Saudi Border Guards foil attempt to smuggle drugs by boat

Saudi Border Guards foil attempt to smuggle drugs by boat
Millions of tablet were seized by authorities. (Saudi Border Guards photo)
Updated 24 April 2018

Saudi Border Guards foil attempt to smuggle drugs by boat

Saudi Border Guards foil attempt to smuggle drugs by boat
  • Border guards seized 2,851,500 amphetamines tablets and 1.5 kilos of opium
  • Suspects have been handed over to relevant authorities for further action: border guard spokesman

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Border Guards foiled an attempt to smuggle a massive drugs haul into the northwestern province of Tabuk on Sunday.

Border guards found 2,851,500 amphetamines tablets and 1.5 kilos of opium on a boat being used to cross to the maritime borders of Tabuk, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Two Egyptian nationals on board the boat were arrested, while two Saudi nationals who were receiving the narcotics were also held.

The Border Guards’ spokesman, Col. Saher bin Mohammed Al-Harbi, said the suspects have been handed over to relevant authorities for further action.

Last month, the German Federal Police organized training for 11 Saudi women working at the General Directorate of Border Guards.

Al-Harbi said development and training of women in the Border Guards was part of a global skills program. 

“The program represented an important step by training technical personnel to perform their duties effectively,” he said.

Al-Harbi said the training sessions respected the morals of the Islamic religion regarding privacy and protection of women.

The Border Guards training program has the support of Crown Prince Mohammed bin, the spokesman said. 


Eid treat: Moroccan chef Nargisse Benkabbou’s chocolate chip krachel

Eid treat: Moroccan chef Nargisse Benkabbou’s chocolate chip krachel
Chocolate chip krachel. Supplied
Updated 21 min 23 sec ago

Eid treat: Moroccan chef Nargisse Benkabbou’s chocolate chip krachel

Eid treat: Moroccan chef Nargisse Benkabbou’s chocolate chip krachel

DUBAI: Moroccan chef Nargisse Benkabbou is on a mission to demystify her country’s cuisine for international foodies, especially those in the UK where she lives.

Here, she shares her recipe for chocolate chip krachel to sweeten up your Eid Al-Fitr celebrations.

Ingredients:

60g unsalted butter

2 ½ tbsp sesame seeds

2 tsp dried active yeast

50g caster sugar

1 tbsp warm water

300g plain flour, plus extra if needed and for dusting

1 tsp aniseed

½ tsp salt

1 egg

80–120ml warm full-fat milk

1 ½ tbsp orange blossom water

100g dark chocolate chips or chunks

Vegetable oil

1 egg yolk, beaten

 

Instructions:

1.      Melt the butter, then leave it to cool. Toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan over a medium-high heat for about 6 minutes.

2.      In a small bowl, mix the dried yeast with 1⁄4 teaspoon of the sugar and the measured warm water using a fork. Leave the yeast to activate for about 5 minutes.

3.      Mix 2 tablespoons of the toasted sesame seeds, the remaining sugar, the flour, aniseed and salt together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the melted butter, yeast mixture, egg, 80ml warm milk and the orange blossom water together until smooth. Combine both bowls and mix to form a soft dough.

4.      Lightly dust a work surface with flour and knead the dough for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic and add the chocolate chips. Form the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with cling film and leave to rise for about 45 minutes or until it almost doubles in size.

5.      Divide the dough into 8 equal-sized pieces and shape each into a ball. Place them on a baking sheet, leaving about 5cm between each ball. Cover with cling film and leave the buns to rise for about 30 minutes.

6.      Preheat the oven to 190°C. Brush the buns with the beaten egg yolk and sprinkle with the remaining toasted sesame seeds. Bake for about 17–20 minutes.


