Mauritius invites Saudis to invest in new projects

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Updated 10 October 2015

Mauritius invites Saudis to invest in new projects

JEDDAH: Mauritius Vice Prime Minister Showkutally Soodhun has called on potential Saudi businessmen to invest in the island state.
“The world is evolving a globalized environment and the Mauritian economy has also been shaped to become more diversified and more resilient,” Soodhun said during his visit to the Kingdom.
“New sectors are emerging such as financial services, ICT (information and communications technology)/BPO (business process outsourcing), and there is a renewed focus on the Blue Economy, where we do admit that we rely on the international expertise. Mauritius’ strategic position facilitates a gateway for investors setting up businesses in Africa,” he said.
Mauritius wishes to further consolidate relationships with major Gulf countries, especially with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with a view to giving a boost to bilateral, Islamic and commercial partnership.
Soodhun was received personally by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, second deputy premier and defense minister, and conveyed his heartfelt congratulations for the successful organization of this year’s Haj and discussing bilateral ties.
Giving an overview of the potential areas for Saudi investors, he said Mauritius is planning to build five smart cities. Saudi Arabia can participate in this investment, he said, adding that prime land is being given for 99-year lease to build smart cities, which will have universities, hospitals, entertainment areas and malls.
The island’s new airport can handle up to four million passengers annually. Over one million tourists visited this year and their numbers are expected to double by 2016.
Mauritius is also building a modern port, making huge investments in infrastructure, and especially developing solar energy, in which Saudis can invest.
Soodhun said: “We were all deeply saddened to learn of the tragic loss of lives and injury to pilgrims in Mina. On behalf of the people of the Republic of Mauritius, I extend our heartfelt condolences to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, and to the people of Saudi Arabia. Our thoughts are with the families of the victims. We hope that those who are injured will have speedy and full recovery.”
He added: "We fully recognize that it’s extremely challenging to organize Haj, however, trust me, no one can do it better than Saudi Arabia. Like always, the Kingdom leaves no stone unturned so that pilgrims from all over the world can have a successful and rewarding Haj. The Saudi authorities’ efforts to look after the guests of Allah are indeed commendable. Nobody can predict the will of Allah. The tragedy in Mina was beyond the control of Saudi authorities."
He said: “Various reports suggest that there has been a lack of discipline on behalf of various groups of pilgrims who did not follow the instructions. We also lost few Mauritians in the tragic incident. which took place in Mina. Once again, we fully support the noble action, which is undertaken by the Saudi authorities. I have personally witnessed the works carried out in Makkah and the facilities extended to the pilgrims. It is simply tremendous.”
Inayatoollah Ramjean, a prominent Mauritian with 25 years of experience in Saudi Arabia, who was with the vice prime minister, was quite vocal in his support to the Kingdom.
“We have clearly witnessed the extent of the full preparations and efforts exerted by the competent Saudi authorities, under the leadership of King Salman, for serving Hajis who all completed their tasks with great success," Inayatoollah added.
He lauded the great services and facilities extended to the pilgrims by King Salman. “Not every person is able to realize and understand the magnitude of efforts and resources required to host the 2 to 3 million pilgrims, from over 185 countries, who have to perform the various Haj rituals at different locations.”
Inayatoollah said: “Saudi Arabia is pouring billions of riyals into infrastructure here at the holy sites. Most of these gigantic projects have been carried out in the last five years. The Saudi authorities have helped ease the pilgrimage for the millions who come from all over the world every year to perform the annual pilgrimage. Only Saudi Arabia can do this.”
“After the meeting with Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and the other Saudi ministers, I fully support the noble initiatives taken by Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom is playing a vital and constructive role to bring peace and harmony in the region, across the Arab and the other Muslim countries,” Soodhun added.
During his meeting with Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, Soodhun expressed his great satisfaction with the fraternal ties and mutual esteem characterizing the relations between Mauritius and the Kingdom. They reviewed and discussed the future relations of solidarity and cooperation between the two countries, on how to further consolidate them at all levels to the best interests of the two peace-loving nations.
The Mauritius also had an extensive and positive discussion with Minister of Health Khalid Al-Falih and Minister of Haj Bandar Al-Hajjar. The Mauritian vice prime minister also visited Saudi hospitals where the Haj pilgrims were being treated and he was full of praise for the excellent treatment and care extended to all the pilgrim patients.
Mauritius recently signed a general agreement with Saudi Arabia, in New York, to open a full-fledged embassy in Riyadh. Soodhun also had a meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir, and they discussed and reviewed future bilateral ties between the two countries.
Inayatoollah, who is also an expert in hospitality, confirms that there are many investment opportunities in the hospitality industry, in Mauritius.
“Mauritius is arguably the wealthiest destinations, with the best beaches and it has resorts, which are among the best in the world,” he added.

