Pakistani mango: The king of fruits

Pakistani mango: The king of fruits
Pakistan's “king of fruits” is said to shine at every feast, for rich or the poor alike. (Shutterstock)
Updated 13 August 2019

Pakistani mango: The king of fruits

Pakistani mango: The king of fruits
  • Mangoes are not only Pakistan’s national fruit, they are also part of culture

In the 19th century Mirza Ghalib, the great Urdu/Persian poet, immortalized the mango in his beautiful verses, describing it as the “king of fruits” and extolling qualities such as its exotic aroma and its honey-sweetness. It shines at every feast, for rich or the poor alike.

Mangoes are not only Pakistan’s national fruit, they are also part of culture, a networking tool, an instrument of social bonding and a diplomatic emissary worthy of being gifted to dignitaries all over the world.

At this time of the year, the renowned Chaunsa variety has arrived in the Kingdom, following on from the Sindhari, which ripens earlier. They are just two of 1595 known varieties of mangoes known. Other commercially produced varieties in Pakistan include Langra, Dasehri, Anwar Ratool, Samar Bahisht and Desi.




Pakistan's “king of fruits”. (Shutterstock)

The Chaunsa mango is known as one of the best in the the world. It is now grown in a number of places around the world, but originated in Rahim Yar Khan and Multan in Punjab. It is unusually sweet, with a wonderful fragrance, and has delicious, soft, succulent flesh with the a minimum of fiber. From the outside it might not look like a thing of beauty — it usually has a pale, matte-yellow appearance — but inside the thin peel lies a delight waiting to be discovered.

While the Chaunsa is considered by many to be the best mango, any Pakistani variety tastes sublime. It is also a very versatile fruit. Eaten with a paratha, it makes for a complete meal. A mango lassi (curd shake) in the morning provides an energy boost that will help to see you through the day. A mango salad for lunch and another lassi in place of afternoon tea will pep you up if you start to flag. Mangoes are also used to make ice-cream, squashes, juices, chutneys, pickles, puree and are sold sliced in syrup.

You don’t have to travel all the way to Pakistan to enjoy Pakistani mangoes; they are readily available in most food stores in the Kingdom. Pakistan produces nearly a million metric tonnes of mangoes a year and ranks as the fourth-largest exporter in the global market.

Pakistani mangoes are primarily consumed in the ethnic (Asian) consumer segment, but there is a growing trend of exports to North America and Europe, premium import markets with a 62 percent share in global mango imports.

The export potential of mangoes continues to grow, thanks to improvements in the cultivation, harvesting, packing and marketing processes.


Under Secretary for Political Affairs David Hale says ready to facilitate a Lebanese-Israeli agreement on the maritime borders

Under Secretary for Political Affairs David Hale says ready to facilitate a Lebanese-Israeli agreement on the maritime borders
Updated 32 min 9 sec ago

Under Secretary for Political Affairs David Hale says ready to facilitate a Lebanese-Israeli agreement on the maritime borders

Under Secretary for Political Affairs David Hale says ready to facilitate a Lebanese-Israeli agreement on the maritime borders

Under Secretary for Political Affairs David Hale says ready to facilitate a Lebanese-Israeli agreement on the maritime borders.


Dubai logistics firm Tristar drops IPO plans

Dubai logistics firm Tristar drops IPO plans
Updated 15 April 2021

Dubai logistics firm Tristar drops IPO plans

Dubai logistics firm Tristar drops IPO plans
  • Tristar began its public share sale on April 4, setting a price range that implied a market capitalization of 2.64-3.24 billion dirhams
  • The company saw weak demand for its shares, said two sources familiar with the matter

DUBAI: Logistics firm Tristar has dropped plans for an initial public offering (IPO) in Dubai, with sources saying the deal did not attract enough investor demand.
The move, which confirms what the sources had earlier told Reuters, is a setback for Dubai’s bourse, the Dubai Financial Market, which has not seen a big ticket listing since 2017.
The company said “its board and existing shareholders have decided to withdraw its planned initial public offering on the Dubai Financial Market as existing shareholders’ expectations were not met.”
“The board and existing shareholders believe that greater returns can be realized executing Tristar’s current growth strategy under the established shareholder structure,” it said.
Tristar began its public share sale on April 4, setting a price range that implied a market capitalization of 2.64-3.24 billion dirhams ($719-$882 million).
The company saw weak demand for its shares, said two sources familiar with the matter. The offering was planned to close on April 15.
Part-owned by Kuwaiti logistics firm Agility, Tristar had previously intended to list in London, but plans were scrapped after turmoil at London-listed health care firm NMC shook investor confidence in Gulf companies.
Tristar said earlier this month it expected to raise between 438 million and 537 million dirhams as part of its primary offering, and another 90 to 240 million from a secondary offering.
BofA Securities and Citigroup were global coordinators and joint bookrunners on the deal.