Saudi customs chiefs urge travelers to declare goods worth more than $800

Saudi customs chiefs urge travelers to declare goods worth more than $800
Updated 28 min 44 sec ago

Saudi customs chiefs urge travelers to declare goods worth more than $800

Saudi customs chiefs urge travelers to declare goods worth more than $800
  • The requirement is part of the common customs law system for the GCC countries

RIYADH: The Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority has called on travelers coming to Saudi Arabia to declare purchases or gifts worth more than SR3,000 ($800) or its equivalent in foreign currencies.
The requirement is part of the common customs law system for the GCC countries, Al Watan reported.
The Authority also called on travelers coming to or departing from the Kingdom to declare currencies, jewelry, or valuable materials worth SR60,000 or more or the equivalent in foreign currencies, or any goods prohibited or restricted in the Kingdom, including cigarette and tobacco products.
The process can be completed electronically through the “Travelers’ Declaration” application or the website of the Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority (http://www.customs.gov.sa).
It warned that fines would be imposed on declaration dodgers.
Travelers are liable to pay 25 percent of the value of seized items in fines, rising to 50 percent of the value for repeat offenders where there is no suspicion that the seizures are related to a crime or a money-laundering offense.

 


US Treasury sanctions 7 Lebanese tied to Hezbollah finances

US Treasury sanctions 7 Lebanese tied to Hezbollah finances
Updated 12 May 2021

US Treasury sanctions 7 Lebanese tied to Hezbollah finances

US Treasury sanctions 7 Lebanese tied to Hezbollah finances
  • The development comes as Lebanon is experiencing the worst economic and financial crisis in its modern history
  • The Treasury said six of the seven sanctioned were the group’s “shadow bankers”
BEIRUT: The US Treasury Department on Tuesday imposed new sanctions on seven Lebanese linked to the militant Iran-backed Hezbollah group and its financial arm.
The measures are the latest against Hezbollah, which Washington considers a terrorist group and has targeted with penalties for years.
The development comes as Lebanon is experiencing the worst economic and financial crisis in its modern history, including a loss of trust in the country’s once booming banking sector.
The Treasury said six of the seven sanctioned were the group’s “shadow bankers,” who used the cover of personal accounts at certain Lebanese banks to evade sanctions against Hezbollah’s financial arm. They transferred approximately $500 million over the past decade, it said.
The seventh sanctioned person, Ibrahim Daher, is one of Hezbollah’s chief financial executives who oversees the group’s overall budget, including the funding for its operations.
The Treasury said Al-Qard Al-Hasan — Hezbollah’s financial arm which the US has sanctioned since 2007 — has taken a more prominent role over the years. Founded since 1982 and registered as a charity in Lebanon, the association is used by Hezbollah to gain access to the international financial system, the Treasury said.
While the alleged charity “purports to serve the Lebanese people, in practice it illicitly moves funds through shell accounts and facilitators,” the Treasury said. “By hoarding hard currency that is desperately needed by the Lebanese economy, (it) allows (Hezbollah) to build its own support base and compromise the stability of the Lebanese state.”
Al-Qard Al-Hasan, considered Lebanon’s largest non-banking financial institution, stepped in amid the latest economic crisis to provide a vital lifeline for many. It has seen a significant increase in clients.
Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, recently said the association has provided $3.7 billion in loans to some 1.8 million people since its founding.
Hezbollah “continues to abuse the Lebanese financial sector and drain Lebanon’s financial resources at an already dire time,” said Andrea Gacki, director of the Treasury’s office of foreign assets control.
“Such actions demonstrate (Hezbollah’s) disregard for financial stability, transparency, or accountability in Lebanon,” she added.
The Treasury said Daher leads Hezbollah’s Central Finance Unit, overseeing its income, budget and coordinating payments of its members while the other six participated in shadow banking activities on behalf of Hezbollah, maintaining joint bank accounts in Lebanese banks that allowed for transfer of money within the formal financial system.

Iran state TV says Ahmadinejad will run in presidential race

Iran state TV says Ahmadinejad will run in presidential race
Updated 12 May 2021

Iran state TV says Ahmadinejad will run in presidential race

Iran state TV says Ahmadinejad will run in presidential race
  • The Holocaust-denying Ahmadinejad has previously been banned from running for the presidency by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in 2017
  • Khamenei said Tuesday that he would not oppose the nomination of any candidate