Telegram Russia ban spurs privacy debate

Updated 21 April 2018

Telegram Russia ban spurs privacy debate

  • Telegram has always attracted a mix of criticism and respect for its use of encryption to ensure its messages between users remain confidential.
  • A Moscow court decided last week to block the app in Russia because it refused to hand over encryption keys to authorities.

LONDON: Telegram, the messaging app that re-located from Russia to Dubai, has again fallen foul of the authorities in its mother country. So what is it about the social media platform that simultaneously has governments worldwide so concerned and freedom of speech advocates so agitated?
Telegram has always attracted a mix of criticism and respect for its use of encryption to ensure its messages between users remain confidential.
A Moscow court decided last week to block the app in Russia because it refused to hand over encryption keys to authorities — sparking fresh controversy around the app, which has previously been banned in countries such as Iran, Afghanistan and Indonesia.
Telegram has been under close scrutiny in Russia since legislation was passed in mid-2016 that required communication companies to hand over encryption keys to the Federal Security Service (FSB), if requested.
There was also a move to place companies on a “register of information distributors,” which requires firms to store user online communications for a set period of time and hand over data to the authorities when needed.


Some of Russia’s large social networks are reportedly on the register and Telegram was pressurized to register in mid-2017. Other Western social media companies such as WhatsApp are not listed. WhatsApp did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Weeks after joining the register, Telegram refused to agree to FSB requests for encryption keys, resulting in the Russian media watchdog Roskomnadzor seeking court approval this month to block the app.
On the day of the court decision, Telegram’s founder Pavel Durov tweeted: “Privacy is not for sale, and human rights should not be compromised out of fear or greed.” The company has also said it is technically impossible to transfer encryption keys.
It was not the Russian entrepreneur Durov’s first run-in with Russian authorities. Telegram — which was launched in 2013 — originally had its development team based in St. Petersburg, but had to leave the country due to local IT regulations. It is currently based in Dubai.
The messaging app prides itself in being the most secure and independent form of instant messaging that respects the need for privacy. Its “secret chats” option makes use of end-to-end encryption that ensures only users can read them. Messages cannot be forwarded and you can order messages to “self-destruct” within a set amount of time. It can also alert users if the recipient of the message takes a screenshot of the correspondence. So-called Telegram “Channels” can be used to broadcast public messages to a large audiences.
While WhatsApp — which is owned by Facebook — also provides end-to-end encryption, Telegram differentiates itself with claims it is faster and more secure.
Damir Gainutdinov is a legal analyst at Russian human rights group Agora, which represented Telegram in court. He has headed up its project on the defense of online freedom in Russia since 2010.
He told Arab News that the block placed on Russia was more of a power-play by the authorities.
“I think that Russian authorities believe that Telegram is a threat because they cannot control it.
“But I wouldn’t say that it is really the biggest threat. The attack on Telegram is more about showing that they can block any global service if they want,” he said.
Russia’s government has argued that the app helps to enable terrorist attacks in the country, saying that access to encrypted messages is a national security issue.
The FSB said a suicide bomber who killed 15 people on a St. Petersburg subway in April last year had used Telegram to plan the attack.
Voices from outside Russia have also criticized Telegram for not doing enough to clamp down on terrorists using the app. “Terrorists and extremist groups such as ISIS (Daesh) use encrypted applications like Telegram because it allows them to recruit new members, fundraise, incite to violence, and even coordinate terrorist activity without the threat of being discovered,” said executive director David Ibsen at the US-based non-government organization Counter-Extremism Project.
“ISIS also created public channels on Telegram to broadcast pro-ISIS news updates and disseminate other propaganda materials,” he told Arab News. Durov has been quoted as saying at a conference in 2015 that the right to privacy is more important to the company than “our fear of bad things happening, like terrorism.” Following the Paris attacks in 2015, Telegram did revise its policy on its public channels, but it has refused to take down private Daesh chats, according to Ibsen.
Social media sites are coming under increasing pressure from authorities worldwide to do more to limit the promotion of extremism online.
In a statement to Arab News, Twitter said it had permanently suspended 274,460 sites in the second half of last year — down more than 8 percent on the previous reporting period.
While Telegram is far from the only social media app to be criticized for its counter-terrorism policies, it is seen by some as the more reluctant player in the battle against online extremism. “Social media companies remove content regularly that violates their stated terms of service, and some of this includes extremist and terrorist videos, images and other propaganda,” said Ibsen. “However, despite the availability of technology that can identify and permanently prevent prohibited materials from being re-uploaded, the biggest social media platforms are not taking this vitally important step,” he said.
“Telegram has become a refuge app from the moment the preferred apps (Twitter in particular) started to clamp down on extremist content,” said Rik Coolsaet, a professor of international relations at Ghent University in Belgium who has written extensively on counter-terrorism efforts. “Its encryption offered a secure environment for terrorist recruiters and groomers, but at the same time limited their propaganda outreach, since it is more difficult to access. For that reason, Twitter remains their preferred app,” he added.
Russia is not the only country clamping down on Telegram. Iran restricted certain channels in December last year during the protests and there have been recent threats that restrictions could be reimposed. A estimated 40 million Iranians use Telegram’s channels and messaging services.
“In the case of Russia and Iran, the Telegram crackdown has much more to do with controlling the lives of its citizens than it does with preventing terrorist activity,” said Ibsen.
Telegram did not respond to Arab News’ request for comment.