Saudi Arabia cuts maximum subsidized housing loans by five years

Saudi Arabia cuts maximum subsidized housing loans by five years
Updated 15 April 2021

Saudi Arabia cuts maximum subsidized housing loans by five years

Saudi Arabia cuts maximum subsidized housing loans by five years
  • Targets people who earn SR14,000 or less
  • Subsidized loans first implemented in 2017

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has reduced the maximum period of subsidized housing finance from 25 years to 20 years for new applications, 2021, the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs and Housing said in a circular on Tuesday. The change took effect from April 12.
The ministry said that this decision was "in line with the strategy of the housing program for the second phase, to serve the largest number of target groups,” the Al-Watan newspaper reported.
The subsidized mortgage loan program was first implemented in June 2017.
It provides a real estate loan with up to 100 percent, for those whose salary is SR14,000 or less, with a guarantee (on the amount of the profit margin) of up to SR500,000 of the financing amount.
This program targets Saudi citizens who are on the housing support lists of the Real Estate Development Fund, and who meet the Ministry of Housing conditions.


Erdogan’s new dove: Five questions for Turkey’s central bank

Erdogan’s new dove: Five questions for Turkey’s central bank
Updated 15 April 2021

Erdogan’s new dove: Five questions for Turkey’s central bank

Erdogan’s new dove: Five questions for Turkey’s central bank
  • Erdogan fired latest governor last month
  • Dismissed two days after he raised interest rates

ISTANBUL: Turkey’s fourth central bank chief in less than two years will oversee his first policy decision on Thursday, after President Tayyip Erdogan rocked financial markets by firing a well-respected governor who had hiked rates just last month.
Erdogan replaced Naci Agbal, a policy hawk, with Sahap Kavcioglu, who has openly criticized Turkey’s tight monetary stance and who shares the president’s unorthodox view that high interest rates cause inflation.
The shock decision on March 20 raised expectations that the policy rate, now at 19 percent, would soon be cut and sent investors fleeing, knocking the lira 12 percent lower. For many analysts, Erdogan’s latest intervention has left the bank’s credibility in tatters.
Here are five questions ahead of the bank’s policy decision this morning:

1. WHAT HAS HAPPENED SINCE LAST MONTH’S RATE HIKE?
On March 18, the bank under Agbal raised rates by 2 percentage points — more than had been expected — to address inflation that was headed beyond 16 percent, and to reinforce his hawkish rhetoric. Two days later, early on a Saturday morning, he was fired.
Minutes after trading began the following Monday, the lira had plunged as much as 15 percent, to 8.485 versus the dollar, leaving it just above the record low hit the day before Agbal was appointed in November 2020.
Stocks had their worst selloff since the 2008 global financial crisis as foreigners dumped nearly $2 billion in Turkish assets in a week. The cost of insuring investments using credit default swaps jumped by 150 basis points to 450 bps.
“Because the whole change of governor has come in such a surprising fashion, the market is quite skeptical,” said Reza Karim, assistant fund manager, emerging markets debt, at Jupiter Asset Management, which has CDS insurance on an already “underweight” Turkish position.
“If they stay put ... and maintain the hawkish policy then that’s a positive sign,” he said of Thursday’s rates meeting.

2. WHERE DOES THE NEW GOVERNOR STAND?
Kavcioglu, a former banker and lawmaker in Erdogan’s ruling party, wrote in a newspaper column as recently as February that high rates do not help the economy and “indirectly cause inflation to rise.”
Since taking the job, he has downplayed those views and promised tight policy for a while given high inflation.
Asked on a call about his past columns, he told investors he would now act in line with his “institutional task” and urged them to “judge me after” the April policy decision, according to sources who took part in the call.
The assurances have resonated — for now.
All but two of 19 economists polled by Reuters expect Kavcioglu to hold rates this week. Oyak Securities said the lira could weaken if the bank’s post-meeting statement removes a reference to raising rates if needed, while Morgan Stanley warns a surprise cut would trigger a 15-20 percent plunge.

3. HOW IS POLICY LIKELY TO CHANGE?
Beyond this month, Kavcioglu is expected to cut rates sooner than would have happened under Agbal, whose hawkish moves sparked a brief lira rally that reversed a years-long exodus of foreign funds.
Five of 14 poll respondents predicted policy easing before mid-year, while seven forecast a move in the third quarter. Yet over the next two years, money markets appear to be betting rates will end up higher due to inflation pressure.
Premature rate cuts that further weaken the lira could, in turn, prompt Turkey to consider adopting some form of capital controls, some analysts say. The government has firmly dismissed this option.
“If you can’t raise rates and you don’t have sufficient reserves, then you don’t have any other choice if you want to limit exchange rate depreciation,” said Morgan Stanley’s chief economic adviser Reza Moghadam, a former IMF regional head.
“A lot of central banks that have reserve difficulties get into those (controls) but it doesn’t usually end well.”