TEHRAN, Iran: Iran’s state television reported Wednesday that the country’s former firebrand president will run again for office in upcoming elections in June.
Broadcast footage showed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad marching accompanied by supporters to a registration center at the Interior Ministry where he filled out registration forms.
Ahmadinejad in recent years has tried to polish his hard-line image into a more centrist candidacy, criticizing the government for mismanagement.
The Holocaust-denying Ahmadinejad has previously been banned from running for the presidency by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in 2017, although then, he registered anyway. A constitutional watchdog, the Guardian Council ultimately disqualified him then.
Khamenei says he will not oppose the nomination of any candidate, although the electoral council may still block Ahmadinejad’s candidacy. In either case, the populist’s return to the political scene may energize discontent among hard-liners who seek a tougher stance against the west — particularly Israel and the US
Iran opened registration on Tuesday, kicking off the race as uncertainty looms over Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers and tensions remain high with the West.
President Hassan Rouhani can not run again due to term limits, yet with the poll just a month away no immediate favorite has emerged among the many rumored candidates. There also appears to be little interest in the vote by a public crushed by sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic.
Nevertheless, many view the country’s hard-liners as ascendant — even as the US under President Joe Biden tries to find a way to re-enter the atomic accord.
Whoever wins the June 18 vote will take over from Rouhani, a relative moderate within the Islamic Republic whose two four-year terms began with Iran reaching the nuclear deal. His time in office now draws to a close with the accord unraveled after the US unilaterally withdrew from it under President Donald Trump in 2018.
Ahmadinejad pushed his nation into open confrontation with both the West over its nuclear program and its own people after his disputed 2009 re-election sparked the biggest mass protests since the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Abroad, he became a caricature of Western perceptions of the Islamic Republic’s worst attributes, such as denying the Holocaust, insisting Iran had no gay or lesbian citizens and hinting Iran could build a nuclear weapon if it chose to do so.
At home, however, the former Tehran mayor drew support from the countryside for his populist cash handouts and home-building programs. As his two-term presidency drew to a close and in his life after office, he also crossed the clear red line of Iran’s Shiite theocracy, directly challenging Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say on all matters of state.
Ahmadinejad entered office in 2005 and left in 2013, after the election of President Hassan Rouhani, who would go onto to make the nuclear deal with world powers. Yet even out of office, Ahmadinejad sought to reinvigorate his political fortunes in public and on social media.


Too cold to handle? Race is on to pioneer shipping of hydrogen

Too cold to handle? Race is on to pioneer shipping of hydrogen
Updated 26 min 57 sec ago

Too cold to handle? Race is on to pioneer shipping of hydrogen

Too cold to handle? Race is on to pioneer shipping of hydrogen
  • There are at least three projects developing pilot ships that will be ready to test transporting the fuel in Europe and Asia within the next three years

LONDON: Hydrogen is touted as an inevitable green fuel of the future. Tell that to the people who’ll have to ship it across the globe at hyper-cold temperatures close to those in outer space.
Yet that is exactly what designers are attempting to do.
In the biggest technological challenge for merchant shipping in decades, companies are beginning to develop a new generation of vessels that can deliver hydrogen to heavy industry, betting plants worldwide will convert to the fuel and propel the transition to a lower-carbon economy.
There are at least three projects developing pilot ships that will be ready to test transporting the fuel in Europe and Asia within the next three years, the companies involved told Reuters.
The major challenge is to keep the hydrogen chilled at minus 253 degrees Celsius — only 20 degrees above absolute zero, the coldest possible temperature — so it stays in liquid form, while avoiding the risk that parts of a vessel could crack.
That’s almost 100 degrees Celsius colder than temperatures needed to transport liquefied natural gas (LNG), which required its own shipping revolution about 60 years ago.
Japan’s Kawasaki Heavy Industries has already built the world’s first ship to transport hydrogen, Suiso Frontier. It told Reuters the prototype vessel was undergoing sea trials, with a demonstration maiden voyage of some 9,000 km from Australia to Japan expected in coming months.
“There is the next phase of the project already running to build a commercial-scale hydrogen carrier by the mid-2020s, with an aim to go commercial in 2030,” said Motohiko Nishimura, Kawasaki’s vice executive officer.
The 1,250 cubic-meter tank to hold the hydrogen is double-shelled and vacuum-insulated to help maintain the temperature.
Kawasaki’s prototype, a relatively modest 116 meters long and 8,000 gross tons, will run on diesel on its maiden voyage but the company aims to use hydrogen to power future, larger commercial vessels, Nishimura said.
SUPER-STRENGTH STEEL
In South Korea, one of the world’s major shipbuilding hubs, another project is in the works.
Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering is the first company in the country working on building a commercial liquefied hydrogen carrier, a company spokesperson said.
To tackle the hyper-cold challenge, the company said it was working with a steelmaker to develop high-strength steel and new welding technology, along with enhanced insulation, to contain the hydrogen and mitigate the risks of pipes or tanks cracking.
On the other side of the world, in Norway, efforts are also underway to build a hydrogen supply chain on the west coast of the country, with one group looking to pilot a test ship that could transport hydrogen to planned filling stations, which would be able to service ships as well as trucks and buses.
Norwegian shipping company Wilhelmsen Group is working on the latter project with partners to build a “roll-on/roll-off” ship that will be able to transport liquid hydrogen by way of containers or trailers that are driven onboard, said Per Brinchmann, the company’s vice president, special projects.
The ship is expected to be operational in the first half of 2024, he added.
“We believe once we have this demonstration vessel operational the intention will be to build up bunkering hubs on the west coast (of Norway),” Brinchmann said, referring to the filling stations.
Other companies are exploring a different route to avoid the cold conundrum and what may happen when hydrogen atoms interact with metal.
Canada’s Ballard Power Systems and Australia’s Global Energy Ventures, for example, are working together to develop a ship to transport compressed hydrogen in gas form.
“The earliest timeframe would be 2025/26,” said Nicolas Pocard, vice president marketing and strategic partnerships with Ballard.
The advantage of this gas approach is that it does not require any extreme temperatures. But the downside is that less hydrogen can be transported in a cargo than liquid hydrogen, which is why some of the early movers are opting for the latter.
Wilhelmsen’s Brinchmann said that a 40-foot container would carry about 800-1,000 kg of pressurized hydrogen gas, but up to 3,000 kg of liquid hydrogen.

