign powers - especially Britain and the United States - of meddling after the balloting. Iran's top military officer said that until European Union apologised for what he called its "huge mistake" it could no longer participate in talks on Iran's controversial nuclear programme. David Miliband, the British foreign secretary, branded the detention of nine employees at the British embassy "completely unacceptable"; most had been released by Thursday. Iran said that 20 people had been killed and more than 1,000 arrested in the wave of protests over the disputed presidential poll as the authorities kept up the pressure on the opposition.

More than six years after the start of the most recent Gulf war, Iraqi forces assumed formal control of Baghdad and other cities after American troops handed over security in urban areas to the 600,000-strong Iraqi army. The move is a defining step toward ending the US combat role in the country and complete independence for Iraq. The country's celebrations were marred when a car bomb exploded in a crowded outdoor market in the northern city of Kirkuk, killing at least 24 people, a deadly reminder of the challenges facing the Iraqi government. Despite the continued violence, the prime minister, Nouri al Maliki, assured Iraqis that government forces taking control of urban areas were more than capable of ensuring security.

A 12-year-old girl was the only survivor of a Yemenia Airways plane crash on Tuesday off the Comoros. Bahia Bakari was among the 142 passengers and 11 crew on Flight IY 626. When rescuers saw her she was clinging to wreckage in rough seas, surrounded by floating corpses and debris from the airliner. The Paris airports authority said 66 French nationals were aboard the plane, which was flying the final leg of a trip from Paris and Marseille to Comoros via Yemen. A Yemeni aviation official said there were also nationals from Canada, Comoros, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Palestinian territories, the Philippines and Yemen on the plane.The European Commission was investigating safety standards at Yemenia Airways last year and almost put the company on its blacklist of unsafe airlines then, according to an EU legal document. Yemenia announced that it will pay ?20,000 (US$28,000, Dh103,000) to each of the families of the victims.

After nearly eight months of waiting, almost 20,000 pages of legal briefs and millions of dollars in election costs, Al Franken emerged on Tuesday as the next United States senator from Minnesota, ending one of the most protracted election recount battles in recent US memory. Mr Franken, 58, a former comedian and author, could be seated in the Senate as early as Monday, leaders there said, providing Democrats with something they had long hoped for: 60 votes and thus the at least symbolic ability to overcome filibusters.

Experts recommended that children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with chronic diseases stay away from the annual Haj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia to prevent catching swine flu. The recommendations came on Tuesday, at the end of a four-day meeting in Jeddah which examined Saudi measures to prevent the spread of swine flu during the Haj in December. The workshop included experts from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

The government in Riyadh announced a grand prize of an all expenses paid wedding to young grooms who kick the smoking habit. The slogan "Kicking the habit is on you, and marriage is on us" is meant to entice young grooms to give up smoking by offering an attractive incentive. Hundreds have expressed interest in the first antismoking drive of its kind in the kingdom. In much of the Arab world the groom alone bears the cost of getting married, including an expensive party, a dowry and a fully furnished house. About one quarter of Saudi Arabia's 27.6 million residents smoke. A draw on Aug 6 will include the names of the men who successfully stop smoking in a week-long course, while 20 runners-up will get free furniture.

Amnesty International accused Israel of war crimes by staging reckless attacks and acts of wanton destruction in its Gaza offensive in December and January. Hundreds of Palestinian civilians were killed by high-precision weapons, while others were shot at close range. The report also described rocket attacks by Palestinian militants as war crimes and accused Hamas of endangering civilians. The Israeli military said its conduct had been in line with international law and attributed some civilian deaths to "professional mistakes", but has dismissed wider criticism that its attacks were disproportionate. Amnesty says some 1,400 Palestinians were killed in the 22-day Israeli offensive between Dec 27 2008 and Jan 17 2009, which agrees broadly with Palestinian figures. * The National