We talk to leading world cyber terrorism expert Chris Sampson, co-author of “Hacking ISIS: How to Destroy the Cyber Jihad” and an analyst with the Terror Asymmetrics Project

Why are governments so worried about Telegram?
Telegram was launched as an encrypted messaging app. This meant that government agencies were less likely to be able to intercept messages passing across the Internet and read private conversations. However, in September 2015, Telegram also created an option for channels, which act like chat groups. This allowed like-minded individuals to essentially host a chat room. Unless the channel was set to public you couldn’t read what was discussed without being given an invitation link. Groups like ISIS began using these channels to share propaganda and information. Other groups use Telegram in much the same manner. Non-violent resistance groups around the world would also use the messaging app and channels to communicate so authorities in the countries they fear would be less likely to intercept their discussions.

Will clamping down on social media apps be effective?
As governments crack down and ban apps, others will rise and replace them with new features and focus on security from outside eyes. They will operate either within the legal construct or outside of it depending on the countries they seek to circumvent. Since laws around the world differ dramatically, what is legal in one country could be illegal in another. We’ve seen this already happen as countries sought to ban use of Telegram, WhatsApp or even Twitter. Inevitably the access to the technology remains the same and users find a way to use both encrypted messaging and social media platforms.

Does Russia’s action set a precedent?
Countries such as Indonesia, Iran, Afghanistan and others have banned Telegram. Brazil banned WhatsApp around the timing of the World Cup only to lift the ban. Such bans are largely ineffective because the majority of users are engaged in lawful communications yet want their privacy, those engaged in illegal and potentially violent activities make up a fraction of the userbase. The better solution is to know where nefarious users are lurking on the web and keep track of them in observable spaces. Banning the public’s access to messaging apps will always fail. Telegram and similar companies should deny government agencies the keys to encryption unless there is a reason given that would justify unlocking communications. If the governments are able to seize a phone and unlock it, they’ll already have access to a suspect’s communication if they haven’t erased the data.



Telegram, founded by Russian entrepreneur Pavel Durov in 2013, is an app that enables encrypted messaging, together with “self-destruct” messages. It is used by 200 million people worldwide. Authorities in a number of countries criticized it for providing secure communications channels for terrorists and criminals.