Complex and costly
Such endeavours are far from risk free.
They are expensive, for a start; none of the companies would comment on the cost of their vessels, though three industry specialists told Reuters that such ships would cost more than vessels carrying LNG, which can run to $50-$240 million each depending on size.
“The cost of a vessel transporting hydrogen will mainly be driven by the cost of the storage system. Storing liquid hydrogen could be very expensive because of its complexity,” Carlo Raucci, marine decarbonization consultant with ship certifier LR, added separately.
The pilot projects, which are still in experimental stages, must overcome these technical challenges, and also rely on hydrogen catching on as a widely used fuel in coming years.
None of this is certain, though the state support being thrown behind this cleaner-burning fuel suggests it does have a future in the global energy mix.
More than 30 countries, including several in Europe such as France and Germany as well the likes of South Korea and Australia, have released hydrogen rollout plans.
Total planned investments could reach over $300 billion through to 2030 if hundreds of projects using the fuel come to fruition, according to a recent report by the Hydrogen Council association and consultants McKinsey.
The role of shipping would be important to unlocking the potential to convert industries such as steel and cement to hydrogen.
Those two heavy-industry sectors alone are estimated to produce over 10 percent of global CO2 emissions, and overcoming their need for fossil fuels is one of the key challenges of the global transition to a lower-carbon economy.

Faster than LNG?
Tiago Braz, VP energy with Norwegian marine technology developer Hoglund, said the company was working with steel specialists and tank designers on engineering a ship cargo system that can be used for transporting liquid hydrogen.
“We are at the early stages with hydrogen carriers. But unlike when LNG was first rolled out, the industry is more flexible to change,” Braz said.
“It should be a faster transition,” he added.
Specialists say the development of LNG took decades before it was fully rolled out, partly due to the infrastructure and ships required and the few companies willing to invest initially.
Companies active in wider shipping markets are also looking at the possibility of diversifying into transporting hydrogen in the future.
Paul Wogan, chief executive of GasLog Partners which is a major player in LNG shipping, said it was “open-minded” about moving into hydrogen, while oil tanker owner Euronav said it was examining future energy transportation.
“If that energy is hydrogen tomorrow, we would certainly like to play a role in the emerging industry,” Euronav’s CEO Hugo De Stoop said.
Others such as leading ship-management company Maersk Tankers said they would be open to managing hydrogen shipping assets.
Johan Petter Tutturen, business director for gas carriers with ship certifier DNV Maritime, said his company was involved in concept studies for the transport of hydrogen in bulk at sea.
“It’ll be some years before these projects come to fruition, but if hydrogen is to be a part of the future fuel mix then we have to begin exploring all possibilities now.”