4. WHAT ARE THE RISKS FOR INVESTORS — AND FOR TURKEY?
Investors were drawn by higher yields as Agbal adopted one of the tightest monetary policies in the world. After he was fired, sparking some big losses, some investors said they would not come back.
Ratings agencies say the reaction to Erdogan’s decision — and the harm it does to monetary policy independence — raises the risk of a balance-of-payments crisis given Turkish banks and companies have some $160 billion in short-term foreign debt.
The buffer against such a crisis is thin: a costly and unorthodox policy in 2019-2020 of selling some $128 billion in dollars to support the lira has depleted the central bank’s FX reserves by about 75 percent.
The lira’s slide, along with higher oil prices, has meanwhile raised import prices and pushed inflation up to 16.2% in March. Wall Street banks predict it will reach as much as 19 percent this quarter, keeping basic living costs high for Turks hit by the pandemic and joblessness.

5. WHAT DOES ERDOGAN WANT?
Reuters reported that Erdogan ousted Agbal for two reasons: his long-held aversion to high rates, and politics.
Erdogan was uncomfortable with Agbal’s investigation into the $128 billion in FX sales undertaken during his son-in-law Berat Albayrak’s stint as finance minister, sources said.
Agbal had promised to rebuild the FX buffer and the government has promised to stick to free-market principles. But analysts say the bank could revert to FX interventions under Kavcioglu.
Erdogan — who has shoved out three central bank governors in two years — called for single-digit rates again this month.
“Comments from Erdogan confirm his desire to cut rates rapidly and so there is clear risk of a dovish surprise this week,” said Win Thin, global head of currency strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman.
“The economy is suffering greatly from the pandemic and Erdogan is desperate to inject some stimulus quickly,” he said.


Coalition takes out 5 ballistic missiles, 4 drones in Houthi attacks against Saudi Arabia

Coalition takes out 5 ballistic missiles, 4 drones in Houthi attacks against Saudi Arabia
Updated 15 April 2021

Coalition takes out 5 ballistic missiles, 4 drones in Houthi attacks against Saudi Arabia

Coalition takes out 5 ballistic missiles, 4 drones in Houthi attacks against Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: The Arab coalition destroyed five ballistic missiles and four explosive-laden drones launched by Houthis toward Saudi Arabia, Al-Ekhbariya reported on Thursday.
The attacks targeting Jazan are the latest in a long line of hostile actions against the Kingdom by the Iran-back Houthi militia. 
Jazan University was one of the targets as well as other civilian sites protected under international humanitarian law, coalition spokesman Turki Al-Malki said in a statement on the Saudi Press Agency, adding that the actions amount to war crimes.
The attacks originated from Sa’dah governorate in Yemen, Al-Malki added.
The coalition said the attack is a continuation of the Houthis’ systematic and intentional hostile attempts to target civilians. 
The Houthis, who took over the capital of Yemen, Sanaa, in 2014, have been condemned for their actions against the Kingdom. 
The Saudi government has said the Houthi attacks are not only against the  Kingdom and its economic facilities, but rather the center of the global economy, the security of its exports and its oil supplies, while also affecting maritime navigation.

Saudi Arabia has consistently backed efforts to resolved the war in Yemen peacefully.
Last week, Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman held talks with Yemeni Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed, and reiterated that the Kingdom supports “all efforts to end the conflict, implement a cease-fire, alleviate the humanitarian crisis, and reach a political resolution that guarantees peace and prosperity for the brotherly people of Yemen.”
In March, Saudi Arabia announce a peace initiative to help end a war that has ravaged Yemen for the last six years. The initiative, which has received wide support, includes a cease-fire supervised by the UN, the reopening of Sanaa airport, and new talks to reach a political resolution to the conflict. Restrictions on the Red Sea port of Hodeidah would also be eased, allowing access for ships and cargo.
The UN’s chief, Antonio Guterres, backed the deal and urged all sides to take this opportunity to pursue peace and work with his special envoy, Martin Griffiths, on ways to proceed “in good faith and without preconditions.”


Yemen’s information minister, Moammar Al-Eryani, said members of the international community with open channels to the Houthis must use their leverage to encourage it to sever ties with Iran and commit to the Saudi-led peace initiative.
“These countries must put pressure on the Houthis to stop their daily crimes and violations against civilians in their areas of control, which are considered war crimes and crimes against humanity,” Al-Eryani told Arab News in an interview last week.
A Yemeni news agency reported last month that the Houthis had “provisionally” accepted the Saudi initiative to end the war in Yemen, but were demanding unchecked flights from Sanaa airport to unlimited destinations before giving the peace plan their final approval